Who poisoned Arafat is the question as dirty linen is washed in public

 

Yasser ArafatThe poor Palestinian people have sacrificed thousands of martyrs, trusted such leaders and gave their sons to them believing that they were honourable men who would lead them to victory and restore their violated rights.

It is unfortunate that the Palestinian cause is being let down these days by the shameful war of words between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his “opponent”, Colonel Mohammad Dahlan. The two are competing to “expose” each other and reveal implicitly and explicitly the evidence that the other was involved in the assassination of the late Yasser Arafat by poisoning him.It is shameful and embarrassing to watch the exchange of accusations of corruption, looting public money, killing the fighters, spying for the Israelis, plotting and facilitating operations carried out by the Israelis to liquidate the resistance.

The Palestinians have become a joke in the eyes of many Arabs who have followed this disgusting performance as it played out by the lead protagonists. It is for such leaders that thousands of Arabs have been martyred, fought fierce battles against Israel, and lost their land, lives, and wealth for their country.

I do not know how Mahmoud Abbas, one of the historic leaders of the Fatah movement, could stoop so low as to devote over an hour to talk about his battle with Dahlan, giving evidence of his involvement in Arafat’s murder. What position does Dahlan even hold for him to be considered an opponent to the president? How can the Fatah movement, full of honourable men, accept this scandal and remain silent about it? And why mention all of these facts now, nine years after Arafat’s assassination? Isn’t it a shame that the Palestinians have basically acquitted Israel of the charges proven by international laboratory tests which show that the poison used to kill Arafat is only owned by two countries in the world, the United States and Russia?

Isn’t it a shame for us to get caught up with the tools used for the crime and neglect the real criminals who guided and supplied them with the poison and then ordered them to kill their leader because he refused to concede Jerusalem, the right of return, and all the national principles?

Colonel Dahlan’s record is known by every Palestinian, but wasn’t Dahlan an ally of Abbas and his supporter? Didn’t they plot together to oust Arafat, take away all his powers and cut him off financially? And didn’t they coordinate with the Americans and Israelis to marginalise the then Palestinian president because he wasn’t considered a good partner in the peace process as he was “guilty” of inflaming the second Intifada and refused to sign away his values and national cause during the Camp David Summit?

After listening to the accusations exchanged between Abbas and Dahlan regarding the poisoning of Yasser Arafat, the Israelis must be euphoric. They can now point their fingers at the entire world and all the research centres in Switzerland who accused them of the deed, making them scapegoats for the Palestinian wolves who are tearing each other apart in public.

Personally, I do not know where to hide my face in shame, having appeared on the popular BBC television show “Dateline” and confirmed that Israel killed Arafat; a famous British Jewish writer challenged me and asked if Arafat had some Palestinian opponents who wanted to get rid of him in light of their struggles to succeed him. I replied in the affirmative, but asked in response where these opponents could get the radiative polonium deemed to be the poison that killed Arafat. Did they produce it in their advanced nuclear reactor in the impoverished refugee camps in Gaza, I asked him, or the run-down Balata refugee camp in Nablus, or Um Dheisheh camp in Bethlehem, near Ramallah?

The poor Palestinian people have sacrificed thousands of martyrs, trusted such leaders and gave their sons to them believing that they were honourable men who would lead them to victory and restore their violated rights.

I wanted to conclude this article by calling for the formation of a Palestinian committee to investigate this crime, but I changed my mind; there is no need for such a committee, because both sides are convicting one another and providing the evidence. In any case, who would we call on to form this committee; who would be the members, who will chair it; the PA or their judges? Or will it be the members of the PA’s central committee who have remained silent about these crimes for years and have hidden the evidence and proof out of fear of losing their power and privileges and to keep their positions and titles.

The PA has made no effort to investigate the circumstances of the death of its leader and founder, and prevented all those who even approached the issue by threatening them with severe punishment; they know very well who the murderer and the tools are.

We apologise to all our Arab brothers for these fools and their actions, and we tell them that we have failed and were unable to contain them or punish them for their crimes. However, we stress that the Palestinian people are innocent and have disowned their “leaders” and their actions; they are pure, persevering and patient people who spare no expense when it comes to their nation, cause and blood; they are a model of honour and pride in their cause and all who serve and give their lives for it.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

Egypt’s human rights situation is going from ugly to uglier

And it’s happening while the Obama administration is considering issuing a national security waiver to provide more weapons and cash to the country’s military rulers.

Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi are detained during clashes with riot police in Cairo, Oct. 6, 2013. Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists has jailed 16,000 people over the past eight months in the country’s biggest round-up in nearly two decades.

Egypt‘s deteriorating human rights situation in the past three years has had something of a boiled frog effect to it – things have gotten worse just gradually enough that the country’s unfolding problems have been pushed to the margins.

ut the severe abuses meted out to Egyptian citizens are crushing any hopes of a pluralistic, truly democratic society any time soon. And by “soon” think at least a decade.

Too pessimistic? Perhaps. But consider the ramifications of jails filled with 16,000 political activists; torture in detention centers and police stations reported to be growing more prevalent, not less so; and the taboo broken last August when the military attacked a Muslim Brotherhood protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawey square. The group has since been outlawed. And while it’s true that the group’s supporters are bearing the brunt of the crackdown, it goes much wider.

Meanwhile the US is considering a resumption of full military aid to Egypt, including delayed Apache attack helicopters the country’s military rulers say they need to fight Islamist militants in the troubled Sinai peninsula. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Appropriations Committee that the US would like to resume full aid but that he has some reservations.

“We want this interim transitional government to succeed. We are committed to try to help make that happen, but they need to help us to help them at the same time by implementing some of the reforms that we’ve been talking with them about with respect to inclusivity, journalists, some of the arrests and so forth,” he said, adding that the Obama administrationwould decide “soon” on arms transfers.

But whether Egypt’s presidential elections go ahead (they’ve been promised to be finished by some time before July) and whether they’re relatively fair (which seems unlikely given that so many political activists are in jail) the fact is that Egypt is moving backwards on basic human rights. And the US, which often trumpets human rights abroad, is stuck in yet another situation where its hypocrisy erodes whatever moral standing it has to criticize the rights records of governments it opposes.

It’s hard to see the massacre at Rabaa, with at least 900 Egyptian citizens killed by security forces, as anything but deliberately designed to send a message that state terror was back, with a vengeance.

Here’s how the Global Post, which ran a lengthy and highly useful reconstruction of the events of Aug. 14 at the end of February, describes the event.

This GlobalPost reconstruction — based on eyewitness interviews, visits to the scene, first-hand observation on Aug. 14, and an examination of video and photographic evidence — shows that thousands of peaceful demonstrators were trapped inside the camp as security forces mounted often indiscriminate attacks on the crowds.

… More than 100 demonstrators died during a police attack on the site on July 8 and clashes around its fringes on July 27, hardening their resolve to fight against the authorities. Afterward, their numbers swelled.

… The demonstrators were mostly unarmed. A small group of men launched a fight back with a limited supply of guns, as well as Molotov cocktails and stones, from an unfinished building on the camp’s southern flank, and in response, police unleashed lethal and indiscriminate force on the sit-in as a whole. It is unclear who fired the first shots. But evidence gathered by GlobalPost indicates that security forces disproportionately deployed live ammunition against protesters rather than tear gas, water cannons, or other standard crowd-clearing tools.

Human Rights Watch’s own review of events that day found no justification for the massive use of deadly force by the Egyptian state and called the massacre “the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.”

Consider that for a moment. Egypt’s monarchy was overthrown in a free officers coup, it fought a bloody counterinsurgency campaign against Al Qaeda-style militants in the 1980s and 1990s, and has been ruled by military-backed dictators for over 40 years. During that time, there have been plenty of abuses – a crucial spark for the Jan. 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak was the torture and murder by police of a young businessman in Alexandria – but nothing on this scale.

And public spectacles of violence have a way of effecting societies far beyond those immediately touched by tragedy. Just consider how the shooting of four unarmed protesters against the expansion of the Vietnam war into Cambodia at Kent State in May 1970 resonated in US politics for decades. A photo of a distraught young women grieving over the body of one of the dead won thePulitzer prize, Neil Young composed his classic “Ohio” about the shootings a few weeks later, and campus protests in response paralyzed colleges and universities across the country.

