Security source: Rockets launched from Syria hit east Lebanon

A Lebanese woman walks past wreckage after an overnight aerial bombardment on Brital.

Five rockets launched from Syria hit a Hezbollah-dominated area of eastern Lebanon on Monday, causing no casualties, a security source told AFP.

“Five rockets launched from across the border with Syria hit the village of Brital (eastern Lebanon) and its surroundings,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Two of the rockets landed near Brital’s high school, and one near the municipality of nearby village al-Khudr. The two remaining rockets hit an area between the two villages, causing no injuries.

Jihadist groups frequently claim responsibility for cross-border rocket attacks on eastern Lebanon, which they say are in revenge for the intervention in Syria’s war of the Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

Hezbollah bastions in eastern Lebanon and southern Beirut have in recent months been the target of a string of bomb attacks, mostly suicide blasts, killing dozens of people.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

183 Palestinian children arrested by army, facing Israeli military courts in January

Israeli soldiers and police routinely detain and arrest Palestinian children.

A new report indicates that as of the end of January, 183 Palestinian children were arrested and detained by Israeli occupation soldiers and occupation police, and imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Of the 183 children, 20 are between the ages of 14 and 15 years old.

Defence for Children International – Palestine section (DCI-PS) added in its detention bulletin that 75 percent of Palestinian children detained during 2013 “endured physical violence during arrest and interrogation.”

DCI-PS documents specific case studies of Palestinian children being detained, arrested and violently abused by Israeli forces. In their bulletin, the rights group highlights the case of 16-year-old Salah S. from Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank:

In January, Israeli soldiers detained Salah S, 16, from Azzun, Qalqilya around 4:30 pm while he was with friends near a road used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Israeli soldiers held him overnight and transferred him to multiple locations over a 12-hour period, while subjecting him to physical violence and ill-treatment.

Salah was previously arrested in January 2013, then 15 years old, and spent 10 months at Megiddo prison inside Israel.

On January 1, Israeli forces arrested 16 residents from at-Tabaqa village, west of Hebron, in the West Bank, including nine Palestinian children, some as young as 13, on suspicion of stone throwing.

DCI-Palestine research shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent during an interrogation. In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.

Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years [old], are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.
The most common charge is for throwing stones. Currently, 41.5 percent of Palestinian child prisoners are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

UN: Renewed fighting halts Yarmouk aid deliveries

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on February 24, 2014 shows residents of Syria’s besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, being evacuated during an operation led by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.

Fighting in the Damascus district of Yarmouk have interrupted aid distribution to thousands of besieged Palestinian refugees, the United Nations said on Monday.

The clashes broke out on Sunday in Yarmouk, where 20,000 people have been trapped for months by Syria’s civil war and are dependent on humanitarian supplies delivered by UNRWA, the UN agency which supports Palestinian refugees.

A Palestinian group that supports President Bashar al-Assad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), blamed the fighting on al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

“Terrorist groups from the Nusra Front and their takfiri brothers… infiltrated Yarmouk Camp,” Hussam Arafat, a PFLP leader said in a statement on Sunday.

He added that the jihadist fighters have occupied a square in the center of the camp and that their presence threatens humanitarian efforts.

Al-Nusra confirmed that it has entered the camp. The fighting broke a fragile truce that has been in place since February 11 when non-Palestinian fighters agreed to leave the camp to allow aid workers to delivers crucial supplies.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the UN agency was unable to distribute food parcels in Yarmouk on Sunday and called on all sides in the conflict to immediately allow the resumption of the aid operation.

“UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the desperate humanitarian situation in Yarmouk and the fact that increasing tensions and resort to armed force have disrupted its efforts to alleviate the desperate plight of civilians,” he said.

Yarmouk is one of several besieged districts in Damascus and other cities. Most areas have been cut off by government forces who are trying to box in the rebels.

But insurgents are also surrounding pro-government towns in the northern province of Aleppo.

Local ceasefires in Yarmouk and other Damascus suburbs, as well as the central city of Homs, have allowed some civilians to escape and limited amounts of food to be taken in, but the deals are fragile and in some cases the sieges have resumed.

