46 Palestinian prisoners at Etzion jail to start open hunger strike

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JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — At least 46 Palestinian prisoners at Etzion jail will begin an open hunger strike on Thursday, demanding better living conditions, a lawyer with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said.Jacqueline Fararjeh said prisoners at Etzion jail are protesting the quality and quantity of food served to them, in addition to filthy living conditions, inadequate medical treatment and lack of regular access to showers.Fararjeh said some prisoners had not bathed in 15 days.While Fararjeh explained that Etzion jail is supposed to house Palestinians awaiting charges and trials, at least 11 Palestinians being held at the prison have been put under administrative detention, meaning they should be transferred from the facility, but have not due to the overcrowding at other prisons.The lawyer added that Etzion jail falls under Isreali military jurisdiction, not the central Israeli Prison Service, and is considered one of the worst detention centers at which Palestinian prisoners are held.Late last month, a lawyer with the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, Hussien al-Sheikh, said Etzion was “flooded” from heavy rainfall.The flooding, al-Sheikh said, ruined prisoners’ clothing and blankets, as mold took root in the dampened materials.He added that due to the poor conditions, flu and skin infection had started to spread among the prisoners, who remained untreated.In addition to deteriorating living conditions in the jail, al-Sheikh documented cases of Israeli authorities insulting, beating and torturing prisoners during interrogations.Rights groups have long criticized Israel for mistreatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails, as well as the illegality of their imprisonment.Nearly 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails, many of whom face torture, denial of family visitation, and medical negligence.

(Source / 02.03.2016)

Palestinian Leader says Shin Bet Murdered Arafat

The leader of Israel’s Joint Arab List party has accused the Israeli government of murdering Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004, Haaretz reports

Ayman Odeh

Ayman Odeh, in a recent interview, accused the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service (the Israeli equivalent of the FBI) of being behind the death of the Palestine Liberation Organization founder’s death at age 75.

According to World Bulletin/Al Ray, Odeh made the allegation during an interview on Israel’s Channel 2, saying that, when Avi Dichter — now a Likud Knesset member — was head of the Shin Bet, he “sent the people” who murdered Arafat.

A panel of French judges, in September, closed a case pressed by Arafat’s widow, Suha, which pointed to Israel for Arafat’s poisoning. The court ruled that there was “a lack of sufficient evidence to continue the investigation.”

The autopsy report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection.

Odeh was being interviewed following a Knesset committee session about proposed legislation which would allow Knesset members to expel colleagues for “inappropriate” behavior.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed the legislation after three Arab members of the Knesset outraged many Israelis by visiting with the families of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli soldiers.

Asked about the allegation that members of Joint Arab List supported terrorism, Odeh said: “People who murdered Arabs with their own hands are sitting in the Knesset.”

At the end of the interview he was asked if he wanted to withdraw the allegation, Odeh said, “They sent the people to murder the leadership of the Palestinian people … Take Dichter, for instance,” he said. “He sent the people who murdered Arafat and Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi.”

Yassin and Rantisi were two leaders of Hamas who Israel killed in separate raids in Gaza in 2004.

(Source / 02.03.2016)

29 Palestinians kidnapped in W. Bank IOF campaigns

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Wednesday kidnapped 29 Palestinian young men from different West Bank areas. According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS), 10 Palestinian young men were taken prisoners in IOF campaigns in different towns of Jenin province. Six others, including a teenager aged 15, were also kidnapped by the IOF in Occupied Jerusalem. The IOF also kidnapped 13 young men from different towns in Ramallah, Bireh, al-Khalil, Salfit, Tulkarem, Tubas and Nablus.

(Source / 02.03.2016)

Netanyahu seeks expulsion of families of alleged Palestinian attackers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested permission to deport relatives of alleged Palestinian attackers from the occupied West Bank to the besieged Gaza Strip.

The premier made the appeal in a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Wednesday, claiming that such a move “will dramatically reduce terrorist activities.”

Assailants have carried out many attacks in recent months, Netanyahu claimed, adding, they sometimes come from families who encourage their activities.

