New Palestinian government sworn in

The new Prime Minister is very close to Fatah and has previously led several cultural normalisation activities with Israeli figures

The new Prime Minister is very close to Fatah and has previously led several cultural normalisation activities with Israeli figures

The new Palestinian government in Ramallah headed by academic Dr Rami Hamdallah was sworn in on Thursday. The new Prime Minister is very close to Fatah and has led several cultural normalisation activities with Israeli figures and organisations. He is a professor of English linguistics and served as the Dean of An Najah University in Nablus.

Dr Hamdallah has no political experience except taking charge of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission since 2002. He will have two deputies, one for economic affairs and the other for foreign affairs, apparently to make up for his lack of experience.

Palestinians last had a general election in 2006 during which Fatah’s main rival Hamas won an overwhelming majority in the Palestinian parliament. Nobody expected the Islamic Resistance Movement to do so well at the time and Hamas has faced an international blockade and siege ever since. In addition, around 50 of its elected parliamentarians were arrested by Israel, which continues to paralyse the work of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Ever since a faction within Fatah attempted an armed coup against Hamas in 2007, backed by Israel and the United States, the Hamas government has been shunned. President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Western favourite Salam Fayyad as his prime minister in a Ramallah-based administration. The elected PLC has largely been ignored ever since.

Attempts by Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and Qatar, to bring Fatah and Hamas together in one government have failed several times. Abbas dismissed Fayyad and his government following criticism from senior Fatah members.

Abbas has said that the new government led by Hamdallah will be in place for weeks or months. “As long as I am in the position of responsibility, it is going to continue and it is going to have my absolute support,” he insisted.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Thousands march in global protests against Israeli occupation

‘Global March to Jerusalem’ was held around the world to protest Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories
Istanbul/Cairo/Gaza  (AA) – Demonstrators gathered for “Global March to Jerusalem” around the world on Friday to protest Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to mark the 46th anniversary of the Israeli-Arab War.

Palestinians living in Istanbul organized the Istanbul leg of the protests and the march began after the Friday prayer.

Crowds also protested against the violence in Iraq and Syria chanting slogans against the Assad Regime.

Head of “Global March to Jerusalem Platform” Mahmoud Aktun said Israel was destroying Jerusalem’s Islamic culture, emphasizing that the Jewish would never rule over in the region.

There were also protests in the Turkish capital, Ankara, demanding liberation for Jerusalem and all of Palestinian territories.

Thousands in Egypt’s capital Cairo took to the streets in the march to support Palestine. Demonstrators held banners that read “walking from Egypt to Jerusalem”  and “Jerusalem is in our hearts.”

In the protests in Gaza international groups attended the march as well as Palestinians.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Tekens van rijkdom

By Marianna Laarif

De vader van een welgestelde familie nam zijn zoon op een dag mee voor een reis over het platteland. De man had het vaste voornemen om zijn zoon te laten zien hoe rijk en hoe arm mensen kunnen zijn. De man en zijn zoon verbleven een paar dagen op een boerderij van een familie die moeite had om rond te komen.

Toen vader en zoon na een paar dagen weer terugreden naar hun landgoed, vroeg de vader aan zijn zoon wat hij van de afgelopen dagen vond.

“Ik vond het geweldig, vader”, zei de zoon.

“Heb je nu ontdekt hoe arm mensen kunnen zijn?” vroeg zijn vader.

“Ja, ik heb veel geleerd”, antwoordde de zoon. “Ik zag dat zij vier honden hebben, terwijl wij er maar een hebben. Ik zag dat zij een beekje hebben dat doorloopt tot het eind van de wereld terwijl wij een vijver hebben die maar tot halverwege de oprit komt.

Wij gebruiken lantaarns, terwijl zij iedere nacht naar de sterren kunnen kijken en ons landgoed loopt maar tot aan de weg, terwijl zij de wereld tot aan de horizon hebben. Wij hebben bedienden die voor ons zorgen, terwijl zij voor anderen zorgen. Wij hebben muren om ons landgoed staan om ons te beschermen, terwijl zij vrienden hebben om hen te beschermen.”

De vader zweeg verbijsterd. Toen sprak zijn zoon: “Dank je dat je mij hebt laten zien hoe arm we eigenlijk zijn.”

We were sleeping when Israel attacked: Gaza remembers June 1967

Youths holding Palestinian flags stand in front of Israel's border wall and military jeep

Residents of Gaza’s Maghazi refugee camp insist on their right to return to their land in present-day Israel.

