Israel may revoke ‘closed military zone’ status of Jordan Valley plots

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli government has announced that it may revoke the closed military zone status of a number of land plots in the Jordan Valley, supposedly returning the land to their original Palestinian owners after decades of confiscation, an Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday.Israeli daily Haaretz first reported in January 2013 on the case of 14 Palestinian plots of land in the Jordan Valley near the separation wall which were confiscated by the Israeli military in 1967 and had been cultivated by Israelis from the illegal settlement of Mehola since the 1980s.Haaretz’s expose on the 5,000 dunams (1,235 acres) of land sparked a petition to the Israeli High Court from a group of Palestinians land owners, who demanded to have their agricultural areas returned to them.But it was only last week that the Israeli government indicated that the closed military zone status of these areas west of the separation wall could be lifted.Tawfiq Jabrin, a lawyer representing some of the Palestinian plaintiffs, told Haaretz that “the state pretty much confessed to doing something illegal, but they have yet to decide what they want to do with it.“They did not say they plan to remove the trespassers within six months, but rather they want to hold talks between the sides. There is nothing to talk about, we want our land back.”The Israeli army didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.The news comes several days after Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that plans to declare 1,500 dunams (370 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank district of Jericho in the Jordan Valley as “state land” were in their “final stages.”The move is the largest declaration of “state land” since August 2014, when Israel claimed 4,000 dunams (988 acres) of land near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, sparking international outcry.Areas in the West Bank which get classified as state land by Israeli authorities often end up being included in Jewish-only settlements, which are illegal under international law.Following COGAT’s announcement on Wednesday, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said in a statement that continued land confiscation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was a “diplomatic catastrophe.””The government’s decision is another step on the way to destroy the possibility for a two state solution. Netanyahu is being dragged by Naftali Bennett and begins a silent annexation of area C,” the group said, referring to the area of the occupied West Bank under full control of the Israeli military.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

Israel strikes Gaza targets in response to rocket fire

Israeli fighter jet. © Abir Sultan

Israeli fighter jet

In retaliation to a single rocket that struck an open area in southern Israel on Sunday, the IDF has carried out overnight strikes on Gaza, reportedly hitting at least two “terrorist targets.”

According to Palestinian sources, the attacks targeted facilities near the cities of Khan Younis in the south and Deir al Balah in the center of the strip, The Times of Israel reported. Israeli Army spokesman Colonel Peter Lerner has confirmed that its aircraft targeted a “Hamas military training facility” in central Gaza.

Aanval Gaza 250116

The Israeli Air Force jets reportedly hit two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Aanval Gaza 250116 1

The air raid comes in response to earlier rocket fire from the territory of Gaza when a single rocket apparently targeted Israel’s southern communities. The projectile triggered warning sirens, but exploded in an open area, causing no injuries or damage.

Aanval Gaza 250116 2

Rockets coming from Gaza regularly hit Israel but rarely cause any damage. While Hamas, which is in control of the Palestinian territory, has never admitted responsibility for the sporadic attacks on Israel, Tel Aviv maintains that the organization is responsible for everything taking place in the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

ROJAVA UPDATE 178: RUSSIA DENIES AIRBASE PLANS AS ISLAMIC STATE LAUNCHES NEW ATTACKS ACROSS HASAKAH

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

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

SYRIA AND IRAQ NEWS

In a motorcycle bomb attack in Quamishli or Friday evening, 4 are reported killed and 9 wounded.

syria-and-iraq-news

IS Bomb in Qamishli Causes More Destruction

The Islamic State (IS) have already claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place in the predominately Christian Assyrian area of Wista in the central part of the city.

This follows 3 similar bomb attacks on December 30th.

Yesterday, Sunday, IS also launched several other attacks across Hasakah province.

In the first IS used car-bombs and mortar shells against a headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Al-Hawl. 2 SDF fighters were killed and 5 others wounded.

The attack came from the IS-held town of Shaddadi which is a current target of the SDF advance.

The other IS attacks on Sunday were on villages and security posts around Mount Abdel Aziz in Hasakah province, using suicide bombs and heavy machine guns.

4 x IS Jihadists were killed in these clashes, with one Kurdish fighter killed and 2 more injured.

syria-and-iraq-news

Location of New US Base in NE Syria

Further to the previous report of preparations for a US airbase in north-east Hassakah province on an old agricultural crop-spraying airfield, the BBC has more information.

