Abbas pledges to uncover truth behind Arafat’s death

Palestinians walk in front of a mural of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City on Nov. 27, 2012
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the Palestinian Authority was determined to uncover the truth of how former leader Yasser Arafat died, regardless of the consequences.

“I am confident that the investigations committee will reach the truth that will be publicized to our people,” Abbas said in a recorded speech to coincide with a ceremony marking the 9th anniversary of Arafat’s death.

On Thursday, Palestinian officials demanded a global probe into the “killing” of Arafat, a day after it emerged that Swiss forensic tests showed he probably died from polonium poisoning.

With the scientific analysis purportedly showing how the Palestinian leader had died mysteriously, a senior figure in the Palestine Liberation Organization called for an international inquiry to determine who was behind it.

“The (test) results proved Arafat was poisoned by polonium, and this substance is owned by states, not people, meaning that the crime was committed by a state,” said Wasel Abu Yusef of the PLO’s executive committee.

“Just as a committee was formed to investigate the killing of (slain Lebanese prime minister) Rafiq Hariri, there must be a international committee to investigate the killing of president Arafat.”

Also Thursday, Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, called on Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to help with an investigation into the leader’s death.

The demands come a day after Al-Jazeera published a report by Swiss scientists that said the results of tests on Arafat’s remains “moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210”.

Arafat died in France on Nov. 11, 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow Suha’s request.

Arafat’s remains were exhumed in November 2012 and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned – a suspicion that grew after the assassination of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Take action now: Demand the release of Jordanian hunger striker Alaa Hammad!

alaa-hammadJordanian hunger striking prisoner Alaa Hammad has been on hunger strike for 192 days, and was taken to Soroka Military Hospital on November 9 for treatment. Click here to send a letter to Israeli officials demanding his release.

Shireen Nafe, of Fedaa, the organization supporting Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails, said that Hammad has pledged to continue his strike until his demands to be released and relieved of one-third of his imprisonment period in accordance with the laws of the Israeli prisons, where he spent more than two-thirds of his sentence, or to be deported to Jordan to complete his sentence there and for family visits are met.

The Prison administration has refused to pledge in writing to date to either release him or deport him.

Alaa Hammad was born in Jerusalem on October 20, 1978; he holds Jordanian citizenship and lived with his family in Amman. He traveled to Jerusalem in 2006, where he was arrested on November 24 and accused of plotting to kidnap an Israeli soldier to exchange for Palestinian prisoners, and contacting a hostile country, namely Syria. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and during the first six years of his arrest he has been denied all contact with his family except through mailed letters, except for visits from his mother, who was able to visit every six months because she holds a Jerusalemite identity card. His wife and children were prohibited from visiting him.

On May 2, 2013, he launched, along with four other Jordanian prisoners, a hunger strike calling for action from the Jordanian government to move to release them or deport them to Jordan to complete their sentences, and to reveal the locations of missing or martyred Jordanians. Four of the prisoners ended their strike after 100 days and serious health deterioration; an agreement was concluded with the prison administration for family visitation and improvement in conditions of confinement, which has been violated since that time by occupation authorities.

Hammad chose to continue his hunger strike, demanding release or transfer as well as family visits. He was married in 1998 and has six children: Maryam (14 yrs), Maram (13 yrs), Rim (12 yrs), Yousef (10 yrs), Ibrahim (8 yrs) and Issa (7 yrs).

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Saudi spy chief joining Israel for attack against Iran

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan is joining Israel to set the stage for a military strike against Iran over the country’s nuclear program, an analyst says.

Not reaching a nuclear deal during the recent Geneva talks reflects “the determination on the part of the Israelis and the Saudis, not only to prevent such an agreement, but it takes even military action against Iran in order to completely destroy it”, Ralph Schoenman told Press TV on Sunday.

“Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has told European diplomats that his government was even considering a major shift away its alliance with Washington joining with Israel and preparing for attacks upon Iran”, he added.

