Young men go on one-day hunger strike in solidarity with Janazra

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Dozens of Palestinian young men on Saturday decided to go on hunger strike for one day in solidarity with prisoner Sami al-Janazra, who has been on hunger strike for about 52 days in protest at his detention administratively. According to his brother Kayed, the administration of Ela prison transferred Janazra to Soroka hospital in Beersheba following his suffering from health problems before he was taken back later to the jail. Kayed affirmed that dozens of young men started today a one-day hunger strike in a tent set up in solidarity with his brother in al-Fawwar refugee camp, southwest of al-Khalil.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

Facilitating Israel’s widespread practice of targeting journalists

By: Ramona Wadi

Israel’s targeting of Palestinian journalists has veered into selective collective punishment against the profession. According to the Ma’an news agency, Israel has now banned Arab and international organisations from importing bulletproof vests for journalists in Gaza, in an attempt to render Palestinian press even more vulnerable to attack.

Given Israel’s penchant for “collateral damage”, the latest oppressive tactic will allow the display of additional victims, despite the protection outlined in Article IV, Chapter III of the Geneva Convention that journalists are to be entitled to the same rights and protection granted to civilians. The disregard for international norms exhibited by Israel is once again evident, as the perpetual security concern rhetoric was woven into the purported explanation of the ban.

Quoted in Ma’an, the spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territory stated that “bulletproof vests are dual-use devises whose entry requires examinations of the security establishment.” It was added that requests for vests are examined “with the security protocols.”

Seen within the wider context of Israeli oppressive tactics against Palestinian journalists, the recent prohibition is additional evidence of covert violations that will not disturb the international community’s slumber. The absence of critical thought regarding Israel’s security propaganda has resulted in international differentiation and fragmentation between the West Bank and Gaza, despite the fact that Israeli oppression in both areas is an extension of the constant struggle embodied by Palestinians as well as Israel’s necessity to widen its repertoire of human rights violations without attracting vociferous condemnations.

Whether Israel is targeting journalists through detention, including ensuing torture and medical neglect as occurs regularly in the West Bank, or directly as has been the case in Gaza particularly during Israel’s demonstrations of military capabilities against a civilian population, the end result is the creation of undesired vulnerability by exacerbating a lack of protection.

According to the Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists, 43 journalists were detained by Israel since October 2015, three of whom are suffering from serious illnesses. The detention of journalists has been described as part of an Israeli conspiracy that equates media outlets affiliated with Palestinian political parties as conforming to Israel’s distorted definition of terrorist organisations.

During “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, the targeting of journalists by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) was based upon manipulation of international law without as much as a whisper of dissent by the international community. Earlier in 2012, a letter to the opinion pages of the New York Times penned by IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich insisted: “Such terrorists, who hold notebooks and cameras in their hands, are no different from their colleagues who fire rockets aimed at Israeli cities and cannot enjoy the rights and protection afforded to legitimate journalists.”

Erroneous premises aside, the quote is proof of how the international community has continuously turned a blind eye to the targeted assassinations of Palestinian journalists. Normalising Israeli violence has become enshrined in international consciousness, which thrives upon the increase of rampant bloodshed and the resulting desensitised attitude that has transformed the macabre into mundane. Not only the exhibited scorn for international humanitarian law is lauded through complicit silence; clearly, the international community has no qualms about endorsing Israel’s manipulative narrative to facilitate the slow extermination of Palestinians.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate leader Omar Nazzal arrested while en route to international conference

omar-nazzal

Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal, member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in the West Bank, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on the al-Karameh crossing between occupied Palestine and Jordan on Saturday, 23 April and taken to the Etzion interrogation center.

Nazzal, a prominent journalist and syndicate leader who is widely quoted on issues relating to the repression of journalists, was on his way to Sarajevo for the General Meeting of the European Federation of Journalists, taking place on 25-26 April.

omar-nazzal-abdallahThe EFJ and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate are members of the International Federation of Journalists, a global organization defending journalists’ rights against repression. The IFJ has spoken out before regarding the repression of Palestinian journalists, including urging the freedom of detained hunger-striking journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq and condemning the Israeli occupation’s closure of Palestine Today TV.

