Yemen Shiite rebels overrun tribal strongholds

Militants of the al-Ahmar tribe are shown somewhere in Omran province in the north of Yemen on Feb. 2, 2014
SANAA (AFP) – Shiite Huthi rebels have overrun strongholds of powerful tribes in northern Yemen, witnesses said, in a major advance following a month of combat that has killed scores of people.

The rebels have been pushing out from the mountains of the far north to areas closer to Sanaa to expand their hoped-for autonomous unit in a promised federal Yemen.

In another indication of the growing unrest in the country, a mortar shell was fired overnight in the direction of the French embassy while a car bomb exploded metres away in Sanaa’s diplomatic quarter, a police source said early Monday.

“The two attacks happened after midnight. There were no victims,” the source said.

The shell fell by a concrete block, installed for security reasons on a road leading to the embassy, he added.

That blast came shortly after a car exploded on the nearby main road.

Meanwhile a German citizen kidnapped in the capital on Friday was being held in a tribal region of the eastern Marib province, a foreign ministry official said.

The Huthis seized the town of Huth and Khamri village — the seat of the Hashid tribal chief — as tribal defence lines crumbled, local sources and witnesses said.

The Huthis “completely took over the regions of Huth and Khamri,” rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told AFP by telephone.

“Members of Hashid backed by takfiris (Sunni extremists) have fled.”

Tribal chief sheikh Hussein al-Ahmar ordered his fighters to evacuate his family’s farm in Khamri and set it ablaze, witnesses said, adding that the tribesmen have retreated to neighbouring areas.

The witnesses saw dozens of horses and vehicles fleeing from the farm and said scores of tribesmen were captured by the advancing rebels.

The violence in Amran province dates back to Jan. 5, and dozens of people have been killed in the fighting, including 60 on Friday alone.

The capture of Khamri represents a severe blow to the powerful Ahmar clan, which leads the Hashid.

Divisions within the Hashid tribe could have contributed to the defeat, sources said, pointing out that some have sided with the Huthis.

The division is a result of an ongoing dispute between the Hashid chief sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who also belongs to the vast Hashid tribe.

Ahmar had sided with nationwide Arab Spring protests that forced Saleh to step down in February 2012 after 33 years in power.

In addition to taking on the northern tribes, the Shiite Huthis have also been battling hardline Sunni Salafists who established religious schools in parts of the north.

The Huthis have accused the Salafists of bringing foreign extremists into their region.

Local grievances fuel unrest

Mediators dispatched by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi have succeeded in brokering ceasefires in several areas, but some of the truces have broken down.

The Huthis, named after their late leader Abdel Malek al-Huthi, are part of the Zaidi Shiite community.

They rose up in 2004 against Saleh’s government, accusing it of marginalising them politically and economically.

Hadi has pledged that Yemen will adopt a federal constitution in a bid to address local grievances that have fuelled violence across the Arab world’s poorest country.

But at a ceremony last month to mark the conclusion of a troubled 10-month national dialogue, he put off any decision on the thorny issue of how many components it will have, promising that a special commission will decide.

The prospect of a federal Yemen, originally mooted as a way to address grievances of the formerly independent south, where secessionist violence has been rising, has spawned demands for autonomy elsewhere, including in the rebel-held far north.

In the southern province of Daleh on Sunday, authorities said they foiled a car bomb attack on the provincial governor’s offices.

Soldiers blew up the vehicle 200 yards from the building, a provincial official said, quoted by the Saba state news agency, blaming southern militants for the foiled attack using a car filled with explosives and shells.

In the hostage incident, a German man in his 60s was kidnapped Friday by a Yemeni man who is pressing authorities to release his two detained sons, the foreign ministry official said.

Hundreds of people have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesmen who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the government.

Nearly all have later been freed unharmed.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Gaza children with terminal illness spend their final years under the siege

(Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

Epidermolysis bullosa is an exotic name for what is, in its most severe form, unusual, painful and fatal disease. It is caused by a deficiency of the protein that binds the two skin layers together, creating friction, blisters and open, slow-healing wounds. These blisters and erosions occur Even on internal mucous membranes. The wounds are similar to third degree burns, and children – victims of its most severe form will rarely be older than that – are also more prone to skin cancer. A cure does not exist.

