Israeli forces detain 60 Palestinians without permits inside Israel

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police on Wednesday detained at least 60 Palestinian workers inside Israel without work permits, Hebrew media reported.

According to Hebrew media, Israeli forces detained 25 Palestinians from northern Israel, 15 from the Tel Aviv area and 20 from the Negev.
The detention campaign follows a deadly attack in the Israeli coastal city of Jaffa on Tuesday, where a Palestinian who had reportedly been living and working in Israel illegally stabbed and killed an American tourist and injured at least nine others.
The Palestinian, identified as Bashar Masalha, 22, was shot dead at the scene.
In addition to cracking down on workers inside Israel illegally, Israeli forces on Wednesday announced that work permits would be revoked from Palestinians residing in Masalha’s hometown of Hajja village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin.
The move was the second time this year that Israeli authorities have revoked work permits from entire areas following attacks carried out by individual actors.
Early last month, Israeli authorities announced that work permits were being revoked from residents of Qabatiya, a village in the northern occupied West Bank, after a deadly attack carried out by three teens from the village.
Palestinians who seek to work in Israel need a special work permit usually granted by the Israeli Civil Administration in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Labor, but such permits are difficult to obtain.
Immigration of a foreign workforce into Israel increased primarily during both the First and Second Intifadas, as Israeli employers sought to replace Palestinian workers who were unable to come to work to due severe Israeli restrictions on movement, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Despite this, the Bank of Israel reported in March that the number of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank working in Israel — legally and illegally — doubled in the past four years.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled in the West Bank under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
(Source / 10.03.2016)

Israeli Soldiers Invade The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan

Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded on Thursday morning, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic,) in occupied Jerusalem, and photographed its interiors, in addition to imposing a fine

Invasie Silwanic

Majd Gheith of Silwanic said the soldiers interrogated him while examining his ID card, and photographed the center’s interior walls, especially where the it has pictures documenting the ongoing Israeli violations in Jerusalem.

The Police claimed that the pictures were “incitement materials,” and imposed a 467 Israeli shekels fine on the center for what the police claimed, “placing a chain as a barrier in front of the center,” and gave them seven days to remove it.

Gheith said that the chain is used to protect the children, and prevent them from running into the street, especially since Israel imposes tight restrictions on the Palestinians, adding that the City Council does not develop Arab areas, and does not provide them with safe sidewalks and parking spaces.

Invasie Silwanic1

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Mona Qa’adan’s sentence reduced to 41 months, will be released next month

The sentence of Palestinian prisoner Mona   mona-kaadan Qa’adan was reduced from 70 months to 41 months at the Ofer military court on 9 March. Qa’adan’s sentence was imposed by the Salem military court last year; in addition to the 70-month sentence, she received a 24-month suspended sentence and was fined 30,000 NIS. At the time, Qa’adan’s family reported that the Israeli Attorney General had previously stated her sentence would not exceed 36 months, but the military court sentence – and exorbitant fine – nearly doubled that sentence.

Qa’adan, from Arraba, near Jenin, was arrested from her home on 13 November 2012. The Israeli military courts held 25 hearings over nearly 3 years in her case, denying her family visits the entire time. She was charged with membership in Palestinian Islamic Jihad and running a women’s organization alleged to be connected with Islamic Jihad. Her brother Tariq is a former prisoner himself, and her fiancee, Ibrahim Aghbarieh, is also imprisoned in Israeli prisons.

Due to the reduction in her sentence, Qa’adan will be released in one month.

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Knesset bill to deport family members of Palestinian assailants gains massive support

Muhanna's family house destroyed. Muhannad al-Halabi, a 19-year-old law student, was shot dead by the IOF on October 3 after he stabbed Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Banita.

Muhanna’s family house destroyed. Muhannad al-Halabi, a 19-year-old law student, was shot dead by the IOF on October 3 after he stabbed Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Banita

A bill was formally submitted to the Israeli Knesset on Wednesday by Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) to deport the family members of Palestinian assailants who were killed by the IOF since October last year.

