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Dagelijks archief 9 maart 2017

Israeli forces take measurements of martyr Qanbar home

Fadi Qanbar martelaar

Israeli forces stormed on Thursday the home of martyr Fadi Qanbar in Mount Scopus town east of Occupied Jerusalem and took its measurements in order to pave the way for its demolition or closure.

The uncle of the martyr, Abu Ali, said that Israeli forces took measurements of the streets surrounding the home as well in order to be able to enter Israeli heavy vehicles and bulldozers either for razing or closing the house with concrete.

Israeli policemen killed the Palestinian Fadi Qanbar after carrying out an anti-occupation truck-ramming attack against a group of soldiers in Armon HaNetziv settlement in Mount Scopus on January 08. Four soldiers were killed and fifteen got injured including eight in very serious conditions.

Since the anti-occupation attack, the family of martyr Qanbar has been subjected to a series of Israeli punitive measures including arrests of youths and women, handing over home-demolition notices for the claim of lacking construction permits, and withdrawing some of their residence permits.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

Iraq deputy FM: Daesh ‘picked the wrong country’ to invade

Iraqi security forces with weapons and armoured cars attend an operation held to retake Mosul from Daesh on 20 February 2017

Iraqi Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Nazar Khairullah said in comments at a prestigious London-based security think tank today that the Daesh extremist organisation had “picked the wrong country” to attempt to set up their caliphate in.

Speaking earlier this afternoon at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in the British capital, the deputy foreign minister said that Daesh and other extremist organisations would find it difficult to permanently hold territory in Iraq.

Since the last 40 years, Iraqis have been fighting wars and are trained for war, Khairullah said. “For example the war with Iran for eight years, the Gulf War…when volunteers sign up to fight Daesh, they’re sent immediately to the front because they are already trained.

Khairullah praised the Iraqi armed forces saying that Baghdad was “proud of our forces in the last six months” since just before the operation to recapture Mosul began.

Mosul, Daesh’s largest urban holding, has been under the extremist organisation’s control since June 2014 when they and several other Iraqi armed rebel groups routed the Iraqi army and captured about a third of the country.

Though he was optimistic that Iraq would eventually prevail against Daesh in Iraq, the Iraqi minister warned that “the next few weeks [in Mosul] will be harder”, as the “fighting has been tough, difficult…[and was being fought] under extremely difficult circumstances.”

Iraq needs ‘societal education’

In more controversial remarks, Khairullah said that Iraqi society required “education” for the country to be able to defeat terrorism and extremist ideologies espoused by groups like Daesh. The deputy foreign minister appeared to suggest that there was a problem with Iraqi society and its acceptance for radicalisation.

Khairullah laid the blame for this alleged Iraqi propensity for extremism firmly at the door of foreign fighters who joined extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and subsequently Daesh following the illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Read: Iraq unleashes mass destruction, death & displacement on Mosul

Claiming that it was unfair for critics to slam the Iraqi government and post-invasion political process for the rise of Daesh, the Iraqi diplomat said: “Why are there terrorist attacks in Belgium, France if Daesh are so interested in internal Iraqi politics?”

According to the minister, the Daesh threat was a global problem and one that needed to be fought internationally, with an ever-increasing participation of the world’s nations within the current US-led coalition.

Post-Daesh Iraq?

Due to the minister blaming foreign fighters and not the political process, MEMO asked Khairullah about the infiltration of Iran-backed Shia jihadists within the Iraqi state and security apparatus, particularly the Badr Organisation, who largely control the interior ministry and have tens of thousands of its former death squad members now in the uniform of the Iraqi federal police.

Khairullah did not respond fully to MEMO’s question, but instead said that the present Iraqi government is conscious of “previous mistakes” and that he believes that “inclusion is a main part of democracy”, indicating that Baghdad is conscious of the overall negative impact on Iraq of sectarian Shia militias. However, it was unclear if the authorities planned to do anything to counter this.

