Archive for February, 2016

UN sustains two weeks of humanitarian access to besieged, hard to reach civilians in Damascus

Press Release

UN concerned about 20,000 civilians in southern Syria, demands access. (Photo:

UN concerned about 20,000 civilians in southern Syria, demands access. (Photo:

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness reported today:

With the completion of humanitarian missions this week, UNRWA has been able to sustain two weeks of humanitarian access to besieged and hard to reach communities in the Syrian capital, Damascus. We were able to resume operations in the Damascus suburb of Yalda on February 14 for the first time in over six months, distributing 5,700 food parcels to families from the besieged Palestine refugee camp of Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham over a 5-day operation. Then From Sunday 21 to Wednesday 24 February, we distributed thermal blankets to Palestine refugees and other civilians from Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham, from a distribution point in Yalda. A total of 19,160 blankets were distributed to approximately 5,700 families.

Residents had previously reported that blankets were a critical need due to recurring low temperatures during the winter season. Electricity and water have been cut in Yarmouk for the past three years. Repeated clashes and armed violence over the last years have resulted in extensive damages to civilian houses. Refugees reported that their houses do not have windows, and that they have nothing but plastic bags to replace them with, and protect their families from the cold. Read more »

PFLP mourns, salutes Omar Nayef Zayed, assassinated in Bulgaria

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Press Release

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The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) salutes and mourns the martyr, Comrade Omar Nayef Zayed, the former Palestinian political prisoner and lifelong struggler for the freedom of Palestine, assassinated this morning in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

We in the PFLP hold fully responsible for this nefarious crime the Zionist State and the Israeli Mossad who targeted Comrade Omar Nayef Zayed for assassination, as we hold responsible the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Embassy in Bulgaria who failed to protect him and his security, and the Bulgarian government and security forces who pursued Comrade Nayef Zayed for arrest and imprisonment for over three months. We note the full responsibility of the Palestinian Authority at the highest levels for failing to protect Comrade Nayef Zayed from assassination, up to and including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and Ambassador Ahmad al-Madbouh. Read more »

Ibrahimi Mosque massacre: Illustrating the Zionist tradition of murder


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On this day of 25 February 1994, US-born doctor Baruch Goldstein, 38, burst into the holy Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, spraying worshippers with bullets and grenades as they gathered to perform Fajr (morning) prayers.

Seeking to gun down as many Palestinians as possible, Goldstein chose the last Friday in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to carry out his mass murder. His calculations that the mosque would be packed did not fail; over 800 hundred worshippers attended on that particular day.

Goldstein picked the moment when prayers kneeled down for Sujud to spray the crowd with hundreds of bullets from his army-issued Galil rifle. According to witnesses and coroner reports, grenades were used in the attack, too.

Defenseless worshippers were trapped. By the moment Goldstein had nearly run out of ammunition, over 30 Muslims were martyred, and over 100 wounded. Goldstein was caught in the retreat and beaten. He was later found dead. Read more »

Why It’s Dangerous to Conflate Hamas and Daesh

Belal Shobaki
Al Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network

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While Israel’s efforts to link Palestinian resistance to its military occupation to global terrorism are not new, it has expanded its propaganda to address Arab as well as Western audiences. By so doing, it is clearly seeking to exploit the global aversion to movements that have drifted towards extremism and terrorism while claiming to represent Islam. “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the United Nations in 2014. Yet better than anyone else, Netanyahu and the Israeli political establishment know that Hamas and Daesh are not related, as do those Arab regimes that also tar all Islamic movements with the same brush to serve their own ends. 1

Not only are Hamas and Daesh unrelated, they are bitter enemies, and Daesh has denounced Hamas as an apostate movement. Al-Shabaka Policy Analyst Belal Shobaki discusses the major ways in which Hamas differs from Daesh including its approach to jurisprudence; the position vis-a-vis the nature of the state; and relations with other religions. He makes the case that it is especially important for the Palestinian national movement to rebut the attempts to conflate Hamas with Daesh and points out the dangers of not doing so. Read more »

Israeli interrogators threatened to rape al-Qiq, his family

By Dan Cohen
Europal Forum

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Israeli investigators threatened to rape Palestinian hunger striker Mohammed al-Qiq, his wife and children, according to his lawyer, Ashraf Abu Sneineh.

