Israeli occupation kills 3 Palestinians on Friday

Israeli occupation has killed about 120 Palestinians since the start of October

Israeli occupation forces killed on Friday three Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, wounded more than 50 others.

Isa al-Harroub, 57, from Al-Khalil, was executed by the Israeli occupation troops with cold blood over allegedly running over Israeli soldiers

Days of Palestine, West Bank/ Gaza Strip –Israeli occupation forces killed on Friday three Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, wounded more than 50 others.

In the Gaza Strip, Spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that the Palestinian citizen Shawqi Madi, 38, from Deir al-Balah, south of the Gaza Strip.

According to Al-Qidra, Madi was shot dead by the Israeli forces during protests took place east of Al-Burij Refugee Camp, central of the coastal enclave.

Earlier this day, the Palestinian ministry of health in the occupied West Bank announced the death of Palestinian citizens Odais Irshayid, 19, and Isa al-Harroub, 57, from Al-Khalil.

Irashyid, witnesses said, was shot in the chest during a demonstration in the north of the city. He was evacuated to the hospital in a serious condition and he was announced dead as soon as he arrived in hospital.

Regarding Al-Harroub, his eldest son said that his father was executed by the Israeli occupation troops with cold blood.

Meanwhile, sources said that more than 70 Palestinian citizens were wounded during demonstrations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 58 wounded by live ammunition.

(Source / 11.12.2015)

Israel declares Palestinian land ‘state land’ for 1st time since 2014

Palestinian children near the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s civil administration declared private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank as “state land” in the first such designation since 2014, an Israeli watchdog reported.Peace Now said in a statement on Thursday that the administration designated 30 dunams (7.4 acres) of land belonging to the Palestinian villages of Jinsafut and Dir Istya as “state lands” last month.While Israeli settlements have already expanded and built on the land in question, the group said that such a declaration is an effort by the Israeli government to “retroactively legalize construction” for surrounding settlements.The last declaration of “state land” by the administration took place in August 2014, when 4,000 dunams (990 acres) of Palestinian land west of Bethlehem were allocated for the expanding Gush Etzion settlement bloc.Peace Now reported that over 6,000 dunams of Palestinian land have been officially labelled as “state land” since Benjamin Netanyahu has stood as Prime Minister.The recent declaration of “state land” in the occupied West Bank comes as discriminatory land allocation continues in occupied East Jerusalem.The Association for Civil Rights in Israel last week demanded that the Israel Land Authority penalize the Israeli company Be’Enumah for “discriminatory marketing of residential units” in Jerusalem.According to the rights group, Be’Enumah was advertising apartments “solely to the national-religious public,” constituting discrimination against secular, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and non-Jewish individuals.The group also criticized an advertisement released by the company that reportedly mocked Mizrachi Jews and professed that their housing development would not allow “neighbors of that sort.”ACRI called on the Israel Land Authority to follow through on its obligation “ensure that public lands are equally accessible to all citizens.”Land allocation in East Jerusalem is dictated by the Israeli government’s policy of “Judaization” that has been carried out since the state occupied the area in 1967.Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, ACRI says, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements.While Netanyahu said in a visit to the US last month that settlements were not an obstacle to the peace process, Palestinian leadership has continued to demand a freeze to settlement growth.Expansion of Jewish-only settlements throughout the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem have made a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, and are illegal under international law.

(Source / 11.12.2015)

‘Palestinian children live in trauma without end’

Chronic warfare in the Gaza Strip is leaving a generation of children with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ismail Abu Shebab holds up a picture of a landscape that he drew during a counselling session [Lara Aburamadan/Al Jazeera]

Ismail Abu Shebab holds up a picture of a landscape that he drew during a counselling session

Rafah, Gaza Strip – Ismail Abu Shebab, a shy 11-year-old taking a break from school, opened his mouth to speak – but the overhead roar of Israeli warplanes made his words nearly inaudible.

As the aircraft came closer, Abu Shebab grew silent.

“I’m ready to talk,” he said after a few moments.

Abu Shebab suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of Israeli bombing during the 2014 Gaza war.

“We were on the street, and there was an explosion that destroyed a house. I was hurt, and my brother died,” Abu Shebab explained. Shortly afterwards, he began to suffer from a nervous tic, panic attacks and bed-wetting.

PTSD is nothing new for the children of Gaza. Anyone born there in or before 2008 has experienced three Israeli wars, and a 2014 study published in the Arab Journal of Psychology found that 92 percent of Gaza Palestinians between the ages of 13 and 18 showed symptoms of the disorder.


