Israel Places Cornerstone For New Settlement In Jordan Valley

[Thursday January 2, 2014] Israeli Interior Minister, Gideon Sa’ar, placed the cornerstone for a new illegal settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley of the West Bank, Palestine TV has reported.

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The Minister told reporters that Israel would boost and maintain the presence of its soldiers and settlers in the Jordan Valley, under any peace agreement with the Palestinians, adding that the area is essential for what he called “Israel’s strategic interests”.

His deputy, Ze’ev Elkin, stated that the new cornerstone comes in what he called “a great timing”, as U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, will be visiting Tel Aviv and Ramallah on the same day in an attempt to advance direct political talks.

“Giving up the Jordan Valley will make Kfar Saba a border town with the Palestinians”, he said, “Israel will build, will continue to build and expand its settlements”.

Meanwhile, the head of the Regional Council of Settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley, David Elchaiiani, demanded that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu officially annex the Jordan Valley.

He added that Netanyahu “doesn’t have a peace coalition”, referring to his settler-led government.

Israeli settlements, in every part of occupied Palestine, including the Jordan Valley and occupied Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.

Losing their land to illegal Israeli settlements and the illegal Annexation Wall, the Palestinians continue to suffer significant economic losses due to illegal annexation of their land, in addition to the fact that various Palestinian communities became isolated from the rest of the Palestinian territories.

(Source / 02.01.2014)

B’Tselem: 2013 Highest in Number of West Bank Fatalities in 5 Years

JERUSALEM, January 2, 2014 (WAFA) – Three times as many people were killed in the West Bank in 2013 as were in 2012, the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, said in a report published at the end of last year.

It said that in contrast to the situation from 2003 to 2012 when most Palestinian fatalities occurred in the Gaza Strip, in 2013 the majority of Palestinian fatalities occurred in the West Bank.

According to the data for the past year, Israeli security forces killed 27 Palestinians in the West Bank in 21 separate incidents and nine Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in seven incidents.

In contrast, in 2012, Israeli forces killed eight Palestinians in the West Bank and 246 in the Gaza Strip, including 167 killed in an 8-day Israeli military onslaught on Gaza in November, of whom 104 were innocent bystanders.

Palestinians killed three Israelis last year, two in the West Bank and one near the Gaza perimeter fence, said B’Tselem.

It said that even though a military investigation was launched in 23 fatalities which occurred in 19 incidents, a decision was made regarding only five of all incidents but are awaiting enforcement.

B’Tselem director Jessica Montell said, “The sharp rise in fatalities in the West Bank only serves to intensify concern about lack of accountability.”

She said lack of accountability for the killing of Palestinians “does not serve as a deterrent and indicates disregard for human life.”

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Maleh: ISIS is a mine planted by Assad

Haitham al-Maleh, Legal Committee Chair believes Bashar Assad should be held accountable not only for killing Syrians, but for “creating extremist cells in the region to have an influence over the opinions of western countries, putting them before two options; terrorism of extremists or the terrorism of Bashar Assad, in an attempt to overshadow the real popular revolution erupted to overthrow him”. “ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham) is a mine planted by the Assad regime in the revolution body, to warn the international community of approaching or interfering in Syrian issues” al-Maleh reiterated in a statement. “ISIS is a shell without a core, hiding inside the cloak of Islam to influence public opinion” he added. Al-Maleh described ISIS as “a hot-air balloon by which the regime tries to diverge the Syrian revolution away from its principles, including the overthrow of the regime and holding it accountable as its first and foremost goals. Since ISIS is a mine implanted by Assad, over throwing Assad leads to dismantling ISIS, but dismantling ISIS doesn’t lead to over throwing Assad. Therefore, the revolution should not diverge from its main goal, i.e. overthrowing Assad.” “We shall not forget that the Assad regime is organically connected with al-Qaeda” al-Maleh continued, “and it was the one that supervised transporting its members from Iraq to Naher al-Bared in Lebanon, for realizing specific political goals at the cost of civilian souls”. As a conclusion al-Maleh wondered “how possible it is to find coordination between the regime and ISIS concerning the killing Dr. Hussein Sulaiman, as a media cover up over the crime of Assad regime against the British physician Abbas Khan”. The Syrian Coalition reiterated, in the same context, in a statement that the relationship between ISIS and the regime is “an organic relationship through which ISIS realizes the goals of Assad’s gang”. The statement reiterates that “shedding the blood of Syrians at the hands of ISIS, permanently removes any doubts about ISIS’s nature, the reasons of its formation, the goals it seeks and the agendas it serves. This affirms the nature of its terrorist acts against the Syrian revolution.” It is noteworthy that the political tone of the Syrian Coalition has risen against ISIS after Hussein Sulaiman (Abu Rayan) was killed by ISIS after being detained in their prisons for 20 days where he underwent “severe torture.” The Syrian Coalition offered its condolences to the family of the fallen hero committing to “hold ISIS leaders accountable” and calling “for all fighters who joined ISIS thinking that it fights for the interest of the revolution to immediately defect and repudiate its acts that goes against the nature of Syrians”. The statement didn’t pardon the simple minded fighting under ISIS, considering “ignorance of ISIS agenda and plans doesn’t give excuse to anyone to stay with it or swear allegiance to it.”
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 02.01.2014)

