Relive: 2nd day of voting in Egypt’s parliamentary elections is over

Voting in the 1st stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections is over; vote count is underway

2015

A woman casts her vote during parliamentary elections at a polling station in Giza governorate, Egypt, October 19, 2015

21:40 Ahram Online concludes its live coverage of the second day of voting in Egypt’s parliamentary elections.

21:35 The HEC’s spokesman Omar Marawan has just announced that the results of the first stage of voting for Egpytian expatriates will be out within two hours, contrary to what Hamdi Loza told Al-Hayat TV. Time will tell.

21:30 The High Elections Committee has just announced that the results of this first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections will be announced on Thursday.

The vote counting process is already underway, with voting closing a short while ago.

21:05 Hamdi Loza, the deputy foreign minister, has told Al-Hayat TV that the announcement of the results of voting by expatriate Egyptians is being postponed until Tuesday morning due to a delay in receiving some results.

20:45 Analysts speaking to Ahram Online suggested there were forewarnings of the low turnout many polling stations witnessed .

“Media outlets mounted attacks and organised smear campaigns against political parties, so they were unable to get their message across to the public,” said Yousri Al-Azabawi, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

“Many parties also faced internal rifts and weren’t ready to campaign, and some independent candidates weren’t ready either,” he added.

“Also bear in mind that many who supported President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi’s regime have become frustrated by a lack of economic development,” Al-Azabawi concluded.

Mohamed Al-Agaty, director of the Arab Forum for Alternatives, is not surprised by the low turnout.

“Since they passed the elections law, which favours independent candidates over political parties, I’ve been saying the regime doesn’t want party politics in Egypt,” he said.

“In addition to that, just weeks ahead of the elections there were court rulings which could cast doubts over the legality of this parliament, so the question now is: Is the regime planning for a weak parliament?” Al-Agaty concluded.

20:15 Huda Sharaawy, a pregnant Agouza housewife in her thirties, brought her toddler daughter with her to the polling station. She told Ahram Online she voted for Amr El-Shobaki and, based on a tip-off from a friend, an unfamiliar candidate whose name she couldn’t remember.

19:55 Sandra, an 18-year-old first time voter who accompanied her mother to the polling station, told Ahram Online that it’s important to vote at her age.

The young student told Ahram Online that she cast her ballot based on her mother’s recommendations.

19:45 “I came to vote because we should be more positive,” says Khaled. The 20-year-old dentistry student was the youngest voter at Agouza’s Gamal Abdel Nasser polling station.

Khaled told Ahram Online he chose candidates who he feels best represent him, voting for Amr El-Shobki and a female candidate whose name he forgets. He was unaware he’d have to select two names. As for the lists, he went for Egypt’s Call because his father recommended it.

19:40 50-year-old Khaled Sabry told Ahram Online in Agouza he came to vote out of duty and chose moderate candidates, complaining that too many candidates were unfamiliar.

19:35 Mortada Mansour, the well-known lawyer and vocal regime supporter, told Ahram Online in Agouza, Greater Cairo, that Egyptian women have rescued this election as they did the presidential elections.

“More people showed up today than yesterday, especially women. This highlights the greatness of Egyptian women,” Mansour said.

Mortada Mansour

Mortada Mansour

18:58 Ahmed Saleh, an Agouza retiree in his mid 70s, voted according to candidates’ “knowledge” and “culture”.

“People just don’t want to accept that the MP’s role is not to provide services but to draft policies in the parliament,” he told Ahram Online as he leant on his walking stick. Saleh says he voted for Amr El-Shobay and for Tahany El-Gabali’s list.

18:50 Women of all ages have turned out to vote in Agouza, Ahram Online reports. A judge there tells her that turnout is similar to yesterday’s.

18:45 Turnout today at a polling station in Agouza was very low, a judge there told Ahram Online’s Zeinab El-Gundy, with as few as 500 voters showing up.

“The government should hold a public conference to see why people don’t want to vote,” Noha, a lady in her twenties, told Ahram Online. “I came to vote because it’s my duty to Egypt,” she added.

Noha said she voted for independent candidate and media personality Abdel-Rehiem Ali as he has experience combating corruption and cares for the country, and the For the Love of Egypt list because it includes a “patriot” in Sameh Saif Al-Yazel, a former intelligence officer.

17:55 Three candidate supporters have been injured in a fight that featured firearms in front of the Azhari Center Council in Fayoum and have been taken to hospital, Al-Ahram Arabic reported. They include a 48-year-old man who suffered a bullet wound in the lower back and a 13-year-old boy with birdshot in his legs.

Fayoum, in the North, Middle and South of Upper Egypt region, is allocated four seats elected on a list basis and 15 individual seats.

