One dead, 14 injured as Muslim, Hindu students clash in India

Violence India

NEW DELHI: One person was killed and about 14 injured when violence erupted following a scuffle between Muslim and Hindu school students in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, a senior administrative official said on Sunday.
A crowd of about 5,000 people attacked Muslim residents, and set dozens of homes and vehicles on fire at Vadavali village in Patan district on Saturday after Hindu students complained of misbehavior by Muslim students, said K. K. Nirala, the district’s top administrative official.
Members of the Muslim community retaliated by throwing stones, and police used teargas and fired seven rounds to disperse the crowd and control the violence, Nirala said.
Gujarat has a history of serious communal trouble.
Rioters killed about 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, in the state 2002, according to estimates.
Modi was chief minister at the time and he was accused of turning a blind eye to one of the worst outbreaks of religious violence in India.
Modi denied any involvement in the unrest and in 2013, a panel appointed by the Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.
Nirala said the situation had been brought under control and three companies of the State Reserve Police have been asked to stay in the village to maintain peace.
(Source / 26.03.2017)

Israel orders Palestinian families in Jordan Valley to evacuate homes for military drills

Jordaan Vallei Jericho

Bedouin shepherds walk past tents set up in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces notified several Palestinian families in the northern Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank on Sunday that they would have to evacuate their homes on Wednesday to make way for Israeli military training exercises, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlement activities and Israeli violations, told Wafa that Israeli forces ordered more than 10 Palestinian families in the Ras al-Ahmar area northeast of Tubas to leave their homes starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday until 5 a.m. on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Israeli media reported on Sunday that the Israeli army had announced that military drills were set to take place in several areas of the occupied West Bank this week between Sunday and Thursday.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports.
Rights groups have said that Israeli military training zones, known as a “firing zones,” are used as a pretext to fully annex portions of the occupied West Bank.
Nearly 20 percent of the occupied West Bank has been declared “firing zones” since the 1970s, but according to the UN, nearly 80 percent of these areas are not in fact used for military training.
However, when military training does take place, Israel forces families to leave their homes for hours or days at a time until the drill is over.
Communities that find themselves inside declared “firing zones” face a high risk of losing their livelihoods, homes, and schools.
Forming a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control — the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel’s occupation in 1967.
(Source / 26.03.2017)

Israeli forces fire at Palestinian fishermen, agricultural lands in Gaza

Aanval grens Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire along the border with the southern besieged Gaza Strip on two separate instances on Sunday morning, with no injuries being reported in either case.

The Israeli navy’s gunboats opened fire at unarmed Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis, local sources said.Separately, Israeli troops opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands east of al-Qarara in Khan Yunis.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she was “not familiar” with either of the incidents.
Israeli army incursions inside the Palestinian territory have long been a near-daily occurrence, as the Israeli army regularly opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen and farmers along the border areas if they approach Israel’s unilaterally declared “buffer zone,” which lies on both the land and sea sides of Gaza.
The practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sector of the blockaded coastal enclave.
(Source / 26.03.2017)

Fuqaha’s wife calls for retaliation to her husband’s assassination

Nahed Aseeda vrouw van Mazen Fuqaha

Nahed Aseeda, wife of martyr Mazen Fuqaha, called on Sunday on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which she considered one indivisible unit, to respond to her husband’s assassination.

During a conference about the Palestinian women at the Islamic University in Gaza on Sunday, Aseeda asked the security services in Gaza to track down the murderers of her husband, expressing concern that Fuqaha’s assassination might be the first of many to come.

Aseeda affirmed that she will raise her children following the same path of her husband, pointing out that she used to be proud for being a wife of a freed prisoner, and now she is even more proud for being a wife of a martyr.

She added, “I am going to continue my life and get a master’s degree so that Mazen will be happy.”

Aseeda talked about her husband’s love for Gaza and his pride for being expelled to it, explaining that this attachment was manifested through the Safad operation which he planned in retaliation for assassinating the Gaza-based al-Qassam Brigades commander Salah Shehade.

(Source / 26.03.2017)

53 settlers storm al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli police protection

Bestorming Al Aqsa

Dozens of Israeli settlers and members of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) broke into al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards under the protection of the Israeli police.

According to Quds Press news agency, 53 settlers stormed the courtyard of al-Aqsa Mosque from Bab al-Magharbeh, which has been under full Israeli control since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, before the Israeli police closed the gate at 11 am.

Quds Press pointed out that the tours included some of the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque within a specific route ending with Bab al-Silsileh where the settlers performed Talmudic rites and prayers after exiting it, noting that other incursions were conducted after the noon prayer.

1,599 Israelis broke into the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque during February 2017 including 118 soldiers and Shin Bet members and 517 students and guides.