In Daniela Riva’s apartment in Gaza City is a party, with cakes and cordiality. Some of the affected children are there, along with some siblings and their mothers. It is a merry atmosphere. They are playing, and there is some strife about whose turn it is to bowl with a Wii video game. One of the girls after a long, fascinated look at my red beard and blue eyes, borrows my notebook and draws a big heart. It takes her some time to fill it in.

They are unusually short, and have red sores on their faces. Their bodies have to put much effort into heal the wounds, as much as possible, and keeping the symptoms of the disease in check. Those at the party look six or seven years old. In fact, they are about ten years old. And they move stiffly, mainly as a consequence of all the bandages they wear – bandage that keep a special kind of layer in place to prevent their clothes from sticking in their wounds and allow them to live reasonably normal lives without the pain that any contact otherwise will cause – but their movements would be strained even without these bandages. Their stiff skin makes them turn their bodies simultaneously with their heads, and their fingers are becoming more and more hunched and rigid.

R – let us call her that – is the most active during the party. She is ten years with a catching smile, although it reveals her effected teeth and gums, and with a small hand, most similar to a human claw, she tries to get her hair in order.Her eyes reflect a curiosity. She is everywhere in the room and can’t sit still. But her breathing is strained, her voice is mostly a hiss and it’s hard for her to make herself heard. The disease also attacks her windpipe and throat. It is likely that her death will be caused by suffocation.

(Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

R know she will die. She knows she lives in constant proximity to death. That’s why she refuses to sleep with white sheets – it’s white sheets in which dead bodies are buried – and on a few occasions, when she had a cold and was barely able to breathe at all, asked to call a few friends to say goodbye. One of those she dialed was Daniela.

Daniela came to Gaza for the first time in 2008 to work in water and sanitation for an Italian NGO. She did not return to Italy until 2011. However, she did not spend all her time in Gaza, but traveled back and forth to Israel and the West Bank via the crossing at Erez. During the “Operation Cast Lead” military offensive, she was in Jerusalem. And it was when she returned after the war that she first saw a child, a boy about ten years old, with what appeared to be third degree burns.

She contacted Dr. Majdy Naim, at the al-Shifa hospital, who introduced her to other affected families. Together they advertised in newspapers and radio stations, and thus registered all in the Gaza Strip with the rare disease. Many of the parents had been unaware that there were more victims, but with Daniela’s help, they have now formed an association where they can get support and advice from each other, and through the association they seek assistance worldwide.

Her involvement with these children led her to stop working for the NGO that brought her to Gaza. Instead she got in touch with another, Debra Italy. They were so interested in what Daniela had to say that they made contact with a hospital in Rome, and in December 2012, she was back in Gaza with specialized surgeons who dilated the childrens’ esophaguses so they can eat normally, a procedure that needs to be done more than once during their lives. They also brought the special fabric that allows the children to live more functional lives, a product that cannot be found in the area.

The last time Daniela returned to Gaza, she brought a bag of this fabric. But it was not without difficulty. She was stopped by customs at the Cairo airport, where they requesteded a certificate from the Egyptian ministry of health allowing her to bring in medical materials. Without it, she had to pay ten percent of the value, which was $ 600, money she was promised to get back when she crossed the border to Gaza with the unopened bag. Of course she did not receive any money back in Rafah. But she got the material in, and it is needed. The bandages need to be changed every two to three days, a procedure that takes more than two hours, and between ten and fifteen layers are needed to cover the wounds, costing $75 to $125. The stock she brought will last 5-6 months. After that, the families can only hope that Daniela or someone else will enter with more.

R has one year left to live. Daniela has a dream to take her to Italy to let surgeons there assess if it is feasible to perform one last surgery in her throat, and to give her a nice final trip. I ask no more about it, suspecting that what she calls a dream is what most of us call a will, and I have seen what her will can achieve. Instead, I ask how come she is so self-sacrificing and continues year after year. She is now 36 years old, an age when most people are focused on their families and careers. It was a coincidence that made her start to work with children who have this disease, and as she explains, it just feels right to do it. She does not need any more reason than that.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Al-Awda Village Evacuated by Israeli Troops

Israeli army forces have stormed and evacuated the village of Al-Awda, or “The Return”, that was established by Palestinian activists in the Jordan Valley area which is threatened with confiscation.

image: PNN


Khaled Ma’ali, one of the activists, told the Palestinian News Network that the Israeli army raided the village on Sunday, at midnight, and evacuated it.

