Israeli forces detain 24 Palestinians, including 2 lawmakers, in overnight raids


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 24 Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied territory on Sunday, including two Palestinian parliamentarians, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources.

Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 73 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, which included four members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
Meanwhile, some 420 Palestinians were detained throughout the month of February alone — including 70 minors and 22 women and girls.
Southern West Bank
Israeli forces detained two Palestinian lawmakers during raids in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to a statement published by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).
The statement identified the two as Khalid Tafish and Anwar Zboun, who are both deputies of the Change and Reform bloc in the PLC.
Israeli forces also detained Hassan al-Wardiyan and Ghassan Hirmas in Bethlehem raids, according to PPS.
Also in the south, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Munjid Khalid Ashour and Sabri Ibrahim Awwad from the Hebron district.
An Israeli army spokesperson only confirmed four detentions in Bethlehem, claiming they were all Hamas operatives, and one detention in Hebron.
Central West Bank and East Jerusalem
Meanwhile, a large-scale raid early Monday morning in the Ramallah area culminated a months-long pursuit of Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj, wanted by Israel for allegedly planning “terror attacks.”
Israeli forces surrounded a house where al-Araj was hiding, fired a rocket into the building, and eventually shot him dead with several bullets at close range after al-Araj ran out of ammunition in the two-hour-long exchange of fire.
Israeli police spokesperson Luba al Samri also said that Israeli police, in collaboration with the Israeli army, raided and searched a home in the Salfit-area village of Bani Hassan, detaining one Palestinian and seizing a rifle.
Northern West Bank
Two Palestinians were detained during a predawn raid in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, identified by PPS as Mumin Abd al-Munim Jar Allah and Muath Muhammad Haboub.
In the northern Qalqiliya district, Israeli forces detained 20-year-old Zayid Ali Abd al-Hafith Adwan, 24-year-old Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Suleiman, 28-year-old Alaa Samir Othman Hilu, and 27-year-old Abdullah Hussam Yousif Hawari, according to PPS.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that four Palestinians were detained in the Qalqiliya district, three in the village of Azzun and one alleged Hamas operative in Qalqiliya city.
Israeli forces also detained three Palestinians from the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin, identified by PPS as 21-year-old Hatim Abu Ali, 23-year-old Hamza Nael Ammar, and former prisoner Husni Sahwahna.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the three Jenin area detentions, saying two alleged Hamas operatives were detained from Jenin refugee camp and one Palestinians was detained in the village of Silat al-Harithiya in the northern outskirts of the West Bank.
(Source / 06.03.2017)

Palestinians minors fined $15,400 by Israel

Israeli forces violently arrest a Palestinian youth [file photo]

Israeli forces violently arrest a Palestinian youth [file photo]

Israeli courts fined Palestinian minors imprisoned in the Ofer detention centre a total of 57,000 shekels ($15,420) in February alone, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said yesterday, adding that at least 49 had been detained in February.

Committee lawyer Luay Akka said that of at least 49 Palestinian minors who were imprisoned in February and taken to Ofer, 27 of them were detained during home raids, nine in the streets, five after being summoned for interrogation, four at checkpoints and four in Israel for not having permits.

Read: Report: Israel kills 26 Palestinian students, arrests 198 in 2016

He added that the sentences issued against 25 minors during the month ranged between one and 24 months in prison, with at least one teen – 15 year-old Ahmad Hanatsha – being sentenced to administrative detention without trial or charges.

Palestinian minors detained in Ofer said that they were being held in poor conditions, and lacked access to necessities such as clothing, bed sheets and towels.

In January, the committee reported the detention of at least 63 minors, who were collectively fined some 52,000 shekels ($14,000).

(Source / 06.03.2017)

Report: Israeli forces arrested 498 Palestinians last February

498 Palestijnen opgepakt in februari

Palestinian human rights institutions reveled, in a statement on Monday that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested last February 498 Palestinians including 108 minors, 19 women and a journalist man. In addition to the martyrdom of the Palestinian prisoner Mohammad al-Jallad who died after being shot by Israeli soldiers.

