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New Gazan dies of wounds

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Tens of wounded in Gaza hospitals are in danger because of shortage of medicines and medical equipment
A new Palestinian man announced dead on Tuesday as he had suffered serious wounds caused by Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Ajjour is the sixth among wounded announced dead after the ceasefire placed in August 26. This brought the death toll of the 51-day savage Israeli war on the Gaza to 2,159

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –A new Palestinian man announced dead on Tuesday as he had suffered serious wounds caused by Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Basim Ajjuor, 55, died in a hospital in Jerusalem, family member said. He suffered critical wounds since he was hit by the Israeli rocket that targeted his house near Al-Zahra Schools in Central Gaza City. His son was immediately killed then.

He stayed in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, but because of severe shortage of medicines and medical equipment, he was transferred to the hospital in Jerusalem.

Four of his family members were injured in the same strike on his house. All of them were treated in Gaza hospitals. They were discharged from hospitals to find nowhere to stay in as their house was completely destroyed.

They are now living in a single room in a relative’s house.

(Source / 02.09.2014)

Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Posted in Zorg / Health

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Danish mosque declares support for Isis

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Danish mosque declares support for Isis

An Isis member gives orders on the streets of Tabqa near Raqqa, Syria

A spokesman for the Aarhus mosque Grimhøjmoskeen has openly declared the mosque’s support of the terrorist organisation Islamic State, or Isis.
“An Islamic state will always be what Muslims long for, therefore we cannot help but to support the Islamic State. Even if it makes mistakes, we will just have to wait and see,” mosque spokesman Fadi Abdallah told the online news source Den Korte Avis.
“The conditions aren’t the same down there [in Syria and Iraq, ed.] as they are here. I can fully understand why people are getting killed,” he continued.
Grimhøjmoskeen has long been accused of promoting an extremist interpretation of Islam. In July, a video emerged of Abu Bilal Ismail, an imam at the mosque, calling on God to “destroy the Zionist Jews”. He has since been officially reported to the police.
East Jutland Police also estimate that of the at least 100 men who have left Denmark to fight in Syria, at least 22 of them come from Grimhøjmoskeen.
“We can definitely say that when you go to that mosque, there is an increased risk of heading off for Syria,” police spokesman Allan Aarslev told TV2 Østylland earlier this year.
A recent report from The Economist calculated that when measured by total population, Denmark has sent the second-highest number of foreign fighters to Syria. Only Belgium has a higher number of foreign fighters per million residents. According to CNN’s calculations, the number of Danes who have left to fight in Syria account for just 0.044 percent of the 226,000 Muslims living in Denmark.
One Danish-Turkish resident who has fought in Syria warned last week that Denmark was “high up on [Isis's] list” of foreign targets.
“It is an open war now. Isis has said that all infidels should be battled. They should be eliminated and soon it will be Denmark’s turn,” the jihadist, identified only as ÖA, told Politiken.
Isis militants recently released a video showing the brutal killing of American journalist James Foley and according to a still-unconfirmed media report, the same group of Isis jihadists is currently holding a Danish hostage. Another Dane, Daniel Rye Ottosen, was held by the group for 13 months in Syria before being released in June.
Denmark last week approved a military mission to aid Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling Isis in northern Iraq.
(Source / 02.09.2014)

Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Politics

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Palestinian Leaders Want Three-Year Deadline on Israeli Occupation

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UNITED NATIONS — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority plans to ask the Security Council to compel Israel to end its occupation within three years as part of his new initiative to overcome diplomatic deadlock and move toward a two-state solution, one of his top aides said Tuesday.

The assertion by the aide, Hanan Ashrawi, was the most specific time frame given for Mr. Abbas’s demand for a deadline, which he began to float last month in the midst of fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Dr. Ashrawi also gave one of the clearest signals yet that the Palestinians would use Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations, an upgrade won nearly two years ago over Israeli and American opposition, to join the International Criminal Court and seek the prosecution of Israeli behavior in the occupied territories. That prospect has caused deep concern in Israel and the United States.

“We are intending to take Israel to the I.C.C.,” Dr. Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told reporters at a news briefing at United Nations headquarters. “We do not have a time frame.”

