Saturday, 16 May 2015

General Zahreddine Arrives Just-in Time to Repel the ISIS Offensive at Deir Ezzor


The Islamic State off Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) launched a decisive offensive at the provincial capital of the Deir Ezzor Governorate, where they attempted to capture the strategic Military Airport and a number of residential quarters that are currently under the control of the Syrian Arab Army’s 137th Brigade of the 17th Division.
When the offensive began, Brigadier General Issam Zahreddine and his soldiers from the 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard had departed the province and made their way to Syria’s capital, where they were going to be concentrated until the rural area known as the “East Ghouta” in the Rif Dimashq Governorate was captured.
Upon receiving orders of their transfer back to the Deir Ezzor Governorate, the 104th Brigade was to report to General Mohammad Khaddour of the SAA’s Central Command and begin preparations for a counter-assault on the enemy combatants from ISIS that were storming the Syrian Armed Forces in the province.
Brigadier General Issam Zahreddine and his men from the 104th Brigade returned to the province of Deir Ezzor on Thursday morning and immediately prepared for the imminent ISIS assault on the Deir Ezzor Military Airport; this ISIS attack on the airport would not come until dusk on Thursday, as they tried to break-through the SAA’s frontline defenses at the eastern perimeter of the base.
With the SAA in firm position to repel the assault on the Deir Ezzor Military Airport, the 104th Brigade concentrated a number of their soldiers to the Sakr Island front, where ISIS combatants had tried to capture over the last six days.
Firefights are still ongoing at between the Syrian Armed Forces and ISIS at Sakr Island; however, the former has been able to retake some of their lost territory over the course of 48 hours and they reentered the Al-‘Aleesh District in the northern part of the Island.
In addition to the fierce clashes at Sakr Island and Deir Ezzor Military Airport, a military source from the 104th Brigade has reported a number of firefights at the Al-Jubeileh, Al-Rashidiyah, Al-‘Arfa, Sheikh Yasseen, Al-Kanamat, and Al-Sina’a Quarters, along with violent fighting at the villages of ‘Ayyash, Al-Muri’iyah, Al-Jafra, and Al-Shoula. 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Saudi Option of Yemen War to Blow Iran P5+1 Deal

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 16.05.2015
The Obama White House pulled out all the stops this week to indulge the «insecure» Persian Gulf Arab oil sheikhdoms. The assurances lavished by President Obama on his guests – with meetings in the Oval Office and later at the presidential retreat Camp David – may assuage Arab feelings of insecurity in the short-term. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir enthused at the conclusion of the first US-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, describing it as «historic».
But there seems little doubt that the bitter relations that have been festering between the Saudi-led GCC and its main Western patron in Washington will continue to deepen and corrode the «extraordinary relationship» that Obama tried to talk up.
That festering resentment towards Washington among the Saudi rulers especially may play out in an escalation of the Yemen crisisby the Saudis as a calculated way to sabotage the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran. The Saudis see that potential deal as a sell-out by the Americans. The temptation will be for them to force Washington to take sides over a ramped-up war in Yemen, which they are trying to portray – without any evidence – as an «Iranian backdoor» to the Arabian Peninsula. An escalation of the conflict in Yemen and provocations to Iran, such as attacks on its humanitarian aid convoys, may draw Tehran into an open war. That result would scotch any P5+1 nuclear deal, which is what the Saudis really want.
Against a backdrop of tensions that have been simmering for months, this week the American president tried his best to pander to his Arab guests. Obama referred to a friendship «dating back to Franklin Roosevelt» when the US first embarked on a strategic pact with Saudi Arabia’s founder Ibn Saud in 1945; Obama talked of his country and the Persian Gulf Arab sheikhdoms being the «cornerstone» of regional security; and he promised a new defence partnership «to face external aggression» with «fast-tracking of American weapons transfers».
Nevertheless, despite the grandiloquence, Obama fell short by not unveiling a written military treaty between the US and the Arab sheikhdoms. A new formal defence pact was what the Gulf rulers had been demanding ahead of the US-GCC summit this week.
Days before the summit opened, an editorial in the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Aswat newspaper put it starkly to Obama: «Actions speak louder than words.» The paper, which reflects conservative Saudi thinking, urged the Obama administration to enshrine a binding military pact with the Gulf states. Adverting to the underlying mistrust, the editorial said «without written guarantees, it would be easy for the US to contradict what it has agreed to only verbally».
Following the US-GCC summit, the London-based Financial Times conveyed the shortfall in Arab expectations from the «historic» meeting: «The US has offered its Gulf allies new military assistance to deal with potential missile attacks and cyber threats from Iran but stopped short of the broader security guarantees that some of the countries were looking for.»
Obama had invited the Gulf leaders to a «special» summit following the signing last month of the nuclear framework accord between Iran and the P5+1 Group in Switzerland. The Americans knew that their Gulf client-regimes were not happy about the initial nuclear deal, and so the summit this week at Camp David was meant to put them at ease over Washington’s intentions toward Iran. The Persian Gulf Arab sheikhdoms – espousing Wahhabi or rightwing Sunni Islam – view Shia Iran as their nemesis. The GCC, for example, was formed in 1981, only two years after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
The Arab rulers must have been signalled in advance that the US was not going to deliver on their demands for a fully-fledged military pact; notable leaders pulled out at the last moment from attending the summit with Obama this week. Of course, there were claims on both sides that the no-show of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was not a «snub». But it’s hard to see how his absence could be construed as anything else. A spokesman for the Saudi king said he was occupied with overseeing a «humanitarian ceasefire» in Yemen – even though no such truce came into effect this week. Of lesser import, but no less indicative of Arab chagrin, was Bahraini King Hamad’s decision to skip Camp David for a horse show at Britain’s Windsor Castle in the company of Queen Elizabeth.
Of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members, only Kuwait and Qatar sent heads of the state to Obama’s Camp David confab. In addition to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, also missing at the summit were the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and Oman, both said to be in «ill-health».
In short, the Gulf monarchs are peeved with Washington. This peevishness partly stems from what they perceive as American hesitation over a more militaristic policy on regime change in Syria. When Obama backed down on his «red line» for military intervention in Syria at the end of 2013 over the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government, the Saudis in particular were livid at what they saw as American dithering to pursue regime change full-throttle.
Then, even worse from the Saudi viewpoint, we saw the US move to engage diplomatically with Iran over the decade-old nuclear dispute. If a final P5+1 deal is implemented at the end of next month that could lead to the lifting of Western-imposed trade and financial sanctions on Iran, or at least partially.
This outcome of sanctions relief is what is really vexing the Saudis and their closely aligned Persian Gulf neighbours. Officially, the Saudis are saying that they fear that a nuclear deal at the P5+1 may still give Iran the scope to clandestinely develop a nuclear weapon sometime in the future.
Unofficially, it may be surmised that this is not the real Saudi concern. They know that any nuclear accord will be so tightly conditioned with technical restrictions that the Iranians have no chance of weaponising their nuclear program. The Iranians have also consistently said they have no intention of building a bomb out of religious ethics, articulated time and time again by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
What the Saudis and the other Gulf Arab rulers are concerned about is that the sanctions relief that may come with a nuclear settlement will boost Iran’s regional position, from the development of its already prodigious economy and from the normalised interaction with neighbouring countries.
The Gulf Arabs are claiming that Iran will use this anticipated regional growth in its influence to sow more destabilisation and terrorism in other countries. That’s rich, of course, coming from the Wahhabi House of Saud and its acolytes who have been fuelling Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Libya over the past four years.
Obama indulged this Arab obsession with Iran as a «state sponsor of terrorism» when he said ahead of the US-GCC summit: «Iran clearly engages in dangerous and destabilising behaviour in different countries across the region. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism… the Gulf countries are right to have concerns.»
For its part, Iran responded angrily to Obama’s rhetoric, saying that it was «hypocritical» and aimed at «appeasing» Arab despots.
Obama’s indulgent rhetoric aside, the telling upshot is that Washington did not go as far as integrating the Gulf Arab states into a formal military alliance with the US, as they had demanded.
A White House spokesman described such a treaty as «too complex» for the Middle East. What that translates into is that it is too complex an arrangement to sell to the other American client-regime – Israel, which has an ironclad US commitment to always have a military edge over its neighbours, even if they are pro-Western puppets, as in the Gulf sheikhdoms.
The danger is that the perennially insecure Saudi rulers will view Obama’s shortfall on a full military pact as a further sign of treachery, whereby Washington is intending to undercut them by doing a political deal with Iran at the P5+1 forum.
What the Saudis and the other Arab monarchs fear as «Iranian destabilisation» is the destabilising effect of a relatively democratic government in Iran being able to pursue normal relations with the region, without being continually painted as a pariah. A nuclear deal at the P5+1 would give Iran space to develop normally in the region. But that dynamic is anathema to the Persian Gulf monarchies, who rule with an iron-fist over cowering subjects. Those subjects may be more inclined to agitate for the greater democratic freedoms that are available to Iranian citizens. This is the «destabilising» effect of Iran that the Saudi rulers and their Arab allies fear most, not the much-hyped concerns of «Iranian-inspired subversion».
The Saudi-led military attack on Yemen is a case in point. The operation, which began on March 26, is said to be in response to «Iranian-backed Houthi rebels» taking over the country. Again, there is negligible evidence to substantiate this contention. Iran and the Houthis deny any such link, although Tehran has afforded diplomatic support and is sending humanitarian aid to the crisis-torn country.
But it seems significant that the Saudi-led Arab coalition – comprising the GCC monarchs, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and North Sudan – began bombing Yemen one week before the signing of the P5+1 nuclear framework accord in Lausanne on April 2.
It is arguable that the Saudis opted to launch a war in Yemen – embellished with bombastic claims of «Iranian subversion» – precisely in order to undermine the P5+1 negotiations.
Washington has so far paid lip-service to Saudi claims of Iranian malfeasance in Yemen and the Pentagon has given military support to the Arab coalition bombing that country.
However, that commitment from Washington may not be enough to satisfy the Saudi apprehensions over the possible nuclear agreement with Iran. That Obama declined to meet Arab demands this week for a full military umbrella comprising US and GCC forces may only fuel their chagrin and mistrust even further.
Escalating the war in Yemen may be the Saudi option of trying to force Washington’s hand over Iran.
As the Asharq Al-Aswat newspaper noted, with a tone of petulance: «The US wants to have its cakes and eat it. It seeks to have distinguished relations with the Gulf and Iran at the same time.»
In other words, for the intransigent, insecure Persian Gulf monarchs, there is not an inch for any accommodation with Iran, no matter how incipient that move toward accommodation may be.
Yemen could be the desperate way for the Saudis to blow the P5+1 negotiations.
An Iranian civilian cargo ship bearing 2,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid and medical teams is due to dock in Yemen in the coming days. The vessel has first to pass through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea – waters infested with Saudi and American warships, as well as Saudi F-15 warplanes scouring the sky above. Iran has already warned in no uncertain terms that any interference in the passage of its aid ship would constitute an act of war, which Iran will respond to.
Saudi rulers, with a Machiavellian streak, will be weighing up their options to do just that.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

