Israeli forces assault, detain 2 children on their way home from school

Two Palestinian children arrested

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — At least two Palestinian children were beaten and detained by Israeli forces on Wednesday morning inside the Aida refugee camp, located in the northern part of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the camp in military jeeps at around 9:30 a.m. while students from the camp’s United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school were returning home from their final exams.
The soldiers then got out of their jeeps near the camp’s cemetery and assaulted two students, whose identities remained unknown. After beating the two, the soldiers threw them into the jeep and took them into a military base located adjacent to the camp.
“After arresting the two kids, the soldiers lined up a group of students against the wall and began pointing their guns in the kids’ faces,” one witness, who recorded the incident on video, told Ma’an.
The soldiers then began yelling at the students, accusing them of covering up for someone who allegedly threw a homemade pipe bomb at the military base around 8:30 a.m.
The witness insisted, however, that there was no way the students could have been involved in the incident or know who threw the bomb, since they were in school taking their final exams.
Shortly after interrogating the students in the street, soldiers raided Aida’s Lajee Center, a community organization for refugee youth that stands at the entrance to the camp, and confiscated the center’s computers and security camera footage, which the witness highlighted happens nearly every time any rocks or explosive devices area thrown at the military base, given the center’s location on the main road of the camp, just across from the base.
The witness highlighted that the soldiers prevented the center’s employees from entering the building while the soldiers were inside.
As the soldiers were inside the center, local activists and children from the camp stood outside the center, holding Palestinian flags and chanting slogans, calling for “the occupation soldiers to get out.”
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
As Israeli forces have maintained an almost daily presence in the camp in recent months, locals in Aida have reported escalated military procedures over the past several months, creating what some residents have called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”
In February, Israeli forces raided the camp in broad daylight and violently detained a boy in the street as he was walking home from school.
A video shared on social media shows Israeli soldiers aggressively throwing the boy into the back of a military vehicle.
One day prior, soldiers had raided the Lajee center where they seized computers and security camera footage, after Israeli police said that “a suspicious object” was thrown at Rachel’s Tomb, which is located next to the Lajee Center on the other side of Israel’s separation barrier.
In a statement following a violent detention raid in the camp, Lajee called the raid “part of the routine disturbance and abuse caused by Israeli soldiers,” in the camp, asserting that “military operations in the camp have caused irreversible damage to residents, especially children, who are being denied their basic right of protection against abuse and harm.”
“The unsafe living conditions in the camp due to constant presence of Israeli military forces deeply affects the health development of children and jeopardizes the future of the community,” the statement added.
(Source / 24.05.2017)

