Israeli settlers pledge to build temple at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque on 19 September 2017

Some 500 Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa compound and pledged to rebuild the alleged Jewish temple at the site as they performed religious rituals yesterday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

In the past Israeli settlers have practiced these rituals in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City; this was the first year that the ceremony was carried out so close to the Muslim holy site.

Settlers also chanted during the ceremony, threatening to rebuild the Jewish temple they allege originally stood at the site of Al-Aqsa: “The Temple will be rebuilt; the City of Zion will be restored. And there we will sing a new song and journey up.”

President of the Temple Institute, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel who attended the march, said that he was pleased at the ongoing trend of Israelis storming Al-Aqsa Mosque:

“In the past, everyone was saying ‘the Western Wall here’ and ‘the Western Wall there.’ The people here, attending the ceremony, feel that the Western Wall is another stop on the way – the main goal is the Temple [Al-Aqsa Mosque]. It might take time, but it’s a fact now and no one can stop it.”

Ariel also stressed that it was important for Jews to practice religious rituals at Al-Aqsa to strengthen the campaign to replace the mosque with a temple.

“It is like a war – you cannot go to the battlefield without training your soldiers. You must teach them the combat doctrine or else they will lose the battle,” he concluded.

Read: Israel attacked holy sites 110 times in September

Israeli settlers have increased the number of break-ins at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the run up to Jewish holidays, straining tensions in occupied East Jerusalem. Whilst Israelis have been permitted to enter the compound at will, Muslim worshippers face heavy restrictions when trying to enter the site to perform their daily prayers.

Similarly in Hebron, Israeli authorities yesterday closed the Ibrahimi Mosque to all non-Jewish visitors until Tuesday. The mosque, which has been designated a Palestinian World Heritage Site under threat from Israel, is regularly stormed by extreme settlers, with over 3,000 breaking in last month under the protection of the  military.

Last week Israel announced its intention to close off occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank and Gaza, for 11 days while settlers mark the Jewish holiday Sukkot. While it has become standard practice for Israel to impose blanket restrictions on Palestinians’ movement, 11 days is an unusually long period for such a closure.

Read: Israel closes main West Bank road for marathon

(Source / 09.10.2017)

Rights Group: Assad Regime’s Violations of UN Resolutions & Killing of Civilians Continue Unabated

An independent rights group confirmed that the Assad regime continues to violate international resolutions by dropping barrel bombs on residential areas and causing civilian casualties.

In a new report released on Sunday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that it documented no fewer than 216 barrel bombs attacks by the Assad regime during the month of September. The report indicated that the majority of these attacks took place in the provinces of Rural Damascus, Hama, and Deir Ezzor.

The Network pointed out that the attacks claimed the lives of eight civilians, including five children and three women. The latest attacks brought the total number of barrel bomb attacks to 4,784 since the beginning of 2017.

These figures indicated a “systematic and widespread” use of this type of weapons, the monitoring group said. It stressed that the Assad regime unquestionably violated UN Security Council resolution 2139 as well as Article 7 of the Rome Statute through the crime of murder.

The Network underscored that all these acts “constitute crimes against humanity and violate many provisions of international humanitarian law.”

SNHR concluded its report by calling on the UN Security Council to ensure complete implementation of its resolutions which have become “not worth the paper they are written on. It stressed that the Un Security Council “has lost all of its credibility and purpose.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 09.10.2017)

Hamas’ weapons risk could kill Palestinian reconciliation

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah took the first step toward assuming control of Gaza’s administration when he and all the ministers of the national consensus government arrived there from Ramallah on Oct. 2.

The success of the government’s visit to the Gaza Strip “will pave the way for other steps toward reconciliation,” Azzam al-Ahmad, a Fatah official and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that day during a press conference that Al-Monitor attended.

“Next week will be crucial for the effective empowerment of the government in Gaza,” Ahmad said, referring to a meeting in Cairo set for Oct. 9 between Fatah and Hamas, under the auspices of Egyptian intelligence. During the meeting, both sides are expected to place control of all ministries and crossings with the national consensus government. The remaining contentious issues will be discussed during a subsequent round of talks.

Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties, split violently in 2007. The Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) administers the West Bank, while Hamas — which the United States and Israel consider a terrorist group — controlled the Gaza Strip. After suffering under ever-more-severe sanctions imposed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas announced last month it was dissolving its administration and would be open to reuniting the parties under the PA.