The Israeli premier also called for Mandelblit’s “legal opinion” regarding the possibility of transferring families of the purported attackers to Gaza.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Netanyahu defended the proposal on his Twitter account, claiming that such action “will lead to a significant decrease in terrorist attacks.”

Last month, a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, who is also a political rival of the prime minister, raised the initiative of deporting relatives of alleged attackers to Gaza or Syria.

The attorney general, however, rejected the measure, saying such expulsions violate both Israeli and international law.

Since the start of October 2015, nearly 190 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in what is regarded as the third Palestinian intifada (uprising).

Israeli forces detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against the closure of Shuhada street to Palestinians in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on February 26, 2016

The Gaza Strip, which has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007, has remained relatively calm during the current wave of violence in the occupied territories.

The occupied Palestinian lands have been the scene of heightened tensions. The latest wave of tensions was triggered by Israel’s imposition in August 2015 of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The restrictions have enraged Palestinians, who are also angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers frequently storming the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinians say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound.

(Source / 02.03.2016)

Israeli court orders 420 acres of land to be returned to Palestinian owners

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israel’s High Court on Wednesday ruled that Israeli authorities are obliged to return 1700 dunams (420 acres), back to private Palestinian landowners, lawyers who brought the case to the court told Ma’an.Lawyers Muhammad Shqeir and Shlomy Zachary brought the case to Israeli courts several months ago, claiming that Israeli forces illegally seized the land around 35 years previously from the Palestinian villages of Jalud, Duma, Qusra and Mikhmad in Nablus, and Deir Dubwan village in Ramallah.According to Israeli rights’ group Yesh Din, during the 1970s it was common practice to issue military seizure orders for the purpose of establishing illegal Israeli settlements.While Israel’s High Court ruled the policy illegal in 1979, the practice continues.“It is unfortunate that an appeal must be made to the High Court in order for the country to return private lands to their owners,” Zachary said.He added: “International law prohibits interference with private land unless it is necessary for imperative military needs. It is unfortunate that the military commander of the area has chosen not to return the lands to their rightful owners once the military necessity, inasmuch as there was one, ceased.”While Palestinians frequently take their cases to Israeli courts after Israeli land confiscation and home demolition notices are ordered, they seldom win their cases in courts.

The legal process can also be timely and too expensive for Palestinian residents to afford without the aid of rights organizations, such as Yesh Din, which specializes in such work.
(Source / 02.03.2016)

Israel bans Belgian parliamentary delegation’s entry into Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian MP and head of the popular committee against the siege Jamal Khudari strongly condemned the Israeli ban on a Belgian parliamentary delegation’s entry into Gaza via Erez crossing. The Israeli authorities have earlier on Wednesday denied a delegation of Belgian lawmakers’ entry into the blockaded Gaza Strip, in a decision the lawmakers decried as “unacceptable.” The delegation of six MPs, representing several Belgian political parties, said in a statement on Wednesday that they had arranged the visit with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. They had hoped to meet with civil society organizations and make field tours across the beleaguered enclave at the request of the Belgian parliament. MP Khudari described Israel’s decision as part of its siege on the Strip that deepens the suffering of Gaza people. Israel seeks to foil the international solidarity movement with Palestine and works to isolate Gaza from the outside world, he added. The Israeli decision, Khudari continued, aims to hide the bitter reality behind its siege. MP Khudari hailed the Belgian parliamentary delegation’s role in supporting the Palestinian cause and people. He concluded by calling on the international community and the European parliaments to exert more pressures on Israel to end Gaza siege.

(Source / 02.03.2016)

Yemeni Army devastates the Saudi-led Coalition with ballistic missiles

Minutes ago in the Mareb Governorate, the Yemeni Army’s rocket battalion launched a Qahir-1 ballistic missile at the Tadaween Military Camp, killing several soldiers and mercenaries belonging to the Saudi and Emirati regime forces. According to the Yemeni Army’s spokesperson, the rocket battalion achieved a direct hit on the Saudi controlled military camp with their Qahir-1 ballistic missile. The missile strike on Tuesday night marks the second time in two weeks that the Yemeni Army’s rocket battalion has struck a Saudi-led Coalition military installation inside of Yemen.
The missile strike by the Yemeni Army was likely a response to the massacre of 24 civilians committed by the Saudi Air Force in Bani Yousif on Monday.

