Israeli official: Hamas seeking to strike Shalit 2 deal

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has learned that behind the scenes Israel has been engaging in talks through mediators, seeking to at least start negotiations with Hamas on a Shalit 2 prisoner swap deal. “Hamas wants a ‘Shalit Deal 2,’ with the release of hundreds of prisoners,” a senior Israeli official said, alluding to the unofficial exchanges. But that is not the group’s only condition. It also demands an “entry fee” to even engage in negotiations in the form of the release of 50 security prisoners arrested during “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” the newspaper added.   Hamas’s demand for “entry fees” was first reported by Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat several months ago, and has now been confirmed for the first time by an Israeli official, it further stated.   “The public in Israel has started the difficult internal debate (about the issue) too soon,” the senior official said. “We’re not willing to pay for signs of life, as it means we’ll have to meet any precondition.” Israel, the mediators were told, was no longer willing to pay a high price in prisoner exchange deals particularly in light of the fact that, in the case of Goldin and Shaul, there is no doubt that the negotiation will be over bodies.   “The attempt to tie the agreement with Turkey to the talks for the return of the bodies and the release of the civilians is not relevant, and shows the lack of understanding of the other side,” the official explained.    Israel is dealing, in this case, with the heads of Hamas’s armed wing—not with the organization’s political leadership—and it is they who are responsible first and foremost for the prisoners, the same sources added. In 2014 a video released by the spokesperson for al-Qassam Brigades announced the group’s abduction of four Israeli soldiers without providing further details on the issue.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

Palestinian Authority restricts money transfer to Gaza

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian monetary authority in Ramallah has imposed restrictions recently on transferring any amount of money to individuals in the Gaza Strip, according to banking sources. The sources said that the monetary authority issued a circular ordering banks not to accept the transfer of any money to individuals and their bank accounts in Gaza except through persons having bank accounts in the West Bank. The circular also demanded the banks to put the money first in the account of the sender before transferring it to the recipient’s account in Gaza.   The sources said this measure is contrary to the procedure followed routinely in internal financial transactions between bank branches, describing it as part of security restrictions on all sums of money sent to Gaza.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

41 violations committed against journalists by IOA and PA last month

GAZA, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) committed 41 different violations against Palestinian journalists during last June, according to a report released by the Palestinian ministry of information. 29 of those violations were committed by the IOA and its military and security forces and 12 others by the PA security agencies, the ministry’s observation department documented last month. Those violations included the use of physical violence and detention to prevent journalists from covering events and exposing violations in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The month also saw Israel’s closure of Musawa satellite channel in the 1948 occupied lands.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

UAE government blocks access to Middle East Eye

Article of 29 June 2016

Emirati authorities have not said why the Middle East Eye website has been blocked in the country

A government message appears when Middle East Eye is attempted to be accessed in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has blocked access to the Middle East Eye website, according to UAE residents who have shared screenshots of the blocked site after they tried to access it.

The residents said on Wednesday morning that the site was no longer able to be viewed in the Gulf state.

Anyone who attempts to access the website in the UAE now receives this official message: “Access to this site is currently blocked. The site falls under the Prohibited Content Categories of the UAE’s Internet Access Management Policy.”

It is not clear when Emirati authorities blocked MEE.

MEE has not been notified of the reason for the block, and the UAE’s London Embassy did not answer calls on Wednesday morning.

Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor said that he was unsurprised MEE has been blocked by UAE authorities.

“It was only a matter of time before they blocked the [Middle East Eye] website,” he said. “They can’t handle truth about their reality, so they solve their problems by blocking them.”

MEE has reported extensively on the UAE, including revealing the Gulf State’s covert relations with Israel, its political and military role across the region, as well as covering its alleged human rights abuses.

The OpenNet Intiative, which monitors internet filtering, has reported that the UAE “censors political and religious content and pervasively filters websites that contain pornography or content relating to alcohol and drug use, gay and lesbian issues, dating or gambling”.

Access to the internet in the UAE is regulated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). The TRA sets out the rules for deciding whether a website should be permitted for viewing in the UAE.

The vast majority of online content blocked by the UAE is, according to the TRA, websites that “contradicts with the ethics and morals of the UAE”. So far in 2016 the TRA reported that 81 percent of blocked content is in this category.

Nine percent of blocked websites are ones that the TRA says are “not in line with UAE laws” and six percent are “internet content that directly or indirectly constitutes a risk on UAE internet users such as phishing websites, hacking tools, and spy wares”.

