UNICEF warns of humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq

The photo dated March 20, 2015 shows a displaced Iraqi child carrying food at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (© AFP)

The photo dated March 20, 2015 shows a displaced Iraqi child carrying food at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised alarm over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq, calling for millions of dollars in aid to the war-torn country.

“The humanitarian situation in Iraq is close to disaster! We urgently need extra resources in order to continue assistance,” Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF’s representative in Iraq, said in a statement on Monday.

Heffinck made the comments as humanitarian organizations are preparing to launch a fund-raising appeal of 500 million dollars for the crisis in Iraq, in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday to cover relief operations over the next six months.

Heffinck, however, said this amount of money is the minimum required to deal with the crisis fueled by the ISIL militancy, calling for urgent global actions to that regard.

A displaced Iraqi child fills a bucket of water at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Baghdad, March 20, 2015

The UN official further expressed hope that all countries would respond to the fund-raising request.

According to the UN agency, some eight million Iraqis have been in urgent need of humanitarian aid since June 2014, when the ISIL terror group launched an offensive and seized swathes of land in the northern and western parts of the country.

In similar comments on May 19, Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, urged donors and the international community to provide the UN relief agencies, including the World Food Program, the World Health Organization, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with more funds so that the they can upgrade the level of support provided for the displaced Iraqi people.

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Amid repression, Palestine student politics revive democratic hopes

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — It has been nine years since Palestine’s second and last parliamentary elections in 2006, and although hopes were raised for a new vote following a national unity deal last year, few have faith that they will be held anytime soon.The nation’s democratic hopes are kept alive, however, in university competitions across the West Bank, watched closely by observers as indicators of shifting political trends in the national mood.Last month, Hamas scored a major political upset when a student affiliate group cruised to victory in elections at Birzeit University near Ramallah, considered the country’s most prestigious university and an incubator of the nation’s future elite.But at other campuses in the central and southern West Bank, Fatah-affiliated groups maintained their grip on power and leftist parties made some surprising gains.While some criticize the politicization of student elections by outside bodies and the increasing levels of corruption that many see tainting the competitions as a result, for Palestinians, the elections remain a key way to make their voice heard in a land where Israeli occupation and political stagnation have too often tried to silence.

Pulse of the nationKhalil Rantissi, a master’s student in diplomacy at Birzeit University, told Ma’an that Palestinian parties see the competitions as an opportunity to prove their relative popularity, especially amid constant claims from both sides that the other’s strategy in improving the Palestinian situation has failed.In the absence of national competitions, student elections are hotly-contested by student groups affiliated with each party and are treated as a barometer of each group’s popularity.Nowhere is this clearer than at Birzeit, which in recent years has emerged as the most respected competition.”The elections at Birzeit University are always dramatic,” Rantissi told Ma’an. “Since it’s close to Ramallah, which is considered to be the political capital of the Palestinian Authority, the elections are extremely sensitive.””All of the parties (that exist) off campus take the elections as a popular referendum, so they all take part. Even the small parties that can’t get a single seat take part just to prove their existence.”In the most recent vote on April 22, Hamas scored 26 seats compared to Fatah’s 19, while the list affiliated with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) received five and a coalition of other leftist parties got one.Analysts hailed the narrow upset at what was once considered a Fatah stronghold as a sign of shifting fortunes, with Hamas leaders citing the group’s struggle against the bloody Israeli offensive against Gaza over summer as a key to its success. Few interpreted the results in the context of university issues.Rantissi told Ma’an that outside political parties pour money into their respective groups on campus to increase their visibility, with massive posters, flags, and even handouts of small items like pens and keffiyehs a common occurrence in the weeks leading up to the campaign.Critics charge that as a result, Birzeit student elections are increasingly about national issues and rarely tackle the topics affecting students’ lives.

