Over two dozen Palestinian bodies withheld by Israel in October

Israel refuses to hand over bodies of alleged Palestinian attackers, despite appeals from families

Israeli officials cover the body of an alleged Palestinian attacker in Jerusalem on 17 October 2015

Israel is withholding the bodies of at least 28 Palestinians who have been killed since the beginning of October.

The 28 bodies are held at the Abu Kabir Forensic institute in Tel Aviv, infamously known as the place where an Israeli doctor harvested organs and body parts from Palestinian bodies without seeking permission from their families.

Earlier this month, the Knesset agreed to the proposal put forth by the Israeli internal security minister Gilad Erdan to not hand over the bodies of Palestinians who were allegedly involved in stabbing attacks to their families.

“The terrorist’s family turns the funeral into a demonstration of support for terrorism and incitement to the murder,” said Erdan.

The Knesset is also studying Erdan’s suggestion to bury those Palestinians in the notorious cemeteries of numbers.

Secret cemeteries

These cemeteries are secret locations where Israel buries Palestinians who were involved in armed combat against Israelis. Their graves are marked with small metal plates, each carrying a number, hence the name.

The bodies are also kept as bargaining chips in future prisoner exchanges.

The number of these cemeteries is not officially disclosed by Israel, or their whereabouts. Two of the cemeteries’ locations have been found out to be the Amiad Cemetery close to Safed in the north of the country, and Jisr Adam Cemetery in the Jordan Valley.

In 2013 and 2014, Israel released bodies as a sign of goodwill once the negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority resumed.

This led to the speculation, as reported last year, that there were as many as five number cemeteries.

In many cases, the conditions that the buried bodies are in- such as poorly installed metal plates that become dislodged in heavy storms- lead to the loss of the only remaining means of identification and other crucial information such as the date they died.

Over 200 bodies not returned to their families

It is estimated that Israel is withholding 268 bodies, including this month’s count, in total, stretching back to decades. The bodies include Iraqi, Jordanian and Moroccan fighters.

As recently as 2014, 19 bodies from Gaza during the 2014 Israeli offensive on the coastal strip are held, in addition to the bodies of Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, the two cousins who attacked a Jerusalem synagogue in November last year.

Salwa Hammad, from the Palestinian national campaign to retrieve martyrs, said that a letter was sent to the Israeli military governor in the Bet Il settlement north of Ramallah to release the bodies of the Palestinians killed in October, but received no response.

“Within the committee, we hold meetings with consuls of different countries and the UN office so that they could pressure Israel into releasing the bodies,” Hammad told Middle East Eye. “They have all condemned this Israeli policy.”

“Nine of the bodies are from Jerusalem, and 15 from Hebron,” Hammad expounded. “One is from the Naqab (Negev desert) and one from Jenin. Two are from Qatna, a village northwest of Jerusalem.”

‘Collective punishment’

In some cases, Israeli authorities summon the families to identify the bodies of their sons or daughters, and are told that this is the last time they will see them. The bodies are usually stripped of clothes on the scene of attack and placed in black body bags.

Emad al-Faqih, the brother of 23 year old Omar al-Faqih who was shot and killed on 17 October at the Qalandiya checkpoint, said that from the Israeli side, there was no information on releasing the bodies. In a statement, the Israeli army said that Faqih tried to stab a soldier.

“The Israeli [medics] called my father the next day to identify Omar’s body,” Emad told Middle East Eye. “They said nothing about terms or conditions for the release. When my father asked them about taking the body back with him they said this is a political decision that they are not part of.”

Omar al-Faqih, whose family found out after his death that he won first place in the union of Palestinian universities’ championship tennis tournament, had graduated two years earlier with honours in banking and finance from Birzeit University.

According to his mother, he was saving up in order to get married. Omar’s father refuses to believe the Israeli army’s version of events, saying that the army’s refusal to release videos of his son’s killing, especially in an area under heavy surveillance, is suspect to say the least.

Despite following up with the Palestinian Authority liaison departments and the Israeli civil and military coordination offices, Emad expressed his frustration at the lack of response.

“Withholding the bodies is well known as collective punishment that Israel practices, and it is a senseless policy. It goes against the interests of the occupation,” he said. “I don’t understand why they are doing this. This only riles up people more and does not serve to calm the situation, unlike what they claim.”

