IOF storms home of Jerusalemite prisoner, arrests her husband

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stormed Wednesday morning the home of the Jerusalmite teacher at the Aqsa Mosque Khadijah Khuwais,  who is held captive in Israeli jails, and arrested her husband.    Quds Press reported that Israeli police along with intelligence officers confiscated a number of personal computers and tablets in addition to other belongings of teacher Khuwais after storming her home.  Israeli intelligence agents arrested her husband, Ibrahim Abu Ghaliyeh, 48, after they thoroughly searching their house. He was taken to al-Maskobiya investigation center to the west of Occupied Jerusalem. The couple are going to stand trial on Thursday, Quds Press pointed out.  Teacher Khuwais was arrested last Wednesday from her home. Israeli authorities extended her detention twice for the completion of investigation procedures in disregard of depriving her five young children of their parents.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

Turkey: Ending Gaza siege pre-condition for normalization with Israel

ANKARA, (PIC)– Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country refuses any Israeli demand calling for severing relations with Hamas Movement.  In a press conference on Wednesday, Cavusoglu underlined that his country will never give up on the condition that Israel lifts the siege on Gaza. He added that Turkey’s relations with Hamas are “not subject to any discussion”, and that Turkey will continue its relations with Hamas for the sake of achieving comprehensive peace in the occupied territories. The Turkish Hurriyet newspaper reported that both Turkey and Israel will soon announce resuming relations after long negotiations. The Minister’s statement denies previous reports by Israeli media alleging that Turkey has dropped the demand that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

Israel hands life sentences to 4 Palestinians over alleged attack

Israeli forces gather at the site of a drive-by shooting attack against an illegal settler couple on the road between the illegal Israeli settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 1, 2015.

Israeli forces gather at the site of a drive-by shooting attack against an illegal settler couple on the road between the illegal Israeli settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 1, 2015

An Israeli court has sentenced four Palestinians to life in prison each over their alleged involvement in the killing of two illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank last October.

“The military court in Samaria handed two life sentences and another 30 years to each of the four members of the Hamas cell …” the Israeli military said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The court postponed sentencing for the other suspects in the case to next month.

Palestinian sources identified the convicts as Amjad al-Eiwi, Yahya al-Hajj Hamad, Karam al-Masri and Samir Qoussa.

On October 1, 2015, an Israeli man and his wife in their 30s, identified as Eitam and Na’ama Henkin and from the illegal settlement of Neria, were killed in a drive-by shooting attack on the road between the illegal Israeli settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Their four children aged 9-year-old, 7-year-old, 4-year-old and 4-month-old were in the car but escaped the shooting unharmed.

The incident prompted numerous attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian communities and their properties.

Tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories have escalated over the past months. In August last year, the Israeli regime imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Palestinians are angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and their attacks on Palestinian properties, saying that the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound.

At least 214 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in what is regarded as the third Palestinian Intifada (uprising) since the beginning of last October.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

Soleimani issues rare political statement on Bahrain

Anti-government protesters hold posters of Shiite cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim during an anti-government protest organized by Bahrain’s main opposition group Al-Wefaq, in Budaiya, west of Manama, May 17, 2013

Iranian politicians and military commanders have condemned the Sunni ruling family in Bahrain for revoking the citizenship of the country’s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim.

No statement surprised and gained more traction in Iranian and regional media than that of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. “They certainly know that trespassing the sanctuary of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim is a red line whose crossing will set fire to Bahrain and the region and will leave people with no path but armed resistance,” the statement by Soleimani read.

It continued, “The Al Khalifa [Bahrain’s rulers] will pay the price of their actions, and its result will be nothing but the annihilation of this bloodthirsty regime.” Soleimani also had a warning to Bahrain’s allies, saying, “The supporters of Al Khalifa should know insulting Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and the continuation of pressure on the people of Bahrain is the beginning of a bloody uprising.” Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, and the United States, which has stationed its 5th Fleet in Bahrain, are the country’s two most important allies and have helped the country weather the storm of protests led by the country’s Shiites, who make up the majority of the country.

