Wall to Separate East Jerusalem District from Settlement, Settlers Firebomb Hebron Area Village

Israeli forces, on Sunday, began installing a large concrete wall in occupied East Jerusalem to separate the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir from the illegal Israeli settlement of Armon Hanatziv.

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Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces helped unload huge concrete blocks in the neighborhood, including the notorious T-shaped blocks used in Israel’s illegal separation wall that surrounds and cuts through the occupied West Bank.

Most of the concrete blocks are two meters high, witnesses, and were set up in streets near the illegal Israeli settlement of Armon Hanatziv, also known as East Talpiot.

Residents of Jabal al-Mukabbir said that four days earlier, on Wednesday, Israeli forces closed all routes to the neighborhood with cement blocks and set up a checkpoint at the main entrance.

Nearly all Palestinian neighborhoods across occupied East Jerusalem have seen severe movement restrictions imposed by Israel’s security cabinet following a series of attacks on Israelis.

Late on Tuesday, Israel’s security cabinet announced that Israeli police would be entitled to “impose a closure on, or to surround, centers of friction and incitement in Jerusalem, in accordance with security considerations.”

The cabinet also gave approval for the revocation of residency status for Palestinians who carry out attacks as well as the police closure of occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has called the Israeli government’s response to recent escalation in the area as “the very inverse of what ought to be done” toward ending the violence.

“The events of recent weeks cannot be viewed in a vacuum, isolated from the reality of the ongoing, daily oppression of 4 million people, with no hope of change in sight,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

At least seven Israelis and 42 Palestinians have been killed in violence that has escalated since the beginning of October.

Israeli settlers renewed their attacks on the eastern Hebron area on Sunday evening, hours after they carried out a similar attack, according to local sources.

More than 200 Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian villages of Wad al-Haseen and Wad al-Nasara near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, overnight, in the eastern Hebron district of the occupied southern West Bank, locals and medics said.

During the attack, Israeli settlers threw stones and firebombs at Palestinian homes and injured at least three people, two of which were minors, while Israeli forces later shot and injured one Palestinian with live fire.

An Israeli army spokesperson said she did not have reports of any injuries with live fire.

The spokesperson said clashes between Palestinians and Israelis broke out in the area, after which Israeli forces “arrived at the scene anddispersedthe clashes using riot dispersal means.”

Kayed Daana, one of the residents whose home was attacked told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers attacked her neighborhood and injured at least three of her neighbors who have been identified as 40-year-old Imad and two minors, Abdullah, 13, and Muhammad, 17.

Muhammad’s injuries were the most serious of the three, as he was hit in the chest with one of the fire bombs, medics said.

Daana told Ma’an News Agency that she would like to urge the International Red Cross and others in the international community intervene against Israeli violations and attacks on Palestinians.

Bassam al-Jabri, one of the residents, said he saw the attacking Israeli settlers cutting the blockade fence that separates the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arab from nearby Palestinian homes, while under the protection of the Israeli troops before they attacked his neighborhood with fire bombs.

Al-Jabri said his house was one of those set ablaze, but that he and his neighbors were able to put the fire out before the fire was able to damage his whole home.

During the attacks, Palestinian villagers fled to their local mosques and used the mosque amplifier to call for help from neighboring Palestinian villages and communities, who responded to their calls. Israeli forces then got involved, shooting tear gas at Palestinians who showed up to help.

Community member Farid al-Razim, told Ma’an that villagers in his area were attacked by Israeli settlers with firebombs, while Israeli forces were shooting tear gas, and that one of the Palestinians from a neighboring village who had come to help was shot and injured with live fire.

While relations between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank are normally tense, thesituation has been significantly deteriorating since settlers’ caught fire a home belonging to the Duwabsha family in Nablus on July 31.

An 18-month-old toddler was burned alive during the attack, while his mother and father succumbed to their burn wounds while being treated at separate hospitals. The family’s four-year-old son is the only remaining survivor of the attack.

On Oct. 1, suspected Palestinians shot and killed Eitam and Naama Henkin, two settlers who were driving between the illegal settlements of Itamar and Elon More in an area near Huwwara in Nablus. Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car.

It is speculated that the shootings were a revenge attack on Israeli settlers, following months of increased restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and calls from right-wing Jewish groups, urging their supporters to visit the compound, which is venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount. Following the shooting, hundreds of Israeli settlers rioted across the occupied West Bank, with multiple attacks reported on Palestinian homes and vehicles.

