Protesters challenge Mayor of Jerusalem over police violence in Palestinian district

Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli activsts marched together Saturday night in solidarity against the violent police campaign waged against the Palestinians living in Isawiya

Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli activists protest in solidarity against the violent police campaign waged against the Palestinians living in Isawiya, on 16 November 2019

By Megan Giovannetti

Last Saturday night, nearly 200 Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli activists took part in a demonstration in front of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon’s home in the upscale West Jerusalem neighbourhood of Rehavia. The protesters were demanding the mayor to take action in the face of ongoing police violence in the East Jerusalem district of Issawiya.

“We called on him to take responsibility for what’s been happening in Issawiya and to ensure the safety of the entire village,” explained Shahaf Weinstein, the lead organiser of Saturday night’s protest. “He is also their mayor, whether he likes it or not.”

Over the past six months, Issawiya has been the scene of extensive police brutality. The police harass the neighbourhood daily, and also conduct indiscriminate night raids. According to last month’s report by Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, this involves police officers in the “detaining of residents returning from work, issuing of traffic tickets for spurious infractions, serving of house demolition orders, acts of violence, and detentions – particularly of minors.”

Twenty-one-year old Muhammad ‘Abeid was killed during one of the raids in July. Nearly 350 arrests were made between June and August, resulting in just five indictments.

READ: Jerusalemites protest against continuous Israel ‘aggression’

Despite being religious and right-wing, the first-time mayor ran on a platform of being “everybody’s mayor”, Weinstein pointed out. Many of the protesters on Saturday night focused on this, emphasising that Leon must also represent Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

The protest was organised by left-wing Jewish-Israeli groups Free Jerusalem and All That’s Left, though members of a West Jerusalem youth group and non-affiliated individuals were also present in solidarity. Free Jerusalem has a deep relationship with Issawiya and has been organising almost 150 independent activists as “watchdogs” monitoring and documenting police brutality in the village for five days a week for the past five months.

Protesters marching from mayor Mosh Leon's home in West Jerusalem to Paris Square on 16 November 2019

Saturday’s demonstration blocked the street from traffic while residents of Issawiya gave passionate speeches on the lawn of Leon’s home. Within five minutes of the group’s assembly, though, security vehicles were seen pulling out of Leon’s driveway, which protesters assumed carried the mayor.

“His reaction to citizens and residents of his city coming and demanding that he ensure the safety of everyone in his city,” Weinstein said incredulously, “was basically to drive away.”

Local police told the demonstrators to disperse, at which point they marched down to Paris Square, near the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to continue the rally. Five Jewish-Israeli activists, including Weinstein, gave testimony of what they have witnessed as volunteer watchdogs in Issawiya.

READ: Israel rights NGO: Summer of ‘arrests, violence, and raids’ in Issawiya

A member of the village parents’ committee, Omar Atayeh, 52, told me over the phone about the damaging effect that this violent police campaign has on the children of Issawiya. “Police are always here, near schools… harassing them with tear gas and stun grenades. They are scared to walk to school.”

The campaign began with the targeted issuing of traffic tickets to village residents, but quickly escalated as the people of Issawiya began to fight back, mostly in the form of children throwing stones at passing police or military vehicles.

“Most of those arrested are only kids,” Atayeh explained. “The police take them and then put them under house arrest and they are unable to go to school. Then they get depressed and confused.”

Palestinian protesters hold placards in front of Israeli border police, during a demonstration at the east Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Issawiya, 12 November 2014. [Muammar Awad-Apaimages]

Atayeh’s own 16-year-old son has been arrested twice. On the first occasion he was imprisoned for three months, before being placed under house arrest. The second time, he was in prison for a year and a half. “I didn’t even recognise him [when he got out] because he spent so much time in jail. Jail is a very confusing place for a child.”

Issawiya feels like a war zone every night, said Atayeh. Police come in the early hours of the morning, breaking down doors and throwing tear gas and stun grenades. This description was echoed by Israeli activists.

“We are so happy that Israelis are coming to our village and taking pictures,” Atayeh pointed out, “but when our kids see the military coming to defend the activists, they are asking questions.” He noted that it is difficult to hear the Jewish-Israeli activists who come to help them speak the same language as the police officers who are violent against them. “It’s very confusing for the children.”

READ: Israel Police ‘severely escalate’ operation in Issawiya

Nevertheless, having activists acting as watchdogs has proven effective, says Weinstein, especially when challenging the claims made by the police against local residents when they are arrested. This may be one reason why the police are so vehemently against their presence.

