GAZA, (PIC)– Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, described the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s statement, calling for repeating the model of “Determination Storm” against the Palestinian people, as dangerous and unpatriotic.
In a press statement on Saturday, Hamas’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on the Arab leaders to penalize Abbas for adopting such congruent standings with the Israeli desire for hitting the Palestinian people.
“Abbas lacks legal legitimacy. His presence at the Palestinian presidency depends on the extent of his commitment to the Palestinian national consensus. Abbas is not authorized to make decisions or comments on any positions that run contrary to the Palestinian national consensus or constants”, Abu Zuri said.
Abbas earlier urged the Arab countries to take a position similar to the “Determination Storm” on issues of other countries that suffer internal conflicts and divisions such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Palestine.
Abbas’s statement followed a similar incitement made by Mahmoud al-Habash, Abbas’s advisor for religious and Islamic Affairs.
In his Friday sermon, Habash called on Arab nations to “strike with an iron fist” any party that violates legitimacy in any Arab country starting, he said, with Palestine.
(Source / 28.03.2015)
A Palestinian schoolgirl walks though the rubble of destroyed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip on March 11
Nearly seven months after the end of the latest war in Gaza, none of the underlying causes of the conflict have been addressed. In the meantime, the people of Gaza are experiencing unprecedented levels of deprivation, and the prospect for renewed armed conflict is very real.
In June 2014, the Hamas-backed government in Gaza was dissolved, and a reunified Palestinian Authority cabinet was created under the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The international community reached a consensus, with tacit support from Israel, to empower this government to lead reconstruction in Gaza and, together with the United Nations, to track the delivery and use of building materials to address fears that cement and other supplies could be diverted to build tunnels into Israel.
The $5.4 billion pledged for rebuilding was predicated on the Palestinian Authority asserting itself in Gaza. However, relations between Hamas and its political rivals, Abbas’s Fatah party, remain fraught. The authority has proven unwilling or unable to govern in Gaza. As a result, the promised reconstruction money has not been delivered.
The shortage of funds is the most immediate problem, but it is not the only one: Israel has restricted access to Gaza, with three of four commercial crossing points closed. There is not enough money to buy building materials or support needy families. The Shelter Cluster, which coordinates housing construction between the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations, estimates that Gaza needs at least 16,000 new units to replace homes destroyed or rendered uninhabitable during the war. In January, 16 truckloads of construction material were permitted into Gaza per day, compared with a need for 735 loads daily for three years to build the necessary homes. These numbers do not account for the additional 5,000 homes that still need to be rebuilt from previous wars or another 80,000 homes necessary to accommodate population growth.
The international community, including the Obama administration, should be given credit for recognizing the need to unify the Palestinian political system in order to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and stabilize the security situation. However, this consensus must now be backed by sustained pressure to implement reconciliation agreements between Fatah and Hamas and to end Israel’s closure of Gaza. It is incumbent on the world to engage at the highest levels with the Palestinians, Egypt and Israel to push this process forward.
If there is no reconciliation, the international community must be willing to promote new arrangements for rebuilding Gaza and ending its isolation. Donors will have to coordinate directly with local and international NGOs, as well as the de facto Hamas authorities, while continuing to urge that the current Palestinian government of national consensus deploy in Gaza.
In addition, Western governments should push Israel to drop its insistence on tracking every bag of cement. The evidence suggests that such fine-grained monitoring may be impossible, but tunneling can be prevented with a supervised peace agreement. Further, by insisting on such oversight, Israel may be compromising its security in the short term, given the misery and volatility in Gaza. Instead, Israel should align the import-export regime for Gaza with that of the West Bank, and Gaza crossing points should be reopened. More generally, Israel should integrate the economy of Gaza with that of the West Bank to allow for more normal development.
Ultimately, only a peace agreement that grants freedom to self-governed Palestinians can bring the security that both the Israeli and Palestinian people deserve. As long as Palestinians remain divided, it will be difficult for any leader to sell to the Palestinian people a peace agreement with Israel. Absent such an agreement, lifting the closure and jump-starting Gaza’s reconstruction can do much to avert the next war.
(Source / 28.03.2015)
Article of 18 February 2015
Palestinians who fled Syria protest in Gaza City in October 2013
Aidah Tayem, a Palestinian woman from Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus now living in the occupied West Bank village of Beitin near Ramallah, has gone through a lifetime of trials.
