Israel preparing plans to build in West Bank hotspot: Report

NGO says Israel is preparing to build in E1 corridor near East Jerusalem, despite project being officially cancelled under international pressure

Israel publicly ditched its plans after local and international protests

Israel is secretly pushing ahead with plans to build thousands of homes in an area of the occupied West Bank that could seriously harm any hopes of a two-state solution, according to a report from an Israeli NGO.

The Peace Now group says it has obtained official documents through Israel’s freedom of information laws that show the housing ministry secretly hired architects plan homes in the E1 area of the West Bank, despite the project’s cancellation in 2013 under international pressure.

The plan for more than 8,000 homes in E1, near the illegal Ma’ale Adumim settlement near Jerusalem, was shelved by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013 after Palestinian activists set up a tent city named ‘Bab al-Shams’ to prevent construction.

Peace Now says its report, released on Monday, shows that the housing ministry hired architects in November 2014 to push forward with the plan.

E1, also known as East 1, is 12.4 square kilometres of land northeast of East Jerusalem and west of Ma’ale Adumim, which is home to 40,000 residents.

To the north of E1 is another large settlement, Pisgat Ze’ev.

Israeli construction in E1 would connect the two settlements, surround East Jerusalem completely and sever any geographical contiguity in the West Bank – a serious blow to any hopes of a viable Palestinian state.

According to Peace Now, the housing ministry plans 55,000 new homes in the area, including the creation of two new settlements near Bethlehem and in the Jordan Valley.

If implemented, as many as 15,000 Palestinian living in 45 communities in the area could be displaced.

“The area of Ma’ale Adumim and E1 is one of the most sensitive areas in terms of the chances for two-state solution,” Peace Now wrote.

“For these reasons, whenever an Israeli leader tries to promote the plans in E1, the international community strongly condemns them.”

The US, UN and EU oppose all Israeli settlement building but have particular concerns about plans for E1.

“This planning, which contradicts any possible commitment to a two-state solution, continues,” said Monday’s report, although it added that the plans could be years from realisation.

“They must be approved by the defence minister and then go through the approval process of the planning authority,” the report said.

Housing minister Yoav Galant denied the claims on Monday, telling Army Radio that there was “no planning and no preparation for planning in that area”.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

IOF demolishes Palestinian house south of O. J’lem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli military bulldozers demolished Tuesday morning a Palestinian house in Sur Baher village, south of occupied Jerusalem.

Eyewitnesses reported that a number of Israeli bulldozers, escorted by IOF soldiers, stormed since the early morning hours Sur Baher village and surrounded a local home under construction.

The demolished two-story house belongs to Issa Rabay’a, the sources added.

The house’s owner had earlier received an Israeli demolition notification under the pretext that the house was being built without permit.

On the other hand, an Israeli court accepted an appeal submitted by the citizen Mohamed Amira against his house demolition.

As part of the Israeli displacement policy, more than 20,000 Palestinian houses are threatened with demolition in occupied Jerusalem under the pretext of being built without permit.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

Palestinian child was beaten to death after shot by IOF, says Qaraqe’

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Head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoner Affairs, Issa Qaraqe’ on Tuesday said that the Israeli retention of Palestinians’ bodies after killing them was a shameful moral stigma that challenges all human and religious values. 

Speaking at the funeral of 16-year-old Ma’moun Al-Khatib, Qaraqe’ said that even the most fascist countries would not torture their victims even after killing them, torment their families and place restrictions on their burial or funerals, except for Israel.

“Israel has willfully killed civilians and still refuses to return their bodies to their families. The bodies of these victims are violated as worthless carcasses, and when returned, the killer places his own conditions in unprecedent insolence and a doubled crime.”

Qaraqe’ also added that Ma’moun Al-Khatib (16) from Al-Doha town in Bethlehem, whose body has been returned on Sunday after three weeks of detention, has been beaten to death after shot when he was still alive.

