KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 74: SCHOOLS REOPENING AT RAPID PACE, HOSPITAL ON ITS WAY AND ISLAMIC STATE PUSHED BACK ACROSS M4 HIGHWAY

By Peter Clifford                   ©             (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)

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

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

Latest figures from recovering Kobane city say that 80 civilians have been killed by Islamic State mines and booby-traps and more than 100 injured.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Children Returning to School in Devastated Kobane

The Danish Government has however sent a de-mining team and this is training local people and YPG/YPJ fighters with improved techniques to locate and defuse the bombs.

1,000 children have now been enrolled in the first 2 schools to re-open in the city and another 4 schools are being repaired as quickly as possible.

1,000 voluntary teachers, who will work without pay, have also been signed up by the Kurdistan Teacher’s Union (KTU) to work in the schools as they come on-stream.

Yasir Beyro from the KTU said that many of the children are clearly traumatised and will need additional help.

Some sing “war songs” in school and draw pictures of fighting, killing and beheadings.

Within another 2 weeks they hope to have 4,000 children back at school. You can read more, HERE:

The really good news for the city is Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF – Doctors Without Borders) have started constructing a hospital.

Outside the city, on the original borders of the Canton, the Kurdish YPG/YPJ and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters continue their battle to push back the Islamic Front (IS).

IS continues to ferry men, ammunition and weapons into the area from Aleppo province, via the Tishrin Dam. The Kurds and their allies seem to have pushed the IS Jihadists back across the M4 highway between Nur Ali and Demercik, and there are unconfirmed reports that the IS fighters in the Lafarge Cement Plant are once again trapped and surrounded.

US Central Command (Centcom) says that on Monday through to Tuesday of this week 2 airstrikes in Kobane Canton destroyed 6 x IS fighting positions.

Latest Kobane Canton Situation Map courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Kobane Canton Situation Map 07.04.15

Map of villages liberated by the Kurds in Kobane Canton so far, courtesy of @_paulo34, here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Liberated Kurdish Villages in Kobane Canton 06.04.15

On the western edge of the eastern Kurdish Canton in Syria, Cizire, heavy fighting still continues around Tel Tamer with the YPG launching several simultaneous attacks against Islamic State positions on Monday night.

3 x IS Jihadists were killed near the Tel Tamer – Aleppo road at Aleeah and another 8 were killed near Tel Kanzir. 2 more IS Jihadists were killed in Tel Baz, and one other in Tel Fyeda, while at Xebish, the IS fighters burned tyres to try and hide their positions.

IS attacks on the villages of Tel Shamiran and Tel Nasir were repelled with YPG mortars and heavy weaponry.

AFTER BOMBING AND SHELLING YARMOUK FOR YEARS, ASSAD OFFERS TO “HELP”, AS CIVILIANS STARVE OR ARE KILLED BY SNIPER FIRE:

Despite Islamic State control of most of the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp, the anti-Assad Palestinian militia, Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, together with Opposition allies is fighting back.

Islamic Opposition group Jaysh Al-Islam claimed that they and their allies had killed 80 IS fighters “in the last 2 days”. Jaysh Al-Islam normally operates in Douma and the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus province, but has come to the aid of the besieged Palestinians.

IS is also reported to be trying to take over the district of Yalda, just to the south-east of the Yarmouk.

Palestinians Barely Surviving in Yarmouk

 

Palestinians Barely Surviving in Yarmouk

The Opposition set fire to an IS position, HERE:  and a scene from the fierce fighting can be seen,HERE:

The main danger for civilians, apart from bombs and mortar shells, is sniper fire.

Zaynab Daghistani, a 12 year old Palestinian girl was killed by sniper fire yesterday outside her  home.

There is no clean drinking water and almost no food. Most Palestinian residents of the camp were previously reported to be barely existing on 400 calories a day, even before fighting with IS began.

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), has arrived in Damascus to discuss with the Syrian Government what can be done to help.

