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Dagelijks archief 21 januari 2014

Israeli police secure mass desecration of Aqsa Mosque by settlers and soldiers

 

 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– 157 Jewish settlers, soldiers and intelligence officers on Tuesday morning desecrated the Aqsa Mosque under tight police protection.

The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage said that 46 settlers led by extremist rabbi Yehuda Glick defiled the Aqsa Mosque in the morning and walked around in the courtyard.

At the same time, other groups of 90 male and female soldiers as well as 21 intelligence officers received separate guided tours around the Aqsa Mosque compound in the morning.

The Aqsa foundation affirmed that special police squads protected this mass desecration of the Aqsa Mosque today morning and prevented Palestinian worshipers from trying to defend their Mosque.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Bibi’s final status map leaves little room for Palestine

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the foreign media in Jerusalem, Jan. 16, 2014.

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is about the map — who gets what and how much of historic Palestine. US Secretary of State John Kerry may well have an opinion about this — it is hard to believe that he does not — but President Barack Obama’s White House has yet to decide whether to break with the history of the last four decades and draw an American picture of what the states of Israel and Palestine should look like.

No such hesitation is to be found among the Palestine Liberation Organization and its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, the signatories to the Arab Peace Initiative or members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). They accept the June 4, 1967, border as the line dividing the state of Israel from the yet-to-be-created state of Palestine. They are prepared to consider modifications to this map, the so-called land swaps, not because they want to, but in order to satisfy Israel’s territorial demands over this demarcation.

In contrast, Kerry is not close to divining the picture that Israel is prepared to draw. Israel’s rejection of Gen. John Allen’s Jordan Valley security ideas is the latest evidence of this debilitating weakness. Netanyahu will, like all those Israeli leaders before him, continue to struggle mightily to avoid getting to the point in negotiations where he will have to present Israel’s bottom line, which will necessarily define the limits of Israel’s territorial appetite in Palestine.

This map, Bibi’s map, has never been taken out of the drawer. Chances are, Netanyahu and his advisors have never drawn such a map, even for themselves. Why bother, when, Kerry’s effort notwithstanding, there is no serious American or international pressure to do so? Presenting such a picture, even if only among themselves, would suggest that Israel is indeed coming to the point where it will be forced to make a choice. Why would Netanyahu, who has yet to demonstrate that kind of leadership while becoming Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, put himself in such a predicament?

Drawing a picture of an agreed upon final status map is complicated for the Israelis. Since the earliest days of the Zionist movement, its leadership has preferred to create facts on the ground rather than limit its vision by drawing lines on paper. By preference, and as a matter of negotiating principle, then, the Netanyahu government wants everything, or almost everything, of Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

The accompanying map projects how Netanyahu’s views translate into facts on the ground. It is not meant to be authoritative or exact, attributes that Israel has no current interest in presenting, but to offer an informed sense of how Netanyahu’s declared objectives translate into lines on paper.

map

As always, Netanyahu’s point of departure is the satisfaction of Israel’s expansive security and settlement interests. The leavings become Netanyahu’s Palestinian state, relegated to a little more than half the West Bank plus Gaza.

Areas A and B comprise the bits of the West Bank that have too many Palestinians for Israel’s purposes. At 40% of the West Bank, they form the heart of Netanyahu’s Palestine. Had the Oslo II accords not created them, Israel alone would have invented something like Areas A and B as a mechanism for squaring the circle — that is, keeping the land (Area C) but not those who live on it (Areas A and B). A state based on this concept lacks the territorial, inspirational (Jerusalem) and security prerequisites necessary for the exercise of sovereignty, and that of course, is Israel’s core strategic objective and the corollary to its settlement and security demands.

Netanyahu’s desire for the West Bank is limited only by those factors that Israel considers to be irreconcilable with its own vision. The Palestinian demand for East Jerusalem, last week seconded by the OIC in Morocco, or the division of the city according to the Clinton parameters, is therefore a non-starter. Ditto for Israel’s surrender of settlement blocs including Ariel, Givat Ze’ev or Ma’ale Adumim. Even the separation barrier, reluctantly established by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has not limited Netanyahu’s vision. Israel expects that the Palestinians and the international community have internalized its assumption that all the territory west of the barrier is already naturally part of Israel. Meanwhile, east of the barrier, settlements continue to flourish. In recent days, Netanyahu himself has declared that settlements in the central Palestinian heartland, around Ramallah and Hebron, are also considered inseparable parts of Israel’s permanent sovereign domain. Together, these areas comprise 13% of the West Bank.

