Egyptian MP says forcing Sinai residents to move will only worsen terrorism

Trucks filled with personal belongings leave the border areas in North Sinai, where Egyptian authorities were battling insurgents between el-Arish and the border town of Rafah, May 25, 2015

CAIRO — In recent weeks there have been disputes among members of Egypt’s parliament over calls to relocate residents of the North Sinai governorate amid an escalation in the war between the country’s armed forces and extremist groups. Parliamentarians representing Sinai, headed by Salama Al-Roqie, have expressed their opposition to any effort to displace residents of this region.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Roqie stated that the displacement of Sinai citizens will increase the spread of terrorism, arguing that the presence of citizens in the area prevents unknown people from infiltrating it and carrying out attacks. The lawmaker also highlighted the role of tribes in supporting the armed forces in the war against extremists, saying that the tribes have always been “very cooperative with the Egyptian state in all its wars.”

Below is the text of the interview:

Al-Monitor:  Why do you oppose the calls of some parliament members to relocate residents of Sinai?

Roqie:  Displacement should only happen during wars or natural disasters. It is not acceptable when citizens are settled in a certain place, whether in Sinai or border regions. The constitution rejects displacement, and it even calls on the state to return the Nubians to their original territories following their displacement. Sinai citizens can deter aggression against Egypt, and history stands witness to that.

Al-Monitor:  You have said that expelling Sinai residents will lead to an increase in terrorism. Can you explain why you believe this to be true?

Roqie:  Urban wars are the worst due to land elevations, geography and overpopulation. The presence of citizens ensures the absence of strangers. If the people are displaced, the strangers entering Sinai will have freedom to move around. The presence of citizens guarantees that strangers won’t infiltrate Sinai.

Al-Monitor:  Parliament member Hamdy Bakheet has called for evacuating Sinai for one year to completely eliminate extremist groups that hide among residents to carry out attacks. What is your response to this?

Roqie:  We reject displacement, regardless of its duration. This is not the solution to eradicate terrorism. If terrorist group members blend in with citizens, then they will surely go with them wherever they go. But if the extremists are in mountainous areas, the armed forces can fight them in cooperation with Sinai citizens.

Al-Monitor:  Has the state indicated that it is considering such measures?

Roqie:  No. There hasn’t been any official statement asserting that the state wants to displace Sinai citizens. There have only been unofficial statements from parliamentarians, public figures or experts.

Al-Monitor:  What is the position of Sinai’s tribes on the battle between the Egyptian army and extremist groups in Sinai?

Roqie:  The Sinai tribes were very cooperative with the Egyptian state in all its wars, including the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel. They also provide information to the concerned parties. We refuse to doubt the cooperation of Sinai citizens with the armed forces, because the country’s stability is in our interest.

Al-Monitor:  The constitution calls for developing border areas, including Sinai. Has the state made efforts to achieve this?

Roqie:  The development cycle was slow in the wake of the liberation of Sinai from the Israeli aggression. The state set a development plan in 1994 and allocated a budget of 75 billion Egyptian pounds [$22 billion at the exchange rate at the time] for it. Egypt succeeded in establishing constitutional infrastructure for North Sinai, but some projects were hampered for many reasons, such as the simultaneous work on major projects, including the Toshka Project. Currently, expansion works are underway in Sharq al-Tafria and roads are being built parallel to the province, in addition to 27 development complexes and several projects to develop Sinai. This shows that the state insists on developing Sinai.

Al-Monitor:  Is it feasible for the state to promote development in the midst of a violent battle between the army and terrorist groups?

Roqie:  The armed forces are fighting extremist groups in a small area that barely represents 1% of North Sinai. All areas in the province are safe and far from the clashes, which will soon end in favor of the state. Therefore, development is essential to limit unemployment and solve problems that the citizens of North Sinai are facing. It will not be hampered by the terrorist operations that the armed forces are brilliantly fighting.

Al-Monitor:  How can parliament help to alleviate the problems facing Sinai residents while supporting the state’s efforts to eliminate terrorism there?

Roqie:  The government is constitutionally responsible for creating a plan for socio-economic development in border areas and Upper Egypt in cooperation with citizens of these areas through committees or through the parliament to find out their ambitions and desires. This requires a law from the government or parliament to implement the constitution. The parliament will work in this direction, and we will organize delegations to visit the border areas, such as Sinai, to listen to the inhabitants’ problems.

