Palestinians clash with Israeli troops again over holy site
Published — Friday 7 November 2014
JERUSALEM/GAZA: Palestinian protesters fought with Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on Friday, the latest clashes in a fortnight of violence over access to Jerusalem’s holiest site.
At the Qalandia checkpoint separating Ramallah from Jerusalem, troops fired rubber bullets as several hundred protesters marched, some throwing rocks and petrol bombs.
In East Jerusalem, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters hurling firecrackers and burning tires that sent up huge clouds of black smoke in Shoafat refugee camp.
Palestinian and regional anger, still simmering over Israel’s war with Gaza’s Hamas movement in July and August, has focused in the last two weeks on Jerusalem’s holiest site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.
For decades, Israel has maintained a ban on Jews praying at the site, which houses the Dome of the Rock and the 8th-century Al-Aqsa mosque and was also the site of ancient Jewish temples.
But in recent weeks, protests have gathered momentum against a campaign by far-right Jewish nationalists to be allowed to pray there.
Israeli security forces have clashed at the compound with Muslim worshippers angry at what they see as an assault on the shrine, which is administered by Islamic authorities, and last week Israel shut down all access to the site for the first time in more than a decade, after a Palestinian gunman shot an Israeli ultranationalist. Palestinian drivers have rammed into Israeli pedestrians in the city, killing four people.
RISK OF MORE VIOLENCE
The EU’s new foreign affairs chief said the upsurge in violence made it all the more critical that Israel and the Palestinians resume peace negotiations.
“The risk of growing tensions here in Jerusalem … is that, if we do not move forward on the political track, we will go back, and back again to violence,” Federica Mogherini told reporters after meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during her first official visit to the region.
The last talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in April after months of largely fruitless negotiation, with the Palestinians angry at the continued building of Jewish settlements in occupied territory, and Israel furious at attempts to bring the Islamist group Hamas, which officially denies Israel’s right to exist, into the Palestinian government.
Mogherini said it was time for the EU to take a bigger role in brokering peace talks, a task until now shouldered by Washington.
After meeting her, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that the status quo governing Temple Mount would not change.
At the same time as calling for calm, Netanyahu has accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of instigating the violence, putting the prospect of any return to negotiations even further out of reach.
HOMES TO BE RAZED?
An official in Netanyahu’s office who declined to be named said the prime minister had sought judicial authorization to raze the homes of Palestinians involved in lethal attacks against Israelis.
Israel has often demolished Palestinian homes in the West Bank in retaliation for attacks, despite the protests of human rights groups who say it amounts to collective punishment, but it has rarely done so in Jerusalem.
The Palestinians, for their part, are far from presenting a united front.
Abbas’s Fatah movement and the Gaza-based Hamas, at daggers drawn since Hamas drove Fatah’s forces out of Gaza in 2007, agreed in June to form a “reconciliation” government, but have so far failed to put the unity cabinet to work.
On Friday, around 15 small explosions targeted the homes and vehicles of Fatah officials in Gaza, causing minor damage but no injuries, witnesses and members of Fatah said.
One of the targets hit was a stage where the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian president and Fatah leader, is to be commemorated on Nov. 11.
Fatah and Hamas blamed each other for the blasts.
“We will not allow the return of internal conflicts, chaos and anarchy to the Gaza Strip,” said Eyad Al-Bozom, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, run by officials loyal to Hamas.
“The security services will pursue anyone who had any connection to these criminal acts.”
The tension between Fatah and Hamas has hampered efforts to rebuild Gaza after the July-August war, in which more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, as well as more than 70 Israelis.
Mogherini was due to visit Gaza on Saturday for talks with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
Two die in Egypt as Mursi backers clash with police
Published — Saturday 8 November 2014
CAIRO: Two people were killed Friday when supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Muhammad Mursi clashed with police and residents outside Cairo, security officials said.
In the province of Fayoum, south of the capital, violence erupted after Mursi supporters staged a protest following Friday prayers, leading to the death of a 19-year-old student.