READ MORE: The orphans of Gaza


For Abu Shebab and others living in the southern area of the Gaza Strip, the bombing did not stop, even after the end of Israel’s 2014 assault.

Armed groups in the neighbouring Sinai Peninsula launched a new round of fighting in 2011, which intensified after the 2013 military ouster of democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. In response, the Egyptian military under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ramped up operations near Rafah, which has includedbombings and the flooding of smuggling tunnels.

Like others his age, Abu Shehab likes swimming, and said one of his favourite activities is going to the beach with friends. Abu Shebab showed a picture he drew during a therapy session to deal with his PTSD, a scene of a tranquil home with a toppled Palestinian flag. Suddenly, the thudding sound of Egyptian artillery came from the south.

This scene of war and destruction was drawn by a child undergoing counselling for PTSD at the Khan Younis Community Mental Health Programme

“The border with Israel is five kilometres away; the Egyptian border is only two kilometres from here,” Anwar Abu Shebab, Ismail’s father and a Palestinian Authority security officer, told Al Jazeera. “It’s very difficult. My son has no rest.”

Osama Frima is a clinical psychologist at the Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) in nearby Khan Younis, where Abu Shebab is being treated. He said there are more than 100 cases of children with PTSD and other mental health issues being treated at his clinic alone.

“The trauma these children have is deep, and it’s getting worse,” Frima explained. “Hearing the Israeli warplanes and the bombs from Egypt renews the feeling of war.”

Treating children with PTSD and other psychological conditions is already difficult, he said, without the complications presented by life in war-torn Gaza.

“It’s an experience they don’t want, and its effects are more powerful than they are,” he told Al Jazeera. “We try to find the good in their lives, to give them the strength to overcome.” The CMHP uses a wide variety of techniques to deal with the anxiety disorder, including behavioural therapy, family counselling and the arts.

The trauma these children have is deep, and it’s getting worse. Hearing the Israeli warplanes and the bombs from Egypt renews the feeling of war.

Osama Frima, clinical psychologist

In Frima’s opinion, creative activities are the best way to deal with the lack of desire to speak, which is common among young people with PTSD. “Drawing is one of the best ways to communicate with a child. It gives them a way to express themselves without fear,” he said, noting that drawings are also a way of showing the child’s progress with PTSD.

Often, the children first create images depicting death and destruction, but as sessions continue, they morph into tranquil landscapes and familial scenes. However, this does not mean that a peaceful home awaits them, or that their condition has been cured. “They’re under ongoing distress. There’s pressure from the occupation, siege and widespread poverty,” Frima said.


VIDEO: Gaza still in ruins, a year after the war


The nearly decade-long Israeli siege has had major consequences for Gaza. Of the 1.8 million people living in Gaza’s 360 square kilometres, 43 percent are without work, making Gaza’s unemployment rate the highest in the world, according to the World Bank. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said the number of people dependent on UNRWA food has skyrocketed from fewer than 80,000 people in 2000 to more than 867,000 today.

“Everyone in Gaza must struggle to find money, to find food,” said Frima. “There’s pressure from the parents; they lack hope. It’s hard to grow up in a home without hope.”

Traumatic experiences are not limited to Palestinians living in Gaza. Children in the occupied West Bank – which has been gripped in recent weeks by a wave of violence– undergo serious, prolonged trauma, in numbers that are “too big to determine”, said Fathy Flefel, a psychotherapist and director of the social department for thePalestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), a national organisation that provides humanitarian and social services to Palestinians.

“If we want to study Palestinian children’s issues, we have to look at it from a different point of view,” Flefel told Al Jazeera. “Professionally, when we talk about PTSD, it’s something that begins and ends. Palestinian children live in trauma without end. It’s never calm here, but the last two years have been especially bad.”

Widespread trauma among Palestinian children will have serious effects on Palestinian society as these children come of age, Flefel added. “They aren’t able to communicate in a positive way, to play in a normal way as a child. This has a huge effect, and [will inhibit] their ability to contribute in the future.”

(Source / 11.12.2015)

UNHCR welcomes first Syrian refugee arrivals in Canada

Syrian refugees are greeted by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) on their arrival at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

GENEVA, Dec 11 (UNHCR) The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed news of the arrival in Canada last night of the first group of Syrian refugees under a recently announced humanitarian programme.

The programme will provide a new life in Canada for 25,000 Syrian refugees, the first 163 of whom arrived in Toronto from Lebanon by Royal Canadian Air Force jet on Thursday (December 10).

