IOF arrests high school student in al-Khalil

High school student arrested

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested on Tuesday a high school student from Beit Ummar town to the north of al-Khalil city.

Local sources reported that the IOF stormed al-Bayada area in the town and raided the house of Ahmed Khlail before arresting his 18-year-old son Omar.

Omar, who has final exams these days, was transferred to Etzion interrogation center.

(Source / 20.06.2017)

IOF murders Palestinian youth after alleged stabbing attempt

Young man muredered at Jaba checkpoint

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot dead on Tuesday afternoon a Palestinian young man at Jaba military checkpoint near Ramallah after alleged stabbing attempt, according to Israeli channel seven.

Palestinian Health Ministry revealed, in a brief statement, that a Palestinian youth, whose identity has not been identified yet, was killed by Israeli gunfire at an Israeli barrier northeast of Occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 20.06.2017)

IDF prepares for future of war in region

Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade take part in a military training exercise in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, Syria, Jan. 19, 2015

June 14 saw the completion of an enormous Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commando brigade exercise in Cyprus. It was jointly conducted by the Cypriot army and hundreds of Israeli commando fighters and involved 10 Blackhawk helicopters from the Israeli air force, dogs and dog handlers from the IDF Special Forces Canine Unit (Oketz) and fighters from additional IDF units, such as combat engineering and intelligence. The drill was conducted in the Troodos Mountains. The Israeli soldiers were flown first to the Cypriot city of Paphos on IDF air force transport aircraft and from there to the mountains on Blackhawks. They practiced fighting in built-up environments (urban warfare), battling in mountainous areas and landing forces using helicopters in harsh terrain and at high altitude while working in close cooperation with foreign forces in unfamiliar arenas.

It is clear that the mountain range chosen for the drill closely resembles the topographic conditions in Lebanon, although no Israeli spokesperson has confirmed it. The last ground exercise conducted by Israel in Lebanon took place 11 years ago, in 2006, and was not very successful. In what Israelis call the Second Lebanon War, the IDF sent three armored divisions into extensive mountainous territory, which meant that its soldiers were exposed to Hezbollah rockets for hundreds of conspicuous meters. Since then, the IDF has been working on a new outline for ground maneuvers more closely adapted to the current reality and balance of power. “Next time, things will look completely different,” an army source told Al-Monitor, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The IDF of 2017 is completely different from the IDF that fought Hezbollah in July 2006. Years of cutbacks had caused the 2006 army to become a withered, untrained body lacking operational experience and precise goals. In the Lebanon war, the IDF unsuccessfully searched for its opponent on land, while Hezbollah fighters avoided all possible direct contact with Israeli armored divisions. Instead, the fighters confined themselves to targeting Israeli tanks and soldiers with Kornet missiles from afar with a certain degree of success.

This asymmetrical warfare took its greatest toll on the IDF — a cumbersome, heavy and highly visible entity fighting flexible guerrilla forces hidden on territory with which the latter were familiar. Israel learned its lesson in the decade that has passed. Its reserves deployment has been rehabilitated and enlarged. Its training-exercise system has been improved and upgraded. A commando brigade was established, with one of its units (Egoz) taking part in the Cypriot maneuver. Sophisticated training sites were created, and regional alliances were struck. These allow the IDF to train repeatedly with foreign forces and on territory with physical features like those on which future battles may well be fought.

A significant shift has occurred in the IDF’s perception in regard to fighting in a coalition of forces. Until recently, the Israeli army did not often conduct combat exercises with foreign forces, with the exception of the Americans. Israel focused on joint maneuvers with the US army, but no other countries. This has changed. The IDF’s operational view today does not negate, and perhaps even encourages, the creation of international coalitions and joint combat. The IDF of 2017 conducts maneuvers with the Greeks, the Cypriots and other armies while upgrading its inter-army cooperation abilities.

At this point in time, it is difficult to envision real fighting against real enemies in which additional forces would join those of the IDF. As people know in the Middle East, however, never say never. Against the backdrop of recent reports about feelers between Israel and Saudi Arabia on establishing economic relations and the half-secret alliance between Israel and the Sunni states, one must prepare for any possible scenario.

