Palestinian village installs cameras, accusing Israeli settlers of attacks

The project’s founders hope the closed-circuit television cameras around Kisan. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 October 2020

Palestinian village installs cameras, accusing Israeli settlers of attacks

  • The camera project is being funded through an initiative called 3al Ard — on the ground, in Arabic

KISAN, West Bank: Palestinians are installing a video surveillance system in a remote village in the occupied West Bank to keep an eye on nearby Israeli settlers who they accuse of frequent attacks.
The project’s founders hope the closed-circuit television cameras around Kisan, which lies in an area under complete Israeli military control, will help deter potential perpetrators wary of being caught on video.
“The goal is to limit settler attacks on our villages, our children, our little ones, that live close to settlements,” Ali Faraj, one of the project’s founders, said.
Cameras mounted in 10 locations will be linked to a mobile application that will warn residents of a breach and record alleged incidents that often go undocumented, Ahmed Essa, another of the project’s founders, said.
Faraj said Kisan and surrounding villages have seen more than 450 incidents involving settlers, including attacks on people and damage to homes.
The United Nations has documented some such incidents, as well as acts of Palestinian violence against Israelis in the West Bank, where nearly 430,000 settlers live among some 3 million Palestinians on land Israel captured in a 1967 war.
The camera project is being funded through an initiative called 3al Ard — on the ground, in Arabic — founded by Palestinian-American businessman Bashar Masri.
Masri initially funded half a dozen projects in remote areas “to encourage people to take matters into their own hands vis-a-vis stopping the mad expansion of the settlements,” he said.
While the Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited autonomy in some areas, many villages, like Kisan, lie in areas under complete Israeli military control, leaving them with little avenue for redress after alleged incidents involving settlers.
“The (PA) cannot enter here ... it is the duty of local residents to fill the gap,” Faraj said.


End the political deadlock, support group tells Beirut

Updated 26 November 2020

End the political deadlock, support group tells Beirut

  • UN leads calls for “urgent action” to halt downward spiral  
  • The ISG called on Hassan Diab’s caretaker government to “fully implement its immediate responsibilities”

BEIRUT: The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) has voiced its dismay over delays in the formation of a government in the crisis-racked country and called on Lebanese authorities to implement urgent reforms.
In a statement on Wednesday directed at Lebanon’s leaders, the group warned that as the political stalemate in the country drags on, “the social and economic crisis is getting worse.”
The ISG called on Hassan Diab’s caretaker government to “fully implement its immediate responsibilities,” adding that the “overriding need is for Lebanon’s political leaders to agree to form a government with the capacity and will to implement necessary reforms without further delay.”
Pragmatic legislative steps are needed to alleviate the “economic stress faced by Lebanese families and businesses,” it said.
The ISG was launched in 2013, and includes the UN, along with China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Britain and the US, the EU and the Arab League.
In its statement, the group welcomed France’s plan to hold an international conference in support of the Lebanese people by the early December. The forum will be co-chaired by the UN.
However, the summit “did not detract from the urgent need for government formation and reforms,” it said.
On Wednesday, Reuters quoted “an official source” who claimed that Lebanon’s central bank is considering reducing the level of mandatory foreign exchange reserves in order to continue supporting basic imports next year, with the already low reserves dwindling.
According to the source, Riad Salameh, the central bank governor, met with ministers in the caretaker government on Tuesday to discuss cutting the mandatory reserve ratio from 15 percent to 12 percent or even 10 percent. Foreign exchange reserves are currently about $17.9 billion, leaving only $800 million to support imports of fuel, wheat and medicine until the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Lebanese political leaders are seeking to shift blame for the parliamentary deadlock in a dispute illustrated by the exchange of accusatory letters between Nabih Berri’s parliamentary bloc and President Michel Aoun.
Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, tweeted on Wednesday: “We are in a vicious circle under the slogan of conditions, counter-conditions, names and counter-names, electoral and presidential bids, and flimsy regional bets, amid a tremendous change in the region.”
At a meeting of the joint parliamentary committees on Wednesday to discuss a draft law for the parliamentary elections, representatives of the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces party voiced their objections, claiming the project presented by the Berri parliamentary bloc “fuels the political, sectarian and doctrinal divide because it is based on the idea that Lebanon is one electoral constituency.”
Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said that “what is being discussed today is a change in the political system, not just an electoral law.”
The Lebanese Parliament is due to hold a plenary session on Friday to discuss a letter sent by Aoun “to enable the state to conduct a forensic accounting audit of the Bank of Lebanon’s accounts.”
Alvarez & Marsal, which was carrying out a forensic audit of the central bank’s accounts, said last week it was halting the investigation because it was not being given the information needed to carry out the task.
The company’s decision came after the central bank invoked a banking secrecy law to prevent disclosure of information.
Aoun had insisted on the forensic audit “so that Lebanon is not seen as a rogue or failed state in the eyes of the international community.”
Families of the victims of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion staging a sit-in near the parliament building demanded “a decree equating our martyrs with the martyrs of the army.”
Bereaved mothers, some carrying pictures of children killed in the blast, accused former and current heads of state of being responsible for the explosion.
Mohammed Choucair, head of the Lebanese Economic Organizations, said that Lebanese authorities “are dealing with this devastating event as if it were a normal accident.”
He said that “the only way to save Lebanon and rebuild Beirut is to form a capable and productive government that responds to the aspirations of the citizens.”