Photo story: Symposium on Hamas’ political ideology

A number of intellectuals, activists, researchers, and journalists attended the forum and responded to the topic, which raised a number of questions and queries amongst them.

The Council on International Relations in Gaza

The Council on International Relations – Palestine held a symposium to present an academic study titled “The concept of the state according to Hamas’ thought” presented by Dr Husam Al-Dajani.

The forum began with a welcome from Council chief Basem Naim who congratulated Dr Dajani on receiving his doctoral degree.

In his speech before the attendees, Dr Dajani said that his study aims to understand the concept and development of the state according to Hamas’ thought. It also aims to either prove or disprove the study’s thesis which is mainly to do with how Hamas’ political thought and beliefs regarding democracy influence their idea of a state, and if this conflicts with Western democratic thought.

Dr Dajani noted that there has been a development and evolution of the concept of the state in Hamas’ thought. This development has created a divergence between Hamas’s political thought and that of the West. However, for Hamas, the complete adoption of a civil state like that found in the West is still far-fetched.

A number of intellectuals, activists, researchers, and journalists attended the forum and responded to the topic, which raised a number of questions and queries amongst them.

In his study, Dr Dajani recommended that Hamas move further towards adopting the idea of a civil state in a manner that does not conflict with international human rights laws. He also recommended that they benefit from the experience of the birth of modern civil states in Europe.

He also stressed the need for Islamist jurisprudence experts to engage with the idea in order to build a model of a civil state that uses Islam as an approach to life. Hamas must also, according to Dajani, take into consideration the uniqueness of the Palestinian society, as well as its diverse intellectual capabilities.

In his recommendations to the Islamists, Dr Dajani called on them to benefit from the experiences of Ennahda in Tunisia and the Justice and Development Party in Turkey in separating its religious work from its political work when governing the state.

(Source / 01.01.2017)

Israeli court expected to sentence teenage Palestinian girl to 6 years in prison

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JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli magistrate’s court in Jerusalem on Sunday postponed announcing a sentence for 16-year-old Manar Shweiki, accused of planning to carry out a stabbing attack against Israelis.

The ruling was postponed until the court receives a report regarding her behavior over the course of the year that she has already served in Israeli custody. Nevertheless, Shweiki’s lawyer Mustafa Yahya said he already reached a plea bargain with the Israeli prosecution, according to which Shweiki will be sentenced to six years in prison.
Shweiki was detained on Dec. 22, 2015 in the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, when she was accused of planning to carry out a stabbing attack against Israelis.
Israeli authorities claimed at the time that she was carrying a knife in her school bag.
She is currently being held at Israel’s HaSharon prison.
Marie’s prison sentence is the latest in an Israeli crackdown on young Jerusalemite Palestinians, many of them women, who have been accused of involvement in attacks, while Israeli authorities have ordered lengthy prison sentences for Palestinians as young as 14 years old.
Last week, the Jerusalem magistrate’s court sentenced 22-year-old Abd al-Aziz Hamad Marie to 35 years in prison for allegedly assisting in a stabbing attack.
Days earlier, the court sentenced 19-year-old Shurouq Dwayya to 16 years in prison and her family was fined of 80,000 shekels ($20,929).
Shurouq was shot and injured by the 35-year-old Israeli settler after she allegedly attempted to stab him on Oct. 7, 2015. However, witnesses told Ma’an at the time that she had been assaulted by the Israeli settler and did not have any sharp objects on her at the time of the incident.
The week prior, an Israeli military court sentenced 15-year-old Natalie Shukha to a year and a half in prison after she was convicted of attempting to stab an Israeli soldier at a military checkpoint. Shukha was shot in the chest and injured by Israeli forces on the scene.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 10,000 Palestinian women and girls have been detained by Israeli forces over the past 45 years. In 2015 alone, Israeli forces detained 106 Palestinian women and girls, which according to the group represented a 70 percent increase compared to detention numbers in 2013.
In October, Addameer reported that Israel was holding 64 female Palestinian prisoners and some 400 Palestinian minors.
Since a wave of political unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October, leading to Israeli forces carrying out mass detention campaigns, the number of Palestinian women and girls detained by Israeli forces has risen sharply.
Since Oct. 2015, 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians and 246 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers. While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases.
(Source / 01.01.2017)

Tunisia builds large prison for returning terror suspects

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Tunisian authorities are currently building a large and heavily guarded prison to accommodate Tunisians returning from terrorism hotspots around the world, government sources revealed yesterday.

