Israeli occupation kidnaps 22 Palestinians

UN: Israeli occupation forces have carried out about 100 weekly night raids across the occupied West Bank areas since the start of 2017

As part of its daily kidnapping campaigns, Israeli occupation kidnapped on Thursday night 22 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem.

A United Nations report recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016 and 100 weekly raids on average so far in 2017

As part of its daily kidnapping campaigns, Israeli occupation kidnapped on Thrusday night 22 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem.

In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoner Club (PPC) reported that the Israeli occupation forces raided the West Bank city of Al-Khalil and kidnapped four Palestinian citizens.

The PPC also said that the Israeli occupation forces also kidnapped four other Palestinians in Beit Ummar. It noted that these kidnappings brought the total number of Palestinians kidnapped since the start of this year to 33, including 17 minors.

According to the PPC, the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped six Palestinians from the Ramallah and Al-Beeri.

In different Jerusalem areas, the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped five Palestinian civilians from their homes, the PPC said.

The PPC also said that the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped two Palestinian citizens from Askar Refugee Camp in the West Bank city of Nablus. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped another Palestinian in Tulkarm.

A United Nations report recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016 and 100 weekly raids on average so far in 2017.

(Source / 23.02.2017)

Palestinian flag flies in the heart of occupied Hebron

Protesters raised the Palestinian flag in occupied Hebron

Protesters raised the Palestinian flag in occupied Hebron

Yesterday protesters who are part of the movement, Youth Against Settlements, raised the Palestinian flag above their youth centre in Tel Rumeida in the heart of occupied Hebron, a significant act of resistance.


The protest was part of an ongoing campaign to re-open the main street in occupied Hebron, Shuhada Street which has remained blockaded since 1994 when Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in killed 29 Palestinians in worship at the Ibrahimi mosque.

Read: Settlers attack Palestinians in Hebron

The campaign continues in the coming days with a tour of Hebron’s old city for diplomats, journalists, and a Veterans For Peace delegation from the US; an official visit to Shuhada Street from Israeli parliament member Dove Hanin, a parliament member of Israel’s Arab party; a film screening; and commemoration for the 1994 massacre.

(Source / 23.02.2017)

Israel closes Jerusalem-area Palestinian boys school for ‘incitement’


JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Thursday closed a Palestinian elementary school for boys in the town of Sur Bahir in the central occupied West Bank Jerusalem district over alleged “incitement”.

Head of the school Luay Jamal Bkirat told Ma’an that Israeli intelligence officials summoned him and the school’s financial manager Nasser Hamed for interrogation at an Israeli police station, where they were then told to their surprise that the Israeli police would be shutting down the school over “incitement in the schools’ materials.”
Bkirat denied the claims, saying that the al-Nukhba school “is teaching the Palestinian curriculum used in all schools in Jerusalem and that no one of the faculty has ever been summoned for interrogation before over incitement.”
He added that the school — which serves 250 boys from kindergarten to grade six — was opened last year and gained a temporary operating license from the Jerusalem municipality, and that the license was revoked in November for unknown reasons.
Bkirat condemned the decision and said that he “will conduct procedures to stop this decision which aims to destroy education.”
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The Times of Israel reported that the school was shut down for being a “Hamas front,” after “a months-long joint probe by the Education Ministry, Jerusalem Police and the Shin Bet [internal security agency].”
Israeli authorities from the education ministry claimed the school was established by Hamas with the aim of teaching “content that undermines the sovereignty of Israel,” and that the school’s aims were “consistent with the ideology of the terror organization, which calls for the destruction of Israel,” the Times of Israel said.
The news website added that Israel’s Education Ministry ordered the school not to open in September “and when it continued to operate, issued the closure order.”
“The school’s administration had sued to have the decision overturned, but the case was rejected by the Jerusalem District Court and upheld by the Supreme Court, citing the school’s failure to obtain a license as one of the reasons for siding with the ministry.”
As the Times of Israel pointed out, Israeli Jews and Palestinians study in separate school systems in occupied East Jerusalem, with the Palestinian schools run by either the city council or private entities.
Though Sur Bahir lies beyond the periphery of occupied East Jerusalem, the town remained under the control of Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, according to NGO Grassroots Jerusalem.
According to a 2016 report from Israeli daily Haaretz, Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem received less than half the funds that the Jerusalem Municipality transferred to West Jerusalem Jewish schools.
(Source / 23.02.2017)

Israeli army launches limited incursion into blockaded Gaza


Israeli military bulldozers at daybreak Thursday launched a limited incursion into the eastern corners of Deir al-Balah province, in central Gaza Strip.