She was hardly seventeen when her father was imprisoned by Syrian security forces in Damascus during the 1980s for his affiliation with the Fatah party which had split with the government. She quickly became the head of the family, running her father’s business and supporting her younger siblings.
Among only a handful of Palestinian refugees in Syria who received permits from the Palestinian Authority to enter the West Bank, her parents were among the Palestinians who came there after the signing of the Oslo accords in the 1990s.
She appears incredibly tough but behind her stoic demeanor is a woman clutching at the straws of hope — the hope of kissing her eldest son, Oday.
Oday Tayem, a 21-year-old Palestinian refugee born and raised in Yarmouk, was detained by Syrian security forces in August 2013 during an evening raid on his home in Jaramana, southeast of Damascus. Oday was an activist — “peaceful” is the description emphasized to this writer by his friends — and contributed to relief work both in Yarmouk refugee camp and in other besieged areas. This is believed to be the reason for his arrest.
Since he was taken into custody, his family has yet to receive any confirmed news regarding his whereabouts. Aidah knows too well what it’s like to have a loved one languishing in political detention; after all, her father was imprisoned for ten years, most of them spent in the notorious Tadmor desert prison.
But it’s the scarcity of information that makes Oday’s absence even more excruciating. When Oday’s favorite song pops up on her phone, Aidah hangs on to his picture as tears well up in her eyes.
Aidah is among many women who, as Syrian journalist Jihad Asa’ad Muhammad writes, “do not seek consideration or sympathy from anyone. They ask for only one thing: to know the whereabouts of their forcibly disappeared loved ones.”
It is impossible to estimate the number of Palestinians detained in Syria. The Syrian government doesn’t provide any data regarding political prisoners. Neutral local or international monitoring and human rights groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, are not granted access to the numerous prisons and detention facilities across the country.
And many families keep quiet about the detention of their loved ones. They stay anonymous, fearing the repercussions and backlash of publicity both on them and on the prisoners.
The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria, a London-based monitoring organization founded in 2012, has documented the names of 756 Palestinians currently being detained and nearly 300 more missing.
Death under torture
The vast majority of prisoners documented are held in the various detention facilities run by the Syrian government, but some are detained by jihadist or armed opposition groups. One of those is Bahaa Hussein from Yarmouk, detained by Jabhat al-Nusra in late January for blasphemy.
The same group has recorded the death under torture of 291 Palestinians in Syrian government detention since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011. Each of them has a face and a story, but very few of them have made the news.
Among them is Khaled Bakrawi, a prominent activist and cofounder of the Jafra Association for Aid and Development, which works to improve conditions in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria.
A refugee from Lubya, Bakrawi was active around Palestinian refugee rights well before the uprising began and was shot by Israeli occupation forces in June 2011 during theNaksa Day march to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. But after masses of displaced Syrians sought refuge in Yarmouk, he directed his efforts towards organizing humanitarian aid to them.
Bakrawi’s friends told me that he was arrested by Syrian security forces in January 2013 and his family learned of his death in September of that year. One of the most tragic aspects of death in Syrian prisons is that families are not even allowed to pay a final farewell glance to their dead and their bodies are not delivered back to them. Instead they are called up by security services only to claim the ID cards and the personal possessions of slain prisoners. Not only is it believed that Bakrawi was tortured to death, but his family and friends couldn’t even bury him or give him a proper funeral.
Unlike Bakrawi, Samira Sahli was not a known activist, but some details of her life are known from a profile published by the independent news site Siraj Press. A mother of four, Sahli regularly cooked for displaced Syrians filling Yarmouk’s schools back when the camp was still a refuge for people fleeing violence in neighboring areas. As siege intensified, she and her kids, like the 20,000 residents trapped inside the camp, relied on the sparse food aid sporadically allowed in.
According to Siraj Press, the 53-year-old was arrested at a government checkpoint while going to receive her food basket. Five months later, her family was informed of her death, making her the first Palestinian woman known to be killed in regime prisons since 2011.
“Tortured in the name of Palestine”
In an interview with The Electronic Intifada conducted via Skype, Abu Julia, a Palestinian activist who sought asylum in Germany at the end of 2013, where he remains, gave a glimpse into the horrors faced in Syrian regime jails.