According to the sources, the terror suspects who will be held inside this large prison are going to remain under strict observation and supervision until it can be determined whether they had been radicalised.

The source said that the families of those returning are also going to be placed under surveillance in order to undermine any infiltration attempts by Tunisians who enlisted in extremist groups such as Daesh.

The number of Tunisians fighting with these groups stands at around 3,000, according to the Tunisian newspaper Al-Maghrib.

The Tunisian minister responsible for coordinating these efforts, Mehdi Ben Gharbia, said: “The government will never call for any country to extradite or handover any Tunisians involved in terrorism.”

This policy was readily apparent in the case of Anis Amri, the perpetrator of the Berlin Christmas market attack earlier this month. German intelligence reported that Tunis dragged its feet over issuing the necessary paperwork to have Amri deported.

NGOs, MPs and politicians in Tunis have recently protested against the return of the Tunisians involved in violence in several countries, including Syria, Iraq and Libya.

(Source / 01.01.2017)

Palestine president receives Israelis for third time this month

This is the third Israeli delegation that the Palestinian leader president has received in his office this month.

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – NOVEMBER 29: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 7th General Assembly meeting of Fatah Movement at Palestinian Prime Ministry office Mukataa in Ramallah, West Bank on November 29, 2016

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas received on Thursday a delegation of former Israeli MKs and ministers in his offices at the West Bank city of Ramallah, Quds Press reported yesterday.

During the meeting with the Israelis, Abbas reiterated the efforts of the PA leadership to achieve a permanent and just peace based on the resolutions of the international community.

Abbas stressed that the latest UN Security Council on a resolution against Israeli settlement is a “real victory for the peace camp” for both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

He noted that this resolution opens the door for new serious negotiations leading to the end of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution and the resolutions of the international community and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Meanwhile, the Israeli delegation evaluated Abbas’ support for peace and the two-state solution through negotiations, stressing on the importance of cooperation between the two sides in the fields of environment and water resources as they are “the most important issues for both sides.”

This is the third Israeli delegation that the Palestinian leader president has received in his office this month.

(Source / 01.01.2017)

2016 prisoners’ summary report: 6440 Palestinians arrested through the year

Palestinian prisoners’ affairs institutions – the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights – issued the following report on 1 January 2017, summarizing the statistics related to Palestinian prisoners over the year 2016. The following translation was produced by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

During 2016, the Israeli occupation arrested 6,440 Palestinians in 2016, including 1332 children and 164 women. At the end of the year, the number of Palestinian prisoners has reached approximately 7,000, including around 300 minor children, 53 women (among them 11 minor girls), 700 administrative detainees and 22 journalists.

Young people were among those most vulnerable to arrest campaigns carried out by the Israeli army during the year on a daily basis. Another significant targeted sector are former prisoners subjected to re-arrest after their release, following months or years in Israeli prisons.

The Palestinians most frequently arrested in 2016 were Jerusalemites. 2029 Palestinian civilians were arrested from Jerusalem, including 757 children and 79 women. These arrest campaigns in Jerusalem affected children and youth particularly, many of whom had previously been arrested and who were frequently released on conditions of either financial fines or under so-called “house imprisonment.”

The organizations also reviewed the overall number of arrests, in addition to the number of arrests of children, women and girls over the year. The month of March saw the highest number of arrests, in which 647 Palestinians were arrested. In February, the highest number of children, 140, were arrested; in the month of April, there was the highest number of arrests of women and girls, when 24 were arrested.

Administrative Detention:

Throughout 2016, the occupation issued 1,742 administrative detention orders, including 635 new orders and new and renewal orders against 20 children, three women, five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and nine journalists.

During the year 2016, nearly 40 administrative detention orders were issued against Jerusalemite prisoners with the “blue identity cards” or residence documents. Like Palestinians in occupied Palestine ’48, these administrative detention orders are signed by the Israeli Defense Minister, because the areas of Jerusalem and occupied Palestine ’48 are subject to Israeli civil law and not the military orders over the West Bank.

The majority of administrative detention orders were issued against young people, including those who do not belong to the factions or student blocs. International humanitarian and human rights norms stipulate that imprisoning people without charge or trial within a reasonable period of time is a serious violation of the right to protection from arbitrary arrest and that people who are victims of unlawful arrest or detention have a right to compensation.

