Mufti: The Aqsa, holy site for all Muslims in the world

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, said that the Aqsa Mosque is a red line and a holy site for all Muslims around the world. He warned of the consequences of Israeli settlers’ aggressive practices against it.  352 Settlers stormed the plazas of the Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli army on Tuesday and Wednesday and performed Talmudic rituals and dances which provoked Muslim worshipers.  The incursion was made in response to incitement made by families of Jewish settlers who were killed in anti-occupation attacks at the hands of the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.  In a press statement on Wednesday, Sheikh Hussein condemned holding the Israeli funeral at the plazas of the Aqsa Mosque and said it exposes the real intention of the Israeli occupation and proves its violation of its pledge to maintain the status quo at the holy site.  The Grand Mufti, meanwhile, said that the Rabbi’s statements on killing the injured Palestinians and raping non-Jewish women are brutal declaration of violating Palestinians’ sanctity and human rights.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

Israeli incursion reported in northern Gaza Strip

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli forces in military bulldozers Wednesday advanced into Bait Lahya town in the northern Gaza Strip from Zakim gate and leveled Palestinian lands in the area, according to Quds Press.  Israeli warplanes, meanwhile, carried out a series of mock raids on the besieged enclave amid sounds of bombardment across the sea.  Israeli drones have been intensively flying since the morning hours over the Strip at low altitudes.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

Two Palestinian prisoners suffer health deterioration

GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian prisoners society (PPS) revealed Wednesday that the two Palestinian prisoners, Yosri al-Masri and Fadi Namnam, from Gaza Strip, suffer from health deterioration due to the Israeli deliberate medical negligence policy. Following his visit to Nafha prison, the PPS lawyer affirmed that the prisoner Yosri al-Masri’s health condition has sharply deteriorated as he has been suffering from a tumor in his liver for more than a year. In 2013, al-Masri underwent a surgery to remove a tumor in his neck. Since then, his health condition has been worsening due to the Israeli deliberate medical neglect of his difficult condition. Israeli authorities refused more than once al-Masri’s early release appeals as he spent 13 years out of his 20-year-sentence. Along the same line, the prisoner Fadi al-Namnam, 29, suffers from severe pains and swelling all over his body as he has been suffering from arthritis for three years. Al-Namnam had received medical treatment only once due to its heavy costs, according to Israeli allegations. However, doctors said that he needs medical treatment each week. More than 1,500 Palestinian sick prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails amid very difficult detention conditions and total negligence of their serious health problems.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

Activists prevent Israeli bulldozers from continuing work on settler road in Ramallah

Activist Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Activists and residents of the villages of Deir Qiddis and Nalin in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah prevented Israeli bulldozers from leveling agricultural land owned by Palestinians on Wednesday morning, according to locals.The coordinator for the Nilin resistance committee Muhammad Amirah said that the committee, along with the village’s local council and the popular committee to resist settlements and the wall, managed to stop Israeli bulldozers that had been leveling the land for the past four days in order to expand Israel’s 446 road which connects Israel’s illegal settlements to the rest of Israel.Amirah said that Israeli forces, accompanied by bulldozers, left the area after activists and residents staged a protest against the destruction of the agricultural lands.Israeli forces also reportedly handed out parking tickets to Palestinian journalists in an attempt to keep them from entering the area.According to locals, an Israeli settler also ran over a Palestinian teenager in the area at the time of the protest. He is reportedly in moderate condition. However, the details of the incident remained unknown as of Wednesday.An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for immediate comment.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

How Tunisia’s security agencies are confronting infiltration attempts

Soldiers patrol during a military operation to eliminate militants in a village some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the town of Ben Guerdane, Tunisia, near the Libyan border, March 10, 2016

Online news site Akher Khabar reported June 27 that Tunisia’s Ministry of Defense had dismissed four soldiers on charges of religious extremism, saying it had “obtained documents showing their dismissal by the administrative court.”

It is not the first time that members of Tunisia’s security and military establishments have been dismissed on charges of religious extremism and collaboration with jihadi organizations active in the country. In September 2015, Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior dismissed 110 security members on suspicion of having ties with terrorist organizations. The ministry claimed that the suspects were affiliated with “various agencies, including the police, gendarmerie, army and customs.”

General Inspector of National Security Taoufik Bouaoun confirmed the incident in an interview with Tunisia’s MAD radio station on Sept. 14, 2015. He said, “Five or six of these [suspects] were referred to the judiciary for their direct collaboration with smuggling networks or some terrorist members.”

Bouaoun said that some of the suspects “have revealed to terrorists information on the security [forces’] patrols and positions in exchange for a bribe.”

