Jordan military unveils border surveillance with Iraq, Syria

Members of the Jordanian border guard, left, stand behind a table where various devices for first detection of possible chemical or biological weapons materials are displayed for visitors at their headquarters near the city of Zarqa, Jordan on Monday, June 8, 2015

Jordan’s military on Monday unveiled a new phase of a border surveillance system that U.S. officials say provides an effective defense against infiltration attempts, including by Islamic State militants.

The kingdom plays a high-profile role in the U.S.-led military coalition against the extremists, who control large parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Militants pose a potential threat to the security of Jordan, a staunch Western ally, and previously have attacked border points.

The border security system, partially funded by the U.S., includes radar and surveillance towers that enable Jordanian forces to spot suspected infiltrators several kilometers (miles) before they reach the border, said Col. Robert Paddock, defense attache at the U.S. Embassy in Amman.

“Here, they can see anywhere along the entire border, what is going on, and then they can take appropriate action,” Paddock told The Associated Press at the command center.

With the completion of the second phase, marked by Monday’s event, the system now operates along all of the Jordanian-Syrian border, Paddock said. Work along Jordan’s border with Iraq is underway and is to be completed by the end of the year, he said.

Alice Wells, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, said the surveillance enhances Jordan’s security significantly.

“I don’t think anyone is talking about an invasion of Jordan (by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants), but what we are talking about is the ability of individuals to try to infiltrate the border and this is a highly effective defense against that,” she told the AP.

Sunday night, Jordanian border guards shot and killed two suspected infiltrators from Syria, the state news agency Petra said, without elaborating.

The eastern side of the Syrian-Jordan border also has become the main pathway into Jordan for Syrian refugees fleeing four years of civil war. Human Rights Watch said last week that Jordan has gradually tightened entry restrictions over the past two years.

Jordan says it has worked out entry procedures with international organizations and, in principle, maintains an open border.

(Source / 08.06.2015)

Russia Offers to Host New Fateh/Hamas Reconciliation Meeting

Russia has offered to host a reconciliation meeting between Hamas and Fateh in Moscow, Lebanese newspaper as-Safir reported Monday.


The offer was reportedly made by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who is also the Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East.

According to as-Safir, Hamas had accepted the invitation while Fateh movement had not yet given an answer. The report added that Russia is also waiting for an official request from President Mahmoud Abbas to host another meeting between other Palestinian factions.

Palestinian sources told the newspaper that accepting the Russian offer would solve the question of where to hold negotiations, though other officials said that the matter was more complicated.

Hamas previously agreed to meet with Fateh in Cairo, but arrangements ground to a halt after Egypt vetoed the attendance of Hamas politburo member, Khalid Mashal, whose attendance Hamas insisted on.

Relations between Hamas and Fateh remain in a dire state a year after a government of national consensus was formed in June 2014, Ma’an News Agency further reports.

Last week, the deputy head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said the unity government had not brought any humanitarian or economic progress to the Gaza Strip since it was formed.

He said that Hamas had hoped the formation of the unity government would bring an end to Palestinian division, but that it had so far failed in all its objectives.

Following a high-profile visit by government ministers to Gaza that ended in disarray in April, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla said that the unity government had severed all contact with Hamas.

Russia, which is widely involved in Middle East politics, has long sought to maintain good relations with both Palestine and Israel.

According to British think-tank Chatham House, the main goal of Russian activity in the region “is to exact leverage over the West, as Moscow’s assistance may play a crucial role in the settlement of major issues,” including Iran’s nuclear program and the Syrian conflict.

A Chatham House report in April noted that this is particularly important so as to avoid “international isolation in the wake of sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.”

However, regarding Israel and Palestine, the report said: “The Russian authorities do not want to sacrifice their political and economic contacts with Israel. Bilateral trade reached $4.6 billion in 2014.”

The report concluded: “Any intensification of Russian efforts towards Palestinian independence may make the Israelis reconsider their ties with Moscow.”

(Source / 08.06.2015)

US backs new Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

US announced on Sunday its support for Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Strip, calling it “right to defend itself.”

