Lieberman tours Bab al-Amoud near al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli MK and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday evening toured Bab al-Amoud area near al-Aqsa Mosque. Photos were published in Israeli websites showing Lieberman while provocatively roaming in the area under heavy police protection. MK Lieberman also held a press conference in the area, where he called on Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu to expel Palestinian families of those suspected in carrying out anti-occupation attacks. “Netanyahu’s policy has brought us to a very old period where Israelis were afraid to go out safely”, he said.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

UN: Syria talks to begin next week, as humanitarian aid reaches more besieged areas

Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (centre), flanked by his Special Advisor, Jan Egeland (left) and Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria briefing the press in Geneva

9 March 2016 – The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria today announced that ‘substantive’ UN-mediated peace talks will begin next Monday, as humanitarian aid convoys continue to reach more people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas following a nationwide cessation of hostilities that began on 27 February.

“Quite an achievement,” Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva, referring to the 238,485 people the UN and its partners have delivered aid to via 536 trucks.

Mr. de Mistura informed the press that participants have begun to arrive in the Swiss city, where he will hold “proximity talks” over the coming days as more of the parties arrive. He said he expects to start substantive discussions, known as the intra-Syrian talks on 14 March, in a round which he expects will end by the 24th.

“We believe that having a timetable and a time limit is healthy for everyone,” the Special Envoy noted. “When we start having the talks on Monday, the focus will be on substance, on the agendas, in other words on new governance, constitution, and elections, the future elections in 18 months’ time, both presidential and parliamentarian.”

Turning to the humanitarian situation, Mr. de Mistura’s Special Advisor, Jan Egeland, highlighted the progress made in recent weeks.

“Ten areas have been reached by UN and partners, several with multiple convoys,” he announced. “UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East]has had progress reaching people in Yarmouk, and WFP [World Food Programme] has been systematically working to overcome all of the obstacles to be able to do airdrops to Deir ez-Zor.”

On 24 February 2016, children approach a truck carrying humanitarian aid for Moadamiyeh, Syria, part of an overnight mission to the besieged town

However, Mr. Egeland added that six “important” besieged areas – including Darayya and Douma – remain unreached as permits and security guarantees have not yet been obtained. He also underlined that April will be “the month of new procedures,” noting that these have been “too cumbersome” with too much time spent asking for permission for access.

“We believe by then we will have a more rational, speedier, easier system that will enable us to overcome this very black stain on the conscience of Syria and on the international community, namely that people starve in besieged areas and hard-to-reach areas while humanitarian workers have supplies that can reach them and are prevented from reaching women, children, other civilians in great need,” he stressed, adding that a “tremendous plan” to access more areas through the cessation of hostilities is underway.

Meanwhile, Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, said the global community must work together to ensure that the ceasefire is not just extended for two weeks or two months, but that it lasts.

“Looking at the horizon between now and April, we are aiming to reach 870,000 people in hard-to-reach areas, but also the specific locations in besieged areas that we have so far not been able to reach,” Mr. El Hillo said.

“The hope is that in the next few days, with the help of members of the taskforce, we will be able to complete deliveries and reach the thousands of people trapped in these places,” he added, referring to humanitarian task force set up by the International Syria Support Group to ensure access and the delivery of aid.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

37 Palestinians tortured at hands of PA security staff

Palestinian security forces

File photo of Palestinian security forces

Physical assaults with batons and ropes, hanging from windows and doors, being held in stress positions for hours, and near-death strangulations are some of the torture techniques used by the Palestinian security services against detainees, a new report revealed today.

The 1,715 people detained last year included:

  • 969 former prisoners previously held in Israeli jails
  • 422 students
  • 68 journalists
  • 41 teachers
  • 27 children
  • 25 women

Of the 1,715 civilians who were arrested in the West Bank last year, 37 were tortured, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) revealed.

A number of detainees were held in solitary confinement for several months, prompting some to go on open-ended hunger strike in protest against the inhumane treatment and torture.

On 14 occasions, the PA security forces used live bullets to intimidate Palestinians, injuring a 12-year-old child. At least 43 Palestinians were brutally beaten and one was hit by a car during the course of his arrest.

