OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Palestinian Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Sabri Saydam, slammed Israeli attempts to “Israelize” education at Palestinian schools and restrict funds to those applying an Israeli curriculum. Speaking in an exclusive statement to the PIC, Saydam said the Israeli occupation has waged a Judaization war on the Palestinian intellectual and cultural identity in Occupied Jerusalem. “The Israeli procedures and education policies at Jerusalem schools represent a flagrant violation of Palestinians’ human rights and of the international law, which binds the occupation authorities to preserve the nature and idiosyncrasy of the occupied people’s education,” said the minister. According to Saydam, the Israeli occupation has been taking advantage of its financial power to Judaize education and impose an Israeli vision on Palestinian schools. “But such tactics shall never see the day thanks to Palestinians’ commitment to their cultural and linguistic identity,” he added. Saydam also said practical steps have been underway to minimize the upshots of such Israeli schemes, including raising funds for schools, providing Jerusalemites’ with 10% of academic scholarships abroad, facilitating admission requirements, and boosting financial support for those enrolling at Jerusalem schools. 20% of the general budget for 2016 will be allocated to education, Saydam further stated. “We have to try every possible effort to bring such Judaization schemes to a halt. There is no more time left for words,” he concluded.
An Israeli soldier walks past a Merkava tank after returning from the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave
By Ben White
Despite the fact that Israeli officials repeatedly alleged that Palestinian factions used human shields as a matter of policy in summer 2014, there is little to no evidence that the crime of human shields, as defined under international law, was committed by Hamas or other groups. Even if human shields were used, this would not have absolved Israel from responsibility for obeying the law. There is evidence that sufficient precaution was not taken with regards to launching attacks in close proximity to non-combatants — though even the Israeli army itself only claims that 18 percent of rockets were fired “from civilian facilities.” Thus, given Israeli propaganda’s reliance on this trope, the paucity of evidence for Palestinians using human shields is striking.Meanwhile, however, there is reliable, copious documentation of Israeli forces using human shields over many years. As summarized by Israeli NGO B’Tselem, during the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, “the Israeli military used Palestinian civilians as human shields” as the “implementation of a decision made by senior military authorities.” According to officials, by the time that Israel’s Supreme Court declared the policy unlawful in 2005, the Israeli army had made use of human shield procedures on 1,200 occasions over the preceding five years.Yet despite the court ruling, there have been numerous documented examples of the practice persisting. In November 2006, Israeli soldiers used a Palestinian man as a human shield during a military operation in Bethlehem. In 2007, B’Tselem documented 14 instances of the use of human shields — including two children in Nablus. In October 2007, the now deputy head of the Israeli military, Yair Golan, was subjected to a mere ‘rebuke’ for ordering soldiers to use human shields. (When two soldiers were convicted of using a Palestinian child as a human shield during ‘Operation Cast Lead’, they were sentenced to a three-month suspended sentence and demoted.)This kind of impunity was condemned by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child in June 2013, citing 14 cases of “Palestinian children” being used as “human shields and informants” from January 2010 to end of March 2013. Yet despite international opprobrium, the examples have continued: in April 2013, Israeli soldiers used a handcuffed Palestinian teenager as a human shield while firing on protesters in the West Bank, while in July 2014, soldiers “force[d] a family member to escort them” during a house raid in Hebron.Indeed, all of the charges made by Israeli spokespersons against Palestinian factions — with little or no supporting evidence beyond creative cartoons or infographics — have their parallels in documented crimes of the Israeli army. Using homes for military operations? The Israeli army occupies and converts Palestinian houses into outposts while the residents are confined to a certain section of the property. Disguising yourself as non-combatants to commit violent attacks? In November 2015, Israeli occupation forces dressed as civilians — including one as a pregnant woman in a wheelchair — during a raid on a Hebron hospital where they shot dead a man in cold blood.Israeli forces have also used human shields during invasions of Gaza. In July 2006, for example, soldiers in Beit Hanoun held six civilians, including two children, “at the entrance to rooms in which the soldiers positioned themselves, for some twelve hours,” during “intense exchanges of gunfire between the soldiers and armed Palestinians.” The Goldstone report also documented incidents