126-year-old Palestinian recalls agonies of 1948 'Nakba'126-year-old Palestinian recalls agonies of 1948 'Nakba'

Al-Toum still vividly recalls events, including the atrocities committed by Jewish terrorist gangs against the local Palestinian population – memories that still bring tears to his eyes

GAZA CITY, Palestine

Rajab al-Toum, a 126-year-old Palestinian man, says the history books fail to accurately describe the days that followed the Palestinian Nakba ("catastrophe" in Arabic), which coincided with the establishment of Israel on May 15, 1948.

Al-Toum still vividly recalls events, including the atrocities committed by Jewish terrorist gangs against the local Palestinian population – memories that still bring tears to his eyes.
"The massacres that took place at the time remain etched on my memory," al-Toum told Anadolu Agency.

Already 59 years old when the Nakba occurred, al-Toum had been working on a farm in Beersheba (in what is now southern Israel) when violent Zionist gangs forced hundreds of thousands Palestinians to flee their homes and villages.

He remembers seeing Jewish soldiers dragging a young pregnant Palestinian woman away before killing her in front of her husband and children.

"I trembled in fear when I saw this," al-Toum said. "I was afraid they would kill me too."
After the soldiers slaughtered the pregnant woman, they withdrew, giving al-Toum – along with other Palestinians who were hiding in fear – some respite.
Later, however, al-Toum would discover – to his horror – that the pregnant woman was not the only Palestinian to be slaughtered by Jewish paramilitary groups.

Numerous other men, women and children, he later found out, were killed – often in front of their families – by armed Zionist groups like the Haganah and the notorious Stern Gang.

Many were slaughtered, al-Toum recalled, while others were simply shot and killed.
At the time, he said, most Palestinians failed to grasp the enormity of the catastrophe that was unfolding before them.

They began to understand the scope of the crisis when heavily-armed Jewish gangs stormed their villages on the backs of tanks.

News of the carnage spread like wildfire, said al-Toum, prompting Palestinian men, women and children to flee for their lives – most of them leaving all their property behind.

"Jewish gangs shelled Palestinian villages indiscriminately with the aim of terrorizing residents into fleeing," the old man said.

Hundreds of Palestinians, he added, were buried under the rubble of their destroyed homes.

"The history books fail to adequately describe the horror of the massacres that took place," al-Toum, who lives in the city of Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip, said.
"They don't do justice to the painful experiences of the Palestinian families who lost their homes," he asserted.

He said he would never forget the scenes of Palestinian families fleeing their ancestral homes in terror.

"It was the most terrible thing I've ever seen in my life," al-Toum said.

He went on to decry the role played by Great Britain – responsible for Palestine at the time under a League of Nations "mandate" – in allowing Jewish gangs to attack and destroy Palestinian villages.

Al-Toum also denounced Britain's infamous 1917 "Balfour Declaration," which had called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Jewish immigration to Palestine rose considerably during the British mandate period, which lasted from 1922 to May 14, 1948.

Ultimately, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes – or were forcibly expelled by invading Jewish forces – while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by the conquerors.

