Palestinian teenager shot dead at Israeli checkpoint near Nablus

Another Palestinian was shot dead today in the West Bank after Israeli forces allege he was about to attack them

Palestinian schoolgirls stand on the roof of a house in Ammuriya, a village south of Nablus as mourners carry the body of Samah Abdullah who was shot three weeks ago by Israel on 17 December 2015

A Palestinian teenager was shot dead after allegedly trying to attack Israeli soldiers with a knife in the West Bank on Thursday, the army said, in the latest deadly incident in more than two months of violence.

In a statement, the army said the teenager, later identified as 15-year-old Abdullah Nassara, ran towards the soldiers at a military checkpoint in Huwara, who opened fire, “resulting in his death”.

“During routine security activity in Huwara, forces spotted a suspect and approached in order to question him,” the army said in a statement of the incident near Nablus.

However Palestinian eyewitnesses contested the army’s version, saying the boy did not carry any weapon, and never attempted to attack the soldiers.

Ambulance driver Kamal Badran said the soldiers surrounded the Palestinian, and prevented the medics from approaching him.

Palestinian security sources said Israeli authorities had taken the body of the alleged attacker, a regular occurrence.

Members of his family said Nassara had been to school that morning for an exam, which he attended, but never returned.

Later on the same day, violent clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces after the latter raided Beit Liqya, a town south of Ramallah.

Residents said that the Israeli army had fired rubber-coated steel bullets in addition to live ammunition. Three Palestinians were injured and arrested.

Violence since the start of October has killed at least 120 Palestinians, 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed were alleged attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during protests.

Those carrying out stabbings have often been young Palestinians, including teenagers, who appear to be acting on their own.

Palestinians have grown frustrated with Israel’s occupation, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership, while international efforts to restore calm have so far failed.

On Wednesday, envoys of the international diplomatic quartet met senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and were due to meet Palestinian officials on Thursday.

The quartet groups the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union in an effort to broker an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Separately in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated to demand Israel return the bodies of attackers who have been killed.

Hebron has been a flashpoint in the recent wave of violence. In the old city, several hundred Israeli settlers live under heavy military guard among some 30,000 Palestinian residents.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Clashes erupt following march demanding delivery of martyrs’ bodies

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Clashes erupted Thursday afternoon between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces stationed at the Container Checkpoint in al-Shuhada Street at Bab al-Zawiya district in the city of al-Khalil.

The PIC reporter revealed that the clashes broke out in the wake of a peaceful march demanding the return of Palestinian martyrs’ bodies detained by Israel.

Israeli forces fired stun grenades and intensively unleashed tear gas canisters at Palestinians who threw stones at the Israeli soldiers. Commercial shops in the area closed down during the clashes.
(Source / 17.12.2015)

Israeli gov’t builds more settlements in Jerusalem

Initial approval for this plan was given in 2012, but was postponed due to some adjustments

Israeli occupation government approved on Wednesday plans to build 891 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem.

About 550,000 illegal Israeli settlers now live in more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built since the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967

Days of Palestine, West Bank –Israeli occupation government approved on Wednesday plans to build 891 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli Jerusalem planning committee approved the construction of the new housing units in the southern Jewish-only Gilo Settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, which lies beyond the green line.

Initial approval for this plan was given in 2012, but was postponed due to some adjustments.

Zionists occupied East Jerusalem during in 1967 and it was later annexed to the Western part of the holy city, which was occupied in 1948, in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognised by the international community.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories, considering all Jewish settlement building on the land to be illegal.

Palestinians accuse the Israeli occupation of waging an aggressive campaign to judaise the city with the aim of effacing its Arab and Islamic identity and ultimately driving out its Palestinian inhabitants.

About 550,000 illegal Israeli settlers now live in more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built since the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

The Palestinians want these areas, along with the Gaza Strip, in which to establish their future state.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Large majority of Palestinians in WB and Gaza think a full scale Intifada is on the horizon

A Palestinian protester burns tires during clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli army on in the occupied West Bank village of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah after a demonstration to call for the return of the bodies of killed alleged Palestinian attackers, December 11, 2015 (Photo: Shadi Hatem/APA Images/Mondoweiss)

A Palestinian protester burns tires during clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli army on in the occupied West Bank village of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah after a demonstration to call for the return of the bodies of killed alleged Palestinian attackers, December 11, 2015

For the first time since the weeks leading up to the second Intifada in 2000, a majority of Palestinians believe the current intensified violence will build into a full scale Intifada with greater potential to achieve their goals than peace talks with Israel, said a report published on Monday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey (PCPS), the West Bank’s leading independent pollster.

