Freed Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi arrives home in East Jerusalem

Samer Issawi

Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is surrounded by family after his release from Shatta prison on Dec. 23, months after ending a hunger strike to protest his re-arrest in 2012, shortly after being freed in a prisoner swap with Israel.

Israel has released Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, known for his long hunger strike in protest of his incarceration, local media reported.

Issawi was released Monday from Shatta prison in northern Israel and arrived late in the evening in his home village of Issawiya in East Jerusalem, where hundreds of supporters were waiting to welcome him.

In his first televised interview after being freed, Issawi said, “It is our obligation as freedom fighters to free all the Palestinian political prisoners!”

Israeli forces raided his family’s home twice just before his release, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper. On Sunday, Israeli authorities gave notices to Issawi’s brother and father, demanding they meet with Israeli intelligence, according to Palestinian news agency Maan.

Maan also reported that during the second raid Monday morning, Israeli intelligence agents accompanied by soldiers told the family they were not allowed to organize any celebrations for Issawi’s release.

An Israeli military spokesman did not reply to Al Jazeera’s emailed request for comment.

Photos shared on social media, however, showed dozens of well-wishers celebrating Issawi’s release in his home village.

View image on Twitter

PHOTO: Palestinian hero  has just arrived home @ village of Issawia in Jerusalem! Welcome home Samer!

According to the Israel Prison Service, Issawi was arrested in April 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for alleged “terrorist” ties and activities during the second intifada.

In October 2011, Issawi and hundreds of other Palestinians were released as part of a prisoner exchange to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

But less than a year later Issawi was rearrested in July for allegedly violating the terms of his release by leaving Jerusalem, his family told Al Jazeera. He had allegedly crossed into a nearby neighborhood that Israeli authorities do not consider part of the Jerusalem municipality.

As punishment, Issawi was told he would have to serve the remainder of his original sentence, 17 years.

Issawi and his family rejected claims that he had violated the release terms, and soon after his arrest Issawi began a hunger strike that gained international attention and put a spotlight on Israel’s prison system.

In April, when Issawi had been on hunger strike for about eight months, Israeli authorities told him they would release him if he ended the strike and served an additional eight months, local media reported.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, at the end of October 2013 there were 4,753 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons as detainees without charge or trial, or as prisoners serving sentences.

(Source / 23.12.2013)


By Peter Clifford             ©            (

President Assad’s genocidal barrel-bombing campaign on Aleppo province continued over the weekend, killing an estimated 93 people, in addition to the 200+ killed in the previous 5 days.

These Children Got a Special Delivery from Assad at Their School

The total of those injured now well exceeds 1,000. At least 28 of the latest deaths are thought to be those of children.

Over 2 days, Assad’s aircraft have dropped at least 25 barrel-bombs on 5 different districts, hitting a school, a market and a line of 10 vehicles including a bus. All those inside the bus were killed.

Hassoun Abu Faisal, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center said, “The medics say they are removing people in parts; they aren’t sure how many there are.”

The main districts affected were Hanano, Al-Ahmadiya, Sakhour, Baideen, and Ard al-Hamra, plus the countryside villages of  Marea and Atarib.

In Marea children were hurt while classes were in progress, and in Aleppo city itself 2 of the victims killed were ambulance workers rushing to help the injured.

Vehicles burning after the airstrike on Hananao can be seen HERE: and in the Al-Muslimiyah neighbourhood a train was hit with a shell, HERE:

At Hreatan, which was struck by barrel-bombs on Friday and Saturday, this little boy was found alive under the rubble, HERE:  and this little boy calls for his rescued sister in a collapse building, HERE:

Latest reports, today, Monday, say that 300 people have been killed by barrel-bombs in Aleppo in 8 days, including 87 children, 30 women and 30 Opposition fighters. (EDITOR: Frankly, never mind the ICC – Send Assad straight to Hell is my vote!)


Al-Kindi Hospital Before and After its use as an Assad Base

Finally on Saturday, Opposition fighters gained control of Al-Kindi Hospital (or what was left of it), which the regime had been using as a barracks.

This video (Arabic only) has good visuals of what the building now looks like inside, HERE: Formerly it was a modern hospital before it became an Army base.

