7% of Israelis who attack Palestinians are charged

Image of Israeli forces arresting Palestinians in the West Bank [file photo]

Image of Israeli forces arresting Palestinians in the West Bank

Israeli occupation authorities failed to indict Israeli Jewish settlers who attacked Palestinian civilians in occupied West Bank, Israeli rights group Yesh Din revealed yesterday.

In its annual report, Yesh Din said that the Israeli Nationalist Crime Unit, which was established on 2013 to protect Palestinian civilians from nationalist crimes committed by the Israeli Jewish settlers, failed to decrease the crimes of this kind.

“Out of 289 cases of ideologically motivated offenses Yesh Din has tracked between 2013 and 2016, only 20 led to indictments against offenders and 225 cases closed upon completion of the investigation without any indictment,” Yesh Din report said.

Of those, the police failed in the investigation of 183 files. This failure manifests in the incapacity of police investigators to locate offenders or collect evidence in order to put suspects on trial.

The report noted that these “figures are similar to Yesh Din’s figures on the handling of all the investigation it has been tracking since 2005, which is prior to the establishment of the special unit, when only 90 files out of 1,122 investigation files (eight per cent) closed by the end of 2016 led to indictments.”

Read: Only the Israeli dead matter

Yesh Din said the data it collected and the data of the police “reflect a trend of protracted failure regarding investigations into ideologically motivated offenses committed against Palestinians.”

It added: “The fact that the law enforcement authorities manage to put suspects on trial for nationalist crimes when the victims are not Palestinians demonstrates that these figures are not inevitable, but rather a product of policy.”

“This policy ultimately leads to a realty in which less and less Palestinian victims of crimes by Israeli civilians are willing to file complaints with the Israel Police.”

(Source / 14.03.2017)

250,000 Palestinians injured since First Intifada

A Palestinian artist Mohammed Totah with amputated leg poses for a picture behind a sand sculpture to mark the Palestinian Wounded's Day in Gaza City, on March 12, 2017. Photo by Ashraf Amra / APAimages.

A Palestinian artist Mohammed Totah with amputated leg poses for a picture behind a sand sculpture to mark the Palestinian Wounded’s Day in Gaza City, on March 12, 2017

Some 250,000 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces since the First Intifada in 1987, including 110,000 in the Gaza Strip, A Palestinian NGO revealed yesterday.

The figures, released to mark Palestinian Wounded Day, showed that 15,000 were registered as having limb amputated while others suffered from hearing or visual impairment.

The situation is getting worse due to the lack of medical supplies and adequate treatment centres to deal with the needs of those who require prosthetics, wheelchairs, or hearing aids, according to Chair of Merciful Hands Charity Mohamed Abulkass.

Read more: 3,000 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in 2016

The centre, which lists 10,000 injured people from Gaza, offers material and mental health support to beneficiaries, most of whom were war survivors.

Abulkass noted that there is no law to protect and provide better care for those injured over the years of conflict and blockade, which he said further affected rehabilitation services because of the inability of aid organisation to get into the Strip or of patients to receive treatment abroad.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

Russia on Tunisia’s borders

People hold Tunisian flags at the Habib Bourguiba street during the 189th anniversary of Tunisian flag in Tunis, Tunisia on October 22, 2016 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

People hold Tunisian flags at the Habib Bourguiba street during the 189th anniversary of Tunisian flag in Tunis, Tunisia on October 22, 2016

The late Tunisian President, Habib Bourguiba, was cautious in his relations with Russia, as his main reliance, after independence, was to depend on Europe and America strategically without provoking the Soviet Union or engaging the country in a military alliance that will only result in peril. Even when Bourguiba decided to freeze the Communist Party in Tunisia in the early 1960s, he made sure this did not affect the stability in Tunisia, as he preferred what he considered an internal affair to having “normalised” ties with the socialist camp.

The ideological polarisation has disappeared today, but the atmosphere of the Cold War has started to return after the unilateral pole, led by the US, started to fail. In this context, Tunisia is concerned with three major matters that may have direct consequences on its foreign policy.

