Egypt panel mostly blames Mursi supporters for deaths in protest break-up

 

A poster of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is pictured on barbed wires during a protest by his supporters at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo November 15, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A poster of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is pictured on barbed wires during a protest by his supporters at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo November 15, 2013.

(Reuters) – A government-appointed panel said on Wednesday that the deaths of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters at a protest camp in Cairo last August was mostly the fault of demonstrators who had provoked the security forces into opening fire.

It found that 632 people were killed, 624 of them civilians in one of the bloodiest days in Egypt’s modern history.

But the protesters had brought it upon themselves as armed men within their ranks had shot first at the security forces and also used civilians as human shields, it said.

The findings mainly echoed the military-backed government’s version of events. But in an unusual move, the panel also placed some responsibility for the bloodshed on the security forces and said they had used disproptionate force.

The mass killings took place when the security forces moved to dismantle the protest camps set up by supporters of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who was overthrown by the army six weeks earlier after demonstrations against his rule.

Security forces then mounted a harsh crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The commission’s findings, announced at a news conference on Wednesday, were the most detailed official account of the dispersal of Brotherhood supporters who had camped around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in northeast Cairo for weeks – a flashpoint in the struggle between the Islamist movement and the new army-backed government.

During a weeks-long standoff, international mediators tried to persuade the government to avoid using force in Rabaa and escalating a political crisis. But hardliners prevailed.

Security forces, including snipers, stormed the camps on August 14, firing live ammunition under the cover of army helicopters. Bulldozers tore down tents which were set ablaze, witnesses said.

Protesters who survived the onslaught said police fired tear gas at children before shooting bullets at demonstrators attempting to flee.

The government called for an investigation after rights groups pressured authorities to set up a fact-finding committee as a first step towards accountability for the killings.

MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTERS

The panel said that in addition to the 632 deaths at Rabaa, 686 protesters were killed in clashes across Egypt in the three days following the violence in Cairo.

But its presentation focused on what it called violations by the pro-Mursi protesters. Panel member Nasser Amin accused the Mursi supporters of detaining and torturing civilians at the protest camps.

He said some protesters also carried arms and shot at security forces, causing them to fire back.

But most of the protesters were peaceful and some had been used as human shields by the gunmen, he said.

Amin also said security forces had contributed to the bloodshed. They had failed to secure safe passage for protesters after clashes erupted and did not give them enough time to flee.

The 25 minutes between warnings on loudspeakers and the assault by the security forces “was not enough for thousands of protesters to leave,” he said.

Protesters were deprived of life-saving aid because ambulances were not able to access the conflict area, he said.

And contradicting past official accounts, Amin said security forces did not maintain proportional use of force when confronted with heavy gunfire from protesters.

The Interior Ministry has said that authorities did not use excessive force to scatter the camps and that Mursi’s supporters fired first.

Rabaa has become a symbol of the suppression of the Brotherhood, which has largely been driven underground since then. The government has declared it a terrorist group, arresting thousands of its members and putting Mursi and other leaders on trial.

The Brotherhood had won the vast majority of elections since after a popular uprising backed by the army toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

Prisoner, on hunger strike, suffers severe bleeding in stomach

the prisoner Akram al-Fassisi

the prisoner Akram al-Fassisi

Gaza , ALRAY – Family of prisoner Akram al-Fassisi said their son is suffering severe bleeding in stomach.

Al-Fassisi, from the West bank city of Hebron, has stayed  at Hospital of Kaplan in (Israel) for two weeks.

Yusof, al-Fassisi’s brother, said to The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights that his brother had declared and been on hunger strike since January 09, 2014, in spite of deterioration of his health. He sent a letter requesting nothing but a cerement.

For his part, Head of The Ahrar Center said that eight Palestinian prisoners are still on hunger strike who are: Muammar Banat, Akram al-Fassisi, Waheed Abu Maria,Ameer al-Shammas, Ahmed Abu Ras, Adel al-Saqsaq, KifahHattab, and Aymanetbaish.

