PA Chief Islamic Justice Mahmoud al-Habbash, who has called for Arab states to “strike” Gaza, seen with Mahmoud Abbas during a 2012 tour of Ramallah
A senior Palestinian Authority official has called on Arab states to “strike” Gaza, following the example of the Saudi-led bombing raids on Yemen.
Arab states have a duty to “strike those who have violated legitimacy with an iron fist, regardless of the place, time or circumstances, beginning with Palestine,” said Mahmoud al-Habbash, religious affairs advisor to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
“What happened in Gaza was a coup, not a division, and it must be addressed with firmness,” added Al-Habbash, who is also the PA’s chief Islamic justice. “There can be no dialogue with coup-makers; they must be hit with an iron fist.”
Al-Habbash made his comments, which were reported by the official Palestinian news agency, in a Friday sermon at the mosque in the PA’s Ramallah headquarters.
Officials of Abbas’ Ramallah-based, Western-supported PA regularly accuse Hamas of carrying out a “coup” when it took over the interior of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
This is a reversal of the well-documented reality that Hamas was acting against a coup attempt by forces loyal to Abbas, after Hamas won legislative elections the previous year.
The coup, which was supported at the highest levels of the US government, succeeded in the West Bank, where Abbas consolidated his Israeli-backed control.
Meanwhile, the democratically elected Hamas-led government was isolated and besieged in Gaza.
Civilians killed in Yemen
Al-Habbash praised the Saudi-led air strikes on the Yemeni capital Sanaa that began Thursday, saying that they would “save” the country and prevent its “disintegration.”
According to Amnesty International, six children were among dozens of civilians killed in bombing raids by aircraft from a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf states and Jordan.
Saudi Arabia says the attacks are intended to drive back the Houthis, predominantly Shia rebels who advanced on Sanaa in recent weeks effectively deposing Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the US- and Saudi-backed president.
Mahmoud Abbas has given his strong backing to the attacks on Yemen.
The Saudi government typically views citizens of Arab countries who are adherents to the Shia branch of Islam as aliens, agents or proxies of Iran.
Saudi media claim that the Houthi advance is part of an Iranian effort to gain a foothold on the Arabian peninsula.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia sent forces to help crush a popular uprising in Bahrain, which the government and its supporters claimed was instigated by Iran.
In his sermon, the PA’s al-Habbash said that Arab states needed to intervene more heavily across the region.
“There are many other cases that should be treated like Yemen,” he said.
Perpetuating Gaza’s suffering
Al-Habbash’s statement “is really frustrating to hear,” Dr. Ramy Abdu, chairperson of the independent group Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights (euromid.org), told The Electronic Intifada from Gaza City.
“I believe that al-Habbash is part of a group that tries to perpetuate Gaza’s suffering and which have no problem letting fellow Palestinians suffer for their own benefit,” Abdu added.
(Source / 27.03.2015)
Houthis hold up their weapons to protest against Saudi-led airstrikes, during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, March 26, 2015
Yemen’s foreign minister Riad Yaseen said on Friday that Iranian forces were in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to support the Houthi mlitants, in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel.
Yassin was on a trip in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, the day before the upcoming Arab League summit convening there.
Meanwhile on Friday, fighter jets of Saudi-led coalition forces pounded a Republican Guard camp in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa as Operation “Decisive Storm” continues for the second day, targeting Houthi strongholds and their camps, Al Arabiya News Channel reported earlier.
The Republican Guards are loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthi’s main ally who retains wide power despite having stepped down in 2012 after Arab Spring protests.
The offensive comes after powerful explosions rocked Sanaa Thursday night as the coalition forces carried out air strikes against the Shiite rebels who control Sanaa.
(Source / 27.03.2015)
An elderly Palestinian walks past a building, which was damaged during last summer’s Israeli war against Gaza Strip, in the Shejaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City on February 23, 2015
A nongovernmental federation for human rights organizations says Israel perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity during its devastating military onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip last summer.