To this day, Kent State is remembered as the high point of a heavily polarized and dangerous moment in American political life, where seething anti-war youth confronted a paranoid government and the whiff of revolution hung in the air. All in a functioning democracy with a culture of respect for the rule of law dating back 200 years.

Now consider Rabaa, a profoundly damaging episode for Egypt. Issandr El Amrani, the Egypt andNorth Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group, told a recent panel at Harvard that the level of distrust towards the government among Muslim Brotherhood officials and supporters is the lowest he’s ever seen it. He sees no chance for any kind of political reconciliation anytime soon.

The Associated Press, citing data provided by officials at Egypt’s Interior Ministry and the military, reports that among the 16,000 people current in detention for political activity about 3,000 are mid-ranking or senior Brotherhood officials.

While the interim military government, headed by Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, wants to erase the group’s political influence, political Islam as a force in Egypt has proven resilient over decades of state repression, and millions of Brotherhood supporters aren’t just going to disappear. While many millions of Egyptians are delighted with the current state of affairs – Sissi is widely expected to run for president and win – a recipe for prolonged conflict has been stirred.

The military and the courts behave with outright contempt for the principles of democracy. Just today a reporter for a newspaper controlled by the Brotherhood was sentenced to a year of hard labor for the crime of campaigning against the country’s new Constitution during the referendum that approved the document in January.

And it’s not just the Muslim Brotherhood. There are the Al Jazeera journalists facing lengthy prison sentences on trumped up terrorism charges and liberal political activists like Ahmed Mahir, a key organizer of the 2011 protests at Tahrir, who are facing jail for holding illegal demonstrations.

Last May, Kerry issued a national security waiver allowing $1.3 billion of arms transfers to Egypt, even as a group of over 40 employees working on democracy promotion for non-government organizations, a number of them US citizens, faced trial for their professional work. A few weeks later the NGO workers were sentenced to prison sentences (though most of the foreigners had already fled the country) and within two months the military had seized power.

For decades, the consistent message from the US to Egypt has been that American security concerns, particularly the country’s security cooperation with Israel, trump human rights and democracy concerns. Kerry’s decision on restarting arms sales will signal whether the Obama administration wants to make a break with the past.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

Thousands take to West Bank streets to support Abbas

RAMALLAH (AFP) — Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of West Bank cities Monday in support of President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Washington for talks with Barack Obama about the peace process with Israel.

Demonstrators waved the Palestinian national flag as well as that of Abbas’s Fatah party, chanting “we are with you, president!” as Abbas was to weigh up an anticipated US request to extend the faltering negotiations with Israel.

“We’re here today to stand up to pressures upon us and make sure president Abbas adheres to his convictions,” said Nasser Eddin al-Shaer — former Palestinian education minister and member of Fatah’s Islamist rivals Hamas — who joined a 5,000-strong rally in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Some 1,500 people turned out in the West Bank administrative center of Ramallah, and more than 1,000 in the southern flashpoint city of Hebron.

Abbas was to meet President Obama in Washington on Monday, having traveled to the US nearly a fortnight after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did the same, and as an April 29 deadline for the nine-month negotiations loomed.

Palestinian and Israeli leaders have been unable to move the talks forward since US Secretary of State John Kerry kick-started them at the end of July after intense efforts to bring the sides back to the table following a three-year freeze.

Bitter recriminations have taken precedent, with the two sides refusing to budge on key issues such as the borders of a future Palestinian state, security arrangements in the West Bank, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the final status of Jerusalem, claimed by both sides as a capital.

‘Waiting for peace’

Israeli President Shimon Peres sought to clear the air on Monday, issuing a statement of support for Abbas.

“President Abbas is a man of principle; he is against terror, against violence. He is a good partner and I’m glad that our government is negotiating with him,” Peres’s office quoted him as saying in a statement.

“We are all waiting for peace; it is the wish of the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

The US is to propose a framework on which to base final status talks and has been calling for an extension of negotiations pending agreement by both sides on that framework.

Israel has recently kicked up a new obstacle to ending the decades-long conflict, demanding Palestinian recognition of it as a Jewish state.

Palestinian leaders have categorically rejected the calls.

In the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, public demonstrations were banned, but Fatah supporters nonetheless gathered at the Al-Aqsa University, a bastion of the West Bank-based movement.

