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Israeli Terrorists Torched the Greek Orthodox Church Monastery in Jerusalem

Greek Orthodox Church MonasteryThe Greek Orthodox Church monastery of Sion in Jerusalem was set on fire and vandalized early on Thursday. Hate graffiti denigrating Jesus sprayed on one of the walls of the Holy place.

The area where the latest attack occurred is one of the more vulnerable areas concerning price tag terrorist’s attacks. In the past two years, dozens of various terror crimes, including the assault of Christian clergymen, graffiti, punctured tired, desecrated grave-sites, smashed gravestones and more.

In May 2014, a nearby church was set aflame shortly after Pope Francis’ visit. In 2013, vandals smashed Ottoman ceramic tiles at King David’s Tomb, thus destroying the last traces to the compound’s Muslim past. Later that year, vandals smashed gravestones of prominent historical figures at a Protestant cemetery in the occupied Jerusalam.

Church leaders have often expressed concern about monks and clergy’s fears of walking around the so-called “Mount Zion” in uniform due to spitting and harassment.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III Thursday condemned the ongoing attacks against the Christian and Muslim sites in the occupied Palestinian Territories, the latest of which was setting fire to the Greek Orthodox Church monastery of Sion in Jerusalem.

In a written statement, the Patriarchate said targeting churches and mosques is caused by the spread of racism and hatred in light of the absence of peace and the dominance of extreme settlers’ groups known as Price Tags groups.

Settlers torched a room of the Greek Orthodox Church monastery of Sion, which houses the patriarchal seminary, and sprayed graffiti offending to Jesus Christ on the walls.

Fires were set to the school room and a toilet facility used by priests and seminarians inside the monastery building, causing extensive material damage. No casualties were reported in the attack.

Patriarch Theophilos III confirmed that Christians will always be an authentic part of the holy land’s past and future. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate will remain the oldest institution in the world and the mother of all churches.

He added that the criminal assailants will not terrorize this church or its seminarians and called on official authorities to investigate the attack and many others targeting sacred sites, affirming that racism, hatred and disrespect for all religions are the enemy of all.

Continue reading: Israeli Terrorists Torched the Greek Orthodox Church Monastery in Jerusalem

Kazakh Dictator's ex-son-in-law Found Dead in Austrian Jail Cell

rakhat-aliyev-wikiMystery surrounds what happened in Vienna’s Josefstadt prison where the body of Rakhat Aliyev, Kazakh Dictator’s ex-son-in-law, former intelligence chief who was married to the daughter of Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev was found in the prison cell last Tuesday.

According to the spokeswoman of the court, Aliyev found dead in the Austrian jail after killing himself on Tuesday Feb. 24 2015. “He committed suicide,” the spokeswoman said.

Attorneys for 52-year-old  Aliyev don’t believe the official ruling of a suicide.

Lawyer Mathias Preuschl said Tuesday that he had ‘massive doubts’ that his client, facing trial for double-murder, took his own life.

“Members of our team visited him only yesterday,” Preuschl told reporters, “and he was full of energy and confident of unmasking the accusations constructed against him for what they are, namely a smear campaign directed by the Kazakh KNB intelligence service.”

In December 30 2014, the Vienna Prosecutor’s Office announced that the former Kazakh Ambassador to the OSCE in Austria Rakhat Aliyev has been charged with double murder.

The details of the indictment remain sealed, according to Vienna prosecutor Thomas Vecsey and Upper Regional Court spokeswoman Christina Salzborn, as the respective lawyers must formally be notified.

A court in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan found him guilty of the murder of two bankers who were kidnapped in 2007 and found dead in 2011.

In December 2007, the Austrian prosecutors charged Aliyev with the murder of two bankers, a case in which Kazakhstan has repeatedly requested his extradition. His trial was planned to start in Vienna in first half of year 2015.

Aliyev, a former Kazakh ambassador to Austria was chief of Kazakhstan’s tax police, deputy chief of the KNB state security service (Kazakhstan’s successor to the Soviet KGB) and first vice foreign minister. He became a vocal critic of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, had denounced the case against him as politically motivated. He had been in custody since June when he turned himself in to Austrian authorities.

The Austria Press Agency quoted a corrections department official as saying Aliyev’s body was found at 7:20 a.m in Vienna’s Josefstadt prison in a cell where he had been in solitary confinement.

He had hanged himself in a bathroom, the official added.

Kazakhstan had attempted to have him extradited from Austria, but Vienna twice refused because of the former Soviet republic’s human rights record believing he would not receive a fair trial back home. Instead it opened its own investigation in 2011.