The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world.

Until this day, Palestinian refugees remain scattered across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many have settled in refugee camps in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Britain armed and protected the Jewish gangs," al-Toum asserted, adding that many Palestinians who fled their homes had believed – mistakenly, as it turned out – that they would soon return.

Many of these Palestinians kept the keys of their homes; some snuck back to their fields at night to tend to their crops.

"Only gradually did they realize they would never return to their ancestral homes and farms," the super-centenarian lamented.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The Ewes & Their Master!

 Mr. Obama's summit with Gulf leaders is but another US move of exploitation in the interest of the US weapons industry. Obama sells the more of killing machines to his allies in supporting terrorism against the innocents worldwide. The ewes will even get more afraid from no enemy other than that of their-own-hand-made-terrorism and from their own people!
Thus, the ewes are there invited by the US industrialists to waste the more of their countries' resources. Trillions of dollars wasted for armament; the only armament used was that against the Syrians in Syria, not to forget those used too against the Libyan, Iraqis, as well as against their own people in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen!

Instead of giving some rights and security to their own people and neighbours, the ewes of the Gulf seek and work for the more of slaughter, hatred and blasphemy! The US master is more than happy to exploit such a herd! The US cow-boy master is even good at herding the ewes!
The US- Israel included- can not give security to the ewes; hence the blind can not lead the blind. Fighting terrorism might provide security for the ewes and others! The  ewes' support to terrorism, not only in Syria, the region and the entire globe, is to backfire and burn all! A world jury should hold those in the summit accountable for their daily documented crimes against humanity!
Missing on the table of Camp David's summit were Mr. Hollande, Erdogan as to be indeed as the supporters of terrorism summit! Iran, Syria, Russia, Yemen some Latin America and Africa states are but the main target of the ewes-US-made terrorism; and the solution is through cooperation, understanding and joint fight against terrorism.
Obama's summit should have made a review of the US officials' and their ewes words, deeds and role in founding, mushrooming financing and spreading of Al-Qaeda terrorism and its affiliates including the so-called moderates like ISIS, al-Nusra and others! No summit whatsoever would bring security and stability to the people of today's globe; fighting terrorism, refraining from making and using it as a political tool, cooperation on a reciprocal basis, mutual respect and abidance by law do bring security and stability for all.
 Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Today in Palestine! ~ Friday, 15 May 2015

