Palestinian Injured By Army Fire In Qalandia

Palestinian medical sources reported Friday [June 28 2013] that a young Palestinian man was shot in the chest by a live round fired by Israeli soldiers invading the Qalandia refugee camp, south of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

File

The sources said that the young man, in his twenties, was moved to the Palestine Medical Center in the city, and was immediately moved to surgery.

Local sources in Qalandia stated that clashes took place between dozens of local youths and Israeli soldiers who invaded the camp from different directions.

The army fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs. A number of residents have been treated for effects of teargas inhalation.

(Source / 28.06.2013)

Bijna geroosterd

By Marianna Laarif

Ik ben geboren in een moslim familie, toen ik jong was ben ik een aantal keer mee geweest naar de moskee, voor de rest heb ik nooit iets gedaan aan mijn geloof. Mijn vader liet mij vrij, mijn moeder spoorde mij altijd aan om meer met mijn geloof bezig te zijn. Ik geloofde wel in Allah , maar leefde tegen de regels van mijn geloof. Heel soms dacht ik aan het hiernamaals en de Dag des Oordeels, maar omdat de gedachte daarover mij beangstigde wilde ik niet te veel over na denken. Ik maakte mijzelf altijd wijs dat Allah mij toch wel zou vergeven, maar diep in mijn hart wist ik dat ik mijzelf in de maling nam.

Na mijn huwelijk leefde ik zo voort, zonder gebed, zonder gedachtenis aan Allah. Mijn bekering tot de islam gebeurde op een heel bijzondere manier:

Ik werkte in een gemeente bakkerij in Ankara. Gemeente bakkerijen zijn speciaal voor de arme mensen gebouwd om goedkoop brood te maken. Het zijn grote geautomatiseerde bakkerijen waar elke nacht duizenden broden worden gebakken. De ovens zijn kamers waar het brooddeeg met een karretjes worden ingereden.

We werkten in de nacht zodat de broden vroeg in de ochtend vers en warm klaar waren voor de verkoop.
Na het gebruik van de oven werd het door een vaste werknemer schoon gemaakt. Op een dag was hij ziek, niemand dacht aan het schoonmaken van de oven, behalve ik.

Ik ging de oven in om het schoon te maken, één van mijn collega’s wist niet dat ik binnen was en deed de ovendeur dicht. Hij sloot de bakkerij af en ging als laatste weg. Ik was zo intens bezig dat ik niet had gemerkt dat hij dikke metalen deur had dicht gemaakt. Ik klopte op de deur, maar tevergeefs. Ik klopte nog een keer en bonkte keer op keer, maar er was niemand meer in de bakkerij. Uiteindelijk begon ik te geloven dat iedereen echt weg was.

Vanaf dat moment werd ik bezeten door grote zorgen, mijn benen begonnen te trillen van angst, want de eerste persoon die in de bakkerij zou komen, zou op de ontvlamming knop van de oven drukken. Pas wanneer de oven heet genoeg was, zouden de deeg karretjes erin gereden worden.

Ik werd hopeloos, mijn laatste uren waren geslagen,de hitte van de oven zou mij dood bakken. Een plostelinge dood zou niet zo erg zijn. De hitte zou mijn vel tot en met mijn ingewanden roosteren, het vet aan mijn lichaam zou als braadvet dienen.
Het was alsof ik een voorproefje van de hel zou krijgen.

Bij de gedachte aan de hel werd mijn angst nog groter. Ik zou niet alleen in de oven branden, maar ook in de hel, want tot op dat moment had ik bijna nooit iets aan mijn geloof gedaan.
Ik wist dat ik moest bidden en vasten, Ik mocht geen alcohol drinken en geen ontucht plegen …….. maar toch deed ik alles wat niet mocht.
Ik dacht: “Zou Allah mij vergeven…. kon ik maar uit de oven, kreeg ik maar nog een kans…..”

Ik opende mijn handen en smeekte om vergiffenis bij Allah . Ik maakte soedjoed en smeekte keer op keer voor een kans.
Ik begon te bidden, maar hoe kon ik in een paar uur tijd het gebed inhalen van de afgelopen jaren. En dat was niet het enige wat ik had verzaakt, er waren nog veel meer dingen die ik niet deed. Daar zou ik keer op keer hetgeen meemaken wat ik in de oven beleven. En nog wel erger dan dat.

Ik was totaal overgeleverd aan de genade van Allah , alleen Hij zou een wonder kunnen veroorzaken en mij redden uit de oven.

Intussen was een van mijn collega’s thuis aan het slapen, hij droomde dat ik in een oven in moeilijkheden verkeerde.
Enige uren later was hij wakker geworden en kwam naar de bakkerij om te werken. Hij deed de deur open en liep meteen naar de knop van de oven. Net op het moment dat zijn vinger naar de knop ging, dacht hij aan zijn droom.
“Zou er echt iemand in de oven zitten? Ach, nee, …het was alleen maar een droom…”
Hij twijfelde,…. net op het moment dat hij de knop wilde indrukken, besloot hij toch te kijken.

