Egypt: Hamas, Fatah pen landmark reconciliation deal in Cairo

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on Thursday signed a landmark reconciliation agreement in Cairo.

“The two sides agreed in principle to allow the legitimate Palestinian government to return to Gaza in accordance with [Palestinian] law,” Azzam al-Ahmad, who led Fatah’s delegation at the Cairo talks, said at a news conference.

“We also agreed that the [Ramallah-based Palestinian] government would operate Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt and all of Gaza’s crossings with Israel,” he added.

The deal dictates that Presidential Guard units linked to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) would be deployed along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt no later than Nov. 1, according to al-Ahmad.

He also said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — who heads the PA and the Ramallah government — had instructed members of the Fatah delegation to “end the state of Palestinian division once and for all”.

Al-Ahmad also praised Egypt’s role in helping achieve Palestinian national reconciliation and providing a venue for the talks.

Speaking from Ramallah on Thursday, Abbas said the landmark agreement would go a long way towards ending years of bitter division between the two factions.

“President Abbas has instructed the government, and all of its institutions, to work hard towards the implementation of what has been agreed to in Cairo,€ Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’s influential Political Bureau, also voiced appreciation for the role played by Egypt to sponsor inter-Palestinian dialogue.

“Hamas will spare no effort to turn this agreement into a reality with a view to confronting the Zionist project and establishing a sovereign state of Palestine,” al-Arouri said.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s acting chief in Gaza, congratulated Abbas on the watershed agreement.

“Sinwar congratulated President Abbas by phone on the completion of the national reconciliation project,” Fatah — of which Abbas serves as chairman said in a statement.

According to one Palestinian official, Abbas may soon visit the blockaded Gaza Strip — for the first time in 10 years €” in light of the diplomatic success in Cairo.

“President Abbas has repeatedly stressed his readiness to visit Gaza,” Majid al-Fitiani, secretary of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday. “But this depends on the full implementation of the Cairo agreement, especially the unity government’s assumption of all administrative and security responsibilities.”

He went on to say Abbas planned to reverse all measures he had recently taken against the Gaza Strip, that has been governed by Hamas since 2007.

According to a Palestinian source close to the Cairo talks, the agreement calls for the Fatah-led Palestinian unity government to assume full political and administrative control of the Gaza Strip by Dec.1.

The same source, who preferred anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media, said Hamas and Fatah agreed to allow the unity government to assume full responsibility for all of Gaza’s border crossings by Nov. 1.

The source added that security officials from Ramallah would soon hold a series of meetings in Gaza with their counterparts from Hamas to discuss means of handing over security responsibility for the blockaded coastal enclave.

The two factions, the same source continued, had also agreed to allow a legal and administrative committee, drawn up earlier in Ramallah, to find solutions to longstanding problems mostly related to salary shortfalls — faced by Gaza’s Hamas-hired civil servants.

“According to the Cairo agreement, this committee will wrap up its work sometime before Feb. 1,” the source said.

The Ramallah government, he added, had vowed to pay all outstanding salaries owed to Gaza’s public servants.

And on Dec. 1, the same source said, Hamas and Fatah officials would meet again in Cairo to assess implementation of the agreement.

Two weeks before prior to the meeting, another meeting will be held Nov. 14 in Cairo between representatives of all Palestinian factions to discuss “mechanisms” for implementing the reconciliation agreement.

Turkey welcomed the “reconciliation reached between our Palestinian brothers that was announced today,” that country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that added Ankara would continue to support “all its Palestinian brothers”.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that the two factions had hammered out an agreement following a week of intense talks in Cairo.

Cairo is currently leading efforts to heal the decade-long political split between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah movement.

In a major step towards reconciliation last week, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (who heads up the Ramallah government) held his first Cabinet meeting in Gaza since the unity government was formed in 2014.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Fatah following several days of street fighting.

