Abu Hatab: Interim Government Working to Provide Services to Civilian Population

Head of the Syrian interim government Jawad Abu Hatab said that the government is working around the clock to provide services to the civilian population in the liberated areas despite scarcity of resources due to the blockades imposed by regime forces on many of these areas. Abu Hatab pointed out that regime forces and the Iranian-backed militias continue to violate the ceasefire agreement and target vital civilian facilities, especially medical and basic services facilities.

In a meeting with the Syrian community at the embassy of the Syrian Coalition in the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday, Abu Hatab said that around 6 million Syrians currently live in the liberated areas. The interim government teams are currently working to organize and monitor the distribution of aid provided by humanitarian organizations to those in need, he added.

The meeting was also attended by Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ilah Fahd and Ambassador of the Coalition to Qatar Nizar Haraki.

The interim government’s priority is the provision of education in the liberated areas, Abu Hatab said. He noted that over 800,000 out of one million children in the liberated areas are receiving education in nearly 2,300 schools. Abu Hatab pointed to dwindling numbers of teachers, with the vast majority getting paid less than $100 USD a month.

The Assad regime’s systematic targeting of medical facilities in the liberated areas has increased the suffering of civilians, Abu Hatab said. He pointed out that many qualified doctors have left Syria, further increasing the obstacles facing the medical sector. He went on to say that the interim government has established a Faculty of Medicine in northern Syria where hundreds of medical students are pursuing their university studies.

Abu Hatab also said that the interim government has set up law courts that adopt Syrian laws as well as a civil registry center to issue birth and death certificates as well as identity cards.

With the exception of support provided by local aid groups, especially in the agricultural sector, the Syrian interim government has not received any international support since May 2016, Abu Hatab added.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Al Arab Newspaper / 05.01.2017)

IOA issues 1,658 administrative orders in 2016


The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) issued nearly 1,658 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners in 2016, a rights group revealed.

Palestine center for prisoners’ studies affirmed that Israeli administrative detention orders have increased by 30% during 2016 in comparison with 2015.

The detention orders, without charge or trial, included 588 new orders ranging between two and six months and 1,070 renewed orders.

The sources pointed out that 20 administrative detention orders were issued against Palestinian children during 2016, 16 of whom were from the West Bank and four from occupied Jerusalem.

Three Palestinian children are still held in Israeli jails under administrative detention.

7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails including 700 administrative detainees.

Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence for up to six month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy, which violates the international law.

(Source / 05.01.2017)

Israeli court rejects appeal to release longest-serving Palestinian prisoner


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — An appeal filed by the lawyer of Nael Barghouthi, calling for the release of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner following the completion of a 30-month sentence last month, was refused on Wednesday by Israel’s Ofer military court.

The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that the rejection of the appeal to release Barghouti, 59, was ordered by the military prosecution, which said there was a special committee studying Barghouthi’s situation and that it had not yet released any reports on the case.
The committee added that during the court session, the judge had “hinted” that Israeli authorities may extend Barghouthi’s sentence. However, it remained unclear what was said to insinuate a renewal of the prisoner’s sentence.
Israeli forces first detained Barghouthi, who is from the village of Kobar in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, in 1978 when he was 20 years old for alleged membership in an armed resistance group
The committee said that Barghouthi had 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 Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel
However, Barghouthi was among the more than 50 Palestinians who were released in the deal to have since been redetained. When he was redetained in 2014, Israeli authorities claimed that he had broken the terms of his release and sentenced him to 30 months in prison. However, despite completing his sentence last month, Israeli forces have yet to release the prisoner.
After serving the latest 30-month sentence, Barghouthi has become the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody.
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 / 05.01.2017)

Palestinian fisherman reported missing after Israeli navy attack

Searches were being conducted to find the fisherman.

Gazaian fishermen decided not to go fishing for two days in solidarity to their missing colleagues after an assault by Israeli navy [Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu]

A Palestinian fisherman was reported missing after an attack by Israeli naval forces off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip yesterday night.