The commando unit maneuver in Cyprus was geared toward a possible future confrontation with Hezbollah, but not only that. The way things are developing on Israel’s northern front, scenarios now appear possible that one could not have imagined only a few years ago. Under certain circumstances, it is possible that the IDF would need to maneuver in Syrian, not Lebanese, territory.

As strange as it might sound, maneuvers in Syria at this point in time would be totally different from what the IDF prepared itself for in the past. Since the Syrian army has disintegrated, and Syrian armored units no longer feature in significant numbers, the IDF’s outlook on maneuvers has changed accordingly. This is the reason the light commando brigade was founded. The brigade moves about on helicopters, jeeps and other light forms of transport.

Israel does not preclude a future scenario involving a commando force maneuvering in Syria or in Lebanon to remove one kind of threat or another to Israeli national security. The days of maneuvers by armored divisions of hundreds of tanks have become obsolete. Now the territory belongs to those using fast, light and concealed forms of movement with the ability to deliver a powerful, unexpected blow with perfect timing to a precise location. That is, in essence, the story of the new Israeli commando brigade.

Still, the biggest threat currently facing Israel is not Syria, but Hezbollah’s arsenal of rockets and missiles. Despite the exhaustive training exercises being conducted with an eye on land maneuvers in Lebanon, the top Israeli conceptual hypothesis, backed by the current chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, does not view this as the most decisive element for winning a future skirmish. Eizenkot served as head of the Operations Directorate during the 2006 war. In post-factum analyses, Eizenkot felt that the war should have been halted after the first three days, during which Israel scored several important operational achievements as well as a hearts-and-minds victory. This, he felt, would have saved many lives and achieved a similar deterrence effect similar to what was gained after 33 days of warfare.

Nonetheless, Eizenkot is leading massive Israeli preparations geared toward the option of ground maneuvers. As far as we know at present, the chances that Israeli armored divisions will again invade southern Lebanon are not high. The next maneuver, if such takes place, will be much more rapid and flexible, a lot less armored and make much better use of the element of surprise. At least, that is what Israel hopes, and those are the skills that the IDF is developing toward a possible flare-up on the northern front. According to intelligence reports, the probability of such a flare-up is not high. Hezbollah is mired in Syria up to its neck, and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has no desire to open a second front at the moment. In the Middle East, however, logic, intelligence assessments and probabilities are not absolute. Anything and everything can happen at any given moment. Israel hopes that this time, it will be prepared.

(Source / 20.06.2017)

In Historic First, UNICEF Appoints Syrian Refugee Muzoon Almellehan as Goodwill Ambassador

In a historic first, UNICEF on Monday announced the appointment of Muzoon Almellehan, a 19-year-old education activist and Syrian refugee, as its newest, and youngest, Goodwill Ambassador.

Muzoon has been advocating for girls’ education since fleeing her hometown of Dara’a in 2013 to escape the war being waged by the Assad regime against the Syrian people.

Muzoon lived as a refugee for three years in Jordan before being resettled in the United Kingdom. It was during her 18 months in the Za’atari camp that she began advocating for children’s access to education, particularly for girls.

Muzoon, who received support from UNICEF while living in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, follows in the footsteps of the late Audrey Hepburn, a Goodwill Ambassador who was also supported by UNICEF as a child.

On the eve of World Refugee Day, on June 20, Muzoon sent a message to every refugee around the world: “Dear refugee, I want you to know that life will improve. Not long ago, my family and I were in your place. We were exhausted and terrified, unaware what lies on ahead. I was 14 years old, in the last month of the ninth grade when bombing started. I loved my house. It was a happy place, but we had to leave everything and look for another place to start again.”

Mazoon encouraged all refugees not to give up their hopes and dreams and to attend school, noting that education helps build a better future. Mazoon stressed that she will continue to work to support refugees and their right to education.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies / 20.06.2017)

Israeli measures stifle trade in Jerusalem

Palestinians shop at a market in preparation for Eid on 5 July 2016 [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

Palestinians shop at a market in preparation for Eid on 5 July 2016

Israel’s restrictive policies in the run up to the busy Eid shopping season are hindering trade in the old souq in Jerusalem.

