(Source: mail / 06.12.2013)
(Source: mail / 06.12.2013)
By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)
From the northern suburbs of Aleppo there are many reports today, Friday, of Opposition fighters very rapidly driving Assad’s troops from the Al-Kindi Hospital which they have been using as a barracks.
Remains of Al-Kindi Hospital Building, Aleppo
Fighting over the last 4 days has been intense, with the Opposition co-ordinating attacks from several directions and the regime striking back with jet attacks on Opposition positions.
More long range tank and heavy machine gun fire, plus fighters moving towards the hospital buildings, HERE:
Finally, a suicide bomber blows up a BMP armoured vehicle packed with explosives, HERE:
Latest reports say that Opposition fighters are in control of the eastern half of the building – or at least what’s left of it.
Elsewhere in Aleppo, Opposition fighters detonated a mine near the Palace of Justice, HERE: and destroyed 2 tanks south of the Sheikh Saeed neighbourhood.
Continuing power blackouts have been reported in large parts of the city, possibly because the Jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is now in charge of the thermal power plant on the eastern side of Aleppo.
US Secretary of State Kerry says he presented Israel with ideas on improving security as part of the peace talks.
Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later on Thursday
|US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Israelis and Palestinians are making “progress” in the peace talks.
Kerry, speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, also announced that he presented Netanyahu with ideas on improving Israeli security as part of the talks.
On the ongoing the talks regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, Kerry said that Israel’s security is at the top of United States’ agenda, adding that his country will do anything it can to guarantee that Iran’s nuclear capabilities are terminated.
Kerry also emphasised that Washington will consult with Israel throughout the talks. He also reminded that although the sanctions on Tehran have been eased, the fundamental sanctions on oil and banking are still in place.
“It is not changed. And we will be stepping up our effort of enforcement through the Treasury Department and through the appropriate agencies of the US,” Kerry told reporters.
Kerry defined the bond between the US and Israel as “unbreakable” and stressed that only “tactical differences” can happen between the two countries, not fundamental ones.
“A peaceful programme should not be that hard to prove,” he said referring to Iran’s nuclear programme.
Netanyahu, for his part, said that his country was ready to acknowledge the understanding achieved through the talks with Palestinians.
On Iran, he said that steps must be taken to prevent unravelling of Iran sanctions and a final deal with this country should make sure that the country’s nuclear capabilities would be shut down.
Iran and six world powers (Iran and the US, France, Germany, UK, China and Russia) clinched a deal last month to curb the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for initial sanctions relief, a development harshly opposed by Israel.
The agreement, which halts Iran’s most sensitive nuclear activity, its higher-grade enrichment of uranium, was tailored as a package of confidence-building steps towards a final deal.
Kerry to meet Abbas
John Kerry will also hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step up American involvement in the hope of reviving faltering peace efforts with Israel.
Kerry was expected to present a security plan to Abbas as well on Thursday, according to US officials.
The proposal marks the first time that Kerry has directly intervened in the talks since they began in late July.
The two sides agreed to resume negotiating, their first substantive dialogue in five years, under heavy American pressure.
Kerry has repeatedly shuttled to the region and held lengthy phone conversations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in hopes of pushing the talks forward.
(Source / 06.12.2013)
This afternoon in Hebron, approximately three illegal settlers, standing on the same roof as several Israeli soldiers, threw stones at Palestinian homes and cars in the old city. This act of aggression caused clashes to break out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces, where many tear gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition were fired. One youth, aged 19-years-old, was seriously injured after being shot with live ammunition in the stomach.
A broken car window, the result of illegal settlers throwing stones
The settlers threw stones at Palestinian homes and cars in what is known as Small Shallala Street from a roof in the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah, damaging a number of cars. This continued for at least ten minutes unobstructed by the guarding Israeli soldiers.
After a group of 5 Israeli soldiers entered the souk (market) Palestinian youth gathered and began to throw stones. The group of soldiers returned to Beit Romano military base and shortly after a further fifteen soldiers arrived and began to fire tear gas canisters and stun grenades.
The clashes continued for more than five hours with the Israeli forces escalating their aggression by firing tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullet, stun grenades and live ammunition at Palestinian youth. One 19-year-old was shot in his abdomen and was taken to hospital for treatment, his condition is unknown.