during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in which civilians “were blindfolded and handcuffed as they were forced to enter houses ahead of the Israeli soldiers.” The UN fact-finding mission behind the report concluded that “this practice amounts to the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields,” and that “it would not be difficult to conclude that this was a practice repeatedly adopted…during the military operation in Gaza.”’Operation Protective Edge’ was no exception to the Israeli army’s track record of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. In one account recorded by Defense for Children International – Palestine, Israeli soldiers “repeatedly used” a 17-year-old Palestinian “as a human shield for five days,” forcing him at gunpoint “to search for tunnels,” and subjecting him to physical abuse. The NGO’s executive director, Rifat Kassis, noted how “Israeli officials make generalized accusations [of Hamas fighters using human shields] while Israeli soldiers engage in conduct that amounts to war crimes.”The UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict noted “reports of the use of human shields [by Israeli soldiers] in the context of the search operations” on the ground in Gaza. The commission cited one case where Israeli forces were “shooting from behind…naked men, using them as human shields” for hours. The men were “told by the soldiers that they were placed by the window in order to deter Hamas fighters from returning fire.” The commission concluded that “the manner in which the Israeli soldiers forced Palestinian civilians to stand in windows, enter houses/underground areas and/or perform dangerous tasks of a military nature, constitutes a violation of the prohibition against the use of human shields contained in article 28 of Geneva Convention IV, and may amount to a war crime.”
Volunteers from Bangladesh fighting with Palestinians in Beirut, Lebanon 1982
A photograph and a grave. These are two relics of a time, now mostly forgotten, of when thousands of Bangladeshis came to Lebanon in the 1980s as volunteers and fighters for the Palestinian cause. They were no less important in the struggle for Palestinian liberation than others, and their stories deserve to be remembered.
There are many books, films, and reports of international volunteers and organizations that supported and continue to support the Palestinian cause. From armed groups of yesteryear like the Japanese Red Army and the Irish Republican Army to non-violent, ever-growing contemporary organizations like the International Solidarity Movement and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, support for Palestine has always been and continues to be part and parcel of the international scene.
But not all stories of these extraordinary men and women, traveling far from their homes, motivated by a strong desire to combat injustice, at times facing great peril, are publicly known or detailed sufficiently.
This seems very true for those from the South Asian region, especially Bangladesh. They came to provide a multitude of supporting activities, ranging from transporting weapons and goods between locations in Lebanon to actively engaging in combat against forces threatening the Palestinian cause.
A memory in black and white
In 1982, prior to the Israeli occupation of Beirut, British war photographer Chris Steele-Perkins was down by the shore line and came across a group of Bangladeshi fighters.
They were and would be the only ones he personally met during his tenure in Lebanon. Steele-Perkins did not exchange many words with them, however, he was able to snap an iconic photograph of these men. It would become one of the few remaining images of these fighters.
The relationship between Bangladesh and Palestine, particularly the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), can be traced as far back to the early years of the Bangladeshi state, after a fight for liberation against Pakistan in 1971. It was a brutal, devastating war that resulted in millions dead, and millions more becoming refugees, but ultimately resulted in the creation of the modern state of Bangladesh.
While at first, most Arab states were hesitant to recognize the newly-established state, relations quickly warmed in 1973 when Bangladesh supported Egypt, Syria, and the Palestinians’ fight against Israel during the October War, including sending a medical team and relief supplies.
Soon after, Bangladesh was included as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement at the Algiers Summit in 1973, and Arab countries mounted pressure on Pakistan to recognize Bangladesh in 1974.
A relationship with the PLO was established around that time period, in which Bangladesh allowed the opening of a PLO office in the capital, Dhaka, and PLO officials were frequent guests at events hosted by the Bangladeshi political and diplomatic corps, a May 1976 US state department cable released by WikiLeaks showed.
The affinity with Palestine became so strong and so entrenched within the Bangladeshi society that in 1980 a postal stamp was created, but never issued, depicting a kuffiyah-draped Palestinian freedom fighter, the al-Aqsa mosque in the background shrouded by barbwire, and words that saluted Palestinian freedom fighters as “valiant” in English and Arabic.
