Council of Europe condemns Gaza siege as ‘collective punishment’


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a report on Tuesday outlining the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip and reiterating its support for lifting the decade-long siege of the territory, which it called “collective punishment” imposed on Palestinians in contravention of international law.The assembly highlighted the “deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza,” as 71 percent of the coastal enclave’s residents are Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which established the state of Israel, and 43 percent of the total population is unemployed.The report referenced the lack of access to clean drinking water in the besieged territory, with Palestinians in Gaza only able to access water between five and eight hours a day due to crippling power shortages.In addition, the assembly blamed the vast destruction caused by Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip for exacerbating hardship in the small Palestinian territory, as hundreds of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, more than 12,500 homes were completely destroyed, and at least 100,000 Palestinians were displaced.The report went on to detail several aspects of the blockade that have strained the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the lack of free movement of people and goods, the depleting energy and water supply, the “unjustified” harassment and killing of Palestinian fishermen on the coast, and the use of “excessive and intentional force without justification against Palestinian civilians in the buffer zone, including against farmers, journalists, medical crews and peaceful protesters,” which it said was “blatantly counter to human rights principles and the international law.”It also highlighted the “deliberate fatal shooting of individuals who posed no imminent danger to life,” saying it amounted to “an appalling pattern of apparently systematic unlawful killings.”“The lifting of the blockade of Gaza is a vital precondition for the resolution of the humanitarian crisis and should be supported by the international community through the provision of security conditions necessary for the free movement of people and goods,” the report read, adding that a “new international conference” should be initiated to ensure the reconstruction of the enclave.“The nine-year blockade of Gaza by both Israel and Egypt has subjected its population to collective punishment in contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law,” the report added.The assembly reiterated its “constant position” that a two-state solution to the prolonged Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the “cessation of new [Israeli] settlements and the extension of old ones” in the occupied Palestinian territory was the only option that could “create the necessary framework for the normalization of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the promotion of Palestinian state-building.”The report also urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s preliminary investigation into potential war crimes committed in Gaza, which was launched in January 2015. It also urged European countries to back a “future official examination by the ICC” if the ongoing preliminary investigation revealed war crimes were indeed committed.The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past eight years, including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical infrastructure, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade, led the UN to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.“The blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel, which entered its tenth year in June 2016, must be lifted,” the council’s report said. “The blockade has subjected the Palestinians living in Gaza to collective punishment in flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.”Ending the blockade would be the only way to ensure Palestinians in Gaza have access to “basic and inalienable human rights,” the report concluded.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

CIA: Bin Laden Opposes Ousting Ali Abdullah Saleh


In this Dec. 24, 1998, file photo, Muslim militant and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden speaks to a selected group of reporters in the mountains of Helmand province in Afghanistan

Washington – An ISIS official sent al-Qaeda Leader Osama bin Laden a letter inciting him to take action as it was the perfect time for the organization to lay hand over Sana’a. Bin Laden perceived that establishing an Islamic state in Yemen is now supported by adequate conditions, but he did not find this idea favorable and replied in a letter, whose draft was later on found by the CIA when raiding his place of residence in May 2011.

In his letter, Bin Laden disclosed that al-Qaeda is keen that former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains in presidency and that the organization’s interest is embodied in maintaining peace with Saleh although seen as a disbeliever by al-Qaeda.

As for initial reasons, “We should quit thinking regionally. True, there are Sykes–Picot borders but all these borders will vanish when establishing an Islamic state.”

Practical Obstacles

Osama bin Laden called for being rational and not rushing in the establishment of an Islamic state in Yemen because “it will collapse by siege, poverty and negotiations with tribes’ sheikhs to fight us.”

“People perceive the concept of a state in a way that makes the state obliged to provide jobs, something which we can’t do at this stage,” continued bin Laden in his letter. He warned that any Islamic state will face a revolution within days of establishing it, regardless if people support it or not, due to lack of food which means their death.

Al-Qaeda Benefits from Saleh

“I would like to trigger one basic issue, the U.S. and Gulf were in a quest to change the regime of Saleh. This means that they see him an ineligible and they are aware of the huge financial and administrative corruption that urged the spread of Islamic attitudes,” the letter said.