Israel’s tenacity on withholding Palestinian bodies

On Tuesday, thousands of Palestinians protested against Israel’s detention of the- up until that day- 11 bodies that were allegedly involved in stabbing attacks in Hebron.

The families asserted that they will not accept the release of their children’s bodies individually, but rather that the release and handing over of their bodies should take place at the same time in one go.

On Wednesday, Israel reiterated its refusal to hand over the bodies from Jerusalem to their families, but Salwa Hammad is optimistic that the anger on the streets will force the Israeli authorities to change their minds.

Ayman al-Aseeli, the father of Bayan al-Aseeli, 16, who was shot by Israeli forces in Hebron on 17 October told al-Araby al-Jadeed on the same day that requests to different groups such as the Red Cross and various legal organisations to pressure Israel to release his daughter’s body have all been in vain.

“They all stated that the decision to release the bodies of martyrs is in Israel’s hands only,” Aseeli said.

As of 28 October, Israel is withholding the bodies of 15 Palestinians from Hebron. The Aseeli family are living through rough days, waiting to see whether they could bury their daughter’s body or not. Ayman cannot wrap his head around the fact that his daughter is dead unless he buries her, to give himself and the rest of the family closure. His wife simply won’t believe that Bayan is gone.

“I am tired,” Ayman said, as tears ran down his face. “I want my daughter back. I want to touch her and see her and tell her goodbye. I want to know if she died from one bullet or ten.”

The Palestinian Authority has not, to Hammad’s knowledge, made any moves to pressure or call on Israel to release the bodies. Emad al-Faqih was more equivocal in his opinion of the PA, calling them a “failure”.

“It’s like they are not concerned with taking this issue up, and if they do it’s in a trivial way,” he stated. “We’re calling on any officials, local and international, to pressure the Israeli occupation to return the bodies.”

“This is a humanitarian issue. Why hasn’t there been intervention from countries to pressure Israel? International law and the Geneva Conventions have all criticised this practice. It is obvious that this is a violation of human rights.”

(Source / 29.10.2015)

Abbas demands international protection for Palestinians

Palestinian leader tells UN Human Rights Council that Israeli ‘violations’ at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa compound risk triggering a religious conflict

Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an “international protection regime” for the Palestinian people during an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

Abbas was speaking during a special meeting of the council in Switzerland, and delivered a lengthy address on the latest spiral of violence in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory that has seen over 60 Palestinians and eight Israelis killed since the start of October.

The killings have raised fears of a third intifada, or uprising, by Palestinians, and Abbas warned on Wednesday that without swift action the “frustration” among Palestinians would lead them to a “rebellion against reality…for the sake of their homeland”.

“Peace, security and stability will not be achieved unless the Israeli occupation is ended,” he said, reiterating his warning that Palestine will no longer abide by the Oslo Accords, accusing Israel of breaking its side of the bargain.

“We cannot continue to be bound unilaterally to agreements signed with Israel.”

The Oslo Accords, fully ratified in 1995 after years of talks, saw Israel recognise the Palestinian Authority as the representative of the Palestinian people, and the effective end of Israeli military rule in Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

Abbas called on the UN human rights council to “shoulder the responsibility before it is too late” by establishing a system of international protection for the Palestinian people.

Abbas did not specify the terms of the requested protection system, but warned that action, not words, was necessary to stem the tide of violence in the region.

“This may be the last chance for a solution. After that, who knows?” Abbas asked.

Abbas also invited UN special rapporteurs to visit Palestine, and stressed that he would continue to work with the International Criminal Court to investigate what he called “extrajudicial killings” committed by Israeli security forces.

His speech was greeted by a standing ovation from some delegates at the meeting.

Abbas’s speech, which reiterated many of the points and language used last month when he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, came after three Palestinians were shot dead and at least one Israeli injured in violence on Tuesday.

Israeli politicians have frequently blamed the latest spike in violence on incitement by Palestinian politicians including Abbas.

Palestinian leaders, though, say the wave of stabbing attacks is a response to what Abbas on Wednesday called “violations” at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims.

On Wednesday Abbas warned that any further heightening of tension around al-Aqsa could “change the conflict from a political into a religious one”.

