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Dagelijks archief 28 december 2016

Kerry to lay out vision for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Image of US Secretary of State John Kerry [file photo]

Image of US Secretary of State John Kerry [file photo]

US Secretary of State John Kerry will lay out his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a speech on Wednesday, days after the United States cleared the way for a US resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

The speech, less than a month before President Barack Obama leaves office, is expected to be the administration’s last word on a decades-old dispute that Kerry had hoped to resolve during his four years as America’s top diplomat.

It could also be seen in Israel as another parting shot at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had an especially acrimonious relationship with Obama since they both took office in 2009.

The United States on Friday broke with a longstanding approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and abstained on a United Nations Security Council resolution that passed with 14 countries in favour and none against.

Israeli officials described the abstention as a “shameful” decision. President-elect Donald Trump, who urged the White House to veto the resolution, chided the world body as “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Kerry’s speech would lay out next steps for a peaceful solution based on Israeli and Palestinian states side by side. Toner said the United States hoped the US vote would serve as a “wake-up call” that settlements are a detriment to a two-state solution.

Israel for decades has pursued a policy of building Jewish settlements on territory it captured in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbours, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

New settlement requests

Most countries view the settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees, citing a biblical connection to the land. Washington considers the settlement activity illegitimate.

Undeterred by the US resolution, Israel’s Jerusalem municipality is due to consider on Wednesday requests for construction permits for hundreds of new homes for Israelis in areas captured in 1967 and annexed to the city.

Since learning last week of Kerry’s planned speech, Israeli officials have been concerned he might use the address to lay out parameters for a Middle East peace deal.

Netanyahu’s aides are confident the Trump administration will likely ignore any Obama principles and pay no heed to the US resolution, but they fear Kerry’s remarks will put Israel on the defensive and prompt other countries to apply pressure.

Israeli officials accuse Kerry and his staff of formulating and pushing for the US resolution. The White House strongly denied accusations it “cooked up” the resolution with the Palestinians, and Toner dismissed such claims on Tuesday.

Kerry previously failed to bring about a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in talks that froze in 2014. US officials left little doubt they put much of the blame on Netanyahu’s stance on settlements.

Some 570,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

Egypt: Trump convinced Sisi to withdraw UN resolution

Egypt confirms Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement activity was withdrawn after Trump called Sisi.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/egypt-trump-sisi-resolution-israel-settlements-161223064418355.html

Egypt agreed to postpone a vote on a UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements after US President-elect Donald Trump called President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president’s office said.

Egypt had circulated the draft late on Wednesday, demanding Israel halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, and a vote was initially scheduled for Thursday.

But it requested that the resolution be postponed after Israel launched a frantic lobbying effort, including calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the US to use its veto power at the Security Council to block the resolution.

On Friday, Sisi’s spokesman said the two leaders agreed to allow Trump’s incoming administration a chance to tackle the issue.

“During the call, they discussed regional affairs and developments in the Middle East, and in that context the draft resolution in front of the Security Council on Israeli settlement,” said spokesman Alaa Yousef.

“The presidents agreed on the importance of affording the new US administration the full chance to deal with all dimensions of the Palestinian case with a view of achieving a full and final settlement.”

A similar resolution was vetoed by the US in 2011.

Earlier, diplomats from New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal told Egypt that if it did not clarify on whether it planned to call the vote, they would press ahead without Cairo’s involvement.

Trump, who campaigned on a promise to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, had called on Washington to use its veto to block the resolution.

“The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed,” the Republican said in a statement released hours ahead of the scheduled vote.

OPINION: Trump and Israel

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.

“This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” Trump added.

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on Palestinian land occupied by Israel.

The United Nations maintains settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.

Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Israel occupied in a 1967 war.

Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in any future talks on Palestinian statehood.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

Khudari: 60,000 Gazans homeless as reconstruction goes at snail’s pace

al-khudari

Head of the popular anti-siege committee, MP Jamal al-Khudari, said Tuesday that Gazans have been grappling with abject living conditions due to 2014 Israeli war and the slow pace of the reconstruction process.