Overall 66 percent of Palestinians anticipate that an armed uprising will take place, and by the same two-thirds margin, Palestinians also support knife attacks on Israelis. Of the attacks and alleged attacks in which Israeli security forces shot Palestinians, 47 percent believe there was no stabbing or attempted stabbing by the alleged Palestinian assailant.

By contrast only 18 percent believe a non-violent popular uprising will be launched from the current confrontations.

Sixty-eight percent of Palestinians polled say that their leaders should abandon the Oslo Accords, the 22-year-old bilateral agreement that was made with the goal of a Palestinians state. Yet two-thirds said they did not think Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will suspend it, despite a pledge in recent weeks that his government is no longer obligated to follow the pact.

Palestinians generally interpret an end to the Oslo Accords as an official end to security coordination with Israel. The survey showed most Palestinians did not believe Abbas would take this step. Two-thirds surveyed think Abbas opposes the unrest. Even so a majority of Palestinians believe that Abbas’s political party and ruling faction Fatah support the confrontations.

Yet it is Abbas’s rival party Hamas that is viewed as the most supportive of an Intifada in the making with 71 percent of respondents viewing the Islamist group that governs over the Gaza Strip as supportive of the current confrontations. However, this has not translated into expanding Hamas’s popularity beyond its political base, around one-quarter of Palestinians. The poll found if new presidential elections were held tomorrow, a candidate from Hamas would win—unless imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti were to run as a Fatah candidate. The survey suggests that Palestinians would elect a leader from Hamas over Fatah, because of a growing disappointment and distrust of Abbas rather than a belief in Hamas’s political program.

Of those who think an Intifada is on the horizon, the “Oslo Generation” aged 18-22 are the strongest supporters. They are defined as the most secular of those polled and most opposed to the current Palestinian leadership.

The survey was conducted between December 10th and 12th, interviewing 1270 adults from the West Bank and Gaza with a margin of error of 3 percent. The findings follow two and a half months of unrest across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

While it is still unclear how long the confrontations will continue, or if they will escalate and cause major changes to the static political climate, the survey results suggest changes on the ground could follow the shift in public opinion, favoring an uprising for the first time since the last Intifada of 2000-2005, according to the director of the PCPS Dr. Khalil Shikaki.

“In the mid-90s there was very little support for violence achieving national rights,” Shikaki said at a briefing in Ramallah on his survey’s results. Popular backing of an uprising remained low until just two months before the outbreak of the second Intifada. The sea-change in public opinion was quick. Fifty-six-percent thought an Intifada was close to starting in July 2000. Today already two-thirds of Palestinians believe an uprising is in early stages.

“Based on what we have seen in the last two to three months, it is clear that we are not likely to see a reversal in the current confrontations any time soon,” Shikaki said. “There will be an escalatory process, and it will be gradual. I think this could be the case but only after a lengthy period of time. This could be a year or two.”

Part of the reason Shikaki sees a slower start to a potential full-on intifada is that “the emotional part”—the killings of large number of Palestinians—are taking place at a fraction of the rate at which they took place at the outset of the last uprising (on average nearly one killed every other day) . He thinks these numbers have kept the masses of Palestinians from protesting against Israel.

“At the initial start of second Intifada, ten Palestinians were killed per day,” said Shikaki. “Israel is acting in a much more constrained matter in terms of shooting at the Palestinians—keeping emotional levels down.”

At the same time the Palestinian political parties are less involved in launching an uprising than during the last two Intifadas. In the first uprising factions instigated demonstrations and boycotts. In the second uprising they ordered and coordinated attacks and bombings against Israelis. Today these groups are less powerful. In the current confrontations, local branches of political parties have mounted protests against Israel; however, the bulk of the steering is done by student groups and networks of youth over social media. As for the knife attacks, those have exclusively been carried out by individuals unaffiliated with the Palestinian political sides.   

“My guess is that Abbas will lose control,” Shikaki said, estimating Palestinian security forces will not be able to keep pace in thwarting attacks against Israelis if they progress. “At the end of next year, he won’t be able to control use of fire arms or planned attacks.”

“The escalation does not need the participation of large numbers of people,” Shikaki warned. “Most of the incitement that the Israelis are talking about is not actually from the Palestinian Authority, it is from social media.” Indeed, 85 percent of the Oslo Generation said they get their news from social media, according to the poll.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

U.N. says Yemen talks to continue over next few days

Peace talks began on Tuesday away from television cameras in Switzerland to try to end nearly nine months of fighting that has killed almost 6,000 people and displaced millions

The U.N. said on Thursday that talks in Yemen between the country’s warring sides would continue over the next few days, with the focus on achieving a ‘sustainable national cease-fire.’

