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Dagelijks archief 29 juli 2013

HASS: Reason for panic in Jerusalem 30Jul13



Real panic seized the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem last week: People who renewed their ID cards at the Interior Ministry in East Jerusalem in July discovered that two new items had been added to the usual identification details. The first, “Status,” next to which it says “Permit for permanent resident”; and the second, “Valid until,” and next to it a date 10 years from the day the document was printed. A photograph of the new ID card made the rounds on Facebook, and some people concluded that the expiration date relates to their status as permanent residents of Jerusalem.

So first of all an “all-clear” signal: Those two additions appear not only on the new ID cards of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, but on every new ID card, due to new regulations that were passed in May 2012 and that took effect on July 1st of this year. They also require replacing the card if it is tattered or if there has been a change in the personal information. The expiration date has no connection to status. The status of a permanent resident, like that of a citizen, is not canceled when the ID card expires.

That is what they promise at the Population, Immigration and Border Authority. They also explained that the addition of “Status” on the ID card is directed “this time” at temporary residents, and not at Palestinian permanent residents. It is meant to prevent temporary residents – who are primarily not Palestinian – from continuing to live in the country undisturbed and using its ID card even after their residency right has expired for various reasons. The addition of “Status” on the ID card will make it easier to locate them. But due to the rule of standardization, every addition appears on all the ID cards, be those of citizens, permanent residents or temporary residents.

To exploit every opening

In short, they said at the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, there’s no reason for panic. Really? The 46 years of “united Jerusalem” prove that Palestinian residents of the city have every reason in the world to suspect any presumably innocent administrative or bureaucratic change, and to assume that the Israeli authorities are planning to exploit every opening and pretext to continue with their consistent policy, which is no secret: to expel as many Palestinian Jerusalemites as possible from their city and homeland. And the Jewish Israeli public cooperates, for the most part, through its lack of interest.

In order not to be expelled, the Jerusalemites must also prove to Interior Ministry officials that the center of their lives is in the capital (which is very stingy when it comes to supplying housing, municipal services and job opportunities for Palestinians). The officials, who enthusiastically obey the commands of their government masters, require the Palestinians to bring sackfuls of proof and documents and papers. Every request to the Interior Ministry is an opportunity for an official to harass the Palestinians a little more and to demand another document, another proof, another bureaucratic, legal and emotional Via Dolorosa.

Palestinian Jerusalemites were defined as permanent residents in June 1967, with the annexation to Israel of about 70 square kilometers of the area of the occupied West Bank (encompassing East Jerusalem and the Old City). In 1974 the new “regulations for entry into Israel” were applied to them, as though they were non-Jewish immigrants (to whom the Law of Return does not apply), rather than people whose families lived in the city and the country long before the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, and the date of entry into Israel of senior ministers and prime ministers.

Act of aggression

From the start, defining them as permanent residents was an act of aggression. The aggression increased over the years, when Israeli governments (Labor and Likud, without discrimination) gradually added new regulations and procedures, which proved once and for all that the Palestinian Jerusalemite is only a “conditional resident.”

This gradualism is illustrated on the “timeline” that appears on the website of the Israeli Center for the Defense of the Individual (Moked Lehaganat Haprat): (

It’s a must-read, and there is not enough room here to cite the information. It should only be emphasized that Supreme Court justices were not at all distressed by the government’s policy, and even abetted it in their rulings. In 1988 they (headed by former Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak) strengthened the state’s viewpoint when they ruled that a Palestinian Jerusalem resident born in 1943 is legally in the same position as a non-Jewish immigrant to Israel. In other words, the state is allowed to expel a Palestinian Jerusalemite if he has lived abroad for seven years or more, or if he has other citizenship/residency. In March 2012 the justices once again adopted this viewpoint, when they recommended to the Center for the Defense of the Individual and to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel that they forgo a petition arguing that the restrictions regarding permanent residency effectively imprison Palestinian Jerusalemites in their city, and interfere with their normal lives.

