Settlers burn Palestinian farms near Ramallah

agricultural lands owned by Palestinian. [File photo]

Israeli settlers burnt vast swathes of private Palestinian farms in Taiba, near Ramallah, Felesteen newspaper reported.

The farms were planted with wheat crops ready for reaping, but the fire damaged the crops, which were the main livelihood of the owners.

According to the witnesses and the sources, the settlers were from the illegal settlement of Rimonim.

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Funding shortage leaves Syrian refugees in danger of missing vital support

AMMAN, Jordan, June 25 (UNHCR) Humanitarian and development assistance efforts for 3.9 million Syrian refugees and more than 20 million people living in hosting communities in neighbouring countries are in serious danger as a result of a severe funding crisis, the UN refugee agency has warned.

A report, released in Amman on Thursday, by more than 200 partners in the Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan (3RP) in Response to the Syria Crisis said programmes implemented by the UN and NGOs under the plan faced a current funding gap of a staggering US$3.47 billion.

The 3RP report called on the international community to act faster to deliver on its pledges of support. “We are so dangerously low on funding that we risk not being able to meet even the most basic survival needs of millions of people over the coming six months,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said.

A Syrian refugee family from Raqqa finds safety in Suruc refugee camp in southern Turkey

Guterres also called for more solidarity and responsibility-sharing from the international community “than what we have seen so far.”

The report showed that against the $4.53 billion required for programmes implemented by UN agencies and NGOs under the plan launched last December, only $1.06 billion 23 per cent had been received as of the end of May.

Already, this has meant that 1.6 million refugees have had their food assistance reduced this year; 750,000 children are not attending school; and life-saving health services are becoming too expensive for many, including 70,000 pregnant women at risk of unsafe deliveries.

Some 86 per cent of urban refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line of 3.2 dollars a day, while 45 per cent of refugees in Lebanon live in sub-standard shelters.

Almost half of all those affected by this crisis are children, many of whom struggle to cope with distress caused by the violence and upheaval they have experienced.

The 3RP partners warned that if more funds were not forthcoming soon, up to 130,000 vulnerable families would not be provided with cash assistance to help them meet basic needs and vulnerable people would stop receiving monthly food vouchers altogether.

Without urgently needed funds, the delivery of water and waste water services for millions of people across the region will also be in jeopardy. Up to 1.7 million people may face winter this year without fuel, shelter, insulation, blankets or warm clothes.

Halfway through the year, with less than a quarter of the required funding received and with winter just around the corner, 3RP partners urgently need funding certainty to plan and respond in time. Last year a number of people, including children, lost their lives during the harshest winter the region has seen in four decades

The Syria crisis has also had major social and economic impacts on host countries, which remain at the forefront of the crisis and are going through political, economic, social and security instabilities. Now in its fifth year, the Syria crisis is also having an impact on development and global security.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said the lessons learned over the past four years of response to the Syria crisis showed “beyond doubt the importance of integrated humanitarian and development approaches based on building resilience.” She added that “a well-funded 3RP will support stabilization by helping people get jobs, have access to microbusiness opportunities, and improve food security for families.”

The report noted that while pressures on host countries continue to grow, it is increasingly difficult for Syrians to find safety, including by seeking asylum. These difficulties have resulted in an increased number of Syrians seeking safety and refuge beyond the region, including by taking often dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean to Europe. Many Syrians have lost their lives as a result.

The report called on the international community to share more of the burden with host countries through the timely provision of funding and by providing solutions like additional resettlement opportunities and other forms of humanitarian admission for Syrian refugees.

The 3RP partners warned that if the call for action remains unheeded, a generation of Syrians would be left behind and neighbouring countries would continue to struggle to provide a public good they cannot and should not have to bear alone.

The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan is an international appeal aimed at addressing refugee protection needs, the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable, and the longer-term socio-economic impacts of the Syria crisis on neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

Click here to access the report.

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Life under occupation and apartheid – June 1-10 2015

This report gives a summary of growing colonization and ethnic cleansing and ongoing repression of Palestinian resistance during the first ten days of June. A particular increase in the use of ‘flying’ temporary checkpoints in order to disrupt Palestinian life is highlighted, along with 121 Israeli raids and operations in the West Bank.


•   The occupation forces killed Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp, north of the West Bank. Seven Palestinians were injured, amongst them children, during popular protests.

