Saturday, 28 January 2017
Voltairenet.org — Jan 27, 2017
Boris Johnson. Click to enlarge
The British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Boris Johnson, has indicated that his country should no longer oppose President Bashar al- Assad’s right to stand at the next Syrian elections.
He conceded that this new position resembled a complete reversal and followed the example set by the new US administration. He also emphasized that he was forced to address the issue with a clean slate.
In June 2014, the Syrian Arab Republic had organized a presidential election. The Western powers were opposed to it and — in violation of the Vienna Peace Agreement — had prohibited Syrian consulates from organizing ballots for immigrants in the territories they covered. The war had prevented several millions of voters from voting. [Shamless]: all States with diplomatic representations in Syria acknowledged that it was a genuine ballot. Bashar al-Assad had been re-elected president by 10, 319, 723 citizens, that is, by 88.7 % of the votes cast and 65 % of the voting-age population. The seven-year term of President al-Assad will end in June 2021. .
Since 2011, the accusation levelled by Western powers at the Syrian Arab Republic is that it is a dictatorship that engages systematically in torture. Without any shred of doubt, the Syrian people do not share this belief.
In September 2015, Mr Johnson’s predecessor, Philip Hammond, had [generously] conceded that President Bashar could stay in power for a three month transitional period. But he maintained that the Arab Syrian Republic was a dictatorship and that the mandate of Mr al-Assad was illegitimate.
 “The Syrian People Have Spoken”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 6 June 2014.
January 27, 2017
Over 2,600 militants have laid down arms in the Wadi Barada area near Damascus. Those who refused to do this are leaving to the Idlib province with their families. However, some Jabhat Fatah al-Sham units are still hiding in the mountains area. Soon the whole region will be controlled by government forces.
The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have liberated from ISIS the village of Madiuna and the hill of Mashrifah southwest of the ISIS-stronghold of al-Bab in the province of Aleppo. Government forces are now further developing momentum south of Al-Bab.
Meanwhile, Turkish militant groups, backed by the Turkish Armed Forces, retook Amiyah and Seflaniye from ISIS.
Government troops have recaptured from ISIS two hills north of the Tiyas Airbase in the province of Homs. The army continues to expand a buffer zone near the airbase.
US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon and State Department to develop a plan of creating a series of “safe zones” for refugees fleeing violence in Syria. According to reports, the plan has to be ready within 90 days.
The decision pursues 3 main goals:
- To decrease Ankara’s involvement into the cooperation with Russia and Iran, and into the so-called “Astana format”. Turkey has been seeking to set up such zones in Syria for a long time, but it didn’t have support from the US.
- To increase a US influence in Syria. Washington is the only power, excluding Russia and Iran, which can guarantee a creation of such zones.
- To show a positive involvement into the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The problem is that a closer cooperation with Turkey is almost not possible while Washington supports the Kurdish YPG and its advance on Raqqa. Furthermore, Moscow and Tehran oppose the US idea to set up safe zones in Syria.
In any case, Trump’s administration shows that it’s going to implement an active policy in the Middle East.
Exclusive: Neocons and liberal hawks sold the fantasy that Syrian “moderate” rebels were a viable option when all they did was help arm Al Qaeda jihadists and worsen the bloodshed, as Jonathan Marshall explains.
By Jonathan Marshall
The neoconservative and liberal interventionist case for arming Syria’s rebels lost its last vestige of credibility this week with the routing of Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces by Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in northwestern Syria.
U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels smile as they prepare to behead a 12-year-old boy (left), whose severed head is held aloft triumphantly in a later part of the video. [Screenshot from the YouTube video]
Washington think-tank warriors and editorial writers have long looked to the FSA as America’s natural allies in the Syrian conflict — so-called “moderates” unblemished by the Assad regime’s cruel record of repression, or the Islamists’ preference for cutting the throats of apostates.
In her memoir Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recounted her hope that “if the United States could train and equip a reliable and effective moderate rebel force, it could help hold the country together during a transition . . . and prevent ethnic cleansing and score settling.”
In much the same way, the Reagan administration hoped — and failed — to cultivate “moderate elements” in Iran’s army through its covert arms deals with Tehran in the mid-1980s. The truth of the matter — exposed again this week — is that the FSA and other “moderates” never had the popular support or the grit to take on more fanatical warriors in Syria.
On Tuesday, the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate that rebranded itself last year as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), attacked the FSA in Idlib and Aleppo provinces with heavy artillery, suicide bombs, and even cyber attacks. Within a day, they largely succeeded in wiping out local FSA forces.
JFS explained that it was punishing the FSA for “trying to divert the course of the revolution towards reconciliation with the criminal regime” of President Bashar al-Assad. The FSA recently joined other non-extremist rebel groups in Kazakhstan for inconclusive talks with the Syrian government.
If Washington had provided the FSA with portable anti-aircraft missiles, as advocated by influential interventionists like Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute, those dangerous weapons would now be in the hands of one of the most extreme and lethal factions fighting in Syria with the possibility that they could be used for terrorist purposes such as shooting down civilian airliners.
Similar debacles, complete with weapons transfers to extremists, have taken place many times over the past few years. In September 2013, FSA forces in the northern city of Raqqa surrendered abjectly to Islamists, despite outnumbering them. One top rebel commander said, “There is no such thing as the FSA [here]. We are all Al Qaeda now. Half of the FSA has been devoured by ISIS, and the other half joined Jabhat al-Nusra.”
