Egypt court sentences Morsi to 25 years in Qatar spy case

Morsi was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now the president of Egypt

Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a court appearance with Muslim Brotherhood members on the outskirts of Cairo

An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ousted president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood to 25 years in prison in a final ruling over a case accusing him of spying for Qatar, judicial sources said.

Morsi, democratically elected after Egypt’s 2011 revolution, was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now the president, following mass protests against his rule. He was immediately arrested.

Egypt’s Court of Cassation reduced Morsi’s sentence in the Qatar case to 25 years in its final ruling, from an original 40 years.

Morsi is already serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted for the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012.

Since toppling Morsi, Sisi has clamped down on dissent. Mass trials have been held for thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and hundreds have received death sentences or lengthy prison terms.

In 2014, Egypt charged Morsi and nine others with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar. Egypt’s relations with Doha were already troubled by Qatar’s backing of Morsi.

Egypt is one of four Arab nations in a Saudi-led bloc that cut relations with the Gulf state on June 5, accusing it of backing militant groups and cooperating with their arch-foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.

(Source / 16.09.2017)

Bennett: Jordan Valley is ‘inseparable part’ of Israel

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett [file photo]

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett

The Jordan Valley is an “inseparable part of the State of Israel”, the Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday.

Speaking at the inauguration of his party’s office in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Jewish Home leader said: “The Jordan Valley will always be an inseparable part of the State of Israel, and it is of strategic importance to the security of the state, and I am very happy that we are planting roots in it.”

The party’s Director General, Nir Orbach, added:

We see great importance in strengthening the settlement in the Jordan Valley.

The right-wing party’s office was opened in the illegal Shadmot Mehola settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley. Israel’s Justice Minister and Jewish Home party member Ayelet Shaked was amongst those present at the inauguration.

An area of approximately 400 square kilometres, the Jordan Valley lies along the River Jordan. It is 200-400 metres below sea level.

Read: Israel to approve budget for illegal settlements in Palestinian territory

(Source / 16.09.2017)

Tunisia groups: Essebsi’s remarks are ‘retreat from democracy’

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi [File photo]

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi

Four independent Tunisian bodies have rejected remarks by President Béji Caid Essebsi in which he said they “operate without censorship”.

The High Independent Authority for Audiovisual Communication, the Higher Committee for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture released a joint statement in which they described Essebsi’s remarks as “a dangerous indicator that threatens democracy in Tunisia”.

The statement stressed that the organisations work in accordance with the laws in place and called on the Parliament, political parties, civil society and trade unions to “be vigilant and stand together against these dangerous trends”.

In an exclusive interview with the state-owned Al-Sahafa newspaper last week, Essebsi said Tunisian independent bodies operate “without any censorship” and “under the name of independent absolute powers”.

The president said that sovereign bodies and institutions such as the Parliament have turned into mere organs to recommend decisions for these bodies.

(Source / 16.09.2017)

UN: Gaza patients’ lives at risk due to medical shortages

Palestinian patients undergo kidney dialysis at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Palestinian patients undergo kidney dialysis at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City

The Ministry of Health in the besieged Gaza Strip is suffering from an acute shortage of medicines which is putting patients’ lives at risk, Qatar’s Al-Arab news site reported the UN OCHA saying.

“The increasing shortage of medicine and medical disposals is a result of the unresolved disputes between the authorities in Gaza and Ramallah,” the organisation added.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf Al-Qidra, said:

The health situation in Gaza is deteriorating before the eyes of the international community.

He said that the patients in Gaza “pay the price of the international silence regarding the Palestinian Authority’s suspension of medical supplies and treatment referrals.”

The Spokesman added: “We warn of the consequences of the deteriorating situation mainly of the cancer patients,” noting that up to 90 per cent of their medicines and medical treatment has been paralysed.

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, Israelis included, so end it now

The Palestinian Authority in occupied Ramallah has been accused of reducing and sometimes withdrawing supplies of medicines to the besieged Gaza Strip in an effort to force the ruling Hamas movement to cede power to it.  The PA denies the charges.

Gaza is already crippled under an 11-year Israeli siege which has left it cut off from the outside world, limited imports and stopped reconstruction of properties demolished in Israel’s laste brutal war against it in 2014.