Majdalani says that 25 Palestinians have been killed since fighting began and between 75 and 200 abducted by IS, though this is so far unverified.

After meeting with Majdalani, Assad’s “Reconciliation Minister”, Ali Haider, said “The priority now is to expel and defeat militants and terrorists in the camp. Under the present circumstances, a military solution is necessary”, though it is not clear whether he means troops, weapons or both.

Assad’s Air Force continued air raids throughout Tuesday and dropped 9 barrel bombs after midnight, ostensibly on Islamic State positions but just as likely to hit civilians. The fear is that if Assad’s troops are allowed into the camp to fight IS, they will never leave again.

This afternoon, Wednesday, there are unconfirmed reports that members of Assad’s National Defence Force have entered the camp.

Another Palestinian group, the Palestinian Network accused both the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front of stealing UN relief supplies in the camp.

BBC Syria news Arabic Service, has a video report from inside the camp, (English translation, though faulty – translator says “1,300” when he means “13,000”), here:

https://youtu.be/3U6Z0uZMsew

Elsewhere in Syria, the Islamic State carried out 2 deadly suicide bomb attacks against Opposition groups in a northern part of Aleppo province.

The first bomb struck the headquarters of the “Joint Force for Repelling Injustice”, an Islamic Front Opposition coalition group in Marea, killing 2 commanders and as many as 16 others according to reports today, Wednesday.

The second suicide bomb was at a base of an Opposition group affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) near Hur Killis and is credited with killing between 30 – 40 people, many of them civilians. 3 or 4 buildings were “levelled to the ground” said onlookers.

The Al-Nusra Front released yesterday 300 Kurdish men and boys that it had kidnapped as they journeyed with their families on Sunday from the Kurdish town of Afrin to Aleppo city and towards Damascus.

The men were originally taken prisoner at Tuqad village, 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Aleppo and then moved to Al-Dana town in Idlib province.

Although the men have been released all their cars, buses and other vehicles have not been returned. (EDITOR: So much for Sharia Law and the penalties against theft!)

In Aleppo Old City, Opposition fighters have this week seized another Hamman (steam and public bath house) after clashes with regime troops, HERE:

DISPUTE SEES YEZIDI COMMANDER ARRESTED BY PESHMERGA, WHILE ISLAMIC STATE RELEASE ANOTHER 280 PRISONERS:

In Iraq, there is anger among the Yezidi community after the supreme commander of the HPS, Heydar Shesho, was arrested by the Peshmerga on Monday and despite promises, at the time of writing, has yet to be released.

IRAQ and SYRIA NEWS

 

Heydar Shesho, Yezidi Commander, Held By Peshmerga

The HPS is a Yezidi militia of around 3,000 men which normally fights alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State.

Shesho seems to have raised the Kurdistan Government’s ire by agreeing to accept weapons from Shia military in Baghdad, to whom legally and technically the Shingal/Sinjar region belongs.

Rumours had it that Shesho had agreed to be bound by arrangements for weapons and other materials from the Peshmerga and come under their control, but as of Wednesday evening this has not been confirmed and Shesho, according to his family is still imprisoned.

Feelings between the Yezidi and the Peshmerga have not been good since the Kurds fled in the face of the Islamic State advance last August and left the Yezidi to their fate, thousands of whom, particularly women and girls, are still in captivity.

Having said that, IS released 280 Yezidi on Monday, mainly elderly women and children that had been held captive in Mosul. They were released to Peshmerga forces near Kirkuk and after a medical inspection taken to Lilash.

IRAQ and SYRIA NEWS

 

Hand Emerges from Mass Grave in Tikrit

Meanwhile, forensic experts have begun examining the sites of 12 mass graves in Tikrit, recently recaptured from the Islamic State.