The panic surrounding the obligation to renew ID cards every 10 years is a reminder of the perilous situation of all Palestinians under Israeli rule, including Jerusalemites and Palestinians who are citizens of the state. They are all living in the shadow of a constant threat on the part of the authorities: a home will be demolished, a policeman will harass, a document will be revoked, land will be confiscated, families and friends will be cut off from one another, a livelihood will be lost due to the lack of a travel permit, a judge will hand down a disproportionate punishment, a person will be killed or injured by representatives of “law and order” or by civilians, the Knesset will pass a new hostile, discriminatory law.

The panic also indicates that the Jerusalemites do not anticipate a positive change in the relations between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming decade – for example, that Israel, perhaps under pressure from university law schools and leading writers and historians, will declare that their permanent resident status is irrevocable. Certainly the Jerusalemites cannot imagine now that within 10 years they will in any case be residents of the capital of a Palestinian state, and citizens of that state, or citizens with equal rights in one democratic state.

(Source / 29.07.2013)

VIJFDE deportatiepoging Cheikh Bah

Ze willen écht van hem af: de DT&V gaat woensdag 31 juli voor de vijfde keer proberen Cheikh Bah te deporteren. Hij is momenteel al 72 dagen in hongerstaking; hij is al twee keer door een arts niet fit-to-fly verklaard, omdat hij daar fysiek veel te zwak voor is.

Hij vertelt aan de Werkgroep Deportatieverzet dat ze dit keer hebben geweigerd hem de vluchtgegevens bekend te maken, omdat ze bang zijn dat zijn vertrouwensarts op hetzelfde vliegtuig probeert te stappen. Bij de vorige deportatiepogingwerd zij geweigerd omdat ze een “veiligheidsrisico” zou zijn.

Cheikh Bah is de hongerstaker die in mei in het nieuws kwam nadat hij in elkaar getimmerd was door gevangenispersoneel. Nadat hij in Nieuwsuur was gekomen, werd hij nog een keer in elkaar geslagen door een bewaker. Sindsdien heeft de DT&V hem al vier keer geprobeerd te deporteren – alle vier de pogingen mislukten. Bij minstens één poging hebben ze zijn papieren vervalst. Volgens Bah hebben ze voor de aanstaande poging (de vijfde) dat nog een keer gedaan.

Zijn verhaal lijkt eindeloos te worden. Wanneer gaat de overheid eindelijk ophouden met deze mishandeling? Welke malloot verzint het om iemand die al 72 dagen niet heeft gegeten, voor de vijfde keer (met vervalste papieren) te deporteren naar het land waar hij vandaan gevlucht was?

(Source / 29.07.2013)

Rust is in het Paradijs

By Marianna Laarif

Te moe om het nachtgebed te verrichten? Te ziek om iets te doen? Geen zin om te lezen? Liever languit voor de televisie hangen om te ontspannen? Weet dan: ‘Rust is in het Paradijs’. Lees de verhalen van grote geleerden van vroeger en van onze tijd en zie hoe sterk zij warenin hun geloof en hoeveel tijd zij aan hun geloof besteed hebben. Moge Allah hen een voorbeeld voor ons laten zijn en hen belonen met het hoogste Paradijs.