Speaking in a press statement, al-Khudari said the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) have been blocking the access of reconstruction materials into the besieged Gaza Strip since May 2016.

According to al-Khudari, 65% of civilian homes which were destroyed in the Israeli offensive of 2014 have not been reconstructed yet.

He added that 60,000 civilians have gone homeless and subjected to dire living conditions due to the exacerbating socio-economic crises rocking the besieged coastal enclave.

MP al-Khudari urged the donor parties to fulfill their financial pledges and dispatch aid to Gaza so as to reconstruct the destroyed homes at the soonest time possible.

He further called on the international community to exert pressure on the IOA in order to allow a free access of reconstruction materials in Gaza.

Al-Khudari warned that the Israeli decade-long blockade and closure of border crossings, along with the restrictions on the access of rebuilding materials into Gaza, will result in a ten-year delay in the reconstruction process.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

‘Escalation in Israeli violations against media freedom during November’

The Palestinian Center for development and media freedoms monitored in November a total of 31 violations against media freedom, committed by Israeli Occupation, and different Palestinian apparatuses in West Bank and Gaza Strip, noting that total violations of Israeli Occupation topped to 27, whilst Palestinian parties committed 4 violations.

Israeli Occupation Violations:

Israeli Occupation violations monitored against media freedom during November witnessed a high escalation (27violations) compared to what was monitored in October (11 violations).

As most of the Israeli violations monitored were considered as the gravest, besides, the restrictions targeting right to movement to many journalists and media outlets, as Israeli Occupation authorities banned a total of 28 journalists (male/female) from travel, and passing through Gaza check point to the West Bank although they applied previously for permits, to enable them pass the crossing along to the West Bank to cover (Fatah 7th Conference) that took place in Ramallah for 6 days.

The most prominent of all Israeli Violations during this month was raiding 4 printing houses and media outlet, searching and confiscating its equipment, which hinders them from resuming their work, and makes it hard and costly.

On 16/11 at dawn, IOF stormed Media program for health development office in Ramallah, after bombing the front door and smashing most of the equipment and confiscating several devices, on 07/11they also stormed Taj printing house, in Al Fawar refugee camp, besides to Asayel Yafa printing house in Qaqilia and “A’lam Al-Ibdaa” printing house in Al Zawieh Governorate in Salfeet; that were stormed in the dawn of 23/11, several equipment and devices of the three printing houses causing destruction estimated to thousands of shekels.

IOF also arrested several journalists including Khaled Ma’ali from Selfeit, and cameraman at Ramsat Nidal Asmar Al-Natsheh from Hebron, they also renewed administrative detention of Omar Nazzal member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate for a period of a month.

It is remarkable that the intelligence occupation, stipulated that journalist Khalid Ma’ali, who was arrested for eight days over alleged incitement on “Facebook” not to engage in any media activity for a month after he was released on bail.

Palestinian violations:

Total number of Palestinian violations recorded this month declined and was limited to four violations, two in the West Bank and two in Gaza Strip, while 11 violations (seven in the West Bank and four in Gaza Strip) were monitored during October 2016 .

Palestinian violations recorded this month in the West Bank and Gaza consisted of 3 cases of preventing from coverage including (cutting live broadcast from the field) besides, one case of detention, and one case of summoning and interrogation.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

Netanyahu warns he will target UNRWA via Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as he chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool. [File photo]

Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to target the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) when US President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month, Yedioth Ahranoth reported on Monday. He made his threat in the wake of Friday’s UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which condemned Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to target UNRWA, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people and the anti-Israel [sic] UN employees,” the newspaper reported. UNRWA is the UN agency established specifically to cater for the social, medical and educational needs of Palestinian refugees.

Yedioth Ahranoth added that the Israeli leader will push the new US administration to cut its assistance to the UN. He could be successful, as Trump severely criticised Resolution 2334 and the UN itself, pledging that things would be different when he enters the White House.