De deur ging open, ik kon het bijna niet geloven. We stonden stom verbaasd naar elkaar te kijken, het leek alsof ik in een wazige droom was. Als hij iets later was gekomen, zou ik waarschijnlijk doorgedraaid zijn.

O wat was ik opgelucht, ik ging meteen naar de sjoedjoed en dankte Allah keer op keer Allah voor de nieuwe kans die ik had gekregen. Nu kon ik mijn leven verbeteren en als een goede moslim leven.

Ik ging vanaf die dag bidden en sla nooit de Ramadan over om te vasten. Ik betaalde mijn zakaat en doe alles wat in mijn vermogen ligt.

Na de ervaring in de oven was het alsof ik terug kwam uit de hel en een nieuwe kans kreeg om mijn leven te beteren. Ik kan wel zeggen dat ik een stukje hel heb ervaren, natuurlijk was het niet de echte hel, maar wel een voorproefje van de toestand van een mens die naar het vuur dreigt te gaan.

Ik werd door mijn ervaring gedwongen stil te staan bij de dreigingen van de hel. De meesten van ons willen er niet aan denken, maar diep in onze harten schuilt toch de angst ervoor. Zelfs bij mensen die er niet in geloven.

Burma’s Rohingya Muslims Targeted by Buddhist Mob Violence

Rohingya News Agency-(thedailybeast):‎ Muslims from an obscure ethnic group in western Burma have become targets of vicious Buddhist mob attacks. Brendan Brady reports from Rakhine state on the increasing violence.

As mobs wielding torches and machetes rampaged through his neighborhood, Abdul had a strangely candid encounter with one assailant. Recognizing the man as his long-time neighbor—the same man who had once showed great affection towards Abdul’s children—Abdul yelled to his would-be executioner: “‘Why are you doing this?’ He told me, ‘Sorry, I’m fighting for my people.’” Abdul, whose full name is withheld to protect his identity, is a Muslim from the Rohingya ethnic group and his attacker, a Buddhist. Abdul kept him and other members of the mob at bay by throwing his valuables out of his window onto the street. As they were distracted collecting the cash and jewelry, another group of Buddhists from his street approached his house from the rear. They, too, were armed but they had come to escort Abdul and his family out of the besieged neighborhood. “They saved our lives.”

The conflict in western Burma’s Rakhine State erupted last June, when reports spread that a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered by three Rohingya men. Shortly after, a mob of Buddhists exacted retribution by pulling over a bus carrying Muslims and beating 10 passengers to death. The incidents ignited sectarian violence throughout the state. Nearly 200 were killed and many more injured, and some 10,000 homes were destroyed. The vast majority of the estimated 140,000 displaced were Rohingyas, and a year after their violent upheaval they continue to languish in squalid temporary encampments.

In recent months, the violence spread to include attacks on Muslim communities in other parts of the country. In March, provoked by a small dispute in a Muslim-owned gold shop, a Buddhist mob tore through a town in central Burma, killing over 40 people, burning mosques and Muslim homes, and displacing thousands. In May, 1,200 Muslims in the country’s northeast fled from their homes when throngs of armed Buddhists mobilized after unconfirmed reports that a Muslim man killed a Buddhist woman in the area.

The turmoil carries worrying implications for national reconciliation and the sustainability of democratic reforms in Burma, also known as Myanmar, which is in the first stages of transitioning from military to civilian rule. Since independence, in 1948, Burma’s government has been in alternately hot and cold conflicts with myriad ethnic minority groups in the country’s border regions. The xenophobic generals who seized power by coup in 1962 justified their iron-fisted rule as necessary to hold together a fractured country. The junta stepped down in 2011 and Burma’s new semi-civilian government has carried out surprisingly comprehensive reforms: loosening controls on political association, civil society and the press, as well as releasing hundreds of political prisoners. But fresh sectarian violence serves as fodder to the army’s insistence on remaining a backstop to the fragile civilian government and maintaining ultimate authority. It also raises questions about how far democratic reforms will extend to minorities.

Regarded in many quarters as the most persecuted ethnic group in Asia, the Rohingya live in the borderlands between Burma and Bangladesh but are officially a stateless people. There are around a million Rohingya in Burma today. Their exact roots are debated but many likely settled in Burma in the 19th century, having migrated from modern-day Bangladesh into the newly-acquired lands of the British empire. Today, the Rohingya, along with a few other maligned minorities, are excluded from the 135 ethnic groups Burma’s government recognizes as citizens. Many Burmese say the Rohingya should “go back” to Bangladesh, whose government also disavows the Rohingya. Among other consequences of apartheid policies against them, the Rohingya need special permission to travel and marry and face severe discrimination in access to employment, education, and medical care.

