Wildlife and eco-tourism in Palestine


This video says about itself:

21 February 2012

Close-ups of foraging Palestine Sunbird (Cinnyris osea). Song & call – Judean Desert.

By the Palestine Wildlife Society, 10 November 2016:

Navigating a sustainable path to eco-tourism in Palestine

Palestine’s first-ever eco-tourism conference which took place yesterday focus on finding ways to protect Palestine’s unique natural heritage while sustainably tapping its economic and social benefits.

The varying geography and climate are represented by the Mediterranean Sea, the long shoreline of Gaza, the Jerusalem mountains, the eastern slopes and the Rift “Jericho and El-Gour” Valley. Within a small area the biodiversity is truly astounding: more than 2,720 plant species “Flora Palaestina” and around 520 bird species reside or migrate through this compact ecological area. Many avian species journey all the way from Africa to Europe through small land bridges in the south and centre of Palestine. In addition, more than 70 species of mammals and thousands of other insects, reptiles and amphibians are represented in this compact but diverse stretch of land. Palestine is a land of immense natural beauty and diversity. However, conflict, climate change and environmental stress has placed Palestine’s natural heritage under enormous threat.

This requires the redoubling of conservation and protection efforts, as encompassed in Palestine’s commitments to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In this regard, eco-tourism can help conserve Palestine’s unique natural environment while creating economic and social opportunities. “Palestine Wildlife Society – Birdlife Palestine PWLS is a pioneer in the ecotourism work as they trained around 40 tour guides and community based tour guides and now they are organizing the first ecotourism conference in Palestine. Furthermore, they look forward to initiate a diploma program for teaching ecotourism,” said Imad Atrash Executive Director of the PWLS.

Under the auspices of Palestine’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Ma’ayaa, the first-ever Palestinian Eco-Tourism Conference took place yesteday at the Ush Ghurab Garden in Beit Sahour. “Eco-tourism has a deep impact on the outreach to villages and towns، usually off the traditional tourism track, and is a primordial leverage tool in the vast array of tourism diversification” said Rola Maayah Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.

National and international experts, Palestinian government officials, academics, and civil society actors discussed, in a number of dedicated sessions, the various aspects of Palestine’s evolving capacities in eco-tourism and how this can be accomplished while protecting Palestine’s rich but fragile natural heritage.

It has been agreed that ecotourism is a vital sector and has to be dealt with on a national scale. Some local and global organizations have focused their activities on this topic. Some sites in Palestine have been selected to be models for these new concepts that combine cultural heritage and nature, such as the Jerusalem wilderness, St. Saba Monastery (Bethlehem), Masafer Bani Naeem (Hebron), Wadi Qilt and the Monastery of St. George and the city of Jericho.

Through ecotourism, the Palestine Wildlife Society aims to promote the sustainable use of natural and cultural values of Palestine’s heritage sites, to help in the conservation and monitoring of these sites, to build up the local capacity for conservation and ecotourism nationally and regionally and to promote ecotourism and other sustainable development programmes in Palestine through local communities and travel agencies.

CIA-funded Syrian ‘moderate rebels’ behead 12-year-old sick child


This video from the USA says about itself:

CIA And Pentagon Arming Opposite Sides In Syria

1 May 2016

Syria is an unbelievable mess, and the US military-industrial complex is only making it messier. The CIA is arming one faction, the Pentagon is arming another, and they’re now fighting each other. Who’s side are we on? Do we even know? Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter five-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the last two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other while maneuvering through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.”

Read more here.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

21 July 2016

A horrific video circulated on social media records an incident in the Syrian city of Aleppo in which so-called “rebels” of the Nour al-Dine Zinki Islamist militia cut off the head of a young boy they had captured on Tuesday. The executioner is seen holding the boy down on the bed of a pickup truck, sawing away at his neck with a small, dull knife and then holding the severed head in the air in triumph after the deed is done.

… Those who carried out this savage killing either are, or at least were until recently, armed by and on the payroll of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

The murdered child, identified as Abdullah Issa, was just 12 years old. His captors claimed that he was a fighter with Liwa al-Quds (Al Quds Brigade), a Palestinian militia fighting on the side of the Syrian government.

