Addameer: ICC must investigate violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights

Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, issued the following statement, marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day:

On Prisoners Day, Addameer calls on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the grave violations against Palestinian political prisoners

17 April 2015
This past year witnessed an unprecedented level of Israeli violence against Palestinians, including killing over 2,000 civilians in Gaza, demolishing 20,000 homes, displacing more than 500,000 Palestinian at the peak of the attack and arresting 8,000 Palestinians across historic Palestine.
Israel is committing nothing short of a modern-day ethnic cleansing before our eyes; in the continuing quest for full annexation of Palestinian land and the expansion of Israel’s colonial frontier.
The time is more urgent than ever for the international community to hold Israel accountable for its recurring and blatant war crimes against Palestinians, especially those held captive in the Occupation’s jails.
Addameer calls on ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate these crimes in the preliminary investigation and to bring the accused to trial immediately, in light of the exacerbated and worsening conditions.
ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION
The Occupation legitimizes the use of administrative detention for the “security of the state.” Since 1967, the Occupation Forces (IOF) issued more than 50,000 administrative detention orders, 24,000 (nearly half) of them between 2000 and 2014. The occupation forces use the policy of administrative detention to maintain control over Palestinian society and undermine self-determination. Administrative detention targets all sectors of society including politicians, academics, students, leaders, journalists, doctors, women, children and human rights defenders. The Occupation’s authorities use administrative detention as a bargaining tool for political gain.
Over 700 administrative detention orders were issued since June 2014, expanding the number of administrative detainees to 550 at its height, the highest number since 2009. This increase in the use of administrative detention, an internationally condemned practice, can be seen as a direct reaction to a 63-day mass hunger strike among administrative detainees in 2014, in which they demanded the end of the policy.
In April 2015, the Occupation’s authorities issued an administrative detention order against Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar, which brings the number of elected Palestinian legislators in administrative detention to eight. Jarrar was also recently appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian National Committee for the ICC.
The policy of administrative detention violates article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and denies administrative detainees their guaranteed right to a fair and speedy trial as stated in Article 75 of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention. The policy of administrative detention also violates articles 9, 10 and 14 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
According to the Rome Statue, the systematic use of administrative detention is considered a war crime (article 8) and a crime against humanity (article 7).
EXTRAJUDICIAL MURDERS 
In 2014, the occupation forces escalated its unstated policy to extra-judicially murder Palestinians during arrest raids. In the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, the occupation forces killed fourteen civilians during arrest raids into refugee camps, villages and Palestinian cities. All fourteen of those killed during arrest raids were Palestinian youth under the age of thirty.
The extrajudicial murder of civilians is a gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention according to Article 147 and a war crime according to Article 8, Item A,I2 of the Rome Statue.
TORTURE
Widespread torture continues to be used against Palestinian detainees. Virtually every Palestinian arrested by the IOF has been subjected to psychological or physical torture or ill-treatment, including severe beatings,  stress positions, solitary confinement, verbal abuse and threats of sexual violence. In 2014, Addameer documented two cases of prisoner’s death that resulted directly from torture. Wa’el Mustafa, a 39-year old Jordanian citizen, was killed by brutal physical torture in interrogation in August 2014. He was arrested at a peaceful demonstration in Yafa that called for the end of the war on Gaza. Ra’ed Abd Al Jabari, from Hebron was killed during transfer from Eshel Prison to Be’er Al Sabe’ Prison (Beersheva). There have been 73 Palestinians killed by torture since 1967.
Moreover, during the mass 63-day hunger strike in the first half of 2014, the Israeli Knesset attempted to pass a bill to allow the force-feeding of protesting Palestinian detainees, effectively an attempt to sanction torture on an industrial scale. Torture is considered both a war crime and crime against humanity as outlined in International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Preamble of the Rome Statue, article 7 and article 8, the Geneva Convention I and III article 12, third Geneva Convention 17 and 87 and the fourth Geneva Convention article 32.
FORCIBLE TRANSFER
The transfer of Palestinian detainees by the IOFis an ongoing practice. Transfer of protected persons from occupied territory into the occupying state, categorized as “unlawful deportation or transfer” is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 147) and a war crime as established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 8). At the end of 2014, only 544 of the 6,000 detainees were detained in the occupied territories. Over 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested and the majority of them forcibly transferred to prisons outside of the occupied territory, limiting their access to their families, legal support and communities as well as strips them of their rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Considering the summary of the major violations outlined above, Addameer calls on the ICC Prosecutor to immediately open an investigation into the case of the prisoners, and bring those who have tortured, murdered, forcibly transferred and ordered the arbitrary detention of Palestinians to be held to account in the International Criminal Court.
(Source / 18.04.2015)

Syrian Coalition to Hold Consultative Meeting With Revolutionary Forces

The political committee has discussed preparations for holding a consultative meeting with the Syrian revolutionary forces, including civil society organizations, revolutionary bodies and rebel factions. The consultations aim to lay out unified political positions and vision with regard to any potential future proposals for a political solution.