The Saudi official said last month that his country would make a “major shift” in its relations with Washington after the White House decided not to attack Syria and enter nuclear talks with Iran.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan invited a Western diplomat to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah to voice his frustration with the US administration and its policies in the Middle East, according to media reports.

The latest nuclear talks between Iran and the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany ended in Geneva without a deal. But the two sides planned to meet again later this month.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his outrage over a looming deal with Iran and called it the “deal of the century for Iran”.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

NGO: Kidnapped Syrian MP executed by jihadists

BEIRUT (AFP) — A Syrian lawmaker who was kidnapped by opposition jihadist fighters earlier this year has been executed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said on Sunday.

A parliamentary source in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Mujhem al-Sahu, from eastern Deir Ezzor province, had been executed, without specifying who was responsible.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Syria activists say truce made in blockaded town


The Syrian government is under pressure from the international community to allow food and medical aid into blockaded areas.

Government officials and rebels reached a deal to ease a weeks-long blockade on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital on Sunday, allowing food to reach civilians there for the first time in weeks, activists said.

The truce is the latest to be agreed in recent months between President Bashar Assad’s government and disparate rebel groups throughout the war-ravaged country.

It comes as the main Western-backed Syrian opposition began the second day of a two-day meeting in the Turkish capital Istanbul to decide whether they will attend a proposed peace conference the U.S. and Russia are trying to convene in Geneva by the end of this year.

The Syrian National Coalition has demanded Assad step down in any transitional government as a condition for participation in the talks. Syrian officials say Assad will stay in his post at least until his term ends in 2014 and that he may run for re-election. Coalition Spokesman Louay Safi said discussions were still ongoing.

“There are people who are concerned and worried that not enough preparation has taken place. And there are those who would like to make a decision but with some preparation,” he told reporters in Istanbul.

The Coalition is also expected to approve a list of cabinet of ministers presented by interim prime minister, Ahmad Toumeh, who was elected in September.

The Western-backed group has also called for goodwill measures from the Assad government, including lifting sieges on rebel-held areas. It wasn’t clear if the deal in Qudsaya was such a gesture, as neither rebels nor Syrian officials comment on such deals.

Activist group the Qudsaya Media Team confirmed the truce in a statement but gave few details. In an earlier November release, they said local markets ran out of food, and area’s poorest residents were going hungry. They could not be immediately reached for comment.

Rami Abdurrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the deal allowed food and flour to enter the town on the outskirts of Damascus, under blockade since October. The Observatory follows Syria through a network of activists on the ground.

All warring sides in Syria’s conflict have blockaded towns to squeeze out fighters, but the most affected have been poor people struggling to buy food, the elderly, the sick and children.

In recent weeks, a variety of Syrian mediators have been trying to ease blockades in several areas, with modest success.

Syria’s government is under pressure from the international community to allow food and medical aid into blockaded areas, particularly after reports emerged of widespread hunger in the blockaded Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh this year. It appears civilian elders have also pressured rebels to accept truces.

Meanwhile, fighting raged in the northern city of Aleppo over control of the airport, said the Observatory and an activist based in the Aleppo countryside. He spoke anonymously, fearing identification by government officials.

Rebels seized control of the military base housing troops that protect the city’s airport in February. But Assad-loyal troops took parts of it early Friday during an offensive, and fighting has raged since then. The rebels have been led by fighters from the Islamic Tawhid Brigade and the al-Qaida linked groups Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

The activist and the Observatory said Shiite fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah were fighting alongside Syrian troops at the site, underscoring the importance of the battle. The government-held Aleppo International Airport, which has been closed due to fighting for almost a year, is one of the Syrian rebels’ major objectives.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Truth hurts: 25 Palestinian social media activists detained for ‘incitement’


Last Thursday Israel rounded up 25 Palestinian activists because of their social media postings on Facebook, and it didn’t warrant a blurp in the mainstream press. The activists were  hauled off after their homes were raided in East Jerusalem, due to their Facebook postings.

Nasser Qous, head of Jerusalem’s Palestinian Prisoner Club said the activists  were charged with “incitement“. Fifteen were let go. The other 10, not so lucky.

