Palestinian student Noor Darwish, 22, a student at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, was sentenced to eight months in Israeli prison and a fine of 2000 NIS (approximately $500) on Wednesday, 23 November.
From the village of Deir Abu Mashal near Ramallah, Darwish was arrested with two other female students, Hala Bitar, 19, and Salam Abu Sharar, 21, on 19 April. The three were arrested among an escalated series of arrests targeting Palestinian students around the time of annual student council elections at Palestinian universities. All three were charged with participation in the public student activities of the Islamic Bloc at the university, including organizing a book fair.
Bitar was earlier sentenced to four months in prison, while Abu Sharar was sentenced to 10 months in Israeli prison. Darwish has been held in Damon prison, which requires a three-day trip to the Ofer military court, which pronounced her sentence. Her case involved six hearings, each accompanied by the lengthy “bosta” travel from the prison to the military court and back.
A PIC news correspondent said the IOF rolled into the An-Najah Campus dormitory in al-Maajin neighborhood, in western Nablus, and wreaked havoc on the apartment of lecturer Issam Rashed al-Ashqar, 57, before they kidnapped him and seized his car.
Al-Ashqar, an ex-prisoner, is a lecturer at the Physics Department at An-Najah University. He had previously been sentenced to several prison-terms, mostly in administrative detention, without charge or trial. He has also been diagnosed with health disorders.
The Israeli occupation army further kidnapped the two Palestinian citizens Amjad Abu Sbeih and Yazen al-Basiti from their own family homes in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The IOF stormed Jenin’s western towns of Anin and Zabouba and cracked down on Palestinian drivers in the eastern outskirts of the city.
A PIC reporter quoted eyewitnesses as stating that the IOF kidnapped the citizen Abdul Nasser Mohamed Yassin, 42, from Anin village after they ravaged his home and subjected the family to intensive questioning.
A military checkpoint was pitched by the IOF near the main entrance to Zabouba town.
The campaign culminated in the abduction of other Palestinians from Nablus, al-Khalil, and Bethlehem’s town of Beit Fajjar.
Journalist Omar Nazzal, Shadi Jarrar among Palestinians ordered to additional imprisonment without charge
Omar Nazzal, prominent Palestinian journalist and member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was ordered on Monday, 21 November to three additional months in administrative detention by the Israeli occupation military. One of dozens of imprisoned journalists, Nazzal was seized by occupation forces on 23 April 2016 as he attempted to cross the al-Karameh/Allenby bridge to Jordan to participate in the General Meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since that time, he was ordered first to four months in administrative detention without charge or trial, then again to another three months of arbitrary imprisonment before his detention was again renewed today. Nazzal’s case has drawn international condemnation at the targeting of a prominent Palestinian journalist without charge or trial on the basis of so-called “secret evidence.”
Nazzal was not the only Palestinian political prisoner ordered to additional imprisonment without charge or trial. Palestinian prisoner Shadi Jarrar, 36, from Wadi Burkin west of Jenin, was ordered to four months in administrative detention for the third time consecutively. He has spent eight months in administrative detention since his seizure by Israeli occupation forces on 12 March as he passed a military checkpoint between Ramallah and Nablus. Jarrar is held in the Negev desert prison. He previously spent 13 years in Israeli jails before his release in 2014 as a Palestinian political prisoner.
Also ordered once more to administrative detention was Louay Daoud, 41, of Qalqilya, for the fourth time, for four months. Arrested by Israeli occupation forces when they invaded his home on 9 December 2015, he has now been ordered to administrative detention four times consecutively, without charge or trial. Daoud is also a former prisoner who spent 12 years in Israeli prisons until his release in 2003.
Ashraf Jibril, 23, of Qalqilya, was also ordered imprisoned without charge or trial for an additional four months – the third consecutive administrative detention order against him. His home was raided on 10 November 2015 by Israeli occupation forces; he was twice ordered to six months in administrative detention and now an additional four months. The Israeli occupation authorities also renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoner Qusai Hassan Khaliliya, 22, of Jaba village south of Jenin, for the second consecutive time for six months of imprisonment without charge or trial. Khaliliya was seized by occupation forces on 23 May in a pre-dawn raid on his Jaba home by occupation forces, who ransacked his belongings.
