#AceNewsReport – Apr.28: Responding to the news that the Egyptian authorities executed nine people today, including an 82-year-old man, after a grossly unfair trial, in relation to the killing of 13 police officers during an attack on Kerdasa police station in August 2013, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther said:
Egypt: ‘Nine people put to death in chilling Ramadan executions: Mondays execution of nine people is a chilling demonstration of the Egyptian authorities’ disregard for the right to life and their obligations under international law’ …….Last week, Amnesty International’s annual death penalty report revealedthat the number of recorded executions in Egypt tripled in 2020 making it the world’s third most frequent executioner after China and Iran.
26 April 2021, 17:29 UTC:
“By carrying out these executions during the holy month of Ramadan the Egyptian authorities have displayed a ruthless determination to persist with their escalating use of the death penalty.
By carrying out these executions during the holy month of Ramadan the Egyptian authorities have displayed a ruthless determination to persist with their escalating use of the death penalty.Philip Luther, Amnesty International
“The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in all circumstances, and in Egypt it is extremely concerning that it is used after unfair trials, with courts routinely relying on torture-tainted ‘confessions’.
“These death sentences were issued following a grossly unfair trial in which defendants were denied access to their lawyers and were coerced to ‘confess’. According to international law, proceedings in capital cases must scrupulously observe fair trial standards and carrying out executions after unfair trials violates the right to life.
“The Egyptian authorities must immediately put a stop to this alarming surge in executions. We call on states worldwide to take a clear stance by publicly condemning Egypt’s use of the death penalty and urging the government to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty.”
In December 2014, Giza Criminal Court convicted 184 people, sentencing 183 to death and a child to 10 years in prison in relation to the attack on Kerdasa police station. During a retrial at the Cairo Criminal Court in July 2017 20 people were sentenced to death. In September 2018, Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld their death sentences. Nine Egyptian human rights organizations denounced the verdict, highlighting gross violations of fair trial rights including defendants being denied access to their lawyers during their detention, and during interrogation and being forced to “confess”. Three other men in the same case were executed on 4 October 2020
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: This is the way some extremist Israeli settlers extended their greetings to Palestinian Muslims in this blessed month. Israeli police also escalated their harassment, firing tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians. One Israeli policeman was filmed beating up a Palestinian at the Damascus Gate. Who stopped him? Nobody.
Jerusalem: On verge of exploding thanks to Israel’s fires: Firefighters have to be at the ready at all times and cannot afford to take holidays. Right now, the new US administration and major European powers are watching from the sidelines: The final bonfire is over Palestinian elections: The Israeli government is determined not to allow any Palestinian political activity in East Jerusalem, even though Palestinian elections were permitted under the Oslo Accords: Palestinians in East Jerusalem voted in 1996, 2005 and 2006. Even then, Israel compelled them to vote by post to indicate that they were voting from abroad. Of course, the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have no right to vote in Israeli general elections, and now they may even be denied the right to vote for the emaciated and semi-powerless body that is the PA: Arab News Sources:
The second possible candidate for PA president is Marwan Barghouti: Like Dahlan, in a face-off with Abbas he would win 60% of the vote. He’s a member of one of the largest and most powerful clans in the West Bank; there are Barghoutis everywhere. Marwan Barghouti has only one handicap – it’s the very thing that makes him so popular. He’s currently serving five life sentences (plus 40 years) for being involved in murdering five Israelis. Abbas may try to disqualify him, insisting that if Barghouti won, he could not govern from an Israeli prison. But that’s not necessarily the case. Politicians have been known to govern from jail. Americans may remember James Michael Curley, who served as Mayor of Boston for two years from his prison cell. Barghouti has made sure that his wife is running for the Palestinian Legislative Council:
He could govern by employing her, and a group of male Barghoutis, along with Nasser al-Kidwa, as his proxies. They could be sent directives from his prison cell. He could even use the Internet to broadcast his messages to his people. It’s not crazy — Marwan Barghouti would be “working from home.” Barghouti, it turns out, much to the chagrin of Mahmoud Abbas, has decided to run: A report on this new challenge to Mahmoud Abbas is here: “Marwan Barghouti to run in PA presidential election,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2021:It all kicked off with the Israeli decision to ban all seating on the stairs at the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter at the Damascus Gate. This is a major gathering place for Palestinians on Ramadan evenings.
