Monday, 5 January 2015

Hamas: Abbas' wanted to disarm the resistance and control the Strip

Hamas yesterday expressed its regret that the latest visit by ministers of the unity government to the Gaza Strip did not help in lifting the siege, Quds Press newspaper reported.

"The real purpose of this visit is to afford a political cover to strengthen the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, attempting to push the Gazans to surrender to the Israeli occupation's conditions - disarming resistance," Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardawil said.

"The ministers did not aim to find solutions for problems for the reconstruction of Gaza or facilitating the siege," he said. "They wanted to put Hamas in the corner in order to justify the Israeli siege."

He said that this visit is "part of the tactics of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas" to cover the "crime" of the siege on the Strip and "putting off the reconstruction" and "starving" its children. "The ministers remained in Gaza for a week, but had no breakthrough," he added.

About the Palestinian statehood bid in the UNSC and joining the international bodies, the Hamas spokesman said: "Throughout these acts, Abbas is trying to reinforce his condition to control the Strip - disarming the resistance." more

Video: Palestine and the ICC - Ali Abunimah and Phyllis Bennis on Democracy Now!

In a move opposed by the United States and Israel, Palestinian leaders have submitted a request to join the International Criminal Court and sign over a dozen other international treaties. The Palestinian Authority says it will seek the prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes in the Occupied Territories. In retaliation, Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues needed to pay for Palestinian salaries and public services.

The Palestinian Authority opted to join the ICC after the United States and Israel successfully lobbied against a UN Security Council measure calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2017. We are joined by two guests: Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer and Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s United Nations; and Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine. more

6,800 Palestinians currently imprisoned by Israel - detentions rise by 80%

The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies has reported that the Israeli army has kidnapped and detained 7110 Palestinians in 2014, adding that, by the end of the year 2014, the total number of detainees was 6800.

The Center said 2014 witnessed a significant increase in the number of arrests carried out by the army, with soldiers kidnapping 7110 Palestinians, compared to 4250 in 2013.

Riyadh al-Ashqar, spokesperson of the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, said the kidnappings carried out by the Israeli military in 2014 witnessed an 80% increase compared to 2013.

“The soldiers kidnapped 7710 Palestinians in 2014 and 4250 in 2013,” al-Ashqar stated, “The total number of Palestinians, currently imprisoned by Israel, increased from 5000 in 2013, to 6800 by the end of 2014.”

The official also stated that the soldiers have kidnapped 1200 Palestinian children in 2014, an issue that shows a 57% increase comparing to 2013, when the soldiers kidnapped 750 children. 700 of the kidnapped children are from occupied Jerusalem.

The army kidnapped 126 women in 2014 compared to 83 in 2013, and also kidnapped 28 legislators in 2014 compared to eight in the previous year.

In addition, soldiers kidnapped 76 former political prisoners, who were previously released under the Shalit Prisoner Swap Deal, compared to eight kidnapped in 2013. The kidnapped Palestinians are from the West Bank and Jerusalem. more

Rights group: First Palestinian ICC case to be Gaza war

The first case Palestine will refer to the International Criminal Court will be the crimes Israel committed during the summer of 2014, including the Gaza war, a legal expert said Sunday.

On Jan. 2, Palestine presented a formal request to join the Hague-based court in a move which opens the way for it to file suit against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes in the occupied territories.

The ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since July 1, 2002, when the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, came into force.

If the application process goes as planned, Palestine should be able to refer a case in early April, with legal preparations to that end already well under way.

Shawan Jabarin, director of the Ramallah-based rights group al-Haq, said Palestine had decided to file a suit over Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip starting from June 13, 2014.

That was the date Israel began a massive crackdown in the West Bank after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, triggering a series of events which led to the seven-week Gaza war that killed over 2,300 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

Cases referred to the ICC need "a very specific geographic location and timeframe," Jabarin told AFP, saying the same date had been selected by a UN commission probing alleged rights violations during the Gaza war and the period leading up to it. more

Israel eyes tougher moves after Palestinian tax freeze

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel was weighing its options Sunday for further punishing Palestinians after freezing millions in tax revenues as a first response to their bid to join the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinian move to join the Hague-based court sets the scene for potential legal action against Israel for war crimes, in a bid to put pressure on Israel to pull out of the territories.

But the request to join the court, formally presented on Friday, infuriated Israel which quickly moved to freeze the transfer of half a billion shekels ($127 million) in tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

"The Palestinian Authority has chosen to take a path of confrontation with Israel, and we will not sit idly by," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday, vowing to put up a vigorous defense of Israel's soldiers.

Although Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced the freezing of the transfer as "piracy," Israeli officials warned it was only the first in a series of punitive steps.

"If the Palestinian Authority doesn't take a step back, I think we have to take much more severe steps," said Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, a close associate of Netanyahu, referring to a "gradual dissolution" of the PA.

"We should not aid the existence of this authority." more