‘Reconciliation is not a mix of interests,’ says Hamas official

Mahmoud Al-Zahar

A senior Hamas official in Gaza said on Friday that internal reconciliation “is not a mix of interests”; rather it is, insisted Mahmoud Al-Zahar, coexistence between different programmes, PalSawa has reported.

He made his comments during the Friday sermon at Al-Mahata Mosque in Gaza City. “We agree [with Fatah] to reform the government without Hamas,” he told worshippers. “However, this government’s task was to improve electricity and rebuild the Gaza Strip. Nothing of this has been done.”

The latest reconciliation deal was signed last year in the house of the leader of Hamas in Gaza, former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The Islamic movement accepted that it would not be part of any government on condition that the authority led from Ramallah improved the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza and prepared for elections.

“The Palestinian Authority and the new government agreed to prepare for general elections,” explained Al-Zahar, “but they did nothing about this issue.”

This was because if an election was held tomorrow, he suggested, the PA and Fatah know that they would lose. “Our people would weigh up the political programme of those who expelled the occupation from Gaza with the programme based on security cooperation with the Israelis which has led to the Palestinians losing more than 60 per cent of the West Bank.”

The senior member of the Hamas political bureau criminalised security cooperation, considering it not a political stance, but a “religious sin”. He reiterated that the outcome of security cooperation in the occupied West Bank is “nothing but losing more Palestinian rights.”

Al-Zahar stressed that his movement does not plan to have a state established in Gaza. It is, he said, planning to have a state on all of Palestine.

(Source / 05.03.2016)

Iranian Commander: Saudi Aggression against Yemen Like Saddam’s War on Iran

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) navy commander said likened the Saudi-led aggression against Yemen to the war launched by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on the Islamic Republic.

It is not only Saudi Arabia but also the world, led by the US and its dirty puppets, who are fighting against the Yemenis, said Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi a local ceremony in Qom.

Saudi regime was the initiator of the war in Yemen, Fadavi said, adding war in Yemen is similar to the war imposed by Saddam Hussein against Iran.The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) navy commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi

During the 1980-1988 imposed Iran-Iraq war, it superficially seemed that Iraq was the side against Iran, but they were truly over 54 countries which were supporting Iraq, said Fadavi, IRNA news agency reported.

These days, he added, Yemen is also witnessing such a situation that Iran experienced.

Fadavi said that the US and the Zionist regime are major trail-blazers in taking military action against Yemen, noting that the news about the oppressed Yemen is not broadcast thoroughly.

During the past year, Saudi Arabia has not been able to take any effective step against Yemen, he stressed, adding the Yemenis have relied on power of God.

Saudi Arabia with the help of nine other Arab countries except Oman has been mounting massive attacks on Yemen since March 26, 2015.

Since then, thousands of Yemenis including children and women have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced.

Referring to January arrest by IRGC forces of the American sailors who entered Iran’s territorial waters illegally, Fadavi said none of world states, even members of the European Union (EU), dare to hold up the US non-military boats even for a judicial case.

However, he added, the IRGC naval forces did so and stopped the US military boats as a normal and routine mission.

The American sailors were freed after the country apologized to Iran for illegal entry.

(Source / 05.03.2016)

Israeli forces detain 6 Palestinians, including 2 boys, near Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians in and near the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, including two young boys who were released after several hours.Israeli forces detained two children — identified as Bakr Mahmoud Ali Najajreh, 13, and Abeer Youssef Makhamreh, 10 — around noon on Saturday while they were herding sheep in the Janba area near Yatta.The two boys were released on Saturday evening after the Palestinian military liaison interceded on their behalf.Meanwhile, locals told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers detained Rami Izzat Qindahi, 19, from Ramallah at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, after Israeli forces claimed he was in possession of a knife.Qindahi was then transferred to the Israeli intelligence services for interrogation.Local sources also told Ma’an that three other Palestinians were detained in the al-Jabari neighborhood of Hebron for allegedly being in possession of a gun.They were reportedly taken to Kiryat Arba police station for interrogation.Israeli security forces didn’t have immediate information on any of the cases.According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of February, including 406 minors.More than 180 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since October. Israel says the majority were shot dead while attempting to carry out attacks, although international rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in several cases.The attacks that have taken place — mostly by politically unaffiliated Palestinian individuals armed only with knives — have killed nearly 30 Israelis.UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month it was “human nature” for Palestinians to react violently to Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation, as he urged a change in Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territory.