Last year’s violence unveiled particularly chilling dimensions of racial and religious hatred toward the Rohingya. When the wife of Mohamed Salam was found dead floating in a river, her body carried a sinister message. She was abducted along with two of her children in June, and Salam was later told by sympathetic Buddhists how they had died. According to them, her captors said her breasts gave milk to Muslim babies and her womb gave birth to future generations of Muslims. Her breasts were then hacked off and her genitalia mutilated with sharpened bamboo. Her teenage son was tethered to a motorbike and dragged across a rocky road. Salam would not elaborate on how his daughter met her end. Today, he cares for his remaining 5-year-old boy in a camp for displaced people outside of Sittwe, the state capital, and the prospect of receiving justice is even more illusory than his chances of returning to his home and job.

Human Rights Watch alleges last year’s bloodshed amounted to ethnic cleansing. In a detailed report released in April, the international rights monitor said state security forces did more to facilitate than to prevent abuses against the Rohingya, and sometimes even directly participated in atrocities. The group profiled one particularly brutal episode, last October, in which 70 Rohingyas, including 28 children, were left easy prey for a Buddhist mob to butcher after local riot police disarmed the Rohingya of rudimentary weapons they carried to defend themselves. The report said local Buddhist politicians and monks publicly demonized the Rohingya—describing them as a threat to Burmese society and encouraging their removal from the state—“in full view” of authorities,  “who raised no concerns.” Burmese rights groups have criticized Human Rights Watch’s assessment as one-sided, and instead described the violence as “communal.”
Such labels aside, what may be most foreboding are the dim prospects for a normalization (in relative terms) of life for Rohingyas in Burma. Time has not softened the vitriol many Buddhists in Rakhine State feel towards the group. “We cannot go back to living together,” says Hla Moe Thu, a 58-year-old Buddhist woman living in a camp for displaced people on the outskirts of Sittwe. “They should go to Bangladesh, where they came from, or they should be killed,” she adds, as her grandchild sits beside her. According to Ashin Ariya, the head monk of Shwezedi Monastery in Sittwe, Rohingyas have wicked designs: to rape Buddhist women, colonize Buddhist land, and convert non-Muslims to Islam. “The Muslims like to kill people and rape women, and they want to take over the whole area and make everyone Muslim,” he says matter-of-factly.

Paradoxically, democratic reforms have fed the jingoistic chorus. Over the past year, Burma’s new government has dialed back the heavy press and Internet censorship of the previous military regime, allowing journalists greater independence and web users nearly limitless access to sites. But freedom of speech has unleashed pent-up prejudices. Online forums contain rafts of posts referring to the Rohingya in expletive-filled terms, and Burmese newspapers have shown the Rohingya no quarter. Eleven, one of Burma’s largest-circulation newspapers, has focused its coverage of Rakhine State on slamming the Rohingya. Ho Than Hlaing, their correspondent in Sittwe, says the “Bengalis” living in relief camps are quarrelsome freeloaders who receive better care than displaced Buddhists—in fact, conditions in camps for the much smaller number of displaced Buddhists are markedly better than those in Rohingya camps, some of which are blocked by authorities from receiving international aid.

When the wife of Mohamed Salam was found dead floating in a river, her body carried a sinister message.
The rhetoric has carried over into daily life. A recently launched campaign urges Burmese to only patronize shops that display “969” signs—a code referring to Buddhist teaching—in their storefronts. The group of zealous monks spearheading the movement allege it is intended to promote Buddhist pride, but its true aim seems to be to marginalize Muslims.

Aung Naing Oo, a member of the Myanmar Peace Center, a governmental group that advises on ethnic disputes, likens the dangerous nationalism in Burma today to the escalation of ethnic tensions in former Yugoslavia after the fall of the Soviet Union: no longer fettered by the strictures of a military state, people are freer to act on long-suppressed prejudices. But even within this scheme, animosity toward the Rohingya is singularly severe. Indeed, they are viewed both as carpet-bagging intruders and low-caste detritus. “Indians”—including various peoples from the subcontinent and those with South Asian features— are resented in Burma because many arrived following the British takeover and soon emerged as a dominant group in urban commerce. Rohingyas are viewed with particular suspicion and scorn for their religion and distinctly dark skin. And, to top it off, they are seen to epitomize the existential threat posed by neighboring Bangladesh, whose large and poor population the Burmese feel is perpetually on the cusp of spilling over en masse into Burma.

The turmoil in Rakhine State is further complicated by hostilities between the local Buddhist population, from the Arakanese ethnic group, and the Burman majority and central government they dominate. The Arakanese were the ancestors of a small kingdom that used to control what is modern-day Rakhine State and, like many ethnic groups in Burma, they desire autonomy. Beyond ethnic pride, the Arakanese resent that Rakhine is Burma’s second-poorest state despite its natural riches – the area’s timber, oil, gas and precious metals have for decades been pillaged by the military and their cronies. “Our people want a real federal state with self-determination and our share of profits from natural resources,” says Than Thun, a community leader in Sittwe. But Arakanese autonomists like Than Thun have, for the time being, found common cause with the central government in directing their ire towards the Rohingya, who are easy scapegoats.