Ma’ali said that Israeli army troops surrounded the village and prevented anyone, including journalists, from reaching the village. At midnight, the forces broke into the village and started evacuating it, he said, adding that six activists were arrested and transferred to Jericho, where they were then released.

He further stated that the village was launched on Saturday, at 5 PM, and was evacuated by the Israeli army on Sunday, at midnight.

The army forces removed the tent that was erected by around 20 activists.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Interview: Erekat says no Mideast peace progress at meeting with Kerry

RAMALLAH, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday that no tangible progress was made in the Mideast peace talks he held with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week.

Erekat, who is currently abroad, said in a telephone interview with Xinhua that “no specific date was set up for presenting a written draft of Kerry’s proposed framework peace agreement that should be signed with Israel.”

Last week, Erekat held a series of meetings in Washington with Kerry on how to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and on finding a mechanism for reaching a permanent peace agreement.

“So far, Kerry hasn’t yet presented anything official and we are still in the circle of consultations and debates of ideas,” said Erekat, adding Kerry “didn’t set up any date for his upcoming visit to the region to follow up the negotiations.”

Before meeting with Erekat, Kerry had also met in Washington with Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni.

The peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which were re-launched in late July after a three-year halt, were scheduled to last nine months. But so far, both sides declared no progress.

Erekat said that the Palestinian side is waiting for an official U.S. position in writing, noting deep problems with Israel, such as its opposition to the two-state principle, hampers the reaching of an agreement.

“Since the talks started in July, Israel announced around 10, 000 housing units to be built in the settlements, in addition to destroying 219 houses and killing more than 40 Palestinians,” said Erekat. “Such practices need an urgent international intervention. ”

Recently, Erekat also attended a seminar on the Mideast peace in Munich, Germany with U.S. envoy to the region Martin Indyk and the mediating Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair as well as Livni, who had a fierce debate with Erekat.

The Israeli negotiator accused the Palestinians for not having a serious desire for peace, while Erekat charged that Israel practiced racism against the Palestinians that was worse than what had happened in South Africa.

He told Xinhua on the sidelines of the seminar that he held talks with many foreign and Arab officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief.

“My talks with the officials focused on the requisites for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which have to respect the international law, the two-state principle based on pre-1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, and a fair solution to the refugee issue.”

Meanwhile, Erekat rejected the notion that the release of the last batch of Palestinian prisoners by Israel as stipulated by an earlier deal depends on whether the Palestinian authority signs the forthcoming U.S.-backed peace framework agreement.

“Israel must be committed to the release of the last group of prisoners,” said Erekat. “There are 30 out of the 104 prisoners that has to be released on time,” said Erekat. Since the beginning of the talks in July, Israel has released 78 of the 104.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Saudi jihadi fighters to face 3-20 years in jail

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of iran and Syria perform a parade near the border with Turkey.
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia ordered on Monday the punishment of citizens found guilty of fighting in conflicts outside the kingdom with imprisonment ranging between three to 20 years.

Members of extremist religious groups and anyone found guilty of providing “financial or morale support” for terrorist groups will also be subject to heavy punishm, according to a Royal Court statement carried by the State News Agency (SPA)

The kingdom’s ministries of interior, foreign affairs and justice have set up a joint committee to prepare a list of extremist groups that will be carefully monitored, according to SPA.

The decree comes after a new counterterrorism law went into effect in the kingdom Sunday.

Encouraged by influential preachers, many young Saudis have joined Syrian rebels and Islamist groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

A Saudi expert on Islamist movements told Al Arabiya News Channel last November that an estimated 600 Saudis have joined al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria.

Faris Bin Hizam said many Saudis are fighting on the ranks of the al-Qaeda affiliates: the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front.

But the Saudi fighters are only a small number if compared to other foreign nationalities fighting in Syria, Bin Hizam said.

He added that unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda has a strong presence, there is increased awareness amongst Saudis regarding the dangers of belonging to al-Qaeda, and a widely held belief that the Syrian revolution does not need more fighters.

Recently, there has been a growing campaign in Saudi Arabia against young Saudis joining the civil war in Syria. The Saudi government supports the moderate rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) with weapons and aid but has largely opposed radical and extremist rebel groups.

