Hasbara Exposed: Propaganda Group Posts Photoshopped Video of Soldiers Dumping Man from Wheelchair

A Facebook *hasbara (propaganda) group has posted, on their page, a video which has apparently been edited in order to convince viewers to believe that a disabled man’s crutch is a firearm, as he is violently thrown from his wheelchair by an Israeli soldier.

Hasbara

The group, called “The Palestinian lie”, posted the video below on February 15th, with the following subtext:

English below
במהלך פיזור הפגנה, שוטר מג”ב חשד באחד המחבלים שישב על כיסא גלגלים, השוטר הדף את המחבל אחורה, ותראו מה נפל מהבגד של המחבל… רובה מאולתר!!
During dealing with a riot one of the broder patrol officers suspected an arab terrorist on a wheelchair. The officer pushed the arab terrorist back and as he fell from the wheelchair what fell out of is clothing? An armed gun!

The video was posted on Facebook, in response to footage and accompanying news, which surfaced yesterday, February 14th:

Though the original footage is slightly murky, one can plainly see, upon replay, that the the two dark objects circled in the doctored footage are, in fact, falling in tandem and make up the top and bottom pieces of an axillary crutch.

*Israeli news outlet +972 defines “hasbara” as a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Hasbara efforts also often include a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians.

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Israeli court criticized for ruling on near-death Palestinian hunger striker

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Prominent Israeli rights group B’Tselem on Thursday criticized a ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice on Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq as a “new low in the instrumentalist approach to human beings.”In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Executive Director of the group Hagai Elad called for the immediate release of the 33-year-old journalist as he entered day 86 on strike against his administrative detention without charge or trial.Eyad slammed the rationale used by Israeli justices to reject a request by al-Qiq transferred to a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah, which reportedly argued that if the detainee was released, efforts to detain him in the future would “endanger soldiers’ lives.”“This sort of argument obviously cannot justify continuing to hold al-Qiq in HaEmek Hospital contrary to his express wishes. The fact that the court accepted this argument says more about the justices than about the reasonableness of the claim,” Eyad said.The director of the rights group said such argument was testament to “the long history” of High Court justices as “serving as a rubber stamp for administrative detention orders.”Eyad said said the use of the word “whims” by Israeli Justice Elyakim Rubinstein to describe al-Qiq’s requests to be transferred to the Ramallah hospital also made it “difficult to attribute any serious legal meaning to the ruling.”Eyad pointed to Netanyahu, as head of Israel’s executive branch, to “bring about the only possible moral outcome in the current state of affairs — namely, the immediate release of Muhammad al-Qiq.“You bear responsibility for al-Qiq’s life. I urge you — I implore you — to order al-Qiq’s immediate release before it is too late,” Eyad said.
Al-Qiq’s lawyers have yet to see “secret” evidence that the journalist is reportedly being held for, and have repeatedly failed to reach agreements for his release.Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer from the PA Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, told Ma’an Thursday that al-Qiq’s health was continuing deteriorate at a dangerous rate.“He can’t move his body, he has difficulty breathing, and the pain is getting worse and worse,” al-Khatib said.Israel has negotiated in cases of hunger strikes launched by Palestinian prisoners in the past out of fear that prisoners’ deaths could spark unrest, but Palestinian Prisoners’ Society head Qadura Fares told Ma’an last month that Israel had “nothing to lose” by failing to release al-Qiq before his death.Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have acted in solidarity with al-Qiq throughout his strike, with detainees in the Eshel prison saying Thursday that they would retaliate if al-Qiq dies before being released.Al-Qiq has refused to take salt or minerals and is only drinking water, maintaining to continue his strike until he is released.“Palestinian journalists including myself are paying the toll of a racist Israeli policy,” al-Qiq wrote in a letter last month, referring specifically to “journalists who are shot and detained” all over the occupied Palestinian territory.“When people are been treated tyrannically, they are no longer worried about the consequences even if the toll is life. Thus, I entrusted myself in God’s hands and I will continue with this hunger strike, until martyrdom or freedom,” al-Qiq said.
(Source / 19.02.2016)

Israel refuses to allow Al-Qeq’s family to visit

Muhammad Al-Qeq, Palestinian journalist

Muhammad Al-Qeq, Palestinian journalist

The Israeli authorities refused to allow the family of journalist Muhammad Al-Qeq, who has been on hunger strike for 87 days, from visiting him today in Afula Hospital citing security concerns.