Palestinian children detained:

Israeli occupation authorities have continued to arrest Palestinian children with all methods, including extrajudicial field executions, which were carried out against dozens of children.

During 2016, the number of injured children increased, especially those shot by occupation forces prior to their imprisonment. These injuries have caused permanent physical disabilities, including in the case of Jalal Sharawna, arrested in 2015 after being shot and whose foot was amputated in 2016, and in the case of the child Osama Zaidat from the town of Bani Naim in al-Khalil area.

There were 1332 arrests of children, and there are currently 300 Palestinian children in Israeli jails, including 11 minor girls. The highest percentage of children were detained in Jerusalem. Children under ten have been detained in Jerusalem and subjected to interrogation. Most of the children who were arrested were either former detainees ordered to prison or were held in home imprisonment, which has caused damage to the education of children in Jerusalem. Many of those arrested lost most of or the entire school year, not to mention the damaging effects on their families. In its treatment of children, Israel has violated international human rights law and international humanitarian law as an occupying power, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

PLC Deputies arrested:

There are currently six members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Israeli prisons, including Marwan Barghouthi, imprisoned since 2002 and sentenced to five life sentences; Ahmad Sa’adat, imprisoned since 2006 and sentenced to 30 years in prison; and Hassan Yousef, in administrative detention since October 2015. During 2016, the occupation arrested a number of PLC members and held them mostly in administrative detention, including Mohammed Jamal Natsheh, Azzam Salhab, Hatem Kufaisheh and Abdel Jaber Fuquha. Mohammed Abu Teir was sentenced to 17 months in Israeli prison. During the year, Hatem Kufaisheh and Abdel Jaber Fuquha were released.

Battles of the empty stomachs:

Hunger strikes did not stop in the prisons of the occupation during 2016 and continued to be one of the most prominent tools of struggle and confrontation of the occupation, especially around the issue of administrative detention which has been the primary focus of the hunger strikes. 64 prisoners conducted hunger strikes in 2016, including 37 against administrative detention, alongside the escalation of the use of administrative detention itself. This comes in addition to the issuance of detention orders against prisoners who had completed their sentences, must prominently in the case of the prisoner Bilal Kayed, as well as other re-arrested prisoners ordered to administrative detention within days of their release. This is a means of psychological torture of prisoners and alongside other issues, such as solitary confinement, ill-treatment, transfers, torture and denial of family visits, sparked the repeated hunger strikes.

The hunger strikes have been a prominent issue on the Palestinian and international issue since 2012, which launched a wave of strikes that continues to the present day.

Former prisoners:

Occupation authorities continue to detain 29 prisoners arrested before the Oslo agreement in 1993, including nine prisoners who have spent over 30 years in Israeli prisons, the longest being Karim and Maher Younis, imprisoned since 1983 and refused release by the occupation authorities in March 2014 with the denial of the release of the fourth installment of pre-Oslo prisoners that were taking place as part of negotiations. Over the years, they have lost dozens of family members without being able to say goodbye. 42 prisoners have also spent over 20 years in Israeli jails.

Solitary isolation:

The Israeli prison administration and the Shabak intelligence service have pursued the use of solitary confinement under the pretexts of “threat to state security” and “secret files” against the prisoners, without limitation or justification for this alleged danger except in the broadest of strokes, including references to preventing escape, stopping operations outside the prisons, or preventing friction with other prisoners. The Prison Service issues isolation orders which can be extended every six months, with the decision based on secret evidence not revealed to either the prisoner or their lawyer.

During the year 2016, 20 prisoners were subject to isolation for varying periods, including prisoners held in isolation since 2013. To the end of December 2016, 10 prisoners continue to be held in isolation. Isolation is a form of psychological torture and creates physical and psychological illness among prisoners that is difficult to treat after an end to solitary confinement.

Released prisoners of the “Shalit deal”:

The issue of re-arrested released prisoners of the “Shalit deal” remains at a standstill, as occupation authorities continue to hold them and re-impose their former sentences. Nael Barghouthi is perhaps the most prominent of these cases; he was scheduled to be freed this year, before the so-called military objections committee stated that it will hear an appeal on behalf of the occupation prosecution against the previous decision in his case to jail him for 30 months. At present, his future remains unknown. He has spent a total of 36 years in Israeli prisons, the longest period of detention among all Palestinian prisoners.