According to a report by Ma’an, the head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, Nizar Ayyash, said an Israeli navy ship attacked and sunk a boat belonging to Muhammad Al-Hissi at 22:30 last night, and that Al-Hissi went missing shortly afterwards.

Ayyash said searches were being conducted to find the fisherman.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said that the Israeli navy “fired live rounds at the boats, then flooded them with high-pressure water cannons.”

(Source / 05.01.2017)

Jewish man stabs, injures Palestinian in Ashdod


Israeli sources on Thursday morning said that an Israeli has stabbed a Palestinian man in Ashdod in southern 1948 Occupied Palestine.

Israeli police said in a statement on Thursday that a religious Jewish man stabbed and lightly wounded a Palestinian scrap vendor before running a way.

The Palestinian victim was transferred to hospital; meanwhile, investigators initially suspected that the incident may have been nationalistically motivated, the police statement added.

Israeli media sources quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the Jewish terrorist stabbed the Palestinian man after he had heard him speak Arabic and asked him if he was an Arab.

(Source / 05.01.2017)

Turkey’s Destructive Mistakes in Syria

Turkey’s Destructive Mistakes in Syria

Alwaght– Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian conflict is a product of Ankara’s misconstruing of the war. Clearly, Turkish policymakers had been betting on the Syrian government’s collapse when they made decisions pertaining to their stance on the conflict. But almost five years into the bloody war, it is becoming more and more apparent that Damascus is not going to fall. This has left Turkey to try and sweep up the foreign policy mess it has made.

Showing that there is awareness of Turkey’s blunders, Deputy Prime Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Hurriyet Daily News that he, among others, deems his country’s course of action with regards to Syria as faulted.

“I am one of those who believe our policy on Syria made big mistakes. I have already spoken bluntly about this,” he said.

Observers contend that Turkey’s first mistake was to stand against the Syrian government. Everything that follows is linked to this miscalculation and escalated into an active yet destructive role in the conflict.

Supporting terrorists

Turkey’s insistence on Assad’s departure became the driving force behind Turkish support for terrorist groups. It is well known that Turkey has become a breeding and nurturing ground for terrorists.

In 2011, when the violence first broke out in Syria, Turkey trained defectors of the Syrian army on its territory. That same year, under the supervision of Turkish intelligence, these militants announced the birth of the so-called Free Syrian Army, which was to engage in fighting against Damascus. Furthermore, Syria’s neighbour provided a base for operations for the FSA, in addition to arming them, alongside Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Since the declaration of ISIS’s establishment in June 2014, Turkey has also been seen as a supporter of the group, albeit clandestinely.

A 2014 research paper published by David Philips at the Columbia University, New York, cited multiple evidences that implicated Turkey in ISIS’s activities.

The evidences included the testimony of an ISIS commander who told The Washington Post on August 12: “Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”

“According to CHP Vice President Bulent Tezcan, three trucks were stopped in Adana for inspection on January 19, 2014. The trucks were loaded with weapons in Esenboga Airport in Ankara. The drivers drove the trucks to the border, where a MIT agent was supposed to take over and drive the trucks to Syria to deliver materials to ISIS and groups in Syria,” the research added.

Furthermore, in August 2015, Turkish newspaper Bugün reported a transfer of weapon and explosives from Turkey to ISIS through Akcakale border post. A few days later offices of Koza İpek Media Group, the owner of the newspaper, were raided by Turkish police.

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin directly accused Erdogan’s government of aiding ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Military Intervention

In 2013, Turkish jets shot down a Syrian helicopter along the border. The Syrian army said the pilot of the Mi-17 had accidently strayed into Turkish airspace while monitoring terrorists who were moving across the border into Syria. When it was shot down, the pilot was on his way back. He was beheaded by militants when he crashed.

The Turks targeted a Syrian MiG-23 in 2014 as the aircraft was flying in Syrian airspace on a mission to attack militant-held areas in the city of Latakia when it was shot down in an act of “blatant aggression.”

These incidents showed that not only was Turkey politically rivaling Damascus but it was also challenging it militarily. This also served to prevent the Syrian army from monitoring its training and aid to extremists as well as hinder its operations along the Turkish-Syrian border.

