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Resources updated between Monday, July 06, 2015 and Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 10, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron (REUTERS)

The Deadly Tragicomedy at the UN Human Rights Council Article

Smoke and dust rise after a US-led air strike in the Syrian town of Kobani (Reuters)

Pristine War and Zero Casualties Article

July 9, 2015

ISIS crucifying Syrian man. (file photo)

The Islamic State group (IS/ISIS) crucified dozens of Syrian civilians for breaking Ramadan fast, sources in Deir ez-Zor province reported on Sunday.

"Those who break Ramadan are being crucified on electricity poles in Deir ez-Zor," eyewitnesses told ARA News.

"The roads are filled with crucified men who violated the group's strict regulations during Ramadan. There are dozens of victims who remain hanged on electricity poles across the province."

Activists released a video online showing several people crucified alive in Hajin city in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria on charges of "breaking fast without legitimate excuses".

Speaking to ARA News in Deir ez-Zor, media activist Saray ad-Din reported that since the start of Ramadan, the IS group has punished dozens of civilians on charges of deliberately breaking fast.

"The group made many cages to lock up these 'fasting violators' and show them to public in order to humiliate them among people. The alleged caliphate of al-Baghdadi has seen various kinds of punishments during Ramadan," the source said.

"The radical group has crucified and executed many people on charges of breaking the fast in the cities of Deir ez-Zor, al-Bukamal, Hatlah, Mayadeen and Sabha in eastern Syria."

ISIS Crucifies Syrians For Breaking Ramadan Fast Document

Atena Farghadani

An Iranian woman sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for drawing satirical cartoons of politicians is now facing new charges - for shaking a man's hand.

Artist Atena Farghadani, 29, is currently serving a long stretch behind bars as punishment for depicting government officials, who decided to restrict women's access to birth control, as animals.

However, both Ms Farghadani and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi have since been charged with having an 'illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery' and 'indecent conduct' because they shook hands in prison following the trial, according to Amnesty International.

Ms Farghadani's was on trial in May at Tehran's so-called Revolutionary Court on charges of insulting members of parliament through paintings, gathering and colluding against national security, spreading propaganda against the system and insulting the president and the supreme leader.

She was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in jail last month. Experts believe this far exceeds the legal limit for such a crime, which currently stands at seven years and six months.

But Amnesty International says she now faces new charges.

Mr Moghimi visited Ms Farghadani in prison after her trial and shook her hand, which has resulted in the two new charges being brought against them both, the human rights organisation has reported.

The lawyer was arrested on June 13 and he was released three days later after posting bail of around £40,000. They are set to be tried for those charges in due course.

Ms Farghadani was initially arrested during a Revolutionary Guard raid on her home last August.

It's claimed the guards burst into her home, blindfolded her, seized her personal belongings and then hauled her off to Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

She was kept in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer or her family, according to Amnesty International.

The artist was bailed for a short time last November, but was quickly returned to jail after being accused of openly discussing the torture and beatings she suffered at the hands of the wardens.

Ms Farghadani even went as far as to publish a YouTube video discussing her treatment in prison, which included being interrogated for nine hours each day for six weeks and being beaten.

She also posted an open letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on her Facebook page upon being returned to her cell.

Three weeks after she was rearrested in January this year, Ms Farghadani went on hunger strike to protest the poor prison conditions.

Her lawyer said she suffered a heart attack and briefly lost consciousness in late February as a result of her strike.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said: 'No one should be in jail for their art or peaceful activism.

Atena Farghadani has effectively been punished for her cartoons with a sentence that is itself a gross caricature of justice.

'Such harsh and unjust sentences seem to be part of a disturbing trend in Iran, where the cost of voicing peaceful dissent is escalating.'

Ms Farghadani's relatives, who have received death threats since her initial arrest, last month said she plans to launch an appeal against the harsh sentence.

The judge who handed down the harsh prison sentence, Abolghassem Salavati, is known as 'Iran's hanging judge' or 'the judge of death' in his country thanks to his reputation for harsh punishments.

He is particularly notorious for handing out sentences to journalists, artists, bloggers and political activists, making his named in the aftermath of the street protests that were brutally crushed during Iran's 2009 general election.

