Hamas: Tunisian engineer allegedly assassinated by Mossad was leader of military wing


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The Hamas movement’s military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades Saturday evening released a statement confirming that the Tunisian aviation engineer Muhammad al-Zawahri who was allegedly assassinated on Thursday in Tunisia was one its leaders and manufactured drones for the movement.

The statement described al-Zawahri, 45, as a “martyr of Palestine, Tunisia, and the Arab and Islamic nations,” adding that the slain official, who is believed to have been assassinated by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, was a leader of Hamas’ military wing.
Hamas directly accused Israel of the assassination, saying that “the coward Zionist hands assassinated the al-Qassam Brigades leader,” and called al-Zawahri the “pioneer of the Arab Spring and the sponsor of the Palestinian revolution and resistance.”The statement highlighted that the Ababil drones, the Iranian-developed drone reportedly manufactured by al-Zawahri, played a major role in the resistance during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip.According to Hamas’ statement, al-Zawahri had joined Hamas’ military wing ten years ago following the “examples set” by several Arab and Muslim fighters who battled against the “Zionist enemy,” and defended Palestine.”The enemy must know that the blood of the martyr and leader Muhammad al-Zawahri won’t be spilled in vain,” the statement warned, highlighting that the assassination was believed to be an assault on the Palestinian resistance and the al-Qassam Brigades.The statement also went on to warn Arab and Islamic countries of the activities of Israel’s Mossad, saying that “the assassination of al-Zawahri rings an alarm bell for the Arab and Muslim nations.”
Hamas warned the rest of the nations that the “Zionist enemy and its collaborators are messing with the region’s countries and playing dirty games, and it’s time this cowardly and deceitful hand be cut.”
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Tunisian journalist Burhan Basis said that the Mossad had carried out the assassination and al-Zawahri’s work on drones for the Hamas movement led to Israeli intelligence targeting the official.
Al-Zawahri was reportedly “shot at close range with six bullets, three to his head, while in his car,” Haaretz said, adding that reports indicated that the assassin was “highly professional and skilled, and didn’t leave a trace.”
Al-Zawhri was also a former Tunisair pilot, according to Haaretz, and worked with Tunisia’s civil aviation in assisting the training of young people on how to operate drones.
(Source / 17.12.2016)

PA police detain 22 Palestinians at Allenby crossing, Israel turns away 33


JERICHO (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority (PA) police arrested 22 Palestinians over the past week while attempting to travel to Jordan from the occupied West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, according to a statement released Saturday by the Palestinian police.

The detainees, according to the statement, were either “wanted” by the PA or banned from traveling outside the West Bank.
The statement also mentioned that some 12,800 Palestinian left the West Bank into Jordan during the same period, and approximately 13,800 arrived in the West Bank from the Jordanian side.
In addition, the statement noted that special coordination was organized for 13 sick Palestinians on both sides of the crossing to pass in Palestinian ambulances.
Israeli authorities also denied the passage of 33 Palestinians from the Israeli side of the crossing for alleged security purposes.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are not permitted to travel internationally via Israel’s international airport in Tel Aviv, forcing thousands of Palestinians to pass into Jordan on a daily basis in order to travel outside of the occupied territory.
(Source / 17.12.2016)

Longest-held Palestinian prisoner still detained despite completing sentence


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities have not released 59-year-old Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi despite him having served the entirety of his 30-month sentence, as the Israeli military prosecutor has submitted an appeal to keep him in prison.

Barghouthi has spent more than 35 years in prison, and was most recently freed in a 2011 swap deal between Israel and the Hamas movement to release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israeli — and was among the more than 50 of the 1,000 who have since been redetained.Israeli forces first detained Barghouthi in 1978 when he was 20 years old for alleged membership in an armed resistance group and redetained him in 2014, claiming that he had broken the terms of his release.

