Sa’adat transferred from Ramon to Gilboa Prison amid widespread transfers of Palestinian prisoners

Via the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat:

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat was transferred from Ramon to Gilboa prison on May 5 as part of a series of transfers aimed at disrupting prison organizing. Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been repeatedly transferred during his imprisonment.

Transfers are used to disrupt the social fabric and political organizing among Palestinian prisoners and are also inhumane and abusive in and of themselves; when Palestinian prisoners are transferred, the infamous “bosta” – a metal transport vehicle in which the prisoner is shackled to a metal chair in the back – is used. The bosta is not air conditioned, does not have open windows and reaches extremely high temperatures. It is a particularly dangerous experience for older or ill prisoners.

In addition to Sa’adat, Jamal Abu el-Hija, an imprisoned Hamas leader, was transferred from Eshel to Ramon prison, as was his son Imadeddine. Abu el-Hija and Sa’adat were two of the 19 prominent Palestinians held in solitary confinement for years whose isolation sparked the September 2011 and then the April 2012 Karameh mass hunger strikes, in which Israeli prison officials acceded to the demand to end the use of long-term isolation. Despite their agreement in 2012, the use of solitary confinement and isolation against Palestinian prisoners has been escalating, particularly since 2014.

80 Palestinian prisoners were transfered from Eshel to Nafha prison, with “inspections” given as a pretext, 6 from Megiddo prison to the Negev Prison.

(Source / 08.05.2015)

MSF Statement in Response to Latest Yemen Offensive

BARCELONA, SPAIN/ABS, YEMENThe international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today issued the following statement in response to the Saudi-led coalition’s stated plans to heavily bomb Yemen’s Sa’ada Province:

“The bombing of civilian targets, with or without warning, is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. It is even more serious to target a whole province.

It is impossible for the population of the entire province of Sa’ada to leave within a few hours. Many people have neither vehicles nor fuel due to the coalition’s blockade. Many others have no access to information, as the phone networks are barely operational in the province.

If the Coalition proceeds with the threat of bombing the province massively, many people will die under the bombs. We call on the coalition to avoid attacking civilian targets, especially hospitals and water distribution systems.

There is also the risk of creating an exodus of thousands of people towards the mountains south of Sa’ada, where humanitarian aid will not reach them in time. Together with the blockade, all airports in the country have been destroyed by coalition air strikes, which could provoke an even greater humanitarian disaster than the one we are already facing.”

Llanos Ortiz, MSF medical coordinator in Yemen.

Together with a Yemeni ministry of health team, MSF is treating wounded people in Al Gumhury Hospital in Saada, Yemen.

(Source / 08.05.2015)

Four killed in US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan

This file photo shows a US MQ-9 Reaper drone armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

This file photo shows a US MQ-9 Reaper drone armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

At least four people have been killed in a fresh US drone attack on Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, police officials say.

Colonel Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial police department, said the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fired a missile at a car in Goshta district, located 35 kilometers (20 miles) east of the provincial capital of Jalalabad, late on Thursday.

He further noted that the assault targeted a group of Taliban militants and those killed in the airstrike were members of the terrorist group.

Taliban militants, however, have not yet made any comments on the incident.

A similar attack in the Khas Kunar district of Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar killed at least seven people earlier in the day.

On May 4, a drone strike in the Momand Dara district of Nangarhar Province left at least seventeen people dead. A local Taliban militant commander was reportedly among the dead.

A drone raid in the Chapa Dara of Kunar Province killed least three people on April 28.

The United States carries out targeted killings through drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

While Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, local officials and witnesses maintain that, in most cases, civilians have been the victims of the attacks over the past few years.

Afghanistan faces a security challenge years after the United States and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still witnessing violence, which threatens stability.

At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission, which came on December 31, 2014. The forces, mainly from the US, are there for what Washington calls a support mission. US-led NATO says the forces will focus mainly on counterterrorism operations and training Afghan soldiers and policemen.