Kerry’s focus on the Jordan Valley has hardly made an impression on Jerusalem. Netanyahu is happy to pocket Kerry’s willingness to accept the principle permitting the deployment of Israeli troops beyond its sovereign borders and its control of Palestine’s border with Jordan, but he has refused to reconsider any diminution of direct Israeli control there, including removing the Jordan Valley’s civilian settlements and its settler population of less than 10,000. In Netanyahu’s ideal world, the Jordan Valley, totaling one third of the West Bank, remains outside Palestinian control.

Bibi’s current ideas suggest a willingness to expand Areas A and B from the current 40% agreed to in the Oslo II accords almost two decades ago to approximately 54% of the West Bank. This map of Palestine would require Israel to evacuate close to a quarter of its recognized settlements and scores of unrecognized “outposts” established since 1996. Perhaps 20,000 settlers would find themselves on the wrong side of the new border and thus candidates for evacuation. They represent barely a quarter of those identified on the map then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put before Abbas in September 2008.

For the time being, Netanyahu’s notions have yet to claim any diplomatic space, which continues to be dominated by issues that fall far short of drawing the lines of a new map of Palestine and Israel. This elusive map, however, hovers over the considerations of all concerned, who wait in fear or hopeful expectation of a change in the map created in June 1967.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Egypt: Mass protests in Alexandria in lead up to January 25 anniversary

Mass protests in Alexandria in lead up to January 25 anniversaryThousands of anti-coup protesters and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi took part in three marches on Monday evening in the coastal city of Alexandria.

The marches started off from Borg Al-Arab and Al-Wardeyan neighbourhoods in western Alexandria, and the eastern Al-Nozha neighbourhood. During the marches protesters mobilised citizens to join nationwide protests scheduled for the anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Alliance are calling for mass nationwide protests on January 25 to protest the military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected from power on July 3, 2013. Secular youth groups, including the April 6 Movement,announced they will take part in the events to express their condemnation of military rule.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Hopes for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation grow, despite ongoing repression

A Palestinian woman embraces her son, released from prison in Gaza on 8 January 2014, a move Hamas officials called a goodwill gesture aimed at supporting reconciliation with rival Fatah.

Suad al-Najjar and Khitam al-Muqayyad are two grieving Palestinian mothers from the Gaza Strip.

Their sons, Tariq and Muhammad, were killed in 2007 as a result of the divisions betweenFatah, the faction of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and its rival Hamas.

In 2006 and 2007, following Hamas’ victory in January 2006 legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Fatah leaders and their international supporters were unwilling to accept, armed clashes led to the deaths of dozens of supporters of each group.

In June 2007, fearing a US-sponsored coup by forces loyal to Abbas, Hamas drove Fatah forces out of Gaza. Abbas, in turn, accused Hamas of carrying out a “coup.”

Both mothers want the rival parties to patch up their differences. “Years after Tariq’s death, my grief remains the same,” al-Najjar, a Fatah supporter, said.

“We are all doubtful that they will reach an agreement as this is not the first time they have claimed to be getting near to one,” she added. “Yet we are hopeful they will make it eventually.”

Indeed repeated announcements of reconciliation agreements by senior Hamas and Fatah leaders over several years have never been implemented, leaving the division as entrenched as ever.

Losing a son

Al-Najjar lives in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Saftawi. On the day she lost her son in November 2007, she was taking part in a Gaza City ceremony marking the third anniversary of the death of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat.

At around midday, she heard the sound of gunfire from al-Katiba Square, where Fatah was holding a rally in Arafat’s memory.

She immediately grew concerned as her son had insisted on traveling to Gaza City that day.

In the afternoon, she learned that he had been killed when police forces run by Hamasopened fire on participants in the event.

Tariq, only 20 years old, was the father of two children.

Willing to forgive

Wajih al-Najjar, Tariq’s uncle, recalled that he once addressed a public meeting on the need for unity between the leading Palestinian parties.

“I spoke out, saying that if my nephew’s blood would be the price for a genuine reconciliation, I would renounce that blood and forgive the one who killed Tariq so brutally.”

Khitam al-Muqayyad, who supports Hamas, lives in al-Shati — also known as Beach Camp — in the western part of Gaza City.

Her 24-year-old son Muhammad was shot in June 2007 during clashes in Gaza City.