Israeli occupation has recently carried out a series of F16 fighter jets airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, opened fire at fishermen and farmers, as well as it completely closed crossings to Gaza

Days of Palestine, Berlin –US announced on Sunday its support for Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Strip, calling it “right to defend itself.”

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip is a kind of self-defence. “The White House continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” he said.

Earnest, who is accompanying President Barack Obama at a G7 summit in Germany, added: “Clearly the US stands with the people of Israel as they defend their people and their nation against these kind of attacks.”

Israeli occupation carried out a series of airstrikes against the Gaza Strip during the last five days. The strikes came in response to three rockets fired by extremist Islamists from the Gaza Strip.

The rockets landed in empty areas in the periphery of the Strip and they were fired to challenged Hamas, which is controlling the Strip, over its crackdown on these extremists, who say they are adherent to ISIS.

(Source / 08.06.2015)

US Airstrike In Syria Kills Family Of 7

Although US coalition airstrikes in Syria are supposed to target ISIS, they may be making more enemies for the US than they are eliminating.

Thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria

Thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

BEIRUT  — Activists say an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo has killed seven family members.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the airstrike on Sunday in the village of Dali Hassan killed a man, his wife and their five children.

Abu al-Hassan Marea, an activist who is currently in Turkey near the Syrian border, on Monday said he was told by other activists in the area of Dali Hassan that seven members of the same family were killed.

A statement by the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force says the coalition struck IS positions in Aleppo province. It says one airstrike hit an IS tactical unit, destroying an ant-aircraft artillery piece.

The coalition has been targeting the IS group in Syria since September.

(Source / 08.06.2015)

Secretary general of Red Cross, Red Crescent visits Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies Elhadj As Sy on Monday visited the Gaza Strip.Sy was hosted at the headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza City where he was briefed by chairman Younis al-Khatib and general manager Khalid Judah on the services the Palestinian Red Cross provides in the war-torn coastal enclave.The guest then had a tour across the Gaza Strip which included Beit Hanoun, Jabaliya and al-Shujaiyya in the north as well as al-Zanna in Khan Younis in the south.

He saw firsthand the rubble of buildings and neighborhoods destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks during the 51-day military offensive last summer. He also learned about the services the Red Crescent’s mental health department provides to children who were left homeless after the war.Sy applauded the Red Crescent in Gaza for the humanitarian and social services they provide to the Gaza population especially children and elderly people. He maintained that societies should renounce all aspects of violence against all social groups.
(Source / 08.06.2015)

Trapped in Gaza: Meet the faces behind the blockade of the Strip

From a U.S. resident who came for his father’s funeral and isn’t allowed home, to a rights activist unable to attend conferences, Haaretz speaks to five Gazans who can’t leave.

Mohammed Naim Shahada, a resident of the Gaza Strip who lost his legs in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, has been waiting since then to go to a Bethehem Hospital and get prosthetic legs. Israeli authorities won’t let the 27-year-old father of three make the trip, though, telling Haaretz this is due to unspecified security reasons.

Mohammed Tamraz, 26, has been waiting in Gaza since the summer war to join his wife, a Canadian citizen, in Canada. He says he filed a request three months ago to be allowed to leave the Strip, but Israeli authorities say they never received it. With his wife in Canada is Tamraz’s eight-month-old daughter, whom he’s never seen.

Last week Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing into Gaza for three days, the first time since March. Thousands of Palestinians – women, children, sick and elderly – wait for hours every day to enter the Strip. But they’re in better shape than those living on the Gazan side of the border: almost no one was allowed to leave Gaza when the border was opened.

For the last year and a half Egypt, under the rule of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, has classified Hamas and its military wing as a terrorist organization that participates in attacks against Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Still, entry to Egypt, which Cairo authorities have allowed to Gazans for a total of eight days this year, remains the only sure way, albeit a terribly infrequent one, to get out of the Gaza Strip.

Gaza is under Israeli blockade, and Gazans are all but stuck in their homes. Exit by sea is impossible, due to the lack of a normal seaport, and because Israel limits any sailing to a distance of six nautical miles from the cost (fishermen often report being fired on for going further); and exit by air is impossible because Gaza’s only airport has been closed, and in ruins, since Israel bombed it in 2001.