(Source / 06.12.2013)
Vanaf het begin van de tweede intifada, herfst 2000, hebben we ons vooral ingezet voor het nieuw opgerichte Gaza Home Care Program, dat als belangrijkste doel heeft het verstrekken van thuiszorg aan kinderen en jongeren die in de intifada gewond en gehandicapt zijn geraakt en aan chronisch zieken. Wat klein begon, met zo’n 50 kinderen en hun families als doelgroep, is inmiddels een volwassen organisatie die meer dan drieduizend patiënten onder zijn hoede heeft. Een deel van hen zijn ‘lichte’ gevallen, dat wil zeggen kinderen en jongeren die na eerste opvang en hulp (zoals fysiotherapie, of het krijgen van hulpmiddelen als krukken en kunstledematen) voldoende mobiel zijn om zonder thuiszorg door te kunnen, maar het zwaartepunt ligt bij de patiënten die hun hele leven zorg aan huis nodig hebben. Daartoe worden ze niet alleen bezocht door de hulpverleners, hun familieleden worden ook getraind om de zorg zoveel mogelijk zelf te kunnen geven. Ongeveer de helft van de gehandicapten die verzorgd worden zijn intifada-slachtoffers, gewond geraakt door kogels van scherpschutters, door schoten van tanks, bij de bombardementen of de verwoesting van huizen.
In de Gazastrook is een redelijke gezondheidszorg aanwezig op het vlak van ‘cure’, dat wil zeggen genezing, maar er is vrijwel niets op het vlak van ‘care’, de zorg voor lichamelijk en geestelijk welzijn, de preventie van (vaak levensbedreigende) complicaties als doorligwonden en infecties, en het streven naar een zo goed mogelijke bestaanskwaliteit voor diegenen die moeten leren leven met een ernstige beperking. Daaronder valt ook de emotionele aandacht voor de vaak traumatische gevolgen van de voortdurende bedreiging onder een steeds harder wordende bezetting.
Naast de directe zorg voor de ca. drieduizend mensen met een handicap stelt het NCCR zich als doel om gehandicapten te ‘rehabiliteren’ in de breedste zin van het woord. Het doel is om ervoor te zorgen dat ook mensen met een beperking zo volledig mogelijk deel kunnen nemen aan de samenleving. Dat ze naar school kunnen gaan, dat ze werk kunnen krijgen, dat ze ook in leidende posities zichtbaar zijn. Dat betekent dat er ook actie wordt gevoerd voor een brede mentaliteitsverandering in Gaza, gericht op alle instituties: de ministeries, de community leaders, het onderwijs en de media. Het NCCR doet veel aan lobbywerk en jaarlijks demonstreren de gehandicapten met hun families voor hun rechten.
Ook de emancipatie van vrouwen is een speerpunt. Na het tweejarige project om vrouwen met een handicap uit hun isolement en onzichtbaarheid te halen, is het percentage vrouwelijke cliënten van het NCCR gestegen van 20% naar 45%.
(Source / 06.12.2013)
[Friday, December 6, 2013] Local sources in Jaloud village, south of the northern West bank city of Nablus, have reported that Israeli settlers threw rocks at a Palestinian car in the village, and wrote racist graffiti on a number of walls.
The sources said that the vandals came from a nearby Israeli settlement; they torched a car belonging to resident Fathi Yousef Mohammad, while it was parked in front of his home.
The settlers also wrote racist graffiti, including “Price Tag”, on the walls of Mohammad’s home.
Price tag attacks are ongoing assaults carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinian homes, property and holy sites. Some attacks even target Israeli leftist and peace movements, such as Peace Now.
Vandals have targeted churches, mosques, Islamic and Christian graveyards and various other holy sites, in addition to Palestinian orchards and dozens of homes and property.
On November 19, a number of settlers entered Far’ata village, west of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, burning two cars. The settlers went on to write racist anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian graffiti, including “Price Tag” and “Death To Arabs”.
The attack came just a few days after Israelis invaded an Islamic graveyard in occupied Jerusalem, broke tombstones and wrote graffiti on tombstones and buildings adjacent to the cemetery.
(Source / 06.12.2013)
They could seize this chance to deter future abuses tomorrow by giving the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction.
Palestine first lodged a declaration seeking ICC jurisdiction in late January 2009, after the devastating 22-day Gaza conflict that started the month before. In April 2012 the then-ICC prosecutor stopped considering Palestine’s declaration, stating that he couldn’t decide whether Palestine was a “state,” a necessary condition for jurisdiction.