Last week, 250,000 travel permits were revoked from Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank but work or travel to Israel, which has further reduced the customer base for stall holders.

The move came as a means of collective punishment implemented by Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the occupied territories, following an alleged stabbing attack which claimed the life of an armed female Israeli soldier.

Read: Israeli forces block off entrance to villages northeast of Ramallah

According to the Anadolu Agency, the punitive measures include setting up new military checkpoints and barricades in the areas around the holy city and reducing visitor numbers.


When the soldier was killed, Israeli occupation authorities ordered Palestinians to close their markets and imposed fines on traders who violated the order.

The slump in customers and sales has hit traders severely especially as many had begun preparation for the Muslim festival of Eid which is due to take place next week.

Preparing ourselves for the Eid, we imported the needed goods, suddenly, we found the markets empty and goods are collecting on shelves

shop keeper Sharif Abu-Ramleh said.

Trader Yousef Maswadeh added: “Revoking travel permits from the Palestinians in the West Bank was a painful hit to all of the traders in Jerusalem.”

(Source / 20.06.2017)

Journalist federation condemns block of Palestinian news sites

[file photo]

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to close down 11 Palestinian news agencies affiliated with political opponents of the President Mahmoud Abbas.

IFJ joined its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), today, in condemning the clamp down saying:

Blocking web sites and arresting journalists with opposing views is a grave breach of the Palestinian government’s commitment to press freedom and journalists’ fundamental rights.

Last week the PA took the drastic measure of blocking 11 news sites from being accessed in the occupied West Bank including the sites of the Palestinian Information Centre, the Shehab News Agency, the Voice of Fatah and others.

Even though all banned sites belonged to the critics of the Palestinian government, the PA denied its decision was politically motivated. The sites were blocked due to “a number of pending cases for reporting false information and being unethical,” PA officials said according to Ma’an News Agency.

Media groups strongly disagree with the PA and say that the clampdown is “a grave violation of the Palestinian fundamental rights.”

It undermines the ability of the citizens to access information and hear different views

said the PJS, while calling for the immediate lifting of the ban.

Read: UNHRC hears of PA violations against free speech

A number of journalists were arrested, without charge, following the clampdown including Dhaher Alshamaly, who had written an opinion piece which was critical of Abbas.

IFJ President Philippe Leruth condemned the ban and called on the PA to lift the sanction immediately and to release “our colleague Dhaher Alshamaly”.

(Source / 20.06.2017)

Freedom denied: Three years on the re-arrest of released prisoners from the Wafa al-Ahrar exchange

Celebration of release of Palestinian prisoners in Wafa al-Ahrar exchange

Dozens of Palestinian prisoners released in 2011 in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange have been imprisoned once more for over three years. 18 June 2017 marked the third anniversary of the seizure of 74 Palestinian prisoners released in the exchange agreement by Israeli occupation forces in mass arrests throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2014.

Nearly 60 of these Palestinian prisoners have had their original sentences reimposed under Article 186 of Israeli Military Order 1651, which created a special military committee to arbitrarily re-impose sentences upon former prisoners released in the exchange, usually on the basis of “secret evidence” or allegations of “violating their terms of release,” usually on the basis of “association” with prohibited organizations, which include all major Palestinian political parties.

Among the re-imprisoned Palestinian prisoners is Nael Barghouthi, who has spent the longest period of time in Israeli prisons – 37 years. While the military commission originally imposed an additional 30-month sentence on him after his arrest in June 2014, the Israeli occupation prosecution appealed his sentence and restored his original life sentence plus 18 years. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will be protesting for the release of Barghouthi in New York City on Friday, 30 June.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society noted that the reimposition of Palestinian prisoners’ former sentences continues, including that of Nayef Ghizan, who attended a hearing scheduled for him only to be seized by occupation forces and his sentence of life plus 30 years restored on the same day.

Amjad Abu Assab, the spokesperson of prisoners’ families in Jerusalem, was quoted in Quds News on the reimposition of released prisoners’ sentences.

