Palestine’s forgotten children

By LORD NORMAN WARNER

Next year will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Britain has a historic responsibility to challenge the Israeli government’s conduct in the West Bank and Gaza.

Next year will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration as well as the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. With no sign of an active peace process between the parties, here in Britain we have a historic responsibility to seriously challenge the Israeli government’s conduct in the West Bank and Gaza. On a recent visit to the West Bank, I saw powerfully for myself the need for better legal protection for young Palestinians. Without this I fear that we will engender an entire lost generation of forgotten Palestinian children.

Yair Golan, the deputy head of the Israeli military, caused an uproar in April when he called for “national soul-searching” and warned that “there is nothing easier than to behave like an animal and to act sanctimoniously”. Earlier this year I understood better what he meant when I found myself sitting in disbelief whilst watching proceedings unfold in Ofer Israeli military court in the occupied West Bank.

Israel is a democracy that claims to practice the rule of law. But here were Palestinian children, shuffling into court with their hands tied and their feet manacled. Waiting to go into the court room, we spoke to families who often haven’t seen their children for weeks and only then after struggling on lengthy journeys through numerous checkpoints. They told us – a cross-Party group of UK Parliamentarians – their personal experiences in a defeated, world-weary way.

The courtroom itself was small, crowded and chaotic. A cast of actors jostled and moved around; prosecutors, defence counsels, ushers, warders, clerks, together with unidentifiable others who float in and out. Conspicuous by their absence were witnesses or indeed any process by which evidence is tested in court. Things became clearer when we learnt that after interrogation – sometimes when sleep-deprived and often without the presence of a lawyer – virtually every defendant pleads guilty in order to secure a shorter period in custody.

The proceedings were presided over by a uniformed military judge whose main preoccupation seems to be ensuring that the prisoners in the dock are those on his flow of dockets. A series of brief exchanges followed between the judge and the prosecution, another soldier, and the defence, a civilian lawyer who has not met the defendants before. The judge then announces his decision, but not necessarily facing the defendants. If a family is willing to pay a fine – often substantial – the prisoner may be released, but only after payment. A father rushes out of court after securing the paperwork to try to pay in time for his son’s release for a family wedding. We subsequently learn that according to the military court’s annual report for 2011, $3.4 million a year in fines is raised, so Palestinians seem to be funding their own misery.

Palestinian children grow up in a culture of fear, intimidation, suspicion and sometimes death.

Over 160 children are now detained in Israeli prisons illegally outside the West Bank with a further 276 held near Ramallah. Military Court Watch say that the number of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces has risen by 156 per cent since September 2015 and that many of these children are beaten and held in unsafe and abusive conditions. A lawyer with Military Court Watch said: “Palestinian children are treated in ways that would terrify and traumatize an adult.”

Most of these children are arrested for throwing stones. Usually they will be in custody for about three months. If not detained at the scene of their alleged offence, they will have been picked up later, often during a terrifying raid on their family’s home by Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night – a terrifying experience for the whole family. They may have been given up by a Palestinian informant, possibly under duress, to the network of local military intelligence officers. It makes little difference whether or not they are guilty – they will plead guilty anyway and a regime based on intimidation and fear will have been reinforced. All this happens under the regime operated by the Israeli Defence Force in the West Bank – occupied for nearly 50 years – and fully sanctioned by the Israeli government, despite it being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It appears that those rights apply only to children living in Israel itself and to the children of illegal Israeli settlers living on the West

Of course, viewed from the Israeli government’s perspective,  this military system has been very effective in controlling the 2.7 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank while protecting over 400,000 Israelis who have settled there illegally since 1967 (this figure does not include 200,000 settlers in East Jerusalem). There are now over 125 of these settlements, in reality towns, sanctioned by the Israeli government and over 100 so-called “outposts” which in turn will grow. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, this Israeli settler population is expanding at over three times the rate of the Israeli population as a whole.

Each day in Palestine brings new demolitions of Palestinian structures sometimes those funded by international aid. Since the beginning of 2016 alone, nearly 600 structures have been demolished and over 800 Palestinians displaced, half of whom were children. There are now over 11,000 approved demolition orders for these structures awaiting execution, usually with little notice and sometimes in the middle of the night. The state of unrest in the West Bank remains troubling, with increasing deaths and serious injuries of both Palestinians and Israelis, although the numbers for the former are much larger than those of the latter.