(Source / 08.05.2015)

Settlers in Hebron harass FIFA tour delegation

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Settlers harassed the head of the Palestinian National Union for Football and the South African head of an anti-racism group during a tour in Hebron’s Old City this week.
Palestinian football chief, Jibril al-Rajoub, was heading a FIFA delegation tour in the city on Tuesday when the incident took place. The group included Tokyo Sexwale, an anti-apartheid activist imprisoned for 13 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, and co-chair of Global Watch: Say No To Racism-Discrimination In Sport.
The delegation was briefed on the difficult living conditions in the Old City by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and were shown videos documenting army and settler violence against Palestinians in the city.
Israeli forces then prevented the delegation from entering several areas of the Old City, with settlers verbally insulting the group as they tried to continue the tour.
Sexwale said that life for Palestinians in the city is intolerable, saying he was proud of the Palestinians for their determination to remain on their land.
The South African official had to enter Ramallah via the King Hussein Bridge to avoid entry from Tel Aviv.The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has called for a vote at the FIFA annual congress on May 29 calling for Israel’s expulsion for blocking Palestinian football through its sanctions on the Palestinian territories.
In its draft resolution for the FIFA congress, the Palestinian protests over Israel’s treatment of Arabs and acts such as setting up clubs in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israeli forces raided the PFA headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah in November.
Palestinian football chiefs have also condemned Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players and on importing equipment into the occupied territories
(Source / 08.05.2015)

Officials Threaten to Close Mosque Installation at Venice Biennale

VENICE — A provocative art installation in the form of a functioning mosque opened here on Friday for prayers, attended by dozens of Muslim worshipers who were outnumbered through much of the day by art spectators crowding the city for the 56th Venice Biennale.

Prayers were conducted in a festive atmosphere on Friday at the mosque installation in Venice

The project, by the Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel, serves as Iceland’s national pavilion for the Biennale and is intended in part to highlight the absence of a mosque in the historic heart of Venice, a city whose art and architecture were deeply influenced by Islamic trade and culture. But the idea has upset Venetian city officials and police authorities, who have warned that the mosque poses a security threat because of possible violence either by anti-Islamic extremists or Islamic extremists upset that the mosque has been created inside a disused Catholic church. City officials have also argued that special legal permission is needed within Venice to create a place of worship, and they have rejected claims by Mr. Büchel and Icelandic art officials that the mosque is a simply a work of art functioning as a place of worship.

The former Catholic church that houses the mosque, Santa Maria della Misericordi, right.

In a letter from the city on Friday morning to Björg Stefánsdóttir, the director of the Icelandic Art Center and the commissioner of Iceland’s pavilion, municipal officials warned that the installation, in the Cannaregio neighborhood, would not be allowed to continue if it functioned as a place of worship.

“The pavilion is not and cannot be a place of worship, as the promotional material issued in recent days suggests it is,” the letter said. It added that even acts of preparation for worship, such as the washing of feet, would not be allowed and that people who entered the church building could not wear clothing “different from that worn at any other place of exhibition at the Venice Biennale,” though officials were not specific about what kind of clothing would be prohibited. (Some Muslim men and women who live in and around greater Venice, a population estimated at 15,000 to 20,000, wear head coverings, overgarments and robes.)

City officials made no move on Friday to close the mosque installation, where prayers were conducted, music was played and food was served in a festive atmosphere throughout the day. Icelandic art officials said their lawyers were reviewing the city’s letter. Mr. Büchel and Venetian Islamic leaders who collaborated with him to create the mosque said they intended to open the doors again Saturday unless told they could not. (Mr. Büchel’s plan has been to keep the mosque operating through the end of the Biennale in November; the former Catholic church that houses the mosque, Santa Maria della Misericordia, is privately owned. Iceland rented it for Mr. Büchel’s installation.)

During the opening ceremony, the building was packed with camera-wielding international art pilgrims and with Venetian Muslims, the men praying together in the middle of the space and the women gathered near the back, where they prayed separately. Tehmina Janjua, Pakistan’s ambassador to Italy, spoke during the opening ceremony, thanking Mr. Büchel and the project’s curator, Nina Magnúsdóttir, for “a place of worship, a place of art, a place where communities can come together and talk, can dialogue with each other.”

(Source / 08.05.2015)

New suspected chemical attacks reported in Syria, dozens injured

Three chlorine attacks reported in Idlib province with nearly 80 people said to have been affected

Civilians wear gas masks after a suspected chlorine gas attack on Kansafra village in Idlib province.

Civilians wear gas masks after a suspected chlorine gas attack on Kansafra village in Idlib province.

Syrian activists and a doctor reported Thursday new suspected chemical attacks in the northwestern province of Idlib, leaving several dozens of people suffering from asphyxiation.

Mohammed Tennari, a doctor who testified before the UN Security Council last month after treating a number of victims in Idlib from an earlier chemical attack, said there were at least three separate attacks in the province that injured nearly 80 people.

