Army Opens Fire At Palestinian Ambulance In Bethlehem

Wednesday evening, April 17, 2013, Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian Red Crescent Ambulance while trying to provide medical care to family members, including an infant, injured by gas bombs fired by the army at their home, in Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem.

File - Image Rb2000
Abdul-Halim Jaafra, head of the Emergency Unit at the Bethlehem Branch of the Red Crescent, told the Radio Bethlehem 2000 that five Palestinian family members, including an infant, suffocated after inhaling gas fired by the army at their home.

He added that as the medics rushed to rescue the family, the army fired rubber-coated metal bullets at the ambulance shattering its front shield; no injuries were reported among the medics.

The incident took place during clashes that took place in Al-Khader between local youths and invading Israeli soldiers.

(Source / 17.04.2013)

3,000 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to aid Prisoners Day protest (PHOTOS)


Palestinian protesters hold a placard with a portrait made from bread of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for more than 250 days, during a gathering fence to mark Prisoners' Day in downtown Ramallah on April 17, 2013.(AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

Palestinian protesters hold a placard with a portrait made from bread of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for more than 250 days, during a gathering fence to mark Prisoners’ Day in downtown Ramallah on April 17, 2013.
Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have declared a hunger strike to support Prisoners Day, an annual event dedicated to 4,713 prisoners being held in Israeli jails. Fierce rallies demanding their release have reportedly been met with tear gas.

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza attended marches and rallies on Wednesday, urging the international community to intervene and for pressure to be put on Israel in order to release some of the Palestinian prisoners.

Nearly 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them marched towards the nearby military prison at Ofer.

As activists reached the Ofer prison perimeter they tore down 50 meters of the prison fence, mounting a Palestinian flag on prison grounds.

After around four minutes of being at the fence, Israeli soldiers showed up. They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted spokesman of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh as saying.


Palestinians take part in a protest marking "Palestinian Prisoners Day" in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 17, 2013.(Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)

Palestinians take part in a protest marking “Palestinian Prisoners Day” in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 17, 2013.

It is necessary to pressure Israel to release the Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers,” he added.

In Gaza, hundreds of people marched from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, AFP reported.

Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus.

Events to mark Prisoners Day began on Tuesday in Gaza City where youngsters released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner.

Primarily Palestinian activists are calling for the release of those on the hunger strike that has been lasting for more than 250 days. Already dubbed one of the longest strikes in history, it stirred mass outrage and weeks of street protests.

The fates of at least five of the prisoners, including Samer Issawi, are now central to the protesters.

Samer Issawi, a 32-year-old from an Arab suburb of Jerusalem, is said to be in a critical condition with his low heart rate meaning he could die at any time.


Palestinians hold posters with pictures of Palestinian prisoners during a protest marking "Palestinian Prisoners Day" at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City April 17, 2013.(Reuters / Ammar Awad)

Palestinians hold posters with pictures of Palestinian prisoners during a protest marking “Palestinian Prisoners Day” at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City April 17, 2013.

As Israel seeks to end the Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike, Issawi was offered to stop his fast in exchange for commuting his decades-long sentence to one year behind bars, Reuters reported Wednesday citing a Palestinian official.

We don’t want to see this man commit suicide,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “There are elements on the Palestinian side who are eager to exploit a tragedy.

Earlier an Israeli official said they were ready to deport Palestinian Essawi to an EU or UN country, but allege the prisoner has refused.

Issawi was initially convicted of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002. He was released in 2011 along with over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held hostage by the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza.

But last July, he got re-arrested for what Israel called a violation of the terms of his release by crossing from his native East Jerusalem to the West Bank. Now he might face his original term behind bars and stay in jail until 2029. The prisoner has been struggling to regain his freedom by July this year.


Palestinian school girls hold a banner during a rally marking Prisoner Day in the West Bank city of Hebron April 17, 2013.(Reuters / Ammar Awad)

Palestinian school girls hold a banner during a rally marking Prisoner Day in the West Bank city of Hebron April 17, 2013.

Palestinian officials have called on Israel to send Issawi to Ramallah to receive a year of medical treatment after which Israel would allow him to return to neighboring Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem rejected the offer.

Rights group B’Tselem puts the number of Palestinians held by Israel at 4, 713 with most of them Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza convicted of participating in terror attacks. According to the group, 169 of them are held under administrative detention, without formally being charged.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says more than 215 children and 14 women are in jail.