Questioned by Ma’an about the platforms of their student groups before the elections, both Hamas and Fatah representatives on campus stressed the actions and achievements of their national movements and noted that student votes for the parties were “expressions” of student support for these goals.The Hamas representative, for example, cited widespread support for the group’s military resistance, while the Fatah representative highlighted the group’s long history of “revolutionary” activism.A representative for the student group affiliated with the PFLP was the only one of the three representatives interviewed to focus on projects directly benefiting students, including subsidized textbooks and organizing rallies in solidarity with students held in Israeli prisons.The group counts among its ranks one of the most prominent Palestinian student prisoners, 18-year-old Lina Khattab who was arrested and sentenced for six months after taking part in a demonstration against land confiscation in December.Her case highlights the difficulties in drawing clear-cut lines between student politics and national politics, as for many, the struggle to improve education and campus life is intimately connected to the fight for a Palestine free of occupation.More than two dozen Birzeit students have been shot dead by Israeli forces in the university’s history, in addition to the hundreds more detained, and a nearby checkpoint has in the past been frequently closed shut in order to block access. Just last summer, Israeli forces conducted raids inside the campus itself, while students from a variety of political backgrounds are commonly detained as punishment for their activism.The political pressure is not just from Israel. In the one month since the Hamas student group won the election, more than two dozen of its student members have been detained by Palestinian security forces, who are controlled by the West Bank’s Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.”It is deeply worrying that students are being held by Palestinian forces for no apparent reason other than their connection to Hamas or their opinions,” Human Rights Watch’s regional director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement on May 7.A Hamas statement released on the occasion of the group’s victory in the student contests, meanwhile, called the victory “evidence that the party is stronger and bigger than all attempts to remove it” and noted that activists had persevered in spite of repression by the Palestinian Authority.The prominence of Brizeit, however, is derived from the fact that very few other universities hold transparent elections. In Gaza, for example, the same Hamas authorities that condemn repression against Hamas students in the West Bank have prevented student elections there for nearly a decade.Other West Bank university elections, meanwhile, are marred by widespread allegations of corruption, vote fixing, and even intimidation by Palestinian security forces acting on behalf of local Fatah leaders. Hamas abstains from elections at Bethlehem and Al-Quds Abu Dis universities, meanwhile, for reasons some say are linked to their lack of popularity at either school.

A tale of two womenThe Hamas victory at Birzeit has been hailed as an indicator of major changes in Palestinian youth attitudes toward everything from negotiations with Israel to rockets to Islamist politics and beyond.And while it’s certainly possible that the elections herald disillusionment with Fatah’s politics-as-usual in the West Bank — much like the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections did — attempts to understand student elections through the national perspective obscure the very local aspect of any such competition.Hamas’ victory at Birzeit was presaged by two major controversies that embroiled the Fatah-affiliated group as a result of actions and statements made the day before the vote.The first was the decision of a Facebook group affiliated with the group to post a picture that showed a blonde female student wearing tight clothes waving the Hamas flag during the debate the day before the elections. The caption mocked Hamas for the supposed indecency of its supporters, and some of the images shared compared the picture with those of Fatah women marching with keffiyehs covering their faces.The images attracted national attention and led to a widespread debate about the relationship of women’s clothing to political preference. But at cosmopolitan Birzeit — where both women with hair uncovered and women wearing hijab can be found in every single party, and where political affiliation is seen more as a matter of political belief and less an expression of piety — the debate was met with a great deal of eye rolling and annoyance.The irony of the fact that it was the supposedly secular, revolutionary Fatah party that was shaming a woman for how she dressed was not lost on many observers.Hala Jada, an instructor in the business faculty, told Ma’an that the sexist incident contributed to Hamas’ victory in the elections.”They were very disrespectful,” she said. “She has the right to choose whatever party she wants. Most people I know, even freshman, didn’t like what they did.”During the debate, meanwhile, a Fatah student leader misidentified the 18-year-old student in Israeli prison, Lina Khattab, as a different student named Lina known for being popular.The gaffe was seen by some as an insult to the sacrifice of the imprisoned student, who has become a cause celebre for freedom of speech among Palestinian students.Jada, who is politically unaffiliated and told Ma’an she is disillusioned with any of the choices on offer, argued that contrary to being a referendum on Fatah rule in the West Bank, the Hamas victory was strongly aided by perceived “disrespect” to women and toward Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, who number nearly 6,000 in total.Analyses of the elections that view the vote in a national context — including statements released by all parties involved — have largely failed to take such issues into account.

