Syrian Coalition Sends letter to Arab League on Assad Regime’s Mass Forced Displacement Operations

President of the Syrian Coalition Abdulrahman Mustafa sent a letter to Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit to highlight the series of mass forced displacement operations being carried out by the Assad regime against the local population in various areas across Syria, the most recent of which took place in eastern Ghouta.

President Mustafa said that the war crimes did not stop in Syria. He strongly condemned the Assad regime and its allies’ employment of policies violating human rights, including killings, starvation and torture. He stressed that these tactics are aimed at crushing the Syrian people’s revolution and their demands for freedom and dignity.

President Mustafa also expressed his deep concern about the dire and mysterious situation surrounding Idlib province, which has become the destination for all the people who are being displaced from other areas. He pointed out that the province is now home to more than two million civilians.

Moreover, President Mustafa said that eastern Ghouta was subjected to the largest mass forced displacement operation in the wake of the ruthless onslaught by the Assad regime and Russia forces who used various types of weapons, including internationally prohibited ones in the bombing campaign in the Damascus suburb. He noted that the displaced people were humiliated and starved by pro-regime forces.

President Mustafa said that the situation in Idlib has become extremely dire as the new arrivals are being housed in overcrowded shelters and houses amid severe shortages of food and drinking water as well as lack of medical services.

He stressed that Syrian civilians continue to suffer as the situation on the ground has become catastrophic because of the failure of the international community to stop the waves of mass forced displacement; protect civilians; and enforce UN Security Council resolutions calling for the cessation of all hostilities and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Syrian Interim Government (SIG) has conducted a statistical study of the displaced people and has prepared an inventory of their needs in the reception sites, President Mustafa said. He called for the urgent provision of humanitarian and medical assistance for the IDPs via the Syrian Interim Government and in accordance with the needs listed in SIG’s report.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 04.04.2018)

Everyone was united under one motto: We have a right to return to our historic homeland

By Rana Subhair

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Rana Shubair (R) with her daughter Huda Shubair at the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip on Friday March 30, 2018

On Land Day, March 30, I set out with my three-year old and 12-year-old children, husband and other family members to join an estimated 30,000 other Gazan Palestinians for the first day of the Great Return March to the border with occupied Palestine [Israel]. Every day until May 15, the anniversary of the Nakba [“catastrophe” when more than 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homeland during Israel’s creation] we will camp by the border to remind the world that we have a right to return home.

It took me 45 minutes to get to the eastern border of Gaza City. We passed through the densely populated neighborhood of Shejaiya, where a terrible massacre took place during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza. The streets were congested with Friday morning vendors whose faces reflected the miseries and toils of Gaza life. Mule and horse-pulled carts dominated al-Mansoura Street as I rode in the car; I realized I had actually never been to that part of the city before!

When we reached the Israeli border area, tents and seating areas places where people were to sit were placed about 700 meters from the fence that separates Gaza from the rest of occupied Palestine. My eyes beheld a heavenly scene of a vast, green area on the other side of my country. (The area now known as Israel has plenty of water, unlike Gaza!) My heart raced and pounded in the same way it had when I went to Jerusalem in 2000 and visited al-Aqsa Mosque. I wanted to run to that oasis and touch the isolated and prohibited area of my homeland. A sudden rush of adrenaline filled my body.

Families sat on the ground with their kids, who wore the national Palestinian dress or camouflage uniforms. When I asked them to pose for a picture, each kid held up the name of the town his/her family originally came from and a sign that read, “We will return.” For a fanciful moment, I imagined that today was actually the day of return. All of the people gathered there greeted each other with, “Inshallah, we will all return.” Gaza happens to be my native homeland, but I was envious, so I said to my friends there: “I’m going back, too. All of Palestine is my country.”

I pointed to the closed border area, where the barbed fence and armed watchtowers were located, and said to my kids with a half-cracked voice, “See, that is Palestine. See how beautiful it is.” As the sirens of ambulances intermingled with the vociferous speeches and national songs, I realized there would always be martyrs. As long as Palestine is not free, and as long as we are locked up in the big cage that is Gaza and denied the right to live like other ordinary humans around the world, there will always be young people willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the sacred soil of Palestine.

At that moment, we were all one. Everyone there was united under one flag and one motto: We have a right to return to Palestinians’ historic homeland. This overwhelming feeling of unity long has been missing, especially in Gaza. As I pondered the faces of my people there with me, one fact was clear to me more than ever: None of us had anything more valuable to lose than what we already had—our home.

The fearless ones, mostly young men, ventured close to the border even though they were not armed—they couldn’t resist getting a closer glimpse of their occupied homeland. They were as vulnerable as us women and posed no threat. Yet as they had threatened, Israeli snipers were positioned to kill these dreamers. The Israeli occupation forces also fired teargas canisters at the crowds.

The toll at the end of the day was 16 martyrs and more than 1,500 wounded. But being a Palestinian and standing up for our rights has meant sacrifice since our first displacement in 1948. My family and I will not back down.

(Source / 04.04.2018)

Israel finishes Separation Wall in southern Qalqiliya

Graffiti art is seen on the illegal Israeli Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem on 1 November 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Graffiti art is seen on the illegal Israeli Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem on 1 November 2017

The Israeli occupation authorities have completed building the part of the Separation Wall which snakes around the neighbourhood of Azzoun in the south of the occupied West Bank city of Qalqiliya, Al-Resalah reported on Tuesday.

Funding for Peace - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Secretary of Azzoun Village Council, Abdel Karim Ayyoub, said that Israel’s objective in building this wall is rejected by the indigenous population. “It is simply working to impose its occupation policy,” he said. “Israel wants to tighten its grip over Palestinian farmers in the area.” Several complaints have been lodged against the Israeli measures in the area in the hope that the wall will be dismantled.