The graves are believed to contain the remains of as many as 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, mostly from the Shia sect, who were singled out for execution when IS overran the Camp Speicher airbase not far from Tikrit in July 2014. You can read more, HERE:

A report from IS-held Mosul says that IS have also just executed a number of officers and men belonging to the Naqshbandiyah Order. If true, there could be even more trouble ahead for the Islamic State.

Until now, the Naqshbandiyah Order, run by former soldiers in the Sadam Hussein Baathist regime, and like IS of the Sunni sect, had worked alongside the IS Jihadists in plotting and implementing attacks on the Shia-led Iraqi government in Baghdad.

The origins of the dispute appear to be over who had the authority to impound oil tankers in the area and/or a refusal by the Baathists to lay down their weapons and pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. You can read more,HERE:

Another sign of the pressures on IS, after losing Tikrit and being pounded by Coalition airstrikes, is a report that through local tribal clans and intermediaries, IS fighters in northern Iraq are requesting a ceasefire with the Kurdish forces – “if you don’t fire at us, we will not fire at you”.

Hopefully, the Kurds, who do not trust IS anyway, will not take this seriously. The Kurds have now regained around 90% of the territory they lost to the IS Jihadists in their rapid advance last summer.

Lastly, 2 stories of despair and hope.

IRAQ and SYRIA NEWS

 

Syrian Children Begging on the Streets of Beirut

The BBC’s Michael Downey reports of finding very young, sick Syrian refuge children begging on the streets of Beirut in Lebanon and when he tries to get medical treatment for them, even offering to pay, is turned away and blocked by the authorities at every turn, HERE:

Finally, the dreadful story of Amel, 18, and Jwan, 17, 2 Yezidi girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic State and given to an IS commander who regularly raped them, while both were in the same room together.

After stealing a mobile phone, they phoned their families and arranged for a driver to come to Mosul to find them, breaking the lock on the door while the IS Jihadist was out fighting.

6 months later, having been accepted back into the Yezidi community, they are on their way to Germany where the State of Baden-Württemberg will take care of them, give them an education and create a new future. You can read the whole moving story, HERE:

Israeli forces stop children’s school bus for 2 hours

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces held a children’s school bus on on the main road leading from Nablus for two hours late on Monday claiming one of the children had thrown a stone at Jewish settlers from the bus.

A Palestinian Authority liaison official in Nablus, Usama Abu Arab, said that Israeli forces stopped the bus, carrying children between the ages of 10 and 12, along the main road between Nablus and the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar.

The bus was returning to Ramallah from a school trip. The children are students at Shuhadaa Silwad school in Ramallah.

Abu Arab said that the bus was released after two hours.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that Israeli forces had stopped a bus because rocks were allegedly “hurled” by people on board, although she had “no information about (the stone throwers) being children.”

She said there were no injuries or arrests.

Asked why there had been no arrests when Israeli forces claimed rocks had been hurled, she said: “Every case is dealt with differently… This case was dealt with as it was meant to be.”

Israeli authorities regularly detain Palestinians for alleged stone throwing incidents.

Last March marked two years that five boys from the northern West Bank village of Hares have been held under administrative detention over such allegations.

Despite heavily contested evidence, the boys, aged 16 to 17 at the time of their arrest, each face 20 charges of attempted murder and potential life imprisonment for allegedly throwing stones.

“Hares Boys,” an activist blog dedicated to raising awareness of their case, wrote: “If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent which would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child or youngster for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.”

According to Military Court Watch, there were 182 Palestinian children in Israeli detention as of Feb. 28, 2015, including 25 children aged 15 or younger, nine more than the previous month.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast

Two Palestinian fishermen paddle their small boat off the beach of Gaza City while casting their nets on Aug. 10, 2014.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Wednesday shot and injured a Palestinian man with a rubber-coated steel bullet as he was fishing off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip.

Local sources said that fisherman Khalid Zayid was shot while he was at sea off the coast of the town of Beit Lahiya.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

Israeli authorities maintained a limit of three miles on all activities of fishermen in the Gaza Strip until August, when Hamas negotiated a six-mile limit as part of the ceasefire that concluded Israel’s two-month summer assault that left 2,200 dead.