(Source / 02.03.2016)

Israel ‘closing in’ on Palestinian village in Galilee

An Israeli development project threatens to swallow what remains of the Palestinian village of Ramya.

Israel's High Court last year refused to hear an appeal filed by Ramya's residents, ruling that they must sign a deal to relocate [Oren Ziv/Al Jazeera]

Israel’s High Court last year refused to hear an appeal filed by Ramya’s residents, ruling that they must sign a deal to relocate

Ramya, Galilee – Abu Nazeeh’s home is a simple, one-floor, wood-covered structure with a corrugated iron roof. Amid the surrounding luxury apartment blocks built of pink-hued stone, it feels impermanent.

Inside, however, the overstuffed couches and kitschy knick-knacks conjure feelings of stability – as does Abu Nazeeh’s resolution to make this a home, despite the continuing threat of eviction.

To Israeli authorities, this home, located in the village of Ramya in northern Israel, should not exist. The Karmiel municipality does not provide any services here, and to get electricity, some residents buy their own generators and illegally connect to the city’s power lines.

The Israeli government wants Abu Nazeeh, 50, a construction worker, and approximately 150 other residents of Ramya to leave.


INTERACTIVE: Building the occupation


Ramya lies inside the Israeli city of Karmiel, founded on lands expropriated in the 1950s from several Palestinian villages, including Ramya. The Karmiel municipality plans to build more apartment blocks on Ramya’s lands, swallowing what remains and forcing Palestinian villagers to relocate.

They are choking and closing in on us. We’ve been in court for 40 years; it’s a very slow struggle. Every time they take small bits and pieces.

Abu Nazeeh, Ramya resident

“They are choking and closing in on us,” Abu Nazeeh told Al Jazeera. “We’ve been in court for 40 years; it’s a very slow struggle. Every time, they take small bits and pieces.”

Last November, Israel’s High Court refused to hear an appeal filed by Ramya’s residents, ruling that they must sign a deal to relocate and accept the manner in which the proposed land was divided in 1995, or else be evicted by force.

Residents are living on a thin edge as a deadline to sign a deal was extended for another month this week, after which they would be given a year to move out.

Residents say the land being offered in the deal is only a fraction of what they originally owned.

“Psychologically, the people of Ramya will not be able to sign this agreement without the solution that they need,” the lawyer, who is filing a new appeal on behalf of Ramya’s younger residents, told Al Jazeera.

A spokesperson for the Israel Land Administration (ILA), the government body in charge of administering public lands (93 percent of land in Israel is public), told Al Jazeera that they “expect the court verdict to be fulfilled”, noting that residents “will not be given additional land blocks”.

The ILA would not comment on the proposed use of the land, but residents say it is being seized for a multimillion-shekel development project. A spokesperson for the Karmiel municipality declined Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

The government has offered to relocate residents to a new site – what residents call a “segregated neighbourhood” – at the city’s edge.

“It’s a show,” Ramya resident Salah Sawaed told Al Jazeera, as he strolled down a dead-end street in the proposed site. “I knew every stone in this area. Down there, there was a well that has been destroyed. It’s a humiliation you cannot express in words.”

The Israeli government initially expropriated Ramya’s land in 1976 as part of a mass confiscation in the Galilee area, that triggered demonstrations and strikes throughout Palestinian towns and villages.

When six demonstrators were killed during a march, the day of their death became known as Land Day, which is still marked by Palestinians around the world.

About 1.8 million Palestinians, approximately a quarter of the Israeli population, live in Israel and carry Israeli citizenship, but since 1948, Israel has passed more than 50 laws that directly or indirectly discriminate against them.


READ MORE: Bulldozers flatten Bedouin village 49 times


Karmiel was built as part of a governmental plan to encourage Jewish settlement in the Galilee, a region where most Palestinian towns and villages in Israel are located.