Tennari, who spoke with The Associated Press from near the border with Turkey, shared field reports from doctors in the three villages that were reportedly hit. The reports said government helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on the villages of Janoudieh, Kansafrah, and Kafr Batiekh on Thursday.

Tennari is on his way back from the United States where he reported to the council on a suspected chlorine attack in March that killed three children and their grandmother in the same province.

He is the coordinator for the Syrian American Medical Society, which has volunteer medical personnel treating victims and reporting on attacks in Syria.

Also, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, another monitoring group which is based outside the country, reported the three different attacks, sharing on Twitter images it said were from field hospitals where victims were taken.

The group reported that 69 people were injured in the attacks.

The reports could not be independently verified. There has been an increase in reports of suspected chlorine bombs amid intensified fighting in the province where the rebels have made significant advances against government troops in recent weeks.

Rebel fighters seized the provincial capital and weeks later moved in on a strategic town near the border with Turkey. The government has vowed to restore control.

Tennari said a man in his thirties died Thursday from another suspected chlorine attack in a fourth village in Idlib on May 2. The man’s six-month-old baby died in that attack, Tennari said.

Despite condemning such attacks, the United Nations has been unable to follow through with action or assign blame. The rise in attacks comes as the United States is leading an effort to create a way to attribute blame.

On Thursday, the current council president, Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, said a “large majority” of members support the US effort and are ready to move quickly in the next few days.

But Syria ally Russia worried whether it will be objective, with Ambassador Vitaly Churkin telling the AP, “They’ve done their attribution of blame already.”

The US and some other council members accuse Syria’s government of using chlorine against its own citizens, saying that no other party in the conflict has the helicopters to deliver such weapons. Russia has insisted that more evidence is needed to blame anyone.

Even though the Security Council, badly divided on Syria, came together in 2013 to rid Syria of its chemical weapons program, chlorine was not included in that effort.

The chemical does not have to be declared because it is also used for regular purposes in industry. Chlorine is a poisonous chemical element used as a bleaching agent and for water purification, but in more concentrated form can cause victims to suffocate.

The reports of new attacks came after the International Committee for the Red Cross director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, warned on Thursday that the humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated sharply amid intensified fighting in several parts of the country between government forces and rebel groups, as well as among rival opposition faction.

“The fighting is escalating in many parts of the country and more and more people are being forced to flee their homes. It is causing untold suffering,” said Stillhart.

Stillhart finished a two-day visit to the Syrian capital, Damascus, where he met government officials, appealing for more access to areas affected by the fighting, including the violence-torn, besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus.

The camp has been the scene of clashes between local fighters and the Islamic State group since the beginning of April. It was the latest tragedy to engulf the camp’s residents, who have already suffered through a devastating two-year government siege, starvation and disease.

About 18,000 people are still in the camp, a built-up area once home to some 160,000 Palestinians and Syrians. The United Nations over the weekend expressed alarm over the continued fighting, along with the use of heavy weapons, and airstrikes.

Fighting has also intensified elsewhere in Syria in recent weeks, as rebel advances have pushed out government forces from contested areas in the country’s south and north. Government troops are pushing back.

On Thursday, Syrian government forces and allied fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah group took control from Islamic militant fighters of more areas near the Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward.

(Source / 08.05.2015)

KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 87: KURDS RECAPTURE 15 VILLAGES ACROSS 2 CANTONS DESPITE LACK OF COALITION AIR SUPPORT

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

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

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

The Kurds made significant advances in both Kobane and Cizire Cantons in the last 48 hours, capturing from the Islamic State (IS) a total of 15 villages.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

YPG/YPJ in Rubble of Kobane

On the south-eastern front of Kobane Canton, the YPG/YPG took control of both upper and lower Rêkasa, upper and lower Xirabê Zer, Kortik and Horik. Further information still awaited.

On the western edge of Cizire Canton, 30 kilometres west of Tel Tamer, Kurdish forces liberated the villages of El Malha, Dîşo, Sirac, Hela, Bihema, Effun, Qeşqa, Gişat, Rezaza and Girê Rezaza.

2 x IS vehicles were destroyed in these operations, including one mounted with a heavy machine gun, and as many as 33 x IS Jihadists were reported killed.

In Cizire Canton, 4 Coalition airstrikes on Wednesday through to Thursday am destroyed 12 x IS fighting positions near Hasakah and struck 1 large and 2 small IS tactical units.