The Qassam Brigades — Hamas’ armed wing — stated that he was shot by a sniper as he tried to help an “injured comrade.”

His mother emphasized that she does not support the “peace” talks between the Fatah-ledPalestinian Authority in Ramallah and Israel.

Yet, she said, “I would accept and feel happy with a reconciliation that will be based on Palestinian legitimate rights, not the concession of those rights.”

Efforts aimed at reconciling the parties have involved contacts between Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, and Azzam al-Ahmad, a former minister who represents the Abbas-led government in Ramallah.

Isolated

One factor that may make the current effort more credible in some eyes is that Hamas feels more isolated than ever in Gaza, as the Egyptian military regime which seized power last July has intensified its crackdown on the supply tunnels under its border with Gaza.

These tunnels have been critical to alleviate the worst effects of Israel’s years-long siege of Gaza.

An official in the Gaza government recently asserted that the Egyptian crackdown was costing the territory’s severely depressed economy $230 million per month.

At the same time, media sympathetic to Hamas have accused Fatah of siding with the Egyptian military regime, only heightening tensions in recent months.

Students arrested

Salem Salama, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council elected in 2006, said that Haniyeh had made some goodwill gestures towards Fatah. These have included the release of Fatah prisoners.

Also, this week, two Fatah-affiliated members of the legislative council who fled to the West Bank amid the armed clashes in 2007, were permitted to return to Gaza, another sign of warming relations.

Asked if he would support holding elections, Salama said it was first necessary for the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority to cease arresting people affiliated with Hamas

“Recently, they have rounded up dozens of university students, supportive of Hamas,” he added.

The latest reconciliation efforts follow a number of discussions held between Fatah and Hamas in Egypt and Qatar over the past few years.

Among the topics discussed are reform of the PLO and particularly its key decision-making body, the unelected Palestinian National Council, which has been dominated by Fatah.

Until now, Hamas has not been part of the PLO.

Upbeat

Salama argued that because Hamas won 65 percent of seats — though a lower share of the popular vote — in the 2006 election, it should enjoy a similar level of representation in the PLO.

Faisal Abu Shahla, a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza, accused Hamas of being repressive.

“Hamas recently prevented a demonstration in Gaza, in solidarity with the Palestinian refugees in the Syrian refugee camp of Yarmouk, who are currently starving to death,” he said.

Such accusations are common, and groups including the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Al-Mezan have over the years repeatedly condemned tit-for-tat arrests and harassment of Fatah and Hamas members by forces controlled by the rival party.

Abu Shahla was nonetheless upbeat about the prospects for reconciliation.

“I do not think that President Mahmoud Abbas will back down from the reconciliation drive, even though some key players like the United States, might pressure him [to do so].”

“Reconciliation is our own Palestinian internal affair and we are going ahead with it.”

Suad al-Najjar and Khitam al-Muqayyad, who like so many other mothers have paid the unbearable cost of the bitter, ongoing division, may support rival parties, but they still share the same hope.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Egyptian Militants Claim Rocket Attack on Israel’s Eilat

JERUSALEM — An al Qaeda-inspired group in Egypt claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a rocket attack on Israel’s southern Eilat port, saying it would continue to target the Jewish state while battling the interim military government in Cairo.

There were no casualties or damage from Monday night’s attack. Eilat residents reported hearing two explosions and a police spokesman said remains of a rocket were found in a desert area outside the Red Sea port on Tuesday.

Israel has occasionally come under cross-border strikes from the lawless Egyptian Sinai peninsula, though a new fortified fence along the frontier and Cairo’s security crackdowns have kept the militants largely in check.

The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) said it had carried out the rocket launch on Eilat and was undeterred by Egyptian security sweeps.

“Jews must understand that our war with the enemy inside will not make us forget the prime enemy of the (Muslim) nation, who occupies the land and defiles the sacred places,” Ansar said in a statement. “Jews will see things they do not like.”

Two Egyptian soldiers and three militants were killed in an army raid on an Ansar hideout in Sinai last month.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Morocco buys Israeli-designed weapons

Israel Aerospace Industries' "Heron" UAVIsrael Aerospace Industries’ “Heron” UAV’s have a range of 350km and can operate for up to 52 hours without refueling

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on its website on Monday that the Israeli Military Industries, a government-owned weapons manufacturer, sold Morocco drones over the past year through a French company. Maariv attributed the information to Moroccan media outlets that report on the military in the North African country.