Palestinian children now grow up in a culture of fear, intimidation, suspicion and sometimes death. We saw this in sharp relief when we visited a house in Duma firebombed by settlers, killing the parents and their baby. For this generation of Palestinian children there is no horizon of hope that the misery will end. A divided and elderly Palestinian political cadre now seems powerless to halt the illegal annexation of their people’s land under the oversight of an occupying military force.  The Israeli government allows the transfer of civilians into the West Bank to illegally occupy Palestinian land despite this being regarded by many legal experts as a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Is it really any surprise that teenagers throw stones in protest?

Given our history in this part of the world, a responsible British Government should be considering now a more effective international challenge to stopping the Israeli government’s consequence-free ability to inflict illegal and inhumane treatment on the Palestinian children and their families. That is the least these forgotten children deserve.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

Khudari: The humanitarian situation in Gaza “disastrous”

GAZA, (PIC)– The Popular Committee against the Siege has described the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip as “catastrophic and tragic” under Israel’s tight blockade. In a press release on Friday, head of the committee Jamal al-Khudari stressed the need of the population in Gaza for international, Arab and Islamic efforts as well as national unity to overcome the impacts of the Israeli siege. Khudari underlined the Gaza population’s suffering from the closure of border crossing and different crises related to electricity, water and housing. According to him, 80 percent of Gaza industrial facilities have stopped its production activities and 70 percent of the homes destroyed in the 2014 war need to be rebuilt.   He also pointed to the high poverty and unemployment rates among the population, appealing to Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing permanently.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

Israel escalates forced transfer of Palestinians

Palestinians are routinely collectively punished by expulsion from their homes in Jerusalem into the occupied West Bank.

Maisa Tamimi's family 'were thrown out immediately and were not given any time to appeal' [Mary Pelletier/Al Jazeera]

Maisa Tamimi’s family ‘were thrown out immediately and were not given any time to appeal’

Occupied East Jerusalem – With a weary slump, Maisa Tamimi squeezed onto the living room sofa between her mother and husband.

“It has been an extremely hard time,” she said anxiously. “I could never have imagined I would lose my son and then my home.”

In recent months, Maisa’s life has changed dramatically. In early March, her eldest son, Foaud, was shot dead in occupied East Jerusalem after shooting and wounding two Israeli police officers.

In the hours and days that followed, her husband was arrested and detained by Israeli police, while Maisa and her eldest children were interrogated. After six hours of questioning, they were driven by Israeli police to the Qalandia checkpoint and steered into the occupied West Bank at gunpoint, she said.


READ MORE: How home demolitions threaten Palestinian statehood


After 11 days, Maisa’s husband, Kasef, was released without charge.

No one in the family has been accused of any crime – but they can no longer return home, and are living in temporary accommodations, with some of Maisa’s family members at her mother’s apartment in Kufr Aqab and others at a relative’s house nearby. Kufr Aqab is located in the so-called seam zone, technically within the boundaries of East Jerusalem, but on the West Bank side of Israel’s separation wall.

“The kids come to visit us here a lot, but it is more than difficult to be split up like this from two of my children. But it’s the only choice we have right now,” Maisa told Al Jazeera.

There is no other state that acts in the same way. Israeli law is tailored to undermine Palestinians’ rights and existence.

Mohammed Mahmoud, Tamimi family’s lawyer

Before Fouad’s death, the Tamimi family lived in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya. Maisa holds the blue ID card that Israel gives to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, while her husband, who was born in the West Bank, does not.

Maisa and Kasef were years into a family unification process, which would have secured full residency status for the whole family. In the meantime, Kasef and the children were on temporary permits.

In the aftermath of Fouad’s death, when Israeli authorities saw that the family’s application for unification was pending, the process was immediately frozen, and the family was forcibly transferred to the West Bank.

“We are looking for another place to live [in Kufr Aqab], but right now we can’t find a landlord who will rent to us. They know that we are the family of a martyr and they are afraid to rent to us, due to the possibility that Israel may come and demolish the house,” Maisa said.

The speed of the family’s transfer, just two days after Fouad attacked the police officers in East Jerusalem, was unprecedented, according to the family’s lawyer, Mohammed Mahmoud.

“I have never seen a case like this. Usually a family is given at least 24 to 48 hours to appeal a decision like this. But in this case, the family was thrown out immediately and were not given any time to appeal,” he told Al Jazeera, noting that this type of punishment is reserved exclusively for Palestinians and has never been used against Israelis, even when they have been found guilty of serious crimes.