Read: Netanyahu fears more international measures as he accuses world of ‘spitting at us’

“The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace,” tweeted Trump on Saturday. “Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!”

On Friday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding Israel to halt settlement building and expansion in the Palestinian territories. The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela, was passed by a 14-0 vote after the United States abstained.

As a response to the resolution, Israel and it’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to conduct ‘revenge demolitions‘ of Palestinian homes; approved building some 5,600 housing units in East Jerusalem for illegal settlements;  cut funding to five UN institutions worth $7.8 million; and recalled it’s ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

Explained: Palestinian citizens of Israel

Discrimination affects every area of life – even love

By Ben White

Did you know that one in five of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian? Israel refers to them as “Israeli Arabs”, and claims that they have full freedoms as part of a multicultural democracy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any accusations of discrimination, and claims that all citizens, Jewish and Arab, are treated equally. The truth, however, is somewhat different.

First, some background. In 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from what became the State of Israel. Some, however, remained, and became Israeli citizens. All the way up until 1966, however, they were subjected to a military regime that was used to expropriate land, control movement and suppress political activity.

But the end of military rule didn’t mean equality. In fact, as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has put it, “the right to equality is not yet enshrined in law regarding most aspects of life.” Rather, Israel defines itself as “Jewish and democratic”, and calls for Israel to be a state of all its citizens are seen as tantamount to treason.

For decades, Israeli authorities have pursued policies of land colonisation and dispossession, refused to allow Palestinian communities to expand, and demolished homes built by desperate residents without a permit. By the mid-1970s, between 65 to 75 per cent of Palestinian citizens’ land had been expropriated. This is not just history; today, Israeli authorities are pursuing the demolition of an entire Palestinian village in the Negev so a Jewish one can be built on its land.

Meanwhile, so-called residential “admission committees” are used – in the words of Human Rights Watch – “to exclude Arabs from living in [hundreds of] rural Jewish communities”.

Discrimination affects every area of life – even love. One law blocks family reunification for Israeli citizens – almost all of whom are Palestinians – with their spouses from the West Bank or Gaza. In other words, husbands and wives are separated on the basis of national origin. Israel’s Supreme Court, upholding this law, stating: “Human rights are not a proscription for national suicide.”

Palestinian citizens also face routine political repression; Dareen Tatour, for example, has attracted worldwide attention after Israeli authorities prosecuted her for anti-occupation poetry. Tellingly, Israel’s security service, the Shin Bet, has vowed to “thwart” the activity of anyone who seeks to undermine the “Jewish” character of the state – “even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”.

As if all that wasn’t enough, there is open anti-Palestinian racism and incitement from politicians, journalists, academics and others. Netanyahu made headlines last year for warning of Arabs coming to the polls in “droves”. But he’s hardly alone. Current Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman last year said of “disloyal” Palestinian citizens: “We need to pick up an axe and cut off his head.” Labor party head Isaac Herzog has openly stated: “I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister of Israel.”

So, to summarise, that’s:

  • no legal guarantee of equality
  • land theft and demolitions
  • spatial segregation
  • legal discrimination
  • political repression
  • mainstream racist incitement

Given this reality of institutionalised discrimination, for Israel’s supporters to boast of the fact that “Arabs can vote in the Knesset” is just missing the point. To try and whitewash past and present systematic inequality because “an Arab won Israeli Masterchef” is laughable tokenism. Oh – and about the Knesset. Yes, all Israeli citizens – including Palestinians – can vote or stand for office. But Palestinians are very much excluded from real power. For example, since 1948, there have only been two, non-Jewish ministers. Ever.