Iranian Artist Jailed For 12 Years For Drawing Satirical Cartoons Now Faces 'Indecency' Charges... Because She Shook Her Male Lawyer's Hand Document

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (AFP/Getty Images)

Israel Decides to Open Dialogue With ICC Over Gaza Preliminary Examination Article

A masked member of Hamas carries a model of a rocket as others carry symbolic coffins with Israeli flags during a rally (Reuters)

Israel: If Hamas is Allowed to Wage Warfare Through International Courts then Islamic State Will Be Next Article

July 8, 2015

Rockets fire from Gaza. (Alalam)

The UN Report Shamefully Equates Hamas and Israel Article

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he gives a speech in front of students at the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo. (REUTERS)

As PA Expresses 'Shock' at India's UN Vote, Israel Voices Appreciation for Abstention Article

An archive photo from August 24, 2013, shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius shaking hands following their meeting in Ramallah. (Reuters)

PA Foreign Minister Claims France Drops Bid for UN Resolution on Peace Talks Article

July 7, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS)

"In a year full of celebrations marking 50 years of German-Israel diplomatic relations, diplomatic niceties were absent at last week's UNHRC Gaza report vote in Geneva, where the Merkel administration condemned Israel for its military methods during Operation Protective Edge.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post on Monday why Germany voted against Israel, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry wrote, 'Germany led intensive negotiations with EU states in the United Nations Human Rights Council over the draft of the resolution. Thereby important changes of the content of the resolution could be reached, for example, a restriction of the follow-ups to the report of the fact-finding commission...'

German and Israeli critics hammered away at the Gaza report because of its one-sided attack on Israel. Philipp Mißfelder, a leading Christian Democratic Union part MP in the Bundestag, told the Post on Monday, 'Germany should not have supported the UNHCR report covering Operation Protective Edge.'

Mißfelder, the foreign policy spokesman for the CDU-CSU parties in the Bundestag, added, 'The report did not do justice to Israel's engagement. The Jewish state has the obligation and right to protect its territory and citizens. Although Hamas frequently used human shields, Israel's military did everything to prevent losses among the Palestinians...'"

Analysis: Making Sense of Germany's Vote Against Israel in the UN Human Rights Council Article

The United Nations (Getty Images)

What the UN Report on Gaza Left Out Article

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet their fellow foreign ministers in Vienna. (Associated Press)

Iran Wants U.N. Arms Embargo Lifted Article

A Yemeni armed young man stands amidst the debris of a house destroyed in an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition in the capital Sanaa on July 6, 2015. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

"Sea of Blood": Airstrike Hits Yemen Market, Killing Dozens of Civilians Document

People gather around the Redeemed Christian Church of God, after a bomb blast in Potiskum, Nigeria. (AP)

Church Suicide Blast Caps off Bloody Week as Boko Haram Kills Over 200 in Nigeria Document

July 6, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Jerusalem, March 12, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Report: Israel Asked UK to Vote in Favor of UN Gaza Resolution Article

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

The Real Reason Britain Voted Against Israel at the UN Article

Israel at the UN Human Rights Council (File photo)

UN Unfairly Rages Against Israel Article

Executed activists, Bashar Abdul Atheem and Faisal Hasan Al Habib

ISIS have executed two brave media activists in Raqqa, releasing a graphic video of their interrogation and brutal execution in an attempt to deter other activists in the Syrian city.

The 21-year-old media activists are named as Bashar Abdul Atheem and Faisal Hasan Al Habib, local residents in Raqqa, who were working against ISIS.

Unconfirmed reports claim the two men were working as part of the renowned Syrian activist group, 'raqqa is being slaughtered silently'.

In the video, the two young men are accused of being 'informants' and were allegedly caught handing out anti-Shariah leaflets in ISIS's de-facto capital city, Raqqa.

Following their arrest, the activists are shown wearing orange jumpsuits. They appear to sitting in a dimly lit interrogation room, where they are questioned about their activities.

He interrogates them, first asking their names, where they come from and their religious beliefs.

The masked interrogator goes through the activists crimes, taking time for them to explain how they used smart watches to photograph intelligence sites in Raqqa and Deir ezzor.

The video ends with the execution of the two activists. Filmed at night, insects can be heard buzzing in the background as the camera zones in on the two prisoners.

Both men have been tied around their waist to a tree trunk. Two ISIS militants, dressed in full camouflage fatigues and matching balaclavas, raise their pistols and take aim at the prisoners.

Graphic scenes show the two prisoners being executed, with the footage being replayed in slow motion.

At the end of the video, the footage cuts out after the executioners walk away. Ten seconds later, the video shows the blurred face of an older man, dressed in an orange jumpsuit.

The older man gives his name in Arabic, calling himself Hamood al-Mossa. The brief footage appears to be a hint by ISIS that another execution video will be released.

ISIS Releases Chilling Video of Two Activists Being Interrogated and Then Executed for Handing Out Anti-Shariah Leaflets in Raqqa Document

Mary McGowan Davis, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, at press conference in Geneva. (UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

"The report by the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the events surrounding Operation Protective Edge was published on June 22, 2015. As expected, the report criticizes Israel, concluding that its military operations violated the laws of armed conflict and expressing concern regarding the possible commission of war crimes.

The report is ... also extremely critical of Israel, and again reflects a clear lack of consideration of the actual realities of warfare, drawing conclusions based on pronouncements that are factually and legally dubious. This approach is problematic for Israel, which will find itself vulnerable to public criticism and perhaps even legal action based on the report's contentions. The report is also worrisome for all other countries engaged in warfare in populated areas against enemies that do not distinguish themselves from the civilian population.