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 May — Israeli forces injured three Palestinian children with live fire during severe clashes that erupted between soldiers and school students in the Jabal al-Tawil neighborhood of al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank Thursday, witnesses said. The injured children were taken to a hospital for treatment, while Israeli forces detained six Palestinian children, all under 10 years of age, and took them to the nearby Psagotsettlement, locals told Ma‘an. Israeli forces had reportedly set up an ambush for the students prior to the clashes, locals added … Palestinian children routinely come under live fire and excessive force from Israeli forces, according to children’s rights group Defense for Children International- Palestine.Israeli forces shot and injured at least 30 children across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year as of March 24, 2015, DCIP reported. While Israeli military regulation permits the use of live ammunition when a direct mortal threat exists, the DCIP found no evidence that any of the children injured in 2015 thus far posed such a threat to Israeli forces or settlers.
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 May — A Palestinian youth was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet during clashes with Israeli soldiers at the northern entrance ofBethlehem onThursday. Medical sources said that a youth was injured in the leg by Israeli soldiers before he was detained and taken to an unidentified location during clashes in the Rachel Tomb’s area in Bethlehem. Violent clashes erupted between youths and Israeli soldiers near the northern entrance of Bethlehem as youths threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at an Israeli military tower. Israeli soldiers responded with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas … The incident came ahead of Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people who fled or were expelled from their homes during Israel’s creation.
Israeli forces open fire on Nakba Day protests
NABLUS (AFP) 16 May — Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber and live bullets at Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday, wounding at least 21 people, medics and security sources said. Clashes took place near Ramallah and farther north in Nablus, after a new Israeli cabinet took office and as Palestinians marked 67 years since the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” that befell them when Israel was established in 1948. At a demonstration outside Ofer military prison near the West Bank administrative center of Ramallah, dozens of protesters stoned soldiers who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP correspondent said. Medics said seven Palestinians were wounded. In separate clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, rubber bullets and live fire by soldiers wounded at least 10 Palestinians, security sources and witnesses said. The Israeli army confirmed the clashes, but denied that live rounds were fired. More than 1,000 settlers from nearby Jewish settlements were bused into the city to visit Joseph’s Tomb early in the day, and soldiers blocked off roads leading to the pilgrimage site, Palestinian witnesses and security sources said. Palestinians protested, some throwing stones, before clashes with the army erupted …
In Gaza, which is still recovering nine months after last summer’s devastating war between Israel and de facto rulers Hamas, Israeli troops on the border fired live rounds at Nakba Day protesters, wounding four, the enclave’s interior ministry medical spokesperson said. Three demonstrators were hit at a demonstration staged by dozens of people near the border fence east of Gaza City, and a fourth was shot at a similar protest near Khan Younis in the south, Ashraf al-Qudra said. The Israeli army said it had fired at the “lower extremities” of five people who approached the border fence, after warning them not to come any closer. Under Israel’s blockade of the coastal territory, Gaza residents are not allowed within 100 meters (yards) of the border fence on foot, or 300 meters in a vehicle. Israeli soldiers often fire at Palestinians who come closer. The protests were significantly smaller than the main demonstration in Gaza City, which was attended by 2,000 people, an AFP correspondent said.
Dozens injured in Silwad and Beitunia, near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 16 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday afternoon, Silwad and Betunia towns, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and attacked dozens of Palestinians marking the Nakba Day. The Palestine TV has reported that several military vehicles invaded the southern area of Silwad town, and clashed with dozens of local youths. The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades, rubber-coated metal bullets, and several rounds of live ammunition. Medical sources said ten Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, and received treatment by local medics. During the clashes, a number of youths hurled Molotov cocktails on the invading soldiers, while the army also fired the “Tutu” live ammunition on the protestors.  The Tutu live rounds cause larger bodily harm, and were outlawed by an Israeli court in 2001, but the army continues to use them. Israeli sources said a number of soldiers were mildly injured during the clashes with local youths in the town, while a few soldiers received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation, after the protesters managed to throw back some of the gas bombs fired at them.
In addition, clashes took place in Betunia nearby town, after the soldiers invaded it, and attacked local protesters marking the Nakba, and marking the first anniversary of the deaths of Nadim Nuwwara and Mohammad Abu Thaher, who were killed by Israeli army fire on May 15 2014. The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, in addition to rubber-coated metal bullets and live rounds, while local youths hurled stones and empty bottles on the soldiers; several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 16 May — Amateur photographer Ahmad Nazzal captured Israeli forces spraying “Skunk” water at a Palestinian child during the Kafr Qaddum weekly march in the occupied West Bank on Friday. Five-year-old Muhammad Riyad appears standing in front of Israeli forces wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh before the forces began chasing him with Skunk water, the boy eventually falling to the ground. The foul-smelling liquid has been used by the Israeli military as a form of non-lethal crowd control since at least 2008  and can leave individuals and homes smelling like feces and garbage for weeks. Skunk water was developed by Israeli company Odortec Ltd. in conjunction with the Israel Police and is generally sprayed from specially designed trucks up to a range of 30-40 meters, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. An Israeli army spokesperson has reported that Skunk contains “organic material and has been approved for use by the Israeli Ministry of the Environment and the Chief IDF Medical Officer,” however exact contents of the rancid liquid have been contested, B’Tselem says. The rights group documented regular use of Skunk water by Israeli forces, and has accused the forces of using the substance as collective punishment, citing instances of Israeli security forces driving Skunk trucks down the streets of villages known for active demonstrations while spraying the substance into residents’ homes.
[with photos] KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Huwarra Team) 15 May — Today (Friday, 15th of May), during the Nakba day demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, four young men were shot with live ammunition in their legs. One of the men got a serious bone fracture. Apart from the live ammunition being shot from all directions, Israeli forces fired several rounds of rubber coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. Throughout the protest, the Israeli military forces used a skunk truck to force the demonstrators back from reaching the closed road; closed since 2002 due to the building of the settlement Kedumim. ISMers in the demonstration saw houses and gardens being sprayed, and a boy as young as four crying, covered in the noxious chemical skunk ‘water’. Before the prayer had started, which end usually marks the beginning of the demonstration, soldiers attacked the gathered crowd with the chemical-laced water from the skunk truck. About 200 protesters marched up towards the closed road and were chanting words of freedom. 67 years later, the Nakba is still going on.
Israeli forces suppress Bil‘in weekly march on Nakba Day
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 May — Dozens of activists suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces violently dispersed participants in the Bil‘in weekly march, as at least 21 people were injured across the West Bank and Gaza Strip Friday. Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists participated in the march which started from the center of the village, raising Palestinian flags and signs marking the anniversary of the Nakba. Palestinians across the world commemorate the Nakba every year on May 15, this year marking 67 years since an estimated 760,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Last year Israeli forces shot and killed two unarmed Palestinian teenagers during a rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba outside of the Ofer detention center near Ramallah.
For Palestinians living within Israel, commemoration of the Nakba also comes at a price. The 2011 “Nakba Law,” Amendment No. 40 to the Israeli Budgets Foundations Law, authorizes the Finance Minister to reduce state funding to an institution if it holds an activity commemorating “Israel’s Independence Day or the day on which the state was established as a day of mourning,” according to Israeli legal center Adalah. The center argues the law “causes major harm to the principle of equality and the rights of Arab citizens to preserve their history and culture. The law deprives Arab citizens of their right to commemorate the Nabka, an integral part of their history.”
VIDEO: Security camera captures Gush Etzion vehicular attack
