Israeli forces killed her 40-year-old teenager

Twenty years ago, Mrs. Elayyan finished her second decade duration of infertility. She and her husband had finally decided to undergo the relatively new assisted reproductive technique at that time in Palestine.

Nine months later, their parental longing and patience were  cooled when they heard the high-pitched crying of their son, who was named ‘Mahmoud’.

Mrs. Elayyan and her husband –who had been diagnosed as infertile couple for  20 years duration—were obsessed about their new son  and they managed to offer him the best education they can.
Mr.  Elayyan passed away leaving Mahmoud to be raised by his mother.

At the age of 18, Mahmoud  joined faculty of Nursing upon his desire. Two years after his enrollment, he was shot  in his head by Israeli forces while he was participating in a demonstration in Ramallah.

Mahmoud the nurse
Mahmoud the protester

Eventually, Mahmoud died in November 19 2015 due to brain injury.

Mahmoud the martyr

I was thinking how many times does his mother open his closet to smell his clothes?

(Source / 25.03.2016)

EU foreign policy chief says Europe needs Islam to fight terrorism

Federica Mogherini

Federica Mogherini wants all EU member states share information related to terrorism on a regular basis and without delay

The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, stressed that Islam is part of Europe in the fight against terrorism, Anadolu news agency reported.

“We need Islam to be a part of our fight against terrorism, and we need to hear the voice of Muslim communities in Europe, more so in the face of terrorism” Mogherini said Thursday, commenting on the Brussels attacks.

Read: Erdogan: Turkey arrested Brussels attacker but Belgium released him

Remarking on the bombings suspects, the European Commissioner stressed that “these terrorists are European citizens, who were born in Europe”.

Mogherini added that the EU member states share all information related to terrorism on a regular basis and without delay.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

61 Palestinians killed at Israeli military checkpoints since October

GENEVA, (PIC)– 61 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at several military checkpoints pitched across the occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem since the start of the anti-occupation uprising in early October, Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. EuroMed expressed its concern over the striking surge in Israel’s extrajudicial executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they attempted to attack Israeli soldiers while in reality they posed no threat. EuroMed kept record of two deadly attacks carried out by the IOF on Thursday against 21-year-olds Abdul Fatah al-Sherif and Ramzi Qasrawi at a military checkpoint in Tel Rumeida, in al-Khalil. The occupation troops fired at least 10 bullets on the youths and left them bleeding on the ground before another Israeli soldier moved towards Abdul Fatah and hit him with more bullets from a very close range, killing him right on the spot. Israeli ambulance crews were, meanwhile, providing medical assistance to an Israeli soldier who sustained light wounds in an alleged anti-occupation stabbing while they paid no heed to the injured Palestinians, in a serious contravention to international medical laws.  Half an hour later, the Israeli soldiers wrapped the two casualties in a black cover and dragged them to an unidentified destination. EuroMed legal adviser Ihsan Adel said the fact that Israeli murderers are not brought before courts and that serious probes into executions of Palestinians are not launched give Israel green light to kill more Palestinians.  EuroMed spoke out against the remarkable surge in Israeli violations of international humanitarian law, particularly Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  At least 209 Palestinians were murdered by IOF since the start of the anti-occupation uprising, it added. EuroMed called on the U.N. special rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions to pop in the occupied territories and launch an investigation into such crimes. EuroMed urged the Israeli occupation to cease arbitrary executions of Palestinians and to launch a transparent investigation into the extra-judicial killings.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

Third of Palestinian village left homeless by demolitions this year

A Palestinian Bedouin woman stands next to her destroyed tent in the village of Atouf in the Jordan Valley