The political committee met with rebel leaders in Istanbul to learn about the latest developments in the battlefronts across Syria and to discuss ways to secure support for rebels.

The political committee also met with Interim Prime Minister Ahmed Tomeh to review the government’s plans in light of the lack of support and the increasing needs and to discuss the general budget for the year 2015.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 18.04.2015)

More than 10 million Yemenis lack food: UN agency

Almost half of Yemeni population lack access to safe water and need humanitarian aid, says food agency.

ANKARA

More than 10 million Yemenis lack adequate food supplies and nearly five million are facing an emergency, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has said in a report.

The food crisis is expected to increase in the country and has emerged amid the escalating conflict and the country’s cropping season, the FAO said in a report released on Wednesday.

Food prices have risen as a consequence of the conflict and negatively affected agricultural production across Yemen, it said.

The UN agency’s latest assessment said 4.8 million people were suffering increasing malnutrition because of a lack of food including 850,000 children who were acutely malnourished.

‘Crucial period’

About 16 million people – almost half of Yemen’s population – lack access to safe water supplies and need some form of humanitarian aid, it said.

Salah Hajj Hassan, FAO Representative for Yemen, said: “We are entering a crucial period for crop production in Yemen and now, more than ever, agriculture cannot be an afterthought if we want to prevent more people from becoming food insecure amid this crisis.”

FAO says it has been working in Yemen to improve farmers’ lives and help internally displaced people since 2014.

Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General for North Africa and the Near East, said: “Even before fighting intensified this spring, Yemenis were in dire need of support to build up their agricultural production.

“The deteriorating situation means we need to double down on our efforts to ensure that as many farmers as possible are able to plant this growing season and strengthen their ability to withstand future shocks.”

Air campaign

The FAO says it has been providing aid programs to impoverished Yemen which have helped more than 90,000 people.

Further plan aimed at aiding about 235,000 people with livelihood programs has only $4 million of the $12 million in funding that it requires.

Fractious Yemen has remained in turmoil since last September, when the Shiite Houthis overran capital Sanaa, from which they have sought to extend their influence to other parts of the country.

Saudi Arabia has led other Gulf countries in an air campaign against Houthi positions in Yemen since March 25.

Certain Gulf States accuse Shiite Iran of supporting Yemen’s Houthi insurgency.

(Source / 18.04.2015)

Israeli police: Palestinian driver deliberately killed Israeli

Israeli policemen inspect a wrecked car after it rammed a group of pedestrians at the Ammunition Hill tram stop, which lies on the seam-line between west and occupied East Jerusalem, on Oct. 22, 2014
JERUSALEM (AFP) — A Palestinian driver deliberately rammed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop this week and killed an Israeli man, Israeli police chief Yohanan Danino said on Saturday.

Following an investigation into Wednesday’s incident, Danino ruled out initial suggestions that it had been an accident, claiming it was “a horrible attack.”

Shalom Yohai Cherki, 26, and Shira Klein, 20, were seriously injured in the attack on the bus stop in East Jerusalem.

Cherki, the son of a prominent rabbi, Ouri Cherki, died of his injuries on Thursday morning and was buried later that day.

The driver, a 37-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem, was also hurt during the incident.

He was arrested and interrogated by Israeli police.

Tensions have been running high in East Jerusalem since last summer when Jewish extremists kidnapped and murdered a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir.

There have been several attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilians in the months since.

Israeli forces have also detained hundreds of Palestinians across East Jerusalem, including 600 alone in the two months after Abu Khdeir’s death, and Israeli forces have also injured dozens of Palestinians.

Earlier this month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that for the second time in three weeks, Israeli forces had shot and injured a Palestinian child, a 13-year-old girl, with rubber-coated steel bullets as she was making her way back from school close to Shufat checkpoint.