•   Israeli military continued shooting towards the border and the prosecution of fisherman in the Gaza Strip. 3 rounds of fire were fired towards the Southern Gaza Strip border, leading to the injury of a farmer. 7 rounds of fire were fired at fishing boats, which led to the injury of four fishermen, amongst them a minor. Israeli occupation forces arrested 14 Palestinians, including children and detained 3 fishing boats. Additionally, warplanes carried out three raids on the Gaza Strip.

•   The Israeli occupation forces carried out 121 operations in the West Bank and a limited number of operations in the Gaza Strip where 91 civilians were arrested, amongst them 13 children.

•   Measures to colonize the West Bank: 1) The bulldozing of homes, production plants and wells in addition to the uprooting of 70 trees 2) The construction of settlement units and settler attacks are continuing in the West Bank 3) The bulldozing and closing of three artesian wells, two agricultural plantations measuring 30 dunums; the uprooting of 400 olive and almond seedlings as well as the evacuation of a residential tent 5) The bulldozing of five homes, eight kitchens and bathrooms and 14 civilian facilities that are used as pens for sheep in the northern Jordan Valley 6) Settler activity which involved throwing stones at a doctor’s car, smashing the windshield

•   Israeli occupation forces continue its unjust and illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip as well as tightening procedures in the West Bank. This is achieved by the implementation of many ‘flying’ (temporary) checkpoints in the West Bank, which prevents Palestinians from being able to move freely. Six Palestinian citizens, amongst them minors, were arrested at internal checkpoints/barriers in the West Bank.


1) Killings, shootings and injuries

Israeli military continued to violently repress Palestinians who take part in protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and use military force against fisherman in the Gaza Strip during the period covered by this report.

West Bank

Israeli military killed Palestinian civilians in the Jenin refugee camp, north of the West Bank. Furthermore, seven other civilians were wounded, amongst them minors in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli occupation forces continued targeting fisherman by firing at their boats, as well carrying out three Israeli warplane raids on the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, June 10 2015 during dawn, the Israeli occupation forces killed Izz Al-Din Walid Hassan Bani Gara (23 years of age) in the Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin, West Bank. He was killed by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier during the withdrawal of forces from the camp after completing a raid under the pretext of arresting ‘wanted’ men.

The Israeli occupation forces have continued to repress the anti-wall, anti-settlement and anti-occupation demonstrations in the West Bank, which in turn has led to the injuring of seven civilians, amongst them a minor. During the weekly protest in Kafr Kadoum, north-east of the city of Qalqilyah, a civilian aged 46 was injured by a bullet to his right foot. Similarly, a civilian aged 19 was left injured in his left knee at the entrance of Al-Jazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

During the march organised at the entrance of the town of Silwad, northeast of the city of Ramallah, a child of 13 years, Sarhan Akram Jummah Hamad, was wounded by a metal bullet to his left leg. Also injured were two civilians aged 22 and 25 who were both wounded by live bullets to their right leg.

At a march in the area surrounding the Ofar prison, southwest of the city of Ramallah, two civilians were injured, the first civilian, 40 years of age, was wounded by a metal coated bullet in his right thigh and a tear gas canister which hit his abdomen; the second civilian, 25 years of ages, was injured by a live bullet which hit him in the right leg.

The Gaza Strip

On June 1 2015 the Israeli occupation forces positioned in the ‘seam zone’ instituted by Israel at the border of the Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian agricultural land, east of the town of Al Fukhari and Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The day after, on June 2 2015, the Israeli occupation forces opened fire at Palestinian agricultural land east of the Al-Farrahin district in Abasan, East of Khan Yunis. On June 3 2015, troops opened fire for a third time against a group of Palestinian farmers whilst they were harvesting wheat east of the town of Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis, which led to the injury of farmer Farid Mohammad Suleiman Al-Najjar, 29 years of ages, who was hit by a live bullet in the abdomen, resulting in him being taken to hospital.

