RAMALLAH – Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) carried out a large-scale arrest campaign against over 20 members and leader of Hamas Movement in the West Bank.
Local sources revealed that Israeli soldiers arrested the Hamas leader Hussein Abu Kuwaik, representative of Hamas in the central elections committee.
The arrest of the Hamas leader Kuwaik came just one day after the committee had announced opening of registration for candidature in the electoral lists of the committee which reflects Israeli targeting of the Movement and the lists it supports.
The sources also reported that the IOF soldiers broke into the home of the Hamas leader Jamal Abu al-Haija in addition to the homes of three of his sons.
The forces also confiscated the contents of his son’s electronic devices shop as well as appliances inside the homes.
The Israeli forces stormed the house after midnight by blowing up its main door, Abu al-Haija’s son said.
They gathered the family members in one room and interrogated all of them.
Clashes erupted after the storming of Abu al-Haija’s home in Jenin city and in its refugee camp.
Arrests also took place in al-Khalil, Ramallah and other locations in Jenin city after the storming of Palestinians’ homes and confiscation of computers and other property of the arrested.
GAZA – Hamas on Thursday denied Israeli allegations that the manager of World Vision’s Gaza office, Mohammed al-Halabi, passed millions of dollars to Hamas.
Hamas spokesperson Abdullatif al-Kanou’ said the group had “no connection to al-Halabi and therefore, all Israeli accusations are counterfeit and aim to suppress our people and toughen the blockade”.
Israel’s Shin Bet agency accused al-Halabi of funneling millions of dollars in aid money to Hamas, charges that the resistance group denied and the charity voiced skepticism over.
World Vision official Mohammed al-Halabi appeared before a court on Thursday, facing charges of using millions of charity funds in aid to Hamas.
The Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet claimed Hamas recruited al-Halabi more than a decade ago.
The agency said since al-Halabi took over World Vision operations in Gaza in 2010, roughly 60 per cent of World Vision’s annual budget in the territory was diverted to Hamas.
Mohammad al-Halabi, World Vision’s manager of operations in Gaza, was arrested by Israel on June 15 while crossing the border into the enclave.
World Vision said it was “shocked” by Israel’s allegations and said in a statement that it had regular internal and independent audits and evaluations as well as a broad range of internal controls to ensure aid reached intended beneficiaries.
World Vision added that al-Halabi has worked with the group for 10 years, and that they have “no reason to believe” the allegations against their employee are true.
“World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice,” the statement further read.
“World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. World Vision has been working in the occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years, striving to give hope to over 500,000 of the most vulnerable children, through education, health, child protection and resilience programs. We continue to call for a fair, legal process,” it added.
Faisal, who in the past served as Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, said at a conference of the Iranian opposition over the weekend that the Iranian regime supports Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine in order to cause instability in the region.
The Islamic Jihad said Faisal’s remarks serve the Israeli agenda that seeks to eliminate the Palestinian cause and open all the Arab and Islamic capitals to the Zionist entity.
“We tell those people: if you can’t stand up for Palestine and its people at least don’t stand by the Zionist entity to condemn the victim,” the Islamic Jihad movement said in a statement on Sunday.
“The Saudi Muslim people won’t accept to pave the way for the Israelis to reach Mecca and Medina.”
For its part, Hamas condemned the remarks, saying they were “baseless.”
“Everyone knows that Hamas is a Palestinian movement fighting the Zionist occupation in the land of Palestine, and has only a Palestinian agenda … and it adopts the concept of moderate Islam,” said a statement by the group.
Hamas further accused Faisal of saying things that serve the “Zionist occupation and provide it with further pretexts to carry out aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Executives from Google and Facebook have faced enormous political pressure from forces as diverse as Pres. Obama himself to the Israel Lobby, to rid their sites of Islamist content. Over the years, videos portraying ISIS beheadings have outraged the public (though not on YouTube or Facebook, which immediately removes them). Now it appears that the Israel Lobby and their right-wing allies are demanding further action restricting access for videos they deem offensive.
The companies are discussing various methods to automate the removal of the videos, which would supposedly wipe the sites clean of Islamist extremism in a more thorough, speedy fashion. Currently, they use an algorithm which help police videos which violate copyright. If someone uploads a video whose content has already been flagged, an algorithm prevents it being uploaded again by another user. They plan to use a similar process to flag offensive videos by detecting whether they’ve been previously censored.