17: 40 The HEC will later today announce the results of voting by expatriate Egyptians, state-owned organisation MENA has reported. Egypt’s embassies in 139 countries hosted polling stations open on Saturday and Sunday. Results are in apart from those of large turnouts in Kuwait and Riyadh.

16:35 Security forces have arrested three Nour Party members who were handing out promotional flyers in front of a polling station in the Raml district of Alexandria, violating the elections law, according to a source for Al-Ahram Arabic.

16:00 Verbal hostilities have broken out between campaigners handing out promotional flyers for competing candidates outside polling stations in the working class Giza district of Imbaba, as reported by Ahram Online’s Marina Barsoum in Imbaba.

15:20 The International-Local Joint Mission, an HEC-approved observing entity, have complained to the HEC and the interior ministry after members were “harassed” by a police officer in Badr, a town in Beheira, who “insisted on having the members’ passports” and “detained” them for half-an-hour.

The mission’s statement says the ministry has apologised and supplied a police car to secure the delegation in Badr.

The International-Local Joint Mission includes rights and development organisations from various countries.

15:05 HEC spokesman Omar Marwan has announced there is currently no plan to extend voting into a third day. There are rumours on social media today suggesting an extra day of voting. Marawan confirmed that polling stations will stay open tonight until registered voters attending them have cast their ballots.

14:35 Al-Ahram reports that two polling stations have for the first time been set up on the beach of the Red Sea coast, located in Hurghada’s Social Club. HEC rules permit this as long as the sites are fully secured and entry is restricted to registered voters.

14:30 The polling stations have closed for a one-hour recess.

14:15 Ahram Online’s Marina Barsoum spoke with men sitting in a coffee shop close to two polling stations in Imbaba in Greater Cairo.

Neither one intends to vote; Khaled, in his early twenties, told Marina that he doesn’t care about the elections and isn’t into politics. He said that some of his friends, whose parents are running in the elections, pressured him to vote, but he declined.

His friend Mostafa, also in his early twenties, said that he has researched all the candidates and lists running in his district but still won’t vote.

“I don’t believe anyone deserves my vote,” he said.

“It’s all the same; I can’t feel any change and it’s the same for many of my friends,” he said of the current political scene.

Sitting nearby is Tarek Anany, in his 50s, who told Marina he doesn’t intend to vote because the candidates don’t have a clear electoral programme.

Anany also criticised the media saying that many people follow it but “it’s not clean” and is trying to direct people according to their own agenda.

14:00 It’s Article 57 of the law on the exercising of political rights which mandates a fine for non-voters:

“Any person whose name is recorded in the electoral register and fails to vote in the election or referendum without excuse shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred pounds.”

reads the translation on the website of the official State Information Service.

Although the law has been amended recently, the section mandating a fine for non-voting is not new.

There’s some discussion about whether fines will be imposed this time round; if so, it would be the first time that this article has been implemented.

13:45 The polling station in Luxor governorate which was closed earlier after clashes between candidates’ supporters has been reopened, Al-Ahram Arabic reports.

The station in the village of Dabeaya was closed by the presiding judge this morning for several hours after police and army personnel had to fire warning shots to separate the two sides.

13:40 The Minister of Administrative and Local Development Ahmed, Zaki Badr, has said that the High Election Committee is the only entity that is responsible for deciding whether to fine non-voters, and if they do decide to do so, the ministry will collect the fines.

A fine of LE500 (around $62) faces those who abstain from voting. However, the fine has never been imposed before.

Badr added that initial tally shows a voter turnout of between 11 to 15 percent, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.

13:30 We also spoke to the head of the Wafd Party’s media committee about how he thinks things are going. Yasser Hassan told us that he expects turnout in this first stage of voting is unlikely to exceed 10 percent, and blames a general “election aversion” among voters.

“There has to be a real cure for the low turnout problem. The state has to re-inform people about the importance of the upcoming parliament and why is it still important to vote, so the same problem [of low turnout] won’t re-occur in the second round,” he told us.

Hassan also blamed the media for the low turnout, arguing that they have “defamed” the image of political parties in Egypt ahead of the elections.

Hassan argues that the low turnout is actually encouraging some candidates to engage in vote-buying. Some, he argues, have “bought votes” in this round, and some who will be standing in districts in the second round, with voting scheduled for November, have started voting buying already.

The liberal party is fielding individual candidates, and is also part of the pro-Sisi “For the Love of Egypt” list.

12:30 The spokesman for the Free Egyptians Party, Shehab Wagih, told Ahram Online that the turnout is better than yesterday, especially in the countryside in Upper Egypt.

Wagih expects that the peak number of voters will be around 7pm.

When asked about the current conflict between the Free Egyptians Party and the Nour Party, Wagih declined to comment.

