Report: Israel to build wall on Lebanon frontier

A view of flooded fields near a section of the Israeli separation wall that surrounds the West Bank city of Qalqilia after a heavy rainfall on Dec. 13, 2010.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli military officials plan to build a new wall on the country’s northern ceasefire line with Lebanon, Israeli media reported on Monday.

An official in Israel’s northern command told Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the 5-meter high and 1-kilometer long wall will be equipped with alarms and separate Israeli kibbutz al-Matala and Lebanese village Kafr Kala which lie near to each other.

The wall, the first of its kind along the frontier with Lebanon, will be planned in the coming days and building will start in a few weeks, the newspaper said.

Israel’s army has requested the UN peacekeeping force stationed in the ceasefire zone coordinate with Lebanon in order to prevent clashes.

The border between Israel and Lebanon is disputed by the two sides and the UN-drawn “Blue Line” covers just part of the stretch, established in 2000 to determine whether Israel had withdrawn from Lebanon after its 1982 invasion.

( / 02.01.2012)

The Scarf: Your Secret Weapon for Fall

The Scarf: Your Secret Weapon for Fall

When it’s time to update your wardrobe for a new season, you’re not alone if you find yourself at a loss for where to start. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and overlook the finer details of accessorizing when considering the necessary additions to ones wardrobe. In fact, one of the most cost-effective and ultimately painless ways to update your look for the upcoming Fall/Winter season is with the perfect scarf. A new scarf can not only update and complete a look, but by paying close attention to the details and accessorizing accordingly, it one of the easiest, ‘quick-fix’ solutions I can think of for putting together a look that appears new, polished, and complete. Here are five great scarf suggestions for the new season.

The Perfect Gentleman // Burberry Plaid Scarf
Sophisticated and classic, the traditional Burberry plaid scarf now comes in pretty much every color under the sun. Go for a dark charcoal cashmere scarf to keep it simple and elegant, or go big and bold with more vibrant pops of color. Either way, a Burberry scarf is the go-to Fall/Winter accessory for the sophisticated gentleman adding a subtle touch of finery to any ensemble (whether you’re playing a Gatsby or not).

Dressed To Kill // Alexander McQueen Skull Scarf
For those more daring and fashion-forward, perhaps the sheer skull print scarves by Alexander McQueen might be more up your alley. Lightweight and versatile, and now available in a wide array of color waves, the McQueen scarf has become a staple of fashion aficionado’s everywhere. While a pricey option, rocking skulls is pretty bad-ass! Not to mention the compliments and adoration that this coveted scarf will garner for you make it a worth-while investment.

The Bigger The Better // HM Chunky Knit Scarf
For those on a budget, HM is an affordable yet stylish option to add on to your wardrobe for the new season. Go for a chunky, heavy scarf (the bigger the better, really) and stay toasty and trendy as you layer it under a trench or leather jacket.

Prince of Prints // Urban Outfitters Navajo-Inspired Print Scarf
Another option for those who want to blaze a new trail is to go all-out with an interesting print or design, like the Navajo-inspired print scarf from Urban Outfitters. This is definitely an affordable statement piece. A good rule of thumb to remember is if you want to go crazy with the scarf, to tone it down by pairing it with neutrals and earthy tones, in order to create an effortlessly cool and confident look.

Arctic Avenger // Helly Hansen Warm Ski Buff
For those who dwell in an unforgiving climate, battle the elements with a solid ski buff from Helly Hansen. Sure to keep out the cold, this piece truly brings together function and form, showing that even on the most frigid winter day; you can dress for the weather without looking like the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man. This is a good option for getting to and from the car or commuting to work during the unforgiving winter months as it is compact enough to quickly stow away in a pocket when inside.

The perfect scarf can be the finishing touch to pulling your desired look together, and the shopping process should be relatively painless as one size fits all. Make sure to take some time when selecting the scarf to consider how you can pair it with existing pieces in your wardrobe. Also, be sure to ask a sales associate for some alternatives in ways to tie or wear it – you’ll probably be surprised at how versatile a simple scarf can really be, or at the very least, you won’t feel unsure of yourself when walking out of the house for the first time with your brand new scarf tied in a clumsy mess of a knot. Whichever direction you choose to take your scarf adventures this fall, do yourself a favour and spend some time considering the details.

