Hamas Stands in Solidarity with Hunger-Striking Palestinians

  • Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, gestures as he meets with protesters at a sit-in supporting Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners held in Israeli jails, in Gaza City, May 8.

    Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, gestures as he meets with protesters at a sit-in supporting Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners held in Israeli jails, in Gaza City, May 8. | Photo: AFP

Published 8 May 2017 (12 hours 8 minutes ago)
“Your freedom is a national duty and your dignity is our dignity,” the new leader stated.

The newly-elected leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has pledged his support for the Palestinian political prisoners currently waging a historic mass strike in Israeli cells.

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In his first comments since being elected Saturday, Haniyeh said Monday from a solidarity tent where all of Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Authority members were present, “This visit is a message to our heroic prisoners that your cause was and will remain a top priority.”

“Your freedom is a national duty and your dignity is our dignity,” the new leader added, the Times of Israel reported.

Hamas’ support comes despite the fact that the strike is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a former leader of Fatah, a rival political faction in the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

On Sunday, Israel Prisons Service released footage that allegedly shows Barghouti eating in his cell. His wife and other Palestinian officials have dismissed it as fake and an attempt by Israeli authorities to break the morale of other hunger-striking prisoners.

A day later, an unidentified Israel Prisons Service official told Channel 2 television that the food was planted in Barghouti’s cell as part of an IPS scheme to break the hunger strike. Food was also hidden in other participating prisoners’ cell but many resisted the temptation, the official said.

The open-ended hunger strike has entered its 22nd day and has seen over 1,700 Palestinian prisoners take part since April 17. As their health deteriorates, Israel has shown no signs of heeding the prisoners’ demands.

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Instead, Israeli authorities have cracked down on the prisoners, forcibly moving many to different sections of Israeli jails, confiscating their clothes and personal belongings and preventing lawyers and family members from visiting them in jail. Leaders like Barghouti were placed in solitary confinement since it began.

Haniyeh was elected by its Shura Council on Saturday, just days after the group released a new charter document.

In an apparent move to ease tensions in Gaza with a gesture toward unity in the Palestinian liberation movement and efforts to garner support from Gulf Arab states and Egypt, Hamas’ new charter takes a softer stance on negotiations with Israel while still backing the right of oppressed peoples to wage armed resistance.

The new statement accepts a future Palestinian state based on 1967 borders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a longstanding goal of the PA.

While it continues to refuse to recognize the apartheid state of Israel, it has distinguished between the group’s objection to Zionism rather than Jewish people.

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Family of Jordan Edwards, 15-Year-Old Killed by Cop, Sues Entire Dallas Suburb Police Dept

  • The lawsuit said, "Oliver

    The lawsuit said, “Oliver’s inadequate training resulted in the death of Edwards.” | Photo: Facebook

Published 8 May 2017 (4 hours 52 minutes ago)
The lawsuit stated that the police department should have known that Oliver “exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public.”

The family of Jordan Edwards, the 15-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer, Roy Durwood Oliver, has filed a lawsuit against the former Balch Springs police officer and the Balch Springs police department.

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The lawsuit that was filed Friday has accused the department of inadequately training Oliver and ignoring some of the glaring facts that pointed towards his erratic behavior. The lawsuit stated that the police department should have known that Oliver “exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public.”

Oliver was fired shortly after the death of Edwards and was arrested but was later released on a bail of US$300,000.

A complaint previously filed by prosecutors stated that they were having a difficult time getting Oliver to attend a trial and that he was angry that he had to be there. The former police officer also used obscene language and cursed during his testimony, causing an assistant district attorney to send a female intern out of the room during the trial.

According to the complaint, Oliver was suspended for 16 hours over the incident, which he made up for by giving up two sick days. He was also mandated to take training courses in anger management and courtroom demeanor and testimony.

Edwards is the youngest of the 339 people shot and killed by the police so far in 2017, according to a Washington Post database that tracks shootings. At least 10 people shot and killed by police this year were under 18.