But Israeli authorities have frequently shot at Palestinian fishermen inside the limit, and three have been killed since then.

Twenty-nine attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian fisherman have have been reported since Sept. 1 by Gaza-based watchdog al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, however due to the normalcy of such incidents, attacks often go unreported.

The center also said that 42 fisherman had been detained and 12 fishing boats confiscated in the same period.

There are approximately 4,000 fishermen in Gaza.

According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross 90 percent are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 and a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The Gaza Strip has been under a blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006 which has devastated the economy through near-complete limits on imports and exports.

The blockade has massively increased Palestinian dependance on international food aid, and the fishing industry is one of the few ways Gazans can produce their own food sources.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

Ship to Gaza sails a fishing vessel to Gaza

Marianne av Göteborg will break the blockade

Today, Wednesday april 8th, Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway announces the purchase of ”Marianne av Göteborg”*, a trawler of 85 GT, which will be used at this summer’s action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza strip. It is no coincidence that Ship to Gaza will sail a fishing vessel this time. The blockade of the coastal strip, now on its ninth year, bereaves the besieged Palestinians of freedom of movement and trade, medicine and food security, education and hope for the future. Palestinian fishermen, who are forbidden by Israeli occupational authorities to move outside a zone of three (3) nautical miles, are harassed on a daily basis, shot at and repeatedly gets their boats confiscated.

This spring, Marianne will sail from Scandinavia to the East Mediterranean, where she will join other boats from Freedom Flotilla Coalition, on her way to Gaza. In order for the Palestinian State now recognised by Sweden to work, and to achieve a just peace, the following is required:

  1. An immediate end to the blockade
  2. An opening of Gaza’s Port
  3. Secure passages between the West Bank and the Gaza strip

*Marianne av Göteborg is named after Marianne Skoog, a veteran within the Swedish Palestine Solidarity movement, who passed away in May 2014.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

Portugal: Immediate Liberation of Khalida Jarrar

The Movimento Pelos Direitos do Povo Palestino e Pela Paz no Medio Oriente in Portugal issued the following statement in support of Khalida Jarrar:

FOR THE IMMEDIATE LIBERATION OF KHALEDA JARRAR

Khaleda Jarrar, an MP in the Palestinian Parliament, was detained last Thursday, April 2, when several dozen elements of the Israeli army assaulted her home in Ramallah, where she was with her husband and daughter.

Khaleda Jarrar, is a 52-year old lawyer, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and human rights activist. She chairs the Committee for Palestinian Prisoners of the Palestinian Legislative Council (Parliament) and she is a leader of Addameer, an organization devoted to the defense of prisoners’ rights. She is also a member of several organizations that defend women’s rights.

Since 1998 she is banned from traveling outside Palestine and only once, in 2010, after months of public campaigns, was she authorized to receive medical treatment in Jordan, despite suffering from a chronic illness.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Army, quoted by the Ma’an News Agency, accused Kahleda Jarrar of being the leader of a ‘terrorist organization’ and of having encouraged ‘terrorist activities’ in recent weeks. However, as Addameer clarifies, “most Palestinian political organizations are considered illegal by Israel, including PLO member organizations, and an association with such organizations is frequently used as a pretext for detention”.

The same Israeli spokesperson justified the detention with the fact that Khaleda Jarrar refused to accept a deportation order issued last August. In fact, she received from the Israeli occupation authorities a deportation order from Ramallah to Jericho. She refused to accept it and set up a tent, in the lobby of the Palestinian Parliament in Ramallah,where she lived and worked until, on September 16, the deportation order was annulled, following an international campaign in her support. A PLO statement, issued at the time, considered the order illegal because it violated “Israel’s obligations under international law and treaties to respect the rights of individuals, including the rights to self-determination, freedom of movement, privacy, and protection of the family”. Furthermore, this order represented an attempt at a “forcible transfer, unlawful confinement and persecution, all of which are crimes punishable under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”.

