Archive for February 20th, 2012
“If the power plant does not resume its work in the next days, some hospitals will be left without electricity,” Mahmud Daher, officer-in-charge of the World Health Organization in Gaza, told IRIN.
Gaza’s only power plant was forced to shut down on Tuesday due to a lack of fuel, which has previously been imported in amounts of up to one million liters a day from Egypt.
“The current crisis is a political problem that started six years ago. The Israeli occupation, the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to provide the Gaza Strip with funds, and the policy of Egypt which is dealing with Gaza out of security calculations, have all contributed to the current situation,” said Hamas government spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
“(Gaza Prime Minister) Ismail Haniyeh is in Egypt at the moment to discuss the crisis and to find a quick solution. But so far no progress has been made. The whole of Gaza has been without electricity since last night,” he added.
Since the power plant stopped working, public hospitals and clinics have been running on only 20 percent of the 440,000 liters of fuel usually needed per day to supply the health system with electricity, Daher said, adding: “Some hospitals might withstand the crisis for one more week, some others no more than one or two days.”
Some fuel entered the Gaza Strip over on Saturday and Sunday via a tunnel from Egypt, but the amount was not sufficient for resumption of operations at the power plant, which requires more than 400,000 liters of diesel a day, and produces 80-85 megawatts.
The Gaza Strip also receives around 120 MW of electricity from Israel. With the power plant shut down, the overall electricity deficit has reached more than 60 percent of normal supply.
A threat to the most vulnerable
Hassan Khalaf, Gaza’s deputy health minister, said Gaza had only had six hours of electricity a day for the past two weeks. “The nurseries, the ICUs (intensive care units), the operation rooms are all severely affected by that. The crisis is becoming a danger for the most vulnerable.”
Among the hospitals most severely affected is Shifa, which is the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip. According to an as yet unpublished report by WHO, it had fuel for only 54 hours of full operation at the end of last week.
Equally, the al-Aqsa hospital and the Psychiatric hospital are at high risk, with less than 50 hours of fuel supply left as of Thursday.
“Theoretically, we could reach point zero at any time soon,” Daher warned, adding: “In the worst case, the crisis could lead to a stop in vital services for about 100 newborn children, could endanger about 60 people currently in intensive care and about 400 patients who are dependent on life-saving dialysis.”
In addition, non-urgent operations will have to be canceled, and laboratory services, the kitchen and laundry services might be affected.
Critical elements such as intensive care units have a double back-up system of large Uninterruptible Power Supply generators.
But they can only function for short periods, while the main hospital generators are meant to supply electricity for long-term use. Many of the generators are not suitable for constant use and need frequent repair or replacement.
The situation in hospitals has also been worsened by an unusually cold winter, which has increased energy demand. Forced to reset priorities, many hospitals have refrained from heating.
Only the heating systems in stations with newborn children and immune-compromised and elderly patients, who are at risk of hypothermia, have remained intact.
Water pumps not working
The lack of electricity has also affected water supplies.
“Water pumps have lost 40 percent of their capacity to transport water into the wells,” Omar Shatat, technical manager at the Gaza Strip’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, told IRIN.
Before the power plant closed down, pumps delivered about 220,000 liters of water a day. “Now there are hardly able to pump 150,000 per day”, he said.
The situation is further worsened by the 12-18 hour electricity cuts households in the Gaza Strip currently face.
Most households use water pumped by CMWU into tanks. But in order to retrieve the water from there, another pump is needed. “Because they don’t have electricity, the water cannot be delivered into their homes”, Shatat explained.
For now at least, drinking water could be supplied to the entire population. “But if things continue for another three or four days, we could also face a serious problem here,” he added.
The Gaza Strip began to import fuel from Egypt through underground tunnels after Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Strip in mid-2007, including heavy restrictions on the movement of goods.
“This blockade made us depend on Egyptian fuel for the last years. But the Gaza Strip’s reliance on this single source was a solution of a very complex problem, created by the interruption of Israeli fuel supply in 2009,” Ahmad Abu al-Amreen, director of public relations at the Gaza Energy Authority, told IRIN.