Palestinian towns and villages in the Nablus area are surrounded by Israeli settlements and outposts, many of which are protected by the Israeli military and have gained notoriety for being comprised of the most extremist settlers.

The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.

Palestinians are therefore left to fend for themselves as few options for their personal security remain.

While Israeli forces will detain a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank for possessing a knife or gun, Israelis living in the same area are legally able to carry such weapons.

Rights groups have criticized Israel for implementing different legal systems for Palestinians and Israeli settlers living in the same area.

Such practices, they say, protect the expansion of settlements while systematically removing the ability for Palestinians to move freely throughout the occupied territory.

Settlers recently stepped up their attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, amid growing tension and renewing clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli army and police.

Clashes have been witnessed across the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and Gaza, as well as in Arab communities inside the occupied 1948 land, against the backdrop of Israel’s repeated assaults against al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Israel has been enforcing a temporal division on the compound, the third holiest place in Islam, which ignited strong feelings of anger among Palestinians.

Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

Syrian civilians helping Russian airstrikes target ISIS – Defense Ministry

Russian Su-25 attack aircraft take off from the Khmeimim airbase in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov

Russian warplanes have bombed a training camp in Syria where foreign instructors trained potential suicide bombers, the Russian defense ministry said. It was one of 49 terrorist targets hit by the Russian Air Forces over the day.

“Not far from Salma in Latakia province, a Su-24M bomber delivered a strike at a building, which was used as a terrorist training ground. According to intelligence, there were ISIL foreign instructors, who were training people, including suicide bombers, for guerrilla warfare in areas liberated by the Syrian army,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

He added that the facility had its own explosives workshop, which was also destroyed by an airstrike.

Russian warplanes conducted 36 combat sorties on Saturday and attacked 49 militant targets in Syria, including command points, weapons workshops, firing positions, depots and fortified bunkers, Konashenkov added.

The general said that the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL), which suffered serious damage from Russian bombings, is working to rebuild its infrastructure.

“The militants’ new tactics is to spread their supply and command facilities, but it does not work. All their new infrastructure objects are being identified and destroyed,” he said.

READ MORE: Russia offers US ‘broader cooperation’ in Syria, but Washington not ready – Defense Ministry

Konashenkov said the civilian population in the areas under terrorist group’s control are aiding the Russian airstrikes by providing intelligence about IS to the Syrian government.

“This information is double-checked by our aviation group with various technical means of reconnaissance. Following this, a decision is made on which objects we should target,” he said.

Russia is providing air support to Syrian government troops, which are currently undertaking an offensive to retake villages and cities captured by terrorist groups. Moscow says its goal is to stabilize the situation in the country enough to allow political dialogue between Damascus and moderate opposition to start.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

Israeli settlers storm Palestinian homes in West Bank, 5 injured

Israeli settlers clash with Palestinians (unseen) near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba in the occupied West Bank on October 9, 2015. ©AFP

Israeli settlers clash with Palestinians (unseen) near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba in the occupied West Bank on October 9, 2015

Illegal Israeli settlers have attacked a number of Palestinian homes in the southern part of the West Bank amid ongoing tensions in the occupied territories.

On Saturday evening, a group of Israeli settlers stormed the city of al-Khalil (Hebron), located 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of al-Quds (Jerusalem), and broke into a number of homes.

Five members of a family sustained injuries during the imbroglio. They were later rushed to a nearby hospital to receive medical treatment.

Several people were also injured after Israeli soldiers attacked a group of Palestinian protesters at the Qalandiya checkpoint.

Israeli security forces fire tear gas canisters and stun grenades towards Palestinian protesters in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on October 16, 2015

Clashes were also reported between Israeli military forces and Palestinian protesters near the illegal Beit El settlement on the outskirts of Ramallah.

Four Palestinians were shot dead and another injured by Israeli regime forces in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the occupied West Bank on Saturday.

According to press reports, three of the Saturday’s killings occurred in al-Khalil, where over 500 Israeli settlers live in a heavily-guarded enclave in the city center surrounded by nearly 200,000 local Palestinian citizens.

The fourth victim was shot dead at a checkpoint in an Israeli settlement complex in the occupied East al-Quds.

Palestinian protesters walk between burning tires during clashes with Israeli forces near the illegal Beit El settlement on the outskirts of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on October 17, 2015

According to both Palestinians and Israeli sources, all the victims shot by the Israeli forces on Saturday were Palestinian teenagers.

At least 44 Palestinians have been killed across the occupied territories since the beginning of October, the Palestinian Ministry of Health says.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has called for resistance in the face of heightened Israeli military aggression against Palestinians.