Today, there are 18 Palestinian members of Parliament in jail, 9 of which under administrative detention, without due process or duly charged. There are over six thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 454 of which are under administrative detention. According to data available on February 2015, 163 of these are children, of which 13 are under 16 years of age.

Considering that the detention of Khaleda Jarrar

  • is an attempt to break the Palestinian people’s spirit of resistance to the occupation, depriving them of their leaders and activists in defense of their rights
  • is an attack against democracy, targeting a freely elected representative of the people
  • was carried out in violation of international law and international humanitarian law, namely the Geneva Conventions, as regards the obligations and restrictions on an occupying power

The Portuguese Movement for the Rights of the Palestinian People and Peace in the Middle East (MPPM):

  • Demands, from the Government of Israel, the immediate liberation of Khaleda Jarrar and other Palestinian MPs under arrest without charge, as well as of all Palestinian prisoners who are illegitimately and illegally in Israeli jails;
  • Calls upon all Members of the Portuguese Parliament to express their solidarity with Khaleda Jarrar and other Palestinian MPs jailed by Israel, demanding the respect for their rights;
  • Demands, that the Portuguese Government, in its relations with Israel and in keeping with the Constitution of the [Portuguese] Republic and the dispositions of international law and international humanitarian law to which Portugal has signed up, draws the full consequences of Israel’s repeated non-abidance of these legal norms.
  • Calls upon all Portuguese Members of the European Parliament to express their solidarity with Khaleda Jarrar and other Palestinian MPs jailed by Israel, demanding respect for their rights, and also demanding that the Governments of the European Union countries draw all consequences from the reiterated violation by Israel of its obligations, as the occupying power of Palestine.

Lisbon, April 4, 2015

The National Directorate of MPPM

MPPM – MOVIMENTO PELOS DIREITOS DO POVO PALESTINO E PELA PAZ NO MÉDIO ORIENTE

Presidente da Assembleia Geral | Carlos Araújo Sequeira

Presidente da Direcção Nacional | Maria do Céu Guerra

Vice-Presidentes | Carlos Almeida, Carlos Carvalho, Frei Bento Domingues

Secretário para as Relações Internacionais | Silas Cerqueira

Presidente do Conselho Fiscal | Frederico da Gama Carvalho

(Source / 08.04.2015)

Al Qaeda in Yemen offers bounty for Houthi leader: SITE

(Reuters) – Al Qaeda has offered a bounty of 20 kg (44 lb) of gold for the capture or killing of the leader of Yemen’s Houthi forces and his ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the SITE monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The offer was made in a video distributed by al Qaeda’s media arm, SITE said.

Yemen’s Shi’ite Muslim Houthis, led by Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, seized control of the capital Sanaa six months ago and launched an offensive in southern Yemen last month, backed by soldiers loyal to Saleh.

Saudi Arabia, alarmed by the growing power of the Iran-allied Houthis, launched air strikes against them two weeks ago, seeking to drive back the Houthi advance and restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadi movement’s Yemeni wing, has exploited the conflict, storming the town of Mukalla last week and freeing a jailed local al Qaeda leader.

Suspected al Qaeda militants also attacked a remote eastern border post on the frontier with Saudi Arabia.

Houthis are part of Yemen’s Shi’ite Muslim Zaydi minority, considered infidel by hardline Sunni Islamist movements such as al Qaeda.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

Ground troops in Yemen cannot be ruled out: UAE Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed

UAE believes in dialogue, but Iran is leaving no room for it

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, and Riyadh Yassen, Yemeni Foreign Minister

Abu Dhabi: UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday that the Saudi-led coalition conducting air strikes in Yemen cannot rule out any options, including ground troops, as he defended the Gulf intervention in the troubled Arab nation.