But in November 2012, the UN General Assembly resolved the matter by voting to admit Palestine as a “non-member observer state.” Soon after the UN upgrade, the current prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said that the “ball is now in the court of Palestine” to seek the court’s jurisdiction.
The prosecutor has placed the onus on Palestinian leaders to actively pursue the court’s jurisdiction anew, by either formally becoming a member of the ICC or filing a new declaration recognizing the court’s jurisdiction. Palestine could seek jurisdiction starting from any date since 2002 when the court opened its doors.
Why isn’t Palestine playing ball in The Hague? Those responsible for rocket launches from Gaza targeting Israeli population centers could be held criminally responsible at the ICC, but that should not deter the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah from seeking the court’s jurisdiction, since it has stated that it is against such attacks.
The main reason, current and former Palestinian officials say, is that Israel has threatened unspecified retaliation if it seeks the court’s jurisdiction, and the US has reinforced the threat. As a former Palestinian legal adviser told me, “The US said to us clearly, conveying Israel’s position, ‘Don’t touch it.'” US Secretary of State John Kerry said during his Senate confirmation hearings that the US was “very, very strongly against” any “effort to take Israel for instance … to the ICC.”
Other countries that, as ICC members, should be pushing for universal ratification of the court’s statute – including the UK, France, and most recently recently Canada – have instead also pressured Palestine not to seek justice through the ICC.
The Israeli and US threats cannot be taken lightly, given Israel’s control over Palestinians’ lives – at checkpoints, border crossings, and during arrest raids in their homes – and the Palestinian economy’s heavy reliance on foreign donations, including from the US.
But the consequences should be weighed against the alternative – impunity for crimes fueling further abuses. The ICC’s jurisdiction would cover serious crimes under international law on Palestinian territory by all parties, such as widespread torture, or indiscriminate attacks on civilians whether committed by Palestinian armed groups or the Israeli military.
Notably, the ICC’s statute categorizes the “direct or indirect” transfer of civilians by an occupying power into occupied territory – like the Israeli government’s transfer of Jewish citizens into the settlements – as a war crime. Another war crime under the statute is the “forcible transfer” of protected people in an occupied territory off their lands, such as by demolishing their homes and preventing them from returning.
Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel came to power in 2009, construction has begun on 8,575 settlement homes. Israeli demolitions during the same period left more than 4,000 Palestinians homeless. Both trends are accelerating. There were 1,708 settlement housing starts in the first half of 2013, up by 70 percent over the same period in 2012, and demolitions have left 933 Palestinians homeless so far this year, up from 886 in all of 2012.
Palestinian leaders have said they would seek ICC jurisdiction at the present time if – and apparently only if – Israel builds settlements in the so-called E1 area just east of Jerusalem, which many analysts say would effectively cut the West Bank in half.
But settlement-building is not only relevant to a future two-state solution: it takes a terrible, daily toll on people’s lives. Israel has granted settlements jurisdiction over 39 percent of the entire West Bank, making those areas off-limits to Palestinians who own land there or traditionally had access for farming and raising livestock. Meanwhile, as an Israeli rights group recently reported, the area used for settlement agriculture has increased by 35 percent since 1997, to 9,300 hectares. Some Palestinian farmers have no recourse but to lease land from settlers, who got it from Israel for free.
Israel, the US, and other countries have justified their calls for Palestine not to use its new UN status to pursue ICC jurisdiction by claiming it would undermine peace negotiations. But during 20 years of on-and-off negotiations, impunity for rights abuses and laws-of-war violations has fueled animosity and made negotiators’ jobs more difficult. The absence of credible accountability mechanisms has hardly proven an advantage in bringing the conflict to an end.
Potential ICC involvement could change the political calculus of those responsible for such violations by sending a clear message that the commission of grave crimes will lead to serious consequences.
Palestinian leaders are under pressure, but they have not publicly pushed back and made the case that seeking the ICC’s jurisdiction would serve justice and perhaps assist peace talks. They have not explained why they feel unable even to actively seek the ICC’s jurisdiction.
If the ICC has jurisdiction, the prosecutor can open an investigation of her own accord, but that seems highly unlikely. If Palestine became a member of the court, it’s far more probable that it would need to take a second step and ask the prosecutor to investigate. But taking the first step of seeking jurisdiction could still ratchet up pressure against impunity for serious crimes.
