Blind man arrested at Beit Hanoun crossing (report)

It was the wish of the blind man Ahmed Abed Rabbo, 31, to pass Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, north of the Gaza Strip, to get to a hospital in the West Bank for corneal transplant in one of his eyes so that he can see again.

He did not know that he would be arrested by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF), which controls the crossing, to add to the darkness of his eyes, the darkness of the Israeli prisons.

Abed Rabbo is one of dozens of travelers who are arrested by occupation forces while passing Beit Hanoun crossing despite obtaining necessary permits for passing it. The IOF also extort them, turning the only exit of the Gaza Strip to a real “trap” for Gazans, as described by Palestinian human rights organizations.

Beginning of the suffering
The story of Abed Rabbo’s disease started years ago, when he suffered a significant decline in his sight causing him to see only a little. He visited doctors in Gaza and conducting the necessary tests. The results showed that he suffers from acute loss of vision.

Abed Rabbo, who lives in the town of Jabaliya in the northern of Gaza Strip, had been given official permit from the Ministry of Health in order to go for treatment in a hospital in the city of Ramallah for cornea transplantation in one of his eyes.

When Abed Rabbo was travelling through Beit Hanoun crossing on Sunday (15 | 11) he was arrested by Israeli troops positioned at the crossing, according to Mariam, his sister, who accompanied him.

Mariam told Quds Press: “I was astonished when the Israeli soldiers forced my blind brother to enter the interrogation room after they beat him, then they told me to leave the crossing and return to Gaza as they had detained my brother”.

She added: “My brother is married and has three children; he has got all the necessary documents in order to pass the Beit Hanoun crossing in order to undergo the necessary operation for his eye”.

She continued, “I do not know why the occupation forces arrested him in spite of his condition and his inability to manage his needs on his own, as well as the necessary operation to return his sight; as he can see things within four meters only”.

Inhuman extortion
For his part, the MP Ismail al-Ashqar, head of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s Interior and Security Committee, accused the Israeli occupation authorities of exploiting the needs of the Palestinian people, whether economic, humanitarian or medical through inhumane extortion to pass through Beit Hanoun crossing.

Ashqar said, “This is what we have been experiencing at the hands of the Israeli occupation since 1948, as it tries to take advantage of the needs of the Palestinian people, and take advantage of their weakness. This enemy is immoral and criminal, our people know that and know that it is trying to exploit and extort them”.

The Israeli occupation also tries to obtain information from the travelers through Beit Hanoun crossing, in exchange for allowing them to travel, Ashqar said.

He explained that after the Israeli occupation withdrew from the Gaza Strip, it was facing difficulties in communicating with its agents inside Gaza, therefore, it took advantage of any opportunity, whether patients, traders or students travelling through Beit Hanoun crossing to update its information and gather data about the Palestinian resistance, its figures and their places of residence so that it can target them.

50 detainees since the beginning of the year
For his part, Abdel Nasser Farwana, the director of the bureau of statistics in the detainees and ex-detainees’ affairs authority, said that the number of citizens who have been arrested at the Beit Hanoun crossing since the beginning of this year has reached about fifty citizens.

Farwana explained that most of the detainees arrested on the crossing are traders, including 14 merchants arrested on the first month of this year. Among the detainees also were patients and people who accompany them, students, a teacher who was on his way to an interview for a job in Qatar, and a woman.

He revealed that the month of September witnessed the biggest number of arrests; during which 18 citizens all of which had had pass permits issued by the Israeli intelligence.

He pointed to the fact that all detainees are subject to extortion and some of them were slapped with indictment.

Farwana warned anyone who is involved with the resistance and its factions from travelling through Beit Hanoun crossing.

He said that the IOA often deliberately do not disclose some names mentioned in past indictments in order to lure them to the Beit Hanoun crossing to get arrested, and it has succeeded in that before.

Farwana advised all resistance cadres, whether his name was mentioned or not during interrogations with the IOA, or anyone having connections with the resistance to avoid the Israeli occupation barriers and crossings so as not to be arrested.

