Israeli settlers expand outpost in Bethlehem

Outpost Bethlehem

A group of Israeli settlers started on Sunday to set up new mobile houses in a settlement outpost built in al-Khader town to the south of Bethlehem city in preparation for expanding it.

Coordinator of the Anti-Settlement National Committee in al-Khader, Ahmad Salah, told Quds Press that Israeli bulldozers have razed about 500 dunums of Palestinian lands located to the west of the town before surrounding them with barbered wires in a prelude to confiscating them in favor of expanding the outpost.

Salah warned of the settlement activity that is constantly expanding in the area seizing more Palestinian lands.

(Source / 16.07.2017)

PCHR: Electricity cuts in Gaza put dialysis patients at risk

Yasmin Abu Kashef

Yasmin Abu Kashef, 20, “hoping the electricity will not cut while she is on the dialysis device”

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — More details have continued to emerge regarding the dire state of the medical sector in the Gaza Strip, as the besieged coastal enclave has been coping with a severe medication shortage on top of an electricity crisis that has forced hospitals to significantly reduce services.

Amid an increasingly bitter feud between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza’s de facto leading party Hamas over control of the territory, the PA has cut funds for Gaza’s electricity supplies, medicine, and also halted or delayed medical referrals needed for Palestinians to access life-saving treatment outside the territory.
As Gaza’s two million residents have been forced to cope with just three to four hours of electricity a day since mid June, one of the most severe consequences has been experienced in hospitals, where generators can only partially compensate, with regular fallouts interfering with treatments.
The impact of the medicine shortage on cystic fibrosis patients, infants with developmental deficits, and cancer patients has been documented, and on Sunday, the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that blackouts have also had a particularly negative effect on the provision of dialysis treatment.
A power cut causes an interruption of the blood cycle rotation during dialysis, PCHR’s reportexplained, meaning that the blood is kept within the machine, which leads to coagulation and a waste of blood, then to a blood shortage that leads to severe health complications and even death, depending on the patient’s condition.
Muhammad Shatat, the head of the dialysis department at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital, told PCHR that during a three-hour blackout, when the generator had run out of gasoline, one patient’s’ blood clotted and required a blood transfer.
“If this would happen on a regular basis, the patient would die after two or three days,” Shatat explained.
Blackouts also “affect the dialysis devices themselves and can damage them or make them entirely useless,” Shatat said.
The hospital currently has 45 dialysis machines and treats 328 patients.
As a result of the decade-long Israeli siege, electronic devices needed to repair dialysis machines are not available in the Gaza Strip and need to be acquiring from international donors, which can take six to 12 months.
The delays have also had a strong psychological and social effect on dialysis patients, PCHR noted, adding that a large number of the patients do not live in Gaza City — the only place they can receive treatment — and many risk their lives traveling to the hospital.
Shatat conveyed the case of one patient who lives near Gaza’s border with Israel, who needed to schedule appointments early in the day after an incident in which she returned home late at night and Israeli soldiers fired at her car. “These people risk their lives when they come to us for a delayed treatment,” Shatat emphasized.
Medicines for dialysis patients are also in short supply, such as the biotin hormone, a lack of which leads to anemia. “In the severest cases, a lack of medical supplies essential for the dialysis treatment can lead to an interruption of the dialysis and lastly to an intervention of the ICRC or other international organizations,” PCHR said.
The report noted that in addition to the impact on health care, the humanitarian situation in Gaza has also been marked by reduced environmental health services, including water supply and sanitation.
Reports emerged Saturday that 73 percent of beach waters off Gaza’s coast have become contaminated due to the electricity crisis.
“According to international humanitarian law, Israel as the occupying power is responsible for guaranteeing the occupied civilians’ access to basic services, including electricity, health care, and water, and by not doing so is violating international law,” PCHR said.
PCHR is among a growing number of rights groups and international organizations to raise alarm over the situation in Gaza, with a recent United Nations report warning the situation there could already be “unlivable.”
On Wednesday, Physicians for Human Rights – Israeli (PHRI) reported on the ongoing denial of permits for longtime medical staff at an occupied East Jerusalem hospital who live in Gaza, showing that the crisis in the enclave had repercussions for Palestinians across the occupied territory.
“These limitations placed on the freedom of movement of long-term staff impact the functioning of the hospital and the ability of Palestinian patients to access the right to health,” the group asserted.
“The Palestinian public health system functions as a united system, and the limits set by Israel on the movement of doctors and other medical staff between Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem impede the smooth running of the hospital.”
Leftist PLO faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) warned on Saturday “of a complete breakdown of the conditions of life, existence, and health in the Gaza Strip, as a result of the collective punishment policies adopted by the Palestinian Authority.”
“The price paid by the Palestinian people at the moment in the Strip is much more valuable than any partisan gains or narrow factional achievements by a party attempting to achieve this or that by manipulating the lives of innocent civilians,” the political party wrote.
The PFLP said it also blamed the United Nations and international institutions “for their silence and inaction on the Gaza Strip while vital services like electricity, water, and health are disrupted and threatening a disaster for the lives of thousands.”
The PFLP emphasized that “the (Israeli) occupation is responsible for all of these crimes,” and warned that continuing the 10-year-old siege on Gaza would lead to a “popular explosion” against the occupation and “against all those who contribute to the escalation of the suffering of our people.”

