Israeli forces detain Palestinian child in Ramallah-area village

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RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces reportedly detained an 11 year-old Palestinian child in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday afternoon, locals said.According to local sources, Muhammad Munir Tamimi was at the entrance of the village of Deir Nidham northwest of Ramallah when Israeli forces detained him and took him to an unknown destination.It remained unclear as of Thursday whether Tamimi had been released or was still in Israeli custody.Deir Nidham residents told Ma’an that Israeli forces have been carrying regular raids in the village and have detained more than 10 children in recent months.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into the reports.The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs released a statement in October which said that at least 1,000 Palestinian minors between the ages of 11 and 18 had been detained by Israel in the first ten months of 2016, a number of whom reported being abused and tortured while in detention.According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 400 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli custody as of October.

(Source / 12.01.2017)

Palestinian child prisoner Natalie Shokha, 15, denied family visits once again

Palestinian child prisoner Natalie Shokha, 15, was once again denied family visits under the pretext of unspecified “security reasons” on Thursday, 11 January. Natalie, injured when she was shot by live bullets by Israeli occupation soldiers on 28 April 2016, has been consistently denied family visits since her arrest.

Natalie was recently sentenced to one and one-half years in Israeli prison; she is held in HaSharon prison with other women prisoners and minor girls. Her father said that he had only been allowed one visit with Natalie since her imprisonment. She was seized together with fellow child prisoner Tasneem Halabi, who was also sentenced to one and one-half years in prison just days ago.

Samidoun in New York recently highlighted Natalie’s case in a protest building the campaign to boycott Hewlett-Packard for the company’s role in profiteering from the occupation, oppression and imprisonment of Palestinians.

A letter from Natalie to her mother was widely distributed internationally:

My greetings to all of the generous people of my beloved village, Rammun. My greetings to the council of the village and to everyone who supports its development.

Mother, I am in now in prison a member of the cultural committee. I have also become a member of the magazine. I discuss novels and I am the fourth in reading. 🙁 Thank God at any rate.

Mom, Dad, everyone here is proud of your raising of me. Have your head held high. And I am living in the room with six other girls. We are the twelve flowers (security prisoners who are minor girls). We live together through bad and good times. Mom, please say hello to all and tell them I miss them so much and that I am sorry if I forgot anyone. May God bring us together, united, soon. God, bring us freedom now!

They will not imprison the scent of jasmine in a flower!

The prisoner Natalie Shokha
HaSharon Prison
Division 14

Natalie is one of over 300 Palestinian children imprisoned in Israeli prisons. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the immediate release of Natalie and all Palestinian child prisoners.

(Source / 12.01.2017)

Israeli police detain Palestinian citizen of Israel for online ‘incitement’

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RAHAT (Ma’an) — Israeli police detained a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship in the Negev-area town of Rahat city for “incitement to terrorism” on Wednesday, after the man lauded a deadly vehicular attack on social media.Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police had extended the detention of the man until Jan. 15 for statements made on his Facebook page encouraging more attacks like the one in the illegal settlement of East Talpiyyot on Jan. 8 in which a Palestinian killed four Israeli soldiersby running them over with his truck, before he was himself shot dead.“We confirm that the right to freedom of speech doesn’t include incitement to terrorism and violence,” Al-Samri said.In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that first swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015 was encouraged largely by “incitement.” The violence left 247 Palestinians killed by Israelis, as well as some 34 Israelis killed by Palestinians, between October 2015 and December 2016.Earlier this month, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed the first reading of the controversial “Facebook bill” — which would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of “incitement.”Critics have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the rise of unrest, and have accused the Israeli government of utilizing “anti-terrorism” discourse in order to justify and further entrench the Israeli military’s half-century occupation of the West Bank and near decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip.In response to incitement claims against Palestinians, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat condemned the current Israeli government for its failure to “entrench a culture of peace and coexistence within Israeli society” in July, holding Israel responsible for incitement, saying “official Israeli discourse entrenches hatred, racism, and discriminatory attitudes against Palestinians. The discourse is only further entrenched by the institutional protection that is given to those who commit or incite violence against Palestinians.”

(Source / 12.01.2017)

At the age of 19, a Hong Kong born Hindu woman from an Islamophobic family became a Muslim

People continue to embrace the religion of Islam from all types of backgrounds. No doubt, most of them reverting to Islam are Christians, but there are others too, like this 20-year-old Indian woman born in Hong Kong to a Hindu practicing family.

Muslim Council of Hong Kong spoke to her to share her journey to Islam. Due to personal reasons, she requested for her real name not to be used (and you will see why).

LIFE BEFORE ISLAM

My life before Islam was always confusing, as I used to attend rituals and follow the path my parents brought me up by.

But I never understood why the term “god” was given to mere creations that could be tarnished.