He confirmed that most prisoners who are on hunger strike for long period have been transferred to hospital and banned from family’s visits,  pointing out that there is continued deterioration of their health conditions.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

Palestinian poet ‘Abu Arab’ dies at 83

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian poet Ibrahim Mohammad Saleh died on Sunday after a long fight with illness.

His grandson, Ayham Matar, told Ma’an that Saleh, who is commonly known as Abu Arab, died in his house in Homs on Sunday afternoon.

Abu Arab, deemed “the poet of the Palestinian revolution,” was born in al-Shajara village near Tiberia in mandate Palestine in 1931.

He lived in a number of refugee camps in Arab states, before ending up in Syria.

Shajara formed his first band which consisted of 14 singers in Jordan in 1980.

His father was killed while fighting Israeli forces in 1948, while his son was killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

60% of W.Bank under Israeli control: Study

RAMALLAH: Two decades after peace efforts began, more than 60 per cent of the West Bank remains under sole Israeli control, and the fate of this territory is a key point of contention in US-led Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The division of the West Bank into islands of Palestinian self-rule and areas under full Israel control was devised as part of interim peace agreements in the 1990s and meant to be temporary, but has remained in place for lack of a final peace deal.

This glance includes new figures published on Wednesday by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which conducted an extensive survey of Palestinian communities in the territory under full Israeli control, known as Area C.

Palestinians in Area C: 297,900, or nearly double an estimate from several years ago previously used by the UN Palestinians in Areas A and B, which are under limited Palestinian self-rule: 2.1 million.

Israeli settlers in Area C: some 350,000.

Palestinian towns, villages and hamlets that are fully or partially in Area C: 532.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank sanctioned by the government: about 120.

Israeli settlement outposts not formally authorised but backed by the state: about 100.

Seventy per cent of Area C is allocated for the use of Israeli settlements or the Israeli military, the UN says.

In the rest, Palestinian construction, while theoretically possible, is heavily restricted.

Palestinian self-rule areas cover about 38 per cent of the West Bank.

Work in Israel and Israeli settlements: 24 per cent.

Work for the Palestinian self-rule government: 23 per cent.

Local services: 19 per cent.

Farming and herding: 34 per cent.

Palestinians in Area C requested 444 building permits from Israel in 2010.

Of those, four were granted, according to the Israeli group Bimkom, which advocates for equal planning rights for Palestinians. In Israel’s West Bank settlements, work began last year on 2,534 apartments, compared to 1,133 in 2012, or an increase of 123 per cent.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

Three, Including Minor, Kidnapped from West Bank and Jerusalem

The Israeli army, on Wednesday, abducted two people from the West Bank city of Hebron, including a minor, in addition to a youth from the Jerusalem area, according to local sources.

image: Wiki Commons

In Hebron, army forces took 14-year-old Shehda Salaymeh, after raiding and searching his house in the old city of Hebron, tampering with its contents, WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency reports.

The army also abducted a 22-year-old university student from al-Sheikh quarter, in Hebron, after searching his house and seizing his personal mobile phones and laptop.

Meanwhile, forces have set up flying military checkpoints in several neighborhoods in the city, and at the entrances of several towns and villages, stopping cars and checking the drivers’ identity cards, causing a traffic jam.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

Egyptian lawyer to file lawsuit demanding the banning of Israeli activities in Egyp

Ilan Chaim GrabelUS-born Ilan Chaim Grabel are amongst the Israeli spy’s arrested in Egypt in June 2013

Hamid Seddik, an Egyptian legal expert, said in a press statement that he would file a lawsuit at the Court of Urgent Matters, which banned Hamas this week, demanding the banning of all Israeli activities in Egypt and closing down its embassy.

On Tuesday, the same court issued a verdict banning all Hamas activities in Egypt, and closing down its headquarters.