Despite the partial easing of Israel’s blockade in June 2010, the underground tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip continued to serve as the main channel for importing fuel at a price significantly cheaper than that imported from Israel.
In the weeks prior to the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant on Tuesday, the level of fuel supplied through the Rafah tunnels from Egypt to the Gaza Strip has declined gradually, falling to on average 100-150,000 liters per day, or 20 percent of the daily amount of fuel that entered into Gaza in the previous weeks, says a report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The exact reasons for the decline remain unclear. But “there are reportedly distribution problems affecting fuel in Egypt, as well as other issues, which are impeding deliveries to the border with Gaza,” the report explains.
“People are very frustrated. They have a government that cares little and puts responsibility on the shoulders of everyone else but not on itself. The current crisis was created through dependence on unreliable tunnels, a system in danger of collapsing at any time,” a humanitarian aid worker from Gaza, who asked to remain anonymous, told IRIN.
On Tuesday, 67 year-old Saleh, who has ruled the country for three decades, is to give way to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the sole candidate in Yemen’s presidential vote, becoming the fourth leader forced from power since mass uprisings swept the Arab world last year.
The interim government formed in November when Saleh accepted a deal cut by his rich neighbors to avert civil war by easing him from power was to have separated his forces from those of his foes, after battles that left parts of the capital in ruins.
But Sanaa remains a city divided: armed tribesmen and defected military units control entire neighborhoods, ceding no ground and citing the prospect of Saleh hanging on to power behind the scenes as the justification for their presence.
Opposition leaders, keen to push on with the political transition, say the military standoff is itself temporary, and will resolve itself as Saleh’s grip on the country ends.
“In November we were on the brink of civil war,” said Mohammed Abulahoum, a former official in Saleh’s party who quit to form his own. “Now we have a political settlement that should close the door on Saleh and his family for ever.”
Saleh’s relative bolstered by US ties
Others are less convinced.
The transition deal, backed by the United States, gave Saleh immunity from prosecution over the killing of hundreds of protesters, and leaves his son and nephews in positions of power in the military and security forces.
If these members of his inner circle are allowed to stay, Saleh, who has vowed to return to Yemen as head of his political party, will be able to continue wielding influence from behind the scenes, protesters and activists say.
“Saleh might not rule the country but he could still play kingmaker,” said Abdullah Al-Faqih, a professor of political science at Sanaa University. “He still has his ruling party, a son commanding the armed forces and allies holding the key ministries, he remains a political force to be reckoned with.”
The interim government has vowed to restructure the armed forces, a task analysts say runs up against the vested interests of all of Yemen’s warlords.
The fate of Saleh’s relatives is clouded by their centrality in US “counter-terrorism” strategy, aimed at an ambitious al-Qaida offshoot that has plotted attacks abroad, and capitalized on the turmoil over Saleh’s fate to expand its foothold.
Saleh’s immediate family has played a leading role in the fight against al-Qaida in Yemen, especially his nephew Yehya, who heads the country’s highly trained counter-terrorism unit.
That relationship may make Washington reluctant to see complete turnover among its closest military partners in Yemen, and could strengthen Saleh and his cohorts’ hand domestically if they try to retain power, analysts say.
“In the coming months, the US is going to be forced to re-evaluate how it is pursuing its war,” said Yemen scholar Gregory Johnsen of Princeton University.
Opposing Saleh’s relatives on the ground are troops following a dissident general and gunmen loyal to tribal leaders who turned on Saleh as protests against him gained momentum.
In the north, grubby-faced infants clamber on sandbagged checkpoints set up by rebel soldiers who careen through the city in armored trucks with Kalashnikov rifles and tubular rocket-launchers swinging on their shoulders.
Blackened, bullet-pocked ministerial offices with blown-out windows remain under the watchful eye of tribal fighters whose street battles with government forces last year razed an entire neighborhood to the ground.
“As long as these armed groups are out on the streets there remains the potential for a sudden outbreak of violence,” Jamal Benomar, the United Nations envoy to Yemen told Reuters.
The dissident soldiers are loyal to Major General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, Saleh’s longtime confidant and partner in campaigns including a 2004-2010 war against rebels in northern Yemen that rights groups say witnessed multiple war crimes.
