Haniyeh Says Hamas Ready to Hold Presidential, Legislative Polls

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gestures during an interview with Reuters in Gaza City

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gestures during an interview with Reuters in Gaza City

Ramallah – Head of Hamas Polibureau Ismail Haniyeh called on Wednesday for forming a Palestinian national unity government and holding general elections across the Palestinian territories.

“Hamas is ready to participate in presidential and legislative elections,” Haniyeh said, in his first public speech following his election as Hamas leader in May.

He also underlined the necessity to draft a “clear and unified political program that is based on common denominators and on the goals, rights and aspirations of our people,” as well as forming a national unity government that “meets all its obligations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and its task is to prepare for the holding of legislative and presidential elections”.

Speaking before leaders from Hamas and other Palestinian factions, Haniyeh stressed the need to eliminate all punitive measures against Gaza and its people, and to “stop cooperation and security coordination with the Israeli enemy”.

The Hamas leader rejected demands by the Palestinian Authority to dissolve the administrative committee in Gaza, saying: “When the government assumes its responsibilities in Gaza Strip, there won’t be an excuse for the presence of the administrative committee; then, its role will end.”

He added that in the wake of measures taken by President Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas, the movement has resorted to Egypt “to save Gaza and provide elements for a decent life.”

He noted in this regard that Egyptian officials have issued instructions for a series of procedures to resolve the crises in the Hamas-led region.

“Our delegations’ visits to sisterly Egypt have confirmed this fact; we have found our Egyptian brothers all ready to deal with crises in Gaza,” Haniyeh stated.

Hamas has recently sought help from Cairo and was also is in contact with Mohammed Dahlan’s movement in Egypt.

Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, has facilitated a deal to ship Egyptian fuel into Gaza to ease severe electricity cuts.

Haniyeh confirmed that along with Hamas-Egypt talks, meetings were held with Dahlan’s aides “that led to understandings that will reflect positively on our people in Gaza.”

(Source / 06.07.2017)

Syrian Coalition: Assad Regime’s Chemical & Indiscriminate Weapons Killed Hundreds of Thousands of Civilians

Officials in the Syrian Coalition said that the Assad regime has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians using indiscriminate, chemical, and biological weapons. They stressed that Bashar Assad and those responsible for the use of those weapons should be held to account.

Former Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ilah Fahd said that there has lately been an international push to get rid of these weapons and ensure they are not used again against civilians, especially in Syria.

Last week, Fahd, the Coalition’s Ambassador to Qatar Nizar Haraki, and Doctor Hussam Nahas participated in a conference on the use of these weapons held in Germany under the title “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Improvised Explosive Devices – Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warfare in Syria” on the sidelines of the International Conference on the Elimination of Conventional Weapons.

Fahd said that the biggest challenge to get rid of these weapons is “the inaction of the international community” towards the use of these weapons, most especially in Syria. He pointed out that the decision to provide Syria with equipment for the safe handling of these weapons is an “unethical and was politically motivated and lead to an increase in casualties and deaths.”

Fahd indicated that two companies participating in the conference “have shown readiness to work with the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG)” to provide the civil defense and medical personnel operating in Syria with anti-pollution agents and auto-injectors in the form of pens against possible chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime.

The Coalition’s Ambassador to Qatar Nizar Haraki stressed that the international community must set accountability for the use of these weapons as a top priority, adding that the repeated use of these weapons by the Assad regime poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

Haraki said the Assad regime’s use of sarin in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikoun represented blatant defiance to the international community, urging the UN Security Council and the United Nations to take urgent action to protect civilians and ensure that such attacks are not repeated.

France and Britain last Friday urged members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to act firmly on the findings of the organization’s latest report that confirmed that sarin was used in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikoun.

France said that the report by the world’s chemical weapons watchdog was “unequivocal” and that the conclusions of the report were “indisputable.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he has “absolutely no doubt the finger points at the Assad regime.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 06.07.2017)

PA seizes Israeli SIM cards from shop in Ramallah city

Zio SIM cards

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s customs service has seized 43 Israeli SIM cards from a shop in Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday, as Palestinian authorities enforced a ban on the use of Israeli SIM cards in the occupied Palestinian territory in April.

