Jewish settlers defile Aqsa Mosque under police escort

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Scores of Jewish settlers on Sunday morning desecrated the Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards under security protection. Local sources said that settlers escorted by special police forces entered the Mosque through al-Maghariba gate in groups and toured its courtyards, which provoked angry verbal reactions from Muslim worshipers there. Some settlers tried to perform rituals at the Islamic holy site, but Muslims confronted them by loudly shouting religious slogans. Meanwhile, several Palestinian women, whose names are on police blacklists, rallied outside the Mosque’s gates and recited verses from the holy Qur’an after they were prevented from entering the Islamic holy shrine.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

150 Palestinians arrested due to posts on Facebook

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested 150 Palestinians for their posts on Facebook and charged some of them with incitement against Israel and held others under administrative detention.  The Detainee and Ex-detainee committee said, in a statement on Saturday, that the Israeli government formed what is called “Arab Cyber Force” in the Israeli police for the purpose of chasing Palestinian social networks. The arrests were focused in Occupied Jerusalem in consistence with the Israeli policy of tightening the noose on Jerusalemite people.  The committee revealed that the Israeli penalty for expressing political opinions on Facebook is either dismissing captives from their work positions inside 1948 Occupied Palestine or deporting them outside of their neighborhoods. The committee considered such penalties as arbitrary confiscation of the right of expression.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Doctors face uphill task to treat Syria’s mental wounds

Syrian psychiatrist Nahla, 34, listens to a patient in her office at the UNHCR-funded hospital where she works in central Damascus, Syria

DAMASCUS, March 11 (UNHCR) Al-Sahira’s world is falling apart. Two years ago, the 48-year-old lost three of her 14 children when their house in Aleppo was partially destroyed by shelling. The displaced family sought safety in Damascus, but then tragedy struck again last month when shrapnel took the life of her 13-year-old son Zakariya.

Sitting in a psychiatrist’s office in a central Damascus hospital, Al-Sahira* struggles to stop her hands from shaking as she describes the mental anguish the bereavements have inflicted on her.

“I don’t know how I have coped. I spend a lot of time just sitting at home and looking at pictures of my dead children,” she says. “I feel that I must speak to someone and tell them what I’ve been through.”

Nahla, a 34-year-old psychiatrist from Qalamoun, 90 kilometres north of the capital, says Al-Sahira’s suffering is part of a dramatic increase in psychological trauma affecting Syrians after five years of conflict.

“The crisis has had a deep psychological effect on people, but this is a perfectly normal reaction to an abnormal situation,” says Nahla, who heads up the mental health and psychosocial support department of the UNHCR-funded Poly-Clinic, run by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

While there are no verifiable figures on the increase in mental health disorders among Syrians since the outbreak of the conflict, Nahla estimates that the number of people requiring treatment has roughly trebled. Of the 400-500 patients that her department treats each month, the most common conditions they encounter are depression (23 per cent), anxiety (18 per cent) and post-traumatic stress disorder (13 per cent).

Compounding the increase in suffering has been a corresponding drop in the number of practicing psychiatrists inside Syria. Figures from the Association of Psychiatrists in Syria show that there are currently just 70 qualified psychiatrists across the country less than half the number before the crisis began.

Several of Nahla’s former colleagues have left the country, but it was the outbreak of conflict that convinced her to stay. “Before the crisis I wanted to move abroad and specialize in child psychiatry, but I changed my mind and stayed to be with my family and help my country. Syria has given me a lot, and I had something to repay,” she says.

For those like Nahla that remained, that decision was not without cost. Like many of her colleagues, she has lost family members and been displaced from her home by the fighting. The work also takes a psychological toll on the medical practitioners themselves.

“No one is unaffected by what’s happening in Syria. After five years, most of the staff members also suffer from psychological issues. We try to support each other and organize team-based interventions,” she explains.

For patients such as Al-Sahira, while medication may be required to address specific conditions such as depression, equally important is the opportunity to share her experiences with a trained professional and begin the process of recovery.