It’s time for the Palestinian leadership to inform its public about how it is keeping the accountability ball in play.
By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org
Can a Muslim pray for a non-Muslim who has died?
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Muslims are recommended to pray for guidance, health, and well-being for all people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, who are alive. Likewise, a Muslim should certainly offer condolences and respect to non-Muslims whose companions have died.
However, if someone has died while opposing Islam then we have been forbidden from praying for their forgiveness, but for those who have died while in an intermediate state, neither opposing nor practicing Islam, then it is best to perform a general supplication for them.
The prohibition of praying for those who have died while opposing Islam is due to the example of Abraham, upon him be peace, who was forbidden to pray for his father after his father died in a state of hostility to Islam.
إِلَّا قَوْلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ لَأَسْتَغْفِرَنَّ لَكَ وَمَا أَمْلِكُ لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۖ
But for the saying of Abraham to his father: I will surely ask forgiveness for you, but I have no power to do anything for you against Allah.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah 60:4
This verse demonstrates the mercy and sincerity Abraham had for his father, even after the people threatened to kill him and burn him alive. Abraham continued to supplicate on behalf of his father until he died while in a state of hostility to Islam.
وَمَا كَانَ اسْتِغْفَارُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ إِلَّا عَن مَّوْعِدَةٍ وَعَدَهَا إِيَّاهُ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ أَنَّهُ عَدُوٌّ لِّلَّهِ تَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُ ۚ إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لَأَوَّاهٌ حَلِيمٌ
The request of forgiveness of Abraham for his father was only because of a promise he had made to him, but when it became apparent to Abraham that his father was an enemy to Allah, he disassociated himself from him. Verily, Abraham was compassionate and patient.
Surah At-Tawba 9:114
Abraham continued praying for his father until it became clear he was “an enemy to Allah” (‘aduwun li Allah), meaning his father manifested stubborn hostility to Islam.
For this reason, a number of scholars have ruled that a Muslim should not pray on behalf of any non-Muslim who has died. However, the better opinion is that Muslims should offer a general supplication on behalf of the non-Muslims who have died while in a state of neutrality towards Islam.
Most non-Muslims who die are in an intermediate state, neither opposing nor practicing Islam, and it is not the place of Muslims to speculate how Allah will judge them. In fact, the Prophet informs us that some people appear to be headed to Hellfire but actually go to Paradise, and some people appear to be headed to Paradise but actually go to Hellfire.
Sahl ibn Sa’d reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَعْمَلُ عَمَلَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فِيمَا يَبْدُو لِلنَّاسِ وَهُوَ مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَعْمَلُ عَمَلَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ فِيمَا يَبْدُو لِلنَّاسِ وَهُوَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ
Verily, a man may seem to the people as if he were practicing the deeds of the people of Paradise but in reality he is among the people of Hellfire, and another might seem to the people as if he were practicing the deeds of the people of Hellfire but in reality he is among the people of Paradise.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 2742, Grade: Sahih
It is not our place to judge the ultimate fate of such people, as this is the judgment of Allah alone. Therefore, a Muslim may offer a general supplication in the same manner as Jesus, upon him be peace.
إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ ۖ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
Jesus said: If You should punish them, then verily they are Your servants, but if You should forgive them, then verily it is You who are the Almighty, the Wise.
Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:118
In all cases, a Muslim should not abuse the dead or say something that would cause increased grief to those bereaved.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
لَا تَسُبُّوا الْأَمْوَاتَ فَإِنَّهُمْ قَدْ أَفْضَوْا إِلَى مَا قَدَّمُوا
Do not abuse the dead, for verily they have reached what they put forward.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 1329, Grade: Sahih
Rather, a Muslim should always be respectful of the dead no matter what religion to which they adhered, just as the Prophet who stood as a sign of respect for a Jewish funeral.
Ibn Abu Laila reported: A funeral passed by the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he stood up. It was said to him, “It is a Jew.” The Prophet said:
Was he not a soul?
Source: Sahih Bukhari 1250, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
Therefore, we should respect the feelings of all those who have had their family members or friends die. For most non-Muslims, we should offer condolences and a general supplication for them. We are only forbidden from praying for those who have died while explicitly fighting Islam.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.
(Source / 06.12.2013)
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the network’s most dangerous affiliate, has been hit by intensified US drone strikes in Yemen this year.