In a separate military attack on June 1 2015, Israeli occupation forces opened fire using automatic weapons directly towards fishing boats in front of the shipping port, north of Gaza City. Bullets were fired directly at a boat owned by Bahjat Subhi that was carrying five fisherman onboard, each of the fishermen were injured with the owner Bahjat Subhi, 31 years of age, hit by five metal coated bullets in the legs and fisherman Mohammed Mahmoud Hajazi Al-Looh, 23 years of age, hit by two live metal bullets in his left leg. During the same period, the Israeli naval forces arrested five fishermen, including a minor, whilst they were out at sea, five nautical miles of the coast of Gaza; four of them were released at a later date with the fifth fisherman still under arrest. In another incident that took place on June 3 2015 Israeli gunboats opened fire at fishing boats that were sailing at a speed of six nautical miles off the coast of Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza. The Israeli military boats surrounded the fishing boats and troops arrested four civilians and detained the fishing boats. On June 4 2015 Palestinian fishermen, including a minor, were wounded by metal bullets when Israeli gunboats opened heavy gunfire at a fishing boat in the northern Gaza Strip. Onboard were five Palestinian fishermen, all from the Al-Shati refugee camp (west of Gaza City), who were arrested and their boat was confiscated and taken to the Ashdod Port (Israel); however at a later date they were released. During the period covered by this report, Israeli naval forces opened fire a further three times at fishing boats that were sailing in offshore areas that are permitted for fishing in accordance with the latest Israeli-Palestinian understandings.

In other attacks, Israeli warplanes carried out three air strikes against a Palestinian resistance training site. Two raids were carried out on June 4 2015 targeting the Yarmouk site, north of Gaza City, and the Abu Jarad site, south of Gaza City. On June 7 2015 a further raid targeted a training site south-west of Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, north of the Gaza Strip. This bombardment led to damage within those sites but no casualties were reported.

2) Invasions and Raids

In the West Bank, the occupation forces carried out 121 incursions which are broken down as follows: 35 in Hebron, 21 in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, 15 in Jenin, 14 in Jericho and the Jordan Valley, 12 in Tulkharam, 10 in Nablus, 9 in Qalqilyah and 5 in Bethlehem. These operations resulted in the arrest of 91 Palestinians, amongst them 13 minors, which is broken down as follows: 21 arrested in Jerusalem including 7 minors, 19 in Hebron with 1 minor amongst them, 13 in Ramallah and Al-Bireh including 4 minors, 10 from Nablus, 8 in Jenin, and 5 arrests in each of the following districts: Tulkharem, Qalqilya, Jericho and Bethlehem. One minor was arrested in these districts.

On June 5 2015, the Israeli occupation forced carried out a ‘controlled’ invasion in the Gaza Strip, where tanks and four bulldozers moved approximately 150 meters east of Jabalia, north Gaza Stip. The occupying forces began razing settlement-free lands located along the border of the Gaza Strip. They progressed northwards until they reached the Abu Safiya area, east of the town, before redeploying behind the border. On June 10 2015, the Israeli occupation forces moved 150 meters east of Al-Qarara, northeast of Khan Yunis (southern Gaza Strip).

3) The procedures of Judaization in occupied East Jerusalem

The Israeli occupation forces continued their frantic procedures to Judaize occupied East Jerusalem. These measures continue to confiscate the land of Palestinian civilians as well destroying residential homes. These procedures are carried out in order to expel Palestinians for the benefit of settlers, who will build settlement units in their place, and encourage settlers to perpetrate their crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property, against the holy sites in the city. Finally, they consolidate the isolation of the city from its Palestinian surroundings in the occupied land.

The destruction of homes and facilities

The Israeli occupation authorities, accompanied with great military force eliminated a municipality building in occupied East Jerusalem as well as two houses under construction and two apartments (each one measuring 70m2) belonging to Izz Nidal Abu Khaled and Hashem Imad Abu Khaled. On June 2 2015 in the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood, south of the old city (Jerusalem), under the pretext of building without permit, the occupation forces began destroying two homes. When doing so, a number of family members tried to resist. Occupation forces sprayed the family members with pepper spray into their faces in order to stop their resistance. Hashem Abu Khaled, aged 22, was injured in the head and face in this way, before being arrested and then finally taken for treatment. Additionally, Noureddine Abu Khaled, aged 22, was wounded in the face, Izz Al-Deen Abu Khaled, aged 24, was also injured and bruised in the area surrounding his eyes and the elderly Fatima Abu Khaled, aged 70, suffocated after gas was sprayed inside her home.

