250,000 Palestinians wounded since First Intifada

PALESTINOW.COM — 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.

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.

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. (electronic intifada)

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Arab Studies Society department reopened after forcible closure by Israel

Studies Society weer open

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society reopened in Beit Hanina on Thursday after Israeli authorities forcibly shut it down two days prior following an order from Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

Director of the center Khalil Tufakji, who was briefly detained during the Tuesday raid, told Ma’an on Friday that he obtained permission to reopen the office and also regained equipment and documents that had been seized by Israeli police.
Erdan had issued the order to close the department claiming that it was operating within Israel’s municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, which he said was in violation of the 1994 Oslo Accords.
However, Tufakji said that he explained to Israeli authorities during his interrogation that the office was located within borders of the PA-controlled West Bank, adding that the office is a research institution that has nothing to do with the PA.
Beit Hanina was placed under the control of the Jerusalem municipality when Israel illegally annexed the territory in 1967. However, the neighboring community of Beit Hanina al-Balad remained within the occupied West Bank and was further cut off from the Israeli municipality after the constructionist of Israel’s separation wall.
The exact location of the office remained unclear, while a spokesperson for Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality was not immediately available for comment on the issue.
Tufakji said that the mapping department’s work in documenting Israeli violations regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements was the cause of the Erdan’s order. “The Israeli side does not want anyone to speak or show its violations to the world and takes advantage of international circumstances to silence the voice of Palestinians,” he told Ma’an.
Studies Society weer open1
After Israeli police raided and sealed the office on Tuesday, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat denounced the closure and “the illegal detention” of Tufakji, describing the man as “a distinguished scholar from Jerusalem.”
According to Erekat, the Arab Studies Society is an academic department that used to be part of the Orient House, an institution in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City that used to serve as the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1980s and 1990s, until it was forcibly shut down by Israel in 2001 after years of effort by the Israeli government.
Israeli police meanwhile argued that investigations revealed that the Arab Studies Society “resumed operations” under the guise of being a geographic consultations service, “but in reality was operating as a PA organization just as it was before.”
Referring to the institution’s closure, Erekat said that this “provocative act by the Israeli occupying forces is a reminder of Israel’s ongoing campaign to deprive Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine, of any voice, of its national institutions and organizations, in an effort to erase any Palestinian presence in the city.”
While Israeli police claimed that the center operated in violation of the Oslo Accords, Erekat noted that Israel, as an occupying power, “continues to violate its obligations under signed agreements, as well as of its commitments vis-a-vis the international community.”
More than 20 Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem — including the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce — have remained forcibly closed by Israel since 2001, according to Erekat, who said the measures violated of international law.
Erekat went on to condemn “systematic Israeli policies against a Palestinian presence in occupied East Jerusalem,” which he said aim to “bury the two-state solution, consolidate Israel’s apartheid regime in the occupied city, as well as in the rest of occupied Palestine, and aim to create a Palestinian demographic minority.”
(Source / 17.03.2017)

PCHR: Six legal memos on Israeli war crimes filed with the ICC


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has affirmed that six legal memorandums have been submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians in the embattled Gaza Strip and the occupied territories.

The ICC was also addressed seven times on the subject by a crew of Palestinian and international lawyers, according to the PCHR.

This came during a discussion held in Gaza by the center with national and media figures on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and the efforts made abroad to prosecute Israeli war criminals.

During the meeting, PCHR director Raji al-Surani expressed hope that the court would take a clear and final decision in the current year with regard to accepting the lawsuits filed on behalf of Palestinian victims.

Surani said the ICC received legal papers on different war crimes committed by Israel, as an occupying power, against the Palestinians, including its wars and blockade on Gaza and its human rights violations resulting from its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Palestinians protest Jerusalem marathon

Sit-in Jeruzalem

Dozens of Palestinian citizens in Occupied Jerusalem on Friday morning participated in a sit-in in protest at the Israeli marathon organized by the municipality in the holy city as part of its attempts to promote it as a Jewish metropolis .

According to a Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reporter in Jerusalem, the protesters carried Palestinian flags and placards denouncing the Israeli occupation and the participation of multinational citizens in the race.

Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation authority closed several streets and roads in the eastern part of the occupied holy city and deployed scores of policemen there to provide protection for about 30,000 runners from different countries.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

The West does not really support Turkish democracy, it undermines Islamic unity

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on 8 February 2017 [Presidency of Turkey / Yasin Bülbül/Anadolu Agency]

Image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [Presidency of Turkey]

By Motasem A Dalloul

In the past few days, the German, Dutch and Swedish authorities have cancelled public rallies for their Turkish citizens on the grounds that they constitute a security threat. In Germany and Holland, the situation was very clear as senior Turkish officials, including ministers, were denied entry or deported. Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies, for example, was detained by the Dutch police and then deported. Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya claims that she witnessed “inhumane treatment” by the authorities.