In the same statement, U.N. special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed says negotiators had reached a deal to allow the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries into the besieged city of Taiz.

Ahmed hailed “a major step forward” and a first important achievement in the U.N.-brokered peace talks in the Swiss village of Macolin, now in their third day.

A U.N. statement on Thursday also said a large convoy carrying humanitarian aid had reached Taiz, and deliveries are expected to reach other cities, including Hajja and Saada, in coming days.

Peace talks began on Tuesday away from television cameras in Switzerland to try to end nearly nine months of fighting that has killed almost 6,000 people and displaced millions.

The sources said that direct talks between the two sides have been suspended since Wednesday evening, after the Houthis rejected demands to free senior officials, including Defence Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi and Hadi’s brother, Nasser.

Both Subaihi and Nasser Mansour Hadi, who was responsible for intelligence operations in the provinces of Aden, Lahej and Abyan, have been held by the Houthis since March.

The Houthis say they are ready to free the prisoners once a permanent ceasefire was agreed upon, another source close to the talks told Reuters.

The sources said that instead of direct talks, U.N. special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was shuttling between the two sides trying to bridge differences.

Clashes

In MaArib, heavy fighting broke out east of the capital Sanaa overnight, and medics and tribal sources said that at least 15 people were killed from both sides.

Air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition also struck the northern Hajja province on the border with Saudi Arabia, residents said. They also said that gunboats struck Midi port, also in Hajja, near the Saudi border.

Both sides have been trading accusations over violating the ceasefire. On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri, accused the Houthis of committing some 150 violations since Tuesday and urged the United Nations to try to save the truce.

In a rare positive gesture on Wednesday, the Houthis and fighters from the so-called Southern Resistance, who are allied with Hadi, exchanged hundreds of prisoners early on Thursday, following delays by local tribesmen angry at the exclusion of relatives from the deal, an official involved in the swap said.

Fikri al-Mutaili said the Houthis freed 265 residents of the former south Yemen while the Southern Resistance freed 300 Houthis, including 40 teenagers.

The deal was brokered by local tribal leaders and had been expected to reflect positively on the peace talks in Switzerland.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Thousands march in al-Khalil to push for release of slain Palestinians

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Thousands of Palestinians took to al-Khalil streets on Thursday to push for the release of the bodies of citizens killed by the Israeli occupation army since the outbreak of the Jerusalem Intifada.

The marchers carried mock coffins of the slain Palestinians whose bodies have been withheld by the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) since the start of October.

Coordinator for the national campaign to retrieve the bodies of slain Palestinians in al-Khalil, Amin al-Bayedh, said the IOA has been seizing the bodies of 57 dead Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem.

“Israel has no other way out. The dead bodies should be released”, he said. “But the IOA has been exerting pressure and trying by all means available to prevent autopsies.”

The activist called on the concerned authorities and the families of the slain Palestinians to stand up for their right to carry out an autopsy and provide evidence on Israel’s cold-blooded slaughters, medical negligence, and misappropriation of Palestinians’ organs.

Following the march, violent clashes flared up between the Palestinian youths and the occupation troops in Bab al-Zawia, in al-Khalil.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Family of 3 burned-to-death-Palestinians denies Israeli claims on compensation

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Dawabsheh family, which lost three of its members in an arson attack on their home in Duma, said Thursday prosecuting the Israeli criminals has priority over their right to compensation.

Family member Naser Dawabsheh said his relatives were the victims of Israeli settler terrorism.

He added that the family has long been receiving compensation offer from the Israeli occupation authorities to have their self-image whitewashed for such a horrendous crime.

“Though compensation is one of the families’ undeniable rights . . . our primary concern is to have the Israeli perpetrators impeached,” he said.

“Even Netanyahu’s government should be held accountable since it is the party that passes laws to protect Israeli criminals,” he added.

“At least five Israelis committed the crime. It turned out later that they have ties with the occupation government. They were arrested following the state of humiliation the government found itself in after the crime,” Naser further stated.

The Israeli Ynet website said the Dawabsheh family will not receive compensation from the occupation government, despite promises made earlier by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In response to a parliamentary question from Joint Arab List MK Yousef Jabareen, Israel’s deputy war minister Eli Ben-Dahan said on Wednesday that the Dawabsheh family was not entitled for compensations because the law that ensures recompense to victims of terror attacks only applies to Israeli citizens.