According to a statement released by the public relations of the PA’s customs service, the SIM cards were seized following reports that the shop owner was selling Israeli SIM cards.
Palestinian authorities headed to the shop and seized the cards. The customs department noted that the selling of Israeli SIM cards was an act that violated a 2004 Palestinian law that banned the trade of Israeli SIM cards in Palestinian territories under the jurisdiction of the PA.
In April, the PA’s public prosecution announced that the PA would begin to take “legal procedures” against any Palestinians who sell or own Israeli SIM cards, and gave Palestinians two weeks to get rid of their Israeli SIM cards.
Scores of Palestinians have switched to Israeli phone providers over the years largely due to the Israeli government barring Palestinian network providers from offering 3G services for alleged security concerns. Israeli phone providers also offer a cheaper option for some Palestinians.
However, the PA and Israel signed an agreement in April allowing Palestinian companies to offer their customers 3G.
The lack of access to 3G mobile technology in the Palestinian territory has long provided an added obstacle to economic and technological growth. A report released in 2015 by the Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka said that operators in Palestine lost an estimated $80 to $100 million annually as a result of the lack of 3G.
Meanwhile, according to a 2016 World Bank report, over 20 percent of the market volume in the occupied West Bank is captured by unauthorized Israeli operators, largely due to the fact that Palestinian companies do not have access to the more than 60 percent under Israeli military control known as Area C.
Unauthorized Israeli operators in the West Bank in part contributed to the Palestinian mobile sector losing more than $1 billion in revenue between 2013 and 2015.
However, many Palestinians have expressed frustrations with the PA’s decision to enforce a ban on Israeli SIM cards, as the only two Palestinian companies, Jawwal and Wataniya, have come to represent an extension of the Palestinian elite’s corruption, as both companies have close ties with the PA — which has been the target of criticism among Palestinians for years over allegations of widespread corruption and nepotism.
(Source / 06.07.2017)

Israeli forces reportedly beat, pepper-spray Palestinians in Silwan raids

Pepper-spray used in Silwan

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces assaulted Palestinian residents during a raid in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday evening, as two Palestinians were detained.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that six Palestinians sustained bruises and suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during a raid targeting the home of one Muhammad al-Abbasi in the area of Ein al-Luza, during which residents said they were assaulted by Israeli police officers.
The center added that no reason was given for the raid in the al-Abbasi home, during which Israeli forces pushed and pepper-sprayed women, children, and elderly Palestinians, pointing their weapons at youth.
The al-Abbasi family said that Israeli forces beat and shoved 65-year-old Amin al-Abbasi, while Muhammad al-Abbasi’s 55-year-old mother, young men Imad, Ayman, and Muhammad al-Abbasi, and an infant, Jude, suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation.
Clashes erupted in the neighborhood following the home raid, during which Israeli forces reportedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades in an haphazard fashion, before detaining Muhammad Ibrahim Ruweidi, 20, and Muhammad Imad Taha, 19.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement on Wednesday that an Israeli police officer was “lightly injured” in Silwan “when responding to (an) incident,” adding that “two suspects” were detained at the scene.
He was not immediately available for comment on Thursday for further details.
Meanwhile, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that Israeli settlers assaulted locals in the Batn al-Hawa area of Silwan late on Wednesday.
The center said that the settlers were “provocatively” touring the area and pepper-sprayed local Palestinian teenagers.
Israeli police forces raided Batn al-Hawa as an altercation erupted between Palestinians and the settlers, and also pepper-sprayed local residents.
The Wadi Hilweh information center identified some of those who were affected by the pepper spray as Uday al-Rajabi, Maher Abd al-Wahed, Yazan al-Rajabi and Anas Qarrin.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Due to the typically aggressive nature of the raids, clashes often erupt between local Palestinian youth who throw stones and are met in response with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas, often resulting in serious, sometimes fatal injuries.
Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem routinely report mistreatment by Israeli forces, with Israeli authorities cracking down on Palestinian youths in recent years, while Palestinians have often accused Israeli forces of detaining Palestinian youths without any evidence of wrongdoing, and assaulting them in the process.
(Source / 06.07.2017)

Rally sweeps al-Khalil over Israeli checkpoints, crackdowns

Sweep al-Khalil

A rally was staged in the southern West Bank province of al-Khalil at noontime Thursday, urging the Israeli occupation to lift the noose tightened around Palestinians’ neck.

The rally-goers spoke out against the Israeli military checkpoints setup around the city and the crackdowns perpetrated against the Palestinian locals on a quasi-daily basis.

Speaking during the rally, activists urged the Israeli occupation to remove all the checkpoints pitched around and across al-Khalil.

Activist Mufeed al-Sharbati raised alarm bells over the tragic situation endured by the Palestinians in al-Khalil due to the Israeli closures, checkpoints, and movement bans.

In al-Sharbati’s view, the Israeli occupation forces have tightened military grip on the city in an attempt to sever the ties linking Palestinian communities together in al-Khalil.

“Life has just gone unbearable in the city,” said al-Sharbati. Everyday, the sounds of iron checkpoints being set up by the Israelis just jolt our children out of their deep sleep. Checkpoints are being pitched around the clock in al-Khalil.”

