28% of Gazan requests for cancer treatment denied or ignored by Israel

Israeli authorities are denying or ignoring a quarter of applications by Gaza cancer patients for Israeli entry-permits via Erez for the purpose of medical treatment in the West Bank, Israel or Jordan.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures, cited by Israeli NGO B’Tselem, for January through October 2016, 2,042 of 7,267 applications filed by cancer patients have either been denied or are yet to be answered (28 per cent).

WHO also notes how the number of patients required to undergo questioning at the Erez crossing after applying for a permit has gone up over the past year: in 2014, 179 patients were summoned, but in 2016, this number had shot up to 601 patients.

B’Tselem notes that “the degree to which residents are able to develop medical services in the Gaza Strip, or obtain them outside Gaza, still depends on Israel.”

“Despite its 2005 withdrawal of troops from the Gaza Strip and evacuation of all settlements there, Israel retained a significant amount of control over Gaza, which means Israel retained responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of all Gaza residents. Aid to medical patients is part of Israel’s legal and moral obligation toward Gaza’s residents; it does not constitute a gesture of good-will.”

The NGO adds: “For nearly a decade Gaza has been under an Israeli-imposed a blockade, preventing free movement of people and goods both to and from Gaza. The blockade has resulted in Gaza’s economic collapse and has isolated its residents from the rest of the world. Gaza’s health care system has also been hard-hit by this policy.”

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Palestinians craft first aerial map of refugee camp

Article of 

Using balloons and a camera, Palestinian refugees have been working on a detailed map of Lebanon’s Burj al-Shamali camp.

Project organisers say it will be the first locally made map of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon [Courtesy Greening Bourj al-Shamali]
Project organisers say it will be the first locally made map of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon 

Burj al-Shamali refugee camp, Lebanon – Amal Said and Mustapha Dakhloul expertly wind their way through the maze-like streets of Burj al-Shamali, squeezing through the refugee camp’s narrow alleyways past local children playing on the cracked pavement.

“This was one of the spots,” says Dakhloul, 18, looking out over the refugee camp after ascending a metal ladder to the rooftop of a residential building, past racks of drying clothes.

Despite their young age, Dakhloul and Said, 20, are making history in Burj al-Shamali: They have completed several weeks of aerial mapping using a low-cost digital camera and helium-filled balloon flying high above the camp.

With the photos, they hope to craft the first ever detailed map of Burj al-Shamali.

Participants watch from below as the red balloon sails above a spot in the camp

The project’s organisers – including another young participant from the camp, 19-year-old Firas Ismail – say it will also be the first locally made map of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

“I was very excited,” Said told Al Jazeera, noting that the group started out with around 10 participants, but shrunk to only three in the end. “It was very hard work.”

A bright red balloon was affixed to a light but sturdy string, and slowly raised to more than 200 metres above the camp. A camera was tied to the balloon, and it took between 3,000 and 5,000 images from each spot, Dakhloul said.

It was not always easy: Electricity wires hang precariously overhead in many areas of the camp, making raising the balloon impossible in some places. The narrow streets also posed a challenge, as the large balloon simply could not fit between the buildings.

The view from the rooftop in Burj al-Shamali

Bored teenagers in the camp shot the balloon down once, while Lebanese security officials confiscated the camera’s memory card after the group drew their suspicion when flying the balloon just outside the borders of the camp.

Depending on the location, the team sent the balloon into the air from the ground or from rooftops. They chose the balloon because it was the cheapest option, and gave them a better chance to interact with camp residents along the way.

According to Said, the map aims to help residents to see where free space exists to build parks or play areas for children, or to plant vegetables or plants with medicinal purposes on rooftops.

“When people look at the map, they will see where the important areas are,” she said. “Every person who sees the map can also draw their own idea from it … about how we can benefit.”