However, there is a fly in the ointment regarding this process. The companies have invited into this discussion a neocon NGO which is a product of the Israel Lobby. The group, Counter-Extremism Network (CEN), hired a computer scientist from Dartmouth College who claims to have developed software with which it can successfully police these sites for offending content. Microsoft has, somewhat alarmingly, agreed to fund and provide research support to develop the professor’s system for its websites.
The companies have rightly displayed some skepticism about the group’s “generous” offer. CEN is a neocon organization founded by a pro-Israel apparachik from the Bush administration, Mark Wallace. Wallace is a veteran GOP consultant, turned capitalist entrepreneur and anti-Iran warrior. He also founded a sister-organization, United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI-Rightweb profile and my own profile of it), which targeted (often falsely) American companies it claimed were doing business with Iran and violating the sanctions regime.
The nadir of UANI’s vitriolic anti-Iran campaign was its targeting of international shipping magnate, Victor Restis. In these cases, Wallace and his cronies would approach a corporate target and demand a large donation in return for ceasing the embarrassing publicity UANI directed at the victims. Most preferred to pay up. Unlike the other corporate targets, Restis fought back and sued UANI for libel. The suit proceeded in federal court until the Justice Department intervened, claiming that moving forward would jeopardize U.S. national security. The judge then dismissed the case, refusing to permit Restis to clear his name.
Journalists speculated that UANI was using information supplied to it by foreign intelligence sources, specifically the Mossad or other Israeli outlets. The Justice Department intervention was reported to be a favor offered by the Obama administration to the Israeli government, so as not to reveal its covert intervention in American politics. The favor wasn’t repaid when Netanyahu became the foremost opponent of the Iran nuclear deal opposed also by UANI.
Now that the agreement is a done deal, Wallace appears to have moved on. Instead of Iran being the bogeyman, now it is ISIS. With the recent outcry over Islamist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Ft. Hood, Islamism has become the target of choice for the Israel Lobby and allies like Wallace.
The group’s name is a misnomer. It doesn’t fight against “extremism.” It fights against Islam. There are countless violent extremists in the world who aren’t Muslim. But CEN has no interest in them. I’m attaching a screenshot of its list of targets. Only four non-Muslim groups: the Ku Klux Klan, Golden Dawn, Jobbik, and a German neo-Nazi party. As opposed to 25 Muslim terror organizations.
To give you a sense of how ridiculous these designations are: the Muslim Brotherhood is a group which participated in a democratic election and won the Egyptian presidency. Only to have the democratic government violently overthrown in a military coup. If anyone is a terrorist, it is the putchist al-Sisi, who overthrew Mohammed Morsi. The “Nusra Front” is also on the list. This bona fide Islamist extremist group is Israel’s current ally in the war against the Assad regime.
Among prominent groups missing from this list are violent Israeli settler groups like Hilltop Youth and Jewish Underground, which have murdered many Palestinian civilians.
I’m also surprised the BDS movement isn’t on the list. No doubt that’s an oversight that will be corrected.
Joining Wallace in founding CEN was ex-Sen. Joe Lieberman. On its board are other Israel Lobby veterans, Dennis Ross and Irwin Cotler. CEN’s name is a misnomer. It is not anti-extremist, it is anti-Muslim.
It’s important to note a parallel campaign by the Israeli government to pressure these social media platforms to censor content it deems hate speech, by which it means critical of Israel and the Occupation. There can be no doubt that although CEN hasn’t formally joined with this initiative, the two are bound up with each other tighter than Siamese twins.
Which raises the critical point: who decides what is “extremist?” Clearly, a beheading is extremist. An imam’s sermon calling for the extermination of non-Muslims qualifies. Overtly advocating violence qualifies. But what about a Hamas video that advocates resistance against Israel’s illegal Occupation which has killed tens of thousands over the past 50 years? Or a Hamas video which depicts the devastation of Gaza in the aftermath of the 2014 war? Does a Hezbollah video depicting the destruction of wide swaths of southern Lebanon after the 2006 Israeli invasion quality as “extremist?” In other words, is all content published by these groups censored by virtue of their designation as terrorists? Is that really what we wish the internet to become? A restricted space policed by ideologically-suspect algorithms?
I would strongly urge these technology companies to develop their own solutions to this problem and not rely on far-right Islamophobic ideologues for methods to censor the internet.
A group of employees working with international organisations active in the Gaza Strip have been found to be carrying out activities against the resistance, security website Al-Majd reported yesterday.
Security sources told the Hamas owned website that the group was found to be carrying out doubtful activities related to work sites for the Palestinian resistance.
Later on, the workers of international aid organisations were questioned and they recognised that they are connected to international intelligence services.
