Palestinian youth kidnapped by Israeli forces from Bethlehem


The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday evening kidnapped a Palestinian youth at the Container checkpoint, in the southern West Bank province of Bethlehem.

A PIC news correspondent said an Israeli patrol kidnapped the Palestinian youngster Shehab al-Titi, a resident of al-Arroub refugee camp, at the Container military checkpoint pitched to the northeast of Bethlehem.

The arrestee was identified as a national security officer of the Palestinian Authority.

(Source / 22.02.2017)

Iraq government, Shia militias, Daesh all committed war crimes in 2016 – Amnesty

Internally relocated people, who fled their homes due to the clashes, wait to be placed at refugee camps, as the operation to liberate Iraq’s Mosul from Daesh continues [Feriq Fereç - Anadolu Agency]

Internally relocated people, who fled their homes due to the clashes, wait to be placed at refugee camps, as the operation to liberate Iraq’s Mosul from Daesh continues

A major international human rights organisation has said that the Iraqi authorities, Iran-backed Shia jihadists and Daesh militants had all perpetrated war crimes throughout 2016, as a US and Iran-backed war against the militant group continues into 2017.

Amnesty International accused all parties to the conflict of committing various abuses, and has previously criticised the United States and the international anti-Daesh coalition for not using their leverage with Baghdad to force it to comply with international law and for allowing the authorities to allow their armed forces to violate human rights.

Government use of torture, rape ‘rife’

 The Iraqi authorities have been heavily criticised by Amnesty in its reporting throughout 2016. In its annual review, the human rights organisation said that torture and other ill-treatment in Iraqi prisons and detention facilities controlled by the interior and defence ministries “remained rife”. Secret prisons controlled by Shia militants were also accused of the same abuses.

“The most frequently reported methods of torture used against detainees were beatings on the head and body with metal rods and cables, suspension in stress positions by the arms or legs, electric shocks and threats of rape of female relatives,” the report revealed.

Read: Amnesty: Ill treatment of detainees rife in Middle East

“Torture appeared to be carried out to extract ‘confessions’, obtain information and punish detainees,” Amnesty said, concluding that “several detainees died in custody as a result of torture.”

The torture inflicted upon Iraqis, many of whom were accused of being Daesh members of sympathisers, was in order to extract confessions which would then lead to their executions. The vast majority of those tortured and executed were from the persecuted Sunni Arab community.

“The criminal justice system remained deeply flawed and trials were systematically unfair…Courts continued to admit into evidence torture-tainted ‘confessions’…Some of those convicted after unfair trials were sentenced to death,” Amnesty reported.

Violations by Shia jihadists, Daesh

 Apart from implicating Baghdad in war crimes relating to the ongoing campaign against Daesh, Amnesty also heavily criticised the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), now an official part of the Iraqi military, as well as Daesh itself for committing grave abuses.

“Paramilitary militias and government forces committed war crimes and other violations…mostly against members of the Sunni Arab community,” Amnesty said.

Identifying two incidents of many that took place throughout 2016, Amnesty said that PMF militants had carried out revenge attacks against Muqdadiya’s Sunni Arab community, “killing dozens of men and burning and destroying Sunnis mosques, shops and other property.”

Read: Iraq, US bomb airport as Mosul advance continues

In another incident during the battle for Fallujah in Iraq’s western Anbar province, Amnesty also confirmed that the PMF abducted 1,300 men and boys on 3 June 2016. Three days later, 605 men reappeared bearing marks of torture, with the fate of 643 remaining unknown.

“An investigative committee established by the Governor of Anbar [Sohaib Al-Rawi] found that 49 had been killed by being shot, tortured or burned to death,” Amnesty recounted.

As these abuses were going on, however, Daesh continued its campaign against Iraqi civilian targets, that “targeted civilians in crowded markets, Shia religious shrines and other public spaces. [Daesh] particularly targeted locations within Baghdad.”

Read: Iraq defence minister meets Shia ‘terrorist’ wanted by US

Although Amnesty did not mention it, Daesh claimed responsibility for the Karrada bombing last summer that claimed almost 300 lives in central Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in areas under Daesh control, the militant extremists carried out abductions and “systematically tortured captives”. Daesh also used “chemical weapons to attack the town of [Qayyarah] after it had been recaptured by Iraqi forces, leading to burns and other injuries among civilians.”