Egypt has exacerbated the siege by closing its border crossing with Gaza.

WHO: Israel hinders 40% of Gaza patients’ access to health care abroad

(Source / 16.09.2017)

MADA denounces Gaza sentencing of female Palestinian journalist battling cancer

MADA female Pal journalist

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) released a statement on Thursday denouncing a Gaza court’s absentia decision to imprison a female Palestinian journalist who is currently in Jordan receiving cancer treatment.

According to MADA, the Gaza Magistrate Court sentenced journalist Hajar Muhammad Abu Samra to six months in prison and a fine of 1,000 shekels ($284) over an investigative report done by Abu Samra or the Arab television network more than a year ago about corruption in the Medical Referrals Department in the Ministry of Health in Gaza Strip.
“MADA expresses its deep concern of this ruling that is considered a very serious precedent against media freedoms, freedom of expression and the role of the press in Palestine. It sees this as another setback to the growing repression of media freedoms,” the statement said.
 The statement also highlighted that the decision was issued in absence of the journalist and without her or her lawyer’s knowledge. According to MADA, Abu Samra’s lawyer Mirvat al-Nahal, who works for the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, learned of the decision through social media.
According to MADA, al-Nahal said she only found out about the decision “recently” despite it being issued on June 4. Al-Nahal also pointed out that “according to Article 403 of the Penal Code, the sentence should not be imposed on my client because of her health conditions, since she is currently abroad for treatment.”
MADA wished a “speedy recovery” for Abu Samra and called for annulment of the decision, which the group said “flagrantly violates media freedom and undermines it critical oversight role in the society.”
Hamas, the de facto ruling authority of Gaza, has stifled dissident voices in the blockaded Palestinian territory since the faction came to power after winning general elections in 2006.
MADA documented a total of 48 violations by authorities in the Gaza Strip against media freedoms in 2016 in its annual report, which highlighted incidents of security forces inflicting “certain types of torture” against Palestinian journalists during their detentions.
A continuation of Palestinian authorities — both in Gaza and the West Bank, which is governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority — “prosecuting journalists in relation to their publications on social media sites,” was also reported.
(Source / 16.09.2017)

Ashrawi slams Israel for burying Palestinian bodies in cemeteries of numbers

Hanan Ashrawi

Hanan Ashrawi, with the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi denounced the Israeli government’s decision this week to bury the bodies of four Palestinians in so-called cemeteries of numbers in Israel.

The Israeli state had announced on Wednesday that it had already buried the bodies of Abd al-Hamid Abu SrourMuhammad TarayraMuhammad al-Faqih, and Rami Awartani, all allegedly affiliated with the Hamas movement, despite an ongoing appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court by which the families of the slain Palestinians have demanded the bodies be released for proper burial.
Ashrawi released a statement Thursday, saying the move was “a blatant disregard for life and the sanctity of death, and is yet another violation of international law and international humanitarian law.”She cited Article 34 of the Additional Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which say “the remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities and those of persons not nationals of the country in which they have died as a result of hostilities shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be respected, maintained and marked.”
Furthermore, Ashrawi noted, the Articles affirm that states are “required to facilitate access to the gravesites by relatives of the deceased,” “to protect and maintain such gravesites permanently,” and “to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased and of personal effects to the home country upon its request or, unless that country objects, upon the request of the next of kin.”“This is not only inhumane,” Ashrawi said, “it is a deplorable form of collective punishment and cruelty for the families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones. Once again, Israel must be made to comply with the fundamental tenets of decency, civilized behavior and international law.”
A lawyer from the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center Muhammad Abu Sneina told Ma’an on Wednesday that the announcement would not affect the appeal process, and that the center and the prisoners’ committee continue to demand the release of the bodies of the slain Palestinians to their families.
Palestinian leaders, however, have expressed their lack of faith in the Israeli Supreme Court to provide justice on the case. Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe denounced the judiciary as “unjust, biased, and nothing more than a tool serving the occupation’s racist and extremist authorities.”
The committee said Israel is withholding 249 slain Palestinian bodies, who have been buried in the cemeteries of numbers over the years.
In addition to Israel’s hope that the bodies can be used as bargaining chips in future negotiations with Hamas, Israeli authorities have also claimed that the policy of withholding remains is an attempt to avoid “incitement” during funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the occupied territory. When bodies are returned, Israel imposes strict conditions on funerals.
Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah has condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture.”
(Source / 16.09.2017)

