Palestinian killed and another wounded by Israeli gunfire at Gaza border

Two men fired at after approaching security fence and ignoring soldiers’ orders to stop and warning shots, according to Israeli army

Friends of Mohammed Al-Masri mourn at a morgue in northern Gaza Strip.
Friends of Mohammed Al-Masri mourn at a morgue in northern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man was killed and another wounded by Israeli gunfire in the northern Gaza Strip after they approached the border with Israel, a Palestinian medical official told AFP.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said Mohammed Al-Masri died of his wounds after being shot on Friday near the border fence west of the Beit Lahia area.

Another man was in a moderate condition following the incident, Qudra said.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army told AFP that “two suspects approached the security fence of the northern Gaza Strip”.

After one of the figures continued to advance even after they were ordered to halt and warning shots were fired, “the force fired toward the lower extremities of a suspect”, the spokeswoman said.

Israel maintains a security buffer zone along the inside of the Gaza border with limited access for farmers, and it is not uncommon for Palestinians to be shot after approaching the fence.

Earlier on Friday, a Palestinian toddler was burned to death in the West Bank village of Dura in an arson attack by suspected Israeli settlers.

(Source / 31.07.2015)

Many Injured As Israeli Soldiers Attack The Weekly Protest In Bil’in

Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and settlements, in Bil’in village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing scores of injuries.

Bilin 07 31 2015

The Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements In Bil’in has reported that the soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets on the Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists as they marched towards the Wall.

The soldiers also chased the protesters into the village’s olive orchards, and fired gas bombs at them, causing scores of injuries, while army fire set several trees ablaze in an orchard belonging to resident Khalil Abu Rahma.

The protesters marched from the center of the village, heading towards the Wall, carrying Palestinian flags and posters while chanting for steadfastness, liberation and the removal of Israel’s illegal colonies.

They also called for ongoing popular resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and for the liberation of all detainees.

The Popular Committee strongly denounced the attack by Israeli fanatics on a Palestinian family near Nablus as they slept, by hurling firebombs on their home, torching it and leading to the death of an 18-month-old baby, and seriously wounding his family.

It said such criminal attacks are taking place under Israeli military protection, and called on all human rights and legal groups around the world to hold Israel accountable for its escalating massacres and crimes against the Palestinian people

Bilin 07 31 2015 2 Bilin 07 31 2015 3 Bilin 07 31 2015 4

(Source / 31.07.2015)

Israel wrecked my home. Now it wants my land.

Nureddin Amro at his East Jerusalem home, which was partially demolished this spring

The world is watching Susiya to see if Israel will demolish the community of340 Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills. The Supreme Court here has refused to delay the forced removal of structures where 55 families have lived since they were displaced by state-sponsored archaeological digs that helped expand a nearby settlement. Living under the threat of demolition is a horrible experience. The Palestinians of Susiya probably feel disoriented, unstable and scared that their way of life could be destroyed at any minute. I know because I’m in a similar situation. In my neighborhood, the destruction has already started.

Just before dawn on March 31, dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers blocked off the streets and surrounded the one-story house where my older brother Sharif, his family of six, our 79-year-old mother, my wife, my three children and I live. We had gone to bed looking forward to a picnic the next morning, but we were awoken by the frightening sounds of jeeps and heavy machinery. Israeli security forces banged on the doors, shouting in Hebrew that we had to get out at once. They had come to demolish our home.

I was born in Jerusalem. My parents were born in Jerusalem. Their parents were born in Jerusalem.Their parents were born in Jerusalem. Our modest house is approximately 70 years old — older than the state of Israel. I have lived here in al-Sawana, a neighborhood between the Old City and the Mount of Olives, not far from the Gethsemane Valley (where the Romans caught Jesus), for more than 40 years. It is near a commercial area, hospitals, Muslim and Jewish cemeteries, and precious religious sites for the three monotheistic faiths. In other words, I live on strategic land.

In December, city planners, civil engineers and workers from Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority began walking up and down the neighborhood. They ordered people on my block to clean up things like broken furniture and wood outside our houses (we complied), measured the area with surveying tools, and spray-painted footpath markings for hikers. Eventually they told us that we lived on “public land” inside something called the Jerusalem Walls National Park (established in 1974), where they warned us they have plans for further work. Government documents suggest that they will connect the Tzurim Valley National Park and the Beit Orot settlement, below the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus, where I studied, to the City of David archaeological site and Jewish settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan — ultimately putting a Jewish belt around the eastern, Muslim side of the Old City. (The parks authority has already boasted of beautifying this area, through which many Jewish pilgrims and hikers cross on Jewish holidays.)