Some internet users install Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections as a way of bypassing local restrictions on web use.

However, the use of VPNs in the UAE is prohibited by the TRA and can lead to arrest. In 2015 Emirati authorities were reported to have established “electronic surveillance” committees to ensure internet cafes are not using VPNs to access banned content.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

Israeli regime forces demolish homes of two Palestinians

Palestinians stand at a house that was demolished by Israeli authorities in the Qalandiya refugee camp, between al-Quds and Ramallah, on July 4, 2016. (AFP photo)

Palestinians stand at a house that was demolished by Israeli authorities in the Qalandiya refugee camp, between al-Quds and Ramallah, on July 4, 2016

Israeli military forces have razed two Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank despite international condemnation of the regime’s demolition campaign against Palestinian homes and properties.

Local residents and witnesses said on Monday that Israeli soldiers and bulldozers rolled into the Qalandiya refugee camp and leveled two houses to the ground.

The demolition was carried out against the homes of the families of Issa Assaf and Annan Hammed, who were shot dead by Israeli forces during an alleged attack late last year near the Old City of al-Quds

Israeli forces also shot and injured at least four Palestinians during a series of fierce clashes in the troubled region.

A spokesperson of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at ambulances to prevent them from entering the camp to evacuate the wounded people, adding, “Israeli forces prevented ambulances at gunpoint from accessing the area.”

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of alleged Palestinian assailants. International rights groups and organizations have strongly denounced the demolition of Palestinian houses by Israeli troops.

Palestinians stand at a house that was demolished by Israeli authorities in the Qalandiya refugee camp, between al-Quds and Ramallah on July 4, 2016

Last month, the United Nations said Israel’s demolition campaign against Palestinian homes and structures across the occupied West Bank had increased four times compared to 2015, and left a record number of 808 Palestinians displaced since the start of 2016.

The UN announced in late April that a total of 588 Palestinian structures had been razed since January, adding that the demolitions have affected more than 1,000 people as they have lost structures related to their source of income.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement on April 8 that 124 Palestinians, including 60 children, had been made homeless in a single day as a result of Israeli demolitions in the West Bank.

Palestinians wait to cross an Israeli army checkpoint at a road next to the Palestinian town of Al-Fawwar south of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the occupied West Bank on July 3, 2016

Tensions have heightened in the occupied territories since August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

More than 220 Palestinians, including children and women, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October. Some 30 Israelis have also been killed since then.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

Israel to take ‘aggressive measures’ against Palestinians

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli cabinet held on Sunday a session to discuss the latest developments and ways to stop the Jerusalem Intifada that broke out in early October 2015. According to Israeli media sources, the cabinet decided to take ‘aggressive measures’ to stop the escalated Palestinian ant-occupation attacks. Earlier on Saturday night, the Israeli cabinet imposed a number of ‘collective punishment measures’ against al-Khalil city to the south of occupied West Bank after two of its residents carried out two separate anti-occupation attacks. In a related context, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu stated that his government would make special efforts to intensify settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem.  According to the Israeli media, Netanyahu issued directives during a cabinet meeting on Sunday to his ministers to work together on finding ways to boost building in the settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.  He said the cabinet would discuss in the coming meeting a plan to promote settlement construction in Kiryat Arba, east of al-Khalil.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

Egypt’s mufti: ‘Sheikhs inciting radicalism’ are not ‘Islamic scholars’

General view of security personnel in front of a mosque as police stage a second controlled explosion, after a suicide bomber was killed and two other people wounded in a blast near the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this still frame taken from video July 4, 2016

Egypt’s grand mufti, the country’s most top religious figure, has denounced Monday’s “terrorism events” in Saudi Arabia which saw a suicide bombing strike near the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, considered to be one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Shawki Ibrahim, who has held the office since early 2013, said religious sheikhs who incite radicalism cannot be described as “Islamic scholars,” likening “terrorism” to “cancer” that “must be eradicated.”

He also said fighting “terrorism” should be “everyone’s responsibility,” and urged youth to “reject” religious edicts or fatwas that incite strife and “destroy countries.”

(Source / 04.07.2016)

June 2016 report on Palestinian prisoners: 3412 arrested in the first half of 2016


The following is a report issued by several Palestinian prisoner organizations (Prisoners Affairs Commission; Palestinian Prisoners’ Society; Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.) Translation by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. File photo for illustration purposes only.

