Palestinian prisoner hunger strike grows to 2,000 inmates despite punitive measures to stop it

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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More Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike

Human rights groups say 2,000 are now on hunger strike against indefinite detention without charge and alleged ill-treatment. The number of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails has grown to 2,000 with more preparing to join the protest next week, according to human rights groups in the West Bank. The Israeli prison service is taking punitive measures against hunger strikers, including solitary confinement, the confiscation of personal belongings, transfers and denial of family visits, say Palestinian organisations.
Palestinian inmate strike ongoing
The Israel Prison Service says more than 1,300 Palestinian prisoners remain on hunger strike, more than a week after they began their protest.

Prison administration increases repressive measures against Palestinian strikers

The Palestinian prisoners confirmed, on Tuesday, that they will continue their hunger strike despite the Israeli escalating series of punitive measures against the strikers.

58 Days On Hunger-Strike, Ailing Detainee Determined To Continue

Palestinian political prisoner, Tha’er Halahla, entered his 58th day of hunger-strike at the Ramla Prison Hospital, and is still determined to continue his strike while prison doctors warned that his body is losing its immune system and his organs might be failing.

Family of hunger striker fears for his life
The family of Omar Abu Shilal, who has been on hunger strike for 50 days in Israeli occupation jails, expressed concern for his health after the Israeli prison service (IPS) banned visits to him.
On Wednesday April 25, 33-year-old Hasan al-Safadi entered the 52nd day of his hunger strike in protest of not just administrative detention (a form of internment where a prisoner is held indefinitely without ever knowing the charges against him or her), but the Israeli occupation’s policy of imprisonment in general.
Land Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Occupation / Refugees

Jerusalem’s ‘center of life’ policy imprisons Palestinians, Allison Deger
“Amir Salima, 21, from the Old City of Jerusalem, has no legal status – not in Israel, not in the Palestinian Authority and not anywhere else,” writes Nir Hasson in today’s Haaretz. ”He has no identity card, no passport, he cannot register for university studies, apply for a job, sign up for an HMO or open a bank account. He cannot visit the West Bank or anywhere else outside of Jerusalem. In fact, he can barely leave his house, for fear of being caught by the police.”

Israel`s strategy to seize Jerusalem on display for all to see [and Clinton all about it], Joseph Dana
By now, news of Palestinian being evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem is routine. Last week, two more Palestinian families were thrown into the street to make way for Jewish settlers in the neighbourhood of Beit Hanina. The mechanism of land confiscation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank has become a near science for Israeli authorities, ensuring that the exact borders of Israel remain unclear and constantly shifting. During the last days of the peace talks in 2001, Israel’s then-prime minister Ehud Barak is rumoured to have informed former president US Bill Clinton that Israel had no intention of relinquishing sovereign control over Jerusalem and delineating clear borders around the holy city. The Palestinians of East Jerusalem, Mr Barak purportedly told Mr Clinton, were an unfortunate reality that Israel would deal with in due time.

Siege on Gaza
Union of Palestinian syndicates urges Egypt to supply Gaza with gas
The union of Palestinian professional syndicates has described Cairo’s decision to terminate the gas deal with Israel as “wise”.
EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip, April 25 (Xinhua) — In front of a small room that faces a waiting hall, Aamer Ahmed, a 29-year-old Gaza resident, sits on a woody bench together with dozens of people just outside the Erez crossing point between northern Gaza Strip and Israel, waiting to cross into Israel. Ahmed is accompanying his sick brother. They are waiting for the Israeli permission to cross through the most security- sophisticated crossing point, better known as Beit Hanoun crossing, to go to Israel, and then to the West Bank for medical treatment at one of the hospitals there.

Violence / Threats / Aggression


Jewish settlers pelt Palestinian cars near Jenin
Jewish settlers threw stones on passing Palestinian vehicles along the Jenin-Nablus road on Wednesday night and damaged a number of them, locals said.