Security officials said police used tear gas after protesters fired birdshot at them.
The exact cause of the student’s death was not immediately clear, said Health Ministry official Medhat Shukri. He added that three policemen were also wounded in the clashes.
Another person was killed when pro-Mursi protesters clashed in the Ain Shams district northeast of Cairo with residents opposed to Mursi’s presidency, which was toppled by the army last year.
Two other people were wounded in the clashes which erupted after the protesters fired birdshot and live rounds at Ain Shams residents, a Cairo police official said.
Security officials said that 13 people who took part in protests Friday in support of Mursi were arrested, including five in Fayoum who were found in possession of petrol bombs.
Supporters of Mursi still attempt to stage protests demanding his reinstatement, but their rallies have dwindled amid a deadly government crackdown since the army ousted the Islamist last year.
At least 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown, while more than 15,000 have been jailed and hundreds sentenced to death.
The authorities have tightened security around universities after more than a dozen students were killed in violence sparked by pro-Mursi protests during the last academic year.
Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 12 Muharram 1436/06 November 2014
The International Criminal Court (ICC) stunned those who have faith in it when it said it would not probe Israel’s raid on Turkish flotilla that took nine lives in May 2010. Turkey described as mass murder the actions of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). The Turks whose lives were taken by the IDF were on their way to bring aid to the blockaded and subjugated Gaza. But Israel, which enforced this illegal blockade in 2007, argued its Navy was responding to a danger threat posed by 40 passengers, on Mavi Marmara, the ship, who were armed with iron bars and knives.
The ICC, which never hesitates to try Africans accused of committing war crimes, determined that the crimes were not grave enough to warrant its attention. It is the Comoros, an African island nation, which took the case against Israel to the ICC last May because the Mavi Marmara, with civil-based IHH activists on board, was carrying its flag. This, explained Ali Emrah Bozbayindir in an interview with Sabahul Khair, gives the Comoros an option to apply for a review of the prosecutor’s decision within 90 days.
Is there political maneuvering? Why, when international prosecutors say they believe Israel may be guilty of war crimes, did it not pursue the matter to its logical and definite conclusion?
“There’s always a rumour or belief that Israel has a special status in international law or international system, so to say. And, this decision confirms (that) and is disappointing. And, it’s ironic that they’re expecting Comoros or Turkey to try the Israelis,” Bozbayindir observed. “The ICC is the only forum which can bring Israeli criminals to justice. The [court] denying this somehow implies that: ‘ok, you can kill on the high seas, unarmed humanitarian aid-carrying people. Ok, you have committed a crime but we won’t try you.’ This is basically (what this means).”
Bozbayindir, whose law firm represents IHH – The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief Humanitarian Relief Foundation – opined that the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, limited her analysis to the events that place on Mavi Marmara but ignored the context of the blockade imposed by Israel on Palestine’s Gaza. It was such misery that spurred IHH activists to set off for Gaza where they sought to take humanitarian aid and construction material. “Mavi Marmara is only one part of this big story,” Bozbayindir said, also alluding to Israel’s desecration of Al-Aqsa Masjid in the occupied Palestine’s East Jerusalem.
Gaza, home to around 1.8 million, has become the world’s largest open-air prison and concentration camp where the IDF murders scores of people as a matter of course. All of this forms part of Israel’s ethnic policies to rid (through extermination or expulsion) indigenous Palestinians, a Semitic grouping, from their land to make way for Zionists.
Speaking to Cii, the attorney noted “an important African element” that non-Africans (including Israel and others) find inappropriate. The Hague-based ICC, now pursuing Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Omar al-Bashir, his Sudanese peer, never shows interest in atrocities committed in other parts of the world. So, when an African country refers a matter that involves non-Africans, IDF soldiers, Bensouda says the crimes were not grave enough.