“If the Court of Urgent Matters declines the lawsuit, I will submit it to the Administrative Court,” Seddik said.

He pointed out that he will cite Israel’s “espionage” activities against Egypt, including the latest case involving Israeli spies.

The Egyptian Higher State Security Prosecution announced on February 2 the referral of an “Israeli espionage network” to court. The network, according to the prosecution’s statement, is made up of 3 Egyptians, two Israelis, and four officers affiliated with the Israeli Military Intelligence apparatus. All Israeli defendants are at large.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

Egypt bars Gaza-bound Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Maguire

 

Mairead Maguire, lauréate du Prix Nobel de la paix en 1976, le 21 octobre 2013 à Varsovie

Egypt detained and deported Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and peace activist Mairead Maguire on Wednesday after she tried to enter on her way to neighbouring Gaza, she and airport officials said.

Maguire had intended to join a delegation of women activists going to the blockaded Palestinian enclave on Thursday.

The group could embarrass Egypt’s military-installed government, which is at odds with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, yet does not want to be seen as party to a siege of Palestinians.

On Tuesday, airport police detained and deported American anti-war activist Medea Benjamin, also part of the delegation. She told AFP her arm was broken by the policemen.

Maguire said she arrived at Cairo airport with fellow activist Ann Patterson on Tuesday night.

“We were taken to the detention centre and questioned and held for eight hours, and were told we would not be allowed entry into Cairo and would be put on a plane,” she told AFP by telephone from Britain.

She said the police were “polite” but offered her no reason for barring her, but an airport official told AFP she had been blacklisted.

Maguire, born in 1944, won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize with Betty Williams for founding a peace group to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.

She has become a vocal supporter of the Palestinians and was expelled from Israel in 2010, after trying to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip aboard a ship with other activists.

The delegation of activists that will try to enter Gaza through the Egyptian Rafah border crossing is led by Djamila Bouhired, an icon of the Algerian war of independence from France.

She is due to arrive at Cairo airport at 1800 GMT aboard a flight from Paris, and it was not immediately clear whether she would be allowed into the country.

Egypt controls the only border crossing with Gaza that bypasses Israel, and is accused of colluding with Israel to blockade the territory ruled by the militant Islamist group Hamas.

-Complying ‘with blockade’-

The border crossing is opened irregularly.

“I think it’s sad, what they’ve done,” Maguire said of the reception she and the other activists received in Egypt.

“It is an example and confirmation of the Egyptian government’s compliance with the blockade of Gaza.”

One of the delegation’s organisers told AFP that some activists have been allowed in to Cairo, while several others have been held up at the airport.

In 2006, a year after Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza, militants abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, and the Jewish state slapped a blockade on the enclave.

It tightened the blockade in 2007 when Hamas, which says it seeks the destruction of Israel, seized control of Gaza after routing forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Egypt refuses to recognise Hamas’s authority in Gaza and only infrequently allows some aid through the Rafah crossing.

Cairo says the crossing is meant for people, not goods, and a 2005 agreement between Israel and the Palestinians stipulates that Abbas’s forces should be present at the passage.

Pro-Palestinian activists from abroad protested in Cairo in 2010 when they were prevented from entering Gaza.

The government of then president Hosni Mubarak eventually allowed some of the activists to cross.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

Abbas perfects his capitulation to Israeli demands

By Ramona Wadi                         ©                         (Source / 05.03.2014)

Reports in the Jerusalem Post about Mahmoud Abbas’s latest discourse portrays his capitulation to Israeli demands, even as the PA President reiterates his remote threat to resort to international organisations for recognition of a Palestinian state. The perfunctory statements are countered by Abbas’s own open mockery of the Palestinian right of return, imprisoning Palestinian unity within the ramifications of Israel’s settler-colonial occupation.