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Mass Israeli demolitions in the Jordan Valley village of Khirbet Tana have left more than a third of its Palestinian residents homeless since the beginning of the year, the UN said Friday.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 87 of the village’s 250 residents, including 35 children, had lost their homes in three separate demolitions since January.The demolitions are part of one of the most extensive demolition campaigns in the occupied West Bank in the last seven years, which has left a total of more than 650 Palestinians homeless in less than three months, more than half of whom were children, OCHA said.”These demolitions generate a coercive environment, exacerbating residents’ risk of forcible transfer, prohibited by international humanitarian law,” the body said.In Khribet Tana, 53 structures have been destroyed, including 22 homes, 19 animal shelters, six latrine units, five traditional ovens, and a water reservoir.The UN body said 18 of these structures had been donated as humanitarian aid by the international community, the majority after demolitions were carried out earlier this year.Half of all Israeli demolitions across the occupied West Bank this year have taken place in areas declared by Israel as “firing zones,” or restricted military areas, which OCHA said constitute nearly 20 percent of the occupied West Bank.Khirbet Tana is located in “Firing Zone 904A,” in a part of the Jordan Valley that rights groups say Israel intends to fully annex.Thousands of Bedouins, who have lived there for decades, face the threat of forced displacement, a threat that rights groups say has become more acute in recent years, particularly with large numbers of resident forced to flee during Israeli military training exercises.Israel’s Civil Administration demolished all structures in Khirbet Tana in 2012, leaving 152 Palestinian residents homeless, including 64 children, according to Israeli rights groups B’Tselem.That was the fifth wave of demolitions the village had faced since 2005.Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories previously told Ma’an the demolitions were carried out in the village because they were built illegally and were endangered due to their situation inside the firing zone.However, OCHA noted two illegal Israeli settlement outposts — recently established and built in the same firing zone — where the Israeli authorities have not carried out any demolitions, despite issuing demolition orders.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

French mayor defends freedom of expression, refuses to remove banner calling for liberation of Barghouti

stains-banner

The Administrative Court of Montreuil, France held a hearing on Monday, 21 March on the posting of a banner calling for freedom for Palestinian political prisoner Marwan Barghouti on the city hall of Stains, by the elected officials of Stains. The Prefect (an official appointed by the central French state) demanded the removal of the banner, which was refused by the mayor, Azzedine Taibi.

Taibi, elected as a member of the Communist Party of France as mayor of Stains, has refused to remove the banner where it has been posted since 2009 by his predecessor, Michel Beaumale. Taibi’s lawyer, Roland Weyl, noted that despite the charges of the Prefect – representing the Manuel Valls government – the banner has been hanging for seven years and has caused no “disturbance of public order.”
The Valls government has escalated its attempts to suppress the Palestine solidarity movement, including working to criminalize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and putting BDS activists on trial for calling on the French public not to purchase Israeli goods in protest of Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism.

Weyl also noted that the Prefect’s other charge, that the banner had a “lack of local interest,” was also false as the City of Stains is twinned with Al-Amari Palestinian refugee camp and works on multiple projects on Palestine with local associations. Stains is also a part of the network of French communities urging the release of Palestinian elected officials, which includes 15 French cities such as La Courneuve, Gennevilliers, Ivry-sur-Seine, La Verriere, Haveluy and Allones. All of these cities have named Marwan Barghouti an honorary citizen; the mayors of Gennevilliers, Montreuil, Aubervilliers, and La Courneuve expressed their support for Taibi and rejection of the demand that the banner be removed.

taibi1

The hearing lasted only a half-hour; the judges ordered Taibi to remove the banner pending the results of the hearing, to be released in five to six months. Taibi, supported by nearly 150 residents of Stains, solidarity activists and elected officials in attendance to both defend freedom of expression and call for the release of Palestinian prisoners, refused to remove the banner, stating that it would remain in place. The banner is currently posted at Stains’ City Hall.

Taibi said following the hearing, “We will not take down the banner. We are defending a just cause: respect for international law, promoting the values of peace and the right of the Palestinian people, like all peoples, to self-determination. We are proud to display these values, and I do not understand why the Prefect is continuing to pursue our city for this banner that has been hanging since 2009 at our City Hall. Daily, with my municipal team, we have so many issues to deal with in order to defend the dignity and respect of the people of Stains. On the issues of the rights to work, to housing, to security, to education, we need the State to play its proper role, and not to prevent us from freely expressing the values of the people of our town, the values of which we are proud. Administering a city, is also taking a position to defend the values of liberty, equality and fraternity, in our country and in the world. Fortunately, in the past, many mayors including those in Stains, and citizens around the world, acted to call for the release of Nelson Mandela, who was long considered like a terrorist by part of the French political class. As a mayor and as a citizen, it is also my duty to defend just international causes, including denouncing the apartheid suffered by the Palestinian people for over half a century. As we express our support for the Kurdish people, for Syrian refugees, and all oppressed peoples in the world.”