“For the first time, the ICC rejects a state referral, this is an important point. This is not a simple referral. A state, the Union of Comoros, refers the case to the ICC but the ICC rejects that,” Bozbayindir observed, also pointing to the cold relations between The Hague and the African Union, whose members are the court’s only targets. Talk about some animals being more equal than others. Sadly, notes the lawyer, the globe, through United Nations platforms, does nothing to hold the self-righteous Israel to account for the crimes it commits against Palestine and the region.
Apart from Binyamin Netanyahu’s apology, Ankara has demanded compensation for its citizens who fell victim to the IDF terror. Further, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime wants justice for the Palestinians, now oppressed by the Tel Aviv regime which, according to Richard Goldstone, Bozbayindir reminded Cii, has committed war crimes. Turkey insists that Israel lifts the blockade imposed on Gaza. “Turkey wants to channel humanitarian aid freely,” he said.
The point is that the Mavi Marmara tragedy was sparked by the Zionist-inspired subjugation and oppression that has left the Palestinians in dire poverty. That said, this lawyer asserted, the Turkish position is that there is no reason why the status quo of misery and starvation should continue. And so, maybe, the blood of the activists whose lives were taken by the IDF would nourish the tree of freedom that the subjugated Semites have been dreamt of for decades. But, to be real, in this world, not all humans, or Semites, are equal even in the 21stcentury.
French start-up nibbles Halal food market with pork test
HELENE DUVIGNEAU | AFP
Published — Wednesday 5 November 2014
PARIS: A French start-up is hoping to take a slice of the multi-billion Halal food market with a device allowing diners to find out within minutes whether a dish contains pork.
Capital Biotech has received orders from as far afield as Turkey, Chile and Indonesia for its “Halal Test” which tests within 10 minutes whether a food contains pork meat, forbidden for Muslims and Jews.
Launched only a fortnight ago, the company has won nearly 100,000 ($135,000) in orders, a “surprise” according to co-founder Jean-Francois Julien.
The company acknowledges that the test, a one-use device costing 6.90 euros, does not constitute a complete “Halal” test, which also requires information about how the animal was slaughtered.
But it “allows you to dispel a one-off doubt, for example when you are on holiday or when a new “Halal” product hits the market,” said Julien.
To use the device, the cautious diner mixes a small amount with hot water and inserts a small strip into the mixture. The strip tests for pork proteins and takes less than 10 minutes.
France’s five million Muslims (the largest population in Europe) have been hit with food scandals — in 2011, “Halal” sausages were discovered to contain pork — and want to be sure they are not eating forbidden food, said Abbas Bendali from marketing firm Solis.
Capital Biotech believes however that 70 percent of its sales will eventually come from professionals who want a quick way of testing whether food is suitably for non pork eaters.
Bendali said the cost of the device would inevitably deter individuals “at a time of economic crisis.”
“It’s difficult to invest seven euros to test a bowl of pasta that costs three,” he said.
Muslims are more reassured by “a genuine Halal certificate,” he said.
But the firm is not limiting itself just to pork, hoping to make itself the firm of reference for tests on all types of food allergies.
It intends to launch soon a range of tests for soya, egg or almonds — all potential allergens — in ready meals. The firm will then roll out tests for gluten, peanut or milk. In the long-run, the start-up plans to extend its quick-fire testing to pharamceutical products.
However, Faycal Bennatif, marketing director of the world’s top biological analysis group Eurofins, told AFP it was not down to the consumer to perform quality tests on food products.
In the wake of the horsemeat scandal that rocked Europe last year, Eurofins has been inundated for requests to test meat products but has not developed a quick-fire test.
“We work with DNA sequencing in the lab which is not at all the same method,” said Bennatif, adding he was “dubious” as to how efficient the new quick tests were.
Capital Biotech’s “Halal tests” do not require authorization to be launched on the market, estimated at 5.5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) in France alone, although authorities will examine the reliability of the testing method.
Expert in allergens Jocelyne Just said the tests were a “first” but should be treated with caution “in the sense that a patient can be allergic to one food form but not another, for example to raw milk but not pasteurised.”
As for Capital Biotech, the start-up already has its eye on the next market by securing domain names for “kosher tests.”