( / 02.01.2012)

Saudi Arabia seeks arrest of 23 Shiites for unrest

The US Justice Department charged two men with conspiring with Iranian government factions to blow up Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir (pictured) on US soil in October, while Iran denied involvement.

RIYADH (Reuters) — Saudi Arabia has ordered the arrest of 23 Shiite Muslims in the kingdom’s Eastern Province who it says were responsible for unrest that has led to shootings and protests in recent weeks, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The Sunni-ruled kingdom accused the wanted men of serving the agenda of a foreign power, usually a reference to its Shiite rival Iran which Riyadh sees as fomenting sectarian unrest to destabilize the region.

“We do have evidence of a relationship with somebody else abroad,” Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Turki told a news conference. “Now how much, or what kind of relationship and how strong that relationship, this still has to be investigated and that is what we want these people for.”

Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have risen in recent months, since the Arab uprisings altered the Middle East’s balance of power and brought sectarian clashes to Saudi Arabia and its close neighbor Bahrain.

Last week, an Iranian general said the Islamic Republic might respond to new sanctions over its nuclear program by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway that transports most Gulf crude, including that produced by Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

The interior ministry, announcing the arrest orders in a statement read on state television, apparently tried to calm sectarian tensions by praising as “honorable” the people of Eastern Province, heart of the kingdom’s oil wealth and home to most Saudi Shiites.

The statement called on the wanted men to turn themselves in, and Turki said the arrest order had been issued after they had failed to report when summoned for questioning.

Some of them had criminal records, held illicit weapons, obstructed traffic and tried to incite unrest, the statement said. This showed there were coordinated efforts to provoke unrest “and to force citizens to take part in pointless confrontations,” Turki said.

In November four people were killed in the province’s Qatif oasis area when clashes broke out near police checkpoints and at a funeral.

Eastern Province Shiite activists said aggressive policing at checkpoints and the arrest of some community members had provoked the trouble.

The Saudi government blamed an unnamed foreign power for the unrest and officials have privately pointed at Iran, which they accuse of stirring sectarian violence across the Middle East.

The only significant protests to hit Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s largest economy, during the Arab uprisings were among Shiites in Eastern Province, where small demonstrations persisted throughout 2011.

In October the United States accused Iran of backing an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Iran denies the charges and last month sent its intelligence minister to Riyadh to try to defuse tensions.

Saudi Shiites complain of widespread discrimination, which they say prevents them from gaining good government jobs, reduces state investment in their neighborhoods and leads to closures of Shiite centers of worship.

The Saudi government denies charges of discrimination.

The last official Saudi figures showed there were fewer than one million Shiites in Eastern Province out of a total 3 million people, but a 2006 Human Rights Watch report put the number of Shiites there at 2 million and a 2008 US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks estimated the Shi’ite population at 1.5 million.

( / 02.01.2012)

Reconciliation committee meets in Gaza

Palestinians attend a rally calling for a reconciliation between the rival leading  factions Hamas and Fatah, on March 15, 2011.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The cross-party committee overseeing national reconciliation met in the Gaza Strip for the first time on Monday, after the meeting was postponed days earlier.

The “public freedoms committee” is tasked with hammering out a number of tenets of the unity deal signed in May, including political prisoners, passports, closure of institutions, travel bans and freedom of political expression, committee member Hani Abu Amra told Ma’an.

After meeting on Monday in Islamic Jihad offices in Gaza City, Abu Hamra said the members agreed on the necessity of releasing all imprisoned based on their political affiliation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Arab Front delegate said he hoped there will be promising results in the next few days.

Committee members also agreed travel bans should be forbidden unless they are court-ordered, and that all citizens, regardless of political affiliation, should be entitled to a passport.

The remainder of the topics will be discussed in the next meeting on Wednesday, he said.

The committee has met twice in the West Bank in recent weeks, but a Saturday summit in Gaza was postponed for “technical reasons,” according to delegates.

Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas signed a landmark reconciliation agreement with Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal in Cairo in May, to end years of hostility. In 2007, fighting between the parties reached near civil war and led to the division of the West Bank and Gaza under separate governments.

The parties agreed in May to form a unity government, but the administration has yet to be appointed and the leaders met again in Cairo on Nov. 24 for further talks.

After the November meeting, Abbas said all differences had been resolved and pledged that results would be seen on the ground “in the coming days and weeks.”

Meanwhile, Mashaal said: “Everyone should be confident and wait for developments on the ground, and not just words.”