Dr. Ashrawi, one of the most outspoken advocates of International Criminal Court membership, spoke as part of a new effort by Mr. Abbas to shift strategies in pursuit of the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, after the collapse of the American-brokered peace talks earlier this year.

Mr. Abbas and his aides have spoke increasingly in recent days of wanting an internationally approved deadline for the end of Israel’s occupation to lands captured in the 1967 war. His ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad H. Mansour, suggested last week that Mr. Abbas may formally seek such a deadline at the General Assembly annual debate this month, attended by many world leaders. But Dr. Ashrawi’s reference to the three-year time frame for that deadline was new.

Any Palestinian effort toward a Security Council resolution is likely to encounter opposition from the United States, which wields a veto as a permanent member and is serving as president of the council this month. Dr. Ashrawi shrugged off the possibility of an American veto, saying the Palestinians also could consider taking the issue to the General Assembly, where the Palestinian aspiration for statehood enjoys widespread support.

Mr. Abbas’s speech will be among the most closely watched at the annual session of the General Assembly, which starts in a few weeks.

Dr. Ashrawi asserted that peace talks with Israel had been so frustrating to the Palestinian side that a shift in strategy was needed and expected by the Palestinian population, which has grown increasingly bitter and disappointed. She said the failed American-sponsored talks, which had been pushed aggressively by Secretary of State John Kerry, had basically allowed Israel to perpetuate policies long opposed by the Palestinian side.

Palestinian anger was reinforced on Sunday when the Israeli government seized nearly 1,000 acres in the West Bank near Bethlehem, an action that also drew widespread condemnation including from the United States, which said it was counterproductive to achieving a two-state solution.

Mr. Abbas has advanced his new deadline strategy amid signs that his popularity as a Palestinian leader has faltered in part because of the 50-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that dominates in Gaza and that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. The war was halted by an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire a week ago.

A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, released on Tuesday, showed that the popularity of Hamas and its armed resistance approach toward Israel had greatly increased among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza because of the war.

The poll suggested that Hamas would win elections if they were held today, and that more West Bank residents support transferring the use of the Hamas method to the West Bank. It also showed that 86 percent of respondents support the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel if the economic blockade long imposed on Gaza is not lifted.

The Palestinian Center said the results were based on face-to-face interviews with 1,270 adults in the West Bank and Gaza, conducted from Aug. 26 to Aug. 30, in 127 randomly selected locations. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

(Source / 02.09.2014)

Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm


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By Peter Clifford                     ©                  (


Increasingly there seems to be a rising tide of disquiet among the normally pro-Assad Alawite community against the prolonged war, its cost in terms of human life and the competence of the ruling elite.

Until recently, this would have been unthinkable, but last month leaflets appeared in Assad’s heartland of Latakia questioning the rule and ability of the Assad family and more recently social media comments suggest there is further disquiet.

Alawite Support for Assad Starting to Wane?


Alawite Support for Assad Starting to Wane?

Things have come to a head over the fall of the Tabqa Airbase in Raqqah province to the Islamic State, where some of Assad’s officers fled the base leaving their men to face a grisly end, humiliated and then executed by the Jihadists (scroll down -see reports below).

The Assad regime has barely acknowledged the loss of the base, merely saying its troops had made a “tactical withdrawal and re-grouped” elsewhere, saying nothing of the deaths of hundreds of its soldiers or releasing their names.

Pro-regime rhetoric on social media which for the last few years has praised “the brave Syrian army and the hawks of the air force” has now turned in some cases to describing Assad as “an insufficient leader” and the Minister of Defence as “the minister of death”.

Other comments described the Assad government as “selfish and opportunist” saying, as 110 bodies of dead soldiers arrived at Latakia airport, “They don’t care about the soldiers or the fighters in People Committees, they only care about their positions.”

There also seems to be a rising tide of revolt within the military with several reports of officers and men executed at Hama military airport for “abandoning their posts at Morek” or attempting to defect, and more recently a report of 3 officers executed in Tartous, including a brigadier, after being accused of “betrayal and giving information to the enemy” in Hama province.

Yesterday, Monday, it emerged that a pro-government activist, Mudar Hassan Khadur, who had started a social media campaign calling on the Assad Government to release the names of the soldiers killed or missing from Tabqa, was arrested last Friday after being tricked into a meeting.