The 29-year-old asked to be identified as Abu Julia in reference to the name of his first-born. When he was arrested by Syrian security forces, his daughter Julia was only five months old. He was arrested in October 2012 and released a year later, but there were moments when he thought he’d never live to see her again.
Abu Julia told the Electronic Intifada that he faced eighteen charges, the most serious of which was inciting against the state, as well as charges related to working in makeshift hospitals; sowing division and fueling chaos in Yarmouk camp; working with local coordination committees; making contacts with foreign agents and aiding the wounded.
“I was held in a detention center called ‘Palestine,’ which is a security branch established by Hafez al-Assad specifically for Palestinian factions in Syria,” he said, referring to the father of the current head of state. “That’s the most painful thing: being tortured in the name of Palestine.”
Abu Julia recalls being “welcomed” with a beating as soon as he entered the branch. He was placed in Cell One, which held 48 prisoners upon his entry. Detainees crammed in the 36-square meter cell reached as many as 120 in the hours before Abu Julia’s release.
“Following the first interrogation, which included beating with electric wires, I was told to forget my name. They handed me the number 16/1,” he recalled. “When you get in you lose everything: you lose your name, your confidence in people, in your family and in yourself. You lose your hope and love for life even though you hang on by the hope of returning to life.
“You are stripped of your feelings and turned into an animal who is only allowed to eat and drink, and even sleep is only permitted by a military order. Perhaps the only thing you don’t lose is your ability to dream while asleep.”
The decisive day of Abu Julia’s life came two days after his arrest. Following the interrogation in which he refused to make a confession, the interrogator ordered his torture for a week in the narrow corridors near the cells, he recalled.
“I was hung in the air several hours each day and I was subjected to whips and burns,” he explained in graphic detail. The physical torture was accompanied with cursing, such as being called “Palestinian dog,” and being told “we hosted you in our country and now you betray us, traitor.”
The week of torture in the corridors, in which Abu Julia remembers that at least six inmates were killed, was followed by another, longer round of torture after he refused to confess to any of the charges again.
As Abu Julia meticulously detailed what he went through, it was hard not to wonder how he actually coped with all of this.
“You know what really made me survive? My Palestinianness. This feeling of being Palestinian is what helped me persevere throughout all of this. Somehow, Palestinians would be on the verge of death and remain defiant,” he said.
For Abu Julia, this feeling, this added “Palestinianness” he found after his detention was not a cliché but an actual harbor. “It was a kind of response we developed during times of need. We drew strength and solace out of being Palestinian. When we were tortured or faced the interrogator, we just reminded ourselves that we are Palestinian,” he added.
After ten months in the Palestine branch, Abu Julia was transferred to Adra, the central prison in Damascus, and when he was moved from the car that transported him to a military court that he saw sunshine for the first time in ten months.
“I spent nearly a month and a half in Adra before being released … and then I hugged Julia; she was able to walk and say baba and mama,” he recalled.
Even while telling his harrowing story, Abu Julia still cracked jokes. “I weighed 129 kg when I was arrested and was only 65 kg when I was released. This free diet is the only good thing that happened to me there,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ammar, Aidah Tayem’s son and Oday’s seventeen-year-old brother, is still hoping for his brother and best friend to get out.
“I’m waiting. Actually waiting for him is the only thing I’m doing.”
Waiting is the punishing ordeal to which thousands of Palestinians and Syrians are sentenced.
(Source / 28.03.2015)
Pitting `Sunni Arabs’ Vs `Obama-Iran’, Israel wants to divide, dominate Middle-East through Yemen war
Away from the public eye and not reported by the media, the Saudi Arabia initiated Yemen war is witnessing a re-alignment of regional political forces, gradual emergence of new conflict zones, and new polarization in Geo-politics.
There is also a parallel development of secret maneouvres and brinkmanship.
One area around which these maneouvres are concentrated form the Bab al Mandeb straits in Yemen.
The Bab al Mandeb straits constitute an important energy shipping gateway between the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. Control of these straits is vital for forces that play a role in oil supply routes between Saudi Arabia and Europe and US, as well as from the Gulf region to China.
In fact, the unprecendented, and sudden, Saudi attack on Yemen seems to be driven less by a desire to re-install Hadi on Sanaa, and more by an intense fear of Iranian control over Bab al Mandeb.
Only time will tell whether Saudi fears are justified; whether Iran’s sole intention in backing Houthis and anti-NATO Sunni forces in Yemen is because of a general policy to help resistance movements in the Middle-East; or whether control of Mandeb straits figures prominently among Iranian calculations.
