Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Three Children In Jerusalem

01 MAY
11:19 AM

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday, the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of occupied East Jerusalem, searched and ransacked several homes, and kidnapped three children.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the soldiers kidnapped Majd Marwan Dari, 15, Fadi Rafat al-‘Eesawy, 14, and Shadi Odeh, 17, before moving them to interrogation centers.

The army invaded, and violently searched many homes throughout the town, and interrogated many Palestinians.

Also on Sunday, several military vehicles invaded Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, searched homes and kidnapped a child and a former political prisoner.

The soldiers also invaded al-‘Azza refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, injured one Palestinian, and kidnapped three others in the camp, and in Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

1868 Settlers stormed the Aqsa Mosque in April

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A statistical report issued by Quds Press documented that over 1800 Jewish settlers stormed the plazas of the Aqsa Mosque during April. The number outweighed the total number of settlers who broke into the Muslims’ holy site during the first three months of the year.  The report highlighted that settlers’ incursions pace was escalated during the Jewish holidays of Passover and others.   According to the statistical report, over 67 security members stormed the Aqsa within inspection rounds and for securing the settlers’ incursions into and performing Talmudic rituals at the Muslims’ sacred place.  Israeli policemen and Special Forces systematically attacked the Aqsa Mosque’s guards and the Awqaf staff. They deported three of them away from the Mosque for 15 days because of confronting settlers. Israeli courts presented 10 indictments against worshipers and sit-inners at the holy site, the report stated.  The report also documented an Israeli violation where the Temple Institute announced holding a secret wedding contract at al-Rahmah gate at the Aqsa Mosque regardless of the guards’ tightened measures.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Gaza fishermen survive Israeli machinegun fire

GAZA, (PIC)– The Israeli navy on Sunday morning opened heavy machinegun fire on Palestinian fishermen off Gaza shore. A PIC journalist quoted local sources as saying that Israeli gunboats opened fire on Palestinian fishermen and vessels sailing in Gaza waters. A group of Palestinian fishermen survived the bullet attack while their boat sustained damage. The fishermen were forced to go back ashore for fear of being killed. The attack is another chain in the series of Israeli violations of the Cairo-brokered ceasefire deal struck in the wake of the 2014 Israeli offensive on the besieged coastal enclave.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

The Governmental and Russian Forces burn Aleppo Province

“The Red Death”

burn Aleppo Province

I. Introduction:
The neighborhoods of Aleppo Province, which is under the control of the armed opposition factions, witnessed daily bombardment by Syrian and Russian forces, and that one day after the declaration of the supreme body to postpone their participation in the Geneva negotiations held on the 19th of last April.
Many political declarations contributed in saying that the presence of the “Al Nosra” in Aleppo had contributed to the increase of violence and cruelty of those attacks. However, even with the presence of “Al Nosra” or even ISIL or any armed organization, does not justify randomly bombing targets of the city which is located within the control of any military faction and without taking into account the distinction between military and civilian people. Moreover, the violations targeted greatest goals-mentioned in the report- which were never military headquarters, and not even close to military headquarters. It is also relatively far from the lines of the clash, thus, no military value is found. We refer to the names of the victims and their pictures, women and children in addition to the families’ talks.

The report pointed out that the Governmental Forces are still using explosive barrels devices that are thrown from the sky and based on the principle of free fall. This is considered as indiscriminate weapon par excellence. We consider that every explosive barrel is a war crime, because it does not achieve any norm of international humanitarian law, and is still permitted in spite of Security Council resolutions, reports, and condemnations. The network recorded, during the period covered, around 86 explosive barrels on Aleppo city.
In this regard, Fadel Abdul Ghani, director of SNHR states:
“The responsibility for determining the places and the distributions of military sites for “Al Nosra” and ISIL exclusively, located mainly on the state sponsor of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities. We have referred to this in the first days of launching the statement of the agreement in order not to justify bombing any civilian target, easily, even if it is located in an area under Al Nosra or ISIL. The Syrian and the Russian Forces have exploited this gap, deliberately, in the agreement and justified killing of hundreds of civilians since the start of the statement so far.”