Commenting on the attack, Syrian Minister of Higher Education Malek Ali, estimated the damage at 1.5 billion Syrian pounds – nothing of course against the damage wrought by Assad’s Army on most Opposition held areas of Syria’s main towns and cities.

Killed while covering the attack on Al-Kindi hospital at the end of last week was teenager, Molhem Barakat, variously reported to be 17 or 18 years of age.

Molhem had already established himself as a Reuters photographer, numerous photographs taken by him in Syria distributed worldwide by the news agency since last May.

Molhem was killed alongside his brother, an Opposition fighter, while they were taking cover in a carpet factory near to the hospital.  You can see some of Molhem’s best pictures, HERE:

The fall of Al-Kindi leaves only Aleppo Central Prison as a regime stronghold in the north of the city. The prison remains under siege and updated news is waited expectantly.

Last Pictures of Molhem Barakat R.I.P.

In  the meantime, the Syrian Red Crescent has continued its operation of bringing out prison detainees and taking in food. They successfully brought out another 7 prisoners who had served their term at the weekend, though their vehicle was shot at by unknown gunmen on its way in. Currently the Free Syrian Army and other Opposition units are targeting Assad’s Political Security Branch in Aleppo.


In Damascus, Opposition fighters destroyed a gas pipeline near the International Airport on Friday night, resulting in widespread power outages across the capital. And east of Damascus, the fighters went on to capture an Army base at Qasimiyeh, taking control of several T-72 tanks, a BMP armoured vehicle and weapons and equipment,HERE:  and HERE:

The Opposition have also destroyed a Shabiha (Assad armed militia) hideout in the Jobar district of the capital,HERE:  and activist sources are also claiming the killing of up to 50 of Assad’s troops after an attack on a troop convoy at Khan Ash-Shih to the south-west of Damascus.

From the besieged district of Moadamiya, has emerged the story of General Hummel’s Pants, a pair of bespoke trousers made to order, which one brother has inherited from another.  Good reading, HERE:

Assad’s Helicopters of Death With Barrel-Bombs

In the Damascus countryside fierce fighting, with heavy regime artillery fire, is also reported in and around the city of Adra.

In Deir El-Zour heavy fighting continues as Opposition forces continue to press Government troops in a number of locations. There is also a report today, Monday, that the Government have arrested 100 + soldiers in Qamishli to the north, after they refused to move to Deir El-Zour to reinforce the airport there.

This video was additionally released today of a direct hit on a Syrian Army 57mm artillery piece by the Opposition with their own recoilless gun, near Deir El-Zour airport, HERE:

In Homs province, Opposition fighters destroyed a tank in the countryside with an anti-tank missile HERE:

And on the other side of the coin, a Jihadist suicide bomber blew up a bomb laden truck near a primary school in the Shia town of Um al-Amad, killing 12 civilians, including 5 children.

The fighting also continues between the Jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and the Kurds, with the Kurds reported as killing an ISIL fighter in clashes and ISIL kidnapping yet another 50 Kurds on Saturday afternoon at Khan Al-Asal on the road between Damascus and Aleppo.

Earlier in December ISIL had released 71 Kurds kidnapped previously at the village of Ihris, but has kept all their identification papers, money and personal belongings.

On the chemical weapons front, Russia has airlifted in 10 flights to Latakia airport, 50 heavy duty Kamaz trucks and 25 armoured Ural vehicles to assist in the transport of chemical agents to ports in Latakia. The British have also volunteered the use of a Royal Navy vessel to escort their safe transportation once at sea.

The body of Dr. Abbas Khan, the UK doctor widely believed murdered by the Syrian regime just days before his scheduled release (scroll down – see below), has been repatriated to the UK where it will examined by a Home Office pathologist.

In a letter to the family, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, called his death a “sickening and appalling tragedy” and said the Assad regime “should answer for his death”.  The BBC has a video report, HERE:

At the same time, it has been revealed that Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, has removed British citizenship from 20 dual-nationals this year who are believed to be taking part in the Syrian conflict. EU law prevents her doing so for UK nationals of single nationality as she is not allowed to render them stateless.

160 doctors have died during the Syrian conflict, more than 90 of them assassinated, mainly by the Syrian Government for helping Opposition victims.