The new royal order will be effective after one month.

Saudi writer Khaled Mushaweh told Al Arabiya News Channel that this one month period is meant to give a chance for fighters abroad to return home.

Mushaweh said the fighters will have to return home through official channels and be in touch with the authorities, which will determine if they pose any threat to public order.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

PLO Presents Myths Surrounding Palestinian Incitement


In a fact sheet issued on Monday afternoon, the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organization expressed that the problem of incitement is an issue which is sadly not uncommon in situations of conflict.

Where it genuinely exists, it remains the firm conviction of the State of Palestine that incitement should be an issue that is addressed seriously by both parties. It should not be used a tool for propaganda purposes or to divert attention away from other matters.

Several studies by Palestinian, Israeli and international experts have concluded that the issue of Palestinian incitement is vastly exaggerated, and that incitement exists just as firmly on the Israeli side. If Israel feels it has genuine concerns about incitement, then Israeli PM Netanyahu should not hesitate to accept the resumption of the Tripartite Committee on Incitement. The greatest cause for concern for Palestine is that Israeli incitement, defined as the provocation of unlawful behavior, goes far beyond words in the case of Israel. This is a situation where one people is engaged in a belligerent and draconian occupation of another, which the Israeli government constantly attempts to justify to its own people and the rest of the world.

The PLO has therefore issued a statement concerning the myth surround the issue of Palestinian incitement, three important points of which are as follows:

1)  Israeli claims of incitement are a diverstionary tactic – if they were genuine, then Israeli would have accepted to resume the Tripartite Committee on Incitement.

2) Academic studies have shown that Israeli accusations of incitement are false, misleading, and/or exaggerated.

3) If incitement is really the issue that Israel wants to discuss, then official Israeli incitement must also be discussed.

Details and discussion concerning each of these points and the related concerns can be found by following this link: PLO Incitement Statement

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Netanyahu: Abbas’ refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state is ‘absurd’

PM urges those states who have ‘pressured Israel’ to similarly pressure the Palestinians, so that they understand the consequences of failed negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu / Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu / Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that it is “absurd” to expect a peace deal with the Palestinians without the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Speaking at a meeting of his Likud party, Netanyahu responded to remarks that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made in the New York Times, in which he reiterated his objection to recognizing Israel as the Jewish state, saying, “This is out of the question.”

Abbas argued that neither Jordan nor Egypt had been asked to do the same when they signed peace accords with Israel.

“The Palestinian Authority president was quoted as saying he is unwilling to recognize a Jewish state, when he knows that there won’t be an agreement without recognition of a [Jewish] national homeland,” Netanyahu told fellow Likud members.

Netanyahu said it is “absurd” to think that there would be an agreement in which “we recognize a national homeland for the Palestinian people and they won’t recognize a Jewish state.”

The prime minister urged the international players he said have “pressured Israel” to apply similar pressure on the Palestinian leadership so it understands “what the consequences will be for the Palestinians if there is no agreement.”

Netanyahu went on to reiterate, “No pressure will lead me to forgo the vital interests of the state of Israel – first and foremost the security of Israel’s citizens.”

Abbas, in the New York Times interview published Sunday, also called for an American-led NATO presence in a future Palestinian state.

The NATO mission Abbas said he proposed in talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would last indefinitely and include troop patrols throughout the West Bank and Gaza, at all checkpoints and within Jerusalem, according to the Times.

Abbas said Israeli military presence and settlements in the West Bank could be gradually removed for up to five years after a peace agreement is signed – a departure from the three years he had previously proposed.

Under Abbas’ plan, which the Times reported on six months into the current round of peace negotiations, Palestine would not have an army, only a police force.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

It’s Time to Save Lives and Stop ISIS by Obliterating Assad’s Airforce

Within the past forty-eight hours, Bashar Assad’s helicopter gunships and warplanes have unleashed yet more indiscriminate bombings on the city of Aleppo and the Damascus countryside, on a scale not seen since the German Blitz on London in WW2. The civilian death toll from air attacks just for the three days of February now stands at 111, more than double the number deaths from other sources.