(Source / 22.02.2017)

30 Palestinian families evacuated for military drills


The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) evacuated Wednesday morning Palestinian families in the Khirbet Tana hamlet in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus to carry out military drills in the area.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that 30 Palestinian families were forced by Israeli soldiers to leave their homes since the early morning hours under the pretext of carrying out military exercises.

The families were brutally attacked during the evacuation process, the sources added.

Khirbet Tana area, where 300 Palestinians live, has been demolished for three times by Israeli forces over the past year.

(Source / 22.02.2017)

3 alternatives to two-state or one-state solution for Mideast peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the White House after a meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017

“I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like. I can live with either one.” US President Donald Trump’s statement at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Feb. 15 in the White House is still making waves in the Middle East and Israel.

True, two high-level American officials (UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and David Friedman, the designated ambassador to Israel) have made it clear that the United States continues to support the two-state solution. However, what was said cannot be taken back and the Israeli political system is in an uproar. Very few on the Israeli right support one state in which all citizens, Israeli and Palestinian (both from Gaza and the West Bank), can vote and have equal rights. Among them, only President Reuven Rivlin believes that all Palestinians should get equality and full voting rights. Others feel that the Palestinians should instead have the right to vote in elections to the Jordanian parliament. One way or another, most of the Israeli population does not support the one-state idea.

Is there any other option aside from two states or one? Israel has been wrestling with this issue ferociously this past week. Everyone is talking about new, “out of the box” ideas. There are currently three main ways to square the circle and bypass the quagmire of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

  • A “regional peace process” instead of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  • The confederation with Jordan idea, newly resuscitated.
  • Trilateral land swaps involving Israel, Egypt and Palestine or even a four-way exchange including Jordan.

Many swear by the so-called regional process, the term used by those who are afraid of negotiations with the Palestinians. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has been preaching about it for years, Yesh Atid Chair Yair Lapid supports it, Netanyahu talks about it and Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog dreamed about it in the period when he was negotiating with Netanyahu over joining the government.

To illustrate how fallacious this idea is under the current circumstances, I present the following vignette that — according to a high-ranking Israeli politician speaking on condition of anonymity — was told by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “In the middle of May 2008 I hammered out the basic principles on which I was prepared to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians. These were a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines with land swaps, two capitals in Jerusalem including international trusteeship over the Holy Basin and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, the refugee problem would be resolved in the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative recommendation and the Palestinian state would be fully demilitarized. Then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heard about this plan and was enthusiastic. He told me that he talked about it with Saudi Arabia’s king, and the king told him that if Olmert would publicly make a statement about this plan, he would pressure the Palestinians into saying yes. I told Brown that I was definitely taking him up on the offer and I delivered a speech with the basic principles of my plan. But then it turned out that the Saudi king got cold feet. Suddenly, after I’d carried out my part of the deal, he backed out.”

The lesson from this story is clear: There is no way to bypass negotiations with the Palestinians, whether the talks with them are direct or indirect. And not the Arab League nor any other Arab forum would agree to sit with Israel in the same room before this issue is resolved or a formula is found that would placate the Palestinians and include the 1967 lines.

And now, the Israeli right is disputing this principle, pinning its hope on the terror that Iran is sowing in the Sunni Arab countries. Those close to Netanyahu, Liberman and other right-wingers say that if Trump meets the Saudis and Persian Gulf states halfway on the Iranian issue, those countries will do their part on the regional issue. But this hope took a battering when Michael Flynn was removed from the position of national security adviser. The chances of Trump successfully reopening the nuclear agreement with Iran are slim, and the chances of carrying out the grandiose regional peace plan without the Palestinians are even slimmer.