Collaborating with Al Qaeda
Many FSA commanders learned their lesson and began to collaborate with Nusra Front, essentially fighting under Al Qaeda’s command. Those that steadfastly remained “moderate” paid a heavy price.
In September 2014, the Washington Post’s national security columnist David Ignatius described visiting the commander of Harakat al-Hazm, the largest CIA-vetted (i.e., “moderate”) rebel group in Syria. They had just been “chased from their headquarters” by Nusra Front, and forced to abandon their U.S.-provided anti-tank missiles and other lethal equipment.
“At some point, the Syrian street lost trust in the Free Syrian Army,” the despondent commander told Ignatius. He explained, as Ignatius put it, that “many rebel commanders aren’t disciplined, their fighters aren’t well-trained and the loose umbrella organization of the FSA lacks command and control. The extremists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra have filled the vacuum.”
An Arab intelligence source confirmed to Ignatius, “the FSA is a kind of mafia. Everyone wants to be head. People inside Syria are tired of this mafia. There is no structure. It’s nothing.” Based on this experience, Ignatius declared flatly, “The problem is that the ‘moderate opposition’ that the United States is backing is still largely a fantasy.”
His conclusion was borne out a month later when Nusra Front vanquished the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front in Idlib province. Worse yet, the following summer, the Pentagon graduated 60 rebels, hand-picked and trained at a cost of half a billion dollars, only to have them fall apart and flee when attacked by Nusra Front.
One month after that debacle, another group of rebels handed over their U.S.-supplied trucks and ammunition to Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage — repeating the process of U.S. taxpayers arming Al Qaeda in the name of promoting “moderates.”
That pattern continues. Citing FSA officers, the ardent think-tank interventionist Thanassis Cambanis admits that “Nusra routinely harvests up to half the weapons supplied by the Friends of Syria, a collection of countries opposed to Assad, and has regularly smashed FSA factions that . . . Nusra thought were getting too strong or too popular.”
A Strategy That Backfired
In 2015, former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who has long advocated a more muscular policy of arming moderate rebels against the Assad regime, confessed that the strategy had backfired.
“For a long time,” Ford said, “we have looked the other way while the Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of whom are getting help from us, have coordinated in military operations against the regime. I think the days of us looking the other way are finished.”
Joshua Landis, the respected Syria expert and head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, goes further and argues that trying to buy moderate allies with money and arms was doomed from the start.
As Landis told an interviewer recently, “Many activists and Washington think tankers argue that the reason the radicals won in Syria is because they were better funded than moderate militia . . . No evidence supports this. Radicals . . . fought better, had better strategic vision and were more popular. The notion that had Washington pumped billions of dollars to selected moderate militias, they would’ve killed the extremists and destroyed Assad’s regime, is bunkum.”
Bunkum it may be, but mainstream pundits continue to demand that Washington support anti-Assad forces in Syria — whether in the name of saving lives, fighting tyranny, or making life uncomfortable for the Russians. We can only hope that President Trump ignores them and confines his wars to Twitter.
Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including “How World War III Could Start,” “NATO’s ProvocativeAnti-Russian Moves,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” “Ticking Closer to Midnight,” and “Turkey’s Nukes: A Sum of All Fears.”
By Tyler Durden
Global Research, January 27, 2017
Zero Hedge 27 January 2017
Update: according to a CNN report – so as always take with lots of salt – the story has shifted materially, because according to two senior administration officials, it wasn’t a resignation by the State Department officials, but more of a termination: “the Trump administration told four top State Department management officials that their services were no longer needed as part of an effort to “clean house” at Foggy Bottom.”
Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the undersecretary for management, Assistant Secretaries for Administration and Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Joyce Anne Barr, and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the sources told CNN.All four, career officers serving in positions appointed by the President, submitted letters of resignation per tradition at the beginning of a new administration. The letters from the White House said that their resignations were accepted and they were thanked for their service.The White House usually asks career officials in such positions to stay on for a few months until their successors are confirmed.“Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong,” one senior State Department official said. “These people are loyal to the secretary, the President and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house.”Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesman, said in a statement that “These positions are political appointments, and require the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm them in these roles. They are not career appointments but of limited term.”
A second official echoed that the move appeared to be an effort by the new administration to “clean house” among the State Department’s top leadership. “The department will not collapse,” the second official said. “Everyone has good deputies. It’s a huge institutional loss, but the department has excellent subordinates and the career people will step up. They will take up the responsibility.”
Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s assistant secretary for Europe, was also not asked to stay on.
The following org charts breaks out the unfilled appointee positions, in blue, while the red crosses show the resignations
* * *
Demonstrating just how ideologically alligned with the Obama administration was the entire US State Department, moments ago the WaPo reported that “the entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”
The mass resignation took place as Rex Tillerson was inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land.
According to WaPo’s Josh Rogin who suddenly has no more senior level sources left at State:
“I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.”Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Additionally, “Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.”
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
There were more: several senior foreign service officers in the State Department’s regional bureaus have also left their posts or resigned since the election. But the emptying of leadership in the management bureaus is more disruptive because those offices need to be led by people who know the department and have experience running its complicated bureaucracies. There’s no easy way to replace that via the private sector, said Wade.
“Diplomatic security, consular affairs, there’s just not a corollary that exists outside the department, and you at least can afford a learning curve in these areas where issues can quickly become matters of life and death,” he said. “The muscle memory is critical. These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace.”Whether Kennedy left on his own volition or was pushed out by the incoming Trump team is a matter of dispute inside the department. Just days before he resigned, Kennedy was taking on more responsibility inside the department and working closely with the transition. His departure was a surprise to other State Department officials who were working with him.
