Elderly Palestinian murdered by Israeli troops in Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– An elderly Palestinian civilian succumbed to his wounds Thursday afternon shortly after he was shot by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on allegations that he attempted to run over Israeli soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint, south of the northern West Bank province of Nablus.

Eye-witnesses said the IOF shot 56-year-old Maher Husni al-Jabi while he was in his car at the Hawara checkpoint.

Al-Jabi breathed his last shortly after he was evacuated by the Red Crescent ambulance to the Rafidia Hospital, in Nablus.

Eye-witnesses said al-Jabi was just driving his car and that the alleged attack was an ordinary accident.

Israeli news outlets claimed a car-ramming attack took place at the Hawara checkpoint, slightly wounding an Israeli soldier in his feet.

Scores of Palestinians have been killed by the occupation troops since early October just for being suspected of attempting to carry out anti-occupation attacks.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

PA: Israel returns bodies of 7 slain Palestinians

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Sunday released the bodies of seven Palestinian who were killed by Israeli forces, some of them more than a month earlier, the Palestinian Authority of Civil Affairs told Ma’an.Ministry officials said the bodies belonged to Muhammad Zahran from Kafr Addik village near Nablus, Mamoon al-Khatib from Bethlehem, Issam Thawabta from Beit Fajjar town south of Bethlehem, Samir al-Sarisi from Jenin, Muhammad al-Shubaki from Hebron, Issa al-Huroub from Hebron, and Shadi Matariyya from al-Bireh northwest of Ramallah.Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October, Israel has routinely held the bodies of Palestinians it alleges were attempting to attack Israelis when they were killed.Israel’s Public Security Ministry said in mid-October that the bodies of alleged Palestinians attackers would no longer be returned to their families and would instead by buried in “secret.”A spokesperson for the ministry said at the time the decision was made in order to stem protests that frequently accompany the funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.However, Israel’s withholding of bodies has only further stoked tensions in the occupied Palestinian territory, and Israeli authorities have since returned many of them of them to their families, on what they refer to as a “case-by-case” basis.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

Palestinians injured as IOF aggressively disbands “longest human chain”

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday came down heavily on a group of Palestinian activists who formed what they called “the longest human chain” around the Old City’s walls to push for the release of slain Palestinians’ bodies.

Hundreds of people participated in the protest despite the heavy presence of Israeli troops who fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters soon as the protesters gathered in the area.

The rally-goers demanded that the Israeli occupation authorities hand over bodies of those killed to their families so that they can bid them last farewell before their burial.

A PIC journalist said a number of protesters were injured and others were chased down and arrested by the occupation soldiers.

The demonstrators gathered near the Bab al-Sahira, raising photos of the slain Palestinians and lifting banners calling for releasing their bodies.

The protesters were attacked, as they advanced hand in hand, by the Israeli troops who violently disbanded the march using tear gas grenades and rubber bullets. Several activists were subjected to heavy beating in the assault.

Spokesperson for the families of slain Palestinians, Muhammad Alyan, said: “We formed the longest human chain to restore the bodies of our sons and daughters. The Israeli occupation does not have the right to withhold dead bodies. This is a policy of collective punishment and a poof of Israel’s inherently sadistic nature.”

Former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Hatem Abdul Kader, said Israel’s seizure of Palestinian bodies is a war crime against the victims and their families alike.

He vowed that Jerusalemites shall never remain mum over such crimes and will resort to all possible means to release the dead bodies.

According to the Red Crescent, at least 20 Palestinians were injured in the Israeli attack on the human chain.

The bodies of over 50 Palestinians killed by the occupation troops since early October have been withheld by the Israeli occupation, in a move dubbed by observers an attempt to snuff out the flames of anti-occupation activism among the Palestinians.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

Iraqi forces take control over last ISIS stronghold in Ramadi – military spokesman

Iraqi security forces gather to advance towards the centre of Ramadi city, December 25, 2015. © Reuters

Iraqi security forces gather to advance towards the centre of Ramadi city, December 25, 2015

Iraqi government forces have seized the government complex in the center of Ramadi – the last Islamic State stronghold in the western city, a military spokesman told Reuters.

“By controlling the complex this means that they [Islamic State, IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] have been defeated in Ramadi,” Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the Iraqi counter-terrorism units leading the fight, told the news agency.

Al-Numani stressed the complex is under full control of the Iraqi forces with “no presence whatsoever of Daesh [ISIS] fighters” adding that some militants could still be hiding in “pockets that could exist here or there in the city.”

According to al-Numan, a major clearing effort is still needed to allow Iraqi troops to move freely around the city as IS militants had filled the area with bombs and booby-traps. The necessity of a clear-up operation prevented the Iraqi government and the military from declaring a victory immediately, although some people in a number of cities were already celebrating, AFP reports.