The Interior Ministry’s announcement of the dismissal of a number of security members on charges of collaboration with jihadi groups ended the controversy of whether or not jihadis had indeed infiltrated the Tunisian security establishment. Confrontation with these groups had started in 2012, under the rule of the Islamic Ennahda movement.

Yet the military establishment seems more discreet regarding extremist members infiltrating the army. In July 2015, 33 youths disappeared from Remada, a city in the country’s far south, including three soldiers, one of whom was a pilot. After a US raid earlier this year on Sabratha in Libya, the youths were found in an Islamic State camp.

Jihadi organizations have focused their efforts on infiltrating security agencies rather than the army, given the important tasks of countering terrorism in Tunisia entrusted to these agencies. Moreover, the types of infiltration vary according to the nature of the organizations’ goals.

Some jihadi organizations, for instance, are involved in the recruitment of security agents at the border to facilitate the smuggling of their members into Libya and back, as happened with Ansar al-Sharia leader Saif Abdullah bin Hussein (Abu Ayad). In May 2014, the Tunisian authorities arrested a member of the border guard on charges of smuggling Abu Ayad to Libya.

Jihadi organizations also rely on recruited security members to leak reports on the investigations with their members detained in prison, as happened in 2013, when reports of the investigation into the assassination of opposition members Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi were leaked. The general prosecutor in Tunisia opened an investigation at the time, after investigation reports fell into the hands of Ansar al-Sharia.

According to Bouaoun, these organizations rely also on the security members they recruit to inform them of the movements of the security forces and police patrols and positions used in attacks against the jihadi organizationsm.

The methods used by jihadi organizations to recruit soldiers and policemen include ideological polarization, bribery and kinship.

The infiltrations were revealed following Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall in 2011, as the jihadi Salafist movement spread throughout the country. In this context, Bouaoun said, “Security appointments following the overthrow of Ben Ali — from 2011 until 2013 — did not comply with security regulations and those appointed were not subject to a background check at the judicial, criminal and political levels.”

He added, “Those who were dismissed were not originally well-trained after they joined the security establishment, and they lacked immunity to ideological polarization.”

In 2011, the Ministry of Interior’s agencies were subjected to a restructuring, which consisted of dissolving the intelligence agency and dismissing a number of security leaders with extensive experience in countering terrorism, under the reasoning of sending away the symbols of the former regime.

A senior official at the Ministry of Interior who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said, “Since the end of 2015, we have been reviewing the security appointment standards, which once again became strict, by conducting the necessary investigations and checks prior to the security establishment appointments.”

He added, “Such infiltrations have always occurred globally. There is an self-reform system at the Tunisian security establishment that allows getting rid of whoever does not abide by internal regulations or was proved to have ties with extremism, smuggling or criminal networks. The regulatory bodies within the security institution are the ones following up on this issue and imposing all of the necessary sanctions on violators, starting with a warning followed by dismissal and prison sentences.”

Historically, Tunisia’s security services and army were not spared infiltration attempts by Islamic groups. In December 1987, the authorities dismantled a group affiliated with the Islamic Tendency Movement, which later became the Ennahda movement, found within the army and security establishment. The group had planned a military coup to overthrow Habib Bourguiba, but then Ben Ali came to power. Moncef Ben Salem, the late leader of Ennahda, revealed in 2003 the plan of the coup and infiltration of the military establishment.

After the fall of the Ben Ali regime and the rise of Ennahda, several sources indicated that the movement had tried to take over the Ministry of Interior and infiltrate security agencies.

In the Arab world, various Islamic movements have succeeded in infiltrating the army, some of which came to power. In Egypt, for instance, a jihadi cell within the army managed to assassinate President Anwar Sadat in 1981. In 1989, the Sudanese National Islamic Front, led by Hassan al-Turabi and army officer Omar al-Bashir, brought down the democratically elected Sadiq al-Mahdi’s government.

The Tunisian security agencies continue to be engaged in intelligence warfare against jihadi groups. The party that is able to infiltrate its opponent successfully and obtain information on it and its movements could win the battle. The issue of intelligence infiltration has also revived talk of reforming security institutions according to political changes the country witnessed following the departure of Ben Ali. While the reform has started, its pace has been very slow.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

Israeli forces demolish 3 homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood

Jabal al Mukabbir

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli bulldozers demolished three houses under construction and a steel structure in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, after Israeli forces claimed the owners lacked proper licenses.Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli municipality officials escorted by Israeli forces and a bulldozer raided Jabal al-Mukabbir and demolished three under-contruction homes belonging to the Eweisat, Abu Sakran and Aqil families, in addition to a steel structure used for housing livestock.Amer Eweisat told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided and demolished his house, which was empty at the time of the incident, without any prior notice or warning.