Nasser Abu Baker, the president of the Journalists’ Syndicate, who is also participating in the EFJ meeting, spoke with reporters about Nazzal’s arrest. The PJS issued a press release, calling on international journalists’ organizations, including the EFJ and IFJ, to denounce the arrest of Nazzal and pressure the Israeli state to release him. Nazzal’s arrest “clearly reveals the level of targeting and persecution of journalists and their union by the occupation and its forces,” said the PJS. Palestinian journalists will gather in Ramallah on Sunday, 24 April at 11 am at the International Committee of the Red Cross to demand the release of Nazzal and an end to the persecution of journalists.

samah-dweikQuds News journalist Samah Dweik, 25, was arrested on 10 April in an early-morning armed military raid on her home. A decision to grant her bail was overturned on 21 April, and she is imprisoned until the end of proceedings on allegations of “incitement” based on Facebook posts.

Writing in +972Mag, Noam Roten notes that “Ahmad al-Bitawi, a Palestinian journalist, was convicted in an Israeli military court of incitement that was, allegedly part of his journalistic work. Other journalists, among them Mahmoud al-Qawasme and Mohhamad Qaddumi, are both imprisoned in Israeli jails awaiting trial for the same charge. These tactics are only used against Palestinians journalists, never against Jewish journalists, some of whom publish similar incendiary materials, like for example Amnon Lord, who published a front-page article for the Jewish religious newspaper Makor Rishon a few weeks ago that included the statement, “killing a terrorist without grounds of immediate self defense is a natural situation during war.”

During the month of February, a long list of Palestinian journalists from both Jerusalem and the West Bank were interrogated, among them “Good Morning Jerusalem” producer Nader Bebars, Pal Media in Jerusalem’s bureau chief Ishaq Kasbe, WAFA photographer Ayman Nubani, and many other journalists, photographers and media technicians.”

There are approximately 20 Palestinian journalists imprisoned today, and dozens have been arrested since October 2015. In the same time period, nearly 150 Palestinians have been arrested for Facebook posts.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of Omar Nazzal and all detained Palestinian journalists. The arrest of Nazzal serves several purposes for the Israeli occupation: disrupting the work of the Journalists Syndicate; silencing the voice of a respected Palestinian journalist; intimidating Palestinian journalists living and reporting under occupation that even prominent journalistic figures are not protected; and preventing Nazzal from connecting with his fellow international journalists on the situation faced by Palestinian journalists today. We urge the broadest campaign of pressure to demand the release of Nazzal, all imprisoned journalists, and all Palestinian prisoners. We especially call on journalists’ organizations and press freedom organizations around the world to join in this campaign.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

Hamas warns against continuous strangulation of Gaza

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas warned against the continuous strangulation of Gaza and the relentless Israeli measures to paralyze life in the Strip, especially the prevention of the entry of cement.

In a brief press release on Saturday, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri declared the current status unsustainable, adding that regional and international parties must stand up to their responsibilities toward the current deterioration.

Israeli premier Netanyahu had recently decided to prevent the entry of cement shipments to the besieged Gaza Strip, thwarting reconstruction efforts and increasing the humanitarian suffering of the population in Gaza.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

Abdah: Assad’s Bombing of Aleppo Encouraged by International Community’s Bias

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas al-Abdah said that the international community’s soft stance in dealing with Assad, who continues to commit massacres against civilians in Syria, is seen by him as a license to carry on with his crimes against the Syrian people.

Abdah also said that this complete inaction towards Assad’s atrocities represents a bias in favor of a serial killer and a war criminal.

At least 13 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed and over 30 others were wounded on Saturday when regime forces bombed a popular market in the District of Douma in Rural Damascus with heavy artillery.