Canada has acted swiftly to implement this initiative, which was announced in late November. UNHCR is continuing to work with the Canadian authorities in identifying vulnerable Syrians for settlement in Canada. The refugees’ welcome to Canada will be underpinned by its well-recognised community integration programmes.

“The Canadian programmes are a practical expression of support to Syrian refugees and demonstration of solidarity to those countries in the region hosting more than four million Syrian refugees,” UN spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva.

“UNHCR encourages other states to engage in these programmes. They provide critical support for refugees currently hosted in countries neighbouring Syria,” Edwards said.

To date some 30 countries have pledged a total of more than 160,000 places for Syrians under resettlement and other humanitarian admissions schemes.

The already difficult situation for Syrian refugees continues to deteriorate in countries neighbouring Syria, with increasing numbers living below national poverty lines.

UNHCR estimates 10 per cent of the 4.1 million registered refugees in countries neighbouring Syria are vulnerable and are in need of resettlement or humanitarian admission to a third country.

For more details on places for Syrians under resettlement or other forms of humanitarian admission, please see: http://www.unhcr.org/52b2febafc5.pdf

(Source / 11.12.2015)

ROJAVA UPDATE 166: TRIPLE ISLAMIC STATE VEHICLE BOMB ATTACK KILLS AT LEAST 22 IN HASAKAH PROVINCE

By Peter Clifford       ©           (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

SYRIA – IRAQ – NEWS

On Wednesday evening a combined YPG/YPJ force again attacked a number of Islamic State positions on the west bank of the Euphrates river.

The targets of the attack were sources of mortar shelling which has been hitting the west side of Kobane Canton for several months now, particularly the village of Qereqosaz, killing and injuring a number of Kurds. At least one IS Jihadist was killed in the YPG operation and 2 more injured.

syria-iraq-news

Kobane Still Strives to Rebuild – 10 Months on

On the eastern side of Rojava south of recently captured Al-Hawl, the YPG dominated Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) has freed 4 more villages in its campaign to clear the whole area from Islamic State (IS) control.

The YPG units rescued trapped civilians from the villages and kept them safe while fighting with IS continued.

In most cases the IS fighters eventually just fled leaving behind weapons and ammunition, HERE:

In a major attack yesterday, Thursday, on Tal Tamar near Hasakah, IS sent 3 vehicle bombs, 2 of them trucks, against Kurdish checkpoints and security stations.

The first hit a YPG checkpoint at the southern entrance to Tal Tamar, followed in quick succession by 2 more explosions, one targeting an Asayish (Kurdish Security) post near a market and another going off outside a hospital killing 4 women and a doctor.

Deaths currently are put at 22, but so many seriously injured that this figure is expected to rise.

More recent reports on Friday are saying between 50 and 50 dead and 80 wounded, but this has not been confirmed. The injured are being rushed to hospitals in both Qamishli and Hasakah. Video report, Kurdish only, from the Asayish, HERE:

There was also an explosion in Tirbê_Sipî yesterday, east of Qamishli.

At the same time, another 25 Assyrian Christians captured in villages near Tal Tamar were released yesterday by the Islamic State, probably after the payment of large bribes to set them free.

All of the hostages released were male, including 2 boys aged 7 and 9. Another 130 Assyrians from the Tal Tamar area are still held in captivity.

West of Rojava in the Kurdish Canton of Afrin near the Turkish border in the north of Aleppo province, heavy battles are taking place between the SDF supported by the YPG and the Al Nusra Front backed by Ahrar Al-Sham.

Fighting continued all day yesterday around the villages of Shawargah and Beyna to the east of Afrin.

The virtual surrounding of Afrin has even provoked comments from President Barzani in Iraq Kurdistan, who called on the international community to come to the YPG’s assistance.

syria-iraq-news

Surviving in Kobane

Ara News links the fighting, which also continues around the Kurdish quarter in Aleppo city, with the recent breakdown of the relationship between Turkey (who generally support Islamist groups) and Russia (who are more likely to support left leaning groups like the YPG).

For the Turks, the formation of the Syrian Democratic Force (supported by the US) is an added irritant. Video report, with English sub-titles,HERE:

In Kobane city, sources say that US, French and British advisers have arrived this week and met with both the YPG and Kobane Canton officials. Whether the object of their discussions is military or reconstruction, or both, is unknown.

Certainly reconstruction is underway, despite both the devastation and Turkey still refusing to allow cement to cross the border. CNN has an excellent video report.