(Source / 16.07.2017)

50 Palestinians ordered imprisoned without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention

Israeli occupation forces issued orders for imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention against 50 Palestinians in recent days, said Palestinian lawyer Mahmoud Halabi of the Palestinian Prisoners Society.

Among the Palestinians ordered to six months imprisonment without charge or trial was Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian national leader and leftist parliamentarian, as was fellow Palestinian Legislative Council member Ibrahim Dahbour, whose administrative detention was extended for 4 months. Palestinian student leader Kifah Quzmar‘s administrative detention was also renewed for an additional 4 months. Ghassan Zawahreh, former long-term hunger strike and the brother of Palestinian martyr Moataz Zawahreh, killed as he protested the occupation by Israeli occupation forces, was ordered to 6 more months in administrative detention.

There are approximately 500 Palestinians held under administrative detention orders out of 6,200 total Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Administrative detention orders are issued for one to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians can spend years in prison with no charge and no trial under these orders.

Israel’s use of administrative detention violates international law and conventions, including the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The administrative detention orders were issued against the following Palestinians:

1. Seifallah al-Hour, from al-Khalil, 4 months, renewal
2. Abdel-Rahman al-Zeer, from Qalandia, 4 months, renewal
3. Salam Jaradat, from Jenin, 6 months, renewal
4. Mohammed Abu Tami, from Jenin, 6 months, renewal
5. Bajis Suweiti, from al-Khalil, 3 months, renewal
6. Mohammed Ibrahim Yahya, from Jenin, 4 months, renewal
7. Ashraf Ghassan Jibril, from Qalqilya, 4 months, renewal
8. Mohamed Sami Ghoneim, from Jenin, 4 months, renewal
9. Tamer Mustafa Abu Diah, from Bethlehem, 3 months, renewal
10. Mohammed Akram Taqatqa, from Bethehem, 4 months, renewal
11. Ahmad Mohammed Zarba, from Nablus, 4 months, renewal
12. Fares Hosni Shawahneh, from Jenin, 4 months, renewal
13. Mohammed Khalil Ghoneim, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
14. Zakaria Abdel-Hamid Oweidat, from al-Khalil, 4 months, renewal
15. Aseed Mohammed Mualla, from Nablus, 6 months, renewal
16. Mahmoud Mohammed Salah, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
17. Salem Mohammed Jahalin, from Bethlehem, 6 months, renewal
18. Yousef Naim Ghoneim, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
19. Kifah Mohammed Quzmar, from Ramallah, 4 months, renewal
20. Huzaifa Fadal Yahya, from Ramallah, 6 months, renewal
21. Yousef Abed Rabbo Kawazbeh, from al-Khalil, 6 months, renewal
22. Ibrahim Mohammed Dahbour, from Jenin, 4 months, renewal
23. Mohammed Ahmad Shehada, from Ramallah, 6 months, renewal
24. Raafat Mohsin Asfour, from Ramallah, 4 months, renewal
25. Bajis Khalil Nakhleh, from Ramallah, 3 months, renewal
26. Moatassem Mahmoud Jibril, from al-Khalil, 4 months, renewal
27. Mohammed Rabie Saleh, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
28. Hatem Ismail Khatib, from Ramallah, 3 months, new order
29. Basem Mohammed al-Masalmeh, from al-Khalil, 3 months, renewal
30. Mahmoud Ayoub Sedr, from al-Khalil, 4 months, renewal
31. Ahmed Khalil Sheikh Ibrahim, from Jericho, 4 months, renewal
32. Tawfiq Ahmad Shalabi, from Jenin, 4 months, new order
33. Mu’min Fathi Fashafsha, from Jenin, 4 months, new order
34. Abdel-Aziz Abdallah Batran, from al-Khalil, 6 months, renewal
35. Murad Mohammed al-Zaghari, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
36. Murad Mamoun Awawdeh, from al-Khalil, 6 months, renewal
37. Jaber Abdel-Halim Nateh, from al-Khalil, 4 months, renewal
38. Ghassan Ibrahim Zawahreh, from Bethlehem, 6 months, renewal
39. Mahmoud Hasan Waridan, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
40, Mahmoud Mohammed Matter, from Ramallah, 6 months, new order
41. Khalida Kanaan Jarrar, from al-Bireh, 6 months, new order
42. Mohammed Asad Khalifa, from Jenin, 6 months, renewal
43. Nawaf Swarkah, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
44. Hassan Yasser Karajeh, from Ramallah, 4 months, renewal
45. Shuja Jaber Darwish, from Ramallah, 6 months, renewal
46. Othman Rashaideh, from Bethlehem, 4 months, renewal
47. Ayman Ahmad Abu Arab, from Ramallah, 4 months, renewal
48. Afnan Ahmad Abu Haniyeh, from Anata (Jerusalem), 3 months, new order
49. Ibrahim Naji al-Kilani, from Jenin, 6 months, new order
50. Bahaa Hasan Abu Tabikh, from Jenin, 6 months, new order

