Overnight clashes with Israeli soldiers in Nablus city

Night clashes Nablus

Violent clashes broke out last night and at dawn Monday in Nablus city after thousands of Jewish settlers stormed Joseph’s Tomb and its vicinity under military protection in order to perform rituals.

Eyewitnesses told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that one bulldozer escorted by a large number of Israeli troops aboard military vehicles entered some neighborhoods at the eastern entrance to Nablus city.

They added that Israeli soldiers broke into the Nablus municipality’s fire station and detained several firemen.

Earlier, more than 50 military vehicles came to Joseph’s Tomb before midnight and soon later buses and cars carrying scores of Jewish settlers arrived in the area under military guard.

Consequently, the unwelcome presence of Israeli troops and settlers in the city provoked overnight clashes with local young men.

Local sources said that violent clashes took place in Amman street and expanded to the northern entrance to Balata refugee camp.

They added that many citizens inside homes and young protesters suffered from inhaling tear gas and three young men were arrested during the events.

According to eyewitnesses, a number of youths tried to set Joseph’s Tomb on fire before the arrival of Israeli soldiers and settlers to the area, but security elements from the Palestinian Authority prevented them from doing so. However, they managed to throw Molotov cocktails at the exterior walls of the mausoleum.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

IPS transfers tens of hunger-striking prisoners to civilian hospitals, prison field clinics

36th day of hungerstrike

Freedom and Dignity strike: Some of Palestine’s most high-profile prisoners. From left to right: Fouad Shubaki, Nael Barghouthi, Karim Yunis, Ahmad Saadat, Marwan Barghouthi

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A number of Palestinian prisoners who entered their 36th day of mass hunger strike on Monday have been transferred to civilian hospitals, as Israeli authorities moved tens of prisoners into prison field clinics, according to the media committee formed to support the hunger strikers.

Some 1,300 hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.
Prisoners continue to be transferred to hospitals, field clinics
Hebrew media sites reported that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred 70 hunger-striking prisoners to a number of Israeli civilian hospitals due to a “serious deterioration” in their health conditions.
Sites said that the 70 prisoners were transferred to the Assaf Harofeh, Soroka, Barzilai, Hamek and Beilinson hospitals in Israel.
An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, the hunger strike media committee reported that a number of hunger-striking prisoners held in central Israel’s Ramla prison were evacuated to hospitals inside Israel.
The committee quoted lawyer Ehab al-Ghalith, who visited prisoners Hafith Sharayaa and Mansour Fawaqa, as saying that hunger strikers were showing “dangerous symptoms,” such as losing consciousness repeatedly, nausea, vomiting, severe head and limb pains, low blood pressure, low heart rates, and weight loss of at least 15 kilograms.
The two prisoners told al-Ghalith that at least 72 hunger-strikers were being held in Ramla, in “despotic and disastrous conditions.”
In a separate statement,the media committee said that IPS officials in southern Israel’s Ashkelon prison were planning on moving all hunger-striking prisoners to the prison’s field clinic by the end of the day on Monday.A lawyer of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs visited hunger-striking prisoners in Ashkelon prison on Monday, and reported that the health conditions of the hunger strikers are “worsening,” highlighting that a number of them have stopped consuming water.
The lawyer quoted prisoners as saying that 45 of 60 prisoners on hunger strike have been “continuously fainting since Monday morning,” but confirmed that “they are still determined to continue the strike until their demands are met.”
The media committee highlighted that the prisons’ field, which had been set up since the beginning of the strike, were not well equipped and lacked the basic amenities of civilian hospitals.
Additionally, added the statement, prisoners have said that doctors who run the clinics have tried to “blackmail” prisoners into ending their strike, and have displayed a variety of foods across the field clinics.
Solidarity events continue in support of hunger strikers
In the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, tens of Palestinians gathered in Manger Square, outside the Nativity Church — where US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit on Tuesday — and protested the president’s visit as they expressed solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners.
“We came to tell you that the one who decides the fate of Palestinian people are the Palestinian refugee camps and not the Americans, the cause of the camps is the cause of all Palestinians,” one protester shouted, as dozens others gathered around him.
“The fate of Jerusalem can’t be decided by Trump, for Jerusalem is Arab; Jerusalem is Palestinian, and we decide its fate, not the Americans. The only ones who supported Palestinian people are the heroic prisoners, they are strugglers, fighting with only their bodies,” the man said.
Meanwhile in Gaza, members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in Gaza organized a crowded march in the central coastal enclave’s Gaza City, with protesters holding signs in support of prisoners and shouting slogans condemning IPS’ refusal to negotiate with prisoners and the silence of the international community towards the strike.
DFLP leader in Gaza City Ahmad Saed gave a speech to the crowd, calling upon the international community and legal institutions “to stop being silent and start saving the lives of hunger-striking prisoners,” as well as on all Palestinians to continue participating in solidarity marches and sit-ins.
36th day of hungerstrike1
36th day of hungerstrike2
Fadwa Barghouthi, member of the Fatah revolutionary council and wife of Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah official leading the hunger strike, participated in a sit-in on Monday along with a number Palestinian mothers of hunger- striking prisoners, inside the shrine of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.
36th day of hungerstrike3
(Source / 22.05.2017)