Iraqi forces advanced to the provincial government compound in Ramadi overnight and encircled the terrorists in the complex earlier on Sunday.

The Ramadi offensive has been supported by airstrikes from the US-led coalition, but Iran-backed Shiite militias were barred from the operation by the government, in order to avoid sectarian violence in the mainly Sunni Anbar province.

The city was seriously damaged during the fighting with some districts being completely destroyed by the Iraqi Army advance, Reuters reports. Falih al-Essawi, a regional council member of the Anbar province, urged the government to start rebuilding the city quickly.

“It will not be easy to convince families to return to a city that lacks basic human needs,” he said as quoted by Reuters.

The Iraqi government plans to hand the city over to the local police and local Sunni tribal forces in order to convince the local community to join the fight against Islamic State.

“We have trained hundreds of tribal fighters, their role will be holding the ground,” Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Iraqi joint operations command, said as quoted by Reuters.

“Seeing their own tribes responsible for security will be a relief for the civilians,” he added.

Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province, was seized by IS militants in May after about a week of fighting with the governmental forces.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

Thousands attend funeral of slain Palestinian mother

The daughter and other relatives of Mahdia Hammad mourn her death

The daughter and other relatives of Mahdia Hammad mourn her death

Thousands of Palestinians attended a funeral procession Saturday for a 38-year-old Palestinian mother who was shot and killed by Israeli gunfire a day earlier.

Mahdia Hammad, a mother of four, was killed by Israeli forces under the pretext that she attempted to run over Israeli soldiers at the entrance of Silwad village northeast of Ramallah.

Her family, however, denied the Israeli allegations and said she was killed in cold blood, without posing a threat to the Israeli soldiers.

The military funeral procession started at the Ramallah Medical Center and ended at Hammad’s hometown of Silwad.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, Hammad was shot 10 times by Israeli soldiers before they left her to bleed to death.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian man was shot dead under the pretext that he attempted to stab an Israeli police officer in occupied East Jerusalem.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that Israeli police shot Mosaab al-Ghazali, 26, and left him to bleed to death.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the latest deaths bring the total number of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces since Oct. 1to 138, including 26 minors and seven women.

At least 100 of those slain were killed “in cold blood”, the ministry said.

The last 10 weeks also left 24 Israelis dead and over 250 injured.

Many observers attribute the recent uptick in violence to a July arson attack in the West Bank by suspected Jewish settlers that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian child and his parents.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

3 Palestinians shot, injured in clashes near Qalqiliya

QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Sunday shot and injured three Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes at the northern entrance to the village of Azzun east of Qalqiliya, medics said.The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma’an that in addition to the three who were shot, at least 25 others had suffered excessive tear gas inhalation.Locals told Ma’an that the clashes broke out after protesters marched to the village’s northern entrance demanding that Israel release 15-year-old Kreman Akram Sweidan, who was detained on Sunday outside a nearby a settlement for alleged possession of a knife.Israeli forces have shot and wounded thousands of Palestinians with both live and rubber-coated steel bullets since a wave of popular unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

Netanyahu Draws Line Between Arab and Jewish Terror

In lieu of a growing Israeli focus on Jewish extremism,Israel’s Prime Minister on Sunday said that comparing “Arab terror and Jewish terror” was impossible, Israeli media reported.

Netanyahu

During the weekly cabinet meeting, Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Here we condemn and they [the Palestinians] praise,” Israeli daily Haaretz has reported.

The PM said that “Jewish terror” was rare, while “Arab terror” frequently took place on a large scale.

Netanyahu stated, according to Ma’an, that while Israeli leadership condemned terror attacks carried out by extremist Jews, the Palestinian Authority “encourages terror and incites.”

The statement comes as ongoing investigations into the murder of three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family by Jewish extremists as well as video footage released from an Israeli wedding party celebrating violence against Palestinians has been at the epicenter of Israeli public discussion. Focus on the growing influence of Israeli extremist groups also coincides with a wave of violence that has left nearly 140 Palestinians and 20 Israelis dead since Oct. 1.

The majority of Palestinians were killed while carrying out attacks on Israeli military and civilians. Palestinian leadership has yet to condemn the individual attacks but has criticized Israel for its response to the recent violence.

While condemning the attacks, a UN official earlier this month said: “The injustices associated with an occupation which shows no prospect of ending feed into a perspective — particularly among the youth — that they have nothing to lose by sacrificing their lives.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, on Saturday said that recent cases of Jewish extremism had caused politicians to ignore “seemingly less serious” offenses against Palestinians and their property, in effect supporting the perpetrators, according to Haaretz.

Focus on the cases have put other offenses on the back burner, Ya’alon said, including the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees and the burning of Palestinian property by Israeli settlers.

The minister said that encouragement from ministers and members ofKnesset for settlement expansion as well as verbal attacks on public figures helped to enable incidents like the Dawabsha murder and incitement, Haaretz reported.