The first matter is the endemic economic and political crisis in Western Europe, especially in France, which was considered a main ally of Tunisia. The French economy is ill and it will not be able to regain its health quickly. In addition to this, the French political level is very exhausted and weak after the decline of the socialists, the fragmentation of the right and centre wing, and as Marine Le Pen is leading the opinion polls. If she wins, her position will be extreme against Ennahda and the Tunisian immigrants.

Read: Washington state moves to block Trump’s new ‘Muslim ban’

The second issue is regarding Washington’s policy during the term of US President Donald Trump. It is true that so far, there are no strong indicators of a significant shift in the White House’s policy regarding Tunisia, but with the new president, anything is possible.

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 19: People take part in a rally called ‘I Am A Muslim Too’ in a show of solidarity with American Muslims at Times Square on February 19, 2017 in New York City. A new version of a Trump administration travel ban will not stop green card holders or travelers already on planes from entering the United States, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said.

As for the third issue, it concerns Libya, as one can see the growing role of Russia in Tunisia’s neighbouring country, and which has a great impact on it economically and in terms of security. America’s concern with the Libyan issue, which still constitutes an explosive issue that can erupt at any time, has declined. Even the Europeans have clearly contradicting calculations and their ability to resolve the issue is limited.

Given this, a number of Libyan and Arab parties have begun welcoming a Russian role that “may be effective”. This is welcomed by Moscow and it invests in the opportunity to enhance its influence and positions inside this large tempting oil country.

Hence, Tunisia finds itself needing to develop its relations with Russia and it realises what it had missed out in the past. However, it must not hasten its steps or miscalculate.

After the revolution, the Tunisians have slowly felt their way through things, as there have been several meetings between their officials and their Russian counterparts, the most recent of which was between the Tunisian Foreign Minister Khamis Alaghinawa and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during the Fourth Arab-Russian Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Read: For Arab revolutionaries, there is no choice but to continue the fight

During this meeting, both sides confirmed the special level of friendship and partnership reached. They also agreed to increase visits and preparation for what they described as “the upcoming mutual benefits that would enhance the opportunities for partnership and investment.” In this regard, I must mention that Russia was present in all of the events held at the international conference – Tunisia 2020 – supporting the economy and investment. In addition to this, the Tunisian foreign minister did not hesitate to invite the Russians to invest in the projects included in the 2016-2020 development plan, especially in the infrastructure field.

Furthermore, the Russians did not do what the Europeans and Americans did when they encouraged their citizens not to travel to Tunisia under the pretext of terrorist dangers after the Bardo Museum and Sousse hotel attacks. On the contrary, Moscow encouraged the Russians to visit Tunisia, which led to the number of Russian tourists in Tunisia to reach over 600,000. This alleviated some of the burden of the crisis still suffered by the Tunisian tourism sector.

Hence, it has become clear that the current developments on the regional and international level may push a country like Tunisia, sooner or later, towards getting closer to the Russian bear which already has a foot in deteriorating Libya, at a time when the Westerners are busy with their own internal affairs and sometimes small calculations.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

Father of martyr files lawsuit against PA security forces spokesman

Basel al-Araj vader

Mahmoud al-Araj, father of martyr Basel al-Araj, and a number of lawyers filed Tuesday a lawsuit against the spokesman for PA security forces Major General Adnan al-Damiri.

The lawsuit was submitted to the Military Attorney General in West Bank following the PA security forces’s attack on the father of the Palestinian martyr Basel al-Araj and the protesters who went in a march condemning the PA trial held against the martyr.

The lawsuit accuses Major General Adnan al-Damiri for attacking peaceful protesters, suppressing peaceful gathering, and defaming via media outlets.

Last Sunday, PA forces brutally attacked dozens of marchers who gathered in al-Bireh city in conjunction with a trial held in the Magistrates’ Court against Basel al-Araj, despite his martyrdom, and five other youths, who are currently detained by the Israeli authorities.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

General strike in schools of Occupied Jerusalem

Staking school

A general strike prevailed on Tuesday in the schools of occupied East Jerusalem in protest at the Israeli municipality’s policies and attempts to impose its decisions on the Arab schools.

The chairman of the union of parents’ committees of East Jerusalem schools, Ziad al-Shamali, said that the strike comes to protest the “Spring Break” which the Israeli municipality tries to impose on high school students as well as the ongoing attempts to impose the Israeli curriculum on Palestinian schools.

