Airstrike Launched on Central Gaza

The Israeli army, on Tuesday, continued to breach the truce agreement reached between the Palestinian-Israeli sides under the Egyptian auspices, earlier in August 2014, launching an airstrike on a site in central Gaza Strip, however, no injuries were reported.

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According to WAFA correspondence, Israeli F16 warplanes fired at least two missiles targeting a location near the entrance of al-Maghazi refugee camp, resulting in its destruction.

Reconnaissance drones reportedly hovered over Gaza at low altitudes throughout the night hours, until dawn, amid the firing of flares and thermal bombs.

The attack came in response to a missile that was allegedly fired from Gaza, toward an area in southern Israel.

On November 18, 2015, Israeli warplanes carried out four airstrikes on multiple targets in the Gaza Strip, in yet another act of aggression against the besieged coastal territory. There were no reports of casualties.

Israel and the Palestinian factions inked a ceasefire deal on August 26, ending the latest deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza that claimed the lives of over 2,200 people, overwhelmingly civilians.

In 2014, Israel launched a war on Gaza which claimed the lives of about 2,200 Palestinians, and left more than 10,000 injured. Hundreds of thousands others are currently displaced and live in makeshift caravans or in UNRWA-run schools.

(Source / 24.11.2015)

How the Palestinian diaspora is reacting to unrest in the West Bank

An Egyptian holds flags of Egypt and Palestine during a protest against Israel’s ongoing military operations, Cairo, Nov. 15, 2012

CAIRO — Although the roots of the latest unrest in Israel and Palestine remain disputed — an arson attack by settlers against the Dawabshe family, purported Palestinian hatred and anti-Semitism, or decades of Israeli occupation — since September, headlines from Jerusalem have dominated the international news cycle.

Although those stories have since been relegated to the back pages, chiefly by the Islamic State’s (IS) Nov. 13 attacks on Paris and the ongoing bloodshed and negotiations surrounding the Syrian conflict, Palestinians are still navigating their way through the unrest.

A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey (PCS) conducted Sept. 17-19 found that, in the absence of a viable peace process, 57% of Palestinians surveyed supported a return to an armed intifada. At the same time, 42% believed that armed action would be the “most effective means to establish a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel,” and 29% “believed in the efficacy of negotiations.”

At the same time, few such polls exist for the estimated 5 million officially recognized descendants of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East eligible for assistance by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East, or the estimated 11 million total in the global diaspora.

Some Palestinians in the diaspora — many with a strong sense of national identity but enforced detachment from their homeland — remain uncertain about the future. There is not always much space for the myriad views from the diaspora, dictated in part by the different experiences Palestinians outside the Palestinian territories actually face.

Two descendants of Palestinian refugees in Cairo, both with their own experiences of displacement, activism and the search for identity, spoke to Al-Monitor about the experience of watching developments unfold in Israel and the occupied territories while living outside [of it].

Salwa, a civil society worker in Cairo who asked for her real name to be withheld because of the nature of her work, told Al-Monitor that the images of slain Palestinian teenagers had initially made her “more militant.”

She said, “My belief in a peaceful resolution is starting to fade. I feel so frustrated. I believe in nonviolence, but it’s taking so much time that by the time it will start influencing politicians and creating political change, it will be too late. There will be no Palestine left.”

“It’s like giving painkillers to someone who is dying. It removes the pain, but that person is still going to die,” Salwa added, describing the role of nonviolent resistance in an increasingly violent landscape. At the same time, she is unsure about how best to participate or effect change.

During the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), Salwa’s family was displaced to Lebanon. Salwa was born in Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp just weeks after the 1982 massacre carried out by Christian Phalanges militias under the eyes of the Israeli army. By 1984, the family had claimed asylum in northern Europe after Salwa’s brother transited through East Germany and on to another country — almost a presage of the kind of journeys being made by refugees fleeing violence, repression and terrorism in the Levant today.

Mahmoud Sameh, who leads the PLO-affiliated Bilad as-Sham choir, told Al-Monitor that his Palestinian-Egyptian roots and the political situation he has witnessed firsthand in Egypt inform his sense of identity and response to recent events in the Palestinian territories. The son of a Palestinian mother and Egyptian father, he is not officially Palestinian (according to Egyptian patriarchal birth rights and UNRWA’s own definition of “Palestine refugees”) but, through songs, he has created a strong sense of identity. “I’m more attached to my Palestinian side,” he said.