Now Israel’s record when it comes to Palestinian citizens would be a disgrace if Palestinians were an immigrant community. But they’re not. They were turned into second-class citizens in their own land, when their people were expelled and colonised. And if any religious or ethnic group was treated like this in a so-called Western country, that government would be considered a pariah.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

For Israel, anti-semitism is a question of politics

By Ramzy Baroud

Many countries share the Palestinian perception of Zionism as a form of colonialism and that prevailing perception is a historical fact, not a product of collective anti-Semitic collusion

In a rare move, the New York Times recently published an article that argues the true nature of Zionism. Written by Israeli professor of Philosophy, Omri Boehm, the article states the obvious: Zionists have no qualms about labelling Israel’s critics anti-Semitic, while embracing pro-Israeli anti-Semites. This argument is not a new one, of course, but the fact that America’s so-called ‘Newspaper of Record’ would permit such a publication is rather unusual.

The article is inspired by the budding alliance formed between Israeli politicians and their supporters in the United States, on the one hand and by members of the prospective administration of President-elect Donald Trump on the other.

Boehm argues: “The alliance that’s beginning to form between Zionist leadership and politicians with anti-Semitic tendencies has the power to transform Jewish-American consciousness for years to come.”

In fact, there is an unfamiliar schism forming between Israel and its usual allies in the US-Jewish community, which, despite its relentless support of Israel, generally subscribes to liberal politics. That camp has succeeded in influencing the debate on Israel and Palestine for decades, swayed liberal circles in favour of Israel and labelled Israel’s critics ‘anti-Semitic’ if they dared to question Israeli action.

But a certain change is underway. “Alan Dershowitz, the outspoken Harvard emeritus professor of Law who regularly denounces non-Zionists as anti-Semitic”, wrote Boehm, is attacking those who are accusing members of Trump’s administration of being, some avowedly, ‘anti-Semites’.” “It is not legitimate to call somebody an anti-Semite because you might disagree with their politics,” Dershowitz was quoted as saying.

Those familiar with the Zionist ‘political theory’ that what’s good for Israel is good for all Jews, are not entirely surprised by the Israeli embrace of the US ultra-right, white nationalists who are about to dominate the country’s politics.

Indeed, it is because of this realisation (which will hopefully alert many to the dangers of conflating Zionism with Judaism and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism) that the debate on Zionism must not be stifled. Shutting down the door on examining Zionism, its roots and its racist ideas go back decades. In addition, it has been given a new impetus by the British government.

On December 12, the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May officially adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism that includes legitimate criticism of Israel and which has been a rallying cry for Israel’s Zionist supporters since the country’s establishment of Israel in 1948. The definition was adopted earlier in the year by a pro-Israeli group, IHRA, although it was considered but abandoned by the European anti-racism agency in 2005.

Similar to the Israeli exploitation of US internal politics, the Israeli lobby worked diligently to find an opening in British politics.

The opportunity presented itself with a manufactured crisis that followed the elections of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the British Labour Party. This decision left Corbyn being accused of being “soft” on anti-Semitism among its members. This ‘crisis’ was engineered by pro-Israeli groups to detract from genuine campaigning among Labour supporters, in order to bind Israel to its international obligations, and end the siege and occupation of Gaza.

Last October, a cross-party group issued a report that contributed to the confusion of ideas, condemning the use of the word “Zionist” as pejorative and claiming that such a use “has no place in civil society”.

While efforts to protect Israel from freedom of speech in Britain are still gathering steam, the debate in the US has long been stifled, with little room for any criticism of Israel in mainstream American media or ‘polite’ society. Effectively, this means that US policy in the Middle East remains beholden only to Israeli interests, the diktats of its powerful pressure and lobby groups.

Following suit, the UK is now adopting that same self-defeating position.

On December 16, 1991, the United Nations General Assembly had passed Resolution 46/86 — a single, reticent statement: ‘The General Assembly decides to revoke the determination contained in its resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975.’ This was a reversal of an earlier resolution that equated Israel’s political ideology, Zionism, to racism.

The longer text of the initial resolution, 3379 of 1975, was based on a clear set of principles, including UN resolution 2106 of 1965, which defined racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin”.

The reversal of that resolution was the outcome of vigorous US lobbying and pressures that lasted for years.