On 38th day, hunger strikers threaten individual action to pressure Israel

38th of hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — As hundreds of Palestinian prisoners entered the 38th day of a mass hunger strike in Israeli custody on Wednesday, the hunger strikers have reportedly discussed escalating tactics to pressure Israeli authorities into acceding to their demands.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) quoted anonymous sources located inside Israeli prisons as saying that the hunger-striking prisoners were considering breaking the unity of the hunger strike should one of the hunger strikers die amid continued Israeli refusal to negotiate with the prisoners.
While the estimated 1,300 prisoners currently participating in the strike have so far stood united behind imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, a “breakup” of the strike would mean that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) would have to negotiate with each prisoner individually, which PPCS head Rafaat Hamdouna said could lead to “a chaos that IPS can’t control or afford.”
While PPCS did not indicate that this was an option officially being considered by the hunger strikers, Hamdouna hypothesized that some prisoners might decide to use violence and carry out stabbing attacks against IPS guards and officials should the strike go on without official leadership.
Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe told Voice of Palestine, the official radio station of the Palestinian Authority, on Wednesday that there were still no signs of Israeli authorities responding to the hunger strikers’ demands, although he expressed hope that Israel’s position might change following a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
Hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.
Qaraqe said that Israel had no choice but to negotiate with the leaders of the hunger strike given the dangerous point reached by a number of hunger strikers after forgoing food for more than a month, as he emphasized that the prisoners remained determined to continue with their strike until their demands were achieved, even if it meant risking their lives.
Meanwhile, the media committee of the hunger strike reported that IPS had transferred 40 hunger-striking Palestinians held in Ohalei Kedar prison to civilian hospitals on Wednesday morning.
A Palestinian Prisoner’ Society (PPS) lawyer who visited hunger striker Muhammad al-Ghoul in Ohalei Kedar reported that the conditions in which the hunger strikers were being held were increasingly unhygienic in an effort to break their will to go on with the movement.
Al-Ghoul told PPS that the prisoners had been given worn out and dirty covers, that their cells were infected with bugs, and that hunger strikers who had been transferred to Ohalei Kedar after May 16 had not been allowed to change clothes or underwear.
The media committee added in a statement that some 20 hunger-striking prisoners held in Hadarim prison in central Israel had also been transferred to a civilian hospital nearby to conduct medical checkups on Tuesday after their healths had deteriorated.
Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs lawyer Hanan al-Khatib, who recently visited hunger-striking prisoner Yousif Kamel al-Zaaqiq, said that IPS had imposed an information blackout on the health conditions of the hunger strikers and the daily transfers of prisoners from one detention facility to another — a tactic used to exhaust, demoralize, and isolate the hunger strikers.
Al-Khatib said that Hadarim prisoners were regularly fainting, and suffered from kidney and joint pains, serious weight loss, and difficulties moving, adding that ambulances were constantly stationed at the entrance of the prison to transfer hunger strikers to hospitals.
Nonetheless, the media committee said that IPS officials in Hadarim were still conducting searches of prisoners and their belongings and confiscating salt — the only nutrient that the hunger strikers have been consuming besides water. Prisoners in Hadarim have meanwhile threatened to escalate their strike by ceasing to consume water and refusing medical checkups.
The media committee added that it had received reports of dozens of hunger strikers being taken to civilian Israeli hospitals since Tuesday.
Qaraqe has meanwhile demanded that Knesset members representing Palestinian citizens of Israel question the Israeli Ministry of Health regarding the medical readiness of field hospitals that have been set up outside of Israeli detention centers as an alternative to sending hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to civilian hospitals.
Many fear that the field hospitals will be used to force feed the hunger strikers en masse. According to the committee in support of the hunger strike, Israeli doctors at the field clinics have reportedly offered medical care to the prisoners only in exchange for them ending their hunger strikes.
According to Qaraqe, the field hospitals lack necessary medical appliances and equipment to deal with the urgent needs of the hunger strikers, many of whom suffer from internal bleeding and heart, liver, and kidney issues.
Qaraqe said the lack of preparedness of the field hospitals showed Israel’s indifference to the fate of the hunger strikers, who risk death at any moment, and violated all medical laws and ethics.
(Source / 24.05.2017)

Syria Regime Says ISIS ‘Minister of War’ killed

A group of Syrian pro-regime forces raise their guns in celebration on the outskirts of Kweyris near the Kweyris military air base, east of the Syrian province of Aleppo on November 10, 2015

Syrian forces said on Wednesday they had killed ISIS’ “minister of war” among other senior figures in the terrorist organization in operations in northern Syria.

A Syrian source cited by regime media identified the war minister as Abu Musab al-Masri, without saying exactly when or where he was killed.

He was named among 13 senior ISIS figures killed in Syrian operations east of the city of Aleppo.

A previous ISIS minister of war, Abu Omar al-Shishani, died last year. The Pentagon said Shishani was likely to have been killed in a US air strike in Syria.

The jihadist group confirmed his death in July but said he had died fighting in the Iraqi city of Shirqat south of Mosul.

ISIS faces separate campaigns in northern Syria by the Russian-backed Syrian regime forces, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and Turkey-backed rebels fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner.

Baghdad-based ISIS expert Hisham al-Hashimi said the death of Masri, if confirmed, would be a “significant blow to the terrorist group ahead of the battle of Raqqa”. He said al-Masri was the fourth most senior figure in the organisation.

Also Wednesday, Syrian regime forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the southern city of Daraa that has been declared a safe zone under a recent Russia-sponsored deal, opposition activists and an independent monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces carried out at least 12 airstrikes and dropped at least nine barrel bombs on rebel-held parts of Daraa as intense clashes with fighters, including members of Levant Liberation Committee, continued in the city’s Manshiyeh neighborhood.

The monitoring group added that at least two rockets were launched by regime forces in the area.

(Source / 24.05.2017)

Hamas: Trump speech is biased to Israel, encourages aggression

Fawzi Barhoum about Trump

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the US President Donald Trump’s speech in Occupied Jerusalem was a biased speech that encourages Israeli apartheid and hatred and aggression against the Palestinian people.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, Barhoum said that Trump’s statement on the “Jews’ historical relation to Occupied Jerusalem” forges history and runs contrary to the reports of UNESCO and ESCWA organizations which emphasized the right of the Palestinian people to Jerusalem and stipulates no right for the Jews in the city.

The Hamas spokesman called for achieving national unity and warned of betting on the American role in achieving justice for the Palestinian people.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump undertook, in a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Occupied Jerusalem, to protect Israel from rockets fired by Hamas or Hezbollah.