“Most Egyptians wouldn’t be involved in something in such a way, but being in the choir made me feel things,” Sameh told Al-Monitor. “When you sing you feel things, and for the Palestinians who settled in Egypt it’s like a community.”

He added, “We gather together, we sing together. The choir was founded on the idea of struggling — not just through weapons, but struggling through art too.”

In her 2005 ethnography, “Palestinians Born in Exile: Diaspora and the Search for a Homeland,” US academic Juliane Hammer interviewed dozens of young Palestinians who returned after the 1993 Oslo Accord and who had never lived in Palestine before.

Meant to show “the young faces of the Palestinian diaspora, those who had to create their Palestinian identity without having lived in Palestine,” Hammer found that Palestinians in the diaspora “do have a sense of a shared national identity.” On the other hand, growing up in different countries and cultures influenced each person’s identity. “Such factors as class, economic and legal status, and political affiliation” did the same, Hammer wrote.

At the same time, Diana Allan’s 2014 ethnography of Beirut’s Shatila camp, “Refugees of the Revolution,” argues that “in the stereotypes of nationalist discourse, refugees are the stoic, ‘steadfast’ embodiment of a people who refuse to disappear.”

She argues that such a singular nationalist discourse erases the different localized and often dour socio-economic struggles that Palestinians in the diaspora face, as in Lebanon for example, on a day-to-day basis.

“Much has been written on the ways refugees relate to the past,” Allan writes later, “and very little on how they orient themselves to the future.”

Evidently, no one thinks the same. About the future, Sameh is fearful. Salwa seems more determined, albeit with an air of caution.

Having participated in the Egyptian revolution since 2011, sometimes taking the choir down to Tahrir Square to sing Palestinian national songs, Sameh is apprehensive about the direction in which he says Palestinian protesters and activists may be headed.

“What I see is exactly like what happened in Egypt. Remember Mohamed Mahmoud?” he said, referring to violent clashes between Egyptian protesters and police in downtown Cairo in November 2011. “People are throwing stones, and when the police feel in danger or feel that the people are gaining the advantage, they just shoot. They kill someone and you just lose out.”

He added, “I don’t see any success — except maybe that the [Palestinian] youth have gone outside without any political parties or names involved. And this is what scares me about the future.”

Sameh explains how his sister cries when she watches news of Palestinians being shot on the TV news. “I stopped watching the news on TV,” he told Al-Monitor. “When you see the events, your mood is ruined. You can’t support and you can’t help.” He describes a feeling of hopelessness.

Salwa, on the other hand, thinks the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is one of the few options left for Palestinians in the diaspora to participate — a way of connecting with a “nonviolent call coming out of Palestine” and the many Palestinians living outside.

“Either you’re there or you’re not,” she told Al-Monitor. “The only thing you can do [from outside] is to put pressure on your own country or the place you live in.”

(Source / 24.11.2015)

Sudan gets $2.2B for joining Saudi Arabia, Qatar in Yemen war

 

Members of the Sudan Armed Forces stand on top of rebel vehicles in South Darfur, April 28, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s disastrous military campaign in Yemen has been a source of humiliation. In an effort to prevail against the Houthi rebels, Riyadh has reached out to Sudan and other African nations for on-the-ground support. Ultimately, Saudi Arabia’s ability to secure a commitment from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) must be analyzed within the context of Sudan’s domestic problems, which have left the country on the verge of total economic collapse.

Since 1997, US-imposed sanctions on Sudan’s central bank have weakened the country’s access to global financial markets and hard currency. Ongoing conflicts between the SAF and rebel movements in Darfur and the provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile have drained resources and undermined investor confidence. When South Sudan seceded in 2011, Sudan lost one-third of its territory and the majority of its oil. Low oil prices have also resulted in diminished revenue. These dismal conditions have led officials in the capital of Khartoum to seek financial assistance from its Gulf Arab allies.

Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have indeed provided a crucial financial lifeline for heavily sanctioned Sudan. Khartoum recently announced that officials in the Saudi capital of Riyadh had deposited $1 billion in Sudan’s central bank earlier this year. The Qataris deposited $1.22 billion shortly after Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir visited Doha last year. Additionally, the Bank of Khartoum’s three main shareholders are Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Sharjah Islamic Bank.

But support for Sudan is not being delivered without strings attached.

Khartoum is now paying for the aid by fighting in Yemen. In the past several weeks, hundreds of Sudanese officers and soldiers have joined the roughly 1,000 SAF troops already fighting there. In October, Sudanese Defense Minister Awad bin Auf said, “There are 6,000 fighters from special forces, ground forces and elite troops ready to participate when requested by the leadership of the coalition. … Even if more troops and military contribution is needed, we are ready for any developments.”

In the grander geopolitical picture, the elephant in the room is Iran, who is backing the Houthi rebels.

Sudan joined Riyadh’s coalition despite having spent several years strengthening ties with Iran. In 2008, Sudanese and Iranian officials signed a military cooperation agreement, and in 2013, Iran stepped up its construction of naval and logistical bases in Port Sudan. Sudan and Iran share geopolitical objectives, and Sudan is a strategic gateway for Iran into the African continent. Iran supplies financial and military support for Sudan. The two countries’ relationship has been deeply unsettling for Western, Gulf Arab and Israeli officials. (In August 2013, Riyadh barred Sudan’s Bashir from Saudi airspace when he was traveling to newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration, forcing the plane to return to Khartoum.)

Last year, however, Sudan’s relationship with Tehran took a new turn. In September 2014, Sudanese authorities closed Iranian cultural centers in Khartoum and other locations, citing Iran’s alleged efforts to spread Shiism in Sudan. In reality, Sudan’s tiny Shiite minority poses no true threat to the regime, and the closure of the cultural centers can be explained only within the context of Sudan’s geopolitical pivot toward Saudi Arabia.

One month after the closures, Bashir sought to further distance Sudan from Iran, declaring that Riyadh’s negative outlook on Khartoum’s true relationship with Tehran was based on “false, fabricated and exaggerated” information. He dismissed the value of Sudanese-Iranian ties by citing Tehran’s refusal to back Khartoum when economic troubles hit Sudan following South Sudan’s 2011 secession. Bashir said, “We [the Sudanese] managed to overcome that [difficult] period with distinction without getting any support from Iran, not even one cent. They only offered us promises that never materialized, and this is why we don’t consider our ties with Iran strategic.” Perhaps an earlier sign of Sudan’s pivot toward the GCC — and away from Iran — came in August 2013, when the New York Times reported Khartoum had provided Syrian rebels with Sudanese- and Chinese-manufactured weapons via Qatar.

The International Criminal Court wants to try Bashir for his alleged war crimes, so Sudan’s participation in the US-sponsored coalition has raised eyebrows among human rights activists in the West. According to Akshaya Kumar of Human Rights Watch, “[Sudanese] troops have ignored the laws of war and abused civilians with impunity [in South Kordofan and Blue Nile]. … While we don’t know which units have been sent to [Yemen], what we do know is that they come from an army with an appalling pedigree.” Unquestionably, the Obama administration faces a dilemma. It has been led into a de facto military partnership with a regime it has punished by means of economic sanctions and an arms embargo for its human rights abuses, including genocide and state-sponsored terrorism.

The Saudis, of course, impose no human rights litmus test for their partners in their Yemen intervention. The truth is that SAF has years of experience combatting insurgencies, and given the refusal of some of Riyadh’s other traditional military allies to send a substantial on-the-ground force to Yemen, it was logical that the kingdom would turn to Sudan for greater manpower.

Although friction between Saudi Arabia and Sudan previously stemmed from Khartoum’s support for Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, those tensions appear to be dissipating. As Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud seeks to unite the Sunni Arab world behind the kingdom to counter Iranian influence, Riyadh sees Sudan as an actor in this foreign policy strategy. Indeed, Sudan — an Arab League and African Union member situated along the strategically prized Red Sea — plays a unique role in the Middle East’s geopolitical order, a factor often overlooked by analysts.