KOBANE CHRISTMAS APPEAL:

An appeal is underway to raise Euros 25,000 to buy a school bus to transport the smallest children to school from around Kobane.

Currently there is only one pre-school in Kobane and many children have to walk an hour each way to attend. A bus would mean that the number of young children attending school would go up from 150 to 500.

This appeal aims to raise the Euros 25,000 in 25 days. Euros 4,348 so far, 17 days to go. Please contribute this Christmas (EDITOR: I have!) to Kobane’s reconstruction, (both USD, Euros and other currencies accepted by credit, debit card via PayPal at genuine site) go HERE:

ASSAD REGAINS ALL OF HOMS, WHILE TURKEY ACCUSES RUSSIA OF “ETHNIC CLEANSING” AND PUTIN BURBLES ABOUT NUCLEAR WARHEADS “AS A LAST RESORT”:

This Wednesday saw the entire city of Homs returned effectively to Government control after a ceasefire negotiated over 2 years came into place under UN supervision.

syria-iraq-news-5

Aid Workers Evacuate the Injured from Al-Wair in Homs

The Opposition held district of Al-Wair had been under siege by the Assad regime for 3 years, but this week 300 hardline Opposition fighters and their families, 700 people in all, were bussed out of Homs to Opposition-held Idlib province further north.

Under the UN supported deal food and humanitarian aid was allowed into the Homs suburb for the first time in 12 months.

Some moderate Opposition fighters will remain with their weapons and keep control over their own districts.

Assad’s police will be allowed into the suburb but not the army.

Originally 300,000 lived in Al-Wair and 75,000 still remain.

35 Opposition fighters held by the Assad regime in Homs have also been released from detention. The BBC has a video report.

60 Kilometres south-east of Homs city, but still within the province, the Assad regime has not done so well with the Islamic State retaking the Al-Hawrin village and the eastern parts of Maheen town.

At least 20 of Assad’s troops were killed in the fighting and IS seized a Government tank and substantial supplies of weapons and ammunition, including heavy machine guns.

The Assyrian community just to the north of Maheen at Sadad is nervous and has asked the regime for heavy weapons to repel any IS attack.

In the north-west of Aleppo city, in the Khalidiya neighbourhood, Opposition fighters blew up a tunnel bomb, completely demolishing an Assad regime building, HERE:

Fed-up with being constantly barrel-bombed, the Opposition in Aleppo are now fighting back by regularly firing shells and mortars into to the regime-held west Aleppo. Unfortunately, where they land and who they hurt is indiscriminate.

In the last 24 hours 12 people have been killed by the bombardment, including 7 children and 3 women.

The Al Nusra Front also detonated 2 vehicle bombs striking pro-Assad Shiite militia in regime-held Al-Eis just south of Aleppo city where the battle ebbs and flows, both sides gaining and losing territory.

In Deir Ez-Zour the Islamic State is once again reported to have executed 4 of its own Jihadists, 2 for “treason” and 2 for fleeing the battle front. One of those executed was a member of IS Islamic police and another of the Al-Husba committee which is responsible for collecting taxes from shop owners in the city.

The 4 were executed in a public square and their bodies left on the ground until midnight as a clear warning to others.

syria-iraq-news-5

Russian Submarine Fires Missiles off Syria

Russia this week also launched cruise missiles for the first time from a submerged submarine off the Mediterranean coast of Syria at targets in Syria.

The missiles from the submarine Rostov-on-Don positioned near Cyprus, hit IS positions in Raqqah according to the Russian Ministry of defence, including “a munitions depot, a factory manufacturing mortar rounds and oil facilities”. Israel and the US had been informed prior to the launch.

Burbling at a press conference about the event, President Putin, in a veiled threat to IS, said that the missiles could also be fitted with nuclear warheads “as a last resort”.

Putin has also ordered his military to strike back in an extremely tough way if any of their troops or facilities come under attack in Syria.

Meanwhile the war of words with Turkey continues. Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu accused Russia of “ethnic cleansing” by wanting to drive the Turkmen and Sunni groups living in northern Latakia from their homes with airstrikes.

In more burbling, clearly designed to annoy Turkey, Putin also said that Russia was helping “the Free Syrian Army with air support, weapons and ammunition”.

“The work of our aviation group assists in uniting the efforts of government troops and the Free Syrian Army,” Putin told an annual meeting at the defence ministry.

“Now several of its units numbering over 5,000 troops are engaged in offensive actions against terrorists, alongside regular forces, in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa. We support it from the air, as well as the Syrian army, we assist them with weapons, ammunition and provide material support.”

