PA intelligence officers arrest ‘dangerous fugitive’ in Hebron

Hebron gevaarlijke vluchteling

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Palestinian intelligence officers arrested on Tuesday morning a “dangerous fugitive” in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, an area under Israeli control.A Palestinian security official in Hebron told Ma’an that officers of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence succeeded “through a complicated operation” to arrest a criminal in the alleys of the Old City. He was taken for questioning.The source said the fugitive was accused of shooting attacks against Palestinian governmental and civilian vehicles, assaulting government employees, and robbing government institutions and houses in the Old City.“This criminal has been a threat to public security and civil peace in the Old City and has been hampering work in public institutions and threatening employees,” the security official added.General Intelligence officers arrested two other “fugitives” in the Old City overnight Monday, the source added, urging all fugitives to turn themselves in.The arrests come amid a crackdown by PA security forces on criminal activity in the West Bank, with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announcing earlier this month plans to amend the penal code and “arrest all fugitives and put them to justice.”On Sunday, unknown assailants opened fire on the house of Mohammad Dweikat, who is running for mayor of the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus.Dweikat told Ma’an at the time he suspected that the shooting was carried out as a challenge to the Palestinian president, prime minister, and to their ongoing efforts to contain the security situation in the occupied West Bank.Nablus was also the site of a deadly shooting at the end of June, which resulted in two Palestinian security officers being killed and at least 13 civilians reportedly wounded after a gunman opened fire on a police officer’s home.Last month, unidentified gunmen also stopped Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Development Ibrahim al-Shaer at gunpoint near Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem and hijacked his car.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

72 bills bear witness to Israel’s racist character

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A study by the PIC press team kept record of 72 Israeli bills that reflect Israel’s inherently racist character. A bill approved last week legitimized the exclusion of Arab MKs in the Israeli Knesset on allegations of incitement to anti-occupation activism. Expert in the Israeli affairs Barhoum Jureisi said the “exclusion bill” was not the first and last of its kind as talks have been underway in the Knesset to pass 72 racist laws. Jureisi warned of the striking surge in Israeli bills approved by the Knesset over the past 10 years. He spoke out against Israeli attempts to legalize racism and find justifiable grounds for Islamophobia among the Israelis. He added that such bills aim at cracking down on Palestinians residing in 1948 Occupied Palestine and to Judaize the areas occupied since 1967 along with the legitimization of illegal settlement activity. The Israeli occupation government also approved other bills including a bill to force-feed Palestinian hunger-striking detainees and another criminalizing anti-occupation stone-attacks. Another law categorizing terror attacks by Israeli settler gangs as “hate crimes” was passed in its first reading.  50 other bills are put on the Knesset talk-table, including 16 laws aimed to hold sway over West Bank areas and two more bills targeting Muslims’ the holy al-Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic holy sites. “Such a huge amount of laws are proofs of Israel’s simmering racist polices and increasing tendency to legalize terrorism,” the expert further stated.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

Netanyahu spurs growth of BDS

By Ben White

To describe the BDS movement as ‘defeated’ – either in ‘many areas’ or entirely – is laughable

Israel has defeated the BDS movement, declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. According to Bibi – who “pulled out a world map, colour-coded to illustrate how Israel’s foreign relations have improved” – BDS is “on the defensive”, and “taking hits on many fronts.”

Netanyahu made his remarks during a meeting of the State Control Committee, the background for which, as Ha’aretz described, “were two state comptroller reports published on May 24 exposing a list of Israeli failures against the BDS movement and in the state Hasbara (public diplomacy) system.”

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira claimed that the Foreign Ministry was unable “to present any significant achievements in the battle against [BDS]”, with “projects intended to improve Israel’s image in target communities around the world…failing to achieve their designated goals.”

A press release on the Knesset website gives a fuller sense of Netanyahu’s defence of his government’s efforts. According to Bibi, “Israel is perceived more and more as an asset and an influencing element in the world because of our war on terror and our technological achievements.”