PLO marks 35th anniversary of Palestinian refugee camp massacre in Lebanon

Baqa'a refugee camp

A file picture released on Nov. 28, 2013 by UNRWA shows Palestinians at the Baqa’a refugee camp, north of Amman in 1970

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — On the 35th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’s Sabra and Shatila camp, Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hanan Ashrawi said the massacre “still represents Israel’s cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people as a whole”

The massacre took place after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when Christian Phalangist militias entered the Beirut camp under Israeli military watch to wreak retribution for the alleged assassination of their leader Bachir Gemayel.Between September 16 and 18, Palestinian refugees were killed in droves. At the time, the number of dead was estimated at 700, but eyewitness British reporter Robert Fisk says the number was closer to 1,700, while the PLO has previously said nearly 3,500 Palestinians were killed.Israeli soldiers in control of the perimeter of the camps did not stop the slaughter, firing flares overhead at night to aid the Phalangist gunmen.An Israeli investigation found then defense minister Ariel Sharon, who Ashrawi said “ left a legacy of bloodshed and destruction,” guilty of failing to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. He was demoted but later became Israeli prime minister.
“This remains a tragic chapter in Palestinian history, and thirty-five years later, the Sabra and Shatila massacre still represents Israel’s cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people as a whole. This massacre, as well as other massacres against the Palestinian people, goes unpunished,” Ashrawi said.
Ashrawi said in her statement that the massacre “should remind the entire international community that the plight of the more than six million Palestinian refugees has not been resolved,” and that Israel and the US “must do justice to the Palestinian refugees and implement international law and UN resolutions.”

(Source / 16.09.2017)

Israel arrests student from Negev

Thaer Joudeh arrested

Israeli Shin Bet intelligence apparatus rounded up a Palestinian student who studies medicine in Jordan, Thaer Joudeh. Israeli forces questioned him and banned him for seeing his lawyer and family members just for handing over academic materials at university.

Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday that Israeli Attorney General accused Joudeh, a resident of the Negev, with handing out study materials as a contribution to a student syndicate allegedly affiliated with Hamas Movement, calling it “serious security violation”.

Both of the Israeli Supreme and Central courts criticized the indictment brought against Joudeh and refused to extend his detention until the completion of judicial procedures. He was allowed to go back to Jordan with disregard to the Shin Bet objection.

(Source / 16.09.2017)

IOF arrests two brothers south of West Bank

Arrests Samua town

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Friday evening broke into Samua town south of the southern West Bank province of al-Khalil. A local house was violently stormed during the raid.

The house’s owner Sami Abu Yaqub affirmed that IOF soldiers broke into and searched his house before arresting his two sons aged 19 and 22.

Abu Yaqub pointed out that a large sum of cash estimated at 20,000 shekels and jewelry had been stolen by the IOF soldiers during the raid.

(Source / 16.09.2017)

Clashes, arrests reported across West Bank

Clashes WB

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Saturday launched raid and arrest campaigns in several parts of the West Bank during which violent clashes erupted.

Eyewitnesses reported that an Israeli military force raided the house of Sami Abu Arqoub in al-Samu’ town to the south of al-Khalil last night and arrested his two sons Nizar, 19, and Basel, 22.

They pointed out that the IOF soldiers wreaked havoc on the house during the raid and seized jewelry, a sum of money estimated at 20,000 shekels and three computers.

Five Israeli patrols stormed Awarta and infantry soldiers were deployed in part of the town.

Awarta has been recently subjected to repeated break-ins accompanied occasionally by incursions conducted by Israeli settlers into the three shrines existing in the town.

Confrontations erupted in Deir Istiya in Salfit between Palestinian citizens and the IOF soldiers who stormed the town and raided a number of houses.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that the soldiers broke into the house of Ismail Kokash, searched it and interrogated the family before raiding other neighboring houses.

The IOF heavily fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the Palestinian citizens who responded by throwing stones, the sources added.

Israeli forces later erected a military checkpoint between the towns of Deir Istiya and Haris hindering the traffic movement.

(Source / 16.09.2017)