The institutions concerned with prisoners’ affairs revealed that the Israeli occupation has arrested in the first half of 2016, 3412 Palestinians, including 706 children and 96 women and girls.

6326 Palestinians have been detained since the beginning of the popular uprising in October 2015.

According to the Prisoners Affairs Committee, 483 Palestinians were arrested in June 2016.

The use of administrative detention has in particular escalated sharply. 1028 administrative detention orders have been issued in the first half of 2016, including 412 new orders; the number of orders issued since October 2015 for detention without charge or trial is 1471. Among them are 7 administrative detention orders against women and girls, two against deputies in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 11 are against children. There are currently nearly 750 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention, the highest total since 2008.

The total number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is approximately 7000, including 330 children and 64 women. The Israeli occupation authorities continue to imprison six members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as 30 Palestinians who were arrested before the signing of the Oslo accords.

Gaza Strip: Between the siege and arbitrary detention

The Israeli occupation forces are engaged in grave and systematic violations of the rights of the popularion of the Gaza Strip, through the imposition of a comprehensive blockade, which has led to a serious detetioration in the humanitarian situation and ongoing violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people; the Palestinians of Gaza are also subject to the policy of arbitrary detention.

There is a systematic targeting of several categories of Palestinians during their passage through the Beit Hanoun/Erez Crossing, as well as on the border areas in the north and east of the Gaza Strip and the fishermen at sea.

The attacks on the fishermen clearly violate international law and are a deliberate exploitation of the naval blockade, imposing on the Gaza Strip a transformation of the crossings, border areas and the sea into a trap for detention of Palestinians. They are exposed to cruel and degrading treatment in interrogation by the Israeli occupation intelligence forces.

The Israeli occupation forces arrested during the first half of 2016, 123 Palestinians from Gaza, including 83 fishermen arrested at sea. The vast majority of these were later released without charges, however, these arrests have long-term consequences, especially to fishermen who have been injured or whose boats have been confiscated or damaged, severely impacting their livelihood.

Palestinian children: The greatest witness to the violations of the occupation

The occupation authorities are imprisoning in Ofer and Megiddo prisons over 330 children, including 18 injured and sick children, and 15 minor girls in HaSharon and Damon prisons.

Israeli occuupation authorities also issued more than 65 home imprisonment orders against Jerusalemite children since the beginning of the year. The use of home imprisonment against children is a growing phenomenon, and prevents them from leaving the home even for medical treatment or for school. This comes in addition to, as noted above, the imprisonment of 11 children under administrative detention orders, without charge or trial.

The Israeli occupation forces have escalated the violations of the rights of Palestinian children in Israeli jails, including the use of torture, ill-treatment, and violation of the rights of the child, from the first moment of arrest, most frequently in the late hours of the night or early morning in violent military raids, or during their detention by “special units”, the so-called “Mustaribeen. Children are shackled hand and foot and blindfolded and taken for interrogation without parents or lawyers, often threatened during interrogation, and forced to sign statements in Hebrew without understanding them. This comes in addition to the use of various methods of torture, including beating and kicking, and verbal and psychological abuse against children. They are then subjected to the military and civil courts of the occupation, and face unfair sentencing and financial penalties.

Growing number of Palestinian women in Israeli jails

There are 64 Palestinian women imprisoned in Israeli jails, including 15 minor girls, in HaSharon and Damon prisons. They face difficult conditions of life within the prisons. The number of arrests of women and girls in the first half of 2016 is the highest in several years; women also suffer mistreatment at the hands of occupation forces during arrest, and especially during imprisonment for those who are sick or injured. Palestinian women prisoners have specifically denounced the use of the “Bosta” transportation wagon; they are transferred frequently to the courts or to medical treatment via this vehicle, with metal seats where prisoners are shackled. The vehicle is extremely hot in summer and cold in winter, and prisoners can spend three days at a time making these journeys. This comes in addition to the overcrowding in the women prisoners’ sections, especially as arrests continue to increase.

Sick prisoners: Delay and neglect in treatment

The occupation authorities continue to engage in a policy of medical neglect and delays in provision of treatment to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. There are approximately 700 injured and sick prisoners, many of them waiting for treatment or even tests for years. There are 15 prisoners held in the Ramleh prison clinic, suffering from very difficult conditions of life, where five healthy prisoners are held with them to assist them.

Several prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes and other protests to demand medical treatment, including Mansour Moqtada of Salfit, serving a 30-year sentence, who engaged in a partial hunger strike and is one of the most severely injured and ill prisoners; in addition, Muhannad al-Azzeh, serving a 13-year prison sentence, engaged in a hunger strike for medical treatment.