“There is no other state that acts in the same way,” Mahmoud said. “Israeli law is tailored to undermine Palestinians’ rights and existence. The family cannot do anything to change the reality now that they have been thrown out of Jerusalem.”


READ MORE: Palestinians defy Israel’s Jerusalem ban


Israeli authorities did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on the matter.

In March, Yisrael Katz, an Israeli member of the Knesset, submitted a bill to allow the state to deport family members of Palestinian attackers to Gaza. The bill has not been voted on yet. Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has previously suggested that such a policy would contravene international law.

At the same time, human rights groups say that forced transfers of Palestinians from Jerusalem have been ongoing for almost 50 years.

“We have three groups of people who are forced out: those who have their ID cards withdrawn, those whose family unification applications were rejected, and those who settled in Jerusalem before 1987, when it was easy to enter the city, but who were never given ID or residency cards,” said Ziyad Hammouri, director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/israel-escalates-forced-transfer-palestinians-160501060601330.html

Hammouri’s organisation has traced more than 14,900 cases where Israeli identity cards were revoked from Palestinians since the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem began.

The current policy of forced transfer amounts to a “demographic war” against Palestinians in Jerusalem, Hammouri added, referring to the Zionist policy of maintaining a Jewish population majority within Israel since 1947.

For the family of Khaled Abu Arafeh, adjusting to their new life in the occupied West Bank has been a long and painful process.

In 2006, after being appointed minister of Jerusalem affairs in the new Palestinian government, he was told by Israeli authorities to quit his new role or give up his Jerusalem residency.

Abu Arafeh refused and four years later, having spent part of that time in prison and challenging the decision in the Israeli court system, Abu Arafeh was deported to the West Bank. In court, the Israeli prosecutor argued that Abu Arafeh and the lawmakers’ alleged association with the Hamas movement meant that they were not loyal to the state of Israel. He now lives with his family in a suburb of al-Bireh, close to Ramallah.

“I experienced true pain when I was deported from Jerusalem,” said the father of five. “Although they still study in Jerusalem, our children have been uprooted and go through hardship living their lives. Every morning they have to cross the Qalandia checkpoint going to school and it is exhausting for them. They are not living the lives that children their age should be.”

Despite having lived away from Jerusalem for six years, Abu Arafeh still hopes that he will be able to return to his home city in the future.

“I dream about going back to Jerusalem and I cannot imagine being forced to live away from it forever. I cannot imagine not being granted a residency permit again and I tell myself to never lose the hope of returning to Jerusalem.”

(Source / 04.06.2016)

MP Jarrar: Prisoners call for ending the rift, activating their cause

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian Legislative Council member, Khalida Jarrar, said that all Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli occupation prisons appeal to all Palestinians to prioritize their issue. The released MP stressed the need to end the internal division and the completion of the unity of the Palestinian people, saying: “This is the demand of all prisoners in Israeli jails.” Jarrar’s remarks came after her release from Israeli jails on Friday afternoon, at the Jubarah military checkpoint south of Tulkarem. She added: “I left the Hasharon prison with mixed feelings, feeling of joy and freedom but also pain because there are still many female prisoners left in Israeli prisons.” She continued: “There are 61 female captives, and there are 14 young girls captives who suffer woes behind bars.” Jarrar went on: “The Palestinian people will triumph in the end … and the prison will not remain closed on any prisoner regardless of fascist attempts to quell their call for freedom.” The Israeli occupation forces have arrested the member of the Palestinian parliament, Khalida Jarrar (deputy of the Popular Front), after storming her house in the city of el-Bireh at dawn on April 12th, 2015. The Israeli military court in Ofer accused MP Jarrar with belonging to a banned organization, encouraging attacks against Israel, and violating the travel ban order, so she was sentenced to 15 months. Jarrar, 53, had been elected as a deputy in the PLC, representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in the second Palestinian legislative elections; in January, 2006 (in which Hamas a majority of 76 seats out of 132). Jarrar also worked as a secretary of the prisoners’ committee in Israeli jails. For its part, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (a non-governmental association), said that the Israeli occupation authorities still arrests six members of the Palestinian parliament; four of whom are affiliated with Hamas’s parliamentary bloc  the Change and Reform, as well as one from the Fatah movement and one from the PFLP.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