The United Nations Security Council called last month for the immediate lifting of all the sieges and demanded all sides allow access for humanitarian aid.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Crimean Tatars Ponder the Return of Russian Rule

KHOSHKELDI, Ukraine — In a narrow convenience store here in Khoshkeldi, a village of about 1,000 ethnic Tatars just outside the Crimean capital, shoppers came in one after another on Saturday, heads drooping, asking the disconsolate clerk if she had heard the latest.

“Who needs a war?” said one, Seit-Umerob Murat, 58, echoing a sentiment expressed by several other shoppers as Russian troops surged into the Crimean Peninsula. “We all have children, grandchildren, families to care for.”

He continued: “There’s no real chance of war; at least there shouldn’t be. It’s all being manufactured from above, where the big politics happens. We, people, don’t need war.”

“Our people are peaceful, but if they threaten us, our men will defend the community,” Mr. Murat said. “It is better to die here than leave again.”

The masked and unmarked gunmen who have occupied strategic locations throughout Simferopol, the Crimean capital, including at least two airports and the Parliament building, have spooked the Tatars, who make up 12 percent of the Crimean population and prefer Ukrainian sovereignty. Dozens of unarmed men gathered pre-emptively on Saturday outside the station of ATR TV, a Tatar broadcast network, stating their intention to defend it against any takeover attempts.

On Saturday at a hastily called news conference in Simferopol, Refat Chubarov, a Tatar leader, cautioned against taking any kind of action. But he made it clear that the occupation of government buildings, which forced the election of a new, pro-Russian prime minister for Crimea, was no accident. “These buildings were occupied by people specially trained for it,” wearing unidentifiable uniforms and carrying weapons, he said.

As they braced themselves to protect their homes, many Tatars said they could not fathom why the Ukrainian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, abandoned his post. Mr. Murat’s weather-worn face was etched with new worries as he pondered how Ukraine ended up in such a precarious position.

“Yanukovych was going back and forth while there was a scandal brewing,” Mr. Murat said. “If you’re in charge and things are falling apart at home, you must stay. If you have a fight with your wife, you cannot leave your home and children while there’s still chaos. You must resolve the problem.”

Turning toward a calendar with Islamic calligraphy hanging on the store wall, Mr. Murat expressed resignation. “No one has control of the situation now,” he said. “Every group is just looking out for themselves.”

Correction: March 2, 2014
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the number of decades that have passed since the Tatars were deported from Crimea. It is seven, not five.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Medics: Palestinian killed in Israel airstrike

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A young Palestinian man was killed and three others were injured Monday in an Israeli airstrike on al-Sikka street in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, medics said.

They told Ma’an that Musab Moussa al-Zaaneen, 21, was pronounced dead on arrival at Kamal Adwan hospital. The others were moderately and seriously injured.

The Israeli air force fired at least two missiles at a group of Palestinians, hitting them directly.

The Israeli military said the attack targeted a group preparing to launch rockets.

“The mission was carried out in order to eliminate an imminent attack targeting civilian communities of southern Israel,” the emailed statement said.

Army spokesman Peter Lerner added in the same statement that “IDF intelligence, operational capability and determination to eliminate a real time threat keeps Israelis safe in their homes. This is our obligation and commitment to the civilians in the south of Israel.”

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Israel “punishing” hunger-striking prisoners, say rights groups

Palestinian activists protest in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners outside Israel’s Ramleh prison in May 2012.

Israel is employing “punitive measures” against six Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike, according to a statement published by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), a Geneva-based human rights network.

Four of the men are being held in administrative detention, a draconian practice that allows the Israeli occupation authorities to detain Palestinians without charges on “secret evidence.” Akram Fasisi, Waheed Abu Maria and Muammar Banat have been on hunger strike since 9 January and Ameer Shammas started on 11 January.

According to Israeli Military Order 1651, Palestinians can be detained in administrative detention for up to six months without charges. In practice, however, military courts regularly rubber-stamp requests to renew the orders, effectively enabling Israel to detain Palestinians indefinitely without ever charging them.

The other two hunger strikers, who were both arrested in 2002, are long-term prisoners: Husam Omar is serving thirty years, and Musa Sufain was dealt a life-sentence. Both launched their strikes on 24 January to protest the Israel Prison Services’ excessive use of solitary confinement.