The PLO also called upon officials within the Palestinian Authority to ignore calls for quelling Palestinian resistance.

The fresh wave of tensions was triggered by the Israeli regime’s imposition in August of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinians are also angry at increasing violence by illegal Israeli settlers, who frequently storm al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. They say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

Let’s Talk About Genocide: Shoot to Kill – Israel’s New Phase of Genocidal Policy

The most recent report from the Palestinian Health Ministry relates that 44 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s army, police and settlers, since the beginning of the month- in the past 18 days. 11 of them were children under 18 years of age. All 44 have been shot, most during demonstrations, least while wielding a knife, and others while standing in the street being Arab.

The most disturbing aspect of this new wave of extra judicial execution is of course the latter, in which random Palestinian citizens of Israel are attacked in the street  by random Jewish citizens if identified to be Arab. In the best case scenario, they are just humiliated and brutally beaten, in the worst case they are shot multiple times by hysterical police officers.

So great is the fear (otherwise known as racism) of Arabs, that occasionally Jews of Arab origin (60% of the Jewish-Israeli population) are shot by Israeli police or stabbed by Jewish-civilians.

Bleeding Into 1948

Remember when two months ago Israel decided, to much military and media lamentation, to tighten open-fire regulations? No? Well that’s because this temporary tightening didn’t really change anything on the ground. On September 22, about two weeks before the current wave of executions began, 18 year-old Hadeel Hashlamoun was gunned down by Israeli soldiers in a checkpoint at al-Khalil (Hebron). The soldiers claimed she had a knife, but according to the Amnesty International report, this accusation was far from reality.

Of course, executions of Palestinians, under guise of “security threat” is not a new trend, in fact it dates back to 1947 (you know, that first time Zionist militias went all genocidal on the Palestinian people):

The Holocaust, argues Oron, was politically crucial to Ben-Gurion. It not only contributed to the support of Zionist goals and migration to Palestine, but also strengthened the Yishuv’s incentive to fight a war against the Palestinians and Arabs in the desire to avoid, at all cost, the possibility of a Holocaust reoccurring. Ben-Gurion was repeatedly quoted, saying: “We must not say that what happened in Europe to six million Jews cannot happen to 650,000 Jews in Palestine … what happened in Europe may happen in Palestine … if we do not prepare seriously and without delay” (p. 108). Ben-Gurion’s use of the Holocaust had a vital impact on the Jewish Yishuv’s leadership, individual members, and armed forces, and, among other factors, contributed to the Yishuv belief in waging a struggle of existence; they would either be victorious over the Palestinians and Arabs, or they die. What awaited them if defeated would be comparable to the Holocaust.

Back to 2015; like a self fulfilling prophecy, several Palestinian youth have lashed out and stabbed Israeli soldiers and civilians. Though this phenomena isn’t coordinated, or sustainable, Israel is using the opportunity to tighten its control over the West Bank, and reestablish and escalate the already lax open-fire regulations. So lax, in fact, that many of the Palestinians being killed are citizens of Israel.

Dodging the Bullet – Discrimination Before the Law

Before we get into the details of Israel’s new shoot-to-kill policy, a little context is needed. The mainstream media is heavily reporting Israeli stab victims, while labeling Palestinian shooting victims as “terrorists”. More often then not, the circumstances of death are not investigated, even when social media is abound with evidence contrary to the official Israeli version. No police officer has been prosecuted, and Israeli civilians that wage stabbing or shooting attacks against Palestinians also somehow find a way to dodge both the proverbial and actual bullet. This alone sends a message to Israelis- both armed forces and armed civilians- that killing Palestinians is OK.

Beyond the particularities of this bloody episode, there is also the wider context of the crime of genocide, which I discuss at length in the “Let’s Talk About Genocide” series [Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. My analysis stems from the assumption that Palestinians are in a reality of a continuous genocide (according to the Convention of Prevention of Genocide), with recurring peaks of violence (last summer’s bombing of Gaza to the effect of 6 nuclearbombs, murdering 2300 people, including over 500 children, is one harrowing example) that induce heightened acts of resistance. The mechanisms of genocide that are in place are not put on hold because the victims of the genocide killed members of the population that benefit from the genocide. These uncoordinated stabbings are a gut response to the continuous extermination.