In February 2015, Turkish tanks and armored vehicles rolled into Syria through Kobani to evacuate the Turkish military garrison guarding the Suleyman Shah tomb and move the remains to a different site. This move amounted to a violation of Syria’s sovereignty as the Turkish military did not ask permission from Syria to carry out the mission.

Turkey has also bombarded Kurds who were fighting against terrorist groups in northern Syria.

On 24 August 2016, a direct military intervention was declared. While Ankara claimed it aimed to target both ISIS and Kurds, it was evident that its involvement would only benefit the extremists.

After calling for a “No-fly zone” in northern Aleppo governorate in a bid to thwart the major advances by the Syrian army and its ally in February, the Turks were frustrated at their failure to garner support. Then, they pressed for ground operations in Syria.

On August 24 2016, Turkish armed forces entered Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a month later that the Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He was then forced to retract his statement. His ensuing frustration was attributed to the failure of his government’s Syria policies.

Cengiz Candar wrote for al-Monitor: “The fate of Aleppo has the potential to seal the fate of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s regime in Turkey. Too many of Erdogan’s eggs are placed in the basket of northern Syrian geopolitics, and most of them are likely to crack.”

Now that Aleppo has been liberated, and mistakes are being acknowledged, it seems that Ankara will have to bury its head in the sand to save itself the embarrassment. However, having made so many disparaging errors in their handling of the crisis next door, neither the Syrian people nor their government will forget where Erdogan’s government stood in times of trouble.

(Source / 05.01.2017)

Report: 100 Palestinians kidnapped by Israel since 2017 started


100 Palestinian citizens, including 18 children, have been kidnapped by the Israeli military and security forces since the beginning of 2017 in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Prisoner Society said the detention of those citizens happened during five days, pointing out that six of them were taken prisoners at dawn Thursday, January 5, during a campaign in al-Khalil, Tubas and Qalqilya.

In another context, the Asra Media Office said the Israeli authorities had issued 576 administrative detention orders against Palestinian internees from al-Khalil province last year, 2016.

Some of those administrative prison orders were issued for the first time and others were extensions to previous ones, a report released by the office noted.

In December last year, the European Union (EU) denounced Israel for its persistence in administratively detaining Palestinians with no guilt.

In a statement released by its office in Occupied Jerusalem, the EU expressed concern over Israel’s excessive use of administrative imprisonment with no indictments against the Palestinians.

The EU called on Israel to respect its international human rights obligations towards all prisoners, and enable them to have access to legal assistance and be subject to fair trials.

(Source / 05.01.2017)

Yemen to Brief Guterres on Tehran’s Violations

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Ban Ki-moon.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Ban Ki-moon

Jeddah- Yemen’s permanent representative to the United Nations Khaled al-Yamani revealed his country’s intention to submit to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres a file on Iran’s violations and meddling in Yemen’s internal affairs.

“We will brief Guterres on Iran’s violations very soon, especially that international security and safety is among his major concerns,” al-Yamani told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

He said that Yemen’s security and safety should be part of the U.N. Secretary General’s priorities in order to end arms smuggling operations and violations of Yemen’s sovereignty.

Al-Yamani added: “We will hinge on the decisions reached by Yemen’s Sanctions Committee, pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014), which put Ali Abdullah Saleh and Abdul-Malik al-Houthi on the list of those wanted for obstructing settlement acts in Yemen.”

Among the powers of this committee, he explained, is to review Iran’s interference in Yemen’s affairs.

Yemen’s Ambassador to the U.N. pointed out the committee’s investigation in the number of vessels seized while attempting to smuggle arms to Houthis.

He said that it monitored the mechanisms and forms of smuggling in Yemen or via the coastal areas controlled by Houthi militias, including those captured in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

These reports were submitted to the U.N. secretariat and the Security Council; however, they were not dealt with as required to guarantee the safety of Yemen and no resolution was adopted in line with international law.

