Patient prisoners suffer medical negligence in Israeli jails



TULKAREM, (PIC)– The mother of patient prisoner Mo’tassem Raddad, who suffers from colon cancer, stated that her son’s health situation has dramatically deteriorated after the cancer spread throughout his body.

During the weekly sit-in in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, she stated that her son is facing death. He also developed high blood pressure and diabetes, in addition to sight and heart problems and he became unable to move his left arm and leg, she clarified.

Mo’tassem’s mother stressed the urgent need for his release due to his difficult health situation.

Dozens of prisoners’ families and factions’ representatives in Tulkarem, protested on Tuesday outside the Red Cross headquarters in solidarity with their sons in Israeli jails particularly the patient prisoner Mo’assim Raddad.

On the same context, Israeli Prison Service (IPS) refused to allow the patient prisoner Leith Srouji, 31, from Tulkarem refugee camp northern occupied West Bank to conduct a medical surgery at its scheduled time.

Srouji family appealed via Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies to all humanitarian organizations and Doctors Without Borders committee to conduct him the scheduled surgery.

Srouji suffers stomach pains preventing him from eating where he was supposed to undergo  surgery in two days however the IPS canceled it, the family added.

Srouji, arrested since 2004 and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, suffers difficult health problems since 9 months without receiving proper medical treatment due to the Israeli medical negligence.

(Source / 30.10.2013)

Hamdallah unveils plan to boost Gaza development

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Interim Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Wednesday that a new national development plan supervised by the Ministry of Planning will prioritize the Gaza Strip.

He said the plan would focus on development and infrastructure projects, especially for water.

Hamdallah unveiled the plan during meetings with Australian and Swiss representatives Tom Wilson and Paul Garnier in a meeting in which they discussed support to Area C and Gaza.

They also discussed developing the health and education sectors through building schools, mobile clinics and hospitals.

Meanwhile, both the Swiss and Australian representatives emphasized their commitment to support the PA through funding projects in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

(Source / 30.10.2013)

Israel announces East Jerusalem settlements

Israel sets new plan for 1,500 homes in motion hours after it released 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of peace talks.

The plan comes as the West Bank and Gaza celebrate the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners
Israel has announced plans to build 1,500 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem, the part of the city claimed by the Palestinians, just hours after it freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to set peace talks in motion.

Interior Ministry Spokeswoman, Lital Apter, said Israel also plans to build an archaeology and tourism site near the Old City, home to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy sites.

Israel first announced the development plans in 2010 during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, sparking a diplomatic rift with Washington that took months to mend.

The latest move is seen by some as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make up for the prisoner release, for which he has been sharply criticised within Israel.

The prisoners have been jailed on charges ranging from throwing rocks to killing Israelis in bombings and gun attacks. There are roughly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners lodged in Israeli jails.

Plans to build the homes in the city’s Arab sector emerged in Israeli media almost immediately after Israel began freeing 21 prisoners to the West Bank and another five to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip overnight.

The move is seen as an attempt by Netanyahu to make up for the recent prisoner release 

Israel has a long history of lopsided prisoner exchanges with its Palestinian counterpart. This week’s release of 26 prisoners appeared especially charged because Israel seemed to be getting little in return except an opportunity to conduct negotiations.

Palestinian anger

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said the settlement plan “destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law”.

Under a deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Palestinians agreed to resume talks in late July after Israel agreed to the release of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners. In all, 104 Palestinian convicts are to be released in four rounds over the coming months.

The Palestinians have long refused to resume peace negotiations with Israel unless it ends settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Settlement building in the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War is considered illegal under international law, and the issue remains one of the most divisive in the decades-old conflict.

Israel has refused, insisting that settlements and other core issues, including security, should be resolved through negotiations.

Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, said last week that housing starts in West Bank settlement are up by 70 percent this year.

It said there were 1,708 housing starts in January-June this year, compared with 995 during the same period in 2012.

Palestinians want the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip for a future country but fear that more settlement building will deny them a viable state.

(Source / 30.10.2013)

Fitch downgrades Tunisia, cites delayed political transition

Fitch Ratings downgraded Tunisia’s main ratings with a negative outlook due to its bad security and stability.

