Abbas is taking Dahlan down in court

Palestinian senior Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan gestures during an interview at his office in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sept. 16, 2015

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Just two days after President Mahmoud Abbas decided Dec. 12 to strip five members of parliament in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), including dismissed Fatah leader and parliamentarian Mohammed Dahlan, from their parliamentary immunity in preparation for their prosecution on charges of misappropriation of funds and trade of weapons, the Palestinian Corruption Crimes Court issued a judgment in absentia against Dahlan on charges of embezzlement and sentenced him to three years in prison and a $16 million fine.

The court’s decision came as no surprise to many in the Palestinian street, in light of the exacerbating struggle between Abbas and his rival Dahlan. The dispute surfaced after the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in 2004, when Dahlan — a high-level Fatah official back then — and Abbas exchanged accusations of assassination, collaboration and corruption.

The judgment further inflamed the already heated feud between the two men, prompting Dahlan to reject this sudden judgment in a press statement Dec. 14 to Amad news website, which is close to Dahlan, and to call for an impartial national commission of inquiry to examine the charges leveled by the Corruption Crimes Court, noting that he will accept any decisions to be taken against him by the commission.

Also on Dec. 14, Dahlan accused Abbas from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through various media outlets of embezzling $6 million from a $20 million donation deposited in one of the Palestinian banks by an Arab country, initially allocated to the Palestinian security services for the purchase of equipment, back when Dahlan served as Abbas’ national security adviser in 2007-2008.

On Dec. 16, Paltimes news website published a document dated Nov. 19, 2014, sent by the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission in Ramallah to Abbas calling for his approval on procedures to expedite the indictment and prosecution of Dahlan.

In this context, Abdel Hamid al-Masri, a dismissed member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council and close friend of Dahlan, told Al-Monitor that within a few days, Dahlan will resort to media platforms to reply to his indictment by the Corruption Crimes Court, which he sees as a mere tool in the hands of Abbas.

Masri said, “Abbas has been, for a long time, exploiting the judiciary and all of the Palestinian Authority and PLO’s bodies for personal objectives. He has never hesitated to mobilize the judiciary and security agencies, and all of the power components against his opponents.”

He added, “President Abbas and his sons have embezzled the PA funds the most,” pointing out on another note that Abbas has undermined the Palestinian judiciary by forming the Constitutional Court in 2016, which allowed him to revoke parliamentarians’ immunity even if contrary to the Palestinian Basic Law.

Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, told Al-Monitor that the judiciary has received numerous legal reports and files including charges against a number of members of parliament, which prompted the Constitutional Court to give Abbas the power to lift the immunity of the accused parliamentarians in order to investigate them.

He explained that if the charges against Dahlan are not proven, his parliamentary immunity will be restituted, pointing out that this is a procedure applied in all nations across the world and stressing that no members of parliament should be above the law.

For his part, Hassan Khreisheh, the second deputy speaker of the PLC, told Al-Monitor, “We were shocked by President Abbas’ decision to lift immunity of five members of parliament. The next day after this decision one of these parliamentarians was sentenced to three years in prison and a colossal fine estimated at $16 million.”

He added, “All expectations were that Abbas’ decree on April 3 on the formation of the Constitutional Court aimed to dissolve the PLC, or take other steps related to the amendment of laws without referring to the PLC. But President Abbas surprised everyone and decided to revoke the immunity of some lawmakers — from among his political opponents.”

Khreisheh asserted that the Palestinian Basic Law does not include any legal justification for entitling Abbas to lift the immunity of a member of parliament, calling on all parliamentarians to take collective measures to stop Abbas’ illegal practices.

Article 53 of the Palestinian Basic Law states, “A Member of the Legislative Council shall not relinquish parliamentary immunity without the prior permission of the Council. Immunity shall not lapse after membership in the Council ceases but shall be subject to the limits prevailing during the membership period.”

Salah Abdel Ati, a legal expert and the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies – Masarat, told Al-Monitor, “Revoking the parliamentarians’ immunity and the trial of member of parliament Dahlan on charges of embezzlement are not permissible by virtue of the law, since there are clear provisions in the Palestinian Basic Law concerning the immunity of members of parliament specifying that no parliamentarian may be stripped of parliamentary immunity or questioned in civil or criminal proceedings.”

