Palestinians face severe restrictions in Hebron’s Old City for Passover

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Palestinian residents of Hebron’s Old City in the southern occupied West Bank are bracing for a renewed myriad of severe restrictions enforced by the Israeli military during this year’s Jewish Passover holiday, locals said Sunday.Director of the Old City’s Ibrahimi Mosque, Hifthi Abu Sneina, told Ma’an the Israeli authorities notified the mosque administration that the holy site would be closed to Muslim worshipers Monday and Tuesday for the holiday.Hebron resident and prominent activist Issa Amro said Palestinian locals were preparing for a total lockdown by the Israeli military as thousands of Israelis plan to visit the holy site during Passover.Over the past few days, Palestinians living in the Old City were forced to register with the Israeli authorities once again in order to gain passage through the matrix of military checkpoints in the area, Amro told Ma’an.Palestinians were already made to register in November after the Israeli military declared the majority of the Old City and surrounding areas a closed military zone, unable to either leave or access their homes without identification numbers newly-issued by the Israeli authorities.While designation of the closed military zone has been extended on a monthly basis since, Amro told Ma’an that Israeli forces have been less strict in enforcing movement restrictions on Palestinians over the past two months, and are likely to double down on alleged security measures against locals through the Passover holiday.“There will be a lot of detentions, and a lot of Palestinian families will be unable to access their homes,” Amro anticipated.Amro said Israeli soldiers over the past few days prepared a route intended for travel by Israeli settlers visiting holy sites, and Israeli flags were hung for Passover visitors, blanketing the occupied city.“Passover for Jews means freedom and justice,” Amro told Ma’an. “Unfortunately for us [Palestinians] it means curfews, restrictions, discrimination, detentions.“Thousands of Israeli visitors from all over will reach the Old City and the settlements, while Palestinians are under total closure,” Amro said.“To see Israeli officials from Israel and settlers in Hebron during Passover, this is a symbolic move. They want Hebron to be part of Israel,” Amro said.Ongoing restrictionsSevere restrictions for Palestinians — including denied access to the Ibrahimi Mosque — are typically implemented by the Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.The mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the closure of the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worship fell in line with “status quo agreements regarding freedom of religion” for the area.The holy site was split into a synagogue — known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs — and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vis versa in effort to prevent violence from erupting at the holy site. Located in the center of Hebron — the largest city in the occupied West Bank — the Old City was also divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas at the time, known as H1 and H2.Some 800 notoriously aggressive settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.While Israel claims to abide by peace agreements regarding the area — including those pertaining to religious freedom — the international community has repeatedly slammed Israel for so-called draconian measures carried out against Palestinians.In addition to severe restrictions on movement that apply to Palestinian residents and not Israeli settlers living illegally in the area, the Israeli military has historically hindered regular religious activity at the Ibrahimi Mosque, with Israeli forces banning the Muslim call to prayer at the mosque 51 times in March alone.Israeli forces have also implemented increased security measures in other areas of the occupied Palestinian territory for this year’s Passover holiday, with increased presence in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Egypt’s President Sisi: we are ready to sell Sinai Peninsula to our Saudi brothers, where an independent Palestinian nation can come into existence

Sun, 24 Apr 2016 (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt) — Speaking at Egyptian police academy cadet graduation ceremony in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is wrestling to free himself from the unending political imbroglio, defended his controversial decision of transferring the Egyptian sovereignty over two strategic Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

“According to Islam, we must not render a holy nature to useless Islands or a barren desert such as Sinai [Peninsula] , whereas western countries sought to inculcate Muslims with the ideas such as patriotism and love for fatherland, thus we must owe our allegiance to higher virtues like Islamic fraternity,” TASS Russian News Agency quoted President Sisi as saying.

Our Palestinian kinsmen living in West Bank, Gaza Strip and in Diaspora, added President Sisi, can establish their own independent homeland in the Sinai Peninsula and this dream becomes feasible only when we put aside absurd our conception of holiness of land.