OCHA also recently reported that Israeli forces killed more Palestinian civilians across the occupied Palestinian Territories in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation began in 1967.

(Source / 18.04.2015)

1460 Egyptians exit from Yemen since airstrikes: Foreign ministry

Civil defence workers and people search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by an air strike near Sanaa Airport March 26, 2015

An evacuation operation has helped a total of 1460 Egyptians exit Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition began conducting airstrikes in the strife-torn country on 25 March, a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Badr Abdel Aty, the foreign ministry spokesman, revealed Egypt has continued to facilitate the departure of expats via Oman, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

He added that Al-Tawal crossing on the Saudi border has received 160 Egyptians in the past few days, making the total number of Egyptians who fled Yemen through the crossing rise to 1176.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 Egyptian expats are working and living in Yemen, according to an earlier estimate by Egypt’s manpower and immigration ministry.

Abdel Aty added in a statement on Saturday that the foreign ministry is closely following the latest developments affecting the Egyptian community in Yemen.

He also pointed out that the task of consular missions will continue despite the apparent decline in the number of Egyptians wishing to return to Egypt.

Egypt is participating in the ongoing military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen with its navy and air force, and has also not ruled out the possibility of deploying ground troops if needed.

(Source / 18.04.2015)

Israeli crime: infant burnt to death in Gaza

Tens of Palestinians died in such incident since the start of the electricity crisis in 2006

A Palestinian infant burnt to death on Friday night when his eastern Gaza City house caught fire with a candle.

In wake of the latest 51-day Israeli war, the Israeli occupation refused a Turkish offer to supply the Strip with all the needed electricity

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –A Palestinian infant burnt to death on Friday night when his eastern Gaza City house caught fire with a candle.

Spokesman of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said the one-year old Rimas al-Asi died when her house caught fire last night.

The family used a candle to light their house during the time when electricity is off and the mattress of the baby caught fire when her mother was in the kitchen.

The Gaza Strip has been suffering from electricity crisis for about eight years as the Israeli occupation air forces attacked the only functioning electricity plant in mid-2006.

In January 2013, six members of the same family burnt to death when their Gaza City house caught fire as well.

Gaza residents suffered several burning cases for houses and other facilities that caused the death of tens of civilians since 2006.

Human rights activist based in Gaza Ali Hassan said that the Israeli occupation has been refusing to allow spare parts of technical teams to enter into the Strip to carry out maintained works for the sole electricity plant.

In wake of the latest 51-day Israeli war, the Israeli occupation refused a Turkish offer to supply the Strip with all the needed electricity.

(Source / 18.04.2015)

Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen Is Hurting Civilians The Most

The Saudi-led coalition of states which have agreed to intervene in Yemen has now been bombing the country for more than 3 weeks. Unfortunately, while the number and the intensity of the strikes have been steadily increasing, the international community appears to have lost interest.

Within this apathy, nobody is hurt more than the civilians.

While there has been a push by the UN and the Red Cross/Red Crescent to deliver some humanitarian aid into the country, the overall situation has gone into steep decline. In a previous article (Yemen: A Uniquely Failed State) we already covered the tragic and precarious lack of basic resources in the country, and now, as we had predicted, things have gone from bad to much much worse.

In order to get some idea of what the situation is like on the ground for civilians living in areas targeted by the ‘coalition’ airstrikes, we spoke to Hisham Al-Omeisy, an Information and Security Analyst living in Sana’a, the heavily bombed capital of Yemen.

He explains that while the coalition airstrikes aim to target Houthi fighters, often civilians are caught in the crossfire:

“…due to the fact that the military bases where the fighters stationed at are within densely populated areas, civilians end up being casualties of collateral damage. Moreover, in more than one incident, airstrikes directly hit civilian targets.”

While the airstrikes are killing civilians, returning anti-aircraft (AA) fire from Houthi troops are also causing significant casualties.

“…many of the casualties are a result of return bullets from the AA guns used by Houthis to fight off the raids/airstrikes. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how many/what percentage of the casualties are result of return fire but the internet is flooded with stories/pictures of AA guns falling on people’s homes and exploding. I myself had two AA gun shells landing in my backyard and exploding,” Al-Omeisy elaborates.

https://youtu.be/FLZQaa8NfRQ

Alongside this, he confirms the dire state of the humanitarian situation within the city.