In a statement to Quds Press news agency, Shamali affirmed that a general strike in all schools of East Jerusalem was announced on Monday during a press conference, confirming that 90% of the schools abided by the strike.

He pointed out that this commitment was achieved thanks to the parents of students and school principals who cooperated with the union to fulfill the goal of the strike, which is to pressure the Israeli municipality to backtrack on its decisions.

He stressed that escalated procedures, which he did not disclose, will be taken in case the Israeli municipality did not respond to the union’s demands by next Sunday.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

Turkey Halts High-Level Discussions with Netherlands


A street vendor sells flags during a protest in front of the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey

Ankara – High-level discussions between the Netherlands and Turkey have been halted and air space to Dutch diplomats was closed, revealed a prominent Turkish minister, as part of the ongoing diplomatic row between the two NATO members.

The US has called on the Netherlands and Turkey to resolve their dispute. A US diplomat said that the Trump administration refrained from meddling between Ankara and Amsterdam because they are strong democracies and can settle their issues.

“People should be able to protest in a peaceful way. Taking this into consideration, both countries must avoid the war of words,” added the diplomat.

Yet, the Turkish escalation occurred despite the calls of the NATO and EU to end the crisis.

Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik said the country will “surely have sanctions” against the Netherlands without going into further details. Celik called on the EU to confront Amsterdam’s violations in preventing activities of Turkish ministers regarding the referendum on amending the constitution that is scheduled for April.

He stated that the EU has become a victim of extremism due to the economic crisis, adding that “the extremist Geert Wilders is trying to expel Muslims from the Netherlands and his speech brings fascism to the mind.”

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus declared that the Netherlands will have to apologize to Turkey for its “shameful” practices with two Turkish minsters. He also expressed sorrow and concern over Europe’s “unpromising future due to the growth of extremist right, fascism and Nazism during the past years.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte affirmed that his country will not carry out negotiations under a threat, hinting at the threats by Turkish officials to impose sanctions on the Netherlands. Rutte added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describing Dutch people as Nazis and fascists is “unacceptable”.

The Dutch government barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam on Saturday and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her back to Germany.

The Netherlands warned on Monday its citizens in Turkey and urged them to avoid groupings and crowded places. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered that there is a danger in travelling to Turkey since terrorist attacks are likely to happen.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

Israeli police issued indictments in only 8 percent of anti-Palestinian attacks, report finds

Yesh Din rapport

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — New data unveiled by Israeli NGO Yesh Din on Monday revealed that Israeli authorities have served indictments in less than 10 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.