(Source / 25.03.2016)

Morsi ‘Qatar espionage’ case to hear final verdict April 21

Morsi ‘Qatar espionage’ case to hear final verdict April 21

Protesters Holding A Poster Opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi Shout Slogans Against Him And Brotherhood Members During A Protest At Tahrir Square In Cairo June 30, 2013

CAIRO: The Cairo Criminal Court Wednesday set April 23 for the sentencing hearing in the retrial of former President Mohamed Morsi along with 10 other members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in the “Qatar espionage” case, Youm7 reported.

Morsi and the head of his office, Ahmed Abdel-Aty are accused of using their positions in leaking national security documents and information on the Egyptian Armed Forces to Qatar through Al-Jazeera T.V. satellite channel during Morsi’s one-year tenure.

The other nine defendants, three of whom are fugitives, face charges of handing over copies of the confidential documents to employees at Al-Jazeera.

The trial is Morsi’s fourth since he was ousted following a mass protest against his rule in July 3, 2013.

In April 2015, He was also sentenced to 20 years in jail for inciting and violence in the “Presidential Palace Clashes” case.

In June 2015, An Egyptian court has upheld a death sentence against Morsi over breaking out of jail during the 2011 uprising.

In June 2015, he was also sentenced to life in prison on charges of spying for Palestinian group Hamas, Lebanese group Hezbollah, and Iran.

However, all the said sentences are currently appealed.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

How Narratives Killed The Syrian People

Ideas and objectives can be crafted, framed finessed and employed to great efficacy.

A Free Syrian Army fighter from the Al-Faruk brigade, center, steps on a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Sept. 22, 2012 (AP/Hussein Malla)

A Free Syrian Army fighter from the Al-Faruk brigade, center, steps on a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Sept. 22, 2012

On March 23, 2011, at the very start of what we now call the ‘Syrian conflict,’ two young men – Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub – were gunned down in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.

Shot by unknown gunmen, Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict– in Daraa, Latakia, Douma, Banyas, Homs, Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, Suweida, Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.

According to the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the combined death toll for Syrian government forces was 2,569 by March 2012, the first year of the conflict. At that time, the UN’s total casualty count for all victims of political violence in Syria was 5,000.

These numbers paint an entirely different picture of events in Syria. This was decidedly not the conflict we were reading about in our headlines – if anything, the ‘parity’ in deaths on both sides even suggests that the government used ‘proportionate’ force in thwarting the violence.

But Merhej and Dayoub’s deaths were ignored. Not a single Western media headline told their story – or that of the other dead soldiers. These deaths simply didn’t line up with the Western ‘narrative’ of the Arab uprisings and did not conform to the policy objectives of Western governments.

For American policymakers, the “Arab Spring” provided a unique opportunity to unseat the governments of adversary states in the Middle East. Syria, the most important Arab member of the Iran-led ‘Resistance Axis,’ was target number one.

To create regime-change in Syria, the themes of the “Arab Spring” needed to be employed opportunistically – and so Syrians needed to die.

The “dictator” simply had to “kill his own people” – and the rest would follow.

How words kill

Four key narratives were spun ad nauseam in every mainstream Western media outlet, beginning in March 2011 and gaining steam in the coming months.

– The Dictator is killing his “own people.”

– The protests are “peaceful.”

– The opposition is “unarmed.”

– This is a “popular revolution.”

Pro-Western governments in Tunisia and Egypt had just been ousted in rapid succession in the previous two months – and so the ‘framework’ of Arab Spring-style, grass roots-powered regime-change existed in the regional psyche. These four carefully framed ‘narratives’ that had gained meaning in Tunisia and Egypt, were now prepped and loaded to delegitimize and undermine any government at which they were lobbed.

But to employ them to their full potential in Syria, Syrians had to take to the streets in significant numbers and civilians had to die at the hands of brutal security forces. The rest could be spun into a “revolution” via the vast array of foreign and regional media outlets committed to this “Arab Spring” discourse.

Protests, however, did not kick off in Syria the way they had in Tunisia and Egypt. In those first few months, we saw gatherings that mostly numbered in the hundreds – sometimes in the thousands – to express varies degrees of political discontent. Most of these gatherings followed a pattern of incitement from Wahhabi-influenced mosques during Friday’s prayers, or after local killings that would move angry crowds to congregate at public funerals.