In a similar context, the Israeli occupation forces demolished part of a house belonging to the citizen Rafiq Ahmed Al-Salaymeh on Salahudin Street in occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of building without permit. The house had existed for many years, but in order to allow the expanding family to find living space, they were forced to add more floors with iron roofing, before the municipality surprised them and broke into their home and tore it down using manual demolition equipment, without any prior warning. Their house was 140 m2 and home to 10 people, most of whom are children.

In a separate attack on Palestinian housing rights, the Israeli occupation forces demolished three industrial facilities on June 9 2015 in Al-Khalayleh, north-west of occupied East Jerusalem. Bulldozers raided the neighbourhood and began demolishing the industrial facilities, which are owned by Abdu Allah Kiswani, two car-repair garages, one owned by Nour Al-Madari and the second owned by Mohanad Mansour.

On June 10 2015, the Israeli Occupation forces razed agricultural land in the village of Issawyiya belonging to the Darwish family. In northeast occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli forces demolished existing structures. An agricultural facility was bulldozed, including a kitchen and bathroom, measuring around 60m2, wells, land and 70 trees. The total land destroyed measures around 8 acres and 500m2.

4) The construction of settlements and settler attacks in the West Bank, outside East Jerusalem

Settlement expansion, bulldozing and notification of house demolitions

Israeli occupation forces and settlers continue to target areas in the West Bank, particularly Area C, which in accordance with the Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO is under full Israeli control. They are also targeting areas close to settlements and the route of the Wall in order to expel Palestinians from their land and to use it for settlement expansion projects.

Examples of violations and attacks during the period in question

Israeli occupation forces, reinforced by several military vehicles including a bulldozer, stormed the village of Romana, north-west of Jenin. On June 2 2015 the forces closed an artesian well and two plantations owned by Fayyad Riyad Sabihhat, aged 35, claiming that his agricultural production did not have a license. In a separate attack on Palestinian land rights on June 4 2015, the Israeli occupation forces razed a plot of land belonging to Ahmad Abd-Alaziz Ghaneima, 86 years old, in the Sha’ab Saif area, west of the town Surif (northwest Hebron). An area of 30 dunums was destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces that bulldozed 500 meters of stone walls and barbed wire, closing wells with a capacity of 80m3 and confiscated 200 olive seedlings and 200 almond seedlings.

The Israeli occupation forces handed out notifications due on August 31 2015 that announce the confiscation of 4,000 dunums of land from the town of Bad’awa claiming it to be property of the state.

On June 2 2015, the Israeli occupation forces bulldozed and uprooted five homes, four kitchens, four bathrooms and 14 civilian facilities that are used to shelter sheep in Thar’a Awad in the northern Jordan Valley. The property was owed by four Bedouin families comprised of 29 members. In the process disappeared a gold bracelet weighing 350g.

On June 10 2015, the Israeli occupying forces uprooted residential tents owned by Khalil Mohammad Abu-Qabeita in an area measuring 30m2, under the pretext of unlicensed construction in the Asitar area, southeast of the city of Yatta (south Hebron).

In a settler attack, settlers near the Ma’ale Efraim settlement threw stones at the car of Mujahid Dawabesh, 28 years of ages, while he was driving home from veterinary work. His windscreen was smashed by the stones. Although Dawabesh attempted to file a complaint to the Israeli police, the police or ‘guard’ of the settlers blocked this procedure from being filed.

5) The criminal blockade and restrictions on the freedom of movement

In the Gaza Strip

The Israeli occupation authorities have continued imposing since 2006 a full land and naval blockade on the Gaza Strip to separate it completely from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and the outside world. The connected economic, social and cultural violations have resulted in deteriorating living condition for the 1.8 million population. The occupation authorities closed all commercial borders several years ago with the exception of one crossing “Kareem Abu Salem/Kerem Shalom“, southeast of the Palestinian town of Rafah. The blockade aims at increasing control of the economy, which naturally has suffered for years due to the lack of necessary resources. The occupation authorities have imposed a near-total embargo on all kind of raw materials, with the exception of a limited variety, from entering the Gaza Strip. Also blocked are building materials, with international projects or UN reconstruction mechanisms being severely limited in what they can import. These limitations were strengthened after the recent aggression on Gaza last year. There is also a ban on almost all exports from the Strip, with the exception of the exportation of some light products such as flowers, strawberries and spices, more recently allowing the exportations of a small amount of vegetables, furniture and fish. Furthermore, the occupation forces continue to impose full control of the Erez crossing ‘Beit Hanoun’ in the northern Gaza Strip. This crossing controls the movement of people, preventing them from entering or exiting the Strip. Only individuals who fit into specific categories are allowed to pass, those including journalists, members of international organisations and certain business people. Those passages are tightly restricted and in most cases imply long waiting hours. The occupation forces use the passage of people as well to conduct investigations, detain people and extort information at the control point. Hundreds of students are prevented from attending universities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem. The blockade has led to the poverty rate rising to 38.8% with 21.1% suffering from extreme poverty. At the same time, the unemployment rate rose to 44%. These statistics are an indication of unprecedented economic decline for the population of the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank

The fixed checkpoints constitute an obstacle to the freedom of the movement of goods and people, and lead as well to an increase in the cost of transportation. This, in turn, is reflected in rising prices and as a result in a growing financial burden on the consumer.

Recently, there is a trend of the occupation forces to erect flying checkpoints at any moment and anywhere to control the movement on Palestinians on the streets of the West Bank. They are used as traps for Palestinian population, where dozens of them are arrested each year, as well as being subject to crimes of torture, humiliation and degrading treatment.

“Flying” checkpoints

The Israeli occupation forces set up 45 flying checkpoints on Palestinian roads, demanding arbitrarily more documentation in order to allow people passage. This severely disrupted Palestinian movement and traffic. These checkpoints were distributed as follows: 17 checkpoints in Hebron, followed by 9 in Qalqiliya, 8 in both Ramallah and Al-Bireh, 4 in both Jenin and Jericho and 3 in Tulkarem.

Arrests at military checkpoints and border crossing within and outside the West Bank

Israeli occupation forces arrested the following people during the period covered by this report: 6 Palestinians, amongst them a minor at military checkpoints and border crossings which they use as a pretext to arrest Palestinians. These arrests were carried out with the excuse that they were wanted or that they are accused of throwing stones in the vicinity of military checkpoints, or on the main roads.

On June 4 2015 the occupation forces arrested Moaz Mohammad Amin Sheikh Hussein, 21 years of age, a resident of the village Kafr Abbush, south of Tulkarem, at a ‘flying’ checkpoint on the road between Tulkarem and Qalqilya near the eastern entrance to the village of Jabara. On the same day, Israeli forces arrested Saleh Mohammad Abdul Rahman Diriya, 39 years of age, from Beit Fajar whilst he was on the junction by the settlement “Gush Etzion”, south of Bethlehem.

On June 5 2015, the Israeli occupation forces deployed in the neighbourhoods of the old city, the center of Hebron, arrested Mohammed Nader Kufausheh, 14 years old, claiming that he did not obey orders from the soldiers and was transferred to a police station in the the ‘Kiryat Arba’ settlement, east of the city. On the same day, troops stationed at tunnel, west of Bethlehem, arrested Ahmad Mahmoud Abdelsalaam, 24 years old, a resident of Beit Ummar village (north of Hebron) on his way back from work.

On June 7 2015, the Israeli occupation forces arrested Omar Walid Oman Brahim, 30 years of age, from the village of Kafr Kaddoum whilst he passed through a ‘flying’ checkpoint at the entrance of the village Hajjah, east of Qalqilyah.

On June 10 2015 the Israeli occupation forces arrested Ahmad Yasser Al-Zaaqiq, 24 years of ages, whilst at a ‘flying’ military checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron.

(Source / 25.06.2015)

What to expect after Palestinian leaders hand in ICC dossier on Israel

The Palestinian leadership will call on the ICC to investigate Israel for war crimes by submitting a report to The Hague today

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses journalists as he meets with members of the Palestine Liberation Organization on July 22, 2014 in Ramallah

At 3pm Palestine time (13:00 GMT) the Palestinian Liberation Organisation will submit a report detailing Israeli war crimes and human rights violations to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The Palestinian delegation, headed by the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, will submit the report, comprised of hundreds of pages, in an attempt to try Israeli individuals for breaching international law.

In a statement, the PLO said that the report will “focus primarily on providing the context within which a pattern of systematic interrelated crimes have been committed within and throughout the Palestinian state, including through the Israeli settlement regime, and the blockade and attacks against the Gaza Strip and civilian population.”