He explained that the immunity of a member of parliament does not expire by the end of the parliament’s mandate but with the formation of a new Legislative Council, which has not happened since the last legislative elections in 2006 in light of the Palestinian internal division. He noted that the trial of a member of parliament deprived of his immunity is an encroachment by the executive power over the legislative and judicial powers.

Abdel Ati warned that if Abbas keeps issuing decrees and decisions unilaterally without referring to the Palestinian official institutions or the law, the entire Palestinian political regime would be undermined, pointing to the trial of a parliamentarian only one day after revoking his immunity.

In this context, Riyad al-Astal, a political science professor at Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza Strip, was surprised by the prosecution of Dahlan and the decision to revoke his immunity along with that of four other members of parliament, against the backdrop of a Fatah internal administrative issue that has nothing to do with public institutions. He told Al-Monitor that he finds no justification for dismissing parliamentarians from their positions outside Fatah, since they were brought to these positions by the people through elections.

Astal said, “The decision of the Court of Corruption against parliamentarian Dahlan is another attempt by Abbas to topple his rivals.” He pointed out that the rift within Fatah is getting wider with such steps that some Fatah members had expected after Fatah’s seventh general conference at the end of November.

Questions were raised in the Palestinian street about whether the PA will ask Interpol to arrest Dahlan, currently a resident of the UAE, if the PA’s bid for membership to Interpol is accepted.

(Source / 21.12.2016)

Ramon prison moves Barghouthi to solitary confinement


The Israeli Ramon prison administration moved captive Abdullah Barghouti to solitary confinement, human rights sources said on Wednesday.

Palestine Prisoners Society said in a statement that Ramon prison administration transferred Abdullah Barghouthi to solitary confinement providing no clear reasons.

Barghouthi was arrested in March 2003 and was subjected to severe torture and investigation rounds for more than 5 months in which he was charged of a series of attacks between 2000 and 2003 where 67 Israelis were killed.

Barghouthi was sentenced to 67 life sentences (a life sentence reaches 99 years) in addition to 5200 years.

He was isolated for many years until 2012 where prisoners went on a mass strike that accomplished a number of achievements including ending his isolation.

Barghouthi is a commander in the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in the West Bank.

(Source / 21.12.2016)

IOF soldiers break into house of Palestinian journalist


The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) broke into the house of the Palestinian journalist Emad Saeed on Wednesday in Deir Ibzi village to the west of Ramallah city and searched it.

According to local sources, an Israeli military force raided the house, searched it and tampered with its contents but did not confiscate anything.

The IOF closed on Monday the northwest entrance of the village with concrete blocks after a shooting attack against an Israeli settlers’ bus near the village.

The entrances to a number of villages in western Ramallah province are still closed, and the Israeli forces are still conducting search operations in the Palestinian houses during night hours after three shooting attacks were carried out in the area in one week.

(Source / 21.12.2016)

Is America’s goal the division of Turkey?

Turkey’s three main political parties, including the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) joined together for a pro-democracy rally on August 8 2015

Turkey’s three main political parties, including the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) joined together for a pro-democracy rally on August 8 2015

With the return of terrorist explosions to the streets of Turkey and the targeting of security officers and innocent civilians alike in Istanbul, there are suggestions that that someone is taking aim at the country’s security. The next target will be the Turkish economy via politic means. In short, the goal is clearly not just to kill security personnel and civilians, but the implementation of a plan targeting Turkey as a whole. The parties behind this plan make no distinction between the state and the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) may be in charge but it is not really accepted by democratic states, and it is, after all, the people who elected the parliament, government and prime minister.

Why is Turkey being targeted in this way? It has been facing many challenges over the course of the past three years or so, beginning with the environmental protests in Taksim Square, which were transformed into political protests that attempted to bring down the ruling AKP, unsuccessfully. Soon after, the AKP was targeted in both presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013, 2014 and 2015, in which the people stood by the party despite the best efforts of those who are against democracy in Turkey. The voters backed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against many opposition parties in coalition with the Gülenist movement and in spite of all the US and European voices trying to discredit the AKP.