PA security forces often refused to comply with court orders for the release of detainees. At least 26 Palestinians remained in custody even after the court ordered their release. Another 11 Palestinians were held in “administrative detention”, without charge, by the governor of their respective towns.

Security forces also seized personal belongings and property belonging to 76 Palestinians during the course of the arrests including ID cards, mobile phones, computers, cars, sums of money and various documents.

Four Palestinians were held in custody to force other members of their families, wanted by the security forces, to hand themselves in.

Security forces also cracked down on many peaceful protests held to oppose human rights violations by Palestinian security forces and Israeli occupation troops. At least 33 peaceful protests were crushed in the West Bank, with officers, some dressed in plain clothes, assaulting protesters and seizing personal belongings, banners and brochures. Media outlets were often banned from covering these protests.

All PA security apparatuses were found to have participated in the arrests, summons and acts of torture.

In total, 28 per cent, $1.078 billion, of the PA’s budget was allocated to the security services, more than the total funds given to both the ministries of health and education, AOHR UK said.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

Iranian politician: Parliament is no place for children, donkeys or women

Village children sitting on their donkey watch a car pass during a rally on the outskirts of Mashad, 924 kilometers (574 miles) east of Tehran, July 12, 2007

The important post of heading the Assembly of Experts is now up for grabs, with the former assembly chair, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, having failed in his bid to be re-elected to the body Feb. 26. The new assembly leader will have an influential role in determining the next supreme leader, should the occasion arise, and in dictating national talking points.

Yazdi did not mince words in his last speech as a member and chairman of the assembly, delivered March 8. He warned that the nature of the Islamic Republic’s governing system must be preserved and that one should be wary of the enemy’s smile, the latter a clear message to President Hassan Rouhani.

“In the Islamic Republic system, members of the Assembly of Experts, in addition to determining the supreme leader, have to take care of the guardianship of the jurist ruling system so that it does not change,” Yazdi said. He did not specify what change should be guarded against, but one constant concern has been defining the powers of the supreme leader.

In regard to Rouhani’s attempts to reduce tensions with other countries, including the United States, Yazdi said, “Do not become happy with the enemy’s smile.” He referred to the United States as a “known enemy” that on a number of occasions has broken promises, cautioning Rouhani not to be fooled by their smiles.

Yazdi also said that he is happy he was not re-elected and is relieved to have responsibility lifted from his shoulders. He also denied media rumors that anyone has been pressured to resign in order to open up a space for him.

Members of the Assembly of Experts had elected Yazdi chairman in March 2015, selecting him over Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The position had been left vacant with the passing of Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi-Kani.

Rafsanjani and Rouhani, both of whom were re-elected to the assembly, were all smiles at Yazdi’s final session. They had good reason to be happy. Their list swept 15 of the 16 assembly seats from Tehran. Who will emerge with the leadership, however, is far from certain.

Competition to chair the Assembly of Experts is a relatively new phenomenon. When the assembly was created in 1983, Ayatollah Ali Meshkini was selected to be chairman and held the position until 2007, when he died. According to the news website Asr-e Iran, Meshkini was respected among all the political factions and contested the chairmanship unopposed. After Meshkini, Rafsanjani beat out Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati to become chairman, serving in that position until 2011. Many believe that Rafsanjani lost the leadership position because of his soft stance against the 2009 protests.

The lists of candidates for the Assembly of Experts could not be divided into Reformists, moderates or conservatives. Many election lists included overlapping names, with some candidates appearing on multiple lists. Asr-e Iran, however, has broken down the new assembly, identifying two informal factions: one headed by the pragmatist Rafsanjani and the other led by the hard-line Jannati.

If Rafsanjani decides not to run for the chairmanship, it is possible that Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi or Ayatollah Mohammad Imami Kashani might run instead. On the other side, if Jannati, who is also head of the powerful Guardian Council, decides against running, it is possible that Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami or Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda will contest for the position. On March 8, Khatami said that there have thus far been no discussions on who might run for the chairmanship.