Rogin’s conclusion: “By itself, the sudden departure of the State Department’s entire senior management team is disruptive enough. But in the context of a president who railed against the U.S. foreign policy establishment during his campaign and secretary of state with no government experience, the vacancies are much more concerning.”
On the other hand, if Tillerson wanted a real clean slate, he just got it.
Global Research, January 28, 2017
Washington’s Blog and Global Research 1 May 2013
This article was first published May 1, 2013.
Terrorism Is a Real Threat … But the Threat to the U.S. from Muslim Terrorists Has Been Exaggerated
An FBI report shows that only a small percentage of terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 were perpetrated by Muslims.
Princeton University’s Loon Watch compiled the following chart from the FBI’s data:
Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database
According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%). These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion. These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.
(Loon Watch also notes that less than 1% of terror attacks in Europe were carried out by Muslims.)
U.S. News and World Report noted in February of this year:
Of the more than 300 American deaths from political violence and mass shootings since 9/11, only 33 have come at the hands of Muslim-Americans, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. The Muslim-American suspects or perpetrators in these or other attempted attacks fit no demographic profile—only 51 of more than 200 are of Arabic ethnicity. In 2012, all but one of the nine Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered were halted in early stages. That one, an attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, caused no casualties.
Wired reported the same month:
Since 9/11, [Charles Kurzman, Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writing for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and National Security] and his team tallies, 33 Americans have died as a result of terrorism launched by their Muslim neighbors. During that period, 180,000 Americans were murdered for reasons unrelated to terrorism. In just the past year, the mass shootings that have captivated America’s attention killed 66 Americans, “twice as many fatalities as from Muslim-American terrorism in all 11 years since 9/11,” notes Kurzman’s team.Law enforcement, including “informants and undercover agents,” were involved in “almost all of the Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered in 2012,” the Triangle team finds. That’s in keeping with the FBI’s recent practice of using undercover or double agents to encourage would-be terrorists to act on their violent desires and arresting them when they do — a practice critics say comes perilously close to entrapment. A difference in 2012 observed by Triangle: with the exception of the Arizona attack, all the alleged plots involving U.S. Muslims were “discovered and disrupted at an early stage,” while in the past three years, law enforcement often observed the incubating terror initiatives “after weapons or explosives had already been gathered.”The sample of Muslim Americans turning to terror is “vanishingly small,” Kurzman tells Danger Room. Measuring the U.S. Muslim population is a famously inexact science, since census data don’t track religion, but rather “country of origin,” which researchers attempt to use as a proxy. There are somewhere between 1.7 million and seven million American Muslims, by most estimates, and Kurzman says he operates off a model that presumes the lower end, a bit over 2 million. That’s less a rate of involvement in terrorism of less than 10 per million, down from a 2003 high of 40 per million, as detailed in the chart above.Yet the scrutiny by law enforcement and homeland security on American Muslims has not similarly abated. The FBI tracks “geomaps” of areas where Muslims live and work, regardless of their involvement in any crime. The Patriot Act and other post-9/11 restrictions on government surveillance remain in place. The Department of Homeland Security just celebrated its 10th anniversary. In 2011, President Obama ordered the entire federal national-security apparatus to get rid of counterterrorism training material that instructed agents to focus on Islam itself, rather than specific terrorist groups.Kurzman doesn’t deny that law enforcement plays a role in disrupting and deterring homegrown U.S. Muslim terrorism. His research holds it out as a possible explanation for the decline. But he remains surprised by the disconnect between the scale of the terrorism problem and the scale — and expense — of the government’s response.“Until public opinion starts to recognize the scale of the problem has been lower than we feared, my sense is that public officials are not going to change their policies,” Kurzman says. “Counterterrorism policies have involved surveillance — not just of Muslim-Americans, but of all Americans, and the fear of terrorism has justified intrusions on American privacy and civil liberties all over the internet and other aspects of our lives. I think the implications here are not just for how we treat a religious minority in the U.S., but also how we treat the rights & liberties of everyone.”
We agree. And so do most Americans. Indeed – as we’ve previously documented – you’re more likely to die from brain-eating parasites, alcoholism, obesity, medical errors, risky sexual behavior or just about anything other than terrorism.
Kurzman told the Young Turks in February that Islamic terrorism “doesn’t even count for 1 percent” of the 180,000 murders in the US since 9/11.
While the Boston marathon bombings were horrific, a top terrorism expert says that the Boston attack was more like Columbine than 9/11, and that the bombers are “murderers not terrorists”. The overwhelming majority of mass shootings were by non-Muslims. (This is true in Europe, as well as in the U.S.)
However you classify them – murder or terrorism – the Boston bombings occurred after all of the statistical analysis set forth above. Moreover, different groups have different agendas about how to classify the perpetrators (For example, liberal Mother Jones and conservative Breitbart disagree on how many of the perpetrators of terror attacks can properly be classified as right wing extremists.)
So we decided to look at the most current statistics for ourselves, to do an objective numerical count not driven by any agenda.
Specifically, we reviewed all of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil as documented by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). (2012). Global Terrorism Database, as retrieved from http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd.
The START Global Terrorism Database spans from 1970 through 2012 (and will be updated from year-to-year), and – as of this writing – includes 104,000 terrorist incidents. As such, it is the most comprehensive open-source database open to the public.