The Dawabsheh family home in the village of Duma was set on fire on July 31, 2015. Their 18-month-old son Ali was burned to death in the fire, while his four-year-old brother Ahmad and parents Saed and Reham suffered extensive burns and were fighting for their lives at the hospital.

Saed Dawabsheh succumbed to his wounds a little over a week later, while Reham Dawabsheh breathed her last about five weeks after the attack.

Four-year-old Ahmad is the only member of the family to survive, after having suffered burns all over his body.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Lebanon’s controversial candidate for president

Lebanese Christian politician and leader of the Marada movement Suleiman Franjieh meets with Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb in Bnechi, northern Lebanon, Dec. 7, 2015

Lebanon is witnessing political turmoil with Maronite Christian politician Suleiman Franjieh’s unexpected bid for the presidency. The candidacy of Franjieh, which is currently debated, a March 8 figure and a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, may seem nothing out of the ordinary at first glance given Franjieh’s national eminence. However, the March 14 popular bases and other prominent political figures were shocked that Franjieh was nominated by Future Movement leader Saad Hariri, who is the No. 1 in the March 14 camp and Saudi Arabia’s close associate.

Franjieh’s bid may lead to the Future Movement losing some of its key Christian allies, such as the Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Forces (LF), which in turn could join the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) within the March 8 coalition, thus possibly creating further sectarian tension.

If we are to highlight the similarities between Franjieh and Hariri, then we ought to note that the two are middle-aged and from the same generation. More importantly, they have both experienced the same tragedy as they lost their fathers to political assassination.

Tony Franjieh was killed in a terrible crime in the northern town of Ehden on June 13, 1978. The Kataeb Party and LF head Samir Geagea were accused of perpetrating the bloody crime; however, no official investigation was ever conducted and the truth was never revealed. The wounds left by this crime are yet to heal and left a split within the Christian community, namely among Franjieh’s and Geagea’s supporters.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Sunni, was assassinated on Feb. 14, 2005, in a huge explosion that left tension between Sunnis and Shiites. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon accused on June 18, 2014, five Shiite Hezbollah members of complicity in the Hariri assassination.

Fate may have brought Franjieh and Hariri together, but several points had divided the two; the March 8 camp, represented by the former, and the March 14 camp, represented by the latter, are on opposite sides.

During the past two years, an agreement between Hariri and Franjieh was nearly impossible, as exemplified by the presidential vacuum and the disruption of government institutions.

No details have been revealed so far about the reasons that led to this major shift in Hariri’s position, and no information is available of whether the talks between Hariri and Franjieh tackled key pending issues such as Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria and the need for a new electoral law.

Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, the Kataeb Party representative and Hariri’s main Christian partner in the current government, told Al-Monitor, “We cannot talk about a settlement. A settlement is usually an agreement on certain points reached [between two people], but what happened was an understanding between two men with the support of some countries.”

He added, “There is a lack of coordination when it comes to declaring positions, and every camp feels that the other camp is imposing a fait accompli.”

Somehow former member of parliament Misbah al-Ahdab, a Sunni figure from northern Lebanon known for his opposition to Franjieh’s two allies, Hezbollah and the Assad regime, joined this logic.

Ahdab told Al-Monitor, “The problem in this initiative is the nebulosity surrounding it. No one person can be behind this initiative, even if this person enjoys international support. This person should discuss the initiative with his popular base. We do not absolutely reject Franjieh, but we do not want for the Lebanese arena to turn into an arena that attracts terrorist acts against Assad or his figures. Therefore, there are guarantees required from the candidate, and these guarantees require him to shun away from the axes,” referring to Franjieh’s responsibility in keeping a distance from Assad to avoid tension with the Sunni bases in Syria.

Meanwhile, Hariri’s partners are clearly unhappy about the proposal and the way they were excluded from the secret talks that led to the settlement. The LF, the chief Christian party in the March 14 camp, expressed this resentment through its media official, Melhem Riachy, who said in a radio interview Dec. 13, “The LF has not yet received any news deeming what happened as an ‘initiative,’ and we shall refrain from considering this as an initiative until Saad Hariri officially announces it.”

Riachy added, “Franjieh’s bid came as a surprise to the public opinion, whose refusal was only normal given that [Franjieh] is an opponent of the March 14 camp.”

Meanwhile, the LF’s objection led it toward further convergence with its historical rival, FPM leader Gen. Michel Aoun. Some LF sources even said that the LF might go so far as to nominate Aoun, as the LF had always opposed Aoun’s bid for the presidency.

In the March 8 camp, Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian party, received the initiative with some caution and remained silent. It is true that Franjieh is an ally of Hezbollah, but the party voiced suspicions over the timing of the initiative and its supporting parties.