He went on: “We have achieved free trade with China, a 30 percent increase in trade with India, an agreement with Japan on protecting rigs, military coordination with Russia, initial ties with a host of African countries, heads of state visiting Israel for the first time, the normalisation of ties with Turkey, and every week I meet with four heads of state. Israel`s foreign policy is a great success.”

Netanyahu apparently acknowledged “some specific successes [of the delegitimisation campaign against Israel],” but added: “we have defeated the boycott movement in many arenas.”

Bibi is correct in one sense; the Israeli government has indeed escalated its efforts to undermine not just the BDS campaign, but Palestine solidarity more broadly. In doing so, it has found support from friends and opportunists among politicians in Europe and North America.

But to describe the BDS movement as “defeated” – either in “many areas” or entirely – is laughable: 2016 has seen a continuation of the victories that have characterised the progression of the campaign in recent years.

In March, for example, British security giant G4S announced its intention to sell its Israeli subsidiary, following a high-profile BDS campaign. Activists are keeping up the pressure to ensure the company truly ends its role in Israel’s prisons system and apparatus of occupation.

There have been further successes for BDS campaigners within faith communities – the United Methodist Church in the US announced divestment from Israeli banks financing the occupation – while on campuses in the UK and North America, a number of student bodies have voted for BDS.

Note that as Israel seeks to “diversify” its trade and diplomatic ties around the world, the BDS campaign is similarly expanding: more than 200 Brazilian academics have now pledged to support the academic boycott, while in January, students at the University of Chile voted to support BDS.

In spring, “Israeli Apartheid Week” activities were held in more than 225 cities and campuses around the world. In late March, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva voted to establish a list of companies complicit in illegal Israeli settlements, despite significant pressure not to do so.

Not only does BDS continue to grow, but a number of efforts by Israel’s supporters to undermine or attack the campaign have either failed, or prompted expressions of support for the right to boycott.

Examples of the former include here in the UK, where Jewish Human Rights Watch lost a case at the High Court against local authorities who passed pro-Palestine and pro-boycott motions. Examples of the latter include public defences of the right to boycott by Swedish, Irish and Dutch government officials, as well as by the likes of Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Like the pro-Israel advocacy groups looking for donations, Netanyahu politically benefits from both playing up the BDS danger, and demonstrating that he is ably tackling the problem. But those who either dismiss BDS as an irrelevant sideshow, or who portray it as a sinister threat almost always miss the point.

Over the last decade, the BDS movement has done exactly what one would expect a dynamic grassroots campaign to do; attract support from numerous kinds of trade unions, church groups, political advocacy groups, human rights bodies, student associations, and so on.

A campaign that began on the margins now has an impact on public debate and discussion; it is influential in ways that only a decentralised, grassroots campaign – in contrast to government propaganda initiatives – can be.

The BDS movement is not defeated, and nor can it be – at least not in the way that Netanyahu, Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups imagine. Its growth, and the nature of its successes, do indeed depend on various factors – but ironically, it’s Netanyahu’s government of right-wing nationalists that has proved to be a particularly potent accelerant.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

Houthi Rebels Invade Southern Saudi Arabia, Launch Ballistic Missile Counter-Offensive

After recent victories and the fact that Houthi forces have managed to successfully invade Saudi territory, KSA’s weakness appears to be even greater than what many informed observers may have suspected.

A Shiite Houthi soldier stands guard during a rally in support of the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, July 18, 2016.

A Shiite Houthi soldier stands guard during a rally in support of the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, July 18, 2016

While the war in Syria continues to rage and the world’s focus oscillates between American elections, terror attacks in Europe, and a failed Turkish coup (which no one really understands), a scrappy band of rebels in Yemen has not only withstood an onslaught from the Saudi-led coalition, they have managed to launch a counteract that amounts to an invasion of Saudi Arabia.

Despite the fact that the Saudi-led coalition has launched a full-on attack and invasion of Yemen, a group of poorly armed and poorly trained “militiamen” have successfully defeated the Saudis, Qataris, and Emirates – themselves backed by the United States in terms of intelligence and strategic assistance – and have not only dealt massive blows to coalition forces but have now managed to inflict blows to the Saudis on their own territory.