The size of the runway has been increased from 700 metres to 1.3 kilometres, long enough now to take Hercules transport aircraft.

In a rather tentative statement a spokesman for the US Department of Defence has justified the airfield by saying its small team in Syria needed “occasional logistical support”. You can read more, HERE:

Further to other reports (scroll down – see below) that the Russians were considering an airbase in Hasakah province as well, just 30 miles away from the American one, these were denied this morning, Monday, by Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

However, this is probably as reliable as recent Russian statements that they “are driving IS out of Latakia” (there are no Islamic State units in Latakia) and the Russian officer at the Russian airbase in Lattakia in the video below saying “Russian planes have not killed any civilians” (at the last count civilian deaths caused by Russian bombs were estimated from several sources as in excess of 1,000).

The BBC has returned to Russia’s main airbase in Syria, 2 months after its previous visit. Russia now claims to have made 6,000 sorties across Syria, HERE:

Off the coast, Russia, in an attempt to prove that it is a serious world power, has also now established an extensive well-armed battle force, HERE:

In Iraq, a new campaign is expected to be launched soon by the Kurdish Peshmerga south of Kirkuk in order to protect the oil rich town further. Joining them for the first time will be units of the Turkmen Popular Mobilization Forces who have been trained and equipped by the Coalition.

An Iraqi Government spokesman has also announced that launching a battle to retake Mosul is their next aim, “within the first half of 2016”. US Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, has also recently expressed the strong view that removing the Islamic State from both Raqqah and Mosul are now priorities.

RUSSIAN BOMBING KILLS ANOTHER 200 CIVILIANS OVER THE WEEKEND AS PEACE TALKS STUMBLE:

Russia’s “civilian friendly airstrikes” are credited with killing as many as 160 people, the majority civilians, in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ez Zour over the weekend, where IS militants are closing in on the remaining regime held areas of Deir Ez Zour city.

Activists say that the dead included 35 children and 9 women. As many as 90 civilians were reported dead in the town of Khasham and 55 in Al-Tabyiya.

A Russian missile on the Idlib town of Salquin on Sunday is additionally reported to have killed and injured dozens more, bringing the total of Russia-caused civilian deaths to over 200 in 2 days.

syria-and-iraq-news

Pro-Assad Forces Capturing Opposition Strongholds in Latakia

In Latakia province, Russian fire power has enabled the Assad regime with its allies to retake the Opposition stronghold of Rabi’ah, first surrounding the town on 3 sides and capturing the villages of Daroshan and Al-Rawda.

Slowly, the Opposition are being forced out of Latakia province, having recently lost Salma as well after holding it for 3 years, and may have to retreat to Idlib and Hama provinces. The BBChas more.

International peace talks on Syria due to start in Geneva this morning, Monday, appear to have stumbled with all sides still diagreeing over which groups should be allowed to take part.

UN special representative on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected to give a press conference this afternoon, while US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is still confidently predicting that everything “will be sorted out in the next 24 to 48 hours”.

syria-and--iraq-news

Coalition and Russian Airstrikes Across Syria

Meanwhile, the Islamic State continues to produce “delightful” videos, the latest one glorifying the IS killers who attacked 130 innocent people in Paris in November.

The video then goes to on to threaten the UK, showing its well-known landmarks and pictures of rifle crosshairs across the faces of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. TheGuardian has more.

However, IS may be beginning to feel the financial pinch. A leaked memo from the Islamic State’s
bureaucratic powers has warned fighters that they’re going to get a 50 percent pay cut across all positions “on account of the exceptional circumstances the Islamic State is facing.”

What exactly they mean by “exceptional circumstances” is unclear, but certainly their oil distribution business has been severely disrupted recently and the US now claims that they have bombed and destroyed 9 x IS cash distribution and storage facilities across Syria and Iraq, exploding and burning the equivalent of millions of dollars in notes.

Soldiers Kidnap Four Palestinians In Jenin, Two In Nablus

Israeli soldiers kidnapped, earlier on Monday, four Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp, and in Nablus city, in the northern part of the West Bank.

JENIN

Several Israeli military vehicles invaded the Jenin refugee camp, in Jenin city, stormed and searched many homes, interrogated many residents, and kidnapped four.

The kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Emad Omar Abu al-Haija, 21, Karam Mohammad Abu Aita, 19, Majd Adnan Naghnagha, 19, and Rami Salem Sa’adi, 20.