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Israeli forces open fire at Gaza’s al-Maghazi refugee camp

Israeli soldiers patrol the border with the Gaza Strip

GAZA (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Wednesday opened fire at Palestinians east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli border, local sources said.Local sources said Israeli forces opened live fire at Palestinian lands and houses in the camp, but that the fire did not result in any injuries.An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately respond for comment, and it is unknown if there were protests or clashes in the area at the time.On Tuesday, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian youth with live fire in central Gaza’s al-Bureij refugee camp, the site of frequent clashes with Israeli forces in recent weeks.Meanwhile, forces also opened fire at Palestinian fishermen on Tuesday, near the Beit Lahiya coast in the northern Strip, damaging fishing nets but causing no injuries.Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian fishermen and farmers since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Hamas slams rumored PA, Egypt ‘unilateral’ Rafah crossing agreement

A file photo of Palestinians waiting at the Rafah crossing

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Hamas movement on Wednesday slammed rumors that the Palestinian Authority and Egyptian government, without consulting Hamas, had allegedly come to an agreement to reopen the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.During a press conference in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the movement had not been notified of any new initiatives regarding the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.Abu Zuhri called the plan a “unilateral arrangement” that “ignored the reality on the ground,” and implied that Hamas would oppose any Rafah agreements made without Hamas involvement.Reports regarding the alleged agreement between Egypt and the Palestinian Authority on potentially reopening Rafah crossing have cited the information to senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad was quoted as saying said that President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi agreed on a mechanism to open the Rafah crossing during Abbas’ latest visit to Cairo.The supposed agreement has not been confirmed or denied by other PA officials.In a statement released by Sisi following a meeting with Abbas earlier this month, the Egyptian president said he and Abbas had discussed ongoing activities on Egypt’s eastern borders, where the Egyptian army has helped maintain’s Israel’s crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.The Egyptian president told Abbas at the time that activities there along the border were intended to “secure the borders,” and were being carried out in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority.These activities “could never be meant to harm the Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip,” Sisi said, according to the statement.The Egyptian president added that if the PA were to take control of the Gaza Strip — which is currently controlled by Hamas — it could improve living conditions in Gaza and allow for borders to operate “normally,” allowing the people of Gaza their daily needs.Egypt has very rarely opened the Rafah crossing into Gaza, while its army has destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border.The smuggling tunnels have served as a lifeline to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants since Israel began its military blockade in 2007.Hamas has suffered poor relations with the Egyptian government ever since the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, with whom they were closely allied, was thrown out of power in July 2013.
(Source / 18.11.2015)

Army Injures Dozens Of Palestinians In Jenin and Qalqilia

Medical sources have reported that dozens of Palestinians have been injured, on Wednesday evening, during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Palestinian communities in the northern West Bank districts of Jenin and Qalqilia.

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The sources said the dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, when the soldiers invaded Sielet ath-Thaher village, south of Jenin, after installing a roadblock on its main entrance.

The soldiers stopped and searched dozens of cars, interrogated many Palestinians and conducted various provocative acts that led to clashes.

In addition, at least five Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets after several Israeli military vehicles invaded the an-Naqqar area, west of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia.

Medical sources said the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs at random, causing at least 77 Palestinians, including many children, to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

Also on Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the Israeli army kidnapped at least 41 Palestinians, including children, during predawn invasions in various districts in the West Bank.

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Beyond Paris: 10,000s Of Muslims Killed By ISIS Since Declaring Caliphate

“ISIS has killed more Muslims than certainly members of any other religion,” noted Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman after the Paris Attacks.

An Indian Muslim man holds a banner during a protest against ISIS, an Islamic State group, and Friday's Paris attacks, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

An Indian Muslim man holds a banner during a protest against ISIS, an Islamic State group, and Friday’s Paris attacks, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015

PARIS — After Daesh (the acronym for the Arabic name of the group alternately known as ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State) took credit for the brutal attacks on Paris last week that left 129 dead and hundreds of others injured, many were quick to blame the Muslim community as a whole for the terrorist rampage.