There are approximately 56 prisoners released in the “Shalit deal” in Israeli jails, out of 70 of these released prisoners arrested during the past three years. The most prominent arrest campaigns were carried out against them in June 2014. The military committee that has reviewed these cases has repeatedly issued decisions to re-impose their former sentences against 50 prisoners, the vast majority of those detained, under the pretext of “secret evidence.” This is considered a breach of the terms of the agreement, which was carried out in two stages in 2011.

Sick prisoners and victims of medical negligence:

The prisoner Yasser Hamdouna died on 25 September 2016 in the Soroka Israeli hospital after a massive heart attack in Ramon prison, bringing the total number of martyrs of the prisoners’ movement to 208, of which more than 50 have died directly attributable to medical negligence.

Hamdouna had been imprisoned since 19 June 2003. The results of his autopsy revealed that his death was due to hypertrophy of the heart muscle and that Hamdouna had been the subject of systematic medical neglect, as he did not receive necessary treatment nor was he given therapeutic or preventative medicine. Hamdouna was beaten in 2003 by the Nachson suppressive forces inside the prisons, which had earlier caused chronic health problems in his left ear. He had ongoing heart problems and shortness of breath. He was subject to medical neglect and delay in the provision of treatment and was taken on several occasions to Ramle prison clinic but not provided treatment. Hamdouna had cardiac catheterization in the Afula Israeli hospital in February 2015, but was not provided follow-up treatment and examination.

There are over 700 sick prisoners, including 21 held in the Ramle prison chinic. In 2016, there were also a number of severely wounded Palestinian prisoners.

(Source / 01.01.2017)

Israeli minister promises to propose annexation bill by end of January

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Naftali Bennett speaking at a 2014 press conference in Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s education minister and leader of the far right, pro-settlement Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett said Sunday morning he would propose a bill by the end of the month to annex the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim.

According to Israeli news sites, Bennett said during a government meeting that he expected “all the ministers in the government” to support the proposal.
Maale Adumim is the third largest settlement in population size, encompassing a large swath of land deep inside the occupied West Bank. Many Israelis consider it an Israeli suburban city of Jerusalem, despite it being located on occupied Palestinian territory in contravention of international law.
Calls to annex the massive settlement — to pave the way for the annexation of the majority of the occupied West Bank — have gained momentum among Israel’s lawmakers and ministers following last week’s passage of a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements and reaffirming their clear illegality.
In the days following the resolution’s passing, reports emerged that Israel was advancing plans for hundreds of new settlement units, and Israel’s Jerusalem municipality apporved a plan to build a three-story building for Jewish settlers in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.
Bennett reacted to the UN Security Council’s resolution by calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to rescind his support for the two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state, which Bennett perceives to be a security threat to the state of Israel.
“No resolution can change the fact that this land, Jerusalem, is our capital. And no people can be a conqueror in their own land. That’s why this resolution, like many of the earlier resolutions, will be thrown into the dustbin of history,” Bennett said.
Following the election of Donald Trump as the next US president, Bennett said that a Trump presidency would mark the end of a push for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over,” he said.
Netanyahu has warned Bennett and Israeli politicians not to make public declarations related to annexation for fear that the calls would spark further action by the international community and the outgoing Obama administration; the US allowed Resolution 2334 to pass by not vetoing it at the Security Council, with US Secretary of State John Kerry defending the move in a blistering speechfurther condemning Israeli actions in the occupied territory.
Kerry criticized Netanyahu for publicly claiming to advocate a two-state solution while simultaneously championing settlement policy to appeal to an increasingly right-wing government and Israeli public.
“His current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements,” Kerry said. “The result is that policies of this government — which the prime minister himself just described as ‘more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history’ — are leading in the opposite direction, toward one state,” Kerry said.
While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right, with more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current Israeli government having publicly stated they are opposed to a Palestinian state.
A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
Meanwhile, a recent report by human rights group B’Tselem argued that under the guise of a “temporary military occupation,” Israel has been “using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements,” estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.
B’Tselem highlighted the “key role” of Israeli settlers in further isolating Palestinians from their lands, either through the establishment of outposts officially unrecognized by the Israeli government, or through the regular use of violence or threats of violence against Palestinians.
The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a “stable” Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B’Tselem reported, underscoring that all “Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies” have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.
(Source / 01.01.2017)

‘Not Freedom Fighters’: Ben Swann Calls Out US Funding Of Terrorists In Syria

‘The Free Syrian Army and the so-called Syrian rebels, who have now lost control of Eastern Aleppo, are not freedom fighters,’ Ben Swann recently said of the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels receiving U.S. funding in Syria.

