Samidoun: Resist U.S. imperialism: U.S. out of Iraq! No war on Iran!

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our strongest condemnation of the latest crime by the United States against the people of Iran and Iraq, the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport on 2 January 2020. 

For over three decades, the United States has been engaged in a series of ongoing wars and occupation of Iraq, which has encompassed sanctions, invasion, occupation, bombing, the starvation of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure and the fomenting of civil war. This latest attack – on Iraqi soil, in apparent “revenge” for Iraqis demanding the U.S. occupation out of their country – cannot be separated from the continuing war on and occupation of Iraq.

Of course, this attack is also a massive escalation in the ongoing threats of war on Iran. The assassination of a major military – and political – leader is a blatant act of war and aggression that comes atop the ever escalating use of the economic weapon of sanctions against Iran, a project in which U.S. imperialism is fully allied with Israel in order to target the Iranian people in order to prevent any challenge to the imperialist-Zionist-reactionary hegemony and domination in the region. 

This assassination puts millions of lives at risk throughout the region, primarily the lives of working people and the popular classes in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Palestine. It is a blatant act of imperial aggression with massive implications. We note that the goal of this assassination appparently seeks to threaten the resistance to imperialism more broadly throughout the region and extend the precedent of U.S. impunity for war crimes. 

In particular, we note the particularly dangerous role played by U.S. “anti-terrorism” legislation. Nearly every Palestinian resistance organization is labeled a “foreign terrorist organization” by the United States. This designation is used to imprison charity workers like the Holy Land Five, to divide Palestinian communities in exile from those fighting inside occupied Palestine and struggling in the refugee camps, to threaten activists and organizers around the world with criminalization. In the case of the assassination of Qassem Soleiman and the extraordinary action of the U.S. in declaring a state’s armed forces to be a “foreign terrorist organization,” we recognize that these laws are also a threat of death. 

We know that the real force of terror in the world is that of U.S. imperialism and its partners, the Zionist project and Arab reactionary regimes. In Palestine, 5,000 Palestinian prisoners – and indeed, a whole people – are labeled as “terrorists” by the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing, colonialism, mass arrests, extrajudicial killing, torture, land theft, home demolition, decades of assassinations: That is, they are labeled by the perpetrators of over 100 years of terror. For all of that time, a war has been waged on Palestinian resistance and on the resistance and self-determination of peoples throughout the region. Despite the atrocities and the military might of the perpetrators, that resistance has continued to fight for justice, return and liberation, to make it clear that the Palestinian people, the Arab people, the Iranian people and all peoples in the area hold the promise of a society liberated from oppression.

Imperialist wars anywhere are always wars on the people everywhere.We urgently call on friends and supporters of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance, especially within the United States and its allied imperialist states (Canada, the European Union and others) to take action to build a real anti-war movement to confront the crimes of empire. Now is the time to stand up and say clearly: US out of Iraq! No war on Iran! We stand with the resistance! 

For a first practical step, there will be a series of demonstrations across the U.S. on Saturday, 4 January. Get details and join in the action near you here:

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Gaza musician: The siege has ‘made us strong through difficult experiences’

SOL Band has also had to fight back after coming under attack for having a female member

A Palestinian music group, SOL Band can be seen performing on stage, 3 January 2020

By Anjuman Rahman

As the Middle East continues to shift in terms of dynamics and politics, the music scene in Gaza remains stagnant.

There are a lack of break out artists in Gaza and female musicians are even more scarce, explains Hamada Nasrallah, lead singer of SOL Band.

As a singer, Hamada feels the region is not keeping up to pace with the rest of the world in the contemporary music scene.

Traditions and religious limitations are hindering progress in this field, Hamada believes, adding they are false religious concepts and traditions that are limiting and narrowing development and reinforcing the taboo around women participating in the industry.

“Some religious scholars regard music as trivial or even haram [prohibited] unless it relates to Palestine or Islam,” he tells MEMO. As a result, Hamada was unable to take singing or vocal lessons in the Strip.

READ: Another way of talking about Gaza

SOL Band is one of the first Palestinian music groups who formed eight years ago and has since gained great popularity in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Along with his bandmates, who are all childhood friends, Hamada began playing traditional Palestinian songs and making covers to build a profile for himself after studying a series of YouTube videos to learn about music. YouTube also helped them learn to play the guitar, bass and keyboard.

The five-member troupe now creates both modern and traditional Arabic music with a style and formation which is visibly Western. This has earned them tens of thousands of followers and fans on social media.

A Palestinian music group, SOL Band

And in another break from tradition, SOL Band includes a female member, Rahaf, in what some have claimed is a “big controversary”.