Fitch on Wednesday cut Tunisia’s sovereign rating two notches and warned it could cut further on political uncertainty and its potential damaging economic effects.

The ratings agency cut Tunisia to BB-minus from BB-plus, with a negative outlook.

“The political transition has been further delayed and uncertainty over the ultimate success of the process has increased,” Fitch warned in a statement.

“Attacks and killings by terrorist groups have gained momentum in recent months, worsening security and stability,” the agency added.

More cuts could come if the political crisis intensifies or if budget and current account deficits don’t decrease “significantly,” Fitch said.

Tunisia expects $750 million in loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund by the end of 2013 to prop up its fragile public finances and plans an Islamic bond issue early next year.

Tunisia saw the first of the Middle East revolts of 2011 when it overthrew long-time autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

But nearly three years later, months of political deadlock have weakened the country’s economic outlook.

The government has agreed to step down soon and make way for a caretaker government, which will govern until elections next year that aim to put the country’s transition to full democracy on track.

Moody’s Investors Service rates Tunisia at Ba2; Standard & Poor’s rates the country at B. All three agencies rate Tunisia’s sovereign debt as speculative.

(Source / 30.10.2013)

Assad Says Foreign Support for Syrian Rebels Must End

In a photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA, President Bashar al-Assad met with the United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, on Wednesday in Damascus.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Bashar al-Assad of Syria told the United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, on Wednesday that no political solution could be reached in Syria without an end to international support for the fighters battling his government, underscoring how far apart the sides remain as global powers attempt to arrange peace talks next month.

“The success of any political solution is tied to stopping support for terrorist groups and pressuring their patron states,” Mr. Assad told Mr. Brahimi, the joint special representative from the United Nations and the Arab League, in Damascus during their first meeting in nearly a year, Syrian state television reported.

“Only the Syrian people are authorized to shape the future of Syria,” Mr. Assad said.

The talks, known in diplomatic shorthand as Geneva 2, are intended to start a political process that would result in a transitional government. But the sponsors — the United States, which supports the opposition, and Russia, which supports Mr. Assad — remain divided on whether that transitional government could include Mr. Assad.

And Mr. Assad and his opponents have laid out incompatible preconditions, with the main exile opposition group saying it will not attend the talks unless Mr. Assad’s departure is guaranteed, and Mr. Assad saying he will not talk with them unless they put down their arms. The opposition, too, is fractured, with many rebel groups saying they reject the Geneva talks as well as the exile leaders who are their nominal representatives.

Another dispute is over whether Iran will be present at the talks. Mr. Assad favors Iran’s presence, while Saudi Arabia opposes it. The Syrian conflict has in part become a proxy war between Iran, Mr. Assad’s closest ally, and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Brahimi has been an advocate of inviting Iran. On Wednesday in Damascus, Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Mohammad Reza Raouf-Sheibani, reiterated the country’s desire to participate.

“Of course, everyone knows Iran’s efforts to help a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” he said, according to Reuters. “Iran’s absence from this meeting does not benefit the meeting.”

Mr. Assad’s remarks on Wednesday echoed what has been a frequent government line, which was also made on Tuesday in a meeting between Mr. Brahimi and Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem. The government criticizes the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others for supporting rebels it calls terrorists.

Syria state television quoted Mr. Brahimi as saying that the Geneva efforts were “focused on finding the way for the Syrians themselves to meet and to agree on solving the crisis as quickly as possible.”

After a burst of optimism about convening the Geneva talks following Syria’s agreement last month to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal, which averted an American military strike on Mr. Assad’s forces, diplomats have become increasingly pessimistic. Some now privately suggest the talks may be postponed.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov. who collaborated with Secretary of State John Kerry to push for the chemical weapons agreement and the peace talks, expressed some frustration on Wednesday, suggesting that Saudi Arabia in particular was posing a new obstacle over its unhappiness that the United States had dropped a threat to attack Mr. Assad’s forces.

“The situation is somewhat more complicated because there have already been open objections to that conference initiated by Russia and the United States, objections not only from various Syrian factions but also from the capitals of some neighboring and not only neighboring states,” Mr. Lavrov told a news conference in Athens, where he was on an official visit.

Without specifying Saudi Arabia by name, Mr. Lavrov said “those who sought regime change and helped voluntarily or involuntarily to create an extremists’ state there are now unable to hide their emotions.”

