NABLUS (Ma’an) — Clashes broke out on Tuesday morning between Israeli troops and Palestinian youths as the former escorted hundreds of right-wing Israelis to Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus.Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that more than 20 buses carrying Israeli settlers arrived at the religious shrine under heavy military protection to perform Jewish rituals until the early morning hours.The sources added that young Palestinian men threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli troops near Joseph’s Tomb and on Amman Street. Israeli forces fired back tear gas and stun grenades.No injuries have been reported.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the reports.Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces.During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp.Joseph’s Tomb is revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans alike. The Israeli military allows Jews to visit as part of organized pilgrimages, despite the shrine being located in area A under full Palestinian Authority control, and prohibit Muslims from worshiping on the site.Ultra-orthodox and nationalist Jews regularly try to visit the shrine without approval, as many Jews believe the tomb to be the final resting place of the biblical figure in the Old Testament.Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure.
BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested the Palestinian ex-detainee Raed Ayesh, 30, from Bethlehem, after summoning him to Etzion center on Monday. The IOF had released Ayesh on April 26 after arresting him for two consecutive years under illegal administrative detention order based on no charge or trial. He served a total of 8 years in Israeli jails. Ayesh was arrested as well for several times at the hands of the Palestinian Authority forces in Bethlehem. He participated in the open hunger strike launched en masse by administrative detainees in Israeli jails which lasted for 41 days.
Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old city of Hebron. [File photo]
Palestinian Authority (PA) yesterday warned of Israeli measures aiming to Judaise the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the Anadolu Agency reported.
In a statement issues by the PA foreign ministry, the PA said: “The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron has been under daily provocative attacks by Israeli extremists since 1967. The attacks are supported and protected by the Israeli authorities and its military institution without any respect to the feelings of Muslims.”
The PA accused Israel of continuing its “aggression” against the mosque, which included setting up electronic gates at its entrances in order to limit Palestinians’ access to it.
It said that Israel continues its measures aiming to force indigenous Muslim Palestinians out of the city in order to change its Islamic façade as part of the Judaisation project.
According to the statement, the PA also said: “These racist and provocative measures incite the feelings of Palestinians and led to an inevitable explosion and tension. Therefore, the PA blames Israel, the de facto power, for repercussions of the violations against the Islamic and Christian holy sites in the city, mainly the Ibrahimi Mosque.”
On 2 August 26 years ago, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in the early hours of the morning and, by the afternoon of the same day, had concluded decisively the main objectives of their campaign to conquer and occupy the diminutive, wealthy Gulf state. Although this was perhaps the easiest military operation ever conducted by Baghdad, and was a resounding success, its resultant effect on the grand strategy of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and even the long-term fate of the country can only be described as catastrophic.
Since the creation of modern Iraq in the aftermath of World War I, it had always laid claim to Kuwait as a part of its territory. Amounting to not much more than a city-state focused around the capital, Kuwait City, and several miniscule villages, Kuwait was for a very long time a part of the Ottoman Vilayet, or province, of Basra. For those familiar with the region and its people, this should not come as much of a surprise, as the dialectical differences between the people of Basra and Kuwait are few, with several families on both sides of the border sharing common bonds of kinship.
Modern Kuwait itself actually has its roots as a British protectorate carved out of Basra while still under Ottoman control. The British, wishing to disrupt German-Ottoman plans to extend a railway from Berlin all the way to the Arabian Gulf at Kuwait, felt that their interests in India would be threatened by a European rival having access to a short sea route to the “Jewel in the Crown”. Making alliances with the Al-Sabah family, the British proceeded to strong-arm the Ottomans into granting autonomy to the clan. The Al-Sabahs have been on the Kuwaiti throne ever since, at the whim of first the British and latterly the United States.
However, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was about more than historical claims; Iraq formally recognised Kuwait as a sovereign state in the 1960s, and only disputed aspects of the border. What is perhaps more important is how Saddam viewed his Arab brothers and neighbours and his perception that Iraq was betrayed by them.
As a result of the long and brutal Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Saddam felt that Iraq had been the frontline against Iranian expansionism and had prevented Ayatollah Khomeini from exporting his revolution into Arab lands. Indeed, Iraq suffered greatly and paid a heavy price to secure a military and, to a lesser extent, political victory. Although Kuwait and other wealthy Gulf states supported the Iraqi war effort financially, Saddam believed that Arab demands for Iraq to start repaying its wartime debts almost immediately after the ceasefire with Iran in 1988 was tantamount to betrayal.
