Edogan meets Khaled Mishaal

As he receives organizers of Thanks Turkey campaign

ISTANBUL, (PIC)– After receiving organizers of Thanks Turkey campaign, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on Monday with head of Hamas’s political bureau Khaled Mishaal. According to Anatolia news agency, Erdogan received organizers of Thanks Turkey campaign at the presidential complex. The meeting lasted for one hour and 15 minutes without media coverage, the sources added. Earlier Friday, Arab communities in Turkey organized the “Thanks Turkey” festival in Istanbul city to express their gratitude for its honorable positions towards the Arab and Muslim countries. The three-day festival was attended by Muslim and Arab figures, including Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, and Khaled Mishaal.  Hamas political chief Khaled Mishaal, who attended the event, praised Turkey in an address at the festival on Saturdaysaying, “While big countries did not accept refugees, Turkey received and hosted them”.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

Israeli settlement project separating Nablus, Ramallah

The expert revealed Israeli plan to connect Israeli Jewish settlements at the expense of Palestinian communities

Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement Khalil Tafakji warned on Sunday of Israeli settlement plan separating major West Bank cities from each other.

Tafakji explained that the continuous violence of Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers, the closing of streets and the confiscation of land in these areas is part of this project

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement Khalil Tafakji warned on Sunday of Israeli settlement plan separating major West Bank cities from each other.

Tafakji named the city of Ramallah and the city of Nablus, two major Palestinian cities in the occupied West Bank.

“The state of Israel is a state consists of Jewish settlements, including a group of Palestinian communities connected with each other through tunnels,” he said “This is the reality in the West Bank,” he added.

He pointed to the Israeli project to confiscate hundreds of dunams from the lands of Jalood, Termis’ea and Al-Mogheir based on military order 50 which was issued in 1983.

“This order stipulates the connection between the Israeli settlements and separating Nablus from Ramallah,” he said.

“This isolates the Palestinian residents in these areas and undermines the Palestinian control over the Palestinian lands,” he added.

Tafakji explained that the continuous violence of Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers, the closing of streets and the confiscation of land in these areas is part of this project.

He also revealed that Israel is planning to build 1,690 new settlement units in the West Bank city of Qalandia and will also expand the industrial zone, noting this is part of a new settlement project which was decided on in 1994.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

IOF turns a medical center to military barracks

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) closed Monday morning the entrance to a medical center in al-Khalil and turned it into military barracks. Director of the medical center Nader al-Zein said that Israeli forces stormed the center since the early morning hours and closed its entrance with concrete blocks before occupying it. Al-Zein told Quds Press that closing the medical center with concrete blocks will prevent the patients’ entry and treatment. The medical crew was also subjected to harassment. He pointed out that the medical center was stormed and searched more than once over the past few years.  Commenting on the Israeli attack, Palestinian health work committees called for protecting Palestinian health facilities and medical crews.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

Saudi-led forces enter town after Qaeda exit

Forces loyal to former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi stand on the back of a vehicle on a road leading to the entrance of Abyan Province as they take part in a purported operation to drive al-Qaeda militants out of the southern provincial capital, April 23, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Forces loyal to former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi stand on the back of a vehicle on a road leading to the entrance of Abyan Province as they take part in a purported operation to drive al-Qaeda militants out of the southern provincial capital, April 23, 2016

Forces loyal to Saudi-backed ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Emirati troops have reportedly overrun Mukalla after al-Qaeda militants left the seaport in southeast Yemen.

Reuters quoted residents as saying that local clerics and tribesmen negotiated with al-Qaeda to exit quietly and that militants withdrew Sunday westward to neighboring Shabwa province.

They said there was no fighting after Saudi-backed units mobilized their forces at Mukalla’s suburbs. However,  the official Saudi news agency SPA claimed on Monday that more than 800 al-Qaeda members had been killed.

Around 2,000 pro-Hadi and Emirati troops reportedly advanced into Mukalla, home to an estimated 200,000 people, taking control of its maritime port and airport and setting up checkpoints.

Mukalla has been the center of a rich mini-state that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) built up over the past year. The group took control of an almost 600-km (370-mile) band of Arabian Sea coastline.

Once faded into irrelevance, AQAP has gone from strength to strength in Yemen since Saudi Arabia began its ferocious military campaign against the impoverished neighbor.

Al-Qaeda and other Takfiri groups such as Daesh have become stronger as Houthis – their arch enemy in Yemen – have come under the heaviest Saudi attacks for more than a year.

The Rai al-Youm newspaper on Monday pointed out that Saudi Arabia had supplied weapons to al-Qaeda militants in the Abyan and Hadhramaut to confront Houthi fighters.

The paper, edited by prominent Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, wrote that Saudi Arabia had decided to retake Mukalla from al-Qaeda in the face of rising criticism in the West of the fallout of the invasion.