A PIC news correspondent said four Israeli army bulldozers deployed at the Kissufim military base moved a few meters into eastern Deir al-Balah province, in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Heavy damage is often wrought by such arbitrary incursions on Palestinian cultivated land tracts near the border fence.

(Source / 23.02.2017)

Whistleblowers get greater protection in Tunisia

Tunisian parliament in Tunis, Tunisia on December 23, 2016 [Yassine Gaidi / Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian parliament in session in Tunis, Tunisia

Tunisia yesterday voted in favour of a law which protects whistleblowers in corruption cases.

The Assembly of People’s Representatives (APR) unanimously adopted an amended version of a draft law on the denunciation of corruption and the protection of its whistleblowers.

All 145 members supported the adoption of Article 17 of the draft law which will provide protection for whistleblowers. Proposals to amend the article in relation to the protection of investigative journalists were rejected.

Read: Amnesty accuses Tunisia security forces of abuses

According to the Speaker of the Assembly of People’s Representatives, Mohamed Ennaceur, the adoption of the law is an important step in the fight against corruption and conflicts of interest.

The law sets out the conditions and procedures for denouncing corruption and protecting whistle-blowers as well as the necessary penalties envisaged against any person who proposes to reveal the identity of a whistleblower.

The ARP also adopted a bill calls for the creation of the “Loyalty and Sacrifice” badge to recognise the sacrifices of the civilians and military service officials in the fight against terrorism.

(Source / 23.02.2017)

Israelis raze Palestinian land in Salfit to expand illegal settlement


Israeli bulldozers on Thursday morning leveled Palestinian lands in western Salfit province in favor of illegal settlement activity.

Palestinian farmers in Qarawat Bani Hassan and Deir Istiya, to the west of Salift, said the Israeli bulldozers have been leveling their land lots in an attempt to expand the adjacent Hafat Yair illegal settlement outpost.

The Israeli forces and settlers declared the razed area a nature reserve, preventing Palestinians from growing crops or reclaiming their private lands.

“The Israeli occupation authorities have made use of the nature reserve pretext not to protect nature, as it might seem upon first glance, but rather to grab more land in favor of illegal settlement expansion, as has been the case with Havat Yathir illegal outpost,” Researcher Khaled Maali warned.

Maali added that the occupation authorities and settlers have been doing harm to the ecological system and damaging Salfit’s fauna and flora by uprooting olive trees and razing pastoral land as they paved the way for the construction of more illegal homes in the area.

(Source / 23.02.2017)

Gaza police destroys 1 ton of unexploded ordnance


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Palestinian police in the southern besieged Gaza Strip destroyed one ton of unexploded ordnances, an official told Ma’an on Wednesday.

According to Salim Madi, the head of the police’s explosives engineering department in the city of Rafah, an operation carried out north of the city destroyed a large number of unexploded Israeli rocket shells and grenades.
Madi added that the explosive devices were dismantled and destroyed in accordance with international standards, in the presence of police General Manager Taysir al-Batsh, explosives engineering department head Imad al-Amsi, and Rafah police chief Jasser al-Mashwakhi.
More than 7,000 unexploded ordnance were left throughout the Gaza Strip following the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, according to officials of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories (OCHA).
A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of them children, were casualties of unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.
(Source / 23.02.2017)

Hezbollah and Hamas are too weak to fight, says Israel army chief

Image of the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Gadi Eisenkot (Second Left) and IDF members [Wikipedia]

Image of the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Gadi Eisenkot (Second Left) and IDF members

The Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Gadi Eisenkot, believes that Hezbollah and Hamas are too weak to launch a military offensive against Israel.