Iraqi prime minister to send more forces to Al-Anbar governorate

Nouri Al-Maliki

After previously announcing the withdrawal of Iraqi forces in the wake of severe clashes with armed militias, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki reversed the decision on Thursday and sent more security forces to Al-Anbar governorate in the west of the country.

Al-Iraqiya TV, which is close to Al-Maliki, reported him saying that: “We will not withdraw our armed forces; indeed based on calls by residents and the local government, we are sending additional soldiers.”

News about Al-Maliki’s decision to reinforce the army’s presence in Al-Anbar came after Wednesday’s announcement by tribal forces and Al-Qaeda affiliated militias called Da’esh that they had imposed full sovereignty over the governorate.

An Iraqi security source reported renewed clashes in the early morning between the Iraqi Army and the tribal forces. The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the clashes lasted for about an hour, without giving any details about losses on either side.

Tribal forces in the city of Al-Fallujah swept on Wednesday Al-Jolan Police Station, killing a policeman, freeing all prisoners and then torching the whole security compound.

Several hours later, large numbers of Al-Fallujah residents left their homes fearing counter security operations by the government against the Da’esh, which had announced full sovereignty over the city by loudspeakers.

Since Saturday, cities throughout Al-Anbar Governorate have been witnessing security chaos after Iraqi security forces violently dispersed a one-year anti-government protest and arrested a leading Sunni MP, killing his brother.

Tribes and armed militias in the governorate had given the government an ultimatum to release the MP, Ahmed Al-Alwani; however the government did not release him, and the clashes have continued.

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Elderly Palestinian man dies from Israeli gas bombs

Elderly Palestinian Man Hospitalised

Israeli occupation forces raided on Wednesday the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya, firing massive amounts of tear gas that killed an 85-year-old Palestinian man, medical sources said.

The sources reported that the Israeli occupation forces fired several tear gas canisters directly into Palestinian houses throughout the city. People then called for Palestinian paramedics to take the elderly Said Jasser Ali to the Al-Arabi Hospital in Nablus.

However, a few minutes after arriving at the hospital, Jasser Ali was pronounced dead.

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Israeli study of foreign fighters in Syria suggests Shiites may outnumber Sunnis

A Free Syrian Army fighter poses as he carries his weapon in the northern province of Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) Click here to see more photos of fighting in Syria.

A Free Syrian Army fighter poses with his weapon in the northern province of Aleppo, Syria.

JERUSALEM – A group of former military intelligence analysts in Israel who combed through jihadist Web sites and other open-source material have produced new estimates of the growing phenomenon of foreign fighters waging civil war in Syria. Their data suggest that Shiite foreign fighters in Syria may actually outnumber those who are Sunni.

According to the study released this week by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center in Tel Aviv, there are currently 6,000 to 7,000 Sunni foreign fighters in Syria battling forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The number of Shiite foreigners fighting on Assad’s behalf is estimated at 7,000 to 8,000.

Syria has emerged as a powerful magnet for jihadist volunteers, who because of their religious fervor and outside financing play oversize roles in the fighting for and against the Assad regime, in what looks some days like a Sunni-Shiite proxy war.

Western and regional intelligence agencies worry especially about what these young men will do when they return to their home countries.