Today, Sudan’s teetering economy is on the verge of collapse and sanctions have tightened the noose on the central bank. Sudan’s leaders have thus far weathered the Arab Spring, yet high inflation, unemployment (particularly among urban youth) and poverty levels may well fuel growing opposition to the regime. This potential was underscored in September 2013 when thousands of anti-austerity protesters and security forces clashed in Khartoum, resulting in a number of deaths, injuries and arrests. In sum, regime survival is a concern for Bashir as Khartoum reaches out to the Gulf Arab states to mitigate the risks associated with the country’s worsening economic crisis.

The price Sudan pays for this financial lifeline is participation in Yemen’s escalating civil war.

(Source / 24.11.2015)

Israelis kill another Palestinian in West Bank

Israeli forces gather at the scene where a Palestinian man was shot after reportedly ramming a car into Israeli troops at the Tapuah junction, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, November 24, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli forces gather at the scene where a Palestinian man was shot after reportedly ramming a car into Israeli troops at the Tapuah junction, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, November 24, 2015

A Palestinian has died after being injured by Israeli fire in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces opened live fire at the Palestinian, wounding him on Tuesday, Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV reported. The victim has been identified as Azmi Nafaa.

Israeli sources have alleged that the Palestinian ran over four Israeli military personnel members near the city of Nablus before being targeted.

A number of Israelis, one of whom a colonel, were said to be injured in the alleged incident.

Israeli forces fire teargas canisters and stun grenades toward Palestinian protesters after Friday prayers in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), October 16, 2015

Al-Aqsa TV also reported heavy confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli military forces at the Atara checkpoint north of the city of Ramallah, which led to Israelis closing the entrances to Deir Nezam Village.

Also on Tuesday, 45 Israeli settlers entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound backed by Israeli forces.

More than 90 Palestinians have been killed since the start of October as tensions continue across the occupied territories over increasing attacks by Israeli settlers. Nearly 20 Israelis have also been killed during the period.

The Israeli regime’s August imposition of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the compound triggered the tensions. The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

Palestinians are also angry at a plan by the Tel Aviv regime to change the status quo of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

(Source / 24.11.2015)

Part 1: Palestinian youth revolt – Any role for political parties?

A Palestinian youth hurls a stone at Israeli forces on Dec. 20, 2013 in the northern West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum

By: Al-Shabaka

Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.The following is the first segment of a five-part publication on the current absence of authentic Palestinian national leadership and the current youth uprising against Israel’s prolonged military occupation and denial of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).The segment is authored by Jamal Juma’, a founding member of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange and the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network.For nearly two months, Palestinians have waited for the political parties to shoulder their role in leading and guiding the uprising. Clearly, they are neither able nor willing to do so. There are several reasons for their inaction. For one thing, party leaders are reluctant to pay the price of leading and framing popular resistance, whether this price is extracted by the Israeli occupation authorities in the form of arrests, prosecution and targeting of organizations – especially as the parties operate openly and their organizational structures are weak. Nor do they want to lose the privileges they enjoy as members of the PLO, both in terms of financial benefits and political status.Moreover, the various parties cannot act without the consent of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security apparatus and that of its leading faction, Fatah: They are currently too weak to change the status quo. President Mahmoud Abbas, who holds all the power, believes that the uprising accomplished its mission by refocusing attention on the Palestinian cause and stimulating the international community and is betting on new initiatives to resume the negotiations with Israel. Indeed, Abbas has announced in unequivocal terms that he does not want an uprising.Given the weakness of their current composition and organizational structures, these parties cannot provide a political, organizational and economic framework capable of leading a long-term uprising that would drain the Israeli occupation’s resources and energies. A successful uprising would require a comprehensive vision to achieve clear and attainable objectives by mobilizing local, regional and international opportunities and relationships.As for the Islamic forces, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, they have also taken the same position of inaction. They too do not want to pay the price and give Israel an opportunity to launch an offensive against the Gaza Strip. They also fear that the uprising could be exploited to improve the terms of negotiations for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and PA.There are several factors in favor of creating a space for a new national or local leadership. Even if it subsides, the current uprising has raised the question the current leadership’s eligibility and has legitimized the search for alternatives. It has also united the Palestinian people inside the Green Line, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. Ironically, the political forces are the ones who remain divided. The Palestinians in the Diaspora have also acted albeit in a limited way, and have helped to organize demonstrations. The actions on the ground are seeding an emerging leadership that can be nurtured, although it is scattered and localized.On the negative side, however, it is clear that the PA will not allow a new leadership to emerge, and will spare no effort to thwart it, even if this requires coordination with the Israeli occupation – with which it is coordinating anyway. In addition, the existing grassroots movements are weak, while intellectuals play a weak role in Palestinian political life and are unable to support popular forces. As for the Palestinian diaspora, it has little influence on decision-making.The challenge is to build on the positive factors and minimize the negative ones: Note that any serious movement to create an alternative leadership would have to work below the radar to some extent.To begin with, it is important to provide a space safe from political domination, a space in which it would be possible to support those popular forces that have a political vision and capacity to mobilize, such as trade unions, farmers’ organizations, women’s federations, and of course youth groups, so that they can work alongside the uprising.It is also important to tap the potential of the Palestinian Diaspora, especially among the youth, and to organize working groups that could communicate and coordinate with enlightened national figures who believe in the important role the Diaspora has to play in both Palestinian decision-making and in supporting the resistance of the Palestinian people.Indeed, it is vital to invest in meaningful coordination between the homeland and the Diaspora. We must rebuild the trust between us and revive our self-confidence and confidence in our ability to affect change. In the final analysis, we must have absolute faith in our people and in their ability to sacrifice and advance and we must believe, beyond any doubt, that we will prevail.