Iraqi officials are often hesitant to discuss issues relating to specific militias and death squads, as many of them receive support from Iraq’s powerful Shia neighbour Iran, who exerts control over much of Iraq’s policy. Also, many Shia jihadist groups control entire ministries, such as the Badr Organisation’s control over Iraq’s militarised police force.

However, Khairullah acknowledged that there were concerns regarding the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an Iran-backed paramilitary organisation that was recently made as an official part of the Iraqi armed forces, though separate to the other service branches.

The Iraqi diplomat said: When the Hashd Al-Sha’abi [PMF] law was passed last year, it went through discussions in parliament. The [law legalising the PMF] now stipulates that 35 per cent of the Hashd must be from minority groups.

 By “minority groups”, Khairullah was referring to Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens and others. Collectively, however, these minorities are about 65 per cent of the total Iraqi population, so the PMF’s 35 per cent minority quota is about half of what is required for a truly representative force.

The deputy foreign minister concluded by stating that he hoped Iraq would be successful in building national institutions, including the army, and that his country may attempt to achieve this through initiatives such as reintroducing compulsory military service. In this way, the minister argued, Iraqis would be able to have a sense of joint belonging to the state in order to “preserve Iraq’s unity”.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

US transferred frozen PA funds to humanitarian organizations


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The United States government has transferred frozen funds initially intended for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to humanitarian organizations operating in the occupied Palestinian territory instead, a US official told Ma’an on Thursday.

According to reports in Hebrew media, Deputy Spokesperson of US Department of State Mark Toner said the decision was made after $221 million worth of funds, which were initially released by former President Barack Obama in the final hours of his president in January, were frozen by US President Donald Trump.
Toner reportedly said that the money was set to be transferred to organizations supporting the education, infrastructure sectors in the occupied territory, and to reconstruction efforts in the besieged Gaza Strip following Israel’s devastating 2014 offensive.
None of the money would be transferred to the PA, Toner reportedly said.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the money originated from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and was meant to be spent on humanitarian aid in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip and to support the development of good governance strategies in preparation for an independent Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, US Consulate General spokesman Clayton Alderman told Ma’an that, contrary to initial reports, the funds had already been released to USAID and been earmarked for a number of “implementing partners,” which include non-governmental organizations operating in the occupied Palestinian territory and creditors to which the PA owed money for electricity and other infrastructural needs.
“None of the funds have gone directly to the PA,” Alderman said.
The funds were originally put on hold by at least two Republican lawmakers, Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, according to the Times of Israel.
Following the news of Obama’s release of the funds, Granger released a statement on Tuesday saying that she was “deeply disappointed” by the decision, and that she had “worked to make sure that no American taxpayer dollars would fund the Palestinian Authority unless very strict conditions were met.”
Trump has been vocal in his support for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and also abandoned the internationally supported two-state solution during a press conference last month, saying that he could “live with either” a two-state or one-state solution to the conflict.
Following Trump’s election, Israel’s ultra-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that a Trump presidency would mark the end of a push for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“This is the position of the president-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over,” he said.
While Obama had publicly condemned Israel’s settlement building in the past, the former president still signed a $38 billion military aid package back in September, promising Israel the hefty sum in the form of financial assistance and missile defense systems over the course of 10 years. The deal represents the largest foreign aid package given to a country in US history.
(Source / 09.03.2017)

Report: Israel indcits Palestinian ‘Hezbollah operative’ for planning abduction

Youssef Yasser Sweilem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli media reported on Thursday that in a joint operation, Israeli intelligence, army, and police officials arrested a Palestinian “Hezbollah operative,” from the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya.