(Source / 16.07.2017)

Turkish aid distributed to poor families in Gaza

Turkish aid ship, Aqua Stella, docked at Israel’s Ashdod port late last month carrying tons of aid supplies to poor families in the blockaded Palestinian territory

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2017 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2017 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency] Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2017 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian Ministry of Social Development on Sunday distributed Turkish aid packages to 29,000 Palestinian families in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The aid was distributed in cooperation with the state-run Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency (TIKA).

Turkish aid ship, Aqua Stella, docked at Israel’s Ashdod port late last month carrying tons of aid supplies to poor families in the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Raed Qeshta, TIKA’s assistant coordinator in Gaza, said the aid has been handed out to families from across the Gaza Strip, adding that:

Around 100,000 bags of flour will be handed out to poor families in the coming period

The aid includes 50,000 food packages, 5,000 tons of flour, 100 tons of biscuits, chocolates and cakes. It also includes 50,000 items of clothes, 18,100 toys, 32,000 sets of stationery and over 1,000 bicycles as presents for Palestinian children in the coastal enclave.

In 2016, Turkey sent two aid ships to Gaza carrying more than 22,000 tons of aid supplies after Ankara normalized ties with Israel following a six-year hiatus.

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2017 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2017 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency] Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2017 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

(Source / 16.07.2017)

Report: Israeli forces detained 388 Palestinians in June alone

Ayalon Prison

People stand outside Ayalon prison in Israel on February 14, 2013

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — According to a joint report released by a number of Palestinian rights groups on Sunday, Israeli forces detained a total of 388 Palestinians, including 70 minors and 13 women, across the occupied Palestinian territory during the month of June.

The numbers  — gathered by Addameer, the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, and the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs — show an average of nearly 13 Palestinians detained each day.
The report said that 126 of the imprisoned Palestinians were from occupied East Jerusalem, while 261 were residents of the occupied West Bank, and one was from the besieged Gaza Strip.
Earlier this month, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported that at least 35 Palestinian minors were being held in Israel’s Ofer prison who had been detained in June, who were fined a cumulative 38,000 shekels ($10,740) by Israeli military courts.
Sunday’s report estimated that a total of 6,300 Palestinians were currently imprisoned by Israel, including 300 minors and 486 Palestinians held under Israel’s contested policy of administrative detention — internment without trial or charges.
The joint statement went on to add that 61 administrative detention orders were issued in June — 19 new orders, and 42 renewals.
The report estimated that 11 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council were held by Israel as of July 11 — including MP Khalida Jarrar, who was detained on July 2 before being sentenced to six months in administrative detention by an Israeli court.
The report denounced “an ongoing Israeli pattern of violations of the principles laid down in (international human rights legal) conventions” regarding the rights of prisoners, notably through its use of torture, ill-treatment, and administrative detention.
The organizations quoted Bahaa Kaadan, who has been detained by Israel since April, as saying that he was harshly interrogated for nearly two months, during which he was shackled hand and foot, deprived of sleep, insulted, and threatened.
Kaadan added that Israeli interrogators brought him along during a military raid of his family’s home, forcing him to witness soldiers ransacking his house and verbally abusing his family in an attempt to pressure him into confessing.
“(Israeli) authorities continue to use psychological and physical methods and forms of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation… stress positions, shouting, insults and humiliation, lengthy hours of interrogation, threats of arrests of family members, sleep deprivation, denial of access to lawyers or imprisonment in an interrogation center lacking the minimum conditions for human life, in order to pressure (Palestinians) with a view toward extracting a confession in order to secure a subsequent conviction,” the report lamented.
Addameer has estimated that some 20 percent of Palestinians — and 40 percent of Palestinian men — have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
(Source / 16.07.2017)