“In the beginning of the investigation of Mohammed they told him that they will keep him under administrative detention for seven years if he did not confess,” Abu Sneineh told Mondoweiss by telephone Wednesday morning. “He said ‘I have nothing to confess to and I don’t want to continue this investigation in this manner.’ So they threatened to rape him, his wife and his kids.” Read more »

12 year old Palestinian girl sentenced to 4 months in occupation prisons


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The Israeli court at Ofer prison on Thursday sentenced 12-year-old Palestinian girl Dima al-Wawi to four and a half months imprisonment and an 8,000 shekel fine.

Al-Wawi, a 7th grader from the West Bank town of Halhoul, near Hebron, was arrested on February 9 while on her way to school wearing her school uniform. She currently is the youngest Palestinian in Israeli prisons. Read more »

Mazin Qumsiyeh: Resistance to incredible odds and repression

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Cattle Egret - alive, but with amputated wing

Cattle Egret – alive, but with amputated wing

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people to work. Our tiny little small part of the world – Palestine now an apartheid sate called a “Jewish state” – has become a major center of global activism.

This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism), the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked (Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing (so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people). Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda. Read more »

International Federation of Journalists issues worldwide call to demand Netanyahu release journalist on hunger strike

International Federation of Journalists

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The IFJ called today on its affiliates worldwide to join their sister union in Palestine, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, to demand that the Israeli authorities release journalist Muhammad al-Qiq who entered his 83rd day on hunger strike.

According to his family, al-Qiq currently hospitalised at the Emek Medical Center in Afula is at risk of heart attack, stroke or total organ failure as he has been taking only water and refused all treatments.

“Mohammed is now in a critical situation and the IFJ calls on journalists unions and their members worldwide to join forces with his wife Faihaa and the union to save his life,” said IFJ president, Jim Boumelha.

Following complex arguments in high court throughout the last fortnight, his lawyers announced refused transfer to a hospital under Israeli authority and requested that he be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah. Read more »

UNRWA concerned for 20,000+ “inaccessible” Palestinian civilians in southern Syria


Few getting in or out of Khan Eshieh

Few getting in or out of Khan Eshieh

UNRWA is concerned about the plight of over twenty thousand civilians in Palestine camps and gatherings in Dera’a governorate in the south of Syria as well as in Khan Eshieh camp, south west of Damascus.

The Agency has not had humanitarian access to these areas in over two years, though limited civilian traffic in and out is permitted.

“In both areas, refugees have been exposed to direct armed conflict, violence and humanitarian deprivation and we need immediate and sustained humanitarian access,” said UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness.

“In Khan Eshieh we estimate that there are about 5,000 civilians and in the inaccessible areas of Dera’a governorate we estimate there are about 17,500 people, including many thousands of children,” he added.

Salah warns of Israeli plan of “slow murder” against al-Qeiq


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Head of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Occupied Palestine, Sheikh Raed Salah, said hunger-striker Muhammad al-Qeiq is close to death after 85 days of ongoing hunger strike in Israeli detention, warning of an Israeli plan of “slow murder” against the detainee.

Speaking from outside the Afula Hospital, Sheikh Raed Saleh said: “The Israeli police have gone mad and started to chase us down after they have been informed of our solidarity hunger strike.”

“The police forced us out of the hospital and kidnapped three activists overnight before they aggressively beat another,” Sheikh Salah said.

He added that several Palestinians will go on an open ended hunger strike in the next few hours in solidarity with al-Qeiq. Read more »

UNRWA distributes more aid in Damascus, calls for increased support

Julie Webb-Pullman

UNRWA carries out a third day of food parcel distribution, Yalda, 15 February, 2016 ©

UNRWA carries out a third day of food parcel distribution, Yalda, 15 February, 2016 ©

As armed violence continues to threaten the lives and safety of Palestine refugees throughout Syria, UNRWA is again appealing to donors to increase their support to the UNRWA Syria Emergency Appeal. More than 95% of Palestine refugees in Syria now rely on UNRWA to meet their daily needs of food, water and healthcare.