The FEP’s founder, business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, filed a complaint with the prosecutor-general on Sunday, accusing the Nour Party and its spokesman, Nader Bakkar, of defaming him after the latter described him as “a failure” and “corrupt.”

12:00 The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights has issued a report stating that it observed a low turnout yesterday.

The organisation is one of 81 local NGOs that have been given permits to monitor the polls. International monitors are also present.

The EOHR reported that it had observed cases of voter bribery in Minya, Fayoum and Aswan.

11:45 The supervising judge at Ibn El-Waleed polling station in Giza’s Talbeya, Omneya Omran, tells Ahram Online’s Marina Barsoum that turnout today has been higher than yesterday.

Some commentators have predicted a higher turnout today given that voters are more likely to come on the second day, and as the government has given state employees half a day off today.

11:30 We’ve got a report of some minor clashes at a polling station in Luxor.

In Dabeaya village, clashes between the supporters of two candidates competing for an independent seat led the supervising judge, Mohamed Adnan, to close the polling station.

Police and army personnel guarding the polling stations fired warning shots in the air to divide the two sides, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.
It’s not yet clear when the polling station will be reopened.

10:45 Alexandria governor Hany El-Messiry has announced that public transport in the city will be free from 1pm until 9pm, to encourage voters to head to the polls.

The turnout in the governorate remains low at present, according to Al-Ahram Arabic’s Mohamed Abdel-Ghany.

10:30 Vote-counting has concluded in Kuwait, with the “For the Love of Egypt” party list gaining the majority of votes.

In the North, Middle and South of Upper Egypt constituency, “For the Love of Egypt” won 6,210 votes, “The Call of Egypt” won 1,535, the Egyptian Front Coalition list won 1527, and the Reawakening Bloc won 760.

In West Delta, 813 voted for “For the Love of Egypt”, and 77 for the Salafist Nour Party list.

10:15 In Omraneya in Giza, Asmaa Ali tells Ahram Online’s Marina Barsoum she only came to vote after she heard about the LE500 fine for those who abstain from voting.

The High Elections Committee has said that those who do not vote will be fined, but such fines are practically never applied.

Representatives of various independent candidates at the same polling station got into a scuffle, accusing each other of directing voters, and police had to intervene.

No major legal violations were reported yesterday, according to HEC.

10:00 Inside the Hisham Sheta Preparatory School in Omraneya in Giza, Judge Ahmed Kazem tells Ahram Online’s reporter Marina Barsoum that he has seen the recorded death threats message sent to many of the judges, but didn’t receive one himself.

According to the Judges Club, an unofficial union that represents the majority of Egypt’s judges, several poll-monitoring judges received death threats via SMS on Sunday.

Kazem says that the turnout today is similar to that of yesterday, numbering in the dozens.

omraneya

An elderly voter assisted at a polling station in Giza’s Omraneya

09:30 Egyptian expats cast their votes on Saturday and Sunday at Egyptian embassies and consulates worldwide. Los Angeles was reportedly the last place worldwide to close its ballot boxes, at 6am Cairo time.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic, there are some initial counts coming in from other embassies; in London, 280 people voted, 4 votes were invalid, and the majority selected the pro-Sisi “For the Love of Egypt” list — 126 votes in the North, Central, and South of Upper Egypt constituency, and 122 votes in West Delta.

09:15 Ahram Online’s Marina Barsoum reports that people are already lining up outside a polling station in front of Martyr Hisham Sheta Preparatory School for Girls in Omraneya in Giza.

Om Ali, a housewife in her 60s who lives in Boulaq, told Ahram Online that she isn’t familiar with any of the candidates, so she asked another woman waiting in line at the polling station about who to vote for.

The woman told her about the non-Islamists running in the district, because she was worried about mistakenly voting for a Brotherhood or Salafist candidate.

“We want the best for our country. I was hesitant to come and vote but I just decided I would, and I was sure people would guide me,” Om Ali says.

For more on the Islamists that are running, and those that are not, click here.

09:00 Polls nationwide should be opening now.

08:30 Welcome to Ahram Online’s live coverage of the second day of voting in the first stage of the parliamentary elections.

Today we’ll see the voting conclude in the first stage, which includes 14 out of Egypt’s 27 governorates — Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Beheira, Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh.

Polls will be open from 9am to 9pm, with a break scheduled for the afternoon. Tonight and tomorrow we expect to see results coming in, although there is still the possibility of run-off rounds between top candidates in constituencies where no single candidate secures 50 percent of the vote, and of candidate appeals.

The next 13 governorates will vote in November, with the resulting House of Representatives, Egypt’s first parliament since 2012, expected to take shape in December.

For more details about the election process, check out Ahram Online’s idiot’s guide.

Voting went smoothly yesterday, with no major security incidents, although turnout in most places seemed low.