Shoot-to-Kill: New Phase of Israel’s Genocidal Policy

Shoot-to-Kill is not a new Israeli policy. It’s been alive and well in Gaza and the West Bank for decades, and at times bled into Israel. This time around, however, the volume is jacked up to genocidal extents. It took less than two months for Israel to backtrack on its tightening of the open-fire regulations and excelerate it in full force. The first step was to once again give official legitimacy to extra judicial executions:

Israel’s security cabinet voted unanimously Thursday evening to permit the use of sniper-fire against stone throwers in circumstances where an officer’s life is not at imminent risk… “Until recently police would open fire only when their own lives were in danger. As of now, they will be permitted to open fire – and they will know that they have the right to open fire – when they face danger to any lives,” Netanyahu said.

This decision was made in the context of Israel’s latest takeover of Al-Aqsa mosque, and a day after Hadeel Hashlamoun’s execution. The next step was to out-right call on citizens to carry arms and use them:

Several high-ranking Israeli officials have called on civilians to start carrying weapons around the clock, following a spate of stabbings and shootings by Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent days, Ha’aretz reported Thursday. “It’s like doing reserve duty,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat said during an interview with Army Radio Thursday morning, according to the Israeli newspaper.

A police commander of Ashdod made a similar call during a town hall council meeting in the coastal Israeli city…

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan has joined the call for all Israeli citizens licensed to carry weapons to do so, following a stabbing in the coastal Israeli city of Tel-Aviv. He reportedly said any terrorist who chooses to stab someone with a knife should expect to be shot in response, according to the Jewish Press.

While Jerusalem’s mayor, was reliving his glory days in the occupying army,Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promptly joined the incitement, slightly more subtly:

We have boosted our forces and are using all necessary means and methods in the fight against this terrorism… Civilians are at the forefront of the war against terrorism and must also be on maximum alert…

Less subtle was Internal Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, who took the next step and announced on his Facebook page that he is easing restrictions on attaining a weapon-carrying licence. Here are the main points:

  • The lowest ranking army and police officers (teenagers), including those in reserves will be permitted to obtain a licence.
  • The requirement of a two year minimum on the job is cancelled.
  • In addition to active duty and reserves, people who have served in certain unites in the past, but are no longer serving, are also permitted.
  • Anyone who worked as a security guard for two years (past, or present) is permitted. (On a side note, one of the ways of excluding Palestinians from the workforce, especially, but not limited to security jobs, is requiring full army service.)
  • Settlement residents and visitors are permitted.

Joining them with his usual fascistic rhetoric (and surprisingly religious rhetoric), from the expanded annexed territory in al-Aqsa, Law Maker, Yair Lapid, took it a notch further and commended the armed forces on their shoot-to-kill policies:

… we have removed our request for a vote of no confidence in the government because this is not the time to deal in politics… what the country of Israel needs right now- unity, the feeling that we are all standing together against a common enemy… A terrorist came and tried to stab the security forces and was shot and killed and that is the way it should be… The rabbis teach that if someone comes up against you to kill you, you should kill him first and that should be our working model.

On a side note: The thwarted “terrorist attack” Lapid was referring to was the extra judicial execution of 18 year-old Mustafa Adel al-Khatib, whom witnesses report was still in his car, when he was shot.

The Israeli public was quick to follow the politicians’ and media incitement. The guardian quotes Israeli gun shop owners, reporting “a dramatic increase in demand for guns”.

Targeting Women and Girls

While under international law, all Palestinians under military occupation are protected persons, “women shall be especially protected.” In the past month, two Palestinian women and two Palestinian girls have been killed. Aside from pregnant Nour Hassan (30) and her 2-year-old daughter Rahaf, who were bombed to death in their home in Gaza, the two others- Marah al-Bakri (15) andBayan ‘Oseyli (16)– were just teenagers. This count doesn’t include mother of three, Israa Abed (mid-20s), who survived multiple gunshot wounds, Shrouk Dowiyyat (18) who was shot by a settler who later claimed she had a knife, and teenager Hadeel Hashlamoun, who was the precursor to all this shooting.

Comparably to the grand total of 44 killed (45 as I write), these 6 women and girls seem like a negligible number.  But it’s the recent coverage in Israeli media that points to an escalation of harm to Palestinian women. This is the front page of last Wednesday’s paper:

At the Terror Front: Women

They go out to murder civilians with knives, move car bombs, and throw stones: In the new wave of terror Palestinian women play a central role.