Ma’an News:

Nasser Qous, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told official news agency Wafa that Israeli forces raided the homes of 25 Palestinian activists and detained them on charges of “incitement” due to their posts on Facebook.

Israeli police also seized their computers.

Fifteen of the activists were later released and 10 will be brought before an Israeli court, Qous said.

In October, Haifa resident Razi al-Nabulsi, 23, was arrested and kept under house arrest for a week as a result of Facebook posts Israeli authorities argued constituted “incitement.”

Lawyer Aram Mahameed explained that the charges stemmed from “a number of comments on al-Nabulsi’s Facebook page concerning issues like normalization (with the State of Israel), as well as the Prawer Plan,” a proposed Israeli plan that if carried out with displace 40,000 Bedouins from the southern Negev.

This is info warfare, and the truth hurts Israel, because hasbara can’t fight descriptions of the unending occupation. The internet is the one battlefield where Israel’s brand is sinking like a stone.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Syria: A Cold War Deepens Between Jihadis

A Syrian rebel carries an improvised explosive device (IED) in the northern city of Aleppo on November 9, 2013.

The tug of war between the Islamic militant leaders in Syria reached crisis levels as armed clashes between the“brothers in jihad” raged, despite fatwas prohibiting infighting and efforts by al-Qaeda to unite the factions.

No two informed observers can disagree that Islamic jihadi groups now spearhead the armed rebellion against the Syrian regime. Their experience in organization and combat gave them an edge over other armed opposition factions, giving their project to establish their brand of an Islamic state a real chance, in contrast to the project of other scattered opposition groups to establish a “civil state.”

No two observers can disagree, either, that thequarrel between al-Qaeda commanders over seniority and leadership, since at least April 2013, has benefited the regime. Although this has become apparent in the battlefield, lust for power and leadership has dizzied mediators seeking to reconcile the emir of al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, and the emir of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and also the latter with the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri.Attempts by mediators – many of whom reside in Lebanon – to pull the dispute out of the media failed, with the squabble taking the form of audio recordings and counter recordings. To al-Nusra’s credit, it has so far not reacted, even after ISIS’ fighters seized outposts and weapons caches belonging to the former in Aleppo and Raqqa, not to mention an oil well that ISIS also wrested from al-Nusra’s hands in Deir al-Zour, to avoid a confrontation.

According to Islamist sources, however, mediators have been able to broker a temporary truce, following which quarrels in the media have somewhat subsided. According to the same sources, some of the meetings held by representatives from both sides took place in Lebanon.

In parallel, field commanders in both groups strove to put an end to the dispute over “seniority” among the rank and file, especially after this translated into a sharp split between the Islamic militants, who each accused the other faction’s emir of having committed “the sin of disobeying the real emir.” The first argues that Golani disobeyed his chief Baghdadi when he did not agree to merge al-Nusra with the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) under ISIS. The second argues that it was Baghdadi who was disobedient, when he rejected Zawahiri’s orders to cancel the merger and restore the old groups.

While attempts to keep the dispute among the militants in check partially succeeded, at least on the battlefield, the dispute rages on in the media. Perhaps the sharpest example was a letter titled “From a mujahid to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri.”

The sender begins his letter by apologizing for addressing the emir publicly, having run out of other options to deliver his message. The sender, who signed the letter with the name “Abu Bakr al-Dimashqi,” did not name any one particular side, but alluded to the practices perpetrated in the areas controlled by ISIS militants. The letter’s author wrote about what he called the “harshness and intimidation of the de facto rulers, who are alienating many Muslims,” citing their all-too-readiness to carry out executions and corporal punishments, sometimes at random.

In the same vein, others have debated and questioned whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was eligible to be an imam, and spoke about “ISIS’ deviation from the correct path in light of its practices,” accusing the group of “precipitating the emergence of the sahwa [awakening] groups as a result of its actions,” in reference to the US-funded anti-al Qaeda tribal militias in Iraq.

