Syrian Coalition: Outside forces try to exploit fragments in Revolutionary Brigades

Louay Safi, spokesman for the Syrian Coalition, called on the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front to “unite their ranks under a single national project against the criminal Assad regime who is recruiting sectarian militias to kill Syrians.” Safi attributed the tensions taking place in northern Syria between the two parties to “rivalries of outside powers who seek to determine the course of Syrian Revolution through exploiting the disorganization of the revolutionary forces and fighting battalions.” The spokesman hailed the “positive tone” of Russia’s Foreign Ministry after it called on the fighters “to avoid discord and unite.” However, Safi stressed that the change of Russia’s tone and positive political discourse is not enough, and said the Russian government should exert practical and serious efforts to end the suffering of the Syrian people and to put pressure on Assad’s regime and force it to accept a political solution. Furthermore, he said Russia must support the national and international efforts to establish a democratic civil state in Syria. In response to the United States’ suspension of aid to northern Syria, Safi said American support for the Syrian revolution was restricted by non-lethal aid. “The Unites States did not send weapons. We get weapons through friendly countries and the United States know this,” Safi stated. He also said the suspension of U.S. aid is temporary in light of the “unfortunate conflict between combatants.”
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 13.12.2013)

Israel conducts Nazi-style ethnic cleansing: Analyst

The Israeli regime is carrying out large-scale Nazi-style ethnic cleansing in the occupied West Bank by destroying the Palestinian properties, an analyst tellsPress TV.

“In my opinion, this type of large-scale ethnic cleansing is nothing more than what I would call…Israeli style and I think that in its inhumanity and in its callous displacement of indigenous population, I would call it Nazi-like in its extreme disregard for human life for the rule of law,” Bruce Katz said on Friday.

He said the Zionist regime is pushing ahead with its “brazen continuation of ethnic cleansing which has really gone on since 1948.”

On Wednesday, the United Nations denounced Israel for demolition of Palestinian homes and displacement of their residents in the West Bank.

Katz said the Israeli actions are stalling the move towards peace in the Middle East. “I think that there can be no advancement toward any peace process in the Middle East unless there is a regime change in Israel,” he added.

Rights groups say Tel Aviv’s demolitions are aimed at grabbing more land for construction of illegal settlements and launching military projects in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Katz described the Israeli regime as an “illegitimate one,” saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is wreaking havoc in Israel as well where the level of poverty has increased drastically under his rule.”

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts made to establish peace in the Middle East.

The Israeli regime has recently announced plans to build about 5,000 more illegal settlement units on the occupied Palestinian land.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

(Source / 13.12.2013)

Widespread flooding in Gaza forces thousands to flee homes

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.
The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

The Gaza government said in a statement on Friday that so far 2,825 people have been evacuated from their homes, reaching a total of 458 families.

The evacuated were being sheltered in schools across the Strip, the statement was reported by Gaza-based Safa News Agency as saying, as Hamas civil defense authorities rushed to evacuate flooded homes.

Gaza Minister of Health Mufid al-Mukhalalati declared a state of “extreme emergency” as all emergency devices and ambulance crews were put on a state of high alter in all regions of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the minister of Local Government Muhammad Farra instructed the mayors of Gaza to suspend all leave for staff and workers in the water and sanitation sectors until the end of the current crisis.

Farra said in a press statement that municipal crews “will work day and night” until the storm passes, stressing that they will continue their efforts despite the lack of fuel and electricity.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Ma’an, “In Gaza there is a significant problem with flooding in the north, specifically in Jabaliya, and UNRWA staff has been working all night,”

“An UNRWA staff member reported that there were three meters of water surrounding his house,” he added, pointing out that water had come up to the first floor in some areas.

UNRWA was engaged in emergency evacuations “around the clock” as heavy rains flooded many neighborhoods across the densely populated coastal enclave, he added.

“After so many years of the Israeli blockade, the public health system in Gaza was already acutely and chronically damaged, so the man-made problems inflicted on Gaza are compounded by the extreme weather conditions.”

On Thursday, the Gaza Disaster Response Committee announced it was working “around the clock” to help those affected.

The high water levels also shut down the Erez, or Beit Hanoun, crossing, a Palestinian military source told Ma’an.

He said that access to the crossing had been completely cut due to flooding from the storm, adding that a number of vehicles transporting sick patients to pass through the crossing had gotten stuck in the water.

Despite this, the crossing would stay partially open on Friday for those needing medical attention as well as some travelers.