Ahmar, believed now to be in his late 60s, threw his weight behind the anti-government protest movement in March 2011, taking the First Armoured Division with him. His troops have subsequently fought Saleh’s in the capital and elsewhere.
The schism has raised fears Yemen’s army will not be ready to confront an increasingly dynamic al Q-ida offshoot, which has already gained a foothold in the country’s rural south.
US and Yemeni officials worry that any further loss of government control in the south could expand the group’s influence near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea, and pave the way for future attacks on US and Saudi targets.
The US campaign against al-Qaida has included drone and missile strikes — including one against a US citizen who Washington claims plotted the failed bombing of an airliner — which have killed civilians and fed anti-American sentiment.
It also includes logistical assistance and intelligence sharing with the several factions of the Yemeni military.
Mohsen’s division has vowed to continue assisting the US campaign but say tactics must change.
“We will support America and our allies in the West in the fight against radicalism, but it (America) must alter her strategy to prevent the loss of civilian lives,” said Brigadier General Mohammed al-Sawmli, whose Brigade 25, was pinned down for months by Islamic militants last summer after Yemeni security forces quit southern Abyan province.
“The more civilians the US kills the easier it is for al-Qaida to recruit.”
The ability of Yemen’s military to continue that campaign is in doubt after a rebellion by Yemeni air force officers demanding the departure of their commander, a half-brother of Saleh’s whom they accuse of bad management and corruption.
“The regime can no longer rely on the air force as a tool of repression against its own people,” said Abdulghani Awdal, the air force general leading the efforts to oust the president’s brother.
“If orders are given to carry out further air strikes on anti-government movements they will be refused. Half of the air force is out of the government’s hands now.”
The enemies of Islam frequently accuse of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم of committing acts of treacherous assassination against his critics. But what is the true story?
Ka’b ibn Al-Ashraf was a Jewish leader in Medina at the time of the Prophet. When the Prophet arrived in Medina, he established the Constitution of Medina which promised peace and religious freedom for Jews and Muslims. However, Ka’b did not like that the equality of believers was threatening his position of power, and so he decided to wage war against the Prophet. Uri Rubin writes:
Ibn Ishaq relates that Muhammad ordered to kill Ibn al-Ashraf because the latter had gone to Mecca after Badr and provoked Quraysh to fight the prophet. He also composed verses in which he bewailed the victims of Quraysh who had been killed at Badr.
[Rubin, U. (January 01, 1990). The Assassination of Kaʿb b. al-Ashraf. Oriens, 32, 65-71.]
Indeed, according to Ibn Hisham, Ka’b had “raised confederates حزّب الأحزاب” against the Messenger of Allah. Therefore, he was to be killed because of “his aggression عداوته against the Messenger of Allah and his incitement (to war) وتحريضه عليه against him.” The Prophet Muhammad had to defend his community from the violent aggression of Ka’b ibn Al-Ashraf and his propagandizing the people to make war on the Muslims. Thus, the order was given to execute K’ab.
In modern terms, Ka’b was what we could call an enemy combatant, and this incident can be described as a “targeted killing.” Targeted killings in self-defense are widely recognized to be a legal method of warfare. They are not the same as an “assassination” which involves breaking a peace treaty or security agreement. In fact, the Prophet strongly warned against committing any acts of treachery. He said:
إِذَا جَمَعَ اللَّهُ الأَوَّلِينَ وَالآخِرِينَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرْفَعُ لِكُلِّ غَادِرٍ لِوَاءٌ فَقِيلَ هَذِهِ غَدْرَةُ فُلاَنِ بْنِ فُلاَنٍ
When Allah gathers together the earlier and later generations on the Day of Resurrection, He will raise a banner for every treacherous person and it will be announced that this is the treachery of so-and-so the son of so-and-so.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4301]
Interestingly enough, the enemies of Islam – without fail – will cite the story of Ka’b Ibn Al-Ashraf while ignoring this important historical context. They also neglect what Imam Abu Dawud رحمه الله records immediately after the Hadith about Ka’b ibn Al-Ashraf. Lest anyone think that the story of Ka’b allows general permission to commit assassinations, Abu Dawud records the words of the Prophet:
الْإِيمَانُ قَيَّدَ الْفَتْكَ لَا يَفْتِكُ مُؤْمِنٌ
Faith has prevented treacherous assassination. A believer does not assassinate.