The majority of the Sunni fighters — about 4,500 — are thought to come from the Middle East and North Africa, especially Libya, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Some of the most experienced fighters come from Iraq, where they cut their teeth waging guerrilla war and terrorist campaigns during and after the U.S.-led occupation.

More than 1,000 are from Western Europe, mostly Belgium, Britain, France, Holland and Germany, according to the report. Many are the sons of second- and sometimes third-generation Muslim immigrants, especially Europeans of Moroccan extraction. Several hundred are Chechens.

The researchers found evidence of only a few dozen recruits from the United States and Canada. Also, the war in Syria appears to have inspired participation by just a relative handful of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Experts say that, far more than Afghanistan or Iraq in decades past, Syria’s rebel movement is drawing thousands of young men to fight.

Why?

“Because it is cheap, and it is easy,” said Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in Israel’s military intelligence directorate and now director of the center that produced the report. “You can make jihad for the price of plane ticket to Istanbul.”

From there it’s an overnight bus ride to the Syrian border, where recruiters are easily reached by calling cellphone numbers widely in circulation.

Erlich said he was surprised how rapidly the numbers of foreign fighters rose in the later half of 2013.

This phenomenon is worrying, he said, because the young Sunni fighters are typically not joining the more secular, more pro-West Free Syrian Army, which the Obama administration supports, sort of. Instead, they often seek out al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations, mostly Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — “which offer better food, better weapons and jihad ideology.”

“They learn to fight, they become radical, more committed to jihad, and then they return home,” Erlich said.

The researchers found that an additional 7,000 to 8,000 foreign Shiites fighting in Syria on behalf of the Assad government, including at any given time “several thousand” members of the Lebanon-based Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

The Israeli figures largely track other recent estimates made by groups such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization in Britain.

Erlich and his team drew other conclusions, as well: The majority of foreign fighters are young men (average age 23 to 26), often with decent educations but no military experience, and so begin their service in support roles, as go-fers and cooks. They train for 45 days and their stays in Syria are often brief. Many leave for home after three to five months.

“Many come during their school vacations,” Erlich said.

Some are propelled by religious fervor, while others are looking for adventure, seeing the Syrian rebels as romantic figures, according to accounts offered by the fighters on Web sites read by the Israelis.

But it is no spring break. The Israelis estimate that 500 to 700 foreign fighters have been killed in Syria. Also in 2013 there were at least 16 suicide bomb attacks carried out by foreign fighters from Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

“We were surprised with the speed and depth of the phenomenon in 2013 compared to 2012,” Erlich said. “And we haven’t even begun to see the end of this.”

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Jan. 3, London: Protest G4S Complicity in Torture – Free the Hares Boys!

Friday 3rd Jan – PROTEST G4S COMPLICITY IN TORTURE
– FREE HARES BOYS – FREE HUNGER STRIKERS

Date: Friday 3rd January 2014, 2pm – 4pm
Location: G4S HQ, 105 Victoria Street (Closest public transport: Victoria Tube/Rail station)

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/245697525591921/

hares 

G4S – HARES BOYS

Solidarity with 5 Palestinian children tortured and caged by Israel for a crime that never happened.

On 14th March 2013 in what appears to have been a car accident when a speeding illegal Israeli settler car crashed in to the back of an Israeli truck which had stopped to change a flat tire, on a illegal Jews-only road in the West Bank, resulted in four people being hurt. At the behest of angry settlers, the incident was later presented as an attack by Palestinian stone throwing youth.

The truck drivers earlier testimony that he had stopped due to a flat tire was replaced with the new reason being that he had seen stones by the road, and an accident that nobody saw suddenly became a terror attack with 61 witnesses including the police!

Over the next few days over 50 masked Israeli soldiers with attack dogs stormed the local village of Hares in the early hours of the morning and in waves of violent arrests kidnapped the children of the village. In total 19 children were taken to the infamous G4S secured children’s dungeon at Al Jalame and locked up in solitary confinement for up to 2 weeks in filthy windowless 1m by 2m cells with no mattress. The children were violently tortured and sexual threats were made against the female members of their families in order to coerce confessions from the boys.