Since the beginning of the month, the bill has garnered support from the Israeli parliament across the political spectrum, Israeli media reports.

At the beginning of March Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Israeli Attorney General (AG) Avichai Mandelblit to conduct a legal review of the bill that would allow Israel to expel family members of Palestinians who carried out anti-Israel operatives to the Gaza Strip.

“Many of the recent terror attacks have been committed by lone terrorists. Often these terrorists have come from families that encourage and assist them. [I] believe that using this tool can lead to a significant decrease in terror attacks against the State of Israel, its citizens and its residents,”” Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Mandelblit.

After reviewing the bill, Mandelblit said last week that expelling “Palestinian terrorists’ families from the West Bank to Gaza violates Israeli and international law and could play into the hands of those seeking to have Israel tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.”

Even with Mandelblit opposition to the bill, according to the Israeli media, Netanyahu claimed that the legal restrictions preventing its implementation are a “misinterpretation of international legal statute.”

Katz, who submitted the bill, said it is “a first rate act of deterrence,” and called on the AG’s Office to cooperate and allow it to pass into law quickly.

“Everyone must understand that we are at the height of a war against ISIS style terrorist attacks by radical Islam,” Katz stated. “This is terrorism by individuals, about which we do not have additional intelligence, and therefore, we need to take additional deterrent and preventative steps.”

The bill is well-supported within the Israeli parliament coalition, with the backing of Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and Kulanu MKs, as well as opposition MKs from Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beteinu.

According to Jpost, the only obstacle preventing the bill from being implemented is AG Mandelblit’s objection.

The bill states that family members of Palestinians who helped commit the “act of terrorism” or who knew about it in advance, could lose their permanent residence status if they are residents of “sovereign Israel”, including occupied east Jerusalem, or be deported from the occupied West Bank.

To punish the family members of Palestinian assailants, Israel currently uses home demolitions, saying the measure is meant to “deter attacks”. Critics from nongovernmental organizations and human right groups say the demolitions are a form of collective punishment.

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Syria talks set to resume

A man walks on the rubble of damaged buildings in the rebel-controlled area of Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, March 2, 2016

WASHINGTON — With an 11-day-old partial truce having dramatically reduced if not ended violence in Syria, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said he planned to resume proximity talks between the Syrian government and the opposition on a political transition process starting March 14. The intra-Syrian talks, to be held at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, could last up to 10 days, he said.

“When we start having the talks on Monday, God willing, 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,” de Mistura told journalists March 9 in Geneva.

“At the end of the day, the cease-fire and humanitarian aid alone are not a solution,” de Mistura said. “The solution is a political transition in Syria, facilitated, made credible to the Syrian people by incremental humanitarian assistance, and an incremental, more or less sustainable … and — quite unbelievable after five years of war — cessation of hostilities or reduction of hostilities. That’s basically the plan.”

While the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) had not yet formally replied if it will attend, there were signs March 9 that it probably would. The fact that the agenda for the intra-Syrian talks that de Mistura outlined would “start with discussion of the matter of political transition” is positive, HNC spokesman Salem al-Muslat told Reuters.

The State Department also encouraged the opposition to attend, to negotiate on the form and composition of a transitional governing body that would preserve Syria’s government institutions and avoid state collapse.

“We want the parties to work this out,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing March 9. “We always recognized that there would be some transitional structures in place as [we] go from the regime to post-regime government. What it looks like — whether you call it a unity government or transition government — we the US have not laid out a policy on that.”

“We want to make sure that the key institutions, the key functions of a government are at least preserved in some form or fashion,” Kirby said. “You need to have some security forces in place. That is obviously critical to an increased sense of stability. What other institutions look like … all that has to be ironed out. That is why it is so important the talks in Geneva get started.”

US Syria envoy Michael Ratney will lead the US delegation in the intra-Syrian talks, though the United States is not a direct participant.