Despite this, and what happened to Dr. Khan, the Guardian reports that other British doctors are on their way, as is a UK aid convoy , HERE:

Although they may be hit by barrel-bombs like this:

Unexploded Barrel Bomb

And if their patients make it to refugee camps it could be like this:

Winter in Syrian Refugee Camps

However, there are still good news stories coming out of the Syrian disaster.

In Beirut, encouraged by UNHCR and a local restaurant owner, a group of Syrian refugee women, many of whom would never normally meet, have been empowered to produce their own food to sell using traditional recipes and to form their own company.

More “Christmas Cards” from Syria:

Of course, the Assad state media, SANA, still does not get it, tweeting this on Saturday with the attached picture (sickening to those living in rubble):

“SANA English ‏@SANA_English 21 Dec #Syria: The Dama Rose Hotel in #Damascus is all set for Christmas!”:

Assad’s Unreal Christmas Celebrations

The Christmas Card From A War Zone

Christmas in A Tent

But lastly, another story of hope and survival as 2 more children were rescued from the rubble of Assad’s bombing in Ma’arat Al-Numan, Idlib province, HERE:





Letter from America: International Rohingya Conference in the USA

The first international conference in the USA on the plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar – “Stop Genocide and Restore Rohingya’s Citizenship Rights in Myanmar” – was held in the campus of University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on December 14, 2013. It was jointly hosted by the Burmese Rohingya American Friendship Association (BRAFA) and the Rohingya Concern International (RCI).

The conference opened with a welcome speech from BRAFA’s chairman – Mr. Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (MSK Jilani) and Dr. Chia Vang of the Ethnic Studies program at the university. The program was conducted by Mr. Mohiuddin Yosuf, President of the RCI and Chief Coordinator of the conference organizing committee. I was invited as a speaker. Amongst others, the speakers included – Professor Greg Stanton of the Genocide Watch (George Mason University), Mr. Nurul Islam of ARNO (UK), Sheikh Ziad Hamdan of Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Professor Abid Bahar from Montreal (Canada), and Dr. Nora Rowley of Vulnerable Population Health and Well-Being.

The conference passed the following resolutions:

1. The Rohingya people, who mostly live in the western Rakhine state of Myanmar, are the most persecuted people in our time.

2. The tragic events unraveling since May 28, 2012 have made it obvious that the Rohingya people are victims of eight stages of genocide – Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination and Denial, as clearly documented by Professor Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch.

a) The level of anti-Muslim intolerance, hatred and xenophobia had simply no parallel in our time! Extremists have denied the very existence of the Rohingya people, in spite of the fact that the latter group has comprised almost a third of the population of the Rakhine State.

b) The genocidal campaigns against Muslims has resulted in deaths of many and internal displacement of some quarter million Muslims inside Myanmar.

c) Since May 28, 2012, national government actions and policies continue to be the main source of brutal persecution and human rights abuses that in effect has led to the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya.

d) Of particular concern is the unfettered role played by Wirathu – the abbot of historically influential Mandalay Ma-soe-yein monastery and his 969 Anti-Muslim movements, which sanctifies eliminitionist policies against the Muslims. Despite Wirathu’s outspoken propagation of violent aggression toward Muslims in Burma, government leaders have publicly called him peaceful and good. Demanding the expulsion of all Muslims from Burma, these monks urge the local population to sever all relations with not only the Muslims, but also with what are described as their “sympathizers”.Labeled as national traitors, those Buddhists who associate with Muslims also face intimidation and violence. The hateful rhetoric of the radical monks and the “969” campaign is ominously reminiscent of the hateful propaganda directed at the Tutsi population and their sympathizers in the lead up and during the Rwandan genocide, let alone the Nazi-led Holocaust more than half a century earlier.

e) National and local security forces have been allowed to perpetuate severe human rights abuses and brutal persecution against Muslims with impunity.

The conference participants called upon –

1. The Government of Myanmar to restore full citizenship rights of all the stateless Rohingya minorities living inside Burma and to all those who were forced to seek a life of unwanted refugee outside as a result of government-orchestrated violence against them.

2. The Government of Myanmar to stop persecution, discrimination and dehumanizing of Muslims, including repealing laws and policies that enact or contribute to the persecution of Muslims and other targeted groups within Myanmar.

