Israel to close all West Bank checkpoints for two days

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli authorities will impose a complete shut down of the occupied West Bank — preventing all Palestinians from entering Israel — for two days beginning Tuesday due to Jewish holidays, a source in the Palestinian liaison department told Ma’an.The source said beginning Tuesday and lasting until Thursday evening, all checkpoints into Israel would be closed, with the exception of Eyal checkpoint near Qalqiliya, which will be open for humanitarian cases.An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.Israel regularly closes checkpoints during Jewish holidays, including, most recently, in September ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), when West Bank checkpoints were closed and large numbers of Israeli forces deployed across occupied East Jerusalem.A succession of Jewish holidays that month — and accompanying visits by Jewish groups to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — played a major role in triggering a wave of unrest that subsequently swept the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.The violence has carried on unabated into 2016, with around 190 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis left dead since October, as well as thousands more Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli forces.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

Prisoner Abu Mariya undergoes surgery after sudden health problem

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli prison authority transferred prisoner Wahid Abu Mariya, a senior official of Islamic Jihad, from Ofer jail to Assaf Harofeh hospital, according to Muhjat al-Quds Foundation on Sunday. Prisoner Abu Mariya underwent cardiac surgery upon his arrival at the hospital after he suffered severe pains in his chest, according to his family The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Abu Mariya in November last year, and since then he has been in detention without a court verdict.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

Human Rights Activist Imprisoned For Tearing Up Photo Of Bahraini King

“The absurd charges against Zainab Al-Khawaja are not recognized under international law, and demonstrate the lengths the Bahraini authorities will go to in order to silence freedom of expression and peaceful dissent.”

Bahraini human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

Bahraini human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja

Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was arrested and taken into custody today along with her baby son Hadi, Amnesty International said.

“Zainab Al-Khawaja and her family have been relentlessly targeted by Bahraini authorities for speaking out against human rights violations,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Her convictions are for nothing more than tearing up photos and seeking to visit her father in prison. If this arrest means the start of her prison sentence, she will be a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression.”

15 police jeeps arrived at Zainab Al-Khawaja’s home this afternoon to arrest her, closing down the entire street, according to her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja.

Zainab Al-Khawaja has been a prominent figure in human rights activism in Bahrain since the 2011 uprising and has spent almost a year and a half in prison. She is currently facing a prison sentence of three years and one month and a 3,000BD fine linked to various court cases against her, including for tearing up a photograph of the King. If the fine is not paid, her prison term will be extended by around a year and a half.

Her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a leading activist and prisoner of conscience, has been serving a life sentence since 2011. Her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja has been charged with “assaulting police officers” while being searched.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, who lives outside Bahrain, told Amnesty International that she fears Zainab’s latest arrest is linked to her own recent outspoken condemnation of human rights violations in Bahrain.

“The absurd charges against Zainab Al-Khawaja are not recognized under international law, and demonstrate the lengths the Bahraini authorities will go to in order to silence freedom of expression and peaceful dissent,” said James Lynch.

(Source / 21.03.216)

Israel demolishes home in Silwan, family forced to demolish another

A view of Silwan neighborhood to the south of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday demolished a half-built home in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, while residents were forced to demolish another home there following an Israeli order.Israeli forces stormed the Ras al-Amoud area of Silwan and tore down a home under construction belonging to Suleiman Abu Qalbein and Ali Abu Swayy, relatives told Ma’an.They said the home, which measured 200 square meters, was demolished without prior notice.Meanwhile, the family of Suleiman Abu Qalbein tore down its own home in the same area after the Jerusalem municipality delivered an order giving them 24 hours to demolish the structure or incur the costs of its demolition.The family told Ma’an that the building’s walls were built of brick and the roof of tin. They began the demolition manually on Sunday, and brought in an excavator on Monday to finish the process.Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families.Last year, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department slammed what it termed Israel’s “systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” in Silwan.The department said that Israeli policies “in Silwan aim not only to alter the historic character of the area and to consolidate Israeli control over the Old City of Jerusalem … but also contribute to the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.”At least 29 Palestinian homes were demolished in occupied East Jerusalem in 2015, leaving 29 Palestinians homeless, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.Nearly 579 homes have been destroyed in the city over the last twelve years, leaving 2,133 Palestinians homeless in total, the group reported.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

Fanatic Israeli rabbi storms Muslims’ al-Aqsa Mosque

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli extremist settlers headed by fanatic rabbi Yehuda Glick stormed on early Monday morning Muslims’ the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, in Occupied Jerusalem, under a tight security shield.  Eyewitnesses said Glick and a horde of extremist settlers broke into the Mosque at 7.30 a.m. via the Maghareba Gate and defiled its plazas.  Israeli occupation police and rapid intervention troops escorted the Israeli fanatics all the way through the assault. The Israeli occupation troops cracked down on the peaceful Muslim worshipers who kept chanting “Allah is the Greatest” in protest at the break-in. Israeli sacrilegious break-ins at al-Aqsa —the third holiest site in Islam— have fanned the flames of the ongoing anti-occupation intifada, which started in early October.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

Why is Hariri back in Lebanon?

Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Feb. 22, 2016

BEIRUT — After a five-year absence that he spent in France and Saudi Arabia, former Future Movement head and Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Lebanon in February for a ceremony commemorating the 11th anniversary of Rafik Hariri’s assassination on Feb. 14. He then announced that he will stay in Beirut.

In January 2011, 11 ministers — a third of Hariri’s Cabinet — resigned, leaving a caretaker government under Article 69 of the Lebanese Constitution. The article stipulates that the government shall be considered resigned if it loses more than a third of its members specified in the decree of its formation.

The resignation included 10 opposition ministers, including the ministers of Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Change and Reform Movement, in addition to Adnan Sayyed Hussein, a minister aligned with then-President Michel Suleiman. The resignation came as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was preparing to issue an indictment implicating Hezbollah in Hariri’s assassination.

Making the situation worse, Hariri rejected a call for an emergency Cabinet session to discuss the expected indictment while awaiting the outcome of Saudi-Syrian monitoring of the dispute between the March 8 Coalition, which demanded that the government stop cooperating with the tribunal, and the March 14 Coalition, which supports the investigation.

After Hariri left Lebanon, the Future Movement reported he had received threats. Since then, Hariri has visited Lebanon only twice: the recent trip to commemorate his father’s assassination, and one in August 2014.

Several Lebanese media reports linked Hariri’s visit to different issues, including the extensive financial crisis he is facing. The French Le Point reported the 56,000 employees of his construction firm, Saudi Oger, haven’t been paid for months.

Other reports speculated that Saudi Arabia abandoned him because, occupied with its own financial crisis, the kingdom couldn’t afford to bankroll his business as well. Still other reports implied his return reflects a Saudi decision to confront Hezbollah via Hariri, as the key Sunni leader. Yet no one seems to rule out that problems within the Future Movementmight have necessitated his return, in an attempt to restore Sunni leadership.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Future Movement parliament member Ammar Houri said, “The security risks that prompted Hariri to leave Lebanon still exist. Yet the constitutional, political, security and economic risks have, altogether, formed the key motive for his return.”

Houri refused to link Hariri’s return to the rumored Saudi financial crisis. He said, “Raising this issue from this perspective is not objective. Some crises were resolved and others are approaching a solution. Besides, the talk about a Saudi financial crisis is no more than [a rumor], because Saudi Arabia has enough [financial] reserves to last for decades.”

Houri did not deny that the March 14 Coalition must be reunited. “The coalition’s parties have differences, but the coalition’s situation remains better than that of the March 8 Coalition,” he said, adding that he doesn’t even remember the last time the opponents met.

He added, “Hariri is still No. 1 in command of the Sunni street, and there is almost an absence of a No. 2 in command.” Houri did not dwell on the differences within the Future Movement, particularly with resigned Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi. He limited the cause of the disagreement with Rifi to the decision to resign.

Moreover, Houri said he doesn’t believe the speculation that Hariri returned to spearhead a confrontation with Hezbollah for Saudi Arabia. He said, “Hezbollah alone bears the responsibility for the Gulf and Arab campaign labeling it as a terrorist organization. It is the one that started the attack on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states two years ago.”

Based on that position, Houri rejected the idea that the Saudi decision to cancel the grant was designed to sanction Lebanon and its military. He said that Hezbollah alone is to blame.

However, Change and Reform bloc parliament member Hikmat Dib told Al-Monitor, “There are no prospects for Hariri in Saudi Arabia, which is clearly going through a severe economic crisis. The Saudi decision to halt the grant to the Lebanese army is only a way to secure liquidity, particularly since Hariri is harmed the most by the halt of the Saudi grant.” Hariri is so closely linked with Saudi Arabia in the minds of the Lebanese that the loss of the grant is seen as a failure on his part.

Dib concluded, “The objectives of Hariri’s return are the presidential elections and formation of a new Cabinet that he will be heading, which will save him politically and economically.” He noted that Hariri’s access to the post of prime minister is linked to Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh gaining the presidential post — which explains Hariri’s nomination of Franjieh for the presidency.

He added, “The Future Movement is going through a crisis due to lack of funding and liquidity, which became clear when Hariri toured a number of Lebanese areas and attended meetings that he collaborated on with his political opponents,” such as former Minister Abdel Rahim Murad. Dib added that in his view, “Hariri’s return was inevitable.”

Dib and Houri rejected the idea that​ Saudi Arabia placed the Future Movement in a direct confrontation with Hezbollah through Hariri’s return. Dib said, “Saudi Arabia is not on good terms with Hezbollah, but had it been really interested in confronting it, it would not have canceled its grant to the army, particularly since it was based on the idea of strengthening and providing weapons to the army in the face of Hezbollah.”

According to Dib, the Lebanese-Saudi crisis is due to “the change brought about by the Saudi leadership, which is not close to Hariri. It moved in new directions concerning its ties with Lebanese Sunni figures by hosting some of their opponents.” He added, “Hariri means nothing to the Saudis on the political level. Besides, they are not interested in Lebanon’s card to the extent that some may think.”