The activist appealed to the international human rights institutions and concerned bodies to urgently step in and take up their responsibilities vis-à-vis the Israeli blockade on al-Khalil.

(Source / 06.07.2017)

Israel gears up to build 800 settlement units in Occupied Jerusalem

800 new settlement units

The Israeli-run Jerusalem Municipality’s planning and construction committee is set to approve a plan to build 800 new settlement housing units in the occupied city, Ynet News reported Thursday.

According to Ynet News, the plan to build 800 settlement units will be discussed at the committee’s next meeting.

The new homes are planned to be built in Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Ya’akov, Ramot, and Gilo Israeli settlements.

The local committee will also submit construction plans for an additional 114 residential units in the Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jabel Mukaber, Ras al-Amud, Sharafat, Shuafat and al-Tur.

The expected settlement approvals mark the largest expansion over the past few years.

In recent weeks, Israel has stepped up its settlement activity in Jerusalem, a city that has been occupied by the Zionist entity since 1967.

On Wednesday, the Jerusalem committee approved plans to build dozens of settlement units in Ramat Shlomo and Ramot.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on land stolen from the Palestinians. Such land is also supposedly earmarked for any future Palestinian state, but the settlements are making the viability of such an entity less and less likely.

(Source / 06.07.2017)

Israel reduces electricity feed to Gaza to 55 MGW

Electricity Supplies reduction Gaza 55 MGW

The Palestinian Energy Authority revealed, in a statement issued Thursday, that Israeli authorities’ reduction of its electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip has reached 55 MGW.

The cutback would deepen the Palestinian people’s suffering in the Gaza Strip especially in light of the very hot wave that hits the region, the statement reads.

The current total production capacity of the Gaza’s sole electricity generation station is only 140 MGW which could not cover the Strip’s daily consumption in summer, according to the statement.

The Authority appealed for urgent action at national and international level to put an end to Gaza’s power crisis.

(Source / 06.07.2017)

Palestinian lawyer starving for 29th day in Israeli lock-up

Mohamed Allan hungerstrike 29 days

Palestinian lawyer Mohamed Allan has been on an open-ended hunger strike for 29 days running to protest arbitrary detention and mistreatment in Israeli jails.

According to Muhjat al-Quds Foundation, prisoner Allan, arrested by the occupation forces on June 8, has embarked on an open-ended hunger strike to press for his release.

An Israeli court ruled that Allan’s remand be extended until Thursday, July 6.

The prisoner’s mother said her son initiated the hunger strike to voice his firm rebuff of his arbitrary internment in Israeli jails.

In 2015, Allan had gone on a 65-day hunger strike and was released in November during the same year after he had served an administrative term of up to 12 months.

(Source / 06.07.2017)

Arrests, home break-ins reported in predawn sweep by Israeli army

Kidnapping WB again

A number of Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces at daybreak Thursday in an abduction sweep rocking West Bank provinces.

Reporting from Nablus, a PIC news correspondent said the Palestinian young man Ali Ziyada was kidnapped by the Israeli forces from Madama town, to the south.

The Israeli soldiers also kidnapped the Palestinian young man Mohamed Salem al-Ashkar, 26, from Nablus’s al-Ein camp, after they subjected his family members to aggressive beating.

Youngster Rani Dweikat was kidnapped by the occupation soldiers from his family home, in Nablus’s southern town of Beita.

Israeli military patrols sealed off the main access road to Asira al-Shamaliya, north of Nablus, with a makeshift checkpoint, where Palestinian vehicles and civilians have been subjected to intensive inspection.

At the same time, dozens of Israeli soldiers rolled into Palestinian automobile repair shops in Shweika area, in Tulkarem, and seized all vehicles carrying Israeli registration plates.

The assault culminated in the abduction of a number of Palestinian civilians from their homes in the city. The list of arrestees included Amjad al-Tini and Nasri Abu Ayesha, among others.

(Source / 06.07.2017)

Alarms sounded in Salfit as IOA trims down water supplies

Water supplies cut Salfit.jpg

Palestinians setting up roots in Salfit sounded distress signals on Thursday after the Israeli occupation authorities cut water supplies pouring into the city.

According to local sources, water supplies to Salfit have been curtailed by up to 60%, forcing the local municipality to rein in the distribution and consumption of drinking water.

Researcher Khaled Maali said the IOA has been transferring water supplies stolen from the Palestinians to some 25 illegal settlement outposts built on Palestinian lands in Salfit.

In Maali’s terms, such moves make part of Israeli attempts to tighten the noose around Palestinians’ neck in Salfit so as to force them out of the area in favor of illegal settlement expansion.

(Source / 06.07.2017)