It added, “We can’t spread our message amidst chaos. A country of no ruler to settle security will extract the aggressiveness in people who will have one priority: to protect themselves and their dignity.”

Bin Laden was Right

Bin Laden said several times in his letter that Gulf countries “will not leave the region’s countries without a ruler”. He added, “We support eradication of financial and administrative corruption. People are free to demand their rights. We contribute with the people in objectively criticizing the government without hinting on Saleh being an agent.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

Israeli Army Bombards A Resistance Post In Gaza

25 JAN
8:02 AM

Israeli soldiers fired, on Tuesday at night, several missiles into a site, run by an armed resistance group, east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, causing excessive damage.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said the army fired several missiles at a monitoring tower, and nearby buildings, leading to very loud explosions that caused serious property damage, but caused no casualties.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said medics, rescue teams and firefighters, rushed to the site of the attack, and confirmed that there have been no casualties.

The Israeli army claimed it fired missiles in retaliation to live rounds fired from Gaza, targeting military vehicles driving near the border fence with Gaza.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

Hamas warns Trump against moving embassy to Jerusalem

Spokesperson tells Al Jazeera move would add ‘oil to the fire’ and insists Palestinians will not abandon the city.

Many believe the US consulate building in Jerusalem, which serves both American citizens and visa-seeking Palestinians, could be the site of the US Embassy in Jerusalem

Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan has warned US President Donald Trump not to add “more oil on the fire” by moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Hamdan’s comments came in response to promises made by Trump and his administration to make the move – a decision that would effectively recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The eastern sector of Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 in an act that was not recognised by any other country in the world.

Trump’s press secretary said last week that the new administration was in “the beginning stages” of discussing a possible relocation.

“[Trump] has to make a choice whether he wants to create peace in the region or he wants to add more oil on the fire,” Hamdan said in an interview with Al Jazeera’s UpFront.

“Palestinians will not accept to abandon Jerusalem, they will not accept to abandon their rights.”

Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state, and have had the broad support of the international community for that aspiration.

READ MORE: Trump’s embassy move to Jerusalem ‘self-destructive’

On Tuesday, Jean-Marc Ayrault, French foreign minister, reiterated his country’s stance of pursuing a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Separately, in Iraq, popular Shia Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the potential relocation as a “declaration of war on Islam”.

Palestinian political party Fatah has also issued warnings to Trump against it.

While previous US presidents have maintained that the status of Jerusalem would be left to “final status negotiations” between the Israelis and the Palestinians, they have not formally and unilaterally accepted Israel’s declaration that its capital should be an undivided Jerusalem.

Rights groups say that, despite international opposition, Israel – and in particular, the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has worked to actively change the demographics of occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel has been revoking Palestinians’ residency, demolishing their homes, and building illegal settlements for Israeli Jewish settlers under threat of violence.

Last month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding Israel halt settlement activity, calling it a “flagrant violation of international law”.

Asked whether the embassy moving to Jerusalem would lead to violence, Hamdan told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan: “If there was changes or the United States administration try to make a change in the status of Jerusalem, of course, that will mean an action from the Palestinian side and no one can control that.”

Hamdan added that he personally does not “accept the idea of having violence from the Palestinian side”.

These remarks conform with previous statements made by Palestinian groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, linking attacks by Palestinians – usually acting on their own – against Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers as resulting from “provocations”.

“Everyone expected this to happen. Jerusalem is boiling. Yesterday, the Israeli forces demolished the houses of the Palestinians who attacked Israelis, but they never punish Israeli attackers,” Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas official, told Al Jazeera after a November 2014 attack on a synagogue.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

Two New Death Sentences in Gaza

25 JAN
2:09 AM

On Tuesday, 24 January 2017, two new death sentences by hanging were issued in the Gaza Strip. The first one was issued by Deir al-Balah Court of First Instance against (Gh. E.) from the central Gaza Strip after being convicted of premeditated murder of his brother (30). The second one was issued on the same day by the Gaza Court of First Instance against (Kh. Sh.) from Gaza City after being convicted of premeditated murder of (N. A.) with the participation of another person.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the excessive application of this punishment in the Gaza Strip in light of absence of fair trial guarantees and lack of fragile interrogation techniques.