These kinds of headlines, put together with the calls to Israeli Jews to shoot-to-kill Palestinians further thrust Israel into the genocidal mindset. Palestinian men and boys were already fair-game, and were, until these days, Israel’s prime target. Now women- specifically young women- are also explicit targets. In other words, all Palestinians are now shoot-to-kill targets. Their killing carries no punishment, and their killer can be anyone: A soldier, a police officer, the guy behind them in the checkout line at the super-market.

It is no wonder that a Palestinian woman wrote “The guide to Palestinian survival in Israel”:

I was surprised to find out that many of my Arab friends “shared” my call, and that they themselves are just as afraid to walk around or enter the public sphere, for fear of falling prey to Jewish mobs. This is especially relevant following the videos of Jews only calling to execute Arab who fell into their trap. In Netanya we saw a lynch of Arab workers, while in Jerusalem a group of criminals roams the streets at night looking for Arabs. They ask random people for the time, and if they answer with an Arabic accent, it’s all over.

On days where insanity is the indisputable ruler — when anyone can carry a weapon and feel like his life is in danger, simply because an Arab woman opened her bag next to him — who knows how things will end.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

Israel building wall to separate East Jerusalem district, settlement

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Sunday began installing a large concrete wall in occupied East Jerusalem to separate the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir from the illegal Israeli settlement of Armon Hanatziv.Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces helped unload huge concrete blocks in the neighborhood, including the notorious T-shaped blocks used in Israel’s illegal separation wall that surrounds and cuts through the occupied West Bank.Most of the concrete blocks are two meters high, witnesses, and were set up in streets near the illegal Israeli settlement of Armon Hanatziv, also known as East Talpiot.Residents of Jabal al-Mukabbir told Ma’an that four days earlier, on Wednesday, Israeli forces closed all routes to the neighborhood with cement blocks and set up a checkpoint at the main entrance.Nearly all Palestinian neighborhoods across occupied East Jerusalem have seen severe movement restrictions imposed by Israel’s security cabinet following a series of attacks on Israelis.Late on Tuesday, Israel’s security cabinet announced that Israeli police would be entitled to “impose a closure on, or to surround, centers of friction and incitement in Jerusalem, in accordance with security considerations.”The cabinet also gave approval for the revocation of residency status for Palestinians who carry out attacks as well as the police closure of occupied East Jerusalem.Israeli rights group B’Tselem has called the Israeli government’s response to recent escalation in the area as “the very inverse of what ought to be done” toward ending the violence.”The events of recent weeks cannot be viewed in a vacuum, isolated from the reality of the ongoing, daily oppression of 4 million people, with no hope of change in sight,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.At least seven Israelis and 42 Palestinians have been killed in violence that has escalated since the beginning of October.
(Source / 18.10.2015)

Army Raids West Bank Schools, Injuries Reported

Israeli forces, on Sunday, fired tired gas canisters and stun grenades inside a boys’ secondary school in Jenin while students were still inside, as groups of settlers attempted to storm Yabod town, to the west of Jenin. Forces also raided the campus of the Palestine Technical University, near Tulkarem, while renewed Hebron clashes resulted in additional injuries.

Soldaten archief Al Ray

Witnesses informed WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that Israeli soldiers stationed adjacent to the apartheid wall, built illegally on land belonging to Palestinians, fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades inside al-Tayba Secondary School to the west of Jenin.

Dozens of university students also suffocated, as Israeli forces raided the campus of Palestine Technical University-Kadoorie, to the west of Tulkarem city, while firing a hail of tear gas canisters toward students, according to the university’s public relations department.

A large military force infiltrated the university’s campus — making it the second such attack in two weeks — amid heavy firing of tear gas canisters toward students, causing dozens of suffocation cases among them, due to tea gas inhalation. Some of the more severe suffocation cases were transferred to hospital for medical treatment.

The department noted that tension is running high at the college due to Israeli forces’ continuous attempts to take over part of the campus’ land for the benefit of expanding a nearby Israeli military training camp.

Four Palestinians were shot and injured, Sunday, while many others, including students, suffocated during renewed clashes with Israeli army forces in the Hebron area.

Four Palestinians were shot and injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, and another was struck with a stun grenade shrapnel, whereas many others suffocated due to inhaling tear gas fired at them by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted at the eastern entrance of the town of Beit Kahel, to the northwest of Hebron.

Forces further blocked the eastern entrance and prevented Palestinian registered cars from crossing.

Meanwhile, dozens of Polytechnic University students — who rallied to protest Israel’s escalated aggression against the Palestinian people and al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem — suffocated during confrontations that broke out with Israeli army to the south of the city of Hebron.