Although UNRWA was able to distribute food to besieged and hard to reach civilian populations in Damascus yesterday, a Yarmouk resident said, “The children get sick very frequently from the water. We don’t just need food, we need hospitals and water and electricity.”

The community told UNRWA that apart from food, their greatest needs include winter blankets and clothing, access to clean water and access to healthcare. Read more »


Press Release

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“UNRWA today was able to deliver urgently needed humanitarian supplies to the civilian residents of the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus for the first time in nine months,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said on Saturday.

“The camp was taken over by the ISIS group on 1 April last year. Although we did not enter the camp itself, were able to reach the nearby area of Yalda, where nine hundred families from Yarmouk, Yalda and the neighbouring areas of Babila and Beit Saham were provided with a 35kg food parcel. Although some humanitarian assistance has entered these areas since the last UNRWA distribution in June, 2015, humanitarian needs remain acute.” Read more »

PFLP condemns cooperation between Greek government and Zionist state

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Press Release

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The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine expressed its rejection of the recent closeness between the Zionist state and the Greek government, which was elected to represent a left and socialist mandate yet has repeatedly retreated from its prior expressed positions without justification, on matters critical to the people of Greece, of Palestine, and of the world. Read more »

Richard Falk: An Open Letter to Ban Ki-moon

by Richard Falk
Global Justice in the 21st Century

Richard Falk (Photo: UN)

Richard Falk (Photo: UN)

Prefatory Note: The post that follows is a modified version of an opinion piece published by Middle East Eye on 6 February 2016. Its focus on the metaphor of ‘shooting the messenger’ has usually been reserved for critics of Israel, and it is only when high officials depart from their scripted roles as faithful servants of the established order that their behavior results in demeaning rebukes. Israel and its most ardent defenders have been repeatedly guilty of shooting the messenger, thereby diverting attention from the damaging message by defaming the agent who delivered the message. It is a tactic that works, partly because the media finds character assassination more marketable than substantive commentary of a controversial nature. In my case, being frequently a messenger due to my UN role for six years, the nastier side of the attack tactics was to describe me (and others) as ‘a self-hating Jew’ or ‘anti-Semite.’ I tried to stay on message, largely ignoring the attacks, especially within the UN itself, but media coverage was preoccupied with an assessment of the personal vendetta that was difficult to ignore altogether without seemingly to acquiesce in the allegations. I should add that my tormenters extended beyond Mr. Ban Ki-moon and included others on the UN Watch mailing list including Susan Rice, then U.S. Ambassador at the UN, and high officials from other white settler countries, including Canada and Australia. Even the supposedly liberal Samantha Power, although previously a friendly acquaintance, joined the party, calling me biased and ill-suited for the position in statements to the press. She based her attack on the harshness of my criticisms leveled at Israel in my reports that highlighted the mismatch between their policies and practices as the Occupying Power in Palestine with the standards, duties, and principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions.

Dear Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations:

Having read of the vicious attacks on you for venturing some moderate, incontestable criticisms of Israel’s behavior, I understand well the discomfort you clearly feel. Read more »

Hamas reveals ‘reconciliation deal’ with Fatah

Al Araby

479 (400 x 225)

Hamas has reached an agreement with Fatah at the Doha dialogue after a two-day meeting in Qatar’s capital, the Islamist movement revealed on Tuesday.

The movement’s spokesman said the deal sought to work towards unity “for the benefit of Palestinians”.

During the past two days, Doha has hosted private talks between representatives from Fatah and Hamas to discuss the implementation of a reconciliation agreement and address previous obstacles.