EDITOR: I don’t think Putin knows what he is talking about here and is clearly not in command of the situation in Syria. It’s more likely he is talking about support for pro-Assad militias rather than a group directly opposed to the Syrian Government.

Also, interesting reports that the Assad regime is now training thousands of volunteers to take over checkpoint and protection duties in their own towns and villages once the Syrian Army has recaptured them, so the full-time forces can move on to continue the campaign.

The “Syrian Defence Factions”, as the new force is called, will help replace Assad’s manpower shortage. You can read more, HERE:

EDITOR: Interesting choice of acronym in English, “SDF”, confusing it with new “Syrian Democratic Force” in northern Syria led by the Kurds and backed by the US.

The meeting of Opposition groups in Riyadh, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, (scroll down – see below) agreed to set up a 32 man committee of which 15 would be appointed to meet with Assad representatives in January. However, Assad has already issued a statement today, Friday, saying he will not negotiate with “armed groups” or “terrorists”, only the political opposition.

Ahrar al-Sham however, reportedly pulled out of the agreement because the conference did not give “real weight to the revolutionary factions”. The Al Nusra Front was not represented at the meeting and the Kurds, including the YPG, were not even invited.

Lastly, a heart-warming tale by UNICEF from the Syrian refugee camp in Za’atari in Jordan where 16 year old Mesh’al misses his regularly schooling and instead works hard to raise a little money for his family. He also dreams of one day having his own hair cutting shop, here:

Why the knife intifada?

Dr Hani Al-Masri

Dr Hani Al-Masri

Since the outbreak of the intifada characterzied by the use of knives and hit-and-runs, discussions began to take place, quietly and shyly at first, behind the scenes and by very few, regarding the form this intifada has taken, discussions became louder and more public and all media outlets are now talking about it.

Some considered what is going on to be suicide or free death and groups that were called “life over death”, and “no to free death”, were formed. These groups demanded that children not be used in this battle so they can enjoy their childhood, as if the occupation differentiates between children and adults, and as if field executions and other various Israeli attacks such as killings and burnings that have been ongoing have taken place on another planet where there are no children.

Some authors called upon the leadership, the factions and influential people to intervene to stop this phenomenon, and to stop the glorification and encouragement of children using knives, although the percentage of children participating in this wave is much less than publicised, as if those behind these ideas are hiding behind the umbrella of child protection, while in reality they are distracting people’s attention away from the real people who are leading the intifada to take this form.

It got to the point where one well-known analysts said that the use of the knives is a violation of international law, confusing their use with the use of weapons, even though armed resistance is approved by international law. This analyst added that what stands in the way of this uprising transforming into a peaceful popular intifada – as the leadership demands – is the use of knives and hit-and-runs, although he did not explain how and why the opposite could be achieved. So a peaceful popular intifada has not been achieved in spite of calls for it, which reflects the lack of conviction in resistance as a strategic method whether peaceful or military, or the inability or lack of seriousness of those who call for it in achieving their demands.

The inability to pave an effective path for struggle that is led by the leadership and national powers is the reason the intifada took, and may continue to take, this path, or perhaps take other forms such as widely using weapons as a result of the absence of effective policies and resistance, which has created a vacuum and nature dislikes vacuum. Thus we noticed the widespread use of knives and hit-and-runs, whereas if there had been a true popular resistance, or if Palestinians had F16s and RPJs, cornet, anti-aircraft weapons, they wouldn’t have resorted to the use of cars, knives, scissors or vegetable carving tools.

People who had those ideas have forgotten that the intifada is an issue of concern for all Palestinians, with no need for leadership, as the leadership and national powers and institutions are divided, very weak, they lack options and they are eroding gradually. They are not fulfilling their leadership roles and thus how can they demand an end to the knife intifada, whether through claiming that it was a mistake all along or that it has fulfilled its message and thus has to stop now? So, we’ve noticed some leaders, who in order to cover up their impotence, are sanctifying the spontaneity of the intifada and say that it is better off without leadership and that had there been a faction behind it, it would’ve failed.

The bitter truth is that if the intifada continues without leadership or an organisation behind it, and without having set goals or making resources available, the options available for it would not only be for it to stop as some wish for it to do, but also if it stops it may be followed with an individually led intifada that uses weapons and that can be subjected to external interventions or it may bounce internally and not be geared against the occupation.

The explosion of popular anger took place when Palestinians became unable to bear the situation any longer and they came out in search for national rights that may lead to martyrdom but not as a form of suicide.