Earlier Sunday, At least two Palestinians were shot and injured with live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets used by the Israeli army, as they stormed Hebron city in the early morning hours.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

West Bank Clashes Continue, Live Fire Exchanged with Armed Fateh Wing

8 kidnapped in Hebron district

Israeli forces suppressed marches across the occupied West Bank on Sunday, as clashes continued for the 17th consecutive day.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades

Members of the the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Bridges, the armed wing of the Fatah movement, who opened fire at the troops

Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians with live fire during clashes that erupted in Qalandia refugee camp, in the central Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank, during an exchange of gunfire between Palestinians and Israeli forces who were raiding the camp early Sunday, Palestinian sources said. During the raid, Israeli forces issued an evacuation notice to the family of Tariq Dweik, which informed the family that their house would be sealed with cement and barred from entry within 48 hours.

Israeli forces also raided the home of Thaer abu Ghazalah, but the troops retreated after Palestinians in the area opened fire on the invading Israeli forces, according to Ma’an.

An Israeli army spokesperson said Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians during the incident, two of which were alleged gunmen who had shot at Israeli forces, and one of which allegedly hurled an improvised explosive device (IED) at Israeli forces.

Israeli forces also detained Ahmad al-Saqa and Ahmad Ibrahim after raiding their homes. The two were reportedly taken to an unknown location. Israeli forces reportedly retreated during the raid after the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Bridges, the armed wing of the Fateh movement, opened fire at the troops.

Separately, Israeli forces also raided the villages of Kaffr Aqab and Samiramis, near Jerusalem, where they ransacked the houses of families who’s relatives allegedly carried out stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, and issued demolition notices.

In Bethlehem Israeli forces hit a 15-year-old Palestinian in the head with a tear gas grenade in Dar Salah village in east Bethlehem during clashes in the area.

Medical sources said that the teen sustained a moderate injury and was transferred to a hospital for treatment.

The teen sustained the injury after the students of Dar Salah school participated in a march protesting the Israeli violation against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque.

‘Excessive use of force’

Nearly 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of the month, half of which were shot and killed during protests, while Palestinians have been responsible for the death of seven Israeli during the same time period.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that the second week of October saw the highest number of Palestinian deaths and injuries in the West Bank and Israel recorded in a single week since 2005.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said last week that “the high number of casualties, in particular those resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces, raises concerns of excessive use of force, and violations of the right to life and security of the person.”

While the Israeli leadership attributes the escalation in violence to Palestinian incitement, most Palestinians have pointed to the decades-long Israeli military occupation as the root cause of recent events.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week that the Israelis “have a right to protect themselves against violence towards civilians, in Jerusalem’s Old City and anywhere else.”

US president Barack Obama on Friday evening also voiced support for Israel’s recent actions, saying that it had a right to “protect its citizens.”

The Palestinian envoy to the UN last week requested that the UN deploy special security forces to occupied East Jerusalem to help quell violence, but Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Friday that Israel objects to international oversight in the area.

— — Israeli forces, Sunday, detained eight Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said.

Local sources identified four of the detainees as Muhammad Maher Saed Abeido, 25, Muhammad Hamdi al-Jabri, 27, Ibrahim al-Jabri, and Muhammad Syori.

Israeli troops also detained the brother of Amjad al-Jundi, a Palestinian who Israeli authorities claim was shot and killed after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier and stealing his gun in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Al-Jundi’s brother, Mahmoud Hatem Ibrahim al-Jundi, 24, was detained near Tarqumiya, northwest of Hebron, while he was on his way to work in Israel, locals said.

The other three Palestinians have yet to be identified, although an Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that eight Palestinians were detained in Hebron overnight Sunday for “illegal activity.”

October has seen record numbers of detentions since June 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as Israeli authorities respond to increasing attacks and clashes in the region, through methods that critics argue amount to collective punishment.

Since the beginning of the month, at least 42 Palestinians have been shot dead, around half of whom were killed during clashes, and more than 1,500 have been injured.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have been responsible for the deaths of seven Israelis killed in the same period, with dozens more injured in various attacks.

An Israeli police statement released Thursday reported that more than 200 Palestinians have been detained during the last two weeks on charges including stone throwing, throwing Molotov cocktails, and carrying a knife.

The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs meanwhile said last week that Israeli forces have detained up to 650 Palestinians since the beginning of October, most of them younger than 20 years old.

The committee said in a statement that most of the Palestinians were detained during clashes with Israeli soldiers, or subsequently in overnight raids on the pretext of resisting Israeli soldiers.

