IOF seals off al-Khalil with checkpoints


The Israeli occupation forces on Saturday evening sealed off the main access roads to northern al-Khalil province with military checkpoints.

Reporting from the southern occupied West Bank province of al-Khalil, a PIC news correspondent said the Israeli army pitched three military checkpoints along Line 60, to the north of al-Khalil.

Palestinian vehicles and passengers have been subjected to intensive inspection at the randomly-pitched checkpoints.

Tough restrictions have reportedly been imposed on Palestinians’ movement inside and out.

The checkpoints were set up near the main entrances to Sa’ir and Halhoul, and near Etzion roundabout.

According to eyewitnesses, Israeli policemen, border cops, and ambulances have been stationed near the checkpoints.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Institute: Settlers in the West Bank to reach 800,000 in 2017


The Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem and Land Research Center revealed to European Union consuls and the Arab countries accredited to the Palestinian Authority that the number of settlers living in the West Bank is increasing as well as settlement construction.

Jad Isaac, Director General of the Applied Research Institute–Jerusalem, pointed out that in 1992, a year before Oslo, settlements in the West bank covered an area of 77 kilometers with 248,000 Israeli settlers. In 2016, however, the area covered with settlements reached 197 kilometers, an increase by 156%, with 763,000 Israeli settlers, triple the number that existed in 1992.

Isaac warned of the Israeli pretext, natural growth, which is the most favorite excuse and is exploited politically.

The number of Israeli settlers grows much slower than the construction of new settlement units, which indicates that there is no need for building new settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli occupation authority, however, aims at seizing more Palestinian lands in the West Bank territories as well as bringing more immigrants, he added.

Isaac pointed out that Israeli settlers, however, are expected to reach 800,000 in 2017.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Lebanese police threaten mass demolition of Palestinian refugee homes


The Lebanese police on Saturday ordered dozens of Palestinian families seeking shelter in southern Lebanon to evacuate their homes, pending their demolition.

According to Palestinian sources, the Lebanese authorities issued orders to evacuate 50 homes housing Palestinian refugee families al-Qasimiya community, to the north of the southern Lebanese city of Tyre (Sour).

Established over 50 years ago, following the mass-deportation of the Palestinians on the eve of the 1948 Nakba, the al-Qasimiya community has been a home to 6,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly working in the agricultural field.

Recently, the refugees thwarted an attempt by Lebanon’s al-Abassiya municipality to knock down Palestinian homes to expand the Sidon highway.

Thabet Organization for the Right of Return dubbed the developments signs of “a new humanitarian crisis endured by the Palestinian community in Lebanon.”

Thabet called for an urgent action as regards underway attempts to dislocate al-Shabriha community in favor of the Sidon highway.

The refugees voiced their support for ongoing projects to develop infrastructure in southern Lebanon on condition that they do not result in mass-deportation of the Palestinians.

The refugees urged the Lebanese government to work out the crisis and to build alternative homes to the west of the highway.

They further called on the international human rights institutions, namely UNRWA, and the mass media to take up their responsibilities regarding the affair.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Rights Group: 3 Journalists Killed by Assad Regime & ISIS in January

At least three journalists were killed and one more injured by regime forces and the ISIS extremist group in January, a rights group has said. The group said that nine more journalists and media activists, including two female media activists, were detained in January.

In a report published on Friday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that the situation of journalists and media activity in Syria has further deteriorated in 2016. The Network pointed out that 2016 saw a significant decline in the media coverage of the journalists’ work in Syria compared to previous years.

A journalist is a civilian according to international humanitarian law regardless of their nationality, the report added. The group also said that deliberately targeting journalists amounts to a war crime. The SNHR stressed that journalists and media activists must be protected and treated with respect whether they have press cards or not.

The report indicated that various Syrian provinces have seen a remarkable decline in death rates since the truce took effect on December 29, 2016, particularly in the liberated areas. It noted that airstrikes accounted for about 60% of the total deaths in Syria.

However, violations of the truce by regime forces, especially extrajudicial executions and killing under torture, have not stopped, the Network said. Though the ceasefire is ostensibly holding, many crimes by the regime go unnoticed by the international community and by Russia and Turkey, the guarantors of the ceasefire agreement.

The SNHR stressed the need for urgent action to protect journalists and media activists in Syria and ensure they can operate freely.