Settlers attack village, block Nablus road
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Settlers in the northern West Bank set up a roadblock and attacked a Nablus village on Thursday, a PA official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, said that settlers blocked a main road that links the West Bank town of Huwwara to Tulkarem and Qalqiliya. Settlers prevented Palestinian vehicles from passing through, causing a large traffic jam. Around 12 settlers also attacked the village of Urif in Nablus, clashing with local villagers. Witnesses said the Israeli army was present during the incident but fired tear gas at the villagers. In 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that settler attacks had increased by 50 percent on the previous year. The Nablus district experienced the majority of settler violence in 2011.

Hebron and Metzudat Yehuda checkpoint
Yehudit Keshet and Natanya Ginsburg – Machsomwatch – we saw a field of wheat with about 20 little boys with their kippot bouncing running around and some settler men guarding them with their rifles…….they were tearing up the crops of the Palestinians. When they saw our car stopping and especially when they thought they saw cameras they all ran away back to their settlement of Susiya. They ran back carrying sheaves of wheat. The laurels of the victors.

Zionists call for burning “Arab students” at the Hebrew University
A Zionist racist movement has called for the killing of Arab students at Hebrew University in Jerusalem after participation in Tuesday’s protest in solidarity with prisoners in occupation prisons.

Political Arrests & Detainees
On Israeli Independence Day, same day that marks the premeditated ethnic cleansing of ~700,000 Palestinians in order to create a Jewish majority by force, the Israeli police besieged the offices of Zochrot at the heart of Tel-Aviv in order to prevent the activists present from holding a very symbolic memorial activity for that day. This video shows arriving at the place already besieged by the police, the people inside prevented from leaving and those outside prevented from entering the office building. At the time of writing this, police is still present as well as over 100 citizens demonstrating outside the offices. The police attacked and arrested some demonstrators, while preventing entry-exit to the office.
IOF soldiers arrest student, summon others
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian university student from Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil, on Wednesday, local sources said.
IOF soldiers detain liberated prisoner
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Iyad Abu Funoon from his home in Battir village, west of Bethlehem, at dawn Tuesday.

PCHR Warns Against the Continuing Obstruction of Detainees’ Visitation at Detention Centers of ISS
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the restrictions imposed by the Internal Security Service (ISS) against lawyers’ visits to their clients, who are detained at detention centers of the ISS, which is considered a violation of legal principles.

Palestinian detainee survives assassination attempt with fractured skull
Palestinian detainee Mohammed Ermaila survived an assassination attempt at the hands of Israeli prison guards in Megiddo jail, the Palestinian prisoner’s association said in a statement on Wednesday.
Prison guards storm isolation wards in Jalama
Israeli jailors stormed the isolation wards in the Jalama detention center on Tuesday night and wreaked havoc in them, well informed sources told the PIC.
A leading Palestinian activist has been released on bail after spending 13 months in prison, friends said on Wednesday. Non-violent protest leader Bassem Tamimi was detained by Israeli forces in his home town of Nabi Saleh in March last year, and accused of organizing demonstrations in the village. The area has been the scene of weekly protests since 2009 when a nearby illegal Israeli settlement stole the town’s land and water resources.

Israeli police forcibly prevent Nakba event and Israeli high schoolers cheer for Nazis, Ali Abunimah
Last night in Tel Aviv, police forcible prevented a group of Israelis from peacefully and silently commemorating the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. This came just days after hundreds of Israeli high school students caused consternation by loudly cheering for Nazis as they watched a play on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Israeli police to activist reciting names of destroyed Palestinian villages: If you keep reading you will be arrested, Leehee Rothschild

The first text message I received around 22:30 read “The cops have surrounded the building, It’s quite likely that everybody will be arrested once we try to get out of the door. Alert everybody.” The message was sent by a friend of mine, who along with 14 other activists came to the offices of Zochrot (remembering), an Israeli NGO that focuses on commemorating and raising awareness to the Palestinian Nakba, on the eve of the Israeli independence day. They were planning to go out to the street and remind the celebrators the horrible price that was paid and is still being paid by Palestinians for this so called independence.
Ramallah – Khader Adnan defied everything related to the Israeli occupation, its prisons, and jailers. He rose up against interrogators and informants, and against all kinds of intimidation and humiliation. He put his body on the line with a 66-day hunger strike until the occupation relented. Adnan spoke to Al-Akhbar about the details of his historic hunger strike.