There are over 700 Palestinians held without charge or trial out of a total of 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Administrative detention orders can be issued for one to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable. Many Palestinian prisoners have spent years at a time imprisoned under repeatedly-extending administrative detention orders. Administrative detention has been used to target political leaders, influential community members, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and other prominent Palestinian figures. Ahmad Abu Fara and Anas Shadid are currently on hunger strike for the 57th day against their own imprisonment without charge or trial.
An Egyptian court on Saturday slapped three anti-coup TV presenters with a 3-year jail term each in absentia for spreading false news.
Egyptian authorities accuse Mohamed Naser, a presenter at the Mekameleen satellite channel, and two other colleagues of incitement and spreading false news.
The presenters, for their part, say they expose human rights abuses committed by Egypt’s military-backed authorities.
Saturday’s verdict, which still can be appealed, came shortly after an Egyptian court slapped the head of Egypt’s press syndicate and two board members with a 2-year jail term each for harbouring two journalists sought by the authorities at the syndicate’s headquarters.
In May, police raided the syndicate’s premises in Cairo, arresting the two journalists for allegedly “inciting protests” and “plotting to overthrow the ruling regime”.
Syndicate officials have decried the raid – the first in the syndicate’s history – as a “blatant assault on journalists’ dignity” and have demanded the interior minister’s dismissal.
Egyptian authorities have launched a harsh crackdown on dissent following the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.
Last year, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said more than 20 journalists had been detained by Egyptian authorities since the coup.
The Russian foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it was withdrawing its signature from the founding document that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Saying that it was acting on orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ministry accused the court of failing to “live up to the hopes associated with it” and that it “did not become truly independent”.
The foreign ministry said that Russia cooperated with the ICC in the hopes that it would “become an important factor in consolidating the rule of law and stability in international relations,” but that this failed to happen.
Russia had in 2000 signed the Rome Statute which created the ICC, but never ratified the treaty, which entered into force in 2002.
Russia said it was dissatisfied with the way the ICC approached the conflict with Georgia in 2008 and accused the court of being one-sided and negligent about aggression committed by other parties, including the killing of Russian peacekeepers which was left to local courts under Georgian jurisdiction to investigate.
But Russia may also be voicing displeasure with an ICC report earlier this week which did not recognize the referendum voted by Crimea to join Russia and instead classified it as a military conflict.
Russia’s move comes a week after several African nations including South Africa withdrew from the ICC having accused it of being subjective and unfairly targeting their continent.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has rejected as unwarranted and inappropriate findings of the ICC chief prosecutor that US troops may have committed war crimes in their treatment of prisoners during the occupation of Afghanistan.
“Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Afghanistan between 1 May 2003 and 31 December 2014,” the report said.
An Israeli appeal court has ordered the re-arrest of a British citizen after he was cleared of assisting terrorist organisations by a military court, Anadolu reported on Friday.
It was alleged that the “confession” of Faiz Mahmoud Ahmed Sherari, a 49 year-old British-Lebanese citizen, was obtained by “coercion” by the internal security agency Shin Bet. He was arrested during a four-day visit to the West Bank in September and accused of providing cash and mobile phones to Hamas, the Guardian said in a previous report.
Israel Radio said that the court of appeal challenged the ruling of the first court in the occupied West Bank. It did not say what will happen to Sherari.
The judge in the trial earlier this month, Lieutenant Colonel Azriel Levy, criticised the pressure put on Sherari by Shin Bet, noting that his rights had been violated. Reports revealed that he had been handcuffed painfully for an extended period as well as threatened. He was also prevented from seeing lawyer.
“There is no doubt that the defendant’s confession, which was given an hour after the end of his Shin Bet interrogation, was dramatically influenced by the method of interrogation,” the judge said in his ruling. “This included pained and prolonged shackling, threats and a blatant exploitation of the defendant’s demonstrated weakness.”