(Source / 05.03.2016)

Gazan farmers forced to leave land after Israeli forces open fire

Palestinians harvest a field of cucumbers on the outskirts of Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Palestinian farmers were forced to leave their fields early Saturday after Israeli forces opened fire east of Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses said.Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers stationed on the Israeli side of the borderline opened fire on the farmers while they were tending to their land. No injuries were reported.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired “warning shots” into the air when “suspects” approached the border fence, causing them to retreat.

Palestinian farmers whose land lies within or close to an Israeli-enforced buffer zone along the border with Israel face near-daily fire or threat of fire from Israeli forces, often preventing them from cultivating their crops, according to documentation by rights groups.Israeli authorities have maintained the buffer zone since 2005, although its exact limits have changed over the years and remain unclear in many cases.Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs last month reported at least 42 cases of Israeli forces opening fire on Palestinians in the buffer zone, on both land and sea sides.
(Source / 05.03.2016)

2 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike against administrative detention

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Two Palestinians held in Israel’s Ktziot prison in the Negev continued hunger strikes on Saturday against their administrative detention by Israel.

A lawyer for the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, Fadi Ubeidat, said 26-year-old Mahmoud Muhammad Hasan al-Fasfous began a strike on Feb. 20, after his detention was renewed without trial for the third six-month period in a row.Al-Fasfous told Ubeidat on Friday that Israeli intelligence decided to keep him in custody despite a court decision against extension of his remand.Speaking of his health condition after two weeks on hunger strike, al-Fasfous said he had already lost six kilograms and was suffering from a nose fracture and vision problems after he was physically assaulted by employees of Israel’s prison services.Ubeidat told Ma’an that Dawood Haboub from al-Amari refugee camp, also held in Ktziot, announced a strike on March 1 protesting his administrative detention.According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, at least 670 Palestinians are currently held under administrative detention by Israel, a policy international community has repeatedly said is in contravention to international law.

(Source / 05.03.2016)

Egypt: The failure of the Brotherhood revolution

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

In the last five years, Egypt has had two revolutions. The first overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, the second toppled his successor Mohamed Mursi and got the Muslim Brotherhood out of politics. Attempts at a third revolution to oust the current government and return the Brotherhood to power have failed.

To carry out a third revolution, the organization conducted the largest media and political campaign in its history. Internationally, the Brotherhood worked hard to marshal human rights organizations, research centers and Western government institutions. It succeeded in raising media attention and sympathy from some international NGOs.

Western governments tried to pressure Cairo to cancel the ban on the Brotherhood’s political activities, but in vain. The party was unable to mobilize the Egyptian street against the government, or convince the international community to place sanctions on Cairo.

New TV channels were launched to mobilize the street. Many large channels, newspapers and websites teamed up with new ones to conduct social media campaigns urging the youth to rise up. Agreements were made with Western public relations companies for solidarity with the Brotherhood against the government, but all this failed.

The party even failed in exploiting violence, which was carried out by extremist groups in the Sinai and elsewhere, and which the Brotherhood rushed to justify, claiming that the only solution would be its return to power so terrorism would not engulf Egypt. I believe that the Brotherhood knows it is unable to bring about rapid change. It believes in grassroots change via education, media, culture, mosques, syndicates and charities. However, this time it rushed into battle.

Naivety

It was naive to think the Brotherhood could confront the Egyptian army and authorities. It believed that what happened to Mubarak could happen to any president, disregarding the fact that his regime was weak and old. The Brotherhood did not understand that had the army not supported the uprising against Mubarak, it would have failed.

There is no place for it in Arab politics unless it embraces new ideas. Fundamentally, there needs to be a revolution within the organization itself

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The party might justify its failure by saying security forces prevented people from taking to the streets. However, they tried to do so five years ago, yet people still went out and toppled Mubarak. Egyptians are tired of the Brotherhood and of regional chaos. They want to give the current government the chance to work and succeed.

I believe that the Brotherhood’s failure will delay its chances for another decade at least. There is no place for it in Arab politics unless it embraces new ideas, such as the abolition of the concept of itself as an international organization.

This concept goes against nationalism – to be Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Saudi or Yemeni is a main requirement to belong to the modern state. There is also a need to enlighten the Brotherhood about many social issues. Fundamentally, there needs to be a revolution within the organization itself.

(Source / 05.03.2016)

UNICEF Ends G4S Contract in Jordan (VIDEO)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Jordan has ended its contract with G4S following a campaign by BDS activists in the country and across the world over the company’s role in Israel’s detention and torture of Palestinian political prisoners and other Israeli human rights violations.