Ramallah demonstrates in support of hunger-striking prisoners
Photos by Rafael Guendelman Hales. On Monday April 23rd  a demonstration for the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike took place at the Manara Square in the city of Ramallah.

Trade Union conference votes to: salutes the hunger strikers, supports their demands, supports our campaign and Saturday’s National Demonstration in Edinburgh!
In a historic motion which passed unanimously yesterday, the 2012 conference of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC), the Trade Union movement follows motions in previous years endorsing the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and a review of its links the the racist Israeli Trade Union body Histradut with a broad motion that is heralding Palestine’s South Africa moment in Scotland.

Inside Story Americas – US churches consider divesting from Israel 
Do boycott campaigns help or harm attempts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Inside Story discusses with guests: MJ Rosenberg, Max Blumenthal & Reverend Walter Davis.


Message to Methodists: ‘Vote for Divestment. Vote for Human Rights.’

When the Israeli government got wind that the CBS program “60 Minutes” was running a piece on the plight of Palestinian Christians, their lobbying efforts kicked into high gear. According to an Israeli official who spoke with Nathan Guttman of the Jewish Daily Forward, the Israeli government’s lobbying postponed the story from running on “sensitive broadcast dates during Christmas and Easter.” The government’s principal concern was that airing of the report could “harm” Israel’s image in the United States. 

The call to divest from Elbit Systems Ltd. has become a key element of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at ending Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the Palestinian people.
In a unique protest action in the threatened village of al-Walaja, residents and local artists harnessed the power of music, theater, dance and poetry.
Palestine stickers adorn zionist students’ stall
The World Zionist Congress affiliated Union of Jewish Students is complaining that its stall at a National Union of Students event was “vandalised”.  The “vandalism” consisted of some Palestine stickers being placed on their board.

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jewish and Arab Israeli cardiologists were denied visas at the last minute to attend a professional conference in Dubai. Only two of the more than one dozen Israeli doctors invited to present talks at or participate in the World Heart Federation conference in Dubai last week were able to attend, The Jerusalem Post reported. Some 12,000 cardiologists attended the conference.
Israeli Racism & Discrimination
Other News & Developments

Haniyeh calls on Arab nation to consolidate the steadfastness of Palestinians
Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, urged the Arab Muslim nation to support Palestinians and strengthen their steadfastness and persistence on the Palestinian land.

Mishaal in Cairo to discuss reconciliation
Political bureau chairman of Hamas Khaled Mishaal is to arrive in the Egyptian capital on Thursday heading a delegation, a senior Hamas official told the PIC reporter in Cairo on Wednesday.

Fatah officials meet with factions in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Fatah leaders in Gaza met with representatives of PLO factions on Thursday to discuss ways to cooperate on national projects, party leaders said. Fatah’s leadership committee, including Fatah’s Secretary-General in Gaza Yazid al-Huwaihi and chief of national affairs Atef Abu Saif, attended the meeting, al-Huwaihi told Ma’an. “Fatah will make all its efforts to deepen the relations with the brothers and comrades from other national work factions to enhance the spirit of the of the joint work and in support of the national unity which is considered the compass to reach the national benefits,” al-Huwaihi said. Al-Huwaihi was appointed chief of the 20-member leadership committee on Sunday following a reshuffle by the central committee. Fatah’s rival Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after fighting which neared civil war.
Witnesses say Israeli troops detained man, his two children after crossing the border near Metula
Guardian ‘corrects’ caption on photo of Jerusalem residents riding the new light rail, saying Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital,7340,L-4220898,00.html

What’s the Israel-Azerbaijan connection?
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s visit to Azerbaijan underscores growing ties, including a $1.6 billion Israeli deal to supply Iran’s neighbor with a wide range of military equipment.
Analysis / Op-ed / Human Interest
Israel continues to scramble in the fallout from Bob Simon’s bombshell story on the plight of Palestinian Christians. The back story on the Israeli attempts to kill the story are starting to come out, and they go right to the top.

