Hamas mulls over proposed solutions to closed Rafah crossing

GAZA, (PIC)– The Hamas Movement has embarked on studying proposals it has received recently as part of an initiative to solve the crisis of the closed Rafah border crossing.

Its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated on Saturday that these proposals were submitted to his Movement by different Palestinian parties, including factions, lawmakers and civil society activists.

Abu Zuhri expressed his Movement’s appreciation for such keenness on seeking a permanent solution to the issue of the Rafah crossing.

He said that his Movement started to study these proposals in order to ameliorate the humanitarian suffering of the population in Gaza, support their steadfastness, and achieve the national unity and partnership.

The proposals, which also were submitted to Fatah and the government in Ramallah, call for officially accepting the current employees working on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing as government personnel and reinforce them with former civil servants to complement each other.

The initiative also suggests that presidential guard forces should be responsible for the security of the crossing.

The government, for its part, announced the formation of a committee chaired by its premier Rami al-Hamdallah and with the membership of his deputy and some ministers to deliberate on the proposed ideas and discuss them with all concerned parties.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

Ariel university continues to pollute Salfit environment

SALFIT, (PIC)– The Ariel settlement university has continued to pour its harmful chemical waste through its sewer system into Palestinian agricultural land in al-Matwi Valley in Salfit province, local sources complained on Sunday.

Residents from the area told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the Israeli university persists in disposing of hazardous chemical waste into the valley with no regard for the environment in the surrounding areas.

Palestinian researcher Khaled Ma’ali said that the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem had affirmed in previous reports that Israeli settlements and Ariel university in the West Bank violate international and local environmental protection laws.

Ma’ali invited international and local environmental institutions to visit Salfit province and witness its suffering from the pollution resulting from the flow of wastewater from several settlements, especially Ariel.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

Dr. Ashrawi Palestine welcome Vatican and Palestine agreement which came into force on Saturday

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi discussed the plan for seeking recognition at the United Nations for a state of Palestine within the pre-1967 borders with Israel. (photo: Matthew Bell)

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi discussed the plan for seeking recognition at the United Nations for a state of Palestine within the pre-1967 borders with Israel

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said in press release on the agreement between the Vatican and Palestine coming into force“On behalf of the Palestinian leadership and the people of Palestine, we welcome the agreement signed between the Vatican and Palestine on June 26, 2015 which came into force on Saturday.

This momentous occasion confirms the historical identity of Palestine and its culture of tolerance and inclusion.

The Palestinian people have been entrusted with a major component of human cultural heritage and a scared history of the three monotheistic religions.”

Dr. Ashrawi added, “This agreement should apply to all Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem which is under Israeli military occupation. It should also serve as a basis and precedent for further political recognitions, as well as a message to the conscience of humanity at large.”

(Source / 03.01.2016)

IOF raids Deheisheh camp, attacks its young men

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Several Palestinian young men on Sunday morning suffered injuries during violent clashes with the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in al-Deheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem city.

The Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reporter in the city said that the events started after Israeli troops stormed the camp, raided some of its homes and detained school students on its streets.

He added that young men from the camp hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading troops, who responded by randomly firing tear gas and stun grenades as well as rubber bullets.

Many young men suffered different injuries in the skirmishes, he noted.

The reporter did not state if the IOF made arrests during its campaign in the camp.

In an earlier incident, four young men from Beit Jala town, northwest of Bethlehem, were injured on Saturday night by Israeli gunfire, three of them during clashes with soldiers.

Local sources said that Israeli troops stormed Beit Jala last night, broke into some homes and clashed with its young men.

They added that the soldiers opened fire intensively at local young men and injured three of them.

Ahead of their campaign in Beit Jala, a Palestinian young man suffered a bullet injury when the IOF opened fire at his car on al-Anfaq (tunnels) road in the town.

Similar clashes with invading troops also broke out yesterday night in al-Dawha town near Beit Jala, with no reported casualties.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

7,411 Yemeni civilians reportedly killed by Saudi Arabia this year

7,411 Yemeni civilians reportedly killed by Saudi Arabia this year

A local monitoring group called “Yemen Fights Back” has released a statistical report that documents the death of 7,411 Yemeni civilians as a result of the aggressive war waged by the Saudi-led Coalition of Arab countries. The report detailed the death of 4,373 men, 1,309 women, and 1,729 children from the dates of March 26th, 2015 – December 12th, 2015; meanwhile, another 13,846 men, women and children were reportedly wounded by the Saudi-led Coalition. In addition to this high death toll, over 900,000 Yemeni civilians have been reportedly displaced and 319,957 homes destroyed.