Abbas said Oct. 2 that as soon as the unity government is in full control of all border crossings, security apparatuses and ministries — just as it is in the West Bank — it will lift the sanctions on Gaza, but not before. While this provoked Hamas’ condemnation, it did not affect reconciliation for now.

The next day, the Cabinet held its weekly meeting — in Gaza for the first time in years — without mention of lifting the sanctions.

The government’s visit to Gaza is one step on a long, bumpy road that Fatah and Hamas need to traverse together to achieve unity on thorny issues. Such agreements will depend on Hamas’ responsiveness to conditions Abbas has set: No state can interfere in Palestinian affairs, and any funds that enter the Gaza Strip must go through the government, which must fully govern all Gaza affairs. The thorniest issue of all involves security and weapons.

Asked who will be in charge of the security apparatus in Gaza, Abbas said everything should be in the hands of the PA, and added, “I will not accept and will not replicate the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon,” meaning he refuses to have a civilian government (PA) while a political movement (Hamas) keeps an armed force.

He said the same rule will apply in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank: Any unauthorized person carrying a weapon will be arrested. No other weapons will be allowed.

That prohibition alone could hinder reconciliation, given that Hamas and Fatah both refuse to give up their weapons, Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, had said in a Sept. 22 press statement.

“The resistance weapons will never be a matter of discussion,” as they belong to all Palestinian people and are a guarantee against Israeli aggression, Marzouk said.

Nabil Shaath, Abbas’ foreign affairs adviser, toned down the conditions set by Abbas. He told Al-Monitor, “Everything will be discussed. Funds coming from abroad to Gaza should be monitored by a unified financial and administrative management and should be deposited into one financial account. Also, weapons should only be in the hands of the PA, and security services should follow a unified command. All of these issues will be discussed at a later stage. We are proceeding step by step.”

Fatah leader Yahya Rabah told Al-Monitor, “The government cannot be a mere formality in the Gaza Strip, and it is part of its duty to oversee all security headquarters, institutions and crossings without any kind of interference. Any money entering Gaza should go through it.”

He said, “Over the course of 10 years, Hamas failed to manage Gaza and open the crossings normally. The government will not accept being a pro forma authority without powers or influence.”

Hamas declined to comment on the conditions set by Abbas.

“The contentious issues with Fatah were agreed upon during 2011 in Cairo,” Yahya Moussa, a Hamas leader, told Al-Monitor. “We will not comment on any conditions or analyses circulated by the media.”

The most important points agreed to in 2011 were security, forming a unified framework for the PLO to discuss its reform, activating the Palestinian Legislative Council one month after signing the Beach Refugee Camp Agreement, integrating the staff Hamas appointed after 2007 with the PA and government officials, and forming the Hamas-Fatah national consensus government.

Moussa added, “We are going to Cairo to arrange mechanisms to implement the 2011 agreement, knowing that this agreement stipulated that security coordination with Israel was rejected altogether, and the resistance in Gaza is protected by all factions. We are in the stage of national liberation.”

The PA currently coordinates security of the West Bank with Israel, which Hamas rejects.

Asked about the impact Abbas’ new conditions will have on the reconciliation process, political analyst Jehad Harb of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research told Al-Monitor, “There are no red lines in politics. Everything is subject to discussion and depends on the prevailing conditions and the parties sponsoring reconciliation. For example, Hamas could abandon [former Fatah senior official Mohammed] Dahlan‘s understandings or foreign support if the government provided favorable conditions to end the economic crisis in Gaza — but [Hamas] will not give up its weapons.”

However, as Al-Monitor’s Shlomi Eldar reported Oct. 6, there might be some reason for optimism. Al-Monitor learned from sources in Gaza close to Dahlan’s people that Egypt has proposed a compromise involving creation of a joint security council for the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 09.10.2017)

Was Abbas’ endorsement of one-state solution plea or ploy?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ concluding sentence in his Sept. 20 UN speech has validated the desire of many young Palestinians to seek equal rights in a single binational state.

The 82-year-old Palestinian leader, making what was perhaps his last speech to the UN General Assembly, surprised many by saying that if Israelis continue to put obstacles in the way of a two-state solution, other options do exist. “Freedom is coming and is inevitable, and that occupation shall come to an end. It will either be the independence of the State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel on the 1967 borders, or equal rights for all of the inhabitants of the land of historic Palestine from the river to the sea,” Abbas said in his UN address.