“We write and compose our own music that people of all ages can listen to and enjoy, to make it unique we mix house music with trap music using Palestinian lyrics,” explains Hamada.

Our last few songs have been about our love for Gaza despite the difficulties of the siege, it’s what’s made us strong through difficult experiences.

“We mainly sing Palestinian songs about peace and love,” said Hamada.

SOL Band recently recorded a TV show based in Turkey called “Falastini Clip” made up of 30 episodes discussing the traditional Palestinian songs.

“In the show, we teach the audience about all the traditional Palestinian songs, and sing it in our way with modern hits.”

“In every episode, we used to go out to nice and famous places in the Gaza city to show the beauty and hopeful spirits of Gaza, the show was broadcasted a month ago and it’s gained tens of thousands of views on social media and YouTube.”

The show has, however, attracted unwanted attention to Rafah, with a scholar in Gaza issuing a fatwa (religious edict) against the group because it includes a female member who isn’t in a hijab.

READ: Israel’s flirtation with football stars won’t stop cultural boycott

The fatwa, published on Facebook, called on authorities to ban the group and caused widespread debate on social media. It was denounced as possible hate speech by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and has left Rahaf living in fear of attack.

“Do you know how dangerous this is for us? Many people are following this man and listening to his fatwas. We are dealing with NGOs and international institutions on how to deal with this incident because Rahaf can’t even leave her house to go school in case she bumps into someone who may beat or punish her.”

Members of the SOL Band, a Palestinian music group

As a result of the controversy, all the band members have moved to Turkey early last month. Rahaf, however, remains in Gaza but hopes to join them once she finishes high school.

“It’s also why we can’t go back to Gaza, it’s too dangerous for us.”

Despite being surrounded by a largely traditional and conservative Palestinian community, Hamada’s family has been “open-minded and supportive” from the onset and provided numerous ways for the band to keep producing music.

The Israeli siege on Gaza has also hindered the band as it has led to youth unemployment rising to more than 70 per cent, the healthcare system to collapse, and a society in which the majority of water is not fit for drinking and power cuts seem endless. As a result, many have been forced out of the enclave.

READ: Gaza’s severe crises still unresolved approaching 2020

“In Gaza, there are not a lot of institutions that care about musicians or artists, and it’s very hard to start, but my team, we believe in our dream and believe we should persevere through any hard situations.

“The traditions are very strict which are hard to change because they think traditions as religion, it’s one of the reasons that caused us to leave Gaza.”

Performing live and realising “how big our audience” is has always been a Hamada’s dream. Taking part in the Palestine Music Expo (PMX) in occupied Ramallah in April last  year allowed him to live this dream and it “was the best day of my life”.

“Taking part in PMX was the best day of my life, it was also my birthday, Abed Hathout who works with the PMX team in Ramallah, called me and said I need to be at the Erez crossing in an hour, I panicked because it’s so hard for guys under 40 to go by Erez crossing and receive the permits.”

“But it all worked out on the second day of the PMX, and it was amazing. It was that day we realised how big our audience was while we were performing on the big stage as we always dreamed. One of the best parts was watching our supporters dance to our music.”

We were the voice of Gaza singing for our war-torn homes.

“We will not go back to Gaza, there aren’t any ways to go back. I love Gaza but the siege is making it very hard, we need time to gather our thoughts because we were too confused and depressed.”

“I don’t know where we’ll be going yet, we’re still looking for a place where we can stay and feel safe here in Istanbul. We don’t even have a single instrument yet, so we’re trying to find someone who can support us with an instrument to play and get started.”

“You can say we ran away to chase after our dreams, in our dreams we’re singing for Gaza and waving the Palestinian flag.”

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

EU financial aid and the fragmentation of Palestinian society

EU flags are seen in Frankfurt, Germany on November 11, 2019 [Aysu Biçer / Anadolu Agency]

EU flags are seen in Frankfurt, Germany on November 11, 2019 

By Ramona Wadi 

European Union (EU) funding for Palestinian human rights organisations is not without its caveats. In line with its purported state-building initiatives, the EU has long imposed restrictions upon Palestinian organisations and their endeavours, in return for financial aid, thus stifling an important part of grassroots mobilisation in terms of preserving Palestinian resistance and culture.

As EU constraints upon Palestinian organisations escalated to the point of interfering with Palestinian politics, the newly-launched Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding has called upon Palestinian and international organisations to take a clear stance against the EU’s purported ‘anti-terrorism clauses’.

In an open letter, the BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights described how, in order to access EU funding, Palestinian organisations are expected to act as informants against people involved in resistance. The EU requirement is yet another process facilitating the fragmentation of Palestinian society, at a time when the US is swiftly isolating Palestine, in terms of diplomacy and history.