In a report entitled “Trapped and Punished: The Gaza Civilian Population under Operation Protective Edge” published on Friday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) pointed to examples of indiscriminate and direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects, disproportionate use of force as well as deliberate attacks targeting medical services during the Israeli war on Gaza.
The report further made a reference to Israel’s “refusal of access to humanitarian relief, the targeting of residential areas, operational healthcare facilities and transport, and life-sustaining civilian infrastructure” among the regime’s violations of international law.
“Most of people we met with, all of whom have lived through previous attacks on Gaza, told us that the summer offensive in 2014 was the worst they had seen. Bombs fell entirely indiscriminately, on men, women and children alike,” said Gaelle Dusepulchre, one of the members of the FIDH delegation that recently visited the Gaza strip.
The Paris-based FIDH has presented the report to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is planning to lodge its first case aginst the Tel Aviv regime’s crimes.
A Palestinian boy and his sister walk in front of a building, which was damaged during last summer’s Israeli war against the Gaza Strip, in the Shejaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City on February 23, 2015
“It’s now time for ICC to move from a mere preliminary examination of the conflict to a full investigation. The Prosecutor must go to the field in order to appreciate the magnitude of the crimes committed,” said Shawan Jabbarin, the FIDH vice president, adding, “Palestinian have been waiting for justice for far too long.”
Israel started its latest war on the Gaza Strip in early July last year. The offensive ended on August 26, 2014, with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, were killed in Israel’s 50-day onslaught. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also injured.
(Source / 27.03.2015)
Clashes took place, on Thursday evening, near the western entrance of Kufur ed-Deek village, in the central West Bank city of Salfit, after Israeli soldiers and extremist settlers tried to invade it; while the soldiers also kidnapped two Palestinians.
Media sources in Salfit said a large number of Israeli fanatics from two illegal nearby colonies gathered near the village, and attempted to invade it.
Dozens of residents noticed the settlers gathered in the area in an attempt to prevent the extremists from invading their village, leading to clashes with Israeli soldiers who arrived at the scene.
The villagers are subject to frequent assaults by fanatic Israeli groups, and Israeli soldiers, including ongoing attacks against their orchards and farmlands, especially amidst attempts to expand illegal nearby colonies, built on Palestinian lands.
(Source / 27.03.2015)
It’s time for Palestinians to surmount ideological, factional and political divides, for no matter how deep divisions are – Palestine is, should and will always be one
Waiting on Israeli society to change from within is a colossal waste of time, during which the suffering of an entire nation – torn between an occupied home and a harsh diaspora – will not cease. But what are Palestinians and the supporters of a just peace in Palestine and Israel to do? Plenty.
Those who counted on some sort of a miracle to emerge from the outcome of the recent Israeli elections have only themselves to blame. Neither logic nor numbers were on their side, nor the long history laden with disappointing experiences of “leftist” Israelis unleashing wars and cementing occupation. Despite a few differences between Israel’s right and the so-called left on internal matters, their positions are almost identical regarding all major issues related to Palestine. These include the Right of Return and the status of occupied Jerusalem to the illegal settlements.
Equally important, most sectors of Israel’s political classes that are dominated by Zionist Jews are also in concord regarding the status of Israel’s Palestinian Arab population (1948 Palestinians). Don’t let the racist fearmongering of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – terrifying Israeli Jews of Arabs voting in “droves” – blind you to the fact that the Zionist Labor bloc is equally racist, although, in a less vulgar fashion.
But Palestinians are not without options. Sure, the odds against them are great, but such is the fate of the oppressed as they are left between two options: either a perpetual fight for justice or unending humiliation and servitude.
1. Abbas, Oslo must go
First, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is the stronghold of Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt circle on Palestine’s political discourse at home. This is not an outcome of Abbas’s particular savvy or the genius of his class. The post-Oslo circle only exists to maintain the status quo: US interests and involvement as a mediator in the conflict, Israel’s security – thus the constant crackdown on Palestinian opposition and resistance – and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has a reason to exist for the sake of ensuring the many privileges that come with the job.