The Erez crossing into Israel, in the northern part of the Strip, remains the only way for Gazans to enter Israeli territory or travel to the West Bank. According to the Coordinator for Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT), 162,000 people, less than 10 percent of Gaza’s population, passed through the Erez crossing in 2013-14. Following last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, Israeli eased the restrictions, and has allowed 72,000 people to cross thus far this year.

According to Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, the number is slightly lower, 68,000, based on United Nations and Palestinian data, which don’t include foreign nationals. These figures can’t accurately account for the number of individuals who left Gaza this year, as they can include multiple exits by the same person, and Gisha notes that roughly 60 percent of those crossing do so to buy Israeli goods to then sell in Gaza. The rest are primarily pilgrims going to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, medical patients seeking treatment in Israel, or relatives of Israeli prisoners, traveling to visit. All these groups are required to return to Gaza the same day or a day later.

Those who suffer the most from the Israeli and Egyptian policy are ordinary Gazans, especially young people, who want to go abroad for study, business, to visit family or just travel. Many of them have never left Gaza, and for those who have, returning to Gaza does not guarantee that they will be allowed to leave again. Israel does not allow Palestinians to exit through the Erez crossing unless they entered through it – even if they have a foreign passport. Requesting permission from Israeli authorities can take a long time, months even, and refusal rates are high, particularly for young people. Also, obtaining Israeli permission is only one of the obstacles to leaving Gaza; often, residents of the Strip are required to get permission from the Palestinian Authority to coordinate their travel plans with Jordan.

Behind the dry data are tens of thousands of people with tens of thousands of stories. Over the last week, Haaretz spoke with 10 Palestinians stuck in Gaza, trying to get out, some of them for the first time in their lives. Here is the first part in a series of articles about them.

Samir Mustafa, 55

He arrived from the United States for a funeral in January, and has not been able to leave since. Mustafa immigrated to the United States 35 years ago and has U.S. citizenship. He lives in Maryland with his wife and their five children. In January this year he traveled to Gaza through the Rafah crossing to attend a family member’s funeral, and has not been able to leave. Mustafa worked in a spare parts warehouse, but was notified a month and a half ago that he has been fired for failure to show up for work.

“When I asked for assistance from the U.S. consulate they told me that I violated a travel warning that prohibits entry to Gaza since 2003, as if they’d forgotten that I’m from Gaza and I came to see my family,” said Mustafa. “Lately they’ve been telling me I’m on a waiting list, but I don’t know how much time I’ll have to wait. My wife and children have been living off the little savings we have, but it’s running out. I worked my whole life, in Israel as well, now I’ve spent six months walking around doing nothing in Gaza. I don’t understand why they don’t let me leave here and return to my wife and children.” According to Israeli authorities, since Mustafa did not enter Gaza through the Erez crossing, he is not allowed to leave from it, and therefore his only option is leaving through Rafah – which Egypt nearly always keeps closed.

Fida Argelawi, 32

Israel refuses to allow her to pursue a master’s degree in the West Bank. Argelawi aims to study for a master’s degree in translation and English literature at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, as Gazan universities do not offer this option. Ten days ago, as registration opened for the coming school year, she requested a registration form from the university’s office in Gaza, but was told she has no chance of receiving permission to move to the West Bank or Jerusalem to study. Thus, she didn’t bother filing a request with the Israeli authorities.

“I’m very frustrated from the whole situation, and feel desperate,” she says. “I want to study and advance, but everything is stuck now. Even leaving through Rafah is not an option, I can’t go to the West Bank from Jordan, because I don’t have a permit to enter Jordan.”

Najah Yassin, 53

A women’s rights activist, she has been unable to leave the Strip to attend international conferences and meetings. In Gaza, Yassin runs a center for empowering women of low socioeconomic status. Following Operation Protective Edge, the center began a project teaching embroidery to women whose homes were destroyed during the fighting. Yassin has filed numerous requests in the past for permits to leave Gaza, but her requests have been rejected or ignored. In March, she asked Israeli authorities for permission to attend a world cultural forum in Tunisia. The event came and went, and she has yet to receive a response.

