Archive for December 29th, 2011

Jordan police fire tear gas on protesters

Fri Dec 23, 2011

Jordanian anti- and pro-government protesters have clashed in the northern city of Mafraq, forcing police to use tear gas to end the violence.

Witnesses say dozens from both sides, including police, were injured after thousands of members of the Bani Hassan tribe clashed with around 300 anti-government demonstrators demanding reforms in Mafraq on Friday.

Several shops were also destroyed during the clashes, AFP reported.

The demonstrators have reportedly sought refuge in a mosque and according to witnesses the situation is still tense in the city.

Bani Hassan, one of Jordan’s largest tribes, which supports the government, on Thursday warned against holding anti-government demonstration in Mafraq.

Similar anti-government rallies were held in the capital, Amman, and several other cities following the Friday Prayers.

Jordanians have been holding street protests demanding political reform, including the election of the prime minister by popular vote, and an end to corruption since January. There have been no calls for the king to be removed.

Since the beginning of protest rallies, Jordanian ruler, King Abdullah II, has sacked two prime ministers in a bid to avoid more protests. Awn al-Khasawneh, a judge at International Court of Justice, is Jordan’s third premier this year.

The king has also amended 42 articles in the 60-year-old constitution, giving parliament a stronger role in decision-making.

Source: PressTV.

Tunisian convoy en route to Gaza

Thursday 22/12/2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Tunisian medical aid convoy began its journey to Gaza on Thursday from Tunis, Palestinian officials said.

The convoy carrying four tons of medical aid left Tunis-Carthage International Airport earlier in the day, medical officials told Ma’an.

The coordinator of the medical services in the Gaza Strip said the convoy was organized by a Tunisian scout group and will arrive in Cairo and depart for Gaza shortly thereafter.

Some 11 scout leaders are part of the delegation, which is to visit Gaza’s hospitals and civil society groups before checking up on local scouts.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Jewish terrorism threat grows in West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 21 (UPI) — The Israeli military, already bracing for what could be the most devastating war in the Middle East, is also girding for a looming confrontation with Jewish extremists, mainly hard-liners from the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Extremists from ultra-Orthodox settler groups, who say God gave the region to the children of Abraham for all time, have been increasingly active in recent months.

This has taken place as the United States sought to pressure the Israeli government to relinquish the West Bank, or a large portion of it, as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

The smoldering crisis escalated sharply Dec. 12 when a mob of angry settlers stormed a regional military base near the Arab city of Qalqilya, stoned the brigade commander and his deputy and burned army trucks.

The right-wing hard-liners attacked the base because, they said, the military was preparing to shut down a settlement the Israeli Supreme Court had ordered closed in August.

Earlier, another group broke into a closed military zone on the border with Jordan and attempted to establish a settlement outpost before they were arrested.

These incidents, with troops under attack from fellow Jews, triggered an outcry in the Israeli media, with some commentators even speculating on “civil war.”

The liberal Haaretz daily warned that “the only ‘red line’ that has yet to be crossed is a scenario in which an Israeli citizen fires on soldiers. There are those in Israel’s security forces who fear that day is not so distant.”

The violence follows a growing number of so-called price-tag attacks by settlers on Palestinian mosques and churches, some of which were torched. These attacks are intended to dissuade the government from moving against illegal hilltop outposts, a tactic used by the more militant settlers to extend the settlement process.

Ironically, it was one devised in 1997 by Ariel Sharon, then foreign minister in Netanyahu’s first term as premier, who exhorted settlers to “seize the hilltops” to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

The recent attacks are part of a larger hard-line campaign to prevent the government forcibly evacuating settlements, which the settlers see as a move toward an eventual sellout to the Palestinians.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon and others branded the attacks as terrorism, an epithet rarely used against Jews and the politically powerful movement representing the 300,000 settlers in the West Bank.

“There’s no question that this is terror behavior,” declared Barak, Israel’s most decorated war hero.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a right-wing hawk widely blamed for undermining the peace process, described the attack on the army as “intolerable.”