On average, almost 29 people are killed every day because of this war waged by the rich Gulf countries and their loyal allies that are part of the Arab League. The Saudi regime is attempting to reinstall the exiled Yemeni president, ‘Abd Rubbah Hadi Mansour, back into power; however, local militias and soldiers from the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard have proven much tougher than they previously anticipated when they launched this war. Currently, the Yemeni capital is fully under the control of the Houthis and the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard – they have also entered the southern countryside of Saudi Arabia and seized a number of sites from the coalition forces.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian home near Nablus

Armed settlers overlook a Palestinian village south of Nablus during confrontations following the setting on fire of Palestinian-owned fields on Jan. 1, 2010.

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Saturday attacked a Palestinian home in the village of Beit Furik near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said.Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers threw stones at the home of Nihad Hanani before leaving behind a Molotov cocktail and a letter.Daghlas said that the settlers — believed to be from the nearby illegal settlement of Itamar — were chased by locals as they fled the scene after attacking the home. The attack is the most recent to be carried out by settlers in the occupied West Bank.The Nablus area where Beit Furik is located is site to several settlements who have gained a reputation for being home to extremists who regularly carry out attacks on Palestinians and their property, also known as “price tag attacks.”

Palestinian residents in the area have often orchestrated nightly patrols of locals to protect their villages from such attacks, as Palestinian security forces have no jurisdiction over Israeli settlers and Israeli forces rarely intervene in such attacks on behalf of Palestinians.Last week in the Ramallah area, suspected Israeli settlers threw tear-gas bombs into the home of a Palestinian family and spray-painted the phrases “revenge” and “hello from the detainees of Zion” in Hebrew on the side of the home.No injuries were reported in the attack, which appeared to be a revenge attack for the arrest of Jewish extremists who carried out a deadly attack on a Palestinian family in the Nablus-area village of Duma last summer.The US State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism included price tag attacks for the first time, citing UN figures of some “399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage” that year.Such attacks were “largely unprosecuted,” it said.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

291 Palestinian women arrested by Israeli forces in 2015

GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestine Center for Prisoners Studies (PCPS) confirmed that last year (2015) witnessed a noticeable escalation in the Israeli arrest of Palestinian women especially women from the city of Jerusalem.

The report pointed out that the center recorded 291 arrest cases of women, young and minors, and even elderly women aged over 60 years, adding that the arrestees including mothers and wives of prisoners.

Researcher Riad Ashqar, the PCPS spokesman, explained that last year was marked by the arrest of minor girls aged as little as 14 years old, recalling the first minor girl was Malak Khatib who spent 3 months in prison before her release.

He added that other girls were shot with live ammunition then arrested under the pretext of their intention to carry out stabbing operations against Israeli soldiers or settlers; four of them are still suffering from wounds in captivity.

Deputy in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Khalida Jarrar, from Ramallah, was among the women arrested in 2015. She was held in administrative detention for a month, but the Israeli prosecution refused to release her after the month and filed an indictment against her and the court passed a 15-month imprisonment against her.

Incitement via Facebook
Ashqar pointed out a new phenomenon emerged in 2015, which is arresting girls and women on the background of posts on the social networking sites; which the Israeli occupation considered as incitement.

Under the pretext of incitement via Facebook, five young women are still detained, two of them from within the 48 occupied territories, namely: activist and poet Darren Tawfiq Tator, 33 , from the village of Reineh, who was accused of sharing a poem read in her own voice on social networking sites. Her poem called for the continuation of the Intifada and operations against the occupation. The other young girl was from the city of Nazareth, Asmaa Fahad Hamdan, 18, on whom the IOF imposed administrative detention for 3 months, and accused her of incitement via social networking sites.

Administrative detention for prisoners
Ashqar indicated that the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) had gone too far in the use of administrative detention policy during 2015, and expanded its use to include categories and regions that were not previously included on the list of administrative detention, namely; women, children and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the 48 occupied territories.

He added that the occupation detained four women administratively. They were from Ramallah, Nablus, al-Khalil, and Nazareth.

Damon Prison
Ashqar said, “As a result to the rise in the numbers of female prisoners because of mass arrests against women, and the Hasharon prison inability to accommodate more prisoners, the IOA opened a new section for female prisoners in the Damon prison, and transferred 18 female captives to it so far.”

Damon prison is one of the worst Israeli prisons, where the female prisoners suffer from very bad incarceration conditions. They don’t enjoy privacy due to the presence of surveillance cameras all the time, in addition to the lack of life necessities in the prison; as the prisoners were transferred without their belongings, and there are no electric appliances, sufficient clothes or necessary materials in the prison’s canteen.

The PCPS called on international institutions, which claim to take care of women’s affairs, to intervene so as to protect the women of Palestine from the Israeli occupation crimes against them especially unjustified shooting, the cold-blooded murders, and arbitrary detention.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

Settlers torch eight Palestinian cars in J’lem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Fanatic Jewish settlers are believed to have set eight Palestinian cars on fire last night in al-Thawri neighborhood in Occupied Jerusalem.