Yet several weeks later, officials from both parties said reconciliation remained elusive, blaming each other for continued arrests of their affiliates.

Nevertheless, Abu Amra described Monday’s meeting as “positive and reassuring.”

The committee also includes: Fatah delegate Hisham Abdul Razik, Hamas delegate Ismail al-Ashqar, Al-Dameer association for human rights director Khalil Abu Shamala, Islamic Jihad delegate Khalid Al-Batsh, FIDA delegate Khalid al-Khatib, General Leadership member Luai al-Qarbouty, Arab Liberation Front delegate Zaher Al-Hadili and Palestinian Liberation Front delegate Adnan al-Ghareeb.

( / 02.01.2012)

Shia mosque attacked in New York

Police and firefighters are on the scene after Molotov cocktails were hurled at the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center on 90th Ave. in Jamaica, Queens, New York
New York Police Department (NYPD) is investigating a rash of Molotov cocktail attacks on a Shia Islamic center and two nearby houses, as a possible hate crimes,Press TV reports.

New York’s Fire Department says a blaze outside the Imam al-Khoei Foundation building in Queens was brought under control quickly after a call came in at about 9 p.m. on Sunday.

The homemade explosives were also thrown at two nearby houses between 8p.m. and 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, heavily damaging one of the buildings.

Fire marshals and police are investigating the four bottle-bombings as possible hate crimes, a Press TV correspondent reported.

According to the police all of the targets were within two miles of each other and the attacks are possibly linked.

Up to 80 people were at the Islamic center at 89-89 Van Wyck Expressway when the incident happened. However there were no reports of injuries.

An eye witness, who attends the mosque, says one of the explosives was made inside a Starbucks Frappuccino bottle.

In the United States, 73 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 say Muslims are the most discriminated against, according to the Washington Times says.

( / 02.01.2012)

News from Syria 02.01.2012 II

Idlib: Extensive gunfire in the city from Al-Malaab roundabout near the Army’s popular center

Raqqa: A nighttime demonstration started in solidarity with Homs and the besieged cities at the old Raqqa wall, the demonstrators chanted for freedom and demanded the toppling of the regime. The numbers of demonstrators are increasing

Daraa : Al-Lajat: dense low-altitude fly-bys by military planes among fears of bombing the area

Daraa: Tafas: Security forces and the army are storming the Southern neighborhood of the city enforced with tanks

Hama: a massive demonstration has started from the Saad Bin Mouath mosque in Al-Faraya neighborhood. The protesters called for the regime’s ouster

Homs: Martyrdom of Madeen Ibrahim Al-Halaby in Baba Amr neighborhood

Homs: Rastan: the revolutionists have taken back Freedom Square while the army spreads

Deir Ezzor: A demonstration started from Aisha mosque in Hamidieh neighborhood in solidarity with Homs and the stricken cities, the demonstrators are calling for the execution of the regime

Damascus Suburbs: Adra: The Arab observers are visiting Adra’s Central Prison, after the name of the Political wing and the cards of the prisoners were changed to fake names of unknown people, who are believed to be security units who met the observers as political detainees

Homs: Khaldieh: A woman was injured by a sniper’s bullet

Damascus Suburbs: Shefonia: Mohammad Khaled Jamos, in his sixties, was martyred by the bullets of security forces and Shabiha, who stormed the village and destroyed and looted the shops to break the Dignity strike, while the people continue demonstrating against the regime’s practices

Up until now, the number of martyrs today increased to 15 including a female child. Ten martyrs in Homs, 2 in Idlib ” Jabal Al-Zawiyah & Saraqeb, 2 martyrs in Damascus Suburbs “Daraya and Shefonieh” and a martyr in Misyaf

Daraa: Harra: After the clashes last night, a curfew has been imposed in the vicinity of Khoule Bint Azwar Mosque. Army and security reinforcements have arrived to the Army checkpoint with heavy machine guns

(01-02-2011) Jouret Al Shayyah | #Homs | Martyr Mu#Hamad Said Sahlou

(01-02-2012) Daria | #Damascus Suburb | Thousands of protesters awaiting Arab monitors

(01-02-2012) Jarjanaz | #Idlib | A massive protest against Assad – Free Syria

Bahrain says to review some verdicts over unrest

Protesters look out for riot police as they stand next to garbage containers thrown on the street during clashes in the village of Sitra south of Manama, on Jan. 1, 2012.
DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain said on Monday it would set up a judicial panel to review some verdicts a military court issued over anti-government demonstrations led last year by its Shiite Muslim majority, which the Sunni-led kingdom crushed.