In a story that went virtually unreported in the West, the Houthis managed to wrest control of three Saudi military bases in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province, located near the Saudi-Yemen border in January of this year. The bases Jabal al-Doud, al-Aril, and Madba were all seized by Houthi forces and fighters with “allied Popular Committees.”

In addition, the Houthi forces along with Yemeni soldiers launched retaliatory shelling strikes inside Saudi Arabia’s al-Makhrouq military base in the southern Najran region.

Houthis and allied Yemeni fighters have long been inflicting heavy damage upon Saudi and Saudi-led coalition troops and vehicles deployed on the ground inside Yemen as well as occasionally downing coalition jets. The fighters have also managed to damage Saudi ships located off the coast.

Now, in July, 2016, Houthi forces are launching ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia. According to reports coming from Al-Masdar, Houthis launched a Tochka ballistic missile toward the Ahad al-Masarihah Military camp, resulting in a heavy death toll of Saudi soldiers as well the destruction of several armored vehicles.

“The Houthi forces do not typically fire missiles into Saudi Arabia; however, due to the recent battles taking place along the vast Yemeni-Saudi border, the anti-government units have committed to an all-out war against the rich Gulf kingdom” writes Leith Fadel of Al-Masdar.

Houthi forces also appear to be on the verge of expelling Saudi forces from central Yemen. Citing military sources, SABA (Yemen News Agency) reports that Houthi forces have taken control of the al- Sha’aour area and secured all roads in the region.

As Tony Toh reports for Al-Masdar

Al-Sha’aour is located at the northern side of the Hazm Al Udayn region in the Al Udayn district. Al Udayn is the last district in the Ibb governorate that is under Hadi loyalists control.

Before the Houthis arrived at Ibb, Al Udayn was considered one of Al-Qaeda’s primary strongholds, as it had a large militant presence there due to the mountainous terrain and Yemeni regime’s military negligence.

Currently, the Houthi forces and allies are launching an operation to drive out the remaining Hadi loyalist pockets in Al Udayn in attempt to fully secure Ibb governorate.

Throughout the entire affair, Houthi forces have revealed the Saudis as nothing more than a military paper tiger incapable of actually defeating a rebel force in a neighboring country. However, after this string of victories and the fact that Houthi and Houthi-allied forces have actually managed to successfully invade Saudi territory, KSA’s weakness appears to be even greater than what many informed observers may have suspected.

There is little doubt that KSA will have to deploy a number of troops on its border to slow the Houthi advance into Saudi Arabia but, assuming it is actually able to do so, another question arises. How long will it be before disgruntled elements within Saudi Arabia realize that the force that has been oppressing them for so long is not even capable of defending itself against a ragged group of determined revolutionaries in another country? How long will it be before these elements decide it is their turn to challenge the monarchy?

(Source / 26.07.2016)

Nusra Front split from al-Qaeda ‘imminent’, sources claim

Sources tell MEE Nusra will change its name and could lose funding in order to ’embed more deeply in Syrian insurgency’

Nusra fighters drive through the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in May 2015

The Nusra Front will imminently announce an official split from al-Qaeda, several sources confirmed on Monday.

Opposition activists in southern Syria have told Middle East Eye that they expect the news to be announced very soon, with Arabic media reports suggesting that the group’s leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani will now make a very rare appearance to signal his independence from the militant group.

Sources within Nusra, one of the most effective anti-government factions in Syria’s civil war, said that the new group would change its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. They also stressed the group would lose access to al-Qaeda funds, although analysts have disputed the claims.

Mohamed Okda, an expert on Syrian issues who has been involved in negotiating with Syrian groups, told MEE that the money would keep flowing because the bulk of the group’s funding came from private Gulf donors who would not abandon the Syrian cause as Nusra was unlikely to renounce its ideological heritage.

“Nusra is doing this to force the other rebel groups like Ahrar [al-Sham] and others into a corner, and push them into joining the new Shami front that Nusra will announce,” Okda told MEE.

