IOA blocks 130 West Bank Palestinians’ travel in February


The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) banned over the past month the travel of 130 Palestinians via Karama crossing, the only exit point to the outside world and back for West Bank Palestinians.

Palestinian police affirmed Wednesday that 130 Palestinians were prevented from leaving the West Bank from the border crossing of Karama over February under unrevealed security pretexts.

The sources pointed out that some 119,000 Palestinians passed through the border crossing last month in both directions.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

Egypt’s parliament expels one of the last dissenting voices

Image of Mohammed Anwar Sadat [ahramonline /Twitter]

Image of Mohammed Anwar Sadat

Egypt’s parliament has expelled Mohammed Anwar Sadat, the nephew of the late President Anwar Sadat, on the charge of forging signatures on a draft bill and leaking drafts of the law to foreign embassies.

Sadat has denied the accusations and said that the law had already been published online, yet 468 of the 595 MPs in the Egyptian parliament voted to expel him.

Alaa Abed, one of the lawmakers who voted against Sadat, told the New York Times that Sadat was being paid by foreign powers: “We saw that Sadat was working against the parliament and against the state.”

Read: Egypt MP seeks end to constitutional restrictions on presidential terms

MPs approved the draft law in November but human rights activists oppose it on the grounds that it will make it impossible for international aid groups to operate in Egypt. The legislation stipulated that the authorities would control their work and their funding.

Al-Sisi’s supporters already dominate Egypt’s parliament and the move to oust Sadat, one of the last critical voices, will consolidate this support and weaken opposition to the president. It was believed that Sadat was considering running for president in the elections next year.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

Concerns about academic freedom as Israeli Apartheid Week comes under pressure

Israeli Apartheid Week UK poster

Israeli Apartheid Week UK poster

The student-led events of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will be held worldwide between 27 February and 3 March. This is the 13th year of campus-centred IAW programmes. In Britain, though, they are under pressure following the government’s adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism which includes criticism of the state of Israel.

Israeli Apartheid Week is remembered with particular dedication in South Africa, which suffered for decades under an Apartheid government, with its institutionalised racism and brutality. On 7 March, the Deputy Secretary General of South Africa’s governing African National Congress, Jessie Duarte, will lecture at an IAW event in Klerksdorp, such is the desire to see apartheid in all of its guises brought to an end.

Read: Previously cancelled conference on Israel to go ahead in Ireland

This year, the week holds special significance, says IAW’s website, with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, whereby the British government promised to help with the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This was reflected by the title of the topic under discussion at the opening plenary of IAW 2017 hosted by the Action Palestine Society at King’s College London on 28 February: “100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism”. The panel discussion included talks by veteran of the anti-Apartheid struggle, Black Lives Matter and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Britain’s adoption of a new definition for anti-Semitism, say observers, has been exploited to silence students in universities across the country from discussing the situation in Palestine-Israel and voicing criticism of Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson MP, has written to the universities to warn against the global activities of Israeli Apartheid Week, limiting further the space for students to organise and campaign freely under the IAW banner.

Read: Do black lives matter less in Lancashire than in Apartheid Israel?

His letter has had an immediate impact. Last week, the University of Central Lancashire imposed a ban on a meeting where pro-Palestine journalist Ben White and other academics were scheduled to speak. According to the university, the meeting on “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine” would have contravened the recently endorsed definition of anti-Semitism.

A recent letter signed by dozens of professors and lecturers across Britain expressed dismay at what they believe are “attacks on academic freedom” and “explicit political interference in university affairs” by the government. They are concerned that the new anti-Semitism definition can be read as “extending to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights.”

The President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, admitted the difficulty in maintaining a balanced atmosphere for students to practice their right to free speech on campus. “This is particularly relevant when Israel and Palestine are being discussed,” she told the Guardian.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

Iraqi Army Controls Main Roads Out of Mosul as Thousands Flee Fighting

An Iraqi Special Forces soldier moves through a hole as he searches for ISIS jihadists in Mosul, Iraq. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

An Iraqi Special Forces soldier moves through a hole as he searches for ISIS jihadists in Mosul, Iraq

U.S.-backed Iraqi army units on Wednesday took control of the last major road out of western Mosul that had been in ISIS’ hands as the minister of displacement and migration said 26,000 people have fled in the 10 days since the operation was launched to retake the city’s western side.

The army’s 9th Armored Division was within a kilometer of Mosul’s Syria Gate, the city’s northwestern entrance, a general from the unit told Reuters by telephone.

“We effectively control the road, it is in our sight,” he said.

Mosul residents said they had not been able to travel on the highway that starts at the Syria Gate since Tuesday. The road links Mosul to Tal Afar, another ISIS stronghold 60 km to the west, and then to Syria.

A commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, also told Agence France Presse on Wednesday that jihadists are putting up tough resistance in the southwest of Mosul.

The CTS is fighting “for the (Maamun) Flats area, which is considered very important for control of the Baghdad road and the surrounding neighborhoods,” al-Assadi said.

Meanwhile, Jassem Mohammed al-Jaff, the minister of displacement and migration, said field teams received “26,000 displaced people from (west) Mosul during the past 10 days.”

The number that has fled is only a small fraction of the 750,000 people who are believed to have stayed on in west Mosul under ISIS rule but is expected to rise sharply in the coming days and weeks.

Sniper fire is a significant danger in the area, said Kathy Bequary, the executive director of NYC Medics, a group providing emergency care from a mobile clinic.

“We’re seeing a lot of serious gunshot wounds from snipers,” Bequary told AFP.

“Most of our patients are combatants, but civilians are affected too. Two days ago, we treated a family — a mother, father, son and daughter — who were trying to escape Mosul and were targeted by snipers,” she said.

Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19.

If they defeat ISIS in Mosul, that would crush the Iraq wing of the “caliphate” declared by the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 from the city’s grand old Nuri Mosque.

The U.S.-led coalition effort against the terrorist organization is killing the jihadists more quickly than it can replace them, British Major General Rupert Jones, deputy commander for the Combined Joint Task Force said.

With more than 45,000 killed by coalition air strikes up to August last year, “their destruction just becomes really a matter of time,” he said on Tuesday.

The U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture both Mosul and Raqqa, ISIS’ Syria stronghold in neighboring Syria, within six months.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

Israeli settler murders Palestinian worker at his home

The Jewish settler murdered the Palestinian because he wanted his wage

An illegal Israeli settler murdered on Wednesday evening Palestinian worker inside an illegal Jewish settlement after the latter insisted to get paid, family sources said.

“He said that his employer [the murderer] refused to pay him and when he insisted to get paid, the employer aimed his pistol towards Saad and shot him,” she recounted last words of her son

An illegal Israeli settler murdered on Wednesday evening Palestinian worker inside an illegal Jewish settlement after the latter insisted to get paid, family sources said.

The Palestinian health ministry said that it was officially informed that a Palestinian citizen was killed inside and Israeli settlement.

It identified the Palestinian victim as Saad Qisiyeh, 24, from the occupied West Bank city of Al-Zahiriyeh, south of Al-Khalil.

Family sources said that the Palestinian citizen used to work in the illegal Jewish settlement outpost of Havat Mor built on a stolen Palestinian land in the south of the occupied West Bank.

His mother said she knew about Saad’s death before the official Israeli announcement, noting that he called her just minutes before he passed away.

“He said that his employer [the murderer] refused to pay him and when he insisted to get paid, the employer aimed his pistol towards Saad and shot him,” she recounted last words of her son.

Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation media reported a completely different story about the murder, claiming that the Palestinian citizen had attempted to murder the Israeli settler, who used his pistol in an act of self-defence.

The Israeli Ynet News claimed that the Palestinian citizen infiltrated into the illegal outpost with two knives and stabbed the settler in front of his family. Then, the settler ran away, brought his pistol and shot the Palestinian, killing him.

Such a narrative exactly similar to the plots of Hollywood movies. As usual, the Israeli officials use the Israeli media to cast false stories to justify the murder of the Palestinians.

However, the Israeli occupation media claimed that the Jewish settler murderer was lightly wounded, but they did not show even an image for his wound.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

ISIS in big trouble as the Syrian Army enters Palmyra city

Moments ago, Syrian troops entered the western part of Palmyra city and sneaked into several buildings despite coming under heavy fire from ISIS snipers and machine-gun positions.

This important breakthrough was facilitated by the liberation of Palmyra Castle and Palmyra Triangle earlier in the day and a series of advances over the past week.

Furthermore, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) advanced north of the city and took control of al-Amiryah village along with the strategic Jabal al-Tar, a mountain overlooking Palmyra city.

The SAA also seized several sites southwest of Palmyra earlier today, including the entire mountain known as Jabal Hayyal and the Qatari Palace.

However, Al-Masdar News field correspondent Ibrahim Joudeh stressed that SAA units are yet to storm the ancient city over fears that the darkness of night will expose government troops to ISIS suicide bombers and booby traps.

However, pro-government tribal fighters and paramilitary fighters have officially entered Palmyra.

The final SAA assault is expected to begin on Thursday morning.

Leading the offensive is the newly formed 5th Legion, elements of the SAA’s 18th Tank Division, Military Shield Forces, Al-Badia branch, Shaitat tribesmen, National Defence Forces, and a contingent of Hezbollah (Lebanese paramilitary) fighters.
ISIS recaptured Palmyra in December, 2016 after between 4,000 and 5,000 jihadist militants overran the city and pushed the SAA all the way back to Tiyas Airbase.