Hamam Al-Qeq, Muhammad’s brother, told the Anadolu Agency that official Palestinian parties informed them that all efforts are being made to secure the family’s visit to see the hunger striker. However, these efforts have not been successful thus far due to security restrictions imposed by Israeli security authorities.

Hamam called on international parties to intervene in order to secure a visit to his brother.

“Yesterday, Muhammad asked that his family be permitted to visit him in Israel’s Afula Hospital after his health severely deteriorated, as he may die at any moment,” Hamam said.

In a press release, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said: “Great efforts are being made by the national authority with various parties to allow Al-Qeq’s family to visit as soon as possible.” He held Israeli completely responsible for the prisoner’s life.

Al-Qeq began his hunger strike on 25 November 2015 after he was held by Israel on administrative detention.

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Why Jaish al-Thuwar was bombarded by Turkey

Rebel fighters of Jaish al-Thuwar, who are fighting alongside the Democratic Forces of Syria, gather near al-Hawl area in the southeastern city of Hasaka, Syria, Nov. 10, 2015

Jaish al-Thuwar (Arabic for the Army of Revolutionaries) has been the focus of attention in the recent battles in northern Aleppo’s countryside, especially after being bombed by Turkish artillery and receiving support from the United States under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Jaish al-Thuwar is a part of.

Moreover, conflicting accusations were hurled at Jaish al-Thuwar of either collaborating with the Syrian regime or fighting with the party that pays the most. One can say that the intricate structure of Jaish al-Thuwar and the nature of its missions reflect the complex situation in the Aleppo countryside and the confusion prevailing among warring factions. Most importantly, this situation clearly reflects the glaring contradiction between the US and Turkish policies and the conflict of interests and agendas.

Jaish al-Thuwar was founded in early May 2015 as a result of a coalition of a number of brigades and battalions. Although it declared that it is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and set two goals — namely fighting the Islamic State (IS) and the Syrian regime — it remained relatively isolated from the other armed factions, and it has been always accused of collaborating with the Syrian regime.

Jaish al-Thuwar includes several battalions: the Homs Revolutionaries Grouping, led by Lt. Col. Abdul Ilah Al-Ahmad; the Northern Sun Battalion, led by Raisan Abu Mahmoud; the Special Operations Brigade, led by Ali Barad (who is the official leader of Jaish al-Thuwar); the Kurds Front, led by Salah Jabu; Regiment 777, led by Abu Arab; the 99th Infantry Brigade, led by Ahmed Mahmoud Sultan; and the Sultan Selim Brigade, led by Abdul Aziz Mirza.

Jaish al-Thuwar includes Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens in its ranks — namely the same components the SDF tried to highlight — to prove that it represents the different constituents of the Syrian society, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliations.

Since its inception, Jaish al-Thuwar has provoked controversy, given its contradictory behavior and orientation. It had joined the Aleppo Conquest Operations Room, contributing with about 200 militants from the Martyrs of Atareb Brigade. Soon after, it fought against the majority of factions within this operations room, mainly the Levant Front. It had also clashed with Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, which served as the two wings of the rival operations room known as the Ansar al-Sharia room.

By joining the Aleppo operations room, Jaish al-Thuwar was trying to gain the “revolutionary legitimacy” and popular support. However, the leaders of the operations room approved its joining in an attempt to contain it and prevent it from engaging in other counter-alliances.

This containment policy had continued, despite the group’s rushing to join the SDF. Many truce agreements were held between the SDF, the Aleppo room and Jaish al-Thuwar to solve problems and differences and to implement cease-fires. However, all these agreements ended in failure. Things have escalated to the point of no return with the Syrian army’s latest campaign on the northern Aleppo countryside. This was when Jaish al-Thuwar rushed to exploit this military campaign in one way or another to achieve progress on the group, imposing its control over some villages between Azaz and Afrin.

Although Jaish al-Thuwar denied more than once having any connection with the MOC operations center, which is run by foreign intelligence agencies, led by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, receiving support from US intelligence services is no longer a controversy. This is true particularly since it joined the Syrian Democratic forces, which Washington announced supplying them with 50 tons of weapons a few days after their formation.

This US cover has given Jaish al-Thuwar a sort of immunity, which is mainly attributed to Jabhat al-Nusra refraining from eliminating it, as it did before with Division 30. Jabhat al-Nusra most probably refrained from doing so, because the other factions’ leaders interfered and convinced it to contain and attract it.