A member of a prominent Daraa family explained to me that there was some confusion over who was killing people in his city – the government or “hidden parties.” He explains that, at the time, Daraa’s citizens were of two minds:

One was that the regime is shooting more people to stop them and warn them to finish their protests and stop gathering. The other opinion was that hidden militias want this to continue, because if there are no funerals, there is no reason for people to gather.”

With the benefit of hindsight, let’s look at these Syria narratives five years into the conflict:

We know now that several thousand Syrian security forces were killed in the first year, beginning March 23, 2011. We therefore also know that the opposition was “armed” from the start of the conflict. We have visual evidence of gunmen entering Syria across the Lebanese border in April and May 2011. We know from the testimonies of impartial observers that gunmen were targeting civilians in acts of terrorism and that “protests” were not all “peaceful”.

The Arab League mission conducted a month-long investigation inside Syria in late 2011 and reported:

In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the observer mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.

Longtime Syrian resident and Dutch priest Father Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs in April 2014, wrote in January 2012:

From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

A few months earlier, in September 2011, he had observed:

From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition…The opposition on the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.

A genuine “revolution,” after all, does not have operation rooms in Jordan and Turkey. Nor is a “popular” revolution financed, armed and assisted by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US, UK and France.

Sowing “Narratives” for geopolitical gain

The 2010 US military’s Special Forces Unconventional Warfare manual states:

The intent of US [Unconventional Warfare] UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish US strategic objectives…For the foreseeable future, US forces will predominantly engage in irregular warfare (IW) operations.

A secret 2006 US State Department cable reveals that Assad’s government was in a stronger position domestically and regionally than in recent years, and suggests ways to weaken it: “The following provides our summary of potential vulnerabilities and possible means to exploit them…” This is followed by a list of “vulnerabilities” – political, economic, ethnic, sectarian, military, psychological – and recommended “actions” on how to “exploit” them.

This is important. US unconventional warfare doctrine posits that populations of adversary states usually have active minorities that respectively oppose and support their government, but for a “resistance movement” to succeed, it must sway the perceptions of the large “uncommitted middle population” to turn on their leaders. Says the manual (and I borrow liberally here from a previous article of mine):

To turn the “uncommitted middle population” into supporting insurgency, UW recommends the “creation of atmosphere of wider discontent through propaganda and political and psychological efforts to discredit the government.”

As conflict escalates, so should the “intensification of propaganda; psychological preparation of the population for rebellion.

First, there should be local and national “agitation” – the organization of boycotts, strikes, and other efforts to suggest public discontent. Then, the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”

The next level of operations would be to establish “national front organizations [i.e. the Syrian National Council] and liberation movements [i.e. the Free Syrian Army]” that would move larger segments of the population toward accepting “increased political violence and sabotage” – and encourage the mentoring of “individuals or groups that conduct acts of sabotage in urban centers.”

I wrote about foreign-backed irregular warfare strategies being employed in Syria one year into the crisis – when the overwhelming media narratives were still all about the “dictator killing his own people,” protests being “peaceful,” the opposition mostly “unarmed,” the “revolution wildly “popular,” and thousands of “civilians” being targeted exclusively by state security forces.

Were these narratives all manufactured? Were the images we saw all staged? Or was it only necessary to fabricate some things – because the “perception” of the vast middle population, once shaped, would create its own natural momentum toward regime change?

And what do we, in the region, do with this startling new information about how wars are conducted against us – using our own populations as foot soldiers for foreign agendas?

Create our own “game”

Two can play at this narratives game.

The first lesson learned is that ideas and objectives can be crafted, framed finessed and employed to great efficacy.

The second take-away is that we need to establish more independent media and information distribution channels to disseminate our own value propositions far and wide.

Western governments can rely on a ridiculously sycophantic army of Western and regional journalists to blast us with their propaganda day and night. We don’t need to match them in numbers or outlets – we can also employ strategies to deter their disinformation campaigns. Western journalists who repeatedly publish false, inaccurate and harmful information that endanger lives must be barred from the region.