According to a statement Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, although his 30-month sentence ended last week, the Israeli military prosecutor has appealed against his release and asked the court instead to reinstate the original life sentence against Barghouthi.PPS said that Barghouthi, who is from the village of Kobar in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, served 34 years in prison before he was released in the 2011 prisoners exchange, and after serving the latest 30-month sentence has become the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli prison.Since the Shalit deal, Israel has initiated mass detention campaigns to bring hundreds of former prisoners released in the exchange back into Israeli custody, in violation of the agreement.Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the deal but have since been redetained, before starting talks in a new prisoner swap deal.According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of October, 15 of whom were serving more than 25 years in prison.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

This part of ‘The Crusades: An Arab Perspective’ explores the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the Crusades.


The Crusades: An Arab Perspective is a four-part documentary series telling the dramatic story of the crusades seen through Arab eyes, from the seizing of Jerusalem under Pope Urban II in 1099, to its recapture by Salah ad-Din (also known as Saladin), Richard the Lionheart’s efforts to regain the city, and the end of the holy wars in 1291. Part one looked at the First Crusade and the conquest of Jerusalem. In part two, we explore the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the crusades.

By the early 12th century, the crusades had successfully captured not only the holy city of Jerusalem but huge swaths of the Muslim Levant. Islam’s third holiest site, the al-Aqsa Mosque, was in the hands of the crusaders.

Their entrance to the city [of Jerusalem] was horrifying. They started with an infamous massacre. They killed people in the streets, in their houses and in alleyways. Arab sources talk about a hundred thousand people slaughtered.

Antoine Domit, professor of history at the Lebanese University

The Muslim world, a mighty power for the previous four centuries, was shocked by the Christian annexation of large parts of their empire.

With Jerusalem under their control, the crusaders began to build a new system of rule in the lands they had captured.

They expelled many of its original inhabitants, including Muslims, Jews, and eastern Christians, and began to fill Jerusalem with settlers arriving from Western Europe.

“Those people were slaves and vassals and had no rights at all in Europe. When they came to us, their whole life changed when they became landowners. Their social status changed and so did the demographic and social class structure,” explains Afaf Sabra, professor of history, Al-Azhar University.

Furthermore, the commanders of the First Crusade, lesser knights from Europe, began to style themselves monarchs in the lands they conquered.

In July 1100, Baldwin of Boulogne, one of the leaders of the First Crusade, was crowned Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem.

“With the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the county of Edessa and the Principality of Antioch, expansion into the Arab lands became easier. The new colonial leaders began expanding their realm very easily,” says Qassem Abdu Qassem, head of the history department, Zaqaziq University.

Islam’s third holiest site, the al-Aqsa Mosque, was in the hands of the crusaders in 1099

Aleppo and the economics of war

Within a decade, most of the Levantine coast was in the crusaders’ hands. And the Christian enclaves in the east now numbered four, with the addition of a new county in Tripoli.

“The coastal area was for the crusaders a very, very tactically significant area, both to supply provisions and to bring pilgrims through the harbours. So securing the coastal areas was a crucial part of crusaders’ tactics,” notes Jan Vandeburie, of the School of History, at the University of Kent.

The economics of the war soon began to dominate the crusades and the Regent of Antioch, Tancred, marched his army towards Aleppo, then the trade capital of the Levant.

Aleppo’s ruler, Radwan, who has been described as spineless and servile, had a friendly relationship with the crusaders. The story goes that he even put a cross on the mosque of Aleppo, which provoked a strong reaction from the locals as they revolted against their duplicitous ruler.

The uprising was irresistible and the Muslim people forced the caliphate in Baghdad, weak though it was, to take action. Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustazhir asked for help from his protector, the Seljuk Sultan.

The governor of Mosul, Mawdoud, was ordered to gather his army and put an end to the crusader siege of Aleppo. Mawdoud was successful in forcing the crusaders to lift the siege of Aleppo because other crusader entities would not come to support them. But Aleppo’s ruler Radwan prevented Mawdoud’s army from entering the city.