A post on Khadur’s Facebook page at the weekend said he had been arrested in Damascus after authorities had contacted him and promised to help investigate the fate of the missing soldiers, and went on to name 2 senior military officials whom Khadur was supposed to meet. Another post called on Assad to intervene.

“Mudar Khadur. Not a traitor. Not a collaborator. Not a terrorist,” said another, “We must all stand with Mudar.”

Khadur launched a Facebook page called “Eagles of Tabqa Military Airport” (in Arabic) shortly after the airbase fell and the page has so far received more than 12,000 likes.

Speaking anonymously, another anti-Assad Government Alawite said, “There are Alawite villages that have no more young men. They’ve been killed. And all this time, people thought their sacrifice would help end this crisis.

“But after Taqba, things have gotten very bad, and the government doesn’t even bother to tell us what happened. How much more can our community handle?”

Opposition sources have said that neither the Syrian Defence Minister nor the Interior Minister have any effective power, as everything is now run by Hezbollah and Iranian military officials. How true that is and whether this dissent continues to grow remains to be seen.

There were unconfirmed reports yesterday, Monday, of something “big” happening in Damascus as a senior Government level, but no details have as yet emerged. Things will not be improved after the Islamic State released today, Tuesday, a list of 193 names of regime soldiers it had killed at Division 17, Brigade 93 and Tabqa Airbase, all in Raqqah province.


Meanwhile, things maybe hotting up in Deir Ez-Zour province where very heavy fighting has been reported around the military airport over the last 2 days as it comes under attack from the Islamic State. This morning, Tuesday, the commander of the airport, Issam Zahreddine, appears to have fled and has re-appeared in Sweida province in the south of Syria.

In Hama province, the more moderate Opposition, despite heavy bombing from the Syrian Air Force, has continued its steady advance, destroying 2 regime tanks at Helfaia north-west of Hama city and a MIG-23 jet on the ground at Hama military airport with a Grad missile.



Islamic State Destroy Cigarettes and Water Pipes in Al-Mayadin

The regime has retaliated by bringing in reinforcements at Suqaylabiyah on the Ghab Plain to make an assault at Al-Jalamah and Tal Malah, also north-west of Hama city, and made 10 airstrikes at Lataminah in the same area.

There are also Opposition claims that yet another bomb filled with chlorine gas was dropped near Kafr Zita, (Arabic only) HERE:

In northern Aleppo province the Islamic State is shelling Tel Rifaat while in the north-eastern part of Aleppo city the regime mistakenly managed to drop a barrel-bomb intended for the Opposition on its own territory at Karm Al-Jabal.

Opposition sources said Monday that regime barrel-bombs and shells killed 42 children in Aleppo and Idlib provinces over the weekend, while Syrian Air Force planes have continued to pound the Opposition-held suburb of Jobar in Damascus.

Republican Guard units which led an assault on Jobar over the last few days are said by Opposition sources to have suffered heavy losses, at least 30 killed last Thursday and Friday alone, (caution – dead bodies) HERE: and HERE:

The Opposition also managed to blow up another building in Jobar with a tunnel-bomb, reportedly with Assad’s troops inside, HERE: and they eventually got tired of this sniper on top of a water tower in Jobar and took action,HERE:

Also in Damascus province, the Assad regime dramatically rained down a torrent of Grad missiles on the Opposition-held suburb of Zamalka on Sunday, HERE:

In Idlib province Opposition fighters are in a major operation to try and take the 2 remaining Assad bases near Ma’arat Al-Numan at Wadi Deif and Al-Hamidiyah, hitting armoured vehicles with a TOW missile launcher, HERE:and HERE:

This longer video, published on Saturday, shows hit after hit on the Wadi Deif airbase followed by major fires and explosions, HERE:

The regime has hit back by trying to eliminate the Opposition fighters in the area by dropping barrel-bombs on the village of Shekh Mustafa just south of Ma’arat Al-Numan.

In Homs province there are unconfirmed reports that the Al-Nusra Front carried out an ambush on Assad’s troops on Sunday on the road between Palmyra and Sukhna, killing as many as 70 soldiers.

More than 60,000 residents of the north-eastern city of Hasakah, in the province of that name, are reported to have fled the Ghuiran district over the last 4 days after the Syrian Air Force started bombing it, claiming that it had been infiltrated by Islamic State fighters.