The confederation idea was first raised by President Shimon Peres in the London Agreement he made with King Hussein in 1987. According to this plan, Hussein agreed to take responsibility over the territories and associated population and sign a peace agreement with Israel. But the prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Shamir, torpedoed the agreement. Now there are those in Israel who would like to convince Jordan’s King Abdullah II to create a type of confederation with the West Bank: Israel would continue to have security control over the territory while Abdullah would receive full civil control over Area A (now under full Palestinian control) and parts of Area B (under Israeli security control and Palestinian civil control), while the Palestinian residents would vote in Jordan’s parliamentary elections. The odds of this happening are similar to the odds of Trump agreeing to help Europe by absorbing all the refugees from Syria and from the Middle East.

We are left with the land exchange plan, a term that usually refers to Liberman’s famous political program. However, there are a number of alternate plans, some of which are fascinating and even rational (which, sadly, ensures that they will never come to fruition in the Middle East). The most well-defined and cohesive is the one developed by well-known Israeli geographer Yehoshua Ben-Arieh. His plan became a pet project of Maj. Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland, who had served as head of the National Security Council.

Under this plan, Israel would move the border between it and Egypt by a few hundred meters northward, along a strip of land of hundreds of kilometers long. In exchange, Egypt would give the Palestinians a long strip of land as an extension of Gaza, greatly enlarging the living space of the densely crowded Strip. In exchange for this territory, the Palestinians would allow Israel to annex the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank. Jordan could also be included in the deal: Israel would contribute some land in the northern border triangle to Jordan, and Jordan would transfer land directly to the Palestinians. Then the Palestinians would waive additional settlement bloc territories to Israel.

At the time that this plan was presented to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, he almost threw the Israeli representatives out of his office. Egypt will not forfeit one grain of sand from the Sinai Peninsula, he said. However, much has changed since then. Now Sinai is inundated with Islamic State fighters, Mubarak is no longer president and the Middle East is in the midst of an upheaval.

Will it be possible to think outside the box about a territorial exchange plan? First, someone had better explain the principles of this plan to Trump.

(Source / 22.02.2017)

URGENT ALERT: Take Action to Free Mohammed al-Qeeq as he is hospitalized on 17th day of hunger strike

Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq was suddenly transferred on Wednesday, 22 February to the Ramle prison hospital after a sudden deterioration in his health on his 17th day of hunger strike. Al-Qeeq, 35, has been refusing food for 17 days, demanding his freedom from Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. At this time, it is critically important to escalate international action and solidarity to demand freedom for Mohammed al-Qeeq and an end to administrative detention.

Sign and share the petition:

Al-Qeeq is one of nearly 550 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are issued for one to six month periods, but are indefinitely renewable, which means that Palestinians can be held for years on end without charge or trial at the order of the Israeli occupation military. These orders are issued on the basis of “secret evidence” to which both the detainee and their lawyer is denied access. Administrative detention as practiced by the Israeli state is a systematic mechanism of colonial repression and violates international law.

This is Mohammed al-Qeeq’s second time on hunger strike. In 2016, he conducted a 94-day hunger strike to win his freedom from administrative detention without charge or trial, winning his release in May 2016. Palestinian prisoners have frequently carried out collective and individual hunger strikes to demand basic rights as well as their liberation from imprisonment, especially from administrative detention.

Al-Qeeq was seized by occupation soldiers on 15 January at a checkpoint near Ramallah as he returned from a demonstration demanding the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israel. Since his release in May 2016, al-Qeeq has been a particularly vocal advocate for imprisoned and oppressed Palestinians, supporting fellow prisoners on hunger strikes and engaged in struggles for justice. He was held under interrogation for 22 days and subjected to harsh interrogation and ill-treatment before once again being ordered imprisoned with no charge or trial. He was originally ordered to six months in administrative detention, which was then reduced to an indefinitely renewable three month period. Al-Qeeq refused to stop his strike, noting that he rejects entirely being imprisoned without charge or trial under the policy of administrative detention.

After his 2016 hunger strike that lasted over three months, Al-Qeeq’s health is particularly fragile. Nevertheless, his body, his health and his life are on the line to resist the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and demand an end to administrative detention. His strike has been joined by two fellow administrative detainees, Jamal Abu Leil and Raed Mteir, both of Qalandiya refugee camp, who have been refusing food for a week to demand their freedom after a year of imprisonment without charge or trial.

