Archive for January 9th, 2016

Erdogan: Palestinians are fighting a ‘noble and honorable battle’

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated this morning that the Muslim world is going through a very difficult time, noting that “our brethren in Palestine are confronting the Israeli violations and attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and are fighting a noble and honorable battle.”

In his speech before the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC), Erdogan highlighted the fact that the blockade imposed on Gaza continues and has turned Gaza into an open-air prison.

He also stressed the need to not let this situation continue, and mentioned the situation in Syria and the incident with the Russian fighter jet earlier this week.

The Turkish premier claimed that two unknown fighter jets penetrated Turkey’s air space before Turkish air controllers requested the jets to retreat. One jet left while the other remained, so the Turkish fighter jets shot it down.

He added that parts of the fighter jet fell on Turkish territory, resulting in the death and injury of Turkish citizens.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


New Indonesian hospital opened to serve North Gaza residents

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Palestinian health ministry opened on Sunday an Indonesian funded hospital to serve residents of north Gaza.

The old hospital that served the area, Kamal Adwan hospital, has been closed down for renovations and maintenance.

The new hospital, built by the Republic of Indonesia, contains 110 beds, including 10 for intensive care cases.

“The Indonesian hospital is an important healthcare addition, with high-quality medical facilities to serve the residents of north Gaza,” the ministry’s spokesman Dr Ashraf Al-Qudra told Quds Press

He added that the hospital provides special medical care service in the fields of internal medicine, surgery and orthopaedics.

Al Qudra also pointed out that the new hospital has CT scan, the most advanced in Gaza yet, and four highly equipped operating theatres, in addition to an intensive care unit, qualified medical doctors and nurses.

He expressed optimism about the hospital’s ability to lead to a significant shift in medical services provided in Gaza.

The ministry will renovate the Kamal Adwan Hospital to improve the quality of its services. While it is being renovated, medical services for children will be temporarily offered in other hospitals in Gaza – namely al-Nasr, al-Durra, Bait Hanoun and Balsam hospitals.

The ministry spokesman called on all citizens who receive health care at the Kamal Adwan hospital to continue doing so at the new Indonesian hospital.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


PFLP marks 48th anniversary in Gaza

Dec. 12, 2015

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Thousands of supporters on Saturday joined a rally in the Gaza Strip commemorating the 48th anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Led by top PFLP figures, supporters marched from the Saraya junction in the center of Gaza City to the headquarters of the United Nations waving Palestinian national flags, PFLP flags, as well as photos of Palestinian martyrs .

Member of the PFLP’s politburo, Jamil Mizhir, spoke during the rally, slamming ongoing factional divisions between the Hamas and Fatah movements.

Mizhir said that the divisions are negatively impacting “the ongoing uprising of the Palestinian people,” due to both movements utilizing the recent unrest to their own factional interests.

Mizhir also slammed Palestinian leadership in the occupied west Bank for continuing to “impede the implementation of decisions by the PLO’s Central Council” regarding security coordination with Israel.

The Central Council in March called for an end to security coordination with Israel as long as it continued to violate signed agreements.

President Mahmoud Abbas in September said during an address to the UN General Assembly that the PA was no longer bound by the agreements due to Israel’s lack of commitment to the Oslo Accords, and said the council’s March decision was “specific and binding.”

Mizhir said that despite this, Palestinian security services “continue to harass and go after young Palestinian men” in coordination with Israel.

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Mizhir added, the “disastrous conditions continue and worsen in light of the electricity crisis, water problems, the closure of the Rafah crossing and the imposition of new taxes.”

Source: Ma’an News Agency.


Notorious Lebanese militant killed in Syria airstrike

December 21, 2015

BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese man convicted of one of the most notorious attacks in Israel’s history and who spent nearly three decades in an Israeli prison has been killed by an Israeli airstrike near the Syrian capital, the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group said Sunday.

Hezbollah officials have pledged to avenge the killing of Samir Kantar, sparking fears of escalation in an already volatile region. In a possible first response, three rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon late Sunday.

Kantar had said that he had been working, with the backing of Hezbollah, to set up “the Syrian resistance” to liberate the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and annexed 14 years later.