Abbas declared that in order to agree upon an extension of the current negotiations, Israel’s prime minister should agree upon the release of more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and the freezing of settlement construction. Having bargained with the dignity of Palestinian political prisoners at the start of the negotiations, it seems as if Abbas is willing to replicate such conditional freedom by utilising the prisoners’ plight cynically in order to avoid a thorough insistence upon the legitimate right of return. This coincides with the reluctance to move beyond a discussion of the 1967 borders to challenge the legitimacy of Israel’s settler-colonial state and its creation in 1948.

The right of return for 5 million Palestinians is “a joke”, according to Abbas. Ensuring the continuation of the trauma of exile takes precedence as far as he is concerned, in order to safeguard Israel’s alleged right to exist. “I do not want to destroy Israel and no refugee will return to Israel without Israel’s consent,” he said. “I expect Israel to set quotas for the numbers of refugees it will absorb each year.”

The statement is indicative of the historical complicity already endorsed by the United Nations, when it recognised the existence of Israel provided that the illegal settler-colonial state upheld its presumed “obligations” towards the Palestinians. The resolution may be interpreted as proof of Palestinians’ legitimate rights although Israel was also, hypocritically, absolved of responsibility for their plight through the undeserved recognition bestowed by the imperialist international organisation.

Abbas’s statements uphold the illegal recognition and support of the settler-colonial state. Discourse pertaining to the right of return for Palestinians is flawed within the mismanaged framework articulated by Abbas, primarily because any discussion of the right to return is associated with living in Israel, which is tantamount to denying the historical memory of the Nakba. Israel will deny the Palestinian right of return permanently in order to safeguard its fabricated history. In assimilating to Zionist discourse, Abbas is aiding the dominant narrative to obscure the essence of Palestinian resistance, which includes a legitimate return to a future decolonised land.

If Abbas is willing to humiliate Palestinians with regard to the reclamation of their land and history, any attempt to garner international recognition will remain compromised by his insistence on protecting Israel’s expansionist policies at the expense of Palestinian rights to history and memory. International recognition of a fragmented Palestinian state will not ensure protection, since allegiance has already been assigned to Israel. The Palestinian right of return should be discussed within the context of the dismantling of the settler-colonial state, an unlikely scenario given the complicity which the PA insists upon elaborating to Palestinians in repeated attempts to demean decades of struggle.

Hamas denies Israel claims of Iran weapons shipment

An Israeli navy vessel is pictured off the country’s northern coast on April 25, 2013
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel claimed that it intercepted a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday carrying Iranian “advanced weaponry” bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, the military said.

Hamas leaders denied the accusations, pointing out that Gaza is under a complete naval blockade by Israel that would make any shipment of arms into the besieged coastal enclave impossible.

Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman Islam Shahwan said in a statement that Israeli claims were a “dangerous move” to justify Israel’s seven-year long blockade.

Shahwan urged journalists to avoid “being tricked by the Israeli narrative about capturing a ship carrying weapons to Gaza,” adding that “the sea is completely besieged and closed by the Israeli navy, and any ship which sails will be obstructed.”

Israel, which has long accused Iran and Syria of providing military aid to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, said the ship was carrying “advanced weaponry,” including rockets “capable of striking anywhere in Israel.”

The military said the Syrian-made weapons aboard the “Klos-C” were shipped overland to Iran and then onward towards Gaza by sea before being intercepted between Sudan and Eritrea.

“Dozens of surface-to-surface M302 Syrian-manufactured rockets were found (aboard),” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters, adding that the crew of the ship had “fully cooperated.”

“We know for a fact the Iranians are behind this shipment,” Lerner said. “We’ve been following this for several months.”

The military said in an earlier statement it had “prevented an attempt to smuggle an Iranian shipment of advanced weaponry intended for terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.”

The military spokesman’s office tweeted that the rockets were “capable of striking anywhere in Israel.”