Last Friday the UN said that more than 3 million people have now fled Syria completely, a million in the last year alone. This probably does not include thousands that have fled and not registered with the UNHCR.

Within Syria 6.5 million are thought to have been displaced from their homes. Together the figures represent almost 50% of the entire Syrian population.

On the more positive side, after the UN Security Council passed a resolution to by-pass the Syrian Government in order to deliver aid, the World Food Programme says it has been able to deliver food parcels to 580,000 people in August with humanitarian supplies, 4 times as many as in the preceding 6 weeks.

Altogether, the UN estimates that it reached 4.1 million people with desperately needed food, but others continue to suffer in hard to reach areas in Raqqah, Hassakah and Deir Ez-Zour provinces.



Al-Nusra Front Commandeer UN Vehicles

In Quneitra province, serious negotiations are underway to obtain the release of 45 (previously said to be 44) Fijian UN peacekeepers seized by the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) near the border.

Apparently, the ANF demands for the safe release of the peacekeepers are compensation for 3 of their number killed in fighting with the UN, humanitarian assistance to the people of Ruta, a stronghold of the group on outskirts of Damascus, and the removal of the ANF from the UN list of banned terrorist organisations. A tall order!

Meanwhile a group of around 75 Filipino UN peacekeepers trapped in 2 locations under Opposition fire managed to get away under cover of darkness in what was described as the “greatest escape”.

35 UN peacekeepers were escorted out of their camp inside UN armoured vehicles, while the other 40 trudged across the hills for 2 hours under covering fire from their colleagues.

Heavy fighting has continued between Opposition fighters and the Assad regime as the Opposition try to keep the regime away from the border crossing. The fighting can be seen, HERE:

The Israelis, who are observing all this from their side of the frontier, are also reported to have shot down a drone flying above Quneitra town, presumably owned by the Assad regime.


Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Peter Clifford

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Yemen: The Houthis tighten their control over Sanaa

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Supporters of Shiite Zaidi rebels hold up a portrait of the movements leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and a large version of their national flag during a demonstration demanding for the government to resign on August 29, 2014, in the capital Sanaa

Sanaa is about to fall in the hands of the Houthis. It is true they reached the city three times before and each time they would retreat at the last minute. But this time seems different. Abdel Malik al-Houthi’s group seems determined to reach its objective. It wants to clearly translate its military power and the influence of its regional alliances into political power and a piece of the Yemeni cake. The regional conflict with Saudi Arabia clearly constitutes a large part of the picture. This, however, is not new. What is different this time, is that the rules of engagement that were set in place have changed.