Image of Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, in Istanbul, Turkey on March 12, 2017 [Berk Özkan / Anadolu Agency]

The rallies had been organised to garner support amongst Turkish voters living in Europe for a referendum to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the West, Erdogan is seen as “arrogant” and “authoritarian” despite the fact that his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has freed Turkey from military rule, reformed the military institutions and restructured the security services, intelligence apparatus and Special Forces.

Under Erdogan’s AK Party, Turkey has passed through several democratic elections smoothly, political pluralism has a meaning in the country and the role of civil society has clearly widened. The era of military coups has become history, as the failure of last year’s coup attempt demonstrated, with civil institutions supported by the people putting down an internationally-backed uprising; hundreds of generals and senior officers have since been imprisoned.

Read: Turkey sends back Dutch cows amid diplomatic dispute

However, the West still insists that it does not host electoral campaigns for a “dictator” who is planning to concentrate power in his own hands. This has been made very clear in the remarks of European leaders. Compare this with the comments of such leaders in the wake of the AK Party’s 2015 election victory; Arab writer Mohamed Amari found that they all welcomed the election result and congratulated the Turks on the success of their free, democratic process. They were, however, clearly unhappy about Erdogan and his party being in control.

Put very simply, it is obvious that the West does not want Muslims — labelled “Islamists” — to rule Turkey, which was the seat of the Ottoman Empire, the historic Caliphate defeated in the First World War and destroyed altogether in 1924. It is no secret that the West was behind the removal of the Ottoman Sultans, backing Mustafa Kamal Ataturk to “modernise” Turkey by removing Islam from Turkish life; Western clothing was promoted and the Arabic script was replaced by adapted Roman letters for the Turkish language.

The then British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon told the House of Commons after the Lausanne Treaty in 1923, “As we have already succeeded in finishing off the Caliphate, so we must ensure that there will never rise again unity for the Muslims, whether it be intellectual or cultural unity.” He also said that the West “must put an end to anything which brings about any Islamic unity between the sons of the Muslims.” That, in a nutshell, has been the West’s agenda in the Muslim world ever since.

Read: Erdogan to Turks: Don’t vote for ‘fascists’ in Dutch election

Western leaders have for decades been working to undermine any attempt at Islamic unity and this has been very clear in the ongoing campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the ironies of what looks very much like a war against the movement is that America’s joy at the murder of Hassan Al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, opened the eyes and mind of a senior Egyptian official in the ministry of culture to the group and the whole idea of Islamic unity. Sayyid Qutb was on a sabbatical tour of the US in 1949 when this happened and said that he was surprised to see the Americans celebrating the murder of a Muslim figure.

The Muslim world, especially the Middle East, has been witnessing an Islamic awakening after trying many different “isms”, including Marxism, capitalism and secularism. Correspondingly, the West has increased its efforts to demonise Islam and Muslims. Although the Muslim Brotherhood promotes democracy and not violence, and Turkey’s ruling AK Party is moderate and democratically-minded, they are regularly mentioned in the same breath by Western critics as the most extreme “Islamic” groups which have actually carried out more atrocities against Muslims than against non-Muslims.

In a 2005 speech, the then US President George W Bush made it clear that he does not want to see Islamists get together or lead their states because they would build an Islamic empire. “The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses,” he claimed, “enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.” His idea of “moderate governments” are those dictatorships and absolute monarchies which accede to Western demands.

President Bush referred to Muslims as terrorists and expressed the real fear of the West: “With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.” Even though this is far from what the vast majority of Muslims are seeking to do, it displays the Islamophobia in his thoughts and actions.

Read: Turkey targets Dutch with diplomatic sanctions as ‘Nazi’ row escalates

Bush’s words were more or less echoed by Britain’s Tony Blair and his Home Office Minister Charles Clarke; America’s Dick Cheney, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others also expressed such fears. All of these leaders want to keep the Muslims disunited so that they cannot re-establish the Caliphate, a word which has been mentioned by many.

So what is the Caliphate? “A united political leadership of the Muslim world,” explains one source, “which was destroyed in 1924 after about 1,350 years. Following the death of Prophet Muhammad, caliphs were appointed to the leadership of the Muslims. In the ensuing centuries, the centre and nature of this power moved around, resting in Istanbul at the time of its destruction. In its dynamic period, the Islamic caliphate was at the heart of a great civilisation, leading the world in science, philosophy, law, maths and astronomy.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been saying since it was founded that its main and long-term goal is reviving the Caliphate, insisting that this is the best way for Muslims to return to their prosperous ages in the field of science as one of the most civilised of nations. It is a historical fact that when Muslims were united under one political entity they were often the most developed Ummah in many different fields of human activity. This, I would suggest, is why the West does not want Muslims to be re-united ever again; why there is so much enmity against the likes of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose moderate Islam is still too much for the West to bear.

