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Mahmoud Abbas to build an £8million presidential palace as thousands struggle to eat

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Mahmoud Abbas to build an £8million presidential palace as thousands struggle to eat

Image: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the palace he intends to build

Article of SEPTEMBER 8, 2015

(MMC-News) – The sprawling estate will span an area the size of FOUR football pitches and has been deemed a “national priority” by the government of Mahmoud Abbas.

It will include a 4,700-square-metre guest palace and two helipads, alongside a 4,000-square-metre administrative building.

The total land area being swallowed up by the audacious building project is 27,000 square metres.

A statement on the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction website said: “The goal of this project is to establish the Presidential Guest Palace in Surda, Ramallah within an area of 4,700m2, along with a building for the Presidential Administration and Guards with an area of 4,000m2.

“The construction process includes also preparing the surrounding area and two helipads.”

But the lavish expense of building a new palace for Mr Abbas comes despite the impoverished territory facing an ongoing financial crisis.

A recent UN report found Palestinians were suffering the “worst poverty rate of all time” – due in part to Israeli “segregation policies” that have left more than 80 per cent of Palestinian children in Jerusalem living in poverty.

US authorities estimate the West Bank’s GDP per capita stands at £3,180, compared to £21,700 in Israel and £25,700 in the UK.

Funding shortfalls at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which works with Palestinian refugees, also mean that if officials fail to raise an extra £60million, up to 500,000 Palestinian children may not be able to attend school.


A child playing in Palestine, which has been ravaged by war and poverty

The Presidential Guest Palace is set to be built in Surda, Ramallah in the West Bank and will take two years to complete.

However, the cost of the palace is dwarfed by the astonishing sum of money being spent on the construction of a new combined residence and office for the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The project, to be built in Jerusalem, is estimated to cost £122million.


An Israeli soldier detains a Palestinian boy during skirmishes in the West Bank

(Source / 29.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 29, 2015 at 10:51 pm

In Gaza no figures can express the sorrow

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If there is any reason for our existence, at least it should be our capacity to inform about a story while it is happening, in a way that nobody can say:We did not know, nobody had told us anything”

Robert Fisk

I don’t know if pain can destroy or fortify, I only know that pain changes everything. I also know that the recollection of such suffering shall remain,has to remain in my memory. At the beginning of the Israeli aggression, the first days of last July, I had promised myself not to forget the names of the children that were killed, those who I photographed horrified in the nightmare’s morgues in Gaza under fire.

In that moment I didn’t know that it would be impossible to keep that promise. More than 500 names of children, destroyed by bombs should be now pronounced by my voice, one by one. However, I do not forget, I can not nor want to forget.

The crimes and brutality do not deserve forgetfulness nor forgiveness, onlyrage. An unmitigated rage that drives us to act, to fight to prevent that their murders go unpunished, so that death won’t be in vain, even though the death of children always is. They are gone, we cannot bring them back to life, but we can, have to punish their executioners.

It is 10 am and several drone’s fire impact onto a house in Deir Al Balah while a Bulldozer recovers the remains of a family, buried under a one-ton bomb dropped by a F-16, those that leave craters, smoke and smell of death, where before were homes, affections, dreams, lives.

Bodies of children killed in Israeli attack on Gaza last year

Bodies of children killed in Israeli attack on Gaza last year

The ambulance fills with wounded persons in seconds, a man enters carrying a small body of a child about six or seven years old, the boy lacks the right calf, his foot is hanging from a tendon or a shred of skin, I don’t know, I don’t want to look, but I do.

The boy squirms and his intestines are out of his belly, I help the man to lay down the child on the floor of the ambulance – the only stretcher is already occupied by another injured person. The ambulance drives fast to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, located in the central area of the Strip, the same hospital that has been attacked by Israel leaving seven dead and over seventy injured.

At each turn the child’s blood is spilled on the floor of the ambulance, I put my hand over his eyes to prevent him seeing his own intestines, I don’t want to see them either, or step on his blood; I don’t want to see his father mourn and cry in despair. But who cares about what I want? What his father wants? With all the impotence of his anguish, with all the force of his love, everything is banal, useless, tiny compared to death.

Boy wounded by Israeli forces during last year's attack on Gaza on the ambulance floor

Boy wounded by Israeli forces during last year’s attack on Gaza on the ambulance floor

The murderers do not care about anything nor the world. For Israel it is easy to kill, Israel is massacring children for free.

A man in the ambulance asks, demands the father to pray, and then they start to pray together, everybody who can articulate a word inside the crowded vehicle prays, I don’t do it, I don’t know how, I just hold his light head of shaved hair in my hand with the other I still cover his eyes.

