Captive Saadi suspends hunger strike

JENIN, (PIC)– The Palestinian prisoner Nahar al-Saadi, 34 from Jenin, who is isolated in Israeli jails, has suspended his open hunger strike after Israeli Prison Service approved his demand of being transferred to Raymond jail.  The family of detainee Saadi told Quds Press that their son started his open hunger strike five days ago in protest at being arbitrarily transferred to Ohli Kedar solitary confinement cells as well as being maltreated and assaulted.  Prisoner Saadi has been detained since 2003 for the charge of affiliation with Saraya al-Quds, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad movement and participating in anti-occupation attacks. He is sentenced to life imprisonment for four times and additional 20 years.  He is suffering from bad health conditions due to severe pain in the stomach and back. Saadi is considered as the oldest isolated prisoner as he has been held in solitary conferment since May, 21, 2013.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

Gaza’s sole power plant to shut down due to blue tax

GAZA, (PIC)– Gaza’s Energy and Natural Resources Authority warned of an imminent breakdown to rock Gaza’s sole power plant due to the continued imposition of the blue tax by the Finance Ministry in Ramallah. The Energy Authority said in a statement the Finance Ministry’s decision to reimpose the blue tax on electricity fuel might force Gaza’s only power plant to shut down. According to the statement, such a decision stands in sharp contrast to the cabinet decisions to exempt besieged Gaza from the blue tax. The blue tax will inflict an additional loss of nine million shekels beside the regular monthly cost, it added. The authority condemned the decision, saying it will deeply affect power services in the besieged coastal enclave and curtail Gaza’s fuel resources. Gaza’s Energy Authority called for a swift action to address the situation and avoid further power crises.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

Yemen govt, rebels, agree on ceasefire: Officials say

An ambulance drives past a building destroyed during recent fighting in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz March 14, 2016

Yemeni officials say Shiite rebels and the internationally recognized government have agreed to begin a ceasefire for a week or two before their next round of negotiations.

The officials participated in talks Sunday in Sanaa, the capital, between the rebels and UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. They say talks are expected to restart next month.

The officials said the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, have agreed to implement a UN security council resolution which requires them to hand over weapons and withdraw from territory, including Sanaa.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Previous attempts to implement a ceasefire in Yemen have failed to take hold on the ground, with each side accusing the other of immediately violating the terms.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

Beit Fajjar town under tight siege for fourth day running

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation army on Sunday continued its siege on Beit Fajjar town, northeast of al-Khalil city, for the fourth consecutive day. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) closed in the morning all entrances to Beit Fajjar town and prevented its residents from entering or leaving it as a punitive measure. The military cordon on the town started after two local young men named Ali Thwabteh and Ali Taqatqa carried out a stabbing attack in Ariel settlement near Salfit. Both of them were killed on site. The Palestinian Red Crescent, for its part, said the Israeli side would hand over the bodies of Thawabteh and Taqateqa to their families soon.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

US Congress blocks $159 million in aid to PA

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Members of the United States Congress are delaying a payment of $159 million in aid allocated for the Palestinian Authority in effort to pressure the PA to relaunch negotiations with Israel, the PLO ambassador to Washington said Saturday.Maen Erekat confirmed earlier reports that US Congress was blocking the payment, which came at the request of House Republican Kay Granger, the Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, under the pretext that the PA supports “terrorism.”The Obama administration allocated $440 million in aid to Palestinians for 2015, including $131 million for economic and development projects by USAID and $70 million for PA agencies and security agencies, while $80 million in aid was deducted following Israeli criticism of “incitement” by the PA last October.Erekat added that some “pro-Israel” congress members are continuing to pressure the PA to relaunch diplomatic negotiations with Israel, and prevent Palestinians from joining international organizations and conventions.The PA last year officially requested to join 15 international conventions, including membership in theInternational Criminal Court, which would allow war crimes complaints to be filed against Israel.US congress members previously attempted to block aid for Palestinians in 2011 in response to the PA bid for full UN membership, but the hold was eventually lifted.On March 12 PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi conducted a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., during which she discussed peace negotiations with Israel and urged US Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley to pressure House Republicans to release the $159 million in aid.The White House is considering backing a UN Security Council resolution outlining parameters for future peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leadership before Obama leaves office in January 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported this month.US Vice President Joe Biden also visited Tel Aviv earlier this month, just as multiple attacks were carried out by Palestinian individuals in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, one of which left an American tourist dead.During his visit, Biden said Israel could not stop violent acts carried out by Palestinians solely through physical force.The vice president also condemned the attacks — as well as the failure by Palestinian leadership to condemn the attacks — during a joint press conference, according to AP.While US-Israel relations have seen a series of diplomatic disputes during Obama’s administration, Israel remains the number one long-time recipient of US military aid, and discussions regarding a new aid agreement have been ongoing.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