(Source / 29.10.2015)

Group: Israeli settlers lock family out of their home in Silwan

The Abu Nab family in their family home before it was taken

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Thursday prevented a Palestinian family from entering their home in the Batan al-Hawa area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, a local organization said.Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli settlers who live in the area prevented Rania Abu Nab and her four children, aged 4 to 14-years-old, from entering the home, before Israeli police arrived at the scene reportedly in support of the settlers.

An Israeli police spokesperson did not immediately respond for comment.

Abu Nab said she had left her home to meet with UNRWA employees, who were prevented from visiting her at home by Israeli settlers in the area.
When Abu Nab tried to come home, the main gate of the compound where her home is was reportedly locked and the Israeli settlers did not allow her back into the house. She added that they did not provide any reason and mockingly told her “keep having meetings and interviews.”Abu Nab’s husband, Jawad, was also denied entry to the house when he arrived, and phoned his lawyer.Abu Nab’s house is in a housing compound where several houses have already been taken over by Israeli settlers this year.

Peace Now, a human rights organization, has documented that during the past year, settlers have doubled their presence in the Batan al-Hawa area of Silwan, noting that an overnight takeover in August expanded the illegal Israeli settlement from 10 to 35 Jewish families.
Around 500 settlers live in Silwan among a population of 45,000 Palestinians, one of mainly enclaves in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods surrounding the Old City, such as Ras al-Amud, al-Tur, Abu Dis, and Sheikh Jarrah.
Illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem are designed to prevent any division of the city — as is called for in the two state solution — and to create a Jewish majority population in the city.
East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law.
(Source / 29.10.2015)

Israeli occupation executes two more Palestinians

Israeli occupation army claimed they were killed over stabbing attempts, but Palestinian witnesses proved several times that executions are carried out with cold blood

Israeli occupation forces shot dead on Thursday morning two Palestinians in West Bank city of Al-khalil.

As usual, in both cases, the Israeli occupation claimed that the Palestinians were killed on backgrounds of stabbing attempts

Days of Palestine, West Bank –Israeli occupation forces shot dead on Thursday morning two Palestinians in West Bank city of Al-khalil.

In Al-Shuhadaa Street in Al-Khalil, the Israeli occupation settlers and troops opened fire at a Palestinian civilian, causing him sever injuries.

Witnesses told Days of Palestine that the Palestinian young man was shot while he was walking far away from the Israelis.

Palestinian sources said that the young man, who was shot by the Israeli occupation troops and settlers, is Farouk Sider, 19, from Al-Khalil.

Just two hours before executing Sider, the Israeli occupation forces shot another Palestinian man near Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the same city.

The man was identified as Mahdi al-Muhtasib, 23, and was at first wounded and left bleeding for about half an hour. Then, he died at the scene, witnesses said, and was evacuated.

As usual, in both cases, the Israeli occupation claimed that the Palestinians were killed on backgrounds of stabbing attempts.

In many cases, Palestinians proved that the Israeli occupation execute their fellow civilians with cold blood and plant knives near to them in order to find a pretext for their terrorist acts.

Early this week, Israeli media and Israeli spokespersons failed to cover-up an execution of two Palestinians near Jerusalem by providing contradicted narratives for the same incident.

(Source / 29.10.2015)

Israeli forces raid East Jerusalem’s al-Tur village, detain 2

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday evening raided al-Tur village in occupied East Jerusalem and detained two Palestinians, locals said.Locals in the village said Israeli forces raided houses off Qaa al-Hara street and closed off the street completely, searching houses and nearby alleyways.Israeli forces reportedly detained two Palestinians during the raid.Israeli police said that an improvised explosive device was thrown at Israeli forces in the village, however no injuries were reported.Just short of 1,000 Palestinians, including 147 children, have been detained by Israeli forces since the beginning of the month, Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer said Monday.The group’s advocacy coordinator, Rafat Sub Laban, told Ma’an that at least 988 Palestinians had been detained in October, including 578 in the occupied West Bank, 258 in East Jerusalem, and 152 in Israel.He added that it was not year clear how many prisoners were still being held and how many had been released, although Addameer estimated that there were now some 6,300 Palestinians in Israel’s prisons in total, up from 5,620 at the end of last month.An Israeli prisons spokesperson, Sivan Weizman, told Ma’an earlier this week that there were around 5,800 “security prisoners” inside Israel’s jails, although she said she had no information on how many new prisoners there were in October.According to UN figures, there has been a weekly average of 78 Israeli army “search and arrest operations” carried out across the occupied West Bank, with a sharp increase since protests spread across the occupied territory earlier this month.