Mustapha Dakhloul, left, and Amal Said on a rooftop in Burj al-Shamali, one of the spots from which they flew a balloon over the camp

Three kilometres east of Tyre, in southern Lebanon, Burj al-Shamali was built in 1948 to house Palestinian refugees from the Hawla and Tiberias areas of northern Palestine in tents. In 1955, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees began providing services to residents in the camp, who had gradually built concrete and tin structures.

Today, Burj al-Shamali is home to almost 25,000 Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud al-Joumma, president of the camp’s branch of the youth support group, Beit Atfal Assumoud, said that children and camp residents had been running after the mapping group, curious because they had never seen balloon mapping before. “In the beginning, really, I didn’t believe it was possible,” Joumma told Al Jazeera about his own initial reaction to the project.

But he said that holding a physical map in their hands might help to change the fact that many residents in the camp do not fully understand the conditions in which they are living, and the challenges the community faces.

We understand our situation, our difficult conditions inside the camps, but we believe that even if there are difficulties, there is the possibility to [build] for the future, to give a future to [the youth].”

Mahmoud al-Joumma, Beit Atfal Assumoud youth support group

“Some people know their home, here,” he said, “but they didn’t know exactly what they would find on the other side [of the camp], how life is on the other side.”

He explained that unemployment and poor educational opportunities are major concerns in Burj al-Shamali, but the project is a clear example of how solutions are possible.

“It’s just to encourage our youth,” Joumma said. “We understand our situation, our difficult conditions inside the camps, but we believe that even if there are difficulties, there is the possibility to [build] for the future, to give a future to [the youth].”

When it is finished, the map will mark services in Burj al-Shamali – health and dental clinics, schools, mosques, and local organisations – as well as important points on the main road, which makes a circular loop around the entire camp, Joumma said.

It will also include the demarcations of different neighbourhoods, which remain named after the villages in historic Palestine from where the refugees originally hailed. “Every region in the camp has a name … Here Hatoum, here Safouri, here Al-Naima, here Ez-Zouk,” he said.

The project is now in the final stage, and organisers are raising money to print the maps and distribute them among residents, government officials, human rights groups and humanitarian groups in Lebanon, among others.

They also hope to send the three Burj al-Shamali youth map-makers – Said, Dakhloul and Ismail – to the United States to meet US mapping experts and speak to groups about their experiences.

But according to Claudia Martinez Mansell, coordinator of the Greening Bourj al-Shamali project, their US visa applications were recently rejected on the basis that they could not prove sufficient ties to Lebanon.

Consular officials reportedly said this could be proven by showing marriage certificates, job contracts or property ownership certificates – “all impossible things to ask 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who are still at university”, Martinez Mansell said, noting that they would apply for the visas again.

“I have not given up,” Martinez Mansell said. “To me it is so important that they get the opportunities to learn and be recognised for their work, so that they can come back and carry out the work they are doing.”

An aerial view over Burj al-Shamali camp taken with the balloon mapping technique

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Erdogan’s war on the market economy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves Eyup Sultan Mosque in Istanbul, Dec. 11, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s shift from a reformist to an authoritarian path has been accompanied by an insistent narrative that a “supreme mind” is behind Turkey’s woes. For Erdogan and his aides, the supreme mind is a foreign hand with an influential network inside Turkey that plans, orchestrates and triggers every crisis, unrest or setback in the country.

Who the foreign hand is, is not exactly clear. Sometimes the term alludes to the United States, sometimes to Israel and, most recently, to the international economic and political system. For the government, the supreme mind extends to a wide range of actors — from local collaborators and influence networks to financial funds and the banking system, from covert and dangerous structures such as the Gulenists to liberal intellectuals.

The term was first used in March 2014 by then-Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. Commenting on the events of Dec. 17-25, 2013 — a Gulenist attempt to unseat Erdogan intertwined with corruption probes implicating government officials — Arinc said he believed that “an operation planned by a supreme mind” had been staged. Asked by journalists what he meant by a “supreme mind,” he replied, “I cannot say. I cannot say, even if I know it.”