We counted up the number of terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. We excluded attacks by groups which are obviously not Muslims, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Medellin Drug Cartel, Irish Republican Army, Anti-Castro Group, Mormon extremists, Vietnamese Organization to Exterminate Communists and Restore the Nation, Jewish Defense League, May 19 Communist Order, Chicano Liberation Front, Jewish Armed Resistance, American Indian Movement, Gay Liberation Front, Aryan Nation, Jewish Action Movement, National Front for the Liberation of Cuba, or Fourth Reich Skinheads.
We counted attacks by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Black American Moslems, or anyone who even remotely sounded Muslim … for example anyone from Palestine, Lebanon or any other Arab or Muslim country, or any name including anything sounding remotely Arabic or Indonesian (like “Al” anything or “Jamaat” anything).
If we weren’t sure what the person’s affiliation was, we looked up the name of the group to determine whether it could in any way be connected to Muslims.
Based on our review of the approximately 2,400 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil contained within the START database, we determined that approximately 60 were carried out by Muslims.
In other words, approximately 2.5% of all terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1970 and 2012 were carried out by Muslims.* This is a tiny proportion of all attacks.
(We determined that approximately 118 of the terror attacks – or 4.9% – were carried out by Jewish groups such as Jewish Armed Resistance, the Jewish Defense League, Jewish Action Movement, United Jewish Underground and Thunder of Zion. This is almost twice the percentage of Islamic attacks within the United States. If we look at worldwide attacks – instead of just attacks on U.S. soil – Sunni Muslims are the main perpetrators of terrorism. However: 1. Muslims are also the main victims of terror attacks worldwide; and 2. the U.S. backs the most radical types of Sunnis over more moderate Muslims and Arab secularists.)
Moreover, another study undertaken by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism – called ”Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism in the United States” – found:
Between 1970 and 2011, 32 percent of the perpetrator groups were motivated by ethnonationalist/separatist agendas, 28 percent were motivated by single issues, such as animal rights or opposition to war, and seven percent were motivated byreligious beliefs. In addition, 11 percent of the perpetrator groups were classified as extreme right-wing, and 22 percent were categorized as extreme left-wing.Preliminary findings from PPT-US data between 1970 and 2011 also illustrate a distinct shift in the dominant ideologies of these terrorist groups over time, with the proportion of emerging ethnonationalist/separatist terrorist groups declining and the proportion of religious terrorist groups increasing. However, while terrorist groups with religious ideologies represent 40 percent of all emergent groups from 2000-2011 (two out of five), they only account for seven percent of groups over time.
Similarly, a third study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Religion found that religion alone is not a key factor in determining which terrorists want to use weapons of mass destruction:
The available empirical data show that there is not a significant relationship between terrorist organizations’ pursuit of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear) weapons and the mere possession of a religious ideology, according to a new quantitative study by START researchers Victor Asal, Gary Ackerman and Karl Rethemeyer.
Therefore, Muslims are not more likely than other groups to want to use WMDs.
* The Boston marathon bombing was not included in this analysis, as START has not yet updated its database to include 2013 terrorist attacks. 3 people died in the Boston attack. While tragic, we are confident that non-Musliims killed more than 3 during this same period.
We are not experts in terrorism analysis. We would therefore defer to people like Kurzman on the exact number. However, every quantitative analysis of terrorism in the U.S. we have read shows that the percent of terror attacks carried out by Muslims is far less than 10%.
Postscript: State-sponsored terrorism is beyond the scope of this discussion, and was not included in our statistical analysis. Specifically, the following arguments are beyond the scope of this discussion, as we are focusing solely on non-state terrorism:
- Arguments by University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole that deaths from 20th century wars could be labeled Christian terrorism
The original source of this article is Washington’s Blog and Global Research
Aleppo, Syria – A military source informed Al-Masdar about the capture of the village of Ain Al-Jahsh after heavy clashes with Islamic State terrorists north of Kuweirus Airbase in Aleppo’s eastern countryside.
The advance comes less than 24 hours after the conquest of Madiounah village and its adjacent farms in addition to Al-Ma’moun College showing a consistent collapse in ISIS’s defenses around their largest Aleppo stronghold.
The elite Tiger Forces are now positioned at less than seven kilometers from the city of Tadef that represents the terror group’s last line of defense from Al-Bab.
Should the government troops continue their steady advance on Al-Bab, capturing the IS stronghold before the stagnating Turkish forces to the north may well be within reach.
Notably, the aforementioned city has proven to be a burden for the Euphrates Shield forces that have yet to enter the city after dozens of attempts. Turkish tanks and armored vehicles litter Al-Bab’s vicinity.
Tiger Forces liberate new village in east Aleppo
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:10 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) carried out a powerful assault in the eastern countryside of Aleppo on Thursday, striking the Islamic State’s (ISIS) positions in Al-Bab Plateau.
Led by the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army liberated Al-Madiyoneh after overrunning the Islamic State’s defenses at the village’s western perimeter on Thursday.
In addition to liberating Al-Madiyoneh, the Tiger Forces also seized Al-Mamoun University’s campus from the remaining Islamic State terrorists in the area.
The Tiger Forces assault on Al-Madiyoneh today comes just hours after the Syrian Arab Army’s Republican Guard beat back a major Islamic State attack along the Khanasser Road in southeast Aleppo.
With several villages now under their control, the Syrian Arab Army is now within 5km of Al-Bab’s southern gates, marking the first time in 4 years that they have been this close to this city.
