Gunshots fired at home of Nablus mayoral candidate

ABLUS, (PIC)– Unidentified gunmen at dawn Sunday opened fire on the home and car of Engineer Muhammad Jihad Dweikat who has just announced his intent to run for the mayoral race in Nablus. In a statement posted on his Facebook account, Dweikat said preliminary findings prove that a masked gunman went down of a car driving near his home in eastern Nablus at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday and fired gunshots at his home and car. Palestinian police and crime detectives rushed to the area and gathered evidence at the shooting scene.     Dweikat reiterated his decision to run for the mayoral elections, saying such criminal attempts backed by Israel will never dampen his spirits. “The shooting attack emanates from a barefaced disregard for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its security apparatuses,” said Dweikat. Some few days ago, Dweikat, a lecturer at An-Najah National University, announced his decision to run for the mayoral elections slated to be held in Nablus on October 8. A similar attack last June targeted the member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Ghassan al-Shakaa. Al-Shakaa accused Fatah affiliates of planning for and carrying out the shooting prior to the mayoral elections. Al-Shakaa warned of similar attacks targeting mayoral candidates running for the October elections.

(Source / 24.07.2016)

3 Palestinian youth detained in Issawiya amid crackdown on suspected stone throwers

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A Palestinian protester throws a stone towards an Israeli soldier during clashes on the outskirts of the Jalazun refugee camp on Jan. 31, 2014

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Sunday morning raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, detaining three Palestinian youths amid a widespread crackdown on Palestinian minors accused of throwing stones at Israelis in the area.Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of the village’s monitoring committee, identified two of the detained as Wael Obeid and Muhammad Ahmad Darwish.An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment to confirm why the three were detained.Abu al-Hummus accused “different institutions of the (Israeli) occupation of targeting both commercial and residential structures in Issawiya” as part of an Israeli policy of “collective punishment” against residents.This collective punishment, he added, included daily armed incursions into Issawiya, “provocative” inspections by the Jerusalem municipality, and the delivery of various types of fines.Jerusalem police have conducted widespread detention raids in recent weeks in Palestinian communities of occupied east Jerusalem, in connection to alleged stone-throwing incidents targeting Israeli border police and settlers in the area.Stone throwings were also reported at the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound throughout the Muslim month of Ramadan, as tensions ran high while right-wing Israelis toured the site.On Sunday, 65 Israelis visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque and toured the compound, witnesses told Ma’an, who added that among the visitors to the compound was Yehuda Etzion, a right-wing radical activist who was convicted in the 1980s for planning an attack on the mosque.Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Tuesday that police detained at least nine young Palestinian suspects from Issawiya last week, including five minors between 15 and 17 years old, “as police continue to investigate disturbances and stone throwing at police and border guards, as well as at (Israeli) citizens traveling on the road to Maale Adumim from Issawiya in Jerusalem.”“Some of them admitted during interrogation that they threw stones at Israeli vehicles and police patrols on the roads to Maale Adumim,” al-Samri said.Maale Adumin is a massive illegal settlement bloc just a few kilometers east of Jerusalem which cuts deep into the West Bank, where 800 new housing units have recently been approved for constructionby the Israeli government.The crackdown on Jerusalemite youth comes on the heels of newly approved changes to Israeli legislation increasing the penalty for stone throwing, which rights groups say specifically target young Palestinians for crimes that Israeli Jews are rarely held accountable for.Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) wrote in a report on Wednesday that Palestinian youth convicted of throwing stones in Jerusalem were already starting to feel the effects of the changes in legislation, citing a number of recent cases of Palestinian minors being handed prison sentences for periods ranging between 12 to 39 months, with up to three years’ probation.According to affidavits taken by DCIP, two of the teenagers “both had maintained their innocence and confessed only after they had experienced physical and psychological abuse.”According to the testimony of one Palestinian minor identified in the report as Saleh E., an Israeli interrogator took him into a police station bathroom, kicked him and punched him in the face while he was still handcuffed, accusing him of throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, which Saleh E. denied.“He then pulled my ear and claimed that my friends ratted on me and said I was throwing stones with them. I told him I threw one stone at the vehicles near the mosque. I told him each one of my friends threw one stone each at the vehicles.”Another Palestinian minor, Murad A., said was choked during his interrogation and had a door slammed in his face, until he finally confessed to throwing stones, despite confiding to DCIP he had been innocent.Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP, said in the the report: “The changes in the penal code and policy guidelines since 2014 are discriminatory and target Palestinians, specifically youth. Israel is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and we call on them to uphold their responsibilities.”Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, during which they are often beaten, threatened, sexually assaulted, and placed in solitary confinement to elicit confessions, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak.

