Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kerry urges Hamas to accept Gaza truce offer

S Secretary of State John Kerry has called on the Palestinian group, Hamas, to accept a ceasefire along the lines of an Egyptian proposal, to end the raging Gaza conflict that has already killed at least 607 Palestinians and 29 Israelis.
The top US diplomat spoke in Cairo on Tuesday after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose government offered the ceasefire proposal last week, which calls for both Israel and Hamas to accept an immediate ceasefire and dispatch envoys to Cairo for further negotiations.
The Palestinian leadership has proposed to Egypt a plan for a ceasefire to be followed by five days of negotiations to stop the fighting, Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmed told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday.

"My message is the same for Israelis and Palestinians: Stop fighting, start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict so that we are not at the same situation in the next six months or a year," he said.
Kerry's call comes as United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv to discuss how to stop the ongoing bloodshed and begin negotiating.
In response, Netanyahu said, "we will do what we need to do to defend ourselves".
The Israeli prime minister said that the international community must hold Hamas accountable for consistently rejecting multiple ceasefire proposals.
Blockade of Gaza
For Hamas, the root cause is the siege of Gaza, and it has consistently demanded that Israel and Egypt lift the blockade. It also wants the release of dozens of prisoners who were freed in a 2011 swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit but re-arrested this summer.
"The conditions for a ceasefire are... a full lifting of the blockade and then the release of those recently detained in the West Bank," its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said on television.
"We cannot go backwards, to a slow death," he said, referring to the Israeli blockade in force since 2006.
Israel has little interest in making concessions to the Palestinian group, however.
The flurry of diplomatic activities also comes as Israeli military reported that one of its soldiers is missing in Gaza and is presumed dead.
Israel's Channel 10 News reported earlier on Tuesday that the military believed the soldier, identified as Oron Shaul, was killed along with six other troops in an attack on an armoured vehicle on Sunday. However, the army has only identified six bodies.
"If a soldier has been captured, this will deal a blow to the Israeli army," Al Jazeera's Kim Vinnell, reporting from West Jerusalem, said. "It would give Palestinian fighters a significant leverage in the conflict," she said.
Intesified bombardment
The deadliest conflict in five years between Israel and the Palestinians has killed more than 600 Palestinians, many of them civilians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. At least 29 Israelis, 27 of them soldiers, have died in the fighting.
Late on Tuesday, a series of Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip killed six people, medics said.
An elderly woman and her brother were among those killed in three separate raids targeting Bureij and Al-Maghazi in central Gaza, and Rafah in the south, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP news agency.
Earlier in the day, Israeli aircraft and tanks hit more than 150 targets in the Palestinain enclave, including five mosques, a football stadium and the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, according to Palestinian police. At least seven Palestinians were reported killed in attacks.
Meanwhile, gunshots were fired on Tuesday into Al Jazeera’s bureau in Gaza City. Al Jazeera's Stephanie Dekker said two bullets hit the building. No casualties were reported.
Since the Israeli operation began on July 8, huge numbers of Palestinians have fled their homes, with the UN saying more than 100,000 people have sought shelter in 69 schools run by its Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.
Al Jazeera and agencies

Liberman threatens to close down al-Jazeera

Just as Britain would not have let Der Stürmer be printed in Britain during World War II, and the US would not allow al-Qaida to broadcast from America, Israel will work to close down al-Jazeera in Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday.

Liberman, speaking at the start of a meeting in Jerusalem with Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, said that Hamas – which he pointed out is funded by Qatar – is a central element in al-Jazeera’s propaganda efforts.

According to Channel 2, Liberman has also recently been calling in private meetings for Israel to assassinate Hamas head Khaled Mashaal, saying that Qatar can no longer be a safe refuge for him.

In these discussions, he reportedly pointed out that the US assassinated Osama Bin Laden in a third country: Pakistan.

Israel tried once before to assassinate Mashaal abroad – in a botched attempt ordered by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his first term in 1997.

Regarding Al-Jazeera, Liberman said it “has abandoned even the perception of being a reliable news organization and broadcasts from Gaza and to the world anti-Israel incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists.”

Liberman said the Foreign Ministry has begun examining the news organization’s activities and its status with “the intent of not allowing it to broadcast anymore from Israel.”

Liberman noted that the the largest networks broadcast from Israel, and “a not insubstantial number of them do not exactly broadcast Zionist propaganda.” Nevertheless, he said, Israel is a democratic state where this is possible and permitted.

However, in the case of of al-Jazeera, he said, this is not a matter of journalism but rather “a matter of the activity of an arm of a terrorist organization that is fighting this minute against Israel.”

One senior government official said he is not aware of any serious discussion to close al-Jazeera.

Another official said that closing al-Jazeera would necessitate a court case in which it would be necessary to persuade the court that the network is endangering national security.

“Saying they lie or are impartial will not be enough,” the official said.

The official said Liberman’s comments about al-Jazeera were reminiscent of his calls last month for a Foreign Ministry meeting to discuss expelling the UN’s Middle East envoy, Robert Serry. The meeting itself grabbed headlines, but nothing substantial followed.

Liberman also said that al-Jazeera’s sponsor, Qatar, has “turned into a world problem.”

The foreign minister said Qatar is the “economic backbone” of the most extreme terrorist organizations destabilizing the world and the Middle East.

“Qatar is also a central actor in the confrontation we are now conducting with Hamas in Gaza,” he said, “since it funds Hamas and gives refuge to Mashaal.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ibrahim Halawa in Detention for No Charge

The story of Ibrahim Halawa started in August 2013 when the Halawas arrived in Cairo with their mother for an annual family holiday several weeks before president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the army in July last year.
Ibrahim  (18)was arrested with his sisters Soumaia (28), Fatima (23) and Omaima (21) during the clashes between supporters of Morsi and security forces last August .The siblings were helping the injured people .
The three sisters were released three months later, following sustained pressure by the Irish government.
“Nearly a year in prison without charge is against all international principles of justice and humanity," said Somya Halawa.
“Ibrahim was arrested and detained by the military government in Egypt – to date no formal charges have been served on him,” she said. 
Ibrahim was  expected to appear before one of Egypt’s courts  on July 16th,but the hearing was postponed until August the 12th for no reason.
Ibrahim is in Al-Marg prison north east Cairo.He is dramatically ill-treated and denied his primary human rights. Ibrahim has been repeatedly denied access to his lawyer and denied the right to a proper court hearing. 
"Ibrahim was brutally beaten and denied medical treatment resulting in a permanent deformity in his hand. Since August 17th, 2013 he  has been suffering. We share his sleeplessness and heart is broken,"Amina Halawa said.
Ibrahim pleaded with Ms Ashton for her help and described the appalling conditions of his arrest and detention.

"I was stripped naked and beaten," he wrote. "My parents were told I was not here. I am not allowed to even call my father."

Ibrahim also described how he was taunted by prison guards, who told him: "'Do you think the EU are going to save you? The passport is nothing, you are not someone important. They will not come and take you out.' But I know I am important, I am human and that is enough," Ibrahim said.

"If I am to be killed by any cop who wishes to kill me, or given the death sentence or life if they wish, with no evidence held against me, I hold you finally responsible for whatever happens to me," the Leaving Certificate student from Firhouse in Dublin added.

More than 1000 people anti  coup were sentenced to death penalty because they still support the ousted president Mohamed Morsy.The policy of massive punishment and uprooting regardless of the cost spares no body. on the 10th February during the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, EU Foreign Ministers expressed a wide variety of concerns relating to Egypt's escalating violence, human rights abuses and in particular the practice of “selective justice.".