Abu Hassan grew up on a farm next to the seashore in Jaffa. The son of a sheep trader, he still has strong memories of the fruit tees with which his hometown is synonymous. He was 11 years old when Zionist forces uprooted his family during the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948.

This week Abu Hassan — his full name is Hajj Jumaa Abu Hadrous — recalled another shameful episode in Israel’s history. On 5 June 1967, Israel began its occupation of Gaza, where Abu Hassan’s family had sought refuge almost two decades earlier. The invasion is known to Palestinians as the Naksa or “setback.”

“I was sitting with some folks on the eastern outskirts of al-Maghazi refugee camp,” he said. “It was 3pm when rows of Israeli tanks began assembling, less than 500 meters away from where I was sitting. We did not think it was a war, yet several hours later and while we all were sleeping peacefully, Israeli tanks rolled into the camp, backed by warplanes.

“As the Israeli tanks fired at and hit the western parts of our camp, I took my three children and wife and fled to the nearby coastal village of Zawaida, to the west of al-Maghazi. Not only did we flee, but the majority of the camp’s inhabitants [did too]. We stayed in Zawaida about one week, until the attacks by the Israeli tanks and warplanes calmed down.”

The situation worsened inside the refugee camp after his family moved back. Encountering resistance from Palestinian fighters, Israel stepped up its deployment of forces in al-Maghazi.

Unable to move

“By then, nobody was able to move freely throughout the camp, as the soldiers used to shoot indiscriminately at every moving object at nighttime. I recall that in 1970, inhabitants of the camp were kept indoors for the duration of the holy month of Ramadan. By then, I and my family had little food. The only things we had were tomatoes.”

Aged 76, Abu Hassan said he was “dreaming of being buried over there in Abu Kbeir, my original neighborhood of Jaffa city.

“Neither the Naksa nor the Nakba has killed my dream of returning home. Whatever solutions politicians might bring to us, we can never accept them unless they involve the right to return to our homes, where our ancestors were born and raised.”

“I carried my little sister”

Ghazai Misleh also lives in al-Maghazi. He was ten years old when Israel invaded the camp in 1967. His family also fled to Zawaida. “I can recall very well how I carried my little sister in my arms on the way to Zawaida,” he said.

They only stayed in Zawaida a few days. Back in the refugee camp, they tried their best to avoid coming under fire.

“In those days, my mother wanted to light a fire to cook, but my father advised her against it,” he said. “Israeli forces used to shoot in the direction of any pillar of smoke; my father was concerned the Israelis would hit our home.”

As a child, Misleh often heard his father speak about his home in Bethany, a village 50 kilometers from the Gaza Strip. The family was forced out of Bethany by Zionist forces. “Despite the fact that I have never lived in Bethany, I can draw a map of every single corner of this town and I can tell you lots of facts about it,” Misleh said.

Misleh argues that the two-state solution envisaged by the US and its allies would not be acceptable to Palestinians. “I believe the best solution lies in helping us all return back to our original towns and villages,” he said.

The right of return is a key principle for Palestinians, young and old.

Ismail al-Othmani is a 23-year-old university student living in al-Maghazi camp. His family hails from al-Moghar, a village near Ramleh in present-day Israel.

“If I am to live here in al-Maghazi for the rest of my life, I can never renounce my right to return back to my ancestors’ original village,” he said. “It’s like a situation where someone has hurt my father in the past. Do you think I will ever forget that that person is my own foe?

“No solution is workable other than the restoration of our lands and homes. My grandfather used to own six acres of farm land and I dream of returning back and sitting under one of its trees.”

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Jordan urged to end censorship of local news websites

A man uses his computer to check on news in a house he rents in Amman.

AMMAN (AFP) — Human Rights Watch on Tuesday criticized a Jordanian government decision to block 290 unlicensed local news websites, saying the move restricts media freedom.

“Jordanian authorities should immediately rescind an order to censor… unlicensed local news websites,” HRW said in a statement.

“The government should also scrap recent legislation that allows it to encroach on online media freedom. The attempts to regulate online speech violate Jordan’s constitutional free expression guarantees.”

A Jordanian official said on Monday the government would block 290 of around 400 local news websites “for failing to obtain necessary licensing.”

The Press and Publication Department has insisted “the decision does not seek to restrict freedoms.”

“The objective is to organize the work of these websites,” it said in a weekend.

The government has repeatedly warned it would block unlicensed websites but the decision had not yet been implemented.

“King Abdullah talked a good game about rights reform… but didn’t wait for the dust to settle before moving to muzzle Jordanian news sites,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

“The government is stuck in a hopeless time warp, trying to control online communications in the same ways it has tried to censor and control print media.”