Eweisat began building the new 100-square meter space house around a month ago, with the hopes of moving in with his family of five.Israeli bulldozers demolished a 50-square meter house that was also still under construction and a steel structure used for housing sheep that belonged to Ali Issa Abu Sakran.Abu Sakran said that the family was building the house for Ali’s brother, who is currently held in Israeli prison and is expected to be released in the coming days.Israeli bulldozers demolished a third house under construction belonging to Hasan Aqil, whose family began building on the 70-square meter space three months ago.
Separately, Israeli forces reportedly raided the al-Issawiya village of occupied East Jerusalem, where they detained seven youths and transferred them for interrogation.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into reports of the home demolitions, but could not confirm the detentions reported in the neighborhood.
Jabal al Mukabbir1
(Source / 13.07.2016)

61 Palestinian female detainees in Israeli jails

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– 61 Palestinian female detainees are currently held in Israeli jails, the prisoners’ committee said Wednesday. Lawyer Hanan al-Khatib, from the prisoners’ committee, said 61 Palestinian women and girls are locked up in Israeli prisons. The list includes 12 minors aged between 12 and 16 years old. The lawyer sounded the alarm over the critical health status of prisoner Helweh Saleem Hamamreh, from Bethlehem’s town of Husan, due to the serious bullet injuries she sustained during her arrest. The lawyer quoted prisoner Hamamreh as stating that she restored her consciousness at an intensive care unit in the Hadassah hospital after she fell over due to the excruciating pains inflicted by the injury. Prisoner Hamamreh also underwent a surgery to remove parts of her kidney, pancreas, spleen, and intestine. The detainee also spoke out against the psycho-physical mistreatment and medical neglect perpetrated at the hospital, where she had been held for over a month’s time.  An Israeli extremist settler reportedly crept into her room and threatened to kill her. The Israeli occupation authorities also denied her the right to meet her two-year-old toddler and the other family members. Prisoner Hamamreh launched distress signals over the exhaustive transfers to courts endured by sick Palestinian detainees during long trips that take over ten hours’ time.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

Western Sahara’s Polisario Front elects leader

Brahim Ghali (C), new secretary-general of Polisario Front and president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), walks at the Sahrawi refugee camp of Dakhla, southeast of the Algerian city of Tindouf, July 9, 2016

TINDOUF, Algeria — The newly elected president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Brahim Ghali, is calling for a peaceful settlement of its decades-long quest for independence.

He made it known, however, that Sahrawis are ready to fight for their freedom.

In a July 9 election in a Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria, the indigenous people of the Moroccan-occupied territory in disputed Western Sahara chose Ghali as their president and secretary-general of their liberation movement, the Polisario Front. Ghali replaces longtime leader Mohamed Abdelaziz, who died May 31.

Ghali was one of the front’s founding members. He led the movement’s first military operation against Spain in 1973. In 1991, he began a new career as a diplomat, holding different posts, from Polisario’s representative in Spain to its ambassador in Algeria.

He was sworn in July 9 before an audience that included delegations from Africa, Latin America and Europe. In his first speech as president, Ghali called for a peaceful resolution to the Western Sahara dispute.

“We are advocates of peace and are ready to cooperate with the kingdom of Morocco in order to exploit opportunities for a solution that still exists, which enjoys the consensus of the world, based on respecting the Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination and independence,” he said.

He explicitly stated that such opportunities might be lost. “It’s an open door toward real peace, and the Moroccan kingdom will bear all consequences when closing it, because the Sahrawi people will relentlessly cling to defending their rights by all means,” Ghali said.

The movement has been fighting for the independence of SADR, the state declared by the Sahrawis, for more than 40 years. It first fought the former colonial power Spain before unleashing a guerilla war against Morocco and Mauritania, who wanted to divide the region between them when Spain left in 1975.

The Polisario Front declared the SADR state in 1976. Mauritania retreated on its demands in 1979 and recognized SADR.

But Morocco still claims the territory and controls more than 75% of the area. It blocked a referendum — called for by the African Union in the late 1980s under United Nations auspices — that was supposed to take place when a cease-fire agreement was signed in 1991. The cease-fire has held, but no solution has been reached.

While the front has been calling for a vote to determine the fate of the Sahrawis, Morocco in March expelled the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which was working to resolve the dispute.