None of the failures to hijack the elections prevented Turkey’s enemies from trying to change the political course of the country through a military coup in July. The failure of the takeover attempt has not deterred them from trying to impose regime change. Now, though, the efforts are focused on trying to damage the economy. The US and Europe have scared off foreign investors making it difficult for Turkey to recover, even as an attack on the Turkish Lira saw its value plummet. Nevertheless, the attempts to bring the country down through an economic coup have also failed. Erdogan encouraged the people to buy more liras and gold and not to invest in other currencies. He pointed out that the targets are the Turkish people themselves and they responded in an uncompromising and admirable way.

Such a popular and government response shows that the majority of the people are aware that the battle is with Western states which would like Turkey to remain at the mercy of their decisions both economically and politically, rather than be valued military partners within NATO. This sort of situation was accepted by previous Turkish governments throughout the 20th century, when the country was in need of the West for economic, military and political support. Although its predecessors in government may have agreed for Turkey to be a tool in the hands of the West, the AKP does not share this political philosophy, hence the Western response to induce a power shift in Turkey. The evidence for this includes the numerous attempts to bring Erdogan down.

The main struggle now is for Turkey to retain its right to make its own independent political decisions. The fight is not Erdogan’s, despite the role that America is playing in Turkey, or whether the interference comes from political parties, the Gülen movement, Daesh or terrorists affiliated with the PKK, all of whom have some connection to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The cooperation between these groups helps America and European countries which have targeted Turkey without exposing themselves as blatant enemies of the state. Documents from Wikileaks, however, showed that in 2014 Hillary Clinton met with four former US ambassadors to Ankara and allegedly stated her concerns over Turkey’s slow but sure adoption of Islamist principles and the need for several steps to be taken in order to protect US national interests. In another set of US deliberations, Clinton also said that the problem with Turkey is the way in which Erdogan is seen within the Turkey-US relationship, as well as the manner in which he himself views the same relationship. Clinton allegedly stated that, “America needs Turkey more than Turkey needs America.” American analysts apparently believe that work must be done to foster sentiments that oppose those promoted by Erdogan. Among the steps suggested are internal operations such as the military coup, carried out by allies of the US within Turkey, including domestic organisations, even if this threatens the stability of Turkey and leads to its division.

Suspicions about Western sincerity when condemning the Istanbul bombings on 10 December, which killed 38 innocent civilians and wounded dozens of others, arose because the West condemned the attacks but not the organisations which carried them out. White House spokesperson Ned Price said that the US stands in complete solidarity with Turkey, its NATO ally, and condemns terrorist action that threatens the stability of Ankara or Washington. However, he did not condemn the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is believed to have carried out the attacks. In the past, Turkey has condemned those who have attacked the US and placed them on the terrorist watch list. Why has the US not done the same for Turkey? It is perhaps more pertinent is to ask why the US is still arming and funding these terrorist groups. If they claim to represent the Kurdish people in Turkey, they are also guilty of exploiting wars in the region.

An analysis of such aggression against Turkey, including the latest military coup attempt, could prove that the US is implementing its plan for the dissolution and division of the Republic of Turkey. The US is using these terrorist political organisations and the pro-coup groups to achieve its objective. Washington has done the same thing in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and other places, and believes that its plan for Turkey will also succeed. It has found allies in Turkish groups that have the same aims, but do they not see that they are merely playing the role of traitors and US stooges? Do their members and supporters know that they are acting on behalf of the enemies of Turkey? The US-led invasion in 2003 did not lead to peace, stability and freedom for Iraq, so why would America’s efforts give the Turks anything other than death and destruction?

(Source / 21.12.2016)

Israeli court to convert Jerusalemite house to Israeli property


The Israeli Supreme Court issued on Tuesday a ruling providing for converting the ownership of a Palestinian house in occupied Jerusalem to the Israeli settlers in ten years from now.

Ahmed Sub-Laban said that the Israeli court’s ruling allows his parents to stay in their house in the Old City for ten years starting from Tuesday without letting their children stay with them.

He added that after ten years, the Israeli settlers will be able to own the house and turn it into an outpost in the heart of the Old City.

The Israeli Supreme Court held on Monday a hearing to consider the appeal filed by Sub-Laban family on the evacuation ruling issued in 2014 by the Magistrate Court in favor of a settlement association.

The court proposed a compromise granting Noura Ghaith and her husband Mustafa Sub-Laban a protected tenancy status. However, their children, the third generation, will be excluded from this.

