Will Israel’s military intervene in the West Bank?

Israeli soldiers take part in an urban warfare drill inside a mock village at Tzeelim army base in the Negev Desert, June 30, 2009

Though the idea lacks broad support, some Israeli politicians and military leaders have publicly discussed the possibility of launching an “Operation Defensive Shield 2” to deal with ongoing Palestinian attacks. Despite the Israeli military’s attempts to limit or prevent them, the attacks on settlers have continued since Oct. 1.

On Nov. 22, Davide Perl, head of the council of the Gush Etzion settlement, issued a statement to the press calling for such a response, and a day later, so did Education Minister and HaBayit HaYehudi leader Naftali Bennett. Israeli military commentator Amos Harel on Nov. 27 predicted, “The Israeli army’s invasion of Hebron in the West Bank is only a matter of time and will happen sooner or later under pressure from the leaders of the Israeli right-wing.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Nov. 24 condemning calls for military intervention.

Hamas official spokesman Husam Badran told Al-Monitor, “Israeli politicians are talking about Operation Defensive Shield 2 to outbid the Israeli government and accuse it of failing to deal with the intifada. Should Israel implement this operation, new parties will enter into confrontations against it, such as members of Fatah and the Palestinian security services. This would exacerbate the intifada, not weaken it.”

Israel conducted Operation Defensive Shield from March 29-April 21, 2002, in an effort to quell the second intifada, which began in September 2000. The Israeli military operation, which involved invading all West Bank cities, resulted in dozens of Israeli soldiers killed and hundreds of Palestinian deaths. All told, the second intifada resulted in more than 1,000 Israeli deaths from its outbreak until early 2005.

Palestinian attacks significantly decreased after the invasion, and large quantities of weapons belonging to the Palestinian Authority (PA) were confiscated. The Israeli army arrested hundreds of Palestinians and heavily damaged large parts of the West Bank, including PA headquarters in Ramallah, where President Yasser Arafat had remained under siege.

Alaa al-Rimawi, director of Al-Quds Center for Israeli Studies in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor that in the past couple of months, 22 Israelis have been killed and 300 others injured in Palestinian attacks, which included 56 shootings, 62 stabbings and people being run over with cars, and 31 stabbing attempts. Palestinians also threw stones at settlers’ cars and soldiers in 22 confrontation points with the Israeli army in the West Bank and Jerusalem, in addition to throwing almost 600 Molotov cocktails.

Israel has not experienced the current rate of fatalities since the first intifada, which began in 1987 and lasted until 1993, during which 160 Israelis were killed.

The Israelis calling for a military operation believe it is necessary because of the uprising’s populist base and calls in mosques and through local radio stations to carry out attacks. They hope that an Operation Defensive Shield 2 would put an end to the stabbings and other attacks, like the original Operation Defensive Shield ended suicide bombings, although the current circumstances are different.

At the political level, the PA and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are not declaring support for the attacks on Israelis, as was the case during the second intifada with Arafat. Also, security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and Israel is ongoing and designed in part to relieve Israel of involving its army in the Palestinian-controlled territories.

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, claimed Nov. 24 that Israel had already unofficially launched an Operation Defensive Shield 2 by giving the army the green light to enter Palestinian villages and towns to conduct a massive arrest campaign. According to statements issued Dec. 1 by the Palestinian Prisoners Society, some 2,500 Palestinians were arrested during October and November.

Abdel Sattar Qassem, a political science professor at An-Najah National University in Nablus, told Al-Monitor, “A wide-scale invasion would further complicate the situation and would not calm the intifada, as the Palestinian attacks are individual attacks. The invasion of the West Bank would not allow Israel to either define the goals [of the attacks] or provide prior information about the perpetrators.”

If Israel launched a military operation, there would be no armed or otherwise-organized cells to target. It also remains unclear what the actual military goal would be, and perhaps this is why the Israeli army itself is opposed to a big operation.

(Source / 08.12.2015)

Israel bans Jerusalem man from entering Old City for 6 months

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Tuesday delivered an order banning a Palestinian man from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for six months, the man told Ma’an.

Hijazi Abu Sbeih, 33, said Israeli authorities banned him from entering the Old City, where he lives and works, for a six-month period.Abu Sbeih said Israeli forces and intelligence initially detained him while inside a store on the Salah al-Din Street, outside the Damascus gate, and took him to the Russian Compound police station, where he was given the order to stay out of the Old City and released.Abu Sbeih said that the order will negatively affect his life, as his home and job are within the Old City walls. Abu Sbeih is a father of three children ranging from age one to five years old.
(Source / 08.12.2015)

PA forces storm prisoner’s home, summon him for questioning

JENIN, (PIC)– The Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence apparatus stormed on Sunday night the family home of prisoner Abdullah Rasras in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem and handed the family an order summoning the detainee for interrogation.