Baghdadi’s supporters have also been censured for pledging allegiance to an unknown man, as, according to many jihadis, one Sharia-established rule for giving allegiance is that the imam must be well known. Proceeding from this, ISIS’ opponents are questioning Baghdadi’s legitimacy. In response, ISIS issued a brief biography of the “Emir of the Faithful al-Baghdadi,” containing detail abouts his “feats and religious knowledge” to silence skeptics.

ISIS’ supporters, using hadiths, also responded to the accusations against them and defended Baghdadi’s legitimacy and the lawfulness of his appointment, praising his efforts to reestablish the Islamic caliphate. They then justified the brutality of their group by invoking what they termed “the need for a powerful leader that can handle worldly and religious affairs, and subjugate his foes.”

One ISIS supporter argued, “Bin Laden was the leader of one jihadi group among 23 in Afghanistan, and did not gain followers until his actions changed the course of history.” Furthermore, books by an Abi Hammam al-Athari, a jihadi cleric, were published on jihadi forums, urging Islamic militants to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi.Meanwhile, jihadis on Twitter belonging to both ISIS and al-Nusra have been engaging in fierce arguments, exchanging accusations and questioning each other’s legitimacy. Some supporters of ISIS would even mock operations carried out by al-Nusra, boasting instead of “superior attacks” carried out by ISIS.

Hezbollah and Christians

An audio recording of Saudi cleric Majid al-Majid, emir of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in the Levant, circulated on jihadi forums, in which Majid tackled the disputes among Islamic brigades in Syria. He called for placing affiliation to the Islamic nation ahead of partisan affiliation, saying that division only benefits the enemies.

Majid dedicated the rest of his message for Lebanese affairs. “Hezbollah and its interests in Lebanon are legitimate targets for us and the rebels,” he said, adding, “The rockets that hit you in the Bekaa, Hermel, and Dahiyeh were only skirmishes.”

The Saudi then addressed other figures, including politicians, calling on them to intervene to withdraw Hezbollah’s fighters from Syria to spare Lebanon from war, and also addressed what he called “Christian gatherings on Hezbollah’s side,” calling on them to distance themselves from the Lebanese resistance group to protect Christian lives.

Majid also singled out the head of Lebanese General Security Abbas Ibrahim, who he said was “working day and night to harass, kill, and detain Sunnis in Lebanon.” He called on Sunni soldiers to leave the Lebanese army since its leadership, he claimed, now answered to Iran.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Belgium upgrades Palestine’s diplomatic status

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders

 Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders
Belgium has upgraded the diplomatic status of Palestinian Authority’s (PA) delegation from “general delegation” to “mission” to support the two-state solution.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Saturday that the move would result in the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the European country to use the title of ambassador.

He also added that the rise in Palestine’s diplomatic status demonstrates the European country’s “support” for the so-called “two-state solution” to the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This came after a meeting between the Belgian foreign minister and acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan’s capital of Amman.

The move to upgrade the Palestine’s status has been in the works since November 2012, when the 193-member UN General Assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions at the UN headquarters in New York to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state.

The observer state status grants Palestinians access to UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, where they can file formal complaints against the Israeli regime. The upgrade also allows Palestinians to participate in debates at the UN and improves their chances of joining UN agencies.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Tunisia provides a model of legitimacy to counter illegal coup

Mohamed Hnaid

‘How many Arab regimes officially and publically weep over Palestine, but secretly make all kinds of deals with the enemy?’

The counter-revolution in the Arab world is engaged in a critical battle after its victory on the ground in Egypt; it is now seeking to reproduce the same situation in every Arab Spring country. The methods used take into account the distinct circumstances of each country where change has happened or is happening, and in some countries where the Arab Spring might expand, this counter-revolutionary movement takes pre-emptive action.In Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring, campaigns have multiplied and the so-called “deep state” is busy trying to have the same sort of impact that its counterpart in Egypt has had- although the Egyptian result is not yet complete. Financial backing of the kind that helped the Egyptian coup organisers is also being made available in Tunisia from the same sources.