“We informed Fatah members of the ban on celebrations they’d demanded to support Abu Mazen (Abbas), in order to maintain public order, and fearing that inter-Fatah differences could air themselves in public,” said Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for the Hamas government.

Abbas has had a spat with an exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, both accusing each other of complicity in the death of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.

Witnesses said there were confrontations between Fatah members at the 2,000-strong rally at Al-Aqsa University.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

PA lawyer: Health of oldest Palestinian prisoner deteriorating

Fuad Shobaki is the oldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The health of the oldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody is seriously deteriorating, a lawyer said Monday.

Fadi Ubeidat, a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement Monday that 76-year-old Fuad Shobaki is suffering from various illnesses amidst Israeli reluctance to offer him medical treatment.

After visiting Shobaki in his cell in Ofer Prison, Ubeidat said the prisoner has eye problems and needs surgery or he could lose his sight.

Shobaki underwent surgery for hemorrhoids in 2011, but still has health issues with his prostate, the lawyer said.

The prisoner was sentenced to 20 years for alleged involvement in an illegal weapons shipment to the West Bank in 2002.

Separately, 21-year-old Layth Ubayyat — who has been sentenced to 26 months in Israeli prisons — is suffering head pains after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers, Ubeidat said.

While Ubayyat was being arrested, Israeli soldiers fractured his forehead, the lawyer said.

During the incident, Ubayyat passed out and was sent to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Around 4,880 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Jan. 2014. Another 1,415 were in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.

Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners’ face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

European Parliament confirms fact-finding committee on Palestinian prisoners

Arafat Jaradat

The European Union decided that there was a need for such a mission after Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner, was tortured to death in Israeli prisons in February 2013

The deputy ambassador of Palestine to the European Union, Hadi Shebli, announced that the European Parliament is still sending a fact-finding committee to gather evidence about the situation for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails despite Israel’s efforts to prevent the committee’s delegation from visiting Israeli prisons.

The European Union decided that there was a need for such a mission after Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner, was tortured to death in Israeli prisons in February 2013.

Shebli explained that the European Parliament had recommended earlier in March to send a fact-finding committee from the European Parliament to inspect the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails between 19-20 of this month and that until yesterday, Israel had been trying, using various methods and means, to obstruct the mission.

He pointed out that the latest attempt last week, when Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that the committee’s delegation would not be allowed to visit Israeli jails unless Europe opened its prisons to an Israeli mission.

However, the Palestinians are insisting on the need for the European Parliament to send such a mission even if it is not allowed to visit prisons in Israel, and that it must be undertaken during the current term of the European Parliament because it would be difficult to send any such delegation during the next parliament’s term for various reasons.

He explained that work has been underway to prepare the programme of the delegation’s visit, which is supposed to cover formal meetings with the competent authorities in addition to meetings with human rights institutions, a visit to the Ofer detention centre and meetings with the families of released prisoners.

According to Shebli, the delegation will be headed by the Irish chairperson of the committee that oversees relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council in the European Parliament, Emer Costello, and will feature six MPs from the four parliamentary blocs: the European peoples’ party, green bloc, communist bloc and liberal bloc, and will also include the chairperson of the committee overseeing European relations with Israel, being the representative of the social democratic bloc.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

Health Ministry: Gaza dangerously low on medicines due to closure of Rafah crossing

Dr Mufiz Al-Makhalalati

Al-Makhalalati noted that the closure of the Rafah crossing has negatively impacted the health sector in other ways as well, for example preventing delegations of medical specialists from entering into the Strip.

The Ministry of Health of the Palestinian government in Gaza announced that hospitals have now run out of 30 per cent of all basic medicines and essential medical supplies due to the continued closure of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt.

During a press conference that was held at the Ministry of Information on Sunday, the Minister of Health, Dr Mufiz Al-Makhalalati, told reporters that, “The semi-complete closure of the Rafah crossing has resulted in causing the depletion of 145 types of medicines and medical supplies, which form 30 per cent of the basic list.”

He explained that the closure of the Rafah crossing has led to nearly 450 patients being denied treatment, with doctors having to refer them instead to Egyptian hospitals.