In a recent article, Turkish writer and political analyst Tanil Bora described how things unfolded thereafter. “As Recep Tayyip Erdogan began to use the term, it took hold in the official political rhetoric. In the runup to the June 2015 elections, for instance, it was said that [the three opposition parties in parliament] wanted to form a coalition by means of the ‘supreme mind,’” Bora wrote. “At one point, Germany was implied to be the ‘supreme mind’ of the Gezi Park revolt. The German parliament’s recognition of the Armenian genocide was said to be ‘the work of the supreme mind.’ Erdogan himself said, ‘They must have received an order from the supreme mind to take such a step.’”

The supreme mind grew into a widely used means of explanation and justification in conservative quarters and media as Turkey’s problems deepened, the Kurdistan Workers Party mounted terrorist attacks in urban centers, Ankara’s policies in the Middle East headed toward a dead end and criticism of Erdogan increased. Soon, the term became a popular symbol of Erdogan’s systematic challenges against the Western system.

Throughout history, closed, authoritarian regimes have all resorted to imaginary enemies as a tool in political purges and other totalitarian practices. No doubt, the supreme mind narrative is very much similar to the notions of “foreign enemies, imperialism, international Zionism, global powers and conspiracies” that those regimes have used.

And Turkey is no stranger to such notions. Throughout the years, the notion of imaginary enemies has been employed by the military and leftist, nationalist and Islamist quarters alike — in various forms but with the same authoritarian undertone. Just like the government does today, those actors sought to explain every domestic problem with foreign plots and systematic attacks on the Turkish nation and its values, linking any criticism and questioning to those alleged designs. The latest developments in Turkey, however, signal that the use of the supreme mind narrative has reached a new, critical phase.

The No. 1 issue in Turkey in the past several weeks has been the signs of a looming economic crisis. An economic blowback has been produced by the extraordinary state of affairs in Turkish politics, nondemocratic practices and the erosion of the rule of law. Turkey’s downgrade by credit-rating agencies and the flight of international funds are the top items on the economic bill.

But instead of trying to calm down the markets, the government has portrayed the downturn as a conspiracy by the supreme mind. The country has been rattled for some time by a sort of a war that Erdogan has opened on the market economy through accusations of a supreme mind seeking to destabilize Turkey.

When Moody’s cut Turkey’s rating to “junk” in September, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, the government’s spokesman, said “the supreme mind, which plotted the coup [attempt on July 15] will do anything to create the perception that the Turkish economy is deteriorating.”

More recently, Erdogan has kept pointing to a conspiracy behind the dramatic slump of the Turkish lira against the dollar. On Dec. 4, for instance, he said, “We are well-aware of the games that some are trying to play in our country following the July 15 treachery. They are now trying to stage a coup through interest rates, the stock market and foreign exchange movements. No matter what, interest rates must be lowered.”

In one major sign of the war on the market economy, the government has put pressure on banks to cut interest rates, drawing on the emergency rule climate. Erdogan has also launched a campaign urging the nation to convert dollar assets to the Turkish lira, and public institutions have taken his appeal as an order. The campaign is increasingly becoming another psychological tool in that war, providing it also with popular leverage.

Those moves, however, are producing counter-reactions as well. Each time the president has made an interventionist statement or slammed the supreme mind, the Turkish lira has slid further against the greenback. Echoing the prevailing view among economists, Orhan Okmen, the Turkish head of the international rating agency JCR Eurasia, said, “The main reason for the Turkish lira’s depreciation is neither international developments nor external factors. The main reason lies in the domestic political structure established after the coup attempt and the emergency rule practices.”

A government waging a war on the market economy is something unprecedented in Turkey. Even the generals who carried out the 1980 coup adopted a neoliberal economic program immediately after the takeover. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been no enemy of the market economy either. In power since 2002, the AKP owes part of its success to robust economic growth, spawned by its liberal economic policies and a favorable global conjuncture. Then, why has Erdogan changed today?

The first reason: The high growth rates are no more. Preserving political power without economic growth is a serious problem. Erdogan has embarked on an irrational quest to revive growth, believing he can pull it off with nonmarket instruments.