Lebanon does not seem to be approaching a radical change anytime soon, particularly since the latest session that tried to elect a president, on March 2, was just as unsuccessful as the dozens of previous attempts.

Will Hariri’s return lead to a breakthrough at the presidential level, through Franjieh, in the face of the Christian understanding between the largest two parties, the Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea and the Free Patriotic Movement led by Michel Aoun? Or is filling the presidential vacuum dependent on a wider regional solution?

(Source / 21.03.2016)

On Mother’s Day, 13 Palestinian mothers in Israeli jails

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– There are 13 Palestinian mothers being held in Israeli jails and deprived of living with their children and taking care of them. According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS), the Israeli prison authority prevents the female prisoners, all of them mothers of children, from hugging their sons and daughters during visits and communicating with them over the phone. One of the detainees is 45-year-old Abla al-Adem, who was arrested after she suffered a bullet injury in her head on December 20, 2015. She is a mother of nine children. She is still suffering from a difficult health condition and needs special medical care.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

Dreadful reality in Gaza; 14-year-old mother

Despite being a mother, she is excellent at school, writes poetry and plays guitar

Every year, children wait for March 21 to buy beautiful presents to their mother, but for Bayan al-Najjar, 14, from Gaza, the situation is different.

“I lost my mother in that attack,” Bayan said, “my sister and one of my brothers were wounded and our house was completely damaged and we became homeless.”

By: Motasem A Dalloul

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip -Every year, children wait for March 21 to buy beautiful presents to their mother, but for Bayan al-Najjar, 14, from Gaza, the situation is different.

Bayan’s story started when the Israeli occupation targeted her family house during the 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014.

“I lost my mother in that attack,” Bayan said, “my sister and one of my brothers were wounded and our house was completely damaged and we became homeless.”

Since then, Bayan was obliged to take the role of the mother at her house. “I take care of my sister Sarah, 8, Yasser, 9, and Abdullah, 11,” she said. “I make shopping for the family, prepare food and wash clothes.”

In addition to all of these missions, like all other children, Bayan goes to school and does very well. She is one of the five toppers in her class. She writes poetry and likes acting, as well as playing the guitar.

Day of sadness

Since the start of March, Bayan and her brothers and sister have started to save their pocket money in order to mark the saddest day in the year for the family.

“On Friday, we [Bayan, Sara, Yasser and Abdullah] gave the money we saved to my father and asked him to buy a small tree to offer it a present to my mother on her day,” Bayan said. “We came together and accompanied my father to the neighbourhood’s cemetery to celebrate Mother’s Day.”

March 21 is the saddest day in the life of Bayan’s family. “We visited my mother’s grave,” she said, “we cleaned it and planted the tree and the flowers and read a chapter of the Holy Quraan beside it and went back home without her. Our daily life without a mother started again.”

Israelis targeting mothers

During the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, the Israeli occupation killed around 2,260 Palestinians, including more 550 were children and 299 women. Meanwhile, more than 11,000 were wounded and 1,500 children were orphaned.

At least142 Palestinian families had three or more members killed in the same incident, for a total of 742 fatalities.

More than18,000 housing units were destroyed in whole or part and 73 medical facilities and many ambulances were damaged. This is regardless to schools, mosques, universities and other facilities.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

Israel to confiscate land from Nablus

apartheid wall

The Israeli Civil Administration is planning to confiscate 1,200 dunams (1.2 square kilometres) of land from Palestinian villages in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, a local monitor said today.

Ghassan Dhaglas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank for the Palestinian Authority, told Ma’an News Agencythat Israeli authorities gave Palestinian residents of the villages of Al-Lubban Al-Sharqiya, Al-Sawiya and Qaryut notice to confiscate 1,200 dunams of land.

According to the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, Israeli authorities over the decades have seized land near Qaryut to establish the illegal settlements of Eli, Shilo and Mizpe Rahel, at least ten settlement outposts, as well as two military bases.

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.

(Source / 21.03.2016)

IOF demolish home of female prisoner’s brother, Jerusalem

Israa Jaabis when she was shot in her vehicle

Israa Jaabis when she was shot in her vehicle

Israeli Occupation bulldozers on Monday morning have demolished the home of the brother of a Palestinian female prisoner in Jabal Al-Mukabber town, East Jerusalem.

Eyewitnesses said that IOF cordoned off the home of Mohammed Jaabis, brother of 31-year-old Israa Jaabis, who was shot and injured by a soldier while driving back in October, under claims of an attempted operative.

According to PIC, the family said the demolition makes part of a preplanned policy of collective punishment against Palestinian anti-occupation activists.

PIC also said that Israeli authorities withdrew the national insurance card from Israa, paying no heed to her critical health status after she had eight of her fingers amputated.

Israa is also in need of regular medical checks due to the serious burns she sustained all over her body.

(Source / 21.03.2016)