The rebellion against Mr. Assad began as a movement for political rights but turned violent after the government repressed demonstrators, and it has since devolved into civil war. Extremist jihadist fighters have poured into the country, alienating many who initially supported the uprising, increasingly clashing with rival rebel factions and making the United States reluctant to fully support the armed opposition.

(Source / 30.10.2013)

Israel demolishes another house and detains three more Palestinians in Jerusalem

Palestinian youth arrested by Israeli soldiers in Beit Hanina

A Palestinian youth is arrested by Israeli security as bulldozers destroy a Palestinian home in Arab east Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Beit Hanina

Israeli occupation forces have demolished another three-storey Palestinian building and arrested three more Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem. Owner Ayman Karsh said that Israeli soldiers told his family to leave the premises in Beit Hanina neighbourhood of the city before their bulldozers destroyed the building. The family was unable to remove personal belongings before the demolition commenced.

While Palestinian activists confirmed that Israel’s military court has extended the remand detention of three men from Jerusalem, Wadi Al-Hilwa Information Centre said that Israeli soldiers kidnapped Palestinian boy Nasim al-Natasha, 11, when he was walking in the street. The Israelis already have dozens of Palestinian children in detention.

Eyewitnesses added that the Israeli forces also arrested Abdul-Kareem Nokad, 16, and Shadi al-Labban, 22, when they were sitting close to the African Community Centre in the Old City. It was quiet at the time, they confirmed, and there did not appear to be any reason for the arrests to take place.

(Source / 30.10.2013)


By Peter Clifford           ©                    (


During an agreed cease-fire and under the supervision of the International Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent Society, the Assad regime allowed between 1,500 and 1,800 people to leave the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyah yesterday, Tuesday.


The suburb, to the south-west of the capital, had suffered not only chemical attacks, but had been under siege for months with credible reports and pictures of some children and adults who had starved to death.

The Weakest Were Carried Out of Moadamiyah by Stretcher

The Syrian Government says that only “terrorists” remain in Moadamiyah, but some activist sources say that thousands of civilians still remain, too terrified to leave.

Initially yesterday, the men leaving the suburb were separated from the women and searched separately but later, by 17.00 GMT, most of them arrived at the same shelter as the women, where they are expected to be able to stay for as long as a month.

One of the women released from the siege told the BBC that, “We didn’t see a piece of bread for nine months. We were eating leaves and grass.” Those too weak or exhausted to walk were carried out on stretchers.

The pro-Assad nun, Sister Agnes Mariam, reported previously on this page over chemical weapons “evidence”, was involved in organising the release of the civilians from the suburb. The BBC has a video report, HERE: 

The UN has estimated that more than 1 million people are trapped in areas where no aid is getting through, at least 500,000 of those is rural Damascus not far from the capital and another 310,000 in Homs.

An Assad security official, known as Abu Haider, was overheard to say at a central Damascus checkpoint that it was all part of Government policy, describing it as “Our Starvation Until Submission Campaign”.

Syrian Army soldiers conduct vehicle and body searches to prevent “smuggling” of bread, baby milk and medicine into besieged areas, imprisoning those who violate their rules. Reuters has a comprehensive report, HERE: 


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that at least 10 of the 22 suspected cases of polio are indeed wild polovirius type 1, causing paralysis.  Most of the victims are under 2 years of age, the first cases recorded in the country since 1999.

WHO is stepping up its immunisation programme, particularly in the Deir El-Zour area where most of the cases seem to be clustered.

Health Worker Administers Oral Polio Vaccine in Damascus

There has been speculation that the virus has been reintroduced into Syria by “foreign fighters”, many carriers, particularly adults, remaining unaffected by the disease. Polio remains endemic in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. WHO has a posted statement, HERE: 

Meanwhile, fighting has continued in other parts of both Damascus and Deir El-Zour. One Opposition rocket fell on Masa Plaza in the Malki neighbourhood of Damascus and another on Al-Jahez park in the Abu Rummanah district, both up-market areas mainly populated by Alawites.

South-west of Damascus, Opposition fighters are reported this morning to have taken over the regime’s Brigade 137 base in Khan Al Shih, killing numerous soldiers in the process.

