US cutting Palestinian aid in support of Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on October 24, 2015. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on October 24, 2015

The United States is cutting its annual aid to the Palestinian Authority by $80 million, in support of Israel following the latest spate of violence in the occupied territories.

The US State Department “notified the lawmakers that it plans reduce economic aid for the West Bank and Gaza Strip from $370 million to $290 at the end of September,” Israeli media outlets reported Saturday.

The 22-percent cut for the 2015 fiscal year came after US Congress sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, telling him that the US funds were contingent on tamping down “incitement.”

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously called on Palestinians to “end incitement against Israel.”

“This wave of violence isn’t some random flare-up,” said Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the committee. “It’s the product of years and years of anti-Israel propaganda and indoctrination — some of which has been actively promoted by Palestinian Authority officials and institutions.”

The latest wave of Israeli-Palestinian clashes began when Tel Aviv restricted the entry of some Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque on August 26.

A Palestinian man is pushed out of the way by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron)

The surge in tensions, triggered by Israeli raids on the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (East Jerusalem), as well as increasing violence by Israeli settlers, has seen some 54 Palestinians killed and hundreds more injured since October 1. Eight Israelis have also died in the same time period.

Palestinians are also angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers. The recent clashes were exacerbated by settler violence.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Abbas in the Jordanian capital of Amman following talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin.

Kerry said, “It is absolutely critical to end all incitement, to end all violence and to find a road forward to build the possibility, which is not there today, for a larger process.”

(Source / 24.10.2015)

Hamas: Kerry’s remarks an attempt to consolidate Zionist domination over Al-Aqsa

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas deemed remarks of the US Secretary of State John Kerry an attempt to abolish Palestinian intifada and consolidate Zionist domination over Al-Aqsa.

In a statement on Saturday, Hamas rejected Kerry’s remarks in which he signaled Netanyahu’s commitment to allow Muslims to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque while granting non-Muslims the right to visit the site.

Hamas said that Kerry’s remarks come as an attempt on part of the United States to help the occupation out of the crisis it faces as a result of the Palestinian uprising.

The movement noted that the declaration equates Muslim prayer rights with visitation rights for non-Muslims, and could be used to justify provocative visits by Zionist extremist settlers.

Hamas furthered that the vague language of the declaration gives Netanyahu the opportunity to maneuver out of fulfilling any commitments, and the chance to consolidate Zionist domination over the holy mosque.

Hamas demanded PA president Mahmoud Abbas and brothers in Jordan to refuse any compromise that gives the occupation the opportunity to circumvent Palestinian rights in Al-Aqsa, or that limits Palestinian ability to protect the mosque.

Hamas called on all Palestinians to watch out for attempts to abort al-Aqsa Intifada, and to protect Al-Aqsa mosque regardless the prices that may have to be paid.

(Source / 24.10.2015)

What’s happening on Gaza-Israeli border?

A Palestinian protester holds a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli troops near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2015

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Clashes have suddenly erupted along the southern, eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip. This has raised concerns that Gaza will never experience stability.

Palestinian youths have insisted on reaching the iron fence separating the Gaza Strip from the Green Line from the eastern Bureij refugee camp. On Oct. 10, and the days that followed, they managed to cross the fence and hang the Palestinian flag.

For the first time in years, demonstrators managed to cross the border; after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it imposed a buffer zone of between 600 and 1,000 meters (1,968 to 3,280 feet) at the border. Although the political truce between Israel and Hamas after the 2012 war stipulated that this zone be reduced, Israel did not commit to it.

While preparing a Molotov cocktail, Ali, 27, told Al-Monitor, “We raised the flag, but they [Israeli soldiers] removed it. We raised it again, and they unleashed the dogs on us; we threw big stones at them.”

Ali, who was wearing the keffiyeh, added, “They killed all of my friends in the previous wars. I am the only one who survived. I want to follow my friends into death. I’ve lost hope in everything, in Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas], the reconciliation and [political] parties.”

Bilal, Ali’s friend, is totally different. He is searching for life. Bilal, 21, said, “We want to live freely. We want to tell our brethren in the West Bank and Jerusalem we are resisting with you.”

Ali filled the bottle with gasoline and placed a piece of fabric on the bottle’s neck. Bilal, whose right foot was amputated in a car accident, could not help Ali; Bilal was standing up using his crutches.

