Monday, 22 September 2014

Latest Israeli propaganda campaign: 'Hamas as bad as ISIS, worse than Boko Haram'

In late July while Israel’s 50-day offensive Operation Protective Edge was in its final weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-hand man met with a group of journalists in Jerusalem. Tensions were at a peak; the ground invasion had just ended and the air campaign was at an unstable pause. The Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz was about to give the first political strategy briefing on what the Jewish state would want for the future of Gaza, what it would go on to lobby for in truce talks once reconvened in Cairo.

Meanwhile in another part of the Middle East, ISIS carried out its first public decapitations that grabbed Western headlines– they killed over 50 Syrian soldiers and mounted their heads in a town square. Gaza and Israel were overshadowed by the Islamic group that had declared a new caliphate.

Back in Jerusalem on that July afternoon the Steinitz made the case for the de-militarization of Gaza and to strategically turn the besieged coastal strip “into Ramallah.” It would have been a blockbuster announcement, if not for ISIS. For years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had centered around the status of the West Bank, but over the summer it became clear that Gaza was going to dictate the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations, and either shore up or break Palestinian national unity.

Steinitz continued that weapons were still in the hands of Hamas, the root of the current strife, and removing those weapons was a “precondition for any serious relief” to the Gaza Strip. “You cancel the terror threat, the rocket threat from Gaza on Israeli citizens and you can cancel the restrictions so the so-called siege on Gaza,” he said.

Steinitz debuted the Israeli government’s most powerful argument for de-legitimization of Hamas: the ISIS comparison. more

End "booming military trade" between EU and Israel, say Palestinian rights groups

The European Union’s key trade and political agreement with the European Union should be suspended in response to the recent attack on Gaza, according to 24 Palestinian campaign groups.

In a letter to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, the groups also demand that the Union impose an arms embargo on Israel until such time as it complies with international law.

The letter is signed by representatives of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, among others.

It underscores that the EU-Israel association agreement commits both sides to respecting human rights. Entering into force in 2000, that accord facilitates largely unrestricted trade between the EU and Israel and allows Israel to participate in more EU programs and projects than most other non-European countries.

Because the human rights clause in the agreement has not been invoked, Israel enjoys many of the benefits of EU membership without being required to live up to its legally binding commitments on human rights.

Recent mainstream coverage of EU-Israel relations has focused on the EU guidelines announced in June 2013, in response to pressure by the Palestine solidarity movement. These guidelines prevent the EU from recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the occupied West Bank.

The guidelines prevent, too, a limited number of firms and institutions based in Israeli settlements in the West Bank from receiving EU funding and have led to the EU announcing that it will no longer allow the import of products from settlements if they require certification by Israeli government ministries. Dairy, meat and poultry are among the products to be excluded. Yet the majority of EU trade with Israeli settlements will continue, even though those settlements are illegal under international law.

But this focus on limited action against settlements risks hiding the extent to which the EU-Israel association agreement continues to provide Israel with the political, economic and military support it needs to carry out its massacres. more

Rearrested Shalit deal prisoners announce hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Prisoners who were rearrested this year after being released in the 2011 Shalit deal announced they would go on hunger strike Tuesday to pressure the Palestinian delegation in Cairo to negotiate with Israel for their release, a rights group said.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner's Society said Monday that the strike would be observed by 63 prisoners who were among a group of 1,027 freed by Israel under the terms of a 2011 swap arrangement.

PPS head Qaddura Fares echoed the prisoners' demands in a statement, calling on the delegation to "hold onto the principle of releasing these prisoners especially since they have begun considering an open hunger strike in protest of their rearrest."

The strike is timed to coincide with the resumption of indirect truce talks in Cairo aimed at cementing the terms of a ceasefire deal which ended 50 days of fighting in and around Gaza, and which went into effect on Aug. 26.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to resume talks within a month of that date to discuss several tough issues, including the possibility of a new swap arrangement. more

New Israeli policy results in hundreds more imprisoned without trial

The Israeli Persecution initiated, since the beginning of July, a new policy in occupied East Jerusalem, resulting in keeping hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of children, behind bars for extended periods, until concluding all “legal measures” against them.

Israeli daily Haaretz said the new policy, used by Israeli prosecution, is resulting in keeping every detained Palestinian, believed to have thrown stones at the soldiers or settlers, or believed to have committed a violation, behind bars until all legal measures are concluded.

Such measures led to keeping dozens of children imprisoned for a month, and in many cases two months, before there were even sent to trial. Haaretz said the army and police have arrested 260 Palestinian children in the last two months.

It added that 58 Palestinian children from Jerusalem are currently detained by Israel for “participating in clashes with the army and police in Jerusalem."

Several defense attorneys, and social workers, said most of the detained children actually “confess” to whatever the interrogators accuse them of, hoping to be able to see their families, and have their detention time reduced.

Haaretz said it closely examined the issue, and found out that, in many cases, Israeli courts respond to requests of alternative measures to prison when it comes to detained Jewish suspects, and largely denies similar requests when it comes to Arab prisoners. more

Gaza teams deactivate 3 tons of unexploded Israeli ordnance

Police teams in southern Gaza have deactivated three tons of unexploded ordnance from Israel's recent military offensive on the besieged enclave, a statement said Monday.

The Khan Younis engineering unit, part of the local police force, said they have deactivated over three tons of Israeli bombs and missile which landed in the southern Gaza Strip but did not explode.

The police called on residents to be attentive and act with extreme caution if they find a "suspicious device."

On Friday, three Palestinians were killed and two injured when an Israeli bomb blew up in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City.

In mid-August, six people were killed and another six were critically injured after an unexploded Israeli missile blew up in Beit Lahiya. more

Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in arrest raids

Israeli forces detained 16 Palestinians in West Bank arrest raids overnight Sunday, Israel's army and locals said.

In Nablus, Israeli forces detained Salim Bashir Mleitat, 29, in Beit Furik after raiding his home at 3 a.m. Mleitat was released from an Israeli jail several months ago.

In Burin, Israeli forces detained Abd al-Rahman Mashhur Muhammad Najjar, 19, Omar Muhammad Ali Qadus, 18, Mahmoud Nasser Jaber Asous, 21, and Muhammad Suheil Qassem Najjar, 22. more