Hezbollah said Kantar was killed along with eight others in an airstrike in Jaramana, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, on Saturday night. According to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, two Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace and fired four long-range missiles at the residential building in Jaramana. It aired footage of what it said was the building, which appeared to be destroyed. Kantar’s brother, Bassam, confirmed his “martyrdom” in a Facebook post on Sunday.

In Lebanon Kantar is known as “the dean of Lebanese prisoners,” a reference to his long jail sentence. In Israel, he gained notoriety for the kidnapping and grisly killing of a man named Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter, in the coastal town of Nahariya. Kantar was 16 at the time, and a member of the Palestinian militant group the Palestine Liberation Front.

He also killed a policeman during the attack, and is alleged to have beaten the four-year-old to death with a rifle butt. As the attack unfolded, the girl’s mother hid inside a crawl space inside their home and accidentally smothered their crying two-year-old daughter, fearing Kantar would find them.

Kantar was imprisoned in 1979 in Israel and sentenced to three life terms, but was released as part of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah in 2008. While many in Israel were outraged at his release, in Lebanon he received a hero’s welcome and the following year he was awarded Syria’s highest medal by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies. The two countries battled to a stalemate during a monthlong war in 2006 during which Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel and Israel’s air force destroyed wide areas in Lebanon. Since then, Israeli military officials say Hezbollah has upgraded its capabilities and now possesses tens of thousands of rockets and missiles capable of striking anywhere in the country.

Many Israeli officials believe Hezbollah is currently in no position to open a new front with Israel, as it is bogged down aiding its close ally, President Assad, in the Syrian civil war. Nevertheless, Hezbollah legislator Ali Ammar vowed to avenge Kantar’s killing, saying the militant group will not allow his blood to go “betrayed.” Ammar said the group’s military arm would determine the timing and methods chosen “to punish the killers, specifically the Israeli enemy.”

In January, the Lebanese group accused Israel of carrying out an airstrike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, which killed several Hezbollah members and a prominent Iranian general. Around ten days later, Hezbollah militants fired a salvo of missiles at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed border area, killing two soldiers and triggering deadly clashes that marked the most serious escalation since the 2006 war.

Gil Rabinovich, the former head of the Israeli military intelligence’s counterterrorism unit, said it was impossible to predict how Hezbollah would respond, in part because Israel has not claimed responsibility for Kantar’s killing. He noted however that Kantar was not a member of Hezbollah’s “inner circle,” reducing the probability that the group would open a new front against Israel.

“He’s important, but not so important to endanger them in a situation where they might be in direct conflict with Israel,” Rabinovich said. Israel has previously said it would engage in the Syria conflict for two reasons only: to stop the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to disrupt preparations for attacks on Israel. The country is believed to have intercepted and destroyed a number of arms shipments headed toward the militant group and Israeli warplanes have struck targets inside Syria several times during the country’s nearly five-year conflict, although it has rarely confirmed its involvement.

Retired Israeli Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Adviser and a Senior Fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies said that Kantar was seen as “a pivot in the efforts of Hezbollah to prepare the Golan Heights for another front against Israel.”

Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said he was not sorry about Kantar’s death but could not comment on the accusations that Israel was behind the killing. It is not unusual for Israel to decline to comment on such operations.

Kantar’s killing would mark the first Israeli assassination of a senior figure inside Syria since Russia launched its military operations in Syria on Sept. 30 in support of President Bashar Assad. Israel and Russia have set up a communications channel to make sure their air forces do not clash with each other, though it was not known whether the alleged Israeli strike on Kantar had been announced to the Russians ahead of time. The Russian Defense Ministry declined comment.

An Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity under briefing guidelines, said Hezbollah has a limited presence on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, and its efforts there have been focused primarily on aiding Assad’s forces against the advances of various rebel groups. He noted, however, that several attacks along the Israeli-Syrian frontier in the Golan in recent years were believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah or its allies.

On Sunday evening, Lebanese security officials speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said militants fired three rockets into northern Israel. No one claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

Associated Press writers Aron Heller in Jerusalem, Zeina Karam in Beirut, Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.