Ibrahim al-Amin, “The Aging Leftist”
This neoliberal left speaks about the backward masses all the time and how they are not able to follow its lead. Living in times of extreme fanaticism, there is no space for the rationality of this left, in its colonialist version. Day and night, they criticize all those who question the current Arab uprisings, accusing them of being agents of despotism and obscurantism. This neoliberal left speaks all the time of enlightenment, progress, and the need to leave the current stage and jump directly toward change, which has no face or name. On a daily basis, they defend the imbeciles and murderers controlled and funded by the West and their cronies who steal Arab wealth and lead regressive and nihilist bands.

Given this memory, and in light too of the sheer imaginative depth of Rifaat’s fictional explorations of human consciousness, I find it entirely unimaginable that Rifaat in fact shared, as Eltahawy assumes she does, Eltahawy’s own sweepingly dismissive views of prayer and religion. These were just some of the concerns I had as I read just Eltahawy’s opening lines. And I found almost every paragraph of Eltahawy’s essay similarly troubling as, again and again, broad brushstrokes and sweeping generalizations erased subtle nuances and garbled and swept aside important differences.

Do Arab men hate women? It’s not that simple, Nesrine Malik
Mona Eltahawy’s controversial article in Foreign Policy magazine about the treatment of Arab women is a misdirected call to arms. The latest edition of Foreign Policy, the cover of which bears the same stark question posed by its main article Why Do They Hate Us?, has stirred up some serious controversy. In the article, Mona Eltahawy runs through a litany of indictments of women’s rights in the Middle East, and issues a call to arms against cultural relativism. What stands out, however, is her simple demand for readers to recognise that men, in the Arab world, hate women.


Dear Mona Eltahawy, You Do Not Represent “Us”, Samia Errazzouki
When I first came across Foreign Policy’s recent “Sex issue” cover, I thought it was an attempt at blackface, but upon zooming in and reading the title of the article by Mona Eltahawy, my eyes were not fooling me. It really was a nude woman covered in a black body-painted niqab.   They tell you do not judge a book by its cover. But as an Arab-American Muslim woman, I could not get that image out of my head long enough to even begin reading Eltahawy’s article. I kept thinking about how the image degraded and insulted every woman I know that wears or has ever worn the Niqab. This was the image Foreign Policy chose to set up an article about the treatment of women in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Mona Eltahawy’s article “Why do they hate us?, published in Foreign Policy Magazine’s special issue on women, has a catchy title.  When I first saw it, I honestly thought it was referring to the Egyptian military’s violations of women’s rights by performing “virginity tests” — especially as the military’s aim seemed to be to exclude women from taking part in political life by brutalizing them and showing them as fragile and vulnerable.
My name is Dima Khatib. I am an Arab, Muslim woman, proud of my identity and culture. I lived half my life in the Arab world and the other half between four continents: Europe, Asia, North America and South America. I got to know cultures much freer than ours, when it comes to women, politics and society. I learned and watched and noted…and wished that many things which do not exist in our societies and exist in other societies would come true for Arab women, although I also noted aspects of suffering and negativity in the life of non-Arab women.

Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery, Roqayah Chamseddine 
The web is abuzz with talk of Mona Eltahawy’s latest entry, which made its way onto the front cover of Foreign Policy, ‘Why Do They Hate Us‘, the “war on the women in the Middle East”; reactions vary from unwavering support to venom-laced condemnation, and a multitude of other postures in between.  In the latest Foreign Policy feature, a part of their “sex edition”, Eltahawy laments that “they hate us”, an unashamed amalgamation directed towards men.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja Enters 77th Day on Hungerstrike in Bahrain

Bahrain lawyer presses to visit hunger striker
The lawyer for a jailed Bahraini activist on a nearly three-month hunger strike said Thursday he will seek a court order granting him visiting rights to his client, whose condition has been the source of intense speculation in the Gulf kingdom.
Ban raises fears over Bahrain hunger striker
UN leader Ban Ki-moon has raised concerns over a Bahraini opposition activist who is on hunger strike in prison amid fears about his deteriorating health.