An Israeli military court indicted Youssef Yasser Sweilem, 23, for planning “terrorist operations,” charging him with “aggravated security offenses.”
Arutz Sheva reported that Sweilem, a locksmith by profession, “was recruited to Hezbollah using a Facebook profile used to identify potential recruits to the organization.”
According to the news website, Sweilem was being trained to carry out an “abduction,” and was instructed to perform various tasks such as photographing and gathering information on Israeli army bases, checkpoints, and sites in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
Sweilem was also allegedly instructed “to set up a terror cell, which was to carry out an abduction and transfer the abductee to Lebanese territory,” Arutz Sheva reported. It remained unclear if the target was an Israeli military personnel or an Israeli citizen.
None of the Israeli agencies responsible for the operation were immediately available for comment on the report, whih was released for publication Thursday.
(Source / 09.03.2017)

Israeli forces detain 31 Palestinians overnight, including MP

31 Palestijnen opgepakt

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 31 Palestinians, including one lawmaker and four minors, in overnight detention raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem between Wednesday and Thursday, Israeli and Palestinian sources told Ma’an.

Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 73 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, which included four members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Southern West Bank

In Hebron, the southernmost West Bank district, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported the detentions of eight Palestinians, including PLC member Samira al-Halaiqa, who locals said was detained in al-Shuyukh.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a “Hamas terror operative” was detained in al-Shuyukh.

Al-Halaiqa’s detention occurred three days after Israeli forces detained Palestinian lawmakers Khalid Tafish and Anwar Zboun, both deputies of the Change and Reform bloc in the PLC.

PPS identified the other Hebron-area detainees as Mutasim Faruq Masalma, Mahmoud Raed Masalma, brothers Majid and Mursi al-Ajlouni, Rami Idris, Khalid Awwad, and Tariq Rshidat.

Locals told Ma’an that the two Masalmas were detained in Beit Awwa, while the al-Ajlounis and Idris were detained in the city of Hebron.

Local sources added that Khalid Muhammad Zaaqiaa was detained in the village of Beit Ummar.

In the Bethlehem district, PPS reported that Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Shuka, a Palestinian from the besieged Gaza Strip, was detained at the Container checkpoint.

Central West Bank and East Jerusalem

In occupied East Jerusalem, locals said that Israeli forces detained at least three Palestinian boys between the ages of 11 and 15 from the neighborhood of Silwan, identifying them as Hussam al-Zaghal, Rami al-Julani, and Malik al-Qaisi.

PPS confirmed the detentions, adding that Muhammad Alqam, Jawad Abu Sneineh, and minor Muhammad Mustafa were also detained in East Jerusalem.

In the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, PPS said that Mahmoud Hassan al-Luzi and Ahmad Hassan Mteir were detained in the Qalandiya refugee camp.

The Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an confirmed two detentions in Qalandiya, and mentioned another detention in the Jerusalem-district village of Qatanna.

PPS said Diyaa Rizq Hmeidat and Hazim Mahmoud Hanoun were detained in the Ramallah district. Locals said Hanoun was detained in the village of Budrus.

Meanwhile, PPS said Imad Raja Ayyash was detained in the village of Rafat in the Salfit district. The Israeli army confirmed one detention in Rafat.

Northern West Bank

PPS said Mahmoud Kayid Abu Adwan, Ibrahim Talal Shrem, and Nidal Ahmad Hussein were detained in the Qalqiliya district, while Mahmoud Hussein Abu Hamza, 20, Muthana Abd al-Rahim al-Masri, 23, and Issa Omar Odeh, 24 were detained in the Tulkarem district.

The Israeli army said that three alleged “Hamas operatives” were detained in Tulkarem.

In the Nablus district, PPS report the detentions of Jihad Nashata, Assif Taim, and Suleiman Uweis.

Locals said Nashata and Taim were detained in the village of Qabalan, while Uweis was from the village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

Is an ‘Arab NATO’ in the works?

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the graduation of the 83rd batch of the Egyptian Air Force Academy in Cairo, July 20, 2016

CAIRO — The convergence of views between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and US President Donald Trump has seemingly led Trump to turn into a facilitator of Sisi’s dreams. These dreams include banning the Muslim Brotherhood and founding a joint Arab force. On Feb. 15, The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed Arab officials as saying that the Trump administration is in talks with Arab allies about forming a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter their mutual foe, Iran.