Liwa al-Quds, however, issued a report saying that he was not one of their fighters but rather the child of a poor refugee family, who was taken hostage in the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp in northern Aleppo. The boy, who appears dazed, had apparently been taken while receiving medical treatment, as an intravenous drip attached to his arm is visible in the video.

In the video, one of the child’s tormentors can be heard shouting, “We’ll leave no one in Handarat!” This is apparently a threat by the militia to “ethnically cleanse” the camp of its Palestinian population. Liwa al-Quds described the grisly execution of the child as “cheap and despicable revenge” by the jihadists for losing a battle for control of the area.

In a statement, Nour al-Dine al-Zinki’s leadership formally condemned the barbaric murder of the child, while claiming it represented “individual errors that represent neither our typical practices nor our general policies.”

The video itself, however, shows a number of the group’s fighters cheering on the beheading and recording the tormenting of the boy and his execution on their cell phones.

Moreover, the incident comes just two weeks after Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, issued a report titled “Armed opposition groups committing war crimes in Aleppo city.” In addition to Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and three other Islamist militias, the report accuses Nour al-Dine Zinki (named first in the report) of having “carried out a chilling wave of abductions, torture and summary killings” in Aleppo and elsewhere in northern Syria. It further charges the US and its regional allies with arming and supporting these groups, which operate with impunity.

The Obama administration’s response to this atrocity has been ambivalent at best. Asked whether the execution of the child “would affect assistance” to the group responsible, State Department spokesman Mark Toner responded that “if we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved in it, I think it would certainly give us pause.”

Pressed as to what consequences it would have in terms of US support, Toner sidestepped the question: “I can’t say what that consequence will be, but it will certainly give us, as I said, serious pause.”

According to a December 2014 report by the McClatchy news organization, Nour al-Dine Zinki was one of the only CIA-backed groups not to be cut off as the al-Nusra Front began making serious gains, either absorbing these militias or seizing their weapons.

According to McClatchy, the CIA was paying the salaries of the Nour al-Dine Zinki fighters at the rate of $150 a month. The militia was also the recipient of US TOW anti-tank missiles manufactured by the Raytheon Company, in addition to so-called “non-lethal” supplies.

The savage murder of young Abdullah Issa is a grim exposure of the real character of the forces described by the Obama administration as the “moderate opposition”—and by its pseudo-left apologists as Syrian “revolutionaries.”

Like Al Qaeda before them, they are a Frankenstein’s monster created by US and Western imperialism and unleashed upon the people of Syria and the broader region to achieve definite strategic aims by means of regime-change.

See also here.

Britain: Channel 4 News promoted known war criminals [Zinki] in Syria, and is now hiding its own report: here.

Don’t be fooled by reports that al-Qaeda and Nusra have split for the good of the suffering Syrian people. Turn it into a respectable army of “moderates”, give it a spanking new name, and then the Americans and Russians will stop bombing the daylights out of it and Qatar’s loyal militia will destroy the Assad regime and… Well, if that happened, Qatar would control the future of Syria: here.

War against Isis: US-led coalition accused of killing civilians using ‘scorched earth policy’ in Syria: here.

Washington escalates covert backing for Al Qaeda militias in Aleppo: here.

The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda: here.

Fifteen years after launching a “global war on terror” in the name of wiping out Al Qaeda, Washington is arming and funding its associates in Syria to counter Russia: here.

“Human rights” propaganda campaign paves way for military escalation in Syria: here.

Disabled Palestinian refugee from ISIS now in Dutch ex-prison


Rafiq in the Haarlem prison building, photo: NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Man on crutches in ISIS area, nearly drowns, but makes it to the Netherlands

Today, 18:24

In late August of this year we got to know him, Rafiq, a 65-year-old Palestinian from Syria, sweaty and exhausted, breathing heavily and inching, using crutches, crossing the border between Serbia and Hungary. He wanted only one thing: to go to the Netherlands. Correspondent Marcel van der Steen saw him disappear into the night.

Van der Steen decided to keep in touch with Rafiq and recently received notice that he had managed to reach the Netherlands. Rafiq is now staying in the Panopticon Prison in Haarlem, which is now an emergency shelter. Reporter Nicole le Fever met him there.