(Source / 17.04.2013)

Farmers attacked daily by settlers near Bethlehem

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Settlers from Bat Ayin, located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, regularly assault Palestinian farmers in an attempt to force them to abandon their fields.

Hajj Hammad Sleibi, 78, is well aware of this phenomenon. He says he is attacked nearly everyday.

“This land is mine. This land is mine not yours,” Sleibi says on camera, addressing his undesirable neighbors.

Sleibi told Ma’an that settlers harass him physically when he tends his fields and destroy his crops on an hourly basis. His land is located in the Safa neighborhood of Beit Ummar, opposite the illegal settlement of Bat Ayin, built on private Palestinian land.

“They have chopped down everything. They did not leave a vine tree or an olive tree. They chopped down both newly-planted and old trees. They left nothing,” he said, describing a recent attack.

“A settler told me recently, ‘Hey old man! Big olive trees are all gone, and small trees are all down. Vine trees both big and small ones are all gone.’ They left only a few trees as you see. In two days I will finish tending them. What is left for me as a farmer to eat? Will I eat soil?”

The mayor of Beit Ummar Habis Allami told Ma’an that the municipal council has repeatedly filed complaints to Israeli police about daily settler attacks, but they fall on deaf ears.

Settler attacks have increased since 2006, Sleibi says, and they physically attack him and pelt him with stones.

But the elderly farmer insists he will visit his land everyday as long as he has the strength.

(Source / 17.04.2013)

IKV Pax Christi pleit voor militair ingrijpen Syrië


IKV Pax Christi pleit voor militair ingrijpen Syrië -  Foto EPA

IKV Pax Christi pleit voor een beperkt militair ingrijpen in het al meer dan 2 jaar durende conflict in Syrië. Volgens de vredesorganisatie is dat gerechtvaardigd omdat er sprake is van een oorlog tegen de burgers.

Het militaire ingrijpen moet een eind maken aan de luchtaanvallen van het Syrische leger van president Bashar al-Assad op zijn burgers. Daarbij denkt IKV Pax Christi bijvoorbeeld aan het instellen van een no-flyzone of het bombarderen van landingsbanen.

Volgens de organisatie is niets doen „geen optie”. Dat zal alleen maar resulteren in meer lijden van de bevolking. Het is de eerste keer in haar bestaan dat IKV Pax Christi pleit voor een militair ingrijpen, aldus een woordvoerster. Aan het besluit ging veel discussie vooraf.

In Syrië zijn al meer dan 70.000 doden gevallen en meer dan een miljoen mensen zijn naar omringende landen gevlucht. In het land zelf zijn meer dan 4 miljoen ontheemden. Assad heeft de controle al verloren over grote delen van het land.

(Source / 17.04.2013)


(Gedeelte uit rapport


Het spreekt vanzelf dat de vredeskansen in het Midden-Oosten vooral worden bepaald
door de bereidheid van beide partijen de onderhandelingen te goeder trouw te hervatten.
Hiervan zal alleen sprake zijn indien Israëliërs en Palestijnen in meerderheid de overtuiging
hebben dat een vredesregeling op basis van een tweestatenformule uiteindelijk in het
belang van beide partijen is. Aan Palestijnse kant moet worden erkend dat de bezorgdheid
in Israël over de verzekering van zijn veiligheid, nu en in de toekomst, legitiem is. Van de
Palestijnen mag ruime medewerking worden verlangd om die bezorgdheid zoveel mogelijk
weg te nemen. Die medewerking kan onder andere bestaan uit doeltreffend optreden
tegen radicale Palestijnse groeperingen die op gewelddadige wijze strijden tegen de
aanwezigheid van Israël als staat van het Joodse volk in de Arabische wereld. Uiteraard
doet zich hier vooral een probleem voor met betrekking tot strijdgroepen in Gaza, welk
gebied buiten de feitelijke controle valt van de Palestijnse Autoriteit. Een verzoening
tussen Fatah en Hamas is daarom zeer gewenst. Contacten met Hamas mogen niet uit de
weg worden gegaan. Van Israëlische kant moet op korte termijn een radicale ommekeer
in het nederzettingenbeleid worden geëist. De praktijk van de vestiging van Israëlische
nederzettingen ver op Palestijns grondgebied staat immers op gespannen voet met de
ruimte die er nog is om een levensvatbare Palestijnse staat te stichten. Met het negeren
van herhaalde oproepen en waarschuwingen van de internationale gemeenschap om te
stoppen met de uitbreiding van de nederzettingen, roept de Israëlische regering sterke
twijfel op aan de ernst van haar verklaarde vredesintenties.
Indien Israël onverhoopt niet bereid blijkt een einde te maken aan de groeiende
kolonisering van de bezette gebieden, ontkomen verantwoordelijke actoren binnen de
internationale gemeenschap er niet aan op woorden van protest ook daden te laten
volgen. Met andere woorden, aan aanhoudende schendingen van het internationale
recht en bindende uitspraken van de Veiligheidsraad moeten in de geschetste situatie
consequenties worden verbonden. Voor de Europese Unie zou dat een beperking of
bevriezing van haar betrekkingen met Israël kunnen betekenen (in elk geval geen
opwaardering van de samenwerkingsrelatie) en, als uitvloeisel van internationale
juridische verplichtingen, het afkondigen van een verbod op importen van producten uit de
Israëlische nederzettingen in de bezette gebieden.

