Anger grows over ‘unjust’ Israeli travel bans on Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza

Special Anger grows over ‘unjust’ Israeli travel bans on Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza
Israeli security forces check the documents of Palestinian labourers, who work in Israel. (AFP/File)
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Updated 31 May 2022

Anger grows over ‘unjust’ Israeli travel bans on Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza

Anger grows over ‘unjust’ Israeli travel bans on Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza
  • Shalaldeh has been arrested by the Israeli military authorities several times and was last released from custody in December 2016

RAMALLAH: Palestinian schoolteacher Zawada Shalaldeh has been the subject of an Israeli travel ban for 37 years.

The 59-year-old from the town of Sa’ir, near Hebron, in the West Bank told Arab News that the restrictions imposed on his movements had also impacted on his wife’s ability to get around.

He said: “Since 1985 until today, I have been banned from traveling by the Israeli occupation forces who claim it is for security reasons. Even my wife cannot obtain an entry permit to Jerusalem because of the ban imposed on me.”

Shalaldeh has been arrested by the Israeli military authorities several times and was last released from custody in December 2016. His travel ban remained in place before and after his arrest.

He attempted to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah in 1988, 1993, and 2008, but on each occasion the Israelis blocked him at Allenby Bridge, the only land border crossing in the West Bank, that links the territory with Jordan.

“I want to travel now to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia, but they do not allow me. I was arrested, and I was punished with imprisonment. Why is this additional punishment preventing me from traveling?

“This is unfair and an unjustified restriction on human freedom. The Israeli occupation has no right to prevent me from exercising my right to travel freely,” he added.

Shalaldeh is one of hundreds of Palestinians that have been hit with travel bans, and human rights officials claim such Israeli restrictions have only intensified in recent years.

“I will continue to struggle until the travel ban is lifted, but I will not give up my right to travel,” he added.

Israel has implemented similar bans on entire communities, including Hebron in 2014, and the village of Rummana, near Jenin, earlier this year.

Helmy Al-Araj, director of the Hurriyat civil rights center in Ramallah, who is leading a campaign against the restrictions, said: “The collective travel ban is for a specific period, but the individual travel ban is far worse as no one knows its time limit or duration, and it is considered a permanent travel ban.”

The official noted that individual travel bans on Palestinians put in place by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet faced legal challenges as they often lasted indefinitely and affected relatives.

Many Palestinians need to travel through Jordan for trade and business reasons or for education, medical treatment, pilgrimage, and family reunions. Palestine has no airport, but Palestinians are prohibited from using Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, so Allenby Bridge, controlled by the Israeli authorities, is their only corridor to the outside world.

The Hurriyat Center has documented more than 8,500 cases of travel bans since 2014, 650 of them involving women.

“Travelers are surprised by this procedure when they are prevented from traveling to Jordan at the border crossing,” Al-Araj added.

The travel ban affects 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and 2 million in the Gaza Strip who are not allowed to move between the two enclaves.


UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests

UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests
Updated 24 sec ago

UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests

UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests
  • “The violence levelled at protesters in Iran by the security forces is truly shocking”: British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly

LONDON: Britain’s foreign ministry on Monday said it had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires, Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain, over the crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
“The violence levelled at protesters in Iran by the security forces is truly shocking,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
“Today we have made our view clear to the Iranian authorities – instead of blaming external actors for the unrest, they should take responsibility for their actions and listen to the concerns of their people.”


Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests

Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests
Updated 1 min 33 sec ago

Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests

Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests
  • Iran said that nine foreign nationals from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland were arrested

PARIS: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused arch-foes the United States and Israel of fomenting the wave of nationwide unrest sparked by outrage over the death of Mahsa Amini.
“I say clearly that these riots and the insecurity were engineered by America and the occupying, false Zionist regime, as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad,” the supreme leader said.
Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on September 16, days after the notorious morality police detained the Kurdish Iranian for allegedly breaching rules forcing women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.
Anger over Amini’s death has sparked the biggest wave of protests to rock the Islamic republic in almost three years, which saw security forces in Tehran crack down on hundreds of university students overnight.
In his first public comments since Amini’s death, 83-year-old Khamenei stressed that police must “stand up to criminals” and that “whoever attacks the police leaves the people defenseless against criminals, thugs, thieves.”
“The death of the young woman broke our hearts,” said Khamenei. “But what is not normal is that some people, without proof or an investigation, have made the streets dangerous, burned the Qur'an, removed hijabs from veiled women and set fire to mosques and cars.”
Concern grew over a night-time crackdown on students at Tehran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology where, local media reported, riot police carrying steel pellet guns used tear gas and paintball guns against hundreds of students.
“Woman, life, liberty” the students shouted, as well as “students prefer death to humiliation,” Mehr news agency reported.
Iran’s science minister, Mohammad Ali Zolfigol, came to speak to the students in a bid to calm the situation, the report said.
Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights posted videos apparently showing police on motorcycles chasing students running through an underground car park and taking away detainees whose heads were covered in black cloth bags.
In one clip, which IHR said was taken at a Tehran metro station, a crowd can be heard chanting: “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are all together!“
“Hard to bear what is happening at #SharifUniversity in #Iran,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted. “The courage of the Iranians is incredible. And the regime’s brute force is an expression of sheer fear of the power of education and freedom.”
Protests were also reported at other universities, including in the central city of Isfahan, and unconfirmed reports by a student group on Twitter said dozens had been arrested in the capital.
Mehr news agency said that Sharif University of Technology had “announced that due to recent events and the need to protect students ... all classes will be held virtually from Monday.”
Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking the protests and last week said nine foreign nationals — including from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland — had been arrested.
The parents of Italian woman Alessia Piperno, 30, from Rome, said they lost contact with her after speaking to her on Wednesday — her birthday — but then received a phone call on Sunday.
“They arrested me. I am in a prison in Tehran. Please help me,” she told them, according to Il Messaggero, Rome’s daily newspaper.
She added: “I’m fine but there are people here who say they have been inside for months and for no reason. I fear I won’t be let out again. Help me.”
Italy’s foreign ministry has so far made no comment on the identity of the Italian held.
Canada, meanwhile, said it had imposed new sanctions against Iran over its “gross human rights violations,” especially citing “the egregious actions committed by Iran’s so-called ‘Morality Police’.”
“Canada applauds the courage and actions of Iranians and will stand by them as they fight for their rights and dignity,” said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.
At least 92 protesters have been killed so far in the Mahsa Amini rallies, said IHR, which has been working to assess the death toll despite Internet outages and blocks on WhatsApp, Instagram and other online services.
Amnesty International said earlier it had confirmed 53 deaths, after Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said last week that “around 60” people had died.
The chief of riot police in Marivan, Kurdistan province, died of his wounds Sunday after being shot during “riots,” state television said — the 12th death reported among the security forces since September 16.
An additional 41 people died in clashes Friday in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province, bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, IHR reported earlier, citing local sources.
Those protests were sparked by accusations a police chief in the region had raped a teenage girl of the Baluch Sunni minority, the rights group said.