“As of March 8, 10 UN convoys comprising nearly 300 trucks in total had provided emergency humanitarian assistance to about 225,000 people,” Ratney said in a statement March 9. “But there is still much work to be done and more priority locations to access.”

De Mistura, noting that he had to suspend the first round of intra-Syrian talks he attempted early last month only days after they began, said that in the intervening five weeks that the United States, Russia and other international players had increased their cooperation on humanitarian aid deliveries and in trying to implement the Syria cease-fire.

“We’re having a whole surge of UN colleagues who are actually helping us to make sure that we are going to be able to handle … simultaneously … the proximity talks … two task forces — one humanitarian and one on the cessation of hostilities — [the] cease-fire and, as you know very well, a never-seen-before operations center, where we have Russians, Americans and the UN monitoring, observing and trying to check and keep track of the cease-fire.”

The various delegations to the Geneva talks will arrive staggered over the next few days, the UN envoy said.

“We have people coming tomorrow [March 10]. We have people coming on Sunday [March 13]. There will be anyway on Saturday quite a few too, but then we plan to start having informal talks already in hotels or here, with whoever is arriving,” he said. “But the substantive, deeper part of it, after the first preparation, will be on Monday, God willing, the 14th. They will last not beyond the 24th. We believe that having a timetable and a time limit is healthy for everyone, so we don’t think that we can go on [with] procedural discussions for two weeks hoping to get into substance — we go seriously into substance as soon as we can.”

Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat in Washington who supports the opposition, said while the opposition appreciated the reduction in violence, it wanted the United States to be far more active in pressing Russia and the regime on alleged violations of the truce, including an alleged airstrike on a market in Idlib on March 7 that killed over two dozen people.

“The Syrian opposition really needs the Americans to have something to give them credibility,” Barabandi told Al-Monitor on March 9. “We would like them to be very aggressive.”

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Israeli troops deploy heavily near Lebanon: Paper

This file photo shows Israeli troops patrolling near the village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon. (photo by AP)

This file photo shows Israeli troops patrolling near the village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon

The Israeli army has heavily deployed troops and equipment along the Lebanese border and stepped up military activities there, a report from Beirut says.

For the second day on Wednesday, Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters at Lebanese herders and farmers working near the border with the occupied Palestinian territories, The Daily Star reported.

“We were proceeding with our lives normally and everyone was working their land. Then we saw the Israeli patrol and its members begin shooting tear gas at us,” Mustafa Ahmad, one of the herders, said.

Residents said the Israeli army repeatedly shot tear gas canisters during the morning. Hours later, a large number of Israeli troops were stationed in an Israeli settlement across the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila.

According to witness accounts, Israeli troops used trees and shrubs for cover and monitored the movements within Lebanon as motorized patrols were conducted.

Local sources say Israeli patrols along the border have increased in the past week , with soldiers taking up ambush positions in the area.

The activities have sparked fears among local residents, who question the motives behind Israel’s latest transgression, The Daily Star said.

This file photo shows an Israeli soldier peering through his weapon scope while on patrol near the Lebanese

Israeli war plans 

The new report comes after the Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper said on Saturday that Israel was seeking to launch a new war on Lebanon.

According to the paper, US officials have warned Beirut that Tel Aviv was looking for a pretext to attack Lebanon and told the Arab country’s leaders “not to give Israel an excuse to start a war.”

US officials had been informed by their Israeli counterparts that Tel Aviv is interested in a new war, particularly in light of Saudi Arabia’s strategic shift in policy, al-Akhbar said.

Last month, Riyadh said it had suspended USD 3 billion in military assistance to the Lebanese military and another USD 1 billion to the country’s internal security forces.

Saudi Arabia later forced Persian Gulf Arab states to issue a statement, labeling Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

According to al-Akhbar, the Saudi decision to suspend military assistance and the consequent move to declare Hezbollah a “terrorist organization” have “whetted Israel’s appetite” for conflict with the resistance movement.

Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, lost their lives during the 33-day war in the summer of 2006.