He said that there are marks of torture and savage beating on his body, which is the case of other countless Palestinian victims of the Israeli forces. 

The shooting took place on December 1st, when IOF claimed that the boy tried to stab a soldier on Etzion checkpoint south of Bethlehem.

Israel has retunred several bodies of martyrs that they willfully killed in the past few months, and still retains some 50 bodies, refusing to give them back.

The bodies are handed back to their families under strict conditions that include time, place, and number of people in the funeral.

This move is to prevent taking the victims to anatomy, since Israel has been accused of harvesting organs and operating other violations on their dead bodies kept in refrigerators.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

15 Palestinians kidnapped last night and today morning in W. Bank

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped last night and Tuesday morning 15 Palestinians, including a girl, during campaigns in different West Bank areas.

Three citizens identified as Anas Odeh, Abdul-Rahman Qadumi and Amir Ashtiya were taken prisoners in Nablus province, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society on Tuesday.

Five young men were also kidnapped from Jenin city, Qalandiya refugee camp, Kafr Aqab town to the north of Jerusalem, and the province of Ramallah and Bireh.

In al-Khalil, the IOF kidnapped 47-year-old Muslem Ashur and a girl called Inas Marrar.

Five others were taken prisoners last night and today during IOF campaigns in other West Bank areas.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

IOF closes Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies in Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Tuesday raided and closed Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights in Nablus city.

Director of the center Fouad al-Khafsh told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers broke into and ransacked the organization’s offices in the central district of Nablus and confiscated all its computers and electrical equipment as well as files and documents.

Khafsh added that an Israeli soldier left a military notice announcing that the center would remain closed until further notice.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

478 Palestinian facilities demolished in 2015

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have demolished 478 houses and facilities in West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, according to the PLO’s Abdullah Hourani Center for Studies and Documentations.

The report, which was published Tuesday, said that Israel continued its ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem through its policy of demolishing homes as well as commercial, industrial and agricultural facilities.

Israel’s demolition policy is a part of its collective punishment against Palestinians especially after the Jerusalem Intifada, the report pointed out.

“Since the beginning of 2015, Israeli forces have demolished 247 homes and 231 facilities across West Bank cities and occupied Jerusalem.”

The report stressed that Israeli demolition policy mainly aims at displacing Palestinians from their houses to be then handed over to Israeli settlers under flimsy security and military pretexts.

Israeli authorities usually implement demolition orders in strategic and important zones in occupied Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, claiming that the houses have been built “without permits” in Area C, which is under full Israeli control.

In 2014, Israel has demolished more than 543 Palestinian structures and displaced at least 1,266 people, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Local and international watchdogs have criticized Israel’s home demolition policy, saying that it contributes to a cycle of violence and merely inflicts collective punishment on family members.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

Daesh: The ‘Enemy’ The US Created, Armed, And Funded

To delve into Daesh’s convoluted money trail, one must first explore its equally convoluted origins. And in both areas, the role of the U.S. and its allies can not be ignored.

ISIS militants stand with a captured American Humvee, given to the Iraqi Army and captured by ISIS, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo)

KITCHENER, Ontario — Out of nowhere, it seems, Daesh, also commonly referred to as ISIL or ISIS, spontaneously formed, a group that perverts aspects of Islam for its own violent ends, and threatens, we are told, all that the civilized world holds dear.

The “war on terror,” governments inform their citizens, has a new front. And that front is Daesh.

Let us not be too hasty. Things are not always what they appear. Daesh is well-financed, and that money must be coming from somewhere other than a ragtag band of malcontents. Daesh soldiers have advanced weaponry and sophisticated communications methods. They have tanks and Humvees. None of these can be obtained without significant funding. Though the source is quite illusive, there is some evidence that will lead to a trail.