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Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit

Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit
Updated 14 min 36 sec ago

Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit

Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit

CAIRO: About 90 heads of state have confirmed attendance at November’s COP27 climate negotiations in Egypt where they will address issues including energy transition and food security at opening sessions, a senior Egyptian official said on Monday.
“We’ve received a large number of confirmations from around the world, I think the last count was about 90 heads of state but the numbers keep coming in,” said Wael Aboulmagd, special representative for the COP27 presidency, without mentioning specific countries.
“What we’ve decided is that our heads of state section will not be a traditional plenary-only type of affair, but rather there will be six roundtables ... for heads of state to actually engage in a discussion on the issue at hand.”
Egypt is taking over the presidency of the UN climate talks from Britain, and will host the talks from Nov. 6-18 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Topics for leaders’ roundtables held on Nov. 7-8 would include the development of green hydrogen, water and food security, achieving a just energy transition toward renewables, and vulnerable communities, Aboulmagd said.
The themes reflect some of the Egypt’s priorities as it tries to better promote the interests of developing nations and their need for financing to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“We strongly believe that we need all the political will and momentum and direction coming from heads of state to push the process forward, because it has become a very, very adversarial process,” Aboulmagd said.
Egypt is working on how to include “loss and damage” — compensation to climate-vulnerable countries already suffering from climate-related weather extremes — on the summit’s formal agenda.
At last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, the United States and the European Union rejected calls for a fund to compensate for such losses.
At a pre-COP meeting of heads of delegations last month, “no one seemed to say we’re against an agenda item,” said Aboulmagd.


Swedish royal family to visit Jordan

Swedish royal family to visit Jordan
Updated 14 min 43 sec ago

Swedish royal family to visit Jordan

Swedish royal family to visit Jordan
  • The Swedish Dialogue Institute for MENA will be established during the trip

AMMAN: King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are to visit Jordan from Nov. 15 to 17 on the invitation of King Abdullah II, the Jordan News Agency reported.

The royal couple will be accompanied by a Swedish government delegation as well as private-sector representatives.

The visit will seek to further boost cooperation between the two countries on regional and multilateral issues, including the environment, climate change, comprehensive sustainable development, the participation of women and youth, and the promotion of bilateral trade and investment.

During the trip, the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa will be established, and the embassy will be relocated to a new building.

In a statement on Sunday, the Swedish Embassy in Amman said the king and queen’s visit aimed to strengthen the two countries’ deep-rooted and historical ties.

 


500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan

500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan
Updated 03 October 2022

500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan

500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan
  • Event aims to ‘transform influence into a positive economic and social force,’ organizer says

AMMAN: A new forum dedicated to the influencer marketing industry and content development got underway in Jordan on Monday, Jordan News Agency reported.

The three-day City Talk event, which is being held on the shores of the Dead Sea, attracted more than 500 Arab social media influencers, content creators and marketing professionals.

Organized by the Jordan Tourism Board and Dubai-based Omnes Media, the inaugural event was opened by Jordanian Minister of Commerce Nayef Fayez.

Omnes Media’s CEO Fahed Aldeeb said: “Today we celebrate a group of Arab influencers from various fields and interests. Over the next few days, we will try to answer numerous questions regarding influencers, the content they produce and how to transform influence into a positive economic and social force in the age of social media.”

JTB General Manager Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat highlighted the importance of integrating traditional and new marketing channels to keep pace with market trends, and said the board had collaborated with many influencers to promote tourism in the country.

The City Talk forum, which aims to become an annual event held in different Arab cities, incorporates visits to some of Jordan’s tourist destinations so that the influencers can share their knowledge and help to promote them.