The statement pointed out that 161 of the arrested were from Occupied Jerusalem, 90 from al-Khalil, 55 from Bethlehem, 43 from Ramallah and al-Bireh, 39 from Nablus, 32 from Qalqilya, 25 from Jenin, 22 from Tulkarem, 10 from Tubas, 9 from Gaza Strip, 7 from Jericho and 5 from Salfit.

Israeli Occupation Authority (IOA) issued 99 orders of the illegal administrative detention with no charge or trial including 25 new orders, the statement added.

According to the report, which was issued by four human rights institutions, the number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails jumped to 7000 including 61 female captives with 12 minors. The number of prisoners of children reached 300; while the number administrative captives was 516 and the number of journalist detainees jumped to 23.

The report warned of the serious conditions inside Israeli prisons due to punitive measures. It called for exerting more efforts by Arab and international organizations in order to pressure for halting Israeli offensive practices against Palestinian prisoners and liberating them from Israeli jails.

(Source / 06.03.2017)

Assad Regime Torture Victims File Criminal Case in Germany

Seven Syrian torture survivors, two lawyers and a human rights group have filed a criminal complaint in Germany against officials of Bashar al-Assad’s secret service.

The complaint names and seeks international arrest warrants against six high-level officials of the Assad regime’s Military Intelligence Service, in whose Damascus prisons the claimants say they were tortured or witnessed torture.

According to witness testimony, prisoners were beaten with pipes, sticks and meat hooks on chains, given electric shocks, burnt with cleaning chemicals and stabbed with pencils, the broken-off tips left inside their flesh.

“We cannot just look on at the horror of Syria,” said Wolfgang Kaleck, head of the Berlin-based non-profit legal organization that launched the case, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

“We have to start describing what is happening in Syria with words and legal categories,” Kaleck said in a statement.

“Germany can and must react to grave human rights violations such as torture, massacres and sexual violence in Syria.”

The case accuses the Assad regime of having carried out “systematic and widespread torture targeting opponents and activists… for several decades”.

Germany’s federal prosecution service welcomed the complaint, with a spokeswoman saying it may provide further evidence to support its own ongoing investigation into Syrian war crimes launched in 2011.

The new complaint alleges crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in three Damascus prisons between October 2011 and July 2015, based on the testimonies of 12 witnesses, seven of whom are complainants.

The complaint was launched under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the German judiciary to become active in cases where neither the victims nor the perpetrators are German citizens, said the ECCHR.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies / 06.03.2017)

Palestinian security spokesman: 4 meetings held in the region’s capital against Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah, West Bank on November 09, 2016

A Palestinian security official hinted on Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being plotted against.

“The holding of four meetings in the region’s capitals in the past four months proves that Palestinian legitimacy is targeted,” Adnan Damiri said, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

“The national cause is subjected to a conspiracy against Palestinian legitimacy, especially that Palestinian Liberation Organisation [PLO], the legitimate and only representative of the Palestinian people,” he added.

Besides being the Palestinian president, Abbas also heads the PLO and is a member of the Fatah movement.

Read: Is the PLO still the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinians?

The security official said that the four meetings were held in Tehran, Iran; Istanbul, Turkey; and Ain Al-Sukhna, Egypt, adding that those who attended the meetings do not represent Palestinians, and were invited to these meetings in secret, which constitutes “a desperate attempt to search for alternatives for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and to undermine its status.”

He called for strengthening joint work between Palestinian society’s political and social segments, as well as civil society and security bodies, in order to protect the nation from divisions. Damiri stressed the importance of Palestinian unity in the face of the challenges that emanate from occupation and the Israeli settler activity, in addition to challenges posed by outlaws.

“Security forces will pursue the outlaws … wherever they are to refer them to the judiciary, which ultimately makes decisions on the accusations levelled against them,” the Palestinian official said, adding that all Palestinians are equal before the law.