Read: Israel issues 13 demolition orders to Qalqiliya village

Israel started building the Separation Wall around this neighbourhood in 2002. It is referred to by international activists as the Apartheid Wall and encircles the neighbourhood, isolating it completely from the outside world. The occupation authorities open the gates for just 20 minutes three times a day.

The wall at this particular point is 7 kilometres long and between 50 to 70 metres wide (including the clearance zone on either side). It occupies 2,000 dunams (500 acres) of land belonging to the village.

(Source / 04.04.2018)

Ahed Tamimi’s lawyer accuses interrogators of sexual harassment

16-year-old Palestinian Ahed Al-Tamimi, appears in court after she was taken into custody by Israeli soldiers, in Ramallah, West Bank on 28 December 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

16-year-old Palestinian Ahed Al-Tamimi, appears in court after she was taken into custody by Israeli soldiers, in Ramallah, West Bank on 28 December 2017

Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky who is defending Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi has accused investigators of sexual harassment, Arab48.com reported yesterday.

Lasky has filed several complaints against interrogators for verbal and physical sexual harassment but said that no investigations were opened into any of her complaints. She has described this as a “gross violation of the law”.

In her complaint, the lawyer wrote that one of the interrogators questioned Ahed in an inappropriate way for a female minor, which amounted to sexual harassment.

The same interrogator told Tamimi that he would arrest her relatives and interrogate them if she did not respond to his questioning.

Lasky also said that despite the fact that Tamimi is young, she was interrogated simultaneously by two men without the presence of a woman in the room or even an interrogator specialised in questioning minors.

Read: Dutch streets named after Ahed Tamimi

“This proves that the [Israeli] law enforcement system infringes upon the rights of Palestinian minors,” Lasky also wrote in her complaint to the Israeli attorney general.

Reporters at The Daily Beast said they had watched an exclusive video footage of Tamimi’s interrogation leaked on Sunday which reportedly shows the teenager enduring two hours of questioning on 26 December. One of the interrogators tells her: “You have eyes like an angel” then tries to explain how she is like his sister who “spends all his money on clothes”.

According to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed sexual harassment and abuse, including rape, is routinely used by Israeli authorities to humiliate and torture both female and male Palestinian prisoners.

She told reporters last month before the court accepted the plea bargain that “there is no justice under occupation and this is an illegitimate court”.

(Source / 04.04.2018)

Israel army to shoot Palestinians within 300m of Gaza fence

Israeli forces take security measures at the scene of a shooting that left three Israeli security forces and one Palestinian dead on 26 September 2017

The Israeli army has stepped up military measures on the border with the Gaza Strip after demonstrators gathered there for the Great March of Return, Quds Press reported yesterday.

According to a military reporter for the Israeli news site Wallah the Israeli army is preparing for another protest planned for the weekend and has issued directives to its soldiers to open fire on any armed Palestinian up to 300 metres from the border fence.

The military reporter also said that the directives included an order to open fire at any Palestinian protester if he comes within 100 metres of the border fence.

The Israeli army is building a sand barricade and installing more barbed wire fences and is planning to detain any Palestinian who crosses the border.

Read: Palestinian succumbs to wounds sustained during Friday protests in Gaza

Sources also said, according to Quds Press, that the Israeli army has been observing Hamas bases along the borders, claiming that Hamas is carrying out additional activities beside the protester camps to hinder the work of the Israeli soldiers.

#LandDay

Palestinian protesters in Gaza have been collecting thousands of tyres and placing them along the borders in order to burn them during the Friday demonstration to obscure the vision of Israeli soldiers.

They have been also collecting pieces of glass and reflective mirrors to undermine snipers’ ability to target the protesters.

On Monday, despite drawing criticism internationally and across the region, the Israeli army stressed it would not stop its harsh treatment of unarmed Palestinian protesters.

(Source / 04.04.2018)

International commission to sue Israel over killing Palestinian protesters

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Head of the Coordinating Committee of the Great March of Return Zaher Birawi announced yesterday the formation of an international legal committee of law experts who will attempt to prosecute Israel over killing unarmed Palestinian protesters during the first day of the march.

In a statement, Birawi said: “The committee is to exert its utmost efforts in cooperation with Palestinian and international rights groups to prosecute the soldiers and leaders of the Israeli occupation army over committing war crimes against unarmed civilians.”

Birawi reiterated that international law guarantees the right to peaceful protests, stressing that opening fire on the protesters while they were calling for the implementation of UN resolutions related to their right to return is a war crime.

He said that the committee is seeking to take the Israeli occupation to every international court there is, including the ICC.

In the statement Birawi called for all documents, images and videos that are proof of the Israeli army’s crimes against unarmed Palestinian protesters to be submitted to the committee.

On Friday, which coincided with Palestine Land Day, Israeli forces shot dead 16 Palestinians and wounded 1,416 others.

(Source / 04.04.2018)

350 Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons: NGOs

Eight girls among those held in Israeli prisons

350 Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons: NGOs

A total of 350 Palestinian minors are currently languishing in Israeli jails, according to two Palestinian NGOs.

Eight girls were among those held in Israeli prisons, the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoners Society said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

According to the statement, six children were being held at Israeli juvenile centers.

The statement was issued on the occasion of the Palestinian Children’s Day, which is marked on April 5 each year.

Israeli forces detained 353 minors since the start of this year, some of whom were later released, the two NGOs said.

In January and February, Israeli authorities issued house arrest orders for 102 minors, most of whom were from the occupied East Jerusalem, the statement said.

The two NGOs appealed to international rights organizations to intervene to provide protection to Palestinian minors against Israeli practices.

According to Palestinian figures, roughly 6,400 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons.

(Source / 04.04.2018)