According to the legal rights group, only 8.2 percent of investigations monitored by Yesh Din between 2013 and 2016 ended with indictments.
The establishment of an Israeli police “nationalistic crime unit” in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2013 intended to specifically handle “ideologically motivated crimes” in the West Bank only led to an 0.2 percent increase in indictments.
“The miserable results of this department after four years raise concerns that its opening was only performed for appearance’s sake and was not meant to truly address ideologically motivated crime against Palestinians in the West Bank,” Yesh Din information coordinator told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Monday.
Of the 289 investigations monitored by Yesh Din during the three-year time frame, 47 percent were attacks on Palestinian property through theft, damage, or arson, while 34 percent were physical assaults or threats of assault against Palestinians.
Of those 289 files, prosecutors had reached a final decision in 245, of which only 20 saw investigation files opened. According to Yesh Din, 225 cases — 91.8 percent of the concluded files — were closed without an indictment.
The main reasons cited by prosecutors for closing cases without formal charges were listed by Yesh Din as “offender unknown,” “insufficient evidence,” “absence of criminal culpability,” and “lack of public interest” — justifications which Yesh Din legally challenged in a number of cases.
Yesh Din said that it had begun monitoring police response to such crimes in order to assess “the degree to which Israel complies with its obligation to protect residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
“Although the offenses are perpetrated by private individuals, the end result is systemic criminal activity meant to terrorize Palestinians in order to drive them off their lands, and help expand the settlement enterprise,” the organization wrote in its report. “Ideologically motivated crime adds to the restrictions the military regime imposes on Palestinians in the West Bank, and contributes to their dispossession.”
Looking more specifically at the year 2015, Yesh Din found “stark differences” between the outcome of cases when Israeli civilians committed “nationalistic crimes” against Palestinians and those where the victims were not Palestinian, with only 4.5 percent of cases yielding indictments in the former compared to a 28.8 percent likelihood of indictment in the latter cases.
“The fact that the law enforcement authorities manage to put suspects on trial for nationalist crimes when the victims are not Palestinians demonstrates that these figures are not inevitable, but rather a product of policy,” Yesh Din wrote.
As a result of Israeli police’s failure to properly investigate and punish attacks on Palestinians and their property, Yesh Din estimated that a third of Palestinian victims decided not to file a complaint with Israeli security forces.
The main reasons cited by Palestinians for not seeking legal recourse were cited by Yesh Din as “mistrust of Israeli law enforcement,” as well as “fear that filing the complaint would bring harm to themselves or to their families,” either as retaliation from settlers or punitive measures from Israeli authorities.
“These reasons indicate that Palestinians’ disinclination toward complaining to the police is influenced both by the actual failure of the police to investigate crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinians, and by systemic factors connected to the fact that the system placed to enforce the law on Israeli civilians in the West Bank, including the Israel police, is not merely a law enforcement system, but part of the apparatus of Israeli control over the West Bank — part of the occupation,” Yesh Din wrote.
Denying the results of the report, which was based on data obtained by Yesh Din from the police, Israeli police told Haaretz that it enforced law “with equality and without bias,” and accused the NGO of “distorting reality.”
Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.
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 announcements of settlement expansion earlier this year sparking 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.
(Source / 14.03.2017)

Israel to clear army of killing Gaza family during 2008 offensive

Homes destroyed during the Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2014. [file photo]

Homes destroyed during the Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2014

An Israeli army report has contradicted a previous finding that the death of four members of one family in Gaza during the 2008-2009 war was caused by artillery shells. The daughters of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish — Bessan, 20; Mayar, 15; and Aya, 14 — and his niece Noor, 17, were killed when several shells hit their home in Jabalya refugee camp during the 22-day offensive. Other members of the family were wounded.

The new report submitted by the state to an Israeli court in Beersheba last week claimed that the family home contained explosives that are not used by the Israeli army. However, no evidence of this was provided, Haaretz said on Tuesday. The state has produced its report as Dr Abuelaish’s case is finally set to be heard on 15 and 19 March; the bereaved father filed a lawsuit to the court in late 2010.

Read more: Goldstone report is the cornerstone for the imposition of sanctions on Israel

Abuelaish worked as a doctor in Israel and Palestine at the time of the offensive, but has been living in Canada since the so-called Operation Cast Lead. He teaches at the Department of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

In 2009, the army opened an operational inquiry into the death of the doctor’s daughters, and found that they were killed by two shells. No apology has been given for the targeting of the family.

A UN report, prepared by a specialist team under the former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure during the three-week offensive of 2008-2009.

This is not the first time that Israel has cleared its armed forces of wrongdoing in Gaza. A few months ago, the military closed seven investigations without prosecuting officers or soldiers for crimes committed during yet another war in 2014, which took the lives of some 2,200 Palestinians.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

Students call off hunger strike in Algeria

Dental students on hunger strike in Algeria

Dental students have decided to suspend their hunger strike after a letter from the secretary-general of the Ministry of Higher Education granted permission for a meeting with the student representatives yesterday.

“We received [yesterday] a call from the rectorate informing us of a meeting to which students’ representatives are invited. A decision was taken by common agreement with the other departments to suspend our hunger strike from this afternoon,” a student delegate of the Department of Dental Surgery at Mouloud University Mammeri of Tizi Ouzou, Aïssa Maïche confirmed yesterday.

The meeting will involve the respective Secretaries-General of the Ministries of Higher Education and Health and a representative of the Civil Service.

According to the delegate, the hunger strike will be suspended until the “proclamation of the results of the meeting”.

The suspension of our hunger strike and, at the same time, of the whole strike movement, is dependent on the results of this meeting. The satisfaction of our demands means the immediate cessation of our actions of protest

Maïche explained.

