Resources updated between Monday, October 10, 2016 and Sunday, October 16, 2016
October 16, 2016
October 14, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the Obama administration played an active role in a Security Council meeting on "illegal Israeli settlements" - by jumping on the anti-Israel bandwagon. In particular, Ambassador David Pressman spelled out the rationale for the harm that President Obama evidently intends to do to Israel via the UN following the election.
Pressman spent most of his remarks "strongly condemning" Israel for settlements, while never specifically blaming the Palestinian leadership for any "obstacle to peace." Instead, Pressman merely referred to unnamed terrorists and incitement to violence coming from unnamed sources. And he ended with remarks justifying UN intervention prior to negotiations - thus pushing the possibility of a negotiations light years away:
"We all understand that a permanent status agreement that finally ends the conflict can only be achieved by direct bilateral negotiations between the parties. But significant progress towards creating a two-state reality can be made now that will help restore hope and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations."
Here is more of Pressman's address (which can be viewed on the webcast from 1:54:18 to 1:59:30): "We are deeply concerned about continued settlement activity. ...[S]uch actions are corrosive to the cause of peace...[S]trongly condemn plan to create a significant new settlement...[S]ystematically undermining the two-state solution...Israel must decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution. Proceeding with steps such as last week's announcement, only leaves Israel closer to cementing a one-state reality and perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel's future as a Jewish and as a democratic state. ...We have seen a recent uptick in terrorist attacks. Just last week there was a horrific attack in Jerusalem that killed two Israelis...We strongly condemned this act of terrorism and the statements glorifying it...There is absolutely no justification of such attacks. ...Those who commit acts of terrorism or encourage acts of violence, regardless of the reasons they attribute to these actions, send a message to the international community that they are not committed to peace. Since July, we have also seen over 2400 settlement units... We all understand that a permanent status agreement that finally ends the conflict can only be achieved by direct bilateral negotiations between the parties. But significant progress towards creating a two-state reality can be made now that will help restore hope and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations. We continue to stress the urgency and importance of taking these steps now and refraining from actions which corrode the prospects for two states."
October 13, 2016
Kneeling blindfolded in front of a baying crowd of men and children, ISIS prisoners are brutally stoned to death - after being accused of adultery.
Sickening photos show victims being pelted with heavy rocks near the city of Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, close to the border with Iraq.
Hundreds of people, including young children, watch in the town square as fanatics carry out the medieval-style executions.
Two police officers were lightly injured when a car ran through the a-Zaim checkpoint on the road between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim on Thursday.
According to police, a car coming from the direction of a-Tur sped toward the checkpoint, traveling against traffic. When it saw a Border Police vehicle blocking the way, the car turned sharply toward a-Zaim, hitting the jeep and other police vehicles in the process.
The car injured two police officers, who were treated by MDA paramedics on the scene before being transported to Hadassah University Medical Center's Mount Scopus campus in good condition.
Security forces were searching the area for the vehicle and the suspects.
The circumstances of the incident were being investigated.
The incident came amid high tensions in Jerusalem after a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis in a shooting attack in the capital on Monday.
"Renewed bombing of rebel-held eastern Aleppo has killed more than 150 people this week, rescue workers said on Thursday, as the Syrian government steps up its Russian-backed offensive to take the whole city.
Air strikes against rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo had tapered off over the weekend after the Syrian army announced it would reduce raids for what it described as humanitarian reasons. But the strikes have intensified since Tuesday.
Air strikes killed 13 people on Thursday, when warplanes hit several rebel-held districts, including al-Kalaseh, Bustan al-Qasr and al-Sakhour, civil defense official Ibrahim Abu al-Laith told Reuters from Aleppo.
'The bombing started at 2 a.m. and it's going on till now,' he said.
Aleppo has been divided between government- and rebel-controlled areas for years. More than 250,000 people are believed to be trapped in eastern Aleppo, the rebels' most important urban stronghold, facing shortages of food, fuel and medicine."
October 11, 2016
"UNESCO is slated to vote twice this month on Palestinian initiated resolutions that ignore Jewish ties to its most holy religious site of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall area in Jerusalem.
The first of these votes will be taken on Thursday or Friday of this week by the 58-member Executive Board of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris...
"In advance of that vote, Israel's Mission to UNESCO in Paris, has given board members and international diplomats a brochure detailing the deep historical connections Judaism has to those sites, which are also holy to Christianity and Islam.
'These facts and evidences will leave no doubt, and without undermining other connection of other religions to the holy places in Jerusalem, of the deepest and longest Jewish presence in Jerusalem since ancient times,' Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen wrote.
'Every attempt to distort the history and harm the above mentioned relations of the Jewish people and Jerusalem, is an attempt to rewrite the history in a dangerous, unfair and one-sided manner,' he said.
Among the evidence listed in the brochure is a 9th Century BC inscription referring to the House of David, an 8th Century BC seal from King Hezekiah, and a stone etching of the Jewish Menorah from the year 66 AD found in Jerusalem..."