He said that seven Jerusalemite Palestinians had their original sentences reimposed: Ala’a el-Din Bazian, 59; Nasser Abed Rabbo, 50; Jamal Abu Saleh, 53; Rajab al-Tahhan, 49; Adnan Maragha, 48; Samer Issawi, 38; and Ismail Hijazi, 36.

Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian political organizations and resistance movements have emphasized the critical importance of freeing these wrongfully imprisoned men whose original sentences were arbitrarily reimposed upon them as a form of collective punishment against former prisoners and their families. The release of the 57 prisoners has been held forward as a principal demand of the Palestinian resistance before any further negotiations for a future prisoner exchange will take place.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of all 57 of the re-arrested Palestinian prisoners, and all Palestinians imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

Military Order 1651 is used as a permanent threat against all former Palestinian prisoners as a constant criminalization of Palestinian existence and freedom. It serves as an attempt by the Israeli occupation to exclude the strugglers and leaders who have, in many cases, spent decades in Israeli prisons from Palestinian politics and the ongoing struggle for the freedom of their land and people. The arbitrary reimposition of former sentences on released prisoners is an attempt to terrorize all former Palestinian prisoners, their families and their communities.

(Source / 20.06.2017)

Report: Israeli army accelerating extensive surveillance network across West Bank

Zios going in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli news daily Haaretz published a report Sunday night, detailing the extensive network of surveillance cameras and “other monitoring devices” that the Israeli army has set up across the occupied Palestinian territory, boasting of the network’s effectiveness in “deterring attacks” on Israeli citizens and Israeli forces.According to Haaretz, the army accelerated the program over the past year, with more than 1,700 surveillance cameras already installed on roads, intersections, and in illegal settlements across the West Bank.“The army believes more cameras deter terror attacks and can aid in gathering intelligence that can help to capture perpetrators,” Haaretz said, adding that “the improved signals intelligence capabilities of the Shin Bet security service and Military Intelligence were an important component in Israel’s response to attacks by terror cells affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad,” during the Second Intifada.“Today’s challenges, however, are different. Most terror attacks are carried out by ‘lone wolves,’ acting without the backing of an organization, or by small, independent local cells. This development has made visual intelligence technology a more significant part of the Israeli defense program,” Haaretz — generally considered Israel’s most left-leaning newspaper — said.The narrative of “lone wolf” assailants under the influence of online incitement, which has been perpetuated by the current right-wing Israeli government, has been dismissed by analysts as overly simplistic.Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence that started in October 2015 and has largely been characterized by small-scale stabbing attacks against uniformed Israeli security forces.At sites where several attacks have occurred, like the Gush Etzion junction in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, cameras have been installed that provide 360-degree coverage.Along Route 443 from Jerusalem to the central Israeli city of Modiin, “an operations room has been set up that collects data from many cameras in an effort to reduce the number of stone-throwing and firebomb attacks on this major artery,” Haaretz said, adding that the army has boasted a drop in the number of “attacks” along the road in recent months.“There has also been increased use of drones, helmet-mounted cameras, and cameras installed on military patrol vehicles but also in the vehicles of civilian security personnel in the settlements.”According to Haaretz, the army’s goal is to “expand the system until there is a camera at every intersection and in as many Israeli vehicles in the territories as possible.”Haaretz described the extensive surveillance efforts as “supplements” to Israeli authorities’ crackdown on Palestinian social media activity, which has seen at least 800 Palestinians detained, by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities, in less than a year over social media activity, according to an April reportfrom Haaretz.

By contrast, a February report released by the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh documented that slanderous, provocative, and threatening posts made by Israelis against Arabs and Palestinians more than doubled in 2016, reaching 675,000 posts made by 60,000 Hebrew-speaking Facebook users — “while almost not a single case of incitement has been opened against Israeli instigators.”