Erdogan does not consider the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and adopts an Islamic ideology which is very close to the movement’s, so the West does not like him. If he had been an ardent secularist he would be supported by the West even if he ruled Turkey with an iron fist for decades. We just have to look at how the West supports undemocratic dictators across the Arab world to know the truth of this.

The West does not defend democracy; it claims that Erdogan is leading Turkey to authoritarianism and dictatorship. If it is really concerned about democracy, though, why does it maintain such strong relations with the tyrannical regimes in Egypt, the Gulf States and many other countries? Why does it turn a blind eye to the atrocious human rights record of the Egyptian regime, for example, which came to power through a military coup against the democratically-elected president? Instead of condemning the regime in Cairo, its leader is feted in Western capitals and given ample funds and weapons to keep his people subdued enough not to think about electing a Muslim Brotherhood president ever again. The West doesn’t really support any democracy in the Muslim world, least of all in Turkey; it is only interested in making sure that Muslims are and remain disunited.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

PA security forces arrest two Palestinians in the West Bank

PA arresteert in Qalqilya

Palestinian Authority (PA) preventive security forces in Qalqilya arrested on Thursday evening Rafat al-Duwairi and extended the detention order against Mohammad Freij to 15 days for political reasons.

A Palestinian media source revealed that the PA intelligence forces in al-Khalil rounded up Amin al-Sous, an ex-detainee from Doura town in al-Khalil, after he had been summoned for questioning on Thursday.

The same apparatus in al-Khalil continued the arrest of the university student Bara Hmaidat for the eighth day in a row. Meanwhile, the PA preventive security forces in Ramallah maintained the detention of Nidal Erman for the fifth consecutive day, the source added.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Migrants left stranded between Algeria-Morocco border

Image of Moroccan police [file photo]

Image of Moroccan police [file photo]

Around 30 migrants have been “blocked in the no man’s land” between Morocco and Algeria after being driven back by the authorities of the two countries this week.

Some 34 people, including 12 minors, were arrested between 2-10 March by authorities in the city of Oujda in north-eastern Morocco while trying to reach the Spanish enclaves and taken to the border, the Accompaniment and Defence of Foreigners and Migrants (GADEM) said on Tuesday.

“Violence has accompanied the arrests and escorted them back to the border,” the association said, highlighting the “stick shots on the arms, head or legs.”

Read: Tensions between Algeria and Morocco at Arab League

Migrants were also “subjected to violence by the Algerian security forces while trying to reach the other side of the border,” according to the group speaking to witnesses.

The Moroccan police threw us here without any explanation. We are in a field between the border posts of the two countries. In front of us, there is a trench and then, a few tens of metres, the barracks of the Algerian military

Albert, who is part of the group of migrants, told France24.

The majority of the migrants were from the Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal, and are now “without water or food”.

“At first we had some cookies we shared. But there is nothing left. To feed us, we pick a plant that grows here and resembles the onion. To drink, we collect water in a kind of pond. I do not even know if it is safe,” Albert explained.

This operation comes as Morocco re-launched in mid-December its new migration policy first launched in 2013 in regulating migrants entering the country from Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Before the head of state decided on a radical change in migration policy, the Moroccan authorities sometimes threw the migrants away, and the Algerians did the same,” sociologist and president of GADEM, Mehdi Alioua, explained while speaking to AFP.

Since the end of February, raids by the authorities have intensified in northern Morocco and regular migrants are sometimes the ones to pay. Facial controls have become frequent, based solely on the colour of the skin.

Fifteen associations, including GADEM released a statement this week calling for “the immediate cessation of violence at the borders as much on the Moroccan side as Algerian” and the readmission of the people rejected from Moroccan territory.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Israel demolishes Bedouin home, 6 homeless

Palestinian women inspects the debris in al-Khan al-Ahmar after Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of her home [Hamza Shalash/Apaimages]

Palestinian women inspects the debris left behind after Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of her home

Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home in the Bedouin village of Umm Batin in the Negev desert in southern Israel yesterday morning, locals told Ma’an.

According to locals, Israeli police raided Umm Batin and escorted bulldozers into the village, demolishing a wooden house belonging to Faris Abu Kaf.

Read: Israel demolishes Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb for 110th time

Abu Kaf, his wife, and their four children were left homeless as a result of the demolitions.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Locals highlighted that Israeli authorities have carried out demolitions in the village despite the fact that, unlike many Bedouin villages in the Negev, Umm Batin was officially recognised by the state in 2005.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Mass funeral for Basil al-Araj today in Palestine; protests in solidarity in New York City, elsewhere

Slain Palestinian youth leader Basil al-Araj will be buried today in his hometown of al-Walaja near Bethlehem in a mass funeral. His body has been held captive by Israeli occupation forces since 6 March, when they killed him as he resisted their invasion of the home where he was staying in El-Bireh.

