Palestinians mark 65th anniversary of Nakba

Palestinians are marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced out of their homes and into exile, according to agencies.

Sirens were sounded for 65 seconds and demonstrations took place at midday local time in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Jericho to mark the day.

In Jerusalem, at around 11am people started to gather and then at 11.30am they walked from Manara Square with marching bands, Jane Ferguson reported. This was followed by speeches by officials and a concert.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their villages during the war that established "Israel" in 1948, an event they commemorate every year as their Nakba Day, Arabic for "catastrophe".

On Tuesday, the eve of the anniversary, Palestinians carried 65 torches through the streets of Ramallah to mark the event, while hundreds of others gathered around a stage to hear the Palestinian National Forces band play their instruments.

In the evening, a special pre-recorded speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was broadcast on Palestinian television.

Abbas said that the Palestinian right to an "independent state" had been affirmed by "countries all over the world" .

'Right of return'

Palestinians have maintained for six decades that Arabs who either fled or were expelled from their homes during the fighting that followed Israel's 1948 creation, as well as all their descendants, all have the right to reclaim former properties in what is now s0-called Israel.

The uprooted Palestinians and their offspring, now numbering several million people, cite United Nations resolutions in claiming the right to return to the property they left behind.

The fate of Palestinian refugees and the Palestinian claim to what they call "the Right of Return" is an explosive issue that has loomed large in the failure of " Palestinian -Israeli peace talks" over the past two decades.

In previous rounds of negotiations, several ideas were floated, including allowing for a limited return of refugees to what is now Israel and settling the rest in a future Palestinian state and third countries along with compensation.


Salihi Renews Iran's Support for Syrian Gov't, Nation

TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi once again underlined Iran's continued support for the Syrian government and nation in their fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

"The Islamic Republic supports Syria's integrity, unity and sovereignty …," Salehi told the Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper on Monday.

The Iranian foreign minister said the Syrian government and opposition should hold talks in a bid to reach a political solution to the crisis in the country,according to FNA.

Salehi noted that Tehran is against any foreign interference in Syria's domestic affairs, stressing that Syrians should determine their own destiny.

Last week, Salehi said his recent tour of the regional states was aimed at preventing the spread of the Syrian crisis into the region, and added that the regional countries share Tehran's views on Syria.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is in constant contact with different regional states to prevent the harmful aftermaths of some regional developments from spreading to the entire region," Salehi said on the sidelines of a conference dubbed as 'Diplomacy and Soft Power in the Great Prophet's (PBUH) Sirah (life and tradition)' in Tehran.

Salehi also said that during his trip to Damascus he had a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to share the world and regional countries' views on the crisis in Syria, and said "good decisions were made" at the meeting.

Salehi ended his two-day tour of Jordan and Syria on Wednesday. The Iranian foreign minister, heading a high-ranking delegation, started a visit to Jordan and Syria last week to discuss bilateral ties and regional developments, the crisis in Syria in particular.


Car bomb explodes outside hospital in Libya's Benghazi

A car bomb that exploded on Monday in the parking lot of a Benghazi hospital killed at least 15 people and wounded 30, Libya's deputy interior minister said.

"Fifteen people have been killed and at least 30 were wounded in the explosion of a car bomb near the hospital," Abdullah Massoud said citing a preliminary toll.

The attack in Libya's second city struck in the car park of Al-Jala hospital, a security official told AFP earlier.


Iran, OIC Voice Common Position in Opposition to Military Intervention in Syria

TEHRAN (ST)- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in a meeting in Jeddah underlined the necessity for preventing military intervention in Syria.

The meeting was held in Jeddah on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the OIC contact group on Mali, including the top diplomats of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

During the meeting, the two officials stressed their opposition to the military intervention in Syria, the necessity for finding a political solution to the current crisis and stopping the conflict and bloodshed in the country.

The two sides also reiterated their concern over the activities of extremist groups in Syria.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

The US daily, Washington Post, reported in May that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups battling the Syrian  government have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.

Opposition activists who several months ago said the rebels were running out of ammunition said in May that the flow of weapons - most bought on the black market in neighboring countries -has significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.


Saudi Court to Try Peaceful Protestors in Qatif

A Saudi court in Qatif, Eastern Province, is due to try a number of residents of the city on charges of attending anti-regime protests.

The protestors and activists who are due to be tried in the Saudi court on Monday are 60 people aged between 20 and 45, and they are accused of attending illegal gatherings and writing "provoking" materials in social networks.

Saudi people stage anti-regime demonstrations in the town of Qatif almost on a daily basis, calling for the freedom of political detainees held in the kingdom's prisons.

The demonstrators shout slogans against the Al Saud ruling family and denounce the suppression of protests in the oil-rich province.

Activists say a large number of the political prisoners are being held by the Al Saud regime without trial or legitimate charges.

There have been numerous demonstrations in the oil-rich Eastern Province since February 2011, with protestors primarily calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination.

Anti-government protests intensified, however, since November 2011, when security forces opened fire on protestors in Qatif, killing five people and leaving scores more injured.

In October 2012, Amnesty International called on Saudi authorities to stop using excessive force against the protestors.