Israel discusses Gaza war crimes with ICC prosecutor

ICC1

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities have held discussions with representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC), an ICC prosecutor announced on Thursday, agreeing to meet with the court after months of publicly refusing to cooperate with Palestinian attempts at charging Israel with war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war.ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that Israel “has agreed to engage with my office and we are exchanging information,” during a visit to the United Nations office in Geneva on Thursday, the Reuters news agency reported.Israeli representatives reportedly transferred information to the court regarding the 2014 war in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the Times of Israel.However, the Israeli foreign minister was quoted by the Hebrew-language news site Wafa as saying, “there hasn’t been any change to Israel’s position. Israel does not accept that the ICC has the jurisdiction to discuss the issue. As has been said before, Israel is having dialogue with the office of the ICC prosecutor about the issue of lack of ICC jurisdiction.”Palestine formally joined the ICC in January to enable them to submit war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against the Israeli government.On Jauary 16, Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes committed against Palestinians during last year’s Gaza war, which left 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead in the 50-day conflict.Bensouda has also opened preliminary investigations on crimes committed against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.The Israeli government has consistently refused to cooperate or engage with the international court, with Israeli Major General Dan Efrony stating in February that “our agenda is not set by the ICC, we examine and investigate what should be investigated. We are a state that is willing and able to investigate and indict anyone that does something wrong.”However, despite opening over a dozen criminal investigations into incidents which transgressed during the war — including the shelling of a UN school on July 24 that killed at least 15 people — and taking testimony from a number of Palestinians in Gaza, no indictments have been filed.Israel has stated that the ICC does not have jurisdiction to carry out investigations in the occupied Palestinian territory as the country is not a signatory of the Rome Statute that allows for ICC jurisdiction.However, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, he gave the ICC jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed by both Israeli and Palestinian individuals within the Palestinian territory.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

Is Ennahda following in AKP footsteps?

Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, speaks during the movement’s congress in Tunis, Tunisia, May 20, 2016

It is no secret that in the midst of the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, Tunisia has emerged as the brightest spot. It is also no secret that Tunisia’s success has been made possible in part by the moderate stance of its main Islamist party, Ennahda, which on May 21 at its party congress announced that it was officially abandoning political Islam. The longtime leader of the party, Rachid Ghannouchi, who was re-elected at the event, vowed to “keep religion far from political struggles” and announced that Ennahda would abandon all its religious activities, including preaching in mosques.

Naturally, this news reminded some of the founding of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) 15 years ago. At that time, the AKP, which came from an “Islamist” political tradition, had also declared a major change in perspective. Similar to Ennahda’s new self-identification as “Muslim democrats,” the AKP’s founders called themselves “conservative democrats.” The term “conservative” in Turkey is often another way of saying “practicing Muslim.” Moreover, Ghannouchi had in the past spoken about the “Turkish experience” and pointed to it as a positive frame of reference.

It is also no secret, however, that the so-called Turkish experience has not been going well lately. The AKP of today, heavily criticized for authoritarianism, is a far cry from the AKP of the early 2000s that was widely praised for its reforms. The common perception of the party, especially its iron-willed leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is that it was “moderate” when weak but turned autocratic after consolidating power. One could therefore argue that if Ennahda is really following in the footsteps of the AKP, it is not a reassuring step.

It appears, however, that Ennahda is not now following in the footsteps of the AKP, and it probably never will. One reason for this is because of structural differences between Tunisia and Turkey. In Turkey, checks and balances on the executive historically were mostly made by the military, which is an illegitimate actor in that capacity in any democracy. Therefore, the AKP pushed the military aside in a process that looked like democratization, but ended up enabling a totally unchecked government. In Tunisia after the 2011 revolution, however, a system of checks and balances was established in the form of the National Dialogue Quartet, which consists of civil society actors and won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Pushing the quartet from the political scene is unfeasible, because such a move would not have legitimacy, which the anti-military actions in Turkey had.

Moreover, there are key differences between Ennahda and the AKP, especially between the men who lead them. Erdogan is famously a patriarchal and assertive politician whose natural instinct is to expand authority and extract obedience. That is why and how he was able to create “one-man rule” within the AKP and a cult of personality as the savior of the nation, a kind of Ataturk II. In contrast, by all accounts Ghannouchi is a modest and temperate scholar who is interested less in accumulating personal power than in making his decades-old theories about “Muslim democracy” work. It is really hard to imagine him turning into an all-dictating ruler, dominating not just politics but media and business as well, as is the case in Turkey.

Furthermore, in its five years of democratic experience, Ennahda has already rung up an impressive accomplishment that the AKP has never seriously tried in the past 15 years: meaningful reconciliation with the more secular forces in society. This was most evident in the constitution-making process, during which Ennahda worked with secular politicians and civil society. As a result, the Tunisian constitution, the most liberal charter the Muslim world has ever produced, was ratified by the parliament in January 2014 in a 200-16 vote.