Sanaa –
 Regional players were keen not to allow the confrontation in Yemen to reach a point that forces Saudi Arabia to withdraw its resources from the Levant to focus on the country about which King Abdul Aziz is said to have told his children on his deathbed that their glory is in its poverty and their poverty in its glory.
The extent of Houthi expansion in Yemen appeared clearly from the moment they announced control of the Omran province, which is adjacent to the capital, after a series of battles headed towards Sanaa. In the first stage of expansion, the Houthis had to completely secure the borders of Sanaa and, more importantly, monitor any distance between them and their adversaries among the Muslim Brotherhood or the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (al-Islah Party). The province and city of Saada have become a Houthi emirate. The Houthis exercise complete security control and the governor is appointed with their approval.
The second phase included nearby provinces and cities. But Omran remains the most important one because it is the tribal capital and the center of influence and power for the Hashed tribe particularly, which is one of the largest Yemeni tribes that also constitutes the support base for the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. It is also an important area for al-Ahmar tribe, the Houthi’s traditional adversaries. Here emerges the name of Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar in opposition to Abdul Malik al-Houthi.
This phase is not over yet despite declaring total control over the city and province of Omaran, which is adjacent to the capital. The war still rages on in al-Jawf, north of Sanaa as the Houthis are mobilizing in the direction of the capital and announcing their escalation in the face of the central Yemeni government. All eyes are on the capital and there are a lot of talks about sacking it by force under the pretext of economic and social demands.
The third phase is the war outside Saada. It began when the Houthis declared their rejection of the last presidential decision to lift oil subsidies. The decision faced rejection and anger within Yemeni society because of the [financial] burden it places on the average citizen, with the typical consequences of an economic policy imposed by the World Bank which has shown no improvement in the past few years.
At this point, the Houthis and their allies among the small tribes mobilized around Sanaa in response to the appeal by Abdul Malik al-Houthi, who called for a sit-in to express rejection of the presidential decision to lift the subsidies and demanded that there be a change in government in Sanaa.
The response on the part of the presidency came by forming a delegation that went to Saada to meet the Houthi leader. But after three days and while the delegation was still there, Houthi went on TV and talked about escalating and rejecting any compromise. The delegation returned to Sanaa, declaring the failure of the negotiations, blaming the Houthis and accusing them of preparing to conquer Sanaa.
The maneuvers made in the middle were not enough to decide the question in favor of either party. The president continued to accuse Iran of being the main instigator behind the armed group in Saada. He argued that what is happening is a bargain, Syria in return for Yemen. In other words, it is a bargain between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is not completely absent from the picture. It expressed its fear and concern over the deteriorating domestic situation in Yemen and stressed that Yemen’s security is a Saudi priority as did the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). What became noticeable in the last period is that Yemeni-Saudi relations were not at their best and neither were Yemeni-Qatari relations. This has to do with the support that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt got from the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, in addition to accusing Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi that he is mismanaging regional relationships with Yemen’s neighbors but at the same time, he is not maintaining good relations with local players either.
Negotiations did not stop, even though the presidential committee declared its failure to reach an agreement. Hadi continued to send special envoys to Saada, including Capital Secretary Abdul Qader Hilal, who is accepted by the Houthis amidst fear of a disaster.
The Houthis are closing in on Saada and the cities surrounding it such as Omran. They continue to advance towards new areas and cities such as Hija and al-Jawf. At the same time, they are reinforcing their siege of Sanaa. They organize rallies that roam the streets along with an open-ended official sit-in in the middle of the capital.
While the war fronts rage on in al-Jawf and a number of areas between the Houthis and the Yemeni army, the Islamist al-Islah and its allies mobilized militarily because they insist on confronting the Houthis by force. They are pushing for the government to use violence against them and not allow them to lay siege to Sanaa and seize control of it.

The dominant media discourse is one of war. The Houthis are accused of being against the republican system in Yemen, that they want a return to the Imami-monarchy system that existed previously in the country whereby rule is exercised by Hashemite families. It became evident that President Hadi gave instructions to the state-run media to escalate matters. And he personally issued statements in which he accused the Houthis of being backed by Iran which, he said, wants to swap Sanaa for Damascus. He accused the Houthis of taking control of the city of Omran in the north while the army was busy fighting al-Qaeda in the south.

 It must be noted that before the Houthi rebellion began, President Hadi visited the city of Omran and met a number of officials there, announcing its return to the control of the Yemeni state. But any visitor can see that the city lies under the total security control of the Houthis and that the president in this case had blessed transferring control of the city from the tribe of al-Ahmar to Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), which is another name by which the Houthis are known.
The volatile situation in Sanaa is likely to explode if attempts to reach a compromise fail. The streets are full of fighters from both sides. Some areas in the capital are under the control of the Houthis and army units have been deployed turning the streets and alleyways of Sanaa into a theater ready for a guerrilla war between houses.
Escalation from both sides is evident and the tensions in Sanaa further complicate matters. One of the main reasons for the failure of the presidential delegation to reach a solution is the way it was treated in Sanaa. Keen to demonstrate his power, Houthi wants to anoint himself, not only in Saada but in Sanaa too, as a national leader.
The Houthis have yet to use force but they did not rule out its use as a last resort. Abdul Malik al-Houthi himself threatened to use force, declaring that the massacres against the youth engaged in a sit-in during the popular revolution in 2011 will not be repeated. He stressed that if his group, engaged in a sit-in in Sanaa, is attacked, they will respond in kind which means more violence.
Houthi is trying to gain supporters from the rest of the parties and political groups. Leftists, who reject the lifting of oil subsidies, presented a vision for a possible solution, but it was not accepted even though everybody knows that failing to reach a compromise will lead to confrontations.
The situation in Yemen is hanging on a thread between the capital where a president with a suit and a military base is getting pressured by Islamists to use force and Saada where a seasoned leader is using the language of threats and intimidation. But it appears that the conflict is, so far, under control. The Houthis have successfully exercised self-control and have not used their weapons. They entered Sanaa through peaceful demonstrations and economic demands and slogans.