A more recent report by Haaretz revealed how Israel has been monitoring Palestinians’ social media profiles and subsequently making arrests when “the kid doesn’t know that he is a terrorist yet,” as one Israeli army officer put it.
Suppression of Palestinian freedom of expression in recent months has also seen bookstores shuttered, while activists, journalists, novelists, and poets have been detained.
At the end of Sunday’s report, Haaretz raised the question about how “how far” such a use of technology and surveillance inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which have been illegally occupied by Israel for 50 years, would invade into the privacy of Palestinians.
“These issues have never been publicly debated, nor is it clear whether Israel’s security services have given much thought to the possible long-term ramifications of these developments,” Haaretz concluded.
(Source / 20.06.2017)

Local elections to be held in 15 West Bank municipalities that did not vote in May

Local elections

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Out of the 70 municipalities that did not participate in the occupied West Bank’s local elections in May, voting will take place in just 15 of them in the upcoming “complementary” local elections scheduled for July 29, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) said Tuesday.

It was announced at the end of May that the supplementary municipal elections would be held in the West Bank councils that did not present electoral lists in time for the regular elections. Elections would also reportedly take place in the Gaza Strip.
The May 13 elections only took place in the West Bank, as Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the besieged Gaza Strip, rejected the legitimacy of the election, saying that elections should only be held after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah came to an end and reconciliation was achieved.
When the timeline of the coming supplementary elections was announced on May 31, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that voting in the Gaza Strip would take place on Oct. 10, after the July elections in the West Bank.

However, the CEC’s statement on Tuesday made no mention of coming elections in Gaza, and it remained unclear how the Palestinian Authority (PA) expected to carry out elections there, as Hamas has not publicly reversed their boycott of the elections.

The CEC statement said that the 15 West Bank municipalities would hold elections on July 29, as they had more than one nominated list.
Only one list presented itself in 18 other municipalities, and were thus expected to win uncontested.
Elections will not take place in 36 municipalities where no lists were nominated, and in another municipality due to an incomplete nomination, according to the CEC. The Palestinian cabinet was expected to appoint council members in these municipalities.
During the nomination period the CEC received 74 nomination applications. The CEC accepted the nomination of 73 lists upon meeting the legal requirements of nomination stipulated in the local elections law and rejected one list for failing to meet the nomination conditions.Nominated lists can still withdraw their nomination until July 14 and the final register of lists and candidates will be announced on July 15, coinciding with the commencement of elections campaigning activities, according to the CEC.
(Source / 20.06.2017)

Morocco, Tunisia: No Military Solution to Libyan Crisis

Protest against the UN to draft agreement talks headed by the Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon in Benghazi

Protest against the UN to draft agreement talks headed by the Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon in Benghazi, September 18, 2015

Rabat – Morocco and Tunisia have announced their support to a political solution to the crisis in Libya, namely the Skhirat Agreement, which was signed in late 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the 19th session of the Tunisian-Moroccan High Joint Commission in Rabat, the two countries praised efforts that are aimed at “supporting our Libyan brothers and accompanying them in the path towards a comprehensive political settlement.”

The meeting, which was co-chaired by Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine al-Othmani and his Tunisian counterpart, Youssef Chahed, stressed the two countries’ rejection of the military options.

The statement underlined the importance of reaching a political solution as the only means to overcome the current situation by preserving the country’s territorial unity.

The two sides expressed their condemnation of all forms of terrorism, highlighting the need to unify efforts to fight terrorist groups in the Maghreb region and the world.

In this regard, the two countries urged the five Maghreb states to “promote cooperation, consolidate dialogue and increase security cooperation in order to face terrorism according to an organized mechanism that aims at prioritizing common interests and rejecting all forms of introversion.

Tunisia and Morocco also called for the need to overcome all deadlocks within the Maghreb Union, as well as activating the work of institutions.

“This requires a strong political will and serious work by the five Maghreb countries in line with the noble goals which were set in the Marrakesh agreement,” the statement said.

It also called for fulfilling the aspirations of the Maghreb population with regards to growth, stability and decent living.

The two sides also condemned the violations committed by Israel and the attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging the international community to force the Jewish state to abide by the international legitimacy.

The commission discussed means to boost bilateral cooperation and signed 10 agreements in various sectors, including agriculture, investment, civil aviation, vocational training, higher education, and employment.

(Source / 20.06.2017)