The Moroccan army took delivery of three Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the end of last April, via the French company Dassault Aviation, which acted as the mediator in the deal. The Farmorocco website and Aeronautica Y Astronautica magazine published a document which confirms that Morocco bought the Israeli-designed aircraft. The army also possesses four US-made UAVs.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Israeli troops kidnap son of Hamas leader

Israeli troops kidnap son of Hamas leader

Israeli forces have arrested the son of Hamas leader Gamal Abul-Haigaa in Jenin in the northern West Bank, according to a Tuesday statement by the resistance group.

“Israeli Special Forces this afternoon kidnapped Emad Abul-Haigaa from a shop on Haifa Street in Jenin,” read a statement by Hamas leader Wasfi Qabha.

“Israeli troops assaulted Emad before taking him to an unknown location,” he said.

Eyewitnesses said that Israel troops had worn plainclothes and driven a car with Palestinian license plates.

Palestinian authorities have yet to comment on the alleged incident.

Two months ago, Israeli security forces stormed the elder Abul-Haigaa’s home – killing one resident – on the pretext of searching for wanted individuals.

Abul-Haigaa’s other son, Hamza, is also wanted for multiple charges, while a third son remains in detention by the Israeli authorities.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Assad regime abetted extremists to subvert peaceful uprising, says former intelligence official

Syrian intelligence agencies released Islamist militants from prison to deliberately subvert a peaceful uprising and ignite a violent rebellion, according to a former regime security official.

The claim comes ahead of peace talks in Switzerland on Wednesday, which President Bashar Al Assad’s government said should “fight terrorism”, a term he uses to describe all armed opposition groups.

But according to the former security officer it was the regime that intentionally exacerbated radicalism shortly after the uprising began in March 2011 in order to make itself the least bad choice for the international community and Syrians alike.

“The regime did not just open the door to the prisons and let these extremists out, it facilitated them in their work, in their creation of armed brigades,” said the former member of Syria’s Military Intelligence Directorate, one of more than a dozen of Syria’s secretive intelligence agencies.

The former officer said most of the releases happened over a period of four months up until October 2011 and that the project was overseen by the General Security Directorate, another of Syria’s widely feared security organisations and one of the most important.

Under pressure from opposition groups and the international community, the regime set free hundreds of detainees from jail in the first few months of the uprising as part of an amnesty.

But many political prisoners and protesters backing the peaceful uprising were kept in prison, while others, including known Islamist radicals and violent offenders, were quietly released.

Some former inmates of Saidnaya prison, a facility 50 km north of Damascus, went on to become prominent members of insurgent groups.

Zahran Aloush, commander of the Jaish Al Islam; Abdul Rahman Suweis of the Liwa al Haq; Hassan Aboud of Ahrar Al Sham; and Ahmad Aisa Al Sheikh, commander of Suqour Al Sham, were all held in regime jails prior to the uprising.

The commander of the powerful Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra, Abu Mohammad Al Jolani, is also rumoured to have been among those set free, although little is known about his true identity.

“Most of the important people in these extremist groups were in Saidnaya prison, not just Zahran Aloush. There were many of them and the regime let them go very deliberately,” the former intelligence officer said.

From the start of the uprising, the regime insisted it was facing an Islamist insurgency as a way of justifying its murderous response to overwhelmingly peaceful demands for political reforms.

To give that narrative credence and bolster support among the fearful religious minorities it depends on for support, as well as Syria’s moderate mainstream population, the regime sought to create instability inside Syria, including acts of violence by Sunni extremists, said the former intelligence officer. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

He is one of a small number of Alawite security officers who defected from the regime in protest at its tactics to break the uprising.

Although he left his position as head of a military intelligence unit in northern Syria in the summer of 2011, he remains in contact with some former colleagues and has not joined the opposition.

In fact, he believes Mr Al Assad should remain in power as a preferable alternative to radical Islamist factions that have come to dominate the armed rebellion.

Groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and Jabhat Al Nusra have been infiltrated by Syria’s security forces, the former intelligence officer said, with regime personnel helping them wage war against other Islamic groups and, in some cases, even against Syrian regime forces.

“This regime is clever, no one on the outside will ever understand what goes on inside,” he said, describing a shadowy system of intelligence branches spying on each other, betraying one another, sometimes promoting attacks by armed rebels on other security branches – all in the name of serving the president.