(Source / 24.11.2015)

Tunisian President declares ‘war’ against terrorism

Tunisian President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi

Tunisian President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi

Tunisian President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi has declared “war against terrorism”, calling for international cooperation against extremists.

Speaking in a televised address on Tuesday, Essebsi declared a state of emergency across the North African country for 30 days and an eight-hour-long curfew throughout the capital Tunis in the wake of a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of a dozen of presidential guards in the capital, the Associated Press reported.

“I want to reassure the Tunisian people that we will vanquish terrorism,” he added.

His office also said that Essebsi had cancelled a trip to Switzerland, which had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a bomb blast ripped through a bus carrying presidential guards on the Mohamed V avenue in Tunis, killing at least 12 people and wounding 16 others.

Tunisian police block the road leading to the site of a deadly explosion on a bus transporting Tunisia’s presidential guards in central Tunis on November 24, 2015

The attack was likely caused by a bomber detonating explosives inside the vehicle, a presidential source said. No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, which marked the first in the capital this year.

Tunisia, however, has experienced other deadly attacks in the past months.

Back in late June, a man armed with a rifle killed 38 people, mostly foreign tourists, on a beach in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse, and in March, two militants stormed the Bardo Museum in the capital and shot dead 21 people and injured 44 others, mainly foreign tourists, before they were gunned down. The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed the responsibility for the attacks.

Tunisia has been plagued with violence since the 2011 uprising that ousted former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had been in power for over two decades.

The Daesh militants, who are mainly active in Iraq and Syria, have been carrying out horrific acts of violence, such as public decapitations and crucifixions, against all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians in areas they have overrun.

(Source / 24.11.2015)

IOF beats 8 Palestinians during their arrest

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) beats up eight Palestinian captives on their arrest, lawyer Jacqueline Fararjeh revealed.

The lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoner Society Jacqueline Fararjeh, who visited Etzion Israeli jail, said that the eight Palestinian captives were severely beaten at the hands of Israeli soldiers.

The lawyer disclosed that the Palestinian detainee Yusuf Ereiqat, 20, was severely beaten by 20 soldiers after being summoned to be questioned by Israeli police of Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. Israeli policemen forced him to take off his clothes under gun threat, she added.

Two other Palestinian captives, Ismail Bader, 44, and Nael al-Qadi, 24, were exposed to beating by rifle butts while handcuffed, she said.

Lawyer Farajeh also said that five other prisoners were beaten and humiliated at the hands of Israeli troops. They are Nael Eid, 24, Awni Shousheh, 27, Ahmad Qazaz, 18, Abdullah Ekhlayil, 26, and Jihad Thawabteh, 19.
(Source / 24.11.2015)

IOF storms Khadouri University, shoots Palestinians

TULKAREM, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Tuesday broke into Palestine Technical University (Khadouri) in Tulkarem and opened gunfire at university students who threw stones at the soldiers.

