UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova issued a statement Oct. 14 repudiating a resolution approved by the body's member states that had been harshly condemned by Israel. The resolution concerns threats to East Jerusalem's holy sites under Israeli occupation, and calls on UNESCO to appoint a permanent representative there to observe. What made it an easy target for Israeli criticism was its reference exclusively to "Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif"—not the Temple Mount or the Wailing Wall. Israel froze cooperation with UNESCO after the resolution passed. Wrote Bokova: "The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city. To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list."
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at New York's Trump Tower on Sept. 25, and pledged that if he is elected, the United States will "recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel." The quote is from a statement issued by the Trump campaign, as reporters were barred from the closed-door meeting. Bibi also met separately with Hillary Clinton that day, but it is the meeting with Trump—the one closed to the media—that is getting the media attention, due to his exploitation of the Jerusalem question. (Reuters, AP, Sept. 25)
Palestinians on Aug. 21 commemorated the 47th anniversary of an arson attack on al-Aqsa Mosque, with Palestinian officials emphasizing that the Muslim holy site is still under threat today. On Aug. 21, 1969, an Australian Christian fundamentalist set fire to a pulpit in al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, aiming to bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ. In a press conference, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein said that Israeli violations, which include detaining and killing Palestinians in al-Aqsa compound, allowing Israeli extremists to storm al-Aqsa, and demolishing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, were "another type of fire which keeps burning the al-Aqsa mosque and the city of Jerusalem, and has been burning for 47 years."
Suicide bombings hit three cities in Saudi Arabia within 24 hours—including Medina, striking near the Prophet's Mosque, resting place of Muhammed and Islam's second holiest site. Four security officers were killed in that attack, which came during Maghreb prayers, as Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. A suicide blast also struck near the US consulate in the coastal city of Jidda, wounding two security officers. And a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shi'ite mosque in the eastern city of Qatif, although only the only casualty there was the attacker. There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but the attacks are pretty obviously the work of ISIS. (CNN, BBC News, Al Arabiya, NYT)
Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians, including a journalist, in overnight raids July 2 in occupied East Jerusalem, amid increasing tension on the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City. Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli police detained 10 Palestinians, nine of whom were from the Old City. Two Old City residents were identified as former prisoners Ahmad Ghazala and Laith Shalabi. Israeli forces also detained journalist Amjad Arafah after raiding his house in Ras al-Amoud southeast of the Old City. Arafah was called for interrogation and released, only to be detained again on July 3. Israeli spokesperson Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement that morning that nine Palestinians had been detained overnight in Jerusalem in connection with "disturbing order" and throwing stones in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as in the Silwan neighborhood south of the Old City. She added that some of the Palestinians had been detained for suspected involvement in an assault of an Israeli police officer Saturday night at Damascus Gate, an entrance to the Old City, where the al-Aqsa compound is located.
Israeli authorities implemented a full closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on June 10, adding to a long line of punitive measures that have been carried out since the deadly attack in Tel Aviv two days earlier. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that all passages to the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip would be sealed until Monday June 13 at midnight after an army "situation assessment," with the exception of humanitarian and medical cases. However, the spokesperson said Palestinians from the West Bank with permits to attend Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem would be allowed passage. The sealing of the West Bank and Gaza is one of several punitive orders that have been implemented by the Israeli government following an attack in Tel Aviv that left four Israelis killed and another six wounded.
World War 4 Report has been keeping a dispassionate record of Barack Obama's moves in dismantling, continuing and escalating (he has done all three) the oppressive apparatus of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) established by the Bush White House. This year, the stakes got much higher, with multiple foreign interventions in Syria and ISIS striking in Europe. On the night of Obama's 2016 State of the Union address, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves over the past year have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:
Armed assailants seized the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, Nov. 20, taking some 170 hostages and sparking a confrontation with security troops and US and French special forces in which at least 27 people are dead. A group calling itself al-Mourabitoun claimed responsibility jointly with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Al-Mourabitoun is said to be the new outfit of Algerian Islamist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar—who was twice reported killed, once in a Chadian military operation in Mali in 2013 and then earlir this year in a US air-strike in Libya. In a statement posted on Twitter on June 19, just after the Libyan air-strike, the group said he was "still alive and well and he wanders and roams in the land of Allah, supporting his allies and vexing his enemies." (SMH, CNN, DNA)