I look at him and strange details are recorded in my mind, terrible and tender ones. His little face is beautiful despite the agony that deforms his face. I think he has his hand clenched into a fist because of the pain then I lookagain and it is not a fist – the Israeli bomb has torn all his fingers and thelittle bones are now protruding from his knuckles, they are fragile, white and thin, like those of a bird.

The boy stops squirming slowly and his lips turn pale, I’m relieved that he is no longer struggling, that his intestines stop escaping from his belly, I’m relieved by this calm so close to the end, it relieves me so much that I feel guilty. Till this day I do not know his name, I only know that he died minutes after arriving at the hospital.

On the ruins of my house I hoisted the Palestinian flag, it is our symbol of resistance,” tells me Ahmed without any drama and then smiles, “now my family lives in a crowded shelter in a school”.

Less than a block away, in Beit Hanoun, seven little girls are sitting on a rickety mattress under a makeshift tent, here called “Jaima”, located next to some rubble that once was their home. Through an unstable triangle of collapsing walls the girls enter into this concrete tomb to retrieve a doll, rescued from an abyss of desolation and then smile.

The joy, that bombproof joy, I think amazed, resists death in Palestine, and sometimes just sometimes wins the battle, and if it doesn’t win at least dignifies it, dignifies and saves it from brutality and impunity.

More than 100.000 people have lost their homes under the Israeli bombs that devastated Gaza during the fifty one days of cowardly attacks.

Shelling from F-16s, Apache helicopters, drones, tanks, mortars and all the machinery of war they havethanks to the support of the so called westerndemocracies – the occupying entity sadly known as Israel uses machinery of war that allowed them to raze entire neighborhoods from the infamous distance of their powerful ships, but did not allow them to defeat the Palestinian resistance in the field, in a man to man combat because that requires that there were men on both sides. The courage and love for the land cannot be purchased with US Dollars in the arms market.

Zionist aggression caused a real slaughter, the almost 70 years of Israeli occupation still remains and it will continue causing damages and death mainly among women, youth and children, as Israel’s military objectives are always homes, mosques, schools used as shelters, ambulances. That’s where those perish who had previously survived the cowardly brutality of Israel, to die after, to continue dying a thousand times in this slaughterhouse called Gaza.

The numbers speak for themselves but today I cannot contain human suffering into figures. Sorrow is not measurable, sorrow is just that and it is everything.

(Source / 28.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 28, 2015 at 7:15 pm


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Young Palestinian girls living in the south Hebron hills have severely limited access to education. In Area C, under Israeli military control, many children do not have access to primary school education. And a staggering 66% of children do not reach secondary school.

The majority of children who miss out on schooling are girls. Owing to conservative attitudes, families are reluctant to let their daughters go to mixed schools when they reach puberty. In addition, girls often have to walk very long distances to reach the nearest school. A lack of basic public services, such as transport, makes life harder for children living near settlements. Girls who have to walk long distances alone to get to school are exposed to the risk of violence. This dissuades girls from attending school and, as a result, many drop out.

The adverse consequences of living in a context of military presence, especially when combined with deeply conservative mentalities and gender discrimination, are particularly harsh for girls. A survey conducted in the village of Zif showed that nearly 12.7% of the population living in Zif are illiterate and the majority of these are women and girls (76.7%).

The current situation is giving rise to “lost generations” of vulnerable young girls who are left without any education. Without skills and qualifications to help them obtain safe employment, young women lack financial autonomy and face bleak life prospects.

Moreover, the lack of education often results in early marriages. Girls are often considered a “financial burden” by their families and are married off at a young age, as young as 13. Girls go from being financially and socially dependent on their families to being dependent on their husbands.


In order to help vulnerable girls in the area of Zif, we’re raising funds to build a girls’ school. The local community has recognised the critical need for the girls’ school and has expressed its support of the project.

The school will cater to the needs of a hundred young Palestinian girls aged 11 to 16. It will include 4 prefabricated structures, each of 60 square meters, offering a total of 6 classrooms, a room for teachers and one room for the administration. The Palestinian Ministry of Education will staff the school with teachers and administrative staff (one principal, one assistant, one person for maintenance). Sanitary facilities are being installed by Action Against Hunger, Spain, which is a partner of the project.

While opening the school, we will hold awareness-raising workshops in the community about girls’ and women’s rights and gender equality in access to education. The workshops will be carried out by Al Adwar, a Palestinian association that works to defend women’s rights and promote gender equality in Hebron.