The helping factor is that Jaish al-Thuwar was engaged in violent battles against IS in a number of villages north of the Aleppo countryside. This is why it was in everyone’s interest to preserve the group and increase pressure on IS. Indeed, the last truce agreement explicitly allowed Jaish al-Thuwar to move from Afrin to Azaz to fight IS.

Yet the escalated tension between Ankara and Washington regarding the stance toward Kurdish terrorism, Ankara’s warning against “a sea of bloodshed in case the US policy remains unchanged,” the change in the balance of power on the ground — after the Syrian army’s advancement and success in lifting the siege on Nubl and al-Zahra and cutting supply routes to all factions in Aleppo — and the military coordination between the Syrian Democratic forces and Russian aircrafts in a number of battles have seemingly caused Turkey to run out of patience, abort any containment and break the links with Jaish al-Thuwar.

There is no doubt that the Turkish shelling on Jaish al-Thuwar’s stations in the vicinity of Azaz and Afrin is mainly a message delivered to the United States that its allies have no immunity on the ground and Ankara would not keep pace with Washington’s strategy from now on, as long as the latter continues to reject all Turkish and Saudi proposals on the safe zones or ground intervention.

Yet this shelling is also a command to factions under Turkish guidance that Jaish al-Thuwar should be targeted and eliminated. This is why fatwas were issued by Ahrar al-Sham accusing Jaish al-Thuwar of apostasy. There were also attempts to manipulate and divide Jaish al-Thuwar, through Mohammed Alloush, head of Jaish al-Islam’s political bureau and senior member of the delegation in Riyadh, who called on Jaish al-Thuwar’s members to defect from the group, abstain from obeying the commanders’ orders and join the revolution. The Homs Liberation Movement, led by Fateh Hassoun, issued a statement warning all formations in Homs against any link to Jaish al-Thuwar. Ironically, Jaish al-Thuwar considered that the Turkish shelling serves the regime in Syria and al-Qaeda.

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Over 700 Palestinians held under Israeli administrative detention

A Palestinian man lying on a bed wears a face covering depicting hunger striking Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq, on February 19, 2016, during a demonstration in solidarity with him in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AFP photo)

A Palestinian man lying on a bed wears a face covering depicting hunger striking Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq, on February 19, 2016, during a demonstration in solidarity with him in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah

The Palestinian Prisoners Club says the number of Palestinians held under Israel’s administrative detention law has increased to more than 700 despite international criticism. 

The Palestinian non-governmental organization attributed, in a statement on Friday, the rise in the number of Palestinians held by Israel without charge or trial to the new wave of violence began in October.

Since the start of October 2015, some 180 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in what is regarded as the third Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Tensions heightened in the Palestinian territories in August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.

The Palestinians say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the holy Muslim site.

Palestinians, human rights groups and the international community have criticized the so-called administrative detention which is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge and allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months which can be extended for indefinite times.

The news comes as Mohammed al-Qiq, a 33-year-old journalist, reported to be close to death after 83 days on hunger strike in protest against his internment under the so-called administrative detention laws.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, expressed his deep concern about “the deteriorating condition” of Qiq in a speech to the UN Security Council on Thursday.

He also said that anyone held under the system should “be either charged or released immediately”.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently in Israeli jails, including those under administrative detention, according to the prisoners club.

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Israeli military closes road, bans Palestinians following deadly attack

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli military closed a main thoroughfare north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank following a deadly stab attack carried out in a nearby settlement, where Palestinian entry was also prohibited, the Israeli army said Friday.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a section of route 60 running between Qalandiya checkpoint and the illegal Adam settlement, also known as Geva Benyamin, was closed to all vehicles.The military also placed a ban on all Palestinian entry into the Shaare Benyamin industrial zone, with the exception of laborers who carry permits to work in the area.The “security measures” were implemented in line with a “situation assessment” of the area after an attack took place in Shaare Benyamin Thursday evening, the spokesperson added.The industrial zone lies on route 60 around two kilometers north of the Geva Benyamin settlement. Friday’s road closure begins following the settlement heading west, cutting off a number of Palestinian towns and villages from Qalandiya and the economic hub of Ramallah.The Qalandiya checkpoint is a main access point for Palestinians with proper permits to pass from the occupied West Bank into occupied East Jerusalem.The closure of main roads — primarily to Palestinians — has been customary practice by the Israeli military since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October.Earlier this month, Israeli forces sealed the Bethlehem-area village of Nahhalin for six consecutive days after an Israeli settler was stabbed and injured by a suspect said to have fled towards the village.The closure blockaded 10,500 Palestinian residents who were prevented from moving in or out of the village, barring exceptional humanitarian cases.The move “severely disrupted” access to services and workplaces, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.The UN has in the past slammed Israel’s closures of villages, calling the measures “collective punishment” of Palestinian villages, towns, and districts.