View full report

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Local sources report large settlement expansion in Salfit

SALFIT, (PIC)– Ariel settlement has been witnessing recently big construction activities on annexed Palestinian lands in Salfit city and its villages, according to local sources. Eyewitnesses said that several expansion projects are taking place in the settlement, including construction works in Ariel University. For his part, specialist in settlement affairs Khaled Ma’ali said that the Israeli occupation authority seized hundreds of dunums of land belonging to several Palestinian families to carry out settlement expansion activities in the areas of Wadi Abdul-Rahma and Wadi Hiyaj, north of Salfit province. Ma’ali added that several dead bodies of Jewish settlers were buried and fake graves were created recently in a vast tract of land belonging to the family of Al Shahin in Wadi Hiyaj as a prelude to claiming the whole area as Jewish.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Why is Jordan restricting Palestinians’ travel?

A traveler waits for his luggage at the King Hussein Bridge Crossing, July 9, 2009

Like so many accomplished students, Benaz Someir, a Palestinian from Gaza, chose to attend Birzeit University.

While pursuing her degree in journalism, Benaz met and later married Walid Batrawi, a fellow BA journalism student from Ramallah. For family and professional reasons, Benaz, a resident of Khan Yunis in Gaza, requested and was given permission to change her residency to the West Bank.

Having successfully convinced the Israelis to change her residency to the West Bank, Benaz was now able to travel to different parts of the world using the King Hussein Bridge, which was easier than returning to Gaza. The choice was hard, but Benaz felt that it was best for her and her career as a media trainer and for her new family in Ramallah.

That decision was made more than 20 years ago. But despite being married to a Palestinian and having proper residency in Ramallah for two decades, Benaz is being treated by Jordanian border control officers as a Gazan. Like all other West Bank and Gaza residents, Benaz holds the same Palestinian passport, yet she is treated differently than her husband.

Walid is allowed to travel to Jordan or via Jordan without any restrictions, while Benaz needs to get prior Jordanian approval. This practice began when Gazans carried Egyptian travel documents and West Bankers carried Jordanian travel documents.

However, since the 1993 Oslo Accords, this changed, and all Palestinians have the same passports. Nevertheless, Palestinians deemed by Jordan as Gazans (namely, if they were born in Gaza or are children of Gazan parents) must apply for a special permit called an adam mumanaa — a no-objection document — issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Interior.

This is costly, nonrevocable and time-consuming. The process takes weeks and sometimes months without any clarity of the rules.

Despite this inconvenience, most Gazans with a legitimate reason to travel are granted this permit — until recently.

Wafa Abdel Rahman, founder/director of Filasitynat, a leading women’s nongovernmental organization, is also a Gazan who has been living in the West Bank for decades. Abdel Rahman told Al-Monitor that the Jordanian authorities have in the past three months almost completely stopped approving these coveted permits. “They have turned down almost every application without any explanation or justification.”

Abdel Rahman, who married a Jordanian citizen, was able to make it to Jordan this week and has launched a series of meetings with Jordanian parliamentarians and government officials. She has also been speaking in the media about the problem.

“Living in Ramallah as a Gaza-born means you are stuck, you can’t return to see your family in Gaza, and now you can’t travel outside the West Bank for work or pleasure,” she told Al-Monitor.

Students, workers, individuals invited to conferences and businesspeople are among the many types of people who have been unable in recent months to obtain permits to enter Jordan, said Abdel Rahman. She estimates that about 50,000 Gazans are now residents of the West Bank.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told Al-Monitor that the Palestinian government is pursuing the case of Gazans with their Jordanian counterparts. “We are in constant touch with our Jordanian partners, and we have excellent cooperation at all levels,” he told Al-Monitor.

Abdel Rahman and others affected are not convinced of the ability of Ramallah to do anything and have created a movement called Haraka with the express goal of pursuing “the freedom to the right to travel and to choose your residency.”

While in Amman, Abdel Rahman joined forces with a group of Gazans living in Jordan who also face different kinds of discrimination in work and employment. They will meet with senior Jordanian officials to seek a change to the current policy.

Jordanian sources are extremely quiet on the subject. A reliable security source told Al-Monitor that in Jordan the bridge policy is a “sovereignty issue” and is considered a red line not open for discussion. The problem is further complicated because Jordan is trying to organize its huge migrant population and deal with the international pressure to allow Syrian refugees to work in Jordan. Syrian refugees have been recently allowed to take up jobs in Jordan, and thus the opportunity for Jordanian workers is narrowing. The concern (although unsubstantiated) is that somehow if Gazan Palestinians make it to Jordan, they will drive unemployment among Jordanians even more.

Abdel Rahman told Al-Monitor that some Jordanian officials have indirectly hinted that some Gazans come to Jordan and never left.