These are not journalists – I prefer to call them media combatants – and they do not deserve the liberties accorded to actual media professionals. If these Western journalists had, in the first year of the Syrian conflict, questioned the premises of any of the four narratives listed above, would 250,000-plus Syrians be dead today? Would Syria be destroyed and 12 million Syrians made homeless? Would ISIS even exist?

Free speech? No thank you – not if we have to die for someone else’s national security objectives.

Syria changed the world. It brought the Russians and Chinese (BRICS) into the fray and changed the global order from a unipolar one to a multilateral one – overnight. And it created common cause between a group of key states in the region that now form the backbone of a rising ‘Security Arc’ from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. We now have immense opportunities to re-craft the world and the Middle East in our own vision. New borders? We will draw them from inside the region. Terrorists? We will defeat them ourselves. NGOs? We will create our own, with our own nationals and our own agendas. Pipelines? We will decide where they are laid.

But let’s start building those new narratives before the ‘Other’ comes in to fill the void.

A word of caution. The worst thing we can do is to waste our time rejecting foreign narratives. That just makes us the ‘rejectionists’ in their game. And it gives their game life. What we need to do is create our own game – a rich vocabulary of homegrown narratives – one that defines ourselves, our history and aspirations, based on our own political, economic and social realities. Let the ‘Other’ reject our version, let them become the ‘rejectionists’ in our game… and give it life.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

Gaza; Israeli Navy Opens Fire On Palestinian Fishing Boats; Army Fires On Shepherds

Israeli navy ships opened fire, earlier on Friday morning, targeting a number of Palestinian fishing boats, while the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, opened fire on shepherds, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Marinevuur

Several navy ships fired rounds of live ammunition on a number of Palestinian fishing boats, in the Sudaniyya Sea, in northern Gaza, causing damage but no injuries.

Fearing further Israeli assaults and violations, the fishers has to sail back to shore, without being able to fish to provide for their families.

In related news, Israeli soldiers, stationed on military towers across the borders fence, opened fire on Palestinian shepherds, herding their sheep behind the Eastern Graveyard, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip; no injuries were reported.

The attacks are part on ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinians in different parts of the besieged, impoverished and war-torn coastal region.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

Agreement reached to partially remove punishments on Hamas prisoners

GAZA, (PIC)– Prisoners Media Center revealed that an agreement has been reached between the Israeli Prison Service and the Captive Movement to remove Israeli punishments imposed on Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Hamas Movement two years ago. The agreement includes extending the family visits of Gaza prisoners from a period of 45 minutes to 75 minutes and allowing access to five TV channels instead of three. The agreement also includes increasing the prisoners’ canteen cash credit to 800 shekels instead of 600 per month and achieving a number of humanitarian demands including transferring the sick prisoner Bassem Sayeh to Eshel prison in which his brother is held. Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Hamas Movement have earlier declared a set of escalatory steps in protest against Israeli penal measures imposed against them two years ago.

(Source / 25.03.2016)

Masalmah: Syrian Women Seek Political Transition & Accountability

Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Samira al-Masalmah said that the real representatives of the Syrian women are the female detainees, mothers, wives and daughters of those killed during the Syrian revolution.

Masalma criticized calls by the Women’s Advisory Council, which was invited to the Geneva talks, to lift economic sanctions on the Assad regime during a meeting with UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Syrian Women aspire to a political transition that achieves justice, freedom, dignity and equality for all Syrians and accountability for crimes against the Syrian people, Masalmah said.

Masalmah added that Syrian women have been actively engaged in the Syrian revolution since its early days, assuming important roles as protestors, politicians and leaders. Syrian women are represented in the revolution’s various institutions, including recently in the High Negotiating Committee.

The Coalition’s vice-president referred to organizations representing the interests of Syria’s women, including the Syrian Feminist Lobby, which is a non-partisan political lobby founded on July 15, 2014 in Istanbul, and is committed to equal participation of women and men in the decision-making process in Syria.

In a statement issued two days ago, the Syrian Feminist Lobby ruled out reaching a political solution without a radical democratic transition through forming a transitional governing body with full powers. The statement rejected attempts to stereotype the role of women as peacemakers while underestimating their role in areas such as politics and human rights as well as their struggle against all forms of tyranny.

The Lobby reiterated calls for releasing detainees and prisoners from Assad’s prisons and lifting the blockades on the besieged areas across Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 25.03.2016)