Few figures inside Burma have spoken out against the anti-Rohingya sloganeering. Most conspicuous has been the near silence of the country’s iconic human rights and democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi. After 15 years under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now a parliamentarian and has political calculations to consider. Observers believe she sees support for the Rohingya as going treacherously against the tide of popular opinion. The new president, Thein Sein, has said he will crackdown on “political opportunists and religious extremists,” but his intentions and ability to control eruptions of violence remain unclear. Thein Sein is a former high-ranking general who has surprised many in and outside the country with his moderation but that may not extend to his feelings toward the Rohingya. And observers note the upper echelons of his government remain stocked with former military figures who delight in the potential for sectarian violence to steer power back toward the army.

In the meantime, Rohingya in and outside the camps are in greater numbers turning to the sea to escape their dire prospects. Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project, an NGO that tracks rights abuses in Rakhine State, estimates that nearly 28,000 Rohingya attempted to flee through the Bay of Bengal during the recent dry season, three times the normal rate. The journey is perilous: hundreds die every year from starvation, dehydration, and drowning aboard barges that are ill-equipped for ocean travel and steered by mercenary crews.

In Boomay—a Rohingya quarter just outside of Sittwe that is hemmed in by a series of army checkpoints—a group of men in a shanty teashop are watching an ancient television tuned to a news channel with footage of Rohingya on barges intercepted by the Bangladeshi navy. The program shows Rohingya kneeling under tarps on the deck of a boat as waves come crashing against the bow. The teashop’s owner pays little attention to scenes of horror—she has already determined her daughter will attempt a similar voyage to join her husband in Malaysia, where he is working illegally but earning steady wages. “If we could stay here in peace and have some freedom, then it would be better to stay here and not take this risk,” says the daughter, who is in her early 20s and plans to take her 5-year-old child along. “But we don’t know if that will ever be the case.”

(Source / 28.06.2013)

One million Palestinians are “living on aid” as calls to end the siege increase

'It closes commercial border crossings and imposes an air, sea and land cordon; it restricts the flow of imports and exports; and it imposes restrictions on the movement of individuals.'

‘It closes commercial border crossings and imposes an air, sea and land cordon; it restricts the flow of imports and exports; and it imposes restrictions on the movement of individuals.’

Palestinian legislator Jamal Al-Khodari has pointed out to solidarity groups visiting the besieged Gaza Strip that one million Palestinians are now dependent on aid. Dr Al-Khodari, who also heads the Popular Committee Against the Siege, affirmed that Israel is responsible for the blockade that has been imposed on Gaza for the past seven years, against international law and conventions which ban collective punishment.

“Israel is an occupation force,” said Al-Khodari. “It closes commercial border crossings and imposes an air, sea and land cordon; it restricts the flow of imports and exports; and it imposes restrictions on the movement of individuals.”

Stressing the increasing dependency on food aid, he warned the international delegations about the rise of unemployment and poverty rates and the decline of individual incomes as a direct result of the siege. Nevertheless, the independent politician expressed his gratitude for the efforts exerted by civil society and NGOs to visit Gaza in support of the people of Palestine.

“For the siege to be lifted,” he said, “all border crossings should be opened, with imports and exports passing through, and there should be safe passage for Palestinians to cross from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.” The international airport in Gaza, which was bombed by the Israelis before it could even open, should be rebuilt and in use, added Al-Khodari, and the Port of Gaza should be developed to stimulate the economy. “All of this requires international pressure to be brought to bear on the Israelis to end the siege.”

(Source / 28.06.2013)

The terrible tragedy of the Prisoner Ahmed al-Sakani

 

Imagine the story of a man waiting eagerly and anxiously for the arrival of his first born child, and as he waits, he is unjustly detained and sentenced to twenty-seven years behind bars. His wife gives birth to their child while he is in prison and the child grows up without ever having set eyes on their father. However, after eleven years, the tragedy reaches its climax; while listening to a radio broadcast in prison, the man hears news of the death of his only son who had been waiting on pins and needles for his father’s embrace…

This is the story of the Palestinian prisoner Ahmed al-Sakani from the Gaza Strip and his only son, Tariq. Al-Sakani was arrested at the Abu Houli Checkpoint in central Gaza on 10 December 2001, and his only son Tariq was born while he was in detention. As a consequence of the Israeli policy which deprives Palestinian prisoners of receiving family visitors, throughout the duration of his detention, al-Sakani was only allowed to see his son on two occasions.

Tariq was killed on Monday, 24 December 2013 after taking part in a ceremony in support of Palestinian prisoners. After the ceremony he was killed in an accident when the car he was traveling collided with a truck.

