Fares: Hamas’s deal is the only hope for liberating prisoners

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Head of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Qadoura Fares, said that the only hope left for the liberation of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails is a new swap deal between Hamas Movement and Israel.  In a statement to Quds Press, Fares condemned the arrest of the ex-detainees of the latest swap deal. The Egyptian side has contacted Israel for the release of the 70 ex-detainees who were released within soldier Shalit’s prisoner exchange deal but in vein, he said. Fares asked the Egyptian authorities to intensify contacts with Israel for the release of the ex-detainees who were released after Shalit’s deal, which was brokered by Egypt.  Israel released 1,027 Palestinian captives in October, 2011 in return for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured by Hamas Movement in Gaza. Israeli forces, however, re-arrested many of the released prisoners within the deal which is known as Wafa al-Ahrar.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

Warning of poisoning water in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, (PIC)–The Palestinian national office for the defense of land and resistance of settlement warned of the dangers and consequences of the Israeli rabbis’ advisory opinion permitting settlers to poison the running water in cities and towns of the West Bank.  In its weekly report, the office on Saturday pointed to the advisory opinion by Rabbi Shlomo Mlmad, the chairman of the so-called Council of Rabbis in West Bank settlements, which was disclosed by the Israeli organization ‘Break the Silence’.  Yehuda Shaul, of Break the Silence organization, said that the aim behind poisoning water in the West Bank is pushing Palestinians to leave their towns and cities to pave the way for settlers who look forward to take over their lands.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

Hamas denies 10-year truce with Israel

GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas Movement denied in a press statement issued Saturday media reports about accepting an Israeli offer for a 10-year truce. A Palestinian local website, Amad, has earlier claimed that Israel offered a 10-year ceasefire with Hamas in return for economic privileges. The website claimed that Israel offered last month to the Movement’s leadership in Doha a 10-year truce in return for economic privileges for Gaza Strip. Amad website reported baseless rumors, the statement stressed.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

Will Abbas intervene to save Nablus from mayhem?

A Palestinian protester sets a tire ablaze during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Duma near Nablus, April 5, 2016

The Nablus governorate in the north of the West Bank has been witnessing security unrest since February, including street shootings, tires being set on fire and the closing down of public institutions.

Numerous reasons have led to this unrest. On March 9, young men closed down schools and blocked the main streets in the city of Nablus, and national figures declared a public strike in Askar refugee camp to protest the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) neglect of the issues inside the camp and the marginalization of its residents.

On May 2, the residents of some villages in Nablus governorate, such as Deir al-Hatab and Azimut, set tires on fire to protest against the Nablus municipality’s intention to construct a water purification plant, which they believe would destroy their last breathing space.

On June 1, unidentified armed men sprayed with bullets the house of Ghassan al-Shaka, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No injuries were reported, but the house sustained extensive damage as a result of the direct fire and broken windows. On the same day, hooded men closed off Rafidia Street in the center of Nablus, setting tires on fire, to protest against the marginalization by the municipality of the Rafidia neighborhood.

On the evening of June 10, unidentified men attacked the Greek Orthodox monastery complex of Jacob’s Well in Nablus. The attack included an attempted assault of the head of the monastery, Archimandrite Justin Mamalos. The reason remains unknown.

Tayseer Nasrallah, a Fatah leader from Nablus and Fatah member of the Palestinian National Council, told Al-Monitor, “The recent security disturbances in Nablus are due to the poor social and economic situation, especially after the cutbacks by UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] of its services at the end of May 2016. Nablus was under an Israeli blockade from the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada in 2000 until 2012. Its refugee camps are plagued by poverty and unemployment. This pushed some of the citizens to resort to violence by blocking roads, carrying out public shootings and burning tires. These acts must be contained, otherwise Palestinian society will slide into the abyss.”

The events in Nablus coincided with the decision issued by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on June 7 to reinstate Maj. Gen. Akram Rajoub as governor of Nablus; he had been fired on April 27.

Several Palestinian news websites revealed April 28 that Rajoub was dismissed for abruptly leaving a Samaritan community Passover seder service in Nablus on April 21 due to the arrival of Israeli settlers, a move that the Samaritan community saw as offensive, which led Abbas to dismiss him.

A Palestinian official in the Palestinian Cabinet told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Rajoub was not dismissed for leaving the Samaritan service or for lacking competence. He is the former head of the Preventive Security Service in the West Bank. Since early 2016, he has been publicly accusing Palestinian high-level figures — especially from the Fatah Central Committee — of stirring up tension in Palestinian internal relations. This is inappropriate behavior for a governor. The president had summoned him in February and asked him to stop his accusations.”