Ezz al Zanoon, a photographer based in central Gaza, described to Ma’an how the flooding was affecting daily life in the Strip.

“A friend of mine went out to get milk for his four kids and he had to go in a boat,” because of the flooding, he said, adding that boats were the easiest way for many to leave their houses.

“In many areas water has flooded the houses, the entire first floors are flooded. In Sheikh Redwan it’s the worst, but also in Jabaliya and Khan Younes.”

“The civil forces are trying to help (clear the flooding), but there’s no solution. They need electricity to help move the water.”

“I don’t know how people are living,” he added.

Zanoon stressed that the storm had compounded the already dangerous conditions Gaza residents were living under as a result of severe fuel shortages over the last few months.

“Electricity is only on for one or two hours a day,” he said, pointing out that in the days before the storm’s arrival daily electricity availability had dropped drastically from previous levels of six to 12 hours.

“People are suffering as they wait up all night for the electricity and water to come on,” he added, pointing out that water availability was dependent on the availability of electricity with which to pump it.

“There is no movement, no one goes out. Even those who work can’t go out.”

“The people hold Hamas and Fatah responsibly, both Haniyeh and Abbas,” he added.

“How could they let the situation of the children in this country become like this?”

“We know there is a siege (on Gaza), but there has to be a solution. Abbas is the most responsible, why doesn’t he do anything?”

Children huddle by the fire for warmth at home in Gaza (MaanImages/Ahmed Noor)

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

The Gaza Strip has been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of the month, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The plant itself was only reopened last year after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip’s electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Gaza Strip authorities to afford.

(Source / 13.12.2013)

Boycott activists celebrate as Ahava quits South Africa

An Israeli cosmetics company based in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank has been forced out of South Africa after a sustained boycott campaign.

The news about Ahava was revealed yesterday by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

A spokesperson for BDS South Africa today described it as “a great victory for us.” Itani Rasalanavho expressed surprise at the news, but noted that the company had been gradually reducing its presence in malls and shopping centers around the country for a while.

“It shows the influence we are having,” he said, “it is something that needs to be celebrated.”

According to Haaretz, “A few weeks ago, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company, ceased operations in South Africa following a … [boycott, divesment and sanctions] campaign.”

Phone calls to Ahava South Africa and its distributor SDV Pharmaceuticals were not answered. A spokesperson for Ahava UK refused to comment.

She was “not allowed” to comment as the distributor, but said the pull-out from South Africa was “a surprise to me.” A call to Ahava US was not answered. Emails to Ahava offices in South Africa, US and Israel were not answered before publication. (Friday afternoon is a weekend in Tel Aviv.)

Sustained campaign

Palestine solidarity activists in South Africa have been working against Ahava for years, as seen in the video above. Groups such as BDS South Africa and Open Shuhada Streethave been campaigning against Ahava since at least 2010.

Last year, Ahava was accused of violating South African trade regulations, by mislabeling its products “Made in Israel.”

Ahava is most well known for its skin care products, which are created using minerals and mud extracted from the section of the Dead Sea within the occupied West Bank. Its factory is based in the illegal Israeli settlement Mitzpe Shalem, south of the Palestinian townJericho.

In 2011, the jurors at the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine said that Ahava was guilty of “pillage” of Palestinian resources (a technical term under international law).

Ahava has been the subject of sustained campaign around the world, with groups like CODEPINK in the US taking it on.

In 2011, Ahava UK’s flagship London store was forced to close down after the landlorddeclined to renew its lease. Palestine solidarity activists had been holding fortnightly protests outside the high-profile Covent Garden store for a year.

It is no surprise then, that Ahava seems to have tried to avoid such negative publicity by pulling out of South Africa quite stealthily.

(Source / 13.12.2013)

5 power lines supplying Gaza damaged



GAZA, (PIC) — The Gaza Strip power authority (GSPA) confirmed that the damage affecting power lines that supply Gaza has disorganized electricity access to the houses.

Director of information center at GSPA Ahmed Abu Amrain said in a statement on Friday: “Electricity in Gaza is no longer linked to a specific schedule, because of the bad weather condition. The five power lines that supply Gaza were disconnected.”

He pointed out that the electricity available meets only 20 percent or less of the power needs of the population in Gaza.

“The technical teams are working on providing a number of areas with electricity for a few hours,” Abu Amrain added

Residents of the Gaza Strip are suffering from a big electricity crisis. Over a month ago Gaza’s sole power plant stopped working. Electricity reaches houses in Gaza only for six hours per day depending on Israeli and Egyptian power lines.

(Source / 13.12.2013)