Israeli settlers set up illegal caravans on Palestinian village lands near Bethlehem

Illegal settlement Adam

An illegal outpost near the illegal settlement of Adam, April 19, 2017

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Sunday reportedly set up five illegal structures, described by locals as “caravans,” on lands belonging to the village of al-Khader south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank.Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in the village, told Ma’an that a group of settlers set up the new caravans in an attempt to expand the existing illegal outpost of Sde Boaz, built in the Wadi al-Ghawit area of al-Khader.Salah highlighted that Israeli authorities have been building a network of settler roads on the private lands of al-Khader in recent months. Most of the roads, he said, were dirt roads, though some were asphalted. Salah added that the network spanned nearly all the way to the nearby village of Nahhalin.A spokesperson from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the West Bank, was not immediately available for comment.Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.
Meanwhile, although Israeli settler outposts — unapproved by the Israeli government — are considered illegal even under Israeli law, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost Regularization law, which would pave the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts.
(Source / 16.07.2017)

Israeli authorities arrest UN official at Erez crossing

UN official arrested

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights condemned on Sunday the detention of a UN official who was passing through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Center said in a statement that the Israeli occupation authorities arrested the deputy head of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) in the Gaza Strip, Hamdan Temraz, 61, on 12th July as he was heading to Jerusalem for a work mission.

Temraz was stopped and detained despite having a permit, the Center added.

According to al-Mezan, Temraz’s wife said that she lost contact with her husband after he arrived at the crossing, noting that Temraz regularly travels outside the Gaza Strip in missions related to his work at UNDSS.

The Center explained that such Israeli practices are aimed at blocking the work of the international organizations in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that 8 employees working in these organizations have been arrested since the beginning of 2014.

It affirmed that hundreds of employees are denied the permits required to enter or exit Gaza to be able to follow up their organizations’ work, not to mention the Israeli incitement campaigns they are exposed to.

It called on the international community to shoulder its legal responsibilities to ensure the safety of civilians, especially those working in humanitarian organizations.

(Source / 16.07.2017)

Gaza: Recent PA-Israeli measures claimed lives of 16 patients

PA-Israel against Gaza

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza on Saturday said that the recent punitive measures that were taken by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel against the impoverished territory led to the death of 16 patients.

Spokesman for the health ministry Ashraf al-Qudra stated in press remarks that the reciprocal measures that were taken recently by the PA and Israel targeted the health sector and affected the sustainability of its services.

Qudra affirmed that “the patients in Gaza have become exposed to a compound risk resulting from the crises of medicines, medical referrals and electricity.”

He stressed the need for urgent and active action against those measures from the Palestinian factions and human rights and media institutions in order to save the lives of patients in Gaza.

(Source / 16.07.2017)

The Kurdish Connection: Israel, ISIS And U.S. Efforts To Destabilize Iran

Syrian Kurds claim to be fighting against terror as they strive for autonomy, a goal that they have yet to achieve even after decades of effort. But their efforts are being co-opted by Western powers that are using them to achieve their own ends in the Middle East.

An Iraqi Kurd reads a copy of the magazine Israel-Kurd on a street in Irbil, Iraq in 2009. (Azad Lashkari/Reuters)

SYRIA (Analysis)– In Part I of independent analyst Sarah Abed’s three-part analysis for MintPress News, Abed began exposing the modern day Kurdish/Israeli alliance that both parties have tried to keep hidden in order to avoid drawing the public’s attention to their ultimate plan, as well as the U.S.’ use of Kurdish factions in destabilizing the Middle East. The Kurds have engaged in such relationships in part because of internal divisions and disunity, which have also made it difficult to fulfill their goal of establishing a fully autonomous Kurdistan spanning over the four countries they currently occupy.

We also examined the Syrian government’s attempts at keeping the country united by addressing and implementing constitutional changes that benefit the Kurds – attempts that have still failed to convince separatist Kurds to abandon their goal of Balkanizing and illegally confiscating parts of Syria at the cost of the people who reside there.

Read Part I here.

Part II examines this topic in greater depth in hopes of raising awareness of this little-known but imperative part of the Syrian puzzle. Abed will analyze the Kurds’ link to apartheid Israel and why the country has taken such a strong interest in the group, as well as the strange phenomenon of Western military veterans traveling to Syria to fight alongside the Kurds.