All eyes on Al-Bab while two top syrian cities remain under threat
Last months a high number or SAA’s units were redeployed to eastern Aleppo and along the strategic Khanasser highway to fight ISIS militants. These changes proved to be successful as the army’s elite Tiger forces have made significant gains north of Kweires military airport thus putting the government frontline just near the syrian town of Al-Bab. This highly important stronghold of the so called “caliphate” has been facing serious attacks from the turkish troops and their FSA mercenaries for over two months and now is on verge of being fully encircled by TAF/FSA and rolling syrian army.
Map shows Rastan Plain situation in 2014 (by Peto Lucem)
However, at the same time strong SAA reinforcements are also greatly needed in two other syrian provinces. Since 2014 a large ammount of pro-western FSA criminals and Al-Nusra terrorists have been encircled just north of the ancient city of Homs. Despite the fact that they were defeated trying to hold on in the Homs’s provincial capital, they were able to build a strong defence lines in the area between Rastan and Tabliseh towns as well as Houla and Aqrab.
This large terrorists pocket has been completely cutting several vital government supply lines connecting Homs and Hama cities and making army convoys choose another long ways to reach northern Hama frontline or the embattled Aleppo city. Also FSA terrorists have shelled government-held villages around the pocket for many times.
Unfortunatelly, almost all SAA’s offensive units like Tiger forces, Soukhur al-Sahara brigade and military intelligence forces have been engaging in fierce clashes with “opposition” and ISIS in different fronts since that time and the only ones to resist terrorists were weak NDF and some local pro-Damascus militias.
Eastern Aleppo offensive against ISIS: A brief situational analysis
With offensives across multiple fronts being launched against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) since the beginning of 2017, all with mixed rates of success so far for the latter, it can be said that the advance in the eastern Aleppo countryside continues to bring some of the most progressive results.
As of the Thursday the 26th of January, the strategic town of al-Maduonah has been liberated by the SAA’s elite Tiger Forces. The town commands two principal roads leading to the city of al-Bab: this is the M4 main highway and the N212 secondary motorway.
Control over the M4 and N212 are essential for any northbound push on al-Bab whether it be soon or later on in the future. At this time the true direction and scope of the SAA’s offensive in the eastern Aleppo countryside is not yet known. For example, it had originally been thought that Deir Hafer – much further to the southeast than the current area of operations – was going to be the target of the SAA offensive in eastern Aleppo and thus far this has proven not to be the case at all.
All that can be said is that if the SAA continues operations in the direction of al-Bab, then very few urban obstacles remain along the M4/ N212 axis, as virtually no other road-controlling town stands between the city and the now liberated al-Maduonah.
- Syrian Army Kills Scores of ISIL Terrorists in Damascus and Sweida Countryside
- Syrian Arab Army captures important hill in eastern Aleppo countryside: Map update
- Syrian Army foils major ISIS offensive in southeast Aleppo: map
- جديد “صراع القاعدة” في إدلب .. “النصرة” تحاول اقتحام جبل الزاوية
- مقتل أحد المسؤولين العسكريين في جيش المجاهدين “عبد الله مخزوم” اثر مهاجمة “جبهة النصرة” مقرات الجيش في بلدة تقاد بريف حلب الغربي
- الجيش العربي السوري يقضي على إرهابيين من تنظيم “داعش” بريف السويداء وجرود القلمون الغربي ويصادر أسلحتهم
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestine
Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)
(19 – 25 January 2017)
- Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in the north-eastern side of occupied Jerusalem.
- 2 Palestinian Civilians were wounded, including a child, in the West Bank.
- Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea.
- 3 fishermen, including a child, were wounded in two shootings against their Boats in the northern Gaza Strip
- Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported.
- A watchtower belonging to Palestinian armed groups was damaged, east of al-Maghazi.
- Israeli forces conducted 63 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the Gaza Strip.
- 64 civilians, including 17 children and 7 activists in the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, were arrested in the West Bank.
- 17 of them, including 12 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.
- Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
- 22 commercial shops were demolished in the vicinity of Qalendia checkpoint, north of Jerusalem.
- A store, parking and store for construction materials were demolished.
- Israeli settlers took over a store in ‘Aqabet al-Khalidiyah neighbourhood in the Old City.
- Settlement activities continued in the West Bank.
- 4 dwellings and 10 other facilities were demolished in Kherbet Karzliyah, north of Jericho, rendering 11 persons homeless, including 6 children.
- Israeli settlers uprooted olive trees from the lands of Bitello village in Ramallah.
- Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th
- Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.
- 8 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints.
Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (19 – 25 January 2017).
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in the north-eastern side of Jerusalem and wounded 5 others, including a child, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea and open fire at farmers in the border areas.
In the West Bank, in new crime of using excessive force, Israeli forces killed Hussein Abu Ghosh (24) from Qalendia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, when they immediately opened fire at him. This happened after his car veered off to a bus station at the entrance to “Adam” settlement established on the lands of Jabe’a village, northeast of the City, and crushed the iron barriers established by Israeli forces in the stations for the soldiers and settlers.
On 21 January 2017, during a demonstration organized by Palestinians and international activists at the eastern entrance to Kafr Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilya, Israeli forces opened fire at ‘Awad Sobhi (12) and wounded him to his right hand. The Israeli forces also arrested Ma’moun Shteiwi (40) and took him to an unknown destination. In the same context, Israeli forces arrested 5 civilians, including a woman, when the earlier moved into “Bab al-Shams” village, which was re-established by the coordinating committee against the wall and settlements in the area adjacent to “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement, east of Jerusalem.