Back in Turkey, such a constitutional consensus is unthinkable. In fact, the AKP strives for a “new constitution,” but it hopes to introduce it by maximizing its own seats in the parliament and mainly for the sake of implementing the presidential system that Erdogan dearly wants. In other words, whereas Ennahda supported a truly Tunisian constitution through consensus, the AKP seeks an “AKP constitution” through triumphalism.

All this suggests that one could be more optimistic about Tunisia’s democratic future and Ennahda’s contribution to it than the case of Turkey and the AKP. Of course, Tunisia faces many challenges, among them a weak economy and Salafi jihadis. It also remains to be seen whether Ghannouchi’s progressivism will be fully internalized by Ennahda or whether there will be a conservative resistance, which some observers, including Shadi Hamid, view as a distinct possibility.

Still, at least at this point, Ennahda’s post-Islamism seems to be a better story than that of the AKP. One should resist thinking of the two parties as the same phenomenon, and in fact, Ennahda should avoid identifying with the Turkish model.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

UN ‘buries’ resolution on Gaza’s environmental health crisis under US, Israeli pressure

The blocking of a UN vote on the Gaza resolution was orchestrated by the US and Israel on the basis of a technicality, which was selectively applied

A draft United Nations resolution calling for a team of UN experts to assess the environmental impact of Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip in November 2012 and July-August 2014 was effectively “buried” by the United States, Canada and Israel on Saturday.

The final round of government meetings at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in the last week of May resulted in the passing of 25 resolutions, including a landmark resolution calling for states to implement all international law on protecting the environment during war in national legislation.

However, the draft resolution on Gaza calling for a UN field assessment of environmental damage caused by war 2012 and 2014 was aborted amidst a storm of controversy.

US-Israeli pressure

The resolution had originally been tabled by Morocco with the backing of the Arab League, Lebanon, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Djibouti, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Sources at the meeting said that heated debate over the resolution was followed by a technical sleight-of-hand that allowed delegates to claim a vote on the Gaza resolution was impossible.

The original resolution proposed by Morocco was opposed by three member states, the US, Canada and Israel, while the European Union suggested deleting substantive portions of the text.

According to an account by Doug Weir of the Toxic Remnants of War Project, who witnessed the talks, the lack of consensus meant that Morocco had to withdraw its text, which was promptly replaced with a five paragraph technical resolution sponsored by the G7+China.

“In heated negotiations and a string of informal consultations… it became apparent that Israel’s objections could not be overcome and that the US would rather it be quietly buried,” said Weir.

Sleight-of-hand

Israel eventually demanded a vote on the Gaza resolution late on the final day of the UN talks, surprising many – but the sudden demand appears to have been tactically designed to to permanently block a vote on the resolution.

“A procedural vote was eventually taken on whether or not to vote, only for it to emerge that the delegations remaining in the plenary were not quorate under UNEA-2’s Rules of Procedure,” explained Weir. “A final roll call of those present at 3am confirmed that there were enough delegations in the room to legally meet and debate but not enough to vote or take decisions.”

But several member states, including Pakistan and Egypt, “strongly criticised” the UNEA secretariat as no such roll call had been taken at the beginning of the plenary to ensure a quorum enabling the passage of the previous 25 resolutions. They “angrily questioned the legitimacy and legality of the resolutions passed earlier in the night.”

Although no quorum had been demonstrated for those resolutions, “Interventions from China, the EU and many others demonstrated that the majority of States viewed the resolutions as legal.”

However, according to Weir, if the Gaza resolution had been put to a vote, it likely would also have passed with a majority.

In other words, the blocking of a UN vote on the Gaza resolution was orchestrated by the US and Israel on the basis of a technicality – a technicality that was selectively applied to the Gaza issue, but not to 25 other resolutions that had already been passed.

“The resolution has been buried for now but the need to relieve that suffering continues unabated,” observed Weir.

Ongoing public health emergency

The humanitarian and public health disaster afflicting the Gaza Strip as a result of the environmental impact of Israeli military operations was recently discussed at a London seminar organised by the Royal Society of Medicine’s Epidemiology and Public Health Section on 15 April.