Palestinian Prisoner Kept in Isolation for 3 Years in Israeli Jails

RAMALLAH, March 20, 2016 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli authorities continue to isolate a Palestinian prisoner, who has been held in solitary confinement in the Israel prison of Eshel for three years now, under security pretexts.

PPS said prisoner, Noor ad-Din A’mar, who was detained in 2003 and sentenced to 30 years in jail, suffers from harsh and inhumane living conditions in isolation. A’mar later received an additional jail term of 20 years.

A’mar is held in a very small cell that barely fits for a small-sized bed. He has frequently complained about his inability to pray due to the lack of space. Furthermore, A’mar’s cell is situated near criminal inmates, who he says, constantly harass and threaten to kill to him.

A’mar, a local from Qalqilia’s village of Beit Amin, is the brother of two Palestinian prisoners who are also incarcerated in Israeli jails. Both brothers were sentenced to lifetime in jail, and an additional 20 years of imprisonment.

Addameer prisoner support and human rights association considers solitary confinement as a form of torture and ill treatment employed against Palestinian prisoners.

“Although rules exist under Israeli and international law to closely govern the use of solitary confinement and isolation, both measures are often used impermissibly and at great cost to Palestinian prisoners and detainees.“

“Every year, dozens of Palestinian prisoners and detainees are held in solitary confinement, as a disciplinary measure, or in isolation, for reasons of state, prison or prisoner’s security,” added Addameer.

Addameer said that at the end of January 2016, there were approximately 16 prisoners held in isolation located in different Israeli prisons.

Detainees and prisoners held in solitary confinement are completely cut off from the world. They are held in an empty cell containing only a mattress and a blanket. Other than their clothes, they are not allowed to take anything with them into solitary confinement, including reading materials, a television or radio set, explained Addameer.

The detainee or prisoner is held in their solitary confinement cell, which does not contain a toilet, 24 hours a day. When the detainee or prisoner wishes to use the toilet he or she must call out for a guard and wait until one agrees to take the prisoner out.

“Isolation cells in the various Israeli prisons are similar in size – typically from 1.5 by 2 meters to 3 by 3.5 meters. Each cell usually has one window measuring about 50cm by 100cm, which in most cases does not allow in sufficient light or air from the outside.“

It said, ‘Both the Prisons Ordinance (New Version), 1971, and the Commissions Ordinance provide isolated prisoners with the right to a hearing. However, most Palestinian prisoners do not receive legal representation during court proceedings on isolation’.

“Isolation orders on state security grounds are typically based on undisclosed information to which neither the prisoner nor his attorney is privy. Thus, prisoners and detainees subjected to isolation have no effective recourse to challenge the conditions of their detention under the law.”

Regarding the mental health effects of solitary confinement, Addameer stressed that research demonstrates that the use of long-term isolation and solitary confinement can lead to severe mental damages ranging from sleep disturbances, through depression and anxiety, to psychotic reactions, such as visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoid states, disorientation with regards to time and space, states of acute confusion, and thought disorders, said Addameer.

“Treaties and international agreements that address prisoners’ rights prohibit the use of solitary confinement as a punitive measure or attempt to its use significantly.”

article 31 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that corporal punishment or punishment by holding a prisoner in a dark cell and any other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment are prohibited as a disciplinary measure.

The Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (1990), a UN General Assembly resolution, encourages the restriction or abolition of solitary confinement as a punishment. In addition, in certain cases and in specific circumstances, solitary confinement and isolation can rise to the level of torture and ill-treatment and are therefore prohibited by international law.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has stated that “[s]olitary confinement can, in certain circumstances, amount to inhuman and degrading treatment; in any event, all forms of solitary confinement should be as short as possible.”

(Source / 20.03.2016)

Female poet launches bid for cancer hospital in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian poet Ilham Abu Dhaher has launched an initiative to build a hospital for cancer treatment in the blockaded Gaza Strip under the slogan “Let’s Do It.” Poet Abu Dhaher said the initiative saw the day because of the lack of hospitals for cancer therapy in the besieged coastal enclave. “It is the right of our people in Gaza to have a hospital for cancer-stricken patients,” the poet said. She raised alarm bells over the agony suffered by Gaza’s cancer patients due to the closure of border-crossings and the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. “I will do whatever it takes to make this dream come true,” she vowed. “A Palestinian benevolent expatriate donated a five-dunum-land for the project,” she said. “Whoever thinks of serving his motherland has to make the first steps on his own,” poet Abu Dhaher further stated.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

IOF repeat assaults on people with disabilities, violate international law


Saleh Issa, a Palestinian 39 year old male with intellectual disability, was shot at a short distance with an illegal expanding life bullet “Dum-dum” on March 11th, by the Israeli Occupation Military Forces. Despite the difficulties and danger of the situation, the First Aid Crew managed to transfer him to Beit Jala Public Hospital, and the medical team decided to refer him to Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR) “Specialized Rehabilitation and Surgery Hospital” seeking acute surgical intervention.

The medical team at BASR decided an urgent surgery to remove the bullet fragments from his leg. After the surgery, the doctor reported that “Saleh suffers destruction in his leg bones, skin and surrounding muscle tissue”. In addition, Saleh’s condition might require other surgeries in the coming days. The medical crew also expressed their concerns that they might be obliged to amputate part of his leg if his condition deteriorates. Saleh is still at BASR for further treatment and follow up.

Saleh2The head of First Aid and Ambulance services at The Palestinian Medical Relief Society was an eyewitness to Saleh’s injury. He said that: “an Israeli Occupation soldier shot Saleh from a short distance, and had arrested him for a couple of hours earlier the same day, despite his knowledge that Saleh has an intellectual disability and was not a source of threat in any way to the Israeli armed forces”.

He also mentioned that “the first aid crew could not reach out to Saleh to give him the needed first aid and transfer him to hospital because the Israeli soldiers hysterically opened fire in the area, causing two casualties among the emergency teams and damages in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances”. Later when Saleh’s situation became critical, the emergency team decided to take the risk to evacuate him from the street despite the heavy fire.

Saleh’s family confirmed that: “he was not involved in any kind of activity against the Israeli military forces when he was shot”. They added that “their son’s injury is another evidence for the Israeli assiduous violations of the human rights of Palestinian civilians whom they are supposed to protect under international law”. His family also expressed their concerns regarding his health especially that they know that their son might not be able to use both of his legs afterwards.

It is worth mentioning that this sort of human rights violation is not the first. Among so many other violations and assaults against persons with disabilities. Last week an Israeli Occupation soldiers attacked a child with hearing impairment in Husan; a village west of Bethlehem. According to eyewitnesses: “a military vehicle stopped beside the child, four heavily armed soldiers got out of it and mercilessly beat the child and left him with a broken arm, contusion in his face and body, injuries in his legs, and psychological trauma”.