“We can’t take away the pain of people like Al-Sahira that have lost children, but we can listen without judgment and try to reconnect them with their families and social networks. Without this kind of help they would suffer far more and their conditions would worsen,” Nahla says.

The only positive impact of the crisis that Nahla has witnessed is the removal of the stigma surrounding mental illness, with people that previously would never have come to her now seeking help. She says the biggest challenge is ensuring that Syrians do not become inured to what is going on around them.

“After five years of war, people are starting to get used to it. I’m constantly working to try to make sure they don’t become accustomed to this situation. There is nothing normal about what is happening in conflict impacted communities in Syria.”

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Three wounded prisoners medically neglected in Ramla jail

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) has said that three Palestinian wounded prisoners suffer from deliberate medical neglect in the infirmary of the Ramla jail. According to a report published on the PPS website, 24-year-old Mohamed Shalaldeh, from al-Khalil, suffers from partial memory loss and impaired concentration. Shalaldeh suffered serious injuries in his head, shoulders and chest and went into a coma for several days after Israeli soldiers opened fire at him on October 21, 2015. 17-year-old Jalal al-Sharawneh, another prisoner from al-Khalil, suffers from obvious medical neglect that has led to the amputation of his leg. He needs surgery to implant a prosthetic leg. He suffered a bullet injury during his detention on October 10, 2015. As for 15-year-old prisoner Othman Shaalan from Bethlehem, he has become unable to walk without others’ help since a Jewish settler shot him in his left leg on January 18.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Palestinian boy seriously wounded in IOF shooting

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– A Palestinian boy was seriously wounded in northern Ramallah on Sunday evening after Israeli occupation forces (IOF) used lethal force to disperse protesters. Local sources said that the 14-year-old child Uday Salama was hit with IOF bullets during confrontations between the IOF soldiers and local protesters in al-Mazra’a al-Gharbiya village. The sources said that the boy was transferred to hospital suffering from serious injuries.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Does the Israeli Army Plant Knives on Palestinians?

To the Israeli ear the allegation sounds far-fetched. Israelis find it hard to believe that our soldiers and commanders could lie, until it’s proven otherwise by security footage or photos.

Israeli soldiers stand around a wounded Palestinian in Hebron, Oct. 26, 2015, after a stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs

A former Japanese policeman now visiting Israel said, “I don’t understand. In our country, if someone stabs a policeman, we grab him by the hand and arrest him. We don’t kill him. Why is it different in Israel?” How should we respond? By saying that in our country, soldiers and policemen are instructed to kill a Palestinian holding a knife two meters from them, or a knife in his bag, or something that is assumed to be a knife in his pocket?
Four days in Hebron were not enough to keep track of all those killed in the city. Six different articles couldn’t cover everything that accumulated. The glassy eyes of the mourning parents. The arrogant nighttime raids of homes by the Shin Bet security service, the threats to demolish one’s home (even when no Israeli had been killed). So here are a few briefs, to make up for the lack of space.
“After a few days of deceptive silence, another shooting attack,” reported Ynet on Friday, after two Israelis were killed in the southern West Bank. Wrong. The raid on the hospital in Hebron, the snatching of patient Azzam Shalaldeh (who’d been shot and wounded by a settler) and the killing of his cousin Abdullah does not constitute quiet, deceptive or otherwise.

