Archive for October 26th, 2016

Over 7,700 Syrians return to Jarabulus city from Turkey

25 October 2016 Tuesday

More than 7,700 Syrians have returned to northern Syria’s Jarabulus city from Turkey’s Gaziantep province, two months after the city was liberated from the ISIL extremist group, the regional governor’s office said Tuesday.

Syrians can be seen waiting in line at Turkey’s Karkamis border crossing to go to Jarabulus after registration and security checks.

Oktay Bahceci, head of the Gaziantep regional migration office, said Jarabulus was now clear of all extremist groups.

“After our office carries out the registrations, they may go to their hometowns,” Bahceci said. “To date, a total of 7,741 people have returned to Jarabulus.”

Operation Euphrates Shield, which began on Aug. 24 backed by the Turkish Armed Forces, is aimed at bolstering border security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the threat posed by extremist organizations in Syria, especially ISIL.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

The Syrian Center for Policy Research, a Beirut-based NGO, has put the total death toll from the five-year conflict at more than 470,000.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/179119/over-7700-syrians-return-to-jarabulus-city-from-turkey.

After al-Hameh & Qudsayya .. Muadamiyat al-Sham’s inhabitants leave to #Idlib

19 October, 2016

The Negotiations between the delegated Committee by the al-Assad regime and the Muadamiyat al-Sham’s people got to the final stages, to be on Wednesday the date of the fighters’ exit the city with their families who refuse to reconcile with the regime.

620 Fighters with their families decided to get out of Muadamiyat al-Sham, bringing the number to 1,500 people, and go to the city of Idlib northern Syria, pointing out that among the displaced families people came from Darya and KafarSoseh and Mezzeh, according to media sources.

Last week, about 2,500 people had left “al-Hameh and Qudsayya” towards Idlib’s towns, as part of an agreement held for the residents’ evacuation of the besieged areas in Rif Dimashq to the city of Idlib under international auspices.

The al-Assad regime imposes a genocidal blockade on the Eastern and Western Ghouta areas several years ago, in order to compel the people of those areas for reconciliation, or to leave the entire region, as happened in the town of Darya, which its current population are Iraqi and Afghan families.

Source: el-Dorar.

Link: http://en.eldorar.com/node/3516.

“Euphrates Shield” Expands northern #Aleppo, close to al-Assad regime’s zone

18 October, 2016

The Free Syrian Army factions fighting within the process of the “Euphrates Shield” made new progress on the IS Group-held areas of the northern Aleppo countryside; where they expanded south of Dabiq town and have become close to the al-Assad regime’s sites.

Seven new areas seized by FSA backed by the Turkish army: “Tal Maled, al-Sayed Ali, Albarrozah, Tannorah, Baraan, Ataiwahnyah, Asamoukah Bridge and al-Wash” all of which are located south of Dabiq town which seized by FSA earlier, ElDorar’s correspondent reported.

Our correspondent pointed out that “the Euphrates Shield” forces are in close proximity to areas controlled by the al-Assad regime; there are just three villages separate the FSA controlled areas and the al-Assad forces’ areas, namely: “Sorouj, Hasasek and al-Wahshya.”

It should be noted that the Turkish president, “Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” said in a statement today that the Democratic Union Party’s fighters will be driven off from the city of Manbej after the al-Bab’s Battle, in an indication that the fight is so close.

Source: el-Dorar.

Link: http://en.eldorar.com/node/3512.

Gaza University to launch first film major in Palestine

October 23, 2016

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza is getting ready to launch its first film studies major in the Palestinian territories in January 2017. The university program will be implemented in universities, as hundreds of students wishing to major in cinematography and film studies are unable to travel abroad to pursue their studies given the closure of crossings in the Gaza Strip, namely the Rafah crossing.

Although launching the program could be a bumpy ride given the lack of the necessary equipment, such as school curricula and other work equipment, the program organizers, a group of people who hold university degrees from art faculties in Egypt, are seeking to bring in some material from abroad or tap into the available modest tools in Gaza after having obtained preliminary approval by the Ministry of Culture in early October.

Mai Nayef, an academic and one of the people in charge of the program, told Al-Monitor, “The main reason behind this initiative is the lack of any film and cinematography major in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, despite the large number of students who wish to pursue this career.”

She added, “Gaza, in particular, is a fertile ground for the success and growth of such an initiative. The drama works and art projects that are produced every year, which culminate during the month of Ramadan through TV series and programs, are further proof of Gaza’s ability to thrive in this domain.”