PCHR calls upon the judiciary in Gaza not to issue any death sentence in light of the division and the resulted absence of rule of law and techniques needed to come out with a conviction based on certainty.

The number of issued death sentences amounted to 4 since the beginning of 2017, and the first month in which has not ended yet. Meanwhile, no death sentences were issued in the West Bank.

The total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 178 sentences since 1994, 20 of which have been issued in the West Bank and 159 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 100 sentences have been issued since 2007.

Since the establishment of the PA, 35 death sentences were applied; 33 of which were in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank.

Among the sentences applied in the Gaza Strip, 22 were applied since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law, and 3 of which were implemented on 31 May 2016.

Those three were the first death sentences to be implemented without the Palestinian presidential ratification following the formation of the National Unity Government in June 2014.

PCHR emphasized that those death sentences were extra-judicial execution and constitute a flagrant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law since they required the ratification of the Palestinian President for implementation.

PCHR follows up with deep concern the excessive application of this serious and irreversible punishment.

PCHR is also gravely concerned over the continued application of death penalty in the PA controlled areas, and calls upon the Palestinian President to sign the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty and issue a presidential decree to halt it until the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convenes and abolishes it.

PCHR also calls upon the PLC, if convened, to review all legislations related to the death penalty, especially the Penal Law No. 74 (1936) which remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that is in effect in the West Bank, and enacting a unified penal code that is in line with the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty.

Moreover, PCHR points out that the call for abolition of the death penalty does not reflect tolerance for those convicted of serious crimes, but rather a call for utilizing deterrent penalties that maintain our humanity.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

PA calls for UN to brand 2 settler orgs as ‘terrorists’

Image of Israeli settlers [file photo]

Image of Israeli settlers [file photo]

The Palestinian Authority (PA) called for the UN Security Council to brand two Israeli Jewish settler organisations as “terrorist groups,” Quds Press reported yesterday.

In a statement, the PA’s information ministry said that the Hebrew Shepherd group works on “gathering failed students and those who dropped out of schools to work in the Israeli settlements that swallow up Palestinian land.”

The ministry said that the Israeli education ministry, headed by hardliner Naftali Bennett, offers official funds for this organisation and cooperates with it regarding the implementation of its programmes. “This reinforces settlement and confiscation of [Palestinian] land,” the statement said.

The coordinator for public relations in the Palestinian information ministry, Nidaa Younis, noted that her ministry had been working to expose officially-funded Israeli groups.

“The ministry follows up these organisations to prosecute them in light of the fact that Israeli officials target Palestinian organisations and accuse them of sponsoring terrorism and incitement,” she said, indicating that the same standards ought to be applied to extremist Jewish organisations.

She reiterated the importance of UNESCO carrying out its role in putting pressure on the Israeli education ministry to stop cooperating with these organisations.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

Sadr warns Trump: US Embassy-move will trigger far-reaching repercussions

Sadr warns Trump: US Embassy-move will trigger far-reaching repercussions

Firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has added his voice to a growing cacophony of objectors to pledges made by Trump to move Washington’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem

Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Tuesday that if the newly inaugurated US President goes ahead with plans to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv it will be tantamount to a “declaration of war against Islam”.

During his election campaign Trump called for the embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem, arousing support among many Israeli politicians, but generating fear among Palestinians that his White House would support hawkish policies in the occupied territories.

Speaking on Tuesday Sadr – a wily political operator whose forces once fought against US forces in Iraq, and whose supporters temporarily occupied Baghdad’s “Green Zone” last year – also said that if the US Embassy was moved then Washington’s embassy in Iraq should be closed “immediately” even calling for the potential formation of a “special division to liberate Jerusalem were the decision to be implemented”.

Sadr also called on the Cairo-based Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – an international organisation of 57 member states – to take a stand on the issue.

In a related development on Tuesday, Arabi21 reported that Jordanian officials were preparing to work against any potential attempts to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. This comes ahead of an Arab League summit scheduled to take place in Oman in March, with King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas having recently met and discussed the issue.

