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Official: PA forces regularly conduct politically motivated arrests

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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority police regularly detain people in the West Bank due to their political affiliation, an official said Sunday.

Khalil Assaf, a member of the subcommittee on civil liberties formed after the West Bank-Gaza unity government was sworn in in June, told Ma’an that regardless of the committee’s formation, none of its recommendations have been implemented.

“Every day people are being detained in the West Bank because of their political affiliation, though in most cases they are released within days,” Assaf said.

Though he could not give an exact number of political detainees, he said “we are talking about dozens” of people.

The subcommittee, which was tasked with maintaining and monitoring civil liberties in the West Bank and Gaza, has not been summoned for any meetings with the rest of the unity government so far, Assaf said.

He said it was formed in order to address several aspects of freedom in a democratic society: the freedoms of work, assembly, research, and movement; the freedom to distribute newspapers; the freedom to participate in political activities without discrimination; providing passports to citizens who had previously been denied passports; and the issue of citizens being summoned for questioning both in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian political leaders have been unable to implement these freedoms due to the lack of full implementation of the unity government, he added.

Critics of the US-backed PA often decry the night raids conducted by Palestinian police to arrest dissenting politically active individuals, stressing that they are carried out in a manner nearly identical to the raids conducted by occupying Israeli forces.

(Source / 19.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Sick Palestinian Prisoners Could Die in Israeli Jails

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RAMALLAH, October 18, 2012 (WAFA) – Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, warned that sick Palestinian prisoners are facing death in Israeli jails due to deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli prison administration.

The minister stated that, ‘prisoners jail cells have turned into their graves.’

During a visit to the family of Khader Dababat, a prisoner sentenced to 16 years in Israeli jail, Qaraqi stressed that prisoners alarming health conditions are extremely worrisome.

Dababat,  was shot by Israeli forces during his arrest and has underwent difficult treatment during his detention, including solitary confinement for two years, during which he was physically assaulted, which aggravated his mental health condition.

‘Prisoners are semi-alive  and are suffering from extremely dangerous health conditions,’ stressed Qaraqi.

He called upon all humanitarian and human rights organizations to intervene and put an end to the suffering of  ill prisoners.

Qaraqi stated that the number of sick prisoners detained in Israeli jails have reached 1500, of whom 80 prisoners are suffering from serious health problems and do not receive the necessary treatment; they suffer from malignant diseases, paralysis, and disabilities, in addition to cases of mental illness and neurological disorder.

Qaraqo also paid a visit to the families of several other prisoners, including the family of released prioner Nawal al-Saadi, who was released after spending two years in Israeli jails.

Al-Saadi,  whose two sons were killed by Israeli forces, appealed to organizations to intervene and stand by female prisoners who are suffering from ill-treatment by the Israeli prison administration and their jailers.

(Source / 18.10.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

October 18, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Hamas to run for presidential and municipal elections, again

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With the Islamic movement experiencing every-growing popularity, both in Gaza and the West Bank, Abbas is prepared for Hamas victory in upcoming elections

Hamas top leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniya

BEIT HANOUN, GAZA – Hamas has begun preparations for presidential and legislative elections, a senior Hamas political leader Khalil al-Hayya, has announced.

It is the first time that the group has decided to contest a Presidential election and could see a Hamas leader win control of the Palestinian Authority.

In his comments, made over the weekend, Hayya explained that Hamas was dedicated to working with the current consensus government in Gaza, but also wanted to ensure that it had a strategy in place once elections were held. He stressed that his movement was determined to work toward ending divisions and building national organisations on the basis of transparency and power sharing.

“It is not allowed for anyone to work on their own,” he said.

The announcement was made at an event held in the northern town of Beit Hanoun to commemorate the more than 2,100 Palestinians killed during this summer’s 51-day war on Gaza, and was attended by thousands, including former Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Hanyieh and several other senior Hamas leaders.

The move appears to be an attempt by the Hamas leadership to outline new thinking within the Hamas movement, with Hayya repeatedly calling for new elections and greater Palestinian political and military reunification, in the face of Israel’s ongoing occupation.

“Everyone realises the policy of the blockade has failed, and the siege against the resistance is gone, and will not return,” Hayya said.

“The world and its tyrannical forces, which imposed the blockade on us, found it useless due to the presence of the resistance.”

