The circumstances surrounding Home Secretary Theresa May's decision to issue an exclusion order against Sheikh Raed Salah is a cause for great concern. It is unacceptable that the British government ministers can be influenced heavily by lobby groups on the basis of little more than conflated "evidence" and hearsay, and to such an extent that a senior minister can actually be "misled" and operate under "misapprehension". That was the damning conclusion of the Upper Immigration Tribunal's vice-president who considered Sheikh Salah's appeal against the deportation order.
Entries in Palestine (246)
2020 GMT: Back from a development break to find that today's deathtoll in Syria has reached 101, according to the LCCS. The Deir Balbaa district of Homs suffered the hardest hit, but the deaths were distributed as follows:
56 in Homs, 22 martyrs in Hama, 12 martyrs in Idlib, 6 martyrs in Daraa, 3 martyrs in Aleppo, 1 martyr in Harasta in Damascus Suburbs and 1 martyr in Deir Ezzor.
So, on the day that withdrawal was supposed to start, there has been an escalation in Homs and Hama, a continuation of the campaigns against Idlib and Daraa provinces, and though Aleppo suffered far fewer action than previous days, it too is reporting casualties at the hands of the regime.
A friend of EA's quips that every time Kofi Annan speaks, Assad seems to kill a few dozen people, so for the sake of all of Syria we should hope that Annan gives up his mission of peace.
Journalists who stood outside the court building exchanged jokes about the "six million dollars." No problem, we'll obtain them, someone said. That's small change, another said. But these light remarks did not hide concerns about their colleague, Yusuf Al-Shayeb, who was at the time on his way to the Magistrate's Court in Ramallah, to have his remand extended.
The Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry, headed by Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, and the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France have submitted libel claims against Al-Shayeb --- who works for the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper (which is associated with the PA ) and AlGhad, a Jordanian newspaper --- demanding compensation of six million dollars.
Of the two papers that he writes for, it was the Jordanian one that on January 29 published his report on claims of corruption at the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France. The report alleged that the mission's deputy ambassador, Safwat Ibraghit, compels Palestinian students to spy on Muslim groups in France and relay information to Palestinian and foreign intelligence services. Al-Shayeb also claimed that Maliki, Palestinian National Fund director Dr. Ramzi Khouri, and Abu Nabil, who handles funds for Fatah, were responsible for Ibraghit's promotion, despite complaints that have been leveled against him.
1950 GMT: Al Jazeera finds this picture, reportedly taken in the town of Dael, Daraa, a small town that is no stranger to the ferocious crackdown of the Assad regime. The protesters hold signs, in English, and wave pre-Baath party Syrian flags, the symbols of the opposition. The message echoes that of many in Syria:
"The Free Syrian Army killed the Major General Mohamed Hameem, the Commander, 17th Division-Armored Vehicles."
Due to Israel’s apartheid checkpoints, it took us a day to reach Jericho, which is roughly one hour from Allenby Bridge. I waited eagerly, imagining myself walking around the old city of Jerusalem before heading to Gaza. We wasted over four hours waiting for the Israeli soldiers to let us pass through their checkpoints. Being from Gaza made my crossing procedures even more complicated. I spent the whole trip to Jericho counting minutes and hours. The more time we wasted, the less likely it became for me to tour Jerusalem. The time limit that Israel imposed by closing Erez at 7:00 pm made me stressful.
At sunset, I finished all the crossing and security procedures. I hurried to the exit to find my taxi driver sweating, standing by his parked car next to the door waiting for us. He rushed me inside the car, saying that he had to drive me to the District Coordination Offices (DCO) right away to get a permit to leave before it was too late. People from Gaza get permits to cross through Erez back to Gaza there, and people from West Bank get permits to enter Jerusalem and other “Israeli” territory.
Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike for over a month. Her condition has been deteriorating so badly that prison officials had to transfer her to a Haifa hospital (though she wasn't admitted to the hospital).
Shalabi is protesting being held in administrative detention. These detentions are quasi-legal action through which Israel incarcerates individuals without charge or proper trial. Israel inherited this undemocratic procedure from the British mandate, which enacted it as part of the 1945 emergency regulations.
International humanitarian law frowns on this procedure and Israel was asked by the international community on numerous occasions to end this practice. Over 300 Palestinians are presently held without charge.
An explosion in Gaza today from an Israeli airstrike
An escalation of cross-border violence continued for the second day on Saturday, as the death toll from Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip rose to 14 militants and militant factions fired dozens more rockets into southern Israel.
Two militant groups in Gaza said those killed in at least 10 airstrikes from Friday to Saturday were their fighters, among them a top commander. Witnesses and medics said the latest airstrike, at midday Saturday, killed two militants in the crowded Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis.
Militants vowed revenge after the initial strike that killed a leading commander on Friday, and they claimed responsibility for a subsequent torrent of more than 90 rockets that the Israeli military said were launched from Gaza toward southern Israel.
Khader Adnan and Hana al Shalabi have reinvigorated resistance and raised the long-flagging morale of people on the streets. This is a dramatic testament to the adage that change can only come from below --- so maybe it's time we stop looking to the top.
Last night Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.
The take-away subject and line are predictable: when it comes to Iran, "We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We leave all options on the table. And containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those seeking our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal."
Put another way: "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck –but this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.
At the same time, it is important --- though I suspect almost all the media coverage will miss the significance --- to know the subjects that Netanyahu did not address. Because he kept everyone's eyes and ears on Tehran, he did not have to refer to the changes in the Middle East because of the "Arab Spring" and Turkey's shifting position. He did not mention Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the status of Gaza, or the 1967 borders with Paletine --- indeed, he did not have to refer at all to negotiations with the Palestinians.
And that, rather than the headlines on Iran, is probably Netanyahu's greatest accomplishment last night.
THE PREPARED TEXT
Thank you for the warm reception. It could be heard as far away as Jerusalem – the eternal and united capital of Israel. More than two thirds of the Congress is in attendance here tonight. I deeply appreciate your being here.
UPDATE 1850 GMT: Ran Cohen, the Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights (Israel), has confirmed that Khader Adnan has ended his hunger strike.
UPDATE 1705 GMT: The text of the Israeli Supreme Court statement:
We have been delivered a joint notice by the representative of the Appellant and the representative of the Respondents, according to which there is no intention to extend the administrative detention beyond 17 April 2012, and (after offsetting the days of detention during which the Appellant was subjected to a criminal investigation), subject to the absence of new and significant material being added in the matter of the Appellant. In light of the above, the Appellant has ended his hunger strike and declared his retraction of the appeal.This being the case, the appeal is stricken, and the hearing schedule for today is thereby cancelled.