Israel to lift siege on Gaza to restore Turkish relations

Turkish flag

The newspaper also reported that the agreement would guarantee lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip. It said: “Turkey will be exclusively authorised to send humanitarian aid supplies to Palestine and Gaza.

“Israel will pay $21 million in compensation and lift the Gaza siege to restore relations with Turkey after the Mavi Marmara raid that left nine Turkish nationals dead, Turkish newspaper Sabah reported today.

A Turkish official told the newspaper that both Turkey and Israel will focus on reaching a binding legal resolution on the payment of reparations following Turkey’s local elections that will be held on March 30.

He said: “The official document will then be sent to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for approval.”

Previously, Israel said it would pay $20 million in reparation, but Turkey insisted the amount needed was $21 million. The newspaper said Turkey’s demand has now been fulfilled.

The newspaper also reported that the agreement would guarantee lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip. It said: “Turkey will be exclusively authorised to send humanitarian aid supplies to Palestine and Gaza.”

According to the newspaper, Turkish officials claimed the agreement was multidimensional and the reparations were only a single aspect of the agreement.

It also added: “The agreement sets forth the establishment of an order to permit Turkey to send humanitarian assistance to Gaza at its own discretion and the appointment of an ambassador to establish this order.”

(Source / 27.03.2014)

Egyptian army destroys 13 tunnels in Rafah

CAIRO (Ma’an) — The Egyptian army reportedly destroyed 13 smuggling tunnels near the Rafah border and seized a number of vehicles and other goods that were intended to be smuggled across the border, an Egyptian security source said.

The source said that the army had taken possession of a car and four motorcycles that were intended to be smuggled.

The source added that two people were detained in al-Qantara for intending to smuggle drugs across the border.

After the July coup that deposed president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s army has repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Gazans used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza’s 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by Israel beginning in 2007.

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

(Source / 27.03.2014)

Israel delays release of Palestinian prisoners

The Middle East peace process appeared to be slipping into an even more critical condition, after Israel delayed its fourth and final tranche of agreed prisoner releases that have been long-awaited by the Palestinians.

Just hours after a crucial meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised hopes that all was not yet lost, Israel announced that the release, which was supposed to take place tomorrow, would be postponed.

“There will be no release on Saturday,” Israeli Prison Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said. Asked when it would take place, officials reiterated Israel’s demand that the Palestinians first pledge themselves to extending the deadline for agreeing on peace talks, which is due to expire at the end of April.

In advance of the preliminary negotiations, Israel last summer committed itself to freeing 104 long-serving prisoners. It has so far freed 78 in three previous batches.

The Palestinians, meanwhile are setting their own conditions for extending the troubled negotiations, and for agreeing to refrain from taking their grievances against continued occupation to the UN. These terms are, according to a Palestinian official, a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and a release from Israeli prison of a group of prisoners including Marwan Barghouti, the popular leader of the second intifada uprising who is serving life sentences after being convicted of the murder of Israelis and a Greek Orthodox monk.

“The peace talks are not popular,” explained Abdullah Abdullah, deputy commissioner on foreign relations for Mr Abbas’s Fatah movement. “People have seen more land being grabbed by the Israelis and more houses demolished. We need a settlement freeze and the releases in order to justify continuing the talks to our people, who are not happy with what’s going on.”

Israel has rejected a settlement freeze and has in the past ruled out releasing Barghouthi. To extend the deal, Mr Abdullah said the Palestinians are also seeking freedom for other prisoners, including 22 women, minors, and 77 “terminally sick” prisoners.

“The Palestinians have no intention of continuing the negotiations to reach an agreement, and are looking for reasons to explode the negotiations,” Israeli legislator David Rotem, from the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu coalition partner, said of the demands to release Barghouthi and to freeze settlement building. “Unless they agree to continue the negotiations without conditions, there should be no prisoner release. These are people who were sentenced in trials.”

Despite the negative omens, a leading independent West Bank politician predicted yesterday that Mr Abbas will agree to extend the talks.