Seif Welcomes the Riyadh Declaration, Stresses Iran Is Main Sponsor of Terrorism in the Region

President of the Syrian Coalition Riyad Seif welcomed the Riyadh declaration issued at the end of the Arab-Islamic-US summit in the Saudi capital. He stressed the need to combat extremist groups, chiefly among them are ISIS, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda.

Seif said that Iran is responsible for the emergence of terrorist organizations in the region as it supports the Assad regime criminal and sectarian militias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Tehran’s actions in Syria led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the displacement of millions more, Seif said. He called on all countries around the world to stand up to Iran and isolate it as it continues to support terrorism.

Seif expressed hope that the outcome of the summit will be translated into action through standing up to the Iranian militias and forcing them to leave Syria and all countries of the region. “Dialogue and rapprochement, the approach adopted by former President Barack Obama, no longer works with Iran, he added, stressing Iran instead must be dealt with the utmost firmness.”

Seif described US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region “as historic as it rearranges the priorities of the region and restore stability.”

The Free Syrian Army is a true partner of all forces wishing to fight terrorism, Seif said. He added that Syria’s mainstream rebels are fighting Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Assad regime and the Iranian-backed sectarian militias.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 22.05.2017)

Settlers torch Palestinian agricultural land south of Nablus

Settlers torch Yitzhar

Fanatic Jewish settlers of the illegal West Bank settlement of Yitzhar torched on Monday Palestinian agricultural lands west of Bourin town, south of Nablus city.

Official of settlement file in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said that large land areas planted with olive trees were gutted in the fire.

255 settlements and 163 outposts, with the population of 620,000 settlers, are illegally established over the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The settlers carry out semi-daily attacks against Palestinians.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

Can a consensus candidate be found to challenge Egypt’s Sisi?

Former presidential candidate and leftist Hamdeen Sabahi is pictured during a protest against restrictions on the press, Cairo, Egypt, May 4, 2016

CAIRO — Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate, has called on political and partisan forces to establish what he called a “united national front” to select a candidate for presidential elections scheduled for May 2018. In a May 5 speech at a gathering to announce the launch of the Karama Movement — the unification of the Karama Party and the Egyptian Popular Current, which he founded — Sabahi said that the front must include national and partisan leaders and serve as a “revolution organizer.”

Sabahi severely criticized President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government at the meeting. “The time has come for change and for facing an incompetent and failed authority,” he said. “Sisi’s regime has become a threat to the Egyptian state. It is the worst aspect of the policies that the people revolted against in the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution.”

This is not the first time that Sabahi has advocated for consensus among civil society forces. In March 2016, he issued a statement calling on political forces to come together to create what he called “the alternative,” to advance the principle of pluralism. Only a failed state “produces one party and one man,” he argued.

Sabahi ran in the 2012 presidential elections and won 5 million votes, coming in third behind Mohammed Morsi, the winner, and Ahmed Shafiq. In the 2014 presidential elections, however, he only garnered 3% of the total votes, with Sisi ultimately declared the winner.