Israel has attempted to assassinate Hayya several times over the years. The last time was during this summers’ offensive when it bombed his home, killing his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Prior to that, several of his relatives were killed when Israeli F16s hit places where he was believed to be hiding. Yet, Hayya remained undeterred and promised to keep up resistance.

“We are now more confident and certain … that there is no place for occupiers on our land,” he said.

Hamas will continue and employ new techniques, despite the blockade which did not stop them from building more homemade rockets and later expanding their range, he explained.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who stems from the rival Fatah camp, has even tentatively accepted the move on Wednesday, telling an Egyptian television station that he would be willing to hand power over to Hamas if they won the next election. Hamas did not stand against Abbas in the 2005 Presidential vote, although the group did field candidates for the 2006 parliamentary elections.

“We are ready for presidential elections as of tomorrow, and if Hamas wins, they will get power,” Abbas said.

The following statement could, in fact, be interpreted as a reference the ongoing problem facing  tens of thousands of civil servant workers in Gaza, but if such a transition is indeed allowed, it would be a shift away from the drama which followed the 2006 elections.

Then Hamas won a majority of seats in Gaza, while Fatah came out on top in the West Bank. The ensuing tensions have divided Palestinian politics since, although the announcement of a consensus technocrat government on 2 June has now raised hopes that a lasting rapprochement could be in the works.

Under the deal, agreed by both Hamas and Fatah, the 17-member non-affiliated cabinet is supposed to work toward unity and peace until elections – slated for 2015 – can be held.

Election time?

For now, there is not much talk within Palestinian factions as to when the Palestinian elections will actually be held. However, if an election was held now, it seems that Hamas may have the upper hand.

In a poll conducted last month by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, Hamas was shown to be leading the polls in both presidential and parliamentary elections –  the first time this has happened since Palestinians voted Hamas into office in 2006.

According to Adnan Abu Amer, a Gaza-based political analyst, Hamas is planning to repeat its 2006 parliamentary election strategy and expand to presidential elections.

“Hamas fears the upcoming elections would be the soft gate which will get it out of the political arena,” he told Middle East Eye.

But Hamas is determined to not let this happen and has learned from the experience of governing. They are ready to correct past mistakes and evolve, he explained.

Moreover, the movement knows that now is the perfect time to gain the upper hand, he added.

According to the poll, which interviewed 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank, there has been an unprecedented shift in popularity towards Hamas. This is in large, to the credit of Hamas’ ability to hold its ground during the 51-day Israeli attack on Gaza this summer, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge.”

The poll shows that Hamas leader, Hanyieh would win with 60 percent of votes in a two-way race against PA president Mahmoud Abbas who would secure just 32 percent of the vote.

More than 50 of respondents said that armed-resistance would be more likely to help Palestinians achieve their ambition of having their own state – an indication that the majority of Palestinians would like to adopt Hamas’s strategy of armed struggle to end occupation.

Some internal documents within Hamas showed earlier in the year that Hamas popularity faced steady decline.

This shift was clear even before the 2014 war, with a poll conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, showing that 70 percent of Gazans wanted Hamas to maintain a ceasefire with Israel and 57 percent of Gazans preferred a Fatah to a Hamas leadership.

But Hamas’s support seems to have bounced back and is also crucially growing in the West Bank, where resentment is rising regarding the actions of the Palestinian Authority, that has failed to make headway in peace talks, prevent massive settlement construction and that imposed heavy crack-downs on pro-Gaza protests this summer.

Even if Hamas’ popularity in Gaza ends up declining over the long term, according to Abu Amer, Hamas is still well positioned to win due to several factors.

“In applying mathematical equation, the West Bank population is bigger than Gaza and that may balance out any potential loss in Gaza where the population is smaller,” Abu Amer said.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2010 there were 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and 1.7 in Gaza. Moreover a greater percentage of the population is able to vote in the West Bank – almost double those eligible in Gaza – which further pushes the odds in Hamas’s favour, Abu Amer added.

Observers and commentators tend to agree that the PA could revive its fortunes if it manages to secure the opening of Gaza’s crossings and speed up the process of reconstruction and economic recovery in Gaza. On the other hand, if Hamas is indeed holding an Israeli soldier hostage, and manages to secure a good prisoner-swap deal – similar to the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011 – then the wave of popularity for Hamas could well undermine any PA hopes.

(Source / 18.10.2014)

Written by altahrir

October 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Official: PA should carry more influence in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An official said Saturday that if any power besides the Palestinian Authority ended up in control of East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian national project would be “destroyed.”

Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Minister of Religious Affairs, told Ma’an that the PA needed to redouble its efforts to assert control in East Jerusalem.

“We should start working with the Jerusalem district … and all the people of Jerusalem to bring back the weight of the PA in Jerusalem,” al-Habbash said.

He said a “religious war” would erupt in the area if Israel continued carrying out its plans in Jerusalem.

“For Palestine, it is an open battle; even if Israel imposes a new reality in Jerusalem we will not give it legitimacy.”

Al-Habbash’s statements came as tensions rose at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in recent days amid regular clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police officers during visits to the holy site by right-wing Jews.

Israeli forces have also been regularly restricting access to the mosque to Palestinians under the age of 50.

The site is the third holiest site in Islam and is in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed, though the international community considers it Palestinian territory.

(Source / 18.10.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

October 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Gaza Still Needs Rebuilding. Here’s What Lies Ahead

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GAZA

Palestinians walk during the sunset between the rubble of their destroyed building in Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Delegates representing some 50 nations and 20 regional and international organizations attended a donor conference in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday to help Gaza rebuild after the war between Israel and Gaza’s militant Islamic group Hamas this summer. Organizers of the Cairo conference hope pledges of over 5 billion dollars by donor

Every week, The WorldPost asks an expert to shed light on a topic driving headlines around the world. Today, we look at efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip after the latest conflict with Israel.

For 51 days this summer, Israeli troops and Palestinian militants in Gaza fought a devastating war that left over 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis dead. The United Nations estimates that 60,000 homes in Gaza were damaged or destroyed in the fighting, leaving some 110,000 people homeless. Infrastructure in the enclave wasbadly damaged.

As another 50 days have passed since the end of the war, the need to start Gaza’s reconstruction process is growing more acute. Last weekend, international donors gathered in Cairo and pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild the Strip.

A major challenge for donors and aid agencies is to make sure the cash translates into actual rebuilding. Gaza’s neighbors — Israel and Egypt –severely restrict the passage of goodsin and out of the area. Israel has insisted on guarantees from the international community that construction materials won’t be used by militants to resupply for another war. In a potential breakthrough last month, the UN brokered a deal for international monitoring on reconstruction materials imported into Gaza. On Tuesday, the first trucks carrying building materials were allowed to enter the enclave via Israel.

The WorldPost turned to Tony Laurance, CEO of U.K.-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, to discuss the reconstruction effort and the scale of the challenges ahead.

It’s been nearly two months since Israel and Palestinians in Gaza reached a ceasefire deal. Has the rebuilding of Gaza started yet?

Not in any meaningful sense. At the moment they’re mainly clearing unexploded ordnance. People were waiting for the Cairo donor conference and on an agreement on how materials will get into the enclave to start the rebuilding process. Substantial amounts were indeed pledged during the conference. However, after the last confrontation, Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, there were also a lot of pledges but nothing was delivered. While the agreement reached by the United Nations on the entry of goods into Gaza is promising, there have been many promises over the last five years to resolve that same problem. Nothing ever happened in a very wide scale.

Will it be different this time?

The UN deal will need to be accompanied by enormous intentions. The challenges lie in the details and the success of the deal depends on relationships and trust, which are very sorely absent. Israeli-Palestinian relations don’t really exist at the moment.

Will the promised aid be enough, if it does arrive?

Getting the materials in is one thing. There are very complicated projects ahead — like repairing the water, sewage and power systems — which not only require goods entering Gaza but also expertise and equipment.

Additionally, unless you create opportunities for export you cannot get the economy running again. One-off aid may help kickstart the economy but it won’t create longer term opportunities or jobs.

Where does that leave people in Gaza in the meantime?

People aren’t starving, but that’s about the best you can say. Many are not able to go home, many don’t have electricity.

There’s an awful lot of people with injuries. Gaza will need to cope with people who have severe disabilities, offering physical therapy and finding opportunities for them. The medical equipment was already pretty dire, even before the war, and now there is an acute shortage of drugs. A number of clinics and hospitals were damaged and a few were destroyed in the war.

There are also wide concerns about the water supply and associated public health risks. The one public aquifer is desperately overused and a lot of people can’t afford to live off water tanks. It’s crucial to act so that Gaza has an adequate water system in the coming years. There have been plans to invest in the sewage system, for years but they never got off the ground. At the moment the sewage is just pumped into the sea.