“I think he’ll remain in the negotiations to prevent financial sanctions from Europe, America and Israel and to prevent political isolation,” said Hassan Khreisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. However, he added that he believed Mr Abbas would be unwise to continue the negotiations: “He should stop because he has no power; the Palestinian internal situation is bad with the division between Hamas and Fatah; Arab neighbours are unstable and care only about their own countries and Israeli aggression against Palestinians is escalating daily.”

(Source / 27.03.2014)

PFLP: Our patience with arrests and persecution in the West Bank is limited

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the West Bank issued a statement on March 25 noting that the Front’s patience has its limits with regard to the Palestinian Authority security forces’ continuing arrests and summonses of its members, supporters and fighters, particularly in Bethlehem area refugee camps.

“While the Zionist occupation forces continue their open war against the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority security apparatus offers them a free service in order to preserve its humiliating security commitments.” On Tuesday, three supporters of the Front were detained and interrogated in Dheisheh camp, then many more comrades issued summons, and more detained in ‘Azza and Aida refugee camps while another group in Aida camp is being pursued, said the Front.

This campaign against the comrades and the brothers of the resistance forces is taking place under a flimsy pretext, which coincides with the continuation of security coordination with the occupation, and gives the occupation the opportunity to target the resistance with assassination or arrest. The Front noted that the security agencies of the PA continue to pursue cadres of the resistance who have spent years in the prisons of the occupation, and that on multiple occasions, the occupation has issued a warrant for arrest immediately upon a resistance fighter’s release from the PA security services, or has targeted that person for assassination soon after. This was seen in the case of the heroes of the Jenin refugee camp and our comrade Moataz Washahe.

The Front demanded the Authority end the practice of issuing orders to security forces to hunt down members of the resistance to prove “good faith” to the occupier, end security coordination and instead stand with the people in defending our Palestinian people, confronting Zionist terror and extremist settlers.

(Source / 27.03.2014)

Qatar buys helicopters, missiles in $23 billion arms deals


Members of the Qatari Armed Forces travel in armoured personnel carriers (APCs) during National Day celebrations in Doha December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

Members of the Qatari Armed Forces travel in armoured personnel carriers (APCs) during National Day celebrations in Doha December 18, 2012.

(Reuters) – Qatar announced contracts worth about $23 billion on Thursday to buy attack helicopters, guided missiles, tankers and other weapons from Boeing Co (BA.N), Airbus (AIR.PA) and other arms makers as the Gulf state accelerates its military build-up.

The world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter announced deals with about 20 global companies, including firms from the United States which were awarded deals worth 27.5 billion riyals ($7.6 billion), said a spokeswoman for a Doha defense conference where the announcements were made.

The weapons purchases include large deals with Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), Raytheon (RTN.N) and others.

Qatar, and other Gulf Arab and Middle Eastern countries are looking to acquire new high-tech military equipment to protect themselves from neighboring Iran and internal threats after the Arab Spring uprising.

Boeing (BA.N) confirmed that the announcement included a contract to buy 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and three Boeing 737 Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

The deal for the helicopters was valued at 8.9 billion riyals, said the spokeswoman for the conference.

In Paris, France’s Defense Ministry said Qatar had agreed to buy 22 NH90 military helicopters from a unit of European aerospace group Airbus worth 2 billion euros ($2.76 billion) and two Airbus-made refueling tankers.

NHIndustries is 62.5 percent owned by Airbus’ Eurocopter helicopter unit, 32 percent owned by AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy Finmeccanica’s (SIFI.MI) and 5.5 percent by Stork Fokker.

Qatar also committed to buy a Patriot missile defense system built by Raytheon equipped with PAC-3 missiles made by Lockheed; advanced daytime, high-definition sensors and radars for Apache helicopters; and Javelin missiles built by a Lockheed-Raytheon joint venture, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Raytheon had told analysts in January that it expected to finalize an order with Qatar in the first half of 2014 for over $2 billion in Patriot missile defense system equipment.

The Pentagon approved the sale to Qatar of $9.9 billion worth of Patriot fire units, radars, and various Raytheon and Lockheed missiles in November 2012.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the U.S. body which oversees foreign arms sales, had notified lawmakers in July 2012 of a possible sale of Apache helicopters to Qatar.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. agency had no immediate comment.