“They might be severing relations with al-Qaeda as an organisation,” he said, adding that he knows both foreign and Arab al-Nusra Front fighters.

“[But] they are not breaking up with the ideology of al-Qaeda. [They are] firm believer[s] of al-Qaeda ideology, and a firm believer of attacking the West. They have huge respect for [former leader Osama] Bin Laden. So the separation is not ideological, it’s organisational.”

Rumours of a split have been circulating since Saturday when Charles Lister, a Syrian analyst, tweeted that Nusra’s Shura Council had voted to sever its ties with al-Qaeda, although Nusra’s official media channels have yet to comment.

Nusra1

They come amid reports of a supposed pact between the US, which supports elements of the Syrian opposition, and Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to target Nusra alongside the Islamic State (IS) group. Nusra split from IS in 2014.

The UN’s peace envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura has previously called for Washington and Moscow to work to reduce the “non-constructive ambiguity” surrounding al-Nusra, saying this “has been one of the main problems for the sustainability of the cessation of hostilities”.

Nusra, along with IS, was excluded from the United Nations-brokered partial ceasefire deal earlier this year because of its internationally recognised status as a terrorist group.

It has also clashed with other opposition rebel groups, especially those they view as having received American support.

A noted researcher of Islamic militancy told MEE that he believed the reports of a split were credible and that the move had been approved by al-Qaeda leaders.

“Nothing definitively confirms it but the impression I am getting is that this is something being done with al-Qaeda’s approval,” said Aymenn al-Tamimi, research fellow at the Middle East Forum, a US think-tank.

Tamimi said the split was likely driven by the threat of the new US-Russia agreement to target the group inside Syria and had been orchestrated with a local audience in mind.

“This is something that reflects an al-Qaeda strategy to embed Nusra more deeply in the Syrian insurgency,” he said.

Nusra’s fighters have long fought alongside other Syrian opposition groups against pro-government forces, with the group at its strongest in its northern powerbase in Aleppo and Idlib provinces where it is estimated to command between 10,000 and 15,000 fighters.

The group also has about 700 fighters around Daraa in southern Syria, although leaders of the main opposition Southern Front have sought to distance themselves from it.

Last year, Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and several other factions in northern Syria formed an alliance called Jaish al-Fatah – or Army of Conquest.

But Nusra later broke away from Jaish al-Fatah amid reports of tensions with Ahrar al-Sham over its al-Qaeda connections, which have seen it formally designated as a terrorist organisation by both the US and the United Nations.

In May, MEE reported how a leading Egyptian Islamist who had been sent to Syria to persuade Nusra to set aside its global ambitions and focus on fighting the Assad government had been killed by a US drone strike.

Okda said the key question for the new grouping is whether the US and Russia will reclassify it: “Once he [Jolani] makes this announcement, the key question is whether Jolani will be considered a terrorist or not.”

He stressed that if the move succeeds, it was really important that a new model should be formed which can be used to peel off militant groups from the Syrian rebel front in the future.

Pro-Nusra activists on social media have speculated that the split has been planned by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for some time, raising the possibility that it is one component of a broader “Salafi-jihadist” goal endorsed by al-Qaeda.

Hassan Hassan, a fellow at the Chatham House security think-tank, said on Twitter that many Nusra field commanders had said that the group would remain the same even if it changed its name.

Nusra2

While Nusra has promoted a conservative version of Islam in territory under its control, it is generally considered to have also been careful not to alienate local populations by distributing food and aid, and running Islamic education and welfare programmes.

However, an Amnesty International report earlier this month said Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and other rebel groups had set up unofficial prosecution offices, police forces and detention centres in areas that they controlled and that they were using these to apply a strict interpretation of Islamic law that imposed punishments amounting to torture.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

IOF arrests Palestinian man at military checkpoint in Jenin

JENIN, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Tuesday a Palestinian young man, Husam Abu al-Rub, from Qabatya town in southern Jenin. Local sources told the PIC reporter that Israeli troops stopped and searched Abu al-Rub’s car near a military checkpoint close to al-Zababdeh town in Jenin before arresting him. Local sources pointed out that the IOF soldiers blocked traffic and retreated from the area after arresting the young man.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece

Vluchtelingen op de kust van Griekenland

Refugees land on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos in an inflatable dinghy on Sept. 3, 2015

By: Ramzy Baroud

The refugee camp of Yarmouk was ever present in his being, pulling him in and out of an abyss of persistent fears that urged him to never return. But what was this refugee without Yarmouk, his first haven, his last earth?How could any other spot in this unwelcoming universe ever be a ‘home’ when he had learned that only Palestine, which he had never visited, can ever be a home? When questioned, he always answered without hesitation: “I am from the village of so and so in Palestine.” Yet the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syria was all that remained of Palestine, as the Palestine he knew only existed in books or the tattered map in his family’s living room.But at least he had her along to share his grief; without her he would have never embarked on his quest. His name was Khaled al-Lubani and her name was Maysam.Their first attempt at crossing the sea was doomed to fail. The one thousand American dollars that Khaled’s father had given him in Yarmouk was almost depleted, and the money promised to him by his aunt in the UAE was still nowhere to be seen. By then, they had settled in Izmir at Turkey’s farthest western corner, and the closest in proximity to Greece.Wanting opportunities and a chance at a real life, they knew this was just a temporary stopover in their long-term plans.After a short stay at a cheap hotel, they sought an even cheaper accommodation, a small flat that cost them 400 Turkish liras each month. But with money running out, and Maysam’s anxieties increasingly suffocating her every thought, Khaled felt the pressure mounting. As he waited and waited for his aunt’s money, he felt as if she were dangling him off the side of a cliff.When the Syrian war started, Khaled cared little for the politics of war. He had reached the conclusion a long time ago that nothing good came out of politics and that anyone wearing a government or militia uniform could not be trusted. However, the war inched closer to Yarmouk, despite the pleas of the refugees to the warring parties to spare them more agony.And when Yarmouk was roundly destroyed, Khaled, pressured by the tears and pleas of his parents, fled. A long, costly and agonizing journey landed them both in Izmir.Their first attempt to cross the sea was with Abu Dandi. There was something about his shady looks and face that suggested he lacked honor and could not be trusted. In his fifties, he was heavy, with a large, protruding belly, and short white hair. He was addicted to overcooked black tea, and spent most of his time at the ‘Syrian Club’ playing backgammon, oozing the crude confidence of an unatoned gambler.Other Palestinian refugees pledged all of their faith to finding a new life via this no-guarantees trip. But an hour after their journey began, the dinghy’s small engine came to a complete halt.In one single, heavy choke, without any sign or introduction, it completely expired. As alarm permeated Khaled from head to toe, he knew going back was just not an option. Adding to the acute drama, Maysam’s fears and anxieties were culminating into unintelligible mumbles about the scary sea below.Left without any options, Abu Dandi called the Turkish coast guard, who eventually showed up and hauled them back to an Izmir prison.They had met the captain of the second dinghy, Abu Salma, while in prison. Captured freshly after his own failed expedition, Abu Salma promised them deliverance or their money back, guaranteed. Sadly, their original payment was never refunded by the miserable smuggler with the protruding belly.The second expedition was not successful, either, although, this time, the smugglers managed to take the boat much further. The engine did not abruptly stop, but nervously made a ticking sound before it quickly began to hemorrhage a line of dark diesel fuel into the crisp, blue Mediterranean Sea. The pathetic dinghy then suddenly stalled, immediately on reaching Greek waters. When the coast guard intercepted them, they threw out a rope from their large boat so that they could haul the unwelcome passengers to safety.Trying to circumvent the Greek boat, the passengers rowed frantically and with all their remaining energy. It was as if this was their final task in their epic struggle to feel human again. But the dinghy was brought to a forced halt as the crushing emotions of defeat weighed heavy on their slouched backs.With little interest in bringing the refugees to their side of the sea, the Greek coast guard robotically tuned out their chronicles of death and disgrace, and quickly telephoned the Turkish gendarmes, who hauled the dinghy back to square one, holding its passengers prisoner for two more days.Swearing in the name of his three-year-old daughter once more, Abu Salma insisted he was still the best smuggler in the business, and if it were not for their cursed luck, they would have already reached Greece and would have been dining like kings while the Greek gods watched from above. Promising the group a bigger and faster engine for their fourth try, Abu Salma, once again, led the passengers back to the same old designated spot where the dinghy was supposedly tucked away; but the boat was nowhere to be found.Emotionally drained and tired, they walked back to the main road, only to find the gendarmes waiting for them.When they attempted again, the group of nine had materialized into twenty, and included other war refugees, longing for the safety they were denied at home. This dinghy was slightly larger than the last one, but the engine was even smaller than their first. Heated reactions by the men ensued as they yelled and roared in anger. The women cried out in pain, some grabbing their hearts, some dropping to their knees. Maysam broke down and buried her sopping wet face into the sand.Most of the passengers just walked away and stood in the sand trying to conjure up a plan that no one had envisioned prior. But the Palestinians, along with Khaled and Maysam, stayed. Their will was just too strong to give up after all they had gone through. Assuming the role of leader, they were urged on by Khaled, yet again.“Just go this way,” the smuggler pointed his stubby fingers into some direction in the dark. And that is just what Khaled did. He challenged the darkness and what he saw as the final push towards freedom. For the entire journey, Maysam quietly sobbed and held onto his arm for dear life.Then, finally, the much awaited lights of the Island of Mytilene glittered in the distance. “Ya Allah, Ya Allah, Ya Allah,” muttered Maysam in a final attempt to cram in as many prayers as she possibly could so that the dinghy would reach the shores, bringing an end to the Syrian and Turkish nightmares, and freeing them from the abyss of the condemned.A small jar of crunchy peanut butter was all that Khaled and Maysam had left in their small duffel bag when their feet first touched the sand of Mytilene late one night. The exhilaration of their success blasted up their spines as they cried and jumped for joy.But as they tried to process the unbelievable comfort the white sand offered them, it was quickly overshadowed by a haunting, unforeseen and unexpected fear of the future. The water soaking through their trainers suddenly felt like a cold omen.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour imprisoned again