Ex-Botschafter Kasachstans begeht Selbstmord

Rakhat Aliyev-3Feb. 2015 – dpa- Der wegen Mordes angeklagte ehemalige Botschafter Kasachstans in Österreich, Rakhat Aliyev, ist tot. Nach Justizanagaben erhängte er sich im Gefängnis in Wien in der Dusche. Seine Verteidigung glaubt nicht an Suizid.

WienWenige Stunden vor seinem Auftritt als Zeuge in einem Prozess im Straflandesgericht hat der wegen Mordes angeklagte ehemalige Botschafter Kasachstans in Österreich, Rakhat Aliyev, im Gefängnis in Wien nach Justizangaben Selbstmord begangen. Aliyevs Verteidiger äußerten Zweifel an einem Suizid.

Der 52-Jährige habe sich in der Nacht zum Dienstag in der Dusche erhängt, sagte der Leiter der Vollzugsdirektion der Nachrichtenagentur APA. Die Verteidiger erklärten dagegen, ihr Mandant habe sich von Schutzgelderpressern bedroht gefühlt. In diesem Zusammenhang wollte er am Dienstag vor Gericht aussagen. Die Staatsanwaltschaft hat die Obduktion des Leichnams angeordnet.

Aliyev, Vizeaußenminister Kasachstans von 2005 bis 2007, war bei Präsident Nursultan Nasarbajew wegen eines angeblichen Putschversuches in Ungnade gefallen. Dem früheren kasachischen Botschafter in Wien wurde obendrein vorgeworfen, in die Ermordung zweier Banker Anfang 2007 in Kasachstan verwickelt gewesen zu sein.

In Kasachstan wurde Aliyev 2008 wegen Mordes und Erpressung zu 40 Jahren Haft verurteilt. In Österreich ermittelt die Justiz seit 2011 in dem Fall. Eine Auslieferung nach Kasachstan wurde wegen der dortigen Menschenrechtslage abgelehnt.

Continue reading: Ex-Botschafter Kasachstans begeht Selbstmord

Israeli Occupation Open Dam Gates Into Gaza; Dozens of Houses Flooded

GazaIn the early morning hours of Sunday, 22 February 2015, and for the second time in two months, the Israeli authorities opened the floodgates of a dam in the Gaza Valley, which flows into the Gaza Strip from the east. As a result, dozens of Palestinian houses and properties were damaged. The Israeli authorities constructed the floodgate that restricts the natural flow of rainwater into Gaza and depletes Gaza’s aquifer.

Al Mezan’s monitoring shows the water level at about three meters above the level of the valley, resulting in the flooding. The homes of residents of the valley’s watercourse were also flooded, where water flowed 200 meters deep. Dozens of poultry and livestock died, and personal belongings were damaged, including furniture, as people were taken by surprise by the sudden wave of water. Travel between Al Nuseirat refugee camp, Al Zahra Town, and Al Moghraga areas was stopped.

The mayor of the Al Moghraga Municipality, Yousif Abu Hweshel, told Al Mezan Center for Human Rights that approximately 50 houses were flooded, dozens of poultry and livestock were killed, and personal belongings were damaged; people were surprised by the sudden flow of water. About 30 families left their homes and sought shelter at Al Wafa Association for Elderly People.

Al Mezan condemns the Israeli conduct that came without prior warning or coordination with Gaza’s local authorities or international organizations working in Gaza. Israeli surveillance of Gaza ensures that Israeli authorities are aware of the consequences of initiating a huge, sudden flow of water into the Strip. Similar conduct was carried out in past few years and hundreds of dunams of agricultural lands, livestock, and houses were affected. The Israeli authorities put in place preparatory precautions on their side of the border; however, Palestinian authorities, with whom Israel had regular coordination, were not informed.

In the light of the above, Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli authorities bear the responsibility for damages resulting from Gaza Valley’s flooding. Al Mezan calls upon the international community to take effective steps to halt the Israeli violations against Gaza’s population, which include the policy of preventing the natural flow of water into the Gaza Strip amid an acute shortage in drinking water for Gaza’s population.

Three Al-Jazeera journalists arrested for flying drone in Paris

IMG_7290AP – The Paris prosecutors’ office says three Al-Jazeera journalists have been arrested for illegally flying a drone over the French capital.

It said the three foreign nationals aged 70, 54 and 36 were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon after police spotted the drone flying in the Bois de Boulogne woods in western Paris.

They can be held for a maximum of 24 hours under French law. Flying drones without a license in France is illegal and carries a maximum one-year prison sentence and a €75,000 ($85,000) fine.

The arrests come as unidentified drones flew over the Eiffel Tower and key Paris landmarks five times for a second night running Tuesday night, baffling French authorities. France has ramped up security nationwide after the January terror attacks in Paris that left 20 people dead.

Police sighted one or more drones in five instances buzzing in the Paris sky in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday — from 11.30 p.m. to 2 a.m. An inquiry was launched after drones, which are banned over Paris, were spotted Monday night.