Al-Monitor:  When will the parliamentary delegation visit North Sinai, after its visit was delayed for security reasons?

Roqie:  The parliament organized delegations to visit all border regions to implement the constitution and research people’s problems and include them in the government’s program. The delegations were supposed to visit Halayeb, Shalatin and Nuba. But the visit was delayed until the security situation stabilizes in North Sinai because the members of the delegation want to visit all the regions in the province to listen to the people’s problems. No specific date was set, but the members of the delegation are willing to go through with it in good time.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

Islamic Jihad: Only the resistance capable of deterring the occupation

GAZA, (PIC)– The Islamic Jihad Movement has said that the Palestinian resistance is the only means capable of deterring the occupation and curbing its crimes against the Palestinians. The Movement’s remarks came after Israeli soldiers cold-bloodedly killed a Palestinian young man and his sister on Wednesday at Qalandiya checkpoint, north of Occupied Jerusalem. “The [Israeli] persistence in such crimes will escalate the intifada (uprising) and the resistance, and make the Palestinian people defend themselves and avenge those martyrs,” spokesman for Islamic Jihad Dawoud Shihab told Quds Press. “It has become a binding option for all Palestinians to defend themselves because it has become evident that only the resistance constitutes a deterrent to the occupation and settlers,” spokesman Shihab added.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

Hamas threatens explosions if Gaza’s siege continues

GAZA (Ma’an) — Hamas’ military wing the al-Qassam Brigades threatened in a rally Thursday that they would carry out future bomb attacks if the siege on the Gaza Strip is not lifted.

A spokesperson for the brigades during a Hamas-organized event in the al-Saraya area of Gaza City said: “everyone must understand that no one can stop us from exploding (bombs) if the siege is not lifted.”
Deputy head of Hamas Politburo Ismail Haniyeh also addressed the rally saying, “the siege of two million Palestinians in Gaza cannot continue,” adding that, “patience has limits.”
Haniyeh emphasized that there can be no Palestinian state without Gaza, and warned anyone “who tries to mess with Gaza’s security.”
He reiterated his movement’s desire to hold national unity elections, affirming that Hamas supports joint national efforts and reconciliation.
Thursday’s rally featured a life-size cardboard model of a bus damaged by explosives, in reference to an explosion that detonated inside an Israeli bus in Jerusalem on April 18, leaving 20 injured and one Palestinian killed after he succumbed to his wounds days later.
Hamas later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the slain Palestinian youth had been one of its operatives.
The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.
This year marked ten years since the last national elections, and disputes between Palestinian factions have been on the rise since a wave of unrest erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.
(Source / 28.04.2016)

Mishaal: Birzeit elections victory for armed resistance

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Political bureau head of Hamas Khaled Mishaal said the victory achieved by the Islamic Bloc at Birzeit University echoes Palestinians’ commitment to armed resistance as the only means to bring the Israeli occupation of Palestine to an end. Mishaal congratulated all the students at Birzeit for their democratic spirit, and hailed the university administration for providing a democratic environment for the elections race. “The victory is a reaction to the policy of security coordination and compliance with the Israeli occupation pursued by the Palestinian Authority,” said Mishaal. He added that the elections are the best proof of Palestinians’ commitment to armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. The Hamas Chief called on the Islamic Bloc affiliates to keep in touch with all the students at Birzeit and serve their needs in the very best way possible. “You are responsible for all your fellows. This is part of your national mission. Student activism is far greater than partisanship,” said Mishaal as he called for partnership and cooperation among the student blocs. He added that the Birzeit elections are a model that can be implemented across the occupied Palestinian territories so as to heal the national rift and boost reconciliation via the ballot vote. Mishaal further called for the need to combine forces and mobilize support for the Palestinian cause both regionally and internationally.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

Erekat on Israel’s rejection of the French Initiative : we call upon the international community to take immediate steps in order to give peace a chance


PLO Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat said in his commentary on Israel’s  rejection of the French Initiative that the Israeli rejection of the French Initiative comes a few hours after Israeli officials confirmed to the Palestinian side that the Israeli government has decided to continue violating its obligations under the signed agreements, including the daily military raids in vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine. This is a reaffirmation of the Israeli government’s decision to continue its crimes and violations.

The Israeli government’s call for “bilateral negotiations” is not a call for the achievement of the two-state solution, but an attempt at legitimizing its settlement enterprise and the imposition of an Apartheid regime he said.