(Source / 24.07.2016)

Israeli police detain Bedouins in raid on Negev village of al-Araqib

al Araqib Negev

NEGEV (Ma’an) — Israeli police detained several Bedouin residents of the village of al-Araqib in the Negev on Sunday, after locals tried to prevent bulldozers from leveling lands in the village, a local activist told Ma’an.Aziz Sayyah al-Turi said that Israeli police escorted bulldozers which raided the village in the morning “to take control of about 1,300 dunum (325 acres) of the village’s land, which they failed to take in 2011 after angry Arab crowds rushed to defend al-Araqib.”Al-Turi added that Israeli police his wife and son, as well as at least two other al-Araqib residents he identified at Talal Abu Mudeghem and Ashraf Salim Abu Mudeghem.Al-Turi added that he himself, along with his father Sheikh Sayyah al-Turi, were also temporarily detained.Al-Turi said that three young women were also injured during the raid when they were “brutally” attacked by police forces.Al-Turi and his father had also been detained on Thursday during one of a number of raids Israeli police have carried out in the village in past weeks.Al-Araqib has been demolished at least 100 times by Israeli forces, as the village was designated as an “unrecognized” village by Israeli authorities, alongside 34 other Bedouin villages scattered across the Negev desert.According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.Israel can refuse residents of unrecognized villages access to the national water and electricity grids, health and educational services, and basic infrastructure.Though Bedouins are citizens of Israel, the villages unrecognized by the government have faced relentless efforts by the Israeli authorities to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes.

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(Source / 24.07.2016)

120 Syrian Civilians Killed by France in Return of Nice Attack

Just days after Tunisian-born French resident Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a truck into a crowded Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, killing at least 84, a French-led bombing attack on the Syrian villages of Tokhar and Hoshariyeh today has reportedly killed more than 120 civilians.

Mainstream media and even the rebel-friendly Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have confirmed the killings and the civilian victims.

Shortly after the Nice attack, French president Hollande vowed to retaliate by stepping up bombing in Iraq and Syria.

True to his word, François Hollande has today killed more than 120 civilians in Syria (warning graphic photos) in retaliation for the actions of a French resident of Tunisian origin (who is said to not even have been a practicing Muslim).

We may be left asking the obvious couple of questions. Why do 120 innocent Syrian civilians deserve to die because 84 innocent French civilians were killed in a terrorist attack? And how does France expect to avoid further blow-back for its aggressive Middle East policy if it continues to provide endless recruiting narratives?

Why do 120 innocent Syrian civilians deserve to die because 84 innocent French civilians were killed in a terrorist attack?

(Source / 24.07.2016)

First South African Church to commit to BDS

In a historic step the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) issued a clear statement in support of the non-violent Palestinian struggle. The church’s national conference approved the resolution on 10 July 2016.

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Rev. Thulani Ndlazi, Synod Secretary of UCCSA, speaking at the conference

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The statement is the first of its kind by a South African church.

Earlier South African Methodists also urged their circuits to “study the Palestinian Kairos Document that calls for divestment of Israel to end the occupation by Israeli in Palestine” (2013 Yearbook, 3.4:93-95). They also encourage those who undertake “Holy Land Pilgrimages” to have meaningful engagements with the Palestinian community. Yet the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) does not ask people to consider the requests of the Palestinian Kairos Document. UCCSA acknowledges their requests, it affirms the call for creative, non-violent resistance and it commits publically.

What makes it even more historic is the fact that UCCSA was the only South African church who publicly supported the now historic South African Kairos call of 1985.  In it South African theologians asked the world to help end apartheid. The world listened and it helped. In recent years the churches of the world have started to speak up about fundamentalist, Zionist readings of the Bible that support Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.

The statement by UCCSA on Palestine is a welcome prophetic step. It reads as follows:

We pledge our support to the Palestinian people as follows at this 8th South African Synod Conference of UCCSA in George, South Africa:
  • We recognize that the Palestinian struggle is not simply a conflict, but an asymmetric struggle between an oppressor and the oppressed. The oppression entails a decades’ long institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territories of Palestine and also against those within Israel and those in the diaspora who are not allowed by Israel to return.
  • We hear the call of our sisters and brothers from Kairos Palestine who asked the world and in particular Christians to take a public stand against injustice in ‘A Moment of Truth – a Word of Faith, Hope and Love.’
  • We do not take an anti-Semitism position. However we are extremely concerned about fundamentalist and progressive Christian Zionism which conflate the Biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. We call on all Christians to read the Bible responsibly so as to not trample on the human rights and the dignity of the Palestinians.  We ask Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land to meet with and to listen to the Palestinians in Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and other cities in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • We acknowledge with gratitude the support of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
  • With this resolution we join other churches in the world such as the Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ in the United States of America as well as the United Church of Canada. With them we stand in public solidarity with the Kairos Palestine’s appeal for help and the Palestinian civil society’s call for creative non-violent resistance.
  • We pledge our support to the international Boycott Divestments Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

UCCSA

The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa is one church in five countries –Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The UCCSA was formed in 1967 but traces its origins back more than 200 years to the arrival of the first missionaries sent by the London Missionary Society to Southern Africa. Today over 500,000 members worship in over one thousand local churches across the five countries.