” our Saudi brothers paid us an exorbitant sum for uninhabited Tiran and Sanafir Islands and just yesterday a Saudi envoy brought me new proposals from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques ,His Royal Highness King Salman, whereby Egypt will receive $84B in return of Sinai as the alternative homeland for Palestinians,” said Preside Sisi.

Egypt’s strongman Sisi hopes he can give the Palestinians land in the Sinai Peninsula that would effectively expand the territory of the Gaza Strip fivefold. This “Greater Gaza” would be a fully independent state under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority, and would serve as a homeland for all Palestinians “refugees.”

Israeli officials on Monday enthusiastically embraced reports that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered the Palestinians an independent state in the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon proclaimed Tel Aviv’s consent of the alleged plan, and noted that Israel is “extremely grateful for the good relations with great leadership of President Sisi.”

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Blindfolded and beaten: Palestinians decry PA torture

Rights groups cite lack of accountability among PA security forces as a factor in persistent torture allegations.

People who experienced torture may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and trauma

Nablus, occupied West Bank – Had he not been blindfolded and shackled to a chair in a Palestinian Authority (PA) prison cell, Awni Mazen al-Shakhshir might have spent the first evening of Ramadan last year breaking the day’s fast with his family in Nablus.

Shakhshir said that throughout the first week of his 41-day detention, PA interrogators in Bethlehem forced him into stress positions, punched and kicked him, and deprived him of sleep.

By day, Shakhshir was blindfolded and shackled to a chair, he said. At night, after the guards had eaten and slept for much of the afternoon, the violent interrogations would begin. “They saved the beating till night,” Shakhshir said, “because it was Ramadan.”

Former Palestinian detainee Awni Mazen al-Shakhshir says he was tortured by PA security forces during his interrogation

At no point during his detention was Shakhshir provided a lawyer or presented with formal charges, he said. However, he says that interrogators, who questioned him about his role within a Hamas-aligned student group, repeatedly told him: “People like you should be punished.”

Shakhshir is not alone in his accusations. Earlier this month, the Palestinian prisoner support association Addameer accused Palestinian security forces of subjecting five Palestinian detainees to varying forms of ill treatment, including being held in stress positions, sleep deprivation and beatings. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said publicly that three of the men were planning to carry out a “terror” attack against Israel, while the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine condemned their detention, noting: “The Front called again to hold the PA president accountable for these absurd and harmful statements and actions, which serve to give a veneer of legitimacy to the crimes of the occupation and its attacks against the Palestinian people.”

Meanwhile, in a report published in February by Israeli rights groups B’Tselem and HaMoked, 14 Palestinian detainees who described being mistreated or tortured in an Israeli detention centre said they were first “tortured under interrogation” by Palestinian security forces – just some of the latest in a stream of long-standing allegations, reiterated by Palestinian rights groups, that PA security forces in the occupied West Bank and Hamas in Gaza torture Palestinian detainees.

You might be able to rationalise torture at the hands of your enemy, but you can’t justify torture perpetrated by your own people.

Mahmud Sehwail, psychiatrist

Jamal Dajani, the director of strategic communications and media in the PA prime minister’s office, previously told Al Jazeera that he had “no information where I can confirm these allegations”. In a subsequent public interview last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said “certain things happen, torture happens, but it is not the PA’s policy”.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)recorded 1,274 complaints of “torture and ill treatment” of Palestinian detainees by PA forces in 2014 alone. Though comprehensive figures for 2015 have yet to be released, available figures show that at least 323 complaints have been registered by the organisation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza in the past seven months.

Palestinian rights group al-Haq has identified 30 cases of Palestinian torture at the hands of the PA, as defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, since this time last year. Each case was “politically motivated”, according to the victims, al-Haq legal consultant Issam Abdeen told Al Jazeera.

Shakhshir said the line of questioning by interrogators left him with little doubt that his own arrest was politically motivated. Security officials questioned him about his role in a Hamas-aligned student group at an-Najah University, where he is studying physical education. Shakhshir, who told Al Jazeera he was a secretary of a sub-committee at the time of his arrest, said his role was legal and a matter of public record.