“At the same time, Toghtekin [the governor of Damascus] was being attacked by the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Mawdoud’s forces came to help him resist the attack. Mawdoud met King Baldwin in a battle near Tiberias known as the battle of As-Sannabra during which the Muslims defeated the crusaders,” says Sabra.

Toghtekin welcomed Mawdoud gratefully after his victory at As-Sannabra, but later had him assassinated.

Imad Ed-Din Zengi and the Muslim revival

The new governor of Mosul, Imad Ed-Din Zengi, seized control of Aleppo in 1128. Bringing Mosul and Aleppo together “meant taking control of a major gateway to the internal regions of the Levant and towards Mesopotamia,” says Ahmad Hetait, former dean at the Faculty of Arts at Islamic University.

The Muslims’ initial response had been inadequate but now it was time for a revival. The revival arose from the people, not the rulers.

Afaf Sabra, professor of history, Al-Azhar University

In effect, cutting off trade and communication routes between Antioch and Edessa, along with that of the county of Tripoli and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, posed a major obstacle to the crusaders as they confronted the Islamic world.

“The crusaders had relied on dividing the Muslim fiefdoms to deal with them separately, thanks to their insular rulers. Now a unified front was born,” says Muhammad Moenes Awad, professor of history at Sharjah University.

With Damascus protected by a truce with the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Imad Ed-Din Zengi began to prepare for what would be his greatest military achievement: On December 25, 1144, his army attacked and captured the County of Edessa in a matter of hours. It had been the first crusader state in the region but was now the first city to be retrieved by Muslims.

“This is seen as a breakthrough, the real start, the revival of the ‘jihad’ in the Muslim Near East. It’s the first big defeat for the crusaders and it shows that they can actually be defeated and that the Muslim revival can begin to gather some pace,” says Jonathan Phillips, professor of history at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Imad Ed-Din Zengi’s victory in Edessa was a turning point; it lifted the Muslims’ morale and enthusiasm for the fight. Two years later, however, Imad Ed-Din Zengi was killed by his own slave. He was succeeded by his son, Nour Ed-Din.

The Second Crusade

In 1147, Pope Eugene held a religious council which led to the Second Crusade

The loss of Edessa was not taken lightly in Europe. In 1147, Pope Eugene held a religious council calling for the Second Crusade, to be led by two European kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany.

In the summer of 1147, the armies set off towards the Holy Land and after almost a year, the German and French forces finally arrived in Jerusalem.

Soon after, they decided to launch an attack on Damascus, which ended in disaster.

“They retreated, there wasn’t a great battle. They weren’t defeated in some epic struggle, they just slunk away. And that’s a real blow to the morale of the crusaders in the west,” says Phillips.

The tragic failure of the Second Crusade was by no means the last disaster to befall the Christians. Six years later, Nour Ed-Din finally managed to annex Damascus, the very city they had failed to capture.

Qassem Abu Qassem describes Nour Ed-Din Zengi as a leader who “had devoted his whole life to the principle of jihad”, and says that by uniting Muslims under one banner, he enabled them to recover occupied land and Jerusalem.

“It was here that an Islamic revival was born. It had begun before but at this time it became more organised, less random,” concludes Afaf Sabra.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

US ignoring Palestinians’ rights to delight Israelis: Activist


The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has warned US President-elect Donald Trump against moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds. PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat has said such a move would lead to the destruction of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and push the region into further turmoil. Erekat’s comments came a day after Trump declared his decision to nominate hardliner David Friedman as the US ambassador to Israel.

Paul Larudee, co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement from Berkeley, says US leaders have always victimized justice when it came to the Palestinian people in a bid to make the Israel lobby and the Israeli regime happy.

“The message that the US is sending to the Palestinians is similar to the messages it has been sending for the last 70 years, which is that the United States really does not care about justice,” Larudee told Press TV Friday night.

“The United States is only interested in what it considers to be political imperative both domestically in terms of support from the Israel lobby and internationally,” the activist said.