[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 15, Number 2769]
Abu Dawud recorded in a chapter shortly before the story of Ka’b that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
مَنْ قَتَلَ مُعَاهِدًا فِي غَيْرِ كُنْهِهِ حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنَّةَ
If someone kills a person protected by a covenant, before its term expires, then Allah has made Paradise forbidden for him.
[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 15, Number 2760]
Again, you see the enemies of Islam cherry-picking verses and traditions – taking them out of context – while they ignore other verses and traditions that debunk their hateful caricature of Muslims.
So how did the Prophet handle his non-violent critics? With mercy, kindness, and peace, of course! As the Noble Quran says:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا
The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth humbly, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!”
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:63]
وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا اللَّغْوَ أَعْرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَقَالُوا لَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لَا نَبْتَغِي الْجَاهِلِينَ
When they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, “For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.”
[Surah Al-Qassas 28:55]
Let’s not forget the story of when some Jews came to the Prophet and declared, “Death be upon you!” Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, returned their curses, but what did the Messenger of Allah say?
يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ فِي الْأَمْرِ كُلِّهِ
O Aisha, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters.
[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, Number 61]
If only the enemies of Islam could learn from such a beautiful example!
Ka’b Ibn Al-Ashraf was an enemy combatant who was actively involved in a war of extermination against the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Muslims. He openly declared war against the Muslims and thus the Prophet ordered him to be killed out of self-defense for his community. The specific rule to be taken from the incident is that targeted killings in self-defense are a legitimate tactic in war, having been accepted by renowned jurists from the time of Sun Tzu up until the present day. The general rule is that assassinations (breaking a peace treaty) are forbidden, as many authentic Hadith strongly warn us that treachery leads to the Hellfire. Likewise, terrorism is forbidden in every circumstance.
(www.faithinallah.org / 20.02.2012)
Tamimi told Israel’s Ofer court that the accusation he organized 500 villagers into “battalions” during protests was “ridiculous and makes no sense,” the Popular Struggle Committee said.
Recognized by the EU as a human rights defender, Tamimi, 44, was detained by Israeli forces from his home on March 24.
His village, Nabi Saleh, holds weekly protests against the seizure of their land by nearby Israeli settlement Halamish.
Based on the interrogations of two children from the village — which an Israeli court ruled was admissible evidence despite violating minor’s rights — the Israeli authorities accuse him of soliciting youth to throw stones at Israeli forces during protests.
Tamimi questioned on Sunday why Israel had failed to follow up on this charge. “No one continued to look into this issue to try and dismantle this ‘army’ of mine,” he remarked to the court.
In his testimony, he challenged the Israeli regulations that deem any gathering of more than 10 people an illegal demonstration.
“International law gives us the right to peaceful protest, to demonstrate our refusal of the policies that hurt us, our daily life and the future of our children,” Tamimi said.
“I do not know and do not care if (the protests) are permitted by your law, as it was enacted by an authority I do not recognize.”
“True justice would not have me stand here before this court at all, let alone while I am imprisoned and shackled. This case is baseless and made up with the sole goal of putting me behind bars,” he added.
Since protests began in Nabi Saleh in December 2009, Israeli forces have detained more than 80 residents, around 10 percent of the entire village, according to the Popular Struggle Committee.
Two of Tamimi’s sons have been injured by Israeli soldiers at protests, and his wife has been detained twice. Israeli’s Civil Administration has ordered the demolition of Tamimi’s home, which was built in 1965.
Palestinians protested in support of Khader Adnan, an Islamic Jihad leader, and their relatives jailed in Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday.
The hearing had first been scheduled for Thursday but his lawyers and human rights groups representing the hospitalized 33-year-old detainee, Khader Adnan, were worried that he would not survive that long.
Mr. Adnan’s case challenges a decades-old Israeli practice employed almost exclusively against Palestinians, thousands of whom have been detained by military court orders under similar circumstances for months and even years. He is already being hailed a hero in the West Bank and Gaza.