Local sources revealed that clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and Khadouri university students leading to injuries among students. Meanwhile, classes were called off. Many students suffered suffocation due to Israeli tear gas, the sources added.

Israeli soldiers intensified its deployment in the vicinity of Khadouri University which usually witnesses clashes with Israeli forces for its closeness to a flashpoint at the western entrance of Tulkarem.
(Source / 24.11.2015)

Excessive force in thwarting stabbing attacks leaves three Palestinian children dead

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A Palestinian man carries a teenager injured during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on October 28, 2015

Ramallah, November 24, 2015—Three Palestinian children were shot dead by Israeli forces while carrying out alleged stabbing attacks in separate incidents across the West Bank and Jerusalem over the past two days.

On Monday morning, two female cousins, identified as Hadeel Wajih Awwad, 13, and Nurhan Ibrahim Awwad, 16, carried out a stabbing attack near Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, wounding a 70-year-old fellow Palestinian with scissors. Security cameras showed an off-duty police sapper, or bomb disposal specialist, and a security guard knocking the girls to the ground, after which the police officer shoots them multiples times.

Hadeel died at the scene. DCIP spoke with Hadeel’s brother, Abed, who gave his sister’s date of birth as December 28, 2001. Nurhan sustained serious wounds and underwent surgery at Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem to remove two bullets from her abdomen, according to media reports. She remains in a critical condition.

The Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Jerusalem police chief Moshe Edri saying, “The sapper’s quick, professional response halted the incident and prevented injury to other innocent people.”

Israeli forces also shot and killed Alaa Khalil Hashash, 16, on Monday, after he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at the Huwara military checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported. DCIP is still investigating the circumstance surrounding the incident.

Hashash was the second child killed near Huwara checkpoint in as many days. On Sunday, Israeli soldiers shot dead Ashraqat Taha Qatnani, 16, after a Jewish settler, identified as Gershon Mesika, ran his car into her. According to Israeli authorities, she was allegedly attempting to stab other settlers nearby. A witness told DCIP that he saw the girl chase after three teenaged settlers before the car hit her.

The Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, translated Mesika’s Hebrew-language video accountof the incident: “I didn’t stop to think, I hit the gas and rammed into her, she fell down and then the soldiers came and continued shooting and neutralized her completely.”

“Security cameras and eyewitness reports in two of these incidents show the alleged child assailants no longer posed a threat when Israeli forces shot them multiple times at close range,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “While all states have the right to protect their citizens from violence, it cannot be used to justify extrajudicial killings or the unlawful use of intentional lethal force.”

Ashraqat and Hadeel were the third and fourth Palestinian girls killed while carrying out an alleged stabbing attack. On October 25, Israeli border police shot and killed Danya Jihad Irsheid, 17, after alleging she attempted to stab one of their officers at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinian eyewitnesses disputed the Israeli account of the incident, according to news reports.

“She went through a metal detector. In the school bag, they found nothing and asked her, ‘Where’s the knife?’ She said, ‘I don’t have a knife.’ Then they fired between her legs. She was terrified and moved back half a meter or a meter,” a Hebron resident, standing next in line at the checkpoint, told CNN.

“She raised her arms in the air saying ‘I don’t have a knife.’ Then they shot eight to 10 bullets, but I don’t know exactly who was shooting. Then she fell on the ground.”

Also in Hebron, Israeli police said a female paramilitary border police officer shot dead a Palestinian girl after she allegedly stabbed her at the Ashmoret Yitzhak border police base on October 17. DCIP confirmed the girl was 16-year-old Bayan Ayman Esseileh.

Tensions across East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank escalated into lethal attacks since the start of October. At least 93 Palestinians and 19 Israelis have died over seven weeks of violence. DCIP has confirmed 19 Palestinian child fatalities, all except four while carrying out alleged stabbing attacks.

Two other Palestinian children were killed in November during alleged knife attacks raising the total to five. On November 10, Israeli forces killed Sadiq Ziad Gharbiya, 16, at the “Container” military checkpoint, located at Wadi al-Nar, east of the West Bank town of Abu Dis, after he allegedly attempted to stab a soldier.

Israeli forces also killed Ahmad Awad Abu al-Rab, 16, on November 2, near the Jalame checkpoint, north of the West Bank city of Jenin.