3. The Government of Myanmar to crack down on anti-Muslim violence against Rohingya and other Muslims.

a. It must also allow an international independent investigation of the anti-Muslim violence.

b. It must stop the criminal activities of Buddhist monk Wirathu and his 969 movement, and punish them for causing suffering of the Muslim victims.

c. It must guarantee safety and security of the Rohingya people and other minority Muslims and Christians living inside Myanmar failing which it can be prosecuted for orchestrating and/or encouraging crimes against humanity.

d. It must compensate for the loss of lives and properties of all those affected by the cleansing pogroms since May 28, 2012.

e. It must allow for relocation of the victims to their original places.

f. It must allow unfettered access of the international UN agencies, non-government organizations, including the OIC, to closely monitor the violence prone Rakhine state and allow them to aid the Muslim victims.

4. The UN Security Council to authorize armed intervention in Myanmar by a UN force under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. The Mandate must include protection of Rohingya civilians and humanitarian workers and a No Fly Zone over the Rakhine state. The Rules of Engagement must be robust and include aggressive prevention of killing.

5. The International Criminal Court in the Hague should prosecute Wirathu and other instigators of crimes against humanity. It should also look into prosecuting the major political and military leaders in Myanmar that are responsible for crimes against humanity.

6. The major military powers (e.g., the USA, Russia and the UK) to provide leadership, logistics, airlift, communications, and financing.

a. If Myanmar will not permit entry, its UN membership should be suspended.

b. The lack of progress in matters of human rights of the Rohingya and other non-Buddhist minorities inside should automatically lead to enforcement of harsh measures which include trial of Myanmar’s leaders in an international criminal court for committing and aiding crimes against humanity.

The 1-day conference on the Rohingyas of Myanmar ended with a note of thanks from the organizers to the university authorities and the sponsors – Risale Center – for supporting the program.

(Source / 23.12.2013)

Een man die onschendbaar was voor het vuur

By Marianna Laarif

Eén van onze vrome voorgangers vertelt: “Op een dag zag ik hoe een ijzersmid kokend heet ijzer met zijn handen aan het bewerken was en dat dit hem helemaal geen pijn deed. Ik zei tegen mezelf: ,,Dit moet wel een rechtgeleide dienaar zijn, aangezien het vuur hem niet kan schaden.” Ik kwam dichterbij en groette hem. Hij groette mij terug. Waarop ik hem vroeg: ,,Bij Degene Die jou begunstigd heeft met deze gave, verricht smeekbede voor mij.”
De man begon toen te huilen en zei tegen mij: ,,Bij Allah, mijn broeder, ik ben niet zo goed als jij van mij denkt.”
Ik zei toen tegen hem: ,,O broeder, niemand behalve rechtgeleide mensen kunnen dit doen.”
Hij zei: ,,Aan dit gaat een merkwaardig verhaal vooraf.”
Ik zei: ,,Als je het me wilt vertellen, graag.”
Hij zei: ,,Goed. Op een dag was ik hier in deze smederij van mij aanwezig toen plotseling een vrouw de zaak binnenliep. Zij was zeer aantrekkelijk. Nog nooit heb ik een vrouw met zo een mooi gezicht gezien. Zij vroeg mij: ,,O broeder, heb je iets te geven in de Naam van Allah?”
Toen ik naar haar keek was ik helemaal weg van haar en zei: ,,Als jij met mij naar huis gaat dan zal ik je alles geven wat je wilt.”
Lang bleef zij naar mij staren om vervolgens te vertrekken. Zij bleef dagen weg, maar kwam terug en zei: ,,Onder dwang van omstandigheden zie ik mij genoodzaakt om op jouw voorstel in te gaan.” Hierop sloot ik de zaak en liep met haar naar huis.
Eenmaal thuis aangekomen zei zij: ,,Ik heb mijn kinderen in een benarde positie achtergelaten. Zou het mogelijk zijn dat jij mij tenminste nu iets geeft zodat ik dit naar hen toe kan brengen. Dan beloof ik later terug te komen.”
Hierop gaf ik haar wat geld en ik deed haar plechtig beloven terug te zullen komen. Dit deed zij ook. Een uur later was zij terug. Ik liet haar binnen en deed de deur achter ons dicht. Waarop zij vroeg: ,,Waarom heb je de deur dicht gedaan?”
Ik antwoordde: ,,Uit vrees voor de mensen.”
Hierop vroeg zei: ,,Waarom vrees je dan niet de Heer van de mensen?”
Ik zei tegen haar: ,,Hij is de Meest Vergevingsgezinde, de Genadevolle.” En ik stormde op haar af en merkte vervolgens dat zij beefde en dat tranen over haar wangen rolden. Ik vroeg haar toen: ,,Waarom beef je en huil je zo?”
Zij antwoordde: ,,Uit vrees voor Allah, de Almachtige,” en zei vervolgens tegen mij: ,,Als je mij laat gaan omwille van Allah dan verzeker ik jou dat Allah jou in het wereldse leven en in het Hiernamaals niet zal straffen met het Vuur.”
Ik stond vervolgens op, gaf haar alles wat ik bij mij had en zei: ,,Ik laat je gaan, uit vrees voor Allah.” Toen zij vertrok werd ik overmand door slaap. In mijn slaap zag ik een mooie vrouw die op haar hoofd een kroon van rode robijnen droeg.
Zij zei tegen mij: ,,Moge Allah jou namens ons belonen met het goede.”
Ik vroeg haar toen: ,,Wie ben jij?”
Zij antwoordde: ,,Ik ben de moeder van het meisje dat jij hebt laten gaan omwille van Allah, de Verhevene. Moge Allah jou in dit wereldse leven en in het Hiernamaals behoeden voor het Vuur.”Daarna werd ik wakker en sindsdien schaadt vuur mij niet en ik hoop dat het mij in het Hiernamaals ook niet zal schaden.