According to a September 1988 US Library of Congress report, the Bangladeshi government reported in 1987 that “8,000 Bangladeshi youths had volunteered to fight for the Palestine Liberation Organization,” an announcement that came after Yasser Arafat visited the country that year and received a warm welcome from media and political circles.
The report also states that a few Palestinian military figures were also sent to Bangladesh to participate in training courses.
Today, there are few documented records in regards to the exact number of Bangladeshi volunteers in Lebanon, or a break-down of what groups they had joined.
Al-Akhbar contacted the Bangladeshi embassy in Beirut in regards to any information on this topic. Although officials at the embassy acknowledged the existence and history of Bangladeshi fighters for Palestine, they stated that detailed information was unavailable.
Similarly, the Palestinian embassy was a dead-end due to the fact that much of the PLO documents were burnt by the Israeli army during its ferocious invasion and occupation of Lebanon.
What lingers of these fighters are but Palestinian officials’ fleeting memories.
“There were around 1,000 to 1,500 of them. There were even some battalions that were completely Bangladeshi, but most of them were spread to different groups,” Fatah’s secretary of PLO factions in Lebanon, Fathi Abu al-Aradat, told Al-Akhbar.
“I remember they were highly disciplined. They were known to have incredible will. When the Israelis invaded and captured some of the Bangladeshi fighters, they used to say to them, ‘PLO, Israeli No’ even when they were tortured,” he said. “They had great relations with the rest of the fighters. They really believed in the cause.”
Although Fatah was known to have a significant number of foreign fighters among their ranks, it was another Palestinian faction, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), that was a major recipient of fighters, including those from Bangladesh.
The PFLP-GC, a far-left militant group led by Ahmed Jibril and backed by the Syrian government, had split from the main PFLP party that was led by George Habash, after a dispute over ideological and tactical issues occurred between Habash and Jibril (Abu Jihad) in 1968.
“They were with the PFLP-GC,” Ziyad Hammo, a PFLP official and member of the governing municipality of Shatila camp, told Al-Akhbar.
“They had a lot of military talent but they were mainly supporting services such as transporting weapons or guarding certain offices,” Hammo noted. “If they wanted to fight, they went to fight.”
“I remember three or four of them. There were two who were placed as guards in the Bekaa, and another one in Baablek. People really forgot they were Bengali, they spoke perfect Arabic,” the PFLP official added.
But the question remains: why are there very few accounts of these volunteers’ aid to the cause?
“In the PLFP, we try to remember these men. For example, the Japanese Red Army is very valued and we tried to recover and maintain that history. But with the Bangladeshis, I guess, there aren’t many stories and anecdotes about them because their role was limited. At least for the PFLP, I can’t speak for other Palestinian factions,” Hammo opined.
“I gather most of them left after 1982, once the UN sent its forces into Lebanon. Some of them died or were captured and later released, and perhaps a few stayed in Lebanon to live the rest of their lives working. It’s been 32 years, and I think most of them got old. We all got older,” he added.
Kamal Mustafa Ali: the ‘heroic martyr’
On the outskirts of the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in southern Beirut is the Palestinian Martyr Cemetery, where those who perished struggling for the Palestinian cause lay. Among the many tombstones of Palestinians who have died since the 1970s, those of a few foreigners can be spotted. A few Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Tunisians, a Russian, a Kurd, and also one of a Bangladeshi man named Kamal Mustafa Ali.
The tombstone of Kamal Mustafa Ali in the Palestinian Martyr Cemetery in the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp
“In the PLFP, we try to remember these men.”- Ziyad Hammo
There is no mention of who Kamal Mustafa Ali was, not even a birth date. What is etched on the marble slab is a Quranic verse from the House of Imran chapter. It states: “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of God as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.”
Below the verse is his name and nationality, and when and how he died as a “heroic martyr.” Ali died on July 22, 1982 during a battle at the Castle of the High Rock, also known as the Beaufort Castle, located in the southern Lebanese governorate of Nabatiyeh.
