3000 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to aid Prisoners Day protest

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have declared a hunger strike to support Prisoners Day, an annual event dedicated to 4,713 prisoners being held in Israeli jails. Fierce rallies demanding their release have reportedly been met with tear gas.

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza have attended marches and rallies on, urging the international community to intervene and for pressure to be put on' Israel' in order to release some of the Palestinian prisoners.

Nearly 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them marched towards the nearby military prison at Ofer.

As activists reached the Ofer prison perimeter they tore down 50 meters of the prison fence, mounting a Palestinian flag on prison grounds.

 “After around four minutes of being at the fence, Israeli soldiers showed up. They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted spokesman of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh as saying.

“It is necessary to pressure"Israel "to release the Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers,” he added.

In Gaza, hundreds of people marched from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, AFP reported.

Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus.

Events to mark Prisoners Day began on Tuesday in Gaza City where youngsters released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner.

Primarily Palestinian activists are calling for the release of those on the hunger strike that has been lasting for more than 250 days. Already dubbed one of the longest strikes in history, it stirred mass outrage and weeks of street protests.

The fates of at least five of the prisoners, including Samer Issawi, are now central to the protesters.

Samer Issawi, a 32-year-old from  Jerusalem, is said to be in a critical condition with his low heart rate meaning he could die at any time.

Issawi was initially convicted of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002. He was released in 2011 along with over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held hostage by the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza.

But last July, he got re-arrested for what Israel called a violation of the terms of his release by crossing from his native East Jerusalem to the West Bank. Now he might face his original term behind bars and stay in jail until 2029. The prisoner has been struggling to regain his freedom by July this year.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Society says more than 215 children and 14 women are in jail.

M.D

Tunisian Family Shocked As Son Joining Terrorists in Syria

TUNIS,(ST)_The "Tunisian"  newspaper said that a Tunisian family living in Safax was  surprised by a telephone call from  son Ziad Kanoun , two days ago saying that  he is  in Turkey on his way to Syria for "jihad".

The newspaper pointed out that terrorist Kanoun was born in 1982 and worked as an expert accountant , married and the father of three-month-old baby, adding that the news was  a thunderbolt like  on the young wife and her husband's parents and brothers.

Extremists  networks to recruit young Tunisians and send them  to fight in Syria are very active , a matter , which created  a state of anxiety within the Tunisian society and pushed the media to focus and warn  against  this phenomenon , especially after the killing of scores of Tunisian of terrorists in Syria.

 

T. Fateh

Lavrov: conflict only resolved through negotiations “without any preconditions

ISTANBUL, (ST)- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday criticized the Friends of Syria grouping of Western and Arab countries opposed to the Syrian government as negative for dialogue.

Russian TV RT quoted Minister Lavrov as saying “Right now we see this process is making a negative contribution to the [Geneva] decisions,” Lavrov said in Istanbul, referring to a 2012 accord among world powers in Geneva aimed at solving the Syrian conflict.

“When one party is isolated in any mechanism set up to deal with a conflict, we miss the ground for dialogue.” He also said that Moscow was not involved in “regime change” or “legitimization of such attempts.”

Lavrov underscored that the ongoing conflict can only be resolved through negotiations and “without any preconditions,”

“If the number one priority is regime change, then, given that this is objectively impossible, the cost of such a geopolitical approach will evidently be more and more Syrian lives,” Lavrov said.

“Now it is up to those who are insisting on preconditions for dialogue to choose,” he said.

Minister Lavrov, according to Xinhua News Agency, added that  his country rejects military intervention in Syria, adding that Russia hopes to avoid any measure of military intervention in Syria in the forthcoming meeting of Friends of Syria in Istanbul.

"We do not struggle to change the regime. We don't support such activities but further dialogue between the regime and the opposition."

Lavrov warned that the Syrian tragedy will continue, the massacre will continue and the al-Qaida will emerge if the military intervention takes place.

Lavrov warned against any military intervention in Syria, saying that it would only make the situation worse and encourage the spread of radical Islamic groups including Al-Qaeda.