Nayef noted that the produced works by Gazan directors, filmmakers and photographers are made on an ad hoc basis and are drawn from their own personal experience without having acquired any scientific or academic expertise. Therefore, many Gazan artists and workers in the cinema industry will seek to enhance their skills through this new academic specialization. She also said that her group has been contacted by several directors, cinematographers and scriptwriters inquiring about the program’s schedule and admission dates.

She added that the needed textbooks will be brought in from Egypt given the scarcity of the necessary teaching material in Gaza’s libraries, stressing that her group is seeking to conclude an agreement with the Academy of Arts in Egypt for the procurement of the textbooks. This is in addition to contracting with some Egyptian academics to give lectures through video conferences and Skype calls.

Mohammed al-Bayoumi, a holder of a doctorate degree in cinematography from Egypt’s Academy of Arts and one of the program’s creators, expects the program to have a high turnout of students who are interested in cinema studies.

He stressed that the program’s administrators will focus on both theory and practice during the studies to ensure that the students will acquire the necessary experience to engage in the labor market.

Bayoumi told Al-Monitor that the program will be focusing on “acting, script writing, film directing and cinematography.” He expects that after completion of the two-year program, students will be able to engage in the labor market and participate in big film festivals in Gaza and abroad.

He stressed that several conditions were implemented for selecting educators, saying that applicants must hold a university degree in film studies, have experience in this domain and have won some awards for their productions and works.

Palestinian director Abdullah al-Ghoul told Al-Monitor, “This program is a great opportunity for many directors, actors and cinematographers in Gaza. Although they have acquired experience through work, they seek to obtain a degree in this domain.”

He noted that the many social, political and economic events and developments in Gaza can be shown to the world through short films and even TV series. Ghoul expressed hope that such a step would shift the attention back to the Palestinian cinema industry that burgeoned in the 1930s.

Gaza used to have 10 film theaters, first of which was al-Samer Cinema, established in 1944 in central Gaza. However, all of them are out of service. Some theaters were demolished, some were completely shut down, while other theaters were turned into public facilities. Gaza’s cinemas used to play Arab and Western ms brought in from abroad.

Lina Bukhari, the head of the cinema department at the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, told Al-Monitor that the ministry supports such initiatives to promote the Palestinian cinema industry, stressing that this domain is highly advanced in the Gaza Strip in comparison with the West Bank.

She also stressed that concerted efforts between Gaza University, which will be launching the film studies program, and the Ministry of Culture along with other institutions could lead to a new strong infrastructure to serve as a launch pad for the program. This is especially true in terms of providing necessary academic equipment, material and references.

Photographer Alaa Suleiman, who is eagerly waiting to enroll in the program, told Al-Monitor that she is seeking to be admitted to the film studies program as she aspires to become a filmmaker. She said that she has been working as a photographer at a TV station because university majors in Gaza are limited to audiovisual and printed media.

Aspiring students must be holders of a high school diploma to be able to enroll in this new program.

Suleiman also said that she is expecting some difficulties down this path, as the film industry is seen as reserved for men only. She noted that she has faced some hardships when she first started working at Al-Aqsa TV three years ago, but she shrugged off all criticism.

Nuhad Abu Saleh, a Palestinian high school student, told Al-Monitor that he was considering stopping the enrollment procedures in the Fine Arts Faculty at Al-Aqsa University and will wait to apply for the new program at Gaza University that is scheduled to start in the beginning of 2017.

Saleh said he is passionate about acting, especially since he has taken part in many successful experiences during his school years. He sees the program as a way to develop his skills through scientific study so as to gain more experience and academic credentials.

Eventually it all boils down to the efforts of the trailblazers and their ability to attract students and to overcome the anticipated obstacles, such as acquiring the necessary materials, curricula and staff.

Source: al-Monitor.

Link: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/10/gaza-university-film-studies-major-students.html.

Welcome to Gaza’s first deer farm

October 23, 2016

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinians have always raised animals such as goats and camels, but one man has now taken up a new activity that is the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip — deer farming.

Majed Sharab, a resident of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza who owns Cardinal Garden, a shop for rare birds, as well as the new deer farm, told Al-Monitor, “I started raising deer four years ago because I wanted to have a farm and a zoo for people to visit and enjoy the many types of deer and several species of rare birds.”

