PA Frees Prominent Hunger-Striking Prisoner

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Gaza rockets and Israeli retaliation continue. See latest updates at the Jerusalem Post, YNetTimes of Israel and JTA

The Ottawa Citizen adds that a visiting a delegation of Canadian politicians, police officers, and activists are having an eventful time in Israel. Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s deputy premier tweeted this:


(A few hours later, Lukaszuk tweeted that his vehicle was pelted with stones while leaving the West Bank.)

2. Remember the name Jabhat al-Nusra. That’s the Al-Qaida-linked group in Syria. Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl says it now has 1,000 members and many more admirers:

No, Barack Obama’s policies alone did not create this monster. It is, first of all, a creature of Assad’s own regime, blowback from his years of sponsoring terrorist networks in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. For more than a decade, Syrian intelligence allowed al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups to establish bases and logistical networks to support attacks on American troops in Iraq, anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon, and Israel. Now many of those rat lines have been reversed, and the extremists are targeting Assad.

Zakaria Zubeidi and Juliano Mer Khamis in 2011

3. A hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner was released from detention — PA detention, that is. Canadian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld caught up with Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades. During the second intifada, Zubeidi was atop Israel’s most-wanted list. From the Toronto Star:

While Palestinians have long spoken in detail about torture and mistreatment in Israeli military detention, parallel treatment in Palestinian detention is starting to evoke similar public responses. Following Zubeidi’s release, camp residents visited his home to offer congratulations in a tradition usually reserved for Palestinian releases from Israeli jails. . .

When I arrived , a gaunt 36-year-old Zubeidi greeted me at the gate. He had been released from custody on Oct. 1, the day before, and the physical signs of multiple hunger strikes and a difficult detention were clear. Skinny as a rake and despair in his eyes, he takes long pauses staring into the distance as he talks about brutal treatment at the hands of his former comrades-in-arms.

The PA claims Zubeidi was involved in the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a Jenin-based Israeli-Arab actor.

Israel and the Palestinians

AP updates the PA’s push for statehood at the UN. Abbas is expected to make his formal request on either November 15 (the anniversary of the the 1988 Palestinian declaration of independence) or November 29 (the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition).

Hamas is enjoying new international legitimacy, but policy wonks tell The Media Line there’s a silver lining: Gaza’s becoming the Arab world’s headache less dependent on Israel:

Israel wants Gaza to be connected to the Arab World and not to be part of the Israeli arena,” Dr. Guy Bechor, the head of the Middle East Studies Program at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlia told The Media Line. “Israel always wanted (former Egyptian leader Hosni) Mubarak to be more connected to Gaza and he refused. Israel has always said that it wants Egypt to supply power and water to Gaza instead of Israel.”

He said that most of the international community continues to see Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Just swell: Some senior members of the African National Congress — South Africa’s ruling party — endorsed boycotting Israel. Details at the Times of Israel.

London Mayor Boris Johnson

In an op-ed, London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, says he doesn’t want to see The Guardian go digital only, even though he frequently disagrees with it:

Guilt-ridden Lefties will need it to swat the mosquitoes in Tuscany, or to light the wood-burning stoves in their second homes, or to line the tuck boxes of their little ones as they guiltily pack them off – like dear Polly Toynbee – to their fee-paying schools. And it would be a calamity for us Conservatives if we no longer knew what the enemy was thinking. We need a paper that is genuinely, viscerally hostile to anything that looks remotely like a spirit of enterprise and competition.

(Image of Zubeidi via YouTube/exploreTeam, Johnson via Flickr/MayorBoris)

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