This whole apparatus must be overcome and eventually removed entirely from the Palestinian body politic if Palestinians are to have any chance at formulating an alternative strategy.
2. Factionalism must be defeated, crushed
But for that to take place, the very ailments that have afflicted Palestinian society for years, leading to the creation of the ineffectual PA in the first place, would have to be confronted heads on. One such condition is factionalism, which has to be overpowered by a collective that defines itself first and foremost as Palestinian.
Factionalism, in its current form, has destroyed much of the social fabric of Palestine. It has divided the already divided people into fragments making them easy to be controlled, manipulated, suppressed – and when necessary – besieged. 67 years are just too long a period for a nation that lives mostly in exile, trapped or confined behind walls, to sustain its political identity and remain unified around the same “constants” without proper leadership.
Yet somehow many Palestinians persisted, insisting on one Palestine, one people, one identity, one goal. For these energies to be streamlined into a meaningful push against Israeli colonial designs, factionalism would have to be put to rest. Additionally, the Palestinian flag must occupy every public place currently occupied by red, yellow, green or any other factional colour or symbol.
3. But the transition must be smooth
Such seismic change cannot come easily. It must be gradual and part of a national initiative. It must be a conversation that brings friends and rivals not to divide material perks, useless “ministries” and worthless “government” posts, but rather to mend the broken unanimity that once existed. In fact, once upon a time, Palestinians were not united or disjointed around the frivolous “peace process,” but instead around “national constants,” where the Right of Return took central stage.
The transition from disunity and chaos into something visionary and not confined by short-term political interests, must be smooth, calculated and led by respected Palestinian figures, not those with hands soiled by blood and corruption.
4. Right of return must be brought back to centre of discourse
One major issue that must dominate the new political discourse is the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, guaranteed by international law. The issue is not only essential in its centrality in the lives of millions of Palestinians suffering in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, but is also essential to any sensible understanding of the conflict and its resolution.
The struggle in Palestine doesn’t date back to the war of 1967, but the Zionist takeover of Palestine between 1947-48 that resulted in nearly a million refugees, the expropriation of their land, homes, rights and the attempt at erasing any evidence of their existence.
By marginalising the Right of Return, one diminishes the very roots of the conflict, and any serious attempt at reconciling the painful past with the equally agonising present.
5. Palestine 48 must be fully incorporated into national agenda
Not all Palestinians became refugees. Some remained in Palestine as it was being transferred to some other entity before their own eyes.
The Palestinians of 1948 have always, and will remain a major component of the Palestine question and the Palestinian struggle for freedom and human rights. The fragmentation between the communities were imposed by calculated political realities, enforced by Israel or circumstances. That said, the issues have never been truly separated: the plight of Palestinians in Israel, those under military occupation in the occupied territories, and refugees in the diaspora all go back to the same historical point of reference – the Nakba of 48. These common struggles continue to be sustained by Israel, its racist laws, its military occupation and its refusal to adhere to international law.
Without the Palestinians of 48, the Palestinian national identity will remain politically fragmented and scarred. The persistence and collective strength of that population is an important asset, and their struggles are part and parcel of the struggle and resistance of Palestinians in the occupied territories and those in the diaspora.
6. Resistance must be respected
However, fuel is needed to urge that new collective awareness forward, and nothing can possibly achieve such an end but the insistence on resistance, in both the real and cerebral sense.
The term “resistance” once dominated references made by Palestinian leaders in yesteryears, but was purposely marginalised following the signing of Oslo in 1993. That was driven by two subtle understandings that resistance was ineffective, and that to achieve a degree of validity and stateliness in the eyes of their US benefactors, the new rulers of Palestine needed to abandon seemingly unsophisticated references to a bygone era.