During the ceremony, young Tariq delivered his final address to the world and included the following words:

“Dear sleeping world…there is a piece of this world called Palestine where people live in a state of injustice and oppression …according to what right do the children of Palestine wake up without being able to see their fathers…according to what right is the child deprived of seeing their father from birth? My father is not a criminal; neither is he a murderer or a traitor. However, he languishes in a cell where he does not see the light of day under conditions only acceptable for murderers and criminals …Dear world that has shut its ears in the face of the children of Palestine: where are human rights, where is conscience, where is humanity? Since I was born, I have not seen my father! Where in the universe does this happen? I want my father, I want my father; I want to hear his voice.”

These are the words that exploded from young Tariq’s heart, which was filled with sadness and oppression, without him knowing that only a few moments separated him from death when he would return to God; there, in the abode of eternity, not a single soul is oppressed…

As for the father in his prison cell, he could not withstand the shock of the news he heard over the local broadcast and fainted before collapsing from its impact. In his pitiful state, he said: “Prison and barbed wire weep from this news, as how am I his father…my son Tariq …my son Tariq …he died while awaiting my release so that he could hug me!

(Source / 28.06.2013)

Syria rebels seize key position in Daraa city

BEIRUT (AFP) — Syrian rebels advancing from the Jordanian border seized a strategic army position in the southern city of Daraa on Friday as fighting raged in the surrounding province, a watchdog said.

“They seized two buildings in the provincial capital that regime forces were using to keep the whole city under surveillance,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

“This is the most important army position that the rebels have seized in Daraa” in 27 months of conflict, he told AFP.

“The province could act as a key conduit for arms to stream in from Jordan to rebels in Damascus province,” Abdel Rahman added.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that US special forces were providing training in Jordan to Syrian rebels, including instruction in the use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

Officials in Amman denied the report, which came as Washington said it was to begin delivering arms to the rebels.

The rebel advance came as the army stepped up its shelling of rebel-held areas of Daraa province, killing at least six women and four children, the Observatory said.

It also came after five people were killed in a bomb attack in a mainly Christian neighborhood in central Damascus on Thursday, the Observatory said, revising an earlier claim the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber.

At least 115 people were killed on Thursday in violence in Syria, the Observatory said.

In 27 months, more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict, which morphed from a popular movement for change into an insurgency after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown on dissent.

(Source / 28.06.2013)

Lebanon clerics denounce arrests, ‘abuse’ of Sunnis

A Lebanese soldier monitors the area outside the Bilal bin Rabah mosque, scene of this week’s deadly clashes between the Lebanese army and supporters of radical Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, in the Abra district of the southern city of Sidon on June 28, 2013.

Sunni clerics on Friday denounced the arrests and alleged abuse of Sunni detainees after a deadly battle between troops and supporters of radical Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir in south Lebanon.

A rights watchdog said there must be an independent investigation into claims the army is committing abuses against people suspected of links to the weekend clashes in which 18 soldiers died.

The fighting in Abra outside Sidon was the worst in Lebanon since the outbreak of conflict in neighboring Syria 27 months ago deepened sectarian tensions.

It highlighted widespread Sunni resentment against the army, which is accused of siding with the powerful Shiite Hezbollah and being selective in its crackdown on armed groups.

Thousands of worshippers on Friday heard Sidon’s top Sunni cleric accuse the army of making arrests “without due process”.

“People are being taken to prison because they are religious or because they wear a beard or a full-face veil,” Sidon’s mufti Sheikh Sousan said during Friday prayers in the southern city.

“They are being beaten badly, and maybe even dying,” he charged.

A security source said dozens of people have been arrested since the army seized Assir’s headquarters in Abra near Sidon on Monday.

Sidon residents claim the bodies of those killed have not been handed over to their families.

“It is Sidon’s right to know how many people were killed, and to know their names. It is Sidon’s right to know how many wounded there are, and their whereabouts,” said Sousan.

He called for an “independent, objective, transparent… investigation” into abuse claims.

Human Rights Watch called for an independent judicial investigation into abuses.

On Thursday, the army handed over to the military police a group of soldiers suspected of humiliating and beating a man suspected of ties to Assir.

“It’s not enough to have the military investigating itself,” HRW Beirut office director Nadim Houry told AFP.

The army was not immediately reachable, but on Thursday a military source told AFP: “We do not accept this kind of behaviour.”

Sunni clerics, meanwhile, distributed images via Facebook of a body bearing marks of a severe beating.

The body was identified as Nader al-Bayoumy, a man the Association of Muslim Scholars said had “handed himself in” after the Abra clash.

Houry said the man’s family insisted he was alive when the fighting ended, but they later received a call to say his body was at the military hospital in Beirut.

Though Assir had only a small following, his virulent anti-Hezbollah discourse echoed loudly with Lebanon’s Sunnis.

Rage against the Shiite movement has soared ever since it began fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in Syria.