Washington has been keen to deepen its cooperation with Gulf nations, which have been long-standing allies, on missile defense and increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

The Apache helicopters are built by Boeing and used by the U.S. Army, EgyptGreece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.

They will be fitted with Longbow radar equipment made by a joint venture of Lockheed and Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N).

($1 = 3.6415 Qatar Riyals)

(Source / 27.03.2014)

Turkey blocks YouTube over leaked audio recording

Protesters shout slogans, hold banners and wave flags in Ankara as they demonstrate against new controls on the Internet.

Turkish authorities blocked access to YouTube on Thursday, hours after a voice recording of alleged Turkish officials discussing a Syria operation, was leaked on the website.

The audio file is purportedly of a meeting between Turkey’s foreign minister, intelligence chief and top military and foreign ministry officials discussing a military intervention in Syria.

“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the law, administrative measure has been taken for this website,” a statement on the telecommunications authority webpage said earlier, but did not confirm the ban.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later confirmed the block and said leaking the recording was “villainous.”

Turkey’s foreign ministry condemned the publication of the private conversation, calling it a “wretched attack” on the country’s national security, and threatened that those behind it will face the heaviest punishment.

In its written statement, the ministry said the recording was manipulated.

Turkish authorities are in talks with the video-sharing platform and may lift the ban if it agrees to remove the content.

A similar move was taken against Twitter days earlier after links to other wiretapped recordings suggesting corruption were spread on the social network.

(Source / 27.03.2014)

Israel allows entry of Turkish medical supplies to Gaza

Palestine Aid Truck 

Turkish medical supplies and construction material have been allowed in to the Gaza Strip to build the Turkish Friendship Hospital, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said today.

The newspaper said Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon authorised Turkish access to the besieged Strip on Tuesday, amid speculations of a potential reconciliation deal with Turkey under which Israel will compensate victims of the Mavi Marmara ship in exchange of normalising Israeli-Turkish relations .

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc announced earlier this week that a reconciliation agreement will be signed at the end of the month after the local elections in Turkey.

The Israeli paper said that Ya’alon informed Turkey of his decision to allow entry for the 570 trucks of Turkish medical supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing, southern Gaza Strip

(Source / 27.03.2014)

Uitnodiging herdenkingsbijeenkomst Palestijnse Dag van het Land

Met Knessetlid dr Ahmad Tibi

Achtendertig jaar geleden werden in Galilea zes Palestijnen bij een vreedzame demonstratie tegen landonteigeningen doodgeschoten door het Israelische leger.  Jaarlijks herdenken Palestijnen over de hele wereld deze schanddaad, maar staan ze ook stil bij de voortdurende landroof; zowel binnen de grenzen van 1948 als in de bezette gebieden van 1967.

Zondag 30 maart 2014 organiseert de Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland, samen met het Al Awda netwerk, de Palestijnse Vrouwen Unie, PPMS en het Palestina Komitee Rotterdam, een bijeenkomst in het Vlaardingse wijkcentrum Holy.  Met Palestijnse muziek, een tentoonstelling en een heel speciale gast
Dr. Ahmad Tibi is sinds 1999 lid van het Israelische parlement voor de Ta’al partij – de Arabische beweging voor verandering- en fungeert nu als één van de parlementaire ondervoorzitters. Jarenlang was hij ook politiek adviseur van president Arafat.  Dr. Tibi is voorstander van een twee staten oplossing, maar een uitgesproken tegenstander van Israel als joodse staat. Hij strijdt voor een staat voor alle burgers, maar ook voor het recht op terugkeer van de Palestijnse vluchtelingen.

Op 30 maart zal hij vooral spreken over twee thema’s:  de vredesonderhandelingen en Israel als joodse staat.
De spreektaal is Engels. De toegang is gratis.

U bent van harte welkom op 30 maart van 14 tot 17 uur in Wijkcentrum Holy, Aristide Briandring 30, 3137 DB, Vlaardingen.

Meer informatie: telefoon nummer 06 48 01 15 59 (Wathek Sada).


By Peter Clifford              ©                   (


Following on from the Opposition’s capture of the Kasab border crossing to Turkey in Assad’s Lattakia province last weekend (scroll down – see below), Opposition fighters have gone on to take control of a strategic hill and several more villages.