(Source / 29.10.2015)

Hospital refuses Israeli demand for Palestinian medical records

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The administration of Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem said Thursday it refused to hand over medical files to Israeli forces belonging to Palestinians treated after recent clashes that have erupted in the city.The head of Al-Makassed Hospital, Rafis al-Hussieni, told Ma’an that Israeli forces entered the medical facility on Tuesday and Wednesday requesting the files without permission from an Israeli court.Al-Husseini said that undercover armed Israeli forces deployed in units throughout the hospital, insulting patients and employees before requesting medical files belonging to a Palestinian youth who was shot by Israeli forces, treated in the hospital, and recently detained.The forces told hospital staff that a prescription issued by Al-Makassed had been found during a raid of the child’s home.Al-Husseini and the medical staff in the hospital would decline to release patient information to the forces.

“It is not our job to give any information about anyone comes to hospital or to take any personal information. Our job is only to help them and provide them with medical treatment,” al-Husseini told Ma’an.He added that the hospital at times provides medical treatment for injured Palestinians without taking any information or creating files for them.
A staff member of the hospital on Tuesday told Ma’an that they released the information from the file of a Palestinian patient to Israeli forces.Al-Husseini condemned Israeli violations against the hospital. “The hospital has become desecrated by Israeli troops,” he said, urging international human rights groups and legal committees to protect the hospital.”Israeli violations against the Palestinian hospital are against the law and until today we cannot find anyone to protect the hospital, the patients, and the staff.”Al-Makassed employees have called for a march on Thursday in front of the hospital to to protest the recent violations.The association representing the employees also condemned the lack of international response towards recent events in Jerusalem including Israeli raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the separation of Palestinian neighborhoods, increased checkpoints across the occupied city.
Israeli forces have frequently stormed hospitals to seize medical records and detain patients.
At the beginning of the month, undercover forces, dressed as Palestinians, detained a Palestinian patient after storming al-Arabi Hospital in Nablus in the northern West Bank.
In mid-October, the Palestine Red Crescent Society also decried the actions of Israeli forces toward its medical staff.
The society said that Israeli forces had attacked its ambulance crews and detained Palestinian patients from inside ambulances. It said that the incidents were “a blatant violation” of international humanitarian law.
(Source / 29.10.2015)

Mint Press, Anti-Media, Counter Current News, And Others Implied To Be On Assad’s Payroll

The implication is buried in a rant that bemoans the named outlets’ habit of criticizing US efforts for regime change.

Islamic State fighter with US-made M4.

Islamic State fighter with US-made M4

Minneapolis, Minnesota (TFC) – The Minnesota-based StarTribune ran commentary that implied a list of alternative sites were on the payroll of the regime of President Assad of Syria. The implication is buried in a rant that bemoans the named outlets’ habit of criticizing US efforts for regime change. It uses language stating that the outlets “provide no information on how they are funded or the names of a board.” It goes on to state that one outlet is “accountable only to its anonymous funders.”  The Fifth Column was not listed for reasons that will become clear later.

Through extremely difficult analysis and hours of gut wrenching investigation, The Fifth Column was able to determine that the outlets in question are funded the same way just about everything on the internet is: by those annoying little ads all over the sites. It wasn’t really difficult to figure out considering this outlet and the StarTribune are funded the same way. Some of the sites listed do have donation buttons that allow a reader to send in a couple of dollars to a site they particularly enjoy. It should be noted that the StarTribune does not have a link to a financial report on its site.

“Who are these sites? Mint Press, Info Wars, the Anti-Media, Shadowproof, Media Roots, Counter Current News, SouthFront and Zero Hedge are among the alternative ‘news’ organizations that provide no information on how they are funded or the names of a board. They variously describe themselves with words and phrases such as ‘independent,’ ‘watchdog,’ ‘citizen journalism,’ ‘news from outside party lines,’ and so on.”

My work can be found on about half of these sites. Most of my work deals with the international arena, and without going back to check I can say with a high degree of confidence that I’ve written about Syria for at least 3 or 4 of the above named outlets. Because of that, maybe I see this as a bit of a personal attack. In the interests of full disclosure, I will say that I have never received any funds from any special interest group, Syrian related or otherwise.