On 25 January 2017, ‘Omer al-Barghuthi (26) from ‘Aboud village, northwest of Ramallah, was seriously wounded and then arrested. Israeli forces claimed that a speeding car opened fire at a number of Israeli soldiers near ‘Aboud village, so the soldiers opened fire back at him, causing him serious wounds.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces wounded 3 fishermen, including a child. On 20 January 2017, ‘Abdel Rahim al-Sultan (25) was wounded when Israeli gunboats stationed west of al-Wahah area in the northern Gaza Strip heavily opened fire at the Palestinian fishermen. On 23 January 2017, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the same area. As a result, Uranus al-Sultan (20) and his cousin ‘Oday (14) were wounded.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea in addition to the abovementioned incidents, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore as well opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats on 24 January 2017.
On the same day, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore and off Khan Younis shore opened fire at a group of fishing boats. The shooting recurred at the boats on 25 January 2017. However, neither casualties nor damages to the boats were reported.
In the context of targeting the border areas, on 24 January 2017, Israeli forces fired two artillery shells at a watchtower belonging to the Palestinian armed groups, east of al-Maghazi in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, the watchtower sustained material damages. On the same day, Israeli forces opened fire at the agricultural lands, east of Khan Younis.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 63 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 64 Palestinian civilians, including 17 children. Seventeen of them, including 12 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Seven of those arrested were activists in the Committees against the Wall and Settlements.
In the Gaza Strip, on 25 January 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip and levelled and combed in the area before redeploying along the border fence.
Efforts to create Jewish majority
In the context of house demolitions and notices, On Thursday early morning, 19 January 2017, Israeli forces carried out a large-scale demolition in the southern side of Qalendia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem. They levelled 22 stores used as an automobile repair and spare parts shops, used cars showrooms and vegetable and fruit shops.
On 25 Janaury 2017, Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished a store, parking and fences belonging to Redwan Jamal ‘Amr in al-‘Abasiyah neighbourhood in Silwan village, south of Jerusalem’s Old City. Around the same time, Israeli bulldozers demolished a store for construction materials belonging to Nassar Family in Qaddoum Valley neighbourhood in Silwan village as well under the pretext of building without a license.
On 17 January 2017, Firas Mahmoud self-demolished his 130-square-meter house in al-‘Issawiyah village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. It should be mentioned that the municipality issued a decision so Mahmoud self-demolishes his house and refused his attempt to obtain a license or postpone the demolition. If he did not do so, the municipality would demolish it and impose on him a demolition fee. Mahmoud started building his houses 8 months ago and intended to move and live in it in the coming days along with his 5-member family.
In the same context, on 24 January 2017, Israeli settlers took over a store belonging to the family of Noura Gheith in ‘Aqabet al-Khalidyah neighbourhood in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Settlement activities and Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:
On 23 January 2017, Israeli forces demolished four dwellings, barracks used as sheep shelters, 2 barns and 4 other attached facilities in Kherbet Karzaliyah in Central Jordan Valley, north of Jericho. That Property belongs to the family of Zuhair Qassem Bani Menia and Zahi Fahim Bani Meniah. The number of both families’ members is 11, including 6 children. The Israeli forces also levelled an agricultural road leading to the abovementioned area to deny the families’ access to the property.
In the same context, a group of Israeli settlers from “Tel Mond” and “Nhlial” settlemnts attacked a plot of agricultural land belonging to a Palestinian civilian from Bitello village, northwest of Ramallah and uprooted and broke 10 olive trees there.
Restrictions on movement:
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons. Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.
- Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Thursday, 19 January 2017
- At approximately 01:35, Israeli forces moved into Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Yusuf Yasser Mohammed Suwailem (21). At approximately 04:30, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
- At approximately 01:50, Israeli forces moved into Azzoun village, east of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched 3 houses belonging to Kathem Mofeed Isamil Redwan (19), Abdul Raheem Bilal Redwan (22) and Shaher Hesham ‘Edwan (40). They then detained Mohammed Ahmed Dahbour (58) after they failed to arrest his son, but later released him.
- At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Ektaba Suburb, northeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested Ahmed Nabhan Abu Basir (52) and Rami Fayez Abu Huwailah (37).
- At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into ‘Asker refugee camp, northeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested Ahmed Nabhan Abu Basir (52) and Rami Fayez Abu Huwailah (37).
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Montaser Wagih Abu ‘Ayash (26) and then arrested him.
- At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Deir al-Ghosoun village, north of Tulkarm. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested Mahmoud Mohammed Shehadah (31). At approximately 04:30, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
- At approximately 17:30, Israeli forces moved into Deir Qadis village, west of Ramallah. They raided and searched houses of the families of ‘Asem Namer Naser (16), ‘Amr ‘Ali Yusuf Abu Zaid (15) and Hesham Shawkat Naser (16) and then arrested them.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (6) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Tarqumia, al-Thaheriyah villages, Yatta and Halhoul in Hebron; Selwad village, northeast of Ramallah and ‘Arabah village, south of Jenin.
Friday, 20 January 2017
- At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Surif village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Hatem Mousa Ghnaimat (25) and then arrested him.