The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles on them, while the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and concussion grenades.

In addition, the soldiers invaded Balata refugee camp, in northern West Bank city of Nablus, searched many homes and kidnapped a Palestinian identified as ‘Ala Hafeth ‘Oweiss.

Another Palestinian, identified as Fadi Nidal Abu Saud, from Nablus, was kidnapped on the al-Karama Border Terminal, while heading back home from Jordan.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

Why an Abbas departure would be bad for Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves at US Secretary of State John Kerry as he leaves after their meeting in Amman, Oct. 24, 2015

The Palestinian Maan News Agency published an article on Jan. 4 titled “Palestine after Abbas” by Ramzy Baroud. This is a clear indication that the prospect of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resigning is a realistic possibility.

The rumor mill in Ramallah is working overtime as to the various scenarios for Abbas’ departure from power. Abbas represents the old guard of the Tunis leadership who, under Yasser Arafat, created the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It’s a leadership that placed the Palestinian cause on the international agenda — first through the armed terrorist struggle against Israel and later with the Oslo Accord. This leadership succeeded in focusing world attention on the occupied territories and brought about the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), generating hope for independence and statehood. And it is on that hope that this leadership, and especially Abbas, disappointed the Palestinian people.

In the eyes of most Palestinians, the failed strategy of negotiation and diplomacy expresses a betrayal by the current leadership of the Palestinian national cause. According to a Dec. 14 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, two-thirds of Palestinians are in favor of replacing Abbas.

A senior PA official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that there is no certainty that Abbas will indeed leave his post; moreover, Abbas actually has no intention of doing so. Nevertheless, the source admitted that the political situation of the president is unstable. Abbas is 81 years old and people want a changing of the guard. Armed struggle is more popular today in the Palestinian street than diplomacy. The economy suffers from a deep crisis given the security situation and the fatigue of the donor community.

The PA official, who is part of the president’s circle, blames the international community and part of the Arab world for letting Abbas down. He said, “International passivity is a kiss of death to Palestinian moderation.”

According to the source, the Palestinian leadership’s future could be played out in various scenarios. The most likely scenario, he believes, is that Abbas will stay in power. While criticized across the board, Abbas is still viewed as the leader who enjoys the best relations with the international and Arab donor community. A second possibility would be that of changing leadership at a later stage (where Abbas stays only for the short-term). In that case, the security authorities might take over, with a possible new figurehead as president.

The PA official noted that the only outside party with a role in this possible future power struggle could be Egypt. The Egyptians may want to see an Abdel Fattah al-Sisi-like regime (led by a general) in the West Bank in order to counter Hamas.

Altogether, the PA official claimed that, in the long run, the old guard — “Tunis PLO” — regime would probably come to an end. A new leadership will emerge from Fatah grassroots in the West Bank. These new leaders would be young people who fought in the past intifadas — a leadership that would be more militant, more nationalistic, and in favor of a two-state solution without any concession to Israel. It would be an effective leadership, but with little love lost for liberal democracy.

For Israel, that would be bad news. This would most probably mean that continuation of the security cooperation would be conditioned on a short, realistic process toward a two-state solution. A personal confidante of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed very sharp criticism of Abbas. He described Abbas as a double-faced and weak person. To the world, the source claimed, Abbas speaks in a moderate language about a two-state solution. In reality, he is inciting violence by glorifying the individual terror acts. He attempts to prevent an intifada only out of self-interest. Netanyahu, he argued, sees in Abbas a rejectionist who refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and a weak leader who will sooner or later be overthrown by the fundamentalists.

Despite this blatant criticism, the official admitted that Abbas is still the Israeli government’s preferred option and that the prime minister’s office is concerned about the possibility of Abbas being overthrown. Asked how the Netanyahu government would deal with an alternative leadership, he said that it would present to this new leadership the same conditions it had presented to Abbas: Without the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and an acceptance of Israel’s basic security arrangement demands, there would be no two-state solution.

Indeed, it is clear that the Netanyahu government is faced with a dichotomy: on one side, it wants a weak Abbas; on the other, it wants him to stay in power.

Netanyahu did his utmost to weaken Abbas, refusing a realistic two-state solution by significantly expanding settlement construction, releasing Hamas prisoners and not prisoners of Fatah and launching a worldwide communication campaign to depict Abbas as a terror instigator. But at the same time, privately, in the confidence of his close associates, Netanyahu prays for Abbas’ political survival.