(Source / 19.10.2015)

Palestinians Need Hope, Not Calm

The Israeli government will not provide hope, and the Palestinian Authority cannot provide it.

The Israeli government will not provide hope, and the Palestinian Authority cannot provide it

Since the current upsurge of violence in Israel and occupied Palestine began, numerous foreign leaders, as well as the UN Security Council, have cited the urgent need to restore “calm”. It is not calm, a euphemism for Palestinian submission that is urgently needed but, rather, genuine and credible hope for freedom and some measure of justice.

The Israeli government will not provide hope, and the Palestinian Authority cannot provide it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged during his reelection campaign that there would never be an independent Palestinian state on his watch, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after promising that he would drop a “bombshell” in his speech to the UN General Assembly last month, dropped a damp squib instead. Those whose entire lives have been characterized by a “peace process” intended to maintain the status quo, a metastasizing settlement program that devours their land and a full range of daily humiliations have ample cause for despair.

While numerous obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian “peace” can be cited, the most fundamental obstacle to ending the occupation, now in its 49th year, is simple human nature. People rarely support a significant change in their lives unless they believe that the change will produce a significant improvement in the quality of their lives.

How can Jewish Israelis be brought to perceive ending the occupation as likely to improve the quality of their lives?

In recent years, Jewish Israelis have, understandably and rationally, viewed the status quo as the best of all possible worlds. They have been enjoying peace, prosperity, unwavering Western economic and military support and unconditional American diplomatic protection, while Palestinians, out of sight and out of mind, have been suffering occupation, oppression, impoverishment and frequent, often lethal violence at the hands of the Israeli military and Israeli settlers.

This comfortable situation for Jewish Israelis, with the occupation being essentially free of costs and even inconvenience, must change. It could change either through nonviolent economic and political pressure sustained by the Western world or through violent insecurity sustained by the occupied Palestinian people.

European states could apply meaningful and intensifying economic sanctions to Israel until it complies with international law and relevant UN resolutions and withdraws fully from occupied Palestine. Simultaneously, European states could apply strict visa regulations to all Israelis, requiring those seeking to visit Europe to provide clear documentary evidence that they neither live nor work in occupied Palestine.

In light of the years that the European Union has spent agonizing over even properly labeling the produce of illegal settlements sold in Europe, there can be scant optimism that European politicians will soon see it as in their personal interests to play such a principled and constructive nonviolent role.

Unfortunately, that leaves only violent insecurity. While one cannot advocate violence against civilians, one can nevertheless hope that such violence as does occur is limited in nature and produces constructive results. The current low-tech, knives-and-screwdrivers violence, producing a great deal of fear and anxiety but relatively few Jewish Israeli fatalities, may be the most effective and lowest-cost form of violence capable of producing the essential change in Jewish Israeli perceptions of their own interests.

If seemingly random and unpredictable attacks on Jewish Israelis were to continue for a significant period of time, they just might cause a critical mass of Jewish Israelis to conclude that perpetual occupation and oppression are not, in fact, the best of all possible worlds for them and that the quality of their lives would be enhanced by ending the occupation and permitting the Palestinian people to enjoy the same freedom and human dignity – whether in two states or in one – that Jewish Israelis demand for themselves.

It is a sad reality that, unless Jewish lives are lost, Jewish Israelis and the Western world tend to feel that the occupation is not a problem. Now that Jewish lives – and many more Palestinian lives – have been lost, with every likelihood that more will be lost in the weeks ahead, it is essential to take advantage of the world’s attention and promote new perceptions of future possibilities so that all these lives are not lost in vain.

If the current violence continues long enough to qualify as an “intifada”, it might appropriately be called the “Children’s Intifada”. Despairing of ever having meaningful lives, young people and even children are choosing, on their own initiative, to seek what they perceive as a meaningful death. This tragic despair can only be assuaged by hope.

When the violence ends, it must not be because the Palestinian people have been returned to their cage and forced to resume a fraudulent “peace process” leading nowhere. It must be because young Palestinians finally have good reason to feel a genuine and credible hope that their freedom and some measure of justice are achievable.

(Source / 19.10.2015)

Five Palestinians killed on Saturday; 44 Palestinians Killed This Month, Including 11 Children

Names of all 44 dead after text

Three Palestinians were killed in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, another youth was killed in Jerusalem, and a fifth was killed at Qalandia checkpoint by Israeli live gunfire on Saturday. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, these five casualties bring the total number of Palestinians killed in October to 44.

Bethlehem oktober 091015

Clashes in Bethlehem on October 9th

Moreover, the ministry reported that 1300 Palestinians have been injured since October 1st during ongoing clashes in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, including 550 that were hit by Israeli live gunfire.