dareen

The following report on the 25 July court hearing for and jailing of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour is written by Yoav and reprinted from Free Haifa. Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was imprisoned for three months followed by over six months of house arrest over “incitement” allegations based on her poetry, posted online in a YouTube video and shared on Facebook.  She was forced into house arrest near Tel Aviv far from her village of Reineh; her brother and sister in law needed to drop work and school in order to serve as “guards” 24/7, and she is forbidden from access to the internet. Tatour must wear an electronic ankle bracelet at all times. Her case has received increasing attention and solidarity, and the support of hundreds ofprominent international literary figures such as Alice Walker, Eve Ensler, Marilyn Hacker, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Dave Eggers, Susan Abulhawa, and many others. Her case, one of hundreds of Palestinians facing arrest and imprisonment for writing on Facebook, has sparked outrage and highlighted the long history of Israeli colonial erasure of Palestinian cultural production, from the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani to the imprisonment of Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfiq Ziyyad, and Samih al-Qasim.

After lengthy struggle regarding returning Tatour to Reineh, the prosecution conceded that she could be held in house arrest in her home village. However, on 25 July, rather than returning to her hometown, Tatour was instead imprisoned after a for-profit ankle-bracelet company failed to produce an official report that her transfer would not cause a problem. A new hearing will be held this morning, Tuesday, 26 July. The Free Dareen Tatour facebook page will carry the latest updates. The Free Haifa article follows:

How “security considerations” become means for torture…

We invited everybody to celebrate the return of poet Dareen Tatour to Reineh today, after more than three months in prison and more than six months in house arrest in exile in Kiryat Ono near Tel Aviv (more than 100 km from her home). Yes, we knew that she will still be in house arrest under harsh restrictions: confined with volunteer guards to the house, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with an electronic device attached to her ankle monitoring all her movement and prevented from any access to the internet. But at least she will be at home, surrounded by family and friends.