The mission has not returned to the Western Sahara yet, putting a huge burden on the UN Security Council to ensure its decision is implemented. Ghali said in his first presidential statement that “MINURSO, as a symbol of the world’s commitment to the decolonization of the Western Sahara,” should return to “conduct its full mandate, namely to organize a referendum for the Sahrawi people to decide on their fate.”

“We reject that MINURSO just keeps guarding the status quo, to a simple observation of the cease-fire.”

Mohamed Yeslem Baisat, governor of the Laayoune refugee camp, expressed a similar opinion.

“We are not asking for the restoration of the mission per se; we are asking the mission to fulfill its mandate. If it is not going to do so, it is better for it not to be there. And we will handle things on our own. We have done it before and we can do it today,” said Baisat, who was Polisario’s ambassador in Algeria and its representative in the United States.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold a meeting July 26 to discuss developments in Western Sahara, especially MINURSO’s return.

Meanwhile, about 2,400 voters attended the one-candidate congress. The opportunity was open for others to run for the presidency, but there was no other contender. Despite that, the congress committee insisted that an election take place, providing one other option, which was not voting by leaving a blank ballot. Ghali received 93% of the votes, starting a new era in Western Sahara’s history.

When asked why there was no other candidate, Baisat said, “This time it was a consensus candidate. The Sahrawis want to send the message of unity and cohesion to close ranks behind the banner of the Polisario Front as the sole liberation movement to achieve our independence.”

Others who came to the congress shared that belief. Nafi Rais, secretary-general of the union for Sahrawi journalists, has participated in 10 Polisario elections. “We want to show the world that we are united,” he said. Rais was a member of the preparatory committee that laid the groundwork for the congress. Sahrawis from all backgrounds participated in the electoral process, he told Al-Monitor.

(Source / 13.07.2016)

Israeli forces detain Palestinian activist at West Bank checkpoint

Hasan Karajeh

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian activist and former prisoner on Tuesday at the Beit Ur al-Fuqa checkpoint in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank, according to prisoners rights group Addameer.The man was identified as Hasan Karajeh, a former Arab Youth Ambassador and a resident of thevillage of Saffa near Ramallah.Karajeh is a well-known activist who works on youth issues and prisoners’ rights. He is also the youth coordinator for grassroots organization Stop the Wall.He was previously detained on Jan. 23, 2013 and released on Oct. 19, 2014 for his social activism.

His brother Muntaser previously served a 10-month sentence in an Israeli prison, and his sister Sumoud was released from prison in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said at the time of his 2013 arrest that “Karajeh was arrested for suspicion of involvement in a terror organization,” without providing further details.
Muhannad Karajeh, a lawyer for Addameer who represented Karajeh in the past, condemned Tuesday’s detention and slammed Israel’s policy of detaining human rights and civil community activists.The lawyer called on international human rights institutions to organize protests demanding Israel to release Karajeh and other Palestinian prisoners who have been jailed for their activism.
An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into reports of Karajeh’s detention.
In recent months, Israel has accused Palestinian leadership of “inciting terror” while also detaining scores of Palestinian civilians and activists over Facebook posts, which Israeli authorities claims have been responsible for an increase in alleged attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli military targets and settlers.
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
Karajeh’s detention also comes amid a concerted crackdown on left-wing groups in Israel working for Palestinian human rights in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory.
Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, passed the controversial “NGO bill” into law on Monday with 57 votes in favor and 48 against, as human rights groups and opposition Knesset members condemned the legislation for seeking to “silence criticism” of Israel and delegitimize left-wing groups.
The legislation compels organizations to reveal their sources of funding if more than 50 percent came from public foreign entities.
Organizations in Israel which rely on public foreign funding also tend to oppose the government’s right-wing policies and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory.
(Source / 13.07.2016)

Israel launches military campaign in Hebron

Israeli occupation forces.

File photo of Israeli occupation forces

Israeli occupation forces have started a wide military campaign in the suburbs of Ghanim and Wadsoud in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Quds Press reported yesterday.

During the campaign, which started two weeks ago, Israeli occupation forces broke into scores of Palestinians homes, carried out house-to-house raids and conducted field interrogations. Houses and belongings were damaged during the raids.

Quds Press said military checkpoints were setup to section the areas into smaller localities.

The house of the Al-Faqih family was targeted during the raids and Taghrid Al-Faqih was arrested. Taghrid is the sister of a Palestinian man who is accused of opening fire at Israeli soldiers ten days ago.

Sources said the family were subjected to intensive questioning and investigations.

Israel arrested 16 Palestinians during night raids across the occupied West Bank on Monday night.

(Source / 13.07.2016)