The decision was also linked to a US congressional motion to hold the Saudi ruling family accountable for potential roles in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it added.

Pro-Saudi forces, however, retreated from Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province in south Yemen, after they entered it on Saturday night.

A bomb-laden vehicle exploded Sunday killing seven pro-Hadi militants who had launched an offensive with the help of Saudi air power.

“The withdrawal was decided following information that al-Qaeda was preparing other car-bomb attacks against our troops,” AFP quoted a pro-Hadi officer as saying.

The alleged recapture of Mukalla coincided with UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait after a ceasefire entered into effect on April 11, but from which Takfiri groups are excluded.

There was no immediate official reaction to the reports from Houthis and their allies who are to hold their fifth day of peace talks on Monday in a bid to end 13 months of war.

More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes against Yemen last March.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

IOF kidnaps scientist Imad Barghouthi near Ramallah

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday kidnapped Palestinian astrophysicist Imad al-Barghouthi at Nabi Saleh checkpoint, northwest of Ramallah. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint detained Barghouthi and took him to an undeclared place. Barghouthi, 53, is a professor of theoretical space plasma physics at al-Quds University and has worked for some time at NASA in the United States. His scientific work is widely published internationally in academic journals The IOF already kidnapped him on December 6, 2014 at al-Karama border crossing as he was trying to cross to Jordan in order to attend a scientific conference in the United Arab Emirates. At the time, he was reportedly interrogated for participating in a mass march against Israel’s war on Gaza.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

Gaza exhibition boosts support for boycott-of-Israel campaign

GAZA, (PIC)–  An exhibition for national products was held by the Islamic University in the blockaded Gaza Strip as part of a national and international campaign to boycott Israeli products. The exhibition, bearing the slogan “Gaza: Resistance and Boycott,” has been held to boost consumption of local Palestinian products.  Head of the Islamic University, Dr. Adel Awad, said during the inauguration: “Today the academic field and the economic sector have joined forces to support national products.”  “The Islamic University is trying its best to work out industrial problems through applied scientific research,” said Awad. “Gaza is not a dumping ground for Israeli products. Palestinians should have access to good-quality national products.”  Chairman of the International Relations and Boycott Campaign Committee, Dr. Basem Naim, said boosting consumption of national products is an efficient means to minimize consumption of Israeli products. “Despite the Israeli siege and tough circumstances, the national manufacturer is able to survive thanks to his/her top-quality products,” citizen Tamer Abu Shamam said as he exposed samples of solar energy systems, power adapters, battery chargers, and lighting devices manufactured by a local company. Hamza al-Sharfa, who presented samples of Palestinian perfumes, expressed his pride and delight over the exhibition, saying supporting national products is a sign of economic resistance and a challenge to the tough siege.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

ISIL’s Torture and Detention Centers

“The Black Bottom”

ISIL’s Torture

I- Introduction and Methodology
ISIL established secret or public detention centers in regions that are under its control to detain thousands of residents. Prisoners are incarcerated due to different accusations. Most of the times, criticizing ISIL’s oppressive policies is considered the main reason for arrests or abductions. Hence, the civil society and all popular movements were oppressed. To ISIL members or cadres, as long as people are abiding to their religious terms and not criticizing their ruling, then they can live peacefully under ISIL’s terms of living.

We believe that ISIL was emerged due to decades of political conflicts and not just Islamic extremism. ISIL’s phenomena remain a complex one that cannot be limited to Jihadists or Salafists. ISIL considers its prisoners as infidels or atheists and recruits new members.

View full report

(Source / 25.04.2016)

Israel’s silent war against journalists in Palestine

There are at least 20 journalists, including one woman, and media students who are being held in Israeli jails in the legal limbo known as administrative detention.

Palestinian journalist flees from tear gas shot by Israeli soldiers at the border with Gaza

Palestinian journalist flees from tear gas shot by Israeli soldiers at the border with Gaza [file photo]

Omar Nazzal was on his way to attend the General Meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Bosnia when he was detained by Israeli soldiers on Saturday as he tried to cross from the occupied West Bank into Jordan. He is the latest victim of a growing list of Palestinian journalists who have been arrested and detained arbitrarily by the occupation forces. It confirms more than anything else the lengths to which Israel is prepared to go in order to silence Palestinian voices and destroy media freedoms.

At the time of writing, the whereabouts of Nazzal remains unknown, although some reports claim that he was taken to the Etzion interrogation centre. What we know for certain is that he is being held by the Israelis, which was confirmed by his wife after she received a phone call from him to this effect.

Nazzal is a member of the general secretariat of the Syndicate of Palestinian Journalists. His arrest and the arrest of too many others before him must now be a source of great concern for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which only last week released its 2016 index on press freedom and ranked Israel 101 (out of 180 countries) for the second year running.