While civilian opposition areas get battered by Assad’s barrel bombs on a daily basis, just as frequently  opposition towns are targeted by the homicidal suicide bombers of ISIS, a terrorist outfit so extreme, so deep into collusion with the regime, that even Al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Syria want nothing to do with it.

The “Geneva II Peace Talks” utterly failed to deliver on peace, and by the time of Geneva III,Geneva IV, Geneva XVI, ISIS will have taken control of those parts of Syria Assad has not turned into rubble. The times demand drastic action, if the world is to be spared a Syria divided between the extremism of the Assad regime, and the extremism of ISIS. For the sake of the country, the region and ultimately the world, Assad’s airforce must be obliterated down to the last aircraft and helicopter.

From May 2013 to the end of November, 1525 civilians lost their lives from air attacks. In the run-up to the Geneva II talks, the Assad regime drastically increased the scale of its indiscriminate use of barrel bombs on civilian targets. More civilians died from air bombings (a horrendous 1660) from the start of December 2013 to the 3rd of February, than the number that had been killed from air attacks in the previous seven months combined.

And no, Assad is not targeting fighters with these bombing raids, the victims have been overwhelmingly civilians. For a horrific description of a barrel bomb attack and its aftermath, it’s enough to read this report from Human Rights Watch, with special emphasis on this part;

Both witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they saw no armed opposition fighters among the wounded and that no armed opposition bases or checkpoints are near the roundabout

Obviously, Assad will not be satisfied until every building in the towns and cities in opposition to him have been reduced to rubble.

Although it must be mentioned that there have been areas spared the aerial onslaught; those under the control of ISIS.

Let’s be clear about something; there is no doubt whatsoever that far from fighting ISIS, the regime and this terrorist outfit are now in open collusion. ISIS have kidnapped leading journalists and activists. They have murdered commanders of more moderate units. They have even provided oil to the regime from Syrian oil fields they have taken over.

Three years ago, ISIS was almost finished as a force in the Levant. Then at the start of the revolution, Assad released from his prisons some of the most hardcore and vicious leaders of the movement, who then went on to reconstitute the organization. Now, ISIS controls a swath of territory stretching all along the Euphrates right up to the Turkish border, territory that the regime has never attacked with its forces. ISIS positions and buildings remain unscathed even as surrounding areas are utterly destroyed with artillery and air attacks.

And it’s not like ISIS HQs are hard to distinguish. On the contrary, the group makes its presence in the towns it controls very visible. For the first time in the history of warfare, an army brazenly and openly puts up big banners to indicate its headquarters. And just as incredibly, its supposed “opponent” does not make the slightest efforts to destroy said headquarters.

Far from fighting terrorism and extremism, Assad has been the single person most responsible for its resurgence in the Levant. ISIS serve as his ground troops in those regions Assad’s overstretched ground troops cannot reach. Nowhere is the collusion between ISIS and the regime clearer than in the Eastern province of Raqqa. The regime’s Division 17 had been under siege for close to a year, when last week ISIS expelled the more moderate rebels from the city and allowed the regime to resupply the base. ISIS prisons have been found to be filled with prisoners from more moderate brigades, and yet not hold a single regime soldier or mukhabarat agent.

In January 2014, the more moderate rebel brigades grouped up and turned on ISIS, managing to expel it from numerous towns and villages in the north of the country, and killing some of its top commanders. It was exactly when ISIS was most hard pressed that Assad unleashed his most barbaric air assaults on the towns ISIS had been pushed out of.

The Syrian Airforce today serves as the ISIS airforce. It hits the areas the regime cannot otherwise reach. Its purpose is not to carry out tactical strikes in support of military objectives; its purpose is to punish and terrorize those areas that have thrown off the yoke of both the regime and ISIS.

Obliterating Assad’s airforce will reduce his reach to only the areas his ground troops can hold. Denied airpower and the ability to resupply far flung bases, the most remote regime bases would collapse within weeks. Opposition areas not in close proximity to the front-lines could get the breathing space they need to establish civil administrations, to serve as refuges for the displaced who would otherwise have had to flee to other countries.Medical help, educational services, and other aspects of civilian life could be allowed to flourish in opposition areas.

Coming soon to a Western city near you,thanks to Assad's support.