(Source / 24.07.2016)

8300 civilians are in immense danger

Daraya, July 21st 2016

Five thousand women and children are in immense danger in the city of Daraya, they are part of the 8,300 civilians left in the city according to the Violations Documentation Centre (VDC). In January 26th 2016 the Syrian government armed forces managed to complete the siege on the city extending by this the systematic deprivation of food, medicine and resources, forced on the city since 2012. Evidence based on direct testimonies, Darya local council, and VDC’s documentation members on the ground, show that the Syrian government uses the siege as a mean to penalize civilians in the areas outside its control.

Daraya is 30 square Kilometre and in 2007 used to be the home for more than 250 thousand people, now 90% of all the buildings and infrastructure in the city has been completely ruined with little over 8000 civilians left in the city. After much pressure from the international community, in June this year, the UN finally managed to enter Daraya for the first time since 2012. With only 14 trucks, half full, containing 480 food parcels, fewer medicine and medical kits, and other materials. To people’s dismay, the Syrian jet-fighters, within less than ten hours, attacked the city with 23 barrel-bombs targeting the wheat fields (Video). This indicate the clear Syrian government direction to enforce the siege any not allowing any relief to enter the city. And regardless of the ceasefire in Syria that took effect on February 27 – as part of a negotiated deal, based on the United Nations Security CouncilResolution 2254 in December 2015- between May 12th and May 25th, VDC with Darya local council was able to document 60 missiles, 508 mortar shell launched from the government armed forces on Daraya.

VDC condemns penalizing civilians by the Syrian government and “The use of starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare” which, in addition to the killing, now puts the lives of more than eight thousand at immense danger and inhuman condition. This is a clear human rights violation and the siege with its systematic deprivation amounts to war crimes.

VDC appeals to all humanitarian and relief organizations, world governments, and the United Nations to pressure the Syrian government in order to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2139 and  2254 to ease the aid delivery to Syrians, insure the respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights, and provide safe passages for civilians in the city.

(Violations Documentation Center In Syria / 24.07.2016)

Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians, including minor, in raids across the West Bank

West Bank raids

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 11 Palestinians, including a minor, in predawn raids Sunday across the occupied West Bank.The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said four Palestinians were detained from the Ramallah and al-Bireh districts in the central West Bank, identifying them as Ali Abd al-Rahman Jaradat, Tawfiq Hisham Abu Issa, Bahaa Hatim Qashu, and 15-year-old Yahya Hisham Omar.An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the four detentions in the district to Ma’an, listing two Palestinians detained in al-Bireh, one in Ramallah, and one in the al-Amari refugee camp.Detainees from the southern Bethlehem district were identified by PPS as Muhammad Adib Musa, 33, Khalid Jamil Dadu, 50, and Yusif Adawi, 30.Meanwhile, the army said it had detained four Palestinians in the Bethlehem district, listing two detentions in the village of al-Khader, one in the al-Azza refugee camp, and another in the city of Bethlehem.Two relatives from the Abu Khdeir family were detained in the Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem according to PPS, and were identified as Adam and Mahmoud Abu Khdeir.Israeli forces also raided the town of Dura west of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, where they detained Said Ahmad Talahma. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Dura.Local sources added that soldiers also raided the homes of Ismail Ahmad al-Faqih, 62, and his son Imad in the village of al-Burj south of Dura, and summoned Ismail for investigations in Israel’s Etzion detention center.According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of May, 414 of which were minors including 16 children under 16 years old. The group estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.

(Source / 24.07.2016)

Japanese Girl Converts To Islam Because of Muslims Manners

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Risa Mizuno, Japanese girl, embraced Islam for what she saw of the tolerance and good manners of a Muslim family.

Riza embraced Islam in the late November (2015), after she convinced of Islam by her Muslim fiancé. She knew Islam for the first time when she was student in Malaysia and she spent three days in Muslim family house, in Kuala Lumpur.

Mizono fasted Ramadan this year in the beginning of the summer in Japan, She regularly pray in Tokyo Camii (the Turkish mosque of Tokyo) since she converted to Islam eight months ago.