Kennis opdoen en kennis overbrengen is ontspanning
Het is overgeleverd door Ibn Al Qayyim in zijn boek ‘Rawdatul Muhibeen’ dat zijn Sheikh (Ibn Taymiyyah) vertelde: “Toen ik ziek werd, zei de dokter tegen mij: “Het opdoen van kennis en je Islamitische lessen laten je ziekte toenemen.” Ik antwoordde: “Ik kan niet stoppen en ik twijfel over jouw kennis. Immers, wanneer iemand blij en vrolijk wordt, maakt dat niet zijn ziel en geest sterker en is het gevolg daarvan niet dat het ziekten afweert?” De dokter antwoordde: “Natuurlijk.” Dus ik zei: “Waarlijk, mijn ziel is tevreden met kennis en het versterkt mijn karakter en daardoor vind ik ontspanning.” De dokter antwoordde: “Dit is iets waar onze kennis niet op toe te passen is.”
Op zoek naar een boek? Memoriseer het in één nacht…
Het is overgeleverd van Sheikh Muhammed ibn Hadee door één van zijn bezoekers dat hij een verhaal vertelde over Sheikh Hafith Al Hakimy:
Toen Sheikh Hafith Al Hakimy tijdens een bepaald jaar op Hadj was of tijdens de Ramadan in Mekka was, zocht hij een boek genaamd: ‘De schepping van de daden van de dienaar’ door imam Al-Bukhari. Terwijl hij in Mekka was, hoorde hij dat iemand uit India gearriveerd was met een kopie van het boek en dat hij het aan de bibliotheek had gegeven in de Haram. Sheikh Hafith bezocht de bibliotheek en leende het onder de voorwaarde dat hij niet de Haram ermee zou verlaten en dat hij het de volgende dag zou terugbrengen, wanneer de zon opgekomen was. Hij nam het boek en vroeg iemand om hem pen en papier te geven. Hij zat en maakte zijn eigen kopie van het boek. Daarna bleef hij het boek memoriseren tot Fajr. Na Fajr rustte hij een korte tijd uit en toen stond hij op. Na het opstaan, bracht hij het origineel naar de bibliotheek en zei: “Hier is het origineel en hier is een extra kopie (de kopie die hij zelf geschreven had) en het boek heb ik in mijn hoofd (gememoriseerd).”
De hele Koran leren in één maand
Sheikh Ahmed An Najmee heeft het volgende overgeleverd:
“Als jonge jongens kregen we les van onze leraar Sheikh Abdullah Al Qara’wee in het memoriseren van de Koran, ter voorbereiding op de maand Ramadan. We memoriseerden overdag en aan het einde van de dag kwamen we bijeen om elkaars memorisatie te overhoren. Ik (Ahmed An-Najmee) memoriseerde die dag 1 hizb (1 deel van de Koran), maar Hafith Al Hakimy memoriseerde die dag een hele Juz (twee delen van de Koran). We gingen één volle maand door en iedere dag memoriseerde Hafith één hele Juz en hij memoriseerde de hele Koran in één maand.
Rust is in het Paradijs
Het is overgeleverd door Sheikh Abdul Kareem Al Kudair:
Mij werd verteld door één van de weduwen van Sheikh Abdul Azeez bin Baz dat hij op een dag terugkeerde uit het ziekenhuis en toen hij binnenkwam, merkte zij (zijn vrouw) dat hij zeer moe en uitgeput was. Nadat hij in slaap viel, veranderde ze de alarmtijd van zijn wekker van de tijd waarop hij normaal opstond om het nachtgebed te bidden in een later moment. De Sheikh werd echter wakker op de normale tijd, zonder de wekker en onderzocht waarom zijn wekker niet gewerkt had. Zijn vrouw vertelde hem dat zij de tijd had veranderd zodat hij kon uitrusten. Hij vermaande haar en zei: “Rust is in het Paradijs.”
(Bron: een lezing genaamd: “Radiant Pages From The (examples) of The Worship of The Scholars”)

PLFP: The resumption of the peace talks is against the national consensus



GAZA, (PIC)– The popular front for the liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the Palestinian authority’s decision to resume its peace talks with the occupation is against the national consensus, reflecting its willingness to compromise the Palestinian rights.

In a press release on Saturday, the popular front said that the parties which control the Palestinian liberation organization (PLO) took a serious decision contrary to the national consensus.

It considered that the Palestinian authority yielded to the American pressures without any regard to the popular and factional opposition to the peace talks.

In this regard, youth groups and anti-Israel campaigns called on the Palestinians in the occupied lands to participate in a rally on Sunday afternoon in central Ramallah to protest the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation regime.

(Source / 29.07.2013)

UN rights expert says Syria is in ‘free fall’ and civilians are main victims of acts of terror

UNITED NATIONS –  The head of the U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria warned Monday that the country is in “free fall” and has become a battlefield where civilians are the main victims of acts of terror, from indiscriminate shelling to rape and sectarian killing.