“The only thing that the police are concerned about is the fact that Israelis are in Issawiya,” Weinstein said flatly. “The police don’t care at all about the safety of the children.” As long as there are police in the neighbourhood, he added, there are going to be Israeli activists.

Though no one knows exactly why this campaign is targeting Issawiya specifically, B’Tselem claims that it is an inseparable part of Israeli policy throughout East Jerusalem. “[That policy] seeks to perpetuate a demographic majority for Jews in the city. This goal is pursued in part by devoting resources and efforts to making life in the city unbearable for Palestinians, so that they leave, ostensibly of their own will.”

“We live together, us with the Jews,” exclaimed Atayeh. “Everybody should live together in peace. Why does war break out every time I go home? Why should we have to live in fear?”

The Jerusalem District Police were contacted for a comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

Israel raids, closes Palestine media offices in Jerusalem

Anonymous masked assailants broke into the headquarters of Palestine tv in #Gaza assaulting the workers and destroying the surveillance cameras and devices and equipment and the studios of "Voice of Palestine" Radio station. [JS Committee/Twitter]

Smashed windows at the headquarters of Palestine TV, 4 January 2019 

Israel shut down Palestine TV’s office and several other Palestinian institutions this morning in the occupied city of Jerusalem after raiding and confiscating files and surveillance cameras.

A notice was issued by the Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PCB), which stated the office will be closed for six months, accusing it of organising activities under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority within Jerusalem.

It has also been accused of broadcasting content which is intended to incite viewers against  Israel and is being funded directly by the Palestinian Authority (PA) illegally, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Moreover, all staff were blocked from entering while journalist Christine Rinawi has been summoned for questioned, according to the Palestinian Safa news agency.

The Palestinian Media Forum strongly criticised Erdan’s decision calling it a violation of freedom of the press, connecting it to the recent injury of a Palestinian journalist in the occupied West Bank.

READ: How Western media bias allows Israel to getaway with murder in Gaza

The PA’s representative in Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, stated that US support gives Israel the legitimacy to target Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, adding that the closures were a “flagrant violation” of international law, Safa reported.

“Israeli intelligence and police stormed the office of Palestine TV, which is inside the office of Al-Arz Media Company, and prevented the employees from entering,” one employee told Safa. Some devices were confiscated from the office, the worker added.

PCB called on international institutions concerned with freedom of speech, including the UN, to condemn and reject this decision by prosecuting Israel for its violations of press freedoms.

It affirmed that Palestine TVVoice of Palestine Radio and all official Palestinian media will not be intimidated by the closures and will continue with their national mission to uncover the truth and expose Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, highlighting this is Israel’s plan to silence the Palestinian national media.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi also called on international bodies to “take immediate and tangible steps to hold Israel accountable for its persistent crimes and violations”.

READ: How Israel’s social media trolls conquered Facebook

She said: “The closures are a continuation of the Israeli government’s campaign against everything Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem and an attempt to alter the cultural and demographic composition of the City, in violation of its previous commitment to guarantee preserving Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem as well.”

Israeli soldiers also raided and shut down the office of the Palestinian Education Ministry in Jerusalem. The closure will be in effect for six months, a notice on the building said. It’s head, Samir Jibril, was detained during the raid.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

Israel Closes Official Palestinian Institutions in Jerusalem

Israeli occupation authorities, on Wednesday, closed several official and non-official Palestinian institutions in the occupied city of Jerusalem for six months.

PNN sources said that the Israeli police served an order and closed the office of the Directorate of Education, banned the activities of Palestine TV in occupied Jerusalem, and arrested the director of the Arab Health Center in Jerusalem’s old city.

Occupation authorities have drawn up a decision signed by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security Gilad Ardan, to close the mentioned institutions for six months.

In addition, Israeli soldiers abducted the Director of Education in Jerusalem, Samir Jibril, and closed down the office based in the Orphans School, in in the Old City district, confiscated its keys, and detained the staff of the school for several hours inside the mosque.

The Ministry of Education said in a statement, on Wednesday, that this attack, which coincides with International Children’s Day, constitutes flagrant violation of all international conventions, customs, rights, charters, and laws, especially the right to education, international humanitarian law, and comes as a clear targeting of the sanctity of educational institutions and an attempt of the occupation to control the educational system in Jerusalem.