In parliamentary news, Nader Ghazipour, representing Urumia, continues to receive criticism for comments he made about women serving in parliament. On March 2, Ghazipour had said that the legislature was not a place for “children, donkeys or women. … It is a place for men.” He later apologized on his Telegram account, saying he did not mean to offend the women of his hometown. Fatemeh Rahbar, leader of the women’s faction in parliament, said that a number of female legislators had filed a complaint against Ghazipour with the prosecutor’s office.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

Israeli Soldiers Invade An Orphans’ Charitable Society In Al Khalil

Israeli Soldiers Invade An Orphans’ Charitable Society In Al Khalil

Al Khalil – Several Israeli military vehicles invaded earlier Monday, a charitable society for orphans, in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Al Khalil, and violently searched it, causing property damage, and clashes. The soldiers also invaded a barn and searched it.

Mohammad Ayyad Awad, the media spokesperson of the Popular Committee in Al Khalil, said dozens of soldiers invaded the charitable society, in the al-Bayada area, after smashing its front doors.

Awad added that the soldiers smashed doors inside the charitable society, and violently searched it, in addition to holding the guard in one of its rooms.

The soldiers also invaded the office of the head of the charitable society Ahmad al-‘Omari, searched orphans’ files, and confiscated three hard drives.

The invasion of the town led to clashes between the soldiers, and dozens of local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles on the military vehicles.

The army fired gas bombs, causing several Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

In related news, the soldiers invaded a barn in Beit Za’ta area east of Beit Ummar, detained its owner, Na’im Hmeidan Abu Mariya, and searched the property after ordering the family to shut their mobile phones down.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

Egypt’s Parliament Drafting Law to ‘Ban Niqab in Public Places’

Women wearing the niqab (full-face veil)

Women wearing the niqab (full-face veil)

Egypt’s Parliament is currently drafting a law that would prevent women wearing the niqab (full-face veil) in public places and government institutions. The law, which was first revealed by the Egypt Support Coalition, was confirmed by Amna Nusseir, a member of parliament and a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, on ONtv.

The Egypt Support Coalition, which has 250 seats of the 595-member parliament, is expected to introduce the drafted law in the coming weeks.

According to Gulf News, Alaa Abdel Moneim, a spokesperson for the Coalition, said that the ban would promote security.

“One has the right to learn about the identity of the person sitting next to him or walking in the street,” said Moneim.

Meanwhile, in statements to ONtv, Nusseir said that the niqab is un-Islamic.

“The niqab is not an Islamic duty…How did Islam impose the niqab if Muslims are asked in the Quran to lower their gaze?” said Nusseir during the interview.

In a separate interview with Gulf News, Nusseir said that the niqab is a cultural phenomenon that predates Islam.

“When Islam came, it did not impose the niqab. Islam enjoins decent dressing,” said Nusseir, adding that the niqab spread before Islam.

Cairo University’s Ban

The proposal to ban the niqab comes weeks after Cairo University banned women wearing the niqab from working at its hospitals.

According to Aswat Masriya, the decision, which came into effect on 14 February 2016, applies to teaching staff, doctors, students, nurses, and any technical workers who are either working at the hospitals or training there.

The decision to ban the niqab across Cairo University’s hospitals came a month after Egypt’s Administrative Court rejected lawsuits filed against Cairo University for banning teachers from wearing the niqab, reported Aswat Masriya.

At the time of the ban, which was contested by 77 staff members, Nassar stated that the decision was made to improve education and communication between students and their instructors and to benefit the wider public.

This is not the first time a university has tackled the issue of the niqab.

In 2008, debate ensued after Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the leading Sunni Islamic school in the world, banned the niqab in all-female classrooms and dormitories. Meanwhile, in 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist dominated parliament criticized certain hospitals and nursing schools for banning nurses from wearing the niqab.

In 2015, voters were required to remove the niqab in order to cast their ballots. Voters wearing the niqab were required to reveal their faces to a female poll worker to verify their identities.