Leading Palestinian BDS activist and organizer Salah Khawaja was ordered to an additional eight days of interrogation at a hearing at the Israeli military court in Petah Tikva on Wednesday, 9 November, where he was kept blindfolded throughout the hearing.
Khawaja, 45, the Secretary of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and a leader of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall), was seized from his home on 26 October by Israeli occupation military forces. Since that time, he has been held under interrogation in Petah Tikva and barred from speaking with a lawyer.
His lawyer, Jehad Abu Raya, attended the military court hearing only to continue to be prohibited to speak with his client. Abu Raya noted that Khawaja “looked like he was emerging from a grave” and that he was blindfolded throughout the hearing. In 15 days, Israeli intelligence have conducted 27 rounds of “practically non-stop interrogation” with Salah, reported the Stop the Wall Campaign. In fact, Abu Raya noted that Khawaja has lost weight and is visibly sleep deprived and suffering the effects of over two weeks of ill-treatment and duress.
Front Line Defenders, Unadikum and Stop the Wall have issued calls for action in support of Khawaja and urging international attention to support this case of a Palestinian human rights defender targeted for his activism. … More
A few days after Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia announced their intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court an article appeared in the American journal, Foreign Policy, stating that the ICC is considering investigating allegations of war crimes that may have been committed in Afghanistan. The allegations are spread among the Afghan resistance to the western invasion and occupation of the country, the puppet government installed by the United States, and the United States itself.
This has caused some surprise among observers of the ICC who have correctly criticised the tribunal as an asset of the US and its allies since it has only gone after certain African leaders who stand in the way of western interests while providing complete immunity to other leaders who are useful agents of those interests. Some of them have accused it of racism, a charge difficult to refute but which misses the point that the objective is the projection of imperial power.
The United States, though not a member of the ICC, has established its dominating influence in the staff of the tribunal so that it and its Canadian and EU allies effectively control its machinery, most importantly the prosecution, the administration and the selection of judges. It is because of this influence that the ICC falsely accused Muammar Gadhafi with crimes in 2011 thereby helping it excuse the NATO aggression against Libya and also provoking and excusing his murder.
The ICC is meant to prevent war crimes and war but it has been used in fact to overthrow governments and throw their leaders in prison, or in the tragic case of Muammar Gadhafi, provoke war and excuse murder; just as the ICTY in The Hague was used to justify the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia and the arrest and death in NATO hands of President Milosevic. The ICC continues in that criminal tradition.
But is this announcement a surprise, a hopeful step that the ICC may live up to its claims? The answer is a clear no. The timing of the announcement and its delivery are interesting. It comes within a few days of the disastrous blows to its prestige and credibility with the withdrawal of the African countries. Something needed to be done to try to restore some credibility, some appearance of impartiality; and that is what the announcement does, or tries to do because it will soon be realised that it is a cheap trick, a charade, designed to save the ICC so that the United States and its allies can continue to use it as they see fit, as a means of control, not justice.
It is not a surprise in the first place because the ICC made public its Report on Preliminary Examination Activities on November 12, 2015. In that report there is a section on Afghanistan setting out more or less the contents in the Foreign Policy Report. It makes interesting reading and starts off with a lie that indicates where we can expect this investigation to go.
On page 26 the document states,
“After the attacks of 11 September 2001, in Washington D.C. and New York City, a United States-led coalition launched air strikes and ground operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban, suspected of harbouring Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban were ousted from power by the end of the year. In December 2001, under the auspices of the UN, an interim governing authority was established in Afghanistan.”