We call upon the French Government and the rest of the international community to take immediate steps in order to give peace a chance.

We continue to support the realization of an international peace conference. We also reaffirm our call upon the world to take actions in order to save the two-state solution, including the overdue recognition of the State of Palestine, to ban settlement products, divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and hold the Israeli government accountable for its ongoing and systematic violations of international law and UN resolutions.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

NGO: 440 Palestinian children held in Israeli jails


Some 440 Palestinian children are currently lingering in Israeli jails, Defence for Children International Palestine revealed yesterday.

“The latest statistic we obtained from the Israeli Prison Service showed that some of the 440 children were prosecuted and some others were not as they are in remand pending prosecution or being interrogated,” Advocacy Officer Bashar Jamal said.

“Among the imprisoned children, 116 are aged between 12 and 15.” He also noted that there are 12 girls among them, ten under administrative detention.

The children are subjected to torture and physical and verbal abuse. “Torture starts when they are arrested,” he said, “they are either beaten or pushed to the ground, hit by rifles.”

Of those held, 66 have been placed in solitary confinement over the last three years. A 17-year-old was placed in solitary confinement for 45 days, the longest period for a minor to date. The room he was held was small with no bed, forcing him to sleep on the floor, no natural day light entered the room.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

Systematic Assad Regime Cessation of Hostilities Violations

Russia and the United States announced the Syrian Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement in a joint statement on February 27, 2016 which excluded, of course, the Islamic State and Jabhat Al Nusra. However, Assasd regime forces and militias loyal to the regime failed to abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreement. Assad regime forces violated the agreement many times, and quite often with Russian air support, striking Syrian revolutionary forces in a majority of the provinces. As of April 19, 2016 there 1180 confirmed Assad regime violations. (See figure 1).

(Figure 1)

There were also 388 arrests and 10 humanitarian convoys were prevented from reaching their destinations in the same time period.
Regime violations are classified as follows:
1.    Violations of Attrition: Such violations occurred as a preparation for future regime offensive operations where the immediate objective was to deal significant blows to revolutionary forces or to simply make Assad forces’ presence known and especially not forgotten. These violations occurred in Alppo, Idleb, Hama, Northern Rural Homs, parts of Western Ghouta, and Dara’a. The violations included air strikes, explosive barrels, missile strikes, mortar strikes, artillery fire, and in some places instances of sniping. The violations were random and there is no clear objective that explains them other than random acts of violence.
2.    Strategic Violations: The Assad regime used these violations in a strategic manner attacking specific targets to either besiege a location, or as a continuation of the Russian military strategy – preventing Syrian revolutionary forces from maintaining control of any front line operations against the Islamic State; or they used the battlefield for political reasons, just as we saw with the massacres in Kafr Nubul and Muarat Al Numaan in Idleb on April 19, 2016. These massacres occurred as a type of message from the Assad regime in response to the Higher Negotiation Committee’s position on pulling out of the Geneva talks.   The Assad regime committed similar violations in southern rural Aleppo, Rural Lattakia, and Eastern Ghouta (Al Marj District) as is explained below:

Southern Rural Aleppo:

Syrian revolutionary forces and other Islamist forces responded to Assad regime mortar and artillery fire at Al Eis Hill, as well as the towns of Bans and Hadiya in southern rural Aleppo at the start of April, with a counter offensive that succeeded at retaking several locations including Al Eis Hill, Abu Ruwayl, Marqas.
In response, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard sent its 65th Airborne Brigade of the Special Forces to Syria to participate in these particular battles in southern Aleppo. Those forces failed to retake the positions that the Syrian revolutionary forces and other Islamist forces took as of the date of publication of this report.
After the fact, Syrian and Russian officials blamed Syrian revolutionary forces for committing CoH violations in southern Aleppo. However, there were reports that put the blame on the Assad regime and Russia. Syrian revolutionary forces maintain that their operations in the area were not CoH violations but a legitimate response to Assad regime artillery and mortar fire, as was mentioned before.