As far as Israel is concerned, any criticism of the state and its political ideology is anti-Semitic, as are any demands for accountability from Israel regarding its military conducts during war. That is why Israel is welcoming of Trump’s disturbing selection of administration officials: As long as they support Israel’s illegal occupation and colony expansion, their anti-Semitism is rather a minor offence.

While indeed many of Israel’s critics make the mistake of conflating Zionists and Jews, Palestinians understand Zionism for what it is: A racially-motivated colonial expansionist project. In his article, ‘Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims’, the late Professor Edward Said elaborates: “It is not unreasonable to find that the entire Palestinian-Arab experience seems unanimous about the view that Zionism visited upon the Arabs a singular injustice,” and that even before the British handed Palestine over to Zionist [colonists] upon which to establish a state formally in 1948, Palestinians universally opposed and variously tried to resist Zionist colonialism.”

Many countries share the Palestinian perception of Zionism as a form of colonialism and that prevailing perception is a historical fact, not a product of collective anti-Semitic collusion.

The reason why the question and debate of Zionism must not waver to any intimidation is that the essence of Zionism never matured, evolved or changed from its early, colonial version.

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe agrees. “The Zionist ideology and strategy have not changed from its very beginning,” he wrote. “The idea was ‘We want to create a Jewish state in Palestine, but also a Jewish democracy’. So the Zionists needed to have a Jewish majority all the time … Therefore, ethnic cleansing was the only real solution from the Zionist perspective …”

This remains the driving force behind Israeli policy towards Palestinians and Israel’s refusal to break away from a 19th century colonial enterprise into a modern, democratic state for all its citizens. To do so would be to sacrifice the core of its Zionist ideology, constructed on an amalgam of ethno-religious identities and to embrace a universal form of democracy in a state where Jews and Arabs are treated as equals.

(Source / 28.12.2016)

President Abdah Calls for Immediate Action to Protect Civilians in Wadi Barada Valley, Northwest of Damascus

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Abdah on Tuesday sent letters to 23 friendly countries and 4 international organizations urging them to take urgent, decisive action in order to ensure the safety of civilians in the area of Wadi Barada valley to the northwest of the capital Damascus.

Wadi Barada valley is being subjected to the fiercest bombardment and barbaric onslaught by the Assad regime and the Iran-backed militias who insist on continuing their military campaign aimed at forcing the local population out of their homes.

Abdah stressed that the mass forced displacement of civilians constitutes a war crime under the international humanitarian law.

Abdah called for stopping the barbaric onslaught on civilians in Wadi Barada valley and compelling the Assad regime to abide by the terms of the cessation of hostilities. He also called for sanctions on the Assad regime in case of noncompliance.

Moreover, Abdah called for taking real action to ensure that all sieges are lifted and immediate, unfettered humanitarian access as well as medical aid to the valley is allowed. He stressed the need to stop all forms of mass forced displacement of the civilian population; to conduct investigations into previous cases which amount to war crimes; and to hold to account those responsible for those crimes.

Reports coming out of Wadi Barada valley confirmed that heavy artillery and aerial bombardment on Ayn Alfija water pumping station by the Assad regime and its allies caused the contamination of the water of the spring with diesel, oil, and gasoline used to operate the pumps as well as large amounts of chlorine used to process the water. Abdah called for allowing the maintenance and repair of the water pumping station which should be operated and managed by the local population as was the case before.

Abdah stressed that such gross violations and crimes must not be allowed to be repeated, calling for the establishment of an office for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the valley and the other besieged areas to guarantee the implementation of UNSC resolutions, mainly UNSCR 2254 (2015) and UNSCR 2268.

The brutal escalation on Wadi Barada valley has so far caused the death of 23 civilians, 5 of whom are children, and injured more than 60 civilians, many of whom are in a critical condition. Moreover, the bombing has caused massive destruction in the villages of Kafr Alzait, Dayr Qanun, Ayn Alfija, and Bseima.

“The Assad regime and its Iranian ally are seeking to force civilians in Wadi Barada to leave their homes through the barbaric bombing and destruction of vital civilian facilities, and imposing a tight siege; it is a strategy that the regime has been using in all liberated areas in Aleppo, Rural Damascus and Homs,” Abdah said.