During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF fought against a semi-state organization (Hamas) and other armed groups that employed an intentional strategy of systematic violation of the laws of armed conflict, including indiscriminate firing at Israeli civilians and the use of Palestinian civilians and civilian objects (e.g., schools, hospitals, and mosques) as bases for their military activity.

While the commission's report makes reference to this reality when leveling criticism at the conduct of Hamas, it fails to assign it the appropriate weight when examining Israeli actions. The result is an analysis that examines Israel's actions in a detached and one-sided manner, without relating to the actions of its adversaries...

The misguided and unprofessional analysis of combat actions taken in populated areas is based on erroneous methodology, unrealistic expectations, and standards that exceed those contained in the laws of armed conflict and applied by other military forces in the world. This is potentially detrimental not only to Israel but to the ability of other law abiding countries to confront similar challenges of warfare."

Disregarding Reality, Yet Again: The Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry Report Article

The "humanitarian aid" on the flotilla- A solar panel and nebulizer (photo by Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

"The hypocrisy of the claim that flotillas to Gaza are a 'humanitarian' endeavor has now been fully exposed: As Jonathan Tobin noted last week, the latest proved to be carrying a mere two cardboard boxes worth of aid. But pro-Palestinian activists are also guilty of an even more egregious form of hypocrisy: They proclaim all anti-Israel U.N. decisions to be binding international law, but openly flout U.N. decisions that happen to be in Israel's favor. The Gaza flotillas are a perfect example.

According to the flotilla activists, their goal was 'to break the illegal blockade on Gaza.' But a blue-ribbon international commission appointed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 concluded that the blockade is in fact a 'legitimate security measure' that fully complies with international law. So the same activists who lambaste Israel for noncompliance with anti-Israel U.N. resolutions – like those against the settlements, or the one ostensibly granting Palestinian refugees a 'right of return' to Israel – feel it's perfectly fine for them to ignore U.N. decisions that don't serve their cause...

But pro-Palestinian activists selectively treat U.N. decisions that favor their cause as 'binding international law' while simply ignoring decisions that don't favor their cause. And that position makes a travesty of the most fundamental principle of any kind of law: that it must apply equally to all parties in all cases, regardless of whether it helps or hurts a particular cause.

Thus, anyone who claims to support international law should be the first to denounce this abuse of U.N. decisions. And the fact that so many self-proclaimed advocates of international law instead lend tacit support to this travesty is precisely why no self-respecting person should accept their interpretation of anything."

Pro-Palestinian Activists Only Respect the U.N. When It Suits Them Article

An Afghan victim of acid attack (file photo)

Attackers on a motorbike threw acid in the faces of three teenage girls on their way to school in Afghanistan's western Herat province on Saturday, an official told CNN.

The girls, age 16 to 18, are students at one of the biggest girls' schools in Herat city, the provincial capital, said Aziz-ul-Rahman Sarwary, head of the education department for the province.

All three girls were admitted to Noor hospital in Herat city before their parents took them elsewhere, said hospital head Jamal Abdul Naser Akhundzada.

Two of the girls were in critical condition after the acid was thrown in their faces, he said.

Akhundzada quoted the girls as saying that their assailants were two men on a motorbike.

"This is the punishment for going to school," the men told the girls after pouring the acid on them, according to Akhundzada.

Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said police were working very hard to find the attackers.

Afghanistan: Men Throw Acid Into Girls' Faces 'For Going To School' Document

Senator Ted Cruz (Greg Nash)

Cruz: US Should Withdraw from UN Human Rights Commission Article

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud faction meeting. (MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

"Those who are afraid of coming out against terrorism in the end will be attacked by terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday in response to the passing of an anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council resolution on the Gaza war last summer.

'The UN Human Rights Council is not interested in the facts and is not really interested in human rights,' Netanyahu said. 'On the day on which Israel was fired at from Sinai, and at a time when ISIS [Islamic State] is committing vicious terrorist attacks in Egypt, as [Syrian President Bashar] Assad slaughters his people in Syria and as the number of arbitrary executions per annum climbs in Iran – the UN Human Rights Council decides to condemn the State of Israel, for no fault of its own, for acting to defend itself from a murderous terrorist organization.'

Israel's hands will not be tied and it will 'continue to defend its citizens against those who call for its destruction and take daily action to achieve this goal,' Netanyahu said.

The United States was the only country to support Israel and oppose a resolution that ostensibly holds Israel and Palestinian terrorist organizations accountable for human rights violations during Operation Protective Edge but was largely understood to be speaking about holding Israel accountable for possible war crimes.

The resolution passed by a vote of 41 in favor, one against and five abstentions; the US cast the only 'no' vote..."

Netanyahu Blasts UN Human Rights Council for Ratifying Gaza War Report as Projectile from Sinai Hits Israel Article