(Source / 24.05.2017)

Abbas spokesman says Israel has rejected requests to develop the Palestinian economy

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman [File photo]

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman

A spokesman for the Palestinian president has said that the Israeli government has rejected all requests to develop the Palestinian economy. Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a media statement last night that the Israelis have refused to implement their obligations, particularly those related to the transfer of security and civil responsibilities in Area C of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, revising the Paris [economic] protocols and the building of an airport.

He pointed out that the economic measures announced by the Israeli government to develop the Palestinian economy “do not meet even the minimum requirements to develop the Palestinian economy.”

Abu Rudeineh made his comments after the Israeli government announced a package of economic measures that it would provide to the Palestinians. They include an increase in the electricity and water supply to the industrial area in Jericho, the building of industrial zones in Tarqoumiya and Hebron, and an increase in the opening hours of the King Hussein Bridge border crossing with Jordan.

He called on Washington to put pressure on the Israeli government to implement its obligations under the signed agreements.

(Source / 24.05.2017)

Senior Fatah official accuses PA of neglecting prisoners

Image of Fadwa Barghouti at a 'Free Marwan Barghouti and All Palestinian Prisoners' conference on 7 May, 2014 [Sinn Féin/Wikipedia]

Image of Fadwa Barghouti at a ‘Free Marwan Barghouti and All Palestinian Prisoners’ conference on 7 May, 2014

Senior Fatah official Fadwa Barghouti has accused the Palestinian Authority of neglecting the cause of the Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, Quds Press has reported.

The wife of hunger-striker Marwan Barghouti is a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. Speaking to Quds Press yesterday, she praised the popular support for the prisoners who have been on hunger strike since 17 April, and called for increased pressure on Israel to negotiate with them over their “reasonable” demands.

She pointed out that she has no information about her husband’s health due to a media blackout and the Israeli prison authorities’ frequent transfer of the prisoners. However, Barghouti did explain that the authorities continue to isolate her husband in solitary confinement, and that he has been able to have just one visit from his lawyer, nine days ago.

Read: Israeli doctors cracking down on hunger strikers

The Fatah official said that the Israelis continue with their intransigence, refusing to negotiate while pressing for a suspension of the protest.

#PalPrisoners

More than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike last month demanding humane treatment in the prison and, among other issues, an end to administrative detention, under which hundreds are held indefinitely with neither charge nor trial.

(Source / 24.05.2017)

USPCN Call to Action: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Support Palestinian Hunger Strikers

The following call to action is reprinted from the US Palestinian Community Network:

5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to support Palestinian hunger strikers! USPCN calls for National Week of Action!

As the over 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners enter their 36th day on hunger strike, the risks to their health are increasingly grave, so urgent actions in solidarity are of critical importance. 

Here are 5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to support the hunger strikers’hunger strike for dignity demands, which include the restoration of regular family visits, an end to solitary confinement, an end to administrative detention (imprisonment for months without formal charge), the strengthening of medical care, and access to education:

oneDemand a meeting with your U.S. Senator or U.S. Congressperson THIS WEEK, and ask them to pressure Israel to meet the prisoners’ demands. USPCN chapters and coalition partners in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and the Bay Area, thus far, have already made commitments to visit at least one of their Senators or Congresspeople.  If your legislator does not recognize the urgency of your request for a meeting, please join this National Week of Action anyway with a picket or protest of her office or other targets, like Israeli consulates, and let us know of your plans by emailing uspcn@uspcn.org.

twoCall or write your elected representatives and ask them to make a public statement in support of the hunger strikers, like this powerful one from U.S. Congressman Danny Davis of Illinois.

threeBlack out social media! Change all your social media profile pictures to this one here below and make sure to tag #DignityStrike.  

fourOrganize a day-long fast with your families, friends, and / or organizations in support of the Palestinian prisoners, like USPCN’s on May 11th or the one called by Palestinian-American students for Monday, May 22nd.

fiveCall the International Red Cross at 202.587.4600 to demand that it fulfills its obligation to examine the prisoners’ cells; and Amnesty International USA Headquarters at 212.807.8400 to demand it pressure Israel to meet the strikers’ demands.

For more information and regular updates on the hunger strike, follow @uspcn, @Addameer, and @SamidounPP on Facebook and Twitter, as well as these hashtags: #DignityStrike, #PalHunger, and #StopAD.

(Source / 24.05.2017)

Israeli police assault, detain Al-Aqsa guards as hundreds of Israelis take to holy site

Security guards Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Three Palestinian security guards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem were assaulted and detained by Israeli police on Wednesday, as hundreds of right-wing Israelis and settlers took to the holy site in celebration of “Jerusalem Day.”