The Assad regime’s air force continues to relentlessly hit residential areas in the Aleppo neighborhoods of Tariq al-Bab, Bustan al-Qasr, Salahaddin, al-Mash’had, al-Amiriyah, Bai’din, al-Jandoul and Bani Zeid. No figure of the casualties resulted has been released by civil defense teams as they are still recovering victims from under the rubble.

Activists said that at least 20 civilians, including children, were killed and many more wounded in intensifying aerial bombing of Aleppo on Friday by regime and Russian forces. Three more civilians were killed and around 15 others were injured on Friday evening in a barrel bomb attack by the Assad regime.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 23.04.2016)

Israeli soldiers assault 4 Palestinian youths in Eilat

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Four Palestinian youths from Jerusalem were assaulted Thursday by Israeli forces at the entrance to the city of Eilat in southern Israel, one of the youths told Ma’an Saturday.

Muhammad al-Daqqaq said he was with three of his friends, identified as Noor al-Shalabi, Anas Mazid, and Abed al-Karim al-Natsheh, on their way to Eilat Thursday evening when they were stopped by Israeli soldiers near a checkpoint at the entrance to the city.Israeli forces checked their IDs, ordered them out of their vehicle, and brought them to an interrogation room where they were searched, verbally insulted, and beaten.Al-Daqqaq said Israeli forces questioned them on their reasons for visiting the city, and an officer said, “you throw rocks at our forces in Jerusalem — why are you coming here?”The youths were held and searched individually while their vehicle underwent inspection.He added that al-Shalabi was taken a second time into the room and assaulted, causing him to faint and lose consciousness. An ambulance later took him to a hospital inside Eilat.Mistreatment by Israeli forces against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory is regular, has long received criticism from the international community.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

PA officially halts UN anti-settlement bid

NEW YORK, (PIC)– The Palestinian Authority (PA) has declared it decided to officially halt its attempt to extract a resolution from the UN Security Council condemning Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The PA has taken this step at the behest of France that intends to hold a peace conference soon this summer. Palestinian foreign minister Riyadh al-Maliki stated that the PA would not push for a resolution at the UN SC against settlement construction in order to give a chance for the French peace conference initiative. Maliki made his remarks on Friday in New York during president Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to the UN headquarters.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

Israel to confiscate 1,250 acres of Palestinian land for illegal outposts

Israeli forces talk with Jewish settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost as they stage a sit-in to prevent Palestinians from working in their fields, Jan. 2, 2013

NABLUS (Ma’an) — The Israeli authorities on Saturday delivered notices to the Palestinian village of Jalud in the northern occupied West Bank, alerting residents that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation in what appeared to be the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts in the area.Officials from Jalud’s local council told Ma’an that the military identified areas of the Palestinian village expected to lose land to the confiscation as Khallat al-Wusta, Shieb Khallat al-Wusta, and Abu al-Kasbar.However, the illegal outposts of Adei Ad, Esh Kodesh, Ahiya, and Kidah have already been established in the areas, marking the confiscation as Israel’s most recent retroactive legalization of unauthorized settlement construction.Israel’s High Court of Justice last year declared its intention to retroactively formalize the string of outposts, established in violation of both Israeli and international law, according to the UN.Jalud officials told Ma’an that the notice delivered to the Nablus-area village was signed by Israeli army’s head of Central Command Roni Numa, who said he believed “certain steps are needed to prevent terror attacks” and he as a result gave orders to confiscate the land “for security reasons.”The land will be declared as “state land” and fall under full control of the Israeli military, the officials added.A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)‪ was not immediately available for comment on the confiscation notice.A PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma’an that confiscation orders like those delivered to Jalud aim solely to expand illegal settlements, despite citing alleged security concerns.“Security reasons are just a tool to cover up land robberies for settlement construction,” Daghlas said.Daghlas warned that the retroactive confiscation would pave the way for continuing settlement expansion in the area, ultimately connecting the illegal outposts with the adjacent Shilo settlement via Alon Road, a bypass highway intended only for Israeli settler and military use.Daghlas told Ma’an that Jalud’s local council had filed complaints to Israel’s High Court against settlement activity on their private land, which settlers have taken over and harvested illegally after the Israeli army designated the areas as closed military zones.Some 12 illegal settlements and 27 settlement outposts are located in the Nablus district housing around 23,000 of the “most extremist settlers in the Palestinian territory,” according to Daghlas.The UN in January warned the Israeli authorities against legalizing the four outposts near Jalud, which have been widely acknowledged by the international community and Israel itself as a hotbed for both unlawful settlement activity and settler violence, coming as a detriment to Palestinian locals.Outside of the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians living in the area have been forced to implement voluntary night guards in order to protect against settler attacks launched by outpost residents.Israel has recently stepped up land confiscation in the occupied West Bank, with settlement watchdog Peace Now last month warning that Israel has not confiscated such large swathes of land for the purpose of settlement expansion since the pre-Oslo period in the 1980s.Following Israel’s confiscation of land south of Jericho last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the “systematic land grab” constituted “a flagrant violation of international law.””The Israeli government is not interested in peace,” Hamdallah said. “It rather implement(s) a policy designed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state.”
(Source / 23.04.2016)