The Israeli settlers rejected the court’s proposal and insisted on evacuating the house, while their lawyers suggested transferring the family to a small store, which was faced with outright disapproval. The hearing ended without reaching a satisfactory compromise.

Many settlement associations have been trying for years to force the Sub-Labans out of their house backed up by pressures exerted by the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on the family including preventing them from making any repairs or restorations for the house in the seventies of the past century or blocking the entrance of the house by Israeli settlers a decade later.

In 2010, the IOA gave the house to the Kollel Galicia Trust, a private settler group, who claimed that the house is originally a Jewish endowment and called for evacuating the Sub-Labans from it claiming that the family do not live in it.

Despite all the Israeli pressure and harassment, the Sub-Laban family stood steadfast in the Israeli courts for more than 20 years until they managed to regain their right to stay in it even though temporarily.

According to the United Nations’ Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UOCHA), at least 180 Palestinian families in occupied Jerusalem are under the threat of being forced out of their houses due to the court cases filed against them by Israeli settlers or settlement associations under the pretext of lacking the ownership of the properties or losing the protected tenant status.

(Source / 21.12.2016)

Lieberman does not rule out Mossad involvement in Zouari assassination


The Israeli Army Minister Avigdor Lieberman did not deny in a press statement on Tuesday evening the involvement of the Mossad in the assassination of Tunisian engineer Mohamed Zouari in Tunis.

He said “If someone was killed… in Tunis, I assume he was not nominated for a Noble Peace prize,” referring to whether the Mossad was involved in Zouari’s assassination.

“We do the best we know how to do to defend our interests,” he said.

Mohamed Zouari, 49, was shot dead last Thursday outside his home, a road from Menzel Chaker to Sfax-South, while he was in his car.

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, confirmed on Saturday that Mohammed Zouari, “who was treacherously assassinated by Zionists in Tunisia”, was one of its commanders who supervised the Brigades’ Ababeel drones program.

(Source / 21.12.2016)

One year on, Libya’s unity accord needs more work

Libya’s General National Congress Deputy President Saleh al-Makhzoum (C-R), Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (C) and head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Mohammed Ali Shoeb (C-L) celebrate after signing a deal for a unity government, in Skhirat, Morocco, Dec. 17, 2015

The first anniversary of the Libyan Political Accord (LPA) fell on Dec. 17. The agreement was signed in Skhirat, Morocco, by the fighting Libyan political factions in front of a cheering crowd of diplomats and international dignitaries representing major world powers including the United States, European Union and dozens of regional countries. The LPA set up the Presidency Council headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as a first step toward a Government of National Accord (GNA) to be voted on by the Tobruk-based parliament.

The LPA — brokered by the United Nations after long and difficult negotiations between Libya’s two quarreling governments — might not be perfect, but it was the best possible way to address the country’s crisis, which has gone on for too long.

To assess what has been achieved so far, it may be best to start with the grim picture painted by the UN special envoy to Libya and the head of its mission in the country, Martin Kobler, before the UN Security Council meeting on Dec. 6. He hinted at the possibility of renegotiating the LPA, which he said is “not set in stone.” He went on to say that the accord “stands firm, but stuck,” reaffirming a wider belief that “it is the only workable framework” to salvage what is left of Libya.

However, since its establishment in Tripoli on March 30, the GNA’s biggest failure may be the lack of public support among the people it is supposed to serve, despite the wide international support. The UN and other major powers recognized the GNA as the only legitimate government in Libya and expected it to combat illegal migration from Libyan shores to Europe and fight the Islamic State (IS), which was already entrenched in Sirte on the Libyan coast. Eager to maintain such international support, the GNA found itself compelled to concentrate more on meeting those two expectations than on alleviating the difficulties Libyans face in their daily lives.

This failure to balance domestic and international expectations pushed the GNA to focus less on national reconciliation, unifying the country and improving the lives of its people as most urgent priorities. Indeed, forces claiming loyalty to the GNA claimed victory over IS when they ejected the terror group from Sirte on Dec. 6. But in reality, those who fought were not a disciplined, organized army commanded by the GNA, but rather a local Misratan militia over which the GNA has nominal control. On April 2, they declared their loyalty to the GNA in order to legitimize themselves as a regular military force fighting for the country’s internationally recognized government.