In addition, since the beginning of October, more than 650 Palestinians have been abducted and imprisoned by the Israeli army, according to political prisoners rights groups. An earlier report by the Ministry of Health showed that since the start of October, 5000 residents were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation fired by Israeli troops targeting Palestinian protesters.

In Hebron Saturday morning, a right-wing Israeli paramilitary settler shot and killed a Palestinian teenager Saturday morning on Shuhada Street in the center of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank.

Video footage captures the immediate aftermath of the shooting, in which an Israeli paramilitary settler dressed in white holds two guns and directs the Israeli soldiers toward the body of the boy he killed. The 18-year old victim was identified as Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18. Paramedics with the Palestinian Red Crescent were denied access to the dying teen, and Israeli troops took the body away without allowing any medical personnel or family members near the body.

Just few hours later Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian young woman in Hebron old city, until the time of this report name was not released to media.

Also on Saturday morning, Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Saturday, a Palestinian teen close to the Armon Hanetziv illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands in Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem. The slain Palestinian has been identified as Mo’taz Ahmad Hajes ‘Oweisat, 16 years of age, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported.

Between the week of Saturday October 10, to Friday October 16, at least 15 Palestinians were killed three in Gaza and 12 in the West Bank by Israeli troops gunfire. Meanwhile a Palestinian political prisoner died while being held by the Israeli army. Moreover a Palestinian farmer was killed after being attacked by Israeli settlers and soldiers as he was harvesting his olive trees.

The names of those killed by the army in October:

West Bank and Jerusalem:

1. Mohannad Halabi, 19, al-Biereh – Ramallah.
2. Fadi Alloun, 19, Jerusalem.
3. Amjad Hatem al-Jundi, 17, Hebron.
4. Thaer Abu Ghazala, 19, Jerusalem.
5. Abdul-Rahma Obeidallah, 11, Bethlehem.
6. Hotheifa Suleiman, 18, Tulkarem.
7. Wisam Jamal, 20, Jerusalem.
8. Mohammad al-Ja’bari, 19, Hebron.
9. Ahmad Jamal Salah, 20, Jerusalem.
10. Ishaq Badran, 19, Jerusalem.
11. Mohammad Said Ali, 19, Jerusalem.
12. Ibrahim Ahmad Mustafa Awad, 28, Hebron.
13. Ahmad Abedullah Sharakka, 13, Al Jalazoun Refugee camp-Ramallah.
14. Mostafa Al Khateeb, 18, Sur-Baher – Jerusalem.
15. Hassan Khalid Manassra, 15, Jerusalem.
16. Mohamed Nathmie Shamassnah, 22, Kutneh-Jerusalem.
17. Baha’ Elian,22, Jabal Al Mokaber-Jerusalem.
18. Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahra, 27, Bethlehem. Hit with a live bullet in the chest during a demonstration.
19. Ala’ Abu Jammal, 33, Jerusalem.
20. Bassem Bassam Sidr, 17, Hebron.
21. Ahmad Abu Sh’aban, 23, Jerusalem.
22. Ibraheem Dar-Yousif, 46, Al Janyia village Ramallah( Killed while harvesting olives)
23. Fadi Al-Darbi , 30, Jenin – died in Israeli detention camp.
24. Eyad Khalil Al Awawdah, Hebron.
25. Ihab Hannani, 19, Nablus.
26. Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18, Hebron.
27. Mo’taz Ahmad ‘Oweisat, 16, Jerusalem.
28. Bayan Abdul-Wahab al-‘Oseyli, 16, Hebron
29. Tariq Ziad an-Natsha, 22, Hebron
30. Omar Mohammad al-Faqeeh, 22, from Qotna village, killed 10/17 in Qalandia protest

Gaza Strip:

31. Shadi Hussam Doula, 20.
32. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman al-Harbawi, 20.
33. Abed al-Wahidi, 20.
34. Mohammad Hisham al-Roqab, 15.
35. Adnan Mousa Abu ‘Oleyyan, 22.
36. Ziad Nabil Sharaf, 20.
37. Jihad al-‘Obeid, 22.
38. Marwan Hisham Barbakh, 13.
39. Khalil Omar Othman, 15.
40. Nour Rasmie Hassan, 30.
41. Rahaf Yihiya Hassan, two years old.  -killed along with her mother in an Israeli airstrike
42. Yihya Farahat, 23.
43. Shawqie Jaber Obed, 37.
44. Moahmed Ehmeed, Age unknown.