Soleimani’s issuance of an extremely harsh political statement is a rare move for the general, who is currently in Syria and fighting alongside forces aligned with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia against mostly forces aligned with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and Turkey. Reformist newspaper Etemaad called the statement an “unprecedented warning of Gen. Soleimani to Bahrain.” Conservative Vatan-e Emrooz referred to the statement as an “ultimatum to Bahrain’s rulers.” The statement made the front page of half a dozen Iranian newspapers.

Qassim is known as the spiritual father of the country’s now-banned opposition group Al-Wefaq, whose leader — Sheikh Ali Salman — is serving a nine-year jail sentence. Qassim was born in Bahrain in 1937 and conducted his clerical studies in Najaf, Iraq, and Qom, Iran.

Two advisers to President Hassan Rouhani, who has been reportedly trying to mend fences between Iran and regional neighbors, took a softer position with respect to Qassim. Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff for political affairs, while critical of crushing dissent, tweeted that the path to resolving the crisis in Bahrain is through “peaceful” means, which both the people of Bahrain and Qassim had advocated and spoken of. Hesamodin Ashna, presidential aide for cultural affairs, wrote on Facebook that the newly appointed deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, has his “first serious challenge” in part from Soleimani’s statement.

Conservative analysts praised Soleimani’s statement. Mehdi Mohammadi, who was an adviser to Saeed Jalili, wrote that “Soleimani’s statement was the beginning of a movement in Iran’s strategy in the region.” Mohammadi said he would write more on the topic later, but he viewed this new “geopolitical movement” as the “finishing of military operations in Syria and Iraq, creation of a resistance army in the region, development of intelligence infrastructure against the Saudi-Israel alliance and the removal of the moderate Western-inclined.”

Conservative analyst Sa’adollah Zaeri said it was natural for Soleimani to oppose the decision by Bahrain to revoke Qassim’s citizenship. He added, “Until now, we have spoken with a soft position toward the Al Khalifa regime, and this regime has shown that it does not the ears to listen to peaceful speech.”

Also condemning Bahrain’s decision to revoke Qassim’s citizenship are the IRGC, Iran’s parliament, Iran’s allies in the region, including Hezbollah, and Iraq’s Hadi al-Amiri and Qais Khazali.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

New videos highlight #700ChildPrisoners in Israeli military detention each year

No_Way_To_Treat

The No Way to Treat a Child campaign has released two new videos on Israeli forces’ military detentions and prosecutions of around 700 Palestinian children every year.

In 2016, ‪‎Israeli‬ authorities have held an average of 420 Palestinian children in Israeli military detention each month, the highest levels since data became available in 2008. The majority of these children endure physical violence, strip searches, and are denied access to a lawyer and their parents during interrogations.

The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is a project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

PA government sets municipal elections for October 8

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The PA government on Tuesday decided to hold municipal elections on October 8 in total disregard to the ongoing reconciliation efforts. In a press release issued following its weekly meeting, the government appointed a central elections committee to start preparations for the upcoming elections. The government minister Hussein al-Araj, responsible for following up on organizing efforts and facilitating elections with the central elections committee, said that the upcoming elections will include 142 municipal councils and 272 village councils. The elections will be held in the same day in the besieged Gaza Strip, West Bank, and occupied Jerusalem, he underlined. The PA government’s decision to hold the municipal elections came despite the ongoing internal division and the escalated political arrests in West Bank.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

Israeli soldiers “mistakenly” shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian

Israeli forces shot dead Mahmoud Rafat Badran, 15, near the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta on June 21, 2016.

Israeli forces shot dead Mahmoud Rafat Badran, 15, near the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta on June 21, 2016

Ramallah, June 22, 2016—Israeli soldiers “mistakenly” shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian, and injured four others, early Tuesday near the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.