Paulo Pinheiro told the U.N. General Assembly that “massacres and other unlawful killings are perpetrated with impunity” — most by pro-government forces and some by anti-government armed groups.

He urged the international community to demand a diplomatic solution to the 2 1/2-year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.

“The world must hear the cry of the people — stop the violence, put an end to this carnage, halt the destruction of the great country of Syria!,” he said.

Pinheiro painted a devastating picture of the war-ravaged country: people fleeing to escape bombs from their own government, a collapsing economy and a conflict spilling across borders, “igniting tensions in the whole region.”

“The war remains deadlocked as both sides labor under the illusion that a military victory is possible,” he said.

He said 4.5 million people are displaced inside Syria, 18 million remain in their homes and have become the first providers of humanitarian aid to their fellow citizens, and more than 2.5 million are unemployed and struggling to survive.

“The estimated cost of the conflict to Syria’s economy is between 60 to 80 billion dollars, a third of its pre-war GDP,” he said.

The government is relying on its superior weaponry and control of the skies to maintain control of major cities and lines of communications while hundreds of anti-government armed groups have increased operations in the north and south, Pinheiro said.

Few of these rebel groups are able to fight across several fronts, and the majority are seriously fragmented, with fighters shifting allegiances usually to better-equipped and better-funded groups, he said.

Pinheiro demanded that the government stop using imprecise weapons such as unguided missiles, cluster munitions and “thermobaric bombs” on civilian areas.

He said both sides must stop laying siege to cities and towns and cutting off vital supplies of food, water, medicine and electricity.

“Civilians are the real victims of this prolonged war,” Pinheiro said. “Crimes that shock the conscience have become a dreadful daily reality in Syria.”

An untold number of men and women have disappeared from checkpoints and the streets, he said, and those freed from detention “are living with the physical and mental scares of torture.”

Pinheiro said a significant proportion of casualties are deaths from indiscriminate or disproportionate shelling from mortars that have landed in streets, barrel bombs that have turned homes into rubble and surface-to-surface missiles that have destroyed not only homes but neighborhoods.

“Of extreme concern is whether both government forces and anti-government armed groups are positioning military objectives within civilian areas, exposing residents to attacks by the opposing side,” he said.

He said crimes of sexual violence, including rape, have been documented taking place at checkpoints, during house searches and in detention centers.

“That civilians should come under such sustained unlawful attacks should shock your conscience and spur you to action,” Pinheiro told diplomats from the 193 U.N. member states. “But it has not. As the conflict drags on, you — and the world — have become accustomed to levels of violence that were previously unthinkable.”

The General Assembly has adopted several resolutions calling for an end to the Syrian conflict, but they are not legally binding. The Security Council, whose resolutions are legally binding, has been paralyzed and unable to act because of deep divisions between its Western members who support the opposition and Russia and China, who back President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The U.S. and Russia are supporting a new international conference to try to get both sides to agree to a transitional government.

Pinheiro said it isn’t enough for “those walking along the corridors of power” to be appalled.

“There is an obligation to do what you must to bring this war to a close,” he said.

(Source / 29.07.2013)

Israel and Palestine agree to 9 months of peace talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference at the State Department on July 29, 2013 (AFP)

The Israeli and Palestinian delegations to renewed peace talks have agreed in principle to continue negotiations for at least nine months, the US State Department said Monday.

“They have all agreed to focus on having talks not just for the sake of talks, but this is the beginning of direct final status negotiations on a nine-month, at least a nine-month, timetable,” Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“They have agreed to work together through the course of that time,” she added, speaking as the delegations arrived in Washington ahead of a dinner to mark the resumption of talks.

The United States invited the parties to a new round of talks in order to revive the stalled peace process, which last came to a halt in September 2010.

Psaki said the nine-month window was “not a deadline.”

“This is an agreement that they will work together for at least that time period on this effort,” she said.