The US newspaper noted that the alliance consultations are underway with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Wall Street Journal report also revealed that the Trump administration asked Egypt to host negotiations on an Arab military alliance and that the alliance would have a NATO-style mutual-defense component under which an attack on one member would be treated as an attack on all.

The article added that the United States would offer military and intelligence support to the alliance, but neither the United States nor Israel would be part of the mutual-defense pact. In other words, attacks on the United States and Israel would not require an Arab intervention and vice versa.

Sisi had raised the idea of the Arab military alliance on Feb. 22, 2015, in a recorded speech broadcast on Egyptian state TV. He said the need to form a joint Arab military force is increasing by the day, at a time when the Arab region is facing the risk of militant groups.

Also, the closing statement of the 26th Arab Summit confirmed on March 29, 2015, that the Arab leaders endorsed the formation of a joint Arab military force to meet the challenges and maintain the Arab national security, and that the details of such a force and its creation mechanisms would be agreed upon within four months. As he read the final communique, former Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby confirmed that participation in such a force would be optional for the Arab League states.

Based on the closing statement of the Arab League, the first meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of the Arab armies took place at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo on April 21-22, 2015, and it was headed by Egyptian Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Hijazi and attended by the Chiefs of Staff of the armies of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Libya and Jordan. The group agreed on the formation of a broader working group to discuss the formation, mission and funding sources of the force.

Based on the findings of the group, another meeting was held between the Chiefs of Staff on May 24, 2015, to discuss the initial protocol for the establishment of the joint Arab force and subsequently raise it with the defense ministers of the concerned countries in preparation for its adoption in a new meeting in August.

The protocol entrusted six essential tasks to the force, namely: intervene militarily to counter terrorist threats; participate in peacekeeping and security operations in the member states; help Arab countries restore, construct and equip their military and security capabilities; participate in securing relief and humanitarian aid operations in conflict zones; protect civilians against emergencies resulting from these conflicts or natural disasters; and protect maritime, land and air transport roads and fight piracy.

In a statement on Aug. 26, 2015, the Arab League said that the Arab defense and foreign ministers’ meeting to approve the final joint Arab force protocol had been indefinitely postponed upon the request of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, to further examine the protocol. No new date has been set until this year.

Also, the Arab League summit held in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, on July 25-26, 2016, settled for tasking the current secretary-general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, with following up on the implementation of the joint Arab force mechanisms. This task has had no outcome.

Tarek Fahmy, a professor of political science at Cairo University, told Al-Monitor that the diverging visions of the Arab countries on the areas that the joint force should intervene in was behind the stalled negotiations. “The Gulf states believe the priority is for Yemen, and their vision may change with time to include both Yemen and Syria, while Egypt and Tunisia believe the priority is for Libya,” he said.

Fahmy added, “I would have preferred Sisi’s joint Arab force project to Trump’s Arab version of the NATO. The US support for the alliance is not an advantage because it is likely to be limited to [counter] Iranian influence in the region, and Egypt is no longer the biggest beneficiary of countering the Iranian influence, especially amid Iran’s attempts to improve its relationship with Egypt.”

He further explained, “Also, Trump’s call included intelligence cooperation with Israel, which I think is out of the question for most Arab regimes, especially Egypt. Even if it seemed to some that there is a political understanding between Egypt and Israel now or a limited intelligence understanding, it is difficult for such an understanding to turn into a permanent cooperation and a basis for an alliance.”

Mohammed al-Shahawi, the former chief of staff of chemical warfare and adviser to the US Army Command and General Staff College, told Al-Monitor that ​​Trump’s idea is similar to Sisi’s and that he welcomes such an idea because the project of an Arab military alliance moves forward with the support of an international force like the United States.

Asked about the fact that Trump’s call is limited to countering Iranian influence, Shahawi said, “It is the right of Arab countries to develop their own counterterrorism goals in addition to resisting the Iranian influence. Resisting Iran’s influence will positively affect the fight against terrorism as Iran is involved in supporting many of the terrorist organizations.”