As well as Samra, west of Kasab, Opposition fighters have also taken Nab’ain to the south and are battling to take Qastal Maaf and Al-Mesherfeh further into Assad’s Latakia heartland.

Islamic Front Fighters Cross Latakia to Reach Mediterranean

The problem for Assad is threefold. Firstly, this mountainous area is extremely difficult to recapture once lost.

Kasab for example only has 2 roads leading in or out and if you control the surrounding hills, then you control the roads.

Secondly, losing part of Latakia, the Alawite sect heartland (although the majority in this particular area are Armenian Christians) threatens to undermine Assad’s support in the minority Alawite community, especially as hundreds of dead bodies are brought home.

While unconfirmed reports say that several hundred Opposition fighters have died in the last week, activists are reporting that Syrian Army and pro-Government losses since last Friday across Syria have exceeded 1,000 men and a maternity hospital in Latakia city has been turned into a field hospital.

The third problem for the Syrian Government, and one which the Opposition have factored into their advance, is that Assad will have to draw on troops from elsewhere in Syria to defend Latakia province, thereby weakening his strength at other key flashpoints.

Activist sources say that the Governor of Latakia, Major General Abdul Qader Sheikh, asked the Governor of Aleppo, Mohammed Waheed Accad, to send National Defence Force (NDF) reinforcements but he refused because of the current situation around Aleppo.

However, later, the head of Syrian intelligence, Major General Ali Mamlouk, forced the Aleppo Governor to send pro-government fighters. A large convoy was reported on the highway to Latakia south-west of Idlib province at Qiyasat but it has come under attack from Opposition fighters in the province, HERE:

Another Assad convoy with “technicals” (pick-ups with mounted heavy machine guns) has been reported at Al-Badrousiyeh driving north on the Latakia coast road.

Injured Opposition fighters have been taken across the border to hospitals in Turkey.

All the Opposition positions are currently under heavy air attack, 30 rockets falling on Kasab alone yesterday. The Assad regime has pumped out a lot of propaganda around “terrorists robbing homes and destroying Armenian Christian Churches”, although this video, at the time of filming at least, would seem to put the lie to that, HERE:

The capture of Observatory 45 on Tuesday was a significant gain for the Opposition. As well as being the site of a TV relay station, it was also a Syrian Army command and control post with eavesdropping radio and radar dishes both to spy on Opposition communications and the Turkish Army.

This is video footage of the capture of Observatory 45, HERE: and the victors (including the red bearded commander know as “The Viking”), HERE:

Since then, 5 barrel-bombs dropped on the hill by Assad’s forces have almost completely destroyed the remaining facilities, HERE: , though the Opposition fighters did get to raise their flag first, HERE:

Colonel Ghanoon, the Syrian Army commander of Observatory 45 is reported on pro-Assad Facebook pages to have been killed in the Opposition assault .

Opposition Fighter Checks Missile Launcher Near Kasab

West of Kasab, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has captured Samra (which overlooks the Mediterranean), HERE:  and below it battled for Karadouran Beach, HERE:, the Islamic Front finally reaching the sea, HERE:

This is the very first time that Opposition fighters have reached the Mediterranean. Karadouran, where there is no harbour, is well known as a smugglers beach, in particular bringing in untaxed goods from Turkey. While possibly useful to the Opposition, the Syrian Navy will do everything it can to blockade it.

The Assad regime is also furious with the Turkish Government, accusing it of aiding and abetting the incursion of Opposition fighters across the border and even, in letters to the UN, saying that Turkish artillery and tanks gave covering fire against Assad’s forces as the Opposition advanced on Kasab.

Turkey has denied the charges but also made it clear it will not put up with any incursions by Assad’s forces on its territory, having shot down a Syrian jet last week (scroll down – see below).

Orient TV has recorded the battle for Nab’ain, (Arabic only), HERE: and fighters can seen driving into the village,HERE: Unconfirmed reports say that 40 0f Assad’s soldiers died in the attack.

Al jazeera has a video report on the Latakia advance, HERE:

This morning, Thursday, Opposition fighters are reported to have taken Mount Chalma, the highest point in the Kasab area.