Economically, the GNA has failed even more miserably. The only recent economic achievement has been the liberation of the oil-exporting terminals in the middle of the country. But the terminals were liberated on Sept. 11 by the Libyan Armed Forces led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter and loyal to the Tobruk-based government. Hifter himself does not even recognize the GNA.

Consumer prices, measured by the exchange rate of the Libyan dinar against the dollar in the black market, has increased from 2.5 dinars to the dollar to about 6.5 in one year, pushing prices beyond reach of the average Libyan family. Furthermore, Libya’s banking system has been struggling with chronic lack of liquidity, making it very hard for people to access their savings in an economy where everything is paid for in cash.

On the security level, the GNA has failed to secure the capital, let alone the rest of the country. Security in Tripoli has deteriorated over the past year. The recent fighting in the capital on Dec. 2 — the fiercest since 2014, when a total war resulted in the mass displacement of families, destruction of the airport and burning of the city’s oil depots — only shows how local armed militias are free to do whatever they like with total impunity and before the GNA’s very eyes.

In Sabha, southern Libya, an incident involving a pet monkey triggered 10 days of intense fighting that killed and injured dozens of innocent people, causing huge damage to houses and schools. The military forces loyal to the GNA were powerless to end the bloodshed.

After a year of compounded failures, to question the LPA might not be the best policy, but renegotiating some of it could well be the only available option in the absence of any successful dialogue among Libyans. However, renegotiating the whole package would only open a Pandora’s box.

But parts of the LPA must be renegotiated without delay, particularly the setup of the GNA itself and the future role of the Libyan Armed Forces’ chief of staff, who has been the most serious hurdle. Hifter has been successful in combating terror in eastern Libya, liberated the oil terminals and handed them over to the National Oil Corporation, and brought relative security to Benghazi and beyond. Above all, he enjoys wide public support, particularly in eastern Libya. Dismissing him outright would not help bring peace to the country, and giving him a blank check could have long-term consequences. However, bringing him into the fold through a compromise with the Tobruk parliament that is backing him would certainly hasten the settlement of the chaos in the country.

Practically speaking, the GNA does not have any serious disagreements with Hifter, but the GNA-supporting militias hate the man, primarily because a unified strong Libyan army will mean their days are numbered. The supply of arms to different militias in Libya by regional countries like Qatar, Turkey and Sudan is another major issue. Those countries should be forced to stop interfering in Libya’s domestic affairs and stop supplying arms to the warring sides in the country. Kobler said, “Weapons do not fall from the sky. They come by land or sea,” calling on the world community to respect the arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011.

(Source / 21.21.2016)

PLC: Abbas’ removal of parliamentary immunity of members ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — For the first time since 2007, Palestinian lawmakers affiliated with the Fatah movement participated in a meeting at the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, and declared a recent decision by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to strip certain officials of their parliamentary immunity illegal and unconstitutional.

According to lawmakers present at the meeting, five Fatah-affiliated lawmakers attended the meeting dedicated to a discussion on a recent decision made by Abbas to remove parliamentary immunity for a number of lawmakers.
A Fatah-affiliated lawmaker from the occupied West Bank also participated in the meeting by phone.
Last week, Abbas revoked parliamentary immunity for five parliamentarians: Shami al-Shami, Najat Abu Bakr, Nasser Juma, Jamal Tirawi, and Abbas’ longtime rival Muhammed Dahlan, who was also sentenced in absentia to three years in prison after convicting him of allegedly embezzling $16 million.
Abbas’ move was quickly condemned as a political maneuver to maintain the leader’s control over the PA government and squelch his political rivals amid mounting unpopularity for Abbas’ more than a decade-long domination over Palestinian politics.
The PLC’s legal committee decided that Abbas’ decision to revoke parliamentary immunity for certain members was “legally and constitutionally illegitimate,” noting that the PLC itself was the only entity that had the right to remove parliamentary immunity for its members.
The committee’s rapporteur, Muhammad Faraj al-Ghoul added in a statement that after the discussions, the PLC agreed that Abbas’ decision was “legally valueless,” and added that violating the immunity of PLC members could be a “punishable crime.”Al-Ghoul urged all Palestinian factions to denounce Abbas’ decision to remove immunity of lawmakers, and highlighted that the PA would be responsible for consequences of such decisions.
The non-affiliated second deputy speaker of the PLC, Hasan Khreisha confirmed in a phone call from the West Bank during the session that the decision was “illegal.”
Meanwhile, Fatah-affiliated lawmaker from Gaza, Ashraf Jumaa reiterated the condemnation voiced by other members and expressed his support for the legal committee’s report.Fatah has witnessed growing internal dissent, with the party discharging a number of officials from their functions in past months or otherwise preventing them from attending the party’s recent conference.
(Source / 21.12.2016)