The ministry pointed out that this directorate office serves about 100,000 students and follow-up affairs, and that the closure will leave dozens of schools and thousands of students without follow-up.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

Army Abducts Three Palestinians In Hebron

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday evening, three Palestinians from Hebron governorate, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Media sources said the soldiers abducted Qussai Ziad al-Alama, 22, from Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, while walking at the main entrance of the city.

They added that the soldiers also abducted Mousa Issa Awad, and his son Sa’ad, from Yatta town, south of Hebron, after stopping them at a military roadblock near the entrance road of Nablus city, in northern West Bank.

On Wednesday at dawn, the soldiers abducted eight Palestinians from several parts of the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

IN PICTURES| ‘ISRAEL’ DEMOLISHES TWO HOUSES IN RAMALLAH

West Bank (QNN)- Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday demolished two house, displacing dozens of Palestinians, in the village of Shaqba in the north-west of Ramallah.

Local sources said Israeli bulldozers demolished the houses, which are owned by Abdel Jabbar Masri, before arresting him and his brother.

Confrontations erupted in the area during the demolition, causing dozens of suffocation cases among native Palestinians.

Daily demolitions are being carried out against Palestinians, aiming at forcing them to leave their land and settling Israeli illegal settlers instead.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

‘ISRAEL’ SHUTS DOWN DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IN OCCUPIED JERUSALEM

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Israeli forces stormed the Palestinian Department of education and the Islamic orphan school on Wednesday under the pretext of organizing a Palestinian activity without permission.

Local sources said Israeli police and intelligence members stormed the department and forced all the employees out before shutting it down for 6 months and preventing any Palestinian activity inside it.

The Israeli order came directly from the Israeli Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan.

In the same vein, dozens of Israeli soldiers deployed today inside the Islamic orphan school and inside its classrooms, spreading horror among students.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

Amnesty: Israel settlement ‘amounts to war crimes’

‘The construction and maintenance of settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, breaches international law and amounts to war crimes,’ Amnesty International says

Amnesty International stressed yesterday that Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem “breaches international law and amounts to war crimes.”

On its official website, Amnesty International USA’s Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philippe Nassif, said: “Today, the United States government announced to the rest of the world that it believes the US and Israel are above the law: that Israel can continue to violate international law and Palestinians’ human rights and the US will firmly support it in doing so.

“Today’s announcement does not and will not change the law which is crystal clear: the construction and maintenance of settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, breaches international law and amounts to war crimes.”

“It does, however, place the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, at increased risk by giving Israel the green light to continue with its settlement building and expansion policy which sit at the heart of human rights crisis in the area.”

“The US announcement not only goes against the international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements but also goes against the US’s legal obligation to respect and ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.”

Phillippe concluded: “We are unafraid to say clearly and without ambiguity: no US announcement can change the law and we will continue to work hard to ensure that international law and human rights are respected, protected and those perpetrating violations will be held to account.”

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

International Law Experts Say The US Has No Legal Capacity To Legalize Settlements

Photos File

By Aseel Akhras

International law experts agree that the US administration does not have the legal capacity to legalize settlements, and that the recent announcement by its secretary of state comes in response to the European Court of Justice’s decision to label settlement goods and the international consensus to renew the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that his country no longer considers settlements in the occupied West Bank “inconsistent with international law.”

The lawyer and expert in international law, Salah Mousa, said that the Pompeo declaration is a political statement and does not have any legal impact, noting that the US has no right to change the legal facts.

He said the announcement came in response to the European Court of Justice, which ruled to label the goods from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mousa said that the US administration’s current position is just another one in its anti-Palestinian decision, namely recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy to it, ending financial support for UNRWA and trying to end its mandate, and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington, which affirms that this administration does not give value to international law.

On how to confront these decisions, Mousa explained that the PLO should seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, open the file of settlements as a war crime, prosecute US companies dealing with settlements, and launch lawsuits by Palestinians holding American citizenship against the Israeli occupation and its companies in the American courts.

He called for continuing the diplomatic battle, in addition to taking unified Arab decisions and positions, and raising the Pompeo declaration and its repercussions in international forums.

For his part, international law expert Hanna Issa said the US is not authorized to act against international law and UN resolutions, especially those on the settlements.

In 1967, the United States recognized that the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, were occupied, and that the Hague and Geneva Conventions were applicable to them, he said.

The United States also voted for UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which considered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as occupied territory, and therefore considered the settlements illegal.