Elsewhere in Latakia, Opposition fighters have been firing Grad missiles at Assad’s ancestral family home in the village of Qardahah, HERE:

This map, published today courtesy of Cedric Labrousse, shows the latest positions (Opposition Green) in northern Latakia province, here:

Opposition Advance (Green) in Latakia 27.03.14


In Aleppo several airstrikes using barrel-bombs have been reported today in northern and eastern districts of the city, while Opposition forces say they have killed 2 dozen Assad soldiers in a convoy on the Khanasser road going towards Hama.

On the western side of Aleppo the Opposition have been firing Grad missiles at the Military Research Centre, HERE:

In Homs province, Opposition fighters have been targetting Assad’s troops at a barrier at Mamlouk near Talbisseh, north-west of Homs city, HERE: and have destroyed 2 tanks with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) in the same area, HERE: 

In Deraa province the Opposition with another ATGM also destroyed a tank moving at speed, HERE: 

In Raqqah province an airstrike has partly destroyed an old bridge across the Euphrates river and in Deir Ez Zour province, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has consolidated its forces into a fighting unit of more than 2,000 men and is attempting to retake towns and villages north of the river.

While in Hassakah province the YPG, the Kurdish militia appears to be fighting both ISIL and Assad’s Army who are currently shelling some of their positions.


In Damascus, many Opposition-held suburbs are once again coming under rocket and barrel-bomb attack and at the same time 55 are reported dead in the province at regime-controlled hospitals from a swine flu outbreak which thrives in crowded and insanitary conditions.

“Kinda Airline” Due to Launch in Syria

In a southern suburb of Damascus these children were filmed picking up seeds and bread crumbs to eat, (Arabic only)HERE:

Lastly, some desperate Assad optimists are about to launch a new airline in Syria called Kinda (“kinda” in English slang means “sort of” airline!). According to state media outlet SANA, the airline was due to be launched this coming Sunday but other reports say that “paperwork problems” will prevent its launch until 1st May.

The airline, which is apparently backed by the money of 3 private individuals, aims to fly out of Latakia and Damascus airports, starting with a route to Kuwait and 10 other Middle East destinations within a year. (EDITOR: Good Luck! You’ll need it!)

World Powers Continue to Turn their Backs on the Plig

Fatah welcomes Al-Sisi decision to run for president

Jibrel Al-RajoubJibrel Al-Rajoub stressed that the Egyptian people’s democratic choice should be respected in the upcoming elections

Palestinian Secular movement Fatah hailed the decision of the Egyptian military-coup leaderAbdul-Fattah Al-Sisi to run for presidential elections, a statement issued today said.

Deputy Secretary of Fatah’s Executive Committee Jibrel Al-Rajoub said in the statement: “We welcome Abdul-Fatah Al-Sisi’s decision to run for the upcoming presidential elections. We affirm that he is able to regain Egypt’s prestige in the region.”

Al-Rajoub claimed Al-Sisi has regained Egypt’s regional role and that afforded “national guarantees for Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims”. He acknowledged that Al-Sisi has maintained Egypt’s unity since the ouster of the freely elected president Mohammed Morsi.

Fatah’s prominent leader continued: “We believe in his regional vision, through which he is able to lead Egypt to stability…and will help the Egyptians and the Palestinians to encounter the Israeli occupation at this critical time.”

He stressed that the Egyptian people’s democratic choice should be respected in the upcoming elections. That, Al-Rajoub said, would help build modern Egypt, which would be protected by the Egyptian people and their “great army”.

“We are looking forward a freely elected Egyptian president who will be able to protect Egypt and regain its leading role in the region as a leader for the Arab nation,” he said.

Al-Sisi carried out a coup d’état against Morsi on July 3, 2013. Since then he has supressed the Egyptians who refused the coup and killed more than 5,000.

Since the coup, crowds of Egyptians have taken to the streets everyday to protest against the coup. Egyptian authorities have now enacted a law against protesters and held mass trials against anti-coup nationals.

Earlier this week, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 Egyptians who were against the coup to death for claims that they took part in killing a policeman. The trial lasted two days.

(Source / 27.03.2014)