Last year, amendments to the Press and Publications Law authorized the government to regulate “electronic publications,” requiring them to submit to the same regulatory structure imposed on print media.

Article 49 of the amended law requires any “electronic publication that engages in publication of news, investigations, articles, or comments, which have to do with the internal or external affairs of the kingdom” to obtain registration and licensing from the Press and Publications Department, HRW said.

The amendments also stipulate that website chief editors must be members of the Jordan Press Association.

Jordanian activists, journalists and the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition group, have criticized the decision.

“Jordan claims that it is simply regulating online journalism and upholding journalistic integrity, but in reality these amendments give authorities a tool to punish Jordanian journalists for what they write,” Whitson said.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Israel bans West Bank journalist from travel

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities prevented a Palestinian journalist from leaving the West Bank to visit relatives in Jordan, a detainees’ center said Thursday.

Nawwaf al-Amer told the Palestine Center for Studies that Israeli forces refused to let him cross the Allenby Bridge between West Bank and Jordan, citing “security reasons.”

Al-Amer, 50, added that he had crossed the border earlier this year to perform a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

He was released from an Israeli prison in 2012 and has been detained several times.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Erdoğan accuses EU members of hypocrisy over Turkey protests

Turkish PM says methods used by Turkish police to quell demonstrations are little different from those used in US and UK

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the EU-Turkey conference in Istanbul

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the EU-Turkey conference in Istanbul, hit back at EU criticism of his government’s handling of a week of unrest.

Turkey‘s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has accused European Union member states of hypocrisy and double standards, and rejected criticism by Brussels of his crackdown on anti-government protesters whom he branded “vandals”.

Erdoğan said the forceful methods used by Turkish riot police to quell protests against the demolition of an Istanbul park were little different from those used previously in the US and UK. He said that Turkey’s democratic record was the best it had been in the country’s history, and superior to that of many EU states.

Speaking at an EU-Turkey conference in Istanbul on Friday, a defiant Erdoğan shrugged off criticism of his environmental record and said that he planted lots of trees when he was the city’s mayor. He again vowed to press ahead with controversial plans to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi Park and the adjoining Taksim Square, despite opposition from tens of thousands of protesters who have transformed the area into a colourful Glastonbury festival-style camp.

“Those who demand freedom and democracy should also act democratically,” Erdoğan said. He renewed his attack on Twitter, which he previously dismissed as a “menace”, and said social media had spread lies about what was really happening in Turkey. Erdoğan also suggested that the international media was complicit in writing “paid” articles hostile to his government. He said an advertisement in the New York Times decrying his government style was the work of lobbyists.

Erdoğan’s latest remarks suggest that he has no intention of seeking an accommodation with the mostly secular, middle-class Turks who have staged the country’s biggest demonstrations in years. He reminded his audience that he has a democratic mandate – he has won three elections in a row – and suggested that those who oppose him were defying the “national will”. None of this is likely to calm tensions. The protests which began 12 days ago have spread to more than 70 Turkish cities, including the capital Ankara. Three people have died, more than 4,000 injured, and 900 arrested.

“We won’t stop until [Erdoğan] apologises,” Murat Bakirdöven, a 24-year-old biology student who has been sleeping in Gezi Park in a tent for six days, said. He added: “We’re all tired. But we still have energy to keep going.” On Friday several volunteers planted flowers amid the rubble; others played guitars, crashed out in the grass, or browsed the camp’s free bookshop.

Addressing Erdoğan earlier, a senior European Union official delivered a surprisingly frank dressing-down to Turkey’s leader, who was sitting in the front row. Štefan Füle, the EU’s enlargement commissioner, described the protests in Taksim Square as “legitimate” in a democratic society, and hinted that Turkey would only be allowed to join the EU if it truly embraced European values. He also criticised Turkey’s pro-Erdoğan media, which initially censored the uprising. Füle said: “There should be freedom to report on what is happening as it is happening,” he declared.

An unimpressed Erdoğan then stood up and offered his own counter-blast. He complained that the EU’s record on media freedoms was also poor and cited Germany, which prohibited Turkish journalists from attending the trial of neo-Nazis who murdered eight Turks. He also lamented that talks on Turkey’s accession to the EU had made no progress in the past three years – a “tragi-comical situation”. He explicitly blamed France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy for the lack of progress and unfair obstacles shoved in Ankara’s way by several EU players. Most of the European leaders in power a decade ago were no longer in power, he added, pointing out: “I’m the only one who is still around.”