Ali was done. Bilal walked by his side on the long and narrow sandy road that leads to the vast hills facing the border.

Other people started to rally following Friday prayer on Oct. 16, which was declared “a day of rage” by Palestinian groups such as the Islamic Jihad.

The road quickly filled with hundreds of youths, where people in their 30s and 40s were rare, except for journalists.

While they were advancing, some were holding slingshots, and others Molotov cocktails. Many carried marbles, while the majority had onions used to mitigate the effects of tear gas.

Ibn Filasteen (a pseudonym) told Al-Monitor, “I am taking part in the demonstrations at the border while holding a slingshot, which is made of rubber and a rope. So far, I’ve never hit any Israeli soldier.”

Enthusiasm and readiness seemed to hold sway in the area. The young crowd quickly filled the sand hills. Those who were more daring advanced toward the iron fence. Some set tires on fire. Wael, 16, said, “The black smoke blocks people’s views, and therefore we will be able to sneak up to the fence without being seen by the soldiers.”

Ezz al-Din, 10, wanted to take part in the rally, but his uncle told him to leave. His uncle told Al-Monitor, “It has been two months since he arrived from the UAE. He is insane; he could have been killed here.” The child seemed angry and frustrated on his way back.

The clashes started Oct. 9, in response to the popular uprising in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In Gaza, at least 15 people have been killed since the start of the incidents as a result of Israeli shelling; the dead include a mother and her daughter.

The masses stood facing the military vehicles that were parked behind the fence. Ibrahim, 23, told Al-Monitor, “I want to reach them, and capture a soldier for the sake of Jerusalem and Jerusalemites, and to lift the blockade on Gaza.”

They all hide their names and faces in case there are cameras, and as they approached the fence. These are the rules of engagement they abide by without prior arrangement.

A few moments later, tear gas was fired in every direction. It was hard to anticipate where the gas would hit. The gas produced a feeling of suffocation and burning. Those gathered all passed around the onions to smell.

One youth, with tears covering his red face, shouted, “It is a poisonous gas.” Another replied, “Breathe regularly. Its effect will go away in a few minutes.” Those who could not bear it passed out.

Once someone passes out, the young people gather around him, carry him away and call an ambulance. The paramedics will try to treat him on the ground. If he does not wake up, they will take him to the nearest hospital.

Paramedic Abu Ahmed told Al-Monitor, “More than 20 ambulances and hundreds of female and male volunteers and paramedics have been present on the hot border since Friday [Oct. 9].”

The situation is getting more and more dangerous. Demonstrators on the border repeated that people were shot with live ammunition. The journalists, including Al-Monitor’s correspondent, left the area and headed to the far north, to the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing.

The youths entered the second Palestinian gate at the Beit Hanoun crossing, and the 1,000-meter-long street was filled with youths, children, women and paramedics. It was the first time that most of them had entered the area, which is restricted for everyone except travelers and the crossing facility’s staff.

The clashes seemed unfair. The soldiers were protecting themselves behind a huge concrete wall, while the demonstrators were standing within firing range. Mahmoud, 21, told Al-Monitor, “A while ago, a youth was killed by an Israeli sniper, and many others were injured,” in reference to Yahya Farhat, 24, whose death was announced Oct. 16 by the Health Ministry.

Some came out of curiosity to watch how things were going. Nour, 35, told Al-Monitor, “I can understand why we are throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, [as] both parties are facing each other. But, the snipers here are targeting the youths from behind the concrete [wall].”

All of a sudden, the demonstrators started running to escape tear gas, in a human wave. Periodically, one of the youths would throw back a tear gas canister toward the Israeli soldiers or cover it, and then start running back toward the soldiers. Hours passed as the demonstrators ran back and forth.

Ironically, the crossing is still operating. Some of the travelers stepped out of the small golf cart used to cross narrow lanes at the crossing at the gate in order to take the buses and move away from the clashes.

Umm Khaled Abu Samhadana, a 66-year-old traveler from Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor, “It was a nice trip [from Jerusalem]. When we approached Gaza, we heard that there are clashes at the border crossing, which raised our concern.”

Most of the youths carried small radios, or used their cellphones to follow the news. As soon as the death of a Palestinian or an Israeli soldier is announced, they scream the news.