Arrests and suppression of freedom of expression on social networking sites

There has been an escalation of arbitrary arrests and attacks on freedom of opinion and expression. Israeli occupation forces have arrested over 170 Palestinians on charges of “incitement” for posting on Facebook, from October 2015 until the end of June 2016. The Israeli authorities have also formed a special “Cyber-Arab” unit to surveil and prosecute Palestinians for social media postings. Those targeted for incitement charges include Qusai Issa of Bethlehem; Sami Janazrah, who fought a 70-day hunger strike against administrative detention and then was indicted for inciement; as well as imprisoned professor Imad Barghouthi, accused of incitement after a decision to release him from administrative detention.

Bilal Kayed: a new battle confronting the jailer; 33 prisoners engaged in hunger strikes in the first half of 2016

Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, from Asira al-Shamaliya in Nablus district, has been engaged in an open hunger strike since 15 June, against the imposition of an administrative detention order against him after he was scheduled to be released on 13 June, completing a 14 1/2 year prison sentence, on the same day in which he was to be release.

The occupation ordered him to six months in administrative detention. This was not the first targeting of Kayed; during his sentence, he was held in solitary confinement after September 2015 and denied family visits.

33 prisoners engaged in open hunger strikes during the first half of 2016 against a number of policies of the occupation prisons, especially administrative detention.

ICRC reduces family visits to prisoners

Palestinian prisoners are today facing a new policy by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to reduce the rate of family visits from twice monthly to once monthly. This is viewed by the prisoners and institutions defending their rights as a new violation on top of all the other violations they faced. As noted in several statements, this action fully comports with the repressive policies of the occupation authorities and poses a danger to the rights of prisoners that have been achieved through over 35 years of struggle inside the prisons. Further, it deepens the suffering of the families of the prisoners, who face increased financial burdens arising from the illegal detention of the prisoners outside of the West Bank and Jerusalem. This action has come without consultation with public institutions, prisoners or their families, and comes amid actions by the occupation prison authorities to deny hundreds of prisoners family visits under the pretext of security.

In light of the escalating violations by the Israeli occupation authorities against Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people, the international community continues its silence. Rather than impose sanctions on Israel, the occupying power is elected as president of the Legal Committee of the United Nations.

The four institutions renewed their condemnation of the gross and systematic Israeli violations of international law and human rights against Palestinian prisoners. They expressed pride in the struggle of the Palestinian prisoners and their commitment to continue their efforts to defend Palestinian prisoners and expose the abuses against them. The issue of prisoners is a Palestinian national issue and also a human and moral issue; Arab and international efforts to exert pressure on the occupation state to stop its violations and to free Palestinian prisoners must be intensified. In this context, they called upon institutions, civil society organizations, political parties, and human rights organizations around the world to act to expose the abuses of the occupation.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

2 detained brothers declare hunger strike

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– The two imprisoned brothers Mohamed and Mahmoud al-Balboul, from Bethlehem, declared an open-ended hunger strike in protest against their administrative detention. Family sources affirmed that the two brothers decided to launch a hunger strike protesting against the Israeli administrative detention policy according to which they are held without charge or trial. Immediately after their arrest on June 9, they were placed under administrative detention for six and five months. Their sister Nurhan was also arrested two months ago while on her way to al-Aqsa Mosque, and she was sentenced to four months imprisonment. Their father Ahmed al-Balboul was assassinated several years ago by Israeli occupation forces in Bethlehem.

(Source / 04.07.2016)

Syrian President Approves New Cabinet, Defense, Foreign Ministers Keep Posts

Syrian President Approves New Cabinet, Defense, Foreign Ministers Keep Posts

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian President Bashar Assad approved new cabinet headed by former Electricity Minister Imad Khamis, the Syrian president’s office said.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Defense Minister Fahd Jassem Freij, as well as National Reconciliation Affairs Minister Ali Haidar have retained their posts, according to presidential decree number 203, as quoted by the Syrian presidential office’s official Twitter account, SANA reported.

Syria held parliamentary elections on April 15 with over 3,500 candidates contesting the 250 seats in Syria’s parliament. Ballot stations were set up in 12 of Syria’s 14 provinces, as the Northern province of Raqqa was still under the control of ISIL terrorist group and the Northwestern Idlib province was controlled by al-Nusra Front.

Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting numerous militant groups across the country.

(Source / 04.07.2016)