For most Israelis, Palestinian lives don’t matter

A 24-year-old Palestinian and her teenage brother were shot and killed by Israeli troops after allegedly trying to stab Border Police officers. The police’s version of the events doesn’t add up, but nobody in Israel, including the media, feels the need to ask questions. 

Qalandia checkpoint, where X and her 16-year-old brother Y were killed on Wednesday. (Activestills)

Qalandia checkpoint, where Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim Salah Taha were killed on Wednesday

The facts are still unclear, in fact very unclear: the exact number of knives found, the number of bullets shot, the number of meters distance, why exactly they were there. But even if we accept Israel Police’s highly terse account of the events, we are still left with a bottom line: Two Palestinians, Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 24, and her younger brother Ibrahim Salah Taha, 16, were shot and killed on the spot by Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint on Wednesday, while posing no immediate threat to anyone. Even if we accept the police version that the woman attempted to stab them, there is still no justification for shooting the teenager, who the police themselves claim was not brandishing a weapon or close enough to present a threat.

We also know that Israeli mainstream media barely covered the story, didn’t send any reporters to gather eyewitness testimonies and didn’t speak to any Palestinians. A Haaretz report mentions that Palestinians claim that “Israeli forces fired numerous bullets at the two and prevented medics from treating them.” Of course, whether and when medics were able to treat the victims shouldn’t be a matter of Palestinian claims. There are plenty of cameras at what is the busiest checkpoint in the West Bank, there is video footage, probably from several angles. The footage should clarify this, and other aspects that are not a matter of opinion. But Israel Police has not yet released any footage. According to a report in Local Call, police have in the past been quick to release video footage – when it corroborates their version of the events.

According to Israel Police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, two suspects – a woman and a youth – approached the vehicular path (instead of the pedestrian path) leading through the military checkpoint and walked towards Border Police officers stationed there, the woman with her hand in her bag and the youth with his hands behind his back. Officers ordered them to halt several times and they began to turn back before the woman threw a knife at an officer. Police and security guards then shot the two, killing them both. The police didn’t specify this but most reports cite that the siblings were 20 meters away from the forces, and they were positioned inside a cement sentry box.

These events didn’t even make it into the evening news in Israel Wednesday night. Except for Joint List MK Dov Khenin, no Israeli politician has expressed dismay or called on the police to release the footage or open an investigation. There hasn’t been any questioning of what the hell happened there. Rather, there has been deafening silence. It’s almost as if it didn’t happen.

There have been numerous similar incidents over the last half a year where Israel has justified the shooting of Palestinian assailants or alleged assailants and Palestinians have insisted it was murder in cold blood.

But this incident, whose factual information still needs to be exposed and reported, strikes me as unique due particularly to the way it was (not) covered in Israeli media and the fact that it was such a brief story that just disappeared.

It’s no surprise that most Israelis generally take the authorities’ version of events at face value, but this time the version of the events isn’t even convincing. And yet no one feels the need to ask questions. No one cares that a 16-year-old kid was shot dead without cause. In the Israeli narrative, the facts don’t seem to make a difference anymore (maybe they never did).

As the incident of IDF soldier Elor Azaria executing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron demonstrated, even when there is clear documentation of a crime – in that case an execution in broad daylight – there is still a groundswell of Israeli support for the army and state authorities that finds a way around the facts. As Orly Noypointed out at the time

The number of people who are willing to justify the murder without batting an eyelash is stunning. Our collective moral compass has become so fundamentally twisted that even the most decent of people, those who are not considered extremists, believe that there is nothing wrong with shooting a man as he lies dying on the ground, while finding any way to excuse the act — including claiming that the Palestinian may have been armed with a suicide belt.

In that case, the facts were played around with a little to justify the soldier’s actions, but in the case in Qalandiya on Wednesday, there doesn’t even seem to be a bending of the facts. There is no need to try and justify anything. It doesn’t even matter anymore what exactly happened. In the permanent situation of occupier and occupied, oppressor and resistant, it’s just par for the course.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Meshaal: Birzeit election results proof Palestinian support for resistance

Head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal

The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal welcomed the Student Council election results at Birzeit University in which the Islamic bloc won.

During a ceremony to celebrate the win, Meshaal said the election results reflect that the Palestinian people’s will adheres to the resistance choice against the Israeli occupation, demanding that this democratic experience constitute a model for political participation.

He thanked the university administration for providing a democratic atmosphere to hold elections.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Warnings of Israeli schemes to annex more West Bank land

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– A Palestinian report warned Saturday of Israeli government’s schemes to consider the occupied West Bank as Israeli-annexed lands as a prelude to confiscate more Palestinian territories. The National Office for Defending Land and Resisting Settlement pointed out that these schemes came in coincidence with the calls issued by Shilo Adler, head of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements in West Bank, to impose Israeli control over the occupied West Bank. The National Office also underlined that senior officials in Netanyahu’s government have recently visited the West Bank settlements more than once and called for annexing the West Bank to Israel and to take control over it starting from al-Khalil. The report said that Israel’s right wing group of Women in Green has recently called on Israeli settlers to enter Area A, the part of the West Bank under full PA control. Israeli confiscation orders have recently escalated against hundreds of Palestinian dunums in the West Bank under military pretexts, according to the report. The National Office said that the Israeli Housing Ministry is preparing for a new settlement plan that includes the construction of 1,690 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Israeli soldiers, settlers storm Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– Dozens of Israeli settlers stormed late Friday and at dawn Saturday Madama and Asira Qiblia towns south of Nablus while Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) broke into Asira Qiblia. Eyewitnesses affirmed that Israeli settlers broke into the towns in large numbers in total provocation to the local residents. Backed by Israeli forces, Israeli settlers have escalated in recent months their attacks against Palestinians and their properties with virtual impunity.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Israeli jailers transfer hunger striker Sami Janazra to hospital

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian Prisoner Society said Friday that hunger striking prisoner Sami Janazra was transferred anew to Soroka hospital in Beersheba after a serious decline in his health condition. Janazra, a 43-year-old citizen from al-Fawwar refugee camp in al-Khalil, has been on hunger strike for 59 days in protest at his detention administratively since November 15, 2015. He started his hunger strike on March 3, 2016 in al-Negev jail before he was transferred to several other jails and finally to Ela prison. On April 24, he was taken to Soroka hospital after he started to suffer health problems because of his prolonged hunger strike.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Iran: 17 executions in four days including at least 3 young prisoners

The antihuman mullahs’ regime hanged 17 prisoners in the time span of April 23 to 27. On Wednesday, April 27, six prisoners were collectively hanged in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison. One of the prisoners by the name of Milad Mostakhdem had been taken to the hanging pole for the seventh time, a known method used by the regime’s henchmen to psychologically torture prisoners.

On April 26, three young men – aged between 22 to 30 years – were executed in Zahedan’s central prison while another prisoner was executed in Qazvin prison. Two other prisoners were hanged in a prison in the city of Sari on April 24. And five prisoners were collectively hanged on April 23 in Zahedan’s central prison.

As such, the number of executions in April reaches 52. The objective of these arbitrary and collective executions is to intensify the climate of horror and fear and prevent the explosion of popular discontent and loath, especially of the youth, against the Iranian regime.

These executions happening concurrent and after visits to Tehran by the Italian Prime Minister and the EU High Representative demonstrates that visits by European officials not only fail to result in any improvements in human rights, but embolden this regime in its brutal and systematic violation of human rights. Economic and political relations with this regime lack all legitimacy and need to be preconditioned to an improvement of human rights, particularly a halt in the executions.

The Iranian Resistance calls on the Iranian people, especially the courageous youths, to stand up against the crimes and collective and daily executions by this regime and to express their solidarity and sympathy with the families of those executed and the prisoners.

(Source: Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran / 30.04.2016)

Settlers storm Al-Aqsa under police protection

Al-Aqsa mosque, ariel view.

File photo of Al-Aqsa mosque, ariel view

Dozens of extremist Jewish settlers yesterday stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Mughrabi Gate amid tight security protection from Israeli police for the fifth time since the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Israeli police stepped up their presence around Al-Aqsa Mosque to facilitate the settlers’ incursions while prevented Muslim worshippers under the age of 35 from entering the mosque.

Media coordinator at the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, Firas Al-Debes, told the Safa news site that 82 Jewish settlers stormed into Al-Aqsa Mosque and walked inside its courtyards amid heavy protection from Israeli forces.