“The people who make policy in Washington are the ones who believe falsely that the best opportunity for US power is to make common cause with Israel and to destroy Israel’s enemies,” he added.

According to the activist, Trump’s plan to send a hardliner to Israel as the new US ambassador is “just another kick in the teeth from the United States to the Palestinian people.”

“The American authorities along with the Israeli regime want to tell Palestinians that ‘we want to get rid of you one way or another,'” Larudee said.

Trump is pro-Israel and has many alliances from the Israeli groups which he wants in the White House, he said.

So, Trump “is willing to do whatever they want no matter how bloodthirsty the policy may be,” Larudee added.

“The rest is just window-dressing to make it look like maybe we’re going to have some respect for the international community and international law.”

The US, the acitivist said, is not really respecting international law, because it does not hold the Israeli regime accountable to international standards.

American and Israeli ambitious plans for the East Jerusalem al-Quds are contrary to previous agreements over occupied territories. The Palestinian Authority wants East al-Quds as its capital with the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel’s media manipulator

We look at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s love-hate relationship with the media.


For a country that lauds itself as the Middle East’s only true democracy, press freedom in Israel has taken a blow in recent times.

This year, the US NGO, Freedom House, downgraded Israel’s status from “free” to “partly free”, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to take on the portfolio of minister of communications as part of their reasoning.

Netanyahu is trying to change the game in a way that takes us far away from what a democracy should be.

Anat Balint, media scholar, Tel Aviv University

The prime minister paints himself as a victim of a hostile press – even though the country’s most widely read newspaper, Israel Hayom, largely sings his praises and is bankrolled by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is happy to run the paper at a loss as long as it props up Netanyahu.

It all began in September 2015, when Netanyahu cancelled all press events owing to his mistrust of journalists. Instead, he decided to bypass them by uploading a video on his social media accounts entitled “Things you won’t hear in the media”.

“Netanyahu found himself in a battlefield, in which he was the target and snipers came from the media, with cameras and without cameras. Most of the journalists in Israel dislike him. And most of the media in Israel are not really favourite for Netanyahu. Since the media is not really objective, he thought that he might find ways to make it subjective, but for his purpose,” says Yoaz Hendel, head of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.

Taking on the communications minister portfolio “is kind of strange, because you would expect the prime minister to care more about [the] security of the country or foreign affairs of the country, but apparently, Netanyahu thinks that the most important issue is dealing with reporters,” says Tal Schneider, an independent journalist and blogger.

Israel is currently awaiting the launch of a new public broadcaster to replace the existing authority whose appeal and credibility have long been in doubt. But, although the new channel was planned by one of Netanyahu’s ministers in 2014, the PM and his allies have launched attacks in recent weeks that threaten to strangle it at birth. Netanyahu’s supporters accuse the new channel of being hijacked by people whose agenda is leftist and anti-government.

“What should have been a public and very open broadcasting authority is becoming more one-sided, with people especially in the management, and in the places that they can influence the overall content, in a way that we are receiving something that is even worse than what we have now,” says Yariv Levin, Israeli minister of tourism.

Anat Balint of Tel Aviv University, says: “The aim here is to maintain political power over the public media, so the public media does not belong to the public, it belongs to the prime minister.”

The Listening Post’s Will Yong travelled to Israel to hear from critics and supporters about how Benjamin Netanyahu has become Israel’s man of the media.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

Amona settlers reject relocation plan


Israeli media on Wednesday said that the 40 Amona families have rejected an Israeli government plan to be relocated from their houses.

According to the Jpost, the offer, proposed by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was to “relocate the homes to abandoned Palestinian property on the same hilltop, where the West Bank outpost of Amona is currently located.”

However, the settlers said  the offer was so full of holes it was like “Swiss Cheese” and provided a solution for only a quarter of the families, and that they were prepared for a solution of rebuilding new homes on the same hilltop, and not destroying the current structures until the new ones had been completed.