The current complex situation in Palestine requires the international human rights organizations, governments and civil society’s immediate intervention to protect the Palestinian civilians, particularly vulnerable children and persons with disabilities.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

213,000 workers in Gaza unemployed

GAZA, (PIC)– The Public Workers Union in the Gaza Strip warned of the disastrous conditions of the unemployed workers in Gaza whose number reached 213,000.  Quds Press quoted Sami al-Amsi, head of the union, as saying that workers, the largest segment of Gazan people, have been suffering for long years to the extent that poverty rate among workers reached 70%.  Amsi slammed the Palestinian government for not fulfilling its duties towards Gazan workers in spite of the fact that the unemployment rate exceeded half their number.  He also expressed his sorrow for the lack of temporary work programs in order to decrease the level of unemployment, as it was previously declared by the council of ministers, especially the idea of offering job opportunities for the new graduates.  Amsi called on the Palestinian Legislative Council to set a law for the minimum wage rate in consistence with the economic conditions in the besieged Gaza Strip.  Gazan workers have been suffering since 1990 as they have been, since then, barred from passing through Erez crossing into the 1948 Occupied Palestine. Their suffering has increased due to the Israeli tightened siege for ten years.

(Source / 20.03.2016)

For the first time in 15 years … Gaza’s border wheat to be harvested

Since 2002, Gazan farmer Salamah Mehanna, 60, was like many other Gazan farmers deprived from reaching his land along the border east of Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip. He confirmed to the PIC reporter that for the past 15 years he was not able to sow his land with wheat not until a few months ago, expressing his great pleasure with this achievement.  Architect Nizar al-Wahidi, director general of guidance department at the Ministry of Agriculture, told the PIC reporter that the Ministry of Agriculture is making great efforts to develop the agricultural lands there, and strengthen the farmers’ steadfastness. Suhair Zaqout, media spokeswoman of the Red Cross, emphasized in her talk to the PIC reporter, that “the Red Cross had had an important role in the coordination with the Israeli occupation authority in order to allow those farmers to cultivate their lands after long forcible years of absence.” Undeclared bilateral dialogues organized by the Red Cross with all parties, including the resistance factions, yielded access permissions to the areas that were only allowed for the Red Cross to enter. Big losses Farmer Nimr Jaradat is eagerly waiting for the cultivation of his land on the border at Shoukeh village at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip. He told the PIC reporter that he was prevented since 2006 from cultivating his six-dunum land with wheat, but he could finally do so now. Engineer Nizar al-Wahidi, director general of guidance department at the Ministry of Agriculture, estimated the agricultural lands along the eastern border of the Gaza Strip to be 25 thousand dunums, pointing out that these lands have always been targeted by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF). Palestinian farmers suffer significant losses because of the IOF practices and harassments against them on one hand, and because of the scarcity of water and natural resources, weak demands in markets and low prices of vegetables on the other hand. Zaqout revealed that the Red Cross is trying to provide farmers in the border areas with the minimum needs so that they can reclaim their lands, but she noted at the same time that the Red Cross does not provide complete solutions for these farmers as what it provides them are only “guarantees to enable them to return to the profession of agriculture”. Zaqout pointed out that 10,700 dunums of land have been rehabilitated since the end of the last Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. She added that the Red Cross has recently distributed 4000 of almonds Saplings, for 110 farmers in the border areas in southern Gaza. The saplings have been ordered from a plantation outside Gaza so as to improve the quality of almonds tress to live for three times the age of those in Gaza. The director general of guidance of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture revealed that the IOF does not allow the cultivation of high crops, and requires the cultivation of saplings, which rise no more than 25-30 cm. Fear and anxiety Ibrahim Amour of a village east of Khan Younis said with apparent pain that many years have passed in vain because he and his family were prevented from entering or investing their lands. But Ibrahim’s smile soon returned to his face and he expressed his gratitude to Allah praising Him, that He brought life to their land after years of prevention. Amour fears that the IOF attacks might continue on their land, 20 dunums, which he recently had planted for the first time in many years with wheat and almonds. He added: “We live in difficult conditions; we get to our lands with fears of Israeli attacks at any moment.” Dozens of farmers have been exposed to direct shootings by the IOF soldiers, resulting in the martyrdom of some and the injury of others who still are suffering their pain and wounds. Spokeswoman for the Red Cross explained that these lands were the source of conflict; where three consecutive wars in less than 7 years have broken out for these lands. She indicated that these lands were the most vulnerable to destruction and damage.  She concluded saying: “Gaza needs political decisions in order to obtain radical solutions for many of the worsening crises that trouble it”.

(Source / 20.03.2016)