Threat of ‘Jewish terror’

Israel has received criticism from the international community and rights groups in the past regarding government policies that encourage violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.

Israeli police earlier this week opened an investigation into the wedding of two right-wing Israelis after a video showed attendees dancing and singing songs about revenge while waving knives and guns in the air.

At one point during the ceremony, a masked Israeli youth waves a firebomb while another stabs a photo of Ali Dawabsha, an 18-month-old Palestinian burned alive in the arson attack that also left his parents dead.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the time that the video showed “the real face of a group that poses danger to Israeli society and security,” the daily said.

The suspects in the Dawabsha murder case have yet to be convicted, and Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet has received push-back from right-wing groups over its conduct in the investigation.

The Shin Bet last week warned that the case revealed the growing threat of Jewish terror organizations against the Israeli state as well as regional security.

Israeli settlers regularly carry out attacks on Palestinians and their property, purportedly in revenge for actions taken by Palestinians or the Israeli government against the illegal settlement enterprise. The attacks — over 324 of which were carried out in 2014 according to UN documentation — were labelled as “acts of terrorism” by the US government in 2013.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

Israel bars reporter for 10 years for ‘having political agenda’

German journalist Martin Lejeune was detained and interrogated for 24 hours before being deported. A journalist with political viewpoints not aligned with the regime’s is a real danger to democracy, it appears.

The good news is we can all sleep soundly tonight. A grave danger was thwarted in a timely manner. And not just temporarily, but for the next 10 years. The bad news is that the danger wasn’t related to us, but rather – and this is also doubtful – to the Israeli regime.

A full disclosure is called for: I know Martin Lejeune personally; he is a freelance reporter who during the summer of 2014, risking his own life and livelihood, reported from the Gaza Strip independently of IDF spokespersons or any corporate news agency. I met him in a Berlin café in 2014, just before his famous trip to the Gaza Strip. We have been in touch ever since. Lejeune, as someone dedicated to investigative reporting, is constantly exposed to hostility, not just in Israel, but also in Germany. He will survive; he’s a descendent of the Huguenots, and they have some experience with political persecution. However, the story is not just about Lejeune; it story touches all who, either by choice or by necessity, live between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. The story is about the nature of Israel’s government – in actuality already for a very long time, but especially these days.

Here’s the short of the story: Earlier this month, at 10 p.m. on a Monday, after about 20 hours of detention and interrogation Lejeune was told that he was being denied entry to Israel because he is a security risk: “You are not a reporter, you have a political agenda.”

I will not get into the wisdom of this decision. There are indeed multitudinous mechanisms that stand between the citizen and the truth. Why resort to such a far-reaching action that will certainly cause a stir? Israel has, on multiple occasions, denied entry of public figuresinto territories under its unfettered control and did so mainly to enhance its reputation in the world.

So Lejeune now has the honor of joining the list of intellectuals,journalists, artists, activists and, of course, regular citizens, who were not born with the proper Jewish privilege and are not allowed entry into Israeli territory. It is not up to me to mimic dark government offices that deliberate and make decisions that are supposed to shield Israel from its enemies, both imagined and real.

Indeed, this type of regime not only requires many enemies, but also knows how to occasionally reward its loyal servants. Thus, censors,generals, police commanders, intelligence agency heads, and other self-perceived gatekeepers, sycophants and activist cheerleaders are promoted within government ranks and who defend nothing but the system itself. So why should it surprise us that all sorts of military andsecurity sector appointments are turned into media hype in the Sparta of the Middle East?

To be sure, this is not the first time that Israel has harassed Lejeune and interfered with his investigative reporting. Of note is this exchange between him and Ron Paz, defender of Israel (against what?) in his role in the Foreign Press Department of the Government Press Office (GPO), during [Lejeune’s] application for a press card. “How do we determine if a person is a reporter or an activist?”, Paz asked himself rhetorically. “Many borderline cases enjoy the Israeli benefit of the doubt”, argued Paz as he basked in the liberal generosity of the Israeli regime in comparison to … the Hamas regime in Gaza. Indeed, the functionary has chosen to seek justification vis-à-vis the truly lofty. How long are we to be consoled by the relative advantages of the Israeli regime over that of Hamas and its ilk?

Paz continued and made clear to Lejeune that his case, as opposed to the borderline cases that the regime tends to accede to, is clear and therefore relatively simple. Lejeune, it seems, can be classified with those indisputably extreme and incorrigible cases who do not approach news in Israel with journalistic ethics, but have adopted, God save us, a critical political approach. The regime’s representative permits himself to decide all this.