Coming soon to a Western city near you,courtesy of Assad’s toleration and support (he is their number one oil client)

With a stable civilian underpinning at their back, the fighting brigades would be better positioned to hold off the regime while they finished off ISIS. With the space allowed by safe areas, a viable civilian administration and political movement could finally take root in the opposition areas, and serve as an alternative to the extremism of the Assad regime, and the savage nihilism of ISIS. For once, the country might have a chance at a political settlement.

Or, the alternative is the continuation of the current Obama administration’s policy of the vigorous, energetic and single minded pursuit of excuses to do shit all, which can only lead to a continuation and worsening of the current situation; the very worst of worse case scenarios. Neighboring countries saddled with millions of refugees in perpetuity, and a Syria split between the Assad regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Soon to Be Lebanon and Jordan and Southern Turkey and Cyprus and Beyond, a Syria with large parts dominated by the world’s very worst terrorist organization, with safe havens and bases with which to serve as magnets for every caliphate-obsessed Jihadi wannabe in the world.

For those who say the West has no dog in this fight, what will they do when ISIS commits its first atrocity in the West, planned from and trained for from their bases in Syria?

Maybe some entertain the crazy notions of the West actually throwing its weight behind Assad to fight ISIS. Forget it. Assad had three years and every advantage a tinpot dictator could dream of; superpower veto cover at the UN Security Council, artillery and airpower monopoly, unlimited and massive Iranian support and Hizbollah involvement, and a fractured and disorganized opposition, and yet after three years he is still nowhere near to winning this war. Support Assad? Assad can’t even put on his trousers in the morning without the assistance of his Iranian backers.

Destroy Assad’s airpower, and you destroy his ability to project his power beyond the lines he currently holds, and you destroy his ability to support and aid his ISIS allies in the east of the country. The moderate opposition can roll back ISIS, while a homegrown political movement can come into existence, and possibly offer the country a way out of its horrendous situation.

But first, Assad’s airforce has to be obliterated, down to the last plane and helicopter.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Israeli settlers uproot 1,500 olive trees in occupied West Bank

Palestinian Olive Farms

Olive harvest is a key component of the Palestinian economy

Israeli settlers have uprooted about 1,500 olive trees owned by Palestinians in two separate neighbourhoods in the occupied West Bank.

The chief of the settlement dossier in northern West Bank, Ghassan Daglass, told local Palestinian media that settlers uprooted 425 old olive trees from a farm owned by Mohamed abu-Awwad from the Al-Zahrat region in the village of Tarms’ya.

The second attack was by settlers from the Shilo Settlement near Nablus, who uprooted more than 1,000 olive trees in the village of Sanjal, which is located between Nablus and Ramallah. The olive trees were planted as part of a support project funded by the International Red Cross.

Daglass called upon all international organisations interested in protecting human rights to urgently intervene to stop settlers’ attacks against Palestinian farms and other properties. He said that settlers’ attacks occur on daily basis.

In January, the United Nations announced that the annual rate of settler attacks against Palestinians had almost quadrupled in the past eight years.

(Source / 03.02.2014)

Jordan Valley Resistance: Salt of the Earth

The Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee launched on Friday, January 31, the Melh Al-Ard (Salt of the Earth) campaign by reviving the village of Ein Hijleh, in the Jordan Valley.

image AIC: Ein Hijleh / Photo by Haitham Al Khatib
Ein Hijleh

The objective of the campaign is to reject Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley by reviving a Palestinian village on land belonging to the St. Gerassimos Monastery of the Orthodox Church. On Sunday, February 2, activists erected a second protest encampment, al-Awda (Return) near the Bisan checkpoint, in the northern Jordan Valley.

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) reports that Ein Hijleh village consists of a few deserted homes and palm trees, and is surrounded by lands taken and used by Israeli settlers. An Israeli military base separates the village from the Deir Hijleh monastery, which owns a property of about 1,000 dunams (247 acres), some of which were taken by Israeli forces.

“We, the daughters and sons of Palestine, announce today the revival of Ein Hijleh village as part of the Melh Al-Ard campaign in the Jordan Valley. The action aims at refusing the political status quo, especially given futile negotiations destroying the rights of our people for liberation and claim to their land,” the organizers said in a statement, on Friday.

They added that the village of Ein Hijleh was selected because it is under Israeli control in the Jordan Valley and that this action is one of resistance against Israeli occupation’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley.

(Source / 03.02.2014)