The Iraqis arguably had very good reason to be furious. Their economy had taken a battering and it was too difficult to demobilise Iraq’s million-man army as it would mean countless veterans would be unemployed. Iraq needed to start exporting oil again, but was thwarted when, in violation of OPEC quotas, Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia began flooding the market, causing prices to drop and damaging Iraq’s economy. This was exacerbated further by the Iraqis discovering that the Kuwaitis had been slant-drilling into their half of the shared Rumaila oil field, strengthening Baghdad’s belief that the country was being subjected to economic warfare.
It was within this context that Iraq invaded Kuwait. After the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi military was viewed exaggeratingly as a kind of Middle Eastern analogue of the Prussian armies of the late 19th century. True enough, compared to other Arab armies, Iraq’s was experienced, had conducted combined-arms operations and had enormous manpower. In the final two years of the war with Iran, the Iraqi military had demonstrated how much it had matured and developed; it was a source of pride for the Iraqi people.
However, Saddam not only overestimated his forces, but also played a part in hampering the efficiency of his officers by taking military decisions for them and limiting their initiatives. This was due to the president’s long-standing fears of a military coup (probably justified, given Iraqi history) and after the war with Iran he returned to clamping down on the relative autonomy enjoyed by the officer corps. This made itself apparent when he sacked the Army Chief of Staff, Nizar Al-Khazraji, for advising him that the invasion of Kuwait should not be undertaken. Al-Khazraji fled the country.
Saddam’s spirits may well have been high considering how quickly the Iraqi military smashed Kuwait’s defenders. However, and almost immediately, the international community began to threaten and impose sanctions on Iraq. Moreover, as part of the propaganda campaign rallying public opinion against Saddam, members of the Kuwaiti royal family posed as normal members of the public, crying brazenly on camera and claiming to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers murdering babies by taking them out of incubators in hospitals. This was later exposed as an elaborate lie and subterfuge, but not before the princess-turned-nurse had lied to the US Congress and to the world on camera.
At the time, Saddam was urged to withdraw from Kuwait, but he did not want to show weakness as he had already announced the annexation of the pocket state as Iraq’s 19thprovince. Rather than sending a punitive military expedition to Kuwait that would strike and then be withdrawn — which would have served as a stark lesson to neighbouring capitals — Saddam gambled all and decided to stay put. To leave following Western threats would have damaged his prestige, and exposed him to domestic political threats. Hence, the Iraqi leader decided to play a game of chicken with the world’s remaining superpower, and ended up losing not only his prestige, but also any chance that Iraq could have a prosperous future.
The results of the invasion of Kuwait can still be seen to this day. Not only did it have the more direct consequence of a US-led coalition unleashing Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991, but it also began the process of degrading the Iraqi state, economy and society, which reached its climaxed in the 2003 US-led invasion. Iraq today is facing the very real threat of disintegration and human catastrophe on an unprecedented scale. While we must look to the present rulers of Iraq when apportioning blame, we should not forget that the invasion of Kuwait was a strategic blunder that cost Iraqis their future. For that, we can only lay blame at the feet of Saddam Hussein, who allowed himself to be provoked into taking a monumentally catastrophic decision.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: The Saudi delegation reluctantly stays for another week now. Reports say they have been uncompromising throughout the peace talks with the Ansarullah delegation. Are there any hopes in your view that anything will change in these extra seven days in Kuwait now?
Barrett: Not really. I think the Saudis are pretty clear that they have gotten bogged down in this quagmire and they’re not in any hurry to get out, which is kind of surprising, but they feel that they have the backing of the US and the West and especially Israel, their latest close ally. And they’re dead set on trying to take over Yemen so they can build a pipeline through Yemen and bypass the Strait of Hormuz; and thereby get around that choke point that Iran has a lot of power over.
So it’s a big geo-strategic move for them, but they’re not really doing very well right now. They were on the wrong side of the Turkish coup, apparently. We learned that the Emirates and presumably the Saudis as well were in collusion with those forces, presumably American and perhaps Israeli – they’re usually involved – that tried to overthrow the democratic Turkish government and failed. It is a big loss for all those sides including the Saudis that took the side of the coup plotters.
So they’re really going from defeat to defeat and now they’re the ones who are walking out citing a fairly spurious excuse. It seems that they aren’t facing enough pressure to settle, because their backers in the West are not willing to force them to come to some kind of settlement. So I don’t think these seven days is going to bring a breakthrough.