Mohammed Bassiouni, general-secretary of the Karama Movement, told Al-Monitor that the idea to form a united national front emerged after six months of deliberations among the Civil Democratic Current — which includes the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Dustour Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, the Justice Party, and the Bread and Freedom Party — and added that discussion is ongoing with other parties to encourage them to join the front.

Bassiouni said that building a united front is an attempt to counter the current regime’s efforts to “nationalize partisan work and monopolize the political scene.” The front also aims to provide an “alternative to the current policies.” It will not support a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections if there are no guarantees that the elections will be fair and transparent.

Asked about the move, Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, said it was a good idea, but its impact would be limited. He told Al-Monitor that political forces have little clout in Egypt due to the restrictions imposed by the current regime on political actors and freedom of political expression. Such pressures weaken the impact of initiatives like Bassiouni’s on the public’s voting habits.

Essam Heggy, a space science researcher who served as scientific adviser to former interim President Adly Mansour in 2013, said that Sabahi’s attempt to form a front in preparation for the 2018 elections falls within the framework of networking among “forces of change to correct the mistakes of the past.”

In August 2016, Heggy launched Presidential Team 2018, an initiative similarly focused on coordinating with political forces and supporting a candidate for elections with a program aimed at developing educational and cultural institutions, improving the economy, fighting poverty and unemployment, promoting women’s status and roles, drafting a law on civil status, establishing religious equality and developing the health sector. The initiative adopted a four-month timetable for implementing its goals but did not specify mechanisms for achieving them.

Some believe the initiative’s image and membership are being distorted by the media, some of which accuse it of trying to destabilize the country and charge that its goals are murky. Some media figures known to be close to the government have accused members of being paid to attack Egypt. Members also feel under threat of prosecution. One member has been arrested and accused of trying to overthrow the regime and misusing social media. The initiative considers any arrests preludes to the presidential election, as the regime moves to muzzle any opposition.

“The interference of some security services and their opposition to such initiatives,” Heggy told Al-Monitor, is the reason behind the failure of political forces’ initiatives to build an effective consensus and present a joint presidential candidate. He sees the activities of the security services as spreading chaos and violence.

Sisi, who is of course expected to run in 2018, will likely present his presidential candidacy as a calling as he did in August 2016 at a press conference when he said, “If the will of the Egyptian people requires me to run for another term, I will do so.”

On Oct. 22, 2016, the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research announced that the percentage of Egyptians who approved of Sisi’s performance was declining. That month, 28 months after taking office, his approval rating stood at 68%, down from around 82% in August and some 91% in July.

Heggy described the elections as a “historic” battle, should any candidate actually be able to compete with Sisi, and that he does not expect a decisive victory by Sisi, as in 2014. That said, he acknowledged, it all depends on two factors: that the elections be conducted fairly and transparently, and that Egyptians be conscientious about voting.

Presidential Team 2018 issued a statement May 13 in which it set its requirements before participating in the presidential elections. Chief among them is establishing a national election commission (to replace the judicial supreme committee that currently oversees elections), ending the state of emergency, releasing prisoners of conscience and expression, allowing candidates to hold party conventions without security permits, refraining from prosecuting members of electoral campaigns and holding transparent elections.

Heggy said he would consult with civil forces in the coming period in order to back one candidate. “I think it will either be Hisham Genina or Khaled Ali,” he said.

Genina was the former head of the government’s Central Auditing Organization (CAA) until a decree by Sisi removed him from office in March 2016 after his organization uncovered corruption in state agencies. Genina had said in December 2015 that the corruption involved 600 billion Egyptian pounds (about $33 billion), based on the analysis conducted when he was head of the CAA.

Meanwhile, Ali’s name began to be mentioned more frequently after he joined the legal team opposing ratification of the April 2016 agreement demarcating the maritime border between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and returning Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi sovereignty. He had run in the 2012 presidential elections, taking seventh place in the first round of voting.

Asked about his expectations for the elections, Sayyid remarked that Egypt’s political climate today is different from that surrounding the 2012 and 2014 elections. He said that unlike the immediate post-revolutionary period, there is reluctance on the part of the public today to participate in political life because they do not expect any civilian candidate to be able to win.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

IOF arrests two juveniles after shooting at them in al-Khalil

Wad Qubboun

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Monday morning two Palestinian minors in Wad Qubboun neighborhood west of al-Khalil after chasing and shooting at them.

Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that both juveniles, who have not been identified yet, were captured during clashes that erupted in al-Ramah Suburb in the city between Palestinian youths and IOF soldiers.

In another context, Israeli forces fired tear gas grenades at the home of al-Himouni family in down al-Khalil. The owner of the house suffered breathing problems due to the intensive firing of teargas canisters.

IOF troops also erected a military barrier at the entrance of Beit Ummar town, north of the city, and stopped the passing by cars for search purposes.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

IOF kills Palestinian minor after alleged stabbing attempt

Killing Palestinian Container Barrier

A Palestinian young man was killed by Israeli gunfire on Monday evening at the so-called Container Barrier to the northeast of Bethlehem after an alleged stabbing attempt.

Israeli police said, in a statement on Monday, that a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from Bethlehem, tried to carry out a stabbing attack against an Israeli soldier in northeastern Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers immediately shot and neutralized the attacker, the police added.

The police later on affirmed the death of the Palestinian attacker, who has not been identified yet, and said no injuries were sustained among the Israeli soldiers.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that Israeli occupation forces banned Palestinian Red Crescent Society teams from approaching the wounded boy and left him bleeding to death.

A big number of of Israeli soldiers rushed to the scene, closed the barrier in both directions, and started search operations and investigation into the incident. A severe traffic jam resulted from the closure of the barrier.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

62 Palestinians from Gaza visit imprisoned relatives in Ramon

Visit relatives Ramon prison.jpg

62 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip left the coastal enclave Monday morning through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint after they were granted permission to visit their imprisoned relatives in Ramon prison.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson in Gaza Suheir Zaqout affirmed that 62 Palestinian from Gaza visited 40 Palestinian prisoners held in Ramon prison through facilitation from the ICRC.

Zaqout added that there were 12 children among the visitors.

More than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are currently forgoing food for the 35th consecutive day in protest against their difficult detention conditions in Israeli prisons and demanding basic rights that were withdrawn from them by the Israeli Prison Service.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

Hamas: Trump’s speech aimed at dividing the Muslim nation

Hamas and speech Trump

The Hamas Movement has said that US president Donald Trump’s speech on Sunday in Saudi Arabia carried a bad message to the region and was intended to divide the Muslim nation.

In a press release on Sunday, Hamas said that Trump ignored in his speech Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

“This is a message of aggression that is biased in favor of the Zionist enemy and its gross violations against the Islamic and Christian holy sites,” the Movement stated.

The Movement called on all Arab and Muslim leaders to be vigilant and close ranks to confront what it called “the new invasion and terrorism which the US administration led by Trump wants to impose on the Arab and Islamic regions in order to politically blackmail them.”

Hamas emphasized that the resistance is a legitimate and sacred right to liberate the occupied land and holy sites, condemning Trump for labeling the Movement as one of the terror groups in the region and denying the Palestinian people their right to defend themselves.

(Source / 22.05.2017)

Peace Now: 70% of new settlement construction outside blocs

Illegal settlement blocs

Some 70 percent of settlement construction in the West Bank last year took place outside the major settlement blocs, a Peace Now’s Settlement Watch annual construction report for 2016 revealed.

“Construction was largely focused in isolated settlements and in areas that are highly problematic in terms of a two state solution. Nearly 70 percent (1,263 housing units) of the new housing starts were in areas that are east of the proposed Geneva Initiative border, and 71 percent were in areas that are east of the built separation barrier (26 percent were east of the planned route of the barrier, and 45 percent in areas where the barrier is planned but not built),” Peace Now stated.

According to its report, there has been a 34 percent increase in construction starts in the West Bank in 2016 compared to the previous year, 2015.

During the reporting period, Israel’s settlement activities did not only include housing units but also public buildings such as schools and synagogues, bypass roads, new settlements, outposts, land grabs and expansion of settlement councils.

Peace Now said that Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to show restraint in order to save face among the international community, but on the ground construction is not only ongoing but also increasing, mainly in the most problematic areas for a future peace agreement.

“If the Israeli government is interested in a two-state solution, it must seize acting unilaterally in a way that makes this solution much more difficult to achieve,” Peace Now added.

(Source / 22.05.2017)