10 Things You Need to Know About the Persecution of Muslims in Myanmar (Burma)



By 1990, 15 years before I went to prison, the ruling generals had been in power in Burma for almost 30 years. In those days I was an elected member of the Burmese Parliament. Then in 2005, my family and I were arrested by the police. My wife, son and two daughters and I spent the next seven years in prison. They said our “crime” was declaring our rights as ethnic Rohingya. My jailers told me that speaking up for the Rohingya was giving Myanmar “a bad name” internationally.

In 2010, when the military leaders released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, I thought Burma was beginning to change for the better. Soon they announced political and economic reforms and they relaxed some restrictions on the press. A human rights commission was set up, under government control.

Some foreigners thought these small steps meant that the military was letting go its grip on Myanmar. The U.S. acted quickly to reward the generals. That was a signal to international investors to start looking for new markets in my country. In 2011, while my family and I were still in prison, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Burma. Then came an important visit by President Obama in 2012. That was followed by the U.S. decision to reduce trade sanctions and travel restrictions against Burmese leaders. Then early this year, my family and I were finally freed from prison.

But two years after all the talk about Burma’s “transition to democracy,” my Rohingya people are still being persecuted. Today, the Rohingya are where they were in 2005 when the police came to our house and took us away: we are stateless people, whose homes can be burned by mobs as the police stand by as idle witnesses.