There is another possible way for Abbas to remain as president, aside from cancelling the elections: That is to declare that “because of his genuine remorse for his long-past defalcation, and because he has earned gratitude for persuading the UAE to deliver 50,000 dose of coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinian people, Mohammad Dahlan is hereby declared eligible to run for president of the Palestinian Authority.” Then Abbas can hope that his two rivals will split almost evenly the 60% of the electorate that is against him, while he wins with a plurality of 40%. It’s not impossible, when you’re dealing with Mahmoud Abbas, President-For-Life:
Israeli riot police deploy water cannon during clashes with Palestinians close to the Damascus Gate on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Screengrab: Twitter)
Restrictions on Palestinian numbers have also exacerbated tensions. Israel allowed only 10,000 people to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank, compared to many times that amount in recent years: On the first Friday in Ramadan, only 70,000 Muslims were able to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Despite Israel’s hollow claim that it allows freedom of worship in the city, it routinely restricts numbers and most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza cannot go to Al-Aqsa:
The Israeli authorities also decided to cut the wires to the loudspeakers at the mosque in yet another deliberately inflammatory move: This year is even tougher and Israel has demanded that all Palestinians entering Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank have to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease. Of course, if Israel had carried out its clear international legal and moral duty of vaccinating Palestinians under its military rule, the story would be different:
Ramadan used to be a time when Israel showed some degree of reverence and respect toward Palestinians: This custom is being torn up. As a result, Jerusalem is on the verge of exploding. What we have, therefore, is a highly combustible situation in this, the world’s most combustible city. Even a passing knowledge of the history of this great city tells us that small clashes can soon lead to a dangerous explosion.
Three major bonfires are being lit. The first and perhaps most dangerous is that Israel is tearing up the delicate status quo that governs Al-Haram Al-Sharif: For starters, it is allowing Jews to pray openly on the platform. They boast of this by broadcasting it on YouTube. This included the uber-racist Kahanist and newly elected member of the Knesset, Itamar Ben Gvir. The status quo arrangements for the holy sites do not permit Jewish prayer on the platform. According to the agreement, as acknowledged publicly even by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al-Haram Al-Sharif is exclusively a Muslim place of worship, which all Israeli prime ministers have accepted since 1967: Palestinian Muslims fear the “Hebronization” of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, whereby the platform is divided into both a mosque and a synagogue with less access for Muslims. This is what happened at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. That was sensitive enough, but tampering with the status quo in Jerusalem escalates the situation a hundredfold:
What makes it different this year is that no outside powers are saying anything. If this was happening in the days of John Kerry as US secretary of state, for example, he and his colleagues would be working the phones between Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to calm the tensions. The trouble is that Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan are no longer on speaking terms. Tensions between the two have rarely been higher.
The second bonfire is the serious attempt to bring about mass evictions of Palestinians in key areas of Jerusalem. Since the last major evictions of Palestinians on June 10, 1967, Israel has managed to insert more than 220,000 Israeli settlers into occupied East Jerusalem, but without the mass displacement of Palestinians. Much of this is happening in the shadow of the Old City, notably in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. Settlers have used the Israeli legal system to obtain eviction orders for dozens of families. Many of these families are UN-registered refugees who were given the land after the Nakba, when Israel confiscated theirs:
This legal system was designed to enable Israeli Jews to kick out Palestinians and the settler groups are using this to the full. It may be slowed down with appeals and the like, but ultimately it leads to one destination: Mass evictions of Palestinians as part of the broader plan to downscale the Palestinian presence in the city:
The Israeli authorities have also ramped up home demolitions in the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem. They can do this because they have denied more applications from Palestinians for building permits, meaning that Palestinians have no choice but to build without them. More than half of all Palestinian homes in the city are built with no permit:
What we have is a highly combustible situation in this, the world’s most combustible city.
Israeli forces have arrested Palestinians engaged in any form of electioneering, including three candidates who were planning to hold a news conference. All of this leads some to believe this will be an excuse for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone the May 22 legislative elections. This would delight the Israeli government, which has no desire to see Palestinian democracy at work, especially if it means Hamas has a chance at a share of power. The pyromaniacs have taken over the firefighting. The Israeli authorities, instead of restraining extremist settler groups such as Elad and the Temple Mount Faithful, are actively pursuing their agendas. Do not be surprised, therefore, if full-scale riots return to the streets of this extraordinary city. The world had better wake up.
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