Ynet 15 May by Itay Blumenthal, Yoav Zitun — Security footage [10 seconds] from the scene of the vehicular attack outside Alon Shvut on Thursday, which left four people wounded, shows the terrorist driving his car at high speed and ramming into two of the victims. After hitting the pedestrians who were waiting at a bus stop outside the Gush Etzion settlement, the car is seen speeding away … The IDF set up roadblocks and searched for the perpetrators in the Halhul area and in villages north of Hebron. Kfir Brigade troops arrested the suspected driver minutes after the attack.  The Shin Bet said Thursday evening it arrested the suspected driver, 22-year-old Muhammad al-Rafahiya from Hebron, who was released a year ago from Israeli prison after serving time for offenses of rock-throwing and carrying of cold weapons.In his initial interrogation, al-Rafahiya admitted to committing the attack and said he was operating to hurt Israelis out of nationalistic motives. The Shin Bet said they were looking into the possibility that “incitement online and on Facebook cause him to commit the attack, similar to previous lone attackers.” At around 1:15 pm, a black vehicle drove at high speed heading east on a road outside Alon Shvut and then veered sideways onto a hitchhiking station, hitting a group of people waiting for the bus.,7340,L-4657675,00.html
Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian vehicles near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 May — Israeli settlers on Thursday pelted Palestinian cars with stones on a main road near the illegal Yitzhar settlement in Nablus, a Palestinian official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that dozens of settlers threw stones at vehicles, while others set fire to land in the village of Burin south of Nablus.  Israeli forces closed the Huwwara checkpoint both ways following the incidents. In 2014, there were 324 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Gaza officials: 70 hurt as Israel ordnance explodes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 May — Dozens of Palestinians were injured in a large explosion in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, witnesses and medics said. Medical sources said at least 70 Palestinians were injured. Fifteen of those were taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment as a result of the explosion. The Palestinian ministry of interior said the explosion happened during the dismantling of an unexploded F16 rocket left by the Israeli army. Ambulances rushed toward the scene of the blast in the al-Atatra neighborhood of Gaza City, with black smoke plumes visible from a distance. Locals reported that the blast caused an electricity blackout in the area.
3 Palestinians in Gaza shot, injured in Nakba Day protest
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 May — Three Palestinians were injured by live fire during a Nakba Day demonstration in the Gaza Strip on Friday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators east of Gaza City, hitting three men in the legs. Dozens of Palestinians were taking part in the march to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the mass displacement of Palestinians during Israel’s creation.
Soldiers open fire on farmers and fishers in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 16 May — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Saturday morning, on Palestinian farmers in their own lands, east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, while navy ships opened fire on fishing boats in southern Gaza. Media sources said several soldiers and armored military vehicles advanced close to the border fence, and fired rounds of live ammunition on the farmers, and on a number of Palestinian shepherds. The attack did not lead to casualties, but the residents had to leave the area fearing addition Israeli fire, and escalation.
In addition, Israeli navy ships fired dozens of live rounds targeting a number of Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza waters, close to the Khan Younis shore, in the southern part of the coastal region. The attack caused property damage but no injuries; the fishers sailed back to shore to avoid further navy fire.
Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla III banned by Israel
World Bulletin 14 May — Israel will not allow unauthorized boats to enter its territorial waters, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday as a trawler left Sweden Sunday intending to break the legal naval blockade of Gaza, the Jerusalem Post reported. A Swedish boat, named Marianne of Gothenburg, announced it set off from Sweden, to take part in the flotilla, several days ago. The boat is named after Marianne Skoog, a veteran member of the Swedish Palestine Solidarity movement, who died in May 2014. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon described the action as “unnecessary provocation”. He added: “If the so-called helpful Gaza flotillas were really interested in the welfare of the population in Gaza, they would send their aid via Israel.” … The Ship to Gaza organization is calling for an immediate end to the naval blockade of Gaza; opening of the Gaza Port; and secure passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla II when it entered Gaza’s territorial waters, killing ten people on board.
Gaza: The Nakba in the eyes of the old and young
Middle East Monitor 14 May —  EXCLUSIVE IMAGES Palestinians in Gaza remember the Nakba Images from our photographer in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Asad.
[with VIDEO] Even in Gaza, you can’t have a film festival without a red carpet
+972 Blog 14 May by Avi Blecherman — The human rights film festival sends a message that Gaza is not just a strip of flattened homes, poverty and militants, as the media tends to portray it, says one of the organizers. ‘The people of Gaza are human beings, who love life, who seek peace, and who want to go to the movies, to live normal lives.’ —  While Israeli entertainment reporters have been busy covering the DocAviv documentary film festival in Tel Aviv in recent days, nearby, another rather exceptional film festival came to a close Thursday evening in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City — a festival dedicated entirely to films about human rights … I spoke with festival organizer Saud Aburamadan, a veteran journalist and resident of Gaza on Thursday …  The image of the red carpet with destroyed homes on both sides is spine-tingling. Who walked down it?Well, you can’t have a film festival without a red carpet. We took that symbol and made it work for the our reality here in Gaza. For us, red is first and foremost the the color of so much blood that was spilled here this summer. The blood of women, men and children. There was a family in Shujaiyeh, the al-Hilu family, which lost 11 people in a bombing, most of them women and children. Usually the people walking down the red carpet at a film festival are VIPs. Here, we laid down the 70-meter red carpet on one of the main roads that leads to where we screened the films, a road that has nothing but destroyed homes. We invited all of the residents to walk down the red carpet to the premiere. It was our way of saying that each and every one of them is important.
Gazans scavenge for food, recyclables
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 13 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — In light of the dire economic conditions generated by the Israeli siege, Gazans search for food to eat and recyclables to sell — At sunrise, Wael Naim starts his arduous task of sifting through piles of waste in Gaza City, looking for anything that can be recycled. His efforts are a major source of support for his five-member family. Naim, 14, who is the oldest child in his family, told Al-Monitor, “My father used to work in contracting, but he stopped working more than half a year ago due to the recent Israeli war on Gaza, which destroyed the concrete factory that he used to work in. Israel also restricted the entry of cement into Gaza. So now I have a responsibility and look for [ways to make a living].” He said that he searches the piles of garbage for anything that he can sell, such as plastic, copper and iron, to factories and blacksmiths that recycle them into products such as water drums, as well as nuts and bolts made of copper and iron, which are used as machine spare parts. “I stop work at sunset and make about 20 Israeli shekels (about $5) a day, which I give in full to my father. He buys cheap bread and food for my family, as this amount doesn’t even buy half a kilogram [1 pound] of meat,” Naim added.
Pregnant Gaza woman blocked from joining husband in Australia
EI 15 May by Patrick O. Strickland — Mohammed Suliman does not know if he will be able to attend the birth of his first child. His wife Layla has been blocked from leaving Gaza to join him in the Australian city of Adelaide. Their baby is due in August. “We are racing against the clock,” Mohammed said this week, adding that he is focused on trying to get Layla out of Gaza. “So far there has been no progress, so I’m very worried,” he added. “Once she becomes seven months pregnant, she won’t be able to travel.” Mohammed left Gaza through the Erez crossing between Gaza and present-day Israel in late March. Despite having an Australian visa and having paid national health insurance in Australia, Layla was denied exit by the Israeli authorities. Granted a full scholarship to a PhD program in Adelaide University, Mohammed was a couple of months late for his classes by the time he arrived. He had made numerous attempts to leave Gaza before eventually succeeding in doing so. Tight restrictions have been placed by Israel on the number of Palestinians passing through Erez. The Rafah crossing that separates Gaza from Egypthas been completely closed — with some rare exceptions — since the last week of October 2014.
Bill introduced to Knesset to cancel 2005 disengagement from Gaza