Civil institutions in Wadi Barada valley earlier stressed their rejection of any form of mass forced displacement of the population. They called for an end to the Assad regime policies aimed at changing the demography of key areas across Syria, and to prevent the repetition of another Srebrenica massacre in the valley.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 28.12.2016)

Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in overnight raids

nacht-raids-wb

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained 14 Palestinians during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank, locals and the Israeli army said.Locals sources in the village of Deir Abu Mashal west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town and detained two unidentified youths.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two were detained in Deir Abu Mashal and informed Ma’an another Palestinian was detained in the village of Kobar in the northeastern edge of the Ramallah district.
In Ramallah city, former prisoner Musab al-Barghouthi was also detained, according to locals.Two Palestinian youths were detained from the town of Jabaa southwest of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank, according to locals and the Israeli army.Locals said that Israeli forces raided Nablus city in the northern West Bank and detained Muhannad al-Inbusi and Amin al-Thaher, and an Israeli army spokesperson said that four total detentions were made in Nablus.Israeli media reported that a weapons manufacturing workshop was also uncovered during the Nablus raid, and that guns and ammunition were seized.
nacht-raids-wb1
Israeli forces also raided the northern city of Jenin and detained a former prisoner Murad Malaysheh, in addition to Ammar Fashafsheh and Aysar Muhammad Amer al-Zubeidi.An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three detentions in Jenin.According to a statement from Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, Israeli police and army officers stormed the southern occupied West Bank town of Yatta, detaining a 36-year-old Palestinian “suspect” after a rifle, ammo, and two “vehicle computers” — allegedly to be used in auto theft operations — were found in his possession.His remand will be extended later on Wednesday, al- Samri added.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of October. The organization estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
(Source / 28.12.2016)

Israel detains Palestinian over alleged involvement in tunnel operations in Gaza

pal-opgepakt

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities said on Wednesday that they detained a Palestinian last month accused of involvement in “sniper exercises” and digging tunnels between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, according to Israeli media.
The reports emerged after an Israeli-issued gag order was lifted on the case.
According to Israeli news site Ynet, Bilal Razineh, a member of the Hamas movement’s military wing, was detained by Israel’s security agency the Shin Bet after he crossed into Israel from Gaza.
Hebrew-language site NRG reported that Razineh told interrogators that his brother Mustafa served as chief of internal security in the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip.

In addition, he allegedly mentioned during interrogation that a tunnel was dug from his family’s home in the northern Gaza Strip that connected to other tunnels used for storing ammunition and fighting equipment.The report claimed that Razineh told Israeli interrogators that a number of Hamas’ leaders, included his brother, were steering the battle from inside Gaza’s Kamal Udwan hospital during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the small Palestinian territory. He also mentioned that several commanders from Gaza’s internal security were involved in the fighting and “used residents’ houses” in military activities, according to NRG report.

Some 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the devastating 50-day war. Israel has repeatedly claimed that airstrikes targeted civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals, and homes because Palestinian militants were using civilians as “human shields” during the fighting.
However, according to Amnesty International, the Israeli military displayed “shocking disregard” for civilian lives in Gaza. While possible military targets were identified in some cases, “the devastation to civilian lives … was clearly disproportionate,” the group said in a 2014 report after the war.
In August this year, the Israeli military closed 13 criminal investigations into cases of Israeli soldiers committing violations against Palestinian civilians during the 2014 Israeli assault without imposing any punitive measures, while some 80 incidents were closed without opening a criminal investigation.
Meanwhile, there have been reports in recent months that Hamas has expanded its tunnel network — used mainly for military purposes in the northern Gaza Strip and smuggling in the south — since the war a left much of it destroyed.
Israeli officials have since accused Hamas of “preparing” for another war, detaining a number of Gazans over alleged involvement with Hamas’ tunnel building operations.
However, despite Hamas’ inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war.
(Source / 28.12.2016)