Second, Erdogan’s sense of political and personal insecurity, especially since the putsch, has deepened his obsession with conspiracy theories, something for which Turkish conservatives have an extraordinary penchant. He has transformed this into a dominant political rhetoric, whereby the supreme mind is hatching up plots in the Middle East and the West to block the advance of a powerful Turkey, just as it did yesterday to prevent the recovery of the “sick man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire.

The third reason stems from Erdogan’s paternalistic approach to politics, which is becoming increasingly difficult to rein in. His quest for a “New Turkey” — based on the notion of political power and government dominating all aspects of life, including the economy — has now triggered a shift away from liberal policies in the economic field.

In this context, the supreme mind narrative has a function beyond the familiar authoritarian tool, serving almost as a founding element in a drive for a new order. As such, it is the illustration of Turkey’s introversion ideology at a time when winds of introversion are blowing across the world. Fraught with a myriad of questions, this new order, which Erdogan describes as native and national, is the harbinger of new and big troubles for Turkey.

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Justice orgs call for protection of human rights defenders working on issues related to Palestine

December 9, 2016 – In marking International Human Rights Defenders Day, the undersigned organizations commend the work of all human rights defenders working for justice globally, stand in solidarity with them, and highlight the case of individuals and organizations focused on Palestine. Human rights defenders advocating and working on Palestinian human rights around the world are facing intensifying threats and are increasingly targeted for their work.

Human rights defenders operating in Palestine use a variety of non-violent methods to call attention to Israeli human rights violations and to seek accountability. Each of these methods, however, is met with acts of suppression and intimidation by Israel.[i] Weekly peaceful protests throughout the West Bank are routinely met with force by the Israeli military. Hashem Khader Abu Maria, 45, coordinator of Defence for Children International – Palestine’s community mobilization unit, was shot dead by Israeli forces while peacefully participating in a weekly protest in July 2014. Human rights defenders seeking to monitor and document human rights violations, including lawyers seeking to represent their clients, have their freedom of movement and access obstructed, and are further at risk of arrest and detention because of their work.[ii]Palestinian human rights organizations providing submissions to the International Criminal Court (ICC) during its preliminary examination have faced even more extreme targeting. Palestinian organizations Al-Haq and Al-Mezan have had staff members receive death threats, and have also been the targets of a wider campaign that attempts to discredit and destabilize the organizations.[iii] These campaigns have included the hacking of emails, intimidating phone calls to staff, and efforts to alarm donors; all of which seek to distract organizations from their primary human rights work. While the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor and other authorities have recognized these threats,[iv] acts of intimidation have persisted.

Human rights defenders advocating on issues related to Palestine in the United States and Europe are also facing intensifying pressure for bringing attention to Israeli human rights violations.[v] Israel has treated the Palestinian call to engage in nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, given the absence of accountability for Israel’s violations of international law, as a “strategic threat,” and has countered it with increasingly coercive and punitive measures, both in Palestine and globally.[vi]In the United States, individuals and institutions engaged in advocacy for Palestinian rights, including BDS campaigns, have been targeted[vii] with online harassment,[viii]surveillance, threats to their physical safety,[ix]frivolous lawsuits,[x]intimidation campaigns maligning them as terrorist supporters and antisemitic,[xi] and even disciplinary and criminal investigations and sanctions for their protest activities.[xii]  Legislative measures in the US aim to penalize advocacy for Palestinian rights and engagement in BDS.[xiii]

These attacks in total aim to silence and undermine any resistance to Israel’s unlawful policies and should not be viewed in isolation. They should rather be examined within the broader context of impunity in Israel itself, as well as the failure of states to hold Israel accountable for its commission of internationally recognized crimes.

Citizens and organizations have internationally and domestically recognized rights[xiv] to engage in alternative means for accountability and advocate for justice for Palestinians.[xv] Our organizations underscore the universality of human rights, including the right to “participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,”[xvi] and we call upon states to protect human rights defenders working on issues related to Palestine.