It is in this context that Tunisia’s “national dialogue” has been taking place. As everyone is aware, this is yet another attempted coup in the making, in which the minority that lost in the election – basically the remnants of the former tyrannical regime forces the majority which won the democratic poll to accept dialogue and conditions in pre-signed documents, explicitly threatening that if that did not take place, there would be a new wave of assassinations and social unrest.

In the same context, the speech by the first elected president in Arab history at the UN, the president of Tunisia, is important. He demanded the release of the second elected Arab president, and the first in Egypt since the time of the Pharaohs; he also called for an end to the Israeli-led and Arab supported siege imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza.

United Nations speech

The perceived danger of the speech by the legitimate Tunisian president (the “interim” president, as he is called by the deep state remnants and media) does not lie in its content or its public call for the support of the just Arab causes that will determine the future of the region, including calling for the release of the kidnapped president in Egypt, but in the nature of the new political discourse established by the Arab Spring.

The official political discourse in the Arab world has been the same since the beginning of the twentieth century, in terms of the language, content, tone, structure and metaphors. It never goes beyond unrealistic speeches in praise of Arab glory, freedom and resistance to put a gloss on the fiercest and most oppressive regimes. From Gamal Abdel Nasser to Bashar Al-Assad’s speeches and including Gaddafi’s revolutionary eccentricities, they have been the same, despite the differences of context and references.

The problem with all these speeches is that they were not rooted in freedom because none of those leaders have or had legitimacy gained from popular votes; they had taken power by force or deceit. The new Tunisian president’s speech was distinguished because it was basically a speech emanating from free will.

How many Arab regimes officially and publically weep over Palestine, but secretly make all kinds of deals with the enemy? Their speech is governed by the emotional demands of the Arabs, as was the case with Nasser, while their expression was restricted by international limits of what can and cannot be said.

The example of free speech coming from Tunisia went beyond the president as an individual and even beyond the presidential institution itself and truly expressed, without the slightest exaggeration, the qualitative shift in the fundamentals of contemporary Arab political discourse.

I say fundamentals because that is what distinguishes the speech from thousands of others is not its message or content. It is distinguished by what it was built upon and what, in effect, made it possible to be spoken: the principle of electoral legitimacy.

Tunisia today is not judged by its political structure, not the size of its population or area, but its significance is to be seen as a qualitative force which was able to awaken the will of the entire Arab nation in a rare historic moment.

The premise on which American political discourse is established, which I am using by way of comparison only, is usually the principle of power and dominance despite the veneer of freedom, human rights, international law and other “cosmetics”, much of which have been exposed as a facade by the Arab Spring and, even before that, the American “freedom parks” in the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib.

Responses of the coup-organisers

The reactions to this historic speech reflected the shockwaves it created. The coup regime in Egypt rushed to reject it on the pretext of Egyptian sovereignty, and denounced any Tunisian intervention in Egypt’s internal affairs. This was highlighted in the media campaign against the Tunisian presidency and calling the Egyptian ambassador for discussion, as if the bloodshed in Egypt, the innocent victims and their burned bodies in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya mean nothing to the Arab people.

The Egyptian position can be understood in the context of the coup leadership’s protection of its coup; it was expected. What is surprising is the position of the most important engineer of the coup and its biggest supporter in the Arab region, the UAE, to where the ousted president’s circle of friends and advisers are gravitating as they plot a coup in Tunisia. The Gulf coup engineers have mobilised intellectuals, writers, activists, novelists, poets, artists and dancers to promote a culture of obedience, warn against sedition and to write new Arab constitutions.

There is no doubt that other Gulf States which condoned the coup and subsequent actions of its leaders have denounced the speech by the Tunisian president because it is a direct threat to their interests and political existence. They also fear political changes that might upset their privileges and wealth accumulated over decades at the expense of national prosperity.

However, many questions remain and the supporters of the dictatorships in the region must answer them or at least consider them. How long can such people suppress people’s awareness? How long can tyranny, authoritarianism and hereditary rule be sustained and supported?