The prisoner’s wife, lawyer Banan Abu al-Heija, said in a Facebook post the PA intelligence agents broke into the family home and wreaked havoc on it before they seized two PCs and official documents of Abdullah’s own.

Lawyer Abu al-Heija added that the PA forces seized a green banner posted on the house rooftop.

The PA devices further handed the family an order summoning prisoner Abdullah, held in an Israeli lock-up, for questioning on Monday.

Abu al-Heija slammed such an arbitrary break-in by the PA apparatuses, which was carried out with no regard whatsoever for the family’s critical psychological state.

(Source / 08.12.2015)

Iraq… a violated country

Iraqi flag

The Iranian regime is not only interfering in Iraq’s affairs, looting its wealth, exporting chaos, violence and terrorism, destroying its social fabric and culture, making an effort to distort its identity and affiliations and making it a thorn in the side of its Arab brethren, especially its Gulf brethren, it is doing all of this and more. By doing so, Iran is not concerned with the rights of its neighbours, the sovereignty of the state, or the security and stability of the region. It clearly justifies its actions with its belief that Iraq has become one of the Persian Empire’s suburbs, according to Yousefi, and that Iraq was Iran’s in the past, it is currently possessed by Iran and Iran has the right to enter Iraq without permission, according to the Iranian General Atallah Salehi. It is a well-known fact that Iran’s miserable agenda plans to continue to harm Iraq by all means and methods possible.

It is in this context that we can understand Iran’s treacherous aggression last Monday, when it pushed no less than 500,000 to 750,000 of its citizens through the Zurbatiya border crossing to storm it. This was done under the pretext of taking part in the annual Arbaeen religious ritual. They did not have any passports, entry visas, security or health checks, etc. This is not the first time this has happened, as similar incidents of the complete violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and dignity have occurred in the past. The Iranian government spokesperson tried to exonerate the government of its responsibility for the incident when he said that the Iranian government was unable to rein in these masses and lost control of them due to their keenness and longing to visit Karbala. He also said that the government will hold these individuals accountable once they return to Iran.

The best response to this pathetic statement is the Arabic saying: “Tell a sane person something insane, if they believe you, they are insane.” The Iranian government does not usually allow a gathering of over five people without prior permission, so how did these large masses gather without permission? Also, if we were to hypothetically accept his claim, then we would ask where are the Basij Forces and the militias associated with Khomeini, not to mention the ministries and security forces, the oppressive actions of which classify Iran’s government as a totalitarian regime?

Another question, would the Iranian government allow even one Iranian citizen, regardless of the reasons or arguments, to pass through an Iranian border crossing without a passport or visa allowing entry into the destination country? How would thousands be able to cross through the border crossing on the Iranian side if the government itself did not allow or facilitate this and help the masses rush the border?

Certainly none of these Iranians will return. They are asked to settle and spread amongst the Iraqis to pave the way to their citizenship soon, which had previously occurred. The areas of the Diyali Municipality, the Baghdad Belt areas, Samarra and Al-Nakheeb are the areas most likely to welcome and shelter them. Their task is to play the role of the fifth column recruited to serve Iran’s interests.

To further prove this, many eyewitnesses have reported that the overwhelming majority of those storming the border were young men capable of carrying weapons. Most believe that they belong to the Revolutionary Guard militias and Quds Force, and they had some ill individuals to disguise them and mislead others. I do not rule out the possibility of these sick individuals being infected with transmitted diseases such as AIDS. The Iranian Ministry of Health has recently warned against the spread of this disease and reported that two-thirds of those infected with the disease are unknown and are not registered. Therefore, they pose a transportable plague capable of mercilessly destroying the Iraqis, especially in the areas where these Iranians are likely to settle and disperse. I do not believe that any Iranian visits Iraq without carrying some amount of drugs, either for personal use or to sell, and this is another serious problem for the Iraqi people.