“So we’re going to make every effort to reach an agreement within that time frame, but again, if we’re making progress and we’re continuing to make progress, this is not a deadline.”

(Source / 29.07.2013)

Militants kill 8 Tunisian troops near Algeria border

Militants killed eight Tunisian soldiers on Monday, the president’s office and state TV said, in what appeared to be one of the biggest attacks on the country’s security forces in decades.

They staged the ambush near the Algerian border at a time of rising political turmoil in Tunisia, which has seen large protests against the moderate Islamist-led government.

The president’s office said only that the eight soldiers had been killed in Mount Chaambi, a remote area where Tunisian troops have been trying to track down Islamist militants since December last year.

It did not name any suspects but Tunisian state TV called the incident a “terrorist attack”.

One resident of the Mount Chaambi area said Islamist militants appeared to be responsible. “They were shot dead and three others were wounded in an ambush. It seems it was set up by Islamist extremists,” said the resident, Hatem al-Salihi.

Opponents of the government have accused it of not being hard enough on radical Islamist groups, pointing to a rise in incidents of violence.

Last week, gunmen suspected of being hardline Salafists shot dead a leftist politician in the second assassination of an opposition leader in six months. Last Friday, a car bomb exploded in Tunis but no one was hurt. It was the first known car bomb to hit the country.

(Source / 29.07.2013)

Israeli negotiator demanded that Palestinians delete the word ‘Nakba’ upon getting a state

Has anything changed since the bloodshed in Egypt Saturday?  The Muslim Brotherhood remains intact.  The military is emboldened.  The government continues to build its case against ousted President Morsi.  The American administration is mute with some sideline Congressional noise about reviewing aid packages to Egypt.

Expect more violence in the coming weeks.

The Muslim Brotherhood and politicized Muslims in general feel abandoned. Where are their Christian and secular allies who wanted democracy?  Yet the question remains as to where politicized Muslims would be if the tables were turned. Was the Muslim Brotherhood committed to democracy as a process, therefore able to accept defeat and failure?  Were they prepared to hand over power democratically if President Morsi was defeated at the polls when his Presidential term came to an end?

The answers to these questions are unknown – the military preempted the process.  Nonetheless, this is a point of serious reflection.  Yet how can there be reflection when the military is hell-bent on destroying political Islam within Egypt?

Yesterday there was a fascinating take on the situation at this site written by a scholar of Islam, Mbaye Lo. Lo is a  native of Senegal, Assistant Professor of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic at Duke University, and a Duke Islamic Studies Center affiliated (DISC) faculty member. Lo has spent the last several weeks in Cairo observing the unfolding events.

Lo’s article is well worth reading.  It is in turn outrageous, all over the place, insightful and superficial, open and judgmental.  In defending the military coup – without calling it exactly that and without defending the military’s excesses– Lo assumes that if the choice has to be made in Egypt the militarized deep state is preferable to an Islamist state.  Lo’s main point though is that President Morsi acted more like an Islamic religious leader than a head of state.  Employing fascinating examples, Lo shows how Morsi often went off text, reciting passages from the Koran and making alliances with Islamists in the Middle East that the Egyptian state didn’t sanction and didn’t want.

In short, Morsi went Islamic rogue.  My take away from Lo’s article is that If Morsi succeeded as president, Egypt would have become a failed Islamic state instead of the secular authoritarian failed state it has become.

Thinking about Lo’s take on Morsi, I thought about the criticisms of President Obama.  From progressive quarters, Obama is criticized precisely because he hasn’t gone Progressive rogue, precisely because he has been hemmed in by and bowed to the deep state in America.  This is why Obama has been neutralized and why his leadership is questioned.  Whatever progressive achievements Obama can claim have been hard-fought and gutted in the process of being achieved.  Examples among others include his “overhaul” of the health insurance system and his military “withdrawals” from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Failures are also to be noted.  Though Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year of his first day in office, it remains open.

So which way do we want it?  Or do we want the leaders of whatever country to go rogue or cater to the deep state when it comports with out sensibilities?