The official added, “In early June, President Abbas reinstated Rajoub as governor. However, he maintained his dispute with those in the high-level Palestinian leadership, in particular with Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and former General Intelligence director in the West Bank.”

The dispute between Rajoub and Tirawi emerged when Rajoub announced a crackdown in Nablus in March 2015 on armed outlaws, which led to the outbreak of armed clashes between these outlaws and the security forces. Tirawi believed this crackdown was targeting him given his family ties with some of these armed men.

These successive security developments in Nablus pushed local figures to express concerns about the seeming chaos across the governorate, which has reached very disturbing levels. The governorate seems to be heading toward serious unrest. The situation now requires a firm decision to enforce the law, in light of the deterioration of the security situation given the absence of law, the proliferation of weapons and chaos in the streets.

On June 2, Fatah leader Maj. Gen. Abdul Ilah al-Atiri sent a letter to Abbas, urging him to intervene to save Nablus. “The people are terrified, anxiety is prevalent on the street, shootings are carried out daily, roads are blocked and tires set ablaze at every corner. Political scores are being settled in Nablus between PA officials,” the letter read, without explaining the nature and background of the tension.

Abdel Sattar Qassem, a professor of political science at An-Najah University, told Al-Monitor, “The PA is responsible for the chaos plaguing Nablus. It is sending armed men into the streets and turning a blind eye to those committing illegal and criminal offenses. Israel is providing [these armed men] with weapons since it is confident that these weapons will not be used against it. Armed men walk around the streets in front of [surveillance] cameras and they are not detained by Israel. They hide whenever the Israeli army enters the city. I do not think that the reappointment of the governor will restore security to Nablus because there are influential parties from among PA officials interested in maintaining this chaos.”

The security development in Nablus is extensively covered on social media sites. On June 12, Nablus-based spokesman for Hamas Husam Badran wrote a post on his Facebook account stating that the disputes being stirred up among the residents of the city of Nablus, its refugee camps and nearby villages are an attempt to sabotage Nablus’ coherent social fabric, describing those behind the unrest as outcasts.

In a Facebook post on June 1, social media activist Hussein Mahyar called on the leaders in Nablus to put an end to the robberies, shootings, roadblocks and the burning of tires, which he described as a systematic and deliberate policy aimed at destroying Nablus.

Samer Khwaireh, a journalist from Nablus, told Al-Monitor, “The security situation in Nablus is shaky because Palestinian leaders are settling their scores [in the streets]. They want to impose facts on the ground that would increase their influence at the expense of others. Weapons are widespread in the city and shooting incidents are on the rise. The PA is unable to issue stringent judgments against individuals and groups conjuring up this lawlessness and chaos.”

“Yet the situation in Nablus is better than in other West Bank cities — especially Jenin — where complete mayhem broke out a few weeks ago, and where shootings are carried out daily and the Palestinian internal security unrest has disturbingly increased the death toll,” he said.

There is no silver bullet to end the security chaos in Nablus, in light of the complex interests of the disputing parties from among PA officials.

This means that the insecure situation is likely to continue. Israel is keeping an eye on the situation on the ground in the city and seeks to maintain the ongoing Palestinian polarization, in a bid to continuously weaken and undermine the PA.

On the other hand, within the Palestinian circles many are talking about who will succeed Abbas, even though the date of the elections has not been set yet. It seems that each group within the PA is striving to gain more power, in light of the nomination of prominent Fatah leaders to assume the presidential seat, such as Mohammed Dahlan, Marwan Barghouti and Jibril Rajoub, each of whom has his own interests.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

PRC discusses Syria’s Palestinian refugees at UNHRC

GENEVA, (PIC)– The Palestinian Return Center (PRC) presented at the 32nd Human Rights Council side event held in Geneva the situation of Syria’s Palestinian refugees in coordination with the the Action Group for Palestinian Refugees in Syria. Pietro Stefanini, Researcher and Advocacy Coordinator at the PRC who chaired the meeting, discussed the legal difficulties faced by Palestinian refugees in Syria and their difficult living conditions inside and outside Syria. Coordinator for the Action Group Ahmed Yassin explained, for his part, the past and present situation of Palestinian refugees and presented a detailed report about the human rights violations they were subjected to. A short video was showed during the event shedding light on Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. The PRC also released three statements about the Palestinian refugees’ living conditions in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. The center also declared its intention to release a new report on Gaza siege.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

Settlers break into the Old City’s market in al-Khalil

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli settlers Saturday broke into the Old City’s market in al-Khalil in the southern West Bank.  Local sources said that the settlers provocatively roamed the market area under tightened security measures by Israeli forces.  Tension ran high at the place because of the settlers’ provocative tours in the market and the popular refusal of their presence in al-Khalil city.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

Is Tel Aviv attack revival of the Jerusalem intifada?