Horiffic treatment

OMTC expressed concern that Israeli authorities are punishing the strikers and “urge[d] the authorities to put an end to these practices.”

Before being hospitalized, Akram Fasisi and Muammar Banat were subjected to “punitive measures,” including having “been denied recreational hours in the yard, family visits, the ability to purchase basic supplies and goods from the prison canteen.” They have both also “been subject to frequent night raids and searches,” according to a press release issued last month by Addameer, a Ramallah-based prisoner advocacy group.

The group added that the two men had been held in solitary confinement since 20 September 2013, when they were placed in small cells under 24-hour surveillance.

Husam Omar and Musa Suifan have “also reported horrific treatment since the start of their strikes,” Addameer noted. Although both have been imprisoned for over a decade, they were interrogated for fifty consecutive days starting on 17 June 2013. Both were subsequently issued new charges.

Force-feeding

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is considering legislation that will allow authorities to force-feed hunger strikers. Noting that the bill was proposed by Israel’s justice ministry and endorsed by various security and intelligence agencies, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, a human rights group, declared in a July 2013 statement that it is “clearly designed to subdue prisoners.”

“This proposed bill is a reflection of the desperate situation Israel now finds itself in and it seems that force-feeding is the only way Israel can deal with the ongoing hunger strikes,” Addameer representative Gavan Kelly told The Electronic Intifada back in August 2013.

Growing resistance

Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups regularly describe Israeli prisons as rampant with human rights abuses.

“I am appalled by the continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons and I urge the government of Israel to respect its international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners,” Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied West Bank and Gaza, said in May 2012.

Yet in recent years Palestinian political prisoners have launched several successful individual and collective hunger strikes that resulted in their release or forced Israel to meet their demands.

In December 2013, Samer Issawi was released to his Jerusalem-area village. As part of an agreement that guaranteed his release, Issawi ended a 266-day hunger strike eight months prior.

Despite the growing resistance inside Israel’s prisons and the expansion of the Palestine solidarity movement across the globe, occupation forces continue to detain and arrest Palestinians across present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank on a daily basis.

According to Addameer’s latest statistics, there are now 5,023 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli lockup. From that total, 155 are administrative detainees, and another 154 are children. The UN estimates that some 750,000 Palestinians — including 23,000 women and 25,000 children — have been imprisoned by Israel since 1967.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Israeli Air Strike Kills Palestinian in Gaza

 

An Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip killed a Israeli AirstrikePalestinian and wounded three others on Monday, the local emergency services said.

Emergency services chief Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that Musaad Alzaneen, a man in his early 20s, was killed in the raid on farmland near the town of Beit Hanoun.

Tensions have risen in and around Gaza after a year of relative calm.

Monday’s incidents occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US President Barack Obama to discuss the future of the peace process with the Palestinians.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Gaza public workers say Hamas not paying salaries

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian civil servants called on the Gaza Strip’s Hamas government Monday to pay them full salaries, the clearest sign yet that Egypt’s blockade of the territory is making it increasingly difficult for the Islamic militants to govern.

The civil servants are considered Hamas sympathizers and their public complaints about not getting paid in full over the past four months reflect growing discontent in Gaza.

Still, there were no signs of open revolt against Hamas, which has kept a tight grip on Gaza and its 1.7 million people since the group overran the territory in 2007.

Both Israel and Egypt sharply restricted access to Gaza after the Hamas takeover, though Egypt for years looked the other way as cement, fuel and other goods, including weapons, were smuggled into Gaza through hundreds of tunnels running under the border with Egypt.

That changed last summer when Egypt destroyed or sealed virtually all of the tunnels. The crackdown came as part of the Egyptian military’s overthrow of then-ruler President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas is the Gaza offshoot of the regional Brotherhood, and Egypt’s military alleged Islamic militants infiltrating into Egypt from Gaza were destabilizing the country, particularly Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula, which abuts Gaza.

The closure of the tunnel has meant losses of millions of dollars in tax income for the Hamas government.