- At approximately 09:00, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of al-Waha, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. They surrounded the boat to arrest the fishermen on board, but the fishermen were able to leave the area, and no material damages were reported. However, due to the shooting, Abdul Rahim Hesham ‘Ashour al-Sultan (25) sustained a metal bullet wound to the right leg. He was transferred to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia. His injury was classified as minor. It should be noted that al-Sultan was on board with his father when he was wounded as their boat was sailing within 700 meters offshore.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (9) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Burin, Osarin and ‘Aqraba villages in Hebron; Badia village, northwest of Salfit; Kafer al-Deek village, west of the city; al-‘Aroub refugee camp, Sa’ir villages and Nemrah neighborhood in the northern area in Hebron and al-Birah.
Saturday, 21 January 2017
- At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron, and stationed in ‘Asidah area. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ashraf ‘Ali Sabarnah (30) and handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.
- At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into ‘Aqaba village, north of Tubas. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Mohammed Thalgi Mohammed Sa’ed Abu ‘Arrah (20).
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Yatta, Sa’ir and Beit Ummer villages in Hebron; and Azzoun village, east of Qalqiliyah.
Sunday, 22 January 2017
- At approximately 08:00, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: al-Thaheriyah and Beit Ummer villages in Hebron and Hawarah village, south of Nablus.
Monday, 23 January 2017
- At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested ‘Edwan Ya’qub Ismail Bahnjawi (22) and Raa’d Mo’awiyah Bahnjawi (19).
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Asker refugee camp, northeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested Khalid Namer Fayad (26), and Na’im Fathi abdul Fattah Qandeel (27).
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Asker al-Balad village, east of Nablus. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested Ahmed ‘Othman Duwaikat (25).
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Abdul Rahman Abu Sal (60) and then arrested his wife Sirriyah Abu Sal (56). It should be noted that Israeli forces arrested their son Ahmed (25) 3 weeks ago and subjected to investigation in Ashkelon Prison. They also summoned Sirriyah few days ago to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Etzion” Settlement Complex, south of Bethlehem, but she refused to go. In the meantime, an Israeli force raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed ‘Essa Abu Zagharit (24) and then arrested him.
- At approximately 06:40, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of al-Wahah, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. Israeli gunboats chased a fishing boat belonging to Sharif Mohammed al-‘Abed al-Sultan. The boat was manned by his son Uranus (20) and his nephew Odai Qusai Mohammed al-Sultan (14). The soldiers forced them to stop about 50 meters offshore. Due to the shooting, Uranus sustained a live bullet wound to the right eyebrow while Odai sustained a metal bullet wound to the left waist. After the Israeli boats withdrew, Odai sailed to the shore as other fishermen helped him. They called a Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance that took him to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia. Uranus was then transferred to al-Shifaa’ Hospital. Uranus’s injury was superficial as his head needed around 13 stiches. Uranus was then transferred to al-‘Oyoun Hospital to reveal if the injury affected his eyesight. Medical sources classified his injury as moderate.
- At approximately 07:30 Israeli planes sprayed pesticides at agricultural lands along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. They moved from Kissufim military site, north of Khan Yunis which is about 400 meters away from the border fence, claiming to eliminate the grass for security reasons in the area. Farmers said to PCHR’s fieldworker that 3 small planes flying low over the abovementioned border fence, sprayed pesticides at the area between al-Qararah and Abasan al-Kabirah. General Manager of Plant Protection in the Agriculture Ministry, Wa’el Thabet, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that on 21 December 2016, the Ministry held a meeting with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and asked to contact the Israeli forces to determine the date of spraying pesticides in the border area. On 24 December 2016, Israeli forces informed them that they will spray pesticides in the period between 25 December 2016 and 05 January 2017, without defining the pesticide’s type or a specific date. The Ministry informed the farmers about the dates to take precautions because the pesticide-spraying in the past years damaged and burnt the crops. The Israeli planes sprayed the pesticides on around an area of 800 square meters in the eastern side of the northern Gaza Strip on 01,03 and 05 January 2017. One day before, the Israeli authorities informed the ICRC that they will spray pesticides again on 23 January 2017. The Israeli planes sprayed pesticides on the eastern side of Maleka intersection, north of the Gaza Strip, to the east of Abasan al-Kabirah, east of Kahn Yunis. Farmers said to PCHR’s fieldworker that they were forced to delay planting their lands until the pesticide-spraying was over. In the next few days, the Agriculture Ministry will do land surveying to determine the spraying effect on the crops in the abovementioned areas.
- At approximately 18:00, Israeli forces arrested Abdullah Mahmoud Abu Rahmah (44), an activist in the Popular Peaceful Resistance Committees from Bil’in villages, west of Ramallah while attending a trial of 5 activists in the Comittees in Ofer Military Court, southwest of Ramallah. It should be noted that the 5 activists were arrested on Friday, 20 January 2017, when participating in the activity of re-establishing Bab al-Shams village adjacent to “Ma’aleh Adomim” settlement, east of Jerusalem.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (6) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Azzoun village, east of Qalqiliyah; Jeet village, northeast of the city; Beit Ummer, al-Thaheriyah and al-Kume villages in Hebron..
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
- At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Abdullah Ezreq Abu ‘Ayash and then arrested his son Wahid (21). In the meantime, other Israeli forces raided and searched a house belonging to ‘Emad Mohammed al-Salibi and arrested his son Amin (15).
- At approximately 03:30, Israeli forces moved into Tulkarm. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Baraa’ Jamal Abdul Fattah (22). At approximately 04:30, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
- At approximately 04:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched houses belonging to Mustfa Husain Sharakah (26), Mahmoud Wajdi Safi (24) and Ma’ruf Bajes Nakhlah (23) and then arrested them.