Al-Makhalalati added that, “We have recorded the death of three patients since the blockade was tightened after the Rafah crossing was closed by the Egyptian authorities more than nine months ago.”

He noted that the closure of the Rafah crossing has negatively impacted the health sector in other ways as well, for example preventing delegations of medical specialists from entering into the Strip.

Al-Makhalalati appealed to the international community, human rights organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to lift the siege of Gaza, to allow Palestinians freedom of movement and the entry of medicines and basic construction materials needed to meet the basic needs of the population.

He demanded that the Arab Republic of Egypt lift the suffering of the Palestinian people and open the Rafah crossing, it being a Palestinian-Egyptian crossing for both directions.

Since the beginning of July of last year, the Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah crossing almost entirely, even though it is the only exit for the residents of the Gaza Strip, partially opening the crossing every now and then for humanitarian cases only.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

Three Years After Gaddafi, Libya Is Imploding Into Chaos and Violence

Its government has no real power; militias are ever more entrenched, and now the state itself is under threat

The Libyan former prime minister Ali Zeidan fled last week after parliament voted him out of office. A North Korean-flagged oil tanker, the Morning Glory, illegally picked up a cargo of crude from rebels in the east of the country and sailed safely away, despite a government minister’s threat that the vessel would be “turned into a pile of metal” if it left port: the Libyan navy blamed rough weather for its failure to stop the ship. Militias based in Misrata, western Libya, notorious for their violence and independence, have launched an offensive against the eastern rebels in what could be the opening shots in a civil war between western and eastern Libya.

Without a central government with any real power, Libya is falling apart. And this is happening almost three years after 19 March 2011 when the French air force stopped Mu’ammer Gaddafi’s counter-offensive to crush the uprising in Benghazi. Months later, his burnt-out tanks still lay by the road to the city. With the United States keeping its involvement as low-profile as possible, Nato launched a war in which rebel militiamen played a secondary, supportive role and ended with the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi.

A striking feature of events in Libya in the past week is how little interest is being shown by leaders and countries which enthusiastically went to war in 2011 in the supposed interests of the Libyan people. President Obama has since spoken proudly of his role in preventing a “massacre” in Benghazi at that time. But when the militiamen, whose victory Nato had assured, opened fire on a demonstration against their presence in Tripoli in November last year, killing at least 42 protesters and firing at children with anti-aircraft machine guns, there was scarcely a squeak of protest from Washington, London or Paris.

Coincidentally, it was last week that Al-Jazeera broadcast the final episode in a three-year investigation of the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people in 1988. For years this was deemed to be Gaddafi’s greatest and certainly best-publicised crime, but the documentary proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of carrying out the bombing, was innocent. Iran, working through the Palestinian Front for The Liberation of Palestine – General Command, ordered the blowing up of Pan Am 103 in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane by the US navy earlier in 1988.

Much of this had been strongly suspected for years. The new evidence comes primarily from Abolghasem Mesbahi, an Iranian intelligence officer who later defected and confirmed the Iranian link. The US Defense Intelligence Agency had long ago reached the same conclusion. The documentary emphasises the sheer number of important politicians and senior officials over the years who must have looked at intelligence reports revealing the truth about Lockerbie, but still happily lied about it.

It is an old journalistic saying that if you want to find out government policy, imagine the worst thing they can do and then assume they are doing it. Such cynicism is not deserved in all cases, but it does seem to be a sure guide to western policy towards Libya. This is not to defend Gaddafi, a maverick dictator who inflicted his puerile personality cult on his people, though he was never as bloodthirsty as Saddam Hussein or Hafez al-Assad.

But the Nato powers that overthrew him – and by some accounts gave the orders to kill him – did not do so because he was a tyrannical ruler. It was rather because he pursued a quirkily nationalist policy backed by a great deal of money which was at odds with western policies in the Middle East. It is absurd to imagine that if the real objective of the war was to replace Gaddafi with a secular democracy that the West’s regional allies in the conflict should be theocratic absolute monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This is equally true of Western and Saudi intervention in Syria which has the supposed intention of replacing President Bashar al-Assad with a freely elected government that will establish the rule of law.

