Hamas leader transferred to isolated cell in Israeli jail


The Israeli prison service (IPS) late on Thursday evening transferred the Hamas leader Adnan Younis Abu Tabana to an isolated cell in the Megiddo jail.

Abu Tabana’s wife, Umm Anas, told the PIC she was updated on a decision by the IPS to transfer her husband to solitary confinement in the Israeli Megiddo prison.

She added that her husband was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces from his own family home in al-Zaytoun suburb in al-Khalil and was held in administrative detention, with neither charge nor trial.

The breadwinner of a 12-member family, activist Abu Tabana has spent a total of 10 years in administrative detention in Israeli jails.

The Hamas leader earned a PhD in Islamic History and worked as a junior lecturer at the Quds Open University.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

Morocco arrests 7 suspected Daesh members

Image of Moroccan police [file photo]

Image of Moroccan police [file photo]

Moroccan authorities said today that they had arrested seven suspected militants linked to Daesh and seized weapons and explosive belts.

A statement from the interior ministry said the group had ties with commanders of the militant group in Syria, Iraq and Libya and had set up a hideout in the coastal town of El-Jadida.

It said the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation seized an assault rifle, seven pistols, ammunition and bomb-making material. Authorities said they also found two explosive belts in the raids in El-Jadida, Sale and other towns.

Morocco, a Western ally against Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other militant groups, says that since 2002 it has dismantled more than 150 militant cells linked to groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Hundreds of fighters from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria have joined militant groups in the Middle East and Libya. Security experts say some try to return and create new extremist groups in their home countries.

Authorities blamed religious militants for a bomb which killed 17 people at a tourist cafe in the city of Marrakesh in 2011.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

Will Tunisia restore diplomatic ties with Syria?

Tunisian protesters hold the Iranian and Syrian flags as they protest outside the foreign ministry in Tunis, calling on their government to renew diplomatic relations with Syria, May 28, 2013

During a parliament session Jan. 4, Tunisian Interior Minister Hadi al-Majdoub revealed the presence of a Tunisian security office in Damascus and said daily security coordination was taking place between Tunisia and Syria, even though diplomatic relations have been severed between the two countries since February 2012. The security office seems to have been operating for a while now.

The resumption of security relations between Tunis and Damascus sparked speculation about the possibility of restoring diplomatic ties; this has long been a demand of Tunisian leftist and nationalist political parties and civic organizations.

The Tunisian government refuses to disclose details of the work of its security bureau in Damascus. However, it is clear that the security work is focused on the issue of Tunisian fighters operating with jihadi groups in Syria, mainly the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

Tunisia has been witnessing political controversy and a major split on how to deal with the thousands of fighters returning from hotbeds of tension in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, during his new year’s speech, placed their number at 2,926. He has estimated that there are about 3,000 Tunisian fighters in Syria. This is a drop from a July 2015 UN Panel of Experts report on the use of mercenaries, which estimated that there were 4,000 Tunisian fighters in Syria and 1,000 more in other hotbeds of tension.

It seems that the security coordination step with the Syrian side will be followed by other steps toward full normalization of relations between the two countries.

Tunisian writer and journalist Abdul Sattar al-Aidi told Al-Monitor, “It is true that opening a security bureau in Damascus was a necessary step to coordinate with the Syrian side with regard to the issue of Tunisian terrorists fighting there. But this step is essentially a political move, reflecting the shift in the Tunisian state’s position vis-a-vis the regime in Syria as opposed to its stance during the rule of the Islamic Ennahda Movement and its ally [then-President] Moncef Marzouki. The latter severed all ties with Syria suddenly in February 2012, to the detriment of Tunisia’s strategic interests. The security bureau does not operate on its own, but in the context of the work of the Tunisian Consulate in Damascus, which has been operating in Damascus since September 2015.”

Aidi added, “The major transformations and developments in the Syrian war and the victories achieved by the Syrian army in Aleppo and on other fronts, the Russian support, as well as the shift in stances of major powers such as Turkey that were demanding the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have prompted many Arab countries, most notably Egypt, to work toward the re-normalization of relations with Syria.”

When Marzouki was president, Tunisia announced in February 2012 that it had severed ties with Damascus in protest of what it considered an oppression of popular protests in Syria.

Essebsi promised during his presidential election campaign in December 2014 to work on restoring Tunisia’s diplomatic ties with Syria, but then reneged on his promises in a May 2015 statement, noting that it was not in Tunisia’s best interest to have a Syrian ambassador return.