Hezbollah is credited with driving Israeli troops out of southern Lebanon and defeating them in subsequent wars.

It is also helping the Syrian army fight Takfiri militants in a war which the resistance movement sees crucial to preventing the conflict from spilling over to Lebanon.

Lebanon to respond firmly 

In reaction to reports of possible Israeli plans for a new war, Lebanon’s army chief Jean Kahwagi said on Monday that Beirut was fully prepared to repel all types of threats.

“The army is today stronger than at any time before. Security on the border and inside the country is under control,” he said.

The Lebanese army has been fighting militants near the border with Syria.

“The army will remain at the highest level of readiness on all fronts of responsibility and duty, from fighting terrorism on the border, to defending against Israel and its schemes, to spreading security and stability in the interior,” Kahwagi said.

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Israeli authorities to demolish 13 homes, structures in Azzun

QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday delivered stop-work and demolition orders to 13 Palestinian homes and structures in the occupied West Bank town of Azzun, locals said.

Hassan Shubaita, a local who documents Israeli violations in the Qalqilya-area town, told Ma’an that Israeli military forces raided the area near route 55 before delivering the orders.Shubaita added that the notices included demolition of inhabited homes, homes under construction, and tin shacks which were reportedly built without the proper permits.The owners of the structures, along with the village mayor, plan to appeal the demolitions.Shubatia told Ma’an the structures and houses in question belonged to Maher Mishal, Said Nofal, Ashraf Sweidan, Azem Salem, Rashid Yassen, Ayman Hussain, Ibrahim Enaya, Momen Hussien, Mustafa Chello, Eiad al-Akhras, Adham Salem, Maen Salem and Muhammad Salem.The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) did not have immediate information on the demolition orders.The majority home demolitions in the occupied West Bank occur in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control. In order for Palestinians to build in Area C, land owners must obtain building permits from the Israeli authorities. Such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinian, forcing communities to build illegally.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found that between 2010 and 2014, only 1.5 percent of 2,020 Palestinian building permit requests submitted were approved.As of mid-February, the number of Palestinians displaced due to Israeli demolitions in 2016 was already equivalent to over half of the total number displaced in all of 2015, a senior UN official said last month.

(Source / 10.03.2016)

G4S says it will exit Israeli market, following high-profile BDS campaign


British private security giant G4S has announced plans to sell its entire Israeli business within the next 12 to 24 months. The news has been welcomed by activists in the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, for whom G4S has been a long-standing target.

The decision to leave Israel was revealed in the company’s full-year results releasedWednesday, when the company reported a 40 per cent fall in its pre-tax profits.

The company said its plans to exit Israel were part of a “continuing portfolio management programme” designed to “materially improve our strategic focus.” The Israeli business employs 8,000 people with a turnover of £100 million.

According to the Financial Times, G4S “is extracting itself from reputationally damaging work, including its entire Israeli business”, noting that human rights campaigners and BDS activists “have repeatedly attacked G4S’s work in [Israel].”

G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons and detention centres, in which thousands of Palestinian prisoners are tortured and held – including without charge or trial. Israel also violates international law by jailing Palestinians outside of the occupied territory.

The company also has contracts with the Israeli authorities to provide equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the Occupied West Bank that form part of illegal Apartheid Wall.

In 2012, Palestinian groups “called for action to hold G4S accountable for its role in Israel’s prisons”, and since then, the campaign has inflicted growing economic and PR damage on the company. Activists say that G4S has since lost contracts worth millions of dollars around the world, with lost clients including private businesses, universities, trade unions, and United Nations bodies.

In 2014, the Bill Gates Foundation divested its $170m stake in the company following international protests. In the UK, at least five student unions voted to cancel contracts with G4S, and students successfully pressured two other universities not to renew contracts with the company.

The United Methodist Church, the largest protestant church in the USA, divested from G4S after coalition campaigning brought the issue to a vote. Just recently, as reported by Middle East Monitor, G4S lost a major contract in Colombia and a contract with UNICEF in Jordan, in both cases following campaigns by BDS activists.