Signed by:

·       Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

·      Addameer

·      Al-Haq

·      Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

·      American Friends Service Committee

·      American Muslims for Palestine

·      Arab American Institute

·      Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

·      Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation

·      Center for Constitutional Rights

·      Defense for Children International- Palestine Section

·      Interfaith Peace-Builders

· International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

·      Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights

·      International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild

·      Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

·      Palestine Legal

·      Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies

·      Samidoun

·      US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

·      U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)

·      World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

[i] For more information, see: Joint Oral Statement to the Human Rights Council on 29 September 2016, available at http://webtv.un.org/search/item7-general-debate-contd-29th-meeting-33rd-regular-session-human-rights-council-/5140985289001?term=item%207#full-text; PHROC Sends Letter to UN High Commissioner and Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Al-Haq, 16 June 2016, available at http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/targets/palestinian-human-rights-organizations/1052-phroc-sends-letter-to-un-high-commissioner-and-special-rapporteurs-on-the-situation-of-human-rights-defenders; and PHROC Draws Attention to the Repression of Human Rights Defenders in Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the OPT, Al-Haq, 10 November 2016, available at http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/targets/palestinian-human-rights-organizations/1084-phroc-draws-attention-to-the-repression-of-human-rights-defenders-in-submission-to-the-un-special-rapporteur-on-the-opt

[ii] See, e.g., the case of Hasan Safadi, Addameer’s Media Coordinator, Addameer, 13 June 2016, available at http://www.addameer.org/prisoner/hasan-safadi.

[iii] Al Mezan Condemns Continued Death Threats to Staff Members and Calls on the International Community to Intervene, Al Mezan, 11 August 2016, available at http://www.mezan.org/en/post/21475/Al+Mezan+Condemns+Continued+Death+Threats+to+Staff+Members+and+Calls+on+the+International+Community+to+Intervene; Update: Attacks Against Al-Haq Continue, 4 June 2016, available at http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/human-rights-defenders/1050-update-attacks-against-al-haq-continue

[iv] Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2016, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, para. 144, 14 November 2016, available at https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/otp/161114-otp-rep-PE_ENG.pdf

[v] France’s criminalization of BDS activism is the most extreme example of the repressive reaction to Palestine advocacy outside of Israel. See France’s criminalisation of Israel boycotts sparks free-speech debate, France 24, 21 January 2016, available at http://www.france24.com/en/20160120-france-boycott-israel-bds-law-free-speech-antisemitism.

[vi]Israel brands Palestinian-led boycott movement a ‘strategic threat’, The Guardian, 3 June 2015, available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/03/israel-brands-palestinian-boycott-strategic-threat-netanyahu

[vii]See generally, Palestine Legal and Center for Constitutional Rights, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S., September 2015, available at http://palestinelegal.org/the-palestine-exception.

[viii]See, e.g., Exposed: Pro-Israel Modern Day McCarthyites Going to Extremes to Slime Human Rights Activists, Alternet, 30 September 2015, available at http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/modern-day-mccarthyists-are-going-extremes-slime-activists-fighting-israels.

[ix] See, e.g., Palestine Legal Demands Action from University of Chicago to Protect Student Activists, Palestine Legal, 19 November 2015, available at http://palestinelegal.org/news/2015/11/19/palestine-legal-demands-action-from-university-of-chicago-to-protect-palestine-advocates?rq=death%20threat; Ohio University: Student President Receives Death Threats, Palestine Legal, 10 March 2015, available athttp://palestinelegal.org/case-studies/2015/3/4/ohio-university-student-senate-president-received-death-threats-after-pro-bds-video

Another frivolous lawsuit against the American Studies Association’s Boycott, Palestine Legal, 21 July 2016, available at http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/7/21/another-frivolous-lawsuit-against-the-american-studies-associations-boycott?rq=lawsuit.