Rural Lattakia:

In February 2016, Assad regime forces, with Russian ground and air support, took control of Kan Saba, the last place the Assad regime advanced too in Rural Lattakia. However, following both the regime’s advance and the announcement of the CoH, regime forces and Russian fighter jets continued attacking positions close to Kan Saba with mortar fire on Al Sirmania and Al Kabani. Air strikes also targetted the main road that connects rural Lattakia with Jisr Al Sughoor in Idleb. The Assad regime’s strategy behind such violations is to take advantage of the CoH and complete two key objectives: securing a route to Jisr Al Shughoor and securing strategic military positions in the Al Ghab Plains. As Assad regime CoH violations increased the Syrian revolutionary forces formed a joint operation room to respond to the violations with a multi front attack in regime positions: Khirbet Al Naqoos, Khashba, Al Bayda.

Eastern Rural Ghouta (Al Marj Distritct):

Eastern rural Ghouta’s Al Marj District experienced extremely violent air and ground attacks during the CoH. Assad regime forces committed several violations there; the most violent of which was an attack on a school in Tal Al Asafir on March 31, 2016 where 37 were killed and more than 40 injured.
Al Marj District is comprised of many positions controlled by Syrian revolutionary forces blocking the Assad regime’s ability to advance into the strategic Eastern Ghouta. Al Nashibiya is 25 KM from Damascus and forms the western portion of Eastern Ghouta and meets the southern boundary of Douma and its surroundings at Shayfouniya and Hywash or “Hosh Nasri Al Dhawahira”; and finally from the east near the syrian desert Eastern Ghouta meets Utayba, Dmair, and Widyan Al Rabi’. The Assad regime aims to accomplish the following objectives through its operations in Marj District:
1.    Take control of the largest amount of territory in Marj District especially in the open farming land and the regime pefers fighting in such areas since they are more effective in these locations while Syrian revolutionary forces are more effecting in urban environments.
2.    As a result of possible regime advances in the mentioned areas Eastern Ghouta will potentially lose its main source of food and the main reason for their ability to wait out the ongoing siege.
3.    Completely securing Damascus International Airport Highway and preventing even Katyusha Rockets from reaching the airport.

Source: Special Military Report No: 003 /  Omran for Strategic Studies 28.04.2016

IOF injures young woman, arrests another in Ramallah

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot and injured on Thursday evening a Palestinian young woman and arrested another at Beit Huroun checkpoint west of Ramallah following an alleged stabbing attack. The IOF claimed that the two Palestinian females were arrested, one of whom was shot and injured by Israeli soldiers, after they allegedly attempted to stab a soldier near the Israeli illegal settlement of Beit Huroun. The Israeli sources said that the two female detainees attempted to stab soldiers stationed at a security crossing adjacent to route 443. Israeli forces fired at one of them and arrested the second.  Palestinian Red Crescent crews were prevented from reaching the scene or to provide the injured young woman with medical aid. Shortly following the alleged attack, Israeli forces closed all roads leading to the nearby village of Beit Ur al-Tahta. The incident comes a day after Israeli forces shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 16-year-old brother after an alleged stabbing attack at Qalandiya military checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. With the Palestinian death rate climbing as Israeli forces continue their crackdown on Palestinian protesters across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip’s border, Israel’s controversial policy of extrajudicial killing is once again being questioned. Amnesty International has recently released a report titled, “No Justification for deliberate attacks on civilians, unlawful killings by Israeli forces, or collective punishment of Palestinians”. The report said that many of the Israeli killings come close to the definition of extrajudicial killings.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

Israel issues 27 administrative detention orders against Palestinians

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Israeli authorities issued 27 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners from across the occupied West Bank for periods between two and six months.A lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society Mahmoud al-Halabi said that 14 of the orders are new while others are extensions of old administrative detention orders.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are currently 700 Palestinians being held in administrative detention.
Israel’s policy of administrative detention allows for internment without charge or trial for six-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely, and has been widely condemned by rights groups as representing a grave violation of human rights and contravening international law.The detainees were identified as:Muhsen Mahmoud Shreim, Qalqiliya district, four-month extension.
Usama Nasser Saleh, six-month extension.Jihad Ali Hamran, Jenin district, four months.Jibril Maher Abu Sbeih, Hebron district, three months.Muhammad Bilal Azizi, Nablus district, three months extension.Uday Mahmoud Abu Mifreh, Bethlehem dsitrict, six-month extension.Bakr Muhammad Baryush, Tulkarem district, six-month extension.Marwan Sami Shawamreh, Hebron district, three-month extension.Bahaa Taha Najjar, Hebron district, six-month extension.Ahmad Nabil Qinna, Nablus district, three-month extension.Etiraf Bajes Hajjaj, Ramallah district, three-month extension.
Hashem Nafe Shalabi, Jenin district, two-month extension.Iyad Abed al-Majid Shabaneh, Hebron district, two-month extension.Ahmad Qassem Sheikh, Bethlehem district, four months.Akram Saleh Hussein, Ramallah district, four-month extension.Amid Ayyoub Zamari, Qalqiliya district, six months.Muhammad Walid Rabee, Ramallah district, four months.Noor al-Din Muhammad Saadi, Jenin district, six-month extension.Adham Attaf Daraghmeh, Tubas district, six months.Mazen Jamal Natsheh, Hebron district, six months.Mahmoud Kamal al-Razi, Jenin district, four months.Mutaz Muhammad al-Muhtaseb, Hebron district, three months.
Izzar Abed al-Aziz Natsheh, Hebron district, four months.Munther Muhammad Juba, Hebron district, four months.Hamzeh Mahmoud al-Batran, Hebron district, six months.Rafat Rashed Batran, Hebron, 6 months.
(Source / 28.04.2016)