“I’ve never left through the Erez crossing, and I’ve often done the whole roundabout journey from Gaza to Cairo to Amman in order to meet women in the West Bank,” says Yassin. “I’m a social activist with no ties to politics, and I see no reason to prevent me and thousands of other women in the Gaza Strip to go out and see the world, as if we’re been sentenced to jail here,” she says. Haaretz learned that Yassin’s requests have been rejected because she failed to meet criteria, though the criteria were not specified.

Mohammed Tamraz, 26

His wife is in Canada, with their daughter whom he has yet to meet. He has been married to his cousin, a Canadian citizen, for two years. His wife traveled to Canada through the Rafah crossing during last summer’s fighting while she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and they’ve begun the process of immigrating there. Tamraz was supposed to join her quickly, but he is still stuck in Gaza. He says his wife has managed to obtain a Canadian visa for him, and all the necessary permits, but he has not yet been able to leave the Gaza Strip to fly to Canada.

“My wife is alone in Canada, because her family left for Cuba. My daughter was born eight months ago, and I’ve yet to touch her, or hug her. We’re really at a breaking point,” he said.

“Last week, when the Rafah crossing was opened, we thought my wife would come back to be here with me, but they told us it would be open only for two days, and we were afraid she wouldn’t make it in time. In the end, it was opened for a third day. We felt like we missed a big opportunity. I don’t know what to do anymore, I try to get help from everyone I can to bring my family back together.” It turns out his request wasn’t received by Israel, even though he claims to have filed it three months ago, and filed an additional request last week.

Mohammed Naim Shahada, 27

He has not received permission to travel to a hospital in Bethlehem to obtain prosthetic legs. Shahada is married with three children. He lost his legs during Operation Cast Lead, and was afforded the opportunity to receive prosthetic legs from a hospital in Bethlehem. He has also received a grant from the Palestinian Authority to cover expenses, medical and otherwise, while in Bethlehem. Shahada has filed a request for permission to leave Gaza, but every time he inquires with the local council about the status of his request, he’s told it is being looked into by Israel.

(Source / 08.06.2015)

Syrian Coalition: Establishing a Transitional Governing Body is Gateway to Eradicating Extremism

Vice-President of the Syrian Coalition Hisham Marwa said that “eradicating extremism in Syria can only be achieved through the formation of a transitional governing body on the basis of the Geneva I Communique and the relevant UN resolutions to lead Syria to a new phase where Syrians’ aspirations for freedom, dignity and justice are achieved.

“The ineffectiveness of the international community’s strategy in fighting extremism proves beyond doubt that the formation of the transitional governing body with full powers is crucial to thwart Assad’s schemes aimed at keeping his hold on power and to put an end to his systematic terrorizing of the Syrian people. Over 70 civilians were killed in the last two days alone by barrel bombing of rebel-held areas in Idlib, Homs and other areas,” Marwa added.

“Assad’s arranging to hand over new areas to ISIS to withdraw troops and fortify his remaining key security centers confirms the Syrian Coalition’s warnings about the presence of high level coordination between the Assad regime and ISIS. However, these warnings were surprisingly and largely ignored by the international coalition, raising many doubts about the effectiveness of its strategy in fighting this extremist organization. These plans coincide with the Assad regime’s escalation of air strikes on rebel-held areas to pave the way for ISIS’s offensive on these areas.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 08.06.2015)

UN excludes Israel from child rights violators list

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ignores rights groups’ calls to add Israel to List of Shame of child rights violators.

Rights groups had called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to add Israel to the list

The UN did not include Israel in its “List of Shame” of children’s rights violators, despite an outcry over the death of more than 500 children in the Gaza war.

Rights groups had called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to add Israel to the list released on Monday and there was much debate among UN agencies ahead of the final decision that rested with the UN chief.

Ban decided that last year’s list would remain unchanged, but said he was “deeply alarmed” by the “grave violations suffered by children as a result of Israeli military operations in 2014.”