Libya is imploding. Its oil exports have fallen from 1.4 million barrels a day in 2011 to 235,000 barrels a day. Militias hold 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom say they have been tortured. Some 40,000 people from the town of Tawergha south of Misrata were driven from their homes which have been destroyed. “The longer Libyan authorities tolerate the militias acting with impunity, the more entrenched they become, and the less willing to step down” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting off repeated deadlines to disarm and disband militias only prolongs the havoc they are creating throughout the country.”

Unfortunately, the militias are getting stronger not weaker. Libya is a land of regional, tribal, ethnic warlords who are often simply well-armed racketeers exploiting their power and the absence of an adequate police force. Nobody is safe: the head of Libya’s military police was assassinated in Benghazi in October while Libya’s first post-Gaddafi prosecutor general was shot dead in Derna on 8 February. Sometimes the motive for the killing is obscure, such as the murder last week of an Indian doctor, also in Derna, which may lead to an exodus of 1,600 Indian doctors who have come to Libya since 2011 and on whom its health system depends.

Western and regional governments share responsibility for much that has happened in Libya, but so too should the media. The Libyan uprising was reported as a simple-minded clash between good and evil. Gaddafi and his regime were demonised and his opponents treated with a naïve lack of scepticism and enquiry. The foreign media have dealt with the subsequent collapse of the Libyan state since 2011 mostly by ignoring it, though politicians have stopped referring to Libya as an exemplar of successful foreign intervention.

Can anything positive be learnt from the Libyan experience which might be useful in establishing states that are an improvement on those ruled by Gaddafi, Assad and the like? An important point is that demands for civil, political and economic rights – which were at the centre of the Arab Spring uprisings – mean nothing without a nation state to guarantee them; otherwise national loyalties are submerged by sectarian, regional and ethnic hatreds.

This should be obvious, but few of those supporting the Arab uprisings, for reasons other than self-interest, seem to have taken it on board. “Freedom under the rule of law is almost unknown outside nation-states,” writes the journalist and MEP Daniel Hannan in a succinct analysis of why the Arab Spring failed. “Constitutional liberty requires a measure of patriotism, meaning a readiness to accept your countrymen’s disagreeable decisions, to abide by election results when you lose.”

Even this level of commitment may not be enough, but without it only force can hold the state together. The escape of Morning Glory, the ousting of Ali Zeidan and the triumph of the militias all go to show that the Libyan state has so far neither the popular support nor military power to preserve itself.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

Agreement between PPS, Ministry OF Prisoners Affairs, President of UPC Europe and Dutch and French groups

An agreement between the Palestinian Prisoners ‘Club, the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs with the President of the Union of Palestinian communities in Europe Mazen Ramahi on the order of events in support of the prisoners release  next month .

Also, an agreement was made between the leading director Raed Amer of the  Prisoners ‘Club in Nablus during the  visit of   Undersecretary and deputy minister of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Ziad Abu Ein, to the the Netherlands and France to rally support for the issue of prisoners ; an agreement has been reached with the Union of Palestinian communities in Europe to arrange and organize visits to a number of European countries , to underline and condemn the policies and procedures of the Israeli occupation against the imprisonment  of prisoners in Israeli Prisons.

The visit comes at the invitation of the organization ” Stop the War (www.stopdebezetting.com)  , a Dutch organization working for Palestine in particular and the Dutch activist on the scene  Sonja van den Ende .  The Palestinian delegation had several  meetings and visited a number of institutions and associations in the Netherlands to inform them about the the latest developments on the issue of  the prisoners  and the attempts of solving and giving support to the issue of the  prisoners who suffer repression , abuse and harassment under the Israeli occupation  and are using  the ugliest methods of torture , oppression and humiliation , especially when talking about medical negligence and administrative detention. Also the detention of prisoners and children in difficult circumstances.

He met with members of the Palestinian delegation and representatives of political parties in the Dutch parliament , these topics were discussed during the meeting: the conditions of the prisoners inside the prisons and how to support them . In this context ,  Ziad Abu Ein , Undersecretary  – deputy Minister of the Ministry of prisoners and Raed Amer director of Prisoners’ Club in Nablus, went to the Dutch parliament to provide support and assistance to the issue of the prisoners  and spoke about  the Israeli agression , practiced against the prisoners and their families  especially the false information with regard to the financial aspect .