The Haaretz website similarly described a stabbing attack in Jerusalem last Tuesday as a break in the relative quiet. But in Jerusalem it is never quiet; every night policemen burst into homes and arrest children and teens, patrol neighborhoods and terrorize people. And that’s besides the killing of demonstrators and the bureaucratic violence of home demolitions and revocation of residency status. So long as we don’t get that the occupation is one continuous terror attack, we won’t know how to end the attacks on Israelis.
It was written that on October 17, Bayan Osileh, 16, approached the checkpoint at the Ashmoret Yitzhak Border Police base “near the Cave of the Patriarchs.” Wrong. She arrived at the checkpoint that cuts off her neighborhood from the rest of Hebron. Israeli media always describe the site of an incident as military and Israeli. For example, they say Checkpoint 160 and the Zion route, and never the A-Salaimeh neighborhood and Wadi al-Hussein. That’s how tens of thousands of people whose homes and childhoods are there are made to vanish, while the Israeli mindset sees the erasure of Palestinians from their city as self-evident.
Osileh asked a female border policeman how to get to a certain place, a security source told Haaretz. The policewoman responded that she should “ask the locals.” Osileh stuck her hand into her schoolbag, as if she was looking for her cell phone, pulled out a knife and stabbed the policewoman’s protective vest. The policewoman pushed Osileh back and she fell. The policewoman sustained a cut to her hand.

“The young woman tried to get up,” the security source said, “and the fighter shot her, a bullet or two, I think.” Right in the chest. Couldn’t the policewoman make do with wounding and arresting the girl?
Suspect raised hands
Late last month, soldiers from the Tzabar Battalion killed two 22-year-olds at the Gilbert checkpoint in Tel Rumeida. International volunteers saw how Islam Obaido was killed on October 28. According to them, he was walking down the street toward the checkpoint. Two soldiers, standing at some distance from their colleagues at the checkpoint, stood in front of him. Obaido raised his hands. One or both of them shot two bursts of gunfire at him. An international volunteer said he wasn’t holding a knife, but Israel Defense Forces photographs showed a knife near the body. Obaido was shot from a meter away. Couldn’t the soldiers have just wounded him rather than killed him?
No volunteers actually saw the shooting of Hummam Is’aid on October 27, they just heard the shots. A volunteer looked out the window of her apartment and saw the body surrounded by soldiers and settlers. She didn’t see a knife. She moved away from the window for a second, and when she returned, there was a knife, she said.
Are soldiers planting knives after the fact, as the Palestinians believe? To the Israeli ear that sounds far-fetched, even an illegitimate question. But let’s ask: Have soldiers and policemen never lied to justify the unjustified arrest or shooting or killing of Palestinians? Israelis find it hard to believe that our soldiers and commanders could lie, until it’s proven otherwise by security cameras or still pictures of which the soldiers weren’t aware.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Too dangerous to play: Dozens of West Bank children killed by Israel forces

Mother of 14-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly shot in the back by Israeli soldiers says that children can no longer go outside safely by themselves

Luaiy al-Baw said his nephew Haitham was more interested in animals and football than politics

HALHUL, West Bank – Parents in the occupied West Bank say they can no longer allow their children to play outside because of fears that they could be shot dead by Israeli forces.

A report published this month by a children’s rights group said that 41 children had been shot dead during six months of upheaval in which Israeli forces have often responded with lethal force to scores of stabbing and shooting attacks by Palestinians.

Nasreen al-Baw, the mother of 14-year-old Haitham al-Baw who was killed by Israeli soldiers on 5 February, told Middle East Eye that her son had died instantly after being shot in the back while playing on a hillside with his cousin and another teenager and his two new dogs.

Israel security forces said Haitham had been throwing stones at passing cars on the outskirts of Halhul village near Hebron, a statement Nasreen al-Baw denied.

“My son was the oldest of four, and our only son,” she said. “He was very responsible. He had a kind soul that fell for every animal he met, from the chickens to the donkeys and the dogs and cats in our neighbourhood. He didn’t have violence in him.”

According to the Defence of Children International-Palestine (DCIP), which compiled the report into child deaths, an autopsy showed that Haitham had been struck in the back by bullets which pierced his lungs and chest and exited through his mouth.

Haitham’s cousin, 16-year-old Wajdi Saada, was tackled and arrested, while the other teenager ran away.

Nasreen al-Baw said she now only allowed her three younger children to leave the family home to go to school, or if they are accompanied by an adult.

“Here the children used to come and go as they pleased. They didn’t sit inside all day on computers, they go would go out and play with their friends after school, but that is not our reality anymore,” she said.