Responding to the news of G4S’s planned withdrawal from Israel, Palestinian BDS National Committee spokesperson Mahmoud Nawajaa compared the pressure being felt by Israel to the boycott of Apartheid South Africa, and stated that BDS “is making some of the world’s largest corporations realize that profiting from Israeli apartheid and colonialism is bad for business.”

He added: “investment fund managers are increasingly recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from Israeli banks and companies that are implicated in Israel’s serious human rights violations, such as G4S and HP, because of the high risk entailed. We are starting to notice a domino effect.”

Nawajaa said the BNC was grateful “to all of the dedicated grassroots organizers around the world who are working in solidarity with Palestinians seeking freedom, justice, and equality”, but noted that the boycott of G4S “will remain among the BDS movement’s top priorities until we actually see its back out of the door of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

The caution is well-founded; G4S announced in 2013 that it would end its role in illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and one Israeli prison by 2015, but did not follow through. In 2014, G4S announced it “did not intend to renew” its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it expired in 2017 but is yet to implement that decision.

In addition, Nawajaa claimed that owing to G4S’s involvement in the “racist mass incarceration business” in countries such as South Africa, UK, and USA, the BNC is “determined to work closely with partners to hold G4S to account for its participation in human rights abuses.”

In the last eight months, French multinationals Veolia and Orange and CRH, Ireland’s biggest company, have all exited the Israeli market. In January, the United Methodist Church put five Israeli banks from Israel on a “blacklist” due to their complicity in human rights violations, including the financing of illegal Israeli settlements.

Nawajaa said Israel is unable to “stop the impressive growth of BDS”, despite its efforts “to smear and delegitimize our nonviolent movement, including with anti-democratic laws in Europe and the US aimed at silencing dissent and suppressing our freedom of speech.”

“We believe strongly that our ethical approach and just cause will prevail, as this latest G4S announcement shows.”

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Abbas to Biden: Security, peace, stability tied to two-state solution

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told United States Vice President Joe Biden during a meeting on Wednesday that renewing hope and providing a political roadmap to achieve a two-state solution is the key to security, peace and stability in the region.Abbas gave his condolences to Biden for the American tourist killed by a Palestinian on Tuesday, but highlighted that Israeli forces have killed nearly 200 Palestinians during the past six months.The President stressed terrorism must be fought in all its forms.The meeting came hours after Biden criticized Abbas earlier that day for not immediately condemning a string of Palestinian attacks against Israelis on Tuesday that left one American tourist dead and more than a dozen Israelis injured.All four Palestinians who committed the series of separate attacks were shot dead by Israeli forces.”The kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop,” Biden said before the meeting, specifically targeting the Palestinian President and the Fatah party, which he said “glorified” Tuesday’s attacks.Slamming Palestinian leadership and its alleged incitement of Palestinian violence, Biden added that while such violence must be stopped, doing so “cannot and will not be done just by physical force.”While Abbas and the Fatah movement stayed largely silent after the most recent string of deadly attacks, other Palestinian factions, including popular committees, applauded the attacks and called for an escalation of violence.Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the wave of attacks, but said that Israeli security measures were failing to “address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians — especially young people.”He added: “As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”

(Source / 10.03.2016)

Syrian Coalition: Negotiations Must Lead to Complete Political Transition

The Syrian Coalition stressed that serious negotiations are needed to reach full political transition in Syria and achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people.

At a meeting held earlier today, members of the political committee underscored that engaging in negotiations will only be aimed to discuss forming a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including the powers of the president.

The meeting discussed the latest political and field developments and proposed mechanisms for developing the work of the political committee. The meeting also stressed the need for the immediate release of detainees, especially women and children, before the resumption of negotiations tabled for next week.

Moreover, the political committee stressed the need to end the siege of besieged areas and the delivery of humanitarian aid to all areas, especially the district of Darayya in Rural Damascus as no aid has so far been allowed into the besieged district.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 10.03.2016)