The Kurdish link to Daesh (ISIS) will also be covered, as a number of Kurds have chosen to fight on their side. Kurdish alliances with armed terrorist groups in Syria – particularly Daesh – are very telling signs as to what extremes Kurds will go to in order to bring their ideological manifestation of an independent, autonomous Kurdistan into existence.

Washington and Tel Aviv’s geopolitical plans for dominating the Middle East can only be dismantled if the majority of citizens understand the intricate behind-the-scenes mechanisms that are driving their plan. Ultimately, their goal is not only to destabilize Iraq and Syria and divide them into statelets, but also to weaken Iran’s global presence – objectives that are being pursued with the help of the Kurds.

Kurdish ties to Israel

The Kurdish-Israeli relationship has matured significantly.  Since at least the 1960s, Israel has provided intermittent security assistance and military training to the Kurds. This served mostly as an anti-Saddam play – keeping him distracted as Israel fought two wars against coordinated Arab neighbors – but mutual understanding of their respective predicaments also bred an Israeli-Kurdish affinity. All signs point to this security cooperation continuing today. Israeli procurement of affordable Kurdish oil not only indicates a strengthening of economic ties, but also an Israeli lifeline to budget-starved Erbil that suggests a strategic bet on the Kurds in an evolving region.

The people closest to the Jews from a genetic point of view may be the Kurds, according to the results of a recent study by Hebrew University.

The Kurds are allied with Syria’s fiercest enemy – Israel – whose planned Greater Israel project coincidentally aligns almost perfectly with the Kurds’ plans for “Kurdistan.”  In the Oded Yinon plan, which is the plan for a “Greater Israel,” it states the imperative use of Kurds to help divide neighboring countries in order to aid in their plans for greater domination. Interestingly enough, Kurds brush this alliance off as being just another step in achieving their ultimate goal of creating an autonomous Kurdistan.

Every major Kurdish political group in the region has longstanding ties to Israel. It’s all linked to major ethnic violence against Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrians. From the PKK in Turkey to the PYD and YPG in Syria, PJAK in Iran to the most notorious of them all, the Barzani-Talabani mafia regime (KRG/Peshmerga) in northern Iraq. Thus it should come as no surprise that Erbil supplied Daesh (ISIS) with weaponry to weaken the Iraqi government in Baghdad. And when it becomes understood that Erbil is merely the front for Tel Aviv in Iraq, the scheme becomes clear.

Israel has reportedly been providing the KRG with weapons and training even prior its military encounters with Daesh. On the level of economic strategy, Israel granted critical support to the KRG by buying Kurdish oil in 2015 when no other country was willing to do so because of Baghdad’s threat to sue. KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami even admitted to the arrangement, saying that Kurdish oil was often funneled through Israel to avoid detection.

In January 2012 the French newspaper Le Figaro claimed that Israeli intelligence agents were recruiting and training Iranian dissidents in clandestine bases located in Iraq’s Kurdish region. By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. A year later, the Washington Post disclosed that Turkey had revealed to Iranian intelligence a network of Israeli spies working in Iran, including ten people believed to be Kurds who reportedly met with Mossad members in Turkey. This precarious relationship between Israel and Turkey persists today.

Western veterans take up the Kurdish cause

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian spinoff, the YPG, are cult-like radical movements that intertwine Marxism, feminism, Leninism and Kurdish nationalism into a hodge-podge of ideology, drawing members through the extensive use of propaganda that appeals to these modes of thought. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, took inspiration from American anarchist Murray Bookchin in creating his philosophy, which he calls “Democratic Confederalism.”

The PKK spin-off group YPG represents most of the SDF in Syria. With Western political support, they have gained popularity and garnered an impressive amount of support from many military veterans in the West, some of whom have left the comfort of their home countries to fight with the group. One of their most productive marketing tools has been to use young, attractive female fighters as the face of the guerrillas. During their fight against Daesh, the PKK has saturated the media with images of these young female “freedom fighters,” using them as a marketing tool to take their cause from obscurity to fame.

Watch a BBC report on female Kurdish fighters in Syria, featuring Kurdish singer ‘Helly Luv’:

But what doesn’t get reported is how the movement has carried out kidnappings and murder – not to mention its involvement in trafficking narcotics.

Kurdish families are demanding that the PKK stop kidnapping minors. It started on April 23, the day Turkey marked its 91st National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. While children celebrated the holiday in western Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) kidnapped 25 students between the ages of 14 and 16 on the east side of the country, in the Lice district of Diyarbakir.

Although the PKK has kidnapped more than 330 minors in the last six months, the Bockum family was the first in the region who put up a tent near their home to start a sit-in protest, challenging the PKK and demanding that it return their son. Sinan was returned to the family on May 4. Al-Monitor reported this incident from the beginning in great detail.