Exactly what is that great danger that lies in store for Israel from a 35-year old reporter who does not subscribe to the ultimate Zionist truth? Mr. Paz did not find necessary to elaborate. Instead, he lists Lejeune’s transgressions against the enlightened political entity reigning over Zion: “regular” participation in anti-Israel demonstrations, and participation in the Gaza flotilla, “not just to ‘report,’ but with a political agenda.” Mr. Paz admits that he refrained from adding on a long list of deviations from the Zionist line apparently expected of a visiting reporter, and justifiably so. By doing so, he would have to admit that he conducted surveillance of Martin Lejeune for some two years. A celebration of democracy. All for naught; Israel has tagged Lejeune, the reporter, as a pro-Palestinian activist. Heaven forbid.

Then Mr. Paz bombards Lejeune with questions, as if the accusations would be deemed grave enough for listeners to cover their ears: have you participated in a number of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe? Did you deliver an address at the University of Hamburg titled “What really happened in Gaza?” Have you presented yourself as anti-Zionist and as a reporter? Have you called on Germany to stop exporting weapons to Israel? And, of course, the question of funding that we are all so fond of here. And so on and so forth. Mr. Paz valorously sums up: “This is, in my opinion, a case in which Israeli democracy must defend itself.” Israeli democracy: it is now safe from the likes of Lejeune for 10 years. Ten years. This, just because he is not one of the regime’s fans.

Meanwhile, he was detained while awaiting deportation. And the brilliant justification for the official denial of entry: “Avoidance of illegal immigration.” Very funny.

passport2.jpg

It sometimes seems that the authorities rather like these kinds of challenges. Then it will tell its citizens that they are both in the same boat. This is, of course, a big advantage for the government: most Israelis do not consider the difference between society and state. This becomes well apparent in the colloquial language that politicians and journalists like to bandy about: eternal confusion between the state, the regime, on the one side and its inhabitants, society, on the other side – “The whole nation”, etc.

And anyone who has passed through the Israel education system and is attentive to its media communications will fall into the trap – unless s/he belongs to the population sectors most egregiously discriminated against – particularly discriminated against so that the others will identify with and feel kinship and common interests with the government. It is well known that the most efficient way to dominate and repress people is by differential distribution of privilege. And this pays off for the government. Even those who go out and demonstrate against government policy are equipped with Israeli flags, the flag of the regime that represses them. It would be interesting to know if these demonstrators are thought to have a “political agenda.”

So everything happens in the first person plural – including criticism of the government. And the “last one” [Netanyahu] hears this and laughs all the way to the bank. As long as the majority believe as Louis IV, in spite of everything, that the state and he are one and the same – then the corrupt regime is secure and at ease.

It is not easy to follow the news. A specialized body is required for this: thick elephant skin, rhinoceros horn, obtuse heart and more. The question is what else must we become inured to in Israel: poverty, unemployment, public summary executions, hate demonstrations, racism, house demolitions and more.

A reporter wanted to enter Israel. So he wanted to. He has been banned entry for 10 years. Is it still possible to talk about ethics within the context of Israel? It is very doubtful. As the German jurist Carl Schmitt, who contributed his talents to the service of the Nazi regime until the latter became sick of him, once said, “This is not legitimacy, but dictatorship.” And indeed, this is dictatorial administration. Not “like”. Not “reminds of”. Not “corresponds to”. Not “amorphous.” Not “might be construed to be.” Entirely, without quotation marks. And without diversions. Without the chasm that separates the designator from the designee. In actuality, this is beyond administration. It is dictatorship.

It is not easy, therefore, to follow the news, but also it may not be so important to do so and it is mainly unsatisfying. Beyond all this, it is worthwhile that we begin to quietly and seriously ask ourselves: Who is this regime good for?

(Source / 27.12.2015)

School students choke on teargas in Bethlehem village

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– More than 20 school students in the Palestinian village of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, choked on teargas at noon Sunday after Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired teargas canisters at their school.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers fired teargas bombs in the vicinity of the schools area, west of the village, leading to breathing problems among the students.

Red Crescent ambulance crews extended assistance to the students, the sources said.

They added that the soldiers deliberately fired teargas at local houses near the schools triggering clashes with the inhabitants.

(Source / 27.12.2015)

PA proposes ending intifada and holding secret talks with Israel

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Palestinian Authority (PA) recently proposed holding talks in camera with Israel to table final status issues in exchange for working on ending al-Quds intifada (uprising) in the occupied territories, Israeli sources has revealed.

According to the Hebrew radio, the Palestinian proposal aims to end the wave of violence and restart secret peace talks with Israel in return.

The radio claimed that PA negotiation chief Saeb Erekat had made the proposal during his meeting last July with Israel’s former deputy premier Silvan Shalom at the Jordanian intelligence headquarters in Amman.

Three weeks later, Shalom met again with Erekat, but this time at the Egyptian intelligence headquarters in Cairo and told him that Israel was willing to hold such talks but with no prior conditions.

(Source / 27.12.2015)