The report, broken up into three parts, discusses the violation of international law by the Israeli army and Israeli officials from the period of June 2014 to May 2015. The main focus will be on the summer war in Gaza last year, in which over 2,200 Palestinians – the majority of them civilians – were killed. The ongoing settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the issue of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails will also be detailed. The information will supplement other dossiers already provided by other organisations.

Middle East Eye’s UN contributor James Reinl said that the development was important but “was no milestone”.

“The court has already received loads of information from various sources, and the ‘crimes’ have never been much of a secret,” he said. “Everyone has known about settlement-building and civilian deaths for a long time. It seems to me unlikely that the Palestinians can offer the ICC anything it doesn’t already know. It really still comes down to the court whether or not to elevate the case towards a prosecution.”

What to expect from the Israeli side:

* More punitive actions, such as imposing economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority similar to the move back in January when the PA joined the ICC. Israel withheld the PA’s tax revenues, estimated to be around $127mn each month, for three months.

What to expect from the ICC:

* The chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will decide whether to proceed with a preliminary inquiry after reading the first submission. If she decides to go forward, the inquiry will be followed up with a criminal investigation.

What to expect from the Palestinian Authority:

* According to the Guardian, Palestinian officials have emphasised that even if chief prosecutor Bensouda chose not to conduct the initial examination after reviewing the submitted report, they will press ahead and make their own formal criminal complaint, which they are entitled to as they are members of the ICC. This is in line with the tactics adopted by the Palestinian Authority in recent years, in which the PA has chosen to challenge Israel’s occupation through a series of internationalising steps and strategic diplomacy.

Palestina ICC

This isn’t the first time the Palestinian leadership appealed to the ICC in a bid to investigate Israeli human rights violations.

Following Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, in which 1,300 Palestinians were killed in the 23-day war, Palestinians sent an ad hoc request for the ICC to look into Israeli war crimes.

The chief prosecutor at the time took three years before deciding in 2012 that an investigation could not be carried out due to the non-state status of the occupied Palestinian territories. In that same year in November, the Palestinian leadership went to the UN, with Mahmoud Abbas asking the UN General Assembly to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state. This was granted, which gave Palestine the right to become a member of the ICC and send ad hoc requests for investigations.

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Israel Cancels Some Gazans’ Access to Al Aqsa Mosque During Ramadan

Palestinians passed through a checkpoint into Jerusalem from the West Bank on Friday to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel canceled permission for hundreds of residents of Gaza to enter Jerusalem to pray during Ramadan in Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, after rocket fire from the coastal enclave, Israeli officials said on Wednesday.

The move represents the latest effort by Israel this week to rescind gestures that were intended to ease movement into Israeli-controlled territory for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Critics said the move highlighted Israel’s tight control of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and they likened it to collective punishment.

Israeli officials said the move was meant to pressure Palestinians to prevent militants in their communities from undertaking attacks. Hours after the cancellation was announced, an Israeli man who had been found seriously wounded near Moshav Pedaya, a community south of Tel Aviv, died from his wounds. The police said they suspected that the man was beaten by Palestinians who came into Israel illegally.

The Israeli military agency that handles Palestinian civilian affairs, known as Cogat, said on Twitter that it had made the decision after rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza on Tuesday night, in violation of a truce that was put in place after the war last summer between Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza, and Israel.

The agency had planned to allow hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza to worship in the compound of Al Aqsa each Thursday and Friday of Ramadan, which began last week.

The Israeli authorities have restricted movement in and out of Gaza sinceHamas won elections there in 2006, and the restrictions were further tightened after Hamas drove out the Fatah party from Gaza in 2007. Most Palestinians in the West Bank must apply for permits to enter Israeli-controlled areas, except for older residents, who can generally move about freely.

“The Israeli occupation practices extortion and extortion against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza. “The occupation increases tension and will pay the price for the current situation.”

An extremist group loyal to the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, but Israeli officials hold Hamas accountable for actions in Gaza.

The cancellation will affect 500 Palestinians who were planning to worship in Al Aqsa Mosque on Thursday and Friday, a Cogat official said. She spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the agency’s guidelines.

Palestinians in Gaza are still allowed to visit family members in the West Bank, another gesture announced for Ramadan, she said.

But Israeli officials reversed several other measures related to Ramadan this week, including moves that would have allowed Palestinians from the village of Sair, in the West Bank, to enter Jerusalem to worship, and let 500 Palestinians fly out of Israel’s main airport. Palestinians in the West Bank must ordinarily cross into Jordan to fly from an international airport.