Al-Araj’s family announced that occupation forces will turn over his body at 4:00 pm local time in Palestine and that his funeral ceremony will begin the moment that his body is returned. Prayers will be held adjacent to the family home in the street, and only Palestinian flags will be carried in the funeral procession to the cemetery, where he will be buried. Condolences will be accepted by the family in al-Araj’s parents’ home. His body will be returned without conditions, after an ongoing struggle for 11 days to demand the return of the captive body as occupation forces attempted to impose numerous conditions upon the funeral.

Palestinians called for broad participation in the funeral and organizers throughout Palestine planned to travel to join in the mass tribute to al-Araj’s life and confrontation of the occupation.

Additional organizations, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian leftist political party, urged simultaneous mobilizations and the organizing of symbolic funerals, saying that “the organizing of symbolic funerals in Palestine and in exile represent a tribute to the martyr, upholding his values and principles as a leader among young Palestinians, dedicated to the culture of resistance as a way of life and as a means of resisting the occupation and all of its projects.”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is organizing a protest in New York City today, Friday, 17 March, to protest the murder of Basil al-Araj and Israeli policies of imprisonment and assassination. Protesters will gather at 5:30 pm at Union Square Best Buy, 52 E. 14th Street, in New York City. All are welcome to attend the protest, participate in the demonstration and demand justice for Basil al-Araj.

Al-Araj was shot down by Israeli occupation forces on Monday morning, 6 March, resisting until the end. The prominent youth activist had gone underground following his release from a Palestinian Authority prison after a hunger strike; al-Araj and five of his comrades had been arrested by PA security forces in April 2016 in a case touted at the time by PA President Mahmoud Abbas as an important achievement for PA/Israel security coordination. They were tortured and imprisoned for five months without charges before being released after a hunger strike. Four of Basil’s comrades, Haitham Siyaj, Mohammed Harb, Mohammed al-Salameen and Seif al-Idrissi, have now been seized by Israeli occupation forces and are held without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Following his assassination, Palestinians have taken the streets in Palestine and internationally to demand justice for al-Araj and an end to PA security coordination with Israel, including in New York, Washington, Brussels, Berlin, London, Vienna, Gaza City, Haifa, Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, Dheisheh refugee camp and Ramallah. The Ramallah and Dheisheh protests were violently attacked by PA forces in an attempt to suppress them, sparking growing demands against the PA’s continued involvement with the imprisonment of Palestinians for the benefit of the occupation.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

Head of UN agency resigns over report that accuses Israel of imposing ‘apartheid regime’


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has reportedly resigned over the publication of a report by the UN agency that concluded that Israel was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” of imposing apartheid policies against Palestinians, and urged the international community to abide by its “legal obligation” to punish such discriminatory measures.

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said she resigned following pressure from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw a report, Reuters news agency reported Friday evening.
ESCWA, which comprises 18 Arab states, had said it was the first time a UN body had clearly accused Israel of being an apartheid regime. “Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law,” an executive summary of the report read.
While the report garnered praise from Palestinians, Israeli officials were quick to denounce it, comparing it to Nazi propaganda and calling for Guterres to publicly reject it. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric later reportedly said that the report was published without consultation with the UN secretariat.
Guterres asked the commission to remove the report from its website, Reuters quoted a UN official as saying, and in a press conference in Beirut on Friday, Khalaf also told reporters the Guterres insisted on the withdrawal of the report.
“Based on that, I submitted to him my resignation from the United Nations,” Khalaf reportedly said.
Nonetheless, Khalaf stood by the report, calling it the “first of its kind” from a UN agency that sheds light on “the crimes that Israel continues to commit against the Palestinian people, which amount to war crimes against humanity.”
Meanwhile, Alaa Tartir, program director for Palestinian think tank al-Shabaka, had told Ma’an that the report was “very important, evidence-based, embedded in international law, and reflects the apartheid nature of the one-state reality in Palestine/Israel.”
Tartir said at the time of the report’s publication that he was hopeful that it could bring about positive change after decades of military occupation and political stalemate.
“All these policy recommendations, if and when implemented, can be a game changer and will change the existing skewed power dynamics,” he said.
“Palestinian must make best use of the findings of this report and demand accountability mechanisms to ensure that the set of conclusions and recommendations are implemented and translated into political and legal actions.”
The report, which Khalaf had said had been prepared at the request of ESCWA member states, was no longer visible on the commission’s website on Friday.
Palestinians, activists, and a number of intellectuals have increasingly compared Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory with an apartheid system over the years, and sought to use similar tactics as those that took down the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement founded in 2005 as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law has been largely influenced by the South African anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s.
(Source / 17.03.2017)