The rise of the left?Another trend that escaped the notice of many in the recent wave of West Bank elections has been the rise in popularity of leftist parties among Palestinian students.Once a dominant presence in Palestinian politics, leftist parties have seen their strength wither amid the broader weakening of the global left since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The heavy repression by Israeli authorities against leftist activists as well as the rise of Islamist politics across the Middle East in the late 1980s, in turn, have largely relegated them to the political margin.Despite this, leftist parties such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) continue to maintain strongholds in villages, refugee camps, and urban neighborhoods across the country, often known as “red citadels.”In the last decade, amid the political split between Fatah and Hamas, leftist parties emerged as a bridge between the two, and have sought to exploit disillusionment with both parties to attract voters.In the recent student elections, the strategy appears to have borne some fruit.Amanda Manasra is the regional coordinator of the youth branch of the communist Palestine People’s Party and a student at Al Quds University’s Abu Dis campus. Historically known as a Fatah stronghold, leftist parties still managed to capture 14 seats out of a total of 51. While this may not offer them a leading voice, it does ensure that they get a say.”Abu Dis is infested with Palestinian Authority officials,” Manasra told Ma’an. “It is known as the Fatah university and it has lot of people who work for the PA — preventive security, intelligence, and police.”Despite the left’s failure to secure a majority or even a plurality, Manasra said: “I still consider the elections a victory for the left, because in the midst of everything wrong that is happening and everything that the PA does to support Fatah, it’s an accomplishment.””With the money that Fatah pumps into elections and with the scare tactics, it’s still a victory. … As long as we’re still getting seats in elections, it’s a good thing.”Manasra expressed frustration that despite witnessing the widespread corruption endemic in the Palestinian Authority and local Fatah affiliates, few students switched political allegiance or explored the other options available to them.”After seeing what Fatah did after the last election — intimidation, harassment, and tactics that the Israeli intelligence uses with Palestinians like attacking someone’s reputation, carrying out political arrests, sexual harassment, and voter fraud — we expected people to come and vote against Fatah, but people didn’t.””A lot of people still vote for Fatah because they don’t believe in the left. … And a lot of people don’t want to vote for Hamas, they just vote for Hamas because it’s not Fatah. And people say, ‘if not these two, who are the leftists?'”

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Hamdallah evokes innovation, compromise and misguided calls for equality

By Ramona Wadi

Rami Hamdallah

Rami Hamdallah

The Palestinian Authority’s penchant for hypocrisy disguised as creativity appears to be limitless. In a recent interview published in the Washington Post, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah gives an overview of all the concessions which the PA is ready to present to Israel in order to achieve a semblance of the two-state paradigm.

Echoing dependence in every phrase uttered, Hamdallah embarked upon a spectacular assertion reminiscent of what has enforced colonial violence and usurpation upon the Palestinian territory and population. “We’ve had assurances from the United States that after the Iranian deal, they will resume negotiations between us and the Israelis. We count on the [United] States and are sure they will deliver.”

The PA’s strategy to achieve Palestinian independence consists of another attempt at reassuring Israel of its loyalty to the Zionist colonial process. Aligning itself once again with France and the US, Hamdallah declared: “I hope we will be able to end the occupation and to establish the Palestinian state with ’67 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The French draft resolution is being discussed as “a new framework” despite the obvious flaws that continue to stipulate fragmentation of territory and people. Hence, as befits the current PA trend of seeking legitimacy from compromised international institutions, Hamdallah availed himself of the opportunity to declare the PA’s allegiance to organisations that seek the completion of the Zionist colonial process by insisting upon “a UN resolution that can guarantee an establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Conveniently ignoring the fact that resolutions granting Palestinians their fundamental rights have been ignored by Israel as well as the UN, which has repeatedly endorsed the settler-colonial state’s fabricated “right to defend itself”, Hamdallah employs the same tactics as the international community – namely divesting the current political trends from historical facts. Apart from the perpetual manipulation of Palestinian history authored by the PA, which seeks to impose the imperialist narrative upon the indigenous population, Hamdallah insisted upon a consolidation of the previous quest for legitimacy garnered from the coloniser and its allies.