The delegation also visited Turkish Associations in Amsterdam , headed by Mustafa Ahmed and discussing the situation of the prisoners and how to support and cooperate between the PPS and the Assembly of Turkey  and in this aspect there has been agreed between the associations to hold another meeting in the coming days to put plans and ideas to support the prisoners in cooperation with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club .

Also Stop de Bezetting had  organized an evening in  the “Partycentrum” Syriana ” and made a Syrian solidarity with the prisoners there were  of a number of members of both communities, Palestinian, Syrian , and the delegation with the President of the Palestinian community in the Netherlands. Who (the head of the Palestinians in the Netherlands) Saadeh,  visited the families of the Yarmouk refugee camp residents in the Netherlands in Zwolle  and listened to their problems and concerns .

The last evening  the Palestinian delegation went to the city of Lille by the the invitation of a French Organization,  of Nablus , which aims to establish also an agreement with these cities . There  was a meeting with the Association of “Night of Nablus ” , were they  discussed  the conditions of the prisoners and the striking prisoners and ways to support it in France also there  was  another meeting with the Association of Solidarity in French the Palestinian branch “Tour Kwan ,” which is headed by  a number of activists in the city and it was agreed to communicate to organize and arrange activities during the coming period .

In the Netherlands the Activists Sonja van den Ende and Claudius Lucassen, established a new founded organzation http://www.palestinian-prisoners.nl, which wil co-oprate with PPS Palestine and will organize in the coming months Seminars, Meetings to spread the message to the Dutch people.

Afbeelding

(Source / 17.03.2014)

Palestinian woman ‘humiliated, assaulted’ at Israeli checkpoint

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian woman said she was “humiliated and assaulted by an Israeli soldier” while on her way to visit her son in prison, a statement said Monday.

The mother of prisoner Ahmad Abd al-Fattah said she was stopped at the Taybeh checkpoint near Ramallah and taken to a small room for a strip search, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society.

“A female soldier ordered her to take off her clothes completely, but she refused,” the statement said.

“The soldier insisted, and after the woman took off her clothes, the soldier hit her with the metal detector causing bruises.”

Afterwards, the woman complained to a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who informed an Israeli border crossing official.

As of February 2014 there were 99 fixed checkpoints in the West Bank, and 59 of them were “internal checkpoints,” deep within the West Bank, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

“According to many testimonies given to B’Tselem and other human rights organizations, the security forces use violence, at times gross violence, against Palestinians unnecessarily and without justification,” a B’Tselem report said in late 2012.

(Source / 17.03.2014)

The three truths the U.S. needs to accept about Gaza

Israel and its U.S. allies perpetuate a number of mistruths about Gaza, its role in the conflict and its centrality moving forward. If they are not challenged, violence will continue and the U.S. risks losing even more credibility in the region.

A Palestinian farmer walks through fields near Gaza's eastern border, Al Montar, February 17, 2014. An Israeli military post is seen in the distance to the left, with the border indicated by the dark green areas passing through it. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian farmer walks through fields near Gaza’s eastern border, Al Montar, February 17, 2014. An Israeli military post is seen in the distance to the left, with the border indicated by the dark green areas passing through it.

Fewer than 16 months after the ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s last full-scale attack on Gaza—nine days of constant bombardment by air, land, and sea—Palestinians there are once again trapped and feeling the brunt of Israeli air strikes.

They have every reason to be worried. On March 12, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, citing “a barrage of more than 50 rockets,” called for his country to re-occupy Gaza. The same day, the U.S. State Department, instead of urging calm, issued a statement, by now familiar, backing Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

Predictably, the statement failed to mention Israel’s murder of seven Palestinians in the prior 24 hours, its dozens of deadly violations of the November 2012 ceasefire agreement with Hamas, and its routine killing of unarmed Palestinians along Gaza’s border.

Left unchallenged, these omissions will lead to more sins of commission. More civilians will die. And Israel’s chest-beating will lead to ever more violence, further eroding America’s diplomatic stature in the region and beyond.