A rocket is seen on a ship seized by the Israeli navy in the Red Sea in this handout picture released by the Israeli military on March 5, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation proved that Iran was playing a double-game with the international community, conducting talks on its controversial nuclear program while supporting “terrorism.”

“This clandestine operation was conducted by Iran. While Iran is conducting these talks, smiling to the international community, it continues to arm terrorist groups, continues to perpetrate terrorism around the world,” Netanyahu, who is currently in the United States, said in a video statement.

Militants in the Gaza Strip, which is governed by Hamas, have fired dozens of rockets at Israel since the beginning of the year, all of which have landed harmlessly in Israel.

Israel, meanwhile, has launched numerous air strikes on the Gaza Strip and soldiers have repeatedly opened fire on protesters near the border, killing at least eight people since the beginning of the year and injuring dozens.

The ship interception came just hours after the Israeli army claimed to have struck two Hezbollah fighters as they tried to plant a bomb near the Israeli-Syrian frontier.

It also came just over a week after Israel reportedly bombarded Hezbollah positions inside Lebanon for the first time since the 2006 war, prompting a threat of retaliation.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

These have been particularly severe given frequently Israeli military assaults, particularly in 2008-9 and 2012, which killed around 1,400 and 170 Gazans respectively and led to major infrastructural damage.

(Source / 05.03.2014)

NEW UN REPORT CONFIRMS THAT CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN 2 FATAL INCIDENTS LAST YEAR “CAME FROM SYRIAN ARMY STOCKPILES”

By Peter Clifford                 ©              (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)

 

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

 

In a new report issued today, Wednesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, chaired by Paulo Pinheiro, going further than it has before, has said that chemical weapons used to kill hundreds of people in 2 incidents last year came from Syrian Army stockpiles.

Without categorically saying which side was to blame, investigators say in the report that, “The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.”

http://www.petercliffordnline.com/syria-news

Distressing Pictures of Victims of Gas Attack August 21st 2013

The August 21st incident occurred in Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital and simultaneously at several other Opposition-held areas causing the death of mostly civilians, including many women and children.

About another earlier incident on March 19th, which the Assad regime blamed on “terrorists”, the report says that “the chemical agents used in that attack bore the same unique hallmarks as those used in al-Ghouta.”

Ake Sellstrom, the United Nations’s chief investigator, who led a team of inspectors in Syria, said in January it was “difficult to see” how the Opposition could have weaponised the toxins used.

The same report also went on to accuse the Syrian Government of employing “siege warfare, instrumentalizing basic human needs for water, food, shelter and medical care as part of its military strategy,” forcing victims to choose between surrender and starvation – a “starvation until submission campaign.”

The Commission additionally noted the Syrian Government’s “widespread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance as crimes against humanity,” as well as recording abuses by Opposition groups, notably the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS), particularly on the citizens of Raqqah where civilians were subjected to “severe physical or mental pain or suffering”.

The Commission has never gained direct access to Syria, relying on more than 2,600 interviews in the region and from Geneva, most of them conducted over Skype.

The Commissioners have also drawn up a confidential list of people and groups it believes should be held accountable and called on the UN Security Council to refer their reports to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague for prosecution.

On the disposal of chemical weapons front, with 3 deliveries expected at the port of Latakia by the end of this week, the Syrian regime will have disposed of around 35% of its chemical weapons stock, although the destruction programme is now well behind schedule.

Syria was to have shipped out all of the most dangerous Category 1 chemicals by December 31st 2013 and Category 2 chemicals by February 5th 2014, but is well behind target, now proposing a new date in April. All of the chemical weapons were meant to have been destroyed completely by the end of June 2014.

However, while an international fleet of ships waits offshore to transport and destroy the chemicals, the Syrian Government has apparently destroyed 93 percent of its stocks of isopropanol, used to make sarin nerve gas, a task that was supposed to have been 100% completed by March 1st. The remaining balance is “currently inaccessible for security reasons”.