How long will they continue to confiscate Arabs’ will and continue to play the role of colonial representative in the region? Are the Arabs not deserving of freedom and prosperity? Are we less deserving of development, independent and progress than, for example, Malaysia, Turkey, Spain and Indonesia? Which people have made more sacrifices and paid more with their blood over the last couple of centuries than the Arabs?

It is foolish to stand in the way of history following the political awakening of the Arab people using outdated repressive measures which have no place in the 21st century. The fact that such methods are not achieving the same sort of results as they once did indicates their failure and invalidity. The crises in Egypt and Syria are prime examples of the vacuousness of such outdated strategies.

In Egypt the misinformation, deceit and brutal repression against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators is only increasing their steadfastness in the struggle to overthrow the coup, with the families of recent martyrs leading demonstrations in self-feeding revolutionary movements. The crimes of Syria’s serial killer-president have only given the free Syrian people more determination to overthrow him and the criminal, sectarian gangs that surround him. Resorting to deal with the same social phenomena using the same repressive methods in different times, circumstances and contexts shows that Arab dictators have exhausted all its means of existence and that they are living their final days – at least in the form best known to us.

Tunisia again

Tunisia can provide a political and societal model for the Arab region, through the steadfastness of its revolutionary model in the face of all major setbacks suffered after the Arab Spring. Its establishment of a new political discourse is one of the most important signs of this emerging civilizational model. That is why the UN speech is seen as dangerous; its significance can exceed Egypt’s strategic importance and that of the Egyptian revolution on which all efforts of the new world order supported by internal collaborators and Gulf wealth have focussed.

The logic of the counter-revolution should have entailed beginning with Tunisia, if it wanted to overturn the results of the Arab Spring, respecting the progression of the movements which have shaken the region. However, but its focus on Egypt can be explained by the strategic importance of this pivotal state and its position as a country with many regional dimensions, including its African depth, its proximity to Palestine and Libya and its contact with Saudi Arabia.

This focus might be misplaced. The counter-revolution’s reading of the plan for re-instating dictatorship was superficial and incoherent, rather than functional and precise.

Tunisia, which exported the revolution to the world, has imported from Egypt immunity from coups, through a new awareness of the brutality of the counter-revolution, the blood-thirsty nature of the police state and the ugliness of structures of despotism.

Symbolic Tunisia and qualitative Tunisia formed the movement which had awakened the Egyptian genie and the rest of the Arab world. The Tunisian experience was a lesson of what could be, most importantly the fragility of Arab despotism and police states which can be brought down when the people yearn for freedom and have the will to live.

“When the people have the will to live, destiny must surely respond,” said the great Tunisian poet Aboul-Qasim El-Chebbi before he warned, “Woe betide you for flames are underneath ashes. Who grows thorns reaps wounds.”

As Tunisia provides a model of legitimacy to counter coups, coup leaders and aspirers will reap nothing but wounds sooner or later.

(Source / 10.11.2013)

Israeli authorities hand out demolition orders in East Jerusalem

 JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided al-Issawiya village in East Jerusalem on Sunday, handing out demolition orders for several houses owned by Palestinians in the area, a local official said.
Mohammad Abu al-Homs, a member of village’s follow-up committee, said that Israeli forces and members of the Jerusalem municipality staff raided several houses in al-Issawiya, taking photos of each.

During the raid, forces hung demolition orders on the walls of several houses, al-Homs said.

Reportedly among the Palestinians who received demolition orders was Hassan Abu al-Homs, who built his house several years ago for his seven-member family in the Zakaria Darwish neighborhood.

Many of the houses in this small neighborhood are also under threat of demolition by Israeli forces, al-Homs said.

Meanwhile, the municipality staff raided al-Ananiya Street near French Hill, an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem.

The area is facing confiscation by Israeli authorities in order to build a landfill, al-Homs said.

Israel has destroyed more than 500 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and mostly East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 862 people, according to UNOCHA.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 10.11.2013)