The position of Al-Abadi’s government, which only made a useless statement, is one of collusion. If the government wanted to, it could have taken pre-emptive or subsequent measures to reinforce the border crossing with enough military forces that are capable of deterring the storming of the border when it noticed these suspicious gatherings. There is no doubt that the government monitors the growth of the gatherings over the past few days. The government also could have, at a later time, worked on containing them and forcing them to return, but it did not do so. We did, however, see the government use excessive force against the Iraqis displaced from Anbar. Didn’t the government hold up thousands of Iraqis and refuses, until this day, to allow them to enter the country through the Bazibir Bridge, west of Baghdad, even those who are sick, elderly, disabled, women and children? Didn’t the government deprive hundreds of thousands of displaced families from their right to return to their municipalities and areas of residence after they were liberated from Daesh’s control?

In order to gloss over this blatant aggression, some mouths, who lost their sense of patriotism, dignity and pride, used a discourse attempting to draw attention from this aggression to other fabricated incidents. The media outlets funded by the poor and deprived Iranians’ budget deliberately promoted fabricated and false news regarding the deployment of 100,000 American, Arab and Turkish soldiers to Iraq, ignoring the facts on the ground occurring at the border crossing, where acts of destruction are still a threat.

I know that it is not only Iran that is violating the sovereignty of my country, but it is the largest and most dangerous threat. This is because the dimensions of its strategic plans are not limited to tactical or urgent reactions, which is the case with the others who have intervened. This, of course, is completely rejected. We know that its invasion of Iraq did not end in 2003, as today, its advisers and leaders in the Revolutionary Guard and Quds Force, led by Qasem Soleimani, are actively participating with their militias, out in the open. The incident at Zurbatiya only poses a double threat.

Iran is planning something greater and it is prepared for the coming days. Iran knows that it is impossible for the situation to remain the same and that this is an opportunity that will not repeat itself. The world is currently distracted with combatting terrorism and it is overlooking such dangerous violations of this nature, as reflected by its position on the Syrian tyrant. There is no hope in calling on the international community, neither those who are close nor those who are far. It seems that the Iraqi issue is postponed and the Iraqis have no other choice then to take full responsibility for changing Iraq, from the backyard of Iran to an Iraq that cuts off Iran’s hands in Iraq in order to stop its harming of the Iraqi people, as well as all the nations in the region.

(Source / 08.12.2015)

Iraqi air force on high alert as deadline for Turkish withdrawal approaches

Members of Iraq's air force walk past a line of helicopters. (AFP/File)

Members of Iraq’s air force walk past a line of helicopters

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has issued an order for his country’s air force to be on alert as a deadline to Turkey to pull out its troops from the Arab country approaches.

Sources in Abadi’s office said on Monday that the Iraqi premier has demanded that members of the Iraqi Air Force be ready to defend the country’s “territorial integrity and sovereignty,” according to the Sumeriyah news channel.

The order came amid rising tensions between Baghdad and Ankara over the latter’s move on Friday to start the deployment of a battalion in areas close to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Iraq has strongly condemned the deployment of the Turkish battalion on its territory, branding the move, which began on Friday, a violation of its national sovereignty. Iraq on Sunday gave Ankara 48 hours to withdraw its forces or face “all available options,” including recourse to the UN Security Council. Turkey says the troops were there as part of a training program for local militia battling militant groups.

‘Bulk of troops pulled out’

Sources in Ankara said Monday that Turkey has begun pulling out bulk of its troops from northern Iraq after Baghdad threatened to pursue the case in full capacity.

A report on the website of the Turkish daily Hurriyet cited sources as saying that a total number of 600 troops Turkey had stationed in a camp around the Iraqi city of Mosul some 350 have been withdrawn.

The sources said the troops that have been withdrawn are waiting on the Turkish-Iraqi border and will be sent back to Iraq if officials in the two countries reach an agreement on the issue.

However, other sources denied that any troops had been pulled out, saying such reduction in the size of soldiers may come after ongoing discussions between Ankara and Iraq’s Defense Ministry.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari again warned on Monday that Iraq would raise the matter of the illegal deployment before the United Nations Security Council if Ankara fails to pull out the troops and their heavy weaponry.

The top Iraqi diplomat, who was speaking to journalists during a press conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Baghdad, said that Iraq has done its utmost over the past years to preserve “robust relations” with its northern neighbor, but he called the presence of Turkish troops as a direct interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.

(Source / 08.12.2015)

Israeli Special Forces kidnap two young men in Ramallah

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Israeli Special Forces Tuesday kidnapped two Palestinian young men from Qebya and al-Megheir villages in Ramallah.

Local sources revealed that an Israeli undercover unit escorted by Israeli army vehicles stormed Qebya village to the west of Ramallah and abducted a Palestinian man.