Jerusalem Day is celebrated by the ultra-right religious Zionist community to commemorate the 1967 Israeli annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, the same day Palestinians remember the “Naksa,”meaning “setback,” referring to the mass displacement that accompanied the Israeli takeover of the Palestinian territory.
As a result of the war, Israel took control from Jordan and Egypt over the majority Palestinian-populated West Bank and Gaza Strip, which remain illegally occupied and blockaded, respectively, to this day.
Al-Aqsa compound director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma’an that Israeli police forces assaulted a group of four of the mosque’s guards at Lion’s Gate, after the guards “objected to the provocative behaviors of Israeli settlers during their raid of Al-Aqsa.”
Al-Kiswani identified the four injured as Arafat Najib, Khalil al-Tarhuni, Nour Abu Hadwan and Nidal al-Waari.
He said that Najib was initially treated at the compound’s clinic, but was later transferred to a hospital for proper medical care, while the other three injured guards were detained by Israeli forces “despite their need for medical treatment.”
Al-Kiswani claimed that 708 Israeli settlers raided the compound, representing an “unprecedented number of settler raiding the compound.”
“What happened today is a planned and systematic procedure by Israeli authorities to impose control by force and to terrorize the guards to stop them from doing their job,” al-Kiswani said, adding that the incident was a “clear and provocative move before Ramadan,” referring to the Muslim holy month that is expected to begin on Friday.
Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri released a statement following the incident, saying that as “Jewish visitors” were leaving the compound, “some of them stopped and started singing the Israeli national anthem. Israeli police forces who escorted them started taking them out of the compound as al-Aqsa guards also started responding with chanting against visitors and attempted to assault them.”
As police forces “stopped” the guards, al-Samri claimed that the guards assaulted the police officers, but made no mention of police officers assaulting and injuring the guards, despite videos showing Israeli forces violently detaining at least one guard, as well as video of one of the guards being taken to the hospital with a head injury.

https://youtu.be/w-MqwgwzlHs

Al-Samri also said that two guards, not three, were detained for interrogation, while adding that a group of Israelis were detained after “bowing down to pray” at the compound.
The incident occurred as dozens of right-wing Israelis and ultra-religious settlers marched through and toured Al-Aqsa under the protection of police forces in celebration of Jerusalem Day.
Settlers toured the Old City and performed religious rituals at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, while dozens entered the compound in separate groups through the Moroccan Gate.
Contrary to al-Kiswani’s claim that over 700 Israelis entered the compound, the general director of the Islamic Endowment, or Waqf, that runs the compound Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that more than 470 Israelis had toured the compound since Wednesday morning, noting that tmore were expected to enter the compound throughout the day.Al-Khatib told Ma’an that Israeli government “is trying by all means to change the status quo” at the compound, highlighting that the Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev had called upon all Israelis a few days ago to increase their presence at the compound and bring their children to perform religious rituals there.Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli settlers raided the compound in groups and performed prayers, in violation of an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, stating that while Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited.
The third holiest site in Islam, Al-Aqsa is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site — often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces have detained and even assaulted Al-Aqsa security guards on a number of occasions.
Security guards Al-Aqsa1
(Source / 24.05.2017)

Jewish fanatics burn two cars in Ara village

Jewish fanatics

Extremist Jewish settlers at dawn Wednesday set two Palestinian cars alight and vandalized property in Ara village, south of Haifa city.

According to local sources, settlers set fire to two cars and spray-painted racist slurs and slogans against the Palestinians on a nearby house’s wall.

The Israeli police claimed it launched in cooperation with the Shin Bet an investigation into the attack.

The incident in Ara is the latest in a string of settlers’ “price tag” attacks. About two weeks ago, nine Palestinian vehicles parked in Na’ura village were vandalized, their tires punctured and graffiti sprayed on them.

(Source / 24.05.2017)

20 hunger-striking prisoners moved to Meir hospital

Hunger-striking prisoners to Meir hospital

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred late yesterday 20 Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners, held in Hadarim prison, to Meir hospital after their health seriously deteriorated, the hunger strike media committee said.

Following her visit to the prison, lawyer for the PA committee for prisoners’ affairs Hanan al-Khatib said that the IPS imposes a media blackout on the health condition of the striking prisoners.

The lawyer quoted the prisoner Youssef Za’aqiq as saying the health situation of several striking prisoners has been seriously worsening as they started suffering frequent fainting, sharp weight loss, movement difficulty, and kidney pains.

The striking prisoners are daily moved to Israeli hospitals, she added.

The hunger strike media committee pointed out that the prisoners held in Hadarim prison are subjected to tough punitive measures in a failed attempt to break their strike.

(Source / 24.05.2017)