JP Updates 14 May by Eliyahu Berkowitz — The last elections brought many surprises, so it should be anticipated that even more surprises are in store. MK Betsalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi/Tkuma) presented a new bill to cancel the disengagement law that led to Israel’s withdrawal from Gush Katif, Gaza, in 2005. The bill was submitted to the Knesset Secretariat but wasn’t discussed even in a preliminary reading. It would cancel the laws pertaining to the disengagement which prohibit the entry and stay in the areas evacuated under the program, and the elimination of the rights of those who lived in them. The sections dealing with compensation and rehabilitation of deportees will be left standing. “Today it is clear to all that the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria was a foolish mortal blow to Zionism and the settlement, and brought about the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip and the difficult security situation,” said Smotrich. “It’s time to fix it, and not just through words”.
Ongoing land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Memories of the Nakba / Discrimination
Israel issues tenders to build 85 settlement units in West Bank, 1.500 hotel rooms in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 May – The Israeli Ministry of Housing Thursday issued tenders for the construction of 85 new housing units in a west bank settlement, in addition to 1,500 hotel rooms in occupied East Jerusalem. The ministry published tenders for the construction of 85 new housing units in the West Bank illegal settlement of Giv’at Ze’ev to the north of Jerusalem, in addition to tenders for the construction of 1500 hotel rooms in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabber. The ministry also issued tenders for future settlement construction plans in a 10-dunum plot of land located near the palace of the British high commissioner in Jabal al-Mukabber area.
Israeli demolition plan for Bedouin villages sparks outcry
UMM AL-HIRAN, Israel (AP) 14 May by Daniel Estrin — Israelis are once again locked in a bitter settlement dispute with their Arab neighbors, but this time the conflict is not unfolding in the West Bank, but in Israel’s southern desert. After years of legal battles, Israel’s Supreme Court last week cleared the way for the government to uproot the nearly 60-year-old Bedouin Arab village of Umm al-Hiran, a dusty hill of ramshackle dwellings without proper electricity or water hookups, and in its place build “Hiran,” a new community seemingly catering to Jews that is expected to feature a hotel and country club … The Supreme Court says authorities should consider giving some villagers discounted plots of land in the new development, but the villagers believe a large Bedouin population wouldn’t be tolerated there. A group of religious Jewish families with ties to the West Bank settlement movement are living in a temporary encampment in a nearby forest waiting to move to the future Hiran … Villagers say they want to maintain their rural lifestyle, and they demand the government officially recognize their villages and hook them up to the national water system and power grid …  Arab activists are gearing up to fight the planned evacuation, whose date has not been announced. The leader of a newly invigorated Arab party in parliament recently marched from Bedouin country to Jerusalem in support of the unrecognized villages, and Arab activists say they are considering renewing the street protests waged two years ago that led the government to table a large-scale Bedouin resettlement plan … Israel’s more than 200,000 Bedouins are the poorest members of the country’s Arab minority, which also includes Christian and Muslim urban communities.
Forced to leave grapes on the vine: the open wounds of May 1948
EI 14 May by Rami Almeghari — Each May brings painful memories for some of the oldest Palestinians. Musallam Younis Musallam was among those displaced in May 1948 and never allowed to return home. Musallam grew up in the village of al-Batani al-Sharqi, about 30 kilometers from Gaza. In May 1948, it came under attack from Zionist forces. The almost 6,000 residents were forced to flee and the village was totally destroyed. Musallam, then 28 years old, traveled to Maghazi in Gaza, which now hosts a camp for Palestinian refugees. “Whenever we popped out, the corn branches, where we were hiding, struck our faces,” Musallam told the author of a new book. “We carried our luggage on a donkey and myself, my mother, father and brothers, walked out of the village. We heard that the Egyptian forces were about to come to defend al-Batani al-Sharqi. But they did not come.” Titled I am from there and I have memories, the as yet unpublished book recalls what the people of al-Batani al-Sharqi endured during the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe), the 1948ethnic cleansing of Palestine. It is the result of two years of work by the author Ghazi Misleh, a Maghazi resident.
Memory (on Nakba Day) / Mariam Barghouti
15 May — “It was my 18th birthday. I had gone to get a haircut because we were expecting visitors. There was a bombing at Jaffa clock sq. and I stole my brother’s bike and cycled like never before. It was the area my father worked. I went and the bombing had turned my father into broken limbs.” My grandfather told me as he held tears back. Palestinian men don’t cry he used to say.  “It was a Zionist bombing. And there was baba…one arm in a corner and the rest of his body in another. It was January 4th, so it was cold. I remember seeing a jacket. And I held my father’s dismembered body.” Now in his late 80’s, sido can still recall every gruesome detail. “That, sweetheart, is the story of thousands of Palestinians. It is our story then, and it is or story now.” I sat on my grandfather’s couch as he told and re-told me stories of Jaffa pre-1948. Always emphasizing the scent of the mountains, the air and the touch of the soil “Our sweat and blood is in the soil, we are its children, sido.” He would say. As his memory slowly begins to fail, sometimes mixing up his grandchildren, he can still tell you the stories of Palestine in perfect detail. Explaining every flower prick and the scorching rays of the Summer heat in July. Such recollection acts as the burden and savior of Palestinians. The stories etched within our memories, sliding off the tongues of our forefathers. It is within that memory we find pain, and within that memory we implement our existence.
Decades of neglect leave East Jerusalem mired in poverty, violence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 May by Charlie Hoyle — Decades of chronic under-funding, discriminatory planning rights, and unequal access to services have left the Palestinian community in Jerusalem mired in poverty, according to statistics published by a civil rights group, with youths subject to increased police brutality and arrests since last summer’s demonstrations in the city.  Statistics released this week by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel paint a devastating picture of neglect, urban blight and underdevelopment in East Jerusalem, the historic heart of Palestinian life, all a result of nearly five decades of Israeli policies, with over 75 percent of Palestinians living below the poverty line compared to the national Israeli average of 21.8 percent. The group released the statistics — taken from the Jerusalem Municipality, Israeli Police, the Central Bureau of Statistics, and other official agencies — to coincide with Jerusalem Day, a largely right-wing Israeli national holiday to celebrate the “liberation” and “reunification” of the city following what is internationally recognized as the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.
Prisoners / Court actions
Khader Adnan on 10th day of open hunger strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 May — Prisoner Khader Adnan, 37, entered his 10th day of an open hunger strike on Thursday to demand the end to his administrative detention by Israel. The prisoner, who is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, sent a letter to Gaza-based organization the Muhjat al-Quds Association calling on Palestinians to support him in his battle of “freedom, pride, and dignity.” His major goal is to prevent Israel from tarnishing the achievement of prisoners who secured their freedom by going on hunger strikes in the past, only to be rearrested by military forces. Adnan was detained on July 8, 2014 and sentenced to administrative detention for the 10th time in his life. In 2012, Adnan’s 66-day hunger strike in an Israeli prison in 2012 inspired hundreds of prisoners to take on Israel’s policy of holding detainees without charge.
Israeli military court rejects life term for Palestinian who killed soldier
Haaretz 15 May by Chaim Levinson — A military court Thursday rejected the state’s request that it return Nael Barghouti, a prisoner released in the 2011 exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, to prison for life. Barghouti, a Fatah member, was originally arrested in 1978 and sentenced to life for killing an Israeli soldier. He was the longest-serving prisoner to be freed in the Shalit deal. In June 2014, he was rearrested, along with 59 other Palestinians freed in the Shalit deal, after Hamaskidnapped three Israeli teens in the West Bank. The military prosecution then asked the court to reinstate his original life sentence, arguing that he had violated the terms of his release — in part by agreeing to become a minister in the Fatah-Hamas unity government and by taking part in activities organized by Hamas’ student union. His lawyer, Merav Khoury, countered that Barghouti was not a Hamas member and had merely been invited to lecture about his experiences in jail. On Monday, the Ofer Military Court refused to return him to jail for life, instead sentencing him to two and a half years in prison.
Will Israelis filmed killing Palestinian teen on Nakba Day get away with murder?
EI 14 May by Olivia Watson — On 15 May 2014, an Israeli Border Police officer took aim at Nadim Nuwara and pulled the trigger of his M16 rifle. The live bullet struck Nuwara, 17, in the chest and exited through his back, killing him at the scene. CCTV cameras captured the shooting, allowing for detailed forensic video, sound and spatial analysis to be used toidentify Nuwara’s killer. Despite seemingly clear evidence, systemic impunity for Israeli military violence continues to be an obstacle to justice for Palestinian families living under prolonged military occupation like the Nuwaras. Nuwara’s death appears to be the direct consequence of a de facto policy pursued by the Israeli military that permits the use of live ammunition, even against children, with almost complete impunity. The families of those killed are left to live with this injustice … Ben Deri, the Israeli Border Police officer arrested in connection with Nuwara’s killing, is under house arrest, awaiting trial on a charge of manslaughter. The fact that Deri has been charged at all is a token, yet positive, development given the systemic impunity. Israel’s track record suggests that any sentence imposed will fail to match the severity of the crime as a plea agreement will likely preclude a trial and result in little, if any, prison time.