A wheelchair-bound woman was gang-raped by up to six migrants at a Swedish asylum centre after asking if she could use their toilet, it has been reported.
The woman, in her 30s, was sharing a taxi home with a man after going in the medieval town of Visby on Sweden's Gotland island when she asked to stop off.
Her fellow passenger invited her inside before she was brutally set upon in the toilet, her lawyer said.
The assault sparked anger in the town and extra police were called to the island when an angry mob attacked the asylum centre with rocks.
The victim's lawyer Staffan Freriksson said the abuse started in the toilet and several other men joined in.
He added: 'Where they came from we don't know. This was going on for a couple of hours.
'She got paralysed in this situation and was not able to bring herself to resist physically, other than saying no.'
He said his client is unable to walk long distances and need a wheelchair. She was eventually able to escape the building.
Six men aged in their 20s were arrested in the days that followed they were later released.
Sweden's Expressen newspaper reported that the suspects were all asylum seekers and that the attack allegedly took place at asylum accommodation.
Large crowds gathered in protest and marched in the town.
The head of Gotland police Torbj÷rn Nilsson said: 'Gotland is safe, compared to other places, and there are few crimes compared to the rest of the country. But the way people have now acted is unprecedented.'
An East Jerusalem man was indicted Tuesday for planning to carry out a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital, officials said.
On September 9, the Shin Bet security service arrested alleged Hamas operative Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp, a few days before he planned to carry out his attack, the agency said.
Over the past few months, Julani, 22, had been planning to carry out a terror attack on behalf of Hamas, the Shin Bet said.
In September, he told an accomplice he planned to carry out the suicide bombing as "this is the way of God," according to the indictment.
The Hamas terror group's operatives in the Gaza Strip had been in contact with Julani through the internet in order to plan the bombing and had also encouraged him to recruit other people to carry out attacks, according to the indictment filed against him Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court.
"This investigation reiterates and highlights the unrelenting effort by Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip to instigate severe terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank," the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Though Julani ultimately decided to carry out a suicide bus bombing in the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, according to the Shin Bet, he said in his interrogation he had also considered a shooting attack with an AK-47 assault rifle near the Hizme checkpoint; bombing a store where he had worked in 2011; throwing an improvised explosive device at the checkpoint in Shuafat; and pipe bomb attacks in high-traffic locations of Jerusalem, like the bus station and the Malha shopping mall.
Approximately a year ago, Julani had also considered carrying out a stabbing attack in Pisgat Ze'ev, going so far as to purchase a 6-inch (15-centimeter) knife and travel to the Jerusalem neighborhood, "but decided not to carry out the attack for fear that his parents' home would be demolished," according to the indictment.
Instead, the East Jerusalem resident decided to carry out a suicide bombing after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which was celebrated from September 12 to 16. By carrying out his attack after the holiday, Julani hoped to prevent Israel from restricting Muslims' access to the Temple Mount during the holiday, according to the Shin Bet.
The NIS 7,000 ($1,850) needed for the operation was allegedly provided by a resident of Hebron, identified in the indictment only as "Abu Muhammad," who also helped carry out some tests with the chemicals he purchased so that Julani could create his device.
When Julani was arrested on September 9, he had already purchased the materials necessary to create his bomb, including nails that he planned to pack into the device to maximize the damage.
It was his second time he purchased ingredients necessary for a bomb, since when Julani's father discovered at some point over the summer that his son had been planning an attack, the 22-year-old "begged for forgiveness from his father and threw out the materials he had purchased," according to the indictment.
At some point in August, Julani again decided to carry out his attack and purchased the materials necessary for a second time, according to the Jerusalem district attorney.
Two members of Julani's family, Mehmed and Iyad Julani, were also arrested for allegedly helping him hide his illegal weapons.
Julani was charged with planning to assist the enemy in wartime, contact with a foreign agent, being a member of a terrorist organization and illegal use of property for the purpose of terror.
October 10, 2016
The Chinese government has cracked down on human rights more severely over the last year, according to a commission of lawmakers and Obama administration officials, at the same time the United States has sought to cooperate with Beijing on issues such as climate change.
China's persistent violations of international human rights standards warrant a stronger response from the U.S. government and need to play a larger role in America's foreign policy, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in its annual report delivered to President Obama last week.
Over the past year, "the Chinese Communist Party and government further restricted the limited space for peaceful expression, religious activity, and assembly with harsh consequences for rights advocates, lawyers, and civil society, and continued to implement the world's most sophisticated system of Internet control and press censorship, affecting both domestic and foreign journalists," the comprehensive 340-page report states.
As of May 2016, authorities in China had arrested at least 20 people in under a year as part of a crackdown on lawyers and human rights advocates, according to the commission. Sixteen of the individuals were jailed for allegedly "endangering state security."
"The government routinely denied medical treatment to imprisoned activists, targeted family members and associates of rights activists, including those overseas, with harassment and retribution, and became more brazen in exerting its extraterritorial reach," the report states. "The government also continued harsh security measures that disregarded the protection of human rights in ethnic minority regions including Tibetan autonomous areas and the XUAR [Xinxiang Uighur Autonomous Region]."