Hezbollah backs the Assad regime, but Lebanon’s Sunni-led opposition supports the rebels.

(Source / 28.06.2013)

Jordanians ‘suspicious’ about US military deployment

AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) — Jordanians are suspicious about US weapons and troops being deployed to the kingdom, even if Washington seeks to help its ally protect itself from a possible spillover of Syrian violence, experts say.

Worried about the security of Jordan, which is already struggling to cope with around 550,000 refugees from its war-torn northern neighbour, the United States has kept F-16 warplanes and Patriot missiles in the country since a joint military exercise ended on June 20.

A US defense official has told AFP that Washington has expanded its military presence in the country to 1,000 troops.

“Jordanians do not feel comfortable about the presence of US troops, weapons and equipment in the kingdom,” analyst Oraib Rintawi, who runs the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, told AFP.

“For Jordanians, the US military presence is linked to plots and conspiracies against their neighbors, which would impact the country itself.”

Rintawi said Jordan is a key US regional ally that is still stable and secure.

“For the Americans, protecting that stability is key and at the core of their strategy in the Middle East.

“But public opinion here does not welcome the Americans, even if they say they want to protect the country.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Amman on Friday on another errand — to meet President Mahmoud Abbas, as he sought to revive stalled Middle East peace talks.

Jordan has repeatedly said it does not seek to interfere in Syria’s affairs.

Last week, Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur denied a Los Angeles Times report that the Central Intelligence Agency and US special forces have been training Syrian rebels at a new American desert base in southwest Jordan.

“There is no training in our country whatsoever of Syrian opposition forces … the only Syrians we are dealing with in our country are refugees,” he told journalists.

MP Khalil Atiyeh, deputy house speaker, says lawmakers reject the presence of foreign forces.

“As deputies representing Jordanian people, we do not accept US or any other foreign troops in Jordan. Jordanians do not think there are threats from Syria.”

“But we understand the nature and requirements of US-Jordanian relations and that Washington wants to protect its interests in the region as well as its allies.”

Jordan, a major beneficiary of US military and economic aid, could act as a conduit for military support Washington has said it will give rebels battling Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Amman also shares Western concerns that Muslim extremists could establish a foothold in Syria.

“Jordanian people do not want to see American troops here because they fear the Syrian regime could retaliate,” political writer and columnist Labib Kamhawi told AFP.

“The US weapons and troops have been deployed to Jordan as a precautionary measure, but this could be seen by Syria as an act of aggression, which makes people here worried.”

King Abdullah II vowed this month to defend Jordan from the war in Syria, saying “we are capable at any time to take the necessary measures to protect our country and people’s interests”.

The opposition Islamists said the US military deployment “is not in Jordan’s interest”.

“We reject the presence of US invaders and I think other Jordanians are worried and agree with us,” said Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the main political party.

US media reports have said Washington was preparing to use the weapons to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria from Jordan, but the White House has ruled out the idea, billing it as difficult, dangerous, costly and unsuitable.

“Jordan’s situation is complex. Even if Amman does not agree with its allies on certain things in the Syria file, the country has to compromise,” Mohammad Abu Rumman, a researcher at the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies, told AFP.

“I think Jordan seized the opportunity of the current US movements concerning Syria to have the Patriots and improve the kingdom’s defence systems.”

Jordan Perry, a senior analyst at Maplecroft risk group, said Washington wanted to assure Amman that it “remains committed to upholding the country’s border security as the conflict in Syria continues and threatens to spread even more outside its borders.”

“Jordan’s bid to obtain Patriot missiles reflects the kingdom’s growing concern over the recent rise in violence between the Syrian military and rebel forces in the border areas, and the propensity for the violence to spill over into Jordanian territory.”

(Source / 28.06.2013)

“We don’t care” – A shocking response from Israeli soldiers arresting children in Hebron

Two brothers aged 10 and 13 were today taken by the Israeli occupation forces whilst playing outside their home in the old city of Hebron. They were forcibly taken to the military base on Shuhada Street which is closed to Palestinians, while their mother waited watching from the street above. They were held for four hours, without their family being notified of their situation and without having access to a lawyer. The Israeli authorities lied many times, claiming that the children had been released while they were still being held. Eventually the children were released without even being passed to the Palestinian authority.

Soldiers escorting children down Shuhada Street

Soldiers escorting children down Shuhada Street

At around 2pm two brothers, Yousuf and Ahmed Gaha, aged 13 and 10, were taken from outside of their home by the Israeli military. According to their mother they were playing at the time. They were taken to the Israeli military base which is on Shuhada Street, which is completely closed to Palestinians, meaning that their mother could not follow – instead she had to wait on the road overlooking the base and watch from afar. Although soldiers could see her they would give her no information about her sons, despite it being illegal under international law to hold minors without access to their parents or a lawyer.