Israel will probably soon find out that it does not work both ways.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

Israel to take over Palestinian home in al-Khalil

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)–  The Palestinian Reconstruction Committee in the southern occupied West Bank province of al-Khalil warned on Monday of Israeli intents to take over a home in the city in favor of illegal settlers.

Al-Khalil’s Reconstruction Committee said historical documents prove that Palestinians are the only owners of the homes built in the Old City of al-Khalil and that none of these houses shall turn into a bargaining chip with the Israeli occupation government.

Reports have recently been released by Israeli news outlets on an underway agreement between the occupation government and the settlers to hold sway over one of two homes that were misappropriated sometime earlier and to move the settlers back into the house.

The committee held the Israeli occupation government responsible for the projected upshots of such an “illegitimate decision” which infringes all international laws, and fans the flames of the simmering violence rocking the occupied Palestinian territories.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

EURO-MED DOCUMENTS CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES OF 10-YEAR GAZA BLOCKADE

Geneva—The latest statistics from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor demonstrate in stark detail the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s 10-year blockade of Gaza. Forty percent of Palestinians in Gaza now live below the poverty line and 80 percent rely on emergency relief aid to put food on the table.

An estimated 922,000 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip now receive different forms of aid; 6 out of 10 families suffer from food insecurity. The shame and the stress of trying just to survive has contributed to a rise in domestic violence, impacting a startling 73 percent of families.

The Israeli government imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2006, following the Palestinian elections that January in which the Hamas party won a majority of parliamentary seats. The result has been collective punishment. Thus, Euro-Med has launched a petition calling on Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to advocate for an independent seaport for Gaza.

   The only solution that has a chance for offering reliable independence for the people of Gaza is its own seaport

Ramy Abdu, chair of Euro-Med Monitor

“The Palestinians want the blockade to be lifted, with unrestricted travel and trade through the Erez [Israel] and Rafah [Egypt] crossings,” says Ramy Abdu, PhD, Euro-Med chair. “But those countries tend to abrogate any agreements at any bump in the road. Thus, the only solution that has a chance for offering reliable independence for the people of Gaza is its own seaport.” A few other statistics:

• Fifty percent of children are in need of psychological support, and 55 percent of the entire population have experienced or suffer from depression.

• The unemployment rate has reached 43 percent, making it the highest in the world. Youth unemployment is estimated at an even higher 62 percent.

• Electricity is off an average of 12-16 hours per day. Forty percent of the population receive only four to eight hours of water every three days due to lack of power.

• Ninety-five percent of water in the Strip is undrinkable.

•  Daily, 90,000 cubic meters of wastewater is dumped untreated into the sea due to lack of power and the proper equipment.

• Hospitals are operating at only 40 percent of capacity. Patients sometimes must wait 18 months to have an operation at Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa. Worse yet, many patients do not receive the necessary medical care at all due to lack of medicine.

• In the years since the blockade was imposed, Gaza’s industrial sector has shrunk 60 percent, the GDP by 50 percent, individual income by 32 percent and exports by 4 percent

• It is estimated that 100,000 homes still need to be rebuilt in Gaza to house internally displaced families. Israel has launched three military attacks on the Gaza Strip since 2008.

   Israel prevents investigation commissions and UN inspectors from entering Gaza for fear of solid evidence of Israel’s criminal behavior will be exposed

Since the last assault in the summer of 2014, only 40 percent of aid pledges made by international governments and institutions during the donor conference in Cairo have actually been fulfilled. In addition, the near-continuous closure of the borders has prevented essential construction materials from entering the Strip and thus delayed the recovery process. Compared to 2005, the number of Palestinians allowed to enter or leave through the Israeli Erez crossing point has declined by 75 percent.

Likewise, Egypt’s Rafah border crossing was open for only 20 days in 2015. “Israel continues to commit flagrant violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip,” says Abdu. “Simultaneously, Israel prevents investigation commissions and UN inspectors from entering Gaza for fear of solid evidence of Israel’s criminal behavior will be exposed.

All sectors of life in Gaza are at risk of a major collapse soon. As an occupier, Israel is obligated by international law to fulfill its allow the Palestinians in Gaza to live productive, dignified lives.”