I always received unpleasant comments from boys about my looks along with teases and I never felt safe.

WHY ISLAM?

I was first interested in Islam by my home’s atmosphere. It was a very Islamophobic atmosphere. Daily, I heard bad things from my parents when they talked about Muslims.

It struck a sense of curiosity in me as I would always ask “Why are Muslims so bad as my parents claim them to be?”

I have had Muslim friends since I was young and I felt they aren’t bad. So, one day, I decided to question a close friend of mine and he very easily passed me a copy of the sahih international English translated version of the Qur’ān.

As I read the Qur’ān, the more I realised how wrong my parents were in their thinking of Islam being bad.

Then, I reached the part of Hijab where God Almighty is talking about how people should cloth themselves, especially women. It inspired me. It actually wanted me to dress modestly. I felt by doing this, it would change the way I felt about myself and even make men to lower their gaze as they won’t look at me in out of shyness for I would be identifying myself as a Muslim woman.

So, on one fine day, I tried out the Hijab and SubhanAllah (All glory to Allah) it felt amazing!

There are so many more things that I could go on about Islam really being the true religion. The fact is that the more I read the Qur’ān, the more I felt deep inside that this is the truth and so I embraced it at the age of 19.

Read Also: British Atheist woman with grandmother being Shia, embraces Islam in Hong Kong

STRUGGLES SINCE BECOMING A MUSLIM

My family. As you all have known by now that by becoming a Muslim, I knew I would face a tough time from within a very Islamophobic family. It is a continuous struggle.

But, as Islam teaches to honor and respect our family members, even though they are non-Muslims, as long as not to engage in associating partners with Allah, I try to do just that.

Currently, I’m being harassed constantly by my parents not to dress like a Muslim woman. They accuse me of not being normal and that I have been brainwashed.

I have been told by them they will consider me as being mentally ill if I do not obey them regarding my clothing.

What do I do facing all of this? I turn to how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) dealt with such struggles. He never lost hope for better days and remain patient no matter how difficult the tests became. Allah is with us all the time. He’s watching everything and He knows. He only tests those whom He loves the most.

“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “we believe” and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.”

[Qur’ān 29:3]

Read Also: Muslims of Hong Kong: The mannerisms of Muslims led a Chinese Atheist to embrace Islam

ADVICE TO THOSE SEEKING THE TRUTH

An advice I would like to give the future world is to please everyone out there of every religion, do not judge anything on others opinion.
If you do not know about something, then it’s better not to say anything.

Seek knowledge from the original scriptures and you will find how Islam is simple, complete and the chosen religion of our Creator.

FUTURE PLANS

My goal is to increase my imaan (faith) as much as I can and to help as many people as I can to understand Islam better clearing any misconceptions that may arise due to what the media says about Islam – the religion of peace!

I ask whoever is reading this to keep me and all other revert Muslims in their prayers, as life is challenging for us. Ask Allah to guide our parents and the entire family.

(Source / 12.01.2017)

Wadi Barada Villages Being Reduced to Rubble as Assault Enters Its 23rd Day

The towns and villages of Wadi Barada valley are lying in ruins as the assault by the Assad regime forces and the Hezbollah Militia entered its 23rd day on Wednesday. The bombardment has been concentrated on residential buildings and vital civilian facilities amid utter silence by the UN Security Council and Russia, a guarantor of the ceasefire agreement.

Local activists said that the village of Bsseima bore the brunt of indiscriminate bombardment by the regime and Hezbollah militias, with over 65% of the village now reduced to rubble. Over 40% of the town of Ayn Alfija has been destroyed, and the villages of Deir Miqrin and Kfeir Alzeit were severely damaged by regime bombardment by rockets, heavy artillery, mortar and tanks.

Vital civilian structures in Wadi Barada valley, such as medical centers, civil defense centers, and the media office were put out of service as a result of the deliberate targeting by regime forces and their allied foreign militias, activists said. The bombardment did not spare the ancient Roman temple at the water facility. Moreover, five mosques were completely destroyed, including two in the village of Bseima, two in Kfeir Alzeit, and one in the village of Husseiniya.

The Ayn Alfija water facility was hit by regime forces in the early days of the assault, now in its 23rd day. The facility, which is the primary source of clean water for Damascus and its suburbs, has been put out of service, and the equipment inside has been severely damaged.

Medical sources in Wadi Barada valley said that many people were affected as a result of drinking infected water as chlorination equipment is no longer operating.

The Syrian Coalition earlier called upon the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to Wadi Barada valley to investigate the crimes being committed against civilians. It said that the Assad regime is using water as a weapon of war against the Syrian people after bombing the Ayn Alfija water facility.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has raised alarm over a potential increase in diarrheal diseases among people, especially children, in the areas around Damascus due to lack of clean water.

A UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac on Monday said that private distributors were providing water in and around Damascus. Boulierac said he was worried about the quality and price of those supplies.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 12.01.2017)

Israel increases demolition orders in Jabal al-Mukabbir in wake of truck attack

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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities demolished eight structures in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Wednesday for being built without hard-to-obtain construction permits.According to Hebrew news sites, the eight structures included shops selling construction equipment, and were built on five dunams (1.2 acres) of land.The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem also reportedly demolished five structures used as stockyards in Jabal al-Mukabbir on Tuesday.A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality confirmed the demolitions to Ma’an, saying that it had been “carrying out increased enforcement in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, including: dismantling illegal structures in public spaces, addressing illegal building in the neighborhood, mapping of illegal building to determine proper legal action, and inspections of outstanding payments of municipal taxes.”

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported in a statement on Wednesday that Israeli authorities had handed 40 demolition notices in Jabal al-Mukabbir since a resident of the neighborhood carried out a deadly truck-ramming attack on Sunday, killing four Israeli soldiers before being himself shot and killed.“Such measures constitute collective punishment targeting individuals who are not charged with any wrongdoing,” B’Tselem wrote. “There can be no possible justification for these vindictive steps.”“Imposing collective punishment in conjunction with adopting administrative measures against Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem is an acknowledged Jerusalem Municipality policy,” the group added. “While the policy is indeed an overt one, this does nothing to detract from it being a wrongful one which involves widespread persecution by the authorities of thousands of Jerusalem residents.”Israel’s security cabinet has already ordered that the home of slain Palestinian attacker Fadi al-Qunbar in Jabal al-Mukabbir be demolished, while Israeli media reported that the Jerusalem municipality had approved plans to establish a new settlement on the site of al-Qunbar’s home.Thirteen of al-Qunbar’s relatives will also have their Jerusalem residency status revoked, as Israeli leaders have also called for the family to be exiled to the blockaded Gaza Strip or even war-torn Syria.Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) in Silwan found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).
As four out of five of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, leading to only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods.
(Source / 12.01.2017)

Sheikh Raed Salah to be released next week

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Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Occupied Palestine, will complete his sentence in Israeli jails on January 17, according to Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

Lawyer of Sheikh Salah, Omar Khamayseh expressed, in a press statement on Thursday, his worries about any Israeli exceptional measures that would disrupt the release of the Sheikh.

Such measures could include submitting a new indictment or issuing an administrative detention order against him, holding him under house arrest or not allowing him to talk to pressmen, the lawyer elaborated.

On April 18, 2016, the Israeli Supreme Court sentenced Sheikh Salah to nine months after charging him with incitement to violence in a Friday sermon that he delivered nine years ago in Occupied Jerusalem. He has been held in solitary confinement since he was incarcerated.

(Source / 12.01.2017)

Israel orders confiscation of 3 dunams of Palestinian land south of Nablus

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NABLUS (Ma’an) — The Israeli government passed an official decision on to Palestinian officials on Wednesday, issuing the confiscation of three dunums and 989 square meters of Palestinian lands in the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an the order indicated that Israel will confiscate 3989 square meters of lands in the village belonging to its Palestinian residents.
The Israeli government claimed in the order that the confiscation of the land is to ‘“stop terror attacks” in the area, despite the fact that the area, according to Daghlas, has witnessed a calm situation with no recent attacks conducted in the area, or by residents of the village.
Daghlas added that he considered the order to be in defiance of United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) resolution that condemned settlement activity and considered it as a main obstacle facing the two states solution, though it remained unclear if the Israeli government has put forth plans for an illegal Israeli settlement on the area of confiscated lands.
Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesperson Yousif al-Mahmoud condemned the order in statement, saying that “this horrid step” was made as a response to efforts carried out to revive the [Israeli-Palestinian] peace process, noting that peace process aims to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borderlines with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Al-Mahmoud reiterated Daghlas’ sentiments that the order was issued in defiance of the latest anti-settlement UNSC resolution, and confirmed that Israeli settlements remained “the main obstacle to the two-state solution and the main reason preventing the peace process from taking place.”
A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available for comment.
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A recent report by Israeli 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 said, underscoring that all “Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies” have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands, despite the international community pinpointing settlements as one of the major obstacles to peace.
(Source / 12.01.2017)

Israeli forces serve demolition, stop-work orders in Jordan Valley villages

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TUBAS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided the villages of Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar and Khirbet Yarza in the northern occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley on Wednesday, in order to deliver four final demolition and stop-construction notices for constructions and water pipelines in the area.