Rafiq’s journey is hard to summarize. To flee Syria he had to cross ISIS territory. A Chechen stopped him and asked why he had no beard. “That does not grow with me,” he replied. But the young man thought that was not a good excuse and Rafiq received twenty lashes.

When asked if he smoked, he lied, because he had heard that he should never admit it. Fortunately, the cigarette pack that he had was not found on him. Finally, the legs of his trousers above his ankles were cut off because Muslim men, according to tradition, must not wear clothing over their ankles.

Once in Turkey, it turned out that as a Palestinian he was not allowed to stay because he had no papers. “Stateless”, therefore, says the new card which he received from the Dutch authorities.

Nearly drowned

So the only way was to try to reach a Greek island by boat. The first attempt failed. The boat made water and Rafiq would have drowned if he would not have been saved by an Iraqi friend. The second attempt succeeded though.

Late August Marcel van der Steen saw him stumble in the dark towards the Hungarian border. He managed to enter the country and for 1000 euros he took a taxi to Germany. The last stage, to Amsterdam Central Station, was by train. There he got a ticket for the train and bus to Ter Apel refugee camp to report there.

Rafiq is grateful that he has arrived safely in the Netherlands. Syria and his problems with the government he won’t talk about much because he is worried about his wife, who stayed behind in Syria. However, he talks about his old life, including in Dubai and Eastern Europe, where he used to own electronics stores and a furniture store.

Will he still see his wife?

His greatest wish is that his wife may come to the Netherlands, but he is concerned about the length of the procedure. First he was told he would hear something within 5 to 12 months, but that is now a year. And then it takes another year before family members can come. Rafiq is afraid that he will not live that long.

All is not well with his health. He has many problems with his legs and kidneys. He also has to follow a special diet. Fortunately, he gets help from two Syrians in the cell next to him. They help him out of bed and with cleaning. For one of his neighbours bad news came today. One of his sons was killed in Syria and his 16-year-old daughter has remained all alone. The man is desperate.

“So, we all have our stories and problems.” says Rafiq.

Benedict Cumberbatch condemns UK government’s inhumane refugee policy: here.

While thousands of refugees risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean each day to commence an arduous journey through the Balkans, the governing coalition in Berlin is fighting over the most effective way to send them back: here.

Pro-peace rallies in Israel, Tel Aviv Saturday, Haifa Sunday


This video says about itself:

21 October 2015

Israeli cafe offers discounts for Jews and Arabs who sit together

A hummus cafe in Israel is seeking to foster understanding amid a series of violent incidents by offering a discount for Jews and Arabs who sit together.

From the Gush Shalom peace movement in Israel:

Stop the Madness! Protest march in Tel Aviv, rally in Haifa

Saturday, October 24, 7:30 pm – marching from the Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm – rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa.

At 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 24 the march will set off from Rabin Square to the Defense Ministry gate on Kaplan St., Tel Aviv. The march was initiated by Peace Now and joined by various other peace and human rights groups.

These difficult times – days of violence, fear and pain – are only reinforcing our understanding that there will not be real security here until there’s peace through a negotiated solution.

Only a political process that will lead to the end of our control over millions of Palestinians will end the bloody conflict between the two peoples and allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and quiet. The only way to prevent further deterioration is through a two state solution.

Join us this Saturday – *To protest the government actions that are pushing us away from a solution. *To protest extreme right-wing provocations. *To call upon Israeli society to choose a different path.

Transportation: If enough people register, there will be buses from Jerusalem, Haifa and Be’er Sheba – register here.

Contact: maya@peacenow.org

Haifa – Jews and Arabs stand together for a common future. Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm – rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa

We, Jews and Arabs, Arabs and Jews, will not give in to fear and despair. On Sunday, we will stand together in the city of Haifa – a city that can and must lead the way towards a shared life in complete equality. Standing together, we will call for a peace based on independence and justice to both peoples, for full equality in all spheres of life, for an end to racism and discrimination.

Arabs and Jews, Jews and Arabs, we all want to live in security. True security can only be security without occupation and without bloodshed. Only with an end to occupation and a move towards a just peace can we put an end to the killing and hatred, build an different reality and ensure security to all of us.