The Hebrew radio said that anonymous persons torched a parked car in al-Thawri neighborhood, which caused seven nearby vehicles to catch fire and burn.

The radio claimed the Israeli police in the city launched an investigation into the incident.

(Source / 03.01.2016)

Saudi-Iranian Conflict Threatens to Explode Into Region-Wide Sectarian War

Flames rise from Saudi Arabia's embassy during a demonstration in Tehran January 2, 2016

The conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric is escalating, threatening to turn the region’s ongoing conflicts into wars of religion, warns Russian Middle East expert Vladimir Ahmedov.

On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that “divine vengeance will befall Saudi politicians” for “the unjustly spilled blood” of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, executed by the Saudis on Saturday.

Considered a terrorist by Saudi authorities for his criticism of the government, calls for free elections and demands that authorities respect Saudi Shias’ rights, al-Nimr’s execution sparked outrage and an escalation of diplomatic tensions across the Middle East, but only a cautious criticism from Riyadh’s allies in Washington and Brussels.The cleric was killed along with 46 others in the country’s largest mass execution in decades, sparking anger and violent protests in Shia areas of Saudi Arabia, as well as Bahrain, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Pakistan, and Iran, where protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in the Iranian capital and attempted to set the building on fire.

Trying to prevent the explosive situation from escalating out of control, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to bring to justice those responsible for Saturday’s attack. “The Iranian people should not allow [al-Nimr’s death] to become an excuse for rogue individuals and groups to commit illegal acts and damage Iran’s image,” Rouhani said.

Speaking to his EU counterpart on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iranian authorities had taken steps “to defuse the tensions and protect the Saudi diplomats.”

Nevertheless, Saturday’s execution has only resulted in the further deterioration of relations which were already less than cordial. In several of the region’s ongoing conflicts, Tehran and Riyadh are on opposite sides of the barricades.

In Syria, Iran has offered the secular government of Bashar al-Assad, embattled by over five years of war, political, economic and military assistance against a coalition of Saudi, Turkish and Qatari-funded jihadist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the al-Nusra Front and Daesh (ISIL/ISIS).Furthermore, in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has formed a military coalition to try to crush the Shia tribesmen known as the Houthis, who overthrew the government of Saudi-backed president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi last year. Accusing the coreligionists of being a proxy for Iran (claims which both the Houthis and Tehran have denied), Riyadh launched a military campaign, including a naval blockade, prompting criticism that the intervention has caused a ‘humanitarian catastrophe‘.

At the same time that it has struggled with real and imaginary Iranian threats abroad, the Saudi dynasty has also grown fearful of Shiites living in Saudi Arabia itself.

Commenting on the escalating conflict for Russia’s Gazeta.ru, Vladimir Ahmedov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Asian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, called the emerging situation “somewhat frightening.” According to the academic, the conflict in the Middle East threatens to gain a new, religious dimension, openly becoming a war between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Living in the 21st century, we have been thrown back into the Middle Ages, when the main factor of wars was religion,” rather than geopolitical considerations and the capture of territory. “This,” Ahmedov warned, “reduces the possibility of coming to an agreement in the most acute conflicts in the region.”

“In Yemen, Saudi Arabia has announced that it has decided to resume hostilities. It will be just as difficult to come to an agreement on Syria, where that Saudis will begin coordinating with Turkey, in my view.”As far as Russia is concerned, the analyst warned that the cleric’s killing portends positive negative consequences, with the regional sectarian conflict threatening to to Russia’s borders, “to the neighboring states of Russia’s underbelly in Central Asia.” Ultimately, the analyst suggests, “I have no optimistic forecasts on this situation being resolved in the near future. Still, we can only place our hopes in the true authorities of the Muslim world.”

(Source / 03.01.2016)

Israeli forces raid Bethlehem areas, injure 2 in clashes

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Sunday raided Palestinian communities across the Bethlehem area of the occupied West Bank leaving two injured in clashes locals said.Israeli forces stormed the Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem where clashes broke out after soldiers detained a camp resident.Witnesses told Ma’an that the forces besieged the home of Rami Abu Hadeed and detained his brother Raed. Israeli snipers reportedly deployed on the rooftop of the building in order target Palestinians throwing stones at the forces.Two Palestinians were shot and injured with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets and transferred to the hospital for medical treatment, locals said.Clashes also erupted when Israeli forces raided the nearby town of Beit Jala north of Bethlehem, storming homes belonging to the Sarasra and Jawareesh families, locals said.Locals told Ma’an that soldiers stopped a number of cars driving through the town, checking identities and searching for video footage surveilling houses near the Beit Jala Orthodox Club.Seperately, a Palestinian man from al-Tur reportedly filed a complaint after was shot near the tunnel road west of Beit Jala Saturday night.An Israeli army spokesperson had no immediate information on Israeli military activity in the Bethlehem area.

(Source / 03.01.2016)