There was no immediate evidence to support its allegation that the Sanaa complex attacked on Thursday played any role in the drone war or housed any US personnel.
The 52 were killed in a hospital inside the sprawling facility. It bore the brunt of an armed assault after a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the main gate.
The city center compound was “stormed … after the mujahedeen (holy warriors) proved that it accommodates drone control rooms and American experts”, AQAP said in a statement published by its media arm on Twitter.
“As part of a policy to target drone control rooms, the mujahedeen have dealt a heavy blow to one,” it said.
“Such security headquarters in partnership with the Americans in their war on these Muslim people are a justified target wherever they may be.”
Washington condemned the attack which came as Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser headed a military delegation on a visit to the United States.
Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she had no information about any US casualties.
Among the dead were medics from the Philippines, Germany, Vietnam and India.
The others were all hospital patients, some of them soldiers and some civilians, Yemen’s supreme security committee said.
Huge search operation
Residents said they heard gunfire and explosions throughout the night from the area which was still cordoned off on Friday morning by armored vehicles.
Reports that the militants had readied two more car bombs prompted a massive search operation, security officials said.
Up to 25 militants took part in the assault, the officials added. The state Saba news agency said 11 of them were killed.
President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi said none of the attackers escaped and several were captured.
Thursday’s broad daylight attack followed a spate of hit-and-run strikes on military personnel and officials, as Yemen struggles to complete a thorny political transition.
Yemeni analyst Saeed al-Jamhi, who specializes in Al-Qaeda affairs, said the attack reflects “the level of the network’s penetration into security and military services” and shows it has access to “high-level information”.
UN special envoy Jamal Benomar arrived in Sanaa on Friday to lend his support to a stalled national dialogue.
He said the attack should not be allowed to disrupt the transition from the 33-year rule of strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted early last year after 11 months of deadly protests.
“This criminal act aims at terrorizing Yemenis but will only make them more determined to move forward with peaceful change,” Benomar said.
Jamhi told AFP Saleh and his aides could have provided “ancient members within the network… with needed logistic information” and pushed military personnel who still support him “to turn a blind eye to revealing information that could help thwart any upcoming assault.”
Three months after Saleh’s ouster, 86 soldiers were killed in a massive Sanaa suicide bombing.
Hadi has since sacked many Saleh appointees from top security and military posts, using his powers to restructure the security forces under a UN-backed transition deal.
Formed in 2009, AQAP has been linked to several attempted attacks on the United States, including a botched bid to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009.
It has become a major target of the US “war on terror,” but the number of dead from such strikes in Yemen remains unclear.
The Washington-based think tank New America Foundation says there have been 93 strikes since 2002, killing between 684 and 891 people, among them between 64 and 66 civilians.
US President Barack Obama has defended the drone campaign but promised to introduce stricter rules and oversight.
While US officers and agents cooperate with their Yemeni counterparts, the drones are believed to be flown from bases elsewhere.
Washington has access to bases in Djibouti, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere for the drones.
Riot police fired tear gas at separate protests in Cairo and clashed with Islamists in other provinces, amid a campaign to stamp out dissent following president Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow in July.
Police have shown little tolerance for the Islamists’ rallies since Morsi’s removal, and a new law allows them to clamp down hard on all but interior ministry-sanctioned demonstrations.
Thirty protesters were arrested in Cairo and 43 “rioters” were held in seven other provinces, a ministry statement said.
Battered by a crackdown that has killed more than 1,000 people and seen thousands more jailed, the Islamists still organize almost daily protests to demand Morsi’s reinstatement.
Morsi, overthrown by the military following massive rallies demanding his resignation, is on trial on charges related to the deaths of opposition protesters during his single year in power.
Some who campaigned for his ouster now condemn the police for what they call their unchecked brutality, following arrests by secular activists who violated the new protest law brought in late last month.
Demonstrations at places of worship, or starting from them, are now banned outright.
The new law also requires the organizers of any demonstration to seek authorization three days in advance.
Permission can be denied if the protest is deemed to present a threat to national security.
Secular dissidents Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma are to go on trial on Sunday over a scuffle with police when Maher turned himself in for questioning.
Prosecutors had ordered his arrest for allegedly violating the protest law.
Another activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, has been arrested for allegedly organizing an unauthorized protest.
Once lauded as an “icon of the revolution” by the military-installed government, Abdel Fattah now leads a vocal minority of secular activists who say the army has too much power.