In April 2015, Tunisian Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche announced his country’s intention to open a consulate in Syria and said Tunisia welcomed the return of the Syrian ambassador.

Essebsi later reflected on Baccouche’s statements by saying, “The decision to dispatch a general consul or a charge d’affaires in Syria aims at taking care of the affairs of the Tunisian community there. This was what Mr. Baccouche meant to say in his statement, I believe. Other than this, Tunisia has not changed its policy toward the situation in Syria.”

In an interview with Euronews on Dec. 2, Essebsi said, “The decision to restore diplomatic relations with Syria ought to be taken within the context of an Arab decision. Tunisia is part of the Arab consensus and agreement.” This shows how the relations between the two countries remain ambiguous and controversial.

Ahmed al-Mannai, director of the Tunisian Institute for International Relations, told Al-Monitor, “Tunisia’s ambiguous position vis-a-vis the full restoration of diplomatic ties with Damascus is due to external pressure. Although there is a general consulate in Damascus and also the security coordination bureau, Essebsi still refuses to talk about the resumption of diplomatic relations and the return of a Syrian ambassador to Tunisia, as he is still waiting for an Arab consensus on the issue.”

Mannai added, “But the truth is that Tunisia fears pressure from donor countries such as Qatar, which opposes the Syrian regime and which pledged to grant Tunisia funds during the International Investment Conference held in November 2016 in Tunis. This is not to mention Western pressure, namely from the US, which does not wish to lift the embargo on Syria, should Tunisia agree to restore diplomatic relations with Syria. Therefore, the decision to resume Tunisian-Syrian relations depends on Tunisia’s sovereign decision-making apart from foreign intervention, be it Arab or Western.”

Tunisia has been witnessing weekly demonstrations since 2014 by popular and political groups demanding the restoration of diplomatic relations with Syria. The Popular Front, which is a coalition of 11 leftist, national and environmental parties and groups, demanded Jan. 17 that ties be restored between the two countries and that a Tunisian-Syrian supreme committee be established to look into matters concerning terrorists and the security situation.

In short, the resumption of diplomatic relations with Syria has become an urgent matter for the Tunisian government, given the number of Tunisian fighters involved in the Syrian war.

The jihadi groups have been dealt severe blows on the Syrian fronts, which pushed many to move to other fronts or return home. This is a prime concern for Tunisia, which is trying to collect as much information as possible about these fighters. Most of the valuable security data is to be found in the dossiers of the Syrian authorities. The latter, however, will not offer any information without a political price in return, the least of which would be full normalization of diplomatic relations. This would be a great political victory for Syria, because when Marzouki decided to sever ties in 2012, he was banking on the departure of Assad within days or months at the latest.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

Osama Zeidat, 15, released on high bail as injured and ill Palestinian children remain imprisoned

Injured Palestinian child prisoner Osama Zeidat, 15, has been released on bail following his second surgery for his severely injured foot, said Palestinian lawyer Akram Samara of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society.

Samara said that the Ofer military appeals court issued an order to release Osama on 25,000 NIS ($6,000 USD) bail paid by his family. He was shot by Israeli occupation forces in his back and foot on 23 September and seized by them, accused of attempting to attack soldiers or settlers, despite the fact that the only person injured was the boy. He underwent a surgery and was held in Shaare Tzedek hospital for three weeks and was transferred to the Ramle prison clinic before his healing had finished. He has continued to be in severe pain, and he was transferred to military court on a hospital bed; at other times, his hearings were cancelled or postponed because of the lack of an ambulance.

His mother, Lina Mar’i, noted that their joy is incomplete due to the massive bail imposed upon Osama, as well as a condition that his father must bring him to the Israeli occupation military court on demand. She noted that he will continue his treatment in a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah.

Following multiple complaints by his family and Palestinian lawyers, Osama received another surgery on his foot on Sunday, 22 January in Assaf Harofeh hospital.

Meanwhile, injured Palestinian child prisoner Ahmed Issa, 17, was ordered by the Salem military court to remain detained until next Monday, 30 January. Ahmed, from Jenin, is held shackled to his hospital bed in Afula hospital. He was run over by an Israeli military jeep on 3 January.  Ahmed’s fellow child prisoner, Sharif Khanfar, 16,  was injured by the same jeep; he is detained in Assaf Harofeh hospital and his leg was amputated.

In addition, child prisoner Ahmed Kaddour, 16, remains imprisoned despite his multiple illnesses and poor health condition. Ahmed was arrested on 2 January near the Ofer military checkpoint west of Ramallah and accused of throwing stones at occupation soldiers. Ahmed is quite ill and suffers from leukemia and epilepsy as well as injuries to his right hand and leg. His family is demanding his immediate release.