The foreigners recognised that they were asked to record footage of resistance work sites such as tunnels, military bases and other sensitive places, in addition to monitoring military movements in Gaza.
The security source reiterated that these collaborators used their work with the international aid organisations to cover-up their anti-resistance acts.
At the same time, they recognised that they are run by international intelligence services connected with the Israeli occupation.
A Canadian court has awarded $13 million in non-diplomatic assets seized from Iran to the families of Americans who died in several attacks globally, which had allegedly been sponsored by Tehran between 1983 to 2002.
The judgment by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, obtained by AFP on Friday, found Tehran responsible for financing and training Hamas and Hezbollah operatives, who carried out eight bombings or hostage-takings in Buenos Aires, Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia over a period spanning nearly 20 years.
“Terrorism is one of the world’s greatest threats,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Glenn Hainey said in his decision. “The broad issue before the court is whether Iran is entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts for its support of terrorism.”
The ruling for the $13 million payout does not affect Iran’s diplomatic property in Canada but does touch non-diplomatic properties and a list of frozen bank accounts. Tehran did not immediately comment on the court judgment.
The suit was heard under the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terror Act, which allows the families’ victims to collect damages from state sponsors of terror groups. In Canada, Iran is designated a sponsor of terrorism.
The judgment on June 10 mirrors a recent American court ruling against Tehran that was also won by families of the terrorist attack victims in the United States in Spring. Iran has promised to battle the decision in international courts.
Since 1984, the US has been labeling Iran a leading state sponsor of terrorism, a charge that was reiterated last week. However, global events explode Washington’s credibility and denial of reality.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, for example, this week reported that some 270 civilians were killed within 24 hours from shelling of Syria’s second city, Aleppo, by Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups.
Moscow said the surge in violence by these groups followed from the curbing of Russian air strikes at the request of Washington – purportedly to spare “moderate rebels” located in the same areas as Al-Qaeda terror brigades.
The latter include Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), both of which are internationally proscribed by the United Nations Security Council.
As noted by former British ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, the risible pretext of protecting “moderates” is a cynical cover for the unavoidable fact that the US is, in effect, siding with Al-Qaeda terrorism in Syria for the overthrow of the Assad government.
It has been reliably documented that the anti-government militia in Syria affiliated with Al-Qaeda, including Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, are supported materially and politically by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and NATO-member Turkey – all close allies of Washington.
Also in the news, just as the latest US State Department report came out pillorying Iran over terrorism, the United Nations condemned the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen for inflicting 60 percent of child deaths over the past year in the war-torn country.
The Saudi-led coalition includes the US and Britain which supplies warplanes and logistics for air raids purportedly aimed at defeating Houthi rebels who ousted the US-Saudi-backed regime in early 2015. The latest UN report also condemned the Saudi coalition for destroying hospitals and schools across Yemen, which had already been designated as the Arab region’s poorest country even before the US-Saudi military intervention began in March 2015.
Disgracefully, within days of the report being published UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon buckled under political pressure and removed Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners from a global blacklist of rights violations against children.
Nevertheless, while in Syria the terrorist campaign is being waged by Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups funded and weaponized indirectly by foreign governments. In Yemen a major part of the violence is attributable directly to the military forces of the same foreign governments. By any definition this is terrorism, either state-sponsored or state-directed.
In presenting its latest global terror report, the US State Department devotes the vast majority of its concern to the threat posed by Islamic State (also referred to as ISIL) and related Al-Qaeda franchises, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia.
“ISIL remain the greatest terrorism threat globally,” said the US State Department, adding: “ISIL-aligned groups have established branches in parts of the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, the Russian North Caucasus , and South Asia.”
In the US press briefing at least 95 per cent of the content was connected to Al-Qaeda-linked terror groups. Only about five per cent dealt with Iran and its alleged sponsorship of terrorism.
After detailing ISIS terrorism, the State Department then makes the discrepant assertion: “The United States continues to work to disrupt Iran’s support for terrorism. Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism globally.”
If Iran is the “leading terror sponsor globally”, as Washington claims, then why is its latest global terror report preponderantly taken up with Al-Qaeda and various tentacle organizations?
Moreover, in the fleeting details on Iran in its report, the US bases its claim on the rather hackneyed allegation that “Iran continues to provide support to Hizballah [sic], Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East” as well as its support for “the Syrian regime.”
Iran scoffed at the allegations, saying that its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine is a legitimate alliance with liberation movements against US-backed Israeli state oppression.