Maryam Rajavi: So long as the mullahs are in power, terrorism under the banner of Islam will continue to owe its existence to the regime

11 February 2016    By Maryam Rajavi

Speech at conference with British MPs

Honorable David Jones,
Distinguished Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords,

You are most welcome!
I very much appreciate it that you have travelled here all the way from London.
Your concern about human rights and democracy in Iran and your emphasis on the role of the Iranian Resistance to bring freedom and democracy to Iran is truly commendable.
You are the standard bearers of the right policy in Europe vis-à-vis the most dangerous threat of our times, namely the theocracy ruling Iran.
You have shown great courage in defending this policy.

I know this has not been easy. At a time when governments are so engaged in appeasing the regime, it is very difficult to move in the opposite direction.
You are pressured, but this is the price one has to pay when standing up to such a misguided policy.

I would also like to commend you for your declaration on the need to adopt a decisive policy on Iran.
Years ago, we warned against the danger of nuclear mullahs.
Time and again, we revealed information about their secret nuclear program.
Western governments, however, did not deem it in their interest to heed our warnings until the mullahs moved so close to obtaining the bomb.
Fortunately, today, a nuclear agreement has been signed.
Although the deal has granted unnecessary concessions to the mullahs, the danger has been forestalled for a number of years.
It was proven that the warnings of the Iranian Resistance and the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom were correct.
Now, we are warning yet again against the danger of Iran’s ruling theocracy.

But how does this threat manifests itself?
At home, in the form of flagrant violations of human rights.
In the region, it works against stability by warmongering, terrorism and genocide in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
Iraq was the first stop for the mullahs’ regime in its ambition to build a World Islamic Caliphate.
If this religious fascism were not in power in Iran, we would not have a shattered Iraq today with all its painful tragedies.
Likewise, in Syria, there would not have been this violent war and genocide and Yemen would not have turned into a killing-field by the regime’s agents.
In the meantime, the mullahs’ theocracy is a source of inspiration for two basic tendencies:
1.    Extremism under the banner of Islam and
2.    Retaliating against the West.

The outcome of these two tendencies are terrorist attacks in Europe.
In fact, the Iranian regime has an inspiring role, feeding and legitimatizing extremist groups.
It makes no difference if they are Sunni or Shiite.
They are either agents of the Iranian regime or its natural and practical allies.
The fact is that so long as the mullahs are in power, terrorism under the name of Islam will continue to owe its existence to the regime.
Some apologists claim that after the nuclear agreement, the Iranian regime would move towards moderation. Yet, we can see that the situation is otherwise:
Human rights abuses in Iran have worsened after the nuclear deal as has mullah’s meddling and massacre in Syria.
They have even gotten Russia involved.
They have stepped up their efforts to expand their missile system.
Camp Liberty has been the target of a deadly rocket attack and massacre.