The officer, who served for 12 years in military intelligence, including a long stint in Aleppo, said Syria’s security agencies played a key role in sending Islamist insurgents to Iraq to fight US forces following the 2003 invasion, with President Al Assad fearful Syria would be America’s next target.

Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital – now a ruined cityscape, smashed by artillery and airstrikes – was a key recruitment and transit hub for militants.

When the fighters returned to Syria, many were jailed or executed by the secuirty services, the former officer said, as the authorities sought to reign in extremists who, back on home turf, might pose a threat to the regime.

However, with the 2011 uprising against Mr Al Assad refusing to die down after several months, the regime once again sought to exploit radical Islamists to make itself appear as a bastion of secular moderation.

“The regime wanted to tell the world it was fighting Al Qaeda but the revolution was peaceful in the beginning so it had to build an armed Islamic revolt. It was a specific, deliberate plan and it was easy to carry out.

“There were strong Islamic tendencies to the uprising so it just had to encourage them,” he said.

Another former regime official who has not joined the opposition agreed that there was a policy on the part of Mr Al Assad’s forces to create violence and terrorism to legitimise a crackdown on the opposition.

“You release a few people and you create the violence. It’s contagious,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Weapons were made available to radical elements of the opposition in key hotspots, including Deraa and Idlib, the former military intelligence officer said.

“This is not something I heard rumours about, I actually heard the orders, I have seen it happening,” the officer said. “These orders came down from [Military Intelligence] headquarters Damascus.”

The officer remains angry about the strategy of stoking radicalism, saying it was a key reason why he left his post. An incident in Jisr Al Shoughour, in northern Syria, in June 2011, proved decisive, after hearing higher ranked officers saying it was necessary to provoke sectarian bloodshed there, including the slaughter of fellow Alawite officers by Sunni rebels, in order to “serve the nation”.

“They [the regime] fed us nationalism but at the expense of our blood, they sold our blood to create Takfiris” he said, a reference to a radical Sunni ideology that regard Alawites as heretics who should be killed.

His claims could not be independently verified and he did not have documents supporting them. Syria’s security branches have, overwhelmingly, remained fanatically loyal to the regime with each depending on the other for survival.

Some regime supporters admit former detainees have joined the insurgency, but say that was not the authorities’ intention and is, rather, the responsibility of international powers, which pushed Mr Al Assad to free all political prisoners, including Islamists.

In other cases, rebel fighters say they were radicalised by the routine torture practised in regime detention cells, with security service brutality boosting the appeal of extremist groups.

Islamic radicals are now a major participant on all sides of the Syrian conflict, with Sunni rebel groups battling one another as well as against Shiite militias fighting alongside the regime.

The increasingly sectarian proxy war, with Shiite Iran and the Sunni Arab Gulf states backing opposite sides, has killed in excess of 120,000 people, wounded hundreds of thousands more and forced upwards of 6 million Syrians to flee their homes.

It is a conflict that shows no sign of abating.

Opposition activists say about 1,500 inmates of Saidnaya, a major regime prison for Islamist militants, were freed by the Syrian government.

A former Saidnaya prisoner, jailed for three years but released before the uprising started, said many inmates went on to join armed rebel factions.

“Some of the important radical leaders [of armed groups] were in there including Jolani [the head of Jabhat Al Nusra], he said. “The Islamists were held in a separate wing of the prison but some of them like Aloush were famous. I didn’t see Jolani but people said he was in there,” the former detainee said.

Major General Fayez Dwairi, a former Jordanian military officer involved in Amman’s response to the growing crisis in Syria, said the Assad regime was directly involved in the growth of Islamic extremism.

“Many of the people who established Jabhat Al Nusra were captured by the regime in 2008 and were in prison. When the revolution started they were released on the advice of Syrian intelligence officers, who told Assad ‘they will do a good job for us. There are many disadvantages to letting them out, but there are more advantages because we will convince the world that we are facing Islamic terrorism’,” he said.

Maj Gen Dwairi said 46 leading members of Jabhat Al Nusra had been in Syrian regime custody, including its leader.

He also said Islamic groups had been infiltrated by Syrian intelligence agents.

A western security consultant, who has been involved in secret negotiations involving Jabhat Al Nusra, said senior figures involved with that group had been in Syrian prisons.

There have been other cases of the complex relationship between extremist militants and the regime. Some reports have said that after seizing oil fields in eastern Syria in 2012 Jabhat Al Nusra struck deals with the regime to transport the oil to the coast for export.