Four student delegates were evacuated to hospital yesterday after a scuffle broke out during a rally organised by students at the University of Es Senia in the Oran province.

Algerian doctors, academics protest against grants freeze

A sit-in in solidarity with the strikers was also organised in Oran.

On strike since November last year, dental students are demanding increased resident positions and reorganisation of the boarding school. They have been calling for the transition to step 16 on the salary scale, instead of the current 13, “in accordance with the commitments of the guardianship in 2011, following the reorganisation of the system of studies”.

The national coordinated effort is pressurising the government to tackle the issue of shortages of residences, the absence of internships and calls for better quality training.

(Source / 14.03.2017)

Israeli occupation issues 35 administrative detention orders so far in March

Israeli occupation authorities issued 35 administrative detention orders between 1 and 12 March, reported Palestinian lawyer Mahmoud Halabi of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society.

Administrative detention orders are used to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial; they are issued for one to six month periods, but are indefinitely renewable. Therefore, Palestinians can spend years at a time imprisoned with no charge and no trial. There are currently around 600 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention orders.

Among the Palestinians issued administrative detention orders in this group is Ihsan Dababseh, former prisoner and one of two Palestinian women currently held in administrative detention. Among the orders, 13 are new orders and 22 are renewals of existing administrative detention orders.

The list of prisoners against whom orders were issued are:

1. Mumin Fathi Fashafsheh, Jenin, 4 months extension
2. Khaled Mansour Abdel-Nabi, al-Khalil, 3 months, new order
3. Samarah Sami Majid, Ramallah, 3 months, extension
4. Mahmoud Mohammed Salah, Bethlehem, 4 months, extension
5. Omar Ali al-Hih, al-Khalil, 6 months, extension
6. Khaled Majid al-Badr, Jerusalem, 4 months, extension
7. Tariq Mahmoud Blalou, Jenin, 6 months, extension
8. Mohammed Ahmed Suqia, Jenin, 3 months, new order
9. Mahmoud Khalil Ghuneim, Bethlehem, 4 months, extension
10. Said Ismail Abu Hadid, al-Khalil, 4 months, extension
11. Yousef Naim Ghuneim, Bethlehem, 4 months, extension
12. Mohammed Ribhi Saleh, Bethlehem, 4 months, extension
13. Rami Hisham Abu Safiya, al-Khalil, 6 onths, extension
14. Musab Mahmoud Suwaita, al-Khalil, 3 months, new order
15. Ismail Khalil al-Zeer, Bethlehem, 4 months, new order
16. Ahmad Nasri Ibrahim, Jenin, 4 months, extension
17. Ahmed Fayez Saadi, Jenin, 3 months, new order
18. Mohammed Ibrahim Yahya, Jenin, 4 months, extension
19. Alaa Abdel-Rahim al-Azm, Ramallah, 4 months, extension
20. Yousef Mahmoud Laham, Bethlehem, 6 months, new order
21. Amer Omar Za’aroureh, Nablus, 4 months, extension
22. Khaled Jamil Shanaiteh, Bethlehem, 6 months, new order
23. Eyad Habib Mohammed, Bethlehem, 6 months, extension
24. Shadi Mohammed Abu Aker, Bethlehem, 6 months, extension
25. Walid Daoud Bustanji, Bethlehem, 4 months, new order
26. Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Hamed, Qalqilya, 4 months, extension
27. Mohammed Suleiman Srouji, Tulkarem, 6 months, new order
28. Ismail Ahmed Hawamdeh, al-Khalil, 6 months, new order
29. Jaoudat Ahmad Mashal, Ramallah, 4 months, extension
30. Maan Hamdallah Hamidat, al-Khalil, 6 months, new order
31. Walid Mohammed Hmeidan, Bethlehem, 4 months, new order
32. Ahmed Diab Burash, Ramallah, 4 months, new order
33. Ihsan Hassan Dababseh, al-Khalil, 4 months, new order
34. Essam Rashid al-Ashqar, Nablus, 2 months, extension
35. Mohsen Raafat Asfour, Ramallah, 4 months, extension

(Source / 14.03.2017)