As for Washington’s claim that Iranian support for Syria constitutes terror sponsorship, if it were a credible assessment then the US should at least be consistent in its logic and thereby should have included Russia in its latest terror report, given that Moscow is supporting the Syrian government militarily.
The US global terror report does not stand up to scrutiny. Its flagrant disconnect with reality betrays the study as having a political, or more bluntly, propaganda purpose.
The fact is that terrorist activity around the world is, by far, greatly more ascribed to Al-Qaeda-type groups. The US State Department says so itself. These groups are funded ideologically and logistically by Washington’s allies, principally Saudi Arabia. That connection of Saudi sponsorship of terror organizations has even been acknowledged previously by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Treasury Department, among other senior establishment sources.
Hezbollah’s, and by extension Iran’s, alleged involvement in terrorism is an equally politicized subject fraught with murky claims and counter-claims. The US and Israel designate Hezbollah as “terrorist” but the European Union and several European governments do not. Russia officially views Hezbollah as a legitimate political party, which is a member of Lebanon’s coalition government.
Washington’s antagonism to Hezbollah arises from a litany of alleged terrorist actions, including the bombing of a US marines barracks in Beirut in 1983, which killed 241 American troops – the single greatest US military loss since the Second World War.
Several US courts have convicted Hezbollah and Iran of involvement in the Beirut bomb massacre, as well as other atrocities in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Tehran reject many of these accusations. But even if there were some truth to the American claims, it could be reasonably argued that the actions constitute military combat, not terrorism. The US-backed Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1982 and again in 2006 were themselves arguably acts of aggression, or state-terrorism.
Another disconnect in the latest US terror report highlighting Iran is the flurry of European trade agreements signed with Tehran since the conclusion of the international nuclear accord last year. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s trip to Finland last week was but the latest in a host of renewed European relations.
If Iran were such a terrorist pariah, as Washington asserts, would European governments really be courting Tehran with evident diplomatic respect?
It is estimated the US owes Iran upwards of $100 billion in assets frozen since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The US is also accused of dragging its feet on implementing sanctions relief under the terms of the P5+1 nuclear accord that came into effect on January 16 this year.
It seems obvious that one way for Washington to procrastinate on implementing the nuclear accord and the financial rewards due to Iran from unfrozen assets and European trade deals would be for the US to maintain its narrative accusing Iran of “sponsoring terrorism”.
Despite Washington’s narrative sounding increasingly hollow and in denial of its own documented links to global terrorism.
Abdel Jaber Fuqaha, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was attacked and arrested by Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday, 15 May, after a dawn raid by occupation forces on his home. Fuqaha, 49, who has been arrested several times and has spent years in Israeli prison, most frequently under administrative detention without charge or trial, is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Change and Reform Bloc, allied with Hamas.
After Fuqaha’s release in 2011 after 27 months of administrative detention, he was arrested again in 2012, and then again in June 2013. He was last released in April 2015. He has spent over six years in Israeli prison; he was beaten during his arrest and his home ransacked. He is one of seven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently imprisoned in Israeli jails, including prominent Palestinian leaders Ahmad Sa’adat, Marwan Barghouthi, Khalida Jarrar, and Hassan Yousef.
NABLUS – Israeli occupation forces handed a letter to the 21-year-old Palestinian ex-detainee Asma al-Qadah banning her from going to university for five months which threatens her completion of university studies.
Islam al-Qadah told Quds Press that Israeli intelligence forces summoned his sister to be interviewed in Ariel settlement and handed her the ban order one month after her release after three months of administrative detention with no charge or trial.
Asma al-Qadah is a Bachelor student in the English Department. She serves as the cultural committee secretary at the student union council.
She is affiliated with the Islamic bloc, the student wing of Hamas Movement, in Beirzit University.
Egyptian authorities have referred dozens of people to trial over the last year’s assassination of the country’s top prosecutor.
Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek sent 67 people to the criminal court on Sunday, without mentioning the exact date of the trial.
Sadek said in a statement that all the defendants were members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement, who “conspired” with members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to assassinate Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat in a bomb attack in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis in late June 2015.
In March, Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar told a news conference in Cairo that both Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas were involved in the assassination.
The Hamas, however, has strongly rejected the allegation, calling it as “baseless.”
“Hamas calls on all parties in Egypt not to involve Palestinian factions in their internal differences,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a press release on March 7, hours after Ghaffar’s comments.
There have been no credible claims of responsibility for the bombing that killed the 64-year-old state prosecutor just outside his house on June 29.
GAZA – Israeli forces on Sunday morning opened fire on Palestinians farmers in the southern Gaza Strip, local sources said.