“Both factions shared the same vision and will now begin to circulate the agreement among the leadership of both movements to begin implementation on the ground,” read a press statement from Hamas issued late on Monday night. Read more »

CPJ concerned by rising pressure on journalists in Israel

The Committee to Protect Journalists

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The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports indicating rising pressure from the Israeli government on the foreign press. Last week, the head of the Government Press Office threatened to revoke the credentials of reporters for inaccurate headlines.

“As a democracy that upholds freedom of expression Israel should not threaten to revoke press credentials of reporters who publish stories or headlines the government may not like,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said in New York. “It is virtually impossible to work as a reporter in Israel and the occupied territories without a press card. The threat of withdrawing accreditation is a heavy handed approach at stifling unwelcome coverage.” Read more »

Israel’s Security Establishment Makes Public Plea for a Two State Solution

by Richard Falk
Global Justice in the 21st Century

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Rarely, if ever, has a newspaper ad mobilized such influential backing for a position of prominent Israelis at odds with the elected leadership of the Israeli state. A full page add appeared in the New York Times on February 4, 2016. It was sponsored by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. Considering the main readership of the NYT it is clear that the message was aimed at the American public, and likely, particularly at Jewish Americans and the advisors of the next American president who is to take office a year from now. Its message was proclaimed in large bold type: “Israel’s Security Chiefs Agree: Separation into two States is in Israel’s vital security interest.” Read more »

Will 2016 bring respite for Hamas and Gaza?

By Tom Charles
Source: Hamas

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It is a decade since Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian legislative elections. Western and Israeli attempts to eliminate the movement have so far failed, but a status quo that Hamas long sought to avoid has emerged nonetheless, and with it has come a raft of challenges.

The major obstacles that existed in 2006, nationally, regionally and internationally, remain. So what are the chances of Hamas and Gaza improving their lot in 2016?

Hamas, with its 2006 mandate, presented the West with a problem. Hamas had won convincingly, but recognition of Israel and acceptance of the Oslo Accords were non-negotiable requirements if the West was to approve any Palestinian government.

And Hamas was never going to agree to these conditions. Read more »

Hypocrisy, land news and action

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Budding roses at Palestinian Museum of Natural History

Budding roses at Palestinian Museum of Natural History

The Israeli Knesset rejected a bill that calls for equality (after all this must remain a state by and for Jews). And a video emerged of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu praising Israeli Fascist Group Im Tirtzu which believes in “Jewishness” of Palestine and acts and supports to effect ethnic cleansing of native Palestinians in favor of European and other Jewish colonization.

The Zionist leaders attacked Ban Ki Moon for mildly speaking about the need to end the occupation and let Palestinians live free.

The heads of the EU missions in Jerusalem issued a report saying that Israel must respect human rights. They explained that 660 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial. They also mention Mohammad AlQeeq, a Palestinian Journalist on hunger strike for 70 days since his illegal detention.

The tragedies around us continue and we sympathize with suffering people seeking freedom from tyranny and from terrorism (much of it emanating from the USA through its “protectorates” like Israel and Saudi Arabia). Read more »

OCHA Press Briefing on Palestinian journalist, hunger striker Mohammed Al-Qiq


5 February 2016
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Subject: Israel

We are extremely concerned at the rapidly deteriorating health of Mohammed Al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist who is on hunger strike in Israel to protest against his administrative detention and the ill-treatment he alleges since his arrest on 21 November 2015.

Mr Al-Qiq has been on hunger strike for over 70 days and is reportedly in a very dangerous condition. His doctors have informed him of the possibility of irreversible damage to his health.

Yesterday, the Israeli High Court decided to suspend his administrative detention until he regains his health and is able to leave hospital, at which point the order could be applied again on the basis that he becomes a security threat.

We reiterate our concerns at the situation of Palestinian administrative detainees who are held without charge or trial by the Israeli authorities, often on the basis of secret evidence, for periods of up to six months which are extendable indefinitely.

We call, once again, upon the Israeli authorities to end their practice of administrative detention and to either release immediately or promptly charge and prosecute all administrative detainees, with all the judicial guarantees required by international human rights law and standards.

We also urge the Israeli authorities to investigate all allegations of ill-treatment in an independent, prompt and thorough manner.

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