Mr. Adnan is not the first Palestinian to have gone on a hunger strike, but his — 66 days long as of Monday — has proven the most enduring. A medical report prepared last week by an Israeli-accredited doctor on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and filed along with the petition to speed his hearing at the High Court, stated that Mr. Adnan was “in immediate danger of death” and that “a fast in excess of 70 days does not permit survival.”
Whether Mr. Adnan’s case ends in legal victory or death, it is likely to have far-reaching consequences.
Thousands of Palestinians now in Israeli jails have declared that they will take steps in solidarity with Mr. Adnan, and there are growing concerns in Israel that his death could lead to unrest.
Mr. Adnan began his hunger strike on Dec. 18, a day after he was taken from his village, Arraba, in the northern West Bank, according to Addameer, a Palestinian organization that supports prisoners and is providing legal aid in the case.
The father of two small girls, he works as a baker, but has been identified by Palestinians as a leader of Islamic Jihad, an extremist organization that has carried out suicide bombings and fired rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. He was previously detained by the Palestinian Authority in 2010.
A spokesman for the Israeli military, Capt. Eytan Buchman, said only that Mr. Adnan’s latest detention “stems from involvement in actions that threaten regional security.” Administrative detention, he added, “is a tool used when information pertaining to a case is based on sensitive sources that cannot be released.” Defendants retain the right to appeal in the military court and the High Court of Justice.
Critics say that the secret nature of the evidence amounts to arbitrary arrest and makes it impossible for administrative detainees or their lawyers to mount a proper defense.
Mr. Adnan was issued a four-month detention order on Jan. 8 and it was confirmed by a military judge a month later. A first appeal was rejected on Feb. 13.
In the three weeks between Mr. Adnan’s arrest and the detention order, he was interrogated. Yet Israel still did not produce a charge sheet or evidence linking him to violent Islamic Jihad activity, according to Jawad Boulus, one of Mr. Adnan’s lawyers.
“We are asking for him to be released on grounds that they have nothing against him,” Mr. Boulus said.
Administrative detention orders can apply for up to six months, but they can also be renewed repeatedly.
“In Arabic we have a term for it,” said Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “It is like reburying a corpse again and again.”
Mr. Jabarin has himself spent a total of seven years in administrative detention, including a two-year stint in the late 1990s.
The Israeli military has used administrative detention since it conquered the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war, based on provisions from the period decades earlier when the area was under British rule. The number of administrative detainees has fluctuated enormously over the years. At one point in the late 1980s, at the height of the first Palestinian intifada, Mr. Jabarin said there were 11,000 Palestinians under administration detention. There are currently an estimated 310 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons.
A doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel visited Mr. Adnan at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, northern Israel, on Sunday, as did his family and his lawyer.
Mr. Adnan was lucid and able to communicate, said Anat Litvin, the director of the group’s prisoners and detainees department.
Mr. Adnan has consented to liquid infusions containing salts and minerals to help stabilize his condition, but has refused any nourishment and could collapse at any moment, she said.
(www.nytimes.com / 20.02.2012)
The protesters waved Palestinian flags and held banners denouncing the president’s visit to the majority Palestinian city in northern Israel, Israeli news site Ynet reported.
Three people were arrested after clashes broke out with security officers, a police commander told Ynet, adding that one person attacked a police officer with a Palestinian flag.
Israel’s Palestinian community of 1.6 million, which represents about 20 percent of the population, is descended from the 160, 000 Palestinians who remained after the war to establish Israel.
Despite carrying Israeli citizenship, Palestinians receive fewer government resources and restrictions on their cultural and political identity.
BEIRUT, (PIC)– Head of the international union for Muslim scholars Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi called for Arab popular moves to protect the Aqsa Mosque and confront the Jewish attempts to defile it.
In a press release issued on Monday by Al-Quds international foundation, Sheikh Qaradawi stressed that the Aqsa Mosque is a red line and the Muslims would not stand idly if the Jews repeated their attacks on the Mosque.
He urged the Palestinians in their occupied land and the Arab peoples in neighboring countries, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, to rise up in defense of the Aqsa Mosque and liberate it from the Jewish occupation.
(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 20.02.2012)