Israel employs numerous policies to push Palestinians out of East Jerusalem, including house demolitions, often ostensibly because homeowners lack the proper building permits. Human rights organizations argue that these “administrative demolitions” are illegitimate because Israel usually refuses to issue home-construction permits to Palestinians and because the permit regime is one-way, driving Palestinians out of areas Israel wants to control. (Tear-downs can also be collective punishments for violent acts carried out by individual Palestinian family members.)

All this helps explain what happened early that March morning. At first, the officials who showed up said they had come just to raze the eastern wall near the street, although they did not have a demolition order. I went through the house to my brother Sharif’s side to tell him, but when I got there, the officials said we were standing in a room they planned to demolish. They roughly pulled us outside, injuring Sharif in the leg. Meanwhile, they began tearing down the two outer rooms on my side of the house without my knowledge. My wife shouted, “They’ve already begun demolishing our house!”

Police and soldiers — many of whom were masked — pushed us back inside and kept us there so they could work unimpeded, and when I went outside again, they were knocking over a big tree. When it fell, it collapsed part of the garden wall, a piece of which injured the leg of my 12-year-old son, Mohammed. My family documented the damage with our camera phones, even as they cut our electricity and destroyed the sewage pipes.

By the time the soldiers left, less than four hours later, they had destroyed the kitchen and three other rooms, the wall that separates the house from the street, the chicken coop, and the garden that we loved. Trees felled by the bulldozer were pushed to the side of the property. The place where my children — the others are 9 and 5 — used to play under the shade of those old trees was now covered by piles of rubble.

It wasn’t easy living in a house surrounded by rubble, especially since my brother and I are both blind. Still, I found myself unable to throw away the crushed concrete, which was mixed with fragments of my entire life. Each uprooted plant and broken piece of furniture was a part of our story. While it was hard to walk over and around the rubble as we tried to live, it was just as hard to imagine tossing it into a dumpster.

For weeks, the detritus was a source of confusion. Some Palestinians in our situation are told to remove it or face high fines. Others who clean it immediately fear that they have erased the ugly testimony to Israel’s act. I didn’t want to take any action that would undermine my legal position, and I didn’t want to do anything to invite further demolitions. At the same time, I wanted to restore some amount of normalcy to our daily lives and provide a safe play space for my kids by putting up a fence between us and the road that passes by our home.

Life for Palestinians in Jerusalem is complicated. Laws favor the Israeli authorities and Jewish citizens, especially settlers, and are interpretedunevenly and unpredictably. As the principal of a school for visually impaired and sighted children, I have supported hundreds of families as they have tried to stay on their ancestral land. Now my family is among them. We live in daily fear that the soldiers will come back and that nobody will protect us.

Two months later, after I paid to fix the electricity and the sewage pipes, they did come back. I was at work running the school’s end-of-the-year party. My brother called to tell me that soldiers and municipal officials had showed up at our house and said they wanted to clean up the rubble. We had already been advised by other Palestinians in Jerusalem who had gone through the same experience that if the city hauled the wreckage, it would charge us exorbitant fees for the job and might later claim rights to the land. So I told my brother to prevent them from doing any work. After several hours of arguing, they gave us two hours to remove the mess. We explained that this was clearly impossible, and they agreed to give us two days.

The next day, I found a bulldozer company willing to work on promise of future payment, and we started the job. On May 30, a Saturday morning — the Jewish Sabbath, during which Israeli public offices are closed — officials returned with the police. They threatened to fine or arrest us for cleaning up the rubble without a permit. We didn’t know if we should laugh or cry. They had themselves demanded that we clean up the debris and had given us a permit the previous day! Then they threatened to fine us if we disposed of the rubble illegally, and they reminded us that the legal disposal sites were closed until Sunday. Workers from the bulldozer company, who were busy cleaning up the rubble, promised to keep it in their trucks until the dump reopened.

Many people know that more than 600 Palestinian villages were depopulatedin the years during and after Israel’s founding and that most of them were demolished. Some people also know that tens of thousands of structures have been torn down by Israel since the 1967 war, some 500 homes in East Jerusalem alone since 2004. Fewer know that there are more than 11,000open demolition orders against Palestinian structures just in Area C of the West Bank. This means that Israel can raze them at any moment, without further warning; Palestinians in those homes live in constant fear.