According to Abdeen, al-Haq has anecdotally seen an overall increase in the number of testimonies that allege torture since the PA became a signatory to the UN anti-torture convention in April 2014, as part of Palestine’s accession to observer status at the UN. The ICHR has similarly found that little progress has been made since the PA signed the convention.

“We have witnessed an increased interest in human rights within PA security forces since the signing of the human rights treaties and conventions, [but] very little has changed since the signing of [the convention] in terms of practice,” said the ICHR’s West Bank programme director, Musa Abu Dheim.

READ MORE: Palestinians forever changed by Israeli torture

Mahmud Sehwail, a psychiatrist who has treated victims of torture since 1983, founded the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre (TRC) in Ramallah in 1997. TRC clients who experience torture are treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and trauma, but Palestinians tortured by PA security forces struggle with the additional burden of having been abused by their own people, he said.

“You might be able to rationalise torture at the hands of your enemy, but you can’t justify torture perpetrated by your own people,” Dr Sehwail told Al Jazeera at his Ramallah office.

Shakhshir, who has family members who work for the government, said Palestinians could expect torture at the hands of the Israelis, but “when it’s your neighbour, or your relative, it’s very painful”.

Al Jazeera World – Beyond the Walls

Palestinians tortured by the PA often stay silent for fear of reprisals, the TRC has found. Of 54 documented cases of Palestinian torture, only three committed to treatment. Some declined to follow up due to “fear of re-arrest, retaliation and social stigmas that may have repercussions for their families or jobs”, according to the TRC.

“If a prisoner is released, sometimes their community throws a reception or a party, which is very likely to happen if you are arrested by the Israelis,” Shakhshir said. “But if you’re being released from PA prison, you can’t, because you could endanger yourself, or put other people in danger.”

Since 1997, the TRC has run mental health and human rights training for PA security forces. Two decades on, however, allegations of torture persist. Dr Sehwail says the TRC’s efforts are “a long-term intervention”.

Shakhshir, who does not believe the individuals who tortured him will be brought to justice, also does not hold them personally accountable. “The person who holds the most responsibility,” Shakhshir said, leaning forward in his chair, “is the president. He is responsible for the policies of the state.”

READ MORE: Meet Israel’s youngest Palestinian prisoner

Abu Dheim says there are a number of obvious steps that could be taken to reduce reports of torture in Palestinian prisons, including holding PA security officials accountable and offering victims financial compensation.

Engineering student Ahmad al-Deeq, 23, from the West Bank city of Salfit, is suingthe PA for $1m in damages after he says he was tortured on and off for five days in a PA detention centre in the northern West Bank. His criminal case against the PA is the first of its kind.

Majed Arouri, the founder of the Civil Commission for the Independence of Judiciary and Rule of Law, a Ramallah-based legal centre whose lawyers are representing Deeq, told Al Jazeera that a final ruling may be years away, but the decision to seek damages has already begun to change societal attitudes towards torture.

“A handful of individuals who also allegedly experienced mistreatment and torture in PA detention have already come forward to ask us for legal representation,” Arouri told Al Jazeera.

“The intelligence services understand that there may be legal repercussions for their actions, and the courts are beginning to show increased interest,” he added. “However, the most important aspect of this case will be the judge’s ruling”.

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Egypt’s military deploys forces nationwide ahead of Monday protests

Activists have set Monday, which marks Sinai Liberation Day, for protests against the recent government announcement that it was acknowledging Saudi ownership of two Red Sea islands under Egyptian control


Egypt’s army vehicles deployed in Cairo ahead of planned protests on 25 April

Egypt’s military said on Sunday that it is deploying forces to secure major public buildings on Monday, which has been set by activists as a date for protests over the recent Saudi island deal.

The army said in a statement that its forces will be deployed around “vital targets and major institutions,” adding that security patrols and military police forces will be stationed in major areas nationwide.

A government decision this month to cede control to Saudi Arabia of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, near South Sinai, sparked protests on 15 April, with thousands of demonstrators protesting near Cairo’s press syndicate.

The protests, believed to be the largest demonstrations since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi took office in 2014, saw the arrest of dozens of people, many of whom were released later in the day.