“It’s just too dangerous to let the children out of the house without us. We know now that anything can happen under occupation. A day in a field with a dog can mean death.”

Luaiy al-Baw, Haitham’s uncle, said he had frequently spoken to his nephew about the wave of unrest and warned him to be careful and to stay away from violence.

“I never got the feeling that he was too interested in what was going on though,” he told MEE, sitting in the family’s living room filled with photos and memorial posters of Haitham. “He was more interested in his pets and playing football.”

Haitham’s mother, Nasreen al-Baw, denies that her son was throwing rocks when he was killed

Five days after Haitham’s death, 16-year-old Omar Jawabra was shot dead by Israeli forces when clashes broke out as they entered the nearby al-Arroub refugee camp.

According to the DCIP report, 40 children have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank in the past six months, while one child died from a gunshot wound when Israeli forces fired on protesters at the border of the Gaza Strip last October.

In addition, 2,177 children have been injured since October, according to UN figures.

About three-quarters of the children were shot dead during what Israeli security forces said were actual or attempted gun and knife attacks on Israelis, although rights groups have disputed the circumstances of many of the cases.

In an interview with DCIP, Wajdi Saada said that he and Haitham had not thrown stones or shown any intention of doing so.

He said an Israeli soldier had “jumped on me, punched me hard on my face, knocked me down to the ground, and ordered me to take off my shirt” during his arrest. “I did so while I was looking at Haitham.”

The DCIP, along with Amnesty International, has accused Israeli forces of implementing a “shoot-to-kill” policy, which in some incidents, it said, amounted to “extrajudicial killings”.

“There is mounting evidence that, as tensions have risen dramatically, in some cases Israeli forces appear to have ripped up the rulebook and resorted to extreme and unlawful measures,” said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme, last year.

“They seem increasingly prone to using lethal force against anyone they perceive as posing a threat, without ensuring that the threat is real.”

On 4 March, a video emerged of Israeli forces shooting a 12-year-old boy, later identified as Khalid Murad Shtewei, in the leg, which is considered a common tactic used by Israeli soldiers.

In the video the young boy claws at the ground, trying to pull himself away from advancing Israeli soldiers.

An older man ran back to help the boy and was also shot, but managed to get Khalid and himself to safety before they were taken to hospital.

Neighbours told MEE on Thursday that the 12-year-old boy was still being treated in hospital having undergone surgery.

Haitam’s cousin Hamood told MEE that he no longer ventures far from home to play with his friends

In another incident, on 5 October last year around the time when the current unrest began, 13-year-old Abdelrahman Obeidallah, known to most as Abed, was killed as he gathered with friends after school outside the Aida refugee camp where he lived.

Israeli forces had first claimed that there were clashes in the area, but security camera photos showed that Abed was standing in a circle of friends with his backpack at his side when he was hit by a bullet.

An Israeli army spokesperson later said that Israeli forces were aiming for the legs of another youth and that Abed had been killed when the bullet ricocheted off the ground into his chest.

Asked to respond to allegations that the army was operating a shoot-to-kill policy, an Israeli army official told MEE that forces were ordered to “neutralise the threat to civilians,” which he said did not mean killing an attacker.

“It important to remember we are experiencing a great wave of terrorism from Palestinians coming from Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the name by which Israel refers to the occupied West Bank.

“Terrorists of all ages, some of them small children, are committing these attacks.”

He said that if Israeli forces saw someone trying to stab someone else, “they don’t ask how old they are … we don’t ask for ID; we neutralise the attacker and once they are no longer a threat we deal with the situation.”

Another army spokesman told MEE: “In the specific case involving the death of Haitham al-Baw, [Israeli] forces identified a number of Palestinians who were approaching the crossing and carrying molotov cocktails, ready to hurl them. Forces caught one of the suspects and shot toward another suspect, resulting in his death.

“The [army] regrets the use of minors in this wave of terror and the continued encouragement of young people to go out and execute terrorist attacks.”