The SNHR called upon the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to conduct investigations into the targeting of journalists, urging the UN Security Council to put an end to the culture of impunity through the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The SNHR called upon Arab and international media institutions to support fellow journalists in Syria by highlighting their daily suffering and the sacrifices they make.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 05.02.2017)

Moroccan Environment Minister Investigates Case of ‘Ukraine Wastes’

Morocco's Environment Minister Hakima El Haite sepaks during an interview with Reuters at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015.

Morocco’s Environment Minister Hakima El Haite sepaks during an interview with Reuters at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015

Rabat- Morocco’s Environment Minister in the caretaker government Hakima El Haite stated that she has assigned members of the Environmental Police to investigate the issue of “Ukraine wastes”.

Some Moroccan media such as Ukrinform newspaper published news on Morocco importing more than USD215 million of wastes from Ukraine in 2016.

Haite Told Asharq Al-Awsat that she has issued instructions for relevant authorities to check the information published and report back to her with details on it. She also denied licensing waste entry into Morocco and stressed that her responsibility is restricted to granting environment-related certificates of conformity.

The Moroccan environment minister said that the purpose of spreading this news is to defame her unique career path. According to her, those who published the news should have made sure it is true before, considering this as an evidence that their aim is to cause a riot.

Haite highlighted that the ministry of environment has no information regarding the news published in the Moroccan media. She also reminded the people of the wastes imported from Italy the year before, assuring that they represent a source of alternative energy and represent no risk to the environment or the citizens.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Extremist Israeli settlers attack Palestinians in Nablus


Israeli fanatic settlers from Yitzhar settlement on Saturday evening assaulted the Palestinian citizen Salim Salameh from Huwara town.

Official of settlement file in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said that a group of Jewish settlers attempted to storm Huwara town from its western entrance but they were confronted by residents. The extremist settlers, however, smashed the windshields of a number of cars with stones.

In a similar context, Israeli occupation forces on Saturday closed a tunnel road connecting ten towns located to the northwest of Occupied Jerusalem to Ramallah city. Hundreds of Palestinians’ cars have been trapped in the tunnel since the morning hours, eyewitnesses reported.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Egypt, UAE Agree to Fight Terrorism, Solve Crisis in Syria and Libya

Mohamed bin Zayed receives Egypt's Foreign Minister

Mohamed bin Zayed receives Egypt’s Foreign Minister

Cairo- Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met on Saturday in Abu Dhabi with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who conveyed a verbal message from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During the meeting, which was attended by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the two men tackled the latest Arab developments, as well as the efforts being exerted to overcome the current crises in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

The two leaders also agreed on the importance of undergoing fast procedures to face dangers that threaten Arab national security, and to joint efforts to bolster Arab unity in facing those threats, especially in issues related to fighting terrorism.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Shoukry also discussed the importance of coordination in addition to the Arab solidarity to maintain the region’s security and stability.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi stressed the pivotal role of Egypt in the Arab world, and the Arab stance to overcome the violent crises facing the region, UAE’s WAM news agency reported on Saturday.

“Egypt is the important strategic dimension to the Arab world, which is confident about its abilities, and rejects intervention in its affairs,” Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said.

During the meeting, Emirati and Egyptian officials also discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation between both countries and exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments.

Also, Egypt’s Shoukry and the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan agreed on Saturday to establish a bilateral political consultation mechanism with meetings to be held every six months.

In an official statement, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said the decision comes following an Abu Dhabi meeting that witnessed talks about ongoing regional developments and international conflicts of common interest.

The new body will hold meetings twice a year, at the level of Foreign Ministers, and also at the level of senior officials. This framework will enhance the strategic relationship between the two countries.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Legal institutions condemn the arrest of Journalist Saee


Palestinian Media Assembly along with Palestinian Journalists Forum on Saturday condemned the continuation of the arrest of journalist Sami al-Saee by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces since last Thursday in Tulkarem city and the extension of his detention for continuing investigation.

The arrest of journalist Saee, correspondent of al-Fajr al-Jadid local TV, came two months after his release from Israeli jails where he had served a 9-month sentence over alleged incitement on Facebook.

Both institutions perceived the arrest of Saee as a new unjustified violation of the freedom of speech and called on the PA forces to immediately release him.

Palestinian media sources published data showed that 45 violations against Palestinian journalists were carried out last month including 15 offenses practiced by Palestinian authorities.