Palestinian and Arab leaders have warned that relocating the US embassy could foment popular discontent in the occupied territories and have far-reaching diplomatic repercussions.

Demonstrations against such a move took place in a number of Palestinian cities and towns last week, with Israeli security forces on alert over the possibility of escalations of violence.

Speaking on Sunday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration was “at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” seemingly downplaying rumours that any move was imminent.

(Source  / 25.01.2017)

Syria strikes kill 11 fleeing IS town: monitor

A government air strike killed 11 people on January 24, 2017, as they fled Syria’s northern town of Al-Bab, which is under Islamic State group control

At least 11 people, including two children, were killed Tuesday in Syrian government air strikes as they fled a northern town held by the Islamic State group, a monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported 12 civilians and 15 IS fighters were killed in air strikes and shelling in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

The monitor said the group of 11 were fleeing the embattled IS-held town of Al-Bab, near the northern border with Turkey, when they were hit in a government air strike.

The dead included at least 10 civilians, among them two children, but the identity of the 11th person killed was unclear.

The strike hit the group as they reached the nearby village of Qasr al-Bureij, also under IS control, the Observatory said.

Al-Bab in the northern province of Aleppo has come under heavy assault in recent weeks, with Turkish, Russian and Syrian warplanes carrying out strikes in or around the town.

IS is also fighting fierce battles in Deir Ezzor city, which the jihadist group has besieged since early 2015.

It already controlled half the city, but has made further advances in recent days, prompting fierce fighting and heavy air strikes by both Syria and its Russian ally.

The Observatory said air strikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes killed 12 civilians and 15 IS fighters, but the toll could rise further.

Deir Ezzor is the capital of the oil-rich province of the same name which borders Iraq.

The fighting has forced the World Food Programme to suspend air drops of aid to besieged civilians in the city, and the UN has warned food s upplies could run out within weeks.

More than 310,00 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests that were met with a regime crackdown.

A truce brokered by Russia and rebel backer Turkey has been in place since December 30, but it excludes IS.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

A martyr who foiled Israeli intelligence plots


Some might accept spying for the enemy under certain conditions, but this very notion does not exist in Ahmed Shubair’s dictionary, who considers it a betrayal and a violation of human dignity. “The struggle between death and life” was the fear that controlled Ahmed’s mind for two years, but he finally took his decision to die “standing like trees.”

“Daddy, in brief, they asked me to spy for them. I told them I prefer to die in Gaza over selling myself at a cheap price for them, and to harm my people and cause,” was the conclusion of 12 hours of interrogation the 17-year-old Ahmed Hassan Shubair spent inside the Israeli intelligence room, pressuring him to spy for them in return for allowing him to get needed medication, or else he would return to Gaza and die there.

Ahmed could not have the surgery he needed for the last few months and passed away, and with his death, he proved to be an example of honesty and wrote his name in history as a loving-person for his homeland, to be called the martyr of the siege.


Shubair suffered from congenital heart defects since he was born. He traveled 40 times for medication purposes, yet his attempts to travel recently have been faced with Israeli permit denial, after the Israeli intelligence officers failed to pressure him to work as a spy for them, and thus choosing to die in Gaza over working as a traitor for the Israeli occupiers.

The story of the child was repeated with his father. The Israeli occupation tried to pressure Ahmed’s father to work as a spy for them, but he refused, using his son’s need for medication. Hassan, Ahmed’s father, replied to the intelligence officer’s offer by saying, “As you care about your state, I care about my country and my people.”

Hassan Shubair, telling the PIC of the details of the death of his son Ahmed, said, “Since my son was born, he suffered from four heart defects, but he was always patient and hopeful that he will recover eventually. He lived his life on hope and he used to travel to Israeli hospitals from time to time to get needed medication.”

Security Check
Ahmed used to get medication in the past without facing any problem, but the last two years have been difficult for him. In 2015, his journey with suffering started and the Israeli occupation officers started bargaining Ahmed to work for them as a spy, making his life and the life of his family even harder.

Ahmed’s father explains, “The first time the Israeli intelligence offered Ahmed and his mother to spy for them was on 22 March 2016. The Israeli occupation pressured them and offered them medication in return for spying, but they refused. They were eventually allowed to travel.”