The lukewarm relationship between Ramallah and Amman has also meant that there are few top-level meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah during which such sensitive issues could be dealt with.

This week, Benaz was invited to a family wedding in Jordan. She had to stay in Ramallah while others were able to attend the celebrations because she was unable to obtain the permission that Palestinians of Gazan origin need in order to enter Jordan.

For years, Palestinians have been fighting repressive Israeli travel restrictions. But for Palestinians who have fought and succeeded in finding an alternative by moving to the West Bank, to get restricted now from traveling by a nearby Arab country is hard for many to fathom. What is further frustrating is that they are being discriminated against based on their birthplace, even though they carry the same passport as their fellow Palestinians.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Tunisian mother’s grief: Two daughters radicalised, lost to Islamic State

Since 2011, about 6,500 Tunisians have joined militant groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya, making it largest contributor of foreign fighters to these conflicts

Olfa Hamrouni displays a picture of her teenage daughter Rahma

The text read: “Mum, it’s Rahma. I am in Sabratha. The situation is dangerous and I may die. Pray for me to be a martyr.”

Rahma Chikhaoui, a Tunisian girl of 17, messaged her mother on 26 February to warn that her time as a militant fighter in Libya may be up.

The aerial bombardment of the Islamic State (IS) group base in the city of Sabratha had been going on for a week. Rahma was frightened, conscious of her proximity to the main target of the strikes, her new husband Noureddine Chouchane.

Chouchane, the 36-year-old Tunisian chief of Ansar al Sharia in Sabratha, was suspected of being among the master planners of an attack on Sousse, Tunisia, that killed 38 people. He had recently pledged allegiance to IS.

The American airstrikes eventually killed Chouchane. Rahma survived the attack and tried to contact her mother.

When Rahma’s mother, Olfa Hamrouni, received the text, she called her daughter immediately. “She was crying so desperately. After her husband was killed, she threw away her niqab and thought of coming back to Tunisia, but she knew she would have gone to jail,” Hamrouni told Middle East Eye.

Rahma had already called her sister Ghofrane for help. Ghofrane was also married to a militant fighter in Sirte and when she heard that her sister wanted to return home, she refused to help her.

Rahma realized she was alone and out of options.

Her mother displays Rahma's last text (MEE/Costanza Spocci)Her mother displays Rahma’s last text 

That was the last time Hamrouni heard from her daughter. “If there had been a reintegration program, maybe she would have come back,” her mother said.

Since 2011, about 6,500 Tunisians have joined militant groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya, according to the Soufan Group. That makes Tunisia the largest contributor of foreign fighters to these conflicts. Saudi Arabia comes in second with about 2,500 of its nationals now involved in the fighting.

Rahma escaped her hometown of Sousse last May, reaching her elder sister Ghofrane in an IS training camp near the town of Sirte, Libya.

Since then, Hamrouni has appeared on numerous Tunisian talk shows to denounce the Tunisian authorities: “I told them my daughter was about to leave for Libya and I asked them for some help, but no one stopped her,” Hamrouni said.

She was the first mother to go public about the apathy of the Tunisian authorities towards people like her daughters. Her choice was exceptional for Tunisian society.

“The issue of foreign fighters is taboo. Everyone knows it is happening but no one talks about it. Fighters’ families are afraid of the authorities,” said Mohamed Ikbal Ben Rejeb, founder of the Rescue Association for Tunisians Trapped Abroad, which deals with families whose children have left Tunisia to fight as militants.

“Women jihadis are especially sensitive as their choice involves a moral and a sexual component. A woman leaving to fight is thus considered far more shameful for her family,” Ben Rejeb said, “That is why we hear so few stories about jihadi women in Tunisia.”

“Ghofrane was the first to be involved with Islamic radicalism,” her mother told MEE.

The eldest of four daughters, Ghofrane was not religious as a teenager. At school she was especially shy, faking her last name to avoid the shame of her schoolmates knowing she was fatherless. Her mother was the only breadwinner of the family after she divorced her alcoholic, abusive husband.

Rahma, on the other hand, used to react so violently towards the students who insulted her and her sister that she was eventually expelled from her secondary school.

One day in mid-2012, a marquee appeared near their house. It was a big dawah tent that travelled all over the country. From inside the tent, Salafi preachers invited local residents to attend their sermons. Ghofrane was 14, while Rahma was 13.