Israeli casualties during the same time period:

10/13 – Yeshayahu Kirshavski, 60, bus shooting in East Jerusalem
10/13 – Haviv Haim, 78, bus shooting in East Jerusalem

(Source / 19.10.2015)

Hamas slams int’l silence over mounting Israeli violence

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Hamas foreign affairs chief Osama Hamdan says – despite recent violence – Palestinian resistance has only grown stronger

ISTANBUL

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Osama Hamdan, foreign affairs chief for Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, condemned ongoing international silence amid mounting Israeli aggression against the Palestinians who, he said, were merely defending themselves.

“The Zionist occupation, which is based on violence, is continually trying to break the will of the Palestinians,” he said. “In this, however, it is destined to fail.”

According to Hamdan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu was now faced with two options.

“He must either take a step back or increase the level of violence [being used against the Palestinians],” he said.

“Soon there will be a new wave of resistance,” he went on to assert. “Different from earlier ones, this new resistance will mark the beginning of the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

“Israel’s policy of violence will not destroy the Palestinian people’s revolutionary struggle,” Hamdan added. “On the contrary, it will merely strengthen it.”

He went on to point out that the ability of unarmed Palestinians to protect East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque from Zionist aggression had “shocked Israel, which considers itself a regional superpower”.

Hamdan added that recent developments in both Israel and the occupied territories had shown up the weakness of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

“A mere breadknife is enough to shake this so-called superpower,” he said. “The Israeli occupation cannot survive under such conditions. Despite all its tyranny, the vulnerability of the occupiers will soon become clear.”

According to Hamdan, Hamas does not remain silent in the face of Israeli violence, but — on the contrary — has remained at the center of recent events.

“From the outset,” he asserted, “Hamas has insisted on the Palestinian right to resist occupation.”

– ‘National resistance’

Hamdan went on to say that a “national resistance project” was currently in the process of being established.

“This project embraces all Palestinian society, offering novel weapons and methods to be used against the occupation,” he said.

He added: “The main aim is to end the occupation and liberate Palestine.”

Regarding ongoing violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Hamdan said: “Israel was shocked by the response of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem [to Israeli aggression] and tried to change the flow of events by targeting [Hamas-controlled] Gaza.”

“We will not permit the forces of the occupation to control the region,” he added. “We will direct the current conflict to the benefit of the Palestinian people.”

“A fresh assault on Gaza will not be easy for Israel,” he told Anadolu Agency. “The power of the Palestinian resistance has increased day by day, especially when you look at the results of the [Israeli onslaughts against Gaza] in 2008, 2012 and 2014.”

Hamdan also responded to claims by some parties that Hamas would forsake resistance if it were granted certain concessions.

“Those who say this either don’t know Hamas or they themselves have forsaken the resistance [in return for concessions],” he said.

“Hamas’ objectives are clear,” he went on. “It’s not possible for us to abandon our rights, which we demand in full… including the occupiers’ departure from our land.”

Hamdan concluded: “The experience of the [1993] Oslo Accords will not happen again under any circumstances — neither in terms of the reigning political situation nor in terms of the Palestinian groups that Israel dealt with in the past.”

(Source / 19.10.2015)

Arrests of Palestinians in Israel soar amid crackdown

More than 100 Palestinian citizens of Israel, including minors and activists, arrested during protests this month.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have been targeted harshly by the government and police as they protest across the country

Rights groups have decried Israeli measures as the government continues to crack down on Palestinian citizens of Israel amid unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

On Monday, police arrested eight activists for their participation in protests last week in Umm al-Fahm, a Palestinian town in northern Israel, local media reported.

In one week, Israeli police arrested more than 100 demonstrators and activists during protests in Palestinian areas, according to Adalah, a Haifa-based legal centre for Palestinians in Israel.

Nadim Nashif, director of Baladna, a Haifa-based Palestinian youth advocacy group, said Israel has launched “a harsh crackdown”.

“Like during the Second Intifada, Israel wants us to be scared, shut up and not participate. But our participation has been big,” he told Al Jazeera.

Since the beginning of the month, protests have been held in Nazareth, Haifa, Acre, Sakhnin, Tamra and Arrabeh, among other Palestinian communities in Israel.

“The uprising is everywhere,” Nashif said.

An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship and live in cities, towns and villages across the country. A diverse community of Muslims, Christians and Druze, they are targeted by more than 50 laws that muzzle their political expression and limit their access to state resources, according to Adalah.

The demonstrations come as tensions soar, with clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip increasing in frequency.


RELATED: Israel’s democracy: ‘Theatre of the absurd’


Last Tuesday, more than 20,000 people gathered in Sakhnin, a town in the Galilee region in northern Israel, and protested in support of their compatriots in the West Bank and against Israeli incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Minors arrested

Among those arrested this month were minors – many of whom were denied access to legal counsel – and dozens of influential activists who were detained as a “preventative” measure, Adalah said.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said only that “rioters were arrested in Arab villages in northern Israel”.