(Source / 26.03.2017)

UN commission approves draft resolution on Palestinian women

Palestinian woman releases paper ships, reading 'Save the Gazan Women' and 'We Want Honourable Life' to the sea to draw attention to Israeli blockade on Gaza on March 09, 2017 [Mohammed Talatene / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian woman releases paper ships, reading ‘Save the Gazan Women’ and ‘We Want Honourable Life’ to the sea to draw attention to Israeli blockade on Gaza on March 09, 2017

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women approved a draft resolution on Saturday regarding the status of Palestinian women, including strengthening economic and social policies to enhance the situation of women in the occupied territory, while strongly condemning Israel’s human rights violations in the Palestinian territory.

The draft resolution, titled “situation of and assistance to Palestinian women,” was adopted with 30 countries voting in favour and 12 abstentions. Israel was the only country to vote against the resolution.

The text of the resolution expressed “deep concern” over the “ongoing illegal Israeli occupation and all of its manifestations,” specifically outlining the effects Israel’s illegal settlement construction, continued home demolitions, and imprisonment has had on Palestinian women.

The UN also cited the high rates of poverty in the Palestinian territory, along with “unemployment, food insecurity, inadequate water supply and unsafe drinking water, shortages of electricity and fuel, incidents of domestic violence and declining health, education and living standards, including the rising incidence of trauma and the decline in psychological well-being,” as having an increasingly adverse effect on the women, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The resolution also noted the UN’s “grave concern” over “all acts of violence, intimidation and provocation by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians,” while highlighting the “excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israeli occupying forces” that has caused the deaths of scores of Palestinian civilians, including women and girls.

The situation in the Gaza Strip was underscored in the resolution, particularly the effects following Israel’s 2014 military offensive that left thousands of Palestinian civilians killed, including women and children, and the devastating toll it has taken on the coastal enclave’s basic infrastructure.

Read: Israel bans women’s day event in East Jerusalem

Responsibility of the International Community

The UN encouraged the international community to “ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity, ensure justice, deter further violations, protect civilians and promote peace,” and to continue providing urgent assistance to Palestinians suffering from a nearly half century Israeli military occupation and a decade-long Israeli siege.

The UN “reaffirms that the Israeli occupation remains the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society,” the resolution read, while highlighting the importance of increasing Palestinian women’s roles in decision-making in “conflict prevention and resolution,” and their equal participation in solving all aspects of the conflict.

A statement released by the UN following the passage of the draft resolution stated that the United States representative had called the report “biased,” and that the US delegation was opposed to the “one-sided condemnations” of Israeli violations against Palestinians.

Read: Women make up half of Palestinian population

Spain, Israel & Palestine reacts

Meanwhile, Spain’s representative expressed the delegation’s “deep concern” over the impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has had on Palestinian women in response to the resolution. However, Spain had abstained from voting owing to concerns over the text of the resolution that they said expressed issues that should be dealt with by the General Assembly.

Israel’s representative said that the resolution “had nothing to do with the situation of women,” according to the UN’s statement. Instead of outlining serious issues affecting women, the Israeli representative said, the aim of the resolution was to “attack Israel,” adding that Israel had “always been committed to improving women’s lives everywhere.”

The Palestinian representative, in contrast, applauded the resolution saying that it “reaffirmed the fundamental legal principles underlying the search for a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to the UN statement. The representative was quoted as saying:

If Israel were really supportive of Palestinian women everywhere, as we have just heard, then the only thing that should be done is for it to end its occupation

(Source / 26.03.2017)

Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians in West Bank raids

10 Palestijnen opgepakt

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 10 Palestinians in multiple predawn military raids Sunday across the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement.

In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained Raafat al-Tarada in the village of Taffuh west of Hebron city.
Locals in the village said that Israeli troops stormed an apartment building and proceeded to raid and ransack al-Tarada’s home, before they detained him and also seized a camera drone from the apartment.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Hebron.
Also in the south, PPS said that five Palestinians were detained in the Bethlehem district, identified as Muhammad Mamun Khalaf, his cousin Muhammad Mumin Khalaf, Ibrahim Issam Hamamra, Fadi al-Baw, and Khalid Hasan Ubayyat.
In Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli troops detained 26-year-old Ahmad Saleh Awni, the PPS statement said.
In northernmost district of Jenin, Israeli forces detained Rami Hisham Abu Farha, Manaf Ahmad Abu Farha, and Tariq Khalil Shaaban, according to PPS.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three Palestinians were detained in Jenin, saying the detentions were carried out in the village of al-Jalama, located along the northern edge of the district near the border with Israel.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank. The UN recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the occupied West Bank in 2016, and 73 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.
(Source / 26.03.2017)

Palestinian police detain 3 ‘dangerous fugitives’ in Hebron

PA arresteren in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Palestinian police on Sunday said they arrested three “dangerous fugitives” in the Hebron district of the southern occupied West Bank, according to a police spokesperson.