Paris prosecutors’ spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre says an unidentified flying object was first seen near the Gare de l’Est train station Tuesday night, with sightings continuing over the Paris Opera, then on to the Tuileries gardens, past the Eiffel Tower and then south past Paris’ Montparnasse Tower.

EU, UNICEF Mark Completion of Seawater Desalination Plant in Gaza

Unicef EUFeb, 25 2015 – Yesterday the European Union and UNICEF jointly marked the completion of the first component of a EUR 10 million desalination plant which will provide over 75,000 Palestinians with clean, drinking water in Gaza.

The construction phase of the project, which includes four components and is led in partnership with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities (CMWU), was launched with the laying of the first stone in March last year. The event yesterday marked the completion of an 18 – kilometer long pipeline which will transfer 6,000 cubic meters of desalinated seawater from the desalination plant to at least 35,000 Palestinians living in Khan Yunis, and 40,000 in Rafah, southern Gaza.

water“The needs in Gaza for fresh water are huge. Nearly 95% of water in Gaza is considered unfit for human consumption. Enormous efforts are needed to ensure that Gazans can access fresh water. This is both a fundamental human right and an urgent humanitarian need for Gaza’s population,” said the EU Representative John Gatt – Rutter. “The completion of this pipeline today is evidence of just part of the EU’s wider, long – standing commitment to supporting access to clean water for Palestinians. Such projects are even more essential and crucial following the war last summer in Gaza, which made already harsh living conditions for Gazans even more unbearable.”

“Limited water supply in Gaza has long meant high prices and poor water quality, but the introduction of this seawater desalination plant will help bring a dramatic improvement and help children and their families fulfill their right to safe drinking water,” said June Kunugi, UNICEF Special Representative in the State of Palestine. “The advancement of the project is also a welcome sign of hope, six months after a ceasefire took hold in Gaza” she added.

The construction of the desalination plant on land adjacent to the sea north of Khan Yunis and the procurement of water – treatment equipment will be completed in the coming months. The plant is expected to start operating by the end of the year.

Safe drinking water is a precious commodity in Gaza – only five percent of the water extracted from the coastal aquifer has been found to be suitable for human consumption.

Seawater desalination is one of the strategic options chosen by the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) to help provide 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza – including nearly one million children – with clean water.

Continue reading: EU, UNICEF Mark Completion of Seawater Desalination Plant in Gaza

3.5 Million Illegal Settlements Identified in South-east Europe

2014_settlementsProviding affordable housing remains a major challenge for poor and wealthy countries with latest UN statistics showing 3.5 million illegal settlements in just five south-east European countries.

While there are no slums in the countries identified in a new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), people living in Illegal settlements face numerous problems, it says.

The solution is to change government thinking on the issue, according to the UN agency. Jocelyne Sambira reports from Geneva.

Poverty, conflict and natural disasters are just three of the reasons why illegal houses continue to spring up today.

At the latest count, there were 3.5 million in Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Cyprus and Montenegro.

A UN forum in Geneva is finding ways to provide people who live in illegal communities with things we might take for granted – like electricity, tarmac roads and street lighting.

Chryssy Potsiou thinks she has the answer.

She’s the author of a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe report on informal settlements and she says governments need to legalise the situation.

This means giving people ownership of illegal properties so they can start paying tax on them, since there’s too little public money to provide sufficient public housing.

“We need to assist them. We need to integrate this informal real estate into the circle of the economy.”

The problem is urgent in south-east European countries such as Montenegro, where UNECE says more than half of the population lives in informal settlements.

EBRD Approves First Country Strategy for Morocco

moroFeb. 25 2015 – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved its first country strategy for Morocco, which focuses on key priorities identified in cooperation with the Moroccan government.

The priorities are:

Realising Morocco’s entrepreneurial potential, promoting women’s entrepreneurship and increasing finance to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Regional inclusion, promoting regional economic development and gender inclusion by improving the business environment and promoting equal employment opportunities in rural areas.

Supporting sustainability and commercialisation of public services and infrastructure, helping to improve the efficiency and quality of infrastructure and utility services through commercialisation of structures.

Advancing the development of capital markets, broadening the range of financial instruments and promoting innovative financial solutions.

To date, the EBRD has invested €380 million in 17 projects in Morocco in addition to €130 million worth of trade facilitation credit lines with local banks.

The EBRD was established in 1991 in response to major changes in the political and economic climate in central and Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin wall. In 2011, in response to the events of the Arab Spring, it agreed to extend its operations into the southern Mediterranean region. The EBRD finances projects, primarily in the private sector, that serve the transition to market economies and pluralistic democratic societies. The Bank is owned by 61 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank.

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