Six teenage cousins and a driver were in a car heading home around 1:30 a.m. after a night of family fun at a swimming pool in the nearby West Bank village of Beit Sira. Israeli soldiers opened fire on them as they drove through an underpass beneath Route 443, Daoud Isam Daoud Abu Hasan, 14, one of the cousins, told Defense for Children International – Palestine.

Daoud Abu Hasan sustained a gunshot wound to the right leg, his cousin, Mahmoud Rafat Badran, died at the scene, and two of his cousins and the driver were injured. DCIP is still investigating the circumstances behind the deadly incident.

“Israeli forces enjoy near complete impunity for violence against Palestinian children and as a result their conduct has no bounds,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “When a trained soldier fires his weapon at a civilian vehicle and a child is killed it amounts to an unlawful killing, not a mistake.”

According to an Israeli army statement, Palestinian youth threw stones and firebombs at passing cars on Route 443, injuring three civilians and damaging several cars. The road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cuts through the West Bank on privately owned Palestinian land.

“Nearby forces acted to protect further civilians from being injured and pursued the suspects,” the Israeli army said. “From the initial inquiry, it appears that uninvolved bystanders were mistakenly hit during this pursuit.”

The Israeli army said the soldiers were from the Kfir Brigade, according to Israeli media reports. An Israeli army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said the military police opened an official investigation.

Israeli authorities withheld Mahmoud Rafat Badran’s body for an autopsy, which took place on Wednesday at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir.

The incident was the second time in nine months that Israeli forces admitted to mistakenly killing a Palestinian child.

A preliminary investigation by the Israeli army into the killing of 13-year-old Abdel-Rahman Obeidallah near Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on October 5, found his shooting a mistake. A senior army official said, “A Ruger bullet was fired and did not strike well,” Ynetnews, an Israeli news website, reported.

Badran’s death raised the number of killed Palestinian children from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip to 24 in 2016, all except one at the hands of Israeli forces. Eighteen of them allegedly carried out knife, gun, or car ramming attacks.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported more than 598 Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory sustained injuries.

Accountability for shootings by Israeli forces remains extremely rare. Israeli authorities have rejected opening full and transparent investigations into most of the recent incidents.

While the military police opened an official investigation into Obeidallah’s death in October last year, his father told DCIP on Tuesday that Israeli investigators neither spoke with him nor informed him of any outcome.

Since January 2014, DCIP knows of only one instance where Israeli prosecutors indicted a member of the Israeli forces, Ben Deri, for fatally shooting Nadeem Nawara with live ammunition in May of 2014.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

Poll: 65% of Palestinians want Abbas out

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Jan. 6, 2016

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The findings of a recent opinion poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research were clear and surprising.

The survey, conducted June 2-4, showed that 65% of the public in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign. “Demand for Abbas’ resignation stands at 64% in the West Bank and 67% in the Gaza Strip,” read the findings. The survey indicated that 31% want Abbas to remain in office.

If presidential elections were held now, according to the poll, Abbas and two other candidates — Ismail Haniyeh, deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, and Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is currently incarcerated in Israel — would receive 20%, 35% and 40% of the vote, respectively.

Walid Ladadweh, an official with the Ramallah-based center’s survey research department, told Al-Monitor that the center applies the latest scientific methodologies when conducting its surveys and the margin of error does not exceed 3%. The center chooses the survey sample in cooperation with the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In this particular survey, the sample included 1,270 people from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ladadweh said the center divided the Palestinian territories into 127 regions and a team of qualified researchers and coordinators conducted face-to-face interviews with 10 participants in each region. The information was audited and reviewed more than once before being published. He pointed out that the citizens were very responsive to the survey and gave their opinions freely, a detail he said adds to the findings’ credibility.

“This is due to the respect for freedoms and the advanced democratic situation in the Palestinian territories, unlike in many Arab countries, where the citizen is forced to hide his real opinion for fear of the authorities,” he said.