Palestinian refugees — Syria, Jordan, Iraq
Besieged students in Syria allowed out to take exams
BEIRUT (AFP) 15 May — At least 150 Palestinian students from a besieged refugee camp south of Damascus have been allowed to leave the camp to sit their school exams in the Syrian capital. Carrying backpacks and suitcases and accompanied by their teachers, the students walked three kilometres (two miles) Thursday from Yarmuk to rebel-held Yalda, which has been calm since a 2014 ceasefire. “I’m happy I’ll take my exams, but I’ll also be able to see my family outside Yarmuk who I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Fadi. The students were driven from Yalda into Damascus, where on Sunday they will sit national curriculum examinations. A young Palestinian girl waiting to begin the trek told AFP she was scared. “I don’t want to leave my mother in the camp, but I have to go because I can’t take the test here,” she said. Teachers had petitioned a Palestinian official in Damascus to allow students to take their exams there, as those administered in the camp are not recognised by the state, an AFP correspondent in Yarmuk said.
Trapped in Dubai airport: the father and son who had nowhere to go
The Guardian 15 May by Patrick Kingsley — …But the experiences of Wael al-Sahlee are all too real: until finally being deported on Thursday evening, the 41-year-old Palestinian-Syrian refugee and his nine-year-old son, Montasser, were stuck in Dubai airport for a fortnight … During the Syrian civil war, Yarmouk became caught up in the fighting, and Sahlee and his wife, Nisrene, began to use their home to treat the wounded. For his efforts, Sahlee was arrested, and some of his friends were tortured to death. So on his release in late 2012, he and his family fled to Jordan, which soon closed its border to Palestinians for fear of diluting the Jordanian population. Life was hard in Jordan. Like many Palestinians, Sahlee was not allowed to work, and so endured more than two years of purgatory. Eventually his family decided the only chance of a stable future would be for him and Montasser to take a smugglers’ boat to Europe from Libya. Nisrene explained: “If we had enough money we would have all gone – we had the idea that if we died, at least we could have died altogether. But we only had enough money for them.”
The never-ending Nakba
Northern Jordan (Counterpunch) 13-15 May by Johnny Barber — …While rockets from Gaza garners some attention, other Palestinian refugees suffer in complete isolation. Just a 5-kilometer drive from Jerash, the beautifully preserved remnants of a once wealthy Roman city, is Jerash Camp. Known locally as Gaza Camp, it was established in 1968 as a temporary camp to house 11,500 refugees fleeing Gaza during the 6-Day War. Many of the refugees were refugees for a 2nd time, having originally fled Beersheba during the Nakba in 1948. The refugees from Gaza were not granted Jordanian papers. The situation facing those in Gaza Camp is the most difficult of the 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan today. Now home to an estimated 30,000 people, the camp sits on less than .75 sq. kilometers of land. The sewage system is an above-ground channel system that cannot contain the volume of waste, which flows down the alleyways and streets, the only space where children can play. The UN itself estimates that 75% of the houses are uninhabitable — some still have the original cancer-causing asbestos and corrugated tin sheeting provided for roofing in 1968. The refugees are denied support by the Jordanian government. Electricity and water are supplied to the camp at cost. Internet connections are not available. There are no pharmacies in the camp, and only one health clinic administered by UNRWA. The residents of Gaza Camp cannot access public health care. They cannot open bank accounts or purchase land.
15 May by Abed Al Qaisi — Baharka IDP camp, Iraq, holds over 1,000 displaced Iraqi families. However in one small section, 18 Palestinian refugee families currently reside. Their displacement began 67 years ago with the Nakba, and has continued to 2015 – all the families have fled from ISIS within the last year. For some of the older Palestinian refugees this is their fifth refugee camp in their lifetime, for the younger generation it is their first. For all however, the plight of being a Palestinian refugee doesn’t appear to have an end in sight.
Other news
PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt  (7-13 May 2015)
Shootings During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 18 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and 3 photojournalists, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Eleven civilians were wounded in the West Bank, 9 of whom, including 2 children and 3 photojournalists, were wounded during peaceful protests, while the other 7 ones, including a child and 4 fishermen, were wounded in the Gaza Strip … In the Gaza Strip, on 08 May 2015, a 17-year-old child sustained a serious wound to the head as Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, northwest of al-Sayafa area in the north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of youngsters who were present near the said fence.  On 09 May 2015, 2 farmers sustained shrapnel wounds when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence opened fire at some farmers and workers who were 300-500 meters away from the said fence in the north of the Gaza Strip. In the context of targeting fishermen, Israeli forces opened fire several times at fishermen. As a result, 4 fishermen were wounded, 2 others were arrested and fishing equipment and nets were damaged. These attacks coincided with the sardine season that starts in May until mid-June. Fishermen wait for this season to compensate their losses due to Israeli attacks against them. Incursions During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 58 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 20 Palestinians, including 5 children. They also arrested a civilian in the Gaza Strip…. Full, detailed Report here
67 torches light the streets of Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 15 May — A march was organized Thursday evening in Ramallah, where 67 torches, 67 keys, 67 Palestinian flags and 67 black flags were held high inremembrance of Nakba 1948. The streets were packed with people surrounding the demonstrators, who made their way through central Ramallah in circles from Arafat square to Al-Manara and back, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN).  The march was carefully choreographed with Palestinian and Nakba flags in the front followed by a uniformed orchestra in the centre and torches rearmost … The Commission also held a march on Wednesday from the tomb of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to Arafat Square where a central ceremony was held and Arab Idol star Haythem Khaleily was giving a concert. On Friday, sirens of mourning will be blared at 12 pm as an expression of mourning on the losses of the Palestinian people. In addition, a march will be launched near the Apartheid Wall in Nelain town, near Ramallah.
Abbas calls on Palestinian Christians to ‘stay with us’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — In the run-up to Pope Francis’ canonization of two Palestinian nuns, President Mahmoud Abbas praises Palestinian Christians for the “distinctive dimension” their community and history gives to the Palestinian struggle. “On this holy occasion we would like to express appreciation to our Palestinian Christian brothers for their steadfastness and effective contribution to building the Palestinian nation, and we call upon them to stay with us and not to be easily swept by the tide of migration,” Abbas said in a statement Saturday. St. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas from Jerusalem and St. Mariam Bawardy from Ibilin village in the Galilee are to be canonized Sunday at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s square … Abbas said in the statement that recognition of Palestinian Christians by the Pope “emphasizes our unity, and affirms our determination to build a sovereign, independent and free Palestine based on the principles of equal citizenship and the values of spirituality and sublime humanity.”
Hamas-Fatah divide cripples Palestinian judiciary
GAZA CITY 14 May by Hazem Balousha — Since Hamas’ takeover in 2007, the Gaza Strip has been governed pursuant to a legal and legislative system completely separate from that of the West Bank. The reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah andHamas in April 2014 and the subsequent formation of the Rami Hamdallah-led Palestinian unity government formed in June 2014 failed to unify the legal and legislative systems of Gaza and the West Bank, where new laws continue to be separately and independently drafted. After its takeover of the Gaza Strip — which caused a significant disruption in the work of the Gaza judiciary and courts — Hamas established in 2007 a Supreme Judicial Council and a Public Prosecutor’s Office, and appointed a special prosecutor, Ismail Jaber, who was replaced two years later, completely separating them from their counterparts in the West Bank. Hamas’ Change and Reform bloc within the Legislative Council holds separate meetings in Gaza and has so far drafted 50 laws that only apply to the Gaza Strip. President Mahmoud Abbas has issued more than 100 decrees that have solely been implemented in the West Bank following the split from Gaza in 2007, when the Legislative Council — in which Hamas won an overwhelming majority during the 2006 general elections — was stripped of its authority.
PA uncovers Hamas cell in Hebron planning attacks on Israel