10 Things You Need to Know About the Rohingya People

  1. Burma has a Buddhist majority. Less than 9 percent of the population is Muslim but we are more than a million people.
  2. We are an ethnic people who practice Islam and speak the Rohingya language. Most of us live in the state of Rakhine, where my great grandparents and their great grandparents were born.
  3. In the last 18 months, Buddhist mobs have terrorized Muslims throughout Burma. More than 200 Muslims have been killed and mosques, homes and businesses have been burned, all while the authorities turned a blind eye. Today, almost 150,000 Rohingya are trapped in dirty refugee camps, living in bad tents, with not much food and not enough medicine. The police prevent them from coming and going as free people. Some refugees are killed under mysterious circumstances or simply disappear forever. Sometimes the bodies are dumped in unmarked graves. It is like a big outdoor jail. Many Rohingya people have tried to escape to other countries. Last month, 70 men, women and children drowned in an overloaded boat that should never have gone to the deep sea. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and others have condemned “human rights violations” against the Rohingya.
  4. When the army seized power in 1962, it introduced discriminatory laws and Jim Crow rules. The Buddhist majority said Rohingyas were unwanted intruders. Today they call us “Bengalis” in the absence of any proof to make it seem we are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. It makes us feel like “aliens” in our own country.
  5. The Rohingya were full citizens of Burma until 1982. In that year a new law by the military government took away citizenship from Rohingya on the false accusation that they came to this country only after 1823 British occupation of Rakhine State.
  6. Today in Myanmar, we are not allowed to marry or have more than two children without government permission.
  7. Nobel prize winners like Nelson Mandala and Desmond Tutu and His Highness the Dalai Lama have spoken up for the Rohingya. Unfortunately, Aung San Su Kyi, our Burmese Nobel Laureate who is expected to contest for the presidency in the 2015 election, has not stood up for these persecuted people.
  8. The general census, which begins in a few months, may make things worse. The government says it will give the 135 so-called ethnic peoples a code number so each group to be counted in the census. But the government refuses to give us a code number. Instead, Rohingyas will be registered under the “foreigner” column, which some day may allow us to be deported from our own country.
  9. We need protection from mob attacks and property loss, surprise arrests and a court system that is stacked against us — all for the “crime” of being Rohingya. The United Nations recognizes our plight. On November 19th, the U.N. third committee passed a resolution telling Myanmar to give us back our citizenship. But the Burmese government rejected the resolution and accused the U.N. of violating its sovereignty.
  10. It is sad but now the U.S. is considering military and financial aid to its newest friend: Myanmar. Before that happens, Americans should demand that the Rohingya, Myanmar’s most vulnerable people, receive full citizenship and equal protection under the law.

(Source / 23.12.2013)

Israeli leaflets warn Palestinian parents of their ‘terrorist’ kids

HEBRON (Ma’an) — In an unprecedented move, Israeli forces on Sunday night put up posters in a refugee camp near Hebron featuring photos of locals Israeli forces claim are the fathers of those who commit “terrorist attacks.”

The Arabic-language posters were put up at al-Arrub refugee camp and targeted the parents of “teenagers who attack Israeli vehicles.”

Israeli intelligence posted pamphlets on walls at the entrance to the camp with photos and names of five residents of Al-Arrub refugee camp.

Ma’an obtained a copy of the posters, which warn the alleged fathers that their kids are involved in “terrorist attacks” against Israelis.

“We hereby notify you that your children are involved in terrorist attacks against citizens of the state of Israel. Practices by those young men endanger innocent citizens, and if they do not stop what they do, the IDF will have to take action to stop these practices.”

It was unclear whether the poster refers to incidents of stone-throwing which target vehicles driven by Israeli settlers in the area, or if it referred to attacks on Israeli military vehicles.

The pamphlet is undersigned by Abu Salam from the IDF command. It includes names and photos of nine fathers of young men who allegedly carry out attacks against Israelis.

The names are Amjad Mousa Younis Titi, Ahmad Muhammad Hasan al-Hasaniyya, Khalid Salamah Muhammad al-Jundi, Zuhdi Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Aziz Mahthouth, Khalid Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Aziz Jawabrah, Musallam Muhammad Musallam Abu Sal, Zein Addin Atallah Hammad Jawabrah, Taysir Abdul-Rahman Muhammad Titi and Abdul-Rahman Hasan Ibrahim Abu Sal.

“Stop them before it’s too late,” the pamphlet concluded.

Al-Arrub refugee camp is located on the Hebron-Jerusalem road, immediately south of the Gush Etzion Israeli settlement block and beside an Israeli checkpoint.

There are 19 refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, within which live about a quarter of the 771,000 registered refugees in the territory.

More than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants — were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

(Source / 23.12.2013)

Samer Issawi is vrij … eindelijk !


Samer Issawi

Maandag 23 december is het toonbeeld van het Palestijns verzet, Samer Issawi vrijgelaten. Samer heeft meer dan 17 maanden in de Israëlische bezetting detentiecentrum Shatta Gevangenis gezeten onder de zogenaamde administratieve detentie wet. Voordat Samer vrijgelaten zou worden, had de Israëlische terreurpolitie de familie bevolen de vrijlating niet te vieren en vooral de vlaggen van het huis te halen.