Locals told Ma’an Israeli forces deployed east of Khan Yunis opened fire on farmers, preventing them from reaching their lands. No injuries were reported.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they could not confirm the incident.
The incident comes after Israeli forces targeted the southern region of the small Palestinian territory with airstrikes for four consecutive days beginning Wednesday evening. Several were injured and a Palestinian woman was killed by Israeli shelling.
Israel said airstrikes were launched in response to Palestinian resistance groups targeting its troops with mortar rounds in an attempt to thwart Israeli military excavation activities in search of Hamas-made tunnels. However, Israel’s regular incursions inside Gaza’s border areas were perceived by many as the instigator of the hostilities.
The exchange was seen as an unusual escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip since a 2014 ceasefire was brokered after Israel’s devastating 50-day assault on the besieged coastal enclave that left some 2,200 dead and 11,000 injured.
Hamas, Gaza’s de facto ruler, had widely observed the 2014 ceasefire; Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yalon in March said Hamas “hasn’t fired a bullet” since the war, and following Thursday’s hostilities, Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli army officer as saying that Hamas had even been instrumental in preventing terrorist attacks and rocket fire directed at Israel.
However in the almost two years since the ceasefire was declared, regular violations have been committed on the Israeli side.
Israeli bulldozers frequently enter Gaza territory, carrying out land-leveling and excavation operations while accompanied by military vehicles, with four such incursions recorded by the UN between April 26 and May 2.
On a near daily basis, the Israeli army fires “warning shots” on Palestinian fisherman, farmers, and shepherds entering the Israeli-enforced “buffer zone,” implemented after Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip a decade ago.
Due to the high frequency of the attacks, live fire often goes unreported.
While Israel typically cites security concerns when targeting Palestinian agricultural areas, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights has reported in the past that fishermen are often targeted when they pose no threat.
Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the center.
In 2015, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times, killing three, wounding dozens, and damaging at least 16 fishing boats, according to the UN Agency for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Israeli forces also regularly open fire on Palestinian protesters during Friday demonstrations held along Gaza’s border, with injuries sustained by live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets reported nearly every week. At least 25 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces in Gaza clashes since the beginning of October, according to UN documentation.
Three Israeli wars of aggression on illegally besieged Gaza since December 2008 perhaps aren’t enough for Israel’s killing machine.
Repeated inter-war ground, air and sea attacks occur regularly. Is Israel preparing the ground for another major assault – blaming Gazan victims like it always does for its high crimes against peace?
On Wednesday, Israeli tanks shelled two Hamas watchtowers provocatively. Senior Hamas official Musheer al-Masri called the attacks “dangerous developments and an obvious breach of the ceasefire in Gaza.”
“The Israeli occupation should avoid testing the Palestinian resistance. The enemy should realize that the toll would be in proportion to the Israeli crimes.”
“The Israeli escalation is a new development, and the Palestinian resistance is (deciding) how to react.”
Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades responded with mortar fire on an Israeli bulldozer. An Interior Ministry source reported no casualties, just damage.
Islamic Jihad spokesman, Daud Shihab, said “Israel has not ceased its hostilities against the Palestinian people since the ceasefire was agreed on in 2014.”
“There are continued onslaughts and infiltrations in both Gaza and the West Bank and in other locations in Palestine.”
Gaza remains illegally blockaded since June 2007 – for political, not security reasons. According to an April UN report, about 75,000 Palestinians remain displaced from Israel’s summer 2014 naked aggression.
Affected families are forced to “liv(e) in store rooms, unfinished units, substandard apartments in relatives’ or neighbors’ buildings” or wherever else they can find shelter.
Some live in damaged homes, others in prefabricated shelters. War and displacement affected women and children hardest.
Over 30% of displaced females “liv(e) in shelter conditions… lacking safety, dignity and privacy, including tents, makeshift shelters, destroyed houses or the open air.”
Nearly all affected families lack resources and construction supplies to rebuild. Most funds pledged for reconstruction weren’t delivered.
Israel blocks or greatly restricts building supplies entering the Strip on the phony pretext of being useful to Hamas or other resistance groups.
The UN warned “(a)t the present rate, it will take years to address the massive reconstruction and repair needs, adding to the general frustration of the population following years of movement restrictions, rising unemployment and poverty.”
Gazans suffer hugely under open-air prison conditions. Israel attacks the Strip at its discretion.
Are things heading for another war? Does Israel want remaining parts of Gaza turned to rubble – thousands more of its residents slaughtered or injured?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.