JPost 15 May — A Palestinian Authority security official said Friday that the PA’s security services uncovered and arrested a Hamas cell near Hebron in the West Bank. The official told Israel Radio on Friday that the group was planning attacks meant to take place in Israel.  Palestinian police were first alerted to the cell after a report was received of people preparing explosives inside an apartment. Five members of the cell were then arrested.  The report said that cell members were in the early stages of preparing the necessary materials to make an explosive device and a search of the house did not find any completed explosives. The official  said that Palestinian security forces have arrested other Hamas military cells in Hebron, Kalkilya [Qalqliliya], Nablus and Jenin since the beginning of the year.
West Bank biogas is big success for Bedouin community
ANERA 11 May — “Sheer bliss.” That’s how Naser Qadous, ANERA’s agricultural projects manager, described Natheera Al-Asad’s joy upon witnessing the blue flames emerge from the portable gas burner for the first time. “Natheera was skeptical about the entire project up until that moment,” explains Naser. “The surprise on her face was indescribable.” The West Bank biogas project is one of ANERA’s many agricultureprojects that allow for self-sustainability and economic developmentin marginalized communities. The biogas digesters, designed and implemented by ANERA engineers, provide a renewable source of energy at no cost because all that’s required is animal waste. Rural families in Palestine often have livestock that can easily provide the fuel. The unique project has been introduced into the northern West Bank community of Al Malehand also into the homes of 15 impoverished families in Gaza.
Palestinian surgeons perform rare operation at Hebron hospital
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 May – Palestinian surgeons at Alia public hospital in Hebron in the southern West Bank on Wednesday successfully repaired a very uncommon skull deformity of a baby. Dr. Imad Rashid, the neurosurgeon who performed the operation, confirmed to Ma‘an the rarity of the case, highlighting that he and his team removed a deformity three times the size of the infant’s skull. The baby has completely recovered, he added. “The surgery is a source of pride given the limited equipment we have,” said director of Alia Hospital Dr. Walid Zalloum, boasting of the skillful surgeons and nurses the hospital has.
Obama says Israel-Palestinian two-state solution ‘vital for peace’
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 15 May — U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he continues to believe a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians was “absolutely vital” for achieving Middle East peace. Obama said he believed the two-state option was also the best for the long-term security of Israel. He acknowledged the prospect of a peace accord “seems distant now,” noting that a number of members of the new Israeli government did not share the view that a two-state solution was viable.
US to contribute $20 million in support of UNRWA
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 May – The United States announced Thursday a new $20 million aid contribution to the United Nations Relief & Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said the UNRWA in a press release. The UNRWA noted in its press release that the new early financial contribution is intended to ensure that it can continue providing education, health, relief and social services that meet the basic human needs of Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. It further noted that this contribution was provided earlier than planned in view of delayed anticipated income from other sources and the lack of UNRWA cash reserves. The imminent funding shortfall  would have impacted the Agency’s ability to provide critical humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugee communities, said the release.
Mayor of Paris signs historic cooperation agreement with Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 May — The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, on Wednesday undertook a historic visit to Bethlehem, where she signed two major partnership agreements with mayor of the city, Vera Baboun, to improve water networks in the biblical town. “The municipal council of Paris is aware of the hardships the Palestinian people face, especially in Bethlehem, but we admire very much their spirit of determination and the positive attitude to life,” Hidalgo told Ma’an. The strategic agreements signed between Bethlehem and Paris will help improve water networks in the city and mitigate the negative impact of the Israeli separation wall on Bethlehem’s natural development. Hidalgo confirmed that the municipal council of Paris would also help develop the tourism sector in Bethlehem to help create work opportunities for young men and women.
FIFA chief Blatter seeks Israeli concession in Palestine dispute
ZURICH (AFP) 16 May — FIFA leader Sepp Blatter said Friday he hopes to head off a Palestinian call for a vote to expel Israel from football’s governing body but that Israel must make a concession. Blatter said he will meet Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next Wednesday and Thursday in a bid to end what he called his biggest “challenge.” The Palestinians have sought a vote at the FIFA Congress on May 29 claiming abuse of Palestinian footballers by Israel. Blatter has made it clear he opposes the vote but that “a solution is only a realistic proposition when those who are privileged are prepared to concede something and contribute to equality.” The onus in this respect is on Israel with its outstanding infrastructure, fully functioning professional league and economic context,” Blatter wrote in his weekly column for a FIFA magazine. In an interview with a small group of reporters including AFP, Blatter said Israel should make it easier for Palestinian and foreign footballers and sports equipment to get in and out of the occupied territories. He added that Netanyahu “would not receive the FIFA delegation if he is not ready to make some concessions, I am sure.”
Official: Israel may ‘have to’ target civilians in Lebanon
TEL AVIV (AFP) 14 May — A senior Israeli military intelligence official said Wednesday Israel would likely “have to” target civilian areas in Lebanon in a future confrontation with Hezbollah, given its distribution of weapons sites. In a briefing to foreign journalists at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv, the official also warned of a heightened threat of conflict on Israel’s borders in the next two years as a result of “escalation” in the region. The official’s warning came after a Hezbollah attack killed two Israeli soldiers and a UN peacekeeper in January 2015, raising fears of another all-out war. Hezbollah had launched the attack shortly after an Israeli strike in the occupied Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah members including a commander and son of the group’s deceased military leader … The army official warned that in a future conflict with Hezbollah, Israel would “have to” target civilian areas. He said Hezbollah currently possesses more than 100,000 rockets hidden in civilian areas in Lebanese villages that could hit northern Israel, including “hundreds” which could reach anywhere in the Jewish state.”Each (village) is a military stronghold. Next time we have a war with Hezbollah, we will have to attack each one of these targets, and we hope the population will not be there,” he said. Israel is still reeling from a report by an Israeli army veterans NGO Breaking the Silence earlier this month, in which members of Israeli forces gave testimony that the military acted with complete disregard for civilian casualties during last summer’s offense on the Gaza Strip.
Life in a refugee camp – New Askar, Nablus
[with photos] NEW ASKAR, Nablus, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Huwarra Team) 11 May — New Askar refugee camp is situated north-east of Nablus in the Askar area. It was created in 1965 to accommodate the increased number of refugees who were living in (old) Askar Camp that was established in 1950 after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes in the Nakba. This ethnic cleansing of 1948 was part of the creation of Israel. The camp has since grown to a total of 6.000 people living on an area of 0.5 km 2. This high density creates both a claustrophobic and at times a dangerous environment. Located in Area C, under full Israeli control, it does not have the status of a refugee camp. This means that if the occupation was to end and refugees were able to return to their hometowns, those living in New Askar would not be given this right. They cannot take part in the elections of Nablus municipality either. Instead, the camp has its own internal government and elections take place every two years. All political parties, except for Hamas, are represented and currently there are nine elected men and two women. But although the camp has a good level of self-organisation, many problems remain unsolved; one of the main ones being drugs. The camp is plagued with drug dealers and as it is located in Area C, there is no presence of Palestinian police. The camp is also open to  local settlers, Israeli soldiers and Samaritans to come and buy whatever they want. Another issue is health. Until 2007, there were no public services and even today they are extremely limited.
The Nakba: Israel’s catastrophe / Vacy Vlazna
Palestine Chronicle 12 May —  “By military force, the Jewish forces conquered 78% of Palestine in 1948 and depopulated 675 towns and villages, leaving only 15% of its Palestinian citizens under the rule of the Jewish forces. This area of Palestine was called Israel.” — Salman Abu Sitta — The Palestinian Nakba is a catastrophe for the Jewish colonists and their descendants: it transformed the once decent surviving victims of European anti-Semitism and the Holocaust into terrorists, killers, thieves, racists, and liars – into the mirror image of their persecutors. And the same perverted brush tainted the UN and Western governments as collaborators of the sickest and most sadistic society in the world … Today is Nakba Day, as was yesterday and all days back to the 1922 British Mandate with its broken legal obligations to hold Palestine in trust until independence. Daily, the Zionist war crimes of illegal demolitions, evictions and squatting in Palestinian homes occur. The imposed torture of fear, stress and loss [on] the Palestinian families is unimaginably cruel.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!