Janna Jihad: Meet Palestine’s 10-year-old journalist

Janna Jihad Ayyad believes it is her duty to record Israeli injustices throughout the occupied West Bank and beyond.

'I see an occupation, soldiers, cannons and police. They do a lot of things to make us go from our land,' says Janna [Courtesy of Janna Jihad Facebook page]

‘I see an occupation, soldiers, cannons and police. They do a lot of things to make us go from our land,’ says Janna

Nabi Saleh, occupied West Bank – Palestinian Janna Jihad Ayyad, who turned 10 this month, counts herself among the youngest journalists in the world.

A resident of the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank, Janna, along with many other local children, regularly participates in demonstrations against the Israeli occupation. She began making videos of what was happening in her village when she was only seven.

“Not a lot of journalists are sending our message from Palestine to the world, so I thought, ‘why not send my message … and show them what is happening in my village’,” Janna told Al Jazeera.

READ MORE: Rise in Palestinian children held by Israel ‘alarming’

While there are no journalists in Janna’s family, her uncle, Bilal Tamimi, is a photographer who has documented the violence of Israeli soldiers in Nabi Saleh. Janna was partly inspired by him.

“I talk about what is happening,” Janna said. “I see an occupation, soldiers, cannons and police. They do a lot of things to make us go from our land.”

We cannot teach our children silence; they must fight for their freedom.

Bilal Tamimi, uncle

The deaths of two men in her village – her cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, and another uncle, Rushdie Tamimi – served as a trigger for her to begin documenting everything that was happening in Nabi Saleh. Mustafa was killed by a gas canister and Rushdie was fatally shot in his kidney.

Since then, Janna has expanded her work, travelling with her family and using her mother’s iPhone to shoot videos in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus and Jordan. Her videos show everything from people being detained at checkpoints, protest marches and violence against Palestinian children.

As a child, she feels she has an advantage over adult reporters: “The soldiers catch the big journalists and take their cameras.”

On Facebook, Janna describes herself as a news personality, and has attracted more than 22,000 followers. Her page includes several videos of her participating in demonstrations and confronting Israeli soldiers. Her reports are delivered in both Arabic and English.

“My camera is my gun,” Janna explains. “The camera is stronger than the gun … I can send my message to small people, and they can send it to others.”

Her mother, Nawal Tamimi, says she is both scared for and proud of her young daughter.

“I am proud of my daughter because as a child, she tells her message to the world. She shares her fears, what she feels, and the problems of attending school,” Nawal told Al Jazeera.

“But I am scared for her, when the army comes in the middle of the night and tear-gases our house, and we wake up in smoke … They attack our people who demonstrate against the settlers and the Israeli occupation.”

Janna’s uncle, Bilal, says it has been difficult to accept Janna’s work. “She should be playing and studying, but in our life it’s not a choice,” he told Al Jazeera, noting that the family has a history of activism dating back to 1948. “We must teach our children to not accept humiliation and not be cowards. We are under occupation. We cannot teach our children silence; they must fight for their freedom.”

When she gets older, Janna says she would like to work for CNN or Fox News because “they do not talk about Palestine, and I want to make reports on Palestine”.

Asked what an ideal world would look like to her, Janna, for once, responds like a 10-year-old: “I want it to be pink.”

(Source / 28.04.2016)