Youssef, 22, told Al-Monitor, “The youths are coming from different classes and affiliations. Jerusalem is in our hearts. We will not stand idly in the face of Israel.”

The youths are experiencing overgrown crises in Gaza. The blockade has intensified, and it has been months since the Rafah border crossing was closed. Moreover, the reconciliation and reconstruction process has been delayed, and unemployment has reached 43.9%, the highest rate in the world, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Umm al-Abed, 45, was looking for her four children in the crowd at the border crossing. She only found Malak, 9. Umm al-Abed took Malak’s hand and told Al-Monitor, “She wants to throw stones, she is risking her life.” Malak seemed angry and quickly let go of her mother’s hand and returned to where the clashes were taking place.

When Al-Monitor’s correspondent left the site, Umm al-Abed was still looking for her other children.

The same scene persisted on our way back from Bureij. Ezz al-Din was hiding behind crowds heading toward the location of the clashes.

This generation, which did not witness the first intifada, is creating its own uprising.

(Source / 24.10.2015)

The Colonial Roots of Middle East Conflict

carthage

Ruins of Carthage

During a post-armistice stroll in London on December 1, 1918, French wartime prime minister Georges Clemenceau turned to his British counterpart and asked:

“What do you want?”

“Mosul,” replied Lloyd George.

“You shall have it,” Clemenceau declared. “and what else?”

“Palestine.”

“You shall have that too.”                     

If you walk up the hill from the “Cola” transportation hub in Beirut – a city where buildings are still pockmarked from combat during the 1975-1990 civil war – you pass the somewhat tired buildings of the Lebanese Arab University. On your left you’ll see the old Municipal Sports Stadium where captured survivors from the 1982 Sabra-Shatila massacre were tortured and executed by Lebanese Falangists under Israeli supervision. Then, few blocks further down the street, you come to an unassuming gateway which opens onto to one of the most verdant and tranquil spots in all of Beirut. It is the British War Cemetery.

Here, on meticulously-manicured grounds, are buried British Empire casualties from the Western Asia campaigns of 1914-18, together with a smaller number of graves which were later added from the relatively minor skirmishes during Second World War. The Beirut cemetery is one of 23,000 gravesites and monument in 154 countries overseen by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, including dozens in the Middle East stretching from Khartoum and Cairo to Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

As befits the colonial mentality, not all the graves were treated equally. The dead from Britain and its white Commonwealth allies are marked by beautiful individual headstones with carefully-tended flower plantings. The Indians and the Arab natives, who did most of the fighting and dying during the imperial campaigns in the Middle East, were interred in anonymous mass graves, marked only years later by the erection of carefully segregated monuments: “the Hindu Soldiers of the Indian Army” here; the “Muslim soldiers” there. A little apart, a marker says that “the Egyptian Labour Corps” and “the Camel Transportation Corps” were “buried near this spot.”

Just to the south, beyond the cemetery walls, the present-day Shatila refugee camp is obscured by large trees and extravagant landscaping.

If the fuse leading to the current Middle East catastrophe was lit by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the explosives were well-prepared 100 years earlier. These days, everyone knows about the Sykes-Picot borders. As the saying goes: “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” Indeed, each of the new colonial entities in the Middle East encompassed territories with a patchwork of ethnic and religious communities. But there is little truth to the view that this led inexorably to the inter-communal conflicts of today. All modern borders are more or less artificial creations, whether delineated by the outcomes of war or by the pencils of colonial map makers.

It was more than just geography that laid the foundations for the present upheavals in the Middle East. Rather, instability was embedded in the political choices of the colonial powers within these borders. It was the way the colonialists ruled.

From the time of the earliest known empires, rulers have sought to govern distant lands “on the cheap” through local clients or through “native” troops. “Divide et Impera” the ancient Romans called it. The British Empire perfected the practice of Divide and Rule. This was how they ruled an immense Indian subcontinent with a relative handful of European soldiers and civil servants. The same pattern was repeated, though not as efficiently, in European colonies across the globe.

By the end of the First World War, the British were anxious to revise the secret 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement which had parceled out the former Middle East provinces of the Ottoman Empire. They wanted to annex Mosul – where geological surveys suggested substantial petroleum reserves – and to exercise exclusive control over Palestine, then regarded as an important strategic prize. The French assented in return for a share of the oil and a free hand in Syria.