BADIL’s letter states that due to Israeli campaigns against EU funding for Palestinian organisations: “Funding constraints from various donors have escalated, which include conditions that we have resisted such as preventing engagement in the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS), the defence and promotion of the right of return, and programs and projects in areas such as the Gaza Strip or Palestine 1948 (Israel).”

Writing to EU foreign minister, Josep Borrell, Israel’s security minister, Gilad Erdan, urged a refusal of the Palestinian organisations’ demands, reiterating the EU insistence that the funds “go only to organisations with no such ties to terrorist groups,” with specific reference to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

However, the PFLP is not the only political entity targeted under the recent stipulations. Political organisations involved in resistance, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Brigades, are also mentioned. BADIL notes: “This escalation cannot be separated from all the policies and approaches aimed at obliterating Palestinian national rights.”

With such restrictions when it comes to the important link between Palestinian civil society and Palestinian resistance, the EU knows it is throwing a further hurdle when it comes to the recognition of the Palestinians’ legitimate struggle. The preconditions regarding financial aid to Palestinian organisations are widening the gap between the diplomatically-acceptable political institutions in Palestine, and the Palestinian factions whose commitment to furthering the struggle for liberation earned them the terror label. However, as BADIL stated in its letter, the Palestinian factions’ status is “not determined by a European document.” On the other hand, the Zionist colonisation of Palestine, which violates every aspect of human rights and political legitimacy, has been spared the terror label due to the international complicity in the process.

The EU might portray itself as an entity that promotes Palestinian rights, yet its role is more concerned with finding Palestinian entities willing to promote its diplomacy to the Palestinian people – to their detriment, of course. In light of all the restrictions Palestinians are facing, including further war crimes in the form of settlement expansion, the least the EU can do is to refrain from emulating US policies when it comes to Palestine, and their prospects for liberation and independence.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Russia honours Palestine doctor as best cardiologist in 2019

A doctor 'scrubbing in' before a surgery [file photo]

A doctor ‘scrubbing in’ before a surgery [file photo]

The Russian Ministry of Health has honoured Palestinian doctor, Imad Meri, as the best cardiology and resuscitation doctor in 2019, Palestine Information Centre (PIC) reported on Friday.

According to the PIC, Meri was hailed as the best doctor as a result of a series of achievements during his career.

The attendants present at the ceremony in Moscow expressed their pride in the Palestinian doctor, who studied and worked in the Russian capital, where he has been known for his professionalism and dedication to his work.

The doctor, who is a Palestinian refugee from El-Buss refugee camp in Lebanon, was honoured for his commitment to his work.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Father of captive Abu-Ghosh: ‘We did not recognise her due to atrocity of torture’

Palestinians demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, stage a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Eastern Jerusalem on March 26, 2019. ( Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency )

Palestinians protest demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails on 26 March 2019

The father of captive Mais Abu-Ghosh, a student of Birzeit University and from Qalandiya refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem, divulged that his daughter was subjected to harsh investigation and torture at Al-Maskubiya Investigation Centre, since her arrest on 29 August.

Abu-Ghosh’s father, Abu Hussein told the Prisoners’ Information Office that several weeks after the arrest of Abu-Ghosh, the occupation intelligence summoned him and her mother to the centre where Abu-Ghosh was incarcerated. Her parents did not recognise her initially, but when she smiled, her father distinguished her from her smile, and was astonished by the horror of what happened to her.

“The investigators brought a tired and exhausted girl whose appearance showed the harsh days she went through. I was angry at the time and told the investigators that this is not my daughter, but she smiled at me, so I calmed down. I started thinking of many questions about what she went through,” added Abu Hussein.

He pointed out that when the lawyers were able to visit Abu-Ghosh for the first time, she told them about the torture methods that she was subjected to. The occupation, however, prevented them from publishing any details about this, and threatened the lawyers with withdrawal of their legal licenses if they informed the family or the media about the detainee’s torture.

Addameer: ​​Israel covering up torture in prison

Abu Hussein disclosed that Abu-Ghosh’s mother tried to hug her daughter, but her body was in agony, and she said to her mother: “I cannot hug you, because everything hurts me.”

Abu Hussein further added: “During the visits and whenever Mais comes out of Al-Maskubiya Investigation Centre, we try to understand from her the nature of the torture she was subjected to. She starts to talk a little, bursts into tears, stops talking and then changes the course of the conversation. We know that she is strong, but she does not want to worry us with the details and make us concerned. When she cries silently, I realise that she had undergone abnormal conditions, especially during the first four days of her arrest and after her transferral to a military investigation.”