(Source / 06.03.2017)

Geneva Charade: Regime is the Opposition

For Nazi Germany to control occupied France during World War II, it used some Frenchmen and formed a government of dummies, also called the Vichy government, in an attempt to legalize its presence.

This is what the regime in Damascus is doing.

When the Syrian regime realized that the opposition had more legitimacy than it did, it resorted to a trick of inventing groups that claim to belong to the opposition. Then, the regime allowed these groups to work in Damascus and sent them to capitals like Tehran and Moscow to negotiate on behalf of the opposition.

For over three years, no one believed this charade called Moscow’s and Cairo’s platform. It is only an accessory to the Syrian regime.

With the help of Russia, the Syrian regime insisted to impose these fake groups in the Geneva negotiations. After the international envoy had agreed to include them, Moscow now calls for their integration within the actual opposition delegation. When the real opposition refused, they were accused of sabotaging the negotiations.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow that: “The so-called High Negotiations Committee is refusing to cooperate equally with the Moscow and Cairo platforms and is in fact sabotaging fully fledged dialogue.”

After the inclusion of Russia and Egypt’s platforms, Geneva negotiations became the worst unprecedented political charade in history.

Even Vichy’s fake government had more integrity than them.

There is no point for the opposition, High Negotiations Committee, to proceed after they had deprived it from everything, even the right to represent itself as an opposition.

Everything that represents the regime is fake. The army isn’t its army and neither is the opposition, which it insists on negotiating with.

Assad’s regime is known for fabricating slogans about Arabism, nationalism and democracy. It is also known for forging the elections and creating organizations like Fatah al-Sham instead of the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Palestine.

When the regime assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005, it invented an organization named “Jund al-Sham” and produced a video where a man named Abu Adas claimed he assassinated Hariri.

The whole world realized later on that this was a fake story. International investigations revealed the actual names of criminals involved with the regime in Damascus.

The regime did more than that during the Iraqi war after the US invasion. In collaboration with Iran, it established organizations that claimed to be Islamic and Baathist.

These opposing platforms are just fronts that heed to the requests of the regime and defend it. As long as Russia and Iran are supporting these Moscow and Cairo groups, it is better to sign the deal in Tehran and get over with this charade.

(Source / 06.03.2017)

Limited Israeli incursion east of Deir al-Balah

Illegaal de grens over

Israeli army vehicles launched on Monday a limited incursion east of Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip.

Local sources said that 4 Israeli bulldozers raided the area and started leveling Palestinian lands there amid intensive overflight by Israeli drones.

Israeli army vehicles deliberately launch incursions every now and then into the border areas north and east of the Gaza Strip and prevent Gazan farmers from approaching them.

(Source / 06.03.2017)

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers, injure woman in northern West Bank

Illegale kolonisten

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers assaulted and injured a Palestinian woman who was working on her agricultural lands in the northern occupied West Bank on Monday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that more than 20 Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Gilad attacked Palestinian farmers working in their lands in the nearby village of Faraata in the Qalqiliya district.
Daghlas said that the settlers attacked the farmers despite the fact that the Palestinians had coordinated with Israeli officials in order to access their lands in the area.
He added that Israeli settlers destroyed an agricultural tractor owned by Abdullah Shanaa, causing clashes to erupt, during which 55-year-old Mariam al-Salman suffered from bruises on her upper body after settlers threw rocks at her.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that Israeli forces were “alerted to a dispute” in the area and “dispersed” those involved in conjunction with Israeli security guards from Havat Gilad.
The spokesperson said they were not aware of anyone being injured in the assault, nor of anyone being detained or investigated.
While no Israelis seemed to have been detained in this incident for having thrown stones at Palestinians, Palestinians risk prison sentences for up to 20 years for throwing stones at Israelis.
Attacks by settlers are often carried out under the armed protection of Israeli forces who rarely make efforts to protect Palestinians from such attacks.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016.
OCHA reported 16 instances of settler-related violence as of Feb. 20, seven of whom were attacks on Palestinian individuals.
(Source / 06.03.2017)