Eisenkot downplayed the chances for a fresh war with either group in the near future saying they were both uninterested in a new conflict and, in the Lebanese group’s case, demoralised as well.

Speaking at a closed-door meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Eisenkot said that despite having gained battlefield experience as a result of its military interventions in Syria on behalf of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, Hezbollah has been left significantly weakened.

Read: Hezbollah chief threatens to target Israeli nuke plant

The Times of Israel reported Eisenkot telling the Defence Committee that “Hezbollah’s [military] operations in Syria have brought about a morale and financial crisis within its ranks.”

Eisenkot’s comments regarding Hezbollah’s intentions appear to be in response to a number of statements made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah over the past week, which included a threat that the group will not abide by any “red lines” in a future war with Israel.

Nasrallah also threatened to strike the nuclear facility in the southern Israeli city of Dimona during a speech last week.

Read: Israeli jets attacked Hezbollah targets in Syria, reports

During yesterday’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee session, Eisenkot also addressed the threat posed by Hamas on Israel’s southern border, saying he does not believe it has any “willingness” to launch an offensive against Israel at the current time.

Hamas and Hezbollah have weathered numerous Israeli military assaults over the years. Israel’s past three assaults on Gaza in under a decade and its offensive in Lebanon in 2006 are amongst a list of failed attempts by Israel to destroy and dismantle the two organisations.

(Source / 23.02.2017)

FSA Announces Full Control over Town of Albab Northeast of Aleppo

The Free Syrian Army fighters have seized control of the key town of Albab northeast of Aleppo from the ISIS extremist group as part of the Turkish-backed Operation Euphrates Shield offensive.

A commander of an FSA group taking part in the offensive said that the FSA fighters were now clearing mines and explosive devices laid by ISIS in the town.

The announcement of the liberation of Albab came hours after the FSA groups have captured all the strategic points in the center of the town, most notably the security complex, ISIS’s biggest and most heavily defended bastion.

The town of Albab, roughly 40 km northeast of Aleppo city and 30 km south of the Turkish border, is the last major ISIS stronghold in Aleppo province. It was home to about 200,000 people before it fell to ISIS in January 2014.

In August 24, 2016, FSA groups launched Operation Euphrates Shield to clear ISIS and other terrorist groups from territory south of the Turkish border with Syria with support from Turkish military forces and in coordination with the international anti-ISIS coalition.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 23.02.2017)

Palestinian lawyer signs plea bargain as NGO slams Israeli ‘persecution of rights defenders’


Addameer lawyer Anas Barghouthi

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian lawyer signed a plea deal earlier this week in order to avoid a prison sentence for his alleged involvement with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as his organization called the case the latest example of Israel’s “persecution of human rights defenders.”

Anas Barghouthi, a lawyer for prisoners rights group Addameer, accepted a plea bargain on Sunday in order to forgo a prison sentence for allegedly being a member of PFLP and leading demonstrations against Israeli policies, NGO Amnesty International reported on Wednesday.
Barghouthi has denied both charges.
“The case exemplifies the persisting persecution of human rights defenders in the absence of any adequate evidence showing that they pose a security threat,” Addameer legal unit director Mahmoud Hassan told Ma’an on Thursday, citing the “prolonged trial proceedings” and “excessive” bail.
The plea bargain includes a 7,000-shekel ($1,892) fine, as well as a suspended sentence of 18 months in prison if Barghouthi is found to be involved with PFLP in the coming five years, and an eight-month suspended sentence if he participates in protests in the next three years.
Barghouthi was initially detained in September 2013 and released on bail in October of that year. The plea deal marked the end of a nearly three-and-a-half year legal ordeal.
“I don’t believe that we can ever receive justice in the occupation’s military courts, which participate actively in our oppression. This is the Israeli authorities’ way of intimidating me and trying to silence me,” Amnesty quoted Barghouthi as saying. “For the next five years of my life I will live in fear. They could make up an allegation for any reason or someone could testify against me and I will have an 18-month sentence waiting for me.”
Rights groups have claimed that Israel uses detention and threat of imprisonment to attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian activists, journalists, and politicians.
According to Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of January.
(Source / 23.02.2017)