The author singles out Mint Press for a special attack.

“Minneapolis-based Mint Press is best known for its story based on one unknown reporter’s claim that the Syrian rebels were behind the August 2013 chemical attack that killed 1,300. The story went viral. Russian President Vladimir Putin cited it to defend Assad. The Christian Science Monitor found the story ‘mind-boggling’ and asked if it was a ‘disinformation operation.’ Mint Press stands behind it, despite the findings of a U.N. Commission that the chemicals ‘appear to come from the stockpiles of the Syrian military.’”

Attempting to call into question the legitimacy of an outlet while simultaneously citing The Christian Science Monitor is interesting to say the least. What is more interesting is that the Editor in Chief of Mint Press, Mnar Muhawesh, recently spoke about the process of manufacturing consent for war to a crowd in the vicinity of the StarTribune. Mnar is easily one of the loudest voices for the Arab world in the US media. From what I’ve seen of her character, I wouldn’t expect her to be going anywhere anytime soon. It would be best if the author just became accustomed to her being around.

The quote the author pulled from the UN Commission is, much like the rest of her article, misleading. Yes, the UN did say that the weapons “appear to come from the stockpiles of the Syrian military.” I would be willing to go further than the UN and say that the weapons almost certainly originated from the Syrian military’s stockpiles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Syrian military used them. The war in Syrian has been a constant string of defections. When forces defect, they tend to take their equipment with them. Weapons are also captured by opposition forces and then used later. Earlier this year, the Kurds were struck by chemical weapon attacks initiated by the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. Remarkably, the UN group that is monitoring the decommissioning of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons was not sent to investigate. There are scores of photos available that show forces from every side driving US-made Humvees while carrying US-made M4 rifles. While US foreign policy is certainly duplicitous, are we to believe that the US is arming every faction in the war? If the author doesn’t understand the basic fact that weapons frequently change hands during war, perhaps she shouldn’t be writing about a war. Maybe there’s a state spelling bee or something that would be more suited to her level of expertise.

I doubt there are any journalists at the sites listed above that support Assad’s government (most of them wouldn’t support any government), they simply oppose US intervention. The US government has sought to overthrow Assad’s government since before the war began. The narrative being pushed by this article is that the only options are to allow the US to overthrow yet another government, or to support Assad. Those aren’t even remotely close to the only options. The author is identified as “Terry Burke, of St. Louis Park, is a volunteer for the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria.” If the author was truly in solidarity with the Syrian people, wouldn’t she want to see the war end? Wouldn’t it be better for the US to stop arming rebel groups that almost invariably end up defecting to the Islamic State?

The best part about the whole piece is that while the author is accusing the above sites of some agenda, she doesn’t even realize that she’s playing a part in someone else’s agenda. While I may just be a cut-rate journalist that writes for sites the author doesn’t want to call real news sites, I humbly ask your indulgence while I lay out how a real conflict of interest and agenda setting works.

Terry Burke is the author of the article. She is a volunteer with a very small organization. It’s unlikely that the StarTribune ran the piece to appeal to the built in audience of a group with a whopping 350 social media followers. It’s unlikely that the content, as dissected above, appealed to the editorial staff as ground-breaking. However, it does support regime change. The StarTribune seems to support this idea. Why? Who owns the StarTribune? Glen Taylor. Who is Glen Taylor? He’s the billionaire that owns Taylor Corp. What is Taylor Corp? The part that is relevant is that it’s the company that gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party. Glen Taylor was at one time a Republican State Senator. Destabilizing Assad is a Republican dream. It began under President Bush in 2006.  Why are the Republicans so supportive of this idea? Money. The defense industry that will make billions off of the war has bought the Republican party with campaign contributions. The industry has spent more than $1,323,900,000 lobbying federal officials since 2006. All of the top ten recipients of the money in 2016, with the notable exception of Hillary Clinton, are Republicans.

When trying to establish a conflict of interest, you have to actually show where it might exist. You can’t just jump and down like petulant child screaming “they take donations” or “I can’t find where their funding comes from!”