In the early morning, the forces kidnapped Basel Abu Elaiya, 26, from Megheir village to the northeast of Ramallah. The forces kidnapped the man from a hotel in central Ramallah after being chased for two months. He is accused of participating in an anti-occupation stabbing operation at Zaatarah checkpoint on October 30.

The forces at dawn hours arrested a 21-year-old Palestinian after storming and searching Palestinians’ houses in different locations in the West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem.
(Source / 08.12.2015)

Near Salfit, Palestinians try to save the last hill that is not yet occupied with a settlement

On friday 4th of december, around 50 locals from the villages of Kafr Addik, Bruqin, Sarta and Biddya, in the Salfit governorate, gathered on a hill called Daher Sabbah, located between the four villages, in order to protest the occupation of their land by Israeli forces and settlers. The group had barely arrived, when the Israeli soldiers and border police came towards them and aggressively ordered them to go back where they came from.

Soldiers took the keys to all cars when people arrived

Soldiers took the keys to all cars when people arrived

A first group of people had arrived earlier and managed to reach the top of the hill, but the second group wasn’t let through by the Israeli soldiers. After taking the keys to everyone’s cars, they eventually let the group be united on top of the hill. Locals sat peacefully on the hill and celebrated the morning prayer, guided by sheikh Youssef Qa’oud, who also happened to own this land in earlier times. After the prayer, the group was urged to leave right away.

“I am afraid of young people”, explained the mayor, Jamal Ad’dik, a while later. Because this hill is far from villages and roads, it is hard to access if anyone is injured. “The soldiers who were here today, they wanted to make a problem. One mistake, they shoot. They were here to kill”, he added.

Soldiers stopped Palestinians from going to pray on top of the hill

Soldiers watch Palestinians while they pray on top of the hill

DSC_0906

If people have decided to go to this particular hill for their weekly prayer, it’s because Daher Sabbah is the last one that is not being occupied by a settlement or an outpost, but locals fear this may soon change. Two years ago, the Israeli forces came with bulldozers and started to work to flatten the land during a few months, then stopped. A few months ago, they came back and planted grape trees. According to the mayor, the goal would not be necessarily to build a settlement, but most likely to use this place for agricultural purposes. The villagers want to show, by their presence on Daher Sabbah this past Friday and by making this a weekly meeting, that they refuse to give up this land. “This is our land, we refuse them”, explains Jamal. Two years ago this land was declared state land by the state of Israel, which makes it very difficult for Palestinians to fight for it. The owner of the land, Youssef Qa’oud, took the decision to the military court, to claim that this land was his, as it had been registered, but he lost the case.

Make facts on the ground

This area is a very strategic place for the Israeli forces. 80 % of the village of Kafr Ad’dik, for example, is in area C. Which means that people are allowed to build on 1200 dunums (area B) from the 17 000 dunums that is their village. It is easy, with these settings, to completely block the expansion of Palestinian villages and to have the space and time to expand illegal Israeli settlements intensely. The goal is, as always, to make facts on the ground. “If you go up to Daher Sabbah, every hill is a settlement. You look around and you think ‘where is Palestine, there is no Palestine !’ They want to create history”, says Fares.

In the Salfit area, the four Palestinian villages of Biddya, Sarta, Bruqin and Kafr Ad’dik are separated by an Israeli road, a few settlements and industrial areas. In the east is the illegal settlement of Ariel, fourth largest settlement in the West Bank with a population of over 18 000 people. “They want to deepen Israel in this area. Here it is only 19 kilometres wide”, affirms Fares. But if they can take this hill, then they will be able to open a large cut, a “finger”, as they call it, deep inside the West Bank, all the way to the Za’atara checkpoint, which could, in the end, completely isolate the north from the south of the West Bank.

Salfit area. OCHA

Salfit area

About 66 litres of water per person and per day

One of the factors that explains Israel’s effort to take over land in the Salfit Governorate is that Kafr Ad’dik, Bruqin, Sarta and Biddyia are standing on the second largest aquifer in historical Palestine. The water is exploited by Israeli water company Makarot, which means that Palestinians have to buy limited resources of water to Israel for an excessive price while the surrounding settlements have access to an unlimited amount for a fair price. For both the villages of Kafr Ad’dik and Bruqin, around 10 500 inhabitants in total, only 700 m3 of water is granted per day, around 66 liters per person and per day. As a comparison in France, the average water consumed per day per person is over 150 litres per day. One of the other problems brought by the presence and expansion of settlements in the area is the water pollution, which would, according to the mayor of the village, be coming from the illegal industrial area of Ale Zahav.