Press TV: Ultimately do you think peace can be established or will be established in Yemen without the Saudis having the last say in how Yemen is governed? In other words, will Riyadh respect a peace accord that’s hammered out strictly by Yemeni entities?
Barrett: They’ve shown that they don’t have a whole lot of respect for the autonomy and sovereignty of Yemen. The whole purpose of this invasion was to try to install their puppet government so they could build their pipeline and run the place. And they don’t seem to have changed their minds.
So I think the only thing that will really force them to bring peace to Yemen is if the quagmire gets bad enough, the Saudi economy gets bad enough in the wake of these low oil prices that we’ve seen that the Saudis themselves have been ordered to pump oil by their Western backers to support the Rothschild petrodollar and that’s wrecked the Saudi economy.
So if ultimately things get bad enough at Saudi Arabia and they’re not going to get enough support from their usual backers, at some point, they may have to give up the way the US did and leave Yemen the way the US left Vietnam, but I don’t think that’s going happen in the next seven days unfortunately, because the people of Yemen are suffering and … human rights community [has been pressuring] Saudis for their horrific practice of cluster bombing and just destroying the infrastructure and imposing horrific suffering on the people of Yemen. We need the civil community, the human rights, NGOs and so on, to put more pressure on Western governments to tell the Saudis to stop.
Israel imposes excessive restrictions on family visits to Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
“The Israeli government should abide by international humanitarian law and do more to facilitate contact between prisoners and their families,” the organisation said in a statement.
Some 334 prisoners are being held by Israel charged with “security crimes” related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to official information provided to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. They include two women and a child. An additional detainee is held without charge.
“The Israeli government is unlawfully incarcerating prisoners from Gaza inside Israel and then making it very hard for their families to visit them,” said Sari Bashi, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director. “The government’s security concerns over having these families enter Israel for visits with their loved ones are of its own making.”
Family members must obtain permits from the military to enter Israel to visit prisoners; this includes passing an Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) security screening.
“The authorities have imposed general limitations on Gaza families’ entry into Israel that unnecessarily hinder visits to incarcerated loved ones,” the organisation said. By contrast, family members of the more than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees from the West Bank are subject to only some of these restrictions, and they can visit relatives more frequently.
The Israel Prison Service allows prison visits every two weeks for all prisoners and more frequent visits for pre-trial detainees. However, Palestinian families from Gaza can only obtain entry permits for a prison visit from the military every two months at most.
In addition, while the Prison Service allows all immediate family members and grandparents to visit security prisoners, the Israeli military will only permit entry into Israel from Gaza for spouses, parents and children under 16. Siblings, grandparents, and sons and daughters 16 or older are denied entry. Families from the West Bank are not subject to these restrictions.
“Family visits have little meaning if sons and daughters can’t meet their parents,” Bashi said.
GAZA, (PIC)– The Journalist Support Committee (JSC) said that Israel’s military and security forces committed 47 violations against journalists and media workers during July 2016. In a recent report, the JSC said that the Israeli army and police arrested eight Palestinian journalists from Jerusalem, Qalqilya and Ramallah, and released most of them later during the month. The Israeli authorities also extended the detention of journalist Adib al-Attrash and postponed the trial of another one called Samah Duweik. According to the report, an administratively detained journalist named Malik al-Qadi was reportedly exposed to torture and maltreatment in an Israeli jail, which prompted him to go on hunger strike Other violations against journalists during the reporting month included raids on homes, confiscation of cars and cameras, assaults, harassment, banishment orders and removal of Facebook pages. The report also highlighted several violations committed by the Palestinian Authority security apparatuses, including the arrest of journalists Mohamed Abu Juhaisha and Mohamed Khabisa, raids on homes, and banning journalists from holding a news conference.
Including 1008 Civilians at the Hands of the Syrian and Russian regimes
SNHR has published its periodic death toll report for the month of July 2016 in which it documented the killing of 1557 civilians at the hands of the main influential parties in Syria.
The report notes that SNHR team encounters difficulties in documenting victims from armed opposition factions as many of those victims are killed on battlefronts and not inside cities. Also, we aren’t able to obtain details such as names, pictures and other important details on account of the armed opposition forces’ unwillingness to reveal such information for security concerns among other reasons. Therefore, the actual number of victims is much greater than what is being recorded.
On the other side, the report affirms that it is almost impossible to access information about victims from government forces or from ISIS and the margin of error is considerably higher due to the lack of any applicable methodology in this type of documentation. The Syrian government and ISIS don’t publish, reveal, or record their victims. From our perspective, the statistics published by some groups on this category of victims are fictitious and are not based on any actual data.