The tent contained a female section where girls and women could talk to some “wise women” and change their dresses to try on niqabs.

Steetcorner tents, wise women

Dawah corners in the streets became common in the aftermath of the 2011 Tunisian uprising. “There were megaphones and many people used to go and visit. The religious speeches was very attractive at that time” Hamrouni said.

Curious about all the coming and going, Ghofrane entered the tent on its first night. She left wearing a niqab, a choice she stuck to despite her sister’s giggles.

The following days some of the wise women began visiting Hamrouni’s house. Their aim was to talk to Ghofrane and teach her how to pray, behave, talk and dress according to their interpretation of Salafism.

Hamrouni welcomed these visits, encouraging Ghofrane to follow their advice: “I thought they were a gift to us, that we could walk with them on God’s path and that we could finally be saved” she said.

But Rahma disagreed. At that time she still identified as a hardous, a fan of hard rock and metal with revolutionary tendencies. She wore studs and mischievously turned up her music during the wise women’s visits.

“Rahma was a rebel,” Hamrouni said. One day, a preacher working in the nearby mosque stopped her in the street and criticised her intensely for her appearance.

Immediately after this encounter, Rahma suffered a nervous breakdown. She returned home and destroyed all her posters, photos and metal band T-shirts. Meanwhile, she was crying and shouting: “Everything I have done is haram! I don’t want to be like that anymore!”

Rahma’s transformation had begun; she wore the niqab and joined Ghofrane in her new world.

According to Neffati Arbi, a psychologist working on a governmental de-radicalisation program, recruitment is most likely to occur during teenage years.

“Young people do not join jihadi groups just to earn money, often they want the opportunity to start a new life in a new context that better fits them and the new identity they wish to re-create for themselves,” Arbi said.

Within a month both Ghofrane and Rahma had become leaders. During the day, they worked as guides for visitors to the dawah tent, while also assisting in a niqab shop belonging to the imam of the Hideya mosque. At night, they met with their new “brothers and sisters” to discuss religion.

“They soon began putting pressure on their two younger sisters and even me. I was upset…” their mother said. “Everything I did was too haram for them, even my dress code.”

Aya, the 9-year-old sister, soon stopped going to school, while 4-year-old Teissir became a willing orator for the cause, broadcasting a speech on a Salafi TV channel.

“I completely lost control of my daughters,” Hamrouni said. In 2014 she decided to take her two eldest daughters with her to Libya, where she had found a job as a cleaner and housekeeper.

Olfa's pictures of her daughers, Rahma and Ghofrane (MEE/Costanza Spocci)Olfa’s pictures of her daughers, Rahma and Ghofrane

In November 2014, Ghofrane managed to escape from the house to the militant training camp in Sirte. From that moment, she never contacted her mother again, but she would often talk to her three sisters online.

Since she had no way of making her daughter return, Hamrouni went back to Tunisia to alert the authorities to Ghofrane’s activities. She also handed over Rahma to the police, saying: “She has the same ideology as her sister, you have to keep her in jail so she cannot leave.”

The Tunisian anti-terror police interrogated Rahma, detaining her for six days.

Rahma’s release was secured by a lawyer, Imene Triki. Triki is a prominent figure in Tunisia, often defending her clients against charges of terrorism.

“There are hundreds of people accused of terrorism in Tunisian jails,” Triki told MEE. According to Triki, the prison experience itself often serves to radicalize the defendants.

Between November 2014 and May 2015, Rahma was returned to jail on a number of occasions. She was soon engaged to Hashraf, a man from Sousse, with whom she tried to cross the Libyan border using a people smuggler.

Hashraf was eventually arrested, but Rahma managed to make the crossing and join Ghofrane in the IS training camp. It was there that she met members of Ansar el Sharia, including her future husband.

Ghofrane had married Abdel Monam Amemi, a 37-year-old Tunisian militant from Sidi Bouzid. Ghofrane told her sister that she did not like military training. As soon as she became pregnant, she moved to live in a nearby village.

Rahma, however, loved the training. She excelled as a fighter, soon becoming a leader of her battalion, where she assisted in the training of new female recruits.

Hostile and boastful

“During her phone calls, she would threaten to come and kidnap her two younger sisters,” Hamrouni said.

The police listened to these phone conversations upon Hamrouni’s request, hoping this would encourage them to assist in bringing her daughters home.