However, a Muslim is far more likely to become a victim of Daesh than to join it, and the vast majority of the group’s victims are fellow members of the faith. This is due to the political motivations behind Daesh rather than religious ones, where it’s receiving arms and funding from nations like Saudi Arabia to foment sectarianism and civil strife in an attempt for Arab Gulf nations to maintain hegemony over oil and gas resources in the region.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour earlier this year, French journalist Didier Francois, who spent over 10 months as the group’s prisoner in Syria, said that the captors cared little about religion and were more politically motivated.

“There was never really discussion about texts or — it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion,” Francois told Amanpour.

“It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran.” Francois added, “We didn’t even have the Quran; they didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”

Due to the chaotic nature of events in the region due to arms landing in the hands of jihadists in a clamor for oil and gas, the exact numbers of Daesh’s victims are hard to come by, but a United Nations report from September 2014 found that “at least 24,015” Iraqi civilians — the vast majority of whom were Muslim — had been killed or injured by Daesh in the first eight months of 2014. The authors of the report warned that their numbers were likely too low, and did not include deaths from related causes:

“Additionally, the number of civilians who have died from the secondary effects of violence, such as lack of access to basic food, water or medicine, after fleeing their homes or who remained trapped in areas under ISIL control or in areas of conflict are unknown.”

In September, Peter R. Neumann, a scholar who studies radicalization in the United Kingdom, reported thatattacks on other Muslims is a major factor driving defections from Daesh:

“Many complained about atrocities and the killing of innocent civilians. They talked about the random killing of hostages, the systematic mistreatment of villagers and the execution of fighters by their own commanders.”

On Nov. 12, days before the attacks on Paris, terrorists struck the majority Muslim city of Beirut, in a pair of suicide bombings that left 43 dead. A string of suicide bombings in Baghdad killed at least seven this week.

In a Monday interview, Yasser Louati, a spokesperson for the Collective Against Islamophobia In France, told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman that while they’re mourning the attacks like the rest of their countrymen, Paris’ Muslims are also terrified of a rising tide of violent Islamophobia in retaliation for the terrorist strike. He noted that reports of attacks on mosques, vandalism of Muslim-owned businesses and even physical attacks against Muslims have flooded the group’s hotline.

The violence is especially misplaced, Goodman noted, because, “Muslims by far outnumber any other group when it comes to being targeted by ISIS. ISIS has killed more Muslims than certainly members of any other religion.” Louati agreed:

“Definitely, like if they hit Beirut right before hitting Paris. And before that, I mean, like they have been killing Muslims by the thousands in Syria and Iraq. You know, what Islamic—I mean, like, how can they call themselves so-called Islamic, when they are first targeting Muslims?”

Watch “‘We Are Scared, We Are Grieving’: Muslim Activist in Paris Condemns Attacks, Rising Islamophobia” from Democracy Now!:

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Democrats warn Syrian refugee ban would empower Islamic State

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) leads a news conference in support of a proposed constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington Sept. 8, 2014

Democrats in Congress are warning that slamming the door on Syrian refugees would hurt the US-led campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS).

The argument comes as Republican leaders and more than half of state governors have announced their opposition to President Barack Obama’s plan to admit up to 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next 10 months. Democrats on Nov. 17 denounced a knee-jerk reaction to the attacks in Paris that they say would undermine US efforts to build aninternational coalition against IS and feed into the terrorist group’s ideology of a civilization war between Muslims and the West.

“Refusing to help those who have passed repeated vettings will not keep us safer,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a statement. “It will fuel the terrorists’ hateful anti-Western ideology.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich, a fellow New Mexico Democrat whose father fled Germany before World War II, slammed what he called the “anti-immigrant logic” of Syrian refugee opponents.