Muataz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who monitors settler activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma’an that Israeli forces delivered two orders to demolish an agricultural water pipeline in Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar belonging to al-Forat Agricultural Company.
Also in Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar, Israeli forces deliver demolition notices to tents and residential barracks belonging to Rashid Abdullah Hussein Bisharat, as well as a stop-construction order for a wire fence being built around a tract of land owned by Ahmad al-Abisse.
In the nearby village of Khirbet Yarza, Israeli forces delivered an order “giving residents a final chance” to demolish a three-kilometer agricultural route connecting Khirbet Yarza to a nearby village. The order stipulated that if residents did not carry out the demolition themselves, Israeli forces would soon carry out the demolition.
A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available for comment.
Forming a third of the occupied West Bank and with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control — the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel’s occupation in 1967.
Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies.
(Source / 12.01.2017)

Egypt’s parliament, judiciary face off against each other

A policeman stands guard outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, Feb. 25, 2015

CAIRO — The 2014 Egyptian Constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary and protects it from the interference of any other authority. And, according to Article 184, “The judiciary is independent. It is vested in the courts of justice of different types and degrees, which issue their judgments in accordance with the law. Its powers are defined by law. Interference in judicial affairs or in proceedings is a crime to which no statute of limitations may be applied.”

However, a bill that contradicts this constitutional text was recently proposed to parliament. On Dec. 13, Undersecretary of the parliamentary Legislative Committee and member of parliament Ahmed al-Sharif proposed a draft law related to the appointment of the heads of judicial committees. According to Youm7 newspaper, the draft law stipulates, “The president shall appoint the head of the Administrative Prosecution Authority from among three senior judges that the authority’s Higher Council nominates; the head of the State Lawsuits Authority from among three senior judges that the Higher Council nominates; and the head of the Cassation Court from among three senior judges that the Higher Council nominates.”

The draft law states that the head of the Egyptian State Council must be appointed out of three senior judges nominated by the State Council’s General Assembly pursuant to the president’s decision also.

The draft law, which tasks the president with appointing the heads of judicial committees, consists of an amendment to Article 44 of the Egyptian Judicial Authority Law of 1972 stating that the head of the judiciary is appointed by the Higher Judicial Council by order of absolute seniority.

The law that the parliament submitted is in line with Article 239 of the 2014 constitution, which states that the parliament issues a law organizing the rules for managing justice affairs and delegating judges and members of judicial bodies and entities within a period not exceeding five years from the date this constitution comes into effect.

Commenting on the draft law proposed to parliament, Judge Mohamed Abdel Mohsen, the head of Egypt’s Judges’ Club, wrote on the club’s Facebook page Dec. 25, “Reducing the judiciary’s authority by amending Article 44 without changing the whole [draft] law is not in line with the requirements of public interest.”

Mohsen noted that the draft law must be amended wholly to be in line with the 2014 constitution.

Saber Ammar, a legal expert and member of the Higher Committee for Legislative Reform, agreed with Mohsen and told Al-Monitor, “We must steer clear of partial legal amendments. Since the [initial] law was issued in the 1970s, it needs wider re-examination instead of amending just one article.”

Mohsen posted on Facebook that the Judges’ Club is working on preparing a complete project with suggestions for the judicial law, in consultation with the concerned parties. He noted that the draft law violates the independence of the judiciary, as it infringes upon the stable judicial constants.

The judges in Egypt refuse the draft law because it interferes with their work. On Dec. 27, the Egyptian Judges’ Club issued a statement, which Al-Monitor examined, indicating absolute refusal of the draft law and considering the parliament’s amendments of the judiciary law a violation of the separation principle between the judicial, legislative and executive authorities.

Sharif told Al-Monitor over the phone, “The Judges’ Club is not concerned with issuing any suggestions on the laws or making amendments related to legislation. This task should be left to the different judicial committees. The draft law is seeking to replace the seniority principle and give more chances based on competence.”

Former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, who had filed a lawsuit to annul the maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, said Dec. 27 that the independence of the judicial committees and the State Council are being targeted in order to limit the judiciary’s role in protecting the legitimacy principle. The draft law came after the State Council issued a ruling stating that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian, but said the ruling contradicted the decision of the Egyptian government to give up the two islands in April 2016. According to Ali, the aim is to undermine the role of the Egyptian judiciary, especially the State Council because of its rulings that often do not go in line with the executive authority’s views.

Former President of the State Council Mohammad Hamed al-Jamal told Al-Monitor that the parliament must withdraw the draft law because this is a judicial affair.

In case the draft law is approved, Jamal said that the judges will have to resort to the constitutional court.

The current clash between the legislative and judicial authorities did not end here. On Jan. 2, a statement issued by the Egyptian Institution for the Protection of the Constitution criticized the government’s decision to refer the maritime demarcation agreement between Saudi Arabia and Egypt without waiting for the final ruling from the Higher Administrative Court.

The institution led by Ambassador Amr Moussa, who is the head of the constituent assembly responsible for drafting the 2014 constitution, expressed its concerns regarding the government’s decision and its timing. The association called on the state authorities to respect the constitution.

(Source / 12.01.2017)