Issa said that what Pompeo announced on the settlements does not reflect the opinion of the international community, pointing out that the countries of the world without exception, even US allies, consider the settlements illegal, not mentioning that the declaration violates international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Justice Minister Mohammed Shalaldeh said that this declaration, which set a dangerous precedent, encourages violations of international law and UN resolutions, undermines efforts to achieve peace and increases tension, violence and instability in the region to a point that will threaten world peace and security.

He called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor to expedite the settlement complaint filed by the State of Palestine, taking into account the statements of the US Secretary of State and the approval of the US President to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

He recalled the overwhelming adoption by the UN Security Council in 2016 of resolution 2334 condemning settlements and calling for a halt to their construction in the occupied Palestinian territory, and which stressed that all states should not provide any assistance to Israel specifically if used in settlement activities.

The Minister of Justice said that the foreign policy of the United States completely contradicts with international law because of the clear breach of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and at the same time it involves an encroachment on the UN.

He considered that Pompeo’s declaration is reminiscent of the Balfour Declaration on the 102nd anniversary of the old promise, but this time by an American official.

“With that declaration, the United States becomes an accomplice in the crime of settlements with the occupying Power, and the International Criminal Court has the right to prosecute US officials for this decision, including President Trump and his Secretary of State,” he said.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

47 Jewish settlers storm Masjid Al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — Hordes of Israeli settlers on Tuesday broke into al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem under heavy police guard.

Jerusalem’s Islamic Awqaf Department said that 47 Jewish settlers, led by Israel’s former agriculture minister Uri Ariel and extremist rabbi Yehuda Glick, stormed al-Aqsa Mosque in the early morning hours of Tuesday.

It added that the settlers carried out provocative tours inside the compound and some of them performed Talmudic rituals at Bab al-Rahma prayer area.

Meanwhile, Israeli police tightened restrictions on the Palestinian worshippers entering the holy site and ordered many of them to stay outside the mosque.

(Source / 20.11.2019) 

YOUNG MAN MURDERED ON SUNDAY BY ISRAELI OCCUPATION BURIED IN EAST JERUSALEM

Young man who was killed by the Israeli occupation during the weekend south of occupied East Jerusalem, in circumstances of which the Israeli occupation lied about, has been buried.

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The funeral of Fares Bassam Abu Nab, who was aged 23 or 24, took place late on Tuesday November 19th at Ras al-Amoud in occupied East Jerusalem’s Silwan, two days after he had been shot by Israeli occuption forces’ police officer. He was buried to a cemetery adjacent to the eastern wall of the al-Aqsa mosque compound under heavy Israeli occupation forces’ presence.

Abu Nab was shot and killed at dawn on Sunday November 17th near an Israeli occupation checkpoint. Security camera footage capturing his killing shows that the Israeli occupation story to the press about his killing was an utter and total fabrication.

Israeli occupation claimed that three young men would have stolen cars and that during an overnight pursuit of the car thieves the occupation police would have fired at a car driven by Anu Nab to ‘neutralize a threat’, which he supposedly would have posed to other drivers and occupation police officers.

The truth was shown to be quite different. (The video is widely available in social media and can be viewed in our own Twitter timeline also.)

The security camera footage shows Anu Nab in a parked car on a street with the driver’s door open. An Israeli occupation police officer runs to the driver’s side of the car, shoots Abu Nab twice and then runs away.

He was allegedly left to bleed to death without medical aid been given after he had been shot. As Palestinian Authority’s governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith said, “Fares Abu Nab was assassinated in cold blood.”

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The car he was driving was not stolen, nor ‘illegal’ as Israeli occupation has also claimed, and three different young men were arrested, beaten leaving bruises and imprisoned by Israeli occupation for the alleged car thefts.

The Israeli occupation police officer who killed Fares Sbu Nab has not been arrested or charged, but has instead been put on leave with the press banned from revealing his name.

Intial claim about Fares Abu Nab being a resident of Anata in occupied East Jerusalem was wrong. Instead he was a resident of Silwan, where Israeli occupation forces have harassed his family and those who came to say their condolences. The occupation forces also clashed with local youths after an illegal Israeli settler had allegedly attempted a drive-by shooting near the family home.

Fares Abu Nab’s younger brother Saleh was killed by an illegal Israeli settler driver, who hit the motorcycle he was driving at Silwan on October 26th 2016. Saleh  was aged 18.

(Source / 20.11.2019)