Therefore, the report only incudes civilian victims who were killed by all parties and compare them.
The report outlines the death toll of the month of July 2016 where it recorded the killing of 769 civilians at the hands of government forces including 253 children (nine children are averagely killed every day) and 197 women.
59% of all civilian victims were children and women which is an explicit indicator on the targeting of civilians by government forces.
Additionally, the report notes that alleged Russian forces have killed 239 civilians including 105 children and 66 women during July.
On the other hand, the report documents the killing of 40 civilians including 11 children and five women at the hands of Self-management forces (consisting primarily of the Democratic Union Party forces – a branch for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.)
The report notes that 156 civilians, including 33 children and 14 women, were killed by ISIS.
Also, the report recorded the killing of 67 civilians, including 15 children and 13 women, by ISIS.
In addition, 189 civilians including 78 children and 39 women were killed by international coalition forces during the month of July according to the report.
The report includes that 97 civilians, including 36 children and 21, have either died drowning as they were fleeing by sea or in bombing that SNHR hasn’t been able to identify its perpetrators or were carried out by unidentified armed groups to SNHR.
The report emphasizes that government forces and Russian forces have violated the international human rights law which guarantees the right to life. Furthermore, evidences and proofs, according to hundreds of eyewitnesses’ accounts, suggest that 90% at least of the widespread and single attacks were directed against civilians and civil facilities.
Also, extremist Islamic groups have committed a number of extrajudicial killings that constitute war crimes.
Moreover, some of the armed opposition factions committed crimes of extrajudicial killing that qualify as war crimes. Also, Self-management forces and international coalition forces have both committed war crimes that manifested in the crime of extrajudicial killing.
The report calls on the Security Council and the international committee to uphold their responsibilities in relation to the crimes of killing that is being perpetrated ceaselessly to the Syrian regime and press on the Syrian government to stop the deliberate and indiscriminate bombardment of civilians.
Finally, the report considers the Russian regime, all Shiite militias, and ISIS as foreign parties that are effectively involved in the killings and holds all of these parties and the financiers and supports of the Syrian regime legally and judicially responsible.
The effective travel ban imposed by the Israeli government on the BDS Movement’s co-founder Omar Barghouti was temporarily suspended for two months during a court hearing at the Haifa District Court on 19 July 2016.
Barghouti has been under an effective travel ban since April 2016, ostensibly based on the claim by the state that the “center of his life is not in Israel.” Israeli ministers and official spokespeople, however, have explicitly mentioned Barghouti’s human rights activities in the BDS movement as the real motive behind the anti-democratic travel ban.
Given the failure of Israel’s Ministry of Interior to take the necessary legal steps that are required priortodeciding not to renew Barghouti’s travel document, Barghouti’s lawyer, Gila Barzili proposed in court that the Ministry should grant Barghouti at least a temporary renewal of his travel document until it has fulfilled these requirements. The state’s attorney accepted the proposal.
Examining all the evidence that was presented on Barghouti’s behalf — that proves that his “center of life” is in present-day Israel — and granting him a hearing are considered fundamental rights that he is entitled to before the state decides on any measure that violates his human rights.
The Haifa District Court determined that a re-examination of Barghouti’s application for the renewal of his travel document is to be conducted by the Ministry of Interior, and until then he is entitled to have his travel document renewed.
Around the same time, Omar Barghouti was announced as a winner — along with Ralph Nader — of the Gandhi Peace Award for 2016, presented by the US-based organization Promoting Enduring Peace. The Gandhi Peace Award has been presented since 1960 to people who have made “outstanding contributions to world peace, creating a sustainable ecology and social justice.”
Speaking on behalf of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society that is leading the global BDS movement, Mahmoud Nawajaa reacted to the Haifa court results saying:
“This temporary lifting of Israel’s travel ban on Omar Barghouti clearly reflects the impact of the worldwide condemnation of the ban and of Israel’s all-out legal, intelligence and propaganda war on the BDS movement.”
“By evoking the worst days of McCarthyism, Israel, just like the apartheid regime in South Africa had done, is alienating the liberal mainstream and inadvertently expanding the appeal of the BDS movement in it at unprecedented rates.”
“Israel’s war on BDS seems to be backfiring. It has triggered the long-sought recognition by European governments and leading international human rights organizations for the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights through the boycott of Israel.”