As foreign intervention, particularly in the Middle East, becomes an entrenched phenomenon, Hamdallah explicitly calls for intervention in Palestine. “We need outside intervention from the UN, from the superpowers, from the United States.” This diplomatic intervention, according to Hamdallah, is necessary to establish a compromised Palestinian state burdened by demilitarisation and a third party controlling its borders. It should be remembered that in 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was amenable to the notion of NATO providing border security in order to alleviate Israel’s alleged security concerns.

The only cohesion offered by Hamdallah in his interview is the adherence to simulations of history and reality – a necessity to safeguard the PA’s compromised existence. Counting the years under “occupation” while relegating colonisation to oblivion is a trend encouraged by the PA, exhibiting its complicity in ensuring Israel’s permanent presence. Evoking “a bright future for Israeli children and our children” provides the ultimate historical corruption. The betrayal of resistance has become a PA trademark. At the very least, Hamdallah should refrain from altruistically equating Palestinian children, whose existence depends upon the anti-colonial struggle, with Israeli settler children who play a role in consolidating the colonisation process.

(Source / 02.06.2015)

May bloodiest month for Syria conflict in 2015

More than 6,000 people including at least 1,000 civilians were killed during the month of May an increase of 30 percent

A boy is rescued from the debris of a building after Syrian government forces bombed the Firdevs neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on 30 May 2015

May was the bloodiest month so far this year in Syria, with at least 6,657 people killed throughout the war-ravaged country, a monitoring group said Monday.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the toll includes at least 1,285 civilians, more than half of whom were killed in government air raids.

This includes 236 children and 186 women who were killed by government forces as well as 82 other people who were believed to have been killed as a result of torture.

The UN’s Syria peace envoy Staffan de Mistura condemned government aerial bombardment of civilian areas over the weekend, calling it “totally unacceptable”.

The Observatory said rebels and Kurdish fighters made up 793 of those killed in May, while fighters from factions including the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front numbered 2,109.

IS killed 197 civilians and 104 fighters, the Observatory said.

Another 2,242 government forces were killed, most of them soldiers, the group added. The toll included 208 non-Syrian pro-government fighters, among them forces from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and 20 unidentified people.

The casualty figures represent an increase of more than 2,000 violent deaths – about a third – compared with April, when 4,458 were killed.

May saw several fierce offensives against government forces.

IS seized the historic city of Palmyra on 21 May, after a bloody nine-day offensive.

Fabrice Balanche, a geographer and analyst said that over the Iraq and Syria territories, told AFP that the Islamic State now controls an area the size of Italy, or equivalent to nearly 300,000 square kilometres.

Rebel groups led by al-Nusra Front secured gains against the government throughout the northwest province of Idlib.

Since the conflict turned violent in March 2011, more than 220,000 people have been killed and millions forced to flee.

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Palestinian Return Centre gets senior UN status

Israeli delegation attempted to mislead ECOSCO members by delivering false allegations against the PRC prior to the vote

United Nations NGO Committee of the Economic and Social Council has granted Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) NGO consultative status.

Out of 19 member states, 12 voted in favour of granting the status to the PRC, three abstained and three voted No. One member state was absent

Days of Palestine, New York –United Nations NGO Committee of the Economic and Social Council has granted Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) NGO consultative status.

The NGO Committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is expected to look at the outcome of NGO committee recommendations in the upcoming few weeks.

PRC has been recommended to obtain the ECOSOC Consultative status by winning a vote of the 19-member state committee known as “NGO Committee.”

Out of 19 member states, 12 voted in favour of granting the status to the PRC, three abstained and three voted No. One member state was absent.

The motion was put to vote upon an official request from the republic Arab of the Sudan.

Delegations of China, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua, South Africa, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Guinea, Turkey, Pakistan and Mauritania voted Yes.

Meanwhile, Greece, India and Russia abstained while the Israeli occupation, the US and Uruguay voted No.