Syrian rebels walk in an alley in Idlib, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (AP Photo)

Syrian rebels walk in an alley in Idlib, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s rare for any journalist in the corporate media to admit that the United States provides any kind of support to terrorists in Syria, but that’s what happened on a recent episode of Ben Swann’s “Reality Check.”

“The Free Syrian Army and the so-called Syrian rebels, who have now lost control of Eastern Aleppo, are not freedom fighters,” Swann reported on Tuesday. “They are, in fact, aligned with terror organizations.”

The United States and its allies in the Middle East have sought to overthrow the government of Syrian leader Bashar Assad for at least a decade, and support for so-called “moderate” rebels has been an important part of that plan.

Swann, a journalist known for his coverage of controversial issues, became the first reporter to directly question President Barack Obama about the ties between Syrian rebels and terrorist groups in 2012. His “Reality Check” series is popular online, and also airs on WGCL-TV, an Atlanta-based CBS News affiliate, where Swann serves as an evening news anchor.

“National media has framed the fight in Syria and for Aleppo as anti-Assad rebels against Syrian president Bashar Assad,” he said on Tuesday’s show.

The mainstream media has frequently focused on war crimes allegedly committed by the Syrian government, often relying on questionable human rights “experts” with a pro-war agenda or even reports based on fake or recycled photos. By contrast, atrocities committed by extremists with U.S. support receive relatively little notice.

As reported by Swann, essentially all rebel forces in Syria — from the various factions of the Free Syrian Army to the powerful Nusra Front — have ties to either al-Qaida or Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist organization known in the West as ISIS or ISIL). Even former government officials have admitted that these rebels are actually closely linked to terrorist groups.

Despite journalists and human rights observers repeatedly raising concern about official U.S. support for rebels and terrorists, the United States has continued to provide training and materiel to these extremist groups. Some of the rebels trained by the United States scattered at the first sign of conflict, while others have refused to fight against al-Qaida. During one notable incident earlier this year, rebels backed by the CIA fought rebels backed by the Pentagon.

“While the weapons were flowing in, so were jihadists,” Swann noted. Though some groups like the Free Syrian Army may have originally consisted of genuine freedom fighters opposed to the government under Syrian President Bashar Assad, they quickly became dominated by terrorist groups within the first few years of the ongoing Syrian civil war.

“And yet,” Swann continued, “through 2016, weapons and funding from the West continued.” As recently as September, the Obama administration offered rocket launchers and other weaponry to rebel groups after the failure of one of several rounds of peace talks.

Swann concluded:

“Media only calls these groups ‘freedom fighters’ and yet these fighters have pledged themselves to al-Qaida and to ISIS. … Make no mistake, they are not looking to make Syria free. They are looking enslave it as they have in so many other places.”

Though some incidents, like the recent burning of buses intended to evacuate civilians by the Nusra Front, do receive relatively widespread coverage, Swann remains one of only a few voices in the mainstream media to connect U.S. funding for rebels to these crimes.

Watch “Reality Check: Proof That Those ‘Moderate Rebels’ in Syria are Really Jihadists”:

(Source / 01.01.2017)

Palestinian citizen of Israel among Istanbul shooting attack victims

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18-year-old Leanne Zahir Nasser

TIRA (Ma’an) — A Palestinian citizen of Israel was confirmed to be among the 39 victims of a shooting attack at a New Year’s Eve party at an Istanbul nightclub. The body of 18-year-old Leanne Zahir Nasser was found after she had been declared missing, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Sunday, who said another Israeli citizen was still missing.