Subsequently, Syrian government forces have advanced 50 kilometers eastwards and are now on the verge of retaking the ancient city.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

45 children, 22 women among 405 arrests reported in February


Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested over the past month nearly 405 Palestinians, including dozens of women and children, in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip, Quds Center for the study of Israeli and Palestinian affairs said Wednesday.

45 Palestinian children and 22 women were among the reported arrests, the center said in its monthly report.

According to the report, the biggest number of arrests was reported in occupied Jerusalem, where 84 Palestinians were taken into custody.

Israeli forces also arrested 82 Palestinians from al-Khalil, 63 from Bethlehem, 50 from Ramallah and el-Bireh, 43 from Nablus, 25 from Qalqilia, 16 from Jenin, 9 from Tulkarem, and 6 from each of Tubas and Salfit.

During the reported period, Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip including five fishermen.

The report said some 45 children including a 12-year-old child and 22 women were among the 405 detained citizens in the West Bank and Jerusalem in February.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

How Israel’s Gaza War report became a political battlefield

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) sits next to Education Minister Naftali Bennett during the weekly Cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, Aug. 30, 2016

Education Minister and HaBayit HaYehudi Chair Naftali Bennett was in high spirits as he wandered the halls of the Knesset on Feb. 27. In fact, the members of his party noted that he seemed unusually pleased with himself. Just one day before the release of the state comptroller’s report on the performance of the Security Cabinet and the military leadership during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza (with much of the report’s content leaked to the press), Bennett could claim an enormous victory. Indeed, the report describes him as the only minister who demanded that Israel take action against the threat posed by Hamas’ terror tunnels.

An old rabbinic adage says, “He who works hard before the Sabbath will have what to eat on the Sabbath.” It could easily refer to Bennett, who was a member of the Security Cabinet during the operation. Even as the fighting was underway, he made a point of branding himself as the campaign’s political victor. He was the young minister who challenged the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff, all of whom failed in their management of the fighting in Gaza.

Bennett showed an unprecedented level of sophistication by shifting the public discourse about the operation to the threat posed by the Hamas attack tunnels. As the report shows, not only did he convince the public, he even managed to convince the state comptroller himself that the most important way to assess Operation Protective Edge should be through that prism. Bennett operated like a well-oiled PR machine in the month preceding the report’s release. Military and political pundits and senior media figures alike all received personal briefings from him. This prepared Bennett for the inevitable political fighting both preceding and following the report’s Feb. 28 release.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Moshe Ya’alon, who was defense minister at the time of the fighting, and then-Chief of Staff Benny Gantz waged a media campaign of their own in an effort to undermine the state comptroller’s findings, which were very critical of them. Meanwhile, Bennett made some last-minute adjustments to his own efforts. In the days before the report’s release, he briefed the members of his faction about its findings and recruited them to continue with his political and media campaign — a campaign designed to intensify as the report would be published. In closed-door party meetings, Bennett could finally show his Knesset colleagues that he was “providing them with the goods,” as the head of a party with eyes on the prime minister’s office. On the night before the report was published, Bennett shared his version of events again, this time at a meeting with party activists.

Bennett’s new status as the political beneficiary of the criticism surrounding Operation Protective Edge bolsters his standing within his party and among the right at large. When confronting Netanyahu and Ya’alon, his two main rivals for the leadership of the right, he can now present himself as a security hawk who has a better understanding of the threats posed by the campaign in Gaza. Along the way, he is also firing off a warning shot at an emerging political threat by challenging the professionalism of Gantz, someone frequently mentioned as a candidate for Labor Party leadership.

The one person who tried, without much success, to shift the discussion about Operation Protective Edge away from the threat posed by the tunnels was former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who was also a member of the Cabinet at the time of the operation. As a former foreign minister, too, Livni is one of the most experienced politicians when it comes to serving as a Cabinet member during a military campaign. She was there for the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and for Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, 2008-2009. In a conversation with Al-Monitor on Feb. 27, Livni said that the most important conclusion to be derived from the way the Cabinet functioned during Operation Protective Edge is that Israel has no real policy regarding the Gaza Strip. That, she continued, should be the focus of discussion.

In a stinging rebuff of Bennett, she noted that “during Operation Protective Edge, the Cabinet was busy dealing with tactics, rather than with strategy.” Livni said she tried spearheading an initiative that would successfully end the fighting and offer Israel achievements vis-a-vis Hamas. Her proposal called for the demilitarization of Gaza in exchange for its reconstruction and rehabilitation. The UN Security Council was prepared to accept her proposal, which would have given Israel license to take action against the tunnels and Hamas’ rocket fire against Israel. Nevertheless, she claimed, the prime minister blocked it. Another politician who served during the operation as a senior Cabinet minister also told Al-Monitor that Livni sought to divert the internal wars in the Cabinet to the diplomatic field.