(Source / 17.04.2013)

Torture in Israeli Jails

The Legacy of Totalitarian Regimes
A report on torture in Israeli jails based on interviews with former Palestinian prisoners and detainees

By: UFree Network, Media centre
Israel is considered by both International Human Rights organisations and media polls as one of the worst countries regarding human rights abuses, due to its dreadful record of human rights violations. Amnesty International
 and Middle East Monitor issued various reports in which they expressed concerns about the Israeli’s practices. A BBC World Service poll in 2007 revealed that Israel is perceived by the majority of people as top country for having a negative influence in the world and a more recent public poll carried out in Norway and Germany circumscribed Israel as “a hostile entity”. This negative image of Israel is caused by its frequent violations of international law since its forced establishment in 1948.
Since the occupation of Palestine in 1948, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned. From 1967 onwards, over 700,000 Palestinians, 20% of the population of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have been detained. This number represents approximately 40% of the total male Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories. International law sets the foundation for humane and fair treatment of prisoners, assuring that prisoners are not humiliated or tortured. Several countries, including Israel, deny these laws and regulations and practice different forms of humiliation and torture. Palestinian prisoners and detainees are exposed to unfair trials, administrative detention, solitary confinement, and deprived of seeing their families. In addition, physical and psychological torture is exerted by Israeli security services.  This report reveals the different methods used by Israeli forces to torture Palestinian political prisoners and is based on interviews with former Palestinian prisoners and detainees.
Palestinian prisoners and detainees: a political issue  
Detention and imprisonment became one of the tools for Israeli forces to oppress the Palestinian people calling for freedom and self-determination. This led to never-ending arrests campaigns that imprisoned hundreds of thousands Palestinians over the past seven decades. According to Addameer Detention Report there were 4,812 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centres in February 2013, including 178 administrative detainees, 12 women and 219 children (31 under the age of 16). 
UFree Network, established to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, mentioned in previous reports that there are no juvenile prisons for Palestinians. As a result, children often serve their sentences in the same cells as adults. More than 6,000 Palestinian children have been detained since 2000. In February 2013 there were 219 Palestinian prisoners and detainees under 18, more than 10% of them being under the age of 16. A large number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees are accused of executing acts of terrorism or participating in such acts. However, those prisoners were calling for freedom and self-determination, but they did not select terrorism as the appropriate strategy.
Living conditions in prisons
In addition to the arbitrary practice of administrative detention, the restrictions on family visits and the practice of torture, Palestinian prisoners and detainees are denied access to basic health services. Israeli authorities refuse to provide the needed medications to prisoners suffering various health problems. On different occasions, the prison authorities were reported to give prisoners with chronic health disease solely pain killers.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a report issued by the Justice Ministry’s Public Defender’s Office revealed widespread overcrowding, inadequate access to medical care, poor hygienic conditions, and excessive punitive measures in most Israeli facilities.  In a recent report by the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the organisation stated that they are “gravely concerned over the extreme deterioration of the Palestinian prisoners’ conditions in the Israeli prisons and detention centres”
Torture in Israeli jails: methods used 
Israel uses both psychical and psychological torture methods while interrogating Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Recently, Arafat Shalsh Jaradat, 30, has been murdered by Israeli intelligence (Mossad) while he was under extreme torture in Majdo prison facility. Jaradat has died due to a heart attack because of heavy beating.  The torture methods and its duration vary from one detainee to another, but their overall goal is to intimidate prisoners and seek for information that, in many cases, does not exist. This report reveals the main methods used by Israeli forces to torture Palestinian political prisoners. The methods of torture were obtained by UFree through a series of interviews with former Palestinian prisoners and detainees. For the sake of clarity, the methods are divided into two categories: physical and psychological methods. However, many of the methods used are a combination of both physical and psychological torture.
Physical methods:
  1. Repeatedly beating or kicking the prisoner in different parts of the body (head, hands, face, abdomen, back, genitalia), using hands and/or metal tools. Sometimes the prisoners’ hands were being tied to the wall or to metal bars during the beatings. Former prisoners also reported to have been beaten deliberately on wounds and injuries caused earlier.
  2. Tying the prisoners’ hands and/or legs together for a long period of time. Former prisoners reported to have been tied to the ceiling through their hands and legs. Others have been tied and left in the rain/cold weather for a long period of time.
  3. Shaking prisoners violently. This is being done by investigators who change from time to time.
  4. Forcing the prisoner to sit on a small chair (chairs for kindergarten kids) for long hours and sometimes days. This is associated with covering the head with a dirty plastic/clothing bag. While the prisoner is in this position he is exposed to very loud music and deprived from sleeping.
  5. Forcing the prisoner to remain standing for a long period of time.
  6. Forcing the prisoner to sleep on the floor without mattress, also during winter times. Former prisoners also reported to have been forced to sleep whilst sitting on the floor.
  7. Blindfolding a prisoner and dragging him/her on the stairs.
  8. Spraying gas in the face of a prisoner and using electric shocks against them.
  9. Pulling out the hair of the prisoner.
  10. Cold water being poured on the prisoner whilst asleep.
  11. Suffocating prisoner by putting his head in the water and telling him that he will be drowned to death.
Psychological methods:
  1. Placing the prisoner on a chair with his head covered whilst meanwhile drops of water hit the head regularly.
  2. Depriving the prisoner from food for a long period of time or providing the prisoner old or spoiled food.
  3. Exposing the prisoner to loud music for a long period of time.
  4. Using military and policy dogs to frighten the prisoners. Investigators threaten prisoners the dogs will be unleashed and will attack the prisoner.
  5. Threatening the prisoner will be sexually abused. Former prisoners reported to have been forced to be nearly naked.
  6. Speaking negatively about the prisoners’ family members and/or threatening the prisoner that their family members will be caused harm. Some former prisoners reported that they were threatened that their wife would be sexually abused.
  7. Depriving the prisoner from defecating or urinating for a long period of time. Other former prisoners reported being forced to defecate or urinate in front of prison inmates.
  8. Telling the prisoner, wrongfully, that his family will visit him today. Other former prisoners were, wrongfully, informed that one or more family members passed away.
  9. Spitting in the prisoner’s face.
  10. Forcing the prisoner to verbally abuse his/her religious and national symbols.
  11. Jailing some of the relative of the prisoner and torturing them in front of the prisoner.
Legal background 
The treatment of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees is a violation of Articles 32, 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. The use of torture methods is not in line with Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). According to Conor Foley (University of Essex) and the Human Rights Centre, torture is also prohibited in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), the American Convention on Human Rights (1978) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981).
Additionally, the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987), the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture (1985) reject the use of torture methods.
Conclusions and Recommendations 
Palestinians prisoners and detainees face the arbitrary practice of administrative detention, restrictions on family visits, the denial of medical care and the practice of torture. This report revealed the most frequently mentioned methods of torture practiced by Israeli forces against Palestinian prisoners and detainees. The documented methods were obtained through interviewing former Palestinian prisoners and detainees and violate international law. The international community must meet its legal obligation by putting pressure on Israel to abide by international law and the treaties cited above. UFree therefore recommends the following:
  1. Freezing the EU-Israeli relations until the latter abides by international law.
  2. United Nations and its Agencies must expose Israeli crimes and act to save the lives of Palestinian prisoners. Press releases and condemnations are not adequate any more, freezing Israeli participation in the UN meetings are a step in the right direction.
  3. Palestinian Authority should freeze its security contacts with Israel and take action to stop its human rights violations.
  4. Civil society organisations must engage in exposing the atrocities perpetrated by Israel. The BDS campaign can be the cornerstone of any steps in this direction.
Documented and compiled by:
UFree Network
Media Centre
(Mail / 17.04.2013)

Een jongedame in de woestijn

By Marianna Laarif

Een groep van studenten ging samen met een aantal docenten op excursie.
Het was een reis waar veel te bezichtigen viel en de studenten moesten verslag maken van alles wat zij zagen tijdens dit uitstapje.
In het begin trokken de studenten onder begeleiding van een docente erop uit in groepjes maar na een tijdje ging ieder zijn eigen kant op.