[xi] See, e.g., Rights Groups to UC Irvine, UC Berkeley and SFSU: Condemn David Horowitz Posters, Protect Students from Intimidation Campaign, Palestine Legal, 20 October 2016, available at http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/10/11/rights-groups-to-uc-irvine-condemn-david-horowitz-posters-protect-students-from-intimidation-campaign?rq=horowitz; IUPUI must stand with Haneen and SJP, too, Palestine Legal, 8 April 2016, available at http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/4/8/iupui-must-stand-with-haneen-and-sjp-too?rq=iupui.

[xii] Palestine Legal collection of articles regarding the Irvine 11, available at http://palestinelegal.org/search?q=Irvine%2011&f_collectionId=55357b08e4b0366c2fd525e9; CUNY: Independent Investigators Clear SJP, Palestine Legal, 31 October 2016, available at http://palestinelegal.org/case-studies/2016/10/31/city-university-of-new-york-independent-investigators-clear-sjp?rq=brooklyn; Brooklyn College Students Cleared at Controversial Disciplinary Hearing, Palestine Legal, 31 May 2016, available at http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/5/31/brooklyn-college-students-cleared-at-controversial-discipslinary-hearing?rq=brooklyn.

[xiii] See http://righttoboycott.org/.

[xiv] In NAACP v. Claiborne, the United States Supreme Court found that boycotts to effect social, economic and political change are a protected form of speech, association, assembly and petition under the First Amendment. Foreign ministers from Holland, Ireland and Sweden have all recognized the right to engage in BDS actions. See PHROC welcomes statements by European officials to uphold the right to participate in and call for BDS measures, Al-Haq, 30 May 2016 available at http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/targets/palestinian-human-rights-organizations/1047-phroc-welcomes-statements-by-european-officials-to-uphold-the-right-to-participate-in-and-call-for-bds-measures. The EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini also stated that the right to boycott is protected under freedom of expression. See EU declares right to boycott Israel is protected free speech, Independent, 3 November 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/eu-right-bds-boycott-israel-palestine-protected-free-speech-federica-mogherini-a7394536.html. Two hundred European legal scholars recently affirmed the right to boycott under international law. See Groundbreaking statement by 200 European Legal Scholars Upholds the Right to BDS for Palestinian Rights, Boycott National Committee, 8 December 2016, available at https://bdsmovement.net/news/groundbreaking-statement-200-european-legal-scholars-upholds-right-bds-palestinian-rights.

[xv] Where states fail to search for and prosecute individuals that have committed grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, organizations have filled this gap by providing submissions to the International Criminal Court. Where states have failed to ban the entry of settlement products into their domestic markets, consumers have sought boycott actions. Where states have given military aid to Israel without accountability, individuals and groups have campaigned to circumscribe that aid.

[xvi]Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 12(1), available at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Defenders/Declaration/declaration.pdf.

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Two Palestinian Hunger Strikers Stop Drinking Water After Israeli Court Denied Their Appeal

13 DEC
12:15 PM

On the same day that Israeli authorities released from prison one long-term hunger striker, Bilal Kayed, the Israeli High Court decided not to release two others, Anas Shadeed and Ahmad Abu Farah.

Both men have been on hunger strike for more than 80 days, and both declared on Monday that they will give up water beginning today, and are prepared to hunger strike until death.

The two are being held under so-called ‘administrative detention’, which is the Israeli government’s euphemism for holding prisoners without charges for months and years on end.

Both men have suffered severe health deterioration since entering on their extended hunger strikes in September.

Their lawyer attempted to present the health conditions of the two men, but the Israeli High Court refused to hear that testimony.

Medical reports have shown that Abu Farah and Shadeed may be facing organ failure or brain damage. Abu Farah has lost vision in his right eye.

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Syrian Coalition Calls on People of the Free World to Demonstrate outside Russian & Iranian Embassies in Solidarity with Aleppo

The Syrian Coalition called upon the free people all over the world to protest outside the Russian and Iranian embassies to condemn the war crimes their forces are committing in Syria and to show solidarity with the people of Aleppo.