These boys are among over 300 Palestinian children currently jailed by the Israeli occupation.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

Israel to return body of slain 18-year-old Palestinian girl after 7 months


HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities decided on Thursday to return the body of 18-year-old Majd al-Khadour to her family for burial in the southern occupied West Bank Hebron-area town of Bani Naim on Friday.

Member of the National Committee for Returning Bodies of Martyrs, Amin al-Bayid, told Ma’an that Israeli authorities informed them that the body of al-Khadour would be returned on Friday, though the time of her release remained unclear.
Al-Khadour was shot and killed by Israeli forces on June 24 after they alleged that the teen attempted to carry out a vehicular attack after her car crashed into a stationary vehicle, lightly injuring two Israelis near the entrance of the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement.
The circumstances of the incident were contested at the time, with some Palestinian social media outlets reporting that eyewitnesses told them the incident appeared to be a car accident, not a premeditated attack.
Video released by Palestinian media of the incident, however, appear to show the car speeding towards a small junction popular for hitchhikers which usually has Israeli military personnel stationed there.
Israeli authorities also announced Thursday that on Friday they would be returning the body of Nidal Daoud Mahdawi, 44, to his family in Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank after it was held by the Israeli government for 10 days.
Mahdawi was shot and killed by Israeli forces on January 17 after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a Tulkarem-area checkpoint.
Al-Khadour and Mahdawi were among 254 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces since a wave of unrest across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel began in October 2015, according to Ma’an documentation.
Amid the violence, Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodieskilled by Israeli forces under the claim that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.
A joint statement released by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah in March condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture.”
PLO official Saeb Erekat has also urged the international community to pressure Israel to release Palestinian bodies held by Israeli, saying: “Israel’s collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead.”
(Source / 27.01.2017)

3 Palestinians injured in IOF assault on Jenin camp


Three Palestinian youths sustained wounds at dawn Friday in violent clashes with the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in the West Bank province of Jenin.

Reporting from the scene, a PIC news correspondent said three youngsters were rushed to a hospital so as to be urgently treated for the moderate wounds sustained in confrontations rocking the Jenin refugee camp.

Tension flared up in the area shortly after the IOF rolled into the camp and cracked down on Palestinian protesters, sparking violence.

The anti-occupation protesters responded by hurling stones, Molotov cocktails, and homemade bombs at the occupation troops.

Sounds of heavy gunfire were detected in the area all the way through the assault.

On Thursday, an Israeli soldier was injured in similar clashes that burst out in the area and was transferred to hospital for treatment.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

Abu Hatab Urges Support for Syrian Interim Government’s Projects to Serve Civilian Population

Head of the Syrian interim government Jawad Abu Hatab renewed calls on the Friends of the Syrian people to step up support for the projects the government is developing to serve the population in the liberated areas.

Abu Hatab emphasized that the interim government is ready to implement those projects with the required speed and accuracy, noting that there are 6 million people living in the liberated areas and in need for urgent support.

Abu Hatab on Thursday toured the town of Azaz in northern rural Aleppo where he met with representatives of civic groups. The representatives highlighted the most urgent needs that must be met to provide better services to the civilian population.

Abu Hatab also met with officials tasked with the formation of a unified judicial council in the liberated areas. He said that the interim government will open a number of courthouses in the coming days, with the central court to be headquartered in the town of Azaz.

Abu Hatab also met with heads of the local council and municipality in Azaz as well as director of the electricity station. The meetings discussed fixing electricity and water issues as well as ways to improve the performance of the municipality.

Abu Hatab met with Brigadier General Qasim Qasim and Brigadier General Adib Shallaf and a number of FSA officers to discuss developing a plan to reactivate administrations of regions, counties and districts and secure the necessary staff.

Abu Hatab concluded the tour by checking on the progress of midterm exams for the Teachers’ Institute in Azaz. He said that nearly 1,600 students in all branches have so far graduated from institute, adding that the institute is very important in the preparation of qualified teachers.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 27.01.2017)

Palestinian leftist Jamal Barham’s administrative detention renewed for three more months

Prominent Palestinian Jamal Barham was ordered to another three months in administrative detention without charge or trial on Thursday, 26 January. Barham, 56, the director of the Arab Studies Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 3 June 2015.