Hamas’s capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier — if short-lived — unity government established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

[Photo: Palestinian Fatah movement leader Azzam Al-Ahmad (R) and Deputy Chairman of  Hamas’s Movement’s Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri (L) shake hands after signing the reconciliation agreement to build a consensus in Cairo, Egypt on October 12, 2017.
Photographer: Ahmed Gamil/AA]

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Palestine: Agreement reached between Hamas & Fatah

By Yaser al-Banna, Ali Abo Rezeg


GAZA CITY (AA):  Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached an agreement after talks held since Tuesday in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

“Ismail Haniyeh [Hamas chief] has just announced that an agreement was reached dawn on Thursday between Fatah and Hamas movements under Egyptian auspices,” Taher al-Nunu, Haniyehâs media advisor said in a press statement released early Thursday morning.

Al-Nuno gave no further details on the content of the deal.

Palestinian media outlets have said that the two factions would hold a press conference later Thursday at in Cairo to announce the details of the agreement.

Delegates from rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah started reconciliation talks in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday to heal a decade-long rift.

Cairo is currently leading efforts to heal a political split between Gaza-based Hamas group and the West Bank-based Fatah movement.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held his first Cabinet meeting in Gaza since the unity government was drawn up in 2014, in a major step towards Palestinian reconciliation.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Fatah following several days of street fighting.

Hamas’s capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier — if short-lived — unity government that was established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

[Photo:  Ismail Haniyeh, Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas [R] meets Egyptian Major General Hammam Abu Zheid in Gaza City, Gaza on OctoberŁ, 2017. Photographer: Mustafa Hassona/AA]

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UN: Myanmar attacks were organized to push out Rohingya Muslims

By Fatih Erel


GENEVA (AA): Myanmar’s months-long attacks on Rohingya Muslims have been a concerted, well-organized campaign explicitly meant to push them out of the country into Bangladesh and block their return, a new UN report said on Wednesday.

“Brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine state have been well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes,” according to a new UN report based on 65 interviews with individuals and groups conducted in Bangladesh.

“Human rights violations committed against the Rohingya population were carried out by Myanmar security forces often in concert with armed Rakhine Buddhist individuals,” the report said.

“In some cases, before and during the attacks, megaphones were used to announce: ‘You do not belong here — go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you’,” it said.

It also highlights a strategy to “instil deep and widespread fear and trauma — physical, emotional and psychological†among the Rohingya population.

The report calls the operation launched by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya Muslims “clearance operations.”

Noting serious concerns for the safety of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who remain in northern Rakhine state, the UN called on Myanmar authorities to “immediately allow humanitarian and human rights actors unfettered access to the stricken areas.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Myanmar mission member Thomas Hunecke said in a press conference in Geneva “We have received very credible information that landmines were planted after the 25th of August on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh and that entirely likely that these mines have been planted in order to prevent the Rohingya population from returning.”

Noting that there is not only ethnic cleansing but also religious, OHCHR Myanmar mission member Karin Friedrich said there were mosques being burned and the holy Quran has been violated.

-‘Textbook ethnic cleansing’

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has described Myanmar’s government operations in northern Rakhine as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in Myanmar which has seen security forces and Buddhist mobs killing men, women and children, looting homes, and torching Rohingya villages.

Since Aug. 25, when the military launched a crackdown against Rohingya, 519,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

It is “the largest and speediest” movement of a civilian population in Asia since the 1970s, the UN said.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

[Photo:  Rohingya Muslims fleeing ongoing military operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, gather to watch a road consturction inside a makeshift refugee camp in Balukhali in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on October 09, 2017. Photographer: Stringer/AA]

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Jammu & Kashmir: Four killed in fierce gun battle

By Zahid Rafiq


SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir, India, (AA):  Two militants and two Indian Airforce personnel were killed early Wednesday in a fierce gun battle in Hajin village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

“The gun battle is still on. The slain Airforce personnel were operating with the Army for operational experience and training in that area,” Defense spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia told Anadolu Agency.

According to police officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Indian forces had intelligence input about the presence of around six militants in a village in Hajin and joint forces of the police and Army laid siege around the village around 5 a.m. (23ሖGMT).

“The militants opened fire on our forces and killed two Airforce Guard commandos. Two militants were also killed, but we believe 3-4 militants are still in the area,” the police official said.

The police official also said that both slain militants were local Kashmiris belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant outfit.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

The two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu-Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.