Speaking of Obama on the deep state script, the Israeli-Palestinian talks are set to start tonight in Washington.  Not much new there either.  The lead negotiators are Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, two veterans of the Israeli and Palestinian politics.  Though Livni is considerably more liberal than Prime Minister Netanyahu, she reminds me of Hillary Clinton.  Scratch her and she’s more like Benjamin Netanyahu that she – or we – would like to believe.

My personal favorite is Livni’s take on peace negotiations and the Nakba.  In her view, once a peace agreement is signed, the Palestinians have to strike the Nakba from their vocabulary – or use it exclusively to refer to how Arab governments have treated Palestinians.  Livni’s quest is to remove the Palestinian grievance against Israel from history and, in so doing, to wipe Israel’s past clean.  Her comments in 2007 at the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website referring to the establishment of Israel and the Nakba are important:

I believe that the solution of two nation states serves the interests of both sides. Not every celebration of ours is cause for sorrow on the other side, and vice versa. I say to my Palestinian colleagues: Do not bemoan the establishment of the State of Israel; establish your own state, rejoice in its establishment and we will rejoice with you, since for us the establishment of the Palestinian state is not our Nakba, or disaster – provided that upon its establishment the word “Nakba” be deleted from the Arabic lexicon in referring to Israel.

In the international arena any final agreement signed by both parties cleanses the record in the legal sense.  Safely confined to academia’s Ivory Tower, historians will be left to bicker among themselves about Israel’s origins.

This is the point of Israel forcing Palestinians to sign on to Israel as a Jewish state.  Though it seems a point of Israeli and Jewish pride and thus outside the political process of international statesmanship, it carries supreme political weight.  Once again it’s about wiping Israel’s historical slate clean.

If Israel is a Jewish state ,how can anyone complain about Israel’s origins, including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians necessary to create a Jewish state?  Obviously, the Palestinian right of return becomes mute.  If a Jewish state is legalized in the international arena and signed on to by Palestinians, Palestinians forfeit all original and ongoing claims against Israel.

Should Jews of Conscience sign on to the white-washing of Israeli and Jewish history?  Final agreements do that in the political arena.  Of course, Jews of Conscience have no say in the negotiations.  We sit on the sidelines speaking, writing and protesting various injustices.  Perhaps a final agreement would give space for other things to happen, including a historical reckoning with Israel and Jewish history.  Yet the political balance is so unbalanced that a final agreement could only finalize an injustice so grievous that the old wounds would fester, waiting for another moment to explode.

Another round begins.  I doubt it will turn out any different than the past rounds.  Palestinians will make their own decisions, if there is anything offered to really mull over.

Livni and Netanyahu are part of the Israeli deep state.  They are the Jewish equivalents to Mubarak, the Egyptian military and whoever is ultimately selected to front the Egyptian government.

Should Jews of Conscience sign on the peace process or go rogue and say enough is enough?

(Source / 29.07.2013)

IOF soldiers arrest 11 Palestinians in Al-Khalil including children


AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 11 Palestinians including five children in Al-Khalil at dawn Monday after storming their homes.

Local sources said that IOF soldiers arrested five children in Arub refugee camp two of them 14 years old and three 16 years old.

Journalist Ala’a Al-Teeti said that the soldiers broke into his family home in the refugee camp and took away his 16-year-old brother.

He said that the soldiers terrorized all members of the family and holed them in one room before firing teargas at the house choking 20 members of the family including his pregnant sister.

Teeti said that the soldiers severely beat up his brother Shamekh, 20, and hit his head several times into the wall.

IOF soldiers also rounded up three young men in Edhna village to the west of Al-Khalil after they stormed a number of suburbs in dozens of armored vehicles.

The soldiers arrested a young man in Al-Khalil city and a 35-year-old man in Biet Ummar village to the north of the city after summoning him to Etzion interrogation center.

The soldiers nabbed the night before yesterday an anti-settlement activist in Tal Rumaida in downtown Al-Khalil after he confronted Jewish settlers who tried to assault his family.