Only the Israeli dead matter: Israel’s failure at investigating its bloody wars

BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - JANUARY 26: Israeli security forces intervene the Palestinian protesters during a demonstration demanding Israel return the Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces, in Bethlehem, West Bank on January 26, 2017. ( İssam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )

Israeli security forces intervene the Palestinian protesters during a demonstration demanding Israel return the Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces, in Bethlehem, West Bank on January 26, 2017
By Ramzy Baroud

At a glance, Israel appears a true democracy. Take a closer look and that facade of democracy will soon dissipate, turning into something else entirely.

Tuesday 28 February was one of those moments. The chain of events was as follows:

An official Israeli State Comptroller issued another report on the Israeli government’s handling of the July 2014 war on Gaza; it chastised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon –  among others – for the lack of preparedness and for their mishandling of the subsequent 51-day conflict; Netanyahu reacted angrily; Ya’alon took to Facebook to defend his record; the opposition in the Israeli Knesset went on the offensive; politicians lined up, taking sides; a media frenzy followed; the country was in an uproar.

This is not a precedent. It is a repeat of a recurring scenario that often follows Israel’s military plunders.

When such reports are issued, Israelis sort out their differences in fierce parliamentary and media battles.

Read: Israeli Jew gets 11 years for stabbing a fellow Jew mistaken for an Arab

While Israelis begin to examine their failures, demanding accountability from their government, western mainstream media finds the perfect opportunity to whitewash its own record of failing to criticise Israel’s military onslaught at the time.

(Over 2,200 – of whom over 70 per cent were Palestinian civilians – were killed and thousands more wounded in Israel’s so-called “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.)

According to US media logic, for example, Israel’s investigation of its own action is a tribute to its thriving democracy, often juxtaposed with Arab governments’ lack of self-examination.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, instigating a war that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, culminating in the Sabra and Shatilla Massacres, a familiar scenario ensued: The United States did its utmost to prevent any international intervention or meaningful investigation, while Israel was allowed to investigate itself.

The outcome was the Kahan Commission Report, the conclusion of which was summarised by international law expert Professor Richard Falk: “The full measure of Israel’s victory is rather its vindication, despite all, as a moral force in the region – as a superior state, especially as compared to its Arab rivals.”

The US media touted Israel’s “moral victory”, which, somehow, made everything okay and, with a magic wand, wiped the record clean.

The Washington Post editorial led the congratulatory chorus: “The whole process of the Israeli reaction to the Beirut massacre is a tribute to the vitality of democracy in Israel and to the country’s moral character.”

This sorry state of affairs has been in constant replay for nearly 70 years, ever since Israel declared its independence in 1948.

International law is clear regarding the legal responsibility of Occupying Powers but since Israel is rarely an enthusiast of international law, it has forbidden any attempt at being investigated for its actions.

In fact, Israel abhors the very idea of being “investigated”. Every attempt by the United Nations, or any other organisation dedicated to upholding international law, has either been rejected or failed.

By Israeli logic, Israel is a democracy and democratic countries cannot be investigated over their army’s involvement in the death of civilians.

This was, in fact, the gist of the statement produced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s office in June 2010, soon after Israeli army commandos intercepted a humanitarian aid flotilla on its way to Gaza and killed ten unarmed activists in international waters.

Israel is an Occupying Power under international law and is held accountable to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The international community is legally obliged to examine Israel’s conduct against Palestinian civilians and, needless to say, against unarmed civilians in international waters.

Israel’s record of investigating itself, aside from being spun to praise Israel’s moral superiority, has never been of any help for Palestinians.

In fact, the entire Israeli justice system is systematically unjust to occupied Palestinians.

The Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported that out “of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments.” Such indictments rarely yield prison sentences.