The island deal has not yet been approved by parliament.

Monday marks Sinai Liberation Day, when Egypt regained control over the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 after years of Israeli occupation.

The army has posted several photos of queues of military vehicles in the streets as well as forces at what appeared to be a military base.

The army added that its air and naval forces will take part in celebrations marking Sinai Liberation Day, with performances planned across the country’s governorates. Military ensembles will put on musical performances of patriotic pieces.

Egypt’s acknowledgement of Saudi sovereignty over the Red Sea islands has sparked widespread public outcry, with some critics accusing President El-Sisi of “selling” the islands.

Egyptian and Saudi officials say the islands belong to the Gulf kingdom and were only under Egyptian control because Riyadh had asked Cairo in 1950 to protect them.

Egypt’s interior ministry has warned ahead of Monday’s planned proteststhat it would show no tolerance for attempts to “undermine the country’s security,” urging people not to respond to “calls inciting chaos.”

(Source / 24.04.2016)

New Israeli education system turns students to ISIS

‘The scheme hastens the day that Israel resembles the Islamic State,’ Harel said.

New Israeli Jewish school programme, introduced by fanatic Israeli Jewish Education Minister Naftali Bennet, turning Israeli students to ISIS.

“Israel, as a reader noted in the comments section of the Hebrew website, does not have an education ministry. It has two ministries of religious affairs. A commenter also hit the target: Jewish ISIS is on the way.”

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem -New Israeli Jewish school programme, introduced by fanatic Israeli Jewish Education Minister Naftali Bennet, turning Israeli students to ISIS.

Israeli Harel, a prominent contributor to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, has criticised the new education programme dubbed as “New school program will bring young children to Judaism.”

Throughout this programme, Israeli students will study religious scripts and incentives will be offered to encourage schools to go more deeply into Jewish and Israeli holidays, Jewish history and figures from Jewish and Zionist history.

Commenting on this religious-based education programme, Harel asked:” Why should a Jewish child in the Jewish state be exposed (and right from the beginning of grade school!) to the Jewish sages and be ‘encouraged to feel at home with Jewish culture?’

“What good could come of studying the Jewish calendar, the traditions of various Jewish cultures and Jewish peoplehood? What is Education Minister Naftali Bennett cooking up when he claims that the programme is ‘pluralistic?’

“Israel, as a reader noted in the comments section of the Hebrew website, does not have an education ministry. It has two ministries of religious affairs. A different commenter also hit the target: Jewish ISIS is on the way.”

Harel continued: “There is no doubt that behind the pluralistic sweet talk lurks a plot to brainwash these young, defenceless children with Jewish and Zionist indoctrination. They will also be taken on field trips, with no consideration for what it might do to their tender souls, to Zionist heritage and memorial sites.”

To express their refusal, Harel called for the Israelis, whom he described “are fed up with the rampant clericalism that jeopardises their free identity” to rally, precisely on Passover, which is also known as the Festival of Freedom, and to defend themselves against those who would stuff their young offspring full of an obsolete identity.

He concluded: “After all, the scheme has just one purpose: to raise Habayit Hayehudi voters and hasten the day that Israel resembles the Islamic State.”

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Hundreds of Israeli settlers pass through Beit Ummar village

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Some 300 Israeli settlers, some of them armed, crossed through the village of Beit Ummar on Sunday in the southern occupied district of Hebron on their way between two illegal Israeli settlements, local sources told Ma’an.The settlers toured the Kfar Etzion settlement north of Beit Ummar before passing through the Palestinian village on their way to the Karmei Tsur settlement, both part of the cluster of illegal Israeli settlements known as Gush Etzion.Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an the settlers’ tour caused extreme traffic congestion on the road connecting Hebron to Jerusalem.He added that local residents fear that settlers might start using their village to cross between the settlements in the future.Similar demonstrations are carried out by Israeli settlers every year during the Jewish holiday of Passover.The incident comes amid increasing tension in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City during the holiday season, as right-wing Israelis have been evacuated and detained from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.More than 500,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.The internationally recognized Palestinian territories have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Rise in Palestinian children held by Israel ‘alarming’

Between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in Israel’s military courts each year, says rights group.