According to the statement, many Palestinians had reported being held for hours at interrogation centers, undergoing humiliation and maltreatment. Some prisoners said that they were violently beaten during their detention.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

Explainer: How Egyptians are voting in the parliamentary elections

Egyptian voters cast their ballots at a polling station during the first round of parliamentary elections, in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015

The first round of Egypt’s 2015 parliamentary elections kicked off on Sunday and lasts for two days.

This round covers two of Egypt’s four geographical areas:West Delta – which includes three governorates – and North, Middle and South of Upper Egypt – which includes 11 governorates.

For the first time, a closed-list system has been applied in Egypt. The system means that on one ballot, voters are mostly voting for a list of parties under each “party-list” umbrella.

On a separate ballot, voters also vote for individual candidates. The number of individual candidates they vote for is dependent on the size of the constituencies.

Party-lists vary according to the constituency so that not all lists compete in all four constituencies.

In West Delta, the party-lists competing are:
• Fi Hob Masr (For the love of Egypt)
• Egyptian Front Coalition
• Independent Current
• Knights of Egypt
• Al-Nour

In the North, Middle and South of Upper Egypt, the party-lists competing are:
• Fi Hob Masr (For the love of Egypt)
• Egyptian Front Coalition
• Independent Current
• Call of Egypt
• National Independent Awakening Bloc

While most of the party-lists are a coalition of parties, only the Salafist al-Nour party and the “Knights of Egypt” party each form one entity. Meanwhile, the “National Independence Awakening Bloc” is not a party-list, but a group of civilian individuals that have formed one bloc.

In the first round, West Delta will get 15 party-list seats while the North, Middle and South of Upper Egypt will get 45 – that’s 60 out of a total of 286, while the remaining 226 seats will go to independent candidates.

Who’s who?

“Fi Hob Masr,” rumored to be directly supported by the Egyptian regime, is coordinated by General Sameh Seif al-Yazal, former intelligence officer and currently a security expert and chairman of the Gomhouria Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Under the “Fi Hob Masr” coalition includes 10 parties, the most prominent of which are al-Wafd Party, The Free Egyptians Party, The Conference Party, and the Conservatives Party.

Among the most renowned figures in this party-list are: Former Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Orabi, political analyst Emad Gad (also the party-list’s spokesperson), former MP Akmal Qortam, former Information Minister Osama Heikal and retired football player Taher Abu Zeid.

This party-list is believed to stand the best chance in both the second and first rounds.

“The list is expected to get up to 300 seats and will support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” Seif al-Yazal said in a statement this week.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Front Coalition and theIndependent Current (also banded together under one party-list known as the “Egypt List”) is coordinated by former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik.

The Egyptian Front Coalition includes two parties: the Egyptian National Movement Party led by Shafik and Masr Baladi (Egypt My Homeland) led by Qadri Abu Hussein, a Mubarak-era provincial governor.

The Independent Current coalition is led by Judge Ahmed Al-Fadaly and includes 14 minor political parties and includes a number of public figures such as Gamal Allam, head of the Egyptian Football Federation, and Mohamed Nasr Allam, Mubarak era Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources.

This list is believed to include the largest number of Mubarak era figures, also known as “remnants” of the former regime.

“The main aim of this list is to counter the influence of Islamists and form a strong civilian block,” Shafik has said.

Meanwhile, the Knights of Egypt party-list, which consists of one party with the same name, is mainly made up of veteran army officers known for their support for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and headed by Major General Abdel Rafea Darwish, now a security expert.

“Our party-list will support the state and not the president, despite of our support for him,” Darwish has said, adding that one of the party-list’s priorities is making sure Muslim Brotherhood figures do not get any seats.

The National Independent Awakening Bloc, founded by Islamic preacher Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah al-Aswani, includes a number of Sufi movement figures from Upper Egypt. Unlike other lists, this one is not comprised of political parties, but individuals uniting under the same banner. Its candidates include George Kelada, head of the Egyptian Association in Italy.

“Our main goal is to offer representation for marginalized segments of society and to defend the underprivileged who have not had voice,” said Aswani.

The Call of Egypt party-list is headed and founded by activist Tarek Zidan, who is also the chairman of the Egyptian Revolution Party, and made up of 17 political parties and movements such as The Arab Party for Justice and Equality, headed by the list’s coordinator Hisham Anany, and Egypt’s Protectors, and I am Egyptian Coalition.

Among the prominent figures in this list is Adel Abdel Hamid, former justice minister in the interim government that followed the June 30 protests. “Now it is time for the parliament to do its actual job, which is to serve citizens and achieve social justice. This is the main purpose of our list,” Zidan has said.