Samer Issawi is het toonbeeld geworden van de hongerstaking strategie in Palestina, daar hij zijn hongerstaking 277 dagen heeft volgehouden. In april 2013 heeft hij deze hongerstaking beëindigd, nadat hij een deal had geaccepteerd om nog acht maanden te zitten in het kader van het schenden van de borgtocht voorwaarden van een eerdere vrijlating.

In 2002 werd Samer Issawi veroordeeld tot een gevangenisstraf van bijna dertig jaar wegens de betrokkenheid bij verzetsactiviteiten tegen Israël. In het negende jaar van zijn gevangenisstraf – in oktober 2011 – kwam Issawi vrij bij een door Egypte bemiddelde gevangenenruil tussen Hamas en de Israëlische autoriteiten.  De ruil was bedoeld om de Israëlische soldaat Gilad Shalit vrij te krijgen in ruil voor meer dan 1000 Palestijnse gevangenen die zich bevonden in Israëlische gevangenissen.

Sinds het einde van het Britse mandaat in Palestina in 1948 is de zogenaamde administratieve detentie wet van kracht.  Middels deze wet kunnen Palestijnen worden gearresteerd als ze als een ‘bedreiging voor de nationale veiligheid van Israël’ worden beschouwd. Met deze wet werd Samer in juli 2012 weer gearresteerd omdat hij zich volgens de Israëlische militaire macht niet hield aan de voorwaarden van de eerdere vrijlating. De bezettende macht kon op deze manier zijn straf verlengen tot 2029, maar kwam er later achter dat Samer op deze manier toch wel een groot voorbeeld zou worden voor het verzet als hij in de gevangenis zou sterven.  Samer Issawi had vooraf aangegeven dat hij vastberaden zou zijn om te sterven als martelaar als voorbeeld voor het Palestijnse verzet.

Samer Issawi1

Israëlische troepen hebben maandagochtend, voordat Issawi werd vrijgelaten, een inval gedaan in de woning van de familie en daarbij duidelijk gemaakt dat het ‘verboden was om feest te vieren.’ Een dag eerder hadden officieren van de inlichtingendienst de vader van Samer en zijn broer opdracht gegeven voor een ondervraging.
De Israëlische strijdkrachten hebben de familie het onmogelijk gemaakt om een feest te organiseren. Tevens hadden ze te kennen gegeven dat een mars ter eren van de vrijlating niet getolereerd zou worden in de buurt, op welk uur dan ook.

@ KhamakarPress

BREAKING: Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi released from Israeli Jail

Samer Issawi

Hunger striker Samer Issawi, one of four Palestinians held by Israel who has been on an intermittent hunger strike, gestures as he leaves Jerusalem’s magistrates’ court
Palestinian political prisoner and resistance icon Samer Issawi was released on Monday after spending over 17 months in the Israeli occupation detention centre Shatta Prison.”Samer Issawi’s family was ordered by Israeli terror police earlier today not to celebrate and to take down the flags raised at their home,” according to The Free Samer Issawi Campaign page on Facebook.

Issawi ended his 277-day long hunger strike on 23, April 2013 after accepting a deal brokered by Israeli and Palestinian officials to serve eight months on charges of violating bail conditions for an earlier release.

In October 2011, Issawi, then serving the ninth year of a 30-year jail sentence for involvement in resistance activities against Israel, was released as part of an Egypt-brokered prisoner swap between Hamas and Israeli authorities. That deal led to the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

However, Issawi was rearrested July 2012 under Israel’s so-called administrative detention law.

The law, which has been in place since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, allows for the arrest of Palestinians if they are deemed a “threat” to Israel’s national security.

Palestinian hunger strikes have posed a new challenge to the Israeli government, which has come under international criticism for its practice of detaining prisoners without trial.

(Source / 23.12.2013)

Syria Rebels Schooled in Tactics Before Talks With Assad

Syrians search for survivors amidst the rubble following an airstrike in the Shaar…Read More

As Syrian opposition leaders prepare to negotiate for the first time with President Bashar al-Assad, they’ve gone back to school to learn how to do it.

Doctors, dentists and academics among leaders of the Western-backed opposition will go up against an Assad team with decades of experience in diplomacy at the talks scheduled in Switzerland next month.

Their international supporters have helped to arrange training to close that gap. Monzer Akbik, a 48-year-old engineer who’s chief of staff for the Syrian National Coalition, said he took a five-day course at a location he was asked not to disclose.