To avoid this scenario, policymakers must challenge three underlying assumptions behind the U.S. position, which currently aligns with the pointedly undiplomatic threats of Israel’s chief diplomat: 1) that Israeli-Palestinian peace can be forged without Gaza, 2) that Israel’s stranglehold on Gaza ended in 2005, and 3) that Israel’s threats are aimed only at Palestinian “militants.”

No peace without Gaza

According to Israeli journalist Amira Hass, Yitzhak Rabin famously declared after signing the Oslo Accords that he wished Gaza “would just sink into the sea.” Reprehensible as it was, Rabin’s brutal logic was more than a rhetorical indiscretion.

Gazans represent roughly one-third of the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem. Beyond demographics, though, Gaza also commands enormous symbolic value for the Palestinian struggle. That a majority of its population trace their origins to villages inside Israel means that their fate will gauge how the Palestinian refugee crisis will be resolved. This stands to reason: Of the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian refugees who live in UN-administered camps throughout the Arab world, more than one-third live in Gaza.

Any agreement that excludes Gaza would  lack credibility and therefore be unsustainable. Proof of that lies in the failure of the Oslo peace process itself. For seven of the 20 years since that process was launched, Gaza has been subjected to a suffocating land, sea, and air blockade—the correlative of Rabin’s homicidal wish.

The myth of ‘withdrawal’

Israel’s much-flaunted “withdrawal” from Gaza nearly nine years ago involved the removal of some 8,000 Jewish settlers who controlled Gaza’s prime agricultural land and shoreline—an area roughly equal to 40 percent of the 25-mile-long strip.

That they might enjoy beach resorts and golfing greens, these settlers—whose numbers represented less than one percent of the indigenous population whom they controlled—had erected a menacing system of humiliation, night raids, and barricades. Endowed by U.S. largesse and Kafkaesque in its brutality, the settlement enterprise in Gaza was particularly pernicious.

The reputational costs of maintaining this apartheid system were too high, though, and then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to dismantle it was driven by necessity, not compromise. In fact, Sharon’s senior advisor at the time, Dov Weisglass, told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the so-called Gaza disengagement “supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” More to the point, said Weisglass, “this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.”

He was right on both counts. Palestinians are certainly no closer to having their own state. And nearly a decade after the “disengagement,” Israel continues to control nearly half of Gaza’s agricultural land and nearly all access to the sea. According to Harvard scholar Sara Roy:

Israeli-imposed buffer zones—areas of restricted access—now absorb nearly 14 percent of Gaza’s total land and at least 48 percent of total arable land. Similarly, the sea buffer zone covers 85 percent of the maritime area promised to Palestinians in the Oslo Accords, reducing 20 nautical miles to three, where waters are fouled by sewage flows in excess of 23 million gallons daily.

Israel’s ‘enemies’

Palestinians have the right, enshrined in international law, to challenge the ongoing siege of Gaza and to truly dismantle the legacy of Israel’s racist settlement enterprise there. At the vanguard of Gaza’s resistance, though, are young, nonviolent activists—not rocket-launching militants.

Largely ignored in Western media, these activists have been organizing weekly protests within the so-called “buffer zone,” planting trees and engaging in other forms of peaceful protest aimed at reclaiming, if only symbolically, Palestinian farmers’ lands.

Yet to approach the buffer zone is to enter what amounts to an Israeli shooting gallery, where soldiers—too distant to be seen—fire at will and kill with impunity. (The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has documented Israeli shootings of civilians up to 1.5 kilometers inside the Gaza border.) Consider the case of 57-year-old Aminah Atiyeh Qudeih, who was killed on March 1 by a sniper’s bullet while mistakenly walking within the buffer zone. Weeks earlier, 27-year-old Odeh Hamad was gunned down while, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, he was collecting scrap metal with his brother. Both were unarmed and both were left bleeding for hours before an ambulance could reach them. Perhaps most important, both leave behind families with no way of holding their loved ones’ murderers accountable.

As those families mourn and seethe, along with the rest of Gaza’s 1.7 million trapped Palestinians, they dread the prospect of yet more violence, more Israeli impunity, and more sins of omission from U.S. policymakers who, despite two decades of on-again, off-again attempts, have yet to facilitate any progress toward peace in the Holy Land. To change that, these policymakers must be willing to challenge long-held assumptions about the conflict, including on Gaza.

(Source / 17.03.2014)