First, we must look at Daesh’s origins, and even that is not easily discernable. Writing for The Guardian in August 2014, Ali Khedery suggests:

“Principally, Isis is the product of a genocide that continued unabated as the world stood back and watched. It is the illegitimate child born of pure hate and pure fear – the result of 200,000 murdered Syrians and of millions more displaced and divorced from their hopes and dreams. Isis’s rise is also a reminder of how Bashar al-Assad’s Machiavellian embrace of al-Qaida would come back to haunt him.

Facing Assad’s army and intelligence services, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Shia Islamist militias and their grand patron, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Syria’s initially peaceful protesters quickly became disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised – and then radicalised and violently militant.”

It is interesting that Mr. Khedery says that Assad’s “embrace of al-Qaida” came back to haunt him. It brings to mind a parallel situation in the United States. (Actually, there are many, but we will look at only one.)

Examining the theories of the origins of Daesh

 A group of Afghan mujahedeens, Islamic guerrillas, look over a U.S. Marine humvee in eastern Saudi Arabia, Monday, Feb. 11, 1991. The Marines visited a camp consisting of about 300 mujahedeens who have been asked by the Saudi government to help fight against Iraq in the Gulf War. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)

In the early 1960s, when the U.S.-supported leadership of Iraq was becoming just a bit too big for its britches — at least in the United States’ view — in wanting to challenge Israel as a major player in the Middle East, the U.S. decided that its leader, Abdel Karim Kassem, had to go. Selecting a virulent anti-communist party to throw its support to, the U.S. worked closely with a young man named Saddam Hussein. We all know how well that ultimately worked out. The source of much, but not all, of the unrest in the Middle East today can be traced back to that U.S. decision.

Other theories on the formation of Daesh are also worth considering. Yasmina Haifi, a senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, asserted that Daesh was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation. “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” she wrote on Twitter in August 2014.

And finally, it has been more than suggested that Daesh “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region,” as Garikai Chengu, a research scholar at Harvard University, put it in September 2014.

Yet if the United States’ role wasn’t that blatant, it certainly existed, according to Seumas Milne, a columnist and associate editor at The Guardian. He argued in a June opinion piece:

“[T]he U.S. and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of ‘Islamic state’ – despite the ‘grave danger’ to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.”

No matter how one looks at it, there are many possible causes that spawned Daesh. As we look at its funding sources, it may all become clearer.

Funding and materiel, courtesy of Uncle Sam and his friends

Iraqi security forces look at confiscated ISIS weapons and ammunition after regaining control over the last week, in Ramadi, Iraq's Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015.

In Daesh’s role as opposing Syria (just one of its many roles) the terrorist outfit is believed to have receivedfunding from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as part of their opposition to the Assad regime.

But it also generates its own income, having taken control of local businesses, taxing others, and selling oil.Among its customers, incredibly, is Syria. Since Daesh controls much of the oil-production infrastructure in the country, Syria has little choice but to purchase oil from the very group that seeks to overthrow its government.

Reports also indicate that Israel is a main buyer of Daesh oil. The sale is not direct; oil is smuggled by Kurdish and Turkish smugglers, and then Turkish and Israeli negotiators determine the price. As a result of these oil sales, Daesh has annual revenues estimated at $500 million, according to data compiled by the U.S. Treasury.

In November of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Daesh is being financed by at least 40 countries — including G20 members. With such widespread financing, it will be difficult to defeat Deash.

The U.S., in its misguided and destructive foreign policy toward the Middle East (its misguided and destructive foreign policies toward the rest of the world are topics for a separate discussion), also provided Daesh with a vast arsenal.

Last year, the Department of Defense, bragging about advances against this new “enemy” in Iraq, issued a press release: “The three strikes destroyed three ISIL armed vehicles, and ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, an ISIL checkpoint and an IED emplacement.” Commenting on that statement in Alternet, Alex Kane wrote:

“What went unmentioned by the Pentagon is that those armed vehicles and artillery guns they bombed were likely paid for with American tax dollars. The arms ISIS possesses are another grim form of blowback from the American invasion of the country (Iraq) in 2003. It’s similar to how U.S. intervention in Libya, which overthrew the dictator Muammar Gaddafi but also destabilized the country,  let to a flood of arms to militants in Mali, where France and the U.S. waged war in 2013.”