Mohammed al-Qeeq is one of 23 Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the Israeli state. His life and health are on the line not only for his freedom, but for Palestinian freedom overall and an end to administrative detention without charge or trial. It is critical to raise our voices internationally and demand freedom for Mohammed al-Qeeq, an end to administrative detention and the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners.

Take Action!

1. Sign and share the public petition to international officials to demand they take a stand on administrative detention and Mohammed al-Qeeq’s imprisonment. Sign and share at:

2. Organize a protest or a forum for Mohammed al-Qeeq and Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Apartheid Week is approaching and the Israeli injustice system is an excellent example to highlight in IAW activities, especially as your support can help to bring the international attention needed to help Mohammed al-Qeeq in his struggle for freedom. You can invite a speaker, hold a discussion, hold a protest, or just distribute leaflets and information (see below for sample leaflets and posters). To request resources or let us know about your event so we can post it publicly, email or contact us on Facebook.

3. Hold a Symbolic Hunger Strike. This is an especially effective tactic on a campus for Israeli Apartheid Week, but can be used anywhere. A symbolic one-day hunger strike in which participants publicly express their solidarity with al-Qeeq and fellow Palestinian prisoners can help to raise local attention. Email to let us know about your event!

Flyers and Literature

Mohammed al-Qeeq Leaflet – Download PDF
Mohammed al-Qeeq sign/poster (A3/11×17) – Download PDF
Apartheid in Israeli Prisons – Half-Page Leaflet – Download PDF

(Source / 22.02.2017)

PA bans Palestinian lawmaker from leaving West Bank


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was denied entry into Jordan from the occupied West Bank via the Allenby Bridge by Palestinian Authority (PA) checkpoint authorities on Wednesday.

Najat Abu Bakr told Ma’an that the PA crossings authority in Jericho had informed her that she was banned from leaving the West Bank. She was on her way to Lebanon to attend a ceremony in which she was expected to be honored as the most respected lawmaker in the Arab world.
Abu Bakr was among four Fatah-affiliated Palestinian lawmakers that had their parliamentary immunity revoked by PA President Mahmoud Abbas last year.
Following the decision, Fatah parliamentary members held a meeting with the Hamas-dominated PLC in the besieged Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007 and declared the decision illegal and unconstitutional.
The move was quickly condemned as a political maneuver to maintain the leader’s control over the PA government and squelch his political rivals amid mounting unpopularity for Abbas’ more than a decade-long domination of Palestinian politics.
(Source / 22.02.2017)

Israeli forces detain Palestinian youth over Facebook post


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth on Wednesday at the al-Jib Israeli military checkpoint northwest of Jerusalem in the seam zone of the occupied West Bank, due to a post he published on his personal Facebook page.

The youth was identified by locals as Laith Barakat. However, his exact age remained unknown as of Wednesday.
According to locals, Israeli forces stopped Barakat at the checkpoint. After providing his ID card to Israeli soldiers, he was detained and transferred to an unidentified location.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the detention.
Last week, an Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian from Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem to 17 months in Israeli prison for allegedly “supporting terrorist organizations” on Facebook.
In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015 was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
In October, a report was released by Defense for Children International – Palestine, detailing that at least five Palestinian minors had been imprisoned by Israel without being charged in previous months, after sharing social media posts that Israeli authorities alleged amounted to “incitement” to commit violence.
In September, Facebook agreed to work with the Israeli government to “minimize online anti-Semitic incitement” — in an effort to pressure the social media site to coordinate to remove content considered to promote “terrorism.”
Israel had previously blamed Facebook outright for the perceived proliferation of incitement, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reportedly saying that Facebook chairman and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg had “blood on his hands” for not adequately cooperating with Israel to remove content.
Earlier this year, the controversial “Facebook bill” passed its first reading in the Knesset, which would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of “incitement.”
Despite Facebook complying with 95 percent of the Israeli government’s removal requests in recent months, some members of the Knesset have expressed indignation that Facebook has not taken enough action to remove content inciting “acts of terror against Jews.”
Meanwhile, Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence. Many Palestinians have also pointed out that Israeli violence has continued to shape everyday life in the occupied territory, regardless of any recent “upticks” in clashes or attacks.
(Source / 22.02.2017)