“[The] humanitarian situation is currently catastrophic in Sana’a. Food is exceedingly expensive and very rapidly disappearing from shelves of the few groceries/shops that are still open. 90% of fuel stations have shut down and extremely long car queues at ones that are open for a few hours every few days. […] Cooking gas has now also disappeared, water too. Additionally, we barely had 4 hours of electricity in past 4 days. So whatever of little refrigerated food/medicine that we had remaining in storage has now gone foul.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the airstrikes and the collateral damage from them have caused support (or at least tolerance) for the Houthis to endure in Sana’a. Unlike in contested cities under attack by the Houthi movement such as Aden, in the capital most people are against the airstrikes, either out of family ties to the Houthi movement, or out of concern of being caught in the crossfire. Furthermore, many of the opponents of the Houthis have earlier fled the city, either to other parts of Yemen, or abroad.

But however bad the situation is right now, it could unfortunately get even worse. Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have failed to stop the advanced of Houthi Ansar Allah forces in the south of Yemen, and the group is now almost in full control of the port city of Aden. Should it fall, many fear that Saudi Arabia, as well as allies like Egypt will begin a ground invasion of the country.

NEW VIDEO: Destruction of the People Palace in @alasaadim

Rafah crossing closed for 100 days now: Gaza ministry

It added that this has been the longest closure of the crossing since 2009, calling on Egyptian authorities to reopen the border point to alleviate the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip.

GAZA CITY, Palestine 

The Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has been closed for 100 days now, the Gaza Interior Ministry said Saturday.

It added that this has been the longest closure of the crossing since 2009, calling on Egyptian authorities to reopen the border point to alleviate the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Around 60,000 Gaza residents have registered to get out of the blockaded territory from the crossing for medical and other needs since July of 2013, according to Gaza’s border crossings authority.

Since October of last year, Egyptian authorities have been working to create a buffer zone in the border area between Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

The zone is created with the aim of curbing militant activities in the parched Egyptian peninsula, according to Egyptian authorities.

With Gaza’s other crossing points on its border with Israel closed by Israeli authorities, the closure of theRafah crossing – Gaza’s only window to the outside world at present – adds more suffering to the coastal territory’s 1.9 million residents.

The Gaza Strip has been suffering an all-out blockade by Israel since 2007.

(Source / 18.04.2015)

Joint Statement on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: Torture in Israeli prisons

The following statement on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day was issued jointly by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI):

Joint Statement on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: Israel must heed international calls to respect human rights of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and end torture of detainees

16 April 2015

On 17 April 2015, Palestinians around the world commemorate Prisoners’ Day in solidarity with thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including minors, held in Israeli prisons, and with those subjected to torture and ill-treatment.

To mark this important day, four human rights organizations – Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel – are issuing this joint statement to call upon the international community to urge Israel to heed international standards and recommendations to guarantee and protect the human rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees at a time when torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) is increasingly reported in Israel. The United Nations in particular has a responsibility to work towards the best interests of the child during conflict, including in preventing torture and CIDT.

Policies of arrest and detention

Since 1967, Israel has detained and imprisoned over 800,000 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Around 70% of Palestinian families have had at least one relative detained, with vast social and political repercussions. As of March 2015, 5,820 Palestinian political prisoners, including women and children, are being held in prisons located inside Israel, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel’s policies of detention and imprisonment are used in large part as political tools to suppress and maintain control over Palestinian society. These policies are intended to obstruct the daily lives and social fabric of Palestinians, and undermine their ability to oppose the Israeli occupation by criminalizing basic political affiliation and/or activities and employing methods such as torture and illtreatment to target and intimidate individuals and communities.

The recent arrest of Khalida Jarrar on 2 April 2015 and a six-month administrative detention order coupled with an indictment filed against her, reflects Israel’s sweeping use of administrative detention, including against Palestinian elected officials, in violation of basic human rights. Further, the arrest and detention of Gaza residents under Israel’s ‘Unlawful Combatants’ Law is impermissible; the practice falls short of legal safeguards in international law and must be abolished.

Torture and child detainees

This year Prisoners’ Day comes at a time of heightened concern over the drastic rise in torture complaints filed against Israel’s security agency and the increased use of torture that the trend represents. During Israel’s recent full-scale military operation on Gaza, at least 98 Palestinians of Gaza were arrested, with most subjected to torture and CIDT. Dozens other Gaza residents were arrested; and some tortured, at sea or as they were crossing Erez Crossing on their way to hospitals. In 2014, 59 complaints of torture were filed, whereas 16 and 30 complaints were filed in 2013 and 2012. Impunity for torture also continues; of 860 complaints filed between 2001-2014, no investigations were opened.