Sign the petition to call on the European Union to apply serious pressure on Israel to lift the blockade

(Source / 25.01.2016)

Are Shiites divided over what to do about Saudi Arabia?

Members of the Popular Mobilization Units hold portraits of lawmaker and paramilitary commander Hadi al-Amiri (C), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) and Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (L) during a demonstration to show support for Yemen’s Shiite Houthis and in protest of an air campaign in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition, in Baghdad, March 31, 2015

Following the Jan. 2 execution of the Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia, Shiite leaders from around the world issued statements of condolence and protest. Among the collection of stances expressed, a clear distinction could be seen between those reflecting the position of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and those following the thinking of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, leader of the Najaf Hawza. ​This distinction has been of consequence to the Saudi regime and will perhaps increase in importance with implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal and the public opposition to Nimr’s execution.

Khamenei issued a statement Jan. 3 that not only condemned the execution of Nimr and hurled accusations at the Saudi regime, but also went so far as to portend its demise. “The oppressed martyr’s blood will leave its mark, and divine vengeance shall strike down Saudi politicians for their conduct in his regard,” wrote Khamenei. In contrast, Sistani avoided attacking the Saudi regime, and instead expressed solidarity with the families of the 47 people executed — four Shiites (including Nimr) and the rest Sunnis, most of them affiliated with al-Qaeda. Sistani simply stated, “We condemn and denounce what occurred and express our condolences and sympathy to their bereaved families for this great loss.”

The different approaches of the two ayatollahs reflect a divergence between two distinct Shiite philosophies with an effect on Shiite minorities living in majority-Sunni worlds. The dichotomy is also reflective of the positions taken by Khamenei and Sistani over the years in their religious capacities.

Khamenei, the political and religious leader of the largest Shiite country in the region (and the world), considers himself to be the custodian of all Muslims, not just Shiites. On his official website, he describes himself as the “Guardian of Muslims,” a characterization justified by his view that the guardianship of Muslims is a divinely mandated post, about which Muslims have no say irrespective of whether they actually accept him as their guardian.

Meanwhile, Sistani does not consider himself to be the guardian of Shiites in Iraq or anywhere else in the world. He views all Muslims as brothers. In an August 2014 meeting with Shiites from the Gulf, a question arose about professing loyalty to him. Sistani responded, “Do not sanctify anyone and refrain from giving anyone importance beyond their status or rank.” Concerning Shiite relations with other segments of society, he said, “Do not attack or criticize the sanctities and symbols of others. Let mutual respect reign between all.” In addition, Sistani criticized the revolutionary movements of the Arab Spring, considering them seditious and the cause of sectarianism, resulting in heinous crimes.

After Nimr’s execution, official websites affiliated with Khamenei were filled with sharp criticism, similar to his, targeting the Saudi regime, prophesying its imminent demise. Khamenei had also earlier criticized the Saudi regime in various speeches as the Iranian-Saudi conflict intensified in the region.

Sistani, however, has been more balanced when discussing the Saudis. In Nimr’s case, Sistani chose first to focus his efforts on preventing Saudi Arabia from actually carrying out the death penalty against Nimr. In doing so, he avoided escalating and inflaming the political-sectarian conflict with the Saudi regime.

According to Saudi Shiite cleric Musa Abu Khamseen, the majority of Saudi Shiites follow Sistani and do not espouse the revolutionary approach advocated by Khamenei. They include the movement represented by Nimr, who belonged to the Shirazi school of thought, known for its religiously motivated opposition to the approach of Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini based on political Shiism and revolutionary Islam, mixed with anti-Saudi inclinations. Nimr’s rhetoric focused on civic demands, although the lack of any meaningful redress by the Saudi regime ultimately compelled him to escalate his position and rhetoric. Saudi security forces arrested him after a speech he delivered in June 2012 and charged him with sowing sedition among Shiites.

Iran, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, began spreading its philosophy to Saudi Arabia, giving rise to a strong anti-Saud opposition movement there, mainly through Hezbollah al-Hejaz, established in 1987. The latter initially attracted supporters from the kingdom’s predominantly Shiite Eastern Province, but collapsed in 1993 when its leadership — including Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar, known for his moderation and contacts with the Saudi regime — entered into negotiations and ultimately signed agreements with the regime concerning the return of exiled Shiite leaders.