Those moves came after a young man from the village stabbed and seriously wounded an Israeli police officer on Sunday.

“This whole issue of restrictions, and easing restrictions, is another example of how much control the Israelis exert over Palestinians,” said Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, “not just in the West Bank, but also in Gaza, under indirect Israeli control.”

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Dutch anti-Islam politician Wilders shows Mohammed cartoons on national TV

Dutch television has aired a slideshow of Prophet Mohammad cartoons, a month after the series was presented at a caricature competition in Texas that was attacked by two gunmen. Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders is at the helm of the new scandal.

During a three minute broadcast slot allocated to Wilder’s Freedom Party, the politician promoted the“freedom of speech” action by presenting a slideshow of Mohammad cartoons accompanied by piano music.

According to the right-wing politician, he assumed the responsibility for revealing to the world the taboo nature of Islam after visiting the exhibition in May in the USA. The broadcast coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Wilders cartoon

“The only way to show terrorists that they are not going to win is to do exactly what they do not want us to do,” Wilders said. “I do not broadcast the cartoons to provoke; I do it because we have to show that we stand for freedom of speech and that we will never surrender to violence. Freedom is our birthright. Freedom of speech must always prevail over violence and terror.”

READ MORE: Anti-Islam group wants to run cartoon ads of Mohammed in DC

‘Far right hurts innocent Muslims, not extremists’ - @ENAREurope Dir on Fresh Mohhamed cartoons

The populist politician also explained that he was “forced” to air the provocative caricatures after the Dutch Parliament refused to host the exhibition.

The broadcast already attracted criticism, with Aissa Zanzen, spokesman for the Council of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands, calling Wilders’ action a publicity stunt.

“Wilders is out to provoke Muslims and he has done everything he can to do that,”he said.

Prior to broadcast, the Dutch government took precautionary steps, sending out 140 diplomatic cables worldwide preparing their embassies for the potential ramifications. In their brief, the Dutch government emphasized that the broadcast was Wilder’s private initiative.

The Muhammad caricature cartoon competition in Texas, organized by Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, had Wilders as its keynote speaker. Just after the Dutch politician left the scene, the event was attacked by two Islamist extremists who were shot dead. The Islamic State took the responsibility for the attack.

READ MORE: ISIS threatens to ‘slaughter’ controversial blogger Geller, warns of more attacks to come

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Human Rights Organizations Participate in Sit-in in Solidarity with Khader Adnan

On Monday, 22 June 2015, human rights organizations participated in a sit-in before the offices of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza in solidarity with the prisoner Khader Adnan, who has been on hunger strike for the 49th consecutive day.

Staff members of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Al Dameer Association for Human Rights joined the sit-in. They raised banners calling for putting an end to the policy of administrative detention and force-feeding that puts the lives of prisoners on a hunger strike at stake and violates the prisoners’ basic right to go on hunger strike.

Lawyer Raji Sourani, Direct of PCHR, delivered a speech on behalf of all human rights organizations. He stressed the support given by human rights organizations to Adnan who is, with his empty stomach, going through a legal struggle on behalf of the whole nation. He added that after all other means were exhausted, Adnan is struggling with his body cells.

Sourani displayed the inhumane conditions experienced by the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails, and Israeli violations and crimes committed against them. Sourani promised that the legal struggle of human rights organizations to prosecute Israeli war criminals atn the international level will never stop.

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Freedom Flotilla III is Sailing to Open the Port of Gaza

More than three boats, with more than 50 crew and passengers from about twenty countries are prepared to reach the port of Gaza and call on the international community to open it

This year’s mission, organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition against the blockade and the siege of Gaza, is about to sail to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison.

The Israeli government claims that there are ‘unauthorized boats trying to illegally enter Israeli territorial waters’. There are no ‘unauthorized boats’, only an illegal and inhumane blockade; the UN has recently called to end it and Freedom Flotilla III sails to challenge it, without any need or desire to enter Israeli territorial waters. This fact is highlighted by the practices of Israeli naval forces against previous sea missions, which have intercepted all boats since 2009 in international waters, headed towards Palestinian waters off Gaza, never towards Israel or Israeli waters.