The castle, which is said to have been established as a military fortification site prior to the Crusaders’ arrival in the early 12 century – due to its strategically located position on a high hill overlooking a large swath of territory – became a site for many heated battles, quickly exchanging hands from power to power.
The PLO controlled the castle in 1976, using it mainly as a base to conduct resistance activities along the border, deploying around 1,000 fighters within its walls and surroundings.
When the Israelis invaded on June 6,1982, the castle was the site of the first major battles prior to Israel’s push north towards Beirut. Even though the PLO lost hold of the castle in the span of two days – after intense pounding by Israeli artillery and airstrikes – the Israelis control of the castle was never easy.
The occupying Israeli forces were met with constant resistance by Palestinian groups, and then Hezbollah and other Lebanese resistance groups, until they were forced to retreat in 2000.
Kamal Mustafa Ali perished, as the tombstone noted, during one of those early attempts to retake the castle.
His body was only recovered in 2004, after an exchange deal between Hezbollah and Israel was brokered by German mediation. Four Israeli soldiers corpses were exchanged for more than 400 prisoners, the remains of more than 50 fighters, and a map of deadly landmines that Israel planted in southern Lebanon and the western Bekaa region.
According to the caretakers of the Palestinian Martyr Cemetery, Ali’s bones were sent back home to his family in Bangladesh, and a grave was erected in the cemetery to commemorate his sacrifice.
It rests there side-by-side with other bodies and names of Palestinians and non-Palestinians, watched and cared for by Palestinian hands who do not know much of the man. It is the only remaining, physical marker in Beirut of the sacrifices made by Bangladeshi volunteer fighters for the Palestinian cause during the 1980s.
Addendum:Al-Akhbar has recently received the following response to this report from Naeem Mohaiemen, a visual artist and Anthropology doctorate candidate at Columbia University researching post-1971 Bangladesh history. His films include “United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part 1),” about the 1977 hijack of JAL 472 to Bangladesh by the Japanese Red Army. He has been investigating the Bangladeshi Lebanese fighters and believes the officially reported numbers are “inflated.”
He argues that, “Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib’s attendance of the 1974 Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting was a realpolitik move for the damaged, new state– aligning with the Arab Bloc was also a question of survival, via influx of oil dollars. His successor, the military government of General Ziaur Rahman, pushed Islamization (via Arabization) even further. The inflated numbers come from this context of wanting to signal a significant contribution to the Palestinian cause, and PLO commanders then replicated those numbers as part of a logical strategy of projecting internationalist military strength. Such inflation of numbers temporarily won the PLO a media war, but it also blindsided them about the potential scale of defeat during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon”
King Farouk and Queen Farida of Egypt at an event, circa 1940
The newfound nostalgia among Egyptians for the monarchical period did not emerge in a vacuum. Among the most important principles of the revolution of July 23, 1952, were the elimination of capitalism and monopolies, bringing about social justice and putting in place a functioning democratic regime to confront political distortion. Yet on the 64th anniversary of that revolution, these have yet to be achieved.
In the shadow of the political polarization that followed the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and the government’s failure to manage the country politically and economically, Egyptians suffer from a bout of nostalgia that is driving some of them to say, “May God have mercy on [the king]; If only another [like you] would come!”
Facebook has become a platform both for young Egyptians who support a return to the monarchical period and for those who oppose it. The official Facebook page of King Farouk is always posting bright, attractive images of Egypt during the period of the monarchy and contrasting them with the chaos and caprice that afflicts Cairo today.
Egyptians consider the July 1952 revolution a watershed moment in their modern history, one which helped to rid them of monarchical rule. Nevertheless, current repression by the security forces has caused many to reconsider the words attributed to King Farouk when he was leaving Egypt (“One drop of Egyptian blood is more precious to me than all the thrones of this world.”) and compare them with what happened after the January 25 Revolution and the killing of protesters that followed.