Committee: Hunger strikers Shadid and Abu Farah in critical conditions amid court delays


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah were in critical condition after going 89 and 90 days without food respectively, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Wednesday, calling for immediate action to save their lives.Shadid and Abu Farah were both detained on Aug. 1 and have been on hunger strike since Sept. 24 and Sept. 23 respectively, in protest of their imprisonment without charge or trial under Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention.In addition to refusing food, Abu Farah and Shadid began refusing to consume water last week after the court rejected an appeal to release them, when Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders.Committee lawyers Karim Ajweh and Nassim Abu Ghosh, who visited the two Palestinians currently detained in the Israeli hospital Assaf Harofeh, expressed concern for both hunger strikers.Ajweh and Abu Ghosh said that Shadid was suffering from pains all over his body, kidney and liver problems, could not move, and had difficulty speaking.They added that Abu Farah was also in a very critical condition, having also lost the ability to speak and move, and suffered from severe kidney, stomach, and eyesight issues.The lawyers called for broader pressure to be applied on Israeli authorities to obtain the end of Shadid and Abu Farah’s administrative detentions.The Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on Tuesday evening on their cases, but did not take a decision regarding the appeal presented by the hunger strikers’ lawyers, saying it would examine medical reports.Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said it would consider force feeding the two hunger strikers, a decision that could amount to a violation of international law.Their case is the first to come to the fore since the court decided in September that force feeding hunger strikers was constitutional, despite the practice of force feeding being regarded by internationally accepted medical ethics as a form of torture.Israel’s use of administrative detention — which rights groups say is means to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions — has sparked a number of high-profile hunger strikes by Palestinian detainees in recent months, with many of them reporting being threatened with force feeding.Israeli authorities have waited until the last minute to agree to release hunger strikers who were nearing death, as was the case with the Balboul brothers who went without food for 77 and 79 days, Malik al-Qadi for 68 days, Bilal Kayid for 71 days, and Muhammad al-Qiq for 94 days.According to Physicians For Human Rights – Israel (PHRI), the ethics committee of the hospital that held former hunger strikers Malik al-Qadi and Muhammad Balboul recommended forcing treatment on the prisoners, though the hospital’s medical staff refused to force treat the hunger strikers against their will.PHRI said earlier this month that the eleventh hour release pattern that has emerged “enables the Israeli authorities to deal on a case-by-case basis with hunger strikers, avoid their death and the resultant political and media firestorm, while not needing to deal with the root of the hunger strikes — the use of administrative detention.”

(Source / 21.12.2016)

FSA Close in On Albab, ISIS’s Last Stronghold in Northern Syria

Fighters of the Free Syrian Army on Wednesday fully took over the strategic highway linking the ISIS-controlled Albab in the north to the city of Aleppo.

Albab lies 30 km south of the Turkish border and is home to around 200,000 people. It fell to the ISIS extremist group on January 14, 2014.

The latest FSA advance, with intense ground and aerial support by the Turkish military, is part of Operation Euphrates Shield launched by the FSA on August 24 to drive out ISIS and other terrorist groups from northern Syria.

Activists in northern rural Aleppo said that the FSA fighters also took control of Mount Aqeel and Alhikma Hospital west of Albab, tightening the noose on the town.

The capture of Mount Aqeel, which overlooks most neighborhoods of Albab town, will make it difficult for militants of the ISIS extremist group to maneuver inside the town.

The capture of Albab will prevent the PYD terrorist militias from further expanding their control in northern Syria.

On August 24, Turkey-backed FSA groups started Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria and have since captured nearly 217 villages and towns from ISIS, including Jarablus and Alra’i.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 21.12.2016)