G4S

Guman Mussa, the Arab World campaigns coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society leading the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, welcomed the move:

“UNICEF did the right thing by ending its contract with G4S as the company supports violations of rights of Palestinian children including their routine torture in Israeli jails. This is an important decision in accordance with the values of human and children’s rights espoused by UNICEF. We urge the United Nations, its Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and all UN agencies contracting G4S worldwide to follow the lead of UNICEF and UNHCR in Jordan and immediately end their contracts with G4S.”

“We welcome this news and congratulate Jordan BDS for their persistence and hard work. We salute all campaigners around the world involved in the Stop G4S campaign,” Mussa added, according to the PNN.

Over the past year, campaigners have been urging the UN and its agencies to end their contracts with G4S over its complicity in Israel’s regime of settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid.

G4S, which is a large British security company, provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners, including children, are held without trial and subjected to torture.

According to the BDS Movement website, “by helping Israel to run prisons and “interrogation centres”, G4S is participating in Israel’s use of torture and mass incarceration of more than 6,000 Palestinians as a way to discourage Palestinians from resisting Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

G4S also has contracts with the Israeli government to provide equipment and services to checkpoints and the apartheid wall, as well as crossings that enforce the siege of Gaza.

It was also involved in the construction of a 23 hectares Training Center for the Israeli Police, which it will help to run.

G4S has provided services to various UN agencies in Jordan including UNICEF and UNHCR, both of whom no longer have contracts with occupation and apartheid profiteer G4S.

UNICEF’s decision comes after a year-long concerted and creative campaign which included meetings, letters, protests and social media actions that called upon the UN and its agencies both locally and internationally to end its contracts with G4S, worth $22 million globally, due to the firm’s complicity in Israeli human rights abuses.

Other UN bodies in Jordan including United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Food Program (WFP), and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) still have contracts with the firm.

Last month, a Jordanian coalition formed to defend the political prisoner, administrative detainee and hunger striker Mohammad Al-Qeeq, demonstrated outside UN offices in Amman.

The coalition submitted a statement that was signed by 58 Jordanian organizations, unions and major political parties t demanding the UN to intervene to save the life of Al-Qeeq and as well as to end its contracts with the security firm G4S for its role in the Israeli occupation.

A report approved by the UN General Assembly in 2012 by the UN special rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, urged a boycott of G4S over its role in Israeli human rights violations.

Yazid Halaseh, member of the Jordan BDS movement, said:

“We are delighted by this news. We will continue campaigning to demand an end to all UN agency contracts with G4S until the firm stops profiting from occupation and apartheid. The United Nations should simply ban this notorious firm from its procurement process because it is profiting from the Israeli settler-colonial project, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and apartheid policies. These are all violations of UN resolutions, basic principles of human rights and international law.”

(Source / 05.03.2016)

PLO condemns Paris’ fight against BDS

Paris Council claims that BDS is an illegal movement, however, it is absolutely peaceful seeking to strip legality of Israeli settlement, which is already illegal according to international law

Senior Palestinian Authority official accused on Friday Paris Council of cracking down on freedom of expression after it had endorsed war on BDS.

Socialist Paris mayor stated that her municipality “opposes publicly all attempts to isolate Israel from the collective of nations.”

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Senior Palestinian Authority official accused on Friday Paris Council of cracking down on freedom of expression after it had endorsed war on BDS.

Paris Council, headed by the Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo, adopted in the middle of last month two resolutions against BDS movement.

One of the resolutions was submitted by the Socialist-led coalition of Hidalgo and the other was submitted by the centre-right members of the City Council. Both resolutions were adopted.

In one of the resolutions, Paris mayor stated that her municipality “opposes publicly all attempts to isolate Israel from the collective of nations” and stressed on the city’s “commitment to the promotion of a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict.”

In a letter sent to Hidalgo, Secretary General of the PLO’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat wrote: “Condemning a legal and peaceful movement against an apartheid regime adopting racist policies is considered a clear support for a continuous colonial activity.”

Erekat condemned the “strict restrictions on the freedom of speech imposed by the capital of freedom, equality and fraternity.”

He called for the Paris Council to “condemn the Israeli occupation, settlement and illegal colonialism of Palestine.”