In fact, Israel has been stoking Saudi and Egyptian fears of an Iranian `take-over’ of Mandeb straits and a `Persian’ control of oil supply routes between the Gulf and the rest of the world.
Rattled by Obama’s overtures towards Iran, and the US President’s exhaustion with belligerent Israeli policies, Israeli leaders like Netanyahu are leaving no stone unturned to drag in other players against the resistance movement in Palestine–and Iran–the main force backing the latter.
Israel has lied and committed dishonourable/despicable acts in the past; to garner US support, and bully prevaricating elements, for its regional conflict against Arab states, which were then pro-Palestine, Israel targeted USS Liberty warship killing US servicemen in the 1960s.
Since 1990s, Netanyahu has been saying that Iran is just some years away from getting a Nuclear Bomb. It is 2015–yet there is no Iranian bomb; but Netanyahu insists it is just a few years away even now!
Jewish-Zionist money has `perusaded’/forced lobbies in the west, especially the right-wing, to rally behind Netanyahu; but the Israeli leader feels insecure about Obama’s liberal-left sympathies for a two-State solution and resolving the Palestine conflict, something which deep down Netanyahu does not desire.
Long before Netanyahu’s speech in US Congress, the Israeli leader began hunting for other allies than the US–or forces he can use to armtwist the US against any deal with Iran, its arch enemy.
Israel seemed to have found a willing partner in Saudi Arabia; this Arab kingdom was very cosy with the neo-con, right-wing American establishment. The same cannot be said of its relations with Obama. At the same time, the failure to dislodge Assad regime in Syria, the slow drift of Syria towards Iran and Hezbollah–and then the looming failure of the ISIS experiment, which again is strengthening Iran’s role in Iraq and the war against ISIS, is giving Saudis the nightmares.
Israel, with help from right-wing US, seems to be key force that finally convinced Saudi Arabia to go to war `against Iran’ in Yemen.
On 26th March, as Saudi air-strikes began, Egypt quietly made a grab for Bab al Mandeb straits apparently, with Israeli help. Egyptian sources confirmed to News 786 that Israeli fighter planes were used in the Mandeb grab operation, disguised as an anti-piracy raid.
Israeli-Hebrew websites are at present openly backing Egypt and Saudi Arabia and are calling the Saudi Yemen offensive `an Arab-Sunni revolt against Obama’s pro-Iranian line'; Israeli sources also, are expressing extreme nervousness over Obama’s coordination with Iran in the battle against ISIS in Tikrit, a fight which basically Iranian backed popular militias are fighting alongside Iraqi army.
Israel’s sympathies with ISIS in Tikrit, its participation in the grab for Mandeb straits, and its attempt tp drive a wedge between `Sunni Arabs’ and Obama’s `pro-Iranian line’, points towards the obvious: Saudis and Egyptians are being used by Israel as pawns in its quest for even cornering America and start the domination of the Middle-East as a prelude to something more sinister.
(Source / 28.03.2015)
The Syrian Coalition deeply regrets the decision of the Arab League not to invite it to attend the Arab summit currently being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, the fifth summit since the start of the Syrian revolution. “We view this decision a retraction of the Arab League’s recognition of the Syrian Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, especially as it is coinciding with projects aimed at re-floating the Assad regime and annulling the previous decisions made by the Arab League on Syria,” the Syrian Coalition said in a statement.
“We call on the Arab League to fulfil its moral and humanitarian duties, not to alienate the rights of the Syrian people, and to work to support the stability policy we have adopted against the chaos caused by the Assad regime,” the statement added.
“The Arab states represented by ministers of Foreign Affairs at their meeting held on March 6th, 2013 have passed decision No. 7595 recognizing the Syrian Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, a decision that was reaffirmed during the Arab League summits of Doha and Kuwait. The Syrian Coalition also won the recognition of 114 countries in the United Nations.”
“The Syrian people profusely thank everyone who supports their demands for freedom and dignity especially after its suffering has doubled as a result of foreign interventions on the side of the Assad regime. Despite all the odds, the Syrian people are keen on continuing with the revolution until democracy and stability are achieved.”
“While support the Syrian revolution is very much needed to ward off the threats to the region as a whole, handing over the seat of Syria at the Arab League to the Syrian Coalition withdraw legitimacy of the Assad regime is the minimum required support.”