Kurdish security, the Asayish, have imposed a night-time curfew on areas of Hasakah city they control after 16 of their fighters were killed in an IS suicide bomb attack earlier in the week.

Reports say that the YPG have been bombing IS positions near the Khabur River on the Tel Tamer front and there is footage of YPG fighters attacking an IS believed position, (rather chaotic) HERE:

Coalition aircraft have been absent over Kobane and Cizire Cantons for the last few days, but were reported active over the area again yesterday, Thursday.

There is also an unconfirmed report that another Syrian Opposition brigade, the Syrian Revolutionary Front, will shortly enter Kobane Canton to assist in the battles for Sarrin in the south and Tel Abayd in the east.

In Kobane city itself there is frustration and anger at what is seen as the slow pace of the restoration of services and infrastructure repair. You can read more, HERE:

Latest update map for the southern front in Kobane Canton, courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, is here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Southern Kobane Canton Situation Map 07.05.15

In Iraq, the Islamic State made another attack on Peshmerga positions in Sinjar city this week, hitting the district of Snunie at 1.00am on Thursday morning. With the help of Coalition aircraft their advance was repelled and 15 x IS Jihadists were killed, including an IS commander, Abu Ibrahim, with more injured.

Nearer Mosul in Iraq, there is also renewed fighting at the Baiji Oil refinery. IS are said to have pushed their way further into the complex after setting off 2 suicide vehicle bombs on Wednesday both inside and outside the refinery perimeter.

Iraqi special forces are fighting back but at the moment it is unclear who has the upper hand. Controlling Baiji will be important in the forthcoming fight for Mosul.

From inside Mosul itself reports have emerged of the deaths of 3 Yezidi children, boys who were pressed into military service by the Islamic State, after they were killed in fighting near Al-Kouiyr.

Israeli plot to cause unrest foiled by Gaza police

GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian security authorities has frustrated an Israeli plan to cause civil disturbance in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper that the Palestinian police in Gaza had discovered an Israeli plot to spread security chaos in the Strip through attempts to incite the public against the Hamas Movement.

According to the sources, the police found Facebook and Twitter pages managed professionally by the Shin Bet and its agents to spread rumors and cause unrest in Gaza.

The police said it started a security campaign to confront the Israeli plan and were able to arrest some people who were involved in incitement activities against Gaza.

(Source / 08.05.2015)

Khader Adnan enters his fourth-day hunger strike

ISRAELI JAILS, (PIC)– Sheikh Khader Adnan entered his fourth day of hunger striker he has earlier declared in protest against his renewed administrative detention for the third time running.

Sheikh Adnan, 37, was arrested on July 8, 2014 and immediately turned into administrative detention according to which he being held without charge or trial.

Khader Adnan, one of many former prisoners re-arrested for unclear reasons, staged one of the longest hunger strikes in history in 2011 that lasted for 66 days running.

Family sources confirmed that sheikh Adnan has earlier threatened to declare hunger strike in case Israeli authorities renewed his administrative detention once again.

The hunger striker’s father called for increasing popular support to his son’s protest steps and all the administrative detainees’ issue.

(Source / 08.05.2015)

ISIS supporters claim attack on Hamas base in Gaza Strip

Reuters

A jihadist group with ties to the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on a Hamas base in the Gaza Strip.

The group, calling itself ‘Supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL),’ said in an online statement that it fired mortar rounds at a base used by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ armed wing) in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza, on Friday.

Witnesses told AFP they heard explosions close to Khan Yunis.

It follows an attack earlier this week, which targeted Hamas’ security headquarters in Gaza. That assault took place after radical Islamists issued a threatening message, calling for the release of prisoners.

It comes amid rising tensions between Hamas as Islamic State supporters in the Gaza Strip.

The attack followed the arrest of a Salafist leader by Hamas last month. The organization claimed he was an ISIS supporter who holds vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Dozens of other Salafi jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State were also arrested, sources in the Gaza Strip told the Jerusalem Post. They added that the arrests came following a series of bombings carried out by the Salafi jihadists in recent weeks.

Salafi jihadists also issued a warning to several top Hamas security officials responsible for the crackdown.

Earlier this week, Hamas demolished a mosque used by Islamic State supporters in Deir el-Balah. Hamas said the mosque was actually a tent which was used by the extremists as a meeting venue.

Although Gaza jihadists have pledged allegiance to ISIS in the past, the group has not officially confirmed that it has a presence there.

(Source / 08.05.2015)