At around 5pm international observers waiting outside the military base heard shouts and cries from children, but still the Israeli military did not release them and refused to give any further information. Several times during the four hours, the Israeli District Coordination Office claimed to both the Palestinian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross that the children had already been released, when in fact they were still inside the military base. Under Israeli law, individuals should not be held by the army for more than three hours without being passed to the police, but the military today ignored these rules.

Soldiers surround children after their four hour detention

Soldiers surround children after their four hour detention

Soldiers repeatedly claimed “we don’t care” and refused to give information to human rights observers. When the children were eventually released, it was not to the Palestinian authority, as is usually the case in the arrest of minors. Rather, the two brothers were released directly into the cemetery above Shuhada Street and allowed to go to their homes. This contradicts the soldiers’ claims that they had seen the boys throwing stones and had video footage of them, as these charges often come with a criminal sentence for Palestinian children.

As the children were released, a settler from one of the illegal settlements of Hebron – farcically holding a bunch of flowers – tried to attack international observers who had been filming the events, telling them to “go home” and calling them “Nazis”, as well as trying to physically assault them. Human rights observers have observed four child arrests just this week in Hebron, and this could easily be a small proportion of the full number. There is a worrying disregard for international law and the rights of the child in Hebron – for example 27 children were arrested at random in Hebron in March 2013.

Settler tries to attack international observer

Settler tries to attack international observer

(Source / 28.06.2013)

PCHR Weekly Report: 6 Palestinians wounded, 35 abducted in 48 Israeli incursions this week

In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 20 – 26 June, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces launched 3 air strikes against civilian targets and training sites in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian landowner holds the Israeli confiscation order he received this week (PCHR image)
Palestinian landowner holds the Israeli confiscation order he received this week

A girl was injured in her home during the attacks in Gaza, a restaurant was completely destroyed and 13 houses sustained partial damage. In the West Bank, 4 protesters were wounded during a peaceful protest in Kofur Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilia.

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 48 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces abducted at least 25 Palestinians, including 5 children.

Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. 10 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were abducted at checkpoints in the West Bank.

Israeli forces violently beat a Palestinian young man from Beit Ummar village and threw him at the entrance of Kofur Etzion, south of Bethlehem.

Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

In the Gaza Strip, on 24 June 2013, Israeli forces launched 3 air strikes on training sites and civilian targets. At approximately 04:20, Israeli warplanes attacked a training site of al-Quds Brigades, west of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 03:45, Israeli warplanes attacked an olive land in al-Zawayda village in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, 13 houses sustained partial damage and a girl sustained a fracture in her left leg. In his testimony to PCHR’s fieldworker, Ouda Suleiman Abu Zayed (73), from al-Zawayda, whose house was damaged, said: “I was about to perform the dawn prayer when I suddenly heard a heavy explosion rocking the house. I believed it was my house that was hit. We heard the sound of a drone and a warplane hovering. Women and children were frightened and shouting for about 20 minutes. We were waiting for a second attack. A few minutes later, I calmed down and started to look over the house whose windows were smashed and 5 of its doors were damaged. Meanwhile, I looked out of the eastern balcony and saw dust about 20 meters to the northeast of my house. It was in a nearby farmland. At 06:00, I found out that my jeep’s (Toyota) windshield was broken and the solar power glass was damaged as well.”

Around the same time, Israeli warplanes fired a missile on an olive farm in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, a restaurant was completely destroyed and many olive trees were damaged.

Crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel were closed for two days during the past week.

Israeli attacks on non-violent demonstrations:

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, 4 civilians were wounded during a peaceful protest in Kofur Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilia. In addition, 2 photojournalists from Palestine TV were attacked and abducted.

Following the Friday Prayer, 21 June 2013, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organised a peaceful demonstration in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activity. The demonstrators marched through the streets of the village, chanting slogans calling for national unity, raised Palestinian flags and made their way towards the lands adjacent to the annexation wall. Israeli forces had closed all entrances to the village since early morning to prevent Palestinians, journalists, and international activists from joining the protest. The demonstrators walked along the wall and attempted to breach it. Israeli forces stationed behind the western side of the wall, and dozens of soldiers who were deployed along the route of the wall, fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs, tear gas canisters, and waste water at the demonstrators, and chased them across olive fields. As a result, dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation, and others sustained bruises.