Egypt’s budget for the 1948-1949 fiscal year reached 183.4 million Egyptian pounds, with a surplus of 10 million Egyptian pounds. The single largest line item was named “Support for Palestine,” followed by defense and then education. Taxes were the main source of revenue, mostly upon the wealthy, not those with limited incomes. The budget also allocated to the poor something called “expense subsidies.” The Ministry of Finance estimates the budget deficit for the 2016-2017 fiscal year at 319.46 billion Egyptian pounds ($36.2 billion).
Hamdi Abd al-Tawwab, an Egyptian journalist, told Al-Monitor that “most of the information [presented by] the monarchy’s defenders is partial, especially when you consider that the period when King Farouk ascended the throne was one of the worst periods in Egyptian history in nearly every respect. The evidence shows that that period witnessed the spread of illiteracy, ignorance and poverty. The Wafd party arose as part of the Million Shoes campaign of 1948 to aid the poor.”
He added, “Those who defend the monarchical period are under the sway of lies, like [the streets of] Cairo and other cities were clean. They forget that [urbanization] was limited to only 2% of the population, mostly the king and his entourage.”
Muhammad Ghanim, a high school teacher, told Al-Monitor, “King Farouk was close to the clerics and the [Quranic] reciters, such as Sheikh Mustafa Ismail, and the [so-called] ‘prince of poets’ Ahmad Shawqi, while the clerics today cannot find anyone to provide for them.”
“The reality which our people are living through right now only confirms that the experiment in republican rule has failed. Egypt has been transformed from a creditor nation into an international debtor. Egypt’s debts had reached nearly 300 billion [Egyptian pounds] by 1969, and Egypt was forced to resort to American food aid, after having been a major cotton exporter. Moreover, the local currency declined,” he added.
Muhammad Ibrahim, a university student, told Al-Monitor, “On July 23, the terms ‘Basha’ moved from being used for landed gentry to a title for officers, namely those who rebelled against King Farouk’s corruption to govern the country themselves. They spread even more corruption, killed the young people and looted the country’s riches.”
In his view, the officers became the July 1952 revolution’s greatest beneficiaries. They succeeded in forming an empire for themselves, taking over vast swathes of land through their influence within the army.
Ibrahim added, “The two states of Sudan and South Sudan both belonged to Egypt, and the King refused to give them up to the influence of the Sidky-Bevin agreement of 1936, which enabled the evacuation of English occupation forces from Egypt. England refused to evacuate the Sudan, however. Contrast that with today, and the government is giving up the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.”
Zaydan Yahi, an engineer, told Al-Monitor, “Egypt enjoyed tremendous status within the international community. That much you can tell from the pictures showing King Farouk visiting the prime minister of Iran in 1938, where the latter took the king’s hand, and from Cairo’s manufacture of the Kiswah [which once] draped the Kaaba, dispatching it to Mecca in a convoy known as ‘Al-Mahmil,’ which also bore Egyptian pilgrims.” He added, “Now, Egyptians are insulted and humiliated abroad. Now, we [beg for] rugs from the UAE, and financial aid from Saudi Arabia.”
Yahi said, “King Farouk launched social projects like the founding of the Council to Combat Poverty, Ignorance and Sickness in 1946, as well as a project to house the poor and another to provide free primary and secondary education.”
“King Farouk closed the Al-Sukri gold mine in 1948 so that it would become a source of wealth for future generations. He loved Egypt and thought of its interest even after he left the country. Today we exhaust our natural resources, and plants close because of the lack of raw materials and workers threatened with arbitrary dismissal and displacement.”
Yahi stressed that the unemployment rate in Faruq’s era was only 2%, while today it has reached 12.7%. Then, $1 was equal to around 25 Egyptian piasters, while today $1 is worth more than 12 Egyptian pounds on the black market. In the monarchical period, Egypt lent Britain the equivalent of $29 billion in today’s dollars, whereas, in the present era, Egypt must negotiate with the International Monetary Fund to obtain a loan of $12 billion, in addition to aid from the Gulf.
He clarified to Al-Monitor that, at the cultural level, Cairo was a center of art. Giants in the world of music, poetry and literature resided there during the monarchical era, while today we’ve got what they call “the singers of the slums.”