Prior to the vote, the Israeli occupation presented an explanation of vote where it has allegedly and baselessly claimed that the PRC affiliates to the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas.

In response to the Israeli claims, the PRC said it would hand a letter of protest to the UN and the ECOSOC council.

“The practice of the Israeli delegation before the NGO committee is dangerous and completely condemned as it blatantly accused PRC of adopting terrorism and violence as a tool,” a PRC statement said.

It added: “That was an effort to distort and mislead the committee member states and those allegations have been adopted by the Israeli intelligence, biased NGOs and think tanks.”

The PRC; therefore, confirms that it does not affiliate to any Palestinian party including Hamas. “It will remain independent and dedicated to serve the cause of Palestinian refugees and their right of return,” the statement concluded.

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Red Cross: serious deterioration in the health of hunger striker Khader Adnan

Prisoner Khader Adnan

Prisoner Khader Adnan

According to the family of the detainee, Khader Adnan, who is currently on day 27 of his hunger strike, there has been a serious deterioration in his health.

The family quoted a lawyer and doctor of the Red Cross, who made an emergency visit to Ramla prison today, saying that Mr Adnan was now unable to stand and suffers from severe pain in his eyes and weakness of sight, as well as only being able to drink limited amounts of water without salt, which is all that he has allowed himself during his hunger strike.

According to a Red Cross lawyer, the Prison Administration refused to allow letters to and from the family to enter or leave the prison. Mr Adnan is also barred from seeing his lawyers unless shackled to his wheelchair.

The lawyers expect that Mr Adnan will be moved today or tomorrow morning to an Israeli hospital. The Ramla Prison clinic where he is currently located lacks both specialized and basic equipment.

Mr Adnan was kidnapped on July 8, 2014, and has since been held under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial, said IMEMC.

Adnan went on hunger strike for a week in January of this year after Israel renewed his Administrative Detention orders for the third consecutive time.

He warned that he would hold an open-ended hunger strike should Israel renew the orders, and started his current strike on May 5 after the Administrative Detention order was renewed.

Two years ago, Adnan held a 66-day hunger strike, also protesting his Administrative Detention, and only ended his strike after Israel agreed to release him in 2012.

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Gunman killed in clashes with Hamas security in Gaza City

Hamas police push back Palestinian Salafists in Gaza City, Jan. 19, 2015

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A suspected Salafist gunman was killed by Hamas security officers in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City on Tuesday morning, security sources told Ma’an.Sources said that officers arrived at the house of 27-year-old Yussef al-Hatarman with the intention of arresting him because he was keeping “illegal” weapons.”The officers asked him to turn himself in, but he refused and threatened to blow himself up,” they said.They said that security officers then clashed with the gunman, “and managed to hit him before he could blow himself up.”A spokesman at the Hamas-run Ministry of the Interior, Iyad al-Buzm, confirmed that security officers had shot an “outlaw” after he refused to turn himself in and fired gunshots at the officers.Al-Buzm said that the “suspect” had booby-trapped the house, and that explosive belts, rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives had been found in the house.Witnesses reported seeing an ambulance remove a second casualty from the building following the gun battle, though this was not confirmed.Hatarman was identified as the local leader in a militant Salafist group.Sources alleged that he had been involved in explosions carried out across the Gaza Strip in recent days, saying: “Detectives have been watching his movements.”

Experts have warned that the growing appeal of militants, particularly among Gaza’s disaffected youth, could trigger a new explosion of violence in the enclave