As the leadership and factions are slow in assuming their supposed role in directing the intifada, organising it, raising awareness of it and specifying its goals and shapes, the intifada went on spontaneously and assumed an individualistic nature. It continued to do so two months after its launch. Blame should not be placed on individuals who could no longer bear conditions they live under, and who courageously carried out their role, blame should be placed on the leaders, national powers and elites who were unable to keep up with the intifada and provide it with its needs.

What is happening in Palestine is that the current intifada wave is higher than previous ones that were witnessed over the past years, and they were called the following: detainees, Jerusalem, boycott, Al-Aqsa, settlement intifadas,… etc, and that it preceded leaders and powers, which is something that can happen and it actually did happen in the First Intifada, but in that case, the united national leadership was formed and it worked on identifying its rhythm. As for this wave, it remains an orphan with no leadership, organisation or goal; meaning without a mastermind to guide it, which is something that can only be explained by saying that the leadership has not assumed its responsibilities and that factions are helpless, while elites have not realised what is going on and the magnitude of change that is taking place within Palestinian youths, which led to what is taking place right now.

National powers are either unable to lead the intifada or they do not want it fearing it would get out of control, or get used by their internal opponents to threaten their interests which they acquired over the past 20 years of the Oslo authority, which helped create individuals and groups who have gained control over more wealth and influence than they have ever dreamt of before in very short time. Therefore all they care about is keeping things as they are with no change, or that they have been exhausted by the repression of the PA and the occupation together, and all they care about is using the intifada against their opponents while not using all their might to support it. They are afraid that the Israeli reaction towards what is happening in the West Bank would be to direct a strong blow against them in Gaza; they are also afraid that the intifada could be invested in a manner that can benefit their internal opponents.

Within this context, the intifada was launched and continued as one of knives and hit-and-runs, and it achieved a lot. It is driven by the atrocities, attacks and racism of the occupation, which have reached unprecedented levels and are expected to increase in light of Israel’s continued direction towards radicalisation and towards reviving the goal of establishing “Greater Israel” which are clear through Israel’s refusal to come to a peaceful settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state and the increasing Israeli calls for annexing settlement blocs and area C which represent 60 per cent of the West Bank’s area, as well as calls for withdrawing identity cards from 80,000-200,000 Jerusalemites.

The one question that arises here is not why it is a knife intifada, but rather why did it continue as an individual intifada (lone wolf), what that means and how can it be interpreted?

The intifada has entered its third month. It started and continues to be spontaneous, so it cannot be treated as if it were organised or has leadership so we cannot say it allows the enemy to unite and use excessive force and all those weak excuses which would be interesting had the intifada been led by a leadership of powers and organised factions.

Had there been an effective popular resistance, boycott and a serious prosecution of the Israeli occupation for its individual and group crimes at the ICC, the intifada wouldn’t have taken this form as it is a result of necessity, because individuals have come to a point where they could no longer tolerate things so they moved in an individual manner as a natural response to the occupation and its violations, in the hopes that their actions would influence and motivate the people and the leadership.

Instead of acknowledging these harsh facts, we found some leaders and experts from big and small factions sanctifying the spontaneity of the intifada to the point where a prominent leader has announced that had there been a faction behind the intifada it would’ve failed and stopped by now. He continues by saying that there is a need to find a leadership for this intifada, and praises the fact that factions stayed away from it as if that is an advantage that means the factions won’t be held accountable for the intifada.

Popular participation in the intifada is still limited despite the wide support its getting. This is due to the division, absence of a vision and hesitation between an option that has disappeared but not completely gone and another option that has not been born yet and because the large audience is still divided into a number of groups: those who support but are not participating in it; those who oppose it and those who are still in between.

Opponents are divided into two groups: one that does not want the intifada even if it is 100 per cent peaceful because it can harm its interests and position in authority and society and because it can lead to the collapse of the authority, although the authority, as the president and its leaders reiterate, has become powerless. The second group is those who do not participate in the intifada and oppose it because they saw what the last two intifadas have led to, where gains were much fewer than the sacrifices made and the suffering experienced, not to mention they led to chaos and lawlessness; the First Intifada led to Oslo, while the Second Intifada led to the horrible division.

If this large section of Palestinians feels that lessons have been learnt and that there is a serious aim towards learning from previous experiences and that this intifada could be the first step towards the formation of new leaders and factions, then they will take part in the intifada in an unprecedented manner.