He said, “I learned that someone in Khan Yunis owned a small female European deer and I contacted him immediately and offered to buy the deer for $2,300. I then placed it in a small garden I had next to my house where I kept my rare birds and animals.”

Sharab added, “But I had to look for a male deer to make them reproduce. Male deer are expensive and very rare in Gaza. I had to finally rent a male deer from a zoo in Shajaiya neighborhood in Gaza City to impregnate the female deer. I paid the zoo owner a large sum of money, and six months later the first baby deer was born. I repeated this process until the total number of deer finally reached six — four females and two males. The process cost me a lot, and I eventually had to buy a male deer from Abdul Rahman Zoo on al-Jalaa Street in Gaza City for $3,000 for reproduction. Now I have a male deer [permanently] for reproduction.”

Speaking about the purpose of deer farming, Sharab said, “I find great pleasure in raising deer. I spend most of my time taking care of them and feeding them. Raising deer is not that different from raising goats and sheep; they require the same kind of food such as grass and grains, and the climate in Gaza is adequate for them. Only their physical structure differs, as they are really fast and not easy to catch.”

He continued, “If my goal was to make quick money, I would have sold the deer and made major profit. But my goal is to have a zoo with several types of deer and the best species of rare birds. And I hope to turn [this zoo] into a national project that people can visit. This first goal would be to make a good profit for myself, and the second would be to improve the Palestinian environment by providing such new zoos for people to visit and have fun.”

Although there are many small zoos around the Gaza Strip, they are suffering under difficult circumstances in light of the Israeli blockade. Zoo owners are no longer able to provide new species or even the required care for existing animals.

Deer farming is not easy and requires a lot of effort and patience. A female deer can be impregnated once every six months, and the mating season is autumn. Raising deer and feeding them requires $500 per month for food and veterinary care. There are only 15 deer in the Gaza Strip, most of which are kept in zoos. They are very expensive and sold at a minimum price of $2,500.

Falah Abu Dabbagh, a veterinarian and an expert on animal life, told Al-Monitor, “There are dozens of types of deer in the world that cannot easily live in Gaza. … These animals can only live in the wild where they can find grass and natural herbs. Deer are not slaughtered, although their meat is one of the most delicious meats there is, but it is expensive. They do not live in groups and only gather around mid-October for the mating period. However, when deer meet, the males fight over the females to impregnate them.”

He said, “Sharab needs a long time to adapt to the deer’s life and see how their nature changes once they are locked up after being used to living freely in the wild. He needs to make a lot of effort for reproduction because deer mate differently than other animals; they have peculiar habits where fierce fights take place between males over the females.”

Abu Dabbagh added, “This is why Sharab needs to find vast areas to raise deer to guarantee the maximum for reproduction — for the number of deer to grow faster.”

Economic expert and researcher at the Palestinian Planning Center, Mazen al-Ajala, told Al-Monitor, “This is a pioneer idea [in Gaza] and it is one of the Palestinian youth’s attempts to create new economic projects that generate a regular income in order to overcome unemployment, which runs rampant among young people.”

He added, “If such an idea is developed and new species of animals and rare birds are introduced, we would have a large and improved zoo that would play a cultural role for environment and biodiversity researchers, as well as an entertaining role for citizens and children. Such projects could be a lever for the Palestinian economy.”

Developing this pioneering idea requires willpower and official and government support, mainly from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, which is in charge of such projects. They would provide these projects with the necessary financial requirements for it to succeed.

Source: al-Monitor.

Link: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/10/palestine-gaza-deer-farming-zoo-unemployment.html.

Syria refugees in Lebanon now get aid with debit card

October 25, 2016

BAR ELIAS, Lebanon (AP) — International agencies in Lebanon have begun distributing aid to Syrian refugees through a single debit card. The card is meant to simplify aid delivery and give refugees more choices. It is valid for five years, a reflection of the protracted Syria conflict that has displaced millions.

The card replaces separate distributions for food, cash and winter aid, also by debit card. Contributors include the World Food Program, the U.N. refugee agency and the Lebanon Cash Consortium, an aid alliance that offers $175 a month in “unconditional” cash to the most vulnerable.

On Tuesday, hundreds lined up in the town of Bar Elias in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to pick up the new cards. Refugee Watfa al-Faraj, 38, said she relies on the aid to buy medicine for a sick teenage son.