[Photo:  Smoke rises from the Indian military building after it was blasted by Indian army where last suspected militant was believed to be holed up in Humhama on the outskirts of Srinagar the summer capital of Indian controlled Kashmir on October 03, 2017.
Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

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Palestine: Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque complex for ‘Sukkot’

JERUSALEM (AA): Hundreds of Jewish settlers on Tuesday forced their way into Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a Palestinian official said.

Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Jordan-run Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which is responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic sites, said a total of 537 settlers, backed by Israeli police, have stormed the complex since morning.

According to al-Dibs, Jewish groups have called on supporters to converge on Al-Aqsa compound this week to mark Sukkot, a week-long holiday, which started Wednesday and will continue until Sunday.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem — in which the Al-Aqsa is located — during the 쌯 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital — a move never recognized by the international community.

[Archive Photo: Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians because Israeli settlers storm into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on 13 September 2015. Photographer: Muammar Awad/AA]

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UK: Islamophobic attacks on UK mosques double

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal


LONDON (AA): Hate crimes targeting mosques in the U.K. have doubled in the past year, results of an investigation indicated on Monday.

Data from British police forces across the country by the U.K.’s Press Association said police forces recorded 110 hate crimes directed at mosques between March and July this year, up from just 47 over the same period in 2016.

According to the figures, the northern English city of Manchester has seen one of the biggest year-on-year increases in mosque attacks with nine incidents from a previous number of zero.

London mosques were targeted in the same period 17 times while the number of attacks was eight before, another sharp rise.

Threats, harassment and examples of other intimidating behaviors more than tripled, from 14 crimes in 2016 to 49 in 2017, according to the same data.

The other hate crimes included racist abuse, threats to bomb the mosques, incidents of smashed windows and parked cars, as well as offensive graffiti, violent assaults on worshippers, arson and leaving pork products at Muslim places of worship, according to the information.


In one of the worst incidents targeting Muslims this year, Makram Ali, 51, died in the Finsbury Park Muslim Welfare Centre attack in June when a car mowed down worshippers who were leaving Ramadan prayers.

Darren Osborne, 47, is alleged to have driven the van into worshippers outside the Islamic center in north London.

Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as “sickening” and “insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life”.

Islamophobic incidents in the U.K. have seen a spike since deadly terror attacks in Manchester and London, according to security officials.

[Photo: Birmingham Central Mosque.Photo by  Oosoom/Creative Commons]

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Morocco: Thousands protest in Casablanca for release of activists

By Khaeled Majdoub


CASABLANCA, Morocco (AA): Thousands of people came out in the streets of northern Casablanca city Sunday in protest against the state€™s continued detention of rights activists who raised their voice for marginalized Al-Rif region.

Hundreds of activists have been incarcerated in the country since fishmonger Mohsen Fikri died after being crushed by a refuse truck in the flashpoint city of Al-Hoceima on Oct. 28, 2016.

According to one estimate, more than 300 people were being held following what is now known as the Al-Rif Movement that came about following Fikri’s death. Some of the activists in jail are said to be on hunger strike.

During the protest on Sunday, people chanted several slogans “freedom for all detainees” and “people want to fight corruption”, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter at the scene.

Leading figures in the opposition movement known as Hirak will go on trial Oct. 17 in Casablanca. No trial date has been set for the movement’s leader, Nasser Zefzafi — arrested in June after a dramatic manhunt

The Moroccan government maintains that the solution to the crisis is through political and developmental means.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: Another protest held in Rabat protesting against Israeli delegation, who are in the city to attend an international symposium  hosted by Morocco’s House of Counsellors, in front of the Parliament building in Rabat, Morocco on October 08, 2017. Photographer: Jalal Morchidi/AA]

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12 Rohingya Muslim refugees, mostly children, drowned as boat capsized near Bangladesh

By Ahmed Furkan Mercan


(AA): 12 Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing Myanmar army violence in Rakhine State, died as their boat capsized off coast of Bangladesh Monday.

The boat carrying Rohingya Muslims capsized at Shar Porir DWIP southern tip of Bangladesh. Most of the 12 killed and scores missing are children.

Sixty Rohingya Muslims died last month in another boat capsize.