Also, following the Friday Prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organised a peaceful demonstration in Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The demonstrators made their way towards the annexation wall. Israeli forces closed the wall gate with barbed wire and, when the demonstrators attempted to access the lands behind the barbed wire, they were stopped by Israeli soldiers. The demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli soldiers who responded with live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters, and chased them across fields of olive trees as far as the outskirts of the village. As a result, dozens of demonstrators suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Around the same time on Friday, dozens of Palestinian civilians, Israeli and international human rights activists gathered at the Martyrs Square in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, to hold a weekly peaceful protest against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The protesters walked towards Palestinian lands that Israeli settlers from the nearby “Halmish” settlement are trying to seize. From the morning, Israeli forces had closed all entrances to the village to prevent Palestinians, international activists, and journalists from joining the demonstration. Upon their arrival in the area, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters, chased the demonstrators into the village and sprayed them and civilian houses with waste water. As a result, dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises, including the photographer of the Popular Committee against the Construction of the Wall and Settlement Activity in Nabi Saleh, Belal Abdel-Salam Tamimi (47), he is also a volunteer photographer at B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Following Friday Prayer, dozens of inhabitants of al-Mas’ra village, south of Bethlehem, international and Israeli human rights activists, and activists in the Popular Resistance Committees gathered for the weekly peaceful demonstration against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activity. The demonstration was also organized in protest to the construction of a school for settlers in the south of Bethlehem. It started outside Shomou’ Cultural Centre in the centre of the village. The participants carried Palestinian flags, roamed the streets of the village. Upon their arrival to the wall, Israeli forces, backed-up by Israeli police and border guards, fired tear gas canisters at them in order to disperse them. Many demonstrators suffered due to tear gas inhalation. Later that day, Palestinians organized a car rally from the centre of the village to “Daniel” settlement, which is established on al-Khader village’s lands, south of Bethlehem, and then to the southern entrance of the village “al-Nashash” checkpoint, where they organized a sit-in.

At approximately 13:25 on Friday, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders organised a peaceful demonstration in the centre of Kufor Kadoum village, northeast of Qalqilya, in protest at the continuous closure of the eastern entrance of the village which has been ongoing since the outbreak of al-Aqsa Intifada. Israeli soldiers denied them access to the gate and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters; as a result, 4 Palestinians sustained wounds: a 22-year-old male; a finger in his left hand was smashed after sustaining a metal bullet; a 20-year-old male, sustained two metal bullets in the abdomen and left hand; a 21-year-old male, sustained a metal bullet to the chest; and a 27-year-old male, sustained a metal bullet to the waist. Furthermore, the Israeli soldiers beat media workers of Palestine TV crew, and abducted Ahmed Abdel-Malek Othman Shawer (26); and Bashar Mahmoud Saleh Nazzal (33). In his testimony to a PCHR fieldworker, Nazzal said: “While we were covering Kufor Kadoum’s weekly demonstration on 21 June 2013, Israeli soldiers yelled at us and told us to leave the area; thus, we gathered our equipment in order to leave and while I was getting ready to leave as there was only one piece of equipment left that I had to take with me, Israeli soldiers attacked me and my colleague Ahmed Shawer with extreme brutality, and started beating and kicking us with their hands, feet and weapons, using profane language. We had the feeling that we were targeted, especially me, as I attend and cover this demonstration every week. After assaulting us, we were blindfolded, handcuffed and taken, with our equipment, in a military vehicle to “Kedumim” settlement where a group of soldiers were there, mocking and photographing us. Even though we were blindfolded, we knew what was happening around us. We were later taken to several detention centres in Howara and Salem camps, then “Ariel” settlement. We were released at approximately 22:00 on Saturday, 22 June 2013, after they confiscated our IDs.”

Israeli settlement activities:

Israel has continued its settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a direct violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On Thursday, 20 June 2013, a group of settlers, under the protection of Israeli police and forces, moved into Zawyat al-Ashraf and al-Budairy waqf, located at the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the centre of Hebron. The settlers started digging and extending electricity networks, in an attempt to seize both establishments.

On Sunday, 22 June 2013, Israeli forces moved into Um al-Rokba area and handed Mohammed Marzouq Zawahra (35) a notice to halt construction work in a cement wall of and a water well, under the pretext of not obtaining a license. On another note, a number of settlers from “Karmi Tsur” settlement moved into a farmland that includes a water spring that is called “Ayn Teeba,” east of Halhoul. No incidents of vandalism or attacks against Palestinians were reported.

On Monday, 24 June 2013, a group of settlers from “Havat Gilad” settlement raided Palestinian civilians’ land in Amateen village, northeast of Qalqilya and cut 6 olive trees. Furthermore, a group of settlers from “Carmiel” settlement attacked a group of farmers and shepherds while they were in ‘Ayn al-Baidaa’ area. This incident took place in the presence of Israeli forces that declared the area a closed military area and abducted two Palestinian civilians under the pretext of assaulting settlers.

On Wednesday, 26 June 2013, a group of settlers from “Ovijal” settlement attacked shepherds with police dogs while they were grazing their sheep in al-‘Attarya area. Additionally, 4 settlers raided pastoral lands in the surroundings of Kherbat Qwaiwes area and told shepherds of Abu-‘Arram family to leave the area, claiming that it is their property. Israeli forces arrived at the scene and ordered the shepherds to leave the area.

Recommendations to the international community:

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the international community act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;

The PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.

For the full text of the report, click on the link below:

(Source / 28.06.2013)