Your donation will directly fund the construction of the school. Thanks to you, we can achieve crucial objectives that can improve girls’ lives and the overall welfare of the community:`

–    Helping girls fulfill their right to an education – preventing girls from dropping out of school: ensuring that girls in the local community can attend school and helping girls who have dropped out of school to reintegrate into school;

–    Protecting young girls from early marriage; thanks to education, girls obtain skills and qualifications that enable them to be more financially independent and determine their own futures;

–    Promoting equality of access to education for girls and boys and gender equality in the local community, within the particularly challenging context of military presence;

–   Creating real change in the community: young girls who are able to continue their education can act as agents of change within their community, raising awareness about the value of girls’ education.


This project will directly benefit nearly 100 vulnerable Palestinian girls! It will have a life-changing impact not only on the girls but on the entire local community.

By funding the construction of the school, you are offering these vulnerable girls a hope-filled future! You’re also enabling the inhabitants of Zif village to realize their dreams of seeing their daughters go to school and complete their educations — a priority for most parents around the world, but one that can be compromised under such challenging circumstances as living in a context of military presence.

The program is being managed by W4’s partner Citoyen des Rues International, which has 10 years’ experience in child protection across the world.

The project is fully participatory, involving the entire community, and will bring about concrete, lasting change. The local authorities have provided the land, the Ministry of Education has officially agreed to provide staff, the Village Council is providing electricity, and Action Against Hunger, Spain, is helping to provide water and sanitation facilities.

NOW we need YOUR HELP to build the classrooms!

(Source / 22.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 22, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Hamas captures downed Israeli drone in Gaza Strip

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Hamas captures downed Israeli drone in Gaza Strip

Members of the Hamas al-Kassam Brigade, the movement’s armed wing, captured an Israeli drone which fell near Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, according to reports by Press TV.

No official statement has been made.

According to the report, this is the second drone siezed by Hamas in the last two months.

In August, the terrorist organization announced though it’s official website that it had in it’s possession an Israeli drone- since dubbed the Syklark 1- that had fallen in Gaza on July 22.

The statement claimed it’s operatives inspected the aircraft and managed to deconstruct its parts and rebuild it.

“Hamas’s military wing… [the Izzadin] Kassam Brigade took control of the Zionist drone Skylark 1 and managed to make its services operational,” a statement on the web – site read.

(Source / 22.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 22, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Lost Childhood: Palestinian Child Soldiers in Yarmouk

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REUTERS/UNRWA/Handout via Reuters

Growing up, it appeared as if every Syrian child was being recruited for the armed forces. For those of my generation of Palestinian refugees, secondary school was a ritual of military uniforms and drill instruction organized by al-Shabiba, the youth-wing of the ruling Ba’ath Party.

These rituals were not about combat or arms training. I never learned how to use a weapon; instead, they were about the obedience and discipline of military command. Teaching us to obey orders without dissent or criticism, we learned by heart the chant “Do as you’re told” and conscientious objection would have to wait until after doing as told. Of course, in a dictatorship, this last bit was perfunctory and meaningless.

Saying no would be treason. It might not lead you to jail, but your parents might become suspect in the eyes of the state. Even within the family you’re taught to obey. Growing up in Syria, there was always this sense of the Big Brother from Orwell’s 1984, endlessly monitoring you and duping you into thinking that he was all-knowing and all-seeing, like God.

In 2000, upon succeeding his father, Hafez, Bashar al-Assad ended military drills in the nation’s schools. Although a less militaristic curriculum was enforced, the Ba’ath regime’s martial pedagogical pretensions were never truly uprooted and were revived after the civil war erupted. Today, al-Shabiba is an auxiliary militia for the Assad war machine, its young men often triumphantly driving into town and looting and harassing locals still in shock after the regime’s aerial bombing campaigns.


Unlike their Syrian counterparts, Palestinian refugee children were first targeted for armed recruitment by Palestinian factions following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. I still remember a woman who stopped a bus headed to Baghdad and started yelling at her sixteen-year old son to get off. The teenage boy was being sent off to fight the Americans. A Syrian security officer told her to “shut up.” Instead, she protested. “No countries accept to take us in. We only ever get a visa to wherever death awaits us. I want my son alive, I will not send him to fight and die in Iraq. For whom? For what?”

Fatah al-Intifada first started to recruit children during the 2003 Iraq War and has resumed the practice since Syria’s own descent into war after 2011. The organization is a dissident off-shoot of the Fatah faction that dominates the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and has been backed by the Syrian regime since 1982. It is presently active in Syrian and Lebanese refugee camps.