This is a lie because the Taliban government, a government installed by the United States in the first place, was not “harbouring” Bin Laden. They stated to the US government, when it demanded they turn him over in 2001, that he was in the country but by law they were required to demand that the US provide them with evidence that he was involved in the events in New York. The US flatly refused to provide any evidence to form the basis of a legal extradition so the Afghanistan government refused to hand him over. Any country would have been required by law to do the same. Instead of a file containing evidence they received cruise missiles and exploding bombs. Bin Laden of course was just the excuse, not the reason for the war. So for the ICC to state a lie that serves the narrative of the United States and then to continue with the joke that instead of the US overthrowing the Afghan government, (they were “ousted from power” they say, but how and by who is not said), they in fact helped to reestablish government, with the help of the peace loving UN, is to give the United States immunity from prosecution of the ultimate crime of aggression against Afghanistan that still continues today and all the war crimes that have flowed from that aggression. They bear the ultimate responsibility. But since the ICC sees fit to rewrite history in favour of the United States in its investigation of the war how can we expect it to ever prosecute that nation for the crimes it has committed?
Most of the document discusses allegations of crimes and some attention is paid to allegations against US forces and Afghan government forces but most of it is concerned with crimes of the Taliban. Where it discusses war crimes allegedly committed by the United States it points out that the US is investigating those allegations and has taken disciplinary action against those responsible in hundreds of cases. The question then is whether the United States is properly investigating and then prosecuting those cases in its military discipline system. For if the United States were in fact properly investigating and actively prosecuting soldiers and officials then the ICC cannot step into the situation. Only if this is not being done and cases appear to be sham cases can the ICC claim jurisdiction. This writer cannot imagine the United States ever accepting a finding from the ICC that it is not acting correctly, and having regard to its rewriting of history, I do not expect it to make such a finding.
That this is a public relations exercise is supported by the source of the article, Foreign Policy, which is owned by the Washington Post ; and the writer, David Bosco, who lectures on international law and the ICC at the Washington College of Law, in Washington D.C. has an interesting career. After graduating from Harvard he worked on “refugee issues” in Bosnia, first for an “NGO” then the UN and NATO and interned at NATO Military Headquarters in Belgium, then went to the State Department, and has largely been an editor at the journal and law lecturer ever since. You can understand my doubts of the bone fides of their intentions when you know that.
Why is it that this information had to come from this source and not the ICC itself? The answer is that if it came from the ICC no one would believe it. Its credibility is in tatters. It would look like the face-saving action it is. So it had to be made to look like a revelation of something daring that the ICC was reluctant to make it public, a bold step for mankind, all hush hush, so the US cannot get in the way of justice. But instead of a revelation it looks like a manipulation, a propaganda action to support the ICC as a tool of domination by the west against the rest of the world. And so, the game continues.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes.
To date, the ICC has investigated about 39 cases and 38 of them are on the African continent.
The International Criminal Court was initially viewed as the world’s haven from atrocities and a tribunal that would protect the rights of those whose freedoms had been taken away and whose voices had been silenced. The court was established by the 1998 Rome Statute with 139 signatories and 123 ratifications.
Fast forward about 14 years from the year the statute entered into effect in 2016, when three ratifying countries—South Africa, Burundi and Gambia—have announced their withdrawal from the entity. Although the decisions have proven to be controversial both within and outside of nations’ borders, the question is why?
One of the biggest criticisms facing the international body is that it is biased against African states. The African Union has long pointed this out and in 2013 it called for immunity for sitting leaders indicted by the court. It was denied in 2015 in the pursuit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir along with the subsequent prosecution against the South African government for failure to detain him.
To see why these accusations persist is to understand the context: to date, the ICC has investigated about 39 cases and 38 of them are on the African continent. This fact undoubtedly places the court’s supposed impartiality under scrutiny when it appears to cast a blind eye on the doings of Western leaders. The court’s legitimacy is further questioned by the fact that super powers such as the U.S., China and Russia have yet to be subjected to its authority.
The legal body shrugged off the claims by reiterating that the ICC is comprised of some African officials and therefore cannot be biased against the continent. The ICC flaunted its double-standards when it announced that it would not investigate former British prime minister Tony Blair for sending U.K. troops into Iraq under false pretenses. However, British soldiers may still face prosecution.