He noted that the center is sharing the results with all segments of society in the Palestinian territories, through the media and workshops held by the center to discuss the polls. Government authorities haven’t been all that interested in the findings, he added.

Palestinians cited specific reasons they want Abbas to resign.

Journalist Ahmed Labed from Gaza City told Al-Monitor, “President Abbas, who has been in power for 11 years, has been illegitimately occupying the presidential office. His mandate expired in January 2009. Moreover, throughout the period of his presidency, Abbas hasn’t accomplished any noteworthy achievement for the Palestinians.”

A woman from Ramallah told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, since she feared possible public harassment for her opinion, “Abbas’ resignation has become a necessity for the Palestinian cause. Lawlessness has spread in the West Bank under his reign, and the Gaza Strip was abandoned after being seized by Hamas in 2007.”

University student Khaled Shatat told Al-Monitor he wants Abbas to stay in office given that the Hamas-Fatah internal division — now entering its 10th year — has prevented presidential and legislative elections from being held in the Palestinian territories.

There has been much talk about Abbas’ legitimacy since his presidential term ended in 2009, but no presidential elections have been held. Abbas has stressed more than once that he would not run for another term if elections are held in the Palestinian territories. He also said he believes regional and international efforts are being deployed to search for his successor, according to statements made by Fatah leaders.

Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, emphasized that Abbas’ term should have expired after four years in accordance with Article 36 of the Basic Law. He said, “Abbas, who is now 82 years old, was elected on Jan. 10, 2005, and his term ended on Jan. 10, 2009, which means he has been president for 7½ years after his term expired.”

He added, “The continued negotiations with Israel, which reached a standstill, are a key factor that led the people to call for Abbas’ resignation, not to mention the suffering experienced by the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza because of the internal divide between Hamas and Fatah. A segment of Palestinians blame Abbas for this continued divide, since he refuses to reconcile with Hamas.”

Still, Abu Saada said he finds the 65% figure surprising. Previous polls indicated that support for Abbas would decline if he decided to run in any upcoming presidential elections, but this new survey’s results go far beyond that projection.

“This percentage is alarming since it [comes from] the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which has been conducting surveys for 16 years and enjoys credibility among the Palestinians. It remains up to the Palestinian people to decide who their next president is,” he added.

However, Mustafa Sawaf, a political analyst and former editor-in-chief of the Hamas-run Palestine newspaper, said he is not surprised by the high percentage of Palestinians calling for Abbas’ resignation. He told Al-Monitor, “This is natural given Abbas’ policies, which hurt the people and the Palestinian cause, and in light of the failures of his political project.”

Sawaf said the poll was conducted because of efforts by Arab, regional and international parties such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel and the United States to find a successor to Abbas. These parties, he said, believe Abbas has done all he will do as far as battling Palestinian factions that are fighting Israel and improving security coordination with Israel. These parties believe there must be another person who can assume the presidential office and give more concessions to Israel at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

Regardless of the number of Palestinians calling for Abbas’ resignation, choosing a new president is not just an election matter, but is also subject to regional and international consensus. Elections could bring a president who does not enjoy the approval of these regional and international parties, especially Israel. Indeed, the legislative elections in 2006 brought Hamas to power without the approval of foreign parties.

Meanwhile, those same parties, particularly Israel, Egypt and the UAE, believe Abbas has become too old and is unable to hold the reins of power. They fear Hamas will exploit the situation and find its own successful candidate for the presidency.

(Source / 22.06.2016)

PRESS STATEMENT: PROMINENT SOUTH AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE WITHDRAWS FROM ISRAELI CONFERENCE

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa welcomes the withdrawal by the Centre of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) from an upcoming conference in Israel.

The prominent South African human rights organzation, the CSVR, was scheduled to participate at the upcoming International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS) conference at Israel’s Hebrew University between the 26th and 29th of June 2016.

