UN official: The situation in Gaza is tragic

UNRWA about Gaza

Director of UNRWA operations in Gaza Bo Schack warned on Wednesday that the tragic situation in Gaza might exacerbate and announced that 3,000 houses that were completely destroyed in the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza will be reconstructed soon.

Pointing to the electricity and water crises and the recent salary cuts, Schack said in a press conference at the UNRWA office in Gaza that the situation in Gaza is getting worse.

On the possibility of the UNRWA intervention to bring tax-free fuel to Gaza, Schack stated that “this issue is not within the purview of the UNRWA,” noting that the absence of the political solution is what delays resolving it.

Schack called for finding durable solutions not temporary ones to the Gaza Strip crises, affirming that the UNRWA will continue to provide its humanitarian services to the Gazan citizens.

The UN official announced that the coming period will witness the reconstruction of 3,000 houses that were destroyed during the 2014 Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, adding that 2,000 other houses have been reconstructed or are still underway.

He pointed out that the reconstruction of 2,000 new houses will start soon.

He said, “This is a good development compared to last year and the problems we have encountered to obtain approvals for the entry of cement.”

Schack stressed that the UNRWA shoulders a special responsibility toward the Palestinian society and the refugees in particular. “We know that the context in which we are working is difficult, and our staffers are facing the same crisis everyone faces,” he added.

He emphasized that that the Gazan youths need more job opportunities and that the UNRWA provided 30,000 temporary opportunities for the youths last year.

He said that the UNRWA needs permanent solutions to compensate for the temporary solutions it provides through the temporary employment opportunities.

(Source / 17.05.2017)

“After the tenth day of hunger strike ,it was very difficult to swallow water” ex-detainee said

By Wafa al-Udaini
GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM Since nearly 1,500 Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails declared an open hunger strike on April 17, protesting about harsh and degrading conditions, The freed ex-detainees, Mansour Rayyan started to remember his days during the hunger strike in the Israeli jails.

“the  heroes in the Israeli jails are risking their lives in hopes of gaining their basic rights.” Rayyan said, ” what helps the detainees to continue their hunger strike is their determination, because it’s not easy at  all to risk your live for more than a week ” he added.

Read more: STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY FOR THE PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKERS FROM REPUBLICAN PRISONERS

The freed ex-detainees, Mansour Rayyan,  a 46-year-old is from Qarawat Bani Hassan in the West Bank. He  spent 20 years in prisons before being released in last year’s prisoner exchange deal, which was between Hamas and the Israeli Occupation. He was deported to the Gaza strip. Rayyan was serving a life sentence. After his release he was blessed with 2 children after his release. He works in AlAqsa channel.

Mansour Rayyan, the freed ex-detainees during the interview

The first day of the hunger strike, I felt hungry at night. In the second day, I  felt pain in my Knees and bones. In the third and fourth day, felt dizzy. Then my body started to get  used to the hunger after the fifth day. In the tenth day, I was very difficult to swallow water. I  hate its taste.

The hardest thing is the fast move. Some of my friends tried to stand but they  fall down”.

Read more: South African officials declared a 24-hour hunger strike in show of solidarity

Rayyan had experienced the mass hunger strike more than 2 times. The 2004 hunger strike lasted for 19 days, the strikers gained nothing after that. The 2000 hunger strike lasted for nearly a month but the demands of the strikers were met. They succeeded to get all the detainees out of the solitary confinements , and they allow the detainees  to study in the universities from the jails.   “the jailers use all mean practices to force us breaking our strike, by using the force feeding tactics .” “they assaulted and humiliated us. they grilled meat in front of us.”  .

Rayyan stated ” the  hunger strike is more likely to succeed if to receives solidarity and support from outside the prison.”

(Source / 17.05.2017)

Gaza citizens remain biggest losers of decadelong political dispute

Hamas supporters hold crossed posters depicting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah during a protest against them in Khan Yunis, Gaza, April 14, 2017

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — In a new move to clamp down on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree April 20 exempting Gaza citizens from the fees of services rendered by the ministries, institutions and bodies affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The decision includes first-time service fees, which go to the treasury of the Hamas-run Ministry of Finance in Gaza.

The decree covers nine articles, exempting income tax on companies and individuals, imports of goods from abroad, purchases and sales under the clearing bills, professional licenses for companies licensed in the southern governorates (the Gaza Strip) and working in the northern governorates (the West Bank) — all of which go to the treasury in Ramallah.

A similar decree was issued by Abbas on June 26, 2007, following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip, by virtue of which Gaza citizens were exempted from service fees, with the purpose of restricting Hamas’ rule. However, Abbas found no way to implement the decree on the ground in light of Hamas’ control over the Gaza Strip. In this context, government officials in Gaza expect the same to happen with the newly issued decree.

Tariq Rishmawi, a spokesman for the government of national consensus, told Al-Monitor that high-ranking government officials — whose names remain anonymous — instructed spokespersons not to comment on the presidential decree. But he said, “The de facto authority in Gaza [Hamas] prevents the government from providing its services to the citizens.”

Nasser al-Jaiyan, the deputy director general of the Customs, Excise Duties and VAT division at the Ministry of Finance in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor the purpose of the presidential decree is to alleviate the hardship of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

He stressed that any tax taken from citizens in Gaza by the Hamas government institutions after the issuance of the presidential decree are funds taken illegally.

On May 10, the head of the financial department in the Administrative Committee in Gaza, Yousef al-Kayali, told al-Ray government agency that the presidential decree will not be implemented, noting that the decree targets Gazans only so as to deprive the Gaza treasury from tax funds, while citizens of the West Bank were not affected by the decree so as to keep funds flowing into the treasury in Ramallah.

Kayali ruled out the possibility of the presidential decree’s having a negative impact on local revenues due to the commitment of citizens and merchants to pay these taxes, noting that the PA’s talk about the illegality of tax collection in Gaza comes in the context of political rivalries.

He added that the decree will not be applied because it is not legitimate since it was not presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council for approval. In addition, he explained, it aims to increase pressure on government institutions in Gaza by targeting their local revenues.

On May 8, Louay Hanash, the director general of the Customs, Excise Duties and VAT division at the Finance Ministry in Ramallah, said in a press statement that the Ministry of Finance in Gaza collects from citizens about 70-80 million shekels ($19.3-$22.1 million) in taxes per month. Yet the Gaza ministry claims the Ramallah ministry collects $100 million a month from Gaza, most of which are taxes from goods entering the Gaza Strip.

On two separate occasions, April 12 and May 5, Abbas threatened Hamas in Gaza with harsh and unprecedented measures aimed at forcing the movement into canceling the Administrative Committee it set up to run Gaza and enabling the government of national consensus to work freely in the Gaza Strip, in addition to holding presidential and legislative elections.

Meanwhile, Hamas stressed that the Administrative Committee would be considered dissolved the minute the government of consensus assumes its functions in Gaza.

Nasr Abdel Karim, a professor of economics and finance at Birzeit University, told Al-Monitor that he does not expect the decree to have any actual impact in the absence of the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip, saying that the decree is part of a series of actions taken by Abbas to pressure Hamas in Gaza and drain the sources of local funds benefiting the institutions of the Hamas-run government.

Abdel Karim believes Abbas will carry on with additional punitive measures against Hamas, warning about such action affecting Gazans as well, since it is difficult to separate the people from the movement. For instance, deductions from the salaries of public employees in Gaza harmed the staff more than the movement itself, and so did depriving Gaza of electricity. In this context, the PA asked Israel in late April to stop deducting Gaza’s monthly electricity bill from the Palestinian clearing funds, which Israel refused to do. It continued to supply electricity to Gaza for fear of the security situation getting out of hand.

He said a combination of such measures could affect the Hamas government’s financial resources in the Gaza Strip, and thus affect the operating expenses of ministries and salaries of their employees, in addition to damaging the struggling Gazan economy in general and depriving Gaza of cash flow.

Mouin Rajab, an economics professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, concurs with Abdel Karim’s view on the Palestinian government’s inability to implement the decree in Gaza since it lacks authority there. He believes the only way this decree could be implemented is if the Palestinian internal division ends and the government of consensus is enabled in Gaza.

“Regardless of how satisfied citizens may be — given how this decree relieves them of part of their financial burden — they will not be able to abide by it because they believe the government authorities in Gaza will not provide them with services free of charge, because the [Hamas-run government] has announced that the decree will not be applied in Gaza,” Rajab told Al-Monitor.

Although economic experts are convinced of the difficulty to implement the decree in the Gaza Strip, the citizen remains the weakest link and the biggest loser in the 10-year political conflict between Fatah and Hamas.

(Source / 17.05.2017)

Activists & HNC Members Hold Sit-in outside UN Geneva HQ Calling for Release of Detainees in Assad’s Prisons

Syrian activists on Wednesday held a sit-in outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland calling for the release of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.

Participants of the sit-in, who included members of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and relatives of detainees, held placards stressing that they are making their demands on behalf of every Syrian family having their loved ones detained in Assad’s prisons.

Participants called for exercising pressure on the Assad regime to “immediately disclose all the names of detainees in its prisons; reveal their whereabouts and fate; and stop torture and ill-treatment of detainees.”

They also called for access for international humanitarian organizations to prisons and detention centers in Syria to introduce urgent medical and food supplies to detainees and for accesses to international human rights groups in order to check on the situation of detainees.

Participants stressed the importance of abolishing all special courts in Syria, particularly field courts, the court of terrorism, and court martials.

Rights groups have documented the detention of hundreds of thousands of civilians and dissidents by the Assad regime and presented compelling evidence of the death of thousands of detainees under torture in Assad’s prisons.

A forensic military photographer who defected from the Assad regime in 2015 leaked around 55,000 photos of the bodies of around 11,000 detainees bearing signs of systematic, severe torture and emaciation.

The US State Department on Tuesday said it had evidence the Assad regime has built a crematorium in the notorious Sednaya Prison to dispose of bodies of detainees, adding that about 50 bodies are burnt every day inside the facility.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 17.05.2017)

Hamas insists on Right of Return for refugees

On Nakba anniversary

Hamas Right of Return

“Hamas rejects all attempts to erase the rights of the refugees, including the attempts to settle them outside Palestine and the so-called alternative homeland. Compensation to the Palestinian refugees for the harm they have suffered as a consequence of banishing them and occupying their land is an indisputable right that goes hand in hand with their right to return. They are to receive compensation upon their return and this does not negate or diminish their right to return,” this was a quote from article 13 of Hamas’s Document of General Principles and Policies launched by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in May 2017.

This document, which included all positions, principles and general political lines adopted by the Movement since its formation, emphasizes that Palestine’s borders are from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. And from Ras Al-Naqoura in the north to Umm Al Rashrash in the south, as an integral territorial unit: the land of the Palestinian people and their homeland.

The document added, “The expulsion and banishment of the Palestinian people from their land and the establishment of the Zionist entity therein do not annul the right of the Palestinian people to their entire land and do not entrench any rights therein for the benefit of the expansionist Zionist entity.”

Refugees department
Hamas has established a special department for refugees in 2001, under the leadership of the Movement, as a specialized department for Palestinian refugees wherever they are.

Since its formation, the Department has endeavored to preserve the historical, political, economic and cultural rights of the Palestinian refugees, to raise awareness among the Palestinian people about their cause, to improve their situation and to support and coordinate local, regional and international efforts to protect their rights and compensation and to contribute to realizing the conditions that enable them to return to their cities and villages.

According to Dr. Essam Edwan, the head of the refugees department, “The department seeks to develop the institutional work of refugees in line with the comprehensive project of liberation, and to strengthen the steadfastness of refugees in places of refuge so as to enable them to uphold their rights and constants.”

Edwan pointed out in a statement to the PIC that the Department contributes to the activation of the cause of refugees, mobilizing them in their places of refuge, in order to qualify them to play a leading role in the liberation and return projects.

It also seeks to develop a unified national Palestinian position that preserves the rights of refugees, as well as to improve the level of media discourse and cultural and artistic works to serve the refugees’ issue.

Edwan stressed his Movement’s keenness to bring about positive change at the Arab, Islamic and international levels in favor of the refugees’ issue.

Constant positions
On more than one occasion, the leaders of the Hamas Movement, headed by Ismail Haneyya, who recently became the head of the political bureau of Hamas, reiterated their absolute rejection of the alternative homeland project, or giving any concessions by his Movement on the refugees’ issue.

Hamas’s Document of General Principles and Policies, summarized this issue by saying, “The right of the Palestinian refugees and the displaced to return to their homes from which they were banished or were banned from returning to – whether in the lands occupied in 1948 or in 1967 (that is the whole of Palestine), is a natural right, both individual and collective. This right is confirmed by all divine laws as well as by the basic principles of human rights and international law. It is an inalienable right and cannot be dispensed with by any party, whether Palestinian, Arab or international.”

It is noteworthy that most of the leaders of the Hamas Movement are refugees, especially the head of the political bureau Ismail Haneyya, who hails from the village of Jura in the 1948 occupied city of Ashkelon, and who is still living in a refugee camp to the west of Gaza city.

Strategic aspirations
Writer and political analyst Ali Huwaidi stressed that Hamas has viewed the issue of return and refugees with strategic aspirations, based on what is stated in its newly released document, which assured that the Palestinian issue is essentially an issue of an occupied land and a forcibly-displaced people.

Huwaidi clarified that the Hamas document has worked on setting the foundations and roots of the right of return, through its adherence to the principle of resistance as a strategic option to liberate Palestine, achieve return, and build a full sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Huwaidi stressed that “In line with this sense, the Hamas Movement, 30 years after its formation, and after 69 years since the Nakba of Palestine, has maintained its national principles and strategic vision for the issue of refugees and displaced persons, and their right of return to their homes in Occupied Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and not to any other place, conditioning this return in its historic document to liberation, the thing that the vast majority of the Palestinian people believe in.”

(Source / 17.05.2017)

What’s behind Abbas’ recent threats to Hamas?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a joint news conference with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (unseen) in Ramallah, West Bank, May 9, 2017

Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas met with US President Donald Trump in the White House for the first time on May 3. Shortly after, Abbas announced during his meeting with Arab ambassadors in Washington on May 4 his decision to take unprecedented and painful steps against Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization.

Abbas said during his meeting with the Arab ambassadors, “I will take unprecedented steps against Hamas since it halted the [Fatah-Hamas] reconciliation. The measures will be painful if the movement does not take back its actions,” in reference to Hamas’ refusal to hand over the Gaza Strip to the consensus government.

The White House wrote in a statement issued after the meeting between Abbas and Trump: “President Trump emphasized the importance of making a clear commitment to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and to stopping incitement, and to continue strengthening efforts to combat terrorism.”

The Palestinians have many questions about the measures that Abbas will take against Hamas, and they are wondering why his threats coincided with his visit to Washington.

Although Abbas did not reveal the measures he would take against Hamas, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio on the evening of May 4, “Abbas is serious about halting power and water funding in the Gaza Strip, and he has every intention to stop paying the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza.”

The PA pays Israel around 70 million shekels per month ($19.4 million) to supply Gaza with Israeli power, which provides 30% of the power in the Gaza Strip. Several media outlets, including Israeli Channel 10, revealed April 27 that the PA asked Israel to stop supplying power to the Gaza Strip through Israeli lines.

Hamas official spokesman Hazem Qassem condemned Abbas’ threats to the movement and told Al-Monitor, “Abbas made these threats when he was in Washington, which proves that they were the result of American demands.”

He added, “Abbas is trying to get Trump’s approval by punishing Hamas. Since Abbas received an invitation from the White House to visit … Abbas threatened to take punitive measures against Gaza to prove that he is the legitimate and sovereign leader of the Palestinian territories.”

On April 4, the consensus government made the sudden decision to slash PA employees’ salaries in Gaza by 30%. Observers considered this an attempt to ruin Gaza’s economy.

Israeli writer Zvi Bar’el, who is an expert on Palestinian affairs, wrote in an article published in Haaretz newspaper on April 29 that Hamas’ rule in Gaza and its refusal to empower the consensus government to control the city do not justify the PA’s measures against Gaza. Bar’el believes that Abbas’ measures served as dowry for Trump, who has made the war on terrorism one of his key foreign policy principles.

Bar’el said, “If Abbas wants to punish Hamas as part of a political process rather than a domestic step, this will help him convince Trump that he is fighting terrorism and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is deluding Trump and the world when he claims that there is no Palestinian partner to negotiate with on peace. Abbas’ steps can also serve as a suitable response to Israeli allegations that Abbas does not represent Gaza and, therefore, cannot be a negotiating party.”

Qassem noted, “Clearly, the United States, Israel and Abbas want to remove Hamas from the political scene to give the negotiations the needed public and international momentum. But this will fail now, just like it always has.”

Abbas claimed that his threats were prompted by Hamas’ objection to the reconciliation, but Qassem refused this justification. He said, “Abbas is effectively impeding the reconciliation because he does not want to solve the Gaza employee crisis or activate the Temporary Leadership Framework of the PLO as per the reconciliation agreement signed in 2014. For this reason, I do not think the reconciliation deadlock prompted these threats. Abbas is trying to please Trump and push for resumption of settlement negotiations, which we refuse.”

Qassem added, “Hamas will not make any concessions under such pressure from Abbas. It will form a popular national front to reject the siege that Abbas is threatening to impose and will take regional steps to mobilize political and financial support for the Gaza Strip.” The term “siege of the Palestinian Authority” is a metaphor used by Hamas to describe Abbas’ threats.

Political analyst and former editor-in-chief of Felesteen newspaper Mustafa al-Sawaf told Al-Monitor, “Abbas’ threats to Hamas are love letters to Trump. Abbas wants to be included in the US-Israeli alliance to eliminate Hamas and put Gaza at the mercy of his [Abbas’] settlement project.”

Sawaf expects these unprecedented measures to have life-changing effects, which means that “Abbas will take measures that affect the lives of people, like cutting power and water supplies, halting treatment abroad and banning welfare payments in Gaza in order to push people to reject Hamas.”

He added, “Abbas also wants to prove to Trump that he alone represents Palestinians and is the sole ruler and decision-maker in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, knowing that Abbas’ legitimacy as Palestinian president has been over since 2010.”

Talal Okal, a professor of political sciences at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, agrees that Abbas’ threats aim at regaining legitimacy over Gaza and ending Hamas’ rule there to prove that he has the final say in any new negotiations.

Okal told Al-Monitor, “Hamas’ rule over Gaza makes Abbas look weak in front of Trump. This explains Abbas’ inclination to take unprecedented measures against Hamas.”

Okal strongly ruled out a remarkable role for Trump in the history of negotiations with Israel. He probably can’t force Israel to implement international resolutions that are in the Palestinians’ interest, like UN Security Council Resolution 242, which states that Israel must retreat from the Palestinian territories they occupied in 1967.

He added, “My expectations are low for any new negotiations between Israel and Palestinians under Trump’s auspices.”

It seems that Abbas’ threats to punish Hamas will not benefit him much, as Hamas is still facing the Israeli blockade. He can’t even prove himself as the sole representative of the Palestinian people because Gaza is still under the rule of Hamas, which won the most parliamentary seats in the 2006 legislative elections.

(Source / 17.05.2017)

The Palestinian Authority security forces: Whose security?

Palestinian security forces

Masked Palestinian security forces during a raid in Balata refugee camp (File)

By: Al-Shabaka

From the outset, the Palestinian Authority (PA) security establishment has failed to protect Palestinians from the main source of their insecurity: the Israeli military occupation. Nor has it empowered Palestinians to resist that occupation. Instead, the PA has contributed to a situation in which the Palestinian struggle for freedom has itself been criminalized.
Rather than recognize resistance as a natural response to institutionalized oppression, the PA, in tandem with Israel and the international community, characterizes resistance as “insurgency” or “instability.” Such rhetoric, which favors Israeli security at the expense of Palestinians, echoes discourse surrounding the “war on terror” and criminalizes all forms of resistance.
This dynamic can be traced back to the 1993 Oslo Accords, but it has been galvanized over the last decade through the PA’s evolution as a donor-driven state that espouses neoliberal policies. The donor-driven reform of the security sector has been the linchpin of the PA’s post-2007 state building project. The enhanced effectiveness of the PA’s security forces as a result of massive donor investment has in turn created additional ways of protecting the Israeli occupier, thus creating spaces that are “securitized” within which the occupier can move freely in the execution of its colonial project.
Such a development could only have two outcomes: “Better” collaboration with the occupying power in a way that shored up the destructive status quo; and greater violation of Palestinians’ security and national rights by their own government and national security forces.The rise of Palestinian Authority security forces
The evolution of the PA security forces can be categorized in three phases: The Oslo Accords (1993-1999), the Second Intifada (2000-2006), and the post-2007 PA state-building project.
The Oslo Accords were characterized by two parallel, yet conflicting, projects: State building and national liberation. The former implied constructing state-like institutions and a bureaucracy (soon inflated) under occupation, while the latter meant pursuing the revolutionary program for self-determination that had been adopted by the PLO. The tension between these ventures already manifested themselves under the late president Yasser Arafat’s rule.
Arafat’s personalized style of governance and its resultant complex network of corruption and patronage meant that the evolution of the PA security forces was from its advent neither inclusive nor transparent. Rather, it was fraught with nepotism and was used as a tool to address the threats posed by Oslo’s opponents and to stabilize the population. In turn, it also solidified the nascent “peace” agreements. The 9,000 recruits in the “strong police force” envisaged in the 1994 Cairo Agreement became nearly 50,000 security personnel by 1999.
This proliferation of the security forces — all spying on each other, as Edward Said once said — has had severe consequences for Palestinians. Arafat’s establishment of security-driven political structures nourished authoritarianism and blocked accountability mechanisms in the Palestinian political system. This resulted in a dearth of legitimacy and further insecurity for Palestinians.
As the security establishment grew in numbers and institutions, Palestinians remained ill-protected, and corruption and patronage within the forces became endemic. The divide-to-rule approach paved the way for future Palestinian fragmentation.
During the Second Intifada, Israel destroyed the PA’s security infrastructure because PA security forces participated in the uprising. This created a security vacuum into which non-PA actors inserted themselves, with mixed results for Palestinians. This exacerbated intra-Palestinian competition and led external donors, the PA, and Israel to be even more concerned with building a strong and dominant security sector.
In June 2002, the PA announced its 100-Day Reform Plan. In 2003 the Road Map demanded that a “rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus” confront “all those engaged in terror” and dismantle “terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.” The forces were forced to combat terrorism, apprehend suspects; outlaw incitement; collect all illegal weapons; provide Israel with a list of Palestinian police recruits; and report progress to the United States.
Accordingly, Palestinian security reform “remained… an externally controlled process, driven by the national security interests of Israel and the United States, and characterized by very limited ownership on the part of Palestinian society.”
The international donor community led this reform in 2005 through the establishment of the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS) and the United States Security Coordinator (USSC). This situation continues to this day, in the form of a “one gun, one law, one authority” strategy through which the PA’s monopoly on force and violence is ensured.The post-2007 state-building project under the PA has aimed, mainly through EUPOL COPPS and USSC, to reinvent the PA security forces through technical means including training and weapons procurement. It has also aimed to reinvent the forces politically by constraining Hamas and its armed wing, curbing Fatah-allied militants through cooptation and amnesty, cracking down on criminals, and conducting security campaigns, particularly in Nablus and Jenin.
The forces became known as Dayton’s forces in reference to Keith Dayton, the US Lieutenant General who led the PA military establishment’s “professionalization and modernization” process. Local and international human rights organizations have accused these reformed forces of human rights violationsand suppressing freedoms.
The most current phase has further entrenched the predominance of Israeli security interests at the expense of the Palestinians. Disarmament and criminalization have impaired popular resistance against the occupation, including peaceful demonstrations and marches, advocacy against Israel’s violations of human rights, and student activism.
Today, the PA security forces largely protect the security of the occupier and not that of the occupied. In short, the security of Palestinians has been jeopardized because their own leadership has been subcontracted to repress them. The post-2007 security reform agenda has thwarted Palestinians’ national struggle, their resistance movement and their everyday security, and has subverted the very functioning of Palestinian politics.
Security coordination as domination
To understand the magnitude of the security coordination enterprise, it is useful to note that the Palestinian security sector employs around half of all civil servants, accounts for nearly $1 billion of the PA budget, and receives around 30 percent of total international aid disbursed to the Palestinians.
The security sector consumes more of the PA’s budget than the education, health, and agriculture sectors combined. The sector is currently comprised of 83,276 individuals in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including 312 brigadier generals, of whom 232 report to the PA and 80 to Hamas. In comparison, the entire US Army has 410 brigadier generals. The ratio of security personnel to the population is as high as 1 to 48 — one of the highest in the world.
Security collaboration between Israel and the PA has fulfilled the Oslo Accords’ objectives of institutionalizing security arrangements and launching a peace process that is tightly controlled by the security sector in order to enable Israel to fulfill its colonial ambitions while claiming to be pursuing peace.
This process of “securitized peace” is manifested in a number of ways, including the PA security forces’ arrest of Palestinian suspects wanted by Israel (as in the recent case of Basel Al-Araj who was arrested and released by the PA only to be chased and eventually assassinated by the Israelis); the suppression of Palestinian protests against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers; intelligence sharing between the Israeli army and the PA security forces; a revolving door between Israeli and PA jails through which Palestinian activists cycle for the same offenses; and regular joint Israeli-Palestinian meetings, workshops, and trainings.
Though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to suspend security coordination, he has at the same time declared it a “Palestinian national interest” and a “sacred” doctrine. The PA security forces’ activities and Abbas’s political maneuverings have naturally created a deep gap in trust between the Palestinian people and the PA.
Indeed, multiple surveys over the years have shown that the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (between 60 percent and 80 percent) oppose security coordination with Israel. And in a March 2017 Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey poll, two-thirds of respondents demanded Abbas’s resignation, with 73 percent expressing the belief that Abbas is not serious in his threat to suspend security coordination with Israel.
In a 2010 Ma’an News Agency poll, 78 percent of respondents said they believe that the PA security forces are engaging in surveillance, monitoring activities, and intervening in people’s privacy. Finally, according to Visualizing Palestine, 67 percent of West Bank Palestinians said they feel that they are living in an undemocratic system that cracks down on freedoms in large part as a result of the security realm.
Negative public perceptions about security coordination are fueled by lived experiences — from which elites are often spared — as well as by official rhetoric and the contents of the leaked Palestine Papers. For instance, US General Keith Dayton remarked in 2009 that senior Israeli army commanders asked him, in regard to the Palestinian security forces he was training, “How many more of these new Palestinians can you generate, and how quickly?”
He also said that a senior Palestinian official addressed a graduating class of these “new Palestinian men” in Jordan, saying: “You were not sent here to learn how to fight Israel… you were rather sent here to learn how to keep law and order, respect the right of all of our citizens, and implement the rule of law so that we can live in peace and security with Israel.” And in 2013, in a speech before the European Parliament, Israeli president Shimon Peres stated: “A Palestinian security force was formed. You and the Americans trained it. And now we work together to prevent terror and crime.”While security coordination between Israel and the PA has been cemented since the Oslo Accords, the status quo is not a foregone conclusion. However, change will be difficult to achieve, as the system has created a segment of Palestinian society that will seek to maintain it. This segment is composed not only of security personnel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also of those Palestinians benefiting from institutional arrangements and a network of collaboration and domination.
The status quo is beneficial for them, and “stability” is their mantra. They are committed to an approach that privileges the political, economic, and security elite, and they have no incentive to reverse the rules of the game.
Any attempt to halt security coordination would thus have real consequences for the PA and its leadership. Yet the perpetuation of the status quo is destructive for the majority of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and for the Palestinian people at large. With the crushing of the ability to correct political wrongdoing and hold elites accountable, business as usual will likely continue. Security coordination will remain a defining feature of the skewed reality that favors the occupier if action is not taken — and soon.
(Source / 17.05.2017)

3 Palestinians shot, injured during Israeli raids in which 48 were detained

Raids West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Detention raids conducted by Israeli forces between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in several villages across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem sparked clashes in at least three cases, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. Three Palestinians were reported to have been shot in the northern West Bank.

At least 48 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces across the occupied Palestinian territory overnight.

Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The United Nations recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the occupied West Bank in 2016, and 70 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of March, including 300 minors, 61 women, and 500 under administrative detention.
Northern West Bank
A violent military raid into Jenin refugee camp sparked clashes with locals. Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinians, and 20-year-old camp resident Wahid Yousif al-Ghoul was shot and injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his lower extremities, locals told Ma’an.
Israeli forces also indiscriminately fired stun grenades and tear gas inside the densely populated refugee camp, leading several locals to suffer from tear gas suffocation.
Head of the ambulance department in Jenin city Mahmoud al-Saadi said that emergency medical crews rushed to the area and evacuated al-Ghoul and those suffering from tear gas inhalations to the Jenin Governmental Hospital.
Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that a second Palestinians was also shot in the raid.
In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “tens of Palestinians gathered around Israeli forces operating in the area, when two pipe bombs were thrown. The forces shot towards the assailants, and two hits were identified.”
The reason for the raid remained unclear, as no detentions were reported in the camp.
However, Israeli forces detained a number of Palestinians elsewhere in the Jenin area.
In the town of Qabatiya south Jenin city, the Israeli army said one Palestinian was detained, identified by locals as Sabri Assaf.
The Israeli army also said that five Palestinians were detained in the nearby village of al-Zababida, four of whom identified by locals as Tariq Mahmoud Nabhan, brothers Ahmad and Nadim Bassam Sharqawi, and Bashar Ibrahim Abbas.
The army spokesperson also said one Palestinian was detained in the town of Azzun in the Qalqiliya district.
In the Nablus district, one Palestinians was detained in the village of Asira al-Qibliya, while six were detained in al-Askar refugee camp, according to the army spokesperson.
Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the raid into Askar refugee camp also sparked clashes, and that one Palestinian youth was injured after Israeli soldiers shot him. He was given first aid by the Palestinian Red Crescent before being evacuated to a hospital.
Meanwhile, Israeli news site The Jerusalem Post reported that four Palestinians were detained in Askar for suspected involvement in an combined IED and shooting attack on Israeli soldiers near the illegal Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh east of Askar that took place on April 23, after a gag order was lifted on the case Wednesday. No injuries were reported at the time of the attack.
Hebrew-language news sites identified the detainees as Muhammad Abdullah Ibrahim, Ahmad Khalid Ahmad Abed, Izz al-Din Salah al-Din Aqraa, and Samih Fares Abu Kushk, all from Askar.
A spokesperson for Israel’s security agency the Shin Bet could not be reached to clarify if the four were detained during Tuesday night’s raid, or at an earlier time.
Southern West Bank
In the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, an Israeli army spokesperson said that three Palestinians were detained in the village of Tuqu, one in Husan, and one in Bethlehem city.
According to Wafa, one of the three detained in Tuqu was a 16-year-old minor.
In the southernmost district of Hebron, two Palestinians were detained in al-Arrub refugee camp, one in the village of Bani Naim, and one in Hebron city.
The Israeli army spokesperson added that an additional Palestinian was also detained in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces also detained a wounded 19-year-old Palestinian on Wednesday morning after an Israeli settler got out of his car and shot the young man for allegedly throwing rocks at passing vehicles near Silwad in the central West Bank.
East Jerusalem
Israeli police raided the village of al-Tur in occupied East Jerusalem Tuesday night and detained Palestinian activist Wafaa Abu Jumaa from her home transferred to an interrogation center, local sources told Ma’an.
Separately, Israeli police detained two unidentified Palestinians from the Old City, who were suspected of throwing rocks and fireworks at Israeli police forces and border guards overnight Tuesday near the Old City, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a written statement.
Wafa reported that Palestinians had been rallying in the Old City in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.
A similar demonstration in the neighborhood of Issawiya north of the Old City also erupted into clashes, with Israeli police firing stun grenades at Palestinians who were throwing rocks, empty bottles, and fireworks, Wafa reported, saying that two Palestinians from Issawiya were detained.
Al-Samri also said that 18 Palestinians were detained overnight in the neighborhoods of Silwan, Beit Safafa, Beit Hanina, Ras al-Amud, and Shufat for being involved in buying or selling drugs, culminating a five-month long operation conducted by an undercover police agent.
The crackdown came after at least 20 Palestinians were detained during predawn detention raids on Tuesday.
The same night, Palestinian security services arrested four Palestinians in raids, according to a statement on Hamas’ official website, as part of the Palestinian Authority’s widely criticized security coordination with Israel.
In Hebron, the Palestinian preventive security services arrested Ghassan al-Qawasmeh, Bassem Ubeido, and Issam Barqan, while Akram Salma was detained from the town of Beituniya near Ramallah.
The report added that former prisoner arrested by  Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence, Alaa al-Zaaqiq, from Beit Ummar north of Hebron, was still being held in the Jericho prison for the 23rd day;  former prisoner Malik Jaari from Tulkarem was still being held by the PA for 8th day; and student at the Polytechnic University Haitham Ghawadra was being held for the 12th day in a row in Jenin.
(Source / 17.05.2017)

ICRC: Power shortage threatens basic services in Gaza

ICRC about Gaza

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned on Tuesday that the severe shortages of power and fuel in the Gaza Strip have reached a critical level that threatens the provision of the basic services.

The ICRC explained in a brief press statement that these shortages threaten health care, sewage water treatment and clean water supplies, adding that there is a crisis looming in the sectors of public health and environment if there is no immediate intervention.

The statement noted that electricity is provided for the Gazan citizens for only six hours a day in the best cases.

It underlined that all aspects of life were affected in Gaza because of this crisis and that a comprehensive collapse is about to hit the infrastructure and the economy which are already worn out.

(Source / 17.05.2017)

New Israeli indictments against Islamic Movement activists

terrorism against Hamas

The Israeli police on Tuesday filed indictments against a group of Palestinian citizens in Israel related to their affiliation with the banned Islamic Movement.

According to Israeli media outlets, the indictments include claims accusing them of planning to carry out attacks against Israelis in the Negev, supporting the enemy during wartime, and being involved in activities related to the Islamic Movement, which was outlawed by the Israeli government in 2015,.

In November 2015, the Israeli security cabinet outlawed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, based on claims made by the Israel Police and the Shin Bet saying that the movement had close connections with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Israeli authorities also used the emergency law enacted by the British mandate in 1945 and closed, with no legal grounds, dozens of civil institutions and charities on allegations of their connections with the Islamic Movement.

Last week, an Israeli court accepted indictments filed against six officials from the Islamic Movement, accused of being involved in activities related to their support for the Aqsa Mosque.

(Source / 17.05.2017)