He explained that the Al-Aqsa guards and worshipers tried to prevent settlers from performing Talmudic rituals but police escorted them away from the mosque.

Jerusalem District Police Chief Moshe Adri is reported to have joined the settlers who stormed the mosque.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Family appeals for releasing its child from PA jail

NABLUS, (PIC)– The family of 13-year-old Ahmed Maskawi, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, has appealed to human rights groups to intervene with the Palestinian Authority (PA) preventive security apparatus to release its son. The family told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that all efforts to have its son released failed, pointing out that he has been in detention for about 59 days. According to the family, the security authorities claim that the absence of a current mayor for Nablus prevent them from releasing Maskawi, who is detained for alleged Facebook remarks. The father said that his son is a school student and his presence in detention would deprive him of his exams.

(Source / 30.04.2016)

Press release: The Syrian Air Forces indiscriminately pounds Aleppo

The Syrian government Air Forces have carried out extensive and indiscriminate attacks on residential neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo since Friday 22 April 2016, while the third round of negotiations in Geneva were taking place between the Syrian government and the opposition, represented by the High Negotiating Committee.

The Violations Documentation Center (VDC) has documented 144 deaths as a result of these attacks until 29 April 2016, with numbers steadily rising as search and rescue operations continue in the affected areas. Most of the 72 civilian casualties documented by the VDC so far include women and children, in addition to doctors and rescue teams who were killed as a result of targeting the residential buildings and hospitals.

As per the VDC’s findings, 34 airstrikes by helicopters and warplanes have hit Aleppo so far, targeting residential buildings and vital non-military installations, such as hospitals, clinics, and mosques in different quarters in the city of Aleppo. The following locations were mainly targeted:

1. Al-Quds Hospital, run by medical INGO MSF and certified by ICRC, targeted on 27 April 2016, resulting in the death of fifty people, the injury of and scores of others, including three medical staff members;

2. Electricity and water stations in Bab Neirab, hit by rockets on Friday 29 April 2016;

3. The storage units of medicines and the medical supplies of the rapid respond ambulance in Al-Mouwasalat neighbourhood, hit on Friday 29 April 2016, resulting in its total destruction;

4. The Shawky Helal dispensary for internal surgery in Al-Marjah neighbourhood, rendered totally out of service because of explosive barrel bombs thrown from aboard helicopters on Friday 29 April 2016;

5. The dispensary of Bustan Al-Qasr for internal and dermal medicine, rendered out of service because of explosive barrel bombs thrown from aboard helicopters on Friday 29 April 2016.

Attacks culminated on Friday 29 April.

Meanwhile, the VDC has received reports of attacks by armed opposition groups on residential neighborhoods and infrastructure in parts of Aleppo, directly affecting civilians that are under government control. It has not been possible to date to conduct credible research in these areas due to logistical and security constraints.

The targeting of the medical facilities and personnel is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law and the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which Syria ratified, and in this case can amount to war crimes.

The VDC condems such attacks and calls on the the international community, the international sponsors of the Geneva talks, the SSG (Syrian Support Group) and the United Nations to expressly put together effective mechanisms to ensure accountability for these and other violations, by all parties, including, but not limited to the direct targeting of medical facilities. The VDC believes that to continue ingoring such acts contributes to a culture of impunity in Syria, and delays a process by which Syria can be put Syria on the track of justice.

(Source: Violations Documentation Center in Syria / 30.04.2016)

Syrian Coalition Rejects outside Interference in Drafting Syria’s Future Constitution

The Syrian Coalition said it rejected all forms of foreign interference in determining Syria’s future and the drafting of its constitution.

In a press release issued earlier today, the Syrian Coalition stressed that “the will of the Syrian people can only be determined through an elected general national conference which will be the only legitimate body entitled to assign the task of drafting a new constitution to an elected committee.”

“The new constitution will outline the shape of the state and the system of governance and will regulate the work of the judicial, legislative and executive authorities. It will then be put to the people for a vote in a referendum so that it is approved in accordance with legal procedures,” the Coalition added.

The Coalition emphasized that “the revolution for freedom and dignity aims primarily to build a state of law, citizenship and justice. For this purpose, the Syrian people have made enormous sacrifices in the face of the authoritarian exclusionary Assad regime and are determined to bring down the one-party rule and security institutions that have long confiscated the rights of the Syrian people.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 30.04.2016)