Abbas’ suggestion that Palestinians might opt for a binational state comes as Palestinian youths are increasingly losing hope and support for the two-state solution and preferring to struggle for equal rights in a single country. A report published June 28 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Revitalizing Palestinian Nationalism: Options Versus Realities,” examines some alternatives.

The report provides evidence for many Palestinians supporting “binationalism” as the most repeated alternative to the two-state solution, even while admitting its ultimate weakness. “Public support for binational proposals, in which Palestinians and Israelis would share a single state, remains relatively low; and advocates have yet to articulate a viable strategy to achieve that vision. However, given the emerging Palestinian demographic majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, binational options may become more appealing in the years ahead,” the report stated.

Perry Cammack, one of the report’s authors and a former policy aide for President Barack Obama, told Al-Monitor that the study and its content show the nuances and complications of the Palestinian approaches to solving the conflict. Cammack, who spoke to Al-Monitor a week before Abbas’ speech, probably didn’t expect some of the ideas articulated by Palestinians in their report to take center stage. Cammack said that the alternative ideas of Palestinians reflected in the Carnegie report “have often been at the fringe and none enjoys nor is likely to enjoy the full backing of the Ramallah-based leadership.”

Hard-core Palestinian supporters of the one-state solution, however, haven’t been very excited by the words of the Palestinian leader. Mohammad al-Helu, an activist from Nablus with the Popular Movement for One Secular Democratic State, told Al-Monitor that Abbas’ reference was nothing more than a tactic to force Israelis and the United States back to the two-state solution. “This is a cheap tactic and not the first time that Abbas uses this language of waving the flag of the one-state [solution] as an alternative if the Israelis remain intransigent.”

The Popular Movement for One Secular Democratic State calls for the establishment of “an international solidarity movement, composed of individuals and organizations, to organize and spearhead efforts to realize the objectives of one democratic state in Mandate Palestine.”

Helu noted that activists have been calling for a single secular democratic state for some time, pointing to the November 2013 Munich Declaration as an example. “We have been calling for this since 2003. The two-state solution is a racist and unethical plan that doesn’t provide any solutions to Palestinians in Jerusalem and the diaspora. It is neither just nor is it a lasting plan,” he told Al-Monitor by phone from Ramallah.

Palestinian activist from Bethlehem Sami Awad welcomed Abbas’ reference to the one-state solution.

Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, told Al-Monitor that a two-state solution would likely not be democratic, as it would entail Israelis and the United States giving far greater priority to security over democracy. “I prefer to fight for equal rights in a single state that might be an apartheid state initially rather than be part of an undemocratic two-state solution,” Awad told Al-Monitor.

With the exception of a few prominent Palestinian intellectuals, like Islamic studies and philosophy professor Sari Nusseibeh of Al-Quds University, the idea of a one-state solution has been largely articulated by intellectuals outside of the region. David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, lists in a November 2014 article some of those who have espoused the one-state solution. “The one-state idea has been boosted over the years by academics such as Edward Said, Tony Judt, John Mearsheimer and Virginia Tilley, and by activists such as Ali Abunimah, the Palestinian-American co-founder of a website called Electronic Intifada.’”

Ironically, the idea of a single state was the bedrock of the ideology of the PLO. Hussam Mohamad, a professor of international relations at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, wrote in 1997 of the Palestinian strategy over the years: “On a general level, PLO military strategy and political thought can be divided into three phases: the total liberation phase (1964-1968); the secular democratic state phase (1969-1974); and the two-state solution (1974-1990s).”

It is not clear if Abbas’ words reflect a strategic shift in Palestinian policy or a tactic to goad Israelis and the United States into backing the two-state solution. Regardless of the motivation, his reference to the concept has legitimized many who feared that talking about it will be seen as unpatriotic to the national idea of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

(Source / 09.10.2017)

IOF detains Fatah official in Nabi Saleh

Nabi Saleh detained Fatah official

Majd al-Tamimi, the Fatah Movement’s secretary in Nabi Saleh village, to the northwest of Ramallah, was detained by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Monday.

Eyewitnesses said that Tamimi was detained along with a number of citizens at the entrance of the village before being taken away to an undisclosed detention center.

IOF arrest campaigns against the village had escalated over the past few weeks with semi-daily raids into the village being witnessed.

(Source / 09.10.2017)

Israeli forces open fire at 2 Palestinian women at Qalandiya, no injuries

2 women attackted

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces deployed at the Qalandiya military crossing between Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank opened fire at two Palestinian women who attempted to cross through the checkpoint on foot using the vehicle lane.