In another sign that Shiites in eastern Saudi Arabia are not necessarily hostile toward the regime, Nimr’s brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, despite strongly condemning his brother’s execution, also condemned the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on the same day.

Sistani’s moderate stance and influence among Shiites is an important opportunity that the Saudi regime could take advantage of to provide equal civil rights to its Shiite minority and help defend against the rise of Iran-backed revolutionary movements. With the implementation of the deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the balance of power is shifting in Iran’s favor, making such a step urgent if it is to be taken. To strengthen its society against foreign powers, the regime must support all its components and integrate them in a united Saudi Arabia.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad al-Qiq could die ‘any moment’

Palestinian hunger striker Mohammad al-Qiq could die 'any moment'

Qiq was arrested in November at his home in the city of Ramallah

The health of the Palestinian journalist is deteriorating rapidly in an Israeli jail, as his family and rights groups call for immediate action.

A Palestinian journalist on a two-month hunger strike in an Israeli jail could die at any minute, his lawyer warned on Monday.

Mohammad al-Qiq’s health is “very, very bad”, lawyer Jawad Boulus told AFP after a visit on Sunday. “He faces the possibility of death at any moment.”

Qiq, a 33-year-old father of two and a correspondent for Saudi Arabia’s al-Majd TV network, was arrested on November 21 at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah and is being held under Israel’s controversial administrative detention law.

He has been refusing food since November 25 in protest against the “torture and ill treatment that he was subjected to during interrogation”, according to Addameer, a Palestinian human rights organisation.

But 61 days since his strike began, Qiq’s organs are now at risk of failure.

Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic security service, alleges Qiq is an active member of the Islamist group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.

Administrative detention laws allow Israel to jail suspects without trial for six-month periods – renewable indefinitely – a policy which has been condemned by human rights advocates.

Qiq was transferred to hospital in the Israeli city of Afula about a month ago, a prisons authority spokeswoman said.

His family have previously said they expect Israel to feed him intravenously if he loses consciousness, though Israeli authorities have denied they will force-feed him.

At 61 days since his strike began, Mohammad al-Qiq’s organs are at risk of failure

A controversial Israeli law passed in July allows the force-feeding of prisoners in certain circumstances, though it has not yet been invoked.

Over the weekend, human rights group Amnesty International called on Israeli authorities to immediately cease all non-consensual medical treatment and other punitive measures against Qiq.

The London-based group said that authorities had undertaken a number of measures aimed at pressuring him to end the hunger strike, some of which violated the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.

“Mohammed has forcibly received intravenous drugs which we fear prelude force-feeding attempts,” Mohammed’s wife Shalash told The New Arab.

The family have also appealed to United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to lobby Israel on their behalf.

Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority’s head of prisoners’ affairs told The New Arab that it was “likely” that Israel would start force-feeding Qiq, making him the first prisoner to undergo the practice since it was legalised by Israel’s parliament.

In August of last year, Israel made moves to force-feed Mohammad Allan, who nearly died after his two-month hunger strike in protest at his detention without charge or trial. But doctors said they would refuse to carry out the controversial procedure on Allan.

Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “personally bears responsibility for Qiq’s life”.

Qiq was jailed for a month in 2003 and then for 13 months in 2004.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank’s Birzeit University.

Israel is holding approximately 6,800 Palestinian political prisoners, according to the rights group Addameer.

(Source / 25.01.2016)

Rights group urges ICC to investigate Egypt for abuses in Gaza

file photo of Gazans waiting at the fence to no man's land near the Rafah crossing

Between January 1, 2015 and November 15, 2015, the Rafah crossing was open for just 19 days [file photo of Gazans waiting at the fence to no man’s land near the Rafah crossing]

Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK today called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the flooding of the border between Gaza and Egypt and the closure of the Rafah crossing.

AOHR UK submitted two communications to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC inviting the prosecutor to investigate and prosecute both the deliberate infiltration of seawater into Gaza’s territory and the closure of the Rafah crossing.

The organisation said both acts constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity and are therefore under ICC jurisdiction.

An ICC investigation could “serve to loosen what are effectively siege conditions in Gaza, and consequently, change the lives of the 1.8 million citizens of Gaza,” AOHR UK explained.

Toby Cadman, International Criminal Law expert and head of legal team advising AOHR, notes, the Egyptian policy in the border constitutes “a clear violation of the laws of war and shows evident criminal features”.

Rafah Egypte

(Source / 25.01.2016)