The niqab, which is not as commonly worn in Egypt as the hijab, consists of fabric that covers a woman’s head and a cloth that covers her face but leaves the eyes visible.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

16-year-old shot dead after attempting stabbing outside blockaded village

Israeli soldiers hold a position in a street, east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on October 3, 2015

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot dead a 16-year-old Palestinian boy after he attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a military checkpoint outside the blockaded village of al-Zawiya in Salfit district on Wednesday morning.Al-Zawiya in the northern West Bank was placed under military blockade late on Tuesday after it is believed one of its residents carried out a stabbing attack near Tel Aviv.On Wednesday morning, Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that an “assailant armed with a knife” approached a military checkpoint on the outskirts of al-Zawiya intending to stab soldiers there.She said that Israeli forces “thwarted” the attack, shooting the Palestinian dead. No Israelis were injured during the incident.Locals said that Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a second Palestinian during the deadly encounter, although the army spokesperson had no information about a second Palestinian being shot during the incident.Local official Naim Shqeir told Ma’an that both Palestinians were “left bleeding” when Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances were prevented from accessing them.Shqeir said that Israeli soldiers also assaulted a vendor selling vegetables in a pickup truck who was travelling in the area.The boy was identified 16-year-old Ahmad Yousef Amer from the neighboring village of Masha.It later emerged he had written a will before his death, saying goodbye to his parents and asking them for forgiveness. He also told them of a debt of 60 shekels he owed his school friends.The village of al-Zawiya in the northern West Bank was placed under military blockade late on Tuesday after Israel alleges one of its residents carried out a stabbing attack near Petah Tikva, around seven miles east of Tel Aviv.The 17-year-old, identified as Abd Al-Rahman Radad, was shot dead after wounding an Israeli man. However, the exact circumstances of the incident remained unclear, with early reports suggesting it may have been a brawl between the Israeli and Palestinian as opposed to an attack.Radad was one of four Palestinians shot dead on Tuesday after a series of attacks left an American tourist dead and at least 12 Israelis wounded.The violence carried into Wednesday, with another two Palestinians shot dead outside Jerusalem’s Old City in the morning after they allegedly carried out a shooting that left a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship in critical condition.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

‘Israel’ kills 7 Pals, US vice president call them ‘terrorists’

‘The US stands firmly behind Israel,’ Biden said.

US Vice President Joe Biden called on Wednesday seven Palestinians murdered by Israeli occupation in space of last 24 hours “terrorists.”

“You never need to doubt that the United States of America has Israel’s back… and we know Israel has our back as well,” Biden said

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem -US Vice President Joe Biden called on Wednesday seven Palestinians murdered by Israeli occupation in space of last 24 hours “terrorists.”

In a press conference held in Jerusalem, Biden condemned what he called “those in the international community who failed to condemn Palestinian terror attacks against Israel.”

Biden, who is in a five-day-trip to the Middle East, praised the Israeli occupation murdering of a Palestinian on Tuesday night as the Israeli authorities claimed he killed an American commander.

He repeatedly stressed the deep personal and professional friendship he shares with Netanyahu — and the “bond that can never be broken” between their two countries.

“You never need to doubt that the United States of America has Israel’s back… and we know Israel has our back as well,” Biden said.

Speaking about the Palestinians murdered by the Israeli occupation forces, Biden clearly claimed: “The Palestinians are targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, grandfathers and American citizens.

In a clear support for the Israeli killing of the Palestinian innocents, he called Israeli murdering of Palestinians a kind of “self-defence.” He said: “The US stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Biden’s remarks admired the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked him for his strong support and denounced the Palestinian Authority for “failing to condemned his people’s terror attacks against Israelis.”

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli occupation forces murdered seven Palestinians since Tuesday morning, including a 50-year-old woman.

All of them were murdered over claims that they attempted to kill Israelis.

(Source / 09.03.2016)

Here’s why Israel is an apartheid state

IAW pics graffiti tear down this wall

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual campaign that raises awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people. The apartheid analogy upsets Israeli supporters who believe the term is inappropriate and unfair, but as BEN WHITE argues, there is enough evidence to the contrary.