This raises some questions, for if all countries are judged by the same criteria then Israel should have been ranked closer to Egypt and Syria at the bottom of the table; the Israeli assault on press freedom in Palestine is consistent with a wider malaise affecting the entire region. Almost everywhere, according to RSF, work conditions for journalists and media institutions are becoming increasingly dangerous. In Palestine this has become strikingly so where the Israeli occupation authorities are determined to isolate the Palestinian media from the outside world.

Surely journalists in Palestine should be free to report that 1,631 Palestinian children under the age of 18 are being held in Israeli jails, making up 42 per cent of the total number of detainees. The success of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — of which Israel is so frightened — has been due largely to the collaboration of citizen journalists and media networks in the occupied territories. Therein probably lies the reason for Israel’s anti-media campaign.

Since the start of the Quds Intifada in October last year, Israeli forces have arrested dozens of journalists. While some have been kept in detention others have been put under house arrest. There are at least 20 journalists, including one woman, and media students who are being held in Israeli jails in the legal limbo known as administrative detention; they have not been charged with any crime or gone through any trial and yet their imprisonment can be extended indefinitely.

Apart from the threat of detention, journalists in Palestine today must also undergo frequent searches of their offices. The confiscation of computers, cameras and other equipment by Israel is now routine, as is the summary closure of media institutions under the pretext of “spreading incitement”. These include Felesteen Al Yawm TV station in Ramallah, as well as two other local stations in Hebron and Jenin.

If ever such evidence was needed, the widespread harassment of journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories is damning proof that Israel’s much vaunted claim that it is the only democracy in the Middle East is pure fantasy. The RSF 2016 index ranked Tunisia and Lebanon, at 96th and 98th respectively, ahead of Israel.

Israel’s systematic assault on journalists and media institutions in Palestine is evidently part of a broader campaign to dismantle the structures of Palestinian society. The Palestinian Authority has always maintained that it is building a state from the debris of occupation. This now seems to be even more illusory than ever before. One by one, civic institutions have come under attack. If it’s not the charitable and volunteer sector it is education and culture. Now it is the turn of the media. The only institutions that have survived and will continue to do so are the security and intelligence agencies whose sole raison d’être is to serve the occupation.

Immediately after the disappearance of their colleague Omar Nazzal, the Syndicate of Palestinian Journalists wrote to the International Red Cross to intervene and determine his whereabouts; the union also asked the IRC to secure his release. This case will be a litmus test of the competence of the organisation. It can treat Israel as an exception or it can adopt a strong posture against what is clearly a pattern of unacceptable behaviour that falls well below acceptable international standards.

Of course, the Red Cross is not the only body which must do, and be seen to do, what is right. The European Federation of Journalists, which will be convening the conference which Nazzal was supposed to attend, should also send a clear message to the Israeli government.

Furthermore, journalists and media institutions in the Middle East and around the world campaigned successfully a couple of years ago for the release of Al-Jazeera’s Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed in Egypt. They must now take up the cause of their colleagues in Palestine who are hounded by a military occupation that is hell-bent on eradicating the last vestiges of free speech and media freedoms in Palestine. Israel’s silent war on journalists in Palestine must be exposed for the whole world to see.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

Is this the death of print media in Egypt?

An Egyptian man looks at Al-Tahrir newspaper featuring a front-page picture of security forces beating a female demonstrator during Saturday’s clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Dec. 18, 2011

The recent decision to stop publishing the print edition of the British daily The Independent, which was in publication for more than 30 years, was likely a source of depression for many in the United Kingdom. But the decision was actually a cause for optimism among Egyptian journalists.

Many employees of Egyptian news organizations viewed the development as a possible solution to their own problems, particularly those journalists who work on the web versions of their newspapers. The Independent’s decision to cease paper publication — with the last issue going out on March 26 — gave them hope that Egyptian newspapers would cease publishing their print versions, or publish them on a weekly basis, to cut down on printing costs. This would contribute to alleviating these newspapers’ financial problems and, therefore, better guarantee the regular payment of staff salaries, or perhaps even lead to raises.

A former journalist with Al-Shorouk newspaper, one of those stricken by financial difficulties, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “I had worked on the electronic version of the publication, and we had been suffering from delays in the payment of salaries. The costs associated with printing the newspaper was one of the reasons for the financial crisis. As a result of poor circulation numbers and lack of interest in printed newspapers in general, the paper version adds to losses incurred by the company.”

The journalist said, “These losses are not only borne by the owner of the newspaper, but the journalists are also shouldering the burden by not getting paid on a regular basis.”

Another journalist at Al-Watan newspaper said that while his paper was not suffering from a severe financial crisis, “spending on the print version could be better controlled, with more attention being paid to the website that has grown to become the main source of profits.”