“In our future deliberations we will try to avoid any measures that focus on military intervention and the isolation of the parties concerned,” he said.

“We will focus on establishing a dialogue platform with the participation of all parties involved.”

As for the upcoming Friends of Syria meeting which will be hosted by Istanbul on April 20, Lavrov said that his country is not a member of Friends of Syria group and expressed his doubts over activities of the group.

Lavrov slammed the Friends of Syria group which gathers Western and Arab countries saying "right now we see this process is making a negative contribution to the Geneva decisions," while referring to a 2012 accord among world powers in Geneva aiming at resolving the Syrian conflict through talks involving all parties in Syria.

"When one party is isolated in any mechanism set up to deal with a conflict, we miss the ground for dialogue," he stressed.

If you look at the practical perspectives of this group, do you think it could contribute to the Geneva Agreements?" Lavrov wondered.

"The Friends of Syria group is supporting the Syrian oppositions. Some of the Syrian oppositions are labeled as representatives of the Syrian people but this is contradictory with the international law," Lavrov added.

Lavrov said if any military intervention happens in Syria in the future, the chance for dialogue would be lost, reiterating al- Qaida emergence and intensified terrorism activities inside Syria.

"We see Al-Qaeda-related groups struggling against the current regime (in Syria), and that's a very worrying aspect," he said.

"And they are listed as terrorist groups by the United States."

 

ST

Iraq deadly bombings hit Nasariyah, Kirkuk and Baghdad

At least 20 people have been killed and more than 100 others wounded in a series of early morning explosions in cities across Iraq, officials say.

Attacks were reported in Baghdad, as well as Tuz Khurmatu and Kirkuk in the north and Nasariyah in the south.

The co-ordinated attacks occurred during the morning rush hour and mainly involved car bombs.

The violence comes ahead of Iraq's provincial elections on 20 April, the first in the country since 2010.

Monday's attacks were particularly broad in scope, with several cities hit, including Fallujah, Tikrit, Samarra and Hilla.

The explosions were caused by dozen of cars packed with explosives and three roadside bombs, AFP news agency reported.

Three car bombs went off minutes apart in Tuz Khurmatu, killing six people and wounding 60, AFP reported.

A number of attacks were also reported in Baghdad.

In one incident, two car bombs claimed two lives and wounded 17 at a checkpoint at the heavily guarded airport, Reuters reported.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, nine people were killed when six car bombs went off simultaneously, police said.

Three of the bombs exploded in Kirkuk's city Centre - one in an Arab district, one in a Kurdish area, and a third in a Turkomen district, Associated Press reported.

Other blasts were reported elsewhere in the city.

Elsewhere, gunmen armed with pistols fitted with silencers shot and killed a police officer while he was driving his car in the town of Tarmiyah, 30 miles (50 km) north of Baghdad, AP said.

No group has admitted carrying out Monday's attacks.

R.S

Syrians Only, Who Have the Right to self- Determination- Iran

TEHRAN,( ST)_Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Ramin Mehmanparast stressed that no one has the right to dictate the its own agenda on the Syrian people, who are the only ones to have  the   right to self-determination and political future.
In a statement to the Iranian   Student News Agency  "ISNA today," the Iranian official said that  having  some armed groups carrying out terrorist operations against the Syrian government and people does not make  these groups legitimate, adding that the  adoption of such a  vision justifies  providing oppositions with  weapons and military equipment in other areas of the  region,  similar to what is happening in Syria.
Mehmanparast expressed his country's rejection to one side control  of  a state by resorting to violence, weapons and external support, stressing that it is only people who give legitimacy to the government and that no  force can topple a government that enjoys the  support of the majority of its people.
Concerning  Egyptian-Iranian relations in the field of tourism Mehmanparast stressed that the situation in Egypt has not yet settled and the Egyptians seek to attain  democracy to their  country, noting  that the development of tourism in both countries provides the  fertile ground for the promotion of  bilateral  economic relations .

 

T. Fateh