(Source / 05.03.2016)

ROJAVA UPDATE 192: SDF TAKE YET MORE TERRITORY FROM ISLAMIC STATE (IS) AND ARREST IS SLEEPER CELL IN NORTH-EAST HASAKAH:

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

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

SYRIA AND IRAQ NEWS

Work continues by the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) to push back the Islamic State (IS) south of Shaddadi and completely out of Hasakah province.

This morning, Friday, the SDF took control of the village of Semendor which is 50 kilometres west of Mount Abdul Aziz. Recent SDF operations have liberated another 35 square kilometres.

syria-and-iraq-news

Funerals Held for YPG/ YPJ Fighters Killed in Tal Abyad Battles

Current fighting is around “Area 47”, not far from Shaddadi. Voice of America has a video report from Shaddadi itself.

In the north-east of Hasakah province, the Asayish (Kurdish security) arrested members of an IS sleeper cell on Wednesday in the Suwediya district of the city of Derik.

The 5 pro-IS gunmen had explosives and ammunition in the building in which they were living and were believed to be preparing for attacks in the area.

YPG members also found an IS fighter still alive under some rubble at Ain Al-Aroush who turned out to be a Turk from Adana.

In comments on the recent heavy battles with IS over Tal Abyad, official YPG Spokesman, Redur Khalil, accused Turkey of allowing “IS terrorists to move freely across its borderline with Syria to facilitate its attacks on the Kurdish positions” and trying to help IS retake the Tal Abyad border crossing “to assist the terror group export its oil to the black market via Turkey”.

Khalil also described the fighting as the most difficult since the defence of Kobane. Video of the news conference with English sub-titles, here:

Funerals for the YPG/YPJ fighters killed this week in the fighting around Tal Abyad and other battles with IS were held in Tal Abyad, where 21 were buried and another 14 in Kobane.

However, overall the security situation in northern parts of Syria held by the Kurds is considered good enough for a number of Syrian Kurds who fled to Iraq to decide to return home. The BBChas a video report.

However, clashes continue in Aleppo province between the YPG and the Al Nusra Front (AFN) and their allies both near Afrin Canton and on the outskirts of the Kurdish district in Aleppo city, Sheikh Maqsoud. 3 female civilians were reported killed in the latest AFN bomb attack on Sheikh Maqsoud.

3 members of the SDF were also reported shot by IS snipers in the region of the Tishreen Dam, probably in retaliation for the YPG sniper attack reported earlier (scroll down -see below) which killed 13 x IS Jihadists at Jarablous.

DESPITE NUMEROUS BREACHES OF THE AGREED “TRUCE”, DEATHS WELL DOWN IN SYRIA:

The YPG has accused the Opposition of being in cahoots with Al Nusra and breaching the “cessation in hostilities” agreed by world powers, while the Opposition has accused the Kurds of doing the same.

syria-and-iraq-news

Thousands Demonstrated Across Syria Against Assad for the First Time in a Year

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) is reporting 100 breaches of the ceasefire by the Russians and the Assad regime, while the Russians are reporting far fewer.

In general, despite the violations, the truce is seen as holding. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says that it has documented 118 deaths in areas where there is supposed to be a truce over the last 5 days, including 24 civilians. 6 of the civilian dead were children and 5 of them women.

Despite the continuing grim statistics, this is far less than what has become “normal” in Syria on a daily basis, the average of 120+ deaths a day.

European leaders, Cameron, Hollande, Merkel and Italian PM Matteo Renzi, held a telephone conference call with Russia’s President Putin this morning, Friday, and called on him to help use the “truce” to move onto “peace talks” that would include a more durable peace and a “transition away from President Assad”.

Syrians across the country in Aleppo, Damascus, Daraa and Homs provinces took advantage of the relative calm of the current “truce” to go out on the streets after Friday prayers and resume, for the first time in more than a year, demonstrations calling for the fall of the Assad regime. Thousands demonstrated under the banners “The Revolution Continues!” and “Long live Syria, may Assad fall!”

Almost the whole of Syria, in all provinces, was hit by a nationwide electricity blackout yesterday, Thursday, for unexplained reasons. Normally most areas only get between 2 and 4 hours a day, but yesterday everything went down across the board, including Internet connections. You can read more, HERE:

However, in Aleppo water from the Al-Furat river has reached the Al-Nairab and Suleiman Al-Halbi pumping stations and will be piped again directly into the city after being cut off for 3 months.

Amnesty International issued a report yesterday, Thursday, accusing the Russian and Syrian Governments of deliberately targeting medical facilities and of specifically targeting 6 hospitals in Aleppo province in the last 12 weeks. The attacks killed 3 civilians, including a medical worker, and injured 44 others.