“The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law, notably the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack, and respect for international human rights law, particularly in relation to excessive use of force,” he said.

The UN chief cited a “dramatic increase” in the number of children killed in Israel and in the Palestinian territories in 2014.

At least 561 children (557 Palestinian, four Israeli) were killed and 4,271 injured (4,249 Palestinian and 22 Israeli) last year.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stressed that “the report is more than the list” and lays out concerns about the plight of children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel welcomes decision

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said they were happy with the decision, saying Ban “was right not to submit to the dictates of the terrorist organisations and the Arab states, in his decision not to include Israel in this shameful list, together with organisations like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

The current list has 51 groups including Boko Haram and the Islamic State group as well as the armed forces from eight countries such as Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The blacklist of children’s rights violators was released just two months after a UN inquiry found that the Israeli military was responsible for seven attacks on UN schools in Gaza that were used as shelters during the 2014 war.

The board of inquiry confirmed that UN officials working with Palestinian refugees sent twice-daily communications to the Israeli military with precise GPS coordinates of the schools being used as emergency shelters.

The UN is discussing measures to address the findings of the UN inquiry and it remains an open question as to whether they could be used in a possible war crimes case against Israel.

The 50-day conflict in Gaza last year killed 539 children and injured 2,956, most of whom are Palestinians now struggling with trauma and life-long disabilities, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

(Source / 08.06.2015)

Bennett: World must recognise Golan as Israeli


Leader of the right-wing Israeli Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett called for the “free world” to recognise the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, reported yesterday.

While addressing a security conference at Herzliya, near Tel-Aviv, Bennett called for intensifying Jewish settlement to reach 100,000 Jews in the area within five years. “I call on the international community… to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan,” he said.

He reiterated that it is the right time to reinforce settlements in the Golan, citing the ongoing turmoil in the region. “We will not have a better chance,” he said, “this is a Zionist and security activity at one time… There are no opportunities in the Middle East for the weak.”

Bennett, who is the Israeli education minister, asked who Israel should handover the Golan Heights to.

“Who would you like us to give the Golan Heights to? To [Syrian President Bashar] Assad? To [Al-Qaeda affiliate] Al-Nusra Front? To the Islamic State group? To [Lebanon’s] Hezbollah?” AFP reported him saying.

Regarding boycott campaigns, he said: “Our response is clear… Orange’s case is a good example and represents a turning point. It is the first time that Israel and its supporters open fire. In the wake of action by Israel and its lovers, Jews and non-Jews, we have seen the full retreat made by Orange.”

He added: “Let it be clear to any company or organization that is considering boycotting us: We will hit back. We will attack our attackers. We will boycott our boycotters.”

Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria in 1981 and began building settlements there. Recently, it started to search for oil in the area.

(Source / 08.06.2015)

19 injured children return to Gaza from Germany

GAZA, (PIC)– 19 Palestinian children injured in last summer’s Israeli offensive on Gaza came back home to the blockaded Strip on Tuesday after they had been in Germany for medical treatment.

Sources in the Gaza crossings department told the Anadolu news agency that 19 wounded Palestinian children arrived in the coastal enclave afternoon Tuesday via the Israeli-controlled Beit Hanoun border crossing after they had received medical therapy in German hospitals.

The Israeli occupation forces banned three German doctors accompanying the children from entering the Gaza Strip, the same sources added.

Spokesperson for the Gaza-headquarted Health Ministry, Ashraf al-Qudra, said, meanwhile, the children took a recovery trip to Germany to be treated for the serious and moderate wounds they sustained during last summer’s Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Many among the wounded children have been orphaned after Israel’s military operation took away the lives of their fathers and mothers.

A 51-day military aggression launched by the Israeli occupation on the besieged Gaza Strip on July 7 mercilessly bumped off some 2,200 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and left some 11,000 others, including 3,000 children, wounded.

Human rights institutions and medics said over 1,000 children have gone either paralyzed or wheelchaired during or in the wake of the offensive.

(Source / 08.06.2015)