Back at the Baw family home, Haitham’s young cousin Hamood said he was too emotional to speak much about his relative, and said he was too worried about Israeli soldiers to venture far from home, even if his mother allowed it.

“Even if my mum let me, I wouldn’t leave the area around my house, because the soldiers can come at any time,” he said.

“I am not scared of them, but I know the soldiers don’t care that I’m just a kid and that means it is dangerous. I am not scared, but I am smart.”

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Al-Qassam: Our children’s blood will not go in vain

GAZA, (PIC)– Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has mourned the death of two children from the family of Abu Khusa in an Israeli raid on Saturday, affirming that their precious blood would not go in vain. In a communique issued on Saturday, the Brigades warned that it would not tolerate Israel’s persistence in shedding the blood of Palestinian children in full view of the whole world and without retribution, stressing that “its patience has its limits.” One of four Israeli air raids on Gaza at dawn Saturday claimed the lives of six-year-old Israa Abu Khusa and her brother Yasin, 10, and injured their elder brother, Ayoub.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Israeli vandals attack Palestinian homes

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli extremist settlers, escorted by army troops, attacked overnight Sunday Palestinian family homes in the southern occupied West Bank province of al-Khalil. A PIC journalist said the settlers hurled empty bottles and stones at civilian homes in the presence of the Israeli occupation army. Palestinian protesters responded by throwing stones near the Israeli illegal settlement of Kiryat Arbaa. Heavily-armed occupation soldiers chased down the Palestinian protesters at the same time as they provided the Israeli assailants with a tight security shield.  Meanwhile, an Israeli court had ruled for acquitting one of the Israeli extremist settlers accused of involvement in the notorious arson attack on the Palestinian Dawabsheh family, which burned 18-month-old Ali to death and took away the lives of his parents Saad and Riham shortly afterwards. In a related development, Israeli fanatics sprayed on Saturday evening racist graffiti reading “death to Muslims” on the Teddy Stadium walls, in Occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli occupation police claimed they arrested six Israeli fanatics, in their 16’s, who were suspected of spraying the graffiti.

(Source / 13.03.2016)

Arab League labels Hezbollah ‘terrorist group’

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Arab League adopted a resolution on Friday labeling the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah a “terrorist group.”“We decided to label Hezbollah a terrorist group in accordance with a project submitted by the United Emirates regarding Iranian interference in the Arab region,” Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmad Bin Hali said in a statementBin Hali added that all Arab countries voted in favor of the resolution after a discussion between Arab Foreign Affairs ministers, with the exception of Lebanon and Iraq, which abstained from voting.The resolution came less than ten days after the Gulf Cooperation Council similarly declared that Hezbollah was a terrorist group.Hezbollah was founded in 1985 after the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon. The group has since become a prominent political party in the country, although the existence of the group’s military wing has polarized opinions within the country.Although Hezbollah has long associated itself with the Palestinian resistance movement, its relationship with Palestinian groups like Hamas has been strained since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, with Hamas siding with the opposition while Hezbollah has fought alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.The Arab League’s decision is seen as a continuation of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as the Wahhabi Sunni kingdom and the Shiite Islamic republic — a major Hezbollah backer — vie for influence in the region.Hezbollah news outlet Al-Manar reported that a number of Arab political parties spoke up against the resolution, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza.In a speech shortly after the GCC’s decision to label the Lebanese organization a terrorist group, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah slammed the Gulf Arab countries’ decision, accusing them of indifference or outright collaboration with the Israeli state.“The Lebanese resistance is the only one that regains Arab dignity and fights for the Palestinian people,” Nasrallah said. “Arab regimes led by Saudi Arabia side with Israel against our struggle. They do so because the defense of Israel is the guarantee to their survival.”A number of countries have listed Hezbollah as a terrorist group, most notably the United States, Israel and Canada. Meanwhile, the European Union and the United Kingdom have made a distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings.

(Source / 13.03.2016)