He directed security forces to be more aggressive against the militants and decreed they would be tried by military courts.

But he stopped short of calling the culprits “terrorists,” thus avoiding a politically dangerous clash with the settler bloc by equating the militants’ actions with stone-throwing Palestinian “terrorists.”

Indeed, the commotion, and the customary condemnations, underlines just how powerless the authorities are when it comes to Jewish terrorism and how success administrations have failed to rein them in.

Even the right-leaning Jerusalem Post was incensed by the attack on the army.

“What needs to be understood is that these settlers and far-right activists largely do not fear the police or the courts,” the Post’s military affairs correspondent Yaakov Katz, wrote.

“Past experience has shown that punishments tend to be minor and that’s in the rare instance where the case actually makes it court.”

Palestinians living in the West Bank, who have been under military occupation since 1967, are routinely tried by military courts where defendants’ rights are minimal.

Haaretz, which has long spoken out against Jewish terrorism and settler militancy, cited military documents indicating that in 2010 99.74 percent of Palestinians who appeared before military courts were convicted.

That’s 25 acquittals out of 9,542 cases.

Despite the government’s pledge to crack down of right-wing extremists it has in recent weeks approved settlement expansions in the West Bank and, more controversially, in Arab East Jerusalem where the Israelis have been systematically forcing out the Palestinian population for years.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Clashes smear University of Jordan Student Union Elections


By Alaa Elayyan

AMMONNEWS – Clashes erupted throughout the day on Thursday at the University of Jordan (UJ) as students cast their ballots in the Student Union elections.

Security forces intensified their presence around the campus as several brawls erupted in various faculties, including the humanities, medicine, sciences, and engineering departments.

Two students were injured in the clashes and were transferred to the University of Jordan hospital for treatment.

University security guards worked to contain the various fights that erupted, as Public Security Directorate (PSD) personnel remained outside the campus near the main gates.

Meanwhile, Dean of the Humanities Department Dr. Abdullah Anbar announced on Thursday morning postponing the English Department elections until next week after clashes erupted there when students supporting one candidate prevented other students from casting their ballots.

Angry students stormed into the university’s President’s building after the department’s elections were postponed, leading UJ’s vice-president to meet with them to contain the incident.

UJ President Adel Tweisi told Ammon News on Thursday that head of the elections’ committee in the humanities department worked to contain the incident after young men covering their faces with scarfs and masks prevented female students from voting.

Students also vandalized university property in the Business Department and blocked the entrances to the engineering department.

Source: Ammon News.

Report: Hamas agrees to join PLO

Thursday 22/12/2011

CAIRO (Ma’an) — Hamas has agreed to join the Palestine Liberation Organization in a move intended to bolster Palestinian reconciliation, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

There was no immediate confirmation, but officials in Cairo said Hamas and Islamic Jihad expressed flexibility and indicated they would accept the PLO’s legitimacy.

The report came after President Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo to put “final touches” on an agreement to reconcile the leaders’ rival factions.

Officials from Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian National Initiative said late Thursday that they had accepted positions on an “interim leadership” of the PLO.

Ayed Yaghi, a PNI leader, said the small faction joined the PLO and that it was a natural position to take.

Head of the PNI Mustafa Barghouthi called it “a historic day in the lives of the Palestinian people with the development of a united national leadership as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PNI joined the PLO’s leadership framework.”

An Islamic Jihad leader, however, said that joining the “interim leadership framework” of the PLO did not necessarily mean it had formally accepted membership in the Palestinian body.

Khaled Al-Batsh told Ma’an that joining the organization requires a clear framework for how the PLO will be restructured.

He added that if there was an agreement concerning these issues, Islamic Jihad would become a member in the organization. However, if there was not, the group said it was still willing to contribute.

“We’re now in the phase of national dialogue,” he said. “We’re in the interim leadership framework, which will handle restructuring the PLO, and we hope to succeed.”

Source: Ma’an News Agency.