The recent indictment of Israeli soldier, Elor Azarya, sentencing him to a now postponed term of 18 months in prison for the killing in cold blood of an alleged Palestinian attacker is an exception, not the norm. It has been years since an Israeli soldier was sentenced. In fact, several thousand Palestinian civilians have been killed between the last time a “manslaughter” conviction was handed down to an Israeli soldier in 2005 and Azarya’s indictment.

Azarya, now perceived by many Israelis as a hero, has received such a light punishment that it is less than that of a Palestinian child throwing rocks at an Israeli occupation soldier.

Some United Nations officials, although powerless before the US backing of Israel, are furious.

The 18-month verdict “also stands in contrast to the sentences handed down by other Israeli courts for  other less serious offenses, notably the sentencing of Palestinian children to more than three years’ imprisonment for throwing stones at cars,” UN human rights spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said in response to the Israeli court decision.

While pro-Israel social media activists and media pundits went on to praise the supposedly unmatched Israeli democracy, a campaign in Israel to pardon Azarya continues to garner momentum. Prime Minister Netanyahu is already on board.

Not only is the Israeli justice system unjust to Palestinians, it was never intended to be so. A careful reading of the recent comptroller’s remarks and findings would clarify that the intent was never to examine war against a besieged nation as a moral concept, but the government’s inability to win the war more effectively: the breakdown of intelligence; Netanyahu’s lack of political inclusiveness; the death of an unprecedented number of Israeli soldiers.

Israel’s appetite for war is, in fact, at an all-time high. Some commentators are arguing that Israel might launch yet another war so as to redeem its “mistakes” in the previous one, as stated in the report.

But war itself is a staple for Israel. Hard-hitting Israeli journalist Gideon Levy’s reaction to the comptroller’s report says it best. He argued that the report is almost a plagiarised copy of the “Winograd Commission Report” which followed the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

All wars since 1948 “could have been avoided”, Levy wrote in Haaretz. But they were not, frankly, because “Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them and, sometimes, instigates them.”

This is the only way to read the latest report, but also all such reports, when war is used as a tool of control, to “downgrade” the defences of a besieged enemy, to create distraction from political corruption, to help politicians win popular support, to play, time and again, the role of the embattled victim, and many other pretenses.

As for Palestinians, who are neither capable of instigated or sustaining a war, they can only put up a fight, real or symbolic, whenever Israel decides to go for yet another bloody, avoidable war.

No matter the outcome, Israel will boast of its military superiority, unmatched intelligence, transparent democracy and moral ascendancy; the US, Britain, France and other Europeans will enthusiastically agree, issuing Israel another blank cheque to “defend itself” by any means.

Meanwhile, any attempt at investigating Israeli conduct will be thwarted, for Israel is a “democracy” and, for some reason, self-proclaimed democracies cannot be investigated. Only their sham investigations matter; only their dead count.

(Source / 06.03.2017)

Palestinian prisoner held by PA dies after 2 days on hunger strike


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian prisoner held by the Palestinian Authority (PA) died on Sunday, reportedly from health complications after two days on hunger strike.

Ghalib Abdullah Daraghma, a 48-year-old resident of the occupied West Bank city of Tubas, died in the Palestine medical complex in Ramallah on Sunday evening after his health deteriorated less than 48 hours after launching a hunger strike.
A Palestinian police spokesman told Ma’an that Daraghma started his hunger strike on Saturday after he had been taken to the hospital on Feb. 26. The reason for the hunger strike remained unclear as of Monday.
Palestinian security sources said that Daraghma had been held in a Palestinian prison for the past two years after being charged with killing five Palestinians, including two police officers, in Tubas, adding that he however had not been sentenced in court.
Palestinian prosecution said it has opened an investigation to uncover the circumstances of his death.
Daraghma’s death comes amid renewed outcry against the PA’s incarceration system as Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj, who had been detained by the PA for five months in 2016, was killed by Israeli forces on Monday.
PA security forces have been widely criticized for severe mistreatment of detainees, criticism that took on a new significance after PA police beat a detainee to death last year, as well as the security coordination with Israel through what critics have called a “revolving door policy” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.
(Source / 06.03.2017)