Barham’s home in the village of Ramin near Tulkarem was raided simultaneously with that of fellow Palestinian leftist Shaher al-Rai. His home was ransacked and the family’s electronic devices and memory cards confiscated, including those of his children, with their work as university students. He was taken to a military interrogation center and presented with confessions against him stating that he is active in the Palestinian leftist party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Barham refused to confess or sign a statement and was transferred to administrative detention on 11 June. These “confessions” relate to political activity; one of them is over 20 years old.

Both Barham and al-Rai have been imprisoned without charge or trial since June 2015 under Israeli administrative detention; this marks the fifth renewal of Barham’s administrative detention. He is currently held in the Negev desert prison. Barham spent two and a half years in Israeli prison from 1984 to 1987 for his activities against the occupation; he was then labeled as “wanted” during the late 1990s and the beginning of the second Intifada.

Barham’s wife, Amira, is a coordinator of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees; they have three children, Ghassan, a medical student in Egypt; Majd, a new graduate in engineering from An-Najah University; and Jamil, an accounting student at Kaddouri University in Tulkarem.

Barham is one of 700 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, and one of 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners.. These orders, issued for one to six month periods, are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians like Barham can spend years in administrative detention before release.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

Egypt officials betray Sisi, attempt to reconcile with Muslim Brotherhood

Headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [File photo]

Headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [File photo]

Egyptian Sisi regime officials have recently been attempting to reconcile with the Muslim Brotherhood, going behind President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s back in the process, reports have indicated.

Figures from the Egyptian government have been speaking to the banned group about working on a reconciliation deal, London-based Brotherhood leader Mohamed Sudan told The New Arab.

“Second-level leaders in some agencies of the Sisi regime have visited Istanbul to express their desire to join the anti-coup camp and others have done the same during meetings in Cairo,” Sudan said.

Sudan did not reveal the identities of the Egyptian officials speaking to the Brotherhood on a possible compromise deal between the two sides.

This week marked six years since the 2011 uprising that ousted long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak. In 2013, a military coup led by current President Al-Sisi overthrew former Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohammad Morsi and began a ruthless crackdown on his supporters and opponents of Al-Sisi’s military rule.

Egypt has been blasted time and again for its indiscriminate counterterrorism laws that have classified thousands of people as “terrorists” for their alleged assistance, support or even sympathy towards the Muslim Brotherhood.

News of a possible reconciliation comes as reports of an executive order under consideration by newly inaugurated President Donald Trump would direct Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to determine whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organisation which would support Al-Sisi’s own endeavours against the group.

The Trump administration also renewed its pledges to the Egyptian regime, saying that it was committed to providing military assistance to the Sisi regime following a telephone call from Al-Sisi who was the first Arab leader to congratulate Trump after his inauguration as President of the United States last week.

(Source / 27.01.2017)

PA threatens to withdraw recognition of Israel

Senior official threatens to withdraw Palestinian Authority’s recognition of Israel if US embassy is moved to Jerusalem.

Palestinian demonstrated against Trump's promise to re-locate the US embassy to Jerusalem [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Palestinian demonstrated against Trump’s promise to re-locate the US embassy to Jerusalem

A senior member of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party has threatened to withdraw the Palestinian Authority’s recognition of Israel in response to the planned relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

During his electoral campaign, US President Donald Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem despite reluctance to do so by past administrations.

Speaking to the Voice of Palestine radio station on Tuesday, Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said the Palestinian Authority, or PA, planned to adopt a raft of retaliatory measures in the event of the embassy’s relocation.

Inside Story – Another attempt at peace for Palestine and Israel

“One of these steps would be to withdraw recognition of the Israeli state,” said Ahmad.

“[We would also] demand that Israel recognise Palestine as a state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The Fatah official went on to assert that Palestinians would “escalate their peaceful popular resistance” in response to any embassy move.

Earlier in the day, Osama Hamdan, the spokesman for Hamas,  a group that governs the Gaza Strip, told Al Jazeera that Trump should not add “oil to the fire” by moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem remains at the core of long-standing disputes between Israel and the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel for 50 years – as the capital of a future state.

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

Although Israel has claimed the city as its “eternal capital” since occupying East Jerusalem in 1967, the international community has never recognised the assertion.

Until now, most foreign diplomatic missions remain based in Tel Aviv.

On Monday, the White House announced that “no decisions” had been made on the planned move, saying talks on the issue were still in the “very early stages”.

Earlier this month, Republican politicians in the US introduced legislation, which is still winding its way through the Senate, to relocate the embassy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

(Source / 27.01.2017)