Luay Irzeiqat said in the written statement that two of the “wanted” men were arrested inside a house in the Jabal Juhar neighborhood of Hebron city, an area under full Israeli military control, and that a third was arrested in the Zeif area in southern Hebron.
Irzeiqat described the suspects, who remained unidentified, as “three of the most dangerous fugitives (in the occupied West Bank), who stand accused of 60 different crimes including theft, fraud, shooting, and terrifying citizens.”
The arrests came amid a security crackdown by Palestinian security forces to seize weapons and detain “wanted criminals” across the West Bank, as part of the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, which has been denounced by critics as a “revolving door policy” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.
The security coordination has been the target of growing criticism in recent weeks, as detention raids by Palestinian police have sparked violent clashes, and after a prominent Palestinian activist was killed by Israeli forces, months after he was released from Palestinian custody. Basel al-Araj’s killing inspired anti-PA protests, which were violently suppressed by Palestinian police.
(Source / 26.03.2017)

Abbas receives German ‘Hope for Peace’ prize amid growing Palestinian discontent

Abbas prijs

DORTMUND (Ma’an) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a special “Hope for Peace” prize at the Steiger Award ceremony in Germany on Saturday.

The Steiger Award said on its website that it had chosen to hand the prize to Abbas as a “clear signal” vis-a-vis the stagnating Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In a speech during the ceremony in the German city of Dortmund, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority (PA), which he heads, had created a committee to “maintain and support tolerance and coexistence” between Palestinians and Israelis, with the goal of achieving a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
Abbas stated that the Palestinian struggle against Israel was not anti-Semitic, “but rather against occupation which controls our people and land,” restating his respect for Judaism.
Abbas added that the PA stood against “terrorism, violence, and extremism in our region and in the world, regardless of its source or its types.”
Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, denounced on Sunday Abbas’ statements in Germany regarding a two-state solution, saying that the PA president’s stance on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only laid claim to 22 percent of historical Palestine for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Such small demands, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said, were “extremely dangerous” and constituted a “national crime that negates the Palestinian people’s right in their lands and strengthen the occupation.”
While the Steiger Award says it recognizes individuals for their “straightforwardness, openness, humanity and tolerance,” Abbas has faced growing anger at home.
Elected president of the PA in 2005, Abbas indefinitely extended his mandate in 2009.
In the 12 years of Abbas’ rule, the PA has been on the receiving end of mounting criticism over its corruption and seeming inability to advance towards a just solution for Palestinians.
However, it is the PA’s security coordination with Israel — which has been denounced by critics as a “revolving door policy” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons — which has become the most prominent target for critics of Abbas’ government, as detention raids by Palestinian police have sparked violent clashes, in recent weeks.
The killing of prominent Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj at the hands of Israeli forces earlier this month, months after he was released from Palestinian custody, has also inspired anti-PA protests, which were violently suppressed by Palestinian police.
(Source / 26.03.2017)

Israel authorities in Ktziot prison quash memorial for assassinated Hamas member


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) –The Israel Prison Service (IPS) prevented Palestinian prisoners in Ktziot prison from organizing a mourning gathering for Mazen Fuqahaa, after the Shalit-deal prisoner and Hamas leader was killed in the Gaza Strip on Friday, in what Hamas has branded an assassination by Israel.

The Gaza-based prisoners’ rights group Muhjat al-Quds Foundation said in a statement  that IPS authorities dispersed a gathering held to commemorate Fuqahaa, and also prevented prisoners from organizing any activity in solidarity with him, according to a letter from prisoners in the Negev-region prison.
The letter said prison authorities also placed Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoner Jumaa Abdullah al-Tayih in solitary confinement, along with three other unidentified Hamas-affiliated prisoners.
IPS also tried to move all Hamas and Islamic Jihad affiliated prisoners from Section 5 to Section 22 of the prison, “but they refused to move,” according to the statement.
IPS authorities have regularly used raids, punitive solitary confinement, confiscation of personal belongings, and forcible prison transfers to suppress resistance among Palestinian prisoners.
A spokesperson for IPS could not immediately be reached for comment on the measures in Ktziot.
Fuqahaa, a well known Hamas leader, was shot with four bullets to the head in front of a residence in southwestern Gaza City on Friday night, with Hamas officials saying the assassination was carried out with a silenced gun by assailants who were “collaborating” with Israel. Hamas has yet to provide proof to support the accusation.
Hamas authorities in Gaza have since imposed a fierce security crackdown inside the besieged Gaza Strip in an attempt to investigate the killing and apprehend the assailants.
Fuqahaa, from the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas, served nine years out of nine life sentences in Israeli custody, before he was released in 2012 as part of Gilad Shalit prisoners exchange deal. He was then exiled to the besieged Gaza Strip.
According to Palestinian prisoners solidarity network Samidoun, Fuqahaa was detained three times by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank before ultimately being apprehended by Israel in 2002 in a siege that lasted six hours. He was accused of planning a suicide bombing in northern Israel in 2002 that left nine people dead and tens of others wounded, according to Israeli media.
(Source / 26.03.2017)