At the same time, Brotherhood sympathizers in the Arab world who used to send donations to Gaza have largely rerouted their money to other flashpoints, mainly the civil war in Syria.

In a third financial setback, Hamas fell out with longtime patron and financial supporter Iran in late 2011, after the Palestinian group refused to back Syrian President Bashar Assad, an Iran ally, in his battle against rebels, many of them with ties to the Brotherhood.

In a news conference Monday, the civil servants’ labor union said the Hamas government has only paid partial salaries to its 46,000 workers over the past four months. Ehab al-Nahal, a union chairman, said the civil servants understood the pressures Hamas faces but they are also struggling to get by and support their families.

“We fully understand the financial hardship experienced by the government under this unjust siege, but at the same time we deeply understand the suffering of the public sector employees who have lost decent life conditions due to the delays in getting paid and started facing hard times in providing the minimum necessities of life,” he said.

The Gaza finance minister, Ziad al-Zaza, said the government needs $45 million each month to pay wages and operating expenses, but currently only has $31 million available.

Al-Zaza played down the extent of the money crunch, saying that “we are facing hardship and not a crisis.”

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Libya vows democratic path after parliament attack

  • 09538840982537178.jpg

    Forces of the Military Council of Tripoli stand guard next to the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

TRIPOLI: Libyan authorities vowed Monday to pursue a democratic transition in the face of mounting lawlessness after two MPs were shot when protesters stormed the country’s transitional parliament.
The two General National Congress members were shot and wounded Sunday as armed protesters stormed their building in Tripoli. In separate violence, a French engineer was killed in the restive eastern city of Benghazi.
“I assure you we are committed to the path of the February 17 revolution and to pursue the democratic process,” GNC president Nuri Abu Sahmein said, referring to the uprising that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s four-decade rule.
Speaking on television, Abu Sahmein said the attack was a “flagrant aggression on the seat of legitimate sovereignty,” and urged former rebels who ousted Qaddafi to protect state institutions.
On Monday, ex-rebels equipped with pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns were posted around the GNC building, where at least five burnt-out cars testified to the previous day’s violence.
Abu Sahmein said the GNC — Libya’s highest political authority — was examining a roadmap for the handover of power “as quickly as possible” to an elected body.
The GNC was elected in July 2012 to an 18-month mandate but it stirred popular anger by extending from early February until end of December.
Under pressure from demonstrators, it later announced early elections but gave no date for the vote.
The head of an elected panel tasked with preparing elections, Nuri Al-Abbar, resigned his post Sunday saying Libya had to “end political tensions and restore order” before holding polls.
Libya’s political class is deeply divided, and GNC members are still demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, although they have failed to oust him in a vote of confidence.
Dozens of armed demonstrators on Sunday demanded the GNC be dissolved and railed against the “kidnapping” the previous night of participants in a sit-in protest outside the parliament building.
They later attacked and “abused” deputies, GNC spokesman Omar Hmidan said.
One GNC member told AFP that the protesters, mostly young people armed with knives and sticks, entered the premises chanting “Resign, resign.”
Two members were “hit by bullets when they tried to leave the venue in their cars,” said Abu Sahmein.
For security reasons, the GNC met Monday in a Tripoli luxury hotel to discuss the previous day’s incidents, a deputy said.

(Source / 03.03.2014)

Israeli forces arrest 14 Palestinians in WB raids

Occupied West Bank, ALRAY – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Monday at dawn 14 Palestinians from different districts in the West Bank.

Media local sources reported that the Israeli troops stormed Madama village in Nablus after midnight and arrested six youths after raiding their houses.

Palestinian sources announced names of the detainees as: Asad Qet,23, Ahmed Nassar,17, Sari Faraj,23, Mohammed al-Qet,17, Hashem Nassar,17,  and Thaer Nassar,18.

They also raided several cities of the West Bank  and detained four Palestinians from Hebron, two from Tulkarm and two others from Ramallah.

The Israeli occupation claimed that the detainees are wanted to the Israeli intelligence service, according to Israeli media sources.

The IOF raids several cities in the West Bank on a daily basis and carries out arrest campaigns turning a deaf ear to the international law and Human rights conventions.

(Source / 03.03.2014)