Regime forces are pounding the remaining rebel pocket in eastern Aleppo with of tanks, aircraft, and artillery fire. Nearly, 100,000 civilians, of whom 60% are women and children, are currently trapped inside a 2-sq area in the neighborhood of Sukkari and parts of Saif Addawua.

Pro-regime militias on Monday carried out summary executions against dozens of civilians in eastern Aleppo, while civil defense teams said they were unable to recover the bodies of people killed or rescue the wounded stuck under rubble of bombed houses due to the ongoing onslaught including intense, constant bombardment by regime forces and their allies.

Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that the atrocious crimes taking place in Aleppo cannot be carried out by a civilized country in the 21st century, but by a mafia-like state and medieval criminals. He stressed the need for all free peoples around the world to stand against these heinous crimes and demand their immediate cessation.

Member of the Coalition Dima Moussa stressed that failure of the Security Council in Syria makes it imperative that all the free people around the world stand in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo. She added that these civilians are under real threat of being slaughtered, murdered and raped by Assad regime and Iranian-backed foreign militias. She called for demonstrations in front of the Russian and Iranian embassies and for pressure on their governments to stop the genocide taking place in Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 13.12.2016)

Trump to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Unlike Bill Clinton and George Bush, Trump is persistent on his plan to move the American embassy to Jerusalem

US President-elect Donald Trump is going ahead in his plan to move the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, senior aide Kellyanne Conway reiterated on Monday.

“It is a great move. It is an easy move to do based on how much he talked about that in the debates and in the sound bites,” Conway said

US President-elect Donald Trump is going ahead in his plan to move the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, senior aide Kellyanne Conway reiterated on Monday.

Speaking to the American conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Conway reiterated this.

“That is very big priority,” Conway said, “he made it very clear during the campaign, Hugh, and as president-elect I have heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”

While former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush reneged on their own statements to move the embassy to Jerusalem after they had become presidents, Conway believes Trump will follow through on his promise.

“It is something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish-Americans have expressed their preference for,” she said.

She added: “It is a great move. It is an easy move to do based on how much he talked about that in the debates and in the sound bites.”

Last September, Trump sat down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss US-Israel relations. During the meeting, he reportedly told Netanyahu that he intends to have Jerusalem officially seen by his administration as Israel’s capital.

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Chilean football team to break siege of Gaza

Image of Palestinian footballers at a training session [file photo]

Image of Palestinian footballers at a training session [file photo]

Chile’s Club Deportivo Palestino football team will be the first sports delegation to break the Israeli siege and go to the Gaza Strip, the Head of the Palestinian Football Federation said on Monday.

In a press conference in Ramallah, held jointly with players from the club, Jebril Al-Rajoub said that Club Deportivo Palestino had played a pivotal role in spreading awareness about the Palestinian cause.

“The football club has contributed to raising awareness with its activities across North and South America and other regions as it plays in the name of Palestine and raises the flag of Palestine,” Al-Rajoub explained. “Like our national football team, which unifies Palestinians in the country and in the diaspora, Club Deportivo Palestino separated sport from politics based with its belief that sport is a unifying factor.”

Club Deportivo Palestino, which was established in 1920 by a group of Palestinian immigrants in Chile, is to play a friendly match with the Palestinian national team on Tuesday in Nablus International Stadium.

(Source / 13.12.2016)

ISIS used as tool by Saudis, US & Turkey when it suits their interests – US senator


Speaking to RT on the advance of ISIS militants from Mosul toward Palmyra, Virginia Senator Richard Black (R) expressed doubt that the US-led coalition could have overlooked such a regrouping, pointing to possible interests of the US and regional players.

Given that the territory between areas occupied by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Palmyra is a “very barren”rocky desert, “it is unconceivable that the American-led collation could not have seen this massive army moving towards Palmyra,” Senator Black told RT.