RELATED: Palestinians in Israel camp for Right of Return


The government has also placed a Palestinian citizen of Israel – a 19-year-old woman from Nazareth – in administrative detention, a practice in which suspects are held on “secret evidence” without charges or trial.

Israeli authorities regularly use administrative detention to imprison Palestinians in the West Bank, but this instance is the first time it was used against a Palestinian citizen of Israel since 2001.

Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has also announced plans to revoke the citizenship of two Palestinian citizens of Israel accused of attacking Israelis earlier this month. Neither of the suspects have been convicted of a crime.

Leadership targeted

On Sunday, at least four major Israeli cities – including Tel Aviv – banned Arab workers from schools.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet also approved a bill that effectively permits security forces to search anyone on the street – a practice activists say is targeting Palestinians.

“The practice has been in place for a long time, but now there is a bill that hopes to give it the power of law,” Amjad Iraqi, international advocacy coordinator at Adalah, told Al Jazeera.

“It basically protects police and allows them to not have to justify their search if a complaint is filed against them. They don’t have to justify themselves.”


RELATED: ‘Palestinian lives don’t count here’


Throughout the last week, Israeli police and military forces have been deployed in large numbers across the country.

“We see a huge presence of police in Arab towns inside Israel,” Iraqi said, adding that they are “not only in places where there are a lot of demonstrations”.

Meanwhile, politicians have moved to ban or punish Palestinian parties and movements that protest Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has moved to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, a political group that does not recognise Israel and calls for the Palestinian minority to boycott its elections.

On Sunday, Netanyahu claimed that the group is the “chief inciter” of violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, adding that he will target “its financial resources”.


Q&A: Israel’s ‘bad Arab’


Earlier this month, the prime minister asked the attorney general to open an “incitement” probe into Hanin Zoabi, a Palestinian legislator in Israel’s Knesset, after she expressed her support for “a real Intifada”.

“I am not ready to accept incitement from within,” Netanyahu said at the time.

According to Adalah’s Iraqi, Israel “is now proving that it doesn’t see a difference between Islamists and nationalists. It wants to paint the whole Arab leadership as enemies”.

Despite the government’s harsh measures, Baladna’s Nashif said the Palestinians in Israel will continue to protest. “There is a new generation of Palestinians who will go out into the street and make their voices heard.”

(Source / 19.10.2015)

PCPS: 280 children in Israeli prisons

GAZA, (PIC)– Palestine Center for Prisoners Studies (PCPS) confirmed that the number of children held in Israeli jails have risen largely in recent weeks as a result of the escalation of arrests targeting them in all parts of the Palestinian territories especially in Jerusalem. The total number of children prisoners reached 280.

Spokesman for the center Riad al-Ashqar said, in a press statement on Monday, the Israeli occupation believes that the children of Palestine were the fuel sparking the intifada (uprising) that broke out a month ago in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza and even in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948.

He said, “The IOF soldiers deliberately resort to terrifying children with detention, torture and murder threats so as to scare them away from participating in the intifada. During the detention process, the soldiers assault Palestinian children by severe beating immediately after their arrest, and on the upper areas of the body to inflict the biggest possible degree of injury; then the children are transferred to interrogation centers where they are subjected to the worst kind of abuse and torture, before being transferred to the main prison.”

The IOF waged a campaign of mass arrest since the beginning of this month with more than 600 citizens being rounded up, Ashqar said, adding that 30% of the arrested were children.

Ashqar pointed out that these arbitrary arrests raised the number of detained children by 35% more than the numbers that were before the Jerusalem Intifada.

This number is expected to increase in the coming days as a result of the continuing detention sweeps daily targeting all segments of the Palestinian people with the children being at the forefront, the spokesman elaborated.

Ashqar also noted that the Israeli occupation soldiers deliberately use violence and brutal force during the arrest of children.

(Source / 19.10.2015)

US pledges more military support for Israel

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford (middle) is seen in this AFP photo saluting Israeli military officials during his first trip to Israel on October 17.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford (middle) is seen in this AFP photo saluting Israeli military officials during his first trip to Israel on October 17

The US military chief has pledged more cooperation with Israel amid Tel Aviv’s brutal crackdown against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford made the pledge in meetings with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US media reports said without giving further details.

Dunford, who just recently took over as chairman, said he made Israel his first stop to reflect the importance of the relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv.

During his two-day stay, Dunford briefly discussed an annual military aid package worth three billion dollars for Israel which is due to expire in 2017.

The two sides had been looking for a 10-year aid package, but talks were earlier stalled by Netanyahu in protest at Iran’s nuclear agreement with the P5+1 countries, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany, in July.

Before Netanyahu suspended the military negotiations, the two sides were about to agree on a new package of grants worth $3.6 billion to $3.7 billion a year, according to US and Israeli officials.

Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer said on Sunday that the “discussions over a new Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the United States, which had been on hold for some time, resumed this past week in Washington.”

The current agreement between Israel and the US went into effect in 2009 and will expire in 2017.

Tel Aviv spends most of the aid it receives from the US to buy American military hardware, such as jets and components for missile systems.

The new talks come as the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford Jr, arrived in Israel on Saturday.

The latest pledge comes as amid rising Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Tensions flared after Israeli regime’s imposition in August of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces and settlers across the occupied territories since the beginning of October, reports say.

(Source / 19.10.2015)

Israeli forces intentionally target Palestinian journalists

Palestinian journalists help their injure colleague get to safety after being attacked by Israeli soldiers near the Erez Crossing on October 13th 2015

Palestinian journalists help their injure colleague get to safety after being attacked by Israeli soldiers near the Erez Crossing on October 13th 2015

The Syndicate of Palestinian journalists said on Sunday that Israeli occupation forces intentionally target Palestinian journalists reporting on current clashes, Arab48.comreported.

During a protest held in Ramallah the head of the Syndicate, Abdul-Nasser Al-Najjar, said that 60 Palestinian journalists had been wounded during the ongoing fighting, including five who were seriously injured.

Al-Najjar also said that working circumstances of Palestinian journalists continue to be “very dangerous” under the Israeli occupation.

Israeli occupation forces are likely targeting Palestinian journalists in an attempt to prevent them from covering Israeli violations against Palestinian people.

On Sunday overnight, a group of around 200 Israeli settlers broken into the houses of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron while IDF forces prevented journalists from getting close to the targeted area, Safa news agency reported.

During last year’s Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, Israel killed 17 Palestinian journalists, the Syndicate said.

(Source / 19.10.2015)

Israel reacts angrily to Hamas leader’s visit to South Africa

Israeli officials say South Africa is providing support to terrorism by welcoming Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal

The exiled head of Palestinian movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal

Israel reacted angrily on Monday to news exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal is visiting South Africa and meeting officials from the governing African National Congress (ANC).

Meshaal met with South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday and will address a rally in the capital, Cape Town, on Wednesday.

Hamas op bezoek Zuid Afrika

The Hamas leader is being accompanied by senior members of his movement Musa Abu Marzuq and Mohammed Nazzal among others.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it was “angry and shocked” that the ANC had received Meshaal, who they said was head of a “terrorist group”.

In a statement, the ministry said South Africa’s ambassador to Israel had been summoned to discuss the visit which “provides support for terrorism”.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and EU.

Nelson Mandela, the late South African president and ANC leader, was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace.

(Source / 19.10.2015)

US wants to avoid ‘complete and total destruction’ of Syria: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo speak as they sign documents at the Palacio de Santa Cruz in Madrid on October 19, 2015. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo speak as they sign documents at the Palacio de Santa Cruz in Madrid on October 19, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry says he will meet with Russian, Saudi and Turkish leaders to discuss a “tangible” solution to the Syria crisis, indicating the United States wants to avoid the “total destruction” of the country.

“I will be coming back in a few days and I will meet with leaders of Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to work through… options that could perhaps reignite the political process and bring about a political transition in Syria,” he told reporters Monday in Spain.

Kerry said there was no military solution to the conflict and that “propping up [President Bashar al-] Assad will ultimately fail.”

“Everyone, including Russia and Iran, has said there is no military solution. This is a human catastrophe that not only threatens the integrity of whole country but also of countries around the region,” he added.

Kerry made the remarks as Russia has intensified its air campaign in Syria to target Daesh (ISIL) terrorists.

“Our fear [is that]… Russia is simply there to prop up Assad,” he said.

Washington accuses Moscow of running a “fundamentally flawed” campaign in Syria that could further escalate the conflict.

The top US diplomat said Washington wanted “to try and avoid the complete and total destruction of Syria,” fearing the potential fallout across the region.

Kerry warned of the “real” threat of more refugees fleeing the violence in Syria and coming to Europe and Syria’s neighbors.

Already 12 million Syrians have been displaced by the conflict, now in its fifth year.

The US and its regional allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have been backing militants fighting the Syrian government.

Kerry is on a European tour and has already travelled to France and Italy. After his visit in Madrid, he will make a stop in Germany, where he is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss heightened tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Kerry delivers a speech at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, October 18, 2015

Kerry called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take steps to end the “senseless” violence in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the West Bank.

The latest wave of clashes began last month, when the Israeli regime restricted the entry of some Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds in August. Palestinians are also angry at increasing violence by illegal Israeli settlers.

“I don’t have specific expectations except to try to move things forward, and that will depend on the conversations themselves,” Kerry said.

(Source / 19.10.2015)