The mother of a Palestinian assailant holds a Palestinian flag as she stands in the rubble of her house after it was demolished by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Yatta, south of Hebron, June 11, 2016

The pace of the attacks against Israelis during the Jerusalem intifada, which broke out in October 2015, has been increasing at times and decreasing at others. Up until early March, 620 attacks had been carried out in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, resulting in the death of 33 Israelis and 209 Palestinians.

The Tel Aviv attack June 8 was the most ruthless Palestinian armed attack against Israelis, targeting a shopping mall in Tel Aviv, a short walk from the headquarters of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Cousins Mohammad and Khaled Mahamra from the town of Yatta in Hebron governorate were able to pass through the security measures and the Israeli military checkpoints, and started shooting at people killing four Israelis and wounding six others.

On June 9, the Israeli government promptly decided to impose a series of collective punishments on the Palestinian residents of Yatta. Most importantly, Israel imposed a complete siege on the city and revoked the work permits of the perpetrators’ family as well as 83,000 permits from residents of Yatta and other Palestinian cities. The Israeli government had granted the Palestinians these permits allowing them to visit the West Bank and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan.

Othman Abu Sabha, Palestinian National Initiative leader and an influential figure in Yatta, told Al-Monitor, “The Israeli measures imposed on Yatta include sand berms and military checkpoints blocking all entrances to the city and a siege that was not even imposed at the height of Al-Aqsa intifada in 2000. The fact that Israel is making the city’s residents suffer this much expresses a retaliatory Israeli approach to punish the perpetrators’ hometown. The siege is still imposed and it has resulted in heavy economic losses for the city. Many plants, factories and shops are located in Yatta, and the siege impedes the import and export movement.”

Also on June 9, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said in separate statements that they believe the Tel Aviv operation to be a natural response to the Israeli crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They stressed that the Jerusalem intifada is still ongoing and will not be stopped by the Israeli arrests. For its part, Fatah considered the operation to be an individual response and spontaneous reaction to the use of violence adopted by Israel.

However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) expressed its rejection of operations affecting civilians from any party whatsoever and whatever the justifications, calling for not resorting to violence or any action that would increase tension.

On the same day, Israelis demanded the enactment of a law to move the perpetrators’ parents from the West Bank to Gaza and called on Israel to take radical action and security measures based on harsh retribution that would remain etched in the minds of the Palestinians.

Samira Halayqa, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas in Hebron, told Al-Monitor, “Israel is not waiting for pretexts to impose sanctions on the Palestinians, such as the recent Tel Aviv operation. The occupation is the main reason for the continuation of these violations against the Palestinians, before and after the [Tel Aviv] operation.

The Tel Aviv operation also sparked a debate among the Palestinians. Some thought it may contribute to turning the current intifada into armed operations that would be a prelude to the coming stage and that the resistance action must regain its central role. Others, however, considered that this operation would reignite a controversial debate whereby Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians may be used as a pretext by Israel, which claims that the Palestinians are engaging in violent acts and not in legitimate resistance.

A Palestinian minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The Palestinian resistance is undisputedly a legitimate right. But the Tel Aviv operation came at the wrong time as it coincided with terrorist operations carried out around the world, most notably, the attack in Istanbul in early June that killed 11 Turks. This could give Israel the opportunity to claim that the Palestinian resistance is the same as terrorism that is rejected by the entire world.”

The Tel Aviv operation took place only two days into the holy month of Ramadan. Before that and specifically in early May, Israel had warned about escalation in Palestinian attacks against Israelis and deployed more Israeli troops in the West Bank in anticipation of further operations.

According to preliminary Israeli estimates, the Tel Aviv operation was an individual attack carried out by two Palestinian cousins from the city of Yatta who are not backed by a specific Palestinian organization, even though they are known to be Hamas supporters. But even when Hamas itself gave the operation its blessing, it did not claim official responsibility for it.

Hani al-Masri, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies – MASARAT, told Al-Monitor, “The Tel Aviv operation confirms that Palestinian individual operations are increasing, which requires a research on their causes and motives instead of rushing to condemn or support them. One must also think carefully about the targeting of civilians in Israel, so the Palestinian resistance can be deliberate and not random. It should not target children and public places, and [resistance action] should go in line with the Palestinian cause and its moral superiority as there are 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and Jews who reject the Zionist project.”

The Tel Aviv operation will not soon be forgotten, and repercussions continue to take their toll in light of the ongoing siege imposed on Yatta, while Israel continues to cooperate with the PA’s security services when arresting Palestinians in the West Bank whom Israel suspects of planning armed attacks against it.

(Source / 18.06.2016)

UK Insists on Progress in File of Detainees in Assad’s Prisons

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Alabdah has received a letter from Britain’s Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood detailing the UK’s position on the file of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.