In the last five years, settlements have aggressively expanded in the Salfit area. According to Fares Dik, member of the Kafr Ad’dik municipality, “settlements are 300 % bigger today than in 2010”. Palestinian villages, on the other hand, haven’t been able to grow. In this region the Palestinian population is of around 60 000 divided into 19 villages, but they are now outnumbered by settlers from the 24 illegal Israeli settlements.

(Source / 08.12.2015)

Palestinian MPs call for national unity

GAZA, (PIC)– Members of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) stressed on Tuesday the need to achieve a real national unity in support of Jerusalem Intifada, calling on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to join the ongoing upraising.

During a meeting organized by the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, the MPs called for holding a parliamentary session that brings together Gaza and West Bank’s MPs in support of Jerusalem Intifada.

The participants at the meeting also called on regional and international parliaments to stand behind the Palestinian cause and uprising and to protect occupied Jerusalem from Israeli Judaization schemes and war crimes.

They also called on Palestinian premier Rami al-Hamdallah to resign and to form a real unity government that would implement the terms of the Cairo agreement and organize presidential and legislative elections.

The MPs have also stressed the need for documenting Israeli war crimes and to table them with the International Criminal Court, demanding, at the same time, a halt to the security coordination between Israeli and PA forces.

They also hailed Palestinian women’s role and sacrifices made in support of the ongoing Jerusalem Intifada and in defense of al-Aqsa Mosque.

By the end of the meeting, the PLC members shed light on media outlets’ role in supporting and defending Palestinian rights and Intifada.

(Source / 08.12.2015)

Syrian Coalition: Russia Massacres against Syrian Civilians Constitute War Crimes

Russia is escalating its campaign against civilians in Syria committing crimes which, just as Assad’s, amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Over the past two days, Russia has stepped up airstrikes across almost all the Syrian territory. Russian warplanes has targeted populated areas and public markets in Damascus and Homs provinces as well as two schools in Kafr Hamra in rural Aleppo and the town of Kansafra in rural Idlib. Nearly 160 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the Russian aerial attacks, which also left over 150 others injured.

The Syrian Coalition condemns these crimes against innocent civilians and calls upon the international community and the UN Security Council to strongly condemn them and take urgent action to stop them and hold the perpetrators to account.

Nearly 30 civilians, mostly women and children, were reportedly killed by the international anti-ISIS coalition’s warplanes yesterday in rural Al-Hasakah.

The Syrian Coalition condemns the death of civilians in air strikes launched by the international anti-ISIS coalition. It stresses that cooperating with the FSA is the best option to fight ISIS as the FSA was the first to expel this extremist group from many areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces nearly two years ago.

The Syrian Coalition reiterates that Moscow’s actions in Syria show Moscow is not serious about endorsing a political solution to the crisis. Targeting the civilian population and ignoring ISIS positions undermines trust between the parties in Syria and further complicates the military scene in Syria. It also allows terrorism to expand and thwarts efforts aimed at reaching a political solution. Any political approach will be meaningless so long as Russia, Iran and Assad continue to kill and cause destruction in Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 08.12.2015)

Thousands attend funeral of Palestinian teen slain in Duheisha

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of 19-year-old Malik Akram Shahin on Tuesday morning, hours after he was shot dead by Israeli forces during a detention raid into Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem.A Ma’an reporter said the funeral procession set off from Beit Jala governmental hospital at 10:30 a.m. for Shahin’s home in Duheisha camp where his family paid their last respects. The 19-year-old youth had four sisters.Mourners joining the funeral procession chanted slogans condemning the Israeli violations against the Palestinians.Shahin was shot in the head during a predawn detention raid into the refugee camp on Tuesday morning. Local residents said that Israeli soldiers fired live rounds, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades “indiscriminately” through the camp’s narrow alleys.

After soldiers shot Shahin, he was reportedly “left bleeding for long before he was evacuated to the public hospital in Beit Jala, where medics pronounced him dead,” locals said.An Israeli army spokesperson had no information of his death, but she said that Israeli soldiers had opened fire after Palestinians threw “pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails” at them.The left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine later said that Shahin had been one of its supporters. The group said in a statement that he fell “during fierce clashes with Israeli troops who raided the camp to detain young men affiliated to the PFLP.”

Following his death, a Bethlehem committee announced a halt to all business across the district and stores and government institutions were closed.Clashes were reported to have broken out in Tuqu village in Bethlehem after schools were closed, although no injuries were reported.At least 114 Palestinians have now been killed in just over two months of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory.

(Source / 08.12.2015)