Bahrain: Jailed hunger striker in good health
A jailed activist on a hunger strike since early February is in “good health” and receiving medical care, Bahraini officials said Wednesday, responding to opposition groups claiming his condition was sharply deteriorating.

Zainab al-Khawaja jailed for seven days
Bahraini authorities have remanded into custody for seven days the daughter of jailed human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja for protesting during last week’s Formula One Grand Prix.

Bahrainis march for hunger striker
Thousands of Bahraini activists marched in the capital Manama on Tuesday to call for the release of a human rights leader who has been on hunger strike for 76 days. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been refusing food for over two months in protest against the life sentence given to him for his role in pro-democracy protests last year. Bahrain has rejected an offer from Denmark to take al-Khawaja, who also holds Danish citizenship.


Bahrain police fire tear gas to disperse protesters
Bahraini riot police fired tear gas to disperse protesters on Tuesday as they approached a square in central Manama where they had been banned from holding demonstrations, witnesses said.


Police injured by Bahrain blast
A bomb explosion has wounded four members of Bahrain’s police force – two of them seriously – during clashes with protesters, officials say.


Bahraini MP spoke at London cooperative security seminar last month
A Bahraini politician who defended the Gulf state’s government’s torture and jailing of doctors was invited to privately discuss bilateral security cooperation with the UK by a London think-tank last month.

Bahrain Update
From Angry Arab chief Bahrain correspondent:  ”I don’t think these three guys know how hilarious they sound. Here one of them says the following: “The crown prince and the prime minister are idols for us.” Yet then after, the other accuses the protestors of blindly following their ayatollahs (a stereotype that I am sick and tired of hearing). So let me get this straight, the people who call the crown prince and prime minister idols accuse the protestors of blindly following someone? To say that this is contradictory is an understatement. Another thing – who is “THE ayatollah?” Seems like they are assuming that there is one only? Aren’t there so many? I mean I can think of several off the top of my head. And which ayatollah said that he openly wants a theological system like Iran that everyone supposedly blindly follows? I’d like to know. All they do is repeat stereotypes and lies (without knowing even the basics of shia theology and what it even means to “follow” an ayatollah or religious scholar on religious matters) while at the same time worshiping the dynasties of the Gulf. Somehow its acceptable. And why are they assuming that everyone who is a protestor or supports them is a practicing shia? Oh and shia blindly follow their ayatollahs and practicing sunnis just don’t give a damn what qaradawi or amre khaled or whoever say apparently. [continues]

After Formula One scrutiny, Bahrain hires a fan of Saddam Hussein to improve its image

Well, nothing else is working.

Statements made on Monday by Egyptian Field Marshal, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, regarding the protection of the Egyptian borders have raised serious concerns in Israel after he asserted that Egypt would “break the legs of anyone who dares to come near to the borders.” In an editorial on Tuesday, Maariv newspaper asked about the entity or the country that Tantawi was referring to when he spoke of protecting Egypt’s borders. It noted that Egyptian relations with neighbouring Arab countries, including Libya and Sudan, are good. As such, it concluded that his statements had been intended at Israel and he was sending it a warning message to coincide with the crisis over the export of gas.
The provision of under-priced natural gas to Israel under the Mubarak government has long been fuel for public anger, but critics predict that the current powers will not be willing to permanently sever the old deals.

Gas deal dispute reflects change in Israel-Egypt relations
Ousted President Hosni Mubarak kept close ties with Israel, but the nations’ 1979 peace treaty is less important to Egypt’s new power brokers. CAIRO — The decorum of diplomacy has devolved into embarrassing headlines and testy one-liners in the increasingly strained relations between Egypt and Israel.

CAIRO (Reuters) — To mark the day Egypt regained control of the Sinai peninsula from Israel, a group of protesters pledged they would this week cover a memorial to Israelis killed in the war with an Egyptian flag bearing the words: “Sinai – the invaders’ graveyard.” The gesture will be one of the most public expressions of anger against Israel since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, marking the emergence of a long-repressed hostility among many ordinary Egyptians.