(Source / 11.12.2015)

Hamas calls on GCC to support Jerusalem Intifada

Senior Hamas leader, Izzat Al-Reshiq

Senior Hamas leader, Izzat Al-Reshiq

Hamas yesterday called on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is meeting in Riyadh, to stand together with the city of Jerusalem which has been occupied for decades,Quds Press reported.The movement went on to called on the GCC to support female defenders of Al-Aqsa Mosque, who insist on remaining inside the mosque in order to undermine the almost daily raids by extremist Israeli settlers.

On Facebook, Senior Hamas leader Izzat Al-Reshiq wrote: “There is no doubt that this GCC meeting is surrounded with very complicated regional and international situations. However, it comes after two months of the Jerusalem Intifada and the Israeli occupation is still violating Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinians.”

He added: “We hope the GCC member states take a stance to end the oppressive siege has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for years.”

(Source / 11.12.2015)

Soldiers Kidnap Four Palestinians In Jenin, Invade PFLP Office

The Israeli army invaded, on Friday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Jenin, searched homes and the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation in Palestine (PFLP), and kidnapped four Palestinians.

Kidnap kids

Local sources in Jenin said the soldiers searched several homes, belonging to PFLP members and supporters, and kidnapped Abdullah ‘Afeef Zakarna, Jom’a Bassam Ba’jawi, Selah Abdullah Zoghbi and Abdul-Halim Nayef Ezzeddin.

The kidnapped Palestinians are former political prisoners, and were taken from their homes in the al-Marah and Az-Zahra’ areas, in addition to the Eastern Neighborhood and Abu Bakr Street.

The sources added that the soldiers also invaded and search many homes in Jenin, and interrogated dozens of residents.

The soldiers also invaded the PFLP Office in the city after smashing its doors, and violently searched it, causing excessive property damage.

It is worth mentioning that today, December 11, marks the 48th anniversary of the establishment of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In related news, at least five Palestinians were injured, and one was kidnapped, after dozens of soldiers invaded the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

The soldiers also invaded Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped eight Palestinians.

(Source / 11.12.2015)

Syrian war redraws country’s economic map

A man sells vegetables and other goods at a market in Maarat Al-Nouman, in the southern part of Idlib province, Syria, Sept. 30, 2015.

Syria’s long-running civil war has left the country in tatters, disrupting the economy and redrawing the trade map. More than 11 million people are either displaced or seeking refuge elsewhere, shifting the centers of power now and for the future.

Syria’s economic figures show catastrophic total economic losses from the start of the conflict in March 2011 until the end of 2014 at $203 billion in constant 2000 prices, equivalent to 383% of the country’s 2010 gross domestic product ($60 billion), Nassib Ghobril, head economist at Byblos Bank, told Al-Monitor.

The 2015 gross domestic product was around $30 billion, with economic output declining by about 60% compared with 2010, according to a Chatham House study. “Sectors most affected are tourism and industry, with the latter shrinking by 80%,” Syrian economist Jihad Yazigi told Al-Monitor.

According to Yazigi, exports slumped to 67.7 billion Syrian pounds ($257 million), amounting to 10% of 2014 export levels, which totaled about $2.5 billion, pointing to a decline in the country’s production, due to destruction.

Ghobril also expects Syria’s economy to shrink by 6.4% annually during the 2015-2019 period due to key infrastructure damage and the steady decline in living standards.

The current status quo has resulted in the emergence of new business figures, as conflict generally benefits specific companies and sectors. During the December 2014 elections at the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, there were 10 newcomers out of 12 members, and seven out of 12 in Damascus, a phenomenon essentially caused by the exit of the wealthy economic class, Yazigi explained.

Ghobril added that people who also benefit in such a context are those close to centers of power “who can meet consumer-goods shortages.”

In times of war, demand also shifts, with the need for basic goods remaining, while luxury or secondary goods are no longer considered affordable.

Production and exports are also influenced by new dynamics taking place in parts of the country falling under the control of different players — in Syria’s case, rebels, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Islamic State (IS) and the Syrian regime.

To further visualize such a division, Yazigi explained that oil, phosphates and agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables and livestock — important export goods — come from the east and northeast of the country, which is under rebel command. Oil fields are located in the areas of Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah, while phosphate mines are east of Palmyra; they are under the control of either the Kurds or IS. The war has resulted in the destruction of the industrial hub of Aleppo, also located in the northeast.