While I believe that Burke truly believes she is acting in the best interests of the Syrian people, I would point out that regime change in Iraq cost about half a million lives. She doesn’t have all of the facts, and because of this she is condemning hundreds of thousands of people to death.

Then again, what do I know? I simply work for “news” sites.

So why wasn’t The Fifth Column listed when the content is basically the same? Simple. We don’t have a donation button, which means the author would have to acknowledge that ads primarily fund all sites. There’s also the fact that we tend to cover Assad’s crimes more often than other sites. Why? Every site has a limited amount of resources, decisions are made by journalists as to which stories to cover. Because of our coverage of Kurdistan, the Syrian government’s misdeeds are more relevant to our readers. It’s that simple. That doesn’t mean the listed outlets are pro-Assad. It means their journalists aren’t covering the Kurdish side of the war as in-depth as TFC. Saying that because an outlet isn’t covering something it must support the other side is ridiculous. We didn’t cover the Republican debate. Does that mean we support the Democratic party? Of course not. We didn’t cover them either. That’s the funny thing about newspapers: you can fill libraries with the stuff they don’t publish.

(Source / 29.10.2015)

We deserve honesty in media coverage of Palestine-Israel

The political leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, Khaled Meshaal and South African President Jacob Zuma shake hands after signing a collaboration agreement in Johannesburg, South Africa on October 19, 2015.

The political leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, Khaled Meshaal and South African President Jacob Zuma shake hands after signing a collaboration agreement in Johannesburg, South Africa on October 19, 2015

The recent visit to South Africa of the high-level Hamas delegation headed by Khaled Meshaal gave the reading public an opportunity to assess and understand the movement’s view of the Middle East conflict. Senior IOL journalists Janet Smith and Shannon Ebrahim did exactly that with their coverage, which was a refreshing change; the mainstream media coverage and predictable reaction from the anti-Palestinian lobby was to be expected, because the Zionists believe that their narrative about conditions on the ground is the only version in town. Unfortunately for them, there are two sides to every story and it is about time that we heard the other side of this particular story.

Critics of the Hamas visit seldom mention the most important factor at play in the Palestine-Israel conflict; the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The violence of near-permanent siege, physical dispossession, daily humiliation at military checkpoints, the painful separation of families, food and water shortages, repeated closures of businesses and schools, travel bans, home demolitions, the uprooting of trees, the omnipresence of armed soldiers and settlers at every corner; few of these everyday facts of Palestinian life under occupation actually make the news headlines. Only the reaction of Palestinians who say enough is enough merits coverage in the mainstream media. It is the order of things, the preferred status quo, that which does not disturb the quiet of the opulent middle class in the high-tech suburbs of Tel-Aviv, the raucous parading of Jewish bigots in Al Quds and Hebron, the windsurfing of beachgoers at Eilat, and the camping of IDF retirees on the Red Sea that is newsworthy.

From time to time, unsubstantiated reports concocted by officials and representatives of the propaganda machine funded by the Israelis would have us believe that the Zionist entity has made numerous attempts to protect the “status quo” in Jerusalem and the occupied territories. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The ultimate aim of these dishonourable and mendacious propagandists is to discredit not only Hamas but also the entire Islamic camp, in Palestine and elsewhere across the Arab and Muslim world. What else can be said of “intellectuals” and “writers” who claim that Palestinians who fight for their honour, freedom and basic human rights are “terrorists” while the settler-killers who came from Eastern Europe and the US to steal and colonise Palestinian land represent the forces of freedom, justice and enlightenment?

The goals and tactics of these hypocrites have not really changed much over the years. They spread lies, rumours and occasional half-truths in order to weaken the ranks of the resistance movements in Palestine, including Hamas. The reason for this is very simple; the hypocrites do not want a resolution to the Middle East’s longest-running problem. Israel needs an existential threat, which gives its government the licence to continue the Zionist agenda of creating Greater Israel (“Eretz Israel”) from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan and beyond, even up to the Euphrates.

The West, including the UN and the EU, have wasted precious years sponsoring peace talks doomed to fail. They were advised and exhorted repeatedly to be vigilant and cautious about Israeli tactics, but to no avail. As expected, the outcome of these encounters found expression in the continued expansion of the Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Notwithstanding treacherous conspiracies devised by its enemies, Hamas is likely to be around for a long time to come. Since 2006, when the Islamic movement won the Palestinian legislative elections, defeating the US-backed Fatah, America and its puppet regimes and allies in the Arab world have used every conceivable means to undermine and weaken Hamas.