Following the First World War, while the British were consolidating their control of what was to become Iraq, the French advanced in 1920 to conquer Damascus from their base in coastal Beirut. In Lebanon, they had already laid the foundations of a Maronite Christian-dominated protectorate split off from Syria and incorporating areas that were populated by Sunni and Shia Muslims. These communities did not accept the division of Syria or rule by a French-imposed proxy minority. The stage was set for generations of instability and latent or overt civil war in Lebanon that persists to this day.

In the rest of Syria, the nationalist resistance to the French was centered among the urban Sunni elites. The new rulers experimented with various schemes to divide Syria into ethnic-based governates, then managed country directly through a puppet colonial administration staffed by loyal or bought-off officials under French supervision.  The French also recruited a territorial military force from which the majority Sunni urban population was largely excluded. Rural Alawites and other minorities formed the core of the collaborationist army and police forces, with predictable resentment on the part of many in the Sunni majority. This dynamic continued after Syrian independence and is part of the background for the current civil war.

In Iraq, the British crushed a revolt centered among the largely Shia-population of the Middle Euphrates and the holy Shia cities of Najaf and Karbala. Then they recruited their ally Faisal to rule as king of Iraq together with his retinue of Sunni former Ottoman military officers. This established a regime of Sunni Arab minority dominance over a mostly Shia (and Kurdish) population in Iraq that would culminate, after independence, in the Saddam Hussein dictatorship and the sectarian war after his overthrow

Finally, the British deployed their support for the Zionist project as a means to gain the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.  Although there was genuine sympathy for the Zionist cause among sections of the British ruling class — either on Christian religious grounds or from the desire to have the Jews settle “over there” rather than “over here” – other, more practical imperial aims were discussed in private during the run-up to the Balfour Declaration of November 1917.

Palestine was viewed as an outer defense for British Egypt and the Suez Canal — as well as a Mediterranean terminus for a railway and an oil pipeline from newly-acquired British Mesopotamia. Imperial ministers also argued (naively, as it turned out) that a “Jewish Home” in Palestine would eventually become a European enclave in the Levant, dependent upon and loyal to the British crown. (In 1918, the population of Palestine was less than 10% Jewish.) Local Zionist rule promised to be cost-efficient colonialism by proxy – a prediction which turned out badly for the British and disastrously for the Palestinians. Eventually, it was the US rather than the British Empire which gained this strategic advantage, at least during the Cold War.

In the light of this history, it is hard to argue that sectarian conflict in the Middle East arose purely from local causes.  Inter-communal violence was not entirely absent from the region before the advent of European colonialism, but a general pattern of tolerance and sectarian autonomy was upset by the colonial project in which the European powers manipulated ethnic differences in the service of their imperial aims. Oil, of course, was central then, as it is today.

Imperial meddling continues to this day, with predictably catastrophic outcomes for the people of the Middle East. But now the former colonial alignment of local proxies has now been reversed.  Where the British once promoted Sunni predominance in Iraq, the US now backs Shia (and Kurdish) rule; where the French employed ethnic/religious minorities to control Syria, the US and its regional allies promote Sunni revanchism. Only the continued reliance on Zionist control of Palestine remains unchanged.

The result has been to prolong the regional devastation begun by war and colonialism a hundred years ago. Today Syria lies shattered and perhaps permanently wrecked as a unified entity; Iraq struggles to overcome decades of foreign invasion and continuing internal conflict; Lebanon barely exists as an effective state; and most Palestinians remain stateless under Zionist rule or in exile.

As a Roman historian famously commented on the rapacious empire-builders of his own day: “They make a wasteland and they call it peace.”

(Source / 24.10.2015)

27 Palestinians Injured In Abu Dis

Medial sources have reported that 27 Palestinians were injured, late on Friday at night, during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Abu Dis town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.

Kind opgepakt

File photo

The sources said the twenty-seven wounded residents were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, eight of them in the head, while scores suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

The soldiers also deliberately fired gas bombs at two Red Crescent ambulances while trying to move wounded Palestinians to local clinics; one medic suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs and concussion grenades in various directions, causing fires in a local kindergarten.

On Saturday at dawn, soldiers invaded the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, and kidnapped two Palestinians.