With the confessions and the new “eye-witness” statements, five of the Hares boys were charged with 25 counts of attempted murder each, even though there were only four people in the car. Apparently the military court had decided that 25 stones were thrown, each with an “intent to kill”. The five boys – the “Hares Boys” – Ali Shamlawi, Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Mehdi Suleiman, Tamer Souf, and Ammar Souf are currently locked up in another G4S secured facility – Megiddo prison where G4S provides the entire central command room.

With no evidence of a crime the military court keeps on postponing the hearing dates for the children. All the October, November and December military court dates so far have been postponed and new ones issued for January by the Israeli military to the families of the boys, meanwhile the boys remain caged now for nearly 10 months now. Family visits are routinely cancelled with no notice being given, Ali Shamlawi mothers last scheduled visit on 17th Dec was cancelled – its a way to exert psychological pressure on both the children and their families.

Not that evidence, or lack of it, has any bearing in an Israeli military court – a study conducted by the Israeli NGO ‘No Legal Frontiers’ over a 12 month period concluded that 100% of Palestinian children brought before the military court are convicted. If the five boys are convicted they will be locked up for over 25 years – five young lives ruined with no evidence of a crime let alone their guilt.

We are demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all the children and hold G4S complicit in Israel’s crimes, particularly in the torture of Palestinian children.

FREE THE HUNGER STRIKERS – MOHAMMAD BADR, ISLAM BADR & THAER ABDU

We will also be  protesting in solidarity with the three hunger strikers Mohammad Badr, Islam Badr, and Thaer Abdu who have been on hunger strike since 16th November to protest their ‘administrative detention’ – the practice used by Israel to imprison Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.

Under administrative detention prisoners are given rolling detention orders which can be anything from 1-6 months, renewable indefinitely. This is against international law. In the past administrative detainee Mazen Natsheh has been locked up cumulatively for nearly 10 years without charge or trial. Detention orders can be based on so called “secret information” which never needs to be produced, either to the detainee nor their lawyer, but often administrative detention is used to arbitrarily jail Palestinians where there is no evidence for a trial, or as a form of punishment as in the case of 10 Palestinian MPs currently locked up without charge. Israel has on average issued over 2000 detention orders every year (2007-2011). Today there are 145 administrative detainees.

Thaer Abdu was abducted by the Israeli occupation forces from his home on 27th October and is being held under a 6 month administrative detention. Mohammed and Islam Badr are brothers, and were abducted from their family shop on 28th October. Mohammad is being held under a 6 month detention order whilst Islam is on an initial 3 month detention. All three are held in G4S secured Ofer prison, but unlike other Palestinians who are placed in the political “security” section, they have been put in section 14 which is for common criminals. Until recently they were on total hunger strike, taking only water (no salts and no medication). As a result their health deteriorated very rapidly and they had to be transferred to hospital on 12th December. Now they are taking salt with water. Both Mohammad and Islam have lost 12kg in weight since the beginning of their strike. To punish them for their hunger strike the prison has put them in isolation and taken all their personal possessions from the cell and denied then adequate blankets and bedding whilst being kept in a very cold room making even drinking water difficult to swallow. Everyday the prison guards continue the punishment by violently raiding their rooms at least 5 times daily under pretext of inspection. Despite their hardships all three prisoners are committed to their hunger strike.

The British security contractor G4S is complicit in Israel’s illegal practice of punitive administrative detention. Figures from April show that 86% of administrative detainees – the vast majority, are locked up in G4S secured Israeli prisons. Most of them having been transferred from the West Bank into Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

LIVE UPDATES DURING PROTEST

We will, inshAllah, be tweeting live (hash tags #FreeHaresBoys #G4S ) from the protest with live photos being uploaded to our twitter and facebook page. So if you can’t join us on the day, please help us by sharing the photos as they get uploaded.

https://www.facebook.com/inmindscom

https://twitter.com/InmindsCom

PLEASE HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE HARES BOYS

Please help raise money for the Hares Boys – five Palestinian children abducted from their homes in the village of Hares and caged in a hole in the ground and tortured until false confessions were extracted for stone throwing and are now facing possible life sentences. The aim is to raise as much as we can in 80 days  (starting 30th Oct) to help all the 5 families to deal with the financial burden associated with having their children imprisoned. The children have already spent 8 months in an Israeli dungeon.