(Source / 29.07.2013)

Did Hamas really help the Muslim Brotherhood break open Egypt’s prisons?

Egypt’s Tamarrod movement poster depicting Muhammad Morsi crossed out.

The Egyptian military regime has charged President Muhammad Morsi, who was overthrown in a military coup on 3 July, with “espionage” and “collaborating” with the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, “the charges stem from a prison escape by Morsi and other political prisoners, including members of the [Muslim] Brotherhood, during the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak” in January-February 2011.

“The accusations have been discussed in judiciary circles for months and have recently gained traction as the army seeks to impose order, marginalize the [Muslim] Brotherhood and move beyond more than two years of unrest,” the Los Angeles Times said.

Lurid claims that Hamas has assisted Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have been disseminated by the Egyptian media, along with incitement against Palestinians, leading to a climate of fear for Palestinians in Egypt.

The rumors have been used to justify Egypt imposing travel restrictions on Palestinians, tightening the siege of Gaza as well as a renewed campaign to destroy tunnels that are lifeline for the Palestinian population there.

Hamas has consistently denied the accusations. But is there any basis to them?

Egypt’s Interior Ministry, not Hamas, opened the prisons

On Newshour at 20:00 GMT on 26 July, the BBC World Service’s Owen Bennett-Jones interviewed Dr. Omar Ashour, Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics and Security Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, about whether Hamas really did collaborate in a jailbreak with Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Electronic Intifada transcribed the interview as it was a rare, informed discussion, and an antidote to the wild rumors fed by Egyptian media. Bennett-Jones began by asking Ashour what he thought of the accusations:

Omar Ashour: It’s quite surprising because we’ve been through this before in April 2011. There was a fact-finding commission that was appointed by the then prime minister Essam Sharaf and it was headed by the head of the Court of Cassation in Cairo.

[The commission] basically said that the principal actor in the opening of jails – it was more than five jails, it is five central jail areas that were opened simultaneously – and they accused principally Mubarak’s minister of interior Habib el-Adly of doing that to try to create a chaotic situation because back then this is when the January revolution was at its height, on the 28th, 29th of January [2011].

So the main accusation was going there. Whether there was communication afterwards from the prisoners who got out of their cells and either their mother organizations, like in the case of Hamas or Hizballah, or with their families – because we saw in the case of Wadi Natroun and Abu Zaabal prisons and in some of the Tora prisons – that the families and others tried to open the external doors of the prisons.

But there are videos showing that the internal doors, the doors of the cells – showing Central Security officers in their suits, in their black suits, opening these cells and asking the prisoners to leave. It’s YouTubes and actually this commission showed it as well.

Owen Bennett-Jones: It’s an extremely complicated situation and there were also stories about gunmen being around and these people being freed. Did the report confirm or deny that?

Omar Ashour: It confirmed that. It said that there were gunmen outside but what’s happening inside was very different from what’s happening outside the prison in most of the cases, because, again, these are five prison areas. So, for example the Tora prison area itself has around six prisons in it.

Owen Bennett-Jones: Let me abbreviate this since it’s obviously highly complicated. In your view, as someone who’s read these reports and obviously quite on top of this subject, do you think Hamas were involved?

Omar Ashour: I think there was a possibility that Hamas was involved when they saw the collapse happening, when they saw that the Ministry of Interior is opening prisons.

They had some of their men in these prisons so they may have possibly just acted afterwards. Or you had some of the families – because the Egyptian border draws lines between tribes, so you have half of the tribe in Gaza and half of the tribe in Sinai.

So some of these guys from the Palestinian part – the Gaza part – had their relatives over there and went directly to try to help them out. And this happened among several families, clans and tribes in Egypt. It was not only the ones affiliated with Hamas.

So it could have happened like that, but the principal actor who opened the prisons and who opened the cells, and who got the order for doing so, was the Egyptian ministry of interior, was the minister of interior at the time Habib el-Adly. And that’s an official report. The interesting part is they never sent the 100-pages to the public …


(Source / 29.07.2013)