Economic hardship forces families to seek whatever support they can muster. Fatah al-Intifada exploits the grim predicament of poor families in Palestinian camps. In the Jaramana refugee camp, for example, eight kilometers southeast of Damascus, at least 400 teenagers between the ages of fourteen and sixteen were recruited in exchange for a monthly $20 paid to their families. A camp survivor told me that 65 to 70 percent of the fighters he saw at the checkpoints controlled by the PFLP-GC [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command, a pro-Assad Palestinian faction] and Fatah al-Intifada are boys between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.

Rami Al-Sayed/AFP/Getty Images

In the city of Qudsaya, home to about 30,000 Palestinians displaced from Damascus’ Yarmouk camp, children are joining the anti-regime Free Syrian Army (FSA) to win favor with the local people. Many parents believe that the only way to convince Syrian armed factions opposed to the regime that not all Palestinians are sympathetic to the pro-regime Fatah al-Intifada or the PFLP-GC is by sending their children to join the FSA. Anti-regime groups, for their part, often arrest and humiliate Palestinians and even prohibit humanitarian assistance from entering the camps. Sending your child to join the FSA has become one way of coping with the hardships of war.


Schools are hard to come by in Qudsaya. The Syrian NGO, Jafra Foundation for Relief and Youth Development, has taken over three schools abandoned by UNRWA, which has been forced to wind down its operations in the camp due to deteriorating security conditions. According to Jafra Director Wasem Sabaneh, the foundation services over 13,000 students across Syria. In his view, educational opportunity is a way to stanch the hemorrhage of children who otherwise would have nothing to do and nowhere to go but join the ranks of armed groups. But Jafra is also stretched to its limits. Inside Yarmouk camp, one school may end up closing this year for lack of funds, leaving Yarmouk with only two schools.

UNRWA/Rami Al-Sayyed

Prior to the civil war, Yarmouk had fifteen schools operated by UNRWA and seven public schools. Paralleling the rapidly declining population, which has seen less than 20,000 residents remain from a pre-war population of roughly 150,000 Palestinians, the camp’s public infrastructure had greatly deteriorated. Jafra attempts to maintain whatever semblance of normal life and civility may be salvaged, but the foundation must bow down to brute force. Jafra had to strip pages from state textbooks glorifying the Syrian regime under orders from the FSA, and now ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra have ordered the organization to stop classes on Islam until new instructional booklets are published reflecting their ideology.

Furthermore, Jafra cannot entirely protect students from the war’s impact. Nothing illustrates this better than the fact that recruitment often starts at these very schools. Young school boys provide a captive audience and al-Nusra militiamen storm into classrooms and harangue teenage boys to join the so-called jihad with pieties about the obligation of fighting infidels and reminders of the nymphs awaiting them in paradise following their martyrdom. Afterwards, mosque gatherings are held where the boys are further indoctrinated to prepare them for the next phase of their recruitment, usually in the form of military training somewhere in the al-Hajar area south of Yarmouk.

Since June, an estimated seventy-five children between seven and thirteen-years-old are being trained to fight in the name of God. Al-Nusra places them at checkpoints on the frontlines to monitor the movements of their adversaries on the other side. By the end of 2015, many of them will be deemed ready for battle. Often these children are used for suicide operations or to drive car bombs across enemy lines.

A Palestinian youth, born and raised in Yarmouk and who last month left the camp for Lebanon, related one particular incident that exemplifies the instrumentalization of children by Islamist and secular militias:

“You have to be ready when a commander from al-Nusra or ISIS calls you to suicide. The leader summoned two kids who were no older than 14 years old and asked them to drive the [suicide] cars. When one of the kids asked for permission to say goodbye to his friend, the commander shouted at him: ‘You don’t have time, knucklehead! Now get in the car!’ The commander was not asking them to go perform their duty and fight, he was just angry. When remembering his face now, it’s similar to the anger that a husband gets when arguing with his wife. This man was about kill two kids because he was angry. I doubt that he believes in God, or rather, I’m sure he doesn’t, because he’s the same commander who sells hash [cannabis] to people inside the camp. And the same one that buys hash from the PFLP-GC, who are also using child recruits to transport hash to al-Nusra fighters in the camp.”


Using children as market traders is also commonplace inside Yarmouk. Children are often sent by ISIS to local markets inside the camp and surrounding neighborhoods with orders to buy up all the goods. ISIS later resells them at a premium in their own shops, which are staffed by – whom else? – children.