Late on Friday at night and on Saturday at dawn, soldiers kidnapped eleven Palestinians, including two children, in different parts of occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 24.10.2015)

New anti-boycott law to ban foreign BDS supporters from entering Israel

A new Israeli law would ban BDS activists from entering Israel and ‘regions under its control.’

Activists hold a banner reading "Boycott Israel" during a protest in solidarity with Palestine near the Israeli embassy in Oslo, Norway, October 17, 2015. The protest was part of a global wave of demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Activists hold a banner reading “Boycott Israel” during a protest in solidarity with Palestine near the Israeli embassy in Oslo, Norway, October 17, 2015. The protest was part of a global wave of demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine

Earlier this week, while most international coverage was focused on the escalating violence in the region, Israeli lawmakers were addressing another threat — as they see it — to Israeli security: nonviolent grassroots activism. A new law proposed by MK Yinon Magal of right-wing Jewish Home party would ban entry to foreigners who promote the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights.

“Anyone who calls for a boycott of Israel is engaging in terrorism and must not be allowed to travel the country freely,” said Magal according to Haaretz. The same report notes that the bill has the support of the governing coalition as well as 25 other MKs from various parties.

It is striking that at a time when Israelis fear stabbing or shooting attacks that Israeli lawmakers would describe a nonviolent tactic with such terminology. But after a weekend that BDS organizersclaim saw 70 protests in 20 countries under the theme #SolidarityWaveBDS, documents accompanying Magal’s bill warn that “calls for boycotting Israel have intensified. It seems that this is a new front of war against Israel.”

The measure defines “boycott” by the wording of previous anti-BDS legislation as any “deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.”

The phrase “regions under its control” makes clear that the bill would equally target those who only boycott Israeli settlements as well as those who advocate for a blanket boycott of all Israeli institutions.

It is worth noting that while many international activists target only West Bank settlements out of a desire to affirm Israel’s right to exist, the language of the bill implicitly affirms the notion advanced by advocates of full BDS — that the State of Israel is inextricably enmeshed in the occupation and settlement enterprise.

“BDS is a nonviolent tactic, and like any tactic, should be used in the way in which it works most effectively,” says Israeli activist Sahar Vardi. With much of the international community still not completely aware of the way the entire Israeli economy crosses the Green Line, says Vardi, it can be “more effective to focus campaigns on companies directly involved in the settlement or military systems.”

“But it is still important to understand how that economy of occupation works,” adds Vardi. “Every single bank in Israel is funding settlement construction, meaning that every single shekel in the Israeli economy is directly or indirectly invested in growing the Israeli occupation. That is why the boycott movement has identified Israel as a target, and not only economic operations specifically invested in the occupied territories.”

Construction cranes  expand the Israeli settlement of Gilo, East Jerusalem, March 10, 2012. All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Construction cranes expand the Israeli settlement of Gilo, East Jerusalem, March 10, 2012. All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law

Magal’s bill must still obtain parliamentary approval before it becomes law. As with previous attempts to outlaw BDS in Israel, it will be interesting to see whether the version that finally passes is significantly altered or watered down. While the initial bill of 2011′s so-called “Boycott Law” proposed stiffer penalties, the final version only allowed those who consider themselves victims of boycott to sue those who promoting BDS. Even so, that law was met with broad international criticism as an affront to freedom of expression.

“Israel’s reputation as a vibrant democracy has been seriously tarnished,” said a New York Times editorial. “We are also opposed to boycotts of Israel, but agree this is a fundamental issue of free speech.”

Israel’s High Court of Justice upheld that legislation last April with a ruling in which Justice Hanan Meltzer described BDS as “political terrorism.”

Regardless of the final version of this new law targeting foreigners, it will likely have at least some of the intended chilling effect on activists attempting to visit the region. But such activists have become accustomed to enduring long waits, searches and interrogations upon entering or exiting the areas under Israeli control. Some have already received 10-year entry bans solely because of nonviolent political activity.

Whether this new law significantly raises the stakes for such activists remains to be seen, since being denied entry has been a risk they have long faced on a routine basis. While some will continue to take precautions such as turning off their social media accounts or otherwise attempting to hide their activism on public profiles prior to entry or exit, for most in the movement, that toothpaste is well out of the tube and all over the internet for all to see.