Although experts have diverging views on the Arab NATO’s usefulness for Egypt and the extent of its conformity with Sisi’s call for a joint Arab force, the diverging Arab views on the areas of expertise of such a force will probably hinder its formation, at least for the time being.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

IOF demolishes Bedouin village for 110th time

al-Araqib 110

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) demolished Thursday morning the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region for the 110th time since 2010.

Israeli bulldozers escorted by Israeli police raided the village in the morning and started the demolition process without prior notice, local activist Aziz al-Turi said.

Dozens of Palestinians including women and children were left homeless after the demolition of their homes, he pointed out.

“No matter how many times they demolish and destroy our village, they will not break our spirit,” he told Quds Press.

Al-Araqib is one of 51 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli authorities.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

Israel incites US to boycott UN Palestinian refugee body

He also incited US officials to stop supporting UNHRC

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged on Wednesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to halt US support for UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees.

Israeli occupation does not want any national or international body, even if it is an Israeli institution, to highlight the Palestinian suffering inflected by the continuous Israeli aggression

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged on Wednesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to halt US support for UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees.

He also urged him to cut the American support for the United Nation Human Rights Council over its reports which highlight some of the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

During a meeting at the State Department, Lieberman urged Tillerson to consider quitting the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and to stop funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA.

The agencies do not fulfill their mission, he told Tillerson. “Instead, the Human Rights Council deals with demonising Israel and with efforts to harm it by distorting reality,” he claimed.

Last week, the US envoy to the Human Rights Council, Erin Barclay, criticised the council for criticising Israel.

“Regrettably, too many of the actions of this council do not support these universal principles. Indeed, they contradict them,” Barclay said.

“The UNHRC limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council. The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel,” added.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

Israeli forces kidnap female Palestinian MP in West Bank

The Israeli aggression and kidnapping of the female Palestinian MP marks the World Woman Day

Israeli occupation forces kidnapped on Thursday at dawn female Palestinian MP Samira al-Halayqa from West Bank city of Al-Khalil.

It is worth mentioning that MPs all over the world enjoy a parliamentarian immunity, but this immunity is not respected by the Israeli occupation

Israeli occupation forces kidnapped on Thursday at dawn female Palestinian MP Samira al-Halayqa from West Bank city of Al-Khalil.

Local sources said that the Israeli occupation forces raided several areas in the occupied Palestinian city and broke into houses of Palestinian civilians.

They also broke into the house of the female Palestinian MP Samira al-Halayqa. They searched the houses thoroughly and confiscated her laptop and mobile.

According to the sources, the Israeli occupation forces damaged the furniture in the house and investigated the MP in front of her husband and children.

When then left the house, the Israeli occupation forces led the female MP blindfolded and handcuffed with them.

Kidnapping of Samira al-Halayqa brought the number of the Palestinian MPs inside the Israeli jails to ten; one senior Fatah member Marwan al-Barghouti, Secretary General of the Popular Front Ahmed Saadat and eight Hamas MPs, including the senior Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef.

It is worth mentioning that MPs all over the world enjoy a parliamentarian immunity, but this immunity is not respected by the Israeli occupation.

(Source / 09.03.2017)

Recognition of Palestine is on the agenda of the Dutch government

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — Recognition of Palestine is on the agenda of the Dutch government, Andre Haspels, director general of political affairs at the Dutch foreign ministry, said on Tuesday.

Haspels, who held talks with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, stressed the importance of cooperation between Holland and Palestine in all fields, particularly in the academic sector.

He said he was in Palestine to study the situation and needs of the Palestinian people.

Amal Jadou, assistant minister and head of the European department at the foreign ministry, briefed the Dutch officials on the latest political and economic developments in the occupied Palestinian territories.

She said the economic situation is very difficult in the absence of a clear political horizon at this time. (WAFA)

(Source / 09.03.2017)