Nasser, from the town of Tira in central Israel, was on a week-long vacation in Turkey along with three other women from Tira, relatives told Ma’an.Nasser and her friends were among hundreds celebrating New Year’s Eve at the famous seaside Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighborhood, when an attacker randomly opened fire inside the club, killing 39 people and wounding some 70 others.
A Turkish policeman and a civilian were shot dead outside the club before the gunman entered the venue.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that only 21 of the victims had been identified, and that 15 or 16 were foreign nationals — reportedly including Israeli, Lebanese, Libyan, Moroccan, and Saudi Arabian citizens — while at least three of the Turkish victims may have been employees at the club.
The mayor of Tira Maamun Abd al-Hayy and his deputy Walid Nasser, along with dozens of relatives of the bereaved family, gathered at Leanne’s family home to support them.
Her parents flew to Istanbul to identify her body and bring it back to Israel for burial.
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Leanne Nasser’s parents
Nasser’s friend, 18-year-old Rawa Sufian Mansour, sustained moderate wounds after she was hit in her hand and her leg. She was receiving treatment at a local hospital in Istanbul. Friends Alaa Abd al-Hai and Aya Abd al-Hai were suffering from anxiety.Relatives had been unable to reach Nasser since the attack occurred at about 1:30 a.m., and only around noon discovered that she was dead.
“We were seriously worried after news of the attack went viral on Facebook,” Nasser’s bereaved father told reporters. “We tried to contact Leanne, but all our attempts failed.” He said he was notified when his daughter’s hand bag and mobile phone were found at the scene.Rawa’s father Sufian Mansour said he call her after the attack to check on her. Despite her injuries, she was in a stable condition and said she would fly back home in four days. He added he was in contact with the Israeli consulate in Turkey.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and offered condolences on behalf of the Palestinian people to the people of Turkey and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan.
Abbas reiterated his rejection of all kinds of terror activities and called for more regional and international action against terrorism.While Turkish authorities have called the attack and act of terror, no one has claimed responsibility and the gunman is still at large.
Istanbul was already on high alert with some 17,000 police officers on duty in the city, following a string of terror attacks in recent months, may of which were carried out by the so-called Islamic state or Kurdish militants.
Throughout a wave of attacks that have hit Turkey over the past few years, the Islamic state has claimed attacks targeting civilians while Kurdish militants have been blamed for attacks targeting Turkish military forces.Multiple Palestinians were among the victims of a triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in June, which left 36 dead and more than 140 injured.Less than two weeks ago, Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead by off-duty Turkish policeman as the ambassador gave a speech in the Turkish capital Ankara. In a video of the attack, the killer shouted the murder was in revenge for Russian involvement in the conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
(Source / 01.01.2017)

16,913 Civilians Killed in 2016

Including 827 Civilians in December

SNHR has published its periodic death toll report for the month of December 2016 in which it documented the killing of 827 civilians in December and 16,913 civilians in 2016 at the hands of the main influential parties in Syria.
The report notes that SNHR team encounters difficulties in documenting victims from armed opposition factions as many of those victims are killed on battlefronts and not inside cities. Also, we aren’t able to obtain details such as names, pictures and other important details on account of the armed opposition forces’ unwillingness to reveal such information for security concerns among other reasons. Therefore, the actual number of victims is much greater than what is being recorded.

On the other side, the report affirms that it is almost impossible to access information about victims from Syrian regime forces or from ISIS and the margin of error is considerably higher due to the lack of any applicable methodology in this type of documentation. The Syrian government and ISIS don’t publish, reveal, or record their victims. From our perspective, the statistics published by some groups on this category of victims are fictitious and are not based on any actual data.

The report includes the death toll of 2016, where Syrian regime forces killed 8736 civilians including 1984 children and 1237 women. Also, among the victims were 447 individuals, including two children and seven women, who died due to torture.
Furthermore, forces believed to be Russian killed 3967 civilians including 1042 children and 684 women.
Additionally, 146 civilians including 24 children and 23 women were killed at the hands of the Kurdish Self-management forces. Also, among the victims were six individuals, including one woman, who died due to torture.

Extremist Islamic groups killed 1528 civilians – 1510 civilians were killed at the hands of ISIS including 258 children and 213 women. Also among the victims, were eight individuals who died due to torture. As for Fateh Al Sham Front (Formerly Al Nussra), 18 civilians including one woman and four individuals who died due to torture were killed by the Front.
1048 civilians, including 289 children and 210 women, were killed at the hands of armed opposition factions. Also, among the victims were 10 individuals, including one child, who died due to torture.
On the other side, 537 civilians were killed by the international coalition forces including 158 children and 98 women.