On Feb. 27 at the Knesset, Netanyahu received an especially warm reception from his faction’s members. He came out swinging at the state comptroller in what can only be described as a preemptive strike in the media before the report’s publication. In the report, the comptroller points a finger at Netanyahu for ignoring the tunnel threat and for failing to even hold a Cabinet discussion about it until the fighting commenced. “The truly important lessons” are not in the comptroller’s report, Netanyahu noted. “We’ve delivered Hamas the hardest blow it has ever suffered. … We acted with force and responsibility and in full coordination between the political and military ranks.”

Having resigned from his post as minister and Knesset member last year, Ya’alon has been waging for a while now his own battle from outside the Knesset’s walls. He is fighting to preserve his good reputation, despite the report’s findings and Bennett’s own version of events. According to Bennett, Ya’alon failed to instruct the Israel Defense Forces to come up with an operational plan to handle the tunnel threat, and he misestimated how ready Hamas really was to embark on a protracted campaign. Ya’alon responded with a disparaging attack on Bennett, claiming that Bennett tried to score political points during the operation, and that he continues to do so today. He even called Bennett the “Minister of Leaks.”

By focusing on tactical issues, the report succeeded in turning a public discussion about the hostilities into a political battle. That is unfortunate.

The public received and continues to receive vast amounts of information, including conflicting versions of events and accounts of infighting in the media. What the report failed to provide is a focused discussion about serious issues, which is, in itself, a huge disservice to the families of the 73 soldiers and civilians who died during the operation. That is also why discussions surrounding the report are only accessible and meaningful to a very limited group of interested parties, those being the very people who pull the strings.

The political impact of the report is much more limited in scope than Bennett would like to believe. It contains no operative conclusions regarding Netanyahu, Ya’alon or Gantz. Furthermore, those three principals actually find themselves on the same side, rather than squabbling with each other, while Livni isn’t attacking any of them from the opposition benches. In other words, the report will not have a corrosive effect, whether on the right or the left. In that sense, it is a sharp contrast to the Winograd Commission Report after the Second Lebanon War.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

Palestinian dies from wounds sustained in 2003


Palestinian man on Wednesday succumbed to wounds sustained during an Israeli airstrike in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip in 2003.

Local sources affirmed that Jamal Abu Ziyada, 30, died due to critical injuries he sustained during Israeli airstrikes over Gaza.

Abu Ziyada had suffered paralysis as a result of the injury for long years before breathing his last this morning.

(Source / 01.03.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct 26 Palestinians In The West Bank

01 MAR
2:04 PM

Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight until early morning hours Wednesday, 26 Palestinians, including children, during invasions and violent searches of homes in different parts of the occupied West Bank.

The Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded the city, and several surrounding towns and refugee camps, and abducted eight Palestinians, including three political prisoners.

The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Eyad Habib Mohammad, Waleed al-Bustanji, Yousef Lahham, Omar Aziyya, Khaled Az-Zeer, Waseem Abu Yabes, Ismael az-Zeer and Nizar Najjar.

|Updated: Army Demolishes A Residential Building In Jerusalem – Video|

In Ramallah, the soldiers abducted seven Palestinians, including a child and three young women, after invading their homes and searching them.

The Ramallah office of the PPS said the abducted have been identified as Yazan Maher Sheta, 25, Mohammad Eyad Zakarna, Ekrema Ayyoub, Soheib Omar Kharraz, 15, and three young women; Bayan Safi, Zeinab Barghouthi and Miran Daghra.

Furthermore, the soldiers abducted six Palestinians from their homes in different parts of the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

|Israeli Soldiers Destroy, And Confiscate, Equipment In A Tulkarem Print Shop|

They have been identified as Ismael Mohammad Hawamda, Jibreel Mohammad Hawamda, Eyad Thiab Abu Qbeita, Mo’tasem Maghalsa, 19, Mohammad Bassam ‘Allama, 17, and Ma’moun Ahmad ‘Allama, 15.

In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers abducted four Palestinians, identified as Mos’ab Hasan Marshoud, Yahya Lutfi Marshoud, Mo’tasem Ahmad Khatib, and Ahmad Khader.

|Updated: Army Demolishes A Residential Building In Jerusalem – Video|

One Palestinian, identified as Hasan Daraghma, was abducted from his home in Tubas, in the northeastern part of the West Bank.

The PPS said that some of the abducted Palestinians are former political prisoners, who spent years in Israeli detention and interrogation centers.

(Source / 01.03.2017)