In Deir El-Zour, a huge column of smoke was seen rising from the military airbase, HERE: while just outside the perimeter of the regime airfield, Opposition fighters kept up their attacks on the district of Jaffra, HERE: 

The Syrian Army, now under heavy pressure in the city, has retaliated with shelling and rocket fire, setting fire to vehicles, HERE:  and leaving a huge crater in a field with a Scud missile, HERE: 

Unknown gunmen have also assassinated the leader of the Omar bin al-Khattab Opposition battalion in Deir El-Zour city centre, his body being found riddled with bullet holes on Hassan Taha Street. Some activists have suggested the killing is a result of Opposition group rivalry, rather than a regime attack.

EDITOR: Not quite sure where this is, but incredible video of a tank shell flying directly towards the camera. Hairy!

In Aleppo, a young child was shot dead by an Assad sniper as he used one of the main crossings in the city, his mother being wounded too, HERE: while this 13 year boy fights with the Opposition after his father was shot dead, here:

13 Year Old Joins Fighters After Death of His Father

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) continues to target the Kuwaires airbase in the Aleppo countryside with increasingly heavier weapons, HERE: and there is video footage of the Opposition Ahrar al- Sham Brigade taking over the headquarters of the Kurdish YPG militia in the village of Jabul, (reported below), HERE: 

In Hama province the Opposition advance continues with the fighters destroying 2 tanks and other vehicles at a barrier near Suqaylabiyah due north of Hama city and capturing the “offices barrier” near Souran,HERE: 

In Homs province while there are ongoing clashes around Sadad in the desert, HERE:  there is also heavy fighting in the Al-Waer district of Homs city.

Assad’s forces tried to penetrate the district yesterday, Tuesday, following an intense bombardment and setting fire to buildings, HERE: but Opposition fighters drove them back, re-occupying a block of flats formerly held by the Syrian Army. 8 civilians, including a 6 year old child, were killed in the shelling onslaught and 50 wounded.

There are also reports today, that Jihadist units have taken the Government checkpoint at Shallouh in Homs province, killing 6 soldiers and 11 residents of the nearby Alawite village. Further information awaited.

In Hasakah province fighting continues between the YPG Kurdish militia and the jihadist groups, with the YPG announcing definitive control of the villages of Tal A’lo Ghamer, Abu Hajar, Kari Fati, Karhouk, al-Yusufiya, al-Jneidiya, the Al-Sawame’ area, and the Dajla oil company and nearby oil fields.

However, this morning, Wednesday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), the Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham have launched a heavy 3-pronged attacked on YPG positions in Ras Al-Ain, the strategically important frontier town on the border with Turkey.

This video footage of religious desicration and in tolerance, which appeared on the Internet recently, does nothing to enhance the reputation of the Islamists and has been deplored by several Opposition groups, HERE:


On the chemical weapons front the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reports good progress in Syria and cooperation from the authorities, having visited 21 or the 23 sites identified by the Assad Government. 

The 2 sites remaining are in contested areas of fighting where the UN appointed inspectors would find it unsafe to go at present. Within the 23 sites there are at least 41 actual chemical weapons facilities.

On the diplomatic front, Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint UN/Arab League Syria envoy is reported to have met with President Assad this morning in Damascus, though how that went is anyone’s guess as Brahimi has been reported on several occasions saying, in one form or another, that “Assad must go”.

Sacked! – Qadri Jamil

Assad also issued a degree yesterday, Tuesday, dismissing his Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Qadri Jamil, for being “absence without authorisation from his post” as well as “activities and meetings outside the country without authorisation from the government.”

The real bone of contention appears to be a meeting between Jamil and the former US ambassador to Damascus, the much hated by the regime, Rober Ford, in Geneva. Ford while still in Syria went to Hama and other cities supporting the “revolutionaries” in their peaceful demonstrations in 2011.

Jamil is part of the Assad “tolerated” Opposition in Syria and a leading member of the “People’s Will Party. He had been allowed into the Government, for what that’s worth – not a lot it seems – and there are reports that both he and his family have been living in Moscow in recent weeks, a city where he originally studied economics.

A perhaps a more pleasant picture of the war in Syria as Opposition fighters sit down for a meal together in the green of the Idlib countryside:

Opposition Fighters Meeting to Share Food in Idlib Countryside