More than 100 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons are aged between 12 and 15 [Getty Images]

More than 100 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons are aged between 12 and 15

Jerusalem – A jabbing pain in his shoulder and thigh roused Obada from his sleep at 3am. In the half-light, the 15-year-old could make out eight masked men surrounding his bed, their rifles pointed at him.

“I felt terrified,” he said of the experience of being arrested in February from his home in the village of al-Araqa, near Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Obada is one of more than 100 Palestinian children who, in recent months, have found themselves dragged from bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, according to children’s right groups.

Testimonies like Obada’s feature in a new report, No Way to Treat a Child, compiled by Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), a group monitoring Israeli violations of Palestinian children’s rights.

The 440 children currently in military detention are the highest total since the Israeli army started issuing figures in 2008 – and more than double the number detained this time last year.

The rights group says that, despite promises two years ago from the Israeli army to phase out night raids following international condemnation, in practice, they are used as routinely as ever.

READ MORE: Oz – Israel’s prison for Palestinian children

During his arrest, Obada said he was hit with a rifle butt, blindfolded and his hands tied with a plastic cord that cut into his flesh. “The soldiers dragged me out of the house without allowing me to say goodbye to my family and without telling me why and where they were taking me,” he said.

The goal is to terrify the population so that they will submit and not resist the occupation.

Ivan Karakashian, DCIP

Over the next fortnight, according to Obada, he was repeatedly beaten. Indignities included being locked overnight in a small toilet cubicle and assaulted with a taser when he protested.

For 12 days, his only break from solitary confinement was to be taken from his cell to an interrogation room where he was tied tightly to a chair, slapped and threatened.

He was repeatedly questioned about his ties to two school friends, Nihad and Fuad Waked, who had been killed a few days earlier during an attack on soldiers.

Obada’s account of his arrest and detention accord with a pattern of abuse similar to other children’s testimonies, said Ivan Karakashian of DCIP.

Three-quarters of children reported being physically assaulted during their detention. In nearly 90 percent of cases, parents had no idea where their child had been taken, and in 97 percent of interrogations, no parent or lawyer was allowed to be present.

Some 60 percent of children were then transferred to prisons in Israel, in violation of international law, where, typically, they waited three months for their first family visit, as relatives struggled to get entry permits to Israel. Such abuses contrast strongly with the rights guaranteed to children both in Israel and in the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

Karakashian told Al Jazeera that “the goal [of the detentions] is to terrify the population so that they will submit and not resist the occupation”.

DCIP said it was alarmed not only by the rapid rise in the number of arrests since last October, but by the growing number of young children being locked up. More than 100 of those currently in prison are aged between 12 and 15.

Israeli army under fire over arrests of Palestinian children

This month, a military court sentenced a 13-year-old girl from Beit Fajjar, near Hebron, to four and a half months detention after she allegedly approached a military checkpoint holding a knife.

Following strenuous criticism, Israeli authorities released the youngest prisoner in an Israeli jail, 12-year-old D* al-Wawi, on Sunday, two months before her four and a half month sentence finished.

The dramatic increase in arrests has coincided with a surge of attacks and protests by Palestinians in the occupied territories since last October. Most Palestinian children in detention are convicted of throwing stones. In addition to a jail sentence, each is given a suspended sentence, usually of several years, that is activated if they are rearrested. About 90 percent also receive a fine.

Karakashian said that in recent months military courts had been increasing all three components of the children’s sentences. “Many families cannot afford to pay the fine, so the children have to serve a longer sentence in lieu,” he told Al Jazeera.

“And the suspended sentence is like a sword hanging over their heads. Many are afraid to leave the house or go to school for fear that they will be arrested at a checkpoint and sent back to detention.”

“They can end up under a self-imposed house arrest for years after their release.”

The new report is likely to embarrass Israel after it only narrowly avoided inclusion last year in a United Nations “shame list” of serious violators of children’s rights. UN agencies had been especially disturbed by the 500 children killed and thousands wounded in Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge.