Shaikh Abdullah made the comments during a visit by Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin to Abu Dhabi.

He said Gulf nations such as the UAE that are conducting air strikes against Iranian-backed rebels “will truly regret it” if they do not stand by Yemen’s government.

Shaikh Abdullah characterised the conflict as part of a broader pattern of Iranian effort to export its Islamic revolution and expand its influence in the region.

“Iran leaves no hope for proper dialogue with its neighbours,” he said, adding that while the UAE hopes for future dialogue with the country, all previous attempts to engage with Tehran were in vain.

“We hope Iran would talk to the legitimate Yemeni government if they want to engage in conversation rather than talk to the rebels,” he said.

Yassin said that the Al Houthi rebellion was Iran’s “latest attempt of interference” in the region.

Shaikh Abdullah added that every move made by the coalition in Yemen was coordinated with the embattled Yemeni government. The UAE continued to support dialogue and did not expect the problem to be resolved with military intervention alone, he said.

Speaking a day earlier in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken blamed the violence in Yemen on Al Houthis, and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, saying that the US is committed to defending Saudi Arabia.

“We have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination and planning cell in the Saudi operations centre,” he said in a statement to reporters after meeting with Saudi royals and Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled his country amid rebel advances.

Intelligence sharing includes making available raw aerial imagery the coalition could use to better strike anti-Hadi forces, said a US defence official who was not authorised to comment publicly. Blinken said the US and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council must coordinate closely and press all parties to seek a political solution.

The US says that the chaos has allowed the local Al Qaida branch, which it considers the world’s most dangerous wing of the group, to make “great gains” on the ground, causing Washington to rethink how it prevents it from launching attacks in the West.

Speaking from Tokyo, Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the collapse of the central government in Yemen makes it harder to conduct counterterrorism operations against Al Qaida, which has ambitions to strike Western targets, including the United States. Regarding the weapons deliveries, he said it involved “some resupply of equipment and munitions” to Saudi Arabia.

The World Health Organisation warned on Tuesday of an unfolding humanitarian crisis, saying at least 560 people, including dozens of children, have been killed, mostly in the air campaign and ground battles. The aid group said that over 1,700 people have been wounded and another 100,000 have fled their homes as fighting has intensified over the past three weeks.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

A new set of racist anti-Arab laws is before the Knesset

Hisham MunawarHisham Munawar

As a continuation of the Israeli government’s general shift towards the right, the Knesset has introduced a new round of laws targeting its Palestinian citizens, known as “Israeli-Arabs”. The coalition of Palestinian members of the parliament is working hard to confront and thwart such racist legislation.

The intention behind the laws, it is believed, is to subjugate even further Palestinians living within Israel; some of the bills are said to be those which the right-wing wanted to push through before the dissolution of the last parliament. However, the Arab coalition is now the Knesset’s third largest bloc, so there is optimism that the laws can be blocked.

The most dangerous of these laws is that which would designate Israel to be a “Jewish State”. Benjamin Netanyahu tried to push this through in the last parliament but failed. He met a lot of resistance from the then Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni. If passed, the law would stipulate that Israel is the state of Jewish people all over the world; rights of citizenship would be exclusive to Jews. Moreover, Hebrew would be the sole official language of the state and Arabic would no longer be the state’s second language. Such a change would make it unnecessary to prepare all official documents and road signs, for example, in Hebrew and Arabic.

The Judaisation project also requires any organisation seeking official state recognition to declare that it acknowledges the Jewishness of the state of Israel. It warns members of the Knesset that they could be prosecuted should they make any statements denying this status.

Another bill waiting to be passed by the Israeli right-wing and its extremist supporters is one which prohibits the use of microphones and loudspeakers in mosques. If passed, it would give the minister of the interior the right to ban the Islamic call to prayer in any areas that he or she sees fit. Palestinian citizens of Israel view this as an attempt to limit their right to practise their religion and a prelude to the potential escalation of violence between both sides, which is the outcome that Israel desires so that it can frame this issue as a battle against “extremism” and “terrorism”.