The former Syrian military intelligence officer said Mr Al Assad and his senior lieutenants had ruthlessly outmanoeuvred western and Arab states, dragging them into a regional sectarian war that, perversely, gave the regime better odds of survival than a peaceful uprising and gradual democratic change would have.

Western capitals now fear the Islamist-dominated opposition more than they do the regime, he said, making President Al Assad a potential ally rather than enemy.

“Syrian security opened the doors to the prisons, and they knew what would happen,” he said.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Direct Syria talks to last 7-10 days: Russia

Swiss Police in their vehicles secure the area in front of the Montreux Palace hotel where the Geneva II conference will take place in Montreux Jan. 21, 2014.

The first direct talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition, which start this week in Geneva, will last seven to 10 days and be followed by another round, a senior Russian official said on Tuesday.

“The first round of negotiations will last for seven to 10 days. There will then be a short break, and then the talks will resume,” the Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Russian delegation to the talks as saying.

The so-called Geneva II conference begins on Wednesday in the Swiss lakeside city of Montreux, where representatives from nearly 40 regional and world powers will be seeking a way out of the nearly three-year Syria crisis.

Those meetings will be followed on Friday by direct talks in Geneva between representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition, which will be overseen by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

The Russian source said Friday’s meeting will also be observed by US and Russian officials, who will be assisting the two sides.

“If it becomes necessary, the seniority level of the Russian and US representatives in Geneva observing the negotiating process may be raised,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the Russian source as saying.

Russia is represented at the talks by Deputy Foreign Ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov.

(Source / 21.01.2014)

Palestinian prisoner loses sight in Israeli jail

RAMALLAH – The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees on Sunday said that a Palestinian prisoner lost his sight in both eyes due to Israeli medical negligence.

Amer Abu Hamdiyeh, the ministry’s lawyer, said that Iyad Nassar “lost vision in both eyes due to Israeli medical negligence.” Nassar was arrested in August 2002 and serving 30-year jail sentence in the Israeli prison of Rimon in the Negev Desert.

Abu Hamdiyeh said that vision in Nasser’s left eye decreased to 75 percent in recent months and was in urgent need of medical treatment at hospital but only received basic pain relievers from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

Nasser lost his right eye after he injured from shrapnel during his arrest in 2002 from his West Bank city of Tulkarm.

The lawyer said that “the prisoner is suffering from severe headache due to the loss of his sight.”

According to recent Palestinian statistics, Israel is holding 4,900 Palestinian prisoners in its in 23 prisons and detention camps in Israel and in the West Bank of whom 234 children, 15 females, 15 members of Palestine Legislative Council, 135 in administrative detention without trial and hundreds suffer from medical negligence.

The Palestinian Minister of Detainees and Ex-detainees Issa Qaraqi’ said on last December that Israel is holding 1,400 prisoners in its in 23 prisons and detention camps in Israel and in the West Bank.

Qaraqi’ said that 80 of them are chronically or terminally ill, and some are on the verge of death. He added that the prisoners are suffering from cancer, paralysis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney, gallbladder and eyes problems.

Also on late December, Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners, jailed since before the Oslo Accords of 1993, in the third of four phased releases agreed upon as a precondition to peace talks.

The 26 prisoners have been jailed for 19 to 28 years. All of the prisoners on the list, save three, were convicted of murdering Israeli civilians or soldiers, as well as Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. On July, Israel agreed to a four-stage release of 104 prisoners in order to facilitate the resumption of American-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. In the first stage of the release this past August, 26 Palestinians were freed. In the second stage of the deal this October, 21 prisoners were released.

The development comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry travelled to Jordan and Saudi Arabia to discuss his efforts to reach Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement after three days of lengthy meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli Radio quoted Kerry as saying that he would return to the area Sunday evening, and may stay for several days before flying back to Washington later in the week.

“This has been a productive couple of days with very, very intensive talks,” he said. Addressing skepticism on both sides about the probability for reaching a final agreement, he added, “These issues are not easy. If it was easy it would have been resolved a long time ago. These are complicated issues that involve…the survival of peoples. This conflict has gone on too long, so positions have hardened. Mistrust obviously exists at a very high level. So we have to work through that and around that and over that.”

He added that both Abbas and Netanyahu “have already made important… and courageous decisions, difficult decisions” in the negotiations.

(Source / 21.01.2014)