According to an article published by Forbes in 2014, the ICC had only convicted two out of all the people it had indicted with an expenditure of about US$1 billion. Earlier in 2016, the court pursued its third prosecution against former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo who was sentenced to 18 years for rape and pillage committed by his troops in the Central African Republic.
The irony of this conviction lies in the countless incidents of child abuse committed by European troops deployed in peace-keeping missions in that very nation. The U.N. rid itself of responsibility, stating that the onus is on each country to prosecute its own troops.
So another criticism of the legal body is that it has so far been ineffective and expensive, that in all of its 14 years, only perpetrators from two parts of the whole world have been indicted while everyday there are crimes ravaging humanity in all corners of the globe, many at the hands of the same members of the institutions who dominate the world.
It is not to say that such crimes should not be addressed, however if humanitarianism is going to continue to be used as a cloak that serves both as a hero’s cape during the day and a blanket to cover the truth at night, then the court’s mandate is skewed. Justice should not only be a privilege for the 1 percent.
In post-coup Honduras, a coup which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supported, the corpses continue to pile up.
Human rights organizations are raising alarm after yet another assassination in Honduras, this time of the son of a prominent resistance activist, human rights defender, and aspiring progressive candidate for local political office with the left-wing Libre party.
Fernando Aleman Banegas was shot dead in the early hours of Monday morning when we was getting into his car after leaving a club in the northern port city of La Ceiba, according to local reports. The gunmen reportedly fled the scene on a motorcycle.
Aleman will be buried in the nearby city of Tocoa, which borders the Aguan Valley agricultural region, home to a brutally repressive land conflict between campesino communities and large private landowners.
Aleman’s mother, Elsy Banegas, has accompanied the campesinos struggle for years as the President of the Coordinator of Popular Organizations of the Aguan, known as COPA, a human rights group focused on labor and campesino issues in the region. Banegas is also an aspiring mayoral candidate for Tocoa with the Libre party, founded as an offshoot of the popular resistance movement in the wake of the 2009 U.S.-backed coup, in order push for a constituent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution at the ballot box, to complement their street resistance.
According to the Honduran human rights organization COFADEH, Banegas’ candidacy “threatens the interests of transnational mining companies and large landowners in the region.” The prominent activist has long been a vocal critic of systematic grave human rights abuses, impunity and the consequences of militarization in the region, particularly since the coup.
Banegas’ organization COPA reported after the murder that the social leader has “on many occasions received death threats for acting against mining companies, privatization and against the violation of human rights.”
Aleman’s assassination came hours before Libre kicked off its internal elections process to select the party’s new leadership leading up to the 2017 general election. Despite the shadow of violence, participation in the process surpassed the party’s own goals, according to Libre leader and ousted President Manuel Zelaya, with at least 239,000 people casting votes when estimates expected participation of 150,000 in the country of about 8 million.
Human rights organizations have called for a thorough and impartial investigation into Aleman’s murder.
The killing comes just two weeks after two Aguan campesino activists were murdered. Jose Angel Flores, president of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan, one of the most prominent land rights organizations on the forefront of the Honduran resistance movement, and his fellow activists Silmer Dionisio George were both gunned down on Oct. 17. Since 2010, the bloody land conflict in the Aguan has claimed the lives of nearly 150 campesinos, according to human rights groups.
The wave of assassinations also comes months after the high-profile killing of internationally-renowned Indigenous activist Berta Caceres in March. Caceres’ case has come to epitomize the grave human rights situation in Honduras and systemic impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of political violence.
Human rights organizations have stressed that the United States — which under the leadership of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped secure the 2009 coup — is complicit in the ongoing crisis in Honduras and must cut all aid funding to the Honduran government and military.
Israel has just emerged from its three-week high holidays, a period that in recent years has been marked by extremist religious Jews making provocative visits to Al Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
Many go to pray, in violation of Israel’s international obligations. Most of them belong to groups that seek to replace the mosque with a Jewish temple. They now enjoy increasing parliamentary support, some of it from within prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party.