A statement on the official BNA news agency said the move came in response to the recommendations of an inquiry Bahrain commissioned into the turmoil.

Military courts issued at least five death sentences and sentenced some opposition leaders to life terms for organizing protests after last year’s unrest, which came as protest movements swept across the Arab world.

Washington, whose Fifth Fleet Bahrain hosts, has said a $53 million arms sale to the island kingdom depends on its response to the recommendations of the inquiry, which found detainees had been systematically abused and in some cases tortured to death.

Monday’s statement said judges from civilian courts would be part of a body reviewing verdicts issued by the military tribunal that were not subject to appeal.

Rulings subject to review would include convictions for statements that did not amount to incitement to violence, it said. The inquiry had criticized such convictions as punishing free speech.

The “National Safety” tribunals, in which Bahrain prosecuted some of the more than 1,000 people detained in the aftermath of protests that rocked the kingdom in February, did not initially allow appeals.

Bahrain subsequently transferred some cases to civilian courts and allowed them to hear appeals of verdicts handed down by the military tribunals.

Separately, BNA said the head of the body charged with implementing the recommendations of the inquiry was continuing to work, apparently responding to a report in the opposition Al Wasat daily that he had resigned.

The inquiry dismissed Bahrain’s claim that Shiite Iran stoked unrest through its co-religionists who complain of discrimination in access to land and state employment.

( / 02.01.2012)

IOA decides to raze hundreds of Palestinian homes, keep illegal outposts

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) declared its intention to demolish hundreds of Palestinian homes and buildings in area C under its control in the occupied West Bank and to retain illegal settlement outposts.

Haaretz newspaper said the Israeli prosecution bureau pledged to respond to petitions filed by Palestinian residents with the Israeli higher court against demolition of their property by razing hundreds of buildings and structures including schools without delay.

The IOA prevents the Palestinian natives from building or getting licenses to build in area C, so they find themselves forced to set up even temporary structures and tents because they know that Israel will not let them live peacefully in their lands without harassment and demolitions.

If the IOA and its prosecution bureau fulfilled their pledge to respond to Palestinian petitions, thousands of Palestinians would be homeless and 32 schools would be knocked down depriving about 1,000 Palestinian children from education.

For its part, the Israeli ministerial committee for legislation discussed in its meeting on Sunday a draft law aimed at preventing the evacuation of random illegal settlement outposts built by Jewish settlers without permits in the West Bank.

Haaretz said the leaders of these settlement outposts and right-wing Knesset members pressured this ministerial committee to approve and support the draft law.

( / 02.01.2012)

Palestijnen naar VN-raad om nederzettingen

RAMALLAH – De Palestijnse leiders doen een nieuw beroep op de VN-Veiligheidsraad om de bouw van Joodse nederzettingen in bezet gebied te veroordelen.

Dit staat in een verklaring die de Palestijnse Autoriteit in Ramallah zaterdag heeft verspreid.

In februari hielden de VS met een veto een soortgelijke resolutie tegen. Sindsdien heeft Israël besloten tot de bouw van duizenden nieuwe woningen voor Joden in bezet Palestijns gebied.

De illegale Joodse nederzettingen zijn een van de belangrijkste struikelblokken voor het vredesproces in het Midden-Oosten.

De nieuwe bouwactiviteit van de afgelopen maanden dreigt ”elke kans op een vredesproces en de tweestatenoplossing te vernietigen”.

Arabische Liga

De Palestijnse Autoriteit zal de hulp van de Arabische Liga inroepen om het probleem op de agenda van de Veiligheidsraad te krijgen.

Waarnemers houden er rekening mee dat president Barack Obama opnieuw het Amerikaanse veto gebruikt, mede met het oog op de stemmen van Joodse kiezers bij de presidentsverkiezingen volgend jaar.

( / 02.01.2012)

French-Algerian journalist found dead in Yemen

SANAA (Reuters) — Yemeni police found the dead body of a French-Algerian journalist in a hotel room in the capital Sanaa on Monday, four days after he went missing, officers said.
The man had been strangled with electric wire, a police official told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear why the journalist was killed, the force said.

Police said an identification card from France 24 television channel was found with the body. The broadcaster later told Reuters the man was not one of its employees.

( / 02.01.2012)