But after a prolonged drama in the Nazareth court the result was that Dareen was arrested and returned to prison. She will probably spend the night in the filthy cells of the Jelemeh detention center, where she spent the first month of her detention. Tomorrow we will have another hearing in court, but as things go we can’t be optimistic until we will see Dareen fully free.

But what happened today in the Nazareth court?This cruel attempt to break Dareen’s spirit just as she expected her situation to improve reminds me of the case of Bilal Kayed. Bilal, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was sentenced to 14 and half years in prison for resisting the occupation. On the day that he had to be released, June 13, 2016, he was transferred instead to administrative detention for another six months, a period that can be extended arbitrarily and indefinitely. Today Bilal is on the 40th day of hunger strike against his administrative detention, and there are many demonstrations in solidarity with him against the breaking of the few rules that were still respected in the relations between the occupation and political prisoners.

Before our court hearing started, we were given a devastating evidence to the ground truth of the reality of occupation that is the real background to Dareen’s saga. Two young workers from the West Bank were brought before the judge on the accusation of crossing the walls illegally in search of work. He casually remanded their detention and sent them back to prison in less than 2 minutes, like somebody that eats a nut and throws the shell behind his back.

Delivering Injustice Slowly

The current request to alleviate Dareen’s detention conditions is almost three months old. It took a month to set a date and few more weeks to make the initial hearing, where the prosecution objected to the very hearing of the request. As an alternative they insisted that a special parole officer will examine the suitability of the proposed new guards to be with Dareen, which brought us up to last Monday, July 18.

In the meantime the international pressure to release Dareen mounted, with hundreds of poets and writers from all over the world signing a petition in her defense. The prosecution softened its position a bit, now agreeing to Dareen’s return to Reineh. But still another week was allocated for the adjustment of the electronic device to work in Dareen’s house in Reineh – and the hearing was postponed to today, Monday, July 25.

In the meantime Dareen’s lawyer prepared seven proposed volunteer guards – much more that the number usually required, as he had a long experience of the prosecution failing any proposal to alleviate the detention conditions. Judge Hana Sabagh, the vice president of Nazareth low court, agreed to hear only four custodians. They all passed the interrogation perfectly. But then the judge noticed that three of the four guards, Dareen’s father and two brothers, work, and only her mother will stay with her at daytime. And what will happen if her mother will have to get out? The next in line were Dareen’s sisters in law – but they also work outside the family house. In the end the judge agreed to accept as a fifth guard one sister in law that works part-time. I wonder about what “dangers to the public” the judge was thinking when he invested all this time to create a perfect shield around Dareen that is never applied to really dangerous criminals.

Crisis and Arrest

Then it came out that the approval from the operators of the electronic surveillance device was missing. First everybody thought that it was only a problem of communication. The court’s clerks are still on strike and they put off the fax machine where such documents are regularly sent. The judge even tried to show leadership and said that “we will find a way to get the approval without breaking the strike”.

But when the lawyer called the operator again it became clear that the approval is not ready. It is a private for-profit company that received the responsibility for operating electronic handcuffs from the government through a special contract. They were supposed to do their job within five work days – and that’s why the Judge postponed the hearing for a whole week. But they visited Dareen’s house only yesterday. And though the professional team that checked the place said that everything is OK, today on the phone they insisted that, according to their contract, they have another five days now to write their conclusions.

Abed, Dareen’s lawyer, suggested that Dareen will be allowed to go to Reineh anyway, until the final approval will come. After all, she was allowed to be with her family on Eid Al-Fitr (albeit only for one day), and once again when there were court hearings day after day. They Judge objected, saying that he couldn’t allow Dareen to go to Reineh for a few days least there will be a negative reply from the operators of the device and he will be forced to send her to prison…

Dareen told the court that there is no way that she will go back to Kiryat Ono. The Judge didn’t wait to hear why and ordered the guards to take her. But then everybody stood up and shouted, and the judge said he will set the next hearing for tomorrow, maybe the operator will make up his mind in the meantime.