Freedom Flotilla III is invited by Palestinians in Gaza through various organizations that work for a relief of the thousands that were left heavily wounded, homeless, jobless, and displaced after recent Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. We also have among our passengers Dr. Basel Ghattas, Member of the Israeli Knesset, who called in an open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow our mission to reach the port of Gaza.

Israel’s right-wing is now moving to penalize MK Ghattas for his participation in a legitimate political action of people from all around the world, while Deputy MFA Hotovely has announced international diplomatic action against the Freedom Flotilla III. Lawyers around the world are making legal moves against the mission, just as they did in 2011. We regret that “the only democracy in Middle-East” thinks this is the best course of action, instead of addressing the real problems of occupation, blockade and division of Palestine, as well as the openly legal discriminations against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

We remain undeterred, because our purpose is not to act against Israel, but against occupation. Our actions would not be needed, if governments worldwide and international bodies like the EU and the UN would take steps to ensure accountability of Israeli governments for war crimes and collective punishment against the 1.8 million Palestinian population in Gaza Strip. We welcome voices from Israel who publicly state that the State of Israel is not threatened by the action against the blockade.

The international community should stop turning a blind eye on the blockade and occupation and take steps urgently towards the direction of ensuring the opening of the port in Gaza, the only port of Palestine to the rest of the world.:

Freedom Flotilla III media team

Phone: +30 2110115937

More press contacts:

(Source / 25.06.2015)

Coup Authorities Move Seriously Ill Muslim Brotherhood Leader Akef to Toughest Prison

Having arrested 87-year old Akef on political trumped-up charges, on the day the coup was announced in 2013, the putschists now move him from hospital to the notorious Aqrab prison while still seriously ill and in need of treatment.

Military coup authorities in Egypt moved in secret on Tuesday Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the former Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, from Maadi Hospital where he was receiving treatment to Aqrab prison, one of Egypt’s toughest and most notorious prisons.

Muslim Brotherhood sources said the reason of his transfer, despite his age (87 years) and his failing health, is not known yet.

Military coup authorities arrested Akef just after announcing the coup against President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Akef was transferred to the hospital several months later, following the rapid deterioration of his health in junta jails. An unjust, null and void sentence jailed him for 25 years.

(Source / 26.06.2015)

Israel releases MP after year of administrative detention

Palestinians greet and congratulate Sheikh Hassan Youssef (C), a West Bank leader of the Hamas movement, following his release on January 19, 2014 after spending 28 months in Israeli prison

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities released Palestinian parliament member Sheikh Hassan Youssef, 60, on Thursday as he ended his administrative detention period that was extended three times while being held in prison.Youssef was detained in mid June of 2014 during a detention campaign carried out by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank and held in the Ofer jail near Ramallah, the Ahrar Center for Prisoners and Human Rights said.He was one of hundreds of Palestinians to be detained by Israel during the campaign known as “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” which was allegedly carried out in search of three missing teenage settlers last summer, lasting until June 30 when their bodies were found.Most of those arrested during the campaign were members of Hamas, including leaders and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Palestine’s parliament.Youssef, a West Bank leader of the Hamas movement, has been detained in Israeli prisons several times before, one time released by Israel in 2011 despite having six weeks remaining of a six-year term for “membership of a terrorist organization.”The majority of Palestinian political organizations are considered illegal by Israel, including those that make up the PLO, and association with such parties is often used as grounds for imprisonment, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.At the time of his 2011 release, the Hamas leader stated that he didn’t support the bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN.”We don’t believe that this step is useful and won’t add anything except a few more UN resolutions,” Youssef told Ma’an at the time.Rather, “we need practical resolutions that end the occupation,” he said.Shortly before his detention in June 2014, Youssef participated in an organized a protest in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners and was allegedly assaulted by PA forces who were trying to prevent the rally.The freed PLC member is also known for denouncing his son, Mosab Hassan Yusef, 36, who admitted several years ago to being a top informer for Israel’s domestic security service during the Second Intifada.Youssef’s release comes shortly after speaker of the Palestinian parliament and Hamas member Aziz Duweik, 67, was released by Israeli authorities earlier this month following a year in administrative detention.Under administrative detention, a procedure dating back to the British mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, prisoners can be held for indefinitely renewable six-month periods without charge.Several members of the Palestinian parliament remain in Israeli prison, many of whom have been held under administrative detention, most recently PLC member Khalida Jarrar who has been held since April 2 despite pushes by the international community for her release.

(Source / 25.06.2015)