So while this new law may have limited practical effect, the broader issue is what such legislation says about the standard of democracy and free speech in the State of Israel. Like the separation barrier, in the end it may amount to little more than “security theater” — providing the impression that the state is doing something while those committed to the gaining entry will only intensify their efforts in the face of greater opposition.

(Source / 24.10.2015)

Meet Mohamed Soltan: The 500-day hunger striker who survived a massacre

Despite being shot, beaten, tortured, starved for 500 days and having a father on death row, Mohamed Soltan is hopeful for the future

Filmed and directed by Yannis Mendez

MEE interviewed Soltan on his trip to London, where he charted his emotional journey: from witnessing a massacre to nearly dying of starvation in jail. Watch the full interview below:

Mohamed Soltan was one of Egypt’s most high-profile prisoners political prisoners. In 2013 he was arrested for his part in demonstrations against the coup that overthrew president Mohamed Morsi.

Soltan, who holds a US passport, was arrested shortly after the Rabaa square protests, where he mediated between foreign media and protest leaders. He spent nearly two years in an Egyptian jail, 490 days of which he was on hunger strike. He lost a third of his body weight, nearly dying 10 times.

His hunger strike gained worldwide attention, adding pressure on the US government to ultimately secure his release.

Rabaa massacre: “The world has forgotten that this took place”

Soltan recounts haunting memories of the Rabaa massacre, where he was “shot at for 11 hours before a safe exist was secured”. A shot missed his head by inches as one hit his arm. He accused the Sisi government of deliberately targeting him because he “was live tweeting” and expressed shock at just how bloody the day became. But what haunts him the most is that “the world has forgotten this took place”.

Beatings and torture

Soltan talks through “being beaten by batons and whips and the back of belts,” and of enduring torture that no one should ever have to endure. At one point they even threw a dying man into his room to die, leaving his corpse in there with him. When all this failed to break Soltan’s spirit they started to torture his father and tell him about it. There is a bitter irony, he said: “I went into prison because of who my father was and I came out and my father is being targeted because I am being outspoken.”

 

 

Palestinian hunger strikers, Malcolm X and the Civil Rights Movement

Palestinian hunger strikers were a major inspiration to Soltan’s own hunger strike as a means of non-violent resistance. He never thought that he was going to come out of prison alive, but considering that “so many people have paid a hefty price for freedom, my life wasn’t worth any more than theirs”.

Malcolm X’s autobiography was another major inspiration, although Soltan had already read the book: “To read it again, in that context, in that environment, was so uplifting, so inspirational.” The American civil rights movement gave Soltan hope for Egypt’s future: “The struggle is long but we’ll get there.”

“My father became my best friend”

His father, Salah Soltan, held a post in the Morsi administration and was arrested around the same time and sentenced to death. He said his father became his best friend in prison, saving his life 10 times. It is his father’s “positive energy” that, throughout all the pain, has managed to keep a smile on his face.

“The world has turned a blind eye to what is happening in Egypt” 

Soltan also talked about the privilege that comes with duel Egyptian-American citizenship:

“I had the advantage of having some US embassy oversight. The embassy would visit every month and I would tell them everything I was going through; so you can only begin to imagine what 40,000 political prisoners, that have no over oversight, have no backing [are going through]. Its own government is killing them slowly. That stays with me every single day but it’s also what gives me the motivation to keep going, to keep giving them a voice. To let the world know what is happening, what is going on in these prisons and what the people are enduring, that no human being should ever have to endure.”

Hope, in spite of hell

In spite of everything – the torture, beatings, hunger strike, a father on death row – hope remains Soltan’s shining constant. But he reminds us that hope needs light, awareness and public pressure to survive. He calls for more to be done to raise public awareness over what is going on in Egyptian prisons. Awareness that snowballs into pressuring governments to take action.

The ultimate lesson of his story, he says, is that “non-violent resistance works” but “everybody has to do their part, so us on the outside have got the greater responsibility.”

(Source / 24.10.2015)

International Impunity: The Root Cause of Violence in Palestine

International Impunity: The Root Cause of Violence in Palestine

TEHRAN (FNA)- The international community should stop fuelling human rights violations in occupied Palestine and that could happen only through ending institutional impunity.

It is in line with this policy that Israel deliberately continues to provoke Arab states by military operations and covert terrorist actions. It also provokes Palestinians by continued desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as raids, arrests and attacks against their property.

