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Stories from Middle East

PHOTO: Crowds Outside a Cairo Liquor Store

A photograph showing crowds outside a popular Cairo liquor store is making the rounds online. On Twitter, Tom Gara shares it with his 27.9K followers:

Egypt, with a liberal alcohol policy compared to other Muslim countries, bans the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended yesterday. This explains the scene Gara tweets.

Images of Air Algerie AH5017 Plane Wreckage in Mali Reveals Violent, Abrupt Crash

The first footage of the plane crash are now available thanks to a Burkinabe soldier present on the site of the wreck near Gossi, in Northern Mali. There are no survivors among the 118 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals. Algerian website Algérie Focus reports in French that:

Cette vidéo montre des débris éparpillés et broyés. La zone sablonneuse a été noircie par le crash. Sur cette vidéo, il est pratiquement impossible de repérer les pièces maîtresses de l’avion au milieu des débris.

The video shows scattered and crushed debris. The sand at the site was blackened by the crash. In the video, it is virtually impossible to identify the key components of the aircraft amid the debris.

Timeline of Israeli Air Attacks on Gaza in 2014

Screengrab from Crowdvoice.

Screengrab from Crowdvoice.

CrowdVoice, a user-powered service that tracks voices of protest from around the world, lists a timeline of Israeli air attacks on Gaza in 2014. Here's an excerpt from their “explore the backstory” section:

A series of abductions and murders has inflamed age-old tensions and sparked armed unrest in Gaza. It began on May 15, 2014, when two Palestinian youths were shot dead during clashes with Israeli security forces during a demonstration in the West Bank. Outrage grew when video footage of the killings emerged, showing that the unarmed teens were shot with live ammunition, despite Israeli assertions that only non-lethal munitions were used against protesters. Later, on June 12, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped as they hitchhiked home from the West Bank. An Israeli military operation was launched to find the missing teens, and on June 30, their bodies were recovered. The government of Israel has blamed Hamas for the murders, and vowed swift retaliation. Hamas praised the kidnapping, but did not claim responsibility. In an apparent act of retribution, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, aged 16, was abducted near his home on his way to morning prayers and burned alive. Israeli authorities have arrested six people in connection with the teen's death. Tensions from the murders have boiled over into indiscriminate Palestinian rocket attacks into Israeli territory, and relentless aerial bombardment of Gaza.

 

Palestinian Drones Fly on Israel

Palestinian Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, unveiled three models of unmanned drones today, which it said it flew into Israeli skies.

Journalist Dima Khatib tweets:

The drones, made in Palestine, are called Ababil – after a type of birds mentioned in the Holy Quran, which protected Mecca during a war with Yemen in the year 571.

Gaza-based blogger Jehan Alfarra exclaims:

Nobody Should Be a Number: Names of Those Killed in Gaza

More than 100 Palestinians, many of whom were women and children, were killed since Israel launched Operation Defense Edge against Gaza last week

At +972, Michael Omer-Man lists their names in this post entitled “Nobody should be a number: Names of those killed in Gaza.”

No Israelis have been killed in the operation. Teju Cole comments:

PHOTO: Palestinians Teach Life

Palestinian Sayel tweets to his 1,800 plus followers on Twitter the following photograph of Gazans planting flowers in Israeli shells. He notes:

Today is Day 19 of an Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave, which has claimed the lives of at least 1,000 Palestinians and injured 6,000 others.

Photo: Watching Rockets Fly Over Gaza from Space

From outer space, astronaut Alexander Gerst watches as Gaza erupts in flames. He tweets:

This photograph has been retweeted 33K times so far.

Palestinians are Friends with Journalists

Marcelino Torrecilla N. has started a series in Spanish called Stories from Gaza. The first installment by this United Arabe Emirates based Colombian was published on El Tiempo of Bogotá and tells a story of two Gulf News journalists in Abu Dhabi.

Taking pictures in the Gulf is challenging and even when trying to take pictures of women. But Palestinians are used to be photographed. The media are friends of the Palestinians and they know that. as Torrecilla translates:

In Gaza it is very different. With one of the highest concentrations of media in the world, the people of Gaza are used to being photographed. Not only this, but they welcome the eyes of the world. The Palestinians don't have an army to fight with. They have the rocks they throw at Israeli soldiers and they have their tears.

For more stories about the Gaza Strip in Spanish told by an eye witness, follow Marcelino Torrecilla's updates on Twitter.

This post was part of the elventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Turkish Law Professor Says Transparency Unaccepted in Politics in Turkey

Today's Zaman interviewed İştar Gözaydın, a professor of law and politics at Doğuş University in İstanbul, who has alslo done extensive academic research on Turkish law, society, politics, and is one of the founders of the human rights organization the Helsinki Citizens Association. In the interview, Gözaydın claims, among other things, that Turkish citizens have a lack of trust in the country's judicial system, that social norms and morality are based on personal connections and, hence, biased, but also that transparency is simply not a notion that fits or is accepted in Turkish politics. The experienced Turkish professor said:

It is true that the Turkish people have a sense of a mighty state. This applies to the legal domain as well as matters of political participation. For many years, reference has been made to the weakness of civil society. [...] In Turkey, civil society attempts to benefit from the state. There is a political culture that seeks the preservation of advantages rather than creating a structure separate from the state. This is also because of how we understand and define the state. There are two approaches to the problem of state in the literature: The European system referring to state power and public power and the Anglo-American structure in which a contract is made between the state and individuals. Moving away from the “mighty state” approach to the idea that “I pay tax, so the state has to be accountable for its acts” is not an easy process of change. It concerns a variety of different factors, including human psychology, mentality and morality.

International Authors Condemn Israel's Continued Settlement Construction

Sixteen international authors who participated at the Palestine Festival of Literature, held from in several Palestinian cities from May 31 to June 5, released a statement condemning Israel's continued settlement construction and applauding the efforts of the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign. The statement, shared on Facebook, reads:

“Having personally witnessed the injustice visited upon the Palestinian people in the territories occupied by Israel, it is with the utmost sadness and dismay that we – the undersigned international authors and artists – note Benjamin Netanyahu's approval this week of yet another 1,500 new illegal settlements units in the West Bank. This is particularly unfortunate at a moment when the Palestinians have formed a unity government that has been recognized by the international community.

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories have long since been pronounced illegal by international law. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is itself illegal, and declared so by the international community through various UN resolutions.

Additional settlements can be seen only as an act of aggression, showing utter disregard not just for the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people, but for international law.

We applaud the non-violent efforts of the BDS campaign (www.bdsmovement.net) and express our solidarity with its demand that Israel should comply with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab land and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We thus call for the Israeli Government to respect international law and reverse the approval of the thousand plus additional settlements units in the West Bank.

We furthermore call on the International Community to work to induce Israel to uphold basic principles of international law.

Signed:

Sharif Abdel Khouddous
Susan Abdulhawa
Teju Cole
Nathan Hamilton
Nathalie Handal
Brigid Keenan
Sabrina Mahfouz
Michael Ondaatje
Ed Pavlic
Eliza Robertson
Sapphire
Kamila Shamsie
Ahdaf Soueif
Linda Spalding
Janne Teller
Haifa Zangana

6th of June 2014.”

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