“I was surprised that ISIS was able to attack Palmyra. It’s important to recognize that the distance from ISIS-held territory [to] Palmyra is approximately 100 miles,” added the senator, who has repeatedly voiced support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in battling the jihadists.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, December 12, 2016. © Djordje Kojadinovic

The fact that the US-led coalition seemingly turned a blind eye to the imminent terrorist threat to the UNESCO world heritage site is not a coincidence, he argues, but rather a part of the foreign policy strategy employed by the current White House administration towards Islamic State.

“Unfortunately, I believe, under the Obama administration, I think there have been great deal of coordination between terrorist forces and the US-led coalition,” Black said.

While the US, as well as other western countries and major regional players, do not share the same goals as the terrorists, they have been seemingly sparing Islamic State if airstrikes against the terrorist group could have resulted in disadvantage to Turkey, the key NATO member in the region and a US ally, which Black alleges, has engaged in economic relations with terrorists.

READ MORE: ‘Decamped from Mosul ISIS fighters in Syria perfect for US narrative’

“There [the terrorists] have not been loved by anyone, but they have been a major trading partner of Turkey, and the United States withheld any attack when they first seized Palmyra travelling a hundred miles over open territory, and, I confirm, there was not a single bomb dropped by the American-led coalition,” he said.

This very selective approach to fighting terrorists gives reason to suggest that the US-led coalition is battling jihadists only when it does not interfere with the narrow interests of its members, Black suggests, dubbing the coalition’s efforts under such circumstances as “disastrously unproductive.”

“I think ISIS is often used as a tool between Turkey and the United States and as long as they are useful to one of those parties they are protected and when they are not useful they are not protected,” Black said, arguing that ISIS served as “tool of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and NATO forces…from the very beginning” of the conflict in Syria.

At the same time, the senator commended the US-led offensive in Iraq, which has centered on liberating its second largest city, Mosul, from militants, saying that the coalition was “doing some very good work in Mosul” and seems to be genially poised to “drive ISIS forces from Mosul.”

However, US President Barack Obama’s recent decision to lift restrictions on the delivery of weapons to “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups or individuals,” who are supported by US military in Syria, plays into the hands of terrorists and looks like “a desperate last attempt” by the outgoing administration, Black said.

FILE PHOTO. © Omar Sanadiki

The senator said that the looming change of commander-in-chief in the United States will be marked by a U-turn in Syria, with the US cutting all its ties with militants.

“When Donald Trump comes in, the support is going to be cut for the terrorists. We are not going on to the side of the terrorists anymore,”he said.

Sen. Black has been known as a fierce critic of the current US policy towards Syria, calling it “insane” in comments to the Washington Post in April, when he argued that “it is within our power” to stop the bloodshed.

In April, Black traveled to Palmyra and met with Syrian government officials. He has said that Syria being entrapped in the military conflict is not the result of domestic issues but of a plot contrived by foreign intelligence, including that of the western countries, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

“The government and people in Syria want peace, but regional countries don’t,” Black told Homs Governor Talal Barazi at the time, as cited by the Syria Times.

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Israeli court sentences Palestinian lawmaker to 17 months in jail


The Israeli Ofer military court on Monday sentenced the Palestinian MP Mohamed Abu Teir to 17 months in jail and a fine of 8,000 shekels, along with a 30-month suspended sentence.

The sentence was slapped by the occupation authorities against Abu Teir after he had spent 11 months in administrative detention, with neither charge nor trial.

65-year-old Abu Teir was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on January 27, 2016. He had spent a total of 34 years in Israeli lock-ups.

In 2006 he was elected as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The occupation authorities banned him from Occupied Jerusalem on allegations of anti-occupation activism.

MP Ahmad Atoun, also banned from Occupied Jerusalem, slammed the arbitrary sentence issued against Abu Teir, saying it makes part of a preplanned Israeli campaign against Occupied Jerusalem and its anti-occupation icons.

“The Israeli occupation has not only bereaved Jerusalemite lawmakers of their IDs and banned them from the holy Jerusalem City; it has also been sending them to jail in an attempt to squash anti-occupation and anti-Judaization voices,” the lawmaker further stated.

(Source / 13.12.2016)