Israeli ties with Egypt strained by transition?
Though Egypt and Israel insist the decision to end a gas sales contract wasn’t political, it’s hard to see annulling the largest ever contract between the two countries as anything but.

Thirteen to stand in Egypt vote
The final list of candidates in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential election is published, with 13 candidates allowed to stand.

Election bar on Egypt ex-PM reversed
Poll panel reinstates Ahmed Shafiq as a candidate in the country’s presidential poll, a day after barring him.

Egypt’s Salafist party may support moderate
With field of presidential hopefuls now whittled down, support from al-Nour party could make, or break, a candidate.


Egypt Islamic body backs Brotherhood candidate
A panel of fundamentalist Islamic clerics on Wednesday endorsed the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for president of Egypt, an attempt to prevent a split of the conservative Muslim voters.

Rare success story for Egypt’s revolution: ending military trials
After the revolution, some 12,000 Egyptians faced military trials, which were as short as five minutes and denied them basic rights. But a grass-roots group intervened, with surprising success.


Egypt must overturn prison sentence for actor accused of ‘insulting Islam’
A ruling against leading Egyptian actor Adel Imam, sentenced to three months in prison for “insulting Islam” in his films, sends out the message the country has not moved on from its Mubarak-era heritage of suppressing free speech, Amnesty International said. The actor, who was also fined $170 (around £105), was first found guilty in absentia in February for his film roles in a case originally brought last year by a lawyer. His lawyers filed an objection against the verdict but a Cairo misdemeanours court rejected the objection on 24 April and upheld the original conviction. The lawyers say he may appeal Tuesday’s sentence.


Protesters urge Saudi to free Egyptian activist
Hundreds of Egyptians protested outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo on Tuesday demanding the release of an Egyptian human rights activist held by Saudi authorities who claim he possessed banned drugs.

Frost Over the World – Rebuilding Egypt for a democratic future 
Sir David Frost is joined by Amr Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League and Egyptian presidential candidate, to discuss the Egypt elections; and John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN, on US presidential elections.


Israel’s Top General Says He Doubts Iran Will Try for the Bomb, Karl Vick
The Israeli military chief of staff says he doubts Iran will try for a nuclear weapon, but that persuading its leaders against the option requires a credible threat of attack.  Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, who heads the Israel Defense Forces, made the remarks in an interview with the Hebrew language daily Haaretz.


Marco Rubio: U.S. may have to strike Iran
WASHINGTON — Potential Republican vice presidential candidate Marco Rubio on Wednesday said a unilateral “military solution,” from the United States may be needed to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. Rubio, a freshman Senator for Florida, said in a speech in Washington that it was imperative that the United States not “stand on the sidelines” of a simmering Middle East, but instead provide leadership to resolve global crises.

Israel army chief: Other nations could strike Iran
Israel’s military chief said Thursday that other countries have readied their armed forces for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear sites to keep Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.

Officials: Baghdad attacks kill 5 people
Iraqi officials say two separate attacks in Baghdad have killed five and wounded 31 people.

Unknown people attacked the offices of two of Iraq’s top four Shia clerics in the central city of Najaf with sound bombs, a security official said on Wednesday. ”The office of Grand Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi in central Najaf city was attacked with a sound bomb on Tuesday evening,” the official said, adding that “there was an attack with a sound bomb that targeted the office of Grand Ayatollah Ishaq al-Fayadh on Sunday evening.” Both are members of the marjaiya, which is composed of the four top Shia clerics in the country.

Iraq cuts anti-Qaeda militia pay
Most of Iraq’s remaining 40,000 anti-Qaeda militiamen have seen their pay cut by 20 percent this year following a decision by parliament, an aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told AFP on Tuesday.


Robert Fisk: The Children of Fallujah – the hospital of horrors
The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi’s administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest, date of birth 17 June, 2009. Yet another picture flicks onto the screen: date of birth 6 July 2009, it shows a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia.