“There was no reason that any person in America — not just a black person — should ever have to bury their 15-year-old child who was doing everything right in life,” Jasmine Crockett, one of the family’s attorneys, told Chicago Tribune Sunday.

Edwards funeral took place Saturday, a week after he was fatally shot in a vehicle leaving a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. Edwards family’s lawyers said Oliver fired his rifle at the vehicle as it was driving away, piercing a passenger-side window and striking Edwards.

Balch Springs’ use of force policy is in line with national recommendations. According to the policy, officers are instructed to avoid shooting at moving vehicles unless their lives or others’ are in imminent danger.

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Just one day after the shooting, the police had issued a faulty statement saying the vehicle in which Edwards was sitting was reversing toward officers “in an aggressive manner.” Jonathan Haber, Balch Springs’ police chief, clarified later after reviewing the footage that the vehicle was, in fact, driving away from the officers when Oliver fired.

The lawsuit filed by the Edwards family also holds Haber and the entire department accountable for having “failed to provide adequate training to Oliver on appropriate methods and techniques to control situations similar to the one” that took Edwards life on April 29 where the police were expected to investigate a house party with teenagers for underage drinking.

The lawsuit said, “Oliver’s inadequate training resulted in the death of Edwards.” It broadly seeks damages for Edwards’ wrongful death, but no specific amount has been specified. Also, no hearings have been scheduled.

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Israel Border Police Fatally Shoot 16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl

  • An Israeli policeman stands guard near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem

    An Israeli policeman stands guard near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 May 2017 (17 hours 29 minutes ago)
“Why do you continue to tell lies? What did that girl do? What did she do? Do you actually want peace?” one bystander shouted at Israeli police.

Israeli border police shot and killed 16-year-old Fatima Afif Abd al-Rahman Hjeiji in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday evening, with witnesses saying she was “executed in cold blood,” according to Palestinian media outlet Ma’an.

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The teen was pelted with some 20 bullets outside the Old City, with Israeli police alleging that she was armed with a knife and had attempted to attack them. Eyewitnesses, however, had a different account, claiming that Hjeiji had been standing near Damascus Gate, more than 30 feet from the cadre of Israeli border police, before she was killed.

“One of the soldiers started to shout ‘knife! knife!’ and moments after that, about five soldiers opened fire at her from every direction,” the witness told Ma’an.

The first bullets hit her chest and she fell to the ground, “but Israeli soldiers continued to fire at her back,” the witness account continued.

Other witnesses told the outlet that a parked car nearby was riddled with bullets, highlighting the extent of indiscriminate force that was used on the teenage girl, who was allegedly armed with only a knife.

As bystanders attempted to circle Hjeiji’s body, Israeli forces blocked off the area, attacking the crowd with pepper spray. One man sustained burns to his face from the pepper spray attack and a 9-year-old child was badly bruised after falling over when he and a group of teenagers were chased by mounted police officers.

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One bystander, Ma’an reported, confronted Israeli police by shouting,“Why do you continue to tell lies? What did that girl do? What did she do? Do you actually want peace?”

Bystanders also told the outlet that Israeli security forces are known to plant knives on slain Palestinians in order to claim that they were acting in self-defense. However, a farewell letter to the victim’s family was found near the teen’s body, where she had signed off with the word “shahida,” the Arabic word for martyr.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Hjeiji was from a town near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

According to Ma’an, Hjeiji has become the 20th Palestinian killed by Israelis since the beginning of the year, in a period that has seen a number of attacks against Israeli apartheid forces by those living under an ongoing brutal occupation and military rule.

The news agency has also reported that more than 111 Palestinians were killed in 2016, almost all of them at the hands of Israeli forces. The year was also the deadliest for Palestinian children in more than a decade with at least 33 were killed by Israeli fire, according to a recent report from Defense for Children International Palestine.

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