As Bebyin Somuk reported in her article, the PKK and PYD still kidnap children in Turkey and Syria. She states: “As I previously wrote for Kebab and Camel, the PKK commits war crimes by recruiting children as soldiers. Some of the PKK militants that surrendered yesterday were also the PKK’s child soldiers. The photos clearly show that these children are not more than sixteen years old. The Turkish army released video of the 25 PKK militants surrendering in Nusaybin.”

Related: Turkey Backs Plan For Syrian Safe Zones – U.S. Responds By Arming Kurds

SouthFront reported on female PKK fighters who have killed Turkish soldiers. “The women fighters command of the Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) have released a statement, claiming PKK female fighters killed 160 Turkish military servicemen in 2016. According to the statement, the women fighters command of the PKK carried out 115 operations against Turkish government forces in 2016. The group also vowed to ‘proceed the struggle during the new year for a life of freedom and until victory is achieved.’”

The PKK is also killing Kurds under the guise of protecting their rights. “Senior PKK leader Cemil Bayık, in an interview with the Fırat News Agency (ANF) on Aug. 8, said, ‘Our war will not be confined to the mountains like it was before. It will be spread everywhere without making a distinction between mountains, plains or cities. It will spread to the metropolises.’ Terrorist Bayık’s statement signaled that the PKK would take increasing aim against civilians, targeting civilian areas more than ever. And it is happening. Since July 15, the day when the Gülenist terror cult, FETÖ, launched its failed military coup attempt to topple the democratically-elected government, the PKK perpetrated dozens of terrorist attacks, killing 21 civilians and injuring 319 others – most of them Kurdish citizens.”

According to The Washington Institute “On November 18, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with senior Turkish officials to address U.S.-Turkish efforts targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also known as Kongra-Gel. A press release from the U.S. embassy in Ankara following the meeting stressed that U.S. officials ‘strongly support Turkey’s efforts against the PKK terrorist organization’ and highlighted the two countries’ long history of working together in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.

Security and forensic officers work the site of a car bomb which struck a bus in Diyarbakir, Turkey, May 10, 2016. The attack, carried out by the 'Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, targeted a bus carrying police officers killing at least three people. (AP/Mahmut Bozarslan)

Security and forensic officers work the site of a car bomb which struck a bus in Diyarbakir, Turkey, May 10, 2016. The attack, carried out by the ‘Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, targeted a bus carrying police officers killing at least three people

These discussions are timely. Despite Ankara’s recent bid to alleviate the Kurdish issue — a bid referred to as the ‘democratic opening’ — the PKK is one of a growing number of terrorist organizations with significant stakes in the international drug trade. In October, the U.S. Treasury Department added three PKK/Kongra-Gel senior leaders to its list of foreign narcotics traffickers. The PKK, along with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is one of only a few organizations worldwide designated by the U.S. government as both a terrorist organization and a significant foreign narcotics trafficker.”

Drug smuggling is reported to be the main financial source of PKK terrorism, according to the organization International Strategic Research, whose detailed report can be seen here.

Their exaggerated triumphs against Daesh have helped them evolve from a radical militia to an alleged regional power player. Have they been successful in fighting against Daesh in Syria? Yes – but while the Syrian Arab Army has been more effective, it does not receive a fraction of the praise or recognition that the PKK does.

Pato Rincon, a U.S. military veteran, recently wrote about his experience training with the YPG in Syria. Although initially interested in their desire for autonomy, he soon got to know a different side of the group:

“While they are a direct ideological descendant of the Soviet Union, their take on Marxism has a much more nationalistic bent than that of their internationalist forebears. At their training camp that I attended, they constantly spoke of their right to a free and autonomous homeland–which I could support. On the other hand, they ludicrously claimed that all surrounding cultures from Arab to Turk to Persian descended from Kurdish culture. One should find this odd, considering that the Kurds have never had such autonomy as that which they struggle for. All of this puffed-up nationalism masquerading as internationalism was easy to see through…not only was their idea of Marxism fatuous, their version of feminism was even worse.”

Accounts such as this will certainly not make it to mainstream media, as they do not fit the narrative that the Kurds and their sponsors promote.

In another example of Western support for the YPG, Joe Robinson, an ex-soldier and UK national, recently returned to the UK after spending five months in Syria fighting with the group. He was detained and arrested by Greater Manchester Police officers on suspicion of terrorism offenses as soon as he returned. He joined the British military when he was 18 and toured Afghanistan with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2012.

He left the UK when an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court. Robinson is pictured here in Syria with YPG fighters.