Robert Fisk: The Children of Fallujah – Sayef’s story
For little Sayef, there will be no Arab Spring. He lies, just 14 months old, on a small red blanket cushioned by a cheap mattress on the floor, occasionally crying, his head twice the size it should be, blind and paralysed. Sayeffedin Abdulaziz Mohamed – his full name – has a kind face in his outsized head and they say he smiles when other children visit and when Iraqi families and neighbours come into the room.


Blast in Syria’s Hama kills many
At least 12 people killed and dozens more wounded in bloody violation of shaky ceasefire in the country.

Syrian troops heavily bombard Damascus suburb
Syrian troops heavily shelled a suburb of the capital Tuesday, and satellite imagery showed that Syria has failed to withdraw all of its heavy weapons from populated areas as required by a cease-fire deal, an official said.


Blast rocks central Damascus despite truce
Three injured in car bombing, state TV reports, a day after activists said scores killed in violence across country.


Satellite images show Idlib ‘surrounded’ 
The city of Idlib has been a key hub of opposition activity throughout the uprising in Syria. In March, just before a ceasefire was agreed to, the government launched a massive offensive. Al Jazeera has obtained satellite images that show how the army choked off the city. Steve Chao reports on the government’s strategy to isolate the people of Idlib.

Syrian Red Crescent worker shot dead
A Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer was shot dead and three others were wounded in the town of Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. “We are saddened and extremely shocked by the death of Mohammed al-Khadraa,” Dr Abdul Rahman al-Attar, the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, said in a statement. “This is the third fatal incident involving the Red Crescent in less than eight months.” Khadraa was shot and killed on Tuesday in a vehicle clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem, the statement said.

Lebanese Islamist killed fighting with Syrian rebels
One of Lebanon’s most wanted men, an Islamist militant, was killed in Syria fighting alongside rebels, residents of his hometown in north Lebanon told AFP on Thursday. “We are sure Abdel Ghani Jawhar was killed in Syria,” Bibnin resident Abu Mohammed, 50, said. “Everyone here is sure about it, even those closest to him.” Local news reports said Jawhar died recently along with another wanted militant, Walid Bustani, in clashes with the Syrian army.

Syria is refusing UN observers from any country in the “Friends of Syria” group and has objected to at least one UN monitor because of his nationality, the US envoy to the United Nations said on Tuesday. Speaking after UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous briefed the Security Council, US Ambassador Susan Rice said Ladsous told the 15-nation panel that Damascus was putting restrictions on the deployment of truce monitors.

Syria government foes criticize U.N. monitoring mission
France demands swifter deployment of monitors and raises the prospect of military intervention. Some Syrians say the U.N. presence has worsened the bloodshed.

At 2am on Tuesday April 24, the Palestinian-Syrian intellectual and activist Salameh Kaileh was arrested from his home “without explanation,” as his lawyer Anwar Bunni of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research put it. This is not Salameh Kaileh’s first time in a Syrian prison. He was a guest of the Assad family in its several jails for eight years and eleven days in the 1990s.
Salama Kayla was arrested in Damascus on Tuesday by Syrian security forces. This was his latest submission to the opinion page of Al-Akhbar, sent before his imprisonment.

Observers in Syria having an impact, but only 11 on the ground so far
Another 100 are slated to come in a month. ‘Are they coming on horses?’ asks an exasperated activist.


How to stop Syria’s warring factions tearing the country apart
Look at Lebanon – its delicate balance depends on there being confidence that no one particular group is dominating the system. The likely failure of special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan reflects a dire situation in Syria. To avert a dramatic escalation, the country needs a structured transition that will first halt the terrible bloodshed and then pave the way for a political process.

Other Mideast & World News

Brazil wants to ‘strengthen ties’ with Arab world

Brazil wants to strengthen ties and cooperation with the Arab world, Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota said on Wednesday at the start of a two-day visit to Tunisia.

Jordan ‘suppressing free speech’
The Jordanian authorities are violating people’s right to free speech and undermining the credibility of reform efforts, Human Rights Watch says.

Jordan’s prime minister resigns: senior official
Jordan’s Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh submitted his resignation on Thursday to King Abdullah II, barely six months after he formed a government to bring in much-needed reforms, a senior official said.