Israel has tried to decapitate the group by imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip to pressure the people to rise up against their elected de facto government. It has launched a series of brutal offensives against the Palestinians in Gaza, killing and maiming thousands of innocent men, women and children, and destroying homes, schools, mosques and infrastructure in the process. Entire families have been exterminated as one Israeli official vowed to inflict a holocaust on the virtually helpless and unprotected civilians in the coastal enclave.

Despite such murderous Israeli efforts, the Palestinian Islamic movement is still able to command the support of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. It is true that life in the Occupied Territories is difficult and suffering is everywhere, but it is also true that the Palestinians don’t blame Hamas for their predicament. After all, it is Israel, not Hamas, which maintains the criminal collective punishment of the blockade; it is Israeli bombs which rain down on the territory. The Palestinians will not play into Israel’s hands by sitting on the receiving end of its savagery and then blaming Hamas for their suffering. I believe without hesitation that the Palestinians trust Hamas, and that it is no exaggeration to describe the movement’s continued existence as miraculous.

Notwithstanding the loss of many top leaders at the hands of Israeli terrorism, including wheelchair-bound Shaikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi, the movement is rooted in Islam, not around the charisma of any one individual.

Following the showdown with Fatah in 2007, many western news agencies promoted the lie that Hamas carried out a coup against the “legitimacy” of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, ignoring the fact that Hamas was itself the government, having won the elections in the previous year. Unfortunately, the media continues to repeat the same deception, passing over the fact that the US and Israel funded a faction within Fatah to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Hamas, a move which backfired and has damaged Ramallah’s legitimacy ever since.

The world deserves honesty in the media coverage of Palestine-Israel; we rarely get it. Indeed, the word “honesty” doesn’t seem to exist in the lexicon of the pro-Israel lobby and its pet media outlets in South Africa and beyond.

(Source / 29.10.2015)

Palestinian woman shot and injured in Afula cleared of all charges

NAZERETH (Ma’an) — Israeli Channel 2 News reported on Wednesday that Israel’s Justice Ministry said investigations into the shooting of Israa Abed showed she did not intend to carry out a stabbing attack before she was shot and injured.The news channel reported that as evidence, the ministry cited a video of the incident, in which Abed was standing next to an Israeli youth before the shooting, who she could have stabbed, but did not.Abed will reportedly not be indicted for any attack, and is expected to be released on Thursday.Abed’s father, Zeidan Abed, told Ma’an that no charges will be pressed against his daughter and her file will be closed.”Police proved what I have been saying from the beginning, Israa is an educated young woman who aims to serve the community, and who did not intend to harm anyone,” he said.Channel 2 also reported that no action will be taken against the Israeli police officers who shot the young woman.Palestinian MK Yusif al-Jabareen said the decision not to take action against the Israeli officers allows police to shoot Palestinians indiscriminately.Abed was shot and injured on Oct. 9.A video of the incident shows the her surrounded by Israeli security forces at the bus station and appearing to hold an object in her hand.Amid shouting, the security forces open fire multiple times at the woman, who drops to the ground. She appears to pose no threat to the heavily armed forces when she was shot.

(Source / 29.10.2015)

Washington Opposes Any Role for Assad in Syria’s Future, Insists He Must Go

The US special envoy to Syria Michael Ratney said that the United States opposes giving any role for Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s future, adding that he must step aside to allow Syrians set about a workable transition process.

At a meeting in Berlin with the Syrian Coalition’s representative to Germany Bassam Abdullah, Ratney reiterated his country opposes the Russian air strikes targeting the moderate opposition and the civilian institutions in the rebel-held areas.

Abdullah reaffirms the Syrian Coalition’s rejection of giving any role for Assad to play in the transitional period or Syria’s future even for a single day, adding that this position is a fundamental guarantee for the success of a constructive transition process.

He calls on the United States to allow stepping up support for the Free Syrian Army to enable it repel the Russian-Iranian aggression on Syria and counter the ISIS.

Abdullah warns that amid political initiatives that are not based on a clear reference, the Assad regime is trying to gain more time in order to regain control of the areas it lost to rebel fighters.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 29.10.2015)