Israel Plans to Change Barrier’s Route; Week of Deadly Bombings in Algeria; Syria: Mass Trial over Call for Democracy

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

MA’ALEH ADUMIM, West Bank – On August 21, state prosecutor’s office told the High Court that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have decided to “significantly” alter the course of the Separation Barrier.  The barrier will be moved closer to Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  The shift will result in 4,000 dunams (400 hectares) remaining on the Palestinian side of the Separation Barrier.

The state’s brief to the court came in response to two petitions filed in 2005 and 2006 by residents of Abu Dis and Suahra e-Sharkiya, Palestinian communities located outside the barrier.  The petitioners allege that the proposed route placed 6,000 dunams of their agricultural lands on the Israeli side of the barrier; making it difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate.

Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said that he planned to instruct the city’s attorney to petition the High Court against the state’s decision.  According to Kashriel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not have the authority to make such a fateful decision for the city given that he was likely to be in office for only one more month.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Israel ‘to Change Barrier Route’ – 22 August 2008

Ha’aretz – Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor to Appeal new West Bank Fence Route – 22 August 2008

Jerusalem Post – State Agrees to Reroute Security Barrier – 22 August 2008

AFP – Israel to Change Route of West Bank Barrier – 21 August 2008


ALGIERS, Algeria – A series of deadly attacks have resulted in dozens of deaths and in one of the most violent weeks in Algeria in years.  On August 20, two car bombs exploded in the town of Bouira, southeast of the capital Algiers.  The bombings targeted a military compound and the Hotel Sophie.

The bombing near the hotel exploded as a bus drove by taking workers to a construction site, according to the official Algerian press agency A.P.S.  12 people on the bus were killed and 15 injured.  The bombing near the military compound resulted in extensive damage to the compound and nearby barracks.

In a statement released on August 21, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attacks.  Until 2006, the group called itself the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and is the last big extremist group from the Algerian civil war in the 1990s.

The twin bombings follow earlier attacks on August 19 and 17.  On August 19, a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a group of young men waiting to take the entrance exam for the police academy in the town of Issers.  The attack resulted in 43 deaths and several dozen injuries; most of those killed were civilians.

In addition, on August 17, 12 people were killed in an ambush of a military commander and his escort.  No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Al-Qaeda Claims Algeria Attacks – 22 August 2008

Guardian – Bombings Add to Fears Algeria is al-Qaida Hotbed – 20 August 2008

New York Times – Bomber Kills at Least 43 Near Capital of Algeria – 19 August 2008


DAMASCUS, Syria – On July 30, the trial for 12 Syrian dissidents for signing a declaration calling for democracy in Syria began.  Charges include harming the state and spreading false information.  All 12 will deny all charges when they appeared in a Damascus court, the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria (NOHRS).

Among those being tried are Fidaa Horani, president of the national council of the Damascus Declaration, writer Ali Abdallah, doctor Walid Bunni, writer and secretary of the national council Akram Bunni and former MP Riad Seif.  The accused are linked to a pro-reform body know as the Damascus Declaration group. They were arrested in the months following a group meeting in December.

It is the biggest collective trial of Syrian dissidents since 2001 after the so-called Damascus Spring, the brief period of relative freedom of expression that followed President Bashar al-Assad’s rise to power in 2000.

The trial was adjourned and will resume on August 26.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Syria Hold Mass Trial Over Call for Democracy – 30 July 2008

BBC – Trial of Syrian Dissidents Begins – 30 July 2008

Author: Impunity Watch Archive