Rohingyans continue to suffer human rights abuses in Myanamr. Starvation caused by Myanmar’s military and government restrictions will cause a new wave of Rohingyas escaping to Bangladesh.

More than a quarter million Rohingyas left Burma and will confront a wide range of human rights violations, such as forced labour, extortion, and harassment.

Thousands more will leave their hometowns and face harder conditions in the coming days and weeks.

Crops are ready to harvest and those remaining in the area are prospective nominees of forced labour since the Rohingya farmers left the state.

The Rohingya still in Burma now face extortion by the military to buy the livestock stolen from the Rohiinya who have fled. The cost now is triple the market value and the threat of arrest for refusing also frightens the people.

In a village called Oolaphay many homes were destroyed near the security posts, Rakhine mobs accompanied by the military burned them in Maungdaw three days ago.

President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation in United Kingdom said, “Rohingya are now being starved out of Burma and unless real pressure is put on the government and military to lift aid and movement restrictions most of the Rohingya left in Burma will be forced out within weeks.”

“The military and government have ignored the United Nations Security Council.”

Additional report by The Muslim News 

[Archive Photo: Rohingya Muslims fleeing atrocities in Rakhine state by Myanmar army on 29 September 2017. Photographer: Safvan Allahverdi/AA]

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Saudi Arabia: 2 Saudi guards killed in Jeddah gun attack

By Ahmed al-Masry


DOHA (AA): Saudi authorities Saturday evening confirmed reports that an attack near the royal palace in Jeddah had been foiled Saturday by security forces, leaving two guards and the attacker dead.

The spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry said two Saudi security personnel were killed and another three wounded in an attack on an outpost affiliates the Royal Guards in the Peace Palace in Jeddah, Saudi official news agency (SPA) reported.

“At 3:15 pm on Saturday, an outpost of the Royal Guard, located in front of the western gate of the Peace Palace in Jeddah, came under fire by a person who got out of a Hyundai car and was immediately dealt with by the Royal Guard men as required by the situation, resulting in his death in the same place immediately,” SPA quoted.

“This cowardly act also resulted in martyrdom of sergeant Hammad bin Shallah al-Mutairi, and soldier Abdullah bin Faisal al-Subaie and the injury of corporal Walid bin Ali Shami, soldier Ahmed Saleh Al-Qarni and soldier Abdullah Hindi Subei’i who are currently receiving treatment,” the spokesman added.

The attacked was identified as Mansur bin Hassan bin Ali al-Fahid al-Amiri, a 28-year-old Saudi national, and carried a Kalashnikov machine gun and three Molotov fire grenades, the spokesman said.

Investigations are still carried out by security authorities, and “any developments will be announced later”, he added.

[Map of Saudi Arabia. Creative Commons]

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Libya: Anti-Daesh govt forces claim to retake Misurata

By Walid Abdullah


TRIPOLI, Libya (AA): The Libyan government’s self-styled Anti-Daesh Operations Command Center said Friday that it had recaptured the northwestern city of Misurata after two weeks of fighting with the terrorist group.

“At dawn Friday, army forces affiliated with the Command Center established total control over Misurata and expelled all armed elements from the city,” Command Center spokesman Saleh al-Quraysia told Anadolu Agency.

According to al-Quraysia, the recent clashes in Misurata — which first erupted in mid-September had left at least 19 people dead and scores more injured.

The Command Center was established last year by Libya’s UN-backed unity government based in capital Tripoli.

Al-Quraysia also denied reports that the Command Center shared links with Khalifa Haftar, a military commander loyal to Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament and a bitter rival of the Tripoli government.

“We [i.e., the Command Center] are answerable only to the unity government,” the spokesman asserted.

Libya has remained in a state of chaos since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of longtime President Muammar Gaddafi.

Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government — one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli — each of which boasts its own military capacity.

In an effort to resolve the standoff, the rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement in late 2015 that called for the establishment of a unity government.

[Photo: Â Special representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya, Ghassan Salame holds a press conference after The High Council of State of Libya – Libyan House of Representatives meeting over solving the crisis in Libya at Carthage Hotel in Tunis, Tunisia on September 26, 2017. Photographer: Yassine Gaidi/AA]

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