There are so many demolition orders, in fact, that Israel has sought more efficient ways to get all the work done. So it often recommends that Palestinians knock down their own homes at their own expense, freeing Israel of the hassle and risk. Some do. It seems this isn’t enough for Israel, though, because authorities continue to experiment with new and creative ways of dispossessing Palestinians. My own home seems to have been demolished using a municipal ordinance related to cleanliness of public areas in order to avoid judicial scrutiny, according to a Palestinian legal clinic that is challenging the operation. Indeed, in the three months before the demolition, I received two orders to clear away broken and old objects outside my house; I did as they asked. Demolition is not listed as a punishment for violating these orders, but human rights lawyers told me they have identified other recent cases in which Israeli municipal authorities cited the ordinance as a pretext for tearing down homes.

Living under the threat of demolition is nerve-racking, as the residents of Susiya know, and it seems impossible to win against the legal and physical force Israel commands. My family is unsure about what to do next. Still, we do not intend to give up. If they completely demolish our homes, we will rebuild.

(Source / 31.07.2015)

Rights group: Israel’s force-feed law proves its racist nature

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Al-Mizan Center for Human Rights stated in statement issued Thursday that Israel’s force-feed law mainly aims at breaking the will of Palestinian prisoners in face of its brutal measures and practices.

It is clear that force-feed law proves Israel as a racist state, the center said.

The center called for uniting all national and international efforts to deter Israel that “considers itself a state above UN resolutions and laws.”

Earlier Thursday, the Israeli Knesset passed Force-feed law by a majority of 46 votes to 40.

The law, which seeks to prevent imprisoned Palestinian prisoners from launching hunger strikes, was initially approved in June 2014 at the height of a mass hunger strike of Palestinian detainees.

(Source / 31.07.2015)

General Assembly Convenes to Elect New Presidential Body

The General Assembly 23rd meeting began today in Istanbul. At the top of its agenda is the election of a new presidential body, discussing the situation on the ground and the effects of the Iranian nuclear agreement on the Syrian Revolution and the region.

Spokesman for the Syrian Coalition Salem al-Meslet said that the General Assembly three-day meeting will also discuss the proposal put forward by the international envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to the UN Secretary General after he completed bilateral consultations. The meeting will also discuss the ongoing efforts aimed at the formation of a new FSA High Military Command.

Moreover, the meeting is being held to discuss all internal and important issues and emerging challenges, to establish safe areas that Turkey are now working to establish in the north as well as setting up a civil administration in this area. The meeting will discuss mechanisms for the moving of the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian Interim government to those areas to provide services to Syrians living there.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 31.07.2015)

Palestinians injured, one seriously, in clashes across Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Several Palestinians were injured, one seriously in clashes with Israeli forces throughout Jerusalem, in the aftermath of the settler attack that killed an infant in Duma village near Nablus, sources told Ma’an.In Shuaafat refugee camp, a Palestinian was seriously injured with a rubber-bullet to the head and 11 others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, five in the head, one in the chest, one in the back and four in their extremities. Another Palestinian suffered injuries to his hand after being hit by a stun grenade, Fatah spokesman for the camp Thaer Fasfous said.In al-Issawiyah village, clashes continued for several hours at the entrance and center of the village, where Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated bullets, Monitoring committee member Mohammad Abu al-Homos said.Abu al-Homos added that Israeli forces also sprayed skunk water at homes, causing Amna Mahmoud,93, and Umm Fadi Mahmoud,48, to have severe difficulty breathing. They were taken to local medical centers for treatment.Israeli forces fired tear gas at houses and land, in al-Issawiya causing a fire in several trees near a house.He added that Israeli forces closed the eastern entrance of the village with earth and rocks.Clashes also broke out in al-Swana neighborhood, where youths launched fireworks at Beit Orot settlement.In Beit Hanina, fire bombs were thrown at a settlement near the town.Clashes also broke out in al-Tur village and Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem as well.

(Source / 31.07.2015)

ISIS no weaker now than one year ago: U.S. intelligence analysts

An ISIS parade in Raqqa, Syria

American intelligence agencies have concluded that despite billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago.

U.S. military commanders on the ground aren’t disputing the assessment, but they point to an upcoming effort to clear the important Sunni city of Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, as a crucial milestone.

The battle for Ramadi, expected over the next few months, “promises to test the mettle” of Iraq’s security forces, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Killea, who is helping run the U.S.-led coalition effort in Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon in a video briefing from the region.

The U.S.-led military campaign has put ISIS on defense, Killea said, adding, “There is progress.” Witnesses on the ground say the airstrikes and Kurdish ground actions are squeezing the militants in northern Syria, particularly in their self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa.

But U.S. intelligence agencies see the overall situation as a strategic stalemate: ISIS remains a well-funded extremist army able to replenish its ranks with foreign jihadists as quickly as the U.S. can eliminate them. Meanwhile, the group has expanded to other countries, including Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.