Ellwood reiterated that his country’s government insists on making progress in this file and on releasing political detainees from Assad’s prisons.

He explained that the United Kingdom is aware of the existence of “widespread use of torture and executions in the regime’s prisons,” a fact that was confirmed by UN reports, including those by the International Commission of Inquiry.

The British minister pledged to work with international partners to expose the regime’s illegal practices against tens of thousands of Syrians, most notably arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances.

The letter came in response to letters previously sent by the Coalition president to the foreign ministers of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) calling for the establishment of a special task force similar to the ones established to monitor the cessation of hostilities agreement and humanitarian access in order to secure the release of all political detainees in Assad’s prisons. The Coalition’s letters also called for exercising pressure on the Assad regime to stop arbitrary arrests and random executions; for the establishment of effective mechanisms to monitor the situation of detainees in Assad’s prisons; and for holding to account all perpetrators of abuses and violations against detainees.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders earlier called for allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross to be able to monitor the situation of detainees in Assad’s prisoners and also raised the need to act urgently to address this file in response to a letter sent by the Coalition’s president Anas Alabdah.

The Syrian Coalition’s political committee previously held several consultative meetings with rights groups and human rights activists concerned with the file of detainees. The meetings resulted in the formation of joint mechanisms to coordinate efforts regarding this file. The political committee appointed Nora Alameer as coordinator to follow up on the latest developments concerning the situation of detainees.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 18.06.2016)

Israeli siege on Gaza illegal, US says

The UN report described the Israeli siege as a violation of international humanitarian law

A new UN report has reiterated that the Israeli, internationally backed siege on Gaza is illegal and violates humanitarian law.

“These restrictions have reduced access to livelihoods, essential services and housing; disrupted family life; and undermined the people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future.”

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip -A new UN report has reiterated that the Israeli, internationally backed siege on Gaza is illegal and violates humanitarian law.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) confirmed the severe deterioration in various aspects of life in Gaza as a result of the continued Israeli siege imposed on the Strip over the last 10 year.

In the report, the UNRWA listed the negative impact of the siege on the health and education sectors, as well as the freedom of movement and travel, and the living conditions of Gazans.

“Years of socioeconomic decline, conflict and closure have left the health sector across the Gaza Strip lacking in adequate physical infrastructure and sufficient medical training opportunities for health staff,” the report said.

“Facilities are overstretched, and service is frequently interrupted by power cuts. These challenges further threaten the health of the population, which is already at increasing risk.”

Gaza needs 800 additional hospital beds 1,000 additional doctors and 2,000 nurses by 2020 to maintain the current level of services, the report warned.

“The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted at the end of 2015 a rise in medical referrals out of Gaza, but a decline in the approval of exit permits.”

About travel, the report stated that “Israel does not only impose restrictions on travelling abroad, but also for Palestinians travelling to and within the West Bank, heavily restricting people, and particularly youth, from pursuing education or trying to find work; families from visiting relatives; and sick patients from seeking medical treatment.”

“These restrictions have reduced access to livelihoods, essential services and housing; disrupted family life; and undermined the people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future.”

The UN report noted that the recurrent conflict and the illegal blockade imposed by Israel on land, air and sea, entering its tenth year in June 2016, remains the principal cause of the socioeconomic and psychosocial crisis in Gaza.

“The restrictions on the movement of people and goods continue to collectively punish the civilian population, affecting every aspect of life in Gaza,” the report explained.

The siege is “undermining the local economy and threatening the enjoyment of most human rights, in clear violation of Israel’s legal obligations under international humanitarian law.”

(Source / 18.06.2016)

Israeli military jeep runs over Palestinian citizen

The Israeli jeep was part of an Israeli kidnapping mission in the area

Israeli military jeep ran over on Wednesday morning Palestinian citizen in occupied West Bank, causing him major injuries.

Palestinian security sources said that the military jeep was part of an Israeli kidnapping mission, noting that the Israeli occupation soldiers kidnapped three Palestinian citizens

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Israeli military jeep ran over on Wednesday morning Palestinian citizen in occupied West Bank, causing him major injuries.

Witnesses said that the military jeep hit the Palestinian while he was walking in the street and left him motionless on the ground.

Palestinian medical sources identified the Palestinian citizen as Hamza Ewisat from the city of Qalqilia, north of the West Bank. They described his injuries as “difficult.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian security sources said that the military jeep was part of an Israeli kidnapping mission, noting that the Israeli occupation soldiers kidnapped three Palestinian citizens.

According to the sources, the three kidnapped Palestinians are Ayid Owdeh, 22, Mahyoub Owdeh, 19 and Mohamed Ewisat.

(Source / 18.06.2016)