Yet without resistance there is only submission and defeat, which is precisely what took place. Only popular resistance in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the steadfastness of 48 Palestinians, crowned by the legendary resistance of Palestinians in Gaza under a harsh siege and repeated wars, continue to frustrate Israel. Yet, the harsher Israel tries to destroy Palestinian resistance, the more emboldened Palestinians become, for resistance is a culture, not a political choice.
Without resistance, Palestinians may as well raise white flags and sign on whatever dotted line is dictated by Israel. And then, they would simply be agreeing to perpetual subjugation.
7. BDS must continue to grow, bridge gaps
Resistance is part and parcel of the ongoing global campaign, to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. The outcome of the Israeli elections, and the rise of a more self-assertive Palestinian political collective by 48 Palestinians, would mean that BDS must enlarge its mission, not just rhetorically by practically as well.
The BDS movement had already emphasised equality for 48 Palestinians as a main objective that is as vital as all other objectives. The Joint List Arab party which won 13 seats in the Knesset solidified the relationship between Palestinian Arab communities within Israel as the BDS movement has to a large extent solidified the rapport between Palestinian communities across political and geographical divides. But more is needed. The new self-assertive Palestinian community in Israel deserves greater engagement. By doing so, BDS would defeat Israel’s constant attempt at diminishing the collective aspiration of the Palestinian people.
8. One State must become the rally cry for equality and freedom
There is no need or time for despair. In fact, the opposite is true. The more empowered and racist Israel becomes, and the deeper it digs into the roots of its Apartheid and racist institutions and walls, the more obvious the answer becomes: a state for two peoples with equal rights. Both Palestinians and Jews exist in that very space, but they are governed by two sets of laws that make peaceful co-existence impossible. In order to speed up the achievement of that moment and lessen suffering, Palestinians have some urgent work to do.
It is time for Palestinian communities everywhere to surmount ideological, factional and political divides, reach out to one another, unite their ranks, and harness their energies, for no matter how deep the divide, Palestine is, should and will always be one.
(Source / 27.03.2015)
Israeli occupation has been unhappy as the General Court of the European Union ruled that Hamas should be delisted
The General Court of the European Union ruled on December that blacklisting Hamas was not based on legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet
Days of Palestine, Brussels –The European Union decided on Friday to keep Palestinians Islamist group Hamas blacklisted despite court decision.
On December 2014, the EU second highest court ruled that Hamas, which was blacklisted by the EU in 2003, should be delisted from the bloc’s register.
Brussels has appealed against the ruling. “Hamas stays on list during Council’s appeal to December judgement,” Susanne Kiefer, a Spokeswoman for the European Council wrote on Twitter.
Hamas’ military wing was added to the EU’s first-ever terrorism blacklist drawn up in December 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States. The EU then blacklisted the political wing of Hamas in 2003.
But the General Court of the European Union ruled on December that blacklisting Hamas was not based on legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet.
The Israeli occupation initially criticised the court’s decision to remove the group from the blacklist, claiming Hamas carried out deliberate acts of terror against Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Hamas had described the EU’s appeal against the judgement by the General Court of the European Union as “immoral.”
Criticising the decision, Hamas slammed the European Union for working against their judicial system. Speaking to Days of Palestine, Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhum said: “This decision completely contradicts the court’s ruling.”
He added: “It is unjust and wrong to our people and legitimate resistance, and also encourages the Israeli occupation to continue its crimes.”
“We reject this decision and call for it to be reviewed, and to remove all forms of injustice against our people and Hamas,” Barhum said.
(Source / 27.03.2015)
KOBANE UPDATE 69: BODIES OF ISLAMIC STATE FIGHTERS STILL COMING OUT OF RUBBLE IN KOBANE CITY, AS FURTHER IS ATTACKS REPULSED
By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-4/)
SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS
Two months after the liberation of Kobane city, they are still finding the rotting bodies of Islamic State (IS) fighters under the rubble of collapsed and destroyed buildings, but additional aid and help to rebuild has started to trickle in.