This year’s report is due to be issued in the coming weeks by the office of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Israel ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. But a 2013 report by UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, concluded that abuses of Palestinian minors in military detention were “widespread, systematic and institutionalised”.

A year earlier, Israel was harshly criticised in a report by a British government-backed delegation of lawyers. Catherine Weibel, a spokeswoman for UNICEF in Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera the agency was in a “continuing dialogue” with the Israeli army in an effort to improve the military detention procedure for children.

Israel is the only country in the world, according to DCIP, that “systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year”.

The Israeli army had been unnerved by the mounting bad publicity, said Gerard Horton, of Military Court Watch, which monitors abuses of children in detention.

An army debriefing paper, released in 2014 under a Freedom of Information request, noted that evidence of abuses to children “may inflict real harm on the legitimacy of Israel and its actions in the area”.

That year the army promised to end both night raids and the blindfolding of minors, and to inform parents where their child was being held and record interrogations.

Karakashian said changes since had been little more than “cosmetic”.

During the arrest process, 86 percent of children reported being blindfolded; 70 percent said they were strip-searched, in some cases many times; and 84 percent were not informed of their rights.

During interrogation, 29 percent of children said they were subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation, including threats of physical or sexual assault or arrest of family members.

Some 28 percent reported “position abuse” – usually being bound to a low chair to cause great discomfort. A similar number said they had been physically abused, usually slapped, kicked or pushed. A smaller number reported being choked, punched or having their head hit against a wall.

Promises to record interrogations were effectively voided, said Horton, because they did not apply in security cases – including stone-throwing, the charge faced by the vast majority of Palestinian children.

He said: “The reforms are all smoke and mirrors to get the Europeans and UN off the Israeli army’s back.”

DCIP found that 40 percent of arrests still occurred between midnight and 5am. “Even when a summons is issued for a child to report to a police station the next morning, it is usually delivered in a raid in the early hours of the morning,” said Karakashian. “That is still a traumatic experience for the family.”

“The aim is to frighten and intimidate Palestinian communities, especially those organising regular protests or that are located near settlements.”

The Israeli army was not available for comment.

Horton said that in recent months, the Israeli army appeared to have abandoned the public relations battle.”I think the army realised it’s a losing battle, unless they really change their approach – and they can’t do that.”

Horton said the aim of the terrorising the children was to ensure quiet for the settlements. “Child detention is a settlement issue,” he explains, adding that youngsters at friction points near settlements have to be regularly intimidated in order to protect 400,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank.

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Israeli court maintains detention of 12-year-old Palestinian boy

APRIL 13, 2016

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities decided to uphold the one-year detention of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who has been held since November for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack with his cousin, a relative told Ma’an on Wednesday.Ali Alqam was first detained on Nov. 10 at a light rail station in the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev after he and his cousin Muawiya, 14, stabbed a security guard, wounding him moderately.Ali, who turned 12 in detention, was shot at least three times on the scene and had to undergo surgeryto remove a bullet from his stomach.In November, Muawiya was indicted on charges of attempted murder and possession of a knife.Sheikh Abdullah Alqam, Ali’s uncle, told Ma’an that a court session for Ali was recently held at the Israeli magistrate court, in which the judge ruled to keep the young Palestinian detained for a negotiable year. The judge added that Ali would be moved from Acre to Ein Naqquba west of Jerusalem.Alqam added that Ali’s lawyer had presented several requests to the court to reconsider the boy’s detention.The uncle added that the judge had decided to extend Ali’s detention on the grounds that he still needs psychotherapy, despite the fact that the boy’s parents are reportedly able to provide him treatment.According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, 406 of the 7,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons are minors. An estimated 108 of these youths are under the age of 16.Israel’s widespread practice of detaining Palestinian children, sometimes in the same prison facilities as adults, has been criticized as breaching the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel ratified in 1991.The convention states that “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Israeli court sets date for hearing on return of 15 Palestinian bodies