A rash of such visits last autumn outraged Palestinians and triggered a wave of so-called lone-wolf attacks on Israelis. The attacks have recently abated.
Taking advantage of the renewed quiet, Israel allowed a record number of ultra-nationalists to visit the mosque, figures released last week showed. Parties of Israeli soldiers are also entering the site.
The police, whose recently appointed commander is himself from the extremist settler community, have recommended that restrictions be ended on visits by Jewish legislators who demand Israel’s sovereignty over the mosque.
For Palestinians, Israel’s treatment of this supremely important Islamic holy site symbolises their powerlessness, oppression and routine humiliation. Conversely, a sense of impunity has left Israel greedy for even more control over the Palestinians.
The gaping power imbalance was movingly detailed last month at a special hearing of the UN security council. Hagai El-Ad, head of B’tselem, which monitors the occupation, termed Israel’s abuses as “invisible, bureaucratic, daily violence” against Palestinians exercised from “cradle to grave”.
He appealed to the international community to end its five decades of inaction. “We need your help. … The occupation must end. The UN Security Council must act. And the time is now,” he said.
Israeli politicians were incensed. Mr El-Ad had broken one of Israel’s cardinal rules: you do not wash the country’s dirty linen abroad. Most Israelis consider the occupation and Palestinian suffering as an internal matter, to be decided by them alone.
Mr Netanyahu accused B’tselem’s director of conspiring with outsiders to subject Israel to “international coercion”.
With the US limply defending Mr El-Ad’s freedom of speech, Mr Netanyahu found a proxy to relaunch the attack. David Bitan, chair of his party, demanded that Mr El-Ad be stripped of his citizenship and proposed legislation to ban calls in global forums for sanctions against Israel. Unsurprisingly, Mr El-Ad has faced a flood of death threats.
Meanwhile, another UN forum has been considering Israel’s occupation. Its educational, scientific and cultural body, Unesco, passed a resolution last month condemning Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian holy sites, especially Al Aqsa.
Again, Israelis were enraged at this brief disturbance of their well-oiled machinery of oppression. The abuses documented by Unesco were overshadowed by Israeli protests that its own narrative was not the focus.
While Israel exercises ever more physical power over Palestinians, its moral credit is running out with foreign audiences, who have come to understand that the occupation is neither benign nor temporary. The rise of social media has accelerated that awakening, which in turn has bolstered grassroots reactions such as the boycott (BDS) movement.
Aware of the dangers, Israel has been aggressively targeting all forms of popular activism. Facebook and YouTube are under relentless pressure to censor sites critical of Israel.
Western governments – which joined the chorus of “Je suis Charlie” after ISIL’s lethal attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine last year – have cracked down on the boycott movement. Paradoxically, France has led the way by banning such activism, echoing Israeli claims that it constitutes “incitement”.
And left-wing social movements emerging in Europe face loud accusations that any criticism of Israel is tantamount to an attack on all Jews. Notably, a British parliamentary committee last month characterised as anti-semitic parts of the opposition Labour party under its new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a champion of Palestinian rights.
In these ways, European governments have been trying to hold in check popular anger at a belligerent and unrepentant Israel.
Illustrating that caution, Uneso was forced last week to vote a second time on its resolution, this time removing the word “occupation” and, against normal practice, giving equal status to the occupier’s names for the sites under threat from its occupation.
Even with the resolution neutered, Unesco’s usual consensus could not be reached. The resolution passed by a wafer-thin majority, with European and other governments abstaining.
Israel and its enablers have successfully engineered a hollowing out of official discourse about Israel to blunt even the mildest criticism. Gradually, western powers are adopting Mr Netanyahu’s doubly illogical premises: that criticising the occupation is anti-Israel, and criticising Israel is anti-semitic.
Incrementally, western leaders are conceding that any criticism of Mr Netanyahu’s policies – even as he tries to ensure that the occupation becomes permanent – is off-limits. Mr El-Ad called for courage from the western powers that dominate the security council. But the signs are his words have fallen on deaf ears.