Kurdish Woman and Child Walk Through Kobane
Fighting continues to the south-west of the Canton, to the south along and just below the M4 highway line and to the east towards the IS-held town of Tel Abayd.
On the south-western front, IS attempted another infiltration by boat across the Euphrates River near Qara Qwazak but this was detected by the YPG and their snipers repulsed and neutralised the attack.
However, further downstream on the Euphrates, IS managed a boat crossing from and into their own territory, sending reinforcements, weapons and ammunition to the defence of the town of Sarrin.
Repeated attempts by the Islamic State to recover ground north-east of Sarrin have been pushed back by the YPG/YPJ and the IS fighters inside the grain silo complex remain trapped and surrounded.
Coalition airstrikes continue in support of the Kurdish forces.
Recent strikes have targeted IS command and control centres on the west bank of the Euphrates plus vehicles and fighter groups.
Latest reports from US Central Command (Centcom) say that from Wednesday am through to yesterday morning, Thursday, they carried out 4 airstrikes in Kobane Canton, destroying 2 x IS fighting positions and hitting 5 others, plus 2 x IS tactical units.
The Coalition are also reported to have struck an IS military garrison near Raqqah, one of their key cities.
In the other other Kurdish Canton to the east, Cizire, the YPG have advanced on the western front, destroying an IS military vehicle and killing 2 x IS fighters near Tel Tamer.
Somehow, some of the Kurdish spirit to survive, whatever the odds, seems to have blessed a Kurdish football team based in Sweden. All 29 members of the Dalkurd FF team, which plays in the Swedish 3rd Division and was set up by Kurdish immigrants 11 years ago, were due to return together after training in Spain on the ill-fated Germanwings Flight 4U 9525.
However, at the last minute they decided to split into 3 groups and take other flights to Sweden via Germany and Switzerland, rather than have a 10 hour stopover in Dusseldorf. That decison saved their lives. One of their flights left at the same time as the plane that crashed into the French Alps. You can read more, HERE:
(EDITOR: Terrible decision of murderous, suicidal co-pilot of Germanwings aircraft if true. Very sad, so many wasted lives. My condolences to all the families concerned)
Kobane Canton SW Situation Map 26.03.15
Kobane Canton Map 25.03.15
BATTLE FOR SINJAR CITY CONTINUES, WHILE YEZIDI WONDER WHY THE WORLD HAS FORGOTTEN THEM:
In northern Iraq, the YPG, along with the Peshmerga and Yezidi militia, continue the fight to try and push the Islamic State completely out of Sinjar city. Territory in the city is still split approximately 50/50.
After 2 attacks by Islamic State fighters on Kurdish positions on Wednesday were repulsed, IS were hit with 7 Coalition airstrikes and around 35 of them were killed.
Ancient Minaret Destroyed by Barbaric Islamic State
Last Sunday, in their continuing destruction of everyone’s heritage, IS Jihadists in Sinjar blew up the ancient minaret of the Saljuqid mosque, a city landmark, as well as a number of houses.
At the headquarters of the EU in Brussels this week and in other cities around the world, members of the worldwide Yezidi community demonstrated to once again try and bring attention to the plight of their comrades and relatives in Iraq.
Apart from the hundreds of Yezidi killed by the Islamic State, thousands of captured young Yezidi women and girls are still missing after 8 months, and no-one seems to be doing anything about it.
As a result of Coalition airstrikes on Islamic State positions, an estimated 150 bodies of IS fighters were reported to have been transferred yesterday to the main mortuary in IS-held Mosul city.
The fighters were said to have been killed over the last 2 days in airstrikes on Kaske Kask, Kalak, Khorbasad and in Mosul’s Arabi neighborhood.
A Kurdish source said, “Mosul inhabitants have started buying tents and renting houses outside the city in fear of the battle for Mosul. They want to keep themselves away from clashes in the city”.