Challenging HamasSince last summer, when Israel and Hamas fought a deadly 50-day war in and around Gaza, there have been growing signs of internal unrest in the territory between Hamas security forces and other groups, with a string of small-scale explosions.While many have involved attacks on the property of Fatah officials in the Hamas-dominated region, others are believed to be the work of radical Salafists who have made a name for themselves as unafraid to challenge Hamas, seeking to outbid them in the fight against Israel and the defense of Islam.Salafists are Sunni Muslims who promote a strict lifestyle based on the traditions of early pious ancestors. While the vast majority of Salafis in Gaza are apolitical, a violent fringe has emerged in recent years.Hamas has in the past cracked down hard on all Salafis, particularly as the religious group enjoys the support of Fatah.But more recently Hamas has targeted the more extremist groups, which it views as a threat to its power in the same vein as extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS).These groups have made no secret of their disdain for Hamas, and have threatened the movement over the alleged detention of Salafist members.Earlier this month, a bomb went off at Hamas’ security headquarters after a Salafist group accused Hamas of torturing its supporters in prison and closely watching other supporters in cities and refugee camps across the coastal enclave.There have also been attacks claimed by groups purporting to be from an IS branch in Gaza, although such claims have so far been largely discredited by online militant forums.Last week, militants from a group called “Supporters of IS in Ansar Beit al-Maqdis” claimed responsibility for three separate attacks in May, including a rocket attack on a Khan Younis base of Hamas armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.It also said its militants had fired a rocket at the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod on May 26, in defiance of a tacit truce observed by Hamas and prompting Israel to retaliate with air strikes.Gazan militants have pledged allegiance to IS in the past, but there has been no confirmation from the group itself that it has a presence in Gaza.AFP contributed to this report.
(Source / 02.06.2015)

E1 Project Aims to Eliminate Palestinians from C Areas

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) today warned from the Israeli civil administration’s project E1, which aims to conduct six structure plans annexed to each other, forming a new settlement, after they relocating the Bedouin Palestinians from their homes near Jerusalem and Nuway’imah, and, therefore, seize their homelands in the C areas, where settlements are already being built.

E1 project

The UAWC in a report showed the consequences of this project, which aims to relocate 12,500 Bedouins from their homes, and isolate them in Al-Ezariyya town south Jerusalem and Izhiman and Nuway’imah in the Jordan valleys, which is considered ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, to expand illegal Israeli settlements.

According to the PNN, the report showed that about half a million dunams of lands will be evacuated, according to the Israeli project which is already being implemented. These areas will be converted into settlements, military training zones, in addition to nature reserves, making it impossible for the Bedouins to return to their homes, in addition to the catastrophe of ripping the occupied West Bank into two halves.

The director of UAWC’s Development and Operations department, Fuad Abu Seif said that the project was a flagrant violation of all the international treaties, including the fourth Geneva convention, in which article 49 quotes:

“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

The plans will renew the displacement of the Palestinians from their homes, after they were already displaced in the 1948.

For his part, head of Rashaydeh local council in Nuway’imah, Jordan valley, Mohammad Tarif, pointed out that the heads of the local councils presented their objections through Beit El lawyers.

Tarif said that the population of Nuway’imah alone is 400 people who mainly depend on livestock. They were displaced in their hometown in ‘Ein Jedi village near Jericho in 1948, and settled in Deir Dibwan near Ramallah. After that, they were forcibly displaced to Nuway’imah .

He added that the current space left for the Bedouin Palestinians was barely fitting them, adding that it was surrounded by two settlements and military zones and nature reserves, leaving no space for breeding, in addition to the continuous inflation in the forage prices, and deflation of sheep prices.

Moreover, the only water resource they had was in ‘Ain dweik, and was insufficient for them, in addition to the cultural differences which can create a serious crisis.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UAWC follow up, the project will seize 1460 dunams, in which about 12,500 Bedouins live in 46 communities. The project will “give” about 450 Square meters for every Bedouin family, with restricted permits of use; they can build only one story for housing, and another one of 25 square meters as a forage store for their livestock, which is sufficient and will push them to sell their sheep, and become workers in the settlements, making them consumers instead of producers.

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Number Of Saudi Arabian Executions, Beheading Soar In 2015

“The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is yet another stain on the kingdom’s human rights record,” …“Saudi Arabia needs to call a halt to this cruel punishment.”

A beheading in Saudi Arabia.

A beheading in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia– Saudi authorities have already carried out 90 executions since the beginning of 2015, more than the 88 for all of 2014. Forty-one of the ninety people executed since the start of 2015 were sentenced for non-violent drug offenses.

“Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “There is no excuse for Saudi Arabia’s continued use of the death penalty for these types of crimes.”

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Saudi Arabia’s state news agency, said in news releases that only 14 of the 90 prisoners executed so far in 2015 were convicted of Hadd (“limit”) crimes for which Islamic law mandates a specific punishment, including the death penalty, while 27 were sentenced under the Islamic law concept of Qisas, or eye-for-an-eye retribution for murder. Judges based their sentences for the other 49, including the 41 for drug-related crimes, on judicial discretion.

On March 4, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, an official body, defended the authorities’ use of capital punishment, stating that Saudi Arabia “takes pride in Islamic law constitutionally and methodologically … no one can trump the work of God.”

Of the 90, 51 of those executed were Saudi citizens. Pakistanis – 13 of whom were convicted on heroin smuggling charges – formed the largest group among the 39 foreigners executed.

International standards require countries that retain the death penalty to use it only for the “most serious crimes,” and in exceptional circumstances. In 2012, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions stated that where used, the death penalty should be limited to cases in which a person is intentionally killed and not used to punish drug-related offenses.

The Death Penalty Worldwide Database, which collects information on executions across the globe, shows that Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world, and applies the death penalty to a range of offenses that do not constitute “most serious crimes,” including drug offenses, adultery, sorcery, and apostasy. Since the start of 2015 Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, Iran, has reportedly executed more than 340 prisoners, with as many as 98 hanged between April 9 and 28 alone, according to UN rights experts. “Many of the prisoners executed during this period were charged with drug-related offences … [that] do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes,’” the experts noted. For the past several years Iran is believed to have had the highest rate of executions in the world after China.

Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all countries and under all circumstances. Capital punishment is unique in its cruelty and finality, and it is inevitably and universally plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.

In 2013, following similar resolutions in 2007, 2008, and 2010, the UN General Assembly called on countries to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, progressively restrict the practice, and reduce the offenses for which it might be imposed, all with the view toward its eventual abolition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also called on countries to abolish the death penalty.

“The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is yet another stain on the kingdom’s human rights record,” Whitson said. “Saudi Arabia needs to call a halt to this cruel punishment.”

(Source / 02.06.2015)

Israeli forces demolish 3 houses in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished three Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood and Salah al-Din street in occupied East Jerusalem early Tuesday morning, the owners told Ma’an.They were told that the houses were demolished because they had been built without necessary licenses from the municipal council.Nidal Abu Rmeila said bulldozers under Israeli army escort had demolished two apartments, totaling 140 square meters, that he had been building in Silwan near the Moroccan Gate of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.Abu Rmeila said he had not been able to obtain a license from the Jerusalem municipality as the building was located close to the Al-Aqsa compound in an area he claimed the Israeli antiquities authority is “greedily” interested in.He began construction in late 2014, after which the municipality inspectors ordered him to stop, issuing a demolition order.Abu Rmeila said the order was postponed several times, adding that bulldozers had arrived two weeks ago to demolish the house, but left after it became clear they were too big to access the building.Tuesday’s demolition was only possible, he said, after the Israelis “used a lift to carry small excavators and bring them close to the site.”Abu Rmeila said Israeli troops had assaulted members of his family when they evacuated the home before the demolition.He said that relatives Hashim Abu Rmeila, Izz al-Din Abu Rmeila and Nur al-Din Abu Rmeila sustained bruises, while his 70-year-old mother was injured when soldiers fired tear gas canisters into the house.Separately on Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished the upper story of a house on Salah al-Din Street near the Old City belonging to Rafiq al-Salayma.A relative of the owner Abu Jabir al-Salayma told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided the house at 6 a.m. and forcibly evacuated the family before workers set about demolishing the upper floor.The family house was built long ago, al-Salayma said, but “because the house was too small” they had added a new floor and roofed it with clay tiles.The demolitions come less than a week after another house was demolished in Silwan.Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem witness to an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.While Jewish residents frequently take over Palestinian buildings with the protection of Israeli forces, government policies make it nearly impossible for Palestinian residents to obtain building permits, according to Israeli rights group the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

(Source / 02.06.2015)