The controversy over Ammona started in 2014 when the Israeli High Court of Justice had  ruled that the outpost must be demolished by December 25, 2016 because they were built without permits on private Palestinian property.

Israeli settlements are illegal in international law.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

West, allies getting revenge for Aleppo victory: Syria’s UN envoy


The West’s recent initiatives at the United Nations over the situation in Syria are the “saddest images of diplomatic and political hypocrisy,” Syria’s envoy to the UN tells Press TV. 

“All these initiatives are getting blind with regard to identifying the criminals and they are just seeking the distortion of the facts and the definition of the Syrian government and its allies and getting revenge for the triumph of the Syrian army and its allies over the terrorists in Aleppo,” Bashar Ja’afari told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Friday.

The senior Syrian diplomat also stated that the main sponsors of terrorist activities in Syria, including Britain, France, and the United States, are getting “frantically hysterical” in the wake of the liberation of Aleppo from the clutches of foreign-backed militants.

The Syrian ambassador’s comments came a few hours after diplomats said France was drafting a UN Security Council resolution in a declared bid to ensure international observers for Aleppo evacuations and enable humanitarian aid to reach the city.

Commenting on an evacuation deal for the former militant-held areas of the northwestern city, Ja’afari said the main problem affecting the process was the “non-respect” and “non-observation” of the agreement by the “most radical elements” within terrorist groups.

Therefore, he said, Syria had no option but to halt the last part of the evacuation process until things are clarified and stronger guarantees are offered by the terrorists’ foreign sponsors.

The Syrian diplomat added that the terrorists’ “heinous” practices will definitely prevent thousands of civilians from returning to their homes which were used as the militants’ “strongholds.”

Earlier in the day, evacuations of civilians and militants from eastern Aleppo was suspended after terrorists opened fire on the convoy at one of the crossing points, violating a truce deal brokered by Russia and Turkey stipulating the evacuations.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the suspension, saying that terrorist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham “have prevented buses and ambulances from entering Fuaa and Kafraya, despite pledging… that they would let the evacuation go ahead.” The two government-held villages, situated in Idlib province, are under militant siege.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ja’afari argued that Syria is facing an international terrorist war on its soil.

“It is a multi-faceted war taking place on the Syrian soil right now for too many different reasons, and each government is taking its own advantage over this mess taking place in Syria, and this is why we have no other choice but to combat terrorists and find out a political solution to our own problem by our own selves without any foreign interference, without any preconditions, and this is the only option we have,” he said in conclusion.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

PPS documents Israeli beating of Palestinian teenager


Palestinian Prisoners Society documented Israeli beating of the Palestinian teenager Muhammad Rezeq at the time of his arrest.

PPS pointed out that Rezeq, 18, was brutally beaten by Israeli occupation soldiers during his arrest last month, which led to a fracture in his rib cage and other bruises.

Rezeq told the PPS lawyer, who visited him in Ofer prison, that he is suffering from excruciating pain in the place of the fracture as a result of the beating and doctors told him that the pain will continue for five months.

(Source / 17.12.2016)

Report: Netanyahu gave a green light to raze more Palestinian homes


The national bureau for defending the land and resisting settlement expansion has warned of the gravity of the green light policy that is pursued by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes.

In a report released on Saturday, the national bureau stated that Netanyahu gave a green light for the Israeli authorities to demolish more Palestinian homes in towns and villages in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Netanyahu’s widespread demolition campaign against Palestinian homes has been launched in reaction to an Israeli court ordering the Jewish settlers of Amona outpost who live illegally on a tract of privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank to leave the area soon, according to the report.

The report also pointed to recent remarks made by the Israeli transportation minister calling for expanding the borders of Occupied Jerusalem to include settlements surrounding it.

The bureau appealed to the international community and the UN Security Council to deal responsibly with these Israeli steps and calls, in order to salvage the two-state solution and to force Israel to abide by the international law and stop its settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.

(Source / 17.12.2016)