As Spring approaches, it is anticipated that the Coalition, the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga will launch a joint operation to retake Mosul, where there are thought to be only 2,000 Islamic State fighters remaining.
Families who have escaped the city say that people still living there are suffering a reign of terror as IS struggles to maintain to control of a large area. One estimate suggests that IS have only the support of about 5% of the population.
IS maintains its position by imposing severe penalties for what it sees as transgressions of its “laws”, according to some even cutting off the hands of children accused of theft. Stoning and executions are not uncommon. You can read more, HERE:
Further south, where the Iraqi Army and Iraqi militias have made progress against the Islamic State around Tikrit, the Coalition joined the fight for the city by carrying out 17 airstrikes on Wednesday am through to Thursday morning.
The airstrikes, according to US Central Command, hit multiple IS buildings, 2 x IS bridges, 3 x IS checkpoints, 2 x IS fighter staging areas, 2 x IS berms (defensive banks), an IS roadblock and an IS command and control facility. The attack on one of the bridges and nearby targets can be seen, here:
Although the Iraqi Government requested Coalition air support from the US, the action had not pleased everyone. Some of the Iraqi militias sponsored by Iran, with as many as 30,000 men, have threatened to pull back from Tikrit, claiming that the US is trying to “hijack victory”.
The attempt to retake Tikrit, after initial advances, has been stalled for more than 2 weeks, with the Iraqis unable to unseat a relatively small group of Islamic State fighters holding the centre. You can read more, HERE:
AL-NUSRA CONTINUE RAPID ADVANCE INTO IDLIB CITY, TAKING CONTROL OF KEY POINTS AND EXIT ROUTES:
The Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and the Islamic Front have continued their rapid advance into Idlib city in Syria with, it seems, little effective resistance from Assad’s Syrian Army or his supporters, Hezbollah and other Shia militias.
ANF Sniper View onto Mehrab Roundabout in Idlib
Latest reports today, Friday, suggest that advancing in through the countryside and the industrial zone from the east, ANF and their allies are now in control of a large complex of grain silos, an olive oil factory, the Cardamom Market, the Idlib Antiquities Museum and were at the Mehrab roundabout military checkpoint at sunset this evening, HERE:
This car tour shows the industrial zone firmly in the hands of ANF and Islamic Opposition units, (Caution, some dead bodies) HERE:
South-east of Idlib city, ANF have captured the “Brick Factory Checkpoint” also knows as Qameed Camp after, as reported earlier (scroll down – see below), Assad’s troops defected, HERE:
There are also unconfirmed reports that columns of Assad’s forces have withdrawn from the city to the Baath Vanguards Camp just south of Idlib at Al-Mastouma.
Reports late this afternoon, Friday, say that the Al-Nusra fighters have also captured the Nara North district to the north-east of the city, and together with their control of the uncompleted “Youth Housing” project taken yesterday, they have effectively completely cut the regime from any routes north of the city.
Footage of yesterday’s battle for the “Youth Housing” is, HERE:
In a fast moving situation, ANF are also claiming control of the main western road into the city and the Idlib Municipal Stadium.
As dusk approached this evening, Friday, ANF units pounded Government positions, HERE:
As always, when in danger of losing ground, the Assad regime this evening launched 4 or 5 Scud missiles from Damascus, which have landed on the villages of Saraqib and Sarmin in Idlib province, thought by the Syrian Army to be the centres of ANF’s operations.
Just to add to a bad day for President Assad, the Islamic State Jihadists, it has just been reported, launched an attack today on the Al-Tayfur military base in Homs province with 2 suicide bombs.
Very latest unconfirmed reports in on Friday night say that ANF forces are now attacking Assad’s Political Security Branch in Sabaa Bahrat Square. More news awaited.
In a rapidly changing situation, this map, courtesy of @archicivilians, shows the Idlib position of ANF and its allies as of yesterday – since then they have advanced even further, as detailed above:
Situation Map for Idlib 26.03.15