Human rights abuses in China have long been a concern of the United States and members of the United Nations and European Union. At the same time, the United States has prioritized cooperation with China on issues such as climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.
China regularly rejects criticism of its human rights record from other countries.
According to the commission, U.S. government officials need to more frequently raise issues of human rights in China publicly and privately in conversations with Chinese counterparts. The commissioners also recommended that the administration and Congress consider legal and legislative action to retaliate against human rights abusers, such as using law to deny U.S. entry visas to Chinese officials connected to severe human rights violations such as torture and detentions.
The administration and lawmakers need to develop a "whole-of-government" action plan on the role of human rights in the U.S.-China relationship. The plan would inform each agency of how to approach the issue in interactions with Beijing, according to the commission.
"A 'whole-of-government' human rights diplomacy prepares all agencies interacting with Chinese government counterparts to discuss relevant human rights and rule of law issues and to articulate the link between human rights improvements in China and U.S. economic, security, and diplomatic interests," the report states.
The commission is currently chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.). It is comprised of a bipartisan group of lawmakers as well as officials from the Departments of Labor and State. The commission was established through legislation in 2000 and tasked with monitoring developments in human rights and rule of law in China.
"China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, is less free, more repressive, and increasingly dismissive of international norms," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Obama accompanying the report. "Promoting human rights and the rule of law must be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, as concrete improvements in these areas are directly linked to the security and economic well-being of both the United States and of China."
The report comes ahead of the 15th anniversary of China's joining the World Trade Organization, or WTO. It noted that Beijing has failed to implement anticipated legal reforms since joining. The report recommended that the administration continue to list China as a "non-market economy," meaning that competitors can more easily impose anti-dumping measures on Chinese exports.
U.S.-China relations have been complex and tense as part of Obama's so-called "pivot to Asia." One month ago, Obama and Xi marked the formal adoption of the Paris climate accord ahead of the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, which was overshadowed by a series of embarrassing incidentsfor the American president showcasing strained relations between the two countries.
In addition to human rights abuses, China's island-building campaign in the South China Sea has drawn international criticism and prompted the U.S. military to increase its presence in the region. Still, the administration has been criticized for not doing enough diplomatically and militarily to deter Beijing's territorial claims over the South China Sea.
An Iranian child bride could be hanged within weeks after she was sentenced to death for allegedly murdering her abusive husband.
Zeinab Sokian was sentenced to death for the 2012 murder of her husband, when she was just 17.
However, Zeinab married another prisoner while in jail and fell pregnant, and as Iranian law prevents pregnant women from being executed her death sentence was delayed.
However, on September 30 she gave birth to a stillborn child in Euromieh central prison in northern Iran, meaning she could now be put to death within weeks.
Zeinab, who hails from a small village in northern Iran, was just 15 when she married her first husband.
Under Iranian law girls can marry at 13-years-old and boys at 15, although international human rights organisations say both parties in a marriage should be aged 18 or over.
During her trial, Zeinab claimed that her husband frequently beat and abused her, a source told Human Rights Watch. However, her claims were dismissed by the court.
The human rights organisation says that Zeinab was informed by authorities this week her execution could take place in the coming weeks.
Iran passed legal reforms in 2013, which give judges the discretion to spare children the death penalty if they do not understand the nature of their crime.
The law also entitles those sentenced to death prior to 2013 to a new trial - but only if they request it.
Human Right Watch is calling for all pre-2013 defendents to face a new trial.
'The 2013 reforms aimed to prevent wrongful conviction of children for capital offenses. If the Iranian government is serious about this goal, it should at a minimum grant everyone facing the death penalty for alleged offenses committed as children a new trial that conforms to international human rights standards,' the organisation said.
'This includes Zeinab, an alleged victim of domestic violence, who may otherwise imminently face the gallows.'
These shocking images show how prisoners are starving to death in Venezuela's jails as food and medicine continues to run out amid economic collapse in the country.
Video smuggled out of a jail at San Juan de los Morros, in the central Guarico region of Venezuela, show emaciated inmates struggling to survive.
With the country in the grip of a crippling economic crisis, starving prisoners can be seen standing in line and begging for help from the outside world.
Venezuela's economy is in a tailspin, with shortages of items from disinfectant to chemotherapy drugs crippling the health sector and leaving 30 million citizens struggling to access basic medical care.
The prison footage was reportedly filmed by inmate Franklin Paul Hernandez Quezad.
One prisoner was said to be so weak he had to be lifted into a chair to be filmed.
One of the men says to the camera: 'Look at me, look at the state we are in, we need medicine in order to survive.'
Another inmate in what appears to be a wheelchair also asks for medicine: 'We are all human beings and we need a second chance.'
And the third echoes the sentiment saying: 'Please, don't leave us to die in here, help us brothers. We do not want to die.'
The person recording the video says: 'The media needs to know what is happening here.'
There are claims in local media that Venezuelan police had apparently blocked deliveries of food, medicine and water to the prison.
The allegations have caused outrage with prisoners' relatives who have asked the authorities to step in.