Physicians for Human Rights says that 315 of the 346 attacks on medical facilities that have taken place in Syria over the last 5 years were conducted by Syrian or Russian forces. According to their records 705 medical workers have been killed so far.

On the positive side 236 UN and Syrian Red Crescent aid trucks had reached 115,000 people over the last 3 weeks and they hope to reach another 20,000 in Eastern Ghouta near Dasmascus this weekend.

In the Yarmouk refugee camp in the southern part of the capital, an Al Nusra ambush on the Islamic State yesterday, Thursday, killed an IS Emir, Abu Khidir, who was in charge of IS operations in area, and 4 of his compatriots.

And in Qunietra province, a car bomb, which no-one has so far claimed responsibility for, on Wednesday, killed 18 people including the leader of the Opposition Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF). The explosion destroyed the SRF’s finance office where a meeting was taking place. You can read more, HERE:

Fighting on the borders of Hama and Aleppo provinces continues between the Assad regime and the Islamic State for the control of the Aleppo – Khanaser road, which is vital to Assad to keep supplies and troops travelling to Aleppo city.

So far at least 130 x IS fighters have been killed in the battles and 94 from the pro-Assad side including a senior commander from Hezbollah and 8 of his men. Clashes between the same 2 sides are also continuing in Deir Ez Zour in eastern Syria, mainly around the north-western districts of the city.

A regime rocket attack is also reported on Khan Shakour in Idlib province today, Friday, killing 3 women and wounding many other civilians.

Lastly, interesting article on Muhammed Faris, the only Syrian to have gone into space as a cosmonaut to the Mir Space Station in 1987 and who has schools and roads named after him but now lives in Turkey as a refugee. You can read more in the Guardian.

syria-and-iraq-news

Muhammed Faris (Centre) on the Mir Space Station 1987

‘Record demolition & displacement’: Israel razes dozens Palestinian homes in West Bank

© I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists

Israel has demolished at least 41 structures, including an elementary school, in one of the villages in the West Bank, leaving dozens of people homeless, the UN said. The current destruction trend is one of the highest on record in the West Bank since 2009.

The latest demolition by the Israeli Civil Administration in Khirbet Tana, on the outskirts of Nablus city, “displaced ten families with 36 members, including 11 children, and affected the livelihoods of five additional families,”Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for occupied Palestinian territory said in a statement.

Khirbet Tana, a community of some 250 relying on herding and agriculture for their livelihood, is now left practically with no infrastructure. All in all, the destruction included 11 homes, five common bathrooms, one kitchen and 18 farming structures. Two traditional ovens and one solar system, all used for communal living were also destroyed.

Vernietigingen

One of the demolished properties was an elementary school building which taught nine students. Twelve of the structures belonged to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Red Crescent.

READ MORE: 13,000 Palestinian buildings to be demolished in West Bank – UN report

“These structures were demolished/damaged by Israeli forces due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits in Khirbet Tana, located in a closed military zone,” OCHA explained in their Facebook post.

Vernietigingen2

Because of the agricultural community’s close proximity to the IDF’s training “firing zone”, Palestinians are repeatedly denied building permits.

READ MORE: Israeli president says govt has ‘right’ to build West Bank settlements

According to the UN, around 18 percent of the West Bank is considered to be “firing zones” by the Israeli authorities, affecting some 38 Palestinian communities within these areas. Yet structures are continued to be built and regularly taken down.

Vernietigingen3

“Since the beginning of 2016, the Israeli forces have destroyed or dismantled 323 homes and other structures across the West Bank… displacing almost 440 Palestinians,” OCHA said, adding that more than half of those left homeless are children.

Demolition of West Bank structures this year also resulted in income lost for almost 1,700 other people. What seems more troubling, the UN notes, is that 108 of those structures were provided as humanitarian assistance to families in need.

“These are some of the highest levels of demolition and displacement recorded in a similar time frame since 2009,” OCHA said.

Addressing the demolition matter last month, UN Secretary-General noted Israeli policy in the West Bank is “restrictive and discriminatory” as the destruction of property in an occupied territory is prohibited “unless absolutely necessary for military operations.”

“International law is clear – Palestinians in the West Bank have the right to adequate housing and the right to receive humanitarian assistance,” said Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper. “As the occupying power, Israel is obliged to respect these rights.”

(Source / 05.03.2016)