The conference venue was an upmarket hotel in central Istanbul overlooking the Bosphorus. The hotel is within walking distance of Taksim Square, where thousands of anti-Erdoğan protesters have gathered every day for the past week. The prime minister has yet to drop in. Debris from earlier clashes between protesters and riot police is all around: barricades, trashed buses and graffiti-plastered walls. The demonstrators are unhappy with attempts by Erdoğan and his ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development party (AKP) to restrict the consumption of alcohol and impose a more conservative lifestyle on the country’s citizens.

In his speech, Füle urged a “swift and transparent” investigation into the behaviour of riot police who used teargas and water cannons against peaceful demonstrators. He said: “The duty of all of us, European Union members as much as those countries that wish to become one, is to aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices.

“These include the freedom to express one’s opinion, the freedom to assemble peacefully,” he pointed out.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Gaza Crime, Murder Rate on Rise

Palestinian refugee Fatem Redwan, 76, walks next to her grandchildren in the narrow alleys of Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, May 14, 2013.
 In the past few weeks, Palestinians have been incensed by a number of cases of arson and murder in the Gaza Strip causing several deaths and injuries.

The last of these incidents was the killing of Amin Shrab, 60, a currency trader. He was found dead in his shop near the Great Mosque in Gaza City. A pharmacist was injured after being assaulted with a sharp object in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in northern Gaza City. According to the Palestinian police, the motive behind the crimes was theft.

Police spokesman Ayyoub Abu Shaar said in a press statement last Friday, May 31, that Shrab’s killer assaulted his victim by stabbing him in the chest and giving him a blow to the head.

Another young man died and his body was found on the Gaza shore. Abu Shaar said that the victim drowned and the damage to his body was caused by it staying in the sea for several days.

Mustafa Ibrahim, a researcher for the Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights, told Al-Monitor that eight citizens were killed in the Gaza Strip in May. The deaths were the result of family disputes, robberies, tunnel collapses and suicides.

He pointed out that the commission observed a significant increase in the rate of violence in the West Bank and Gaza from the beginning of the year until April compared to the same period last year.

He added that about 61 people were killed in Gaza and the West Bank because of family disputes, misuse of weapons, tunnel collapses on the border with Egypt, apartment building collapses and the lack of safety measures in industrial workshops and other places.

Abu Shaar said that government security organs in Gaza arrested most of those accused of crimes in Gaza, except Sharb’s killer.

Massoud Abu Hilal, a Gaza resident, was killed last month after an altercation with his brother turned into a fistfight. The victim was stabbed in the neck. The offender fled and the corpse remained in the house for four days.

Ziad Musa Abu Musa, a resident of al-Shaboura Camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, burned himself in the Gaza Center for Mental Health, where he was being treated for mental disorders. Tawfiq Abu Hassanein, a 49-year-old captain in the National Security Agency, tried to burn himself but people prevented him from doing so.

Several murders happened before these burning incidents. In May, a 25-year-old pregnant woman in Khan Younis named Nawal al-Najjar was killed during a family quarrel.

A few days before this incident, Moataz Abu Safia, a reporter for the Algerian TV station Al-Mashruq, and his uncle, lawyer Ahmad Abu Safiya, were killed during a family fight. Four others were wounded, including a girl. The incident happened near the Abu Mazen roundabout in western Gaza.

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights documented the killing of 13-year-old Basma Saleh, and the injury of her 17-year-old sister Amani on May 17, as a result of a fight near their home in the Bureij camp while they were on the balcony.

Following these murders, Attorney General Ismail Jabr in Gaza promised to carry out all death sentences.

Jabr said that the sentences will be carried out “after the appeals are exhausted,” and that the people should know about executions beforehand, without giving further details.

For his part, Abu Shaar said that the recent crimes disconcerted Gaza citizens, and that the police are seriously fighting crime. He stressed that most deaths are related to family troubles, assaults or suicide.

Ibrahim said that the crime rate is related to the living conditions, particularly in Gaza. He said that the high unemployment rate, the Israeli blockade and the continual power outages are frustrating the people.

“The government exercises repression and tyranny against the citizens. The police and security agencies exercise violence in various forms, from illegal detentions to restrictions on civil liberties and expression. There is a continuous deterioration in human rights,” he said.

He also stressed that the internal Palestinian division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has resulted in social disintegration, unemployment and poverty, as well as psychological pressure from everyday worries.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

France: More than 600 EU citizens fighting in Syria

Rebel fighters from the al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade attend a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman Mountains, in Syria’s northern Latakia province, on April 24, 2013.

More than 600 European nationals, including 120 from France, are fighting in Syria, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told Al Arabiya on Friday.