These new divisions have influenced the development of new travel routes. Industrial products — still produced in Damascus, which has replaced Aleppo as an economic center — are sent eastward toward rebel regions, namely Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa and Hasakah. On the other hand, agricultural and hydrocarbon products travel westward to areas under the control of the regime such as Damascus, the coast area and Homs, Yazigi said.

Segregation of the various Syrian geographic areas means the country’s economy is no longer unified. Industries on both sides of the divide are devolving, while some regions seem to profit from the ongoing conflict and benefit from new riches.

IS is thus not the only entity that has profited from oil trade, as Kurds have also reaped the benefits of the hydrocarbon trade. Largely overlooked by the media, some Syrian oil fields are located in the Kurdish region, namely the Suwaidiyah field, which produced 100,000 barrels per day in 2011. Its output has now fallen by more than 50% to about 40,000 barrels per day, according to Yazigi, who believes the PYD currently exports about 20,000 barrels per day from these fields with a monthly revenue of $10 million. In addition, much of the gas production generated by the Arak, al-Hail and Shaer gas fields are in the hands of IS.

Other areas benefit from the ongoing conflict as well, due to their relative stability. Such is the case with the Syrian coast and the Druze region of Suwayda, which have witnessed little unrest.

Syrian investments are marked by their high geographical concentration around areas such as Suwayda and Tartus. Citing the Syrian Investment Agency (SIA), Yazigi said that in the first half of 2015, 33 investment projects were given licenses for a total value of 7.4 billion Syrian pounds (about $28 million), witnessing a sharp drop compared to the same period in the previous year — with a capital value of 39.7 billion Syrian pounds (about $200 million).

The Syrian economist estimates that about 75% of total investments — which amounted to 25 projects, mostly industrial — were made in the coastal region and Suwayda. The latter area was able to attract 16 projects alone, due to its stability and the presence of a large internal displaced population.

Building on the appeal of coastal regions in the current context, Wahib Merei, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tartus, asked that his province be classified as a free zone, Yazigi said.

Conversely, the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama — which were able to attract 50% of all Syrian investments in 2010, while Suwayda and Tartus received only 8% — were allocated only a quarter of the total in 2015.

Such changes indicate that the Syrian war is not only breaking apart the country’s social cohesion but also its economic unity. It also points to a redrawing of the country’s investment map to the benefit of peripheral areas. The growing independence of these peripheries and new waves of refugees could exacerbate the trend. These economic transformations will undoubtedly weigh on the reconstruction of the country and define the new financial and economic heavyweights of the future.

(Source / 11.12.2015)

Palestinian killed during clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man was shot and killed during clashes in the Ras al-Jura area of Hebron on Friday, witnesses told Ma’an.A Ma’an reporter said Uday Irsheid, 24, was shot in the chest and critically wounded during clashes with Israeli military forces at the northern entrance to Hebron.He later died from his injuries.

The clashes broke out following a march called for by Hamas to mark the 28th anniversary of the political party’s founding.
Red Crescent officials told Ma’an that nine Palestinians were shot with live fire and three with rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes. The injured were taken to a Health Work Committee center for medical treatment.
An Israeli spokesperson told Ma’an that “a violent riot in Hebron is taking place with hundreds of Palestinians attacking forces, hurling rocks and rolling burning tires.”
Israeli forces used riot dispersal means before firing 0.22 rounds at main instigators, the spokesperson added.
Uday’s sister, Dania, was shot and killed by Israeli forces in Hebron on Oct. 25.The 17-year-old was shot dead after police officers allegedly saw “a knife in her hand.” No Israelis were injured during the incident.A witness told Ma’an at the time that he saw a schoolgirl with a schoolbag on her back trying to cross the Israeli checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque.

“An Israeli soldier asked her to take the knife out of her bag, then he immediately fired gunshots into the air,” the witness said. “Seconds later the schoolgirl was lying on the ground bleeding.”Following an investigation into several cases of Palestinian deaths, Amnesty International found that Dania’s killing was “absolutely unjustified” and called for Israel to end its “pattern of unlawful killings.”Earlier Friday, Omar al-Hroub, 55, was shot and killed after an alleged attempted car ramming attack in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron’s Halhul village.An Israeli army spokesperson said “a Palestinian attempted to ram his vehicle into [Israeli] security forces near Hebron,” adding that Israeli forces responded to the “imminent threat” and opened fire, killing the man.No Israelis were injured in the alleged attempted attack.Hebron has become the epicenter of violence over the last two months, as roughly 30 percent of the now 117 Palestinians to be killed since Oct. 1 were from the Hebron district.
(Source / 11.12.2015)