The father revealed that the family’s reception of the information issued by Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, regarding his daughter’s brutal torture methods such as beating, verbal harassment and naked inspection, shocked them.

He pointed out that hearing the news of his son’s martyrdom at the beginning of 2016 was much easier than hearing the news of the arrest of Abu-Ghosh and her torture.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Six Young Men Arrested in Jerusalem for Breaking Curfew

The occupation forces arrested 6 Palestinian young men from al-‘Isawiya, on the pretext of “breaking house arrest” imposed on them, Ma’an News reported.

Activist and member of the Follow-up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, Muhammad Abu Al-Homs, explained that the occupation forces stormed al-‘Isawiya, and summoned the young men, who had been sentenced to house arrest, at the entrance to al-‘Isawiya, and arrested them, on the pretext of breaking the order of house arrest.

Abu Al-Homs added that the young men who were arrested were: Anwar Obeid, Fayez Muhammad Mheisen, Nadim Safadi, Adam Kayed Mahmoud, Nidal Froukh and Saleh Abu Assab.

Thursday night, the youths announced their rejection of the nightly house arrest decisions imposed on them, under the British emergency regulations 1945, on the pretext that they participated in “confrontations.”

The young men asserted their right to move freely without restrictions or unjust decisions and laws, by staging a sit-in in the late hours of Thursday, in al-‘Isawiya, in defiance of the occupation orders.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Prisoners Commission: Palestinian Teen Shot and Detained, in Stable Condition

The Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission stated, on Friday, that Palestinian teenager, Hussein Younes, who Israeli soldiers shot, wounded and detained, on Thursday, is in a stable health condition, according to the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA).

The Israeli occupation authorities claimed that the youth allegedly attempted to stab soldiers, on Thursday evening, near the illegal settlement of Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, before they shot him and detained him.

In a statement, the Commission said that Younes was shot with live ammunition by the Israeli army, below the knee, and sustained fractures in his leg.

Authorities stated that a court session will be held for Younes without his presence.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Israeli Forces Seize Five Tractors In Jordan Valley

Photos File

Photos File

Israeli occupation forces on Sunday seized five tractors belonging to Palestinian farmers in Um al-Qaba area, in the northern Jordan Valley, the occupied West Bank, said a local activist.

Mahdi Daraghmeh, head of the village council of al-Maleh village, nearby, told WAFA news agency that Israeli army seized the five agricultural tractors under the pretext of working in a “closed military zone”.

Israel has been seeking to push the Palestinian population out of the Jordan Valley using all means and replace them by Jewish settlers.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Israel Detains Wounded Teen, Says Prisoners Commission

Photos File

Photos File

Palestinian teenager Hussein Younes, who was shot, wounded and detained by Israeli occupation soldiers on Friday, is in a stable health condition, today said the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission.

The Commission said in a statement that Younes sustained fractures from a live bullet injury below his knee when he was shot by the Israeli army.

It said it was informed by the Israeli occupation authorities that a court in absentia will be held for Younes, who the army accused of attempting to stab soldiers on Thursday evening near Gush Etzion settlement bloc before they shot and injured him.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

PLO asks EU to reconsider new conditions for funding Palestinian NGOs

Ramallah, – Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), called today upon the European Union to reconsider its new conditions for funding Palestinian civil society organizations, guaranteeing a fair and equal access to funding for all.

Read also: PLO official: Israel obstructing Palestine elections

Erekat’s call came in response to recently approved measures by the European Union and other donor institutions which stipulate the signing of so-called anti-terrorism clauses and policies as a prerequisite for Palestinian NGOs to obtain funding. These policies include labeling a number of Palestinian political and resistance factions as terror groups.

In an official letter to European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, Erekat said the new funding conditions that are binding to all the contracting parties to the European Union raise concern among Palestinian NGOs, especially civil society organizations that serve the Palestinian public without discrimination and in line with international legal standards.

He pointed out that among the organizations included in the EU blacklist are Palestinian political parties, which means that the conditions are aimed at disrupting Palestinian political and civil activity, which places a new burden on Palestinian institutions.

Read also: Does the Hamas-Fatah rivalry serve Israel and weaken the Palestinian cause?

“These restrictions directly affect the Palestinian rights under international law, and in particular the right to self-determination. They are not in line with the European Union’s commitment to a two-state solution, peace and stability in the region,” Erekat said.

He added that the newly approved conditions come at a time of  heated anti-Palestinian campaign by the United States and Israel, with a view of liquidating the collective rights of the Palestinian people.

Erekat stressed that the Palestinians reject all attempts to criminalize their legitimate national struggle and brand it as “terrorism”. He called upon the European Union to cancel the new financing conditions and recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

(Source / 04.01.2020)