Moreover, 951 civilians including 168 children and 96 women have either died drowning as they were fleeing by sea or in bombings that SNHR hasn’t been able to identify its perpetrators or were carried out by unidentified armed groups to SNHR in addition to the victims who fell in the indiscriminate bombardment of the Turkish land and air forces. Among the victims who fall into this category was one civilian who died to torture.

The report breaks down the death toll of December 2016 where Syrian regime forces killed 411 civilians including 114 children (four children are killed every day) and 42 women. Additionally, among the victims were 19 civilians who died due to torture.
Out of the total number of civilian victim, 38% were children and women which is an explicit indicator on the deliberate targeting of civilians by the Syrian regime forces.
The report notes that forces we believe are Russian killed 151 civilians including 39 children and 13 women.

Additionally, the report documented the killing of nine civilians, including one woman at the hands of the Self-management forces (Primarily consisting of the Democratic Union Party forces – branch for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party).
Furthermore, the report notes that ISIS killed 47civilians including seven children and five women.
The report also records that 115 civilians including 27 children and 22 women were killed by armed opposition factions. Also, among the victims were two civilians who died due to torture.

In addition, the report records that 60 civilians, including 16 children and five women, were killed by the international coalition forces in December.
The report documents that 34 civilians, including seven children and two women, have either died drowning as they were fleeing by sea or in bombings that SNHR hasn’t been able to identify its perpetrators or were carried out by unidentified armed groups to SNHR in addition to the victims who fell in the indiscriminate bombardment of the Turkish land and air forces.

The report emphasizes that Syrian regime forces and Russian forces have violated the international human rights law which guarantees the right to life. Furthermore, evidences and proofs, according to hundreds of eyewitnesses’ accounts, suggest that 90% at least of the widespread and single attacks were directed against civilians and civil facilities.
Also, ISIS perpetrated many crimes of extrajudicial killing which constitute war crimes.
Moreover, some of the armed opposition factions committed crimes of extrajudicial killing that qualify as war crimes. Also, Self-management forces and international coalition forces have both committed war crimes that manifested in the crime of extrajudicial killing.

The report calls on the Security Council and the international community to uphold their responsibilities in relation to the crimes of killing that is being perpetrated ceaselessly and to apply pressure on the Syrian government to stop the deliberate and indiscriminate bombardment of civilians.
Finally, the report considers the Russian regime, all Shiite militias, and ISIS as foreign parties that are effectively involved in the killings and holds all of these parties and the financiers and supports of the Syrian regime legally and judicially responsible.

(Source / 01.01.2017)

PLO official urges ICC to investigate Israeli settlements

A view of the International Criminal Court headquarters (File photo)

A view of the International Criminal Court headquarters (File photo)

A top Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an immediate investigation into the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories.

Wasel Abu Yousif, a PLO committee member, made the remarks on Wednesday after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on December 23, condemning Israel’s settlement construction in the Palestinian lands.

“The Executive Committee wants the ICC prosecutor to expedite her initial examination into settlements and subsequently proceed to opening a full investigation, now that the Security Council has established that they are illegal,” Abu Yousif told The Jerusalem Post.

The PLO also plans to ask other international bodies to hold Israel accountable for its settlement construction.

“We are going to ask the parties of Geneva Accords and the UN Human Rights Council to discuss and take a position on the issue of illegal settlements,” Abu Yousif said.

A general view shows buildings under construction in the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds on March 7, 2016

It is the first resolution on Israel and the Palestinians that the 15-member body has passed in about eight years. Israeli officials responded with rage at the resolution and Washington’s abstention in particular.

The Security Council’s resolution, which calls the settlements as “flagrant violation” of the international law and an obstacle to peace, was passed under the UN Charter Chapter VI.

It is unclear whether the ICC would consider the settlements as a prosecutable war crime, due to the less-binding nature of the Chapter VI.

In January 2015, the ICC started a preliminary examination of reported war crimes regarding the 2014 Gaza war and to the settlement construction.

Israel has questioned the ICC’s jurisdiction, saying the international body could only intervene if Palestine was a state. Tel Aviv also described the ICC’s role as redundant, claiming that Israel already owns over 30 criminal investigations with regard to Palestinians.

The Palestinians reject the Israeli investigations as impartial, arguing that the so-called probes protect senior Israeli officials from prosecution.

Hundreds of Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The continued expansion of Israeli settlements has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

(Source / 01.01.2017)