An eyewitness told DCIP that Ahmad and another Palestinian youth walked toward a Palestinian gas station near the checkpoint in the middle of the night. They asked to use the toilets. Five Israeli soldiers in a military jeep approached them and searched them at gunpoint. One of the soldiers grabbed Ahmad by the neck, when the others found a pocketknife with his friend. Ahmad managed to get away and took out his pocketknife, at which point that soldier fired at his legs.

The witness said that several military jeeps then arrived at the scene and ordered him to vacate the area. When he left, he saw Ahmad was still alive, on his knees, and surrounded by soldiers.

The cause of death and exact circumstances remain unknown, as Israeli authorities have not handed over Ahmad’s body to the Palestinians for an autopsy. The bodies of a further eight children, including the latest three, killed while carrying out alleged knife attacks have been withheld by Israeli authorities. Beyond the punitive nature of the action, it has made verifying the details and circumstances of the incidents more difficult.

In response to escalating violence, Israeli forces appear to be implementing a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial killings. International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable. Where individuals allegedly carry out a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.

At least 283 Palestinian children have sustained injuries since the start of October, based on DCIP’s initial data. DCIP defines a child as anyone under the age of 18.

(Source / 24.11.2015)

Pro-Sisi coalition set to be dominant parliamentary bloc after sweeping Egypt’s polls

Preliminary reports from the second stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections suggest a second landslide victory for the pro-Sisi ‘For the Love of Egypt’ coalition

Egypt

File Photo: Meeting members of the list “in love with Egypt

Initial figures from the second stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections suggest that the For the Love of Egypt coalition, widely believed to be loyal to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, is likely to emerge victorious, trouncing two rival secular coalitions – the Republican Alliance of Social Forces and the National Movement and Independence Current Alliance – and one Islamist force, the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party.

Observers and media reporters attending the vote-count on Monday night confirmed that For the Love of Egypt has won the two constituencies reserved for party-based candidates in the second stage: Cairo and the Nile South and Middle Delta with 45 seats, and the Nile East Delta with 15 seats.

The above results mean that the coalition has won all 120 seats reserved for party lists in the two-stage poll. These form around 23 percent of seats in Egypt’s new parliament.

Sameh Seif El-Yazal, the For the Love of Egypt coordinator, told reporters Tuesday that the coalition’s victory in the second stage was even larger than in the previous stage.

“We won 67 percent of the vote in Cairo and the Nile South and Middle Delta and 72 percent in the Nile East Delta,” said El-Yazal, referring to the fact that his coalition’s gain in the first stage did not exceed 60 per cent of the vote.

El-Yazal said that the For the Love of Egypt coalition, together with its allied political parties, has now become well placed to be the dominant bloc in Egypt’s new parliament.

As in the first stage, the three secular political forces forming part of the For the Love of Egypt coalition – the Wafd, the Free Egyptians Party and the Future of Homeland – have shown strong performance in the second stage. Initial reports show that out of 326 candidates fielded by these parties as independents, 145 were able to qualify for the run-off stage, scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the first stage, held between 17 and 28 October, independent candidates affiliated with the three above-mentioned forces were able to win around 70 seats. If added to the 120 party-based seats the For the Love of Egypt coalition has won, they would make a total of 190 seats, or more than 30 percent.

Al-Yazal said last September that the coalition “aims to act as a back-up force for El-Sisi in the coming parliament”.

Accusations

The fact that one political faction – For the Love of Egypt – has monopolised all 120 seats reserved to party lists in the two-stage polls has provoked criticism from rival forces.

Tahani El-Gibali, coordinator of the Republican Alliance, attacked the leaders of For the Love of Egypt, accusing them of using unscrupulous methods to win the Cairo and Nile Delta’s 45 seats.

El-Gibali claimed at a press conference on Monday that For the Love of Egypt obtained cash donations from members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait, as well as money from the US, France and seven other foreign countries.

El-Gibali’s remarks were strongly condemned by Osama Heikal, a former information minister and a leading official at For the Love of Egypt, who said that the coalition intends to file a lawsuit against El-Gibali.

“This is the best way to respond to her because we do not allow ourselves to be dragged into verbal clashes with our rivals,” said Heikal.