 

Written by altahrir

October 18, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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90 per cent of Gazans live below poverty line

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Palestinian Children

The Popular Committee for Facing the Siege on Gaza said on Friday “90 per cent of Gazan residents are living below the poverty line.”

In a statement issued to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the committee said that the Gaza Strip has been under strict Israeli siege since 2006. “Today, it records the highest rate of poverty since then,” the statement said.

This high poverty rate is attributed to the increasing rate of unemployment, which dramatically increased after the latest 51-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

“Hundreds of factories and commercial facilities were destroyed during the war,” said the statement. “This has negatively affected the economic situation.”

The rate of unemployment among Gaza residents has exceeded the threshold of 65 per cent and the rate of individual income is less than 1 USD per day.

The committee called on the international community to work on lifting the siege imposed on the Strip.

(Source / 18.10.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

October 18, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Hamas leader calls on Muslims to ‘defend’ Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque

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A Palestinian from Gaza prays in front of the Dome of the Rock (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal has urged Muslims to “defend” the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after Israeli forces restricted the entrance for Palestinians. He accused Israel of trying to seize the site, which is considered holy for both Muslims and Jews.

READ MORE: Clashes erupt in Jerusalem as Palestinians ‘denied’ access to holy mosque

“We call on all our people inside the country to hurry up to al-Aqsa to defend it,” Meshaal said in a statement from Doha, Qatar.

“We call on the nation to be angry and to send a message of painful anger to the world that the Palestinian people, the Arab and Muslim nation, will not be silent at the Israeli crime,” Meshaal added.

When asked if such a call might trigger another conflict soon after the deadly 2014 Gaza war, the Hamas leader said: “Nobody wants a war, but it’s our right to resist and preserve our rights. We are under occupation…We have been resisting for one hundred years and will continue.”

“Al-Aqsa is worth us becoming martyrs for, and anyone who can carry a weapon in the region should go and defend it, as this is the true meaning of jihad,” Meshaal added, prompting alarm from both media and the region’s politicians.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal speaks during an interview with Reuters in Doha October 16, 2014. (Reuters / Fadi Al-Assaad)

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal speaks during an interview with Reuters in Doha October 16, 2014

Earlier, Israeli forces decided to only allow Palestinians over the age of 50 to enter the site, which is considered the third holiest shrine in Islam. The Palestinian population feared Israel was going to restrict access to the mosque for all Muslims. That caused the latest in a series of clashes with Israeli police at the site.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied all the assumptions, saying the extremists are to blame for the violence.

“I am committed and Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo exactly as it has been for many decades,” he said on Monday. “What we’re seeing are Palestinian extremists who are instigating violence through incitement. The incitement is spread by false and baseless rumors that we are threatening the Muslim holy places. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Netanyahu said Israel would continue to scrupulously maintain the protection of holy sites and the right of all religions to worship in their holy places.

According to Meshaal, however, Israel is trying to use the regional turmoil to take over the mosque.

Palestinians shout slogans while Orthodox Jews look at the scene from a bus passing by, during a rally near the entrance of al-Aqsa mosque compound to protest after authorities restricted access to the esplanade on October 15, 2014 outside Jerusalem's Old City. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Gharabli)

Palestinians shout slogans while Orthodox Jews look at the scene from a bus passing by, during a rally near the entrance of al-Aqsa mosque compound to protest after authorities restricted access to the esplanade on October 15, 2014 outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

The former site of a Biblical temple, Al-Aqsa is considered a holy site for Jews. After the 1967 Six-Day War, the complex was immediately handed over to Muslim authorities. Non-Muslim visits to the Al-Aqsa complex are allowed and regulated by Israeli police, but Jews are not allowed to pray at the site for fear it could cause disturbances and protests from Muslims. Jews have to come as tourists and pray at the Western Wall. During the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, celebrated over October 8-15 this year, Jews historically make pilgrimages to the compound, which they call Temple Mount.

Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Muhammad Hussein has insisted that the compound is “a holy site for Muslims only.”

Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch threatened Tuesday to close the compound entirely if members of the two faiths could not pray there peacefully.

“We want [the compound] to stay open for Muslims and Jews, but if Jews can’t go there, neither can Muslims,” the minister was quoted as saying by military radio.

The latest outbreak of tensions over the holy site started in 2000, after Israeli politician Ariel Sharon’s visit to Al-Aqsa triggered a Palestinian uprising that lasted five years – the so-called Second Intifada.

(Source / 18.10.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

October 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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