Mohamed Nabil, a journalist, said in a Facebook post that “those defending the monarchy’s rule aren’t looking at the social variables and the sheer scale of beneficiaries from the July revolution, chiefly from the lower social class. As for those who attack the Republican regime, who mock [Gamal Abdel Nasser] because of the wave of security repression and the lies of the democracy present today, they imagine that the July revolution brought Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power … [but] it was the officers who gave women the right to vote.”
Qadri Hafny, a professor of political psychology, told Al-Monitor, “The suffering that Egypt is going through at present is driving the youth to take out their wrath on the period of the Republican regime and yearn for a return to the period of the monarchy. But they are only focusing on that period’s positives, without addressing its mistakes.”
He added, “Absolute support for any period will lead to reverence for, and sanctification of, human historical figures. Thereafter, it’s a slippery slope to justifying [their] errors, because [people] begin to have it fixed in their mind that those mistakes were unavoidable, [or that] major achievements could not have been attained without them. From there it’s a short road to repeating those same mistakes, if they are accompanied by [similar] achievements. That’s what’s taking place now with the youth who are defending Nasser or opposing the Republican regime.”
Afghanistan is experiencing political, social and security instability, as the Taliban movement and other radical extremist organizations, such as Daesh, which is prohibited in many countries, including Russia, continue staging attacks against civilian and government targets.
The Afghan wing of Daesh was formed in 2015, when infighting between Taliban factions broke out.
Palestinians walk past a sign in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem calling for the boycott of Israeli products on June 5, 2015
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee movement condemned on Monday the creation of an interministerial Israeli task force aiming to identify and deport BDS activists, saying that the move revealed Israel’s “true face to the world as a ruthless, warmongering pariah state.”Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Sunday that they were forming a joint task force to “expel and ban the entry of BDS activists” into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed,” Deri said on Sunday.The BDS National Committee (BNC) said the new Israeli task force showed the desperation of Israel in trying to suppress the advances of the pro-Palestinian boycott movement.”After failing to counter or even diminish the unmistakable impact of BDS in isolating its brutal regime of oppression, Israel is dropping the mask,” Abd al-Rahman Abu Nahel, a spokesperson for BNC, said in a statement. “It is revealing its true face to the world as a ruthless, warmongering pariah state, and it is resorting to the same repressive tools deployed by apartheid South Africa in its last chapter, before its eventual collapse.”The intensity of the backlash against BDS, Abu Nahel argued, showed the important advances the movement had made in raising awareness of Israeli violations of human rights.”Deporting BDS activists in order to silence them and undermine their principled support for Palestinian human rights is not only anti-democratic; it is yet another incident of Israel shooting itself in the foot,” Abu Nahel said.”This latest weapon in the intensifying Israeli legal, espionage and propaganda war against the BDS movement for Palestinian rights is a strong indicator of how desperate and irrational Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid has become in its futile attempts to hinder the impressive growth of the BDS movement around the world.””We are confident that Israel’s intensifying repression notwithstanding, this principled solidarity will significantly contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality,” Abu Nahel added. “If anything, we expect such acts of heightened repression to boost support for boycotting Israel back in these activists’ home countries.”The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has gained momentum over the past year, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.In late July, the Black Lives Matter movement — which denounces police violence against African-Americans in the United States — came out in support of BDS, stating that it was committed to “global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation.”The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement’s support base has expanded to include companies, universities and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.In January, the Israeli Knesset held a conference to discuss ways to combat BDS, and dedicated 100 million shekels ($26 million) of the government’s 2016 budget to the issue.In May, Israel issued a travel ban on BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti, a permanent resident in Israel, with Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, stating at the time that the decision reflected “the lengths [Israel] will go in order to stop the spread of the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.”
Police officers are seen on the pavement outside parliament in Tunis March 18, 2015
Tunisia- Following a series of consultations that have commenced in Carthage Palace on Wednesday, Youssef Chahed, prime minister-designate, is awaited to announce the line-up of the national unity government this week.
The Tunisian constitution stipulates that after his appointment, the PM-designate has one month to form his cabinet, which means the deadline ends on September 3.