The foregoing was a mere sampling of journalists’ opinions, though social networking sites were awash with similar sentiments. However, the reliance of Egyptian news organizations on their electronic versions as the main source of profits is debatable. Mohammed Mousa, former head of the investigations department at Al-Shorouk newspaper, told Al-Monitor that while print versions had lost their importance in terms of reading and distribution rates, advertisements in print versions are still more expensive than those in electronic versions and still comprise a greater source of profit. Most advertisers believe that the printed advertisements are more valuable for their companies because they are documented and the reader can keep them. “However, the news websites will replace all the traditional media outlets, but it’ll be slower in its experience than the international models,” he added.

Yet print version journalists were the most adamant objectors to such opinions. One journalist at the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper told Al-Monitor, “A publication such as Al-Masry Al-Youm cannot cease printing its paper version. Al-Masry Al-Youm changed the face of Egyptian journalism and tops the list of most circulated newspapers, ahead of Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuria, which remained at the forefront for decades; lest we forget that printed newspapers continue to attract a large audience.”

Another journalist working for the Al-Youm Al-Sabea newspaper told Al-Monitor, “Al-Youm Al-Sabea is the pre-eminent news website in Egypt. Our efforts on the paper and electronic versions are complementary, whereby all journalists work on both. I am therefore not biased in favor of the paper version, but journalists who demand a halt of the printed newspaper should rethink their stance because the Journalists Syndicate disallows membership to journalists who work for publications that do not have paper versions. The journalists who work for Al-Youm Al-Sabea faced such a problem, which was resolved when the newspaper started publishing a paper version.”

Concerning membership, Journalists Syndicate board member Khaled al-Balashi told Al-Monitor, “I always try to find solutions allowing membership to e-journalists. But doing so requires amending the Journalists Syndicate Law, which no longer adequately applies to current work conditions where e-journalists represent 50% or more of the Egyptian journalistic labor force.” Khaled Miri, undersecretary of the Journalists Syndicate, stated to the press on April 10 that the syndicate was in the process of amending the law to allow the inclusion of e-journalists.

In a March 26 article titled “Is this the end of the newspaper era, now that The Independent ceased publishing its paper version?” Al-Ahram media affairs e-journalist Ahmed Abdel Maksoud wrote, “There is no doubt that the printed press has come a long and successful way throughout more than three centuries. But it would seem that its historically acquired legitimacy will not be enough for it to continue on, as many competing forms have emerged to give it a strong run for its money.”

With regard to this competition, he said, “At first, street newspaper vendors [in Egypt] only yelled out three names: Al-Akhbar, Al-Ahram, Al-Gomhuria [in reference to the three main Egyptian newspapers]. But, with time, they started adding names to that three-name list of giants, leading to an intra-paper publication war.”

He added, “Screens [TV and satellite channels] started competing with paper and ink [printed publications], with a new horse entering the race recently in the form of websites.”

Abdel Maksoud added that the aforementioned developments were the main causes for the decline of print media, as even the readership that remained was now divided among a larger number of newspapers, with monopolies and profits slowly vanishing.

In that regard, press affairs journalist Khaled Barmawi, in an article on the Arab Journalists website titled “Will printed media come to an end in Egypt before the United States?” wrote that last year saw more than 100 newspapers and magazines, from all over the world, cease publication of a printed version, with most of them turning to electronic copies, entering into mergers, contenting themselves with a weekly publication or breaking up their content into smaller specialized magazines. “In general, that trend has been ongoing in Spain, France, Canada, the United States and many South American countries, despite the success stories that were evident there.”

He added that success stories in the United States were due to the rise in subscription rates, the recovery from its economic crisis of 2008 and the readerships’ habit, particularly the older age group, of subscribing to printed press outlets.

In light of the rise in the rates of illiteracy, the economic crises that have befallen Egypt and the drop in per capita income, one can surmise with near certainty that Egyptian paper publications will eventually disappear unless the current regime intervenes to subsidize the national press, to protect itself from being stigmatized by the demise of the historical three giants in the field: namely, Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuria. Yet such a development may not be a stigma of shame, but a natural evolution in journalism that allows e-journalists to represent more than 50% of the Egyptian press labor market, despite the difficulties they faced in gaining membership to the syndicate.

(Source / 25.04.2016)

Palestinian wounded in assault by settlers in al-Khalil

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– A group of Jewish settlers on Monday afternoon brutally assaulted and wounded a Palestinian young man in the southern area of al-Khalil city. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Fares al-Shaarawy suffered injuries after setters beat him and hurled stones at him at the entrance to Shuhadaa street in al-Khalil city. The sources added that a Red Crescent ambulance evacuated the victim to al-Khalil hospital

(Source / 25.04.2016)