This is short video about Risa Mizuno product by Al Jazeera Arabic channel:

(Source / 24.07.2016)

Israeli forces storm East Jerusalem neighborhood, beat and detain Palestinians

Al Quds soldaten

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces reportedly violently raided a neighborhood of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem late on Sunday afternoon, injuring a number of Palestinians after an altercation broke out between Israeli settlers and locals, witnesses told Ma’an.Resident of the Aqbat al-Khalidiya neighborhood, Ashraf Abu Daas, told Ma’an that more than 20 Israeli settlers entered the neighborhood “unfamiliarly,” claiming that one of them was “looking for his eyeglasses.” The settlers then pushed a young Palestinian man walking past them, Abu Daas added, prompting an argument which devolved into a fistfight.“Minutes later Israeli troops, police officers and special forces stormed the neighborhood, violently beating Palestinians who were on the scene without exceptions,” Abu Daas.Abu Daas said that Israeli forces beat Palestinian residents with rods and rifle butts, and used pepper spray, injuring at least seven Palestinian youth — mostly hitting their faces and heads — before “haphazardly” detaining a number of them.At least four of the detained were reportedly wounded when Israeli forces took them away.Israeli forces then began raiding houses in the neighborhoods, reportedly breaking into homes belonging to the al-Salayma, al-Rishiq and al-Daya families.Hajj Rashid al-Rishiq told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers broke into his house “in a provocative manner,” detaining his son Ahmad and another family member identified as Rashid al-Rishiq.The Israeli police spokesperson office did not respond to a request for comment, whereas an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they did not have information on events within the jurisdiction of East Jerusalem.Israeli forces have also come under repeated criticism for excessive use of force as well as lethal methods of crowd control that often result in death or injury of Palestinians.In April, the United States released its annual report of global human rights abuses, in which it accused Israel of “excessive use of force” against Palestinians amounting to a violation of human rights.

(Source / 24.07.2016)

New Airport for Gaza: Cloning the 50s UN Experience

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The Project Unified Assistance (PUA) seeks to rehash the idea of a humanitarian airport supervised by the UN, in the fifties and sixties of last century, east of Gaza city.

Five years ago, Ahmad Al-Khatib, the projects’ director, launched an initiative to establish a UN airport in Gaza, in an attempt the ease the livelihoods of Gazans living under blockade since ten years.

(PUA) is a US-based humanitarian nonprofit organization advocating the establishment of a UN operated and regulated airport in the Gaza Strip, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency.

Al-Khatib assured that the idea is not extraordinary, adding that the United Nations operated, between 1956 and 1967, an airport in the Gaza Strip as a part of the United Nations Emergency Force, which was created  in order to supervise the “disentanglement” of the armies of Egypt, Britain, France and Israel, in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

Historical images show UN planes at the Gaza Airport, which served the UN Emergency Force and Gaza’s inhabitants. The use of the airport was expanded from military purposes to civilian applications whereby UN planes provided transportation services and carried passengers and humanitarian/commercial cargo to and from the Gaza Strip, Al-Khatib added.

Al-Khatib said that the UN airport may represent a window of hope of patients and students stuck in Gaza, and contributing to the reconstruction process.

See archive IMEMC video: Gaza City’s Devastated Al-Shuja’eyya Suburb

A recent United Nations report warned that the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by 2020 for its 1.8 million residents.

According to the report, serious changes must be implemented to reverse the damage done to the coastal enclave’s development. Additionally, the World Bank warned, in May of 2016, that Gaza’s economy is on the verge of collapse and that youth unemployment is the highest in the region, at 60%. After years of war, destruction, and poverty, an airport for functional purposes could help accelerate Gaza’s reconstruction and redevelopment process. It would also relieve Gazans’ chronic inability to travel in and out of the Strip in an effective and safe manner, Al-Khatib highlighted.

Al-Khatib demonstrated the social, economic and political benefits of creating an independent travel mechanism that would allow Gazans to exit and enter the territory through a secure non-Egyptian and non-Israeli crossing.

The idea will develop a sound operations model and effective procedures for how the airport is to be operated by the United Nations with financial support from Arab, regional, and international stakeholders, he added.

PUA identified a new site that will allow airplanes to fly over Mediterranean and international waters, in order to avoid Israeli airspace. After detailed analysis, PUA proposes the construction of an airport on the southwestern coast of the Gaza Strip between the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, on the grounds of the former Jewish settlement of “Gush Katif”, in an area known as “al-Mawasi, according to Al-Khatib.

Project Unified Assistance said that this airport to be used by all Palestinians wishing to travel to and from the Gaza Strip. Additionally, and per the UN’s aviation model in other parts of the world, the airport will be available for use by UN staff and workers with various NGOs who are contributing to the humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts.

At this time, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is critical.

There are ongoing border closures, the reconstruction process has barely begun, tens of thousands remain displaced as a result of the 2014 war, patients with a variety of illnesses are unable to receive or travel for proper treatment, and the healthcare sector is suffering from chronic shortages and challenges. Hence, PUA’s proposal to establish an airport operated and regulated by the UN will not end the blockade of Gaza, nor will it solve the Strip’s problems, Al-Khatib concluded.

(Source /  24.07.2016)