“Let’s remember that the enemy in the current scenario is [IS], not the refugees who flee from their destruction,” Heinrich said in a statement. “We simply will not have the moral standing as a nation to lead in this international crisis if we ignore those who have lost everything at the hands of these barbaric terrorists.”

The top Democrat on the House intelligence panel agreed.

“Being a constructive part of the refugee crisis is vital to our coalition partners,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told Al-Monitor. “It’s hard for us to call on them to do more in terms of refugees, in terms of the war effort, if we’re unwilling to take on some component of this humanitarian crisis ourselves.”

And Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said the United States would do well to avoid a “direct clash” with IS on ideological grounds by singling out only non-Muslims for resettlement.

“We want to make sure that we don’t act like we’re against all Muslims, and yes, if we say we won’t take any, it aggravates it at least a little bit,” Smith told Al-Monitor. “There is a component [of the war effort], yes, that says it’s not us versus the Muslims.”

The comments come as Republican leaders in the House and Senate have called for a moratorium on Syrian refugee resettlement after one of the Paris attackers was discovered to have entered the country posing as a refugee fleeing the war in Syria.

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tweeted Nov. 17 that Syrian refugees should be barred “unless we can be 100 percent confident that they are not here to do us harm” — an impossible metric.

“Our nation has always been welcoming,” Ryan said at a press conference. “But we cannot allow terrorists to take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry. So we think the prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population.”

The House is expected to vote this week on legislation that would require the Obama administration to certify that none of the potential Syrian refugees being admitted pose a security threat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also called for a “pause or moratorium” on the president’s resettlement proposal Nov. 17. Meanwhile, at least 27 states have also objected to the president’s proposal.

Administration officials counter that intense screening is already in place for Syrian refugees and point out that they are vetted over an 18- to 24-month period, negating the fear of a sudden deluge. They say that half of the fewer than 2,000 refugees accepted since the civil war broke out four years ago have been children, half have been women and a quarter have been older than 60.

Technically, they add, state leaders cannot stop the influx of refugees, who are granted residency status and a pathway toward citizenship. But State Department officials have been particularly frank about their reluctance to see a historically popular program turned into yet another partisan hot potato.

“We don’t want to send refugees anywhere where they would not be welcomed,” a senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters Nov. 17.

The issue has already become clearly partisan, however, for a variety of domestic political reasons.

Republican voters are more than twice as likely than Democrats to say they wouldn’t vote for a Muslim president — 73% versus 35% — according to a September poll by Rasmussen Reports. And Republicans are also less likely to trust Obama’s ability to keep the nation safe.

“The fact that a number of governors, charged with their states’ safety, have rejected Syrian refugees should be a signal to us all: Many Americans do not believe they can trust this administration to properly vet these refugees,” Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Committee, said in a statement. “The administration must address these legitimate concerns.”

The committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue for Nov. 19.

Some Republicans, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, have argued for only allowing Christians from Syria. A number of Democrats vigorously denounced that idea.

“It’s against US principles — it’s against universal principles — to discriminate,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Ben Cardin, D-Md., told Al-Monitor. “Any time the United States does something that is easily recognizable as wrong, it can affect the effectiveness of our international strategy.”

Cardin did raise concerns about US screening and visa-free travel from Europe. But he played down any direct link with the anti-IS effort.

“US leadership is not just because we have a strong military — it’s because we have universal values that we stick up for, and part of that is dealing with a crisis such as the Syrian refugees,” he said. “I think it does deal with our credibility.”

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, resisted tying IS’ appeal to anything the United States does.

“I think [IS] is evil, and I think the people who would find [IS] appealing are frankly also evil,” Engel said. “They will recruit, they will find people, they will tell lies about the United States and the West. They will find a way to do it. I don’t think anything that we do or don’t do aids and abets them.”

But he also endorsed the refugee resettlement proposal, drawing parallels to the US reluctance to take in fleeing Jews in the 1930s. At the time, Jewish communities were widely perceived as hotbeds of dangerous political ideologies, including anarchism and Bolshevism.