Sarah Phillips, an orthopedic surgeon at Kings College Hospital who works with a medical charity in Gaza, told the meeting that Gaza’s water supply is so contaminated due to the destruction of sewage infrastructure, and the ongoing Israeli blockade, that hospitals have to use sea water to clean surgical instruments. “This just corrodes it all”, she said.

The latest Gaza Situation Report from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) describes the Strip’s ongoing “severe water and sanitation crisis… Current abstraction of water from the aquifer to meet the overall needs is way beyond the recharge. As groundwater levels subsequently decline, sea water infiltrates from the nearby Mediterranean Sea. Today, over 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human use.”

Only a quarter of waste water, the report says, can be treated and used in green areas and some agriculture. Some 90,000 cubic metres of raw or partly treated sewage is released everyday into the Mediterranean Sea, “creating pollution, public health hazards, and problems for the fishing industry”.

The UNRWA blames the “blockade on Gaza and repeated cycles of armed conflict, including the unparalleled devastation caused by the last conflict in 2014”, for the destruction of “a large part of the enclave’s infrastructure, including water and sewage networks”,

The decade-long blockade in particular has forestalled any prospect of a meaningful recovery from this environmental disaster, which happens to be in breach of the very UNEA resolution on armed conflict just passed. Heavy restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza “crushed the enclave’s originally trade-based economy” and led to “sky-rocketing unemployment rates, extreme poverty, food insecurity and contribute to depression, hopelessness and confinement, particularly among youth.”

(Source / 04.06.2016)

Two Palestinians Injured, One Seriously, In Nablus

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and clashed with many local youths, wounding two Palestinians with live fire, while one of them suffered a life-threatening head injury. One Palestinian was kidnapped In Qalqilia.

Media sources in Nablus said dozens of soldiers, and settlers invaded the city, and headed towards ‘Joseph Tomb,’ east of Nablus,

The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers, who fired many live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets, and local youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles on the invading vehicles.

Medical sources said Jamal Mohammad Dweikat, 20, from Balata, was shot with a live round in the head, leading to a very serious injury, while another young man suffered a moderate injury after the soldiers shot him in the leg.

Both Palestinians were rushed to a hospital in Nablus, while the soldiers also invaded several neighborhoods.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the site was to remain under Israeli control. However, the Israeli army evacuated the premises in October 2000 shortly after the start of the Second Intifada.

Following security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli army allows Jewish worshipers to make monthly nocturnal pilgrimages to the site; the Palestinians are not allowed access.

Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph.

The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike. Joseph’s Tomb is revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians and Samaritans.

In related news, the soldiers invaded Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and kidnapped one Palestinian.

The soldiers also fired several flares, gas bombs and concussion grenades during the invasion.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

IOA renews administrative detention of PFLP leaders for 3rd time

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestine center for studies said on Saturday that the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) had renewed the administrative detention of two leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for the third consecutive time. The PCS said in a press release that the IOA renewed the detention without trial or charge of Jamal Burham, 56, and Shaher Ra’ee, 47, from Tulkarem and Qalqiliya respectively for sixth months. It said that both PFLP leaders have been held in the Negev desert prison since their detention a year ago, adding that they were arrested for affiliation with the PFLP.

(Source / 04.06.2016)

Interim Government Calls for International Protection for Its Facilities

Head of the Syrian interim government Jawad Abu Hatab called on the international community to protect health and educational facilities as well as all other civilian infrastructure in liberated areas from the barbaric bombardment by the Assad regime and Russian forces. Abu Hatab stressed that this move is vital to enable the interim government to provide services to the civilian population in liberated areas.

In a two-day meeting with the Syrian Coalition’s political committee, Abu Hatab called on humanitarian organizations and neighboring countries to deal directly with the Syrian interim government institutions. He called for facilitating imports of raw materials, petroleum, agricultural products and livestock to liberated areas. He also called for facilitating exports of agricultural products in order to revamp the economy in liberated areas. Abu Hatab pointed out that this will help pave the way for refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes.

Abu Hatab gave an overview of the latest developments regarding the formation of the interim government and meetings Abu Hatab held with concerned bodies in liberated areas. The meeting with the political committee also discussed the interim government’s action plan.

Members of the Coalition’s political committee met with the Coalition members who are part of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to discuss the latest developments concerning the political process and the Geneva talks. The meeting also discussed preparations for the launch of the meetings of “technical delegations” in the coming days in Geneva. The meeting also reviewed developments with regards to holding consultations between the HNC on one side and the “Cairo” and “Moscow” opposition platforms and civil society organizations on the other.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 04.06.2016)