Syrian Coalition Urges UNGA to Convene under “Uniting for Peace” Resolution to End Tragedy in Syria

The Syrian Coalition called on the UN General Assembly to convene under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution to address the dire humanitarian situation in Syria; take measures to ensure full respect for the ceasefire; and adopt a resolution that would put an end to the tragedy unfolding in Syria.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, the Coalition stressed the need for a UN General Assembly resolution that ensures the Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations for freedom and justice are met; a political transition process is put in place; sieges are lifted; humanitarian access to all civilians in need is granted; and the 6-year-long suffering of the Syrian people is stopped.

The letter was also sent to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League to highlight the continued truce violations by the Assad regime and Russia forces as well as Russia’s failure in its role as a an unbiased guarantor of the ceasefire agreement.

The United Nations General Assembly resolution 377 (1950), also called the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, stated that “in any cases where the Security Council…fails to act as required to maintain international peace and security, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately and may issue any recommendations it deems necessary in order to restore international peace and security.”

The Syrian Coalition’s legal committee emphasized that Russia has failed to honor the pledges it made to ensure the cease-fire in Syria is respected, detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime are released, and sieges are lifted.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said it has recorded at least 358 truce violations by regime forces and their allies in the period between December 30, 2016 and February 1, 2017. The majority of violations took the form of aerial and artillery bombardment as well as barrel bomb attacks on the rebel-held areas. These violations claimed the lives of nearly 100 people, including 25 children and 14 women, targeting 79 vital civilian centers.

The Coalition called upon the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution to refer perpetrators of war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court, mainly the Assad regime, Russia, and the allied Iranian-backed foreign militias. The Coalition underscored the need to hold them accountable for their crimes and to conduct an investigation into the war crimes and crimes against humanity they continue to commit in Syria.

The Coalition also called on the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution banning the sale and supply of all types of weapons to the Assad regime in order to put an end to the continuing violence, murder, and crimes being committed by its forces and militias against civilians in Syria.

Moreover, the Coalition called for the suspension of the membership of the Assad regime in the United Nations and the expulsion of its ambassador to the United Nations. It also called for handing over the seat of the Syrian Arab Republic in the UN to the Coalition after the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Friends of Syria Group recognized it as the legitimate sole representative of the Syrian people.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 22.02.2017)

Arrests reported as IOF raids West Bank, O. J’lem


The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested at dawn Wednesday a number of Palestinians including a mother after breaking into different areas throughout West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

IOF claimed in a statement issued Wednesday morning that 12 “wanted Palestinians” were detained during pre-dawn raids.

Meanwhile, local sources affirmed two ex-prisoners were detained from their houses in Dura town in al-Khalil after Israeli forces stormed a number of local houses including that of the MP Naif Rajoub.

A car belonging to MP Rajoub was also confiscated during the raid while his office and his brother’s house were violently stormed and searched.

Two other cars belonging to relatives of the MP were also confiscated, the sources added.

Along the same line, Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians, including a woman, after storming in large numbers Beita town, south of Nablus.

Several local houses were violently stormed and searched during the raid.

Four youths and the mother of the slain Palestinian Juda Abu Mazen were detained.

Another young man was arrested from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Five more arrests were reported in Issawia town in occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 22.02.2017)

Palestinian ex-prisoner re-arrested immediately after his release


The Israeli police re-arrested on Tuesday evening the Palestinian ex-prisoner Mohamed Zaydan few minutes after his release from Israeli jails where he had spent 15 years.

Jerusalem Media Center affirmed that Israeli Intelligence Service decided late yesterday to extend Zaydan’s arrest for allegedly planning to carry out “terrorist attacks.”

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli police forces removed a tent erected in Issawiya district, east of occupied Jerusalem, in order to hold a reception for Zaydan.

Two youngsters were arrested during the raid and then released on a fine for preparing to celebrate Zaydan’s release.

Meanwhile, the remand of three Jerusalemites including a woman was extended; the woman till Wednesday and the two men till Thursday.

(Source / 22.02.2017)