Palestinian Authority (PA) employees demonstrate in Gaza City against salary cuts on 8th April 2017
The decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas compelling government employees in Gaza to take early retirement puts healthcare services at risk, a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the enclave announced on Monday. Ashraf Al-Qidra told Quds Press that 40 per cent of the employees of his ministry would be affected by the early retirement move.
“This is the third angle of Abbas’s death triangle,” explained Al-Qidra. “The first was halting medicines to Gaza; the second was halting medical treatment referrals; the third is sending employees of the ministry of health away.”
He said that there are 3,679 employees in his ministry paid by the national agreement government run by the PA in Ramallah. He expects all of them to face obligatory early retirement.
According to Al-Qidra, there are 942 doctors among these employees, including consultants and specialists. Alongside the doctors are 876 nurses, 221 pharmacists, 96 X-Ray specialists and 55 physiotherapists, as well as 99 maintenance and engineering experts. The spokesman warned of the danger to healthcare provision in the besieged territory if they lose so many doctors and nurses, who are the backbone of the services provided by the ministry.
On 4 July, the PA targeted 6,145 of its employees in Gaza for early retirement. Some of them were notified and were asked to apply for retirement applications to be processed by the relevant government departments. This decision came after a series of punishing measures taken by Abbas against the Palestinians in Gaza, including cutting payments to 277 ex-prisoners, apparently under Israeli and US pressure.
In April, the PA government slashed 30 per cent of the salaries of its employees in Gaza, claiming that the decision was made as part of its “austerity” measures. However, Abbas and several PA officials reiterated that was part of a punishment plan being implemented against Gaza. Government employees in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem were not affected by salary cuts.
On Sunday, Abbas pledged to take even more punishing measures, ending with cutting all the salaries of government employees in Gaza. The PA leader said that they “do not deserve” these salaries.
Israeli security forces hurt Palestinians protesters with plastic bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in Jerusalem on 25 July, 2017
By Ramona Wadi
In a speech last Saturday evening, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas evoked narratives of belonging with regard to Jerusalem, departing from the collective Palestinian mobilisation against Israeli oppression over Al-Aqsa Mosque. His spurious words, ostensibly celebrating Palestinian resistance, portray a political faction which navigates between two extremes. As the rhetoric expands in nostalgia, the PA’s political power dwindles further.
Belatedly, Abbas lauded Palestinian resistance at the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, attempting to project the PA as an entity that “listens to the people”. It is only through symbolism that Abbas has been able to make the claim of representation. After months of Israeli aggression over Jerusalem since the commencement of Trump’s presidency, the PA leader has identified a victory and jumped on board to claim some participation.
“We should preserve the victory achieved in Jerusalem to achieve another victory or to take another step forward,” said Abbas in a report by Ma’an news agency. He also hailed Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and nothing else.”
Both statements imply a non-existent political unity between the leadership and the people. The resistance embodied by Palestinians at Al-Aqsa is a chapter in Palestinian history that has enough merit to stand on its own, particularly after the difficulties in organised struggle when the so-called Jerusalem Intifada erupted. For Abbas to claim even a share in this victory goes beyond the definition of opportunism. It was only through the suspended security coordination with Israel, which still generated different reports regarding the extent of this suspension, that Abbas could claim PA participation and attempt to leverage the rhetoric over that of other Palestinian political factions. The truth is that the obligation of security coordination is one which the PA bears and the decision to halt the agreement temporarily does not reflect Abbas’s claim that the leadership “listened to Jerusalemites’ appeals and would continue to do so.”
Listening is not contrary to PA politics; on the contrary, it is imbued with a lot of input generating passive stances. From Sa’eb Erekat giving Israel “the greatest Jerusalem” in history, to Abbas’s lauding of Trump after numerous statements regarding a possible relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the only narratives that the PA is able to evoke are symbolic, convenient and void of belonging, despite attempts to project otherwise. Halting security coordination over Al-Aqsa should evoke remembrance of the times when security coordination should have been halted, yet the PA preferred its implementation to cleanse Palestinian society of resistance to Israel’s military occupation.