Al-Yamani confirmed that the reports will be resubmitted to Guterres, while holding former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon responsible for not halting Iran’s actions, especially after being briefed on all the reports.

“We did not attack Iran nor did we send arms to Iranian cities. No Arab country in general and Gulf country in particular worked on inciting any of the Iranian factions against the Iranian regime. Therefore, we do not accept any interference by Iran in the internal affairs of regional countries.”

He said that if Iran wants to coexist with other countries in the region, it could always decide to discuss different matters with them instead of imposing its expansionist policies.

(Source / 05.01.2017)

Israeli settlers raid Palestinian village to pray at holy site, spark clashes


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers Wednesday night entered into the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit, sparking clashes with locals youth, according to Hebrew media.

Reports said that the settlers entered the village in their private cars, and went to pray at a Jewish holy site in the area.
The settler presence in the village sparked clashes with local youths, prompting Israeli army forces to raid the village. Hebrew media reported that Israeli forces detained the settlers and took them for interrogation over “violating Israeli military orders that bans Israelis from entering Palestinian districts.”
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the incident to Ma’an, saying that overnight “several Israeli worshipers illegally entered Kifl Haris southwest of Nablus in order to visit the tomb of Joshua.”
“During the visit, suspects threw rocks at the worshipers. Israeli army forces arrived at the tomb and escorted the worshipers safely out of the village and then took them to Israeli police for questioning,” the spokesperson concluded.
Jewish Israeli settlers, whose numbers are estimated to be around 550,000 in the occupied West Bank, regularly raid Palestinian towns and cities, typically in coordination with Israeli armed forces, in order to pray at several Jewish holy sites across the occupied territory.
The provocative nature of the visits, which typically occur in the middle of the night under heavy military protection, often spark violent, sometimes deadly, clashes between local Palestinians and Israeli armed forces.
(Source / 05.01.2017)

Israel sets record for killing Palestinian kids in 2016


A new report says 2016 saw the highest number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli troops over the past decade, warning that Tel Aviv is not being held accountable for its lethal attacks.

The report by Defense for Children International (DCI), a Geneva-based NGO focusing on children’s rights, noted that 35 children were killed and 83 others injured by Israeli troops in 2016.

It warned that Israeli forces are not being held accountable for using firearms against the Palestinian protesters and stone-throwers.

Thirty-two of them were killed in the occupied West Bank, out of whom 19 children were between the ages of 16 and 17 and 13 others were between 13 and 15 years old, the report said.

“We can say Israeli soldiers are encouraged to use lethal force against children in the absence of any kind of accountability. They do not observe the laws protecting civilians under occupation,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, a DCI director, told Press TV correspondent in Ramallah.

“We have evidence where there was no reason to kill those children. They did not pose any kind of threat. In many cases, soldiers fired so many bullets at the slain children to make sure they were dead,” he added.

Helmi al-Arja, from the Hurryat Center for Defense of Civil Rights, told Press TV that Israeli forces are confident they will not be tried for their crimes.

“Trials will only be the mock ones, because the victims are Palestinians,” he added.

Unrest has flared up in the West Bank since 2015 when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds as part of Tel Aviv’s perceived moves to change the status quo on the Muslim holy site Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount).

Since October 2015, Israeli forces have killed at least 244 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters.

On Monday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that since October 2015 they had documented over 150 cases in which Israeli forces had fatally shot Palestinian children and adults.


“Video footage and/or witness accounts raise serious questions about the necessity of the use of lethal force,” it said.

The HRW also warned that some Israeli officials have been “encouraging” forces to kill Palestinians even when they do not constitute a threat.

In 2016, the Middle East Eye online news portal reported that Israeli forces were using a “shoot-to-cripple” policy against the youths in the West Bank.

According to a report by the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian residency and refugee rights, 18 youths aged between 14 and 27 were shot in their legs during raids on the Dheisha refugee camp in the West Bank in 2016.

Palestinians participating in protests in the West Bank cited an Israeli commander, nicknamed “Captain Nidal”, as telling them he would “cripple half of you and let the other half push your wheelchairs.”

(Source / 05.01.2017)