Dareen’s lawyer tried to convince the judge that if there is only one night until the next hearing, he doesn’t have to be any braver than the previous judge that let Dareen spend one night at home before. But then the lawyer for the prosecution began to shout, saying there is no reason to allow this. She mentioned the fact that Dareen didn’t infringe in any way the conditions of her detention over the last half year as a proof that there is no problem with her staying more in Kiryat Ono. Judge Sabagh apparently decided that he’s more afraid from the prosecution’s fury and ended the hearing without any decision except for setting the next hearing for tomorrow at 13:00.

Dareen went out and inspected her options. After some time she went back to the judge with her family and lawyer and repeated her position that she simply can’t go back to Kiryat Ono. The judge ordered the court guards to arrest her and give her to the police. Now Dareen is in prison again for very good reasons: As the judge said, he wouldn’t want to arrest her if there will be a negative response from the operators… and as the prosecutor said, she never infringed the conditions that were imposed upon her… The State of Israel was spared another great threat to its sacred security!

(Source / 26.07.2016)

IOA cancels decision allowing the entry of cement into Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Authority (IOA) Tuesday canceled a decision that allows the entry of cement into Gaza’s block factories a few hours after its issuance.  In a press statement, Hatem Oweida, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy in Gaza, stressed the necessity of reconsidering the Gaza international reconstruction mechanism and entering large quantities of cement in order to meet the citizens’ need of reconstruction.  Ali Hayek, chairman of the Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI) in Gaza, announced that the Israeli occupation approved the entry of cement quantities into 230 block factories in the Gaza Strip starting from Wednesday after a 3-month ban. Israeli forces three months ago decreased the number of cement trucks allowed into Gaza from 120 to 80 lorries every day.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

Alabdah: International Community’s Inaction Encourages Assad’s Atrocities

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Alabdah called on member states of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to take urgent action in order to force the Assad regime to stop its brutal onslaught on Aleppo.

In a letter addressed to foreign ministers of ISSG on Tuesday, Alabdah highlighted the desperate humanitarian situation in Aleppo as the regime and its allies continue their relentless indiscriminate bombardment of the city and its countryside.

“Over the past two days, regime and Russian air forces escalated their attacks with systematic targeting of vital civilian infrastructure; particularly medical facilities…All hospitals in Aleppo have gone out of service leaving hundreds of those injured by the indiscriminate bombardment at risk of losing their lives due to complete lack of medical care,” Alabdah said.

The letter added: “Not only does this outrageous escalation constitute a further crime in the regime’s long bloody record of barbarity, but it runs in the face of all international resolutions including UNSCR 2254 and 2268 which endorsed the Cessation of Hostilities agreement. Such grave violations make it increasingly unlikely for any political talks to take place let alone for a political solution to succeed.”

Alabdah also said that the Syrian Coalition is “outraged by the regime’s continuous disregard to basic principles of international law and international resolutions.” He stressed that the Assad regime “can only persist in this criminality as long as it enjoys the impunity it has enjoyed so far by international inaction let alone the active support of its allies, particularly Russia.”

“As member states of the International Syria Support Group, your governments have the responsibility to translate words into action and make sure that the regime’s crimes against its own people no longer goes without consequences.”

Alabdah warned that the liberated areas of Aleppo, home to more than 300,000 civilians, have been under de-facto siege for over a week as its only outlet, the Castello Road, was under continuous bombardment by the Assad regime and its allied militias putting at risk the lives of civilians trapped in those areas.

Alabdah demanded immediate and decisive action by ISSG to compel the Assad regime to abide by the terms of the CoH, lift sieges on all civilian areas and allow unfettered and immediate nationwide humanitarian access. “In particular, ISSG must take all necessary measures to force the regime to halt, immediately, its atrocities in Aleppo.”

All hospitals in Aleppo have gone out of service leaving hundreds of those injured by the indiscriminate bombardment at risk of losing their lives for complete lack of medical care.

Reports coming from Aleppo indicate that banned and indiscriminate weapons including cluster bombs, barrel bombs, thermobaric bombs are being used by the regime and its allies in their barbaric bombardment of residential areas in Aleppo.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 26.07.2016)