In the mullahs’ so-called parliamentary elections, Khamenei disqualified most of the candidates from Rouhani’s faction despite their declared loyalty to the absolute rule of Velayat-e Faqih because he cannot tolerate any challengers within the regime.
This is the meaning of moderation under religious fascism.
Some in the West claim that doing business with Rouhani will lead to the regime’s moderation.
In reality, Rouhani is no different from Khamenei as he has been involved in all the regime’s crimes over the past 37 years.
Even if he were any different, he does not have much authority within the regime.
Every contract signed with Rouhani is a helping hand to the mullahs’ Supreme Leader.
Let us take a look at the commercial deals with Iran:
Today, at least half of Iran’s GDP is controlled by Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Therefore, most of the contracts signed with Iran are actually signed with companies that are affiliated with Khamenei or the IRGC.
As a result, when a British company makes a deal with Iran, the revenues pour into the coffers of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the IRGC spends this money on terrorism and war in Syria and ultimately threatens the very security of Europe.
So you can see that these companies are not only ignorant to human rights in Iran but they also sacrifice Europe’s security in the interests of trade with the regime.
Therefore, supporting such false moderates in this regime are in the interest of Khamenei and the IRGC. Dealing with this regime will fund terrorism.
Turning a blind eye on human rights violations in Iran, and failing to protect the Iranian freedom fighters in Camp Liberty, will help the regime.
The correct policy on Iran for the international community is to recognize the Iranian people’s Resistance for regime change because the Iranian nation is the only force capable of neutralizing this danger and bringing democracy, stability and peace to Iran and the Middle East.
The Iranian people, the Iranian Resistance and the international community share common interests in adopting the right policy.

Defending Camp Liberty’s security where thousands of members of the main Iranian opposition reside, is a significant element of the right policy, an effort that you have always pioneered.
I must repeat that your conviction and efforts as well as those of other parliamentary committees in Europe and the States have had serious impact on Camp Liberty’s protection.
However, Liberty remains vulnerable and exposed to dangers; a situation that demands even greater efforts.
The Iranian people will never forget your support and your friendship during these years. Your support will be registered in the annals of Iranian history.

(Source / 23.04.2016)

Israel puts Palestinian poet under house arrest

“It is ironic, but not surprising, that I was sent to jail for protesting the killing of my people whereas actual Israeli killers roam free,” Tatour said.

Israeli occupation has put Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour under house arrest over a poem criticising Israeli aggression against Palestinians.

“It is ironic, but not surprising, that I was sent to jail for protesting the killing of my people whereas actual Israeli killers roam free,” Tatour said

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem -Israeli occupation has put Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour under house arrest over a poem criticising Israeli aggression against Palestinians.

An Israeli police officer read loud a Hebrew version of a poem written by Tatour with the title ‘Resist, my people, resist’ at the Nazareth Court hearing on April 13.

Tatour was charged with inciting violence over the content of that poem, which only draws attention to Israeli violent attacks on Palestinians.

In the poem, Tatour also spoke about the arson attack that killed the 18-month-old baby Ali Dawabsha and his parents in Duma, a village in the occupied West Bank, last year and the killing of 18-year-old Hadil Hashlamoun by Israeli soldiers in Al-Khalil.

The poem also mentioned the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Mohamed abu-Khdeir in Jerusalem in 2014.

Tatour was arrested in last October, spent three months in prison and was placed under house arrest in January. She is confined to an apartment in a suburb of Tel Aviv.

“It is ironic, but not surprising, that I was sent to jail for protesting the killing of my people whereas actual Israeli killers roam free,” Tatour said.

“My case, and many others, prove yet again that Israel’s democracy is a farce,” she said. “If it is democratic, it is only democratic towards Jews.”

(Source / 23.04.2016)