(Source / 02.09.2014)

Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Revolution Yemen

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After Gaza war, poll finds support for Hamas rises

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Palestinian militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian take part in a military show in Gaza City
Palestinian militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP) take part in a military show in Gaza

JERUSALEM (AP) — The popularity of the Hamas militant group among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has spiked significantly following the 50-day war with Israel, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and headed by leading Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, indicates that 61 percent of Palestinians would choose the Islamic militant group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, for president if Palestinian presidential elections were held today.

Only 32 percent would vote for current President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas’ rival, the survey suggested.

The support for Haniyeh marks a stark increase from a poll in June, conducted by the same pollster, which found only 41 percent of Palestinians backed the Hamas figure. At the time, Abbas had 53 percent support.

The poll also suggests a majority of Palestinians — 72 percent — support adopting Hamas’ armed approach in the West Bank.

The research center said it is the first time in eight years that a majority of Palestinians has voiced such support for the Hamas leader. But, it said, Hamas’ popularity might fall in coming months, as it did following previous Israel-Hamas conflicts.

Polling started on the last day of the war, on Aug. 26, and continued during the first four days of the cease-fire, the research center said.

The poll said 79 percent of respondents believe Hamas won the war, and 86 percent support the renewal of rocket fire on Israel if a blockade on Gaza is not lifted, one of Hamas’ main demands.

But 25 percent said armed groups in the Gaza Strip should give up their weapons after the blockade ends and elections are held.

The latest poll, and the poll in June, both surveyed 1,270 Palestinians and had a margin of error of 3 percent.

Also Tuesday, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid criticized Israel’s expropriation of West Bank land announced this week, calling for “a more reasoned approach” in Israeli diplomacy following Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

The expropriation of about 1,000 acres of West Bank land could help clear the way for new Jewish settlement construction. Lapid said such moves create “redundant arguments with the United States and the world” and criticized the timing of the announcement following the Gaza war. Israel’s Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, also criticized the move this week.

Other leading Israeli Cabinet ministers have criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct in the recently concluded war, with many saying he did not go far enough to neutralize Hamas’s fighting ability.

The land announcement drew strong criticism from around the world, with the U.S., EU, Ireland, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — which represents 57 Muslim countries — and others condemning it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” about the land declaration.

“We are also very concerned by reports that new settlement and East Jerusalem construction or planning announcements may be issued at any time, including for the sensitive area of Giv’at Hamatos in East Jerusalem,” Psaki said.

“These steps are contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they proceed,” she said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a strong rebuke to Israel over the decision and called for it to be revised.

“The decision, should it remain, sends a wrong signal at the wrong time,” he said.

Netanyahu has spoken vaguely about a new “diplomatic horizon” that has emerged following the 50-day Israel-Hamas war. He has given few details on what he means.

But Netanyahu has said that he is not willing to renew peace talks with Abbas unless the Palestinian leader distances himself from Hamas militants. Hamas and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority recently agreed to a unity deal that saw the formation of a government backed by both factions.

“He has to choose,” Netanyahu told Israeli Channel Two in a weekend interview. “It’s either yes to Hamas or no to Hamas.”

Later Tuesday, the Israeli military said a Palestinian tried to run over Israeli soldiers and civilians, injuring one person, near Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank. It said soldiers opened fire on the vehicle, injuring the driver and a passenger.

(Source / 02.09.2014)

Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Politics

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Gaza’s Shattered Airport, Once A Symbol Of Sovereignty

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The destroyed and deserted main gate of the Gaza international airport in the southern city of Rafah.

The destroyed and deserted main gate of the Gaza international airport in the southern city of Rafah

It’s hard to imagine a more compelling monument to the rise and fall of the Palestinian dream of statehood than the bombed-out ruins that the 1.8 million people of Gaza call their international airport.

Sand, scrub and trash have swallowed up the land where a 3,300-yard runway was once used by planes from around the Middle East, and where former President Bill Clinton once, memorably, arrived by helicopter. The golden dome that crowned the VIP terminal is still there — though a missile has punched a hole in it, and shelling by Israel has helped reduce the building below it to a skeleton of white concrete on a carpet of rubble.