“But we should not relax. This is only a procedural delay in Israel’s still-ongoing process of punishing Omar for his defense of Palestinian human rights. We urge people of conscience around the world to intensify their efforts to counter Israel’s repressive war on the BDS movement, as only effective and sustained pressure can have a significant impact. We call on fellow BDS activists to continue their inspiring work of growing the movement in pursuit of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.”
Pentagon officials said the attacks were carried out in keeping with their ongoing approach to fighting ISIS
A photo from 2011 shows buildings ravaged by fighting in Sirte, Libya. Islamic State militants have controlled the city since August 2015. The U.S. military has announced ongoing airstrikes against targets in Sirte.
US warplanes have attacked Islamic State forces in Libya, the Pentagon has announced, at the start of what US officials say will be a sustained offensive against the militant group outside Iraq and Syria.
Isis positions in the strategic port city of Sirte were hit by manned aircraft and drones on Monday, after a request from the UN-backed unity government, the Pentagon said.
Cook said the attacks – which included “precision strikes” against an Islamic State tank and other vehicles – were launched after requests from the Tripoli government, which nominated the targets.
Fayez Serraj, the prime minister of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, said in a televised statement that the airstrikes caused “severe losses to enemy ranks”. No US ground forces will be deployed, he said.
“The presidency council, as the general army commander, has made a request for direct US support to carry out specific airstrikes,” Serraj said. “The first strikes started today in positions in Sirte, causing major casualties.”
Serraj said that the strikes will not go beyond Sirte and its surroundings, adding: “This is the time for the international community to live up to its promises to the Libyan people.”
The latest airstrikes are not the first time the US has targeted Isis in Libya – US warplanes attacked an Isis training camp in Sabratha in February and a senior Isis figure in November – but that did not herald a sustained operation. The US has also launched strikes and raids against al-Qaida targets in the country since 2011, when Nato conducted an air war against dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi’s death, at the hands of local revolutionaries, left a vacuum that Isis has sought to fill, something Barack Obama has called the “worst mistake” of his presidency.
US special operations forces have been deployed in Libya since December, in an attempt to seek local “partners” in the fight against Isis, and Libyan commanders say that American and British special forces are advising their forces on the ground.
Cook said US forces are not participating on the ground in the current fight in Sirte, but did not say that US ground forces have left Libya entirely.
The US-backed forces have had successes against Isis in recent months, taking Sirte’s port away from the radical jihadist group. US and British forces provided logistics and intelligence support for the operation.
But local forces have struggled to crush the remaining Isis fighters who have established defensive positions in the city. The US estimates Isis has fewer than 1,000 fighters in the city, representing the bulk of its strength in Libya.
The battle against Isis has been led by militias from Misrata, Libya’s third city, which are aligned to the new government. The offensive began in early June, with sweeping gains that crushed Isis’s self-declared caliphate that had stretched 125 miles along Libya’s coast.
But the fight for Sirte itself has proved a bloody affair, with the Misrata militia suffering more than 300 dead and 1,300 wounded in a grim attritional struggle.
Isis fighters holed up in the city have exacted a steady toll on the pro-government militias with snipers and suicide carbombs attacking Misratan lines. Isis units have built heavily defended positions amid homes and offices, posing problems for Misratan units who lack artillery and tanks
“It has been very difficult to dislodge them. This is the kind of international help that is needed,” said Dr Guma El-Gamaty of Libya Dialogue, the Tripoli government’s supervising authority.
El-Gamaty added: “The fight against Isis in Libya is not just a Libyan problem, it’s an international problem.”
It is unclear how many civilians remain in Sirte. Most of the population have fled since Isis first took over the city last year, but a small portion have stayed.
Senior US officers have indicated they seek a lasting victory against Isis in Libya.
Marine general Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in a January appearance with France’s chief officer that they sought “decisive military action” and warned of the need for “a way ahead” to defeat Isis’s Libyan rise.
Cook said the current operation would continue as long as the unity government requests support.
The UK has confirmed reconnaissance flights are providing intelligence over the battlefield, but when asked about the prospect of UK planes joining in the airstrikes, a British ministry of defence spokesman said: “There is no UK involvement and no plans at present to do anything similar.”
The UK said its contribution to an Italian-led force that has been mooted to support Libya’s government of national accord would be primarily to help with training, with about a third engaged in force protection.
Cook cited the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as legal authorization for the strike. That open-ended authorization long predates the existence of the Islamic State, and was originally drawn up to allow attacks on al-Qaida.