Rahma’s tone became hostile and boastful when she became aware that the police were listening in: “I’ll come back to Tunisia and colonise it. We’re planning some attacks. You’ll see mum. You’ll all see.”

It was not until after an attack on the Tunisian city of Ben Guerdane in March that the authorities got serious about the girls’ activities. A number of national newspapers had alleged that both of Hamrouni’s daughters were involved in the attack.

At that time, Hamrouni was asked to present herself to the Ministry of Interior to provide a DNA sample to help future efforts to track or identify her daughters.

Hamrouni refused. “Once my daughters are safe and in the hands of the Tunisian police, then I can give my DNA,” she said. “However, I am sure they weren’t in Ben Guerdane.”

Hamrouni’s younger daughters Aya and Teissir stare at her silently. Both are clearly traumatized. Aya has attempted suicide. She shows annoyance when her mother speaks of her elder sisters as criminals.

“They grew up with jihadi ideas; they’ve been brainwashed by their sisters,” said Hamrouni, staring at them like strangers from the kitchen of her new home. She has moved to protect her daughters and to hide from her acquaintances’ judgment of her family.

“If I can’t have my Rahma and Ghofrane back, I hope at least to save my younger daughters.“

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Hamas condemns Aleppo massacres

GAZA, (PIC)– The Hamas Movement has strongly denounced the “heinous massacres” that are being committed by the Syrian and Russian regimes against the civilians in Aleppo city. “We strongly condemn the massacres which the Syrian city of Aleppo is being exposed to and have claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and wounded many others,” member of Hamas’s political bureau Ezzat al-Resheq stated on his Facebook page on Saturday. “It hurts us to see the blood of the Syrian people being shed incessantly,” Resheq added. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also expressed his Movement’s condemnation of the aerial attacks that massacred and wounded recently dozens of civilians in Aleppo city. “Hamas expresses its sorrow for the continued bloodletting that is happening to the dear people of Syria. The blood and pain of Aleppo people are ours,” Abu Zuhri said. Since April 21, Aleppo has come under heavy aerial attacks by Syrian and Russian warplanes.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Israeli Justice Ministry drops probe after report that contractor behind Qalandiya killings


An Israeli soldier stands guard at the Qalandiya checkpoint as thousands of Palestinians wait to cross from the West Bank to Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli who shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday was a private security contractor, not a member of the police forces, Israeli media revealed on Sunday.The Israeli Justice Ministry released a report on Sunday, which revealed that Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim, 16, had been shot and killed by a privately contracted security guard, and not a police officer as had previously been thought, Israeli Channel 10 reported, noting that the police officer only fired warning shots into the air.As a result, newspaper Haaretz wrote, the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit won’t be opening a probe into the killings.It remains unclear if and by whom a further probe will be conducted.The revelation comes as serious questions have arisen over Israeli forces’ version of the events that led to the death of Abu Ismail and her younger brother earlier this week.The contractor shot and killed the siblings after Israeli forces said that Abu Ismail, who was five months pregnant, threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces at the Qalandiya military checkpoint.However, witnesses at the scene said the two siblings posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew.Israeli police has so far refused to release security camera footage of the Qalandiya shooting, despite having done so in past cases under investigation.An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for comment on Sunday.Maram and Ibrahim Abu Ismail are among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October, the majority during alleged or attempted small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead.UN investigations have shown that, in a number of instances since the unrest began, Israeli forces have implemented a policy of extrajudicial execution, shooting dead Palestinians who did not present imminent threat at the time of their death.

(Source / 01.05.2016)

Palestine ‘first, foremost issue’ of Islamic world


TEHRAN, May 01 (MNA) – Iran’s Javad Zarif has told Palestinian official Islamic world should be focused upon facing the threat of the Zionist regime.

FM Zarif and the Secretary General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shalah discussed the latest developments in Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Sunday. Mr. Shalah had already met Leader’s senior adviser Ali Akbar Velayati earlier on Saturday.

Zarif told the meeting that all Palestinian jihadi groups should be united against their single enemy which is the Zionist regime; “Palestine is the first and foremost issue of the Islamic world and no issue would undermine the place of Palestine among the host of issues the world of Islam faces,” Zarif told the meeting.

“The most important issue should be to face threat of Zionist regime,” Mr. Zarif added. Mr. Shalah for his part presented a full report of the conditions on the ground in Palestine and hailed Iran’s role in solving regional crises.

(Source / 01.05.2016)