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Egyptian electricity lines stop feeding Gaza

electricity line in Gaza

Egyptian power lines stopped feeding the Palestinian city of Rafah yesterday afternoon as a result of a technical malfunction in the central station in the city of Al-Arish.

Palestinian newspaper Al-Resalah reported that electricity was completely cut in the city due to the sudden crash.

A source from the Electricity Distribution Co. said it was working to supply Rafah with electricity from the city’s power plant.

The Egyptian company has been supplying the Palestinian city of Rafah with 28 megawatts of electricity for several years, helping alleviate the energy crisis that has afflicted the Gaza Strip since 2006.

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Marwa: Russia’s Latest Statements Ring “Hollow” As Crimes Continue

Vice-President of Syrian Coalition Hisham Marwa said that the statements Russian officials have lately made about negotiations and political transition in Syria are hardly credible as long as Russia continues its aggression against Syria unabated, especially Russia’s campaign on Aleppo.

Russia’s envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin on Thursday said that if the Assad regime “follows Russia’s lead in the resolution of this crisis, then they have a chance to get out of it with their dignity intact.”

Asked in an interview with Kommersant newspaper about Assad’s comments that he would regain control over all of Syria, Churkin said: “Russia has invested very seriously in this crisis, politically, diplomatically, and now also in the military sense. Therefore we of course would like that Bashar al Assad should take account of that.”

Churkin added that Assad’s latest remarks “do not chime with the diplomatic efforts that Russia is undertaking…. the discussions are about a ceasefire, a cessation of hostilities in the foreseeable future. Work is underway on this.”

Marwa said that Assad’s remarks provided further proof of his outright rejection of any political solution and are in line with Russia’s aggressive acts against Syria, most notably the bombing of hospitals, schools and civilians.

Marwa said that if Russia wants to be a key partner in the political efforts aimed at reaching a political solution, it must stop bombing Syrian civilians immediately.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 19.02.2016)

Dialysis in Gaza: A shrinking lifeline for kidney patients

Rawan, 20, receives dialysis four times a week at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Photo credit: Lara Aburamadan

Rawan, 20, receives dialysis four times a week at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza

As well as being the largest medical complex in Gaza, the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is certainly the busiest. Serving a population of 1.8 million people, and providing many specialised medical services not available at any other hospital in Gaza, Al Shifa often struggles to cope with the high demands placed upon it.

After you enter the hospital and wander through the numerous wards and hallways, you find an old building that houses the Renal Services Department. Here, patients receive the treatment they need for illnesses which have affected the functioning of their kidneys.

In one room, at the end of a long corridor, a number of patients lie on beds, hooked up to the dialysis machines. They sit with pale faces while receiving their treatment, and each one has their own story to tell.

Education interrupted

Rawan Al-Mabhouh, a 20-year-old woman from Bait Lahia in northern Gaza, started receiving dialysis six years ago. She has to visit the hospital four times a week for this treatment. Rawan has a joyful spirit, and loves singing and dancing.

“I was infected with the St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) virus when I was 12 years old” she told us.“The virus attacks my body functions and my blood, and it caused my kidneys to fail. Each time I come to the hospital I spend four hours receiving dialysis. Most of the time when receiving the treatment I feel weak and I can’t hold anything, but I’m trying to get over the weakness. The electricity often cuts out while doing the dialysis, and I feel tired.”

For patients like Rawan, the dialysis services provided at Al Shifa are literally a lifeline. “I can’t imagine what would happen without the hospital. My life is here, I’d be shocked and we’d be lost” says Rawan. “I have made many friends in the hospital, including with the nurses and workers in the department. They treat us very well and take good care of us.”

“During the war, I suffered a lot because I struggled to reach the hospital. No transportation was available, and the ambulances couldn’t come to us. It was dangerous. We were under attack and afraid and my home is far from here.”