The al-Nour list, made up of the ultra-conservative party with the same name, is the only Islamist list in both the first and second rounds and is coordinated by party chairman Younis Makhioun.

The list includes former party MPs in the predominantly Islamist 2012 parliament such as Nader Bakkar and Ahmed al-Sharif, as well as Copts such as Nader al-Serafi, who was head of the “38 Copts” coalition for divorce rights.

Despite its previous association with the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Nour supported the June 30 protests that ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in 2013.

“Our purpose is to fight extremism and preserve the integrity of the Egyptian territory in addition to protecting Egypt from the Shiite infiltration,” Makhioun has recently said.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

70 Tunisia hotels closed since militant attacks

This Monday, June 29, 2015 file picture shows Tunisian police officers guarding Imperial Marhaba hotel during visit of top security officials of Britain, France, Germany and Belgium in Sousse, Tunisia, which was said to close by Sept. 30

At least 70 hotels have closed in Tunisia since September after two deadly militant attacks on foreign tourists, and more are expected to follow suit, an industry official said Sunday.

“The situation is very sluggish,” Radhouane Ben Salah, the head the Tunisian Federation of Hotels, told private Mosaique FM radio.

With reservations at “no more than 20 percent, 70 hotels had to close since September because the lack of clients and more are expected to do the same,” he added.

Ben Salah said he expected unemployment to climb as hotel staff would be forced out of work.

Joblessness already stands at nearly 30 percent, with the number even higher among youths, and one in six Tunisians lives below the poverty line.

The country’s key tourism sector contributes to 10 percent of gross domestic product, and employs 400,000 people, directly or indirectly.

But it has been badly shaken by attacks on foreign tourists at the National Bardo Museum in the capital in March and a beachside massacre near the coastal city of Sousse in June.

The attacks, claimed by the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, cost the lives of 22 and 38 respectively.

Ben Salah said hotel owners and the government had agreed to look after employees who would be forced out of work.

He said the government would provide them with a 200-dinar monthly subsidy (around 90 euros, $102) and social security coverage for a renewable six-month period.

The number of visitors from Europe have halved since January, and international hotel chains have announced plans to close over the winter season.

This summer Tunisia’s tourism industry relied mainly on local holidaymakers or those from the region, namely from neighbouring Algeria.

Several countries evacuated their citizens from Tunisia after the beachside massacre in June and others, including Britain, have warned against travel to the North African nation.

Thirty of the 38 tourists killed in June near Sousse were British.

Tunisia’s economy has remained stagnant since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The finance ministry has forecast economic growth of just 0.5 percent this year, representing half the rate for last year.

(Source / 18.10.2015)

Pro-Palestine rally in Washington slams Obama for supporting Israeli crimes

WASHINGTON, (PIC)– Dozens of U.S. citizens, including Jews, rallied Saturday outside the White House in Washington in protest at the ongoing Israeli violations and terrorism against Palestinians and U.S’s pro-Israel position.

The rally-goers lifted Palestinian flags and banners reading “Freedom for Palestine”, “Stop Israeli aggressions on Gaza”, “Take your hands off the al-Aqsa Mosque”, “Netanyahu is a war criminal”, and “Obama stop siding with the Israeli occupation.”

The protesters spoke out against the simmering Israeli attacks on the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, in Occupied Jerusalem, and the peaceful Muslim sit-inners.

They further slammed Obama’s pro-Israel position, calling on the U.S. administration to stop funding the Israeli occupation and boosting war crimes and violations of Palestinians’ human rights.

Spokesman for the Jewish anti-Zionist Union Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss slammed the Israeli occupation for inciting violence and murder against Palestinians.

“The reason why we are here today lies in Israel’s murder of innocent people and civilian inhabitants,” he said. “Thoroughly speaking, Israel has been pursuing a politics of violence for years now.”

Meanwhile, U.S. citizen David Barros condemned Obama’s biased position as regards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the U.S. unreasonable support of Israeli war crimes.

“Our government does not respect Palestinian rights. Just like myself, many U.S. citizens would like to see Palestinian rights restored and everybody be treated fairly. It is just the right of every single person on Earth to acquire the same rights and live in peace,” he added.

At least 43 Palestinian civilians, including 10 children and a woman, were cold-bloodedly slaughtered by the Israeli occupation army across the occupied Palestinian territories in the ongoing Jerusalem Intifada.

(Source / 18.10.2015)