Continuing in the same vein, there is a difference between articulating Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state and working towards this realisation. Failing to prioritise Palestinian liberation from colonialism is also a failure in securing Jerusalem. The PA is founded upon concessions and collaboration. Indeed, the independent and viable Palestinians state as dictated by the international community and endorsed by Abbas is a manifestation of the PA’s existence; it survives only as part of the colonial project. The PA has done nothing to safeguard Jerusalem, no matter what Abbas attempts to misconstrue; it is the Palestinian people who should be credited and valued.
A Palestinian girl drinks water from a public tap in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, Jan. 24, 2017
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The water crisis caused by ongoing power outages of more than 20 hours a day has pushed Gaza Strip residents to dig unlicensed wells, disregarding the ensuing serious threats to the already scarce aquifer water stock.
At the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel reduced its power supply to Gaza on June 19 from 120 megawatts to 48 megawatts, causing the current water crises.
Omar Hamid, the head of a family of nine, told Al-Monitor, “The municipality is delivering water to the citizens’ homes for only two hours every two or three days. This is not sufficient to meet a household’s minimum basic water needs.”
He said, “There’s no electricity to operate the water pumps and fill our water tanks. Gaza has been living with barely four hours of power supply a day. This scarce supply of electricity often does not coincide with the supply hours of water pumped from the various municipality wells to the citizens’ homes.”
Like other citizens, Hamid is forced to buy water at a very high price from private local stations to fill his house tank. “Filling a 1,000-liter water tank from private local stations costs 25 shekels (about $7), while the municipality offers the same quantity at 1 shekel ($0.28),” he said.
To secure her water needs without having to pay this high price, Hayat al-Najar, a housewife and mother of six, stores municipal water during supply hours, using everything suitable for this purpose such as bathtubs, empty bottles of juice and other utensils. She uses her stored water to carry out household tasks such as cleaning, washing clothes and doing the dishes.
She told Al-Monitor, “Our water supply barely covers our basic needs. My children need to take daily showers in this hot summer, but I can only afford to give them one shower per week to save water.”
In order to have access to water, citizens, especially owners of residential buildings, started digging unlicensed wells to pump out water from the already stressed aquifer, Mazen al-Banna, the vice president of the Palestinian Water Authority in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor.
“Gaza’s aquifer is overpumped by about 150 million cubic meters [122,000 acre feet] a year, Banna said. Around 220 million cubic meters are drawn each year, but the annual replenishment from rainwater is only 70 million cubic meters, he said.
Banna said there are around 10,000 wells across the Gaza Strip, including 300 municipal wells, 2,700 agricultural wells and 7,000 unlicensed wells.
It costs about $2,000 to dig a private well. Maher Abu Juba, a construction worker who digs wells for citizens, told Al-Monitor, “Despite this high cost, citizens are increasingly relying on private wells by sharing their costs among neighbors as the only means to overcome the chronic water crisis.”
He said that three years ago, the water authority prevented citizens from drilling unlicensed wells in a bid to preserve underground reserves.
The water authority “would fill wells dug by the citizens, but today it is turning a blind eye to the drilling of wells and even licensing some of them in return for 5,000 shekels [about $1,400] in light of the continued electricity crisis,” Banna said.
Ahmed Hillis, the director of the Environmental Awareness Department at the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority, told Al-Monitor, “Unlicensed private wells have disastrous consequences on Gaza’s aquifer. Most of these wells are not supervised or controlled by specialized authorities. Groundwater stored in the aquifer is being drained uncontrollably.”
He said that “over-extraction of water from the aquifer through wells has led to seawater intrusion, which in turn led to a high salinity of Gaza’s underground water, 97% of which is not suitable for drinking.”
Hillis blamed the local authorities in Gaza for granting licenses to dig water wells since 2014 without taking into consideration their negative impact on the underground water stock.