Palestinian children are the most vulnerable detainees and are subject to psychological and physical harm during relatively brief periods of detention. As of February 2015, 182 Palestinian children were being held as ‘security prisoners’ in Israeli prisons. Between 500 and 700 children are prosecuted in the Israeli military courts each year, most commonly for the ‘security offense’ of stone throwing. A September 2014 military order to reform court requirements to include use of audio-video recordings and standardize language during interrogations does not apply for security offenses.

The international community has highlighted the serious violations of rights against Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons. The European Neighborhood Policy progress report on Israel of March 2015 noted particular concern over reports of “blindfolding, painful hand-ties, physical violence, lack of adequate notification of legal rights, verbal abuse, strip searches and solitary confinement while under interrogation.” The UN Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations in November 2014 that the implementation of reforms by the Israeli government was not effective, and that minors remained exposed to arbitrary arrest and detention and denied full procedural rights.

The international community has repeatedly called on Israel to address these issues faced by Palestinian minors in detention. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture’s report in March 2015: “the unique vulnerability of children deprived of their liberty requires higher standards and broader safeguards for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.” However, to this day, Israel has no legislation that establishes or prohibits torture as a crime, as obligated in the UN human rights treaties to which Israel is a party.

Recommendations

The four human rights organizations: call upon the international community to demand that Israel incorporate the international recommendations of the UN and EU bodies in order to address the deteriorating human rights conditions of Palestinian prisoners and to end its violations of international law. We demand that Israel cease its systematic use of administrative detention as a mechanism of deterrence and punishment against Palestinian society, and interference with political processes. We demand that Israel end the practice of torture and ill-treatment against Palestinian prisoners, and end the severe tactics of arrest and detention of Palestinian minors, including abuse that amounts to torture and CIDT. We further demand that Israel revokes all discriminatory legislation that target the rights of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and that it ensures transparency and accountability of Israeli security and prison authorities.

Signing organizations:

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)

Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

(Source / 18.04.2015)

Egyptian army: 69 tunnels on Gazan border destroyed since March

A Palestinian man is lowered into a smuggling tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sep. 11, 2013
CAIRO (Ma’an) — The Egyptian army has destroyed 69 tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip since Mar. 28, an Egyptian army spokesman said Saturday.

Spokesman Muhammad Samir said that Egyptian border forces stationed in the Egyptian side of Rafah had discovered and destroyed the tunnels in coordination with army engineers.

In a statement released last month, Samir said the army had destroyed 194 tunnels between Feb. 1 and Mar. 19, and another statement at the end of March said that 22 tunnels had been destroyed between Mar. 20-27.

The latest 69 puts the total number of tunnels destroyed at 285 since February.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian Cabinet approved a draft resolution criminalizing the act of tunnel-digging along Egyptian borders with the punishment of life imprisonment.

The smuggling tunnels have served as a lifeline to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants since Israel imposed a crippling siege on the coastal enclave in 2007, which is supported by Egypt.

While the tunnels are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly-demanded necessities for Gazans including food, medicine, as well as infrastructure materials including concrete and fuel.

Egypt has sought to destroy the tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai against anti-regime militants launching attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel.

The Egyptian army stepped up the campaign after a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the region in October 2014.

Egypt accuses Hamas of supporting the group that carried out the attack and has since accelerated efforts to uncover tunnels and create a 1 km-wide buffer zone along the border.

Around 1,110 houses on the Egyptian side have been demolished to make way for the buffer zone and more than 1,000 families have been displaced.

Hamas, which denies Egyptian accusations, has suffered poor relations with the Egyptian government ever since the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, with whom they were closely allied, was thrown out of power in July 2013.

The Egyptian army has destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels since then, though new ones continue to be found.

At the end of March, the longest tunnel so far was discovered, stretching 2.8 km and passing beneath three homes in the Egyptian side of Rafah.

At the time of its discovery, Egyptian military sources told Ma’an that the tunnel was three meters below ground and was being used to smuggle people, weapons and goods.

Although the Egyptian government dropped their classification of Hamas as a terrorist movement in March, Palestinians continue to face closures and restrictions at the Rafah border crossing.

(Source / 18.04.2015)