“A lot of these people are victims of [IS],” Engel told Al-Monitor. “And if we’re going to fight [IS], we need to help its victims.”

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Israeli fighter jets carry out air raids on Gaza Strip

An Israeli warplane (AFP photo)

An Israeli warplane

Israeli fighter jets have reportedly carried out airstrikes against two areas in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Israeli air raids hit areas in the northern and central parts of the Palestinian enclave late on Tuesday night, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

No reports on possible casualties and the extent of damage were immediately available.

Israeli sources claimed that the air raids were conducted in response to a rocket attack that had struck the southern part of the Israeli-occupied territories a few hours earlier, blaming the attack on the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.

Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

The apartheid regime of Israel denies about 1.8 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages and adequate healthcare and education.

Israel’s 50-day military aggression against the Gaza Strip, which started in early July and ended late August last year with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, left nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, dead. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also wounded.

(Source / 18.11.2015)

IOF threaten to demolish eight homes in the Jordan Valley

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Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Wednesday morning have threatened to demolish the homes of eight families in the central Jordan valleys.

Official who monitors Israeli violations in the Valleys, Aaref Daraghmeh told PNN that IOF threatened to demolish the homes in Al-Fassayel area, which has been suffering under ongoing Israeli violations and displacement attempts.

(Source / 18.11.2015)

Israeli forces hit Hamas infrastructure in Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces early Wednesday launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, damaging infrastructure belonging to Hamas’ military wing, locals said.Local sources told Ma’an that the strikes targeted two locations in western Gaza City used for training by Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, causing material damages to nearby homes.In the central Gaza Strip, Israeli forces hit an area known as “Brigade 13” used by the militant group, locals said, adding that no injuries were reported.

The strikes came after the Israeli army said a rocket fired from the besieged strip exploded near the border fence.The Israeli air force “targeted two Hamas sites in the northern and central Gaza Strip,” the army confirmed, adding that Israel holds Hamas responsible for “any act of terror” from the strip.No group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket launched from the strip Tuesday, and no injuries or damages were reported.Sporadic rocket fire has come from the Gaza Strip this year and has been met with retaliatory Israeli attacks, with the military making at least 49 incursions into the enclave since the start of 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Last month an Israeli airstrike killed a two-year-old Palestinian and her pregnant mother inside their home.The Israeli army said at the time the strikes targeted “two Hamas weapon manufacturing facilities in the northern Gaza Strip,” and made no mention of hitting civilian homes.Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since last year’s devastating war, and the movement has been attempting to clamp down on smaller armed groups. in the strip.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri last month warned Israel that following a string of “war crimes” the Palestinian “people will defend themselves by any means possible.”
(Source / 18.11.2015)

Palestinian Faces 30 Days In Administrative Detention For Facebook Post

The Nazareth District Court issued, Wednesday, a 30-day Administrative Detention order against a young Palestinian citizen for a Facebook post that appeared to be suicidal, but explained by Israel as an “intent to carry out an attack.”

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The District Court, following an order from Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, issued a 30-day Administrative Detention order against the young man, identified as Ahmad Jawamees, on suspicion that he “is thinking about harming Jewish citizens.”

The Court said “there is no sufficient evidence that he intended to harm anybody,” and that he expressed sorrow for his post; therefore “a decision was made to hold him imprisoned for thirty days under Administrative Detention.” (without charges)

The Israeli Internal Security claims the young man intended to harm Jewish Israelis, without offering him any psychological support, although he could be facing issues or certain conditions that might make him suicidal.

Last Thursday, November 12, the Israeli army kidnapped Tamara Abu Laban, only 14 years of age, from her family home in the at-Tour town in occupied Jerusalem, for Facebook posts that Israeli considered to be “incitement.”

On October 18, and on October 10, the Israeli Police abducted Anas al-Khatib, in addition to an activist and poet, Darin Tatour, both members of the National Democratic Assembly, for writing social media posts that was also regarded to be “incitement.”

(Source / 18.11.2015)