Witnesses said that the two women were not injured, and that Israeli forces seemed to have declared state of alert at the checkpoint.
Israeli forces detained the two women and took them in for interrogation.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The Qalandiya military checkpoint between the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah and Israeli annexed East Jerusalem has been a flashpoint of violence in a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory began in October 2015.
Throughout the unrest, rights groups have repeatedly denounced what they have termed Israeli forces’ “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner.
While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases.
(Source / 09.10.2017)

Shin Bet Rejects and Dismisses Teachers In Israeli-Arab Schools

09 OCT
5:45 AM

Israeli Internal Security Agency Shin Bet has the power to reject appointment or dismiss Arab teachers at Arab schools, Israeli Ynet News has reported.

According to Days of Palestine, a former official at the Israeli Ministry of Education, Emmanuel Koplovich, told Ynet News that Shin Bet has rejected the appointment of many qualified teachers.

“Shin Bet was involved in everything regarding recruitment for education positions,” confirmed the former head of the agency, Knesset member Yacob Berri. “It is still active in Arab schools to this day.”

The news website revealed that Shin Bet targeted the Arab teachers in cooperation with the ministry. Teachers did not know why they were dismissed or not accepted for a position.

It also revealed that some of the teachers were not involved in any political activities, but were rejected because of the political activities of one of their relatives.

According to the reports, information about Arab teachers and head teachers was circulated among different government institutions, mainly the education ministry and the Prime Minister’s office.

The Director of Adalah Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Hassan Jabareen, said that Shin Bet’s interference in the recruitment and dismissal of Arab teachers and head teachers has been known for a long time in the Arab community.

Such actions reiterates the hostility of the Israeli Education Ministry towards the country’s Arab citizens, who make up a fifth of the population.

“The Shin Bet has an important role,” insisted the former Director General of the Ministry of Education, Samson Shoshani. “Its mission is to make sure than no oppression is practiced against anyone.”

He added: “We are not against extremist teachers, but against extremist people in regard to loyalty to the state.”

(Source / 09.10.2017)

Soldiers Destroy Jerusalem’s Abu Al-Nawar School

09 OCT
5:26 AM

Saturday evening, Israeli forces broke into the compound of Abu Al-Nawwar Al-Badawi, located in Ezzariya town, east of Jerusalem, and raided the compound school, destroying its doors.

Local sources  reported that soldiers raided the schools, destroyed its doors, wreaked havoc, and took over equipment which was being used to continue the building process.

The sources noted, according to Al Ray, that there was a precautionary decision not to demolish the school.

It is noteworthy that the school was established with the assistance of popular resistance activists, whereas the Israeli military threatened to demolish it. The number of students is nearly 60.

(Source / 09.10.2017)

Israeli army strikes Gaza resistance site

Gaza attacked and damage

The Israeli occupation army struck overnight Sunday a Palestinian resistance site in the blockaded Gaza Strip, inflicting heavy material damage.

A PIC news correspondent said Israeli army tanks deployed near the border fence east of al-Maghazi camp, in central Gaza Strip, targeted a facility belonging to Hamas’s armed wing—al-Qassam Brigades—with three shells. The site was completely razed to the ground.

Eyewitnesses said an Israeli tank moved from Kissufim site northwards before it stopped at Abu Safiya site and fired shells toward the enclave.

Fire also broke out after Israeli forces fired light bombs east of Rafah, near Karam Abu Salem site.

Sometime earlier, the occupation army claimed that a missile from Gaza slammed into Eshkol region, before it backtracked on the piece of news and admitted that the rocket fell inside Gaza borders.

(Source / 09.10.2017)

In violation of int’l law, Israeli gov’t to okay 4,000 settler homes

Approve 4000 new settlement homes

The Israeli Civil Administration is reportedly set to approve almost 4,000 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank.

According to Israeli news reports, 3,829 settlement units are slated to be built in various areas across the occupied West Bank, including in isolated settlement outposts.

The approval will include 30 units in the West Bank city of al-Khalil, around 300 units in the illegal settlement of Beit El, 453 in Givat Ze’ev, 102 in Naguhot, 97 in Rechalim, and 206 in Tekoa.

Recently, the Netanyahu government has promised a bump in building permits in settlements built on Palestinian land, most notably Beit El, following the demolition of a number of homes built on private Palestinian land.

According to the news reports, Israeli settlers lashed out at the Netanyahu government for approving the network of bypass roads and pushing off the approval of new industrial areas which the settlers had long hoped for.

(Source / 09.10.2017)