The assessments by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others appear to contradict the optimistic line taken by the Obama administration’s special envoy, retired Gen. John Allen, who told a forum in Aspen, Colorado, last week that “ISIS is losing” in Iraq and Syria. The intelligence was described by officials who would not be named because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

“We’ve seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers,” a defense official said, citing intelligence estimates that put the group’s total strength at between 20,000 and 30,000, the same estimate as last August, when the airstrikes began.

ISIS’ staying power raises questions about the administration’s approach to the threat that the group poses to the U.S. and its allies. Although officials do not believe it is planning complex attacks on the West from its territory, the group’s call to Western Muslims to kill at home has become a serious problem, FBI Director James Comey and other officials say.

Yet under the Obama administration’s campaign of bombing and training, which prohibits American troops from accompanying fighters into combat or directing airstrikes from the ground, it could take a decade or more to drive ISIS from its safe havens, analysts say. The administration is adamant that it will commit no U.S. ground troops to the fight despite calls from some in Congress to do so.

The U.S.-led coalition and its Syrian and Kurdish allies have made some inroads. ISIS has lost 9.4 per cent of its territory in the first six months of 2015, according to an analysis by the conflict monitoring group IHS.

A Delta Force raid in Syria that killed ISIS financier Abu Sayyaf in May also has resulted in a well of intelligence about the group’s structure and finances, U.S. officials say. His wife, held in Iraq, has been co-operating with interrogators.

Syrian Kurdish fighters and their allies have wrested most of the northern Syria border from ISIS, and the plan announced this week for a U.S.-Turkish “safe zone” is expected to cement those gains.

In Raqqa, U.S. coalition bombs pound the group’s positions and target its leaders with increasing regularity. The militants’ movements have been hampered by strikes against bridges, and some fighters are sending their families away to safer ground.
But American intelligence officials and other experts say ISIS is in no danger of being defeated any time soon.

“The pressure on Raqqa is significant … but looking at the overall picture, ISIS is mostly in the same place,” said Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst at Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think-tank.

(Source / 31.07.2015)

Autopsy confirms infant was ‘burned alive’

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Justice Ministry autopsy confirmed that the 18-month-old Palestinian who was killed in an arson attack on Friday was burned alive.Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa said there was soot inside of the baby’s body, which indicates he was alive when his body caught said the baby’s body was completely blackened, his features had melted, parts of his extremities disintegrated from the burns, while parts of the lungs and rib cage had melted.The infant was killed when suspected Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in Duma village near Nablus, throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside and catching the homes ablaze.The infant, Ali Saad Dawabsha, was trapped inside the family’s home as the fire spread and died shortly after.His parents and four-year-old brother were left with severe burns.
The mother was in critical condition with third-degree burns covering 90 percent of her body, an Israeli doctor told public radio. The father had burns on 80 percent of his body and the son 60 percent, with all of their lives in danger.
(Source / 31.07.2015)

Report: C. African Republic Muslims forced to convert

Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition toppled the longtime president in 2013

Muslims in the western part of Central African Republic are being forced to hide their religion or convert to Christianity under threat of death, Amnesty International said Friday.

Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition toppled the longtime president in 2013.

Widespread human rights abuses committed by Seleka led to the formation of a Christian militia known as the anti-Balaka, who have targeted Muslims and sent tens of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.

Muslims told Amnesty International they’ve been forced to convert or hide practices.

“We had no choice but to join the Catholic Church. The anti-balaka swore they’d kill us if we didn’t,” said a 23-year-old man in the Sangha-Mbaere prefecture, whose name was not given to protect his security.

A Muslim trader said it was effectively illegal to pray.

“We have to hide, do it quickly, and do it by ourselves,” he said.

Amnesty International said the bans are happening outside areas under the protection of United Nations peacekeepers and renewed efforts must be made to protect Muslims under threat and bring back those who have fled.

“Many of the tens of thousands of Muslim refugees who were expelled from the country in 2014 would one day like to return home, but are waiting until they can do so in a safe and sustainable manner,” the report said.

A transitional government was put into place in January 2014. Presidential and legislative elections are slated for Oct. 18.

(Source / 31.07.2015)

Israeli settler runs over Palestinian firefighter near Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian firefighter was lightly injured on Friday after being hit by an Israeli settler driving near Beit Hagai settlement south of Hebron, witnesses said. Locals said firefighter Imad al-Salayma was hit by a settler’s car while Palestinian firefighters were putting out a fire in the woods near the settlement.

Al-Salayma suffered from bruises. The Israeli radio said the fire was caused by the high temperatures, while Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post said it was caused by a Palestinian arson attack.
(Source / 31.07.2015)