Earlier this week BDS South Africa reached out to the CSVR urging the organisation to reconsider its participation in the Israeli hosted conference. BDS South Africa wrote:

“Palestinians have made a clear call on INoGS to cancel the conference at Israel’s Hebrew University…Israeli universities hosting or sponsoring this conference are intimately connected to and complicit in the Israeli state’s inhuman treatment of Palestinians and the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land….It is extremely disappointing that scholars and academics from South Africa (a country that has experienced the harmful and painful consequences of discrimination, racism and segregation) who are involved in the study of genocide and mass violence may be participants in an event that is directly connected to a state that continues its policy of discrimination, violence and dispossession towards the Palestinians.”

“As fellow South Africans we request that you honour the ethical dimension of your scholarly work and take a stand in supporting justice and affirming the humanity and struggles of those people who are subject to mental and physical violence, discrimination, movement restrictions, dispossession and outright oppression.  We humbly ask you to withdraw your participation in a conference that is not only associated with institutions that are complicit in gross human rights violations and the violation of international law but that also serves to break the Palestinian call for cultural and academic boycotts.”

Earlier today CSVR wrote to organisers communicating that:

“A CSVR staff member had been scheduled to present at the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS) conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem later this month. We have however decided to withdraw our participation from the conference… CSVR had failed to carefully consider the ramifications of its participation when it initially registered for the conference. “

” CSVR is an organisation dedicated to promoting social justice, sustainable peace and human rights. Our work is dedicated to supporting victims of violence, and working with those assisting victims of torture and other human rights in South Africa and across the globe. While we saw the INoGS conference as an opportunity to share our work and learn from other, we cannot turn a blind eye to the nature of the location and the host institutions for the conference. Serious concerns about these issues have been raised by Palestinian human rights groups.”

BDS South Africa welcomes this principled withdrawal by the CSVR. We look forward to engaging further with the CSVR on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel campaign.

The hosting of the INoGS conference in Israel has came under heavy criticism. Last month, in line with the academic boycott of Israel, over 250 academics from more than 19 countries issued a public call for a boycott of the conference. We call on other participants to also take a principled position, withdraw participation and boycott the Israeli hosted INoGS conference in line with the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA

(Source / 22.06.2016)

Israelis kill Palestinian, demolish house

The file photo of Israeli forces near the city of Ramallah in the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank

The file photo of Israeli forces near the city of Ramallah in the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank

Israeli forces have shot and killed a Palestinian for allegedly hurling stones at vehicles and demolished the house of another Palestinian in the West Bank.

The Israeli forces shot and killed Mahmoud Badran, 20, alleging that he had thrown stones at moving vehicles between the villages of Beit Sira and Beit Ur in the West Bank.

Two other Palestinians were also wounded. They were fired at over the same allegation.

The Israeli military said in a statement that two “suspects” were also arrested. It is not clear if those arrested were the same two people who were wounded.

Israeli media alleged that the Palestinians had inflicted damage on the passing vehicles and slightly injured two drivers.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli forces razed the home of Palestinian Bashar Massala, in the village of Hajjah, further north of the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian is accused by the Israeli regime of having conducted an attack against Israelis.

The Tel Aviv regime routinely demolishes the houses of Palestinians it accuses of assaults against Israelis. The demolitions displace families, including women and children, who have had nothing to do with the alleged attacks.

The occupied territories have witnessed heightened tensions since August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

At least 213 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October amid the tensions.

An Israeli bulldozer is seen carrying out construction work south of the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the south of the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank, June 11, 2016

The provocative demolitions by the Israeli regime, as well as its refusal to stop illegal settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territories, have dimmed hopes for any attempts aimed at bringing peace to Palestinians.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East al-Quds. The settlements are considered by the international community as illegal.

An international French-backed conference is planned to convene later in the year to discuss so-called peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A meeting of the European Union (EU) foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday voiced support for the project, although Israel reiterated its opposition.

(Source / 22.06.2016)