Valls said the “the phenomenon of European fighters in Syria forms a serious and big terrorist and security challenge.”

He said many of those jihadists are fighting alongside groups to al-Qaeda, warning that their return could jeopardize the security of their home countries.

European Union states have agreed on Friday to cooperate in making sure that their citizens fighting in Syria do not veer into terrorism after they return to their countries, the Associated Press reported.

EU interior ministers pledged to raise the surveillance of social media, strengthen co-operation with neighboring states such as Turkey and demanded the European Parliament approve a legislation that will enable securities to trace suspicious travels to the Middle East.

(Source / 07.06.2013)

Journal: Palestinian farmer wounded by Israeli army fire

Sunday morning a young Palestinian farmer was wounded by Israeli army fire in an area called Abu Safiyeh, East of Jabalia, in the Northern Gaza Strip.

The young man, Ahmad Hamdan, 21, was rushed to the hospital Kamal Odwan. We went to visit him in the hospital where we met some of his family members.

According to his uncle Eyad Hamdan, at around 6:00 am on Sunday, June 2, Ahmad was going to pick watermelons along with four or five other workers. Ahmad’s family does not own land, Ahmad is a simple worker in the fields.

That morning there were many farmers’ families, children, and bird hunters out in the fields. There were Israeli jeeps on the border and the workers had warned of gunfire but did not bother because they were far from the barrier that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Ahmad and other workers were heading to work on a wagon when the bullet hit Ahmad. He was injured before he had started work, at about 6:30 in the morning. The chariot on which he stood was about 400-500 meters from the separation barrier. The soldiers of the Israeli army probably fired from one of the towers of control, or by using a small hill behind which they often station themselves.

The cousin of Ahmad, Ammar Hamdan, 22, was with them. “When Ahmad was injured, some of them were trying to hide in order to escape from the bullets, while others were left with Ahmad and they called an ambulance. Ahmad was put in a private car and transported to an area away from danger and an ambulance arrived after 10 minutes.”

Family members told us that they used to go to work in that area 2-3 days a week to pick watermelons. “It ‘s the first time that they shot at us at that distance from the barrier. Due to the economic conditions of the family, Ahmad has to work in dangerous areas,” Eyad said.

The family of Ahmad is composed of 11 members, two parents and 9 children – 2 daughters and 7 sons. Ahmad is the largest of the children. The father did not have a steady job. His son Ahmad worked by collecting debris and other material for resale to be able to support their families. They live in Beit Hanoun, in the Northern Gaza Strip.

The bullet entered and exited from the right leg of Ahmad and provoked a femoral fracture. The doctors have placed an external fixation on the leg. Inside the leg there are bone fragments. Relatives told us that the doctors will then evaluate the condition of the muscles and nerves.

“After what we saw we did not return to work there”, said Eyad. Beside the bed of Ahmad was sitting her aunt and her tears would not stop falling.

After the visit we met Dr. Ahmad Bassam Al Masri, Head of Orthopaedics Department of the hospital Kamal Odwan. Dr. Al Masri told us that Ahmed suffered a compound fracture of the right femur. It is a third degree open fracture, which does not require neurovascular injury. The open wound measured about 10-15cm across. Dr. Al Masri told us that the doctors had placed an external fixation in the leg and that Ahmad will require a new operation in which the external fixation is removed and they will place an internal fixation and carry out a bone graft. This second operation will take place in around 2-3 weeks or a month. After surgery, rehabilitation will last from six months to a year. “The blow of a firearm delays the formation of the bones. Generally a normal fracture requires 4 months of rehabilitation,” explained Dr. Al Masri.

The agreements for the cease-fire reached after the Israeli military offensive “Pillar of Defense” on November 2012, established that the Israeli military forces should “refrain from hitting residents in areas along the border” and “cease hostilities in the Gaza Strip Gaza, by land, by sea and by air, including raids and targeted killings.” However, Israeli military attacks by land and sea have continued since the very day of the cease-fire. Since the beginning of the ceasefire there have been 4 civilians killed and more than 90 injured in the areas along the border.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone” inside Palestinian territory, an area that farmers cannot access and that is reinforced by the Israeli army firing on civilians in the area. As reported by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, preventing the access of Palestinians to their land and maritime areas violates numerous provisions of international humanitarian law, including the right to work and the right to a dignified life. These attacks against the civilian population continue amidst a deafening silence from the international community.

We will continue to expose these violations until the Palestinian people are entitled to the same rights as anyone else, such that the world will one day understand the tears of the many bereaved mothers of Gaza.

(Source / 07.06.2013)