Despite disagreement on assigning Chahed to form a new government, he announced receiving strong political support from Beji Caid Essebsi and Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party leader Rashid al-Ghannouchi. This support indicates that Chahed will face no difficulty in garnering unanimity when presenting the government line-up to the parliament.
Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party leaders hinted to an imminent second meeting between the assigned prime minister and the party in Carthage Palace to determine the ministerial portfolios to be handled by it.
Chahed needs the support of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda representatives to get 109 votes out of 217 of the parliament and to win the vote of confidence.
Chahed is expected to announce the end of consultations with the six political parties and the three syndicate organizations on Monday. Reliable sources reported that the PM-designate will keep in his line-up some ministers from Habib Essid government.
Competition is fierce between Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party (69 parliamentary seats) and Nidaa Tounes (67 parliamentary seats) following a considerable number of resignations in Nidaa Tounes due to internal political spats.
Number-wise, Nidaa Tounes and Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda can actually provide more than the required majority but an additional number of votes is also essential to guarantee political stability and the largest possible number of political parties in the government.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israel’s Channel 2 said the Tel Aviv police on Sunday arrested a Palestinian young man from the West Bank following hours of pursuit in the city. The channel added that the Israeli police launched a manhunt for the young man in different areas of Tel Aviv, during which they suspended the movement of trains and shut down roads and public parks. The police claimed the young man escaped a security check in the Tel Aviv convention center known as Ganei Hataarucha, which aroused the suspicions of security guards there.
Algeria- Some Algerians are recently calling for the activation of the death penalty which was deactivated by the government 23 years ago. These calls appear in the aftermath of a tragic incident of the kidnap and murder of a four-year old girl on 21 July.
Amid rage and grief, people bid farewell for the child “Nihal” who disappeared on the 21st while she was in a trip with her mother to a village at Kabylie (110 kilometers away from the capital east side) to attend her uncle’s wedding.
After a short time of their arrival to the village, Nihal disappeared in a blink. Her parents along with the police kept searching for ten days in row until they found a tortured corpse that belongs to the child as proved by a DNA test.
Security authorities said that they have not reached yet the committer/committers; Nihal’s parents held the government full responsibility for arresting the killers especially that the family has no enmity with anyone.
Minister of Justice Tayeb Louh replied to a parliamentarian question on death penalty, “Applying the execution requires a thorough and objective discussion on the level of diverse society categories, aside from circumstantial effects”.
Minister of the Interior and Local Communities Noureddine Badawi explained the reasons behind the recent spread of children kidnap phenomenon saying that, “Initial investigations have proven that kidnap cases majorly occur due to sexual aggression motives and sometimes as a result of family conflicts or for demanding a ransom”.
Badawi added that urgent procedures were taken to face this phenomenon, embodied in establishing 50 security teams specialized in protecting children.
When Badawi was asked about the reason behind rejecting the activation of the death penalty, he answered, “This penalty was deactivated by a political decision and needs a similar one to be activated again”.
WEST BANK, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) early Monday morning knocked down agricultural and residential structures in Nablus and the northern Jordan Valley. A PIC journalist quoted the Head of the Jeftlek village council, to the east of Nablus, Othman al-Anouz as stating that Israeli army bulldozers rolled into the area at the crack of dawn and demolished two barracks for raising livestock along with a civilian home. The IOF further demolished a cattle farm in Sebastia town, to the north, under the pretext of unlicensed construction. The IOF soldiers also stormed Aqraba town, in southeastern Nablus, and wreaked havoc on civilian homes. At the same time, the occupation troops destroyed an eleven-kilometer-long water line used by over 250 Palestinians in the Yizra nomadic area in the northern Jordan Valley, to the east of Tubas city, under the pretext that it was installed over the Israeli-controlled Area C. Palestinian natives of Yizra have often launched a cry for help over the forced deportation policies and tactics of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Israeli occupation authorities in the area. Local activist Mukhlis Masa’id told the PIC that water sources in the area have been the permanent target of Israeli aggressions in an attempt to mar life for the native Bedouin communities.