Yet this depressing spectacle doesn’t deter Palestinians from hoping that Gaza — an overcrowded, enclosed, 25-mile-long strip of land, sandwiched between Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea — will once again have an airport of its own.

Indirect talks are slated to begin in Cairo in September. Israel and the Palestinians are expected to discuss terms for ending the recent, devastating, 50-day war, following last week’s indefinite ceasefire.

A new airport for Gaza is high on the list of demands leveled by Hamas, which controls Gaza and whose military wing led the recent war, firing more than 4,500 rockets into Israel. The Palestinians also want a seaport.

These are major sticking points: Israel fears these ports will be used for smuggling weapons. The government regards Hamas as a terrorist organization and wants it to disarm.

Nearly 16 years have elapsed since Clinton flew into Gaza to meet the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and, amid much fanfare, to open a gleaming new airport by cutting a red ribbon.

President Bill Clinton cut the ribbon at the airport’s opening ceremony in 1998.

Back then, the international community believed the Palestinians and Israelis were inching warily along a path towards peace and the creation of two states, laid out in the 1993 Oslo Accords. The road was proving bumpy, but Clinton’s words on that day — Dec. 14, 1998 — reflect an era when hope was, at least, still alive.

The airport would bring “a future in which Palestinians can travel directly to the far corners of the world,” Clinton said.

The airport was a step, Clinton went on, toward “a future in which it is easier and cheaper to bring materials, technology and expertise in and out of Gaza; a future in which tourists and traders can flock here, to this beautiful place on the Mediterranean; a future, in short, in which the Palestinian people are connected to the world.”

Although this vision never became reality, Clinton’s visit is still regarded as a milestone by Palestinians.

Gaza airport was home to Palestinian Airlines and its fleet of three planes — two Dutch-made Fokker 50s and a Boeing 727 given by a Saudi prince. These flew around the region, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Fathi Sabbah, a Palestinian journalist for Al Hayat newspaper, was on the airline’s first flight — a Fokker 50, from Gaza to Cyprus. He relished the symbolism of the occasion, but not the 45-minute flight.

“I was frightened,” Sabbah says. “I was with a friend. The aircraft looked old. We were scared we’d crash in the sea and the sharks would eat us.”

Israel first bombed Gaza airport in 2001, in answer to Palestinian militant attacks on Israelis in the West Bank. The second Palestinian Intifada had erupted a few months earlier. Israel’s F-16s later repeatedly rocketed the runway and knocked down the tower. Palestinian Airlines shifted operations to Egypt and Jordan; the airport never reopened.

Palestinians dig through the runway in 2010 to collect rubble and gravel needed for construction in the war-ravaged territory.

When Israel tightened its blockade of Gaza after 2007, the price of construction materials within the impoverished strip soared. Some Gazans broke up the runway with hammers and drills, to collect rubble to sell for recycling. It’s now buried beneath a sea of sand.

If the two sides seriously tackle the Gaza airport issue during the upcoming talks — and that is not assured — security issues will be contentious.

During the old airport’s brief life, passengers and baggage were monitored by Israeli security staff as they passed in and out. Sabbah recalls going to Gaza’s southern border with Egypt to have his passport checked by Israeli officials, and then being taken by bus to the airport nearby.

Palestinians now have only two ways to leave Gaza: They can cross the southern border, now controlled by Egypt, or travel via Israel. Both options involve a great deal of time and red tape; only a limited number get permission.

Palestinians hope a new airport will change that, though the odds seem long. Gaza-based political analyst Mokhaimar Abu Saada does not completely rule out an agreement with Israel, but expects it will require the involvement of Egypt and the international community — and multiple security guarantees.

Ibrahim Adwan is more skeptical. The 14-year-old spends his out-of-school hours making a few dollars by collecting metal at the ruined airport, and taking it by donkey and cart to sell at the scrap market. At present, there are fresh pickings, as the airport was shelled in the recent war.

He has never seen an airplane fly out of Gaza, and does not believe he will anytime soon.

“People abroad have a life, but here it is meaningless,” he says. “After one or two months, there will just be a war again.”

(Source / 02.09.2014)

Written by altahrir

September 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

Tagged with ,


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