Israel is the only country in the world that charges prisoners for their imprisonment. They have to buy food, soap, toothpaste, and everything else for highly inflated prices in the prison shop, because the Apartheid state does not provide for the people it incarcerates. Not only are such policies designed to break the spirit of the imprisoned and their families – they also intend to ruin them financially. Its costs over 125 euros per month to provide for one child’s basic needs in prison.

The initial target of 2000 euros  has been reached thanks to our French comrades, who raised a magnificent 1000 euros. The target was however kept low because of the way the fundraising works –  if you don’t reach the target in 80 days all the money is returned and the families don’t get any of the money. So we still need people to contribute, every little helps. So far 2,822 euros have been raised with just 19 days remaining. Around 6% of the amount raised goes towards administrative and bank fees of namlebee – the hosts of the fundraising.

Please give generously, thank you.

http://www.namlebee.com/?np=proyecto&pro=27

JazakAllah

Palestinian Prisoners Campaign
www.inminds.com/caged

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Badr brothers end hunger strike after being charged for military trial

Mohammed Badr, 25 and Islam Badr, 20, two Palestinian men held in Israeli occupation prisons, ended a 38-day hunger strike on December 22, 2013 after they were removed from administrative detention and transferred for trial.

Ma’an News reported that their families reported that they would now face charges in Israeli military courts. The brothers were arrested on October 28 by undercover Israeli military forces in Beit Liqya village.

Mohammed and Islam Badr launched a hunger strike in mid-November in protest against their administrative detention without charge, but ended the strike after the agreement was reached.

Their family told Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights that the administrative detention against the two brothers had been concluded as a part of the deal.

Administrative detention refers to the tactic of keeping a prisoner without charge or trial for extended periods of time.

Also on hunger strike with the Badr brothers is Thaer Abdu. Reports indicate that he is continuing his strike.

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Halahleh moved to Soroka hospital in worsening health

thaerhalahlehThaer Halahleh, Palestinian prisoner and former long-term hunger striker, was transferred from Ramon prison to Soroka Medical Center on December 26 after his health condition seriously worsened.

Halahleh was on hunger strike in 2012 for 77 days in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial, and was released in June 2012 at the conclusion of his administrative detention order.

He was re-arrested in April 2013 and diagnosed by Israeli doctors in Ofer prison as having contracted Hepatitis C during a dental operation in Ashkelon prison with non-sterile tools.

(Source / 02.01.2014)

Lebanon Army deploys as rebels advance near Syria border

Lebanese Army personnel keep a wary eye over the Masharih al-Qaa region. (The Daily Star/Moham Azakir)
Lebanese Army personnel keep a wary eye over the Masharih al-Qaa region.
 

HERMEL, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army deployed heavily along the northeastern border Thursday as Syrian rebel groups launched an offensive to retake key Syrian towns, leading to intense clashes with Hezbollah-backed regime forces, a security source said.

Speaking to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, the source said rebel groups were advancing from a range of barren hills toward the Syrian towns of Jousieh and Qusair.

Led by Hezbollah fighters, the Syrian Army said in June of last year it took back the town of Qusair which rebels had held for more than a year.

After the Qusair battle, Hezbollah expanded its military involvement in Syria while maintaining that resistance fighters remain in select cities.

Lebanese Army personnel from the Airborne regiment deployed in several locations along Masharih al-Qaa, al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek in light of the intense clashes in Syria, the source said.

The NNA said the deployment was partly aimed at preventing illegal border crossings.

A Syrian air strike on the outskirts of the Lebanese northeastern town of Arsal had targeted Wednesday a car carrying Syrian refugees, killing a woman and wounding three other people, a local official said.

Arsal Deputy Mayor Ahmad Fliti told The Daily Star that a Syrian warplane fired one rocket into the car carrying the refugees from the Syrian town of Jarajir.

The NNA said 10 people were wounded in the raid in Arsal where thousands of Syrian refugees reside.

Wednesday’s raid into Lebanese territory was the second by the Syrian air force this week.

On Monday, two helicopter gunships fired four rockets at Khirbit Daoud, on Arsal’s fringes. Minutes earlier, the Lebanese Army had opened fire on a Syrian helicopter gunship that violated Lebanese airspace over the outskirts of Arsal.

(Source / 02.01.2014)