The Israeli right also wants to ban human rights groups based in Israel from applying for and receiving funding from foreign countries, while another bill wants to limit access to overseas funding. There is no doubt that at least one of these bills will be passed in the Knesset due to Israel’s fear of foreign organisations internationalising Israel’s crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Knesset may also prohibit the commemoration of the Nakba and establish committees that would prevent Arabs from obtaining degrees or permits to buy land. Moreover, the government is seeking to prohibit any of its citizens from participating in the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which boycotts not only Israeli goods and academic institutions generally but also specifically those based in illegal settlements. The death penalty may be reinstated for Palestinian prisoners.

It looks as if the Israeli government will seek to implement a law pertaining to the settlements that would see “Area C” of the occupied West Bank annexed as part of Israel’s settlement expansion project. What this indicates is the Israeli right-wing’s intention to ignore the Oslo agreement and carry out new procedures that would enable Israel to continue to annex even more land across the West Bank.

Bills like these are nothing new and some have been passed in one shape or form in the past three years, although the Palestinians have rejected them. However, laws concerning the BDS movement and the establishment of certain committees are part of a greater plan to prevent Palestinians from accessing their basic rights and civil liberties; to continue the ethnic cleansing of them from their land so that Jews can take their place and crystallise the status quo with the help and sponsorship of the United States.

The goal behind the implementation of such laws is to create economic, social and political hardships for the Palestinians in Israel so that they will want to leave the country, especially young men. The imposition of systematic restrictions by the Israeli government on Palestinian youth is a political project, which aims to push young men and women to emigrate in search of better living and working conditions.

The political make-up of the new Knesset is different to what it has been in the past due to the presence of the newly-elected coalition of Arab parties. It is a huge achievement that will work to block laws that are detrimental to Palestinian interests.

Will the Arab coalition succeed in influencing Israeli public opinion? Will it be easy to block all of the far right’s attempts to implement policies that would expedite the expulsion of Palestinians from their land? And will the rest of the Arab world continue to stand idly by as Israel implements racist laws that complicate the lives of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the Palestinian territories? We can only wait and see.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

Yemeni Military Liberates Aden from al-Qaeda, Hadi’s Militiamen, Arrests 15

Yemen: Aden securityYemeni army soldiers supported by the Popular Committees announced Tuesday that two tanks and one armored vehicle were regained as they liberated the city of Aden, expelling terrorists of al-Qaeda takfiri group and militiamen of the outgoing President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi from the Maala city.

Following 13 days of continuous airstrikes and warship attacks targeting the Yemeni people, Ansarullah movement confirmed in a statement the liberation of Aden from terrorists and armed groups, amid regional and international political developments, particularly the latest visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan to Tehran.

Ansarullah added that 15 al-Qaeda terrorists were also arrested and scores others were killed after the group’s operatives were expelled from Lodr-Zanjabar-Aden highway.

Aden, the southern port city where the Saudi Arabia wanted Hadi to establish rival government, witnessed on Monday intensified  street fighting between the national military and Hadi’s militiamen, along with heavy shelling by the Saudi warships and warplanes that left scores of Yemenis killed, including 8 people of one family.

A coalition of 10 countries, led by the Saudi Arabia, launched two weeks ago a wide military offensive on Yemen, killing 20 civilians in one attack, wounding hundreds and causing so much destruction across the state.

Media outlets reported that Saudi Arabia has deployed “100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units” for the military campaign against Yemen. It also sent 5000 takfiri terrorists to fight against the Yemeni army.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known for training and funding takfiri groups and sending them to the conflict-hit zones in the Arab and Muslim world, including Syria, Afghanistan and now in Yemen.

(Source / 08.04.2015)

How the Israeli Army “Helps” Palestinians

It seems that the Israeli Defense Forces, far from repressing Palestinians under their control, are just trying to help. This is what we learn from a recent report by Isabel Kershner in The New York Times. In the occupied West Bank, she writes, the military is making an effort to provide Palestinians with “economic stability and revive the local economy.”