Prominent winners on the For the Love of Egypt list include Heikal, now the chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City; Taher Abu Zeid, a former sports minister; Mahmoud Badr, the founder of the anti-Islamist tamarod (rebel) group; Akmal Qortam, an oil business tycoon and head of the Conservatives Party; Tarek El-Khouli, a former spokesman for the 6th of April Movement; Mohamed El-Sallab, a construction magnate businessman; and Alaa Abdel-Moneim, a former leftist MP. The victorious list also includes 24 women and 10 Copts.

Islamists, leftists struggle

The ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party continued its poor performance in the second stage. Not only did Nour failed to win the 45-seat party list constituency – the Cairo and Nile South and Middle Delta – which it chose to contest in the second stage, but initial reports suggest that it has trailed far behind the other three rival secular coalitions competing in this constituency, and that none of its 73 candidates standing as independents won a seat or was even able to qualify for the run-off round. In the first stage, Nour gained only eight seats, reversing its strong performance in 2012 when it won 112 seats, or 22.1 percent.

Yusri El-Azabawi, an Ahram political analyst, noted in a TV interview that the victory of For the Love of Egypt came at the expense of not only the Nour Islamists, but also the anti-Mubarak 25 January revolution forces which are fiercely critical of president El-Sisi.

The Egyptian Social Democratic Party, a force representing the anti-Mubarak 25 January, won only three seats in the first stage.

El-Azabawy also notes that leftist forces have come out almost empty-handed in the second stage. No one from the 38-year-old leftist Tagammu party, which fielded 13 candidates as independents in the first stage and 10 candidates in the second stage, has won seats. Only Abdel-Hamid Kamal, the Tagammu’s candidate in Suez city and a former MP, was able to qualify for the run-off stage. This is in addition to Nashwa El-Deeb, an independent who won a seat with the leftist Arab Nasserist party in the first stage.

Unlike in the first round of the first stage in which only four independent candidates won seats without facing a run-off round, around 10 were able to win seats outright and without a run-off.

A number of high-profile figures top the list of these winners, including Mortada Mansour, a flamboyant lawyer who heads Zamalek Sporting Club, and whose son, Ahmed, also won a seat in the first stage. Also included are Khaled Youssef, a high-profile movie director; Ali El-Moselhi, a former minister of social solidarity and a former leading official of Mubarak’s now defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); Talaat El-Sewedy, a former NDP official and an electricity cable business tycoon; Mahmoud Khamis, a former NDP MP and a major textile industrialist; journalist Ahmed Badawi; Samir Ghattas, a political analyst; and Mahmoud Othman, a former NDP official and a construction magnate who is the son of late housing minister Othman Ahmed Othman, the founder of the giant Arab Contractors Company. Mahmoud Othman is married to Jihan El-Sadat, the daughter of late president Anwar El-Sadat.

Two independent candidates – Ibrahim Abu Shiira and Gazi Abed – were able to win seats in the troubled governorate of North Sinai. El-Azabawy notes that despite terrorist threats afflicting it, North Sinai came on top in terms of turnout rate.

“A record 44 percent of voters turned out to vote in this terror-stricken governorate,” said El-Azabawy.

He also notes that the turnout for Egyptian expatriates increased by 22 percent in the second stage, with the majority voting in favour of For the Love of Egypt. Most observers believe that the turnout in the second stage will be revealed to have ranged between 30 and 35 percent, compared to 26.5 percent in the first stage.

El-Azabawy also notes that many of Mubarak’s NDP officials were able to win seats this week, while many others have qualified for the run-off round to take place on 1 and 2 December.

The results show that senior NDP officials who qualified for the run-offs include Hussein Megawer in Cairo’s Maadi district; Moataz El-Shazli, the son of the NDP’s late parliamentary affairs minister Kamal El-Shazli in Meoufiya governorate; and Ihab El-Omda in north Cairo’s district of Shorabiya; and Mohamed Hammoud, a lawyer defending former NDP millionaire Ahmed Ezz, in Cairo’s Boulaq.

By contrast, Mohamed Abdel-Alim, a long-time Wafdist MP and a fierce critic of Mubarak and his son Gamal, lost in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate.

(Source / 24.11.2015)