Joe Robinson Kurds Syria ISIS

Robinson is on the far left, holding his weapon while his fellow YPG comrades are holding a Daesh flag.  The writing on the wall speaks volumes about the relationship between Israel, the Kurds and the United States

SDF working with Daesh

The most evident contradiction to be noted is that the Kurds in the SDF are working with the U.S. through its so-called “Operation Inherent Resolve,” which is the official name for its anti-Daesh operations. But at the same time, the U.S.-led coalition, including Kurdish armed units, lets “militants of the Islamic State terrorist group leave Raqqa instead of killing them,” according to Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russia’s force grouping in Syria.

“Instead of eliminating terrorists guilty of killing hundreds and thousands of Syrian civilians, the U.S.-led coalition together with the Democratic Forces enters into collusion with ringleaders of ISIL, who give up the settlements they had seized without fighting and head to the provinces where the Syrian government forces are active,” he said.

Sputnik Arabic was able to talk to Husma Shaib, a Syrian expert on armed groups in Syria who explained why the SDF is comparable to the al-Nusra Front and what the actual aim of their operations in Syria is.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S. The group is currently engaged in the early stages of battle in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups, including Kurdish factions, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S.

“In Syria, we regard these forces as unlawful military formations which operate outside of the legal environment. They are the same a terrorist units like al-Nusra Front and Daesh. The Syrian Democratic Forces do not coordinate their activities with the Syrian Army. We regard them as terrorists,” Shaib told Sputnik.

The SDF is mostly comprised of the Kurdish YPG militia, which unanimously declared the “federalization” of what they call “Rojava,” or “Western Kurdistan,” in March 2016.

The leaders of the SDF announced that they’ll try to annex the majority-Arab city of Raqqa if they manage to liberate it.

The Kurds are ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en masse in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “Federation” after its forthcoming capture.

Hostility against SAA forces

On June 18, a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber near the city of Tabqa. The U.S.-led coalition said the Syrian aircraft attacked SDF positions, adding that the coalition downed the Syrian jet as part of “collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces,” according to Sputnik News.

However, the SAA stated that they were, in fact, attacking Daesh, not the SDF. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) then sent in a rescue mission to retrieve the downed pilot. Al Masdar News (AMN) reported that they encountered intense resistance from the SDF, which would imply a serious escalation between the two.

The Syrian Army General Command responded with an official statement that the flagrant aggression undoubtedly affirms the US’s real stance in support of terrorism which aims to affect the capability of the Syrian Arab Army- the only active force- along with its allies that practice its legitimate right in combating terrorism all over Syria.

The fin and rear fuselage of a Syrian Airfore Su-22M, The same type of aircraft shot down by US forces while engaging ISIS targets fleeing Raqqa , Syria. (Photo: A.V.)

The fin and rear fuselage of a Syrian Airforce Su-22M, The same type of aircraft shot down by US forces while engaging ISIS targets fleeing Raqqa, Syria

“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administering terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region.” The statement added.

It affirmed that such aggressions would not affect the Syrian Arab Army in its determination to continue the fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations and to restore security and stability to all Syrian territories.

Earlier in the week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Sputnik that the U.S. strikes on SDF aircraft are aiding terrorists. “In the case of strikes [by U.S. forces on the aircraft and drones of the Syrian Armed Forces], we are dealing with an open complicity with the terrorists operating on Syrian soil,” Ryabkov said.

CIA-armed Kurds in Syria

The U.S.-led coalition has on numerous occasions stated that it is working with the SDF to try to defeat Daesh in Syria. However, there have been numerous reports of U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Syrian civilians, military and infrastructure. These deadly and avoidable mistakes clearly illustrate how the US-led coalition’s presence in Syria has had a harmful impact on civilians. On June 26, the SDF cut off water supplies to 1 million civilians in Aleppo. Some sources stated that this was out of spite, whereas others stated they were unaware of the reason(s) behind such a destructive and deliberate against innocent civilians.