The U.S. left untold amounts of weaponry in Iraq, and as that country descended into civil war following the United States’ odd salvation of it, that weaponry was free for the taking.

So even if, as suggested above, the U.S. didn’t give birth to Daesh, it has certainly nourished it.

A merry-go-round that never stops spinning

It is interesting to note that U.S. taxpayers are spending $615,482 every hour to fight a “war” in which the “enemy” is being well-financed by countries with whom the U.S. has full diplomatic relations. Does this not make it appear that “victory” over this enemy is not the goal? With many countries financing and supplying Daesh, might the world’s largest supplier of weaponry, the U.S., not be too interested in losing such a lucrative market? It’s worth noting that the United States’ “foreign military sales rose to a record high of $46.6 billion for fiscal 2015.” With such a healthy cash cow, would the country’s power-brokers really want to end war? Why kill the goose that is laying such pretty golden eggs?

As the U.S. and its hapless allies continue this “war on terror,” an ill-defined and nebulous “enemy” if ever there was one, Syria and Yemen seem to be bearing the brunt of the violence. As in every modern war at least since World War I, innocent men, women and children are the most frequent victims, suffering unspeakably and dying horrible deaths. And, somehow, the world’s most powerful military machine, owned and operated by the U.S., is unable to defeat Daesh. It must, therefore, continue to arm its allies, which are arming Daesh. So the U.S. provides funding to countries to fight Deash; some of those countries transfer money and armaments to Daesh, who the U.S. is bombing. And it seems that this deadly merry-go-round will continue its endless spinning.

And why shouldn’t it? The U.S. can, with ever-decreasing credibility, pretend to stand as a beacon of freedom and liberty, arming revolutionaries and destabilizing governments that displease it, while arming allies of the country in revolution, which in turn assist that country. So this “war on terror” never ends, and neither do the abundant profits from war-making. And when possession of the moral high ground is just an illusion, when rhetoric spewed from the mouths of hypocritical politicians to get the citizenry to wrap themselves in the flag and shed a tear for apple pie, motherhood and Old Glory, and when the almighty dollar is always the bottom line, nothing is going to change.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

Israel arrests four over video celebrating death of Palestinian toddler

Israeli media report that a soldier was among those arrested over video featuring calls for ‘revenge’ against Arabs

A still from the video that appeared to show revellers stabbing a picture of the dead toddler

Israeli police have arrested four Jewish men suspected of being among gun-waving extremists filmed celebrating the killing of a Palestinian toddler in a firebomb attack.

The four were shown in a wedding video, broadcast last week by an Israeli news channel, which spread online and drew strong condemnation from Israeli politicians including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP on Tuesday that the four were scheduled to appear in front of a Jerusalem court” for a remand hearing.

He said the arrests were “in connection with the weapons that were at the wedding and other things”.

Israeli public radio said among those arrested were the groom, a soldier who lent his assault rifle to another reveller and a former activist of the outlawed far-right Kach movement, who was allegedly shown brandishing a weapon and calling for revenge against Arabs.

The video showed wedding guests dancing with guns, knives and at least one unlit petrol bomb. It also showed the slashing of a picture of Ali Saad Dawabsha, an 18-month old killed with his parents in a firebombing attack on their home in the West Bank village of Duma on 31 July.

Israeli media reported that the groom had previously been questioned over acts of “Jewish terrorism” while other at the wedding were friends or relatives of suspects arrested over the July firebombing.

Netanyahu called the video “shocking” and said it showed “the true face of a group that constitutes a danger to Israeli society and to the security of Israel”.

In recent weeks, Israel has arrested a number of people over the 31 July firebombing.