According to Banna, the best solution to the water crisis is to on the one hand solve the electricity crisis and on the other to set up more projects to desalinate seawater for human use such as the European Union-funded seawater desalination plant inaugurated in January in the southern Gaza Strip. The plant provides water to 75,000 people.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said it had documented 28 massacres that took place across Syria during the month of July, including 14 massacres that were committed by the international anti-ISIS coalition forces.
In its monthly report that was released on Sunday, the rights group said that 10 massacres were committed by regime forces, three by the Russian forces, and one by groups that the Network said were untraceable.
According to the report, the massacres claimed the lives of 264 people, including 106 children and 55 women. It indicated that women and children accounted for about 61% of the total number of victims. The rights group noted that regime forces killed 95 people, while 30 civilians were killed by the Russian forces.
The Network went on to say that the victims included 32 civilians who were killed by the international anti-ISIS forces, while seven civilians were killed in attacks that the watchdog group said were untraceable.
The international anti-ISIS coalition forces committed nine massacres in Raqqa, three in Hasaka, and two in Deir Ezzor.
The report listed five other massacres in Deir Ezzor province, two in Raqqa, one in each of Rural Damascus, Hama, Swaidaa, and one in dlib.
SNHR went on to say that at least 216 massacres have been committed by the warring parties across Syria since the beginning of 2017.
The Network concluded its report by calling on the international community to put pressure on the Assad regime to allow the UN Commission of Inquiry into Syria and give unfettered access to relief and human rights organizations and journalists.
(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media department + Agencies / 08.08.2017)
Israel Prison Service (IPS) special forces, on Monday morning, raided Ramon prison and assaulted Palestinian detainees, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement.
According to the committee, PNN reports, the Massada and Dror special units, in addition to members of Israeli border police Yamas unit, stormed Section 1 of the prison and “brutally” attacked Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli authorities currently hold over 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, including 450 without charge or trial.
There are currently 61 Palestinian women prisoners in Israeli jails, according to reports by the Asra Media Center. They include 10 minor girls and five women jailed without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention, including Palestinian parliamentarian, national leader and leftist feminist Khalida Jarrar.
On Sunday, 6 August, Palestinian prisoner Dalal Abu Hawa, 39, from occupied Jerusalem, was released after a 12-month sentence inside Israeli occupation prisons. She was seized on 28 August 2016 and accused of transferring funds to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, especially those affiliated with Hamas. She is also barred from entering her home city of Jerusalem. Her son, Omar, 17, is a Palestinian child prisoner who has been jailed for 17 months out of a two-year sentence, accused of throwing stones at occupation forces. She is the mother of six children and was separated from her then nine-month-old baby by her arrest by Israeli occupation forces.
At the same time, on early Sunday morning, Amina Abatli, the wife of Palestinian prisoner Adib al-Ghoulban, was seized by Israeli occupation forces along with eight other Palestinians. Al-Ghoulban has been held in Israeli prison for one and a half months and was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial; first his uncle, Khamis al-Ghoulban was arrested by occupation forces and now his wife.
The number of women prisoners in Israeli jails has escalated in the past several months. There are reportedly 25 women held in Damon prison and 36 in HaSharon prison. 29 of the Palestinian women prisoners are still subjected to ongoing interrogation and have not been sentenced.
25 Palestinian women have been sentenced and are serving sentences of eight months to 16 years, and five women are held without charge or trial under administrative detention.
There are 10 Palestinian minor girls held in HaSharon prison, in addition to multiple 18-year-old women who have been jailed since they were girls and were sentenced as minor girls. One of the youngest women in Damon prison is Jamila Daoud Jaber, 18, of Salfit; she turned 18 while jailed by the Israeli occupation forces. She has been imprisoned since 7 May 2016. Esraa Sameeh Jaber, 18, from al-Khalil, has been imprisoned since 12 February 2017 and is not sentenced until today. Also from al-Khalil are Nour Zureiqat, 18, imprisoned for one year, and Lama al-Bakri, 17.