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s High Court on Sunday ruled to hold a hearing next month in order to reach a decision on Israel’s return of the bodies of 15 Palestinians who were killed while allegedly carrying out attacks on Israeli forces.A lawyer who filed appeals on behalf of the slain Palestinians’ families, Muhammad Mahmoud, told Ma’an the court will convene on May 5 to set a date and terms for the handover of the bodies by the Israeli authorities.Sunday’s hearing came after initially being postponed by the court due to recent Jewish holidays, said Mahmoud, working on behalf of prisoners’ rights group Addameer.Addameer reported following an April 18 hearing that the return of the 15 bodies would likely be “subject to extreme security measures” by the Israeli authorities.The Israeli leadership in October approved a policy to withhold the bodies of Palestinians who were shot dead while allegedly attempting or carrying out attacks on Israelis.Over 200 Palestinians have been killed during the recent unrest — the majority during alleged attacks — and Israel held the bodies of least 80 Palestinians for various periods of time before slowly reversing the policy in December, according to UN figures.The policy had not been carried out with such frequency since the Second Intifada and sparked major backlash among Palestinian communities.According to Addameer, Israel continues to withhold 15 bodies of those killed during recent unrest, despite the fact that some of the families “agreed to the extremely harsh and arbitrary conditions” demanded by the authorities for their release.Addameer earlier this month called Israel’s decision keep the bodies “an extremely humiliating practice and one degrading to the human dignity of the deceased, family members, and to the cultural and religious norms of Palestinian society.”Last month, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat for his part urged the international community to pressure Israel to release the bodies, saying: “Israel’s collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead.”

(Source / 24.04.2016)

Israel releases 12-year-old Palestinian charged with attempted manslaughter

HEBRON (Ma’an) — The Israeli authorities on Sunday released 12-year-old Dima al-Wawi to her family after she spent two-and-a-half months in Israeli prison for attempted manslaughter carried out at an illegal Israeli settlement.Believed to have been the youngest female Palestinian to be incarcerated by Israel, al-Wawi’s parent filed requests for her release and Israel agreed to release the child two months early, alongside an 8,000 shekel ($2,100) plea deal payment.

She was released at the Israeli military checkpoint Jubara in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, welcomed by the district’s governor Issam Abu Bakr and head of the Palestinian Authority’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe, among others.“The detention of children is a crime against humanity,” the governor said, adding that “the Israeli occupation violates children’s’ dignity and their right to live.”Issa Qaraqe also addressed those welcoming al-Wawi saying that Israel “practices the ugliest means of suppression and torture against Palestinian children.”Head of Palestinian Prisoners’ Society in Hebron Amjad al-Najjar said that a press conference will be held in al-Wawi’s home in the village of Halhul in Hebron once she arrives.Al-Wawi was detained on Feb. 9 and sentenced in an Israeli military court on Feb. 18 for attempted voluntary manslaughter and the illegal possession of a knife, after she allegedly went to the illegal Karmei Tzur settlement with the intention of stabbing settlers.Her detention was caught on tape and broadcast by Israeli Channel 1, where the girl is recorded admitting her intention to carry out a stabbing attack.Earlier this month, following the requests filed by her parents, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) agreed to the early release of Dima al-Wawi, initially sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison for attempted manslaughter.The 12-year-old’s parents, backed by a public campaign, sought to end their daughters’ detention, which they said violated both Israeli and international law regarding the detention of children.While Israeli law does not allow prison sentences for children under the age of 14, Israeli military law — which applies to Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank — allows for children as young as 12 to be charged for “nationalistic-motivated” violent offenses.
Al-Wawi was reportedly held in prison alongside adult prisoners and denied access to a social worker during her detention.Violations against Palestinian children in Israel’s military court system are widely documented.According to figures obtained by Haaretz from IPS, the number of Palestinian minors imprisoned for security-related offenses rose from 170 last September to 438 in February, following a wave of unrest that has spread across the occupied Palestinian territory since October.Al-Wawi was among five Palestinian children and the only girl under the age of 14 held Israeli prisons during this period, while no Palestinians under 14 were being held prior to September, the report added.Only one Palestinian girl had been held in Israeli custody before September, while 12 have been imprisoned since, including al-Wawi.
(Source / 24.04.2016)