Onder de studente was er een jongedame die erg opging in het vastleggen van de bezienswaardigheden dat zij hierdoor ver afdwaalde van de groep.
Na uren besloten de docenten te vertrekken met de bus terwijl zij de jongedame achterlieten zonder dat zij dit doorhadden.
Toen de jongedame na verloop van tijd terugkeerde naar de verzamelplaats kwam zij erachter dat iedereen al vertrokken was.
Tevergeefs riep zij nog om haar heen maar niemand was er meer die haar kon horen. Zij besloot dan maar ook om te gaan lopen in de hoop dat zij een dorp zou tegenkomen. Na een lange tijd te hebben gelopen en gehuild zag zij een kleine verlaten hut en besloot aan te kloppen.
Een jongeman van eind twintig deed de deur open en vroeg haar verbaasd:
“Wie ben jij?”
Zij antwoordde: “Ik ben een studente die hier op excursie met school is gekomen.
Maar zij hebben mij achtergelaten en ik weet de weg niet terug.”
Hij zei toen: “Je bent in een afgelegen gebied terechtgekomen.
Waar jij naar toe moet is helemaal de andere kant op.”
Hij bood haar daarop aan om binnen te komen en de nacht in zijn hut door te brengen waarna hij haar in de ochtend zou helpen om thuis te komen.
Zij mocht van hem op het bed slapen terwijl hij aan de andere kant van de kamer op de grond zou gaan slapen.
De man maakte met behulp van een laken een scheidingswand tussen hem en de jongedame.
De jongedame was vervolgens op bed gaan liggen en bedekte uit angst zichzelf volledig, behalve haar ogen om in de gaten te houden wat de man deed.
De man zat aan de andere kant een boek te lezen en opeens gooide hij het boek dicht… Zijn blik richtte zich op de kaars die voor hem lag en na een
tijdje plaatste hij zijn vinger voor een periode van vijf minuten boven de kaars. Het kon niet anders dan dat hij zijn vinger had verbrand. Dit ritueel verrichtte hij met al zijn vingers terwijl het meisje huilend en vol angst toekeek.
Zij dacht bij zichzelf: “Dit moet een djinn zijn die rituele handelingen verricht.”
Geen van beiden wist die nacht te kunnen slapen.
De volgende dag bracht de man de jongedame naar huis en eenmaal thuis aangekomen vertelde zij in een shocktoestand het verhaal van de man aan haar
Als gevolg van de angst die zij die nacht heeft moeten doorstaan werd zij de dagen daarop ziek en verliet haar kamer niet.
De vader van de jongedame besloot daarom op zoek te gaan naar de jongeman.
Eenmaal de jongeman te hebben gevonden, vroeg hij hem de weg te wijzen zonder te vertellen wie hij was.
Toen de vader met hem aan het praten was merkte hij op dat beide handen van de jongeman in verband omwikkeld waren.
Hij vroeg hem naar de reden hiervan.
De jongeman antwoordde:
“Twee nachten terug kwam er een mooie jongedame aan mijn deur en moest noodgedwongen de nacht bij mij doorbrengen.
De shaytaan probeerde mij te verleiden tot het plegen van een zonde.
Uit vrees iets te doen waar ik spijt van zou krijgen besloot ik mijn vingers te verbranden, de ene na de andere om daarmee mijn seksuele verlangens weg te branden. Ik wilde er alles aan doen om mijzelf niet aan de jongedame te vergrijpen.
Dat zou mij namelijk meer pijn doen dan wanneer ik mijn vingers zou verbranden.”
De vader was zeer onder de  indruk van de jongeman en nodigde hem uit om met hem mee te komen naar  zijn huis. Hij besloot om de jongeman met zijn dochter te laten trouwen, zonder dat de jongeman  doorhad dat de dochter van deze man dezelfde mooie jongedame was die bij hem de nacht had doorgebracht.
Op deze wijze beloonde Allah de jongeman voor het feit dat hij niet toegaf aan de shaytaan door zich te vergrijpen aan deze mooie jongedame met een huwelijksleven met dezelfde mooie vrouw.