The initiative has remarkably garnered the support of some countries. As soon as it was leaked to the media, it managed to garner wide support, especially from Saudi Arabia and France. After a meeting with the head of the Kataeb Party, Sami Gemayel, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri said Dec. 3, “Saudi Arabia blesses this initiative.”

“As long as the candidate is a Lebanese chosen by the Lebanese, then he will get the blessing of Saudi Arabia, regardless of his affiliation,” he added.

For his part, French President Francois Hollande called Franjieh the day following his meeting with Hariri, who commented then that they were working to end the presidential vacuum.

On Dec. 16, Franjieh was reported by Al-Akhbar as saying that US Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale had supported his candidacy a year ago.

Hariri’s strong proposal has seemingly reflected the weakness of those opposing the proposal, namely the Christian parties, as these failed to put forth an alternative by agreeing on a candidate or on a mechanism to put an end to the presidential vacuum.

Hariri’s initiative is not over. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who was the first to contribute to promoting it, said in a tweet on Dec. 12 that the initiative has been delayed, ironically hinting at the rapprochement between old foes, such as the FPM and LF, in refusing the initiative.

Yet still, this initiative has certainly lost momentum given the obstacles that have been thrown its way, including the Christian polarization against it. The initiative could also push Sunnis toward extremism, should they witness the advent of an ally of Assad — whom they are fighting in Syria — to the Lebanese presidency. This would galvanize the Sunnis’ frustration and give an additional boost to Sunni extremist groups at a time when all efforts are directed at fighting the latter.

Most importantly, this initiative has yet to receive Iran’s approval. Hezbollah, Iran’s ally, still enjoys the upper hand in Lebanon and has yet to comment on Franjieh’s bid.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Video: IOF soldiers steal money from Palestinian shop

OCCUPIED JERUSAEM, (PIC)– Qalandia Media Center released Thursday a video of heavily armed Israeli soldiers stealing an amount of money from a Palestinian shop in Qalandia refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem.

The video showed a number of Israeli soldiers while breaking into the shop after blowing up its door at dawn Thursday.

Israeli forces have continued on Thursday their raid campaign throughout the refugee camp for the second day in a row.

Overnight, hundreds of Israeli soldiers and members of an undercover unit stormed the camp and broke into a number of local homes and offices.

(Source / 17.12.2015)

Soldiers Kill A Palestinian Child, South Of Nablus

Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Thursday morning, a Palestinian child near the Huwwara roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, allegedly after he attempted to stab soldiers. Army kidnaps 24 Palestinians overnight.

Abdullah Nasasra

Israeli sources said the soldiers shot the Palestinian, and claimed that he “approached them while carrying a knife.”

The Israeli National News said the soldiers “spotted a subject, and approached to question him,” and claimed that, “he ran towards them, before they shot him.”

Eyewitnesses said the child did not carry any weapon, and never attempted to attack the soldiers.

Ambulance driver Kamal Badran said the soldiers surrounded the Palestinian, and prevented the medics from approaching him.

The slain child was later identified as Abdullah Hussein Ahmad Nasasra, 15, from Beit Forik town, east of Nablus.

The soldiers closed all military roadblocks, south of Nablus.

It is worth mentioning that the soldiers have kidnapped, overnight and at dawn Thursday, at least 23 Palestinians in different districts in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said the soldiers kidnapped, in Jerusalem, seven Palestinians identified as Abeer Ziad, a pregnant mother of four, in addition to three children identified as Mohammad Abu Qalbein, 13, Mohammad Qassem Mebyed, 15, and Samir Tahhan, and three young men identified as Robin Abu Najma, Mohammad Beeby and Ahmad Siyam.

In Ramallah, the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Khaled Reyahi, Mohammad Hisham ‘Oleyyan, Mahdi Amer Thaher, Ayman Ahmad Thaher, and Abdul-Rahman al-Jaleesy.

Three Palestinians, identified as Nimir Ibrahim Nayfa, 45, Fawwaz Abdul-Rahman Ashqar, 52, and his son ‘Odai, 21, were kidnapped from their homes, in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem.

In Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, the soldiers kidnapped Rami Khalil Abu Dayya, 20, Moath Wael Ekhlayyel, 20, and Karam Yousef Ekhlayyel, 16.

In Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped Islam Tawil, 22, and Abdul-Karim Fares Shbeita, 28.

Another Palestinian, identified as Fares Abdul-Fattah Fashafsha, 25, was kidnapped in Jenin, while Mohammad Ahmad Kleib was kidnapped in Hares village in Salfit, and Ayman

(Source / 17.12.2015)