As international human rights groups hold, the current situation cannot be explained, addressed or remedied without a clear-eyed look at its root causes, which remain Israel’s violations of international law and brutal control of the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The international civil society should withdraw support from the bloodshed by halting military aid, political backing and institutionalized impunity for Israel. The root cause for all this and more is this: Israel’s continued violations of international law, including its brutal and illegal military occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories that has lasted decades and its racist policies against Palestinian citizens of the Holy Land.

This month alone, Israeli armed forces have killed at least 46 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000. At least ten children are among those killed. The only way to curb the rise in violence is to end the occupation.

Lest there be any doubt, Palestinians have taken to the streets to tell the world that they are not longer willing to remain accustomed to Israel’s continued confiscation of their land and the displacement of its inhabitants; the demolition of their homes; the aggressive expansion of settler colonies; settler violence against Palestinians and their property facilitated by the state; torture and ill-treatment; and increasing numbers of arbitrary arrests and administrative detentions.

To fight back, the criminal occupation is intensifying, with Israeli forces sealing off Palestinian neighbourhoods; imposing more severe sentencing guidelines for people accused of stone-throwing; and using excessive force — including live fire — against peaceful crowds of protesters. Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to incite further violence by falsely claiming that Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, persuaded Hitler to exterminate the Jews!

The Palestinian civil society is now calling on the international community to take steps to halt this systemic violence and apartheid. This needs to be heeded in the United States too. It is American weapons and diplomatic support at the UN that enable Israel to carry out its illegal policies of extrajudicial assassination, collective punishment and colonization of Palestinian land. Simply put, the usurper regime is just a gopher.

Sadly enough, the United Nations has agreed to conspire in this. It is not doing anything about it, despite the fact that it violates international law and Palestinians’ rights. It is past time for the international community to assume its responsibilities. They must insist on the inviolability and universality of human rights, and call for an immediate change in Western-American policy toward Palestine. They must also call on the UN to demand an immediate stop to the Judaization of Palestine.

(Source / 24.10.2015)

Palestinian Man Loses His Eye After Being Shot With Rubber-Coated Steel Bullet

Surgeons at the Hadassah Israeli Medical Center, in Jerusalem, had to remove the left eye of a Palestinian man, who was shot with an Israeli army rubber-coated steel bullet, in his house’s balcony, in the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in occupied Jerusalem.

Luay Obeid

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the wounded Palestinian has been identified as Luay Faisal Ali Obeid, 37 years of age. He is a father of five children between the ages of four and 17.

Obeid told Silwanic while receiving treatment in Hadassah that he was shot last Wednesday, October 21, and that one of the soldiers deployed in the area pointed his gun at him, as he stood in his third floor balcony, and fired his gun, without any justification as no clashes were taking place at the time of the shooting.

In addition to losing his left eye, Obeid, who works as a bus driver with a tourism company, also suffered fractures in his skull and nose.

On Saturday at dawn, soldiers invaded the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, and kidnapped two Palestinians.

Late on Friday at night and on Saturday at dawn, soldiers kidnapped eleven Palestinians, including two children, in different parts of occupied Jerusalem.

27 Palestinians were injured, late on Friday at night, during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Abu Dis town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.

Luay Obeid1

(Source / 24.10.2015)

Israeli forces deploy at Rachel’s Tomb ahead of pilgrimage

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli army said it was sending reinforcements to Rachel’s Tomb in northern Bethlehem on Saturday ahead of a Jewish pilgrimage to the holy site.The tomb, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, is closed off to Palestinians by Israel’s separation wall.The Israeli Civil Administration said that thousands of Jewish worshipers were expected “to flock” to Rachel’s Tomb to commemorate the anniversary of the biblical figure’s death.However, Israeli media said that the number of Jewish participants was expected to be low this year due to the protests that have swept the occupied Palestinian territory.Near-daily clashes have broken out near the site this month, with two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces, including a 13-year-old boy.An Israeli army spokesperson said that the nearby 300 Checkpoint would be closed during the pilgrimage, restricting the movement of thousands of Palestinians who use the military checkpoint to cross through to Israel every day.The Civil Administration said that Palestinians who need to cross into Israel for work or other purposes would be allowed to cross through the tunnel checkpoint west of Bethlehem and Mazmouriya checkpoint east of Bethlehem.

(Source / 24.10.2015)