The terrible violence and fear on the streets did not come out of the blue. The time has come to address the root cause of the cycle of bloodshed: the system of control and separation which denies to millions of Palestinians their right to independence and a life of dignity. Instead of dealing with this root cause, the government goes on pouring ever more gasoline on the fires of incitement and violence.

On Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm we will hold a rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa (Merkaz HaCarmel, 142 HaNasi Avenue).

Starting at 5:30 pm, there will be in the same location a creativity workshop for children, in Hebrew and Arabic. Bring your entire family, to take part in a manifestation of shared life!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1481267028845995/

FRIDAY PRAYERS at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque ended peacefully yesterday after Israel relaxed restrictions, allowing Palestinian men of all ages to enter: here.

Israeli army kills Jewish ‘Palestinian’ ‘terrorist’


This video says about itself:

Israel: Arabs & Jews march for peace in Jerusalem

17 October 2015

Arabs and Jews marched through Jerusalem in solidarity on Saturday, protesting against the recent cycle of violence that has rocked Israel and Palestine.

From the Times of Israel:

Military police probe Wednesday night’s shooting of Jerusalem man by soldier

Israeli man was killed after altercation on bus with two soldiers who say they suspected he was a terrorist

Military police investigators are joining the investigation into the shooting death of an Israeli man Wednesday night in Jerusalem by two IDF soldiers who said they believed he was a terrorist.

The victim was shot and killed by a soldier on a bus near the western entrance to the capital on Wednesday night, after a physical altercation he had with two soldiers in which both sides apparently concluded the other was a Palestinian terrorist.

After the lynch mob killing of an Eritrean refugee in Israel who had nothing to do with terrorism, ‘for terrorism’ …

After a fanatical nationalist stabbed a Jewish shop assistant for supposedly being Palestinian …

Time to stop this vicious cycle of violence, and of hallucination instead of reality.

See also here.

URI AVNERY wonders if the extremist colonisers of the Occupied Territories have taken over Israeli politics.

Israelis and Palestinians march for peace in Jerusalem


This video says about itself:

17 October 2015

Jews and Arabs marched together through the streets of Jerusalem calling for an end to violent attacks. CNN’s Oren Liebermann reports.

Jewish Rapper Says Music Can Unite Israelis And Palestinians: here.

Eritrean bystander beaten to death after being mistaken for ‘terrorist’ in Israeli bus station attack: here.

Israeli, Palestinian anti-violence demonstration tomorrow


This video says about itself:

9 January 2015

Adam Keller (born 1955 in Tel Aviv-Yafo) is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom, of which he is a spokesperson.

From the peace movement Gush Shalom in Israel:

We will not surrender to despair – We will stand together!

Jews and Arabs march together in Jerusalem – Saturday night, Oct. 17.

Starting point – at 8.30 at Gan HaSus, Jerusalem.

Arabs and Jews want to live in security. Real security, without occupation and without killing. We know that only with a just solution to the conflict will be able to stop the killing and the hatred, to build a different reality. A reality of security.

Neither the terrible violence in the streets nor the fear was created in a vacuum. We must struggle against the root of this bloody cycle: A regime of control and separation that denies millions of Palestinians their right to freedom and equality. The Jerusalem Municipality distances itself from responsibility, and the government of Israel ignores the urgent need to address the root of the conflict. Instead, the authorities simply continue to pour gasoline onto the fire of incitement and violence.

We, Jews and Arabs, will not surrender to despair or to fear. On Saturday evening, we will stand together, in Jerusalem, the heart of the cycle of bloodshed which is also the place from which any solution must begin. We will demand freedom for both peoples, equal rights and equality before the law – this is the only possible solution to to violence, killing and hatred.

Facebook event here.

Register for transportation from Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Haifa: here.

Contact: +972-(0)52-5830724

For years
The “experts” said:
“Not having peace
Is not terrible.
It is possible
To manage
The conflict.”

They were wrong.
It IS terrible.

HUNDREDS of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian villages with petrol bombs on Saturday night as the Israeli crackdown escalated: here.