The statement stresses that “any political solution will not be possible nor acceptable unless it leads to the departure of the head of the regime,” and that referring the head of the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court is the minimum of the rights of the Syrian people. We reiterate our commitment to a political solution in accordance with the Geneva I declaration that calls for forming a transitional governing body with full executive powers.
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 28.03.2015)
Israel’s fighter jets have taken part in the Thursday Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen, sources in Sanaa disclosed on Friday
“This is for the first time that the Zionists are conducting a joint operation in coalition with Arabs,” Secretary General of Yemen’s Al-Haq Political Party Hassan Zayd wrote on his facebook page.
He noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued direct orders for the Israeli air force to send fighter jets to the Saudi-led air raid on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against Yemen and killed, at least, 25 civilians early Thursday, one day after the US-backed Yemeni president fled the country.
Also, 15 more people were killed and injured in a second round of massive attacks by the Saudi Arabian fighter jets in the Northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada on Friday.
Yemen’s al-Massira TV reported that the Saudi air force targeted the Yemeni’s civilians who were shopping in a market.
Five Persian Gulf States — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait — backed by the US have declared war on Yemen in a joint statement issued earlier Thursday.
US President Barack Obama authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said late Wednesday night.
She added that while US forces were not taking direct military action in Yemen, Washington was establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support.
Riyadh claimed that it has bombed the positions of the Ansarullah fighters and launched attacks against the Sana’a airport and the Dulaimi airbase.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is attacking Ansarullah positions, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near Sana’a international airport. Based on early reports, the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen have so far claimed the lives of 25 civilians with more deaths feared, Yemeni sources said.
The Saudi aggression has received growing international condemnation as it is pushing the region and the world into an unprecedented fast-growing war as its ISIL mercenaries are on the brink of complete annihilation in Iraq and Syria.
(Source / 28.03.2015)
The Hamas Charter Says A Lot of Troubling Things that Do Not Reflect the Group’s Political Pragmatism
Many have and continue to point to the charter of Hamas as highlighting the group’s purportedly unrelenting anti-Semitism. For example, the preamble states: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Article 7 of the charter states that “the day of judgement will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind the rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’”
Even though these statements are dangerous and troubling, we have to ask whether the rhetoric translates into reality. The Hamas charter was written only twenty-two years after Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip began in 1967, the second phase in Israel’s humiliating subjugation of the Palestinian people. Beleaguered and under military occupation, one might argue it was only natural Hamas’s charter would exude resistance and hate of the occupier. It would also be fair to assume this resistance would be articulated through a nationalist ideology and religious appeal to the Muslim majority.
But, various statements and actions by members of Hamas’s political vanguard point to a gradual abrogation of the charter’s contents. For example, the organization’s political chiefKhaled Meshaal has said, “Today we are a national liberation movement which has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood” (Hamas’s parent organization). This highlights Hamas’s active shift away from the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood, upon which many of the charter’s fundamental principles are based. Meshaal and Hamas’s political leadership are also pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with the right of return. This directly contradicts the charter’s diktats, which demand the entirety of historic Palestine be liberated through jihad, and forbid political settlement with Israel.
Hamas’s signing of the 2005 Cairo agreement similarly infringes on its own charter, as the document describes the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Article 27 of the Hamas charter clearly states that cooperation with the PLO requires its adoption of Islam, which is something it has not and is unlikely ever to undertake as a secular organization.
As these facts demonstrate, Hamas’s political doctrine has evolved. It is far from an organization hell-bent on driving Israeli-Jews into the Mediterranean, as some would have us think.
There are many reasons why Hamas has not yet amended its charter to reflect this evolution. A February 26, 2015 article from the Al-Shabaka policy center points to one of the most significant factors: “fear of backlash from its membership base.” If Hamas were to officially incorporate tacit acceptance of Israel into its charter, many of its followers would view this as a major departure from and betrayal of the “pious” path, not to mention wholesale capitulation to Israel’s existence. As Hamas fears, this may push large numbers of its traditional base toward other Islamist groups.
Nevertheless, for Hamas’s enemies, the charter’s language is a useful tool with which to discredit the group, particularly in the eyes of Western countries. If Hamas wants to build more positive relationships with these governments, it has little choice but to change its charter. In so doing, however, it also risks losing the support of the very people who brought it to power.
(Source / 28.03.2015)