The plan included financial incentives and the development of industrial areas and infrastructure.

“Plans to Judaise Galilee were later translated into plans to build Jewish communities and towns, most of them built in the late 70s and early 80s. These were handled through admission committees, which de-facto excluded Arabs,” Suhad Bishara, a lawyer specialising in land and planning with the rights group Adalah, told Al Jazeera. Admission committees determined who could reside in communities of fewer than 500 households.

Two cities, Karmiel and Nazareth Illit (upper Nazareth) were established as part of this plan, stifling the growth of Palestinian villages. Neither Karmiel nor Nazareth Illit have Arab schools, and children are sent to study in the nearest Palestinian town.

Sawaed maintains that, even if there is no law to prevent him from buying a home in Karmiel, in practice it would be difficult.

“Renting is not a problem, but buying is a problem. You have to find someone to buy on your behalf, through a back way,” he said. “They don’t sell to Arabs.”

(Source / 02.03.2016)

School among ‘dozens’ of structures demolished by Israel north of Nablus

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Wednesday morning demolished “dozens” of structures in the hamlet of Khirbet Tana northeast of Nablus, including houses, barns, and the hamlet’s sole school, a local official told Ma’an.Munadil Hanani, a member of the local committee of Beit Furik near Nablus, said that Israeli bulldozers under Israeli army escort had stormed Khirbet Tana on Beit Furik’s outskirts and demolished every structure there.These included Khirbet Tana’s sole school, Hanani said, a building consisting of movable caravans donated by a European organization.He said it had been equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, and had been attended by 26 local children from grades one to four.Hanani said Israeli forces also demolished residential homes, dozens of sheep barns, and a number of other agricultural structures in the hamlet. He said that the homes were mostly built from tin, plastic, wood, and stone.He added that Khirbet Tana’s population is around 275. The only structure left untouched was an ancient shrine which serves as a mosque for the hamlet’s residents.Last month, Israeli rights group B’Tselem warned of a “new wave” of Israeli home demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory, saying the Israeli authorities appeared to “have stepped up efforts to expel Palestinian communities from vast areas in the West Bank.”Israel almost never gives Palestinians legal permission to build in land classified as Area C, and B’Tselem said “residents have no choice but to build their homes without permits and live in constant fear of their homes and livelihoods being destroyed.”Effectively, the state forces people to subsist in inhuman living conditions, without basic amenities and with no hope or chance for improving the situation.”The rights group went on to say that Israel’s home demolitions were aimed at the displacement of Palestinians from Area C, and “reflects de-facto Israeli annexation of Area C.”

It added: “Despite significant international attention to this reality, to date, no effective measures have been taken to put an end to it, which effectively means the international community is greenlighting continued human rights violations and the forcible transfer of civilians inside the occupied territory.”
(Source / 02.03.2016)

Syrian Coalition Calls on UN to Deter Assad Breaches of Truce

The Assad regime carried out airstrikes on the town of Harbnafseh in southern rural Hama despite the truce that went into effect on Saturday. Dozens of airstrikes pounded the town over the past two days, along with artillery and rocket shelling by regime forces.

Member of the Syrian Coalition Samir Nashar said that breaches of the truce by the Russian and regime forces escalated on the second day of the truce. He said Russia and the regime have a strategy to target the mainstream armed opposition during the truce.

Nashar warned that these repeated violations will lead to the collapse of the political process, calling on the United Nations, the sponsor of the agreement, to look into these violations and take all necessary measures to stop them. Nashar said that ending Russia’s and the regime’s violations would open the door for resuming negotiations to find a political solution through the implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique.

Member of the Syrian Coalition Yasser al-Farhan said that the international community should not forget that the dictatorial policies of the Assad regime were the root cause of the crisis in Syria. He added that the Assad regime is not serious about finding a political solution to the crisis, warning that it seeks to cause the truce to collapse and lay the blame on terrorist organizations.

(Source: Syrian Coalition /02.03.2016)