Amal Jamal Kabha, 17, from Jenin, is serving an 18-month sentence. She has been jailed since August 2016. Marah Louay Jaidi, 16, from Qalqilya, has been imprisoned since early 2017. The Jerusalemite prisoner, Malak Yousef Suleiman, 16, has been jailed since 9 February 2016 and like other Jerusalemite child prisoners, has been subject to an extremely lengthy sentence of 10 years.
Some of the other young Jerusalemites who have been subject to lengthy sentences include Marah Bakir, 18, sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, Nurhan Awad, 18, sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, and Manar Shweiki, 18, sentenced to 6 years in prison. All three were minors when seized by occupation forces and imprisoned.
A fellow child prisoner among the Palestinian girls is Hadia Ibrahim Arainat, 16, from Jericho, imprisoned since 3 March 2016 and serving a 3-year sentence. Malak al-Ghaliz, 14, is the youngest Palestinian girl prisoner, imprisoned since 20 May 2017, charged with possession of a knife.
The ages of the women prisoners range from 14 to 59 years. The eldest woman prisoner is Ibtisam Mousa, 59, of Gaza, seized on 19 May 2017 as she attempted to cross the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing – in full possession of a permit from the Israeli occupation – accompanying her sister as she sought treatment for cancer.
The two Palestinian women prisoners serving the longest sentences are Shatila Abu Ayada, 24, from Kufr Qasem and a Palestinian from ’48, and Shurouq Dwayyat, 20, a Palestinian student from Jerusalem. Both are serving 16-year sentences inside Israeli occupation prisons and were subject to massive and highly disparate and unjust sentencing.
There are 11 women prisoners from Jerusalem and 12 from al-Khalil.
Five women are being held under administrative detention:
Palestinian parliamentarian and leftist national leader Khalida Jarrar, 54, was ordered to six months in administrative detention after she was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 2 July. Also ordered to administrative detention was Khitam Saafin, the President of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, jailed for three months without charge or trial after she was seized simultaneously with Jarrar on 2 July.
Sabah Faraoun, 35, from Jerusalem, has been imprisoned without charge or trial under repeatedly renewed detention orders since 19 June 2016. Ihsan Dababseh, 32, was ordered to six months in administrative detention after she was seized by occupation forces on 27 February 2017. Afnan Ahmad Abu Haneya, 21, from Ramallah, was recently ordered to three months in administrative detention.
They are among approximately 500 total Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention orders, which are indefinitely renewable. Palestinians have routinely spent years at a time jailed under such orders.
The Israeli police stormed on Tuesday Abu Jamal neighborhood in Jabel al-Mukaber village to the southeast of Occupied Jerusalem.
According to Safa news agency, the police forces took photos of a number of houses in the area amid reports about an Israeli intention to build a wall around the house of the Palestinian martyr Ghassan Abu Jamal, which was previously demolished, so that it would not be used in the future in any way.
In 2015, Abu Jamal’s wife and children were deported from Jerusalem and their house was blown up.
Ghassan Abu Jamal, 27, was killed along with his cousin Uday Abu Jamal, 22, in November 2014 after carrying out an anti-occupation attack that led to killing 5 Israelis and injuring 8 others.
Later on Tuesday, the Jerusalemite child Mohammed Abu Jamal was severely beaten by the Israeli police in Jabel al-Mukaber before being arrested and transferred to an unknown destination, eyewitnesses reported.
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) carried out 66 violations against Palestinian journalists over the past month, official sources revealed.
According to Wafa news agency, Israeli violations against journalists and media institutions have notably escalated during July in total disregard of press freedom.
Over the past month, 39 journalists were injured and 18 others were arrested while nine media institutions were targeted by the IOF.
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli soldiers forced journalists working for Palestine satellite channel in the West Bank province of Jenin to delete video footage from a camera in their possession as they were making a report at Barta’a checkpoint.