(Read the whole story on Source / 16.07.2017)

Al-Aqsa officials reject new Israeli security measures as compound reopens

Al-Aqsa after praying

Men return from praying from the Al Aqsa mosque

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) —  As Israeli officials moved to “gradually reopen” the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday after three days of closure, officials from the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that runs the holy site expressed their rejection to the new metal detectors installed at compound’s entrances, though Waqf officials and worshippers eventually entered for afternoon prayers.
The attempt to reopen the compound came upon an order from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after it had been closed following a deadly shooting attack inside the compound that left two Israeli border policemen killed and three Palestinian assailants shot dead on Friday.After discussions with “top security leadership,” Netanyahu announced additional security measures at the holy site Saturday evening, including the installation of the metal detectors as well as security cameras outside the compound.
Meanwhile, Al-Aqsa and the entirety of the Old City has remained shuttered to Palestinians who don’t reside there since Friday, while Israelis and tourists have been allowed to enter the Old City. The roads around the Old City were also reportedly closed to traffic, and traffic at the central bus station near the Damascus Gate was disrupted.
Waqf spokesperson Firas al-Dibs told Ma’an earlier Sunday morning that Israeli authorities had been contacting a group of Al-Aqsa mosque’s guards and ordered them not go to the mosque.
Netanyahu lauded the new security measures as giving Israel “almost complete control over what goes on there.”
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reported that just two of the compound’s nine gates — the Lions Gate (Bab al-Asbat) and the Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis) — were opened with metal detectors established at each one, and that Israeli forces were conducting security checks on all those who entered to pray.
She said other gates would gradually be opened upon instructions from the Israeli government. According to Israeli news daily Haaretz, Jewish visitors would not be permitted entry to the site on Sunday.

Before worshippers were allowed in, al-Samri said Waqf officials who arrived to the Lion’s Gate expressed their opposition to the Israeli police commander, but Waqf representatives later complied and passed through the metal detectors.

At least 200 worshippers entered the compound to pray as of 1:15 a.m. amid the deployment of “extra police units” in the area “to prevent any incidents,” she said.

Earlier on Sunday, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani voiced his disapproval of the measures while speaking to the Voice of Palestine radio station, saying “it is a dangerous and unprecedented move to impose control over Al-Aqsa mosque.”

As of Sunday morning, Israeli authorities had continued to ban the ‘adhan,’ or Muslim call to prayer, in the mosque and prevented worshipers from entering the mosque, forcing them to perform dawn prayer in the street.
Worshippers who came to pray Sunday from different areas of Jerusalem told Ma’an that they were forced to perform prayers at “the closest points to the mosque.” Some of them were able to reach the gates of the Old City, others were able to reach nearby neighborhoods such as Wadi Joz, while residents of the Old City itself performed morning prayers outside of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque gates.

Al-Aqsa after praying1

Palestinians and Israeli police clashed outside of the compound on Saturday evening, as tensions remained high, given that the weekend’s closure was reportedly the first time the compound had been closed off to Muslims since 2014 and the first time since 1967 that Palestinians were restricted from attending Friday prayers.Following the closure, Palestinian citizens and leaders expressed their outrage at the move, demanding that the closures be lifted, and warned Israel of taking steps that could “change the historic status quo in Jerusalem and the mosque. “Since Friday, Israeli forces have detained dozens of worshippers and Waqf employees, as well as the grand mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein who was released after hours of interrogation.
Amid extensive Israeli searches at Al-Aqsa over the past two days, entered all of the compound’s mosques, offices, and other buildings. According to Haaretz, at first, Israeli forces wanted to break down the doors to the buildings but in the end they agreed to requests from the Waqf to have representatives unlock the buildings for them.
Haaretz quoted commander of Israel’s Jerusalem district police Yoram Halevy as saying that police officers have been “careful to remove their shoes before entering the mosques,” but witnesses told Ma’an on Friday that Israeli forces raided the mosque with shoes on, in violation of the Muslim tradition which mandates that shoes be taken off in places of worship.
Witnesses had also said that Israeli forces emptied out garbage containers in the compound under the claim that they were searching the containers, and Waqf employees told Ma’an that Israeli special forces had vandalized inside facilities at the holy compound by “smashing” doors and toilets.
Municipal workers had also entered the compound to conduct a thorough cleaning, despite the protests of the Waqf officials that this too was a violation of the status quo at the holy site, according to Haaretz.

The Israeli police commander also reportedly claimed that during the raids, “Dozens of knives, slingshots, batons, spikes, inciting material, unexploded ordnance, binoculars, and dummy plastic weapons” were uncovered at the site, but no firearms or ammunition were found.

Palestinian Authority spokesperson Youssef al-Mahmoud condemned Israeli authorities for violating the holiness of the mosque and dismissed the security procedures as “arbitrary and void.”Al-Mahmoud reiterated calls for “urgent intervention” from Muslim and Arab world leaders to put an end to the measures that “violate the identity and history of Jerusalem.”He highlighted in the statement that East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, and that 137 states recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, non-Muslims are permitted to visit the site during designated times.Palestinians have long feared that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site, in the shape of routine Jewish incursions on the site and right-wing Israeli calls to demolish the mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple.

(Source / 16.07.2017)