(Source / 05.02.2017)

Hamas reportedly rejects prisoner swap offer by Israel


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli media reported on Sunday that the Hamas movement, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, refused a prisoner exchange offer by Israel.

 The Israeli government offered to release a Hamas official in Israeli custody in exchange for the release of one of two Israelis thought to be held alive in the Gaza Strip, according to The Jerusalem Post, based on a Hebrew-language report from Israel Radio.
Israel National News described the offer as “humanitarian,” due to the fact that both captives have psychological issues.
Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, has reportedly been held by Hamas since September 2015 when he accidentally wandered into Gaza. Hisham al-Sayed, a young Israeli-Bedouin man who has schizophrenia, was last seen when he crossed into the Palestinian territory in April 2015.
Israel Radio quoted an anonymous Hamas official as saying the exchange was rejected because such a deal would have to be “all or nothing.”
Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the 2006 Gilad Shalit deal who have since been redetained before starting talks of a new prisoner swap deal.
In addition to Mengistu and al-Sayed, Hamas also claims to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were pronounced dead by Israel during the 2014 war in Gaza, though Hamas has never explicitly said whether the two Israeli soldiers were alive or dead.
According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of October.
(Source / 05.02.2017)

Law used to imprison Egyptians draws scrutiny

Egyptian Security Forces attempt to control the crowds of protesters during the Egyptian revolution on 25th of January 2011 [M. Soli/Wikipedia]

Egyptian Security Forces attempt to control the crowds of protesters during the Egyptian revolution on 25th of January 2011

Rights activists are trying to force President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to throw out a law used by his government to imprison thousands of Egyptians and sentence hundreds to death by arguing that it was overturned as far back as 1928.

Over the past three years, judges have cited Law 10 of 1914, or the Assembly Law, in jailing opposition activists and ordinary people for protesting against Sisi and his government and in issuing mass death sentences, mainly to Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters.

Security forces also cite it to justify the use of force against demonstrators that has led to thousands of deaths, a crackdown they say is in response to fatal attacks on police and soldiers and is needed to preserve stability in the most populous Arab state.

Little was known about the history of the Assembly Law until human rights groups decided to delve into the archives. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) non-government organisation published a 95-page report on Tuesday.

The law, which criminalises the gathering of five or more people and institutes collective punishment, was issued at the behest of British occupation authorities to stop Egyptians protesting against their rule in the lead up to World War One.

What the researchers uncovered was that in 1928, the then-parliament passed a bill to repeal it.

The bill should have passed into the statute book because the monarch at the time, King Fuad I, neither signed nor vetoed it within 30 days. However the king, who objected to the repeal but knew any veto would be overturned, prevented it being published in the official gazette, leaving its legal status, and that of the original Assembly Law, unclear.

Symbolic Case

Despite this, successive post-colonial and republican governments continued to apply the Assembly Law at various stages. President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who overthrew the monarchy, even made it stricter in 1968 following student protests.

The researchers argue, however, that the fact that the 1928 repeal bill went unpublished did not detract from its legal status and that therefore the continued use of the Assembly Law was, and is, illegal.

Their findings prompted a group of 21 people, including two activists in jail because of the law, as well as lawyers and opposition party leaders, to launch a legal case on Tuesday. The case sets out the argument that the Assembly Law was repealed in 1928 and urges Sisi and the government to throw it out.

“It’s time President Sisi takes the initiative to immediately renounce this historic and legal indignity by abolishing the British colonial administration law, originally designed to suppress Egyptian resistance to occupation,” said Bahey eldin Hassan, director of CIHRS.

“Every citizen deprived of their freedom under this unjust, obsolete law must be immediately released, with apologies and reparations for their families.”

The government and Sisi’s office did not respond to requests for comment. The justice ministry declined to comment. One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were unlikely to comment because the matter was with the courts.

The activists say they know it is unlikely the law will actually be repealed, and that even if it were repealed on a technicality, there is nothing stopping parliament, where most MPs are Sisi loyalists, from passing similar legislation.

Human rights groups estimate about 40,000 people have been detained for political reasons since 2013, when then-general Sisi ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, after mass protests.

The Assembly Law, along with a protest law issued in 2013, has effectively outlawed demonstrations and a judicial and security sweep that began with Muslim Brotherhood supporters has expanded to include secular activists and journalists.

(Source / 05.02.2017)