Once again the IDF violently assaulted the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem…

Israeli forces clash with worshipers in Aqsa compound, dozens hurt

Dozens of worshipers were hurt Wednesday morning in fierce clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan and Chain gates.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers and police officers broke into the compound and deployed in the southern quarter firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers.

Director of al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Azam al-Kahtib told Ma’an that ‘about 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound.’ He highlighted that Israeli officers used live ammunition.

Special forces deployed at the main gates since dawn prayer, witnesses said, denying Palestinian worshipers entry to the compound.

Employees of the ministry of endowment and students who attend schools inside the compound were also denied entry. Only security guards were allowed in addition to men over 65 years old. Several people performed dawn prayer in the alleys near the gates.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that Palestinians threw ‘stones and firecrackers’ at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates.

Police responded with stun grenades, Rosenfeld said, and closed the complex to Jewish visitors after a small number had toured the site.

About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Mazel Tov, eh…? Meanwhile, in nearby Bethlehem, as Mondoweiss reported today…


Remote-control gun installed atop wall near Bethlehem — Ma’an

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s ‘unprecedented’ and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called ‘Bethlahem Today‘ has the same report.

Staying with the I/P…

Israel’s new land grab is clearly illegal

The Defense Minister’s green light to appropriate land in the West Bank places him in the extreme right and shatters Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area ‘state land.’ The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be ‘laundered’ as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion.

Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called ‘House of Contention,’ in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

Although the defense minister is acting in accordance with his authority his powers are based on a warped legal system. That system was developed over decades as a means to chip away at international law and provide a cover of legality for illegal occupation policies. Otherwise, how could it be that expanding settlements or populating a West Bank Arab city with Jews could be legal, while settlement itself is illegal?

Now, If anybody really doubted that Abu Mazen was part of the problem, rather than the solution for the Palestinians…

Palestinian leader signals willingness to extend peace talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday that it was still possible to revive moribund peace negotiations.

Abbas told five Israeli opposition legislators from the Labor and Meretz parties that he was willing to extend the negotiations past their April 29 deadline ‘if the Israeli side commits to the principles that can allow an extension,’ his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

The Palestinians first want Israel to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as promised, and to announce a total settlement freeze. They also want Israel to accept a Palestinian territory based on boundaries that existed prior to the 1967 Middle East War.

‘If there is an agreement on these principles, we are ready,’ Abu Rudeineh said at a news conference after the meeting in Ramallah. ‘But if Israel does not accept them, the Palestinian leadership will meet again to take the proper decision.’

Here’s an interesting op-ed… Palestinians and Israelis: Negotiating in all the wrong places

And, for sh*ts and giggles, The Mustache of Fury, flaps his lips… BOLTON: A ‘three-state solution’ for Middle East peace Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan

Moving along…

From Al Bawaba…

With Sisi likely to take over, how will Egypt’s ‘military economy’ look like?

Momentum is continuing to build towards Egypt’s 26 May elections, which are widely expected to see Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stroll into the presidential office. After a long period of speculation, the recently promoted Field Marshall finally announced last month that he would be taking off his military slacks and stepping into civilian shoes to run for top office.

In a poll in March, 39% of Egyptians said they were planning to vote for him, while fewer than 1% of respondents said they were planning to vote for any of the other candidates. Anything but an Al-Sisi victory seems highly unlikely, and come May, the military’s hold on power will have become even further entrenched. It was only in January 2011 that Hosni Mubarak − a military man too, like all his predecessors since 1952 − was overthrown, but now it seems the Egyptian military is not only back in the seat of power, but perhaps stronger than ever. A look behind the political curtains at the backstage that is the Egyptian economy seems to bear this out.

Flexing muscle

With around 2 million personnel, including 500,000 in the army, the Egyptian military is the biggest in Africa, and one of the largest in the world. Arguably far more striking than the extent of its physical muscle, however, is the size of economic muscle. Its spokespeople consistently try to play down its role in Egypt’s economy, claiming the military is responsible for just 1% of the country’s GDP, but analysts tend to believe the military controls between 5 and 40% of the economy, with most leaning towards the higher end of that spectrum…

So much for Tahrir Square, eh…? Lest you fret…IMF-Ready to Support Egypt

Anyways in Yemen…

In wrapping up, here’s some other noteworthy reads…

Everybody has the jitters… Concerned for stability, Saudi Arabia tightens curbs on dissent

Hot and Cold Running Bandar

Rebel videos show first U.S.-made rockets in Syria

ISIS, pipelines, Turkey, and Iraq

L’Chayim…!