The attack killed Ali Saad, and his parents later died from severe burns. The couple’s four-year-old son was the sole survivor from the immediate family.

A Star of David and the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” were spray-painted on a wall near the family’s small house.

Palestinians have often highlighted the lack of progress in the Duma case as one of the causes of a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks targeting Israelis that began on 1 October.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

Family: Musab al-Ghazali ‘killed in cold blood’

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The family of 26-year-old Musab Mahmoud al-Ghazali on Tuesday accused Israeli forces of “executing him in cold blood.”Musab, who suffered a mental disorder, was shot dead on Dec. 26 after Israeli police say he pulled a knife on an officer in Allenby Square in Jerusalem.However, a witness said at the time that he had not seen a knife in the young man’s hand, and his family denied that he would have carried out an attack.Musab’s parents and brothers were detained from their home and interrogated by Israeli intelligence at the Russian Compound police station in Jerusalem following his death.”We told the interrogators that Musab was a student at the al-Nur School for people with special needs, and had never been affiliated to any political party,” Musab’s brother, Mutaz, told Ma’an.”He didn’t even know what the word attack means,” Mutaz said. “He suffers from a mental disorder and doesn’t care about politics or about what has been going on. All he cares about is watching TV soap operas.”Mutaz said that Musab left his home on Saturday morning in order to collect scrap metal, a routine task carried out by the 26-year-old in order to make a living.His family was shocked when they later heard that Musab had been killed, Mutaz said, adding that when his brother left for work that morning, he had no idea “the bullets of the occupation were awaiting him.”According to an Israeli police report following his death, Musab was sitting in a park by the New Gate in the Old City when he followed a Jewish couple towards Allenby Square.His movement “aroused suspicion” from Israeli police officers mounted on horses who then approached him, police said.After one of the officers asked to see his identification, a “hand fight” broke out, before police say Musab pulled out a knife. Police opened fire on him, killing him after he tried to lift himself from the ground a second time.However, a witness later told Ma’an that Musab had been sitting on a bench when the police officers arrived. He said that they asked him to stand and opened fire when he raised his hands in the air.Musab is among more than 140 Palestinians to be killed since the beginning of October, the majority shot dead during alleged attacks on Israeli military and civilians.Attacks on Israelis have been carried out largely without the organization of political groups, and often by individuals without any strong political affiliation.However, the circumstances of a number of deaths have been disputed by witnesses as well as rights groups, who have said that many Palestinians did not pose any threat at the time of their death.

(Source / 29.12.2015)

7-year-old chased by notorious Israeli settler in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian father living in Hebron’s Old City told Ma’an that his 7-year-old daughter was injured while being chased by notorious Israeli extremist Baruch Marzel on Monday.Raed Abu Irmeileh said that he had to take his daughter, Dana, to the Hebron Governmental Hospital “after she had fallen to the ground while being chased by Baruch Marzel near the Ibrahimi mosque.”Irmeileh told Ma’an that Israeli forces present in the area did not stop Marzel from chasing his children, and assaulted his 10-year-old son Hutasem as well as two brothers Nabil, 14, and Farhat Nader al-Rajabi, 10.An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information on the incidents.Irmeileh is one of thousands of Palestinians living in the Israeli-controlled center of Hebron — the largest city in the occupied West Bank — among hundreds of Israeli settlers living illegally in the area.Israeli rights group B’Tselem regularly documents Israeli settlers attacking locals under the protection of Israeli forces in Hebron.Marzel is well-known among Palestinians living in Hebron who fear the right-winger, follower of radical rabbi Meir Kahana and member to the Kach movement — outlawed by Israel in 1994 under anti-terrorism laws.Hebron’s Old City was declared a closed military zone in November, banning entrance to the area to all except registered Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers.Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah following the ban called for the presence of Palestinian security forces in al-Shuhada Street and Tel Rumeida areas of Hebron in order to provide “security and protection” for Palestinians against Israeli settler assaults.

(Source / 29.12.2015)