- At approximately 04:30, Israeli forces moved into Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested Yazan Mohammed Namer Abu Hamed (22).
- At approximately 06:30, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing off Rafah shore, but no arrests were reported.
- Around the same time, Israeli gunboats stationed off Khan Yunis shore in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within the limited fishing area. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but no casualties were reported.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands located to the west of the abovementioned fence, east of al-Fokhari village, east of Khan Yunis. The shooting continued for 2 hours. As a result, farmers were forced to leave their lands, but no casualties were reported.
- At approximately 07:30, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.
- At approximately 22:20, Israeli forces fired 2 artillery shells at a Palestinian watchtower east of al-Maghazi in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, the shelling caused material damages in the site, but no casualties were reported.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Dura, Surif, Tarqumia, Ethna and Deir Samet villages in Hebron.
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
- At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Israeli forces accompanied with several military jeeps and a truck moved into Sa’ir village, east of Khan Yunis. The soldiers broke doors of a steel workshop belonging to Suhaib Husain Jaradat (30). They confiscated all contents in the workshop and then withdrew, but no arrests were reported.
- At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Rema and Deir Ghasanah villages, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched houses belonging to Basem Sa’ed al-Barghuti (51), Hakim Mahmoud al-Barghuthi (22) and Nedal Thalgi al-Remawi (28) and then arrested them. After hours of detention, Israeli force released Nedal Thalgi al-Remawi (28).
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-Laban al-Gharbi village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched houses belonging to Tareq Hesham Abu Salem (22), Marwan Mahmoud Radi (22) and Samer ‘Ayed Radi (16) and then arrested them.
- At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Dura village, southwest of Hebron, and stationed in Ghunaim area. They raided and searched a house belonging to the reporter of al-Majd TV channel, Mohammed Adeeb Ahmed al-Qeeq al-Talahmah, who was arrested few days ago after Israeli forces detained him at “Beit Eil” checkpoint, north of Ramallah. They also handed his wife ,journalist Faihaa’ Ibrahim Abdul ‘Aziz Shalash, a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem. Israeli forces then moved into al-Eskan neighborhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ezz Eden Jamil al-Titi (22) and arrested him.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Nour al-Shams refugee camp. They raided and searched a number of houses after which they arrested 4 civilians namely ‘Ali Khairi Mohammed Abu Salah (33), Mohammed adeeb Raja Gharifi (19), Mohammed ahmed Mohammed al-‘Ezzah (18) and Mohammed Sami ‘Aref Taher Omer (30).
- At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Ektaba Suburb, north of Tulkarm. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested ‘Ali Amin Ahmed abu al-Rub (18). At approximately 04:00, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Anin village, west of Jenin. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Saddam Mohammed Yasin (27). At approximately 04:30, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
- At approximately 05:30, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing off Rafah shore, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.
- At approximately 07:00, Israeli forces accompanied with a number of military jeeps and bulldozers moved around 50 meters near sofa militarysite in al-Shawkah village, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. They leveled and combed the area. At approximately 13:50, Israeli forces redeployed along the abovementioned border fence.
- In evening hours, Omer Nathir al-Barghuthi (26) from ‘Aboud village, northwest of Ramallah, sustained serious wounds and was arrested. He was transferred to a hospital in Jerusalem to receive medical treatment. Israeli forces claimed that a speeding car opened fire at Israeli soldiers in ‘Aboud village, but no casualties were reported. Therefore, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the car and wounded Omer causing him serious wounds. An Israeli military spokesperson claimed they found a rifle in the car.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (6) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: ‘Aboud, Kafer ‘Ein and Birzeit villages in Ramallah and al-Thaheriyah village in Hebron.
- Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall
- Following the Friday prayer on Friday, 20 January 2017, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstrations in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, west of Ramallah and al-Nabi Saleh, northwest of the city, and Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, protesting against the annexation wall and settlement activities. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protests, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased the protesters into olive fields and between houses. As a result, many of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up.
- Following the Friday prayer, Israeli forces moved into Bab al-Shams village established by activists of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement Activities, adjacent to “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement established on Palestinian lands, east of Jerusalem. Activists re-estabished the village in protest against the bill to annex the “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement to Israel. Israeli forces arrested 5 activists namely Mohammed Abdul Karim Mustafa al-Khatib (42), Akram Abdul Karim Mustafa al-Khatib (64), from Bil’in village, west of Ramallah, Monther ‘Amirah, Head of the Supreme Coordination Committee agains the Wall and Settlements, Lama Nazih and Hasan Faraj, Member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah. It should be noted that Bab al-Shams village was established on 11 January 2013, in protest against the Israeli settlement activity in Jerusalem. About 250 activists from different Palestinian areas in addition to International and Israeli activists set tents to establish the village in East Jerusalem protesting against the “E1” settlement project. However, Israeli forces removed the village. On the above-mentioned day, theactivists attempted to rebuild the village.
- At approximately 17:15 on Saturday, 21 January 2017, Palestinian civilians and International activists organized a demonstration. They made their way from Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah towards the eastern entrance to the village, in protest against closing the entrance since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada with an iron gate. As soon as the protestors arrived at the abovementioned entrance, Israeli soldiers fired live and metal bullets and sound bombs at them. As a result, ‘Awad Mansour Sobhi (12) sustained a metal bullet wound to the right hand. Israeli forces arrested Ma’moun Rafiq Shtewi (40).
- Continued closure of the oPt
Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian