The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violently suppressed a peaceful march organized in Bethlehem to the south of West Bank demanding the return of slain Palestinians’ bodies held in Israeli morgues.
According to the PIC reporter, the march came in coincidence with a court hearing held in the Israeli Supreme Court in occupied Jerusalem to decide over the appeals submitted by the dead Palestinians’ families.
The march kicked off at the northern entrance of the city amid large participation of national and Islamic figures and local activists.
The participants held photos of the slain Palestinians and slogans demanding the immediate release of their bodies.
Israeli forces suddenly fired a barrage of teargas bombs at the protesters; dozens choked on teargas.
Speaking to the PIC reporter, head of the PA committee for prisoners and ex-prisoners Issa Qaraqe stressed the urgent need to internationalize the slain Palestinians’ issue, condemning the Israeli collective punishment policy against Palestinian people.
Seven dead Palestinians’ bodies are still held in Israeli morgues including three Jerusalemites.
2017 marks the 13th year of the death of an icon Palestinians call “the spiritual father of the Palestinian resistance,” Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.
Sheikh Yassin was born in Jourat Ashkelon village in June 1936, a year marking the first Palestinian armed revolt against the growing Israeli interference in the Palestinian territories.
When he was 16, Sheikh Yassin sustained a severe spinal injury while playing with his friends. His neck was kept in plaster for 45 days. The damage to his spinal cord rendered him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. He had used a wheelchair since the accident.
Sheikh Yassin was killed on March 22, 2004, when an Israeli helicopter gunship fired a missile at him as he was being wheeled from dawn prayers at the Islamic Compound Mosque, in Sabra neighborhood, in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
A meeting was organised on Monday this week by at the AUPSC headquarters in which Morocco’s seat remained empty. The body headed by Algerian Smail Chergui thereafter took to social media to condemn human rights violations in Western Sahara.
In a tweet, the members of the AUPSC first expressed “their deep regret at the absence of Morocco despite…a written invitation to the meeting of the Peace and Security Council.”
Morocco has not officially reacted to these tweets and has yet to justify its absence at the meeting.
Morocco left the African Union in 1984 when a majority of the members voted to recognise the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the secessionist movement Rabat was attempting to quash in the Western Sahara.
Morocco does not recognise the sovereignty of the Western Sahara and the Sahrawi people and believes it to be a key part of its kingdom.
The Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, are fighting for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people in an independent Western Sahara, formerly a Spanish colony.
Youssef Shaaban Abu Athra, 18, was killed in Israeli shooting in Rafah
GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — A Palestinian was murdered and two others were wounded by shrapnel from an artillery shell fired by the Israeli forces, after Israeli tanks, stationed on the border with eastern Rafah in southern Gaza Strip, fired on them
Ashraf al-Qidra , Spokesperson of the Gaza Ministry of Health said in a statement that Youssef Shaaban Abu Athra, 18, was killed and two others each sustained multiple injuries from shrapnel as a result of the artillery fire.
Tanks shelling and heavy shooting in the eastern border of the Gaza Strip heard before and after the shooting of three, according to some witnesses.
The Farmer, Abu Jamal Abu Tuaimah said “Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the -buffer zone- which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.” “Sometimes they shoot at Farmers while they are working in their agriculture land and at fishermen while they are fishing” he added.
Israeli forces are sealing the home of a Palestinian trucker who was shot dead in January following a truck-ramming attack, leaving his wife and four children displaced.
The home belongs to the family of Fadi al-Qanbar, who drove a truck into a group of Israeli troops and killed four of them on January 8 before being shot dead by the Tel Aviv regime forces.
Israeli forces on Wednesday started pouring concrete inside Qanbar’s house in Jabal al-Mokaber neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds in an operation that is expected to take two days, according to an Israeli police spokeswoman.
Tel Aviv has been demolishing the homes of Palestinians it accuses of carrying out attacks against Israelis. The homes are also sealed up, which leads to the expulsion of residents.
Human rights groups have condemned the practice as a form of collective punishment.
The Israeli regime also continues to hold the body of Qanbar and says it will not be delivered to his family, in a move also denounced by rights groups.
In the wake of the truck attack, the Jerusalem al-Quds residency permits of Qanbar’s mother and 12 other relatives were revoked. The family runs the risk of being forcibly uprooted and exiled to the blockaded Gaza Strip or even Syria.
The truck attack is the latest in a string of tensions that the occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed ever since Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.
Over 280 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October that year.
“They’re trying to conflate [BDS] with terrorism and antisemitism,” he concluded, “because they realise that it is a real threat.”
Born into a renowned Zionist family and raised on the Zionist ideal of a Jewish state, American-Israeli author Miko Peled’s family life took him on a journey that transformed him into a Palestinian human rights activist and an advocate of a one democratic state where Palestinians and Israelis would live as equal citizens.
His father, Matti Peled, was a fervent Zionist ideologue and military man turned leading peace activist. Growing up in Jerusalem as the son of a prominent major general in the Israeli army was a big deal for Peled.
“It was something that I would hear constantly: Oh, you’re Matti Peled’s son!” Peled told MEMO. “Many times it was positive but many times it was very negative.”
When he retired, Matti Peled began meeting with members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and was one of the earliest proponents of the two-state solution. “That’s when being the son of Matti Peled suddenly became a bad thing,” he continued, “because he was ‘an Arab lover’.”
Though his father spent his life promoting the idea of a two state-solution and convincing the PLO to give up the armed struggle and accept the two-state-solution, Peled’s journey led him to believe that this was not viable or just.
“In hindsight, that was catastrophic for the Palestinians, because a lot of it has to do with why we are here today – the fact that they dropped the struggle.”
“I think that he [Matti Peled] and his group were naive. They believed that you can restrain this settler colonialist project, but you cannot restrain colonialism. You can only overpower it with more power.”
Peled relates his journey of transformation in his book, “The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”, which he published in 2012. “Geographically it’s a very short journey because Israel is Palestine, which many people don’t realise,” Peled told MEMO, “but the journey from the sphere of the privileged, the sphere where everything is clean and safe and the roads are paved, and you have plenty of water, and your rights are secure and you have no worries to the journey of the oppressed, the journey of the occupied, the journey of the dispossessed is an enormous journey – mentally, emotionally, politically.”
Peled made the transition from being a “coloniser” to being “an immigrant” in Palestine. Coming as a coloniser gives you a sense of being better than the indigenous population and having rights, whereas coming as an immigrant makes you appreciate the land that you’ve come to, he explained.
The longer the journey continues – and it still continues – the more I discover, the more I learn, the more I…gain understanding and appreciation for the Palestinian experience, for the Palestinian reality, for Palestine itself as a country, as a nation, as a culture.
Settlements and the One State reality
Peled says he finds the international community’s response to the settlements, reflected in the anti-settlement UN Security Council Resolution 2334 adopted last December and mounting calls by political leaders to stop settlement expansion, to be “the height of hypocrisy”.
“Settlements didn’t begin yesterday,” he said. “Settlements in Palestine on stolen Palestinian land began in 1948.”
“The settler-colonial project which is the State of Israel has been going on for seven decades, and now suddenly the international community discovers that there’s a problem?” he exclaimed.
Peled is of the opinion that the widespread construction of Israeli settlements across what is known as the Occupied West Bank has in fact created a reality on the ground of a single state, particularly since Israel completed the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.
That is the reality today, so is it one state or two states? The sheer stupidity of this argument – of this conversation – is sometimes shocking because it has been a single state; it’s been an apartheid state from the very beginning.
“There is no West Bank,” he emphasised. “Everybody who is aware of the situation in Palestine knows that there hasn’t been a West Bank in a long time.” Peled argues that Israel began integrating the West Bank to the rest of the country – the land of Israel – before the 1967 war was even over.
“Entire villages, entire towns, entire communities were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers and massive building began for Jews only in the West Bank just like everywhere else.”
“It has been a one state since then governed by a single government which is the State of Israel, albeit by dividing the population by different sets of laws,” Peled said.
“Whereas the laws that govern my life when I’m there are the laws of a liberal democracy as a Jew,” he explained, “the laws that govern the life of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens are a certain set of apartheid racist laws.”
“Jews in the West Bank – or what used to be the West Bank – are governed by the laws of Israel, civil law,” he continued, adding that Palestinians in the West Bank on the other hand are governed by military law, with subdivisions of Areas A, B and C.
As for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, often referred to as Israeli Arabs, Peled says that as far as Israel is concerned they “have no part in this vision of the land of Israel, of the State of Israel, the Jewish State. They have no distinct identity; they have no distinct connection to the land or anything like that.”
“Then sometimes it’s kind of quaint to say: Well, we have minorities,” he added, indicating that they are treated as second class citizens. As an example, Peled drew a contrast between the way in which the state deals with demolition orders, describing how the army would come in immediately and demolish Arab structures built without permits.
“Half…the people I know have homes and extensions to their homes which were done without permits,” he said. “It’s a reality because the bureaucracy is so complicated, but you wouldn’t dream of…armed guards coming in fully armed like combat soldiers and demolishing homes in a Jewish town.”
“It will take years through the courts before anybody even imagines to give me an order to take it down.”
In the case of Gaza, Peled says that Israel is faced with two choices; “Fix the problem, allow the refugees to return, rebuild or kill.” That is why, he says, from time to time Israel “has to escalate” and attack Gaza.
“There is a threat to Israel from Gaza,” he explained further, “but it’s not a military threat, it’s a threat to Israel’s legitimacy because this humanitarian disaster is a direct result of the creation of the State of Israel.”
“Israel can’t allow that,” he continued, voicing his frustration with the international community’s response.
I don’t know how the world, how anybody can be so gullible, so stupid to accept this massacre of innocent, unarmed, harmless civilians can be called self-defence.
Peled says that Israelis avoid any acknowledgment of Palestinian rights and claim to the land. To Israeli society, Israel in 1967 “completed the conquest or the return of our land to proper ownership, the Jews, and that’s the end of the story.”
“There is no Palestine; there are no Palestinians in Israeli consciousness. It’s the land of Israel,” he stressed. “As long as we kill more of them than they kill of us, we’re going to be fine. There is no vision beyond that.”
BDS ‘is how you bring about change’
A staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Peled believes that it is going to be remembered as “one of the major forces that eventually [led to the liberation] of Palestine.”
“No racist regime has ever voluntarily gone up and left,” he argued, “and without consequences for their actions, they’re not going to change.”
Imposing boycott, divestment and sanctions on the State of Israel is morally the right thing to do…It is how you bring about change.
Recently, Israel’s parliament approved a controversial law banning anyone found to support the BDS movement from entering the country. “This shows how this regime is completely undemocratic,” Peled argued.
“It is like all other undemocratic regimes that spend their resources on the survival of the regime – not the rights and wellbeing of the people and not democracy,” he added, pointing out that the government now must investigate every person coming in, including Jewish visitors who until now were considered “safe” and were only subjected to limited questioning.
“They’re trying to conflate [BDS] with terrorism and antisemitism,” he concluded, “because they realise that it is a real threat.”
“That is of course nonsense,” he maintained, adding that the demands of BDS are “completely reasonable”. “The return of the refugees which the international community already accepted, the end of the military regime in the West Bank and Gaza and equal rights for the Palestinians who are, you know, [living within the Israeli borders of] 1948. What could be more reasonable than that?”
“Just like in the 60s people were judged by…Vietnam, and civil rights and then apartheid and so forth in the 80s,” Peled believes that “this entire generation that is alive today will be judged by our stance on Palestine.”
“I think we’ll all want to be in a place where when our children and our grandchildren ask us where we stood, we can say we stood on the side of justice.”
The transformation of a racist, colonialist, apartheid regime into a democracy is doable, and it is doable within a relatively short timeframe. We just need to act.
Image of Jerusalem skyline with Dome of the Rock [File photo]
Palestinian people and institutions have called for the Arab League meeting to be held on 29 March to announce Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state, Quds Press reported yesterday.
The advisor to the Islamic Endowment Fund (IEF) in Jerusalem, Yasser Abu Ghazaleh, called on Arab leaders to bear their responsibility towards the occupied city and the “continuous Israeli violations” against it and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“The duty of the Arab leaders is to protect Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he told Quds Press, stressing that they “are not exerting real efforts” towards these holy places, which form an integral part of Islamic identity and beliefs.
Any justification for their inaction towards Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is unacceptable…They, alongside the international community, must put much pressure on the Israeli occupation to stop the violations in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, another official in the IEF in Jerusalem, Mohamed Nasereddin, said: “The cry of the occupied holy city to the Arab leaders is a call for its protection from Israeli violations.”
Nasereddin stressed to Quds Press that the Arabs “can do much for Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque through a network of support for the city and its people.”
He called for a unification of efforts to support the Palestinian residents of the city who are facing not only Israeli occupation but also the danger of Judaisation and the erasure of the Arab and Islamic cultural and religious identity from Jerusalem.
Image of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on February 27, 2017
By Ramona Wadi
The diplomatic meetings and visits of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have coincided with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz visiting Washington to discuss settlement expansion. The stated objectives of both the PA and Israel differ in dissemination, yet follow an impeccable collaboration which should infuriate the entire international community. The absence of such outrage is evidence that even the definition of human rights has been corrupted permanently. Despite their allegedly different priorities, it is clear that the PA is fuelling Israel’s ambitions.
Abbas’s meeting with the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanić, last Friday was the first in a series which revealed the stagnant attitude towards Palestinian rights. Wafa news agency reported Ivanić as supporting “the Palestinian people’s right to exist” before reiterating the two-state compromise as imperative.
Image of Mladen Ivanić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ramallah on 16 March 2017
The meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, was the first of the diplomatic visits made by Abbas ahead of the Arab Summit, ostensibly to garner a semblance of support. According to Ma’an news agency, Abbas’s aim is to “confirm the Palestinian cause as a top priority for Arabs.”
The rhetoric about “top priority” was echoed faithfully by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who rehashed the usual perfunctory statements about commitment to “bring about permanent and comprehensive peace in the region,” as well as an independent Palestinian state, despite the improbability of the latter.
Meanwhile Abbas also stressed the importance of the US administration’s role “as the main sponsor of the peace process”. In other news reported by Wafa, Abbas clarified that a recent visit to Ramallah by US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt was not for the purpose of proposals but rather “to listen and learn [from the Palestinian leadership].”
While Abbas enjoys his tour of the Middle East and Europe, Horowitz’s visit to Washington is clearly proactive and detrimental to Palestinians. The joint press conference between US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu in February was ambiguous in its entirety, but mostly with regard to settlement expansion, which has remained a contentious issue, contrary to previous expectations. However, the slightest leniency from the US in this regard will undoubtedly damage Palestinian prospects further, as the Israeli right-wing has not relinquished the possibility of expanding the illegal colonies further at an even greater rate than in the past few years under the previous administration.
Under such circumstances, Abbas’s purported achievements signalling only rhetorical unity will not even dent the colonial ambitions promoted by Israel. The forthcoming Arab Summit, like previous summits, is already garnering wasted attention, as will the planned visits with other heads of state in the region and in Europe. There is hardly a single country that has not betrayed Palestine in one way or another; however, Arab countries have been all too willing to employ the same jargon utilised by Israel regarding the effects of turmoil in the region and how this has affected the visibility of the Palestinians.
The prevailing attitude shows that, far from being a top priority, Palestine has become an obligatory yet perfunctory agenda item. Israel, meanwhile, is persisting against Trump’s reticence to approve colonial expansion overtly, which would pave the way towards clarifying ambiguous statements regarding the probability of refuting the two-state paradigm in favour of another scenario. The PA, however, has not evolved beyond initial alarm at Trump’s words, given the continuous seeking of assurances that the international community remains committed to the obsolete concept of “two states living side by side in peace”.
Given this impasse, and given that the first direct reference to Israel as an apartheid state at the UN has actually materialised (albeit to be disowned by the new secretary-general), Abbas could have seized the opportunity to emphasise the Palestinian reality. That’s what he could have done, but for the fact that collaboration with Israel forms the foundations for the PA’s existence, so he must stick to the script and play with rhetoric. The PA and its president really are fuelling Israel’s ambitions.