Assad says his army’s top priority is to protect civilians

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sounds a nationalist note, criticizing Western and Arab countries for backing rebels fighting to overthrow his regime.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Wednesday that the protection of civilian lives is the top priority of his army battling opposition forces that are advancing in many fronts nationwide.

In an interview on the government-run al-Ikhbariya channel, Assad rejected reports of several parts of the country having fallen out his control. He said his army withdrew in some areas for reasons on top of which is protecting civilians.

“The priority for us always in the armed forces is the humanitarian part, the protection of civilian lives, and lifting suffering in areas entered by terrorists,” Assad said.

“We do not give priority to the media and political sides; sometimes this benefits the other party. This is not important, however, What’s important for us is the reality on the ground” he added.

Assad lashed out the neighboring Jordan, saying the “fire in Syria could reach Jordan.” He criticized the neighboring kingdom for allowing rebels to freely move across its borders.

“I cannot believe that hundreds (of rebels) are entering Syria with their weapons while Jordan is capable of arresting any single person with a light arm for going to resist in Palestine,” Assad said.

The embattled president said the rebels were “groups of mercenaries” with “extremist thinking.”

He said Western nations will suffer the consequences for what he said was their support for al-Qaeda militants in his country’s civil war.

“The West has paid heavily for funding al-Qaeda in its early stages in Afghanistan. Today it is supporting it in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price later in the heart of Europe and the United States,” he told Syrian television channel al-Ikhbariya, according to extracts published on the Syrian presidency’s Facebook page on Wednesday.

Assad was speaking a week after Syria’s rebel al- Nusra Front, one of the most effective rebel forces battling his troops, formally pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Aymanal-Zawahri.

The United States has designated the Nusra Front a terrorist organization and the presence of militant Islamists in Syria’s two-year conflict poses a quandary for Western powers who favour Assad’s overthrow, but are alarmed at the growing influence of the Islamists in Syria.

“The truth is, what is happening is that we are mainly facing extremist forces,” Assad said in the interview.

The United Nations says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which started as mainly peaceful protests two years ago but has evolved into a civil war.

(Source / 17.04.2013)

65 Years later

Dayr Yasin, a village strategically located one mile from Jerusalem, was invaded by Zionist forces on April 9, 1948. In a single day, approximately 100 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children were massacred at the hands of Jewish Irgun and Lehi militia as part of a broader campaign to remove Palestinians from the territory that would become Israel. For Palestinians, the Dayr Yasin massacre represents a gratuitously savage atrocity committed against innocent Palestinian civilians.

In remembrance of the 65 years that have passed since Dayr Yasin, the Institute for Palestine Studiesand the Journal of Palestine Studies are making available free of charge for this week only “The De-Arabization of Jerusalem 1947-50,” by Nathan Krystall, that describes the context surrounding the progressive de-population of Arabs in Jerusalem.

“The De-Arabization of Jerusalem 1947-50,” by Nathan Krystall in JPS Vol. 27, No. 2 (Winter 1998), pp. 5-22

(Source / 17.04.2013)

Video: Soldiers continue to intimidate and provoke school children in Hebron

This morning an Israeli jeep drove around an area of Hebron that is home to 5 schools as children made their way to class. To get to school, the pupils of these schools already need to pass through a metal detector at checkpoint 29.

In the same place 27 school children were dragged into army jeeps and arrested on the 20th of March this year. At the time the soldiers claimed they were trying to find children who they claimed had thrown stones.

The army’s presence at the schools causes the children to gather and shout at them from the balcony of their classrooms, which the soldiers are fully aware of. Their continued presence around these schools is clearly designed to provoke the school children into throwing stones at them .

Last week, after another army visit to the Al Khalil UN school, the head master told us that the soldiers had claimed that children had been causing problems at the checkpoint on their way to school that morning. This was blatantly a lie considering International activists had been monitoring the checkpoint all morning without witnessing any problems.

On top of provocation the army’s presence is also designed to intimidate the school children who can be seen running away in the opposite direction of approaching army vehicles.

(Source / 17.04.2013)