“It was basically about how to reach a win-win situation,” said Akbik of his training, which included an exercise that simulated a commercial deal. Participants learned that “what’s sustainable is to try to achieve the interest behind the position, not necessarily to stick to the same position,” he said. “It opened our eyes about academic information that you didn’t know before.”

Since early in a civil war that’s lasted almost three years, rebel leaders vowed they wouldn’t talk to Assad and would drive him from power instead. The about-face that’s set them studying for a peace conference in Montreux — moved from Geneva because watchmakers had booked its hotel rooms for a trade fair — follows shifts in the regional balance that have undermined opposition hopes of a military victory.

‘Things Happen’

The U.S. backed away in September from proposed military strikes against Assad, and instead joinedRussia in reaching an accord for his government to destroy chemical weapons. The same two countries have taken the lead in pushing the peace talks. Russia, an Assad ally, is ready to talk to the Free Syrian Army, linked to the opposition coalition, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

“There’s a bit of momentum after the chemical weapons deal, which shows that when the U.S. and Russia agree on something it’s possible that things happen,” said Paul Salem, vice president of the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

Also strengthening the case for negotiations are the rising influence of al-Qaeda-linked Islamist groups in Syria, the scale of the humanitarian crisis, and the prospect of help from Iranian leaders seeking to improve ties with the West, he said.

For the opposition leaders, that means more homework. Another course was offered earlier this month to 19 coalition members at Clingendael Academy in The Hague, which has trained diplomats for 20 years.

‘Their Business’

“You clearly sensed that they never had worked, maybe with one exception, in an official function in diplomacy,” said Ron Ton, the academy’s director.

He said exercises designed for the course deliberately didn’t refer to Syria’s situation. “It was a training program, it was facilitating their skills,” Ton said. “Their strategy for Geneva, that’s their business.”

Deciding that strategy is made harder by the opposition’s fragmentation. There are more than 1,000 groups, according to Western estimates. Most won’t be in Montreux, including Islamist groups that play a growing role in the fighting. There are signs that their success on the battlefield has made the U.S. less eager to topple Assad, while U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia have signaled they may shift support from the Western-backed groups because they’re ineffective.

The Syrian war has left more than 125,000 dead, according to activists. It’s portrayed as a fight against terrorism by Assad’s government, and an uprising against his rule by the opposition.

People’s Plight

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad told Syria’s state-run television that the priority of the conference should be “reaching a consensus on putting an end to terrorism,” state-run SANA news agency said.

Badr Jamous, secretary-general of the opposition coalition, said he learned from the training in Holland and has come round to the idea of negotiations. “A person will have to talk to the enemy if he wants to end the plight of his people,” he said.

There’s no reason for Syrians to expect their plight to end after Montreux, said Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Center in Beirut.

“The two sides simply aren’t ready for that,” and the opposition has more homework to do, said Sayigh, who was a negotiator in the Palestinian delegation during peace talks with Israel in the 1990s.

“Technical negotiating skills are no more useful, effective or powerful than the concrete proposals brought to the table,” he said. “This is an opposition that has shown itself unable to develop a political program so far.”

(Source / 23.12.2013)

Israeli forces prevent students from reaching school near Qalqiliya

QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers stationed near a Qalqiliya-area village prevented students from reaching school on Sunday morning, a local official said.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the checkpoint at the entrance to Azzun Atma village in the northern West Bank prevented students from neighboring Beit Amin village from attending their school inside Azzun Atma, chairman of Beit Amin village council Taqi Omar told Ma’an.

He said that on Sunday morning students had left for school in Azzun Atma like on any other day, but Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the village prevented the male students from passing, even as they allowed the female students to go.

Omar added that they had informed the education directorate in Qalqiliya as well as the Palestinian liaison of the incident.

An Israeli spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Although Azzun Atma and Beit Amin are located directly next to each other, the Israeli settlement of Sha’are Tiqwa was built on a small hill between them, thus cutting the villages off from each other.

Azzun al-Atma is encircled by Israeli settlements and restricted zones, much of which are on land confiscated from local farmers. However, the school for Beit Amin students is located inside Azzun Atma, forcing local students to pass through the checkpoint in order to attend.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 23.12.2013)