Under discriminatory immigration legislation, a Jew anywhere in the world, with no family ties to Israel whatsoever, can emigrate and gain Israeli citizenship, while a Palestinian whose family was expelled by Israel in 1948 (the Nakba), is unable to return home. These laws were passed in order to protect a “Jewish majority” that had been established through the expulsion of the majority of the indigenous Palestinian population. In addition, Palestinian citizens of Israel face harsh restrictions on their right to secure residency for spousesfrom the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"I was living my hometown, Beit Jarja, until the Zionist militias destroyed it and kicked me out at the age of 15"  “I was living my hometown, Beit Jarja, until the Zionist militias destroyed it and kicked me out at the age of 15.” – Mohamed al-Manasra

Stolen land
Some 20% of the territory held by Israel prior to 1967 is land belonging to ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugees, expropriated using the so-called Absentee Property Law. In addition, by 1980, between 65% and 75% of Palestinian citizens’ land had been expropriated using a variety of legal tools. Former UN special rapporteur on housing Raquel Rolnik saidshe had observed in Israel “a land development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities”, a system, she continued, “being replicated in the occupied territory.”

Around 4.5 million Palestinians live under an Israeli military regime in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Jewish Israeli citizens live in more than 200 colonies – the illegal settlements. The two populations are separate and unequal. Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the West Bank is restricted by more than 500 physical obstacles, from checkpoints to roadblocks, while Israeli settlers come and go as they please.

IAW 2016 pics graffiti on separation barrier 22

Forced removals
Meanwhile, as settlement housing expands, Palestinian homes and agricultural facilities are demolished for lacking an impossible-to-obtain “permit”. In the first two months of 2016, Israeli authorities have intensified the ongoing policy of demolitions: from January 1 to February 22, according to UN figures, Israeli forces demolished 320 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing 514.

"I have two heroes. My two older brothers, who are both in Israeli prison, who didn’t go to trial or being charged. Anyway, I miss them." Ahmad, 10 “I have two heroes. My two older brothers, who are both in Israeli prison, who didn’t go to trial or being charged. Anyway, I miss them.” Ahmad, 10

Military force
Israel enforces and maintains its policies of settler colonialism and occupation with devastating military force. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have experienced three large-scale Israeli offensives in eight years; thousands have been killed and injured, and key infrastructure destroyed or debilitated. Elsewhere, Israeli occupation forces suppress unarmed protests with lethal violence, using live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets against teenage stone-throwers, or even bystanders. Israeli forces conduct routine night-time raids of Palestinian communities, with almost 7,000Palestinian prisoners currently detained in Israeli jails – including 650 without charge or trial.

The fact that the minority of Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship can be Supreme Court justices or Members of Knesset (MK) is not proof of Israel’s “democracy”. Yes, the court currently includes an Arab judge – the only one, note, from 66 past and present justices – but the facts are clear: in case after case, the Supreme Court has rubber-stamped violations of international law and refuses to challenge systematic discrimination. Palestinian MKs, meanwhile, are harassed, subjected to racial incitement, and marginalised; in 68 years, there have only ever been two non-Jewish ministers.

Crime against humanity
The analogy with apartheid South Africa is a fascinating subject of discussion and debate – but it is not how one assesses whether Israel is practicing apartheid today. Apartheid is acrime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which was adopted in 1998 – four years after the formal end of the apartheid regime in South Africa. It can exist anywhere, and any state could potentially be guilty.

Racial segregation
In 2012, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) proposed to Israel to “eradicate” all practices that violate the prohibition of “racial segregation and apartheid.” According to Dr. David Keane, senior lecturer in law at Middlesex University and author of ‘Caste-based Discrimination in International Human Rights Law’, the report constituted “the most cutting CERD recognition and condemnation of a legal system of segregation since apartheid South Africa.”

(Source / 09.03.2016)

Israeli policemen brutally attack Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli police forces brutally and savagely attacked on Wednesday afternoon Palestinian worshipers and peaceful sit-inners near al-Asbat Gate, one of al-Aqsa Mosque gates. The PIC news reporter said that tensions prevailed in the holy shrine after Israeli forces prevented Hanadi Halawani from entering into the Mosque via al-Asbat Gate although she had served her 6-month access ban. Meanwhile, the Israeli police allowed 45 settlers to enter the Aqsa Mosque compound under heavy military protection in total provocation to Palestinian worshipers who started shouting Takbeer in protest against the settlers’ presence. During the protests, an old man suffered different injuries after being attacked by Israeli policemen.

(Source / 09.03.2016)