Rawan’s illness has affected her access to education, too. “I was admitted to the intensive care last year and I stayed there for 15 days. In the end I have had to repeat the whole year. I hope to continue my studies. I am in the last year of high school and I hope to go to university.”

But Rawan’s biggest wish? “To receive a kidney transplant,” she says, “and to be a normal person like other girls. I wish I could find a donor.”

Medicine shortages

Sixty-year old Shabaan Al-Ejla, has also been receiving dialysis for six years, and he faces different challenges to Rawan.

“I come for dialysis for three days every week, for four hours” says Shabaan. “We always have shortage of the medicines I need, and there was once a shortage which lasted for six months. Over these six years, my blood became weak and for each four sessions I need one blood unit. I might have taken 100 blood up to now.”

“Transportation is another problem. Sometimes I have to come to the hospital the night before my appointment, sleep here, and undergo dialysis the next day. Other times I finish at midnight and can’t find public transport to take me home, and I don’t have enough income to pay for taxis. I always feel tired after I finish dialysis.”

Dr. Abdallah Qishawi, director of the Renal Services Department says that 35% of patients live in the north of the strip and they struggle to find public transportation to their home late at night, and like Shabaan usually cannot afford to take private transportation. Gaza’s fuel shortages also reduce the capacity of ambulances and cars to transport patients.

Struggling for resources

Dr. Qishawi told us that the Renal Services Department is increasingly stretched. “The number of patients is increasing. We currently have almost 357 patients, many of whom who come three times or more for four hours every week for dialysis. We divide patients into four sessions per day. Sometimes we have to run five, with the last session starting at midnight.”

“There are no other centers providing dialysis in the north, so we provide dialysis for patients from Gaza City and the whole of northern Gaza at Al Shifa. We do our best to provide good facilities for our patients, however we received around five new patients every week.”

The problems caused by a high caseload are compounded by a lack of equipment, due in large part to Israel’s eight-year blockade and closure of Gaza. “Despite this increased number of patients, we have a shortage of dialysis machines. We have a few broken machines, but there are no spare parts to fix them due to the blockade,” says Dr Qishawi.

We have broken dialysis machines, but there are no spare parts to fix them due to the blockade

The latest data from the Ministry of Health confirms that about 48% of the essential disposable medical equipment needed to provide renal services in Gaza are at ‘zero stock’ – meaning that they have either completely run out, or tare at imminent risk of doing so. “Moreover, frequent electricity cuts are a major problem for dialysis services. Though we have a generator for the whole hospital but sometimes it takes a few minutes before it switches on after the central electricity cuts. This may cause blood clots for the patients, and it also effects the machines.”

“We also face a shortage of human resources – nurses and doctors.”

Despite these challenges, doctors at Al Shifa continue to develop and expand the services they can offer to kidney patients. “Two years ago we started to conduct kidney transplant operations, and up to now 25 patients have received them.”

(Source / 19.02.2016)

Israeli forces kill two more Palestinians

Palestinian protesters, some holding national flags, run away from tear gas smoke during clashes with Israeli security forces following a march on February 19, 2016 in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AFP photo)

Palestinian protesters, some holding national flags, run away from tear gas smoke during clashes with Israeli security forces following a march on February 19, 2016 in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah

Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian allegedly over attempting to run over soldiers in the occupied West Bank shortly and another young Palestinian has died of his wounds in clashes with Israeli troops.

“During a violent riot in Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, an assailant attempted to ram his vehicle into soldiers,” the Israeli army claimed in statement Friday.

“The soldiers … fired towards the assailant, resulting in his death,” it said.

The dead Palestinian man was identified as Raed Hamed, 20, according to Palestinian police sources.

Meanwhile, one of two Palestinians injured by live rounds in clashes with Israeli troops in Beit Fajjar town south of Bethlehem succumbed to his wounds.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said the Israeli forces prevented ambulances from transporting the injured.

In a similar development, the Palestinian Health Ministry said seven Palestinians were also injured by live and rubber bullets near the Gaza border.

Early on Friday, the Israelis shot and killed Mohammed Abu Khalaf, a 20-year-old Palestinian youth, outside Damascus Gate in al-Quds (Jerusalem), alleging that he had attacked two Israeli forces.

Since the start of October 2015, some 180 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in what is regarded as the third Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Tensions heightened in the Palestinian territories in August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.

The Palestinians say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the holy Muslim site.

(Source / 19.02.2016)