Ahmed’s father continued, “After the return of Ahmed and his mother to Gaza, they travelled again on 18 April 2016. The doctors set an appointment for them in September 2016 to have an open-heart surgery, but when they applied for permits to have the needed surgery, they were surprised to get rejection.”

Security Interview
On 10 October 2016, the parents took their sick child to the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing to the north of Gaza to have an interview upon the request of the Israeli intelligence, starting a new stage of bargaining to pressure him to get medication in return for spying for them.

During the interview, which lasted for 12 hours, the Israeli intelligence tore down Ahmed’s medication permit in an attempt to pressure him to spy for them, and asked him questions about members in the Palestinian resistance groups, and his neighbors and friends, according to his mother.

The mother told the PIC, with her eyes full of tears, “My son refused considerable offers from the Israeli intelligence agents, who left him alone for long hours to psychologically pressure him, yet he was patient and sought God’s help.”

Ahmed’s mother pointed out that the Israeli intelligence officer offered her to work as a spy for them in return for allowing her son to get needed medication, but she firmly refused this offer, saying: “I am a house wife and I am not involved in such things, and my goal is to get medication for my son to recover just like the rest of the children of the world.”

The mother recalls her son’s dream before passing away when he told her that he “wishes to live six more months to get the high school certificate.” She continued, “He dreamed of becoming a heart doctor to help others like him,” yet after the last interview with the Israeli intelligence all doors were shut down in his face, and his health condition got worse until he passed away on 14 January 2016 after he performed the Dawn prayer and read Al-Kahf Chapter in the holy Quraan, and after we chatted with each other and after he helped me with the laundry.”


A Palestinian human rights report has revealed that there is an increase in the number of deaths among Palestinians in Gaza due to entry denial by the Israeli authorities, especially those planning to travel to the West Bank, Jerusalem and the 1948 Territories.”

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights has revealed in statement that since the beginning of 2016, the number of Palestinians denied permits to cross the Erez Crossing to reach out to hospitals has increased, with 50% to 60% of them cancer patients.

The center noted that the coordination department at the PA has received 26,277 applications to get permits in 2016, 16,289 of which have been approved, with a total percentage of 61%, while 1,725 were rejected and the rest are still to be considered.

(Source / 25.01.2017)

Qeiq’s wife strip-searched, 17 Palestinians kidnapped by IOF


The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Wednesday kidnapped 17 Palestinians from the West Bank and subjected a prisoner’s wife to a strip search.

“The occupation army stormed my family home in Dura town, in al-Khalil, and wreaked havoc on the building, before they strip-searched me and summoned me for questioning,” Fayhaa Shelesh, the wife of the imprisoned Palestinian journalist Mohamed al-Qeiq, said on Facebook.

A Palestinian youth—Ezzedine Al-Titi—was, meanwhile, kidnapped by the IOF from his home in the al-Fawar refugee camp, in southern al-Khalil province.

The occupation soldiers further stormed a smithy owned by Ibrahim Hmeidat in al-Khalil’s western town of Surif and seized its equipment before they summoned the blacksmith for interrogation.

Meanwhile, an assault by the IOF on Nour Shams camp, in Tulkarem province, culminated in the abduction of six Palestinian civilians.

The IOF reportedly cracked down on Palestinian citizens and ravaged civilian homes. Several Palestinians have also been subjected to intensive searches and interrogations.

Speaking to the PIC, local sources said the IOF stormed Tulkarem’s camp of Nour Shams in over 20 army jeeps before they cordoned off the shelter from all sides and rummaged into civilian homes.

The six arrestees were identified as Mohamed Ghreifi, Raji Ghreifi, Mohamed Azza, Ali Abu Salah, Ramez Alyan, and Ali Ameen Abu Al-Rub.

Palestinian citizen Bassem Sa’id al-Barghouti was, meanwhile, kidnapped by the Israeli soldiers from Ramallah while Nidhal Andouniyeh and Ameer Andouniyeh were arrested in Bethlehem.

Another Palestinian—Malek Mohamed Hameed—was arrested by the Israeli forces in Occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 25.01.2017)