In “Israel’s Military Faces Delicate Balance in West Bank,” Kershner quotes an Israeli general who claims that the army has allowed freer movement of Palestinians in an effort to “offset the growing economic hardship.” This, says Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, is being done even though it involves “some security risks.”

Readers who pay even minimal attention to alternative media will sense serious dissonance here. This talk of easing the burden contrasts with accounts of some very different activities on the part of Israeli forces: the demolition of homes, the confiscation of equipment, the destruction of water systems, the uprooting of olive trees and other activities that directly threaten the livelihoods of Palestinians.

Just last week, for example, the army entered Khan al Ahmar, a Bedouin community outside Jerusalem, and removed a dozen solar panels. The panels had been donated by an organization that promotes sustainability and were the only source of electricity for the village and a school serving all the Bedouin communities in the area. B’Tselem, an Israeli rights organization, reported that the last of the panels had been put in place the same day the army arrived to take them away.

The following day Israeli officers uprooted and confiscated 120 olive trees near Salfit in the northern West Bank, claiming that the farmers who owned the trees had been told to evacuate their land. This came on top of a one-week period last month when the armydestroyed 492 trees in three communities across the West Bank. The orchards, according to the army, had been declared “state land.”

The same week that Israeli forces were uprooting nearly 500 olive trees, officersconfiscated water tanks in the northern Jordan Valley farming community of al Farisiyah, which is not connected to a water supply network. Another Jordan Valley community lost its water supply in late January when the army confiscated all its recently installed water pipes.

The IDF is responsible for all of this, whether in its role as the Civil Administration (a branch of the military) or as troops guarding the agency’s workers.

Yet Kershner reports in the Times that these same Israeli forces who are devastating homes, fields, solar panels and water tanks are trying to bolster the economy of the West Bank. Without a hint of irony she quotes General Alon as saying that the government has instructed his army to “maintain security, civilian and economic stability as much as we can.”

Kershner blames at least part of the West Bank’s economic problems on the Israeli government’s decision to withhold tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority, a punitive measure taken after Palestinians joined the International Criminal Court at the beginning of this year. There is no mention of the fact that army officials are tasked with destroying the most basic amenities in West Bank communities.

Nor is anything said about home demolitions, which have driven East Jerusalem families out of their neighborhoods and forced a number of West Bank Palestinians to take shelter in caves. Some 15 families in the village of Al Mafqara near Hebron are now living in mountainside caves after the army destroyed the homes they were building. The army raids also destroyed a generator, the only source of electricity for the village.

It would take only minimal efforts to alleviate the burdens of Palestinians who now live without electricity or piped water, but this is not part of the mitigation plan described by General Alon. Israel’s “effort to offset economic hardship” involves two policy changes: allowing Palestinians with permits to enter Israel simply by showing their identity cards and by lowering the age of permit applicants from 24 to 22.

Even this is a “risk,” according to Alon, but apparently it is seen as a safety valve, a way to prevent Palestinian unrest. Readers would never know from this story and others in theTimes that Palestinians are the ones at constant risk of harassment, loss and damages.

Kershner writes that her interview with General Alon was a “rare” opportunity and came only as he was leaving his tour of duty as top commander in the West Bank. Here was a chance to ask some urgent questions concerning army abuses in the territory—the arrest,mistreatment and detention of Palestinian children, for instance, and the excessive use ofdeadly force during demonstrations, both well-documented by monitoring agencies.

But none of this was on Kershner’s radar. General Alon was allowed to hold forth on his efforts to “offset the economic hardship” in the West Bank, apparently without any unwelcome questions from the Times’ reporter. The result is a story with blinders on, one that turns away from the facts on the ground and gives voice to a claim that is ultimately absurd.

(Source / 08.04.2015)