Libya bans religious political parties
Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council issued a new law Wednesday that bans parties based on religious principles, the council spokesman said. The surprise move was denounced by Islamists organizing to compete in upcoming elections.


Arab Christians must fight for recognition in new regimes, Samer Libdeh
To reach out to post-revolution states, Arab Christians must focus on common interests and offer support in return for rights. Hopes that Arab Christians can enjoy full recognition in their countries’ post-revolution politics appear to have suffered a setback. The political parties that have swept to power in Egypt and Tunisia are attempting to define their nations in narrow ethno-religious terms – as Islamic with sharia as the principal source of law. In Tunisia, for example, the constitution explicitly prohibits Christians from fielding candidates in the presidential election.

Osloob, from the Palestinian rap group Katibe 5, has brought together rap artists from all corners of the Arab world to create the groundbreaking Fasl (Separation).
Hundreds Protest at DOJ to Demand Federal Probe of Alleged Racism in Mumia Abu-Jamal Conviction
Hundreds of supporters of former death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal marked his 58th birthday Tuesday with a protest outside the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., calling for a federal probe into his case. For decades, Abu-Jamal has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Last year, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower judge, who set aside his death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose the death penalty rather than a life sentence. In January this year, Abu-Jamal was transferred from solitary confinement to the general prison population. We get legal update from Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Judith Ritter.

For the first time ever, actor and activist Danny Glover speaks to prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Glover has supported Abu-Jamal for more than two decades. “I just want to tell you that — and I’m really emotional because I didn’t expect to hear your voice this morning — that we continue to struggle and will continue to struggle to fight for your release. … We love you, brother,” Glover tells Abu-Jamal. “I am as pleased as punch and thrilled to hear you there,” Abu-Jamal responds. On Occupy Wall Street, Abu-Jamal calls the protests “one of the greatest advances in the democracy movement in our modern period,” but one that is only in its nascent stages. “They have something more important to do, and that’s to connect with other people’s movements around the country and build a kind of resistance that can transform this country.”
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Mumia Abu-Jamal phones in from the SCI Mahanoy prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania, where he is being held in general population after nearly 30 years on death row. Although he now lives in a bigger cell than what he calls the “small dog cage” of the last three decades, Mumia says his life sentence is akin to “a slow death row. It’s bigger in terms of the time differential, but it’s slow death row, to be sure.” After having his death sentence overturned in late 2011, Abu-Jamal says he is determined to win his release from prison over allegations of racial bias and judicial misconduct in his conviction. “We want freedom,” he says of the movement calling for his release. Supporters have long argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to Abu-Jamal’s conviction. He notes that during his trial a court reporter overheard the judge in his case, Judge Albert F. Sabo, say in his chambers, “I’m going to help them fry the nigger.” “This was heard by a court reporter—a member of the court staff, a court employee, and a person that is perhaps the best listener you could ever have for any conversation, because that’s her job,” Abu-Jamal says. “We didn’t know about it until years later, but when we put this into our papers, our filings, it has been essentially ignored by every court it’s come in front of. How is that possible? And so, I mean, that’s certainly one indication, as you can see, one example of an unfair system.
The district attorney from Brooklyn, New York recently claimed that 85 Orthodox Jews charged with child sex abuse should have their names protected because of their close community bond, according to a startling report from The Jewish Daily Forward.


2 Responses

  1. Fredblogs
    April 26, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Surprise, surprise. Israel has always been idiotic when it comes to responding to any hostage situation. They always give in, whether the “deal” is one Israeli soldier for 1000 terrorists, or hundreds of terrorists for the corpses of murdered soldiers, or in this case, letting a hunger striker go. Because a hunger striker is just someone who has taken himself hostage. The result of making a deal is always bad, but they never learn. Now instead of having to force feed one guy through a tube, they have 2000 hunger strikers on their hands.

    • seafoid
      April 26, 2012, 2:54 pm


      The sentence was too long.
      This is enough-

      Surprise, surprise. Israel has always been idiotic

      Fixed it for you
      Don’t mention it

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