Before ISIS overran Yarmouk on April 1, Jafra operated two rec centers aimed at keeping children occupied and supported so as to keep them away from the armed conflict. These provided over 1,000 children with educational and psychological support. According to Jafra, what is happening to children inside Yarmouk is being repeated across Syria. Another five years, and an entire generation will have been lost to ISIS’s dogmatism and fanaticism, they say. ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra have shown themselves more than willing to exploit the international neglect that has left Syrian families living in conditions of horrific squalor and desperation. Two weeks ago, I spoke to a former resident of Yarmouk who reported that even now when he’s far away from the camp’s devastation, it’s still “hard  to swallow a bite [of bread], hard for me to eat and forget the kids inside the camp who no longer know what a loaf of bread looks like, kids who grew up under siege and don’t know what fruit looks like. A small kid inside the camp might literally be unable to differentiate between an apple and a banana.”

Rame Alsayed/Reuters

Last Eid [al-Fitr, which fell on July 12 this year], an eleven-year-old child reportedly entered Yarmouk’s central square which had been festively set up for the holiday and began to yell, demanding that the celebratory music be turned off and for so-called jihadi songs to be played instead. The child then climbed the light pole, ripped off the Palestinian flag and replaced it with al-Nusra’s. Upon getting back down  he made one last pronouncement, ordering women to leave the square in accordance with the Islamic prohibition on the intermingling of men and women who are not related.


For me, who was born in the camp and lived there for thirty-two years of my life this was shocking to hear. Yarmouk was known for its secular lifestyle and stood apart from the nearby more socially conservative neighborhoods of al-Zahera and al-Midan. But now, an eleven-year-old could strut around in the name of Jihad. According to sources inside the camp, many individuals have been arrested by al-Nusra and ISIS after children, recruited as informers and street snitches, reported alleged transgressions. One individual, who is still being held, was reportedly arrested following the testimony of a five-year-old.

Big Brother is being recruited from within the family.

Nidal Bitari is a Syrian Palestinian journalist from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political sociology from Damascus University. He left Syria for Lebanon in December 2011, and then came to the United States in April 2013. From the time he left the camp, he has been in almost daily contact with friends and colleagues in the camp.

(Source / 22.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm

PA forces disperse Palestinian protest in Bethlehem

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Palestinians from Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem take part in a protest against excessive use of force by PA security forces

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces on Sunday dispersed a march near al-Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem that was called to protest an excessive use of force by PA forces last week.A Ma’an reporter said that up to 300 Palestinians took part in the march, which began at the entrance to the refugee camp before making its way to a nearby PA intelligence building.Protesters reportedly chanted slogans against President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA.The march was called after PA security forces on Friday violently attacked three teenage Palestinians from al-Azza refugee camp, also in Bethlehem.The attack, which was caught on camera by online news site Middle East Eye, came during a peaceful rally, and led to sharp criticism from Palestinians of the officers’ excessive use of force.Protesters at Sunday’s march attempted to stage a sit-in in front of the intelligence building.While a number of the protesters urged a refrain from violence, others threw stones at the building, smashing one of its windows.Security officers then emerged from the building and a plain-clothes officer reportedly opened fire using a handgun, leading to the dispersal of the protest.There were no reports of injuries.

Up to 300 Palestinians took part in the protest

A high-ranking Fatah official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We agreed with factions and powers not to participate in these marches where some people chanted against the president.”Referring to violence from protesters, he added: “We think there are sides like Israel who might want to plant disturbances and benefit from them.”He said that because of this, members of the Fatah movement in Bethlehem were “on alert.”The PA announced earlier Sunday that nine PA officers, including five high-ranking officers, would face disciplinary action over Friday’s attack.Adnan Dmeiri, chief spokesman for the PA security forces, has said that the three teenagers will receive justice, noting that in 2014, PA officers were punished with imprisonment and disciplinary service after they were found guilty of violence against Palestinian citizens.The head of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Right, Farid al-Atrash, has also urged the PA to investigate the attacks.”As a Palestinian, I say that the president should immediately apologize to our people in the Azza Refugee Camp and should give orders to call to account those who gave the orders,” he said.

(Source / 21.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 21, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Hamas rejects flooding Egypt-Gaza border with sea water

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Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated that Hamas rejects the Egyptian project of creating sea-water pools along the border area between Egypt and Gaza.

In a press statement on Sunday, Abu Zuhri said that flooding the border area with sea water is very dangerous, and threatens the groundwater and vast number of houses on the Palestinian side.

Abu Zuhri added that Hamas held official talks with Cairo and urged it to stop the project, hoping that Egypt responds to the Movement’s demand.

Hamas also condemned the position of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, who admitted officially to proposing the idea of flooding the Gaza-Egypt borders, and the Movement said that it regards this as further evidence of Abbas’s role in suffocating and besieging Gaza.

(Source / 21.09.2015)

Written by altahrir

September 21, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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