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Dagelijks archief 4 september 2017

Three years after the war: Gaza youth speak out

Livestock seen at market before Eid ul Adha in Gaza, on 27 August, 2017

By Ramzy Baroud

“At bedtime, I am afraid to turn the lights off. I am not a coward, it is just that I worry that this bulb hanging from the ceiling is the last light that remains (shining) in my life.”

Soon after he penned these words, Moath Alhaj, a young artist from a Gaza refugee camp, passed away in his sleep. After disappearing for two days, Moath’s friends broke down the door of his house and found him huddled with his blanket in a place in which he lived alone for 11 years.

Moath lived in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, one of Gaza’s most crowded camps, a name which is associated with historic hardship, war, and legendary resistance. Raised in the United Arab Emirates, Moath returned to Gaza to join the Islamic University, but remained there, experiencing three wars and a decade-long blockade.

Somehow, the young man maintained a semblance of hope as expressed in his many drawings and emotive commentary.

Moath learned to live in his own world ever since he was young. The outside world to him seemed unpredictable and, at times, cruel.

When his mother passed away, Moath was only 1-year-old. His father died of cancer in the UAE and, due to circumstances beyond his control, Moath lived alone. Keeping him company were his friends in the neighborhood, but mostly it was his self-effacing, yet profound artistic expressions.

“Smile, may the war feel shame,” was one of his cartoons. In it, a little girl with a flowery dress turns her back at the reader, looking the other way.

Moath’s art characters always had their eyes closed, as if they refuse to see the world around them, and insist on imagining a better world inside their own thoughts.

After his body was thoroughly examined, doctors concluded that Moath died as a result of a stroke. His heart, heavy with untold personal and collective miseries, had just given in. And just like that, one of Gaza’s finest young men was buried in an ever-crowded graveyard. Social media buzzed with statements of condolences, made mostly by young Palestinians from Gaza, devastated to hear that Moath has died, that his last light had been extinguished, and that the young man’s life had ended while the siege and state of war remain.

In that same week, Palestinians commemorated the three-year anniversary of the end of Israel’s devastating war against the Strip. The war had killed over 2,200 Palestinians, the vast majority amongst them civilians, and 71 Israelis, the majority of them soldiers.

The war left Gaza in ruins, as over 17,000 homes were completely destroyed, and thousands of other structures, including hospitals, schools, and factories destroyed or severely damaged.

The war fully shattered whatever semblance of economy the Strip had had. Today, 80 percent of all Palestinians in Gaza live below the poverty line, the majority of whom are dependent on humanitarian aid.

There is a whole generation of Palestinians in Gaza that grew up knowing nothing but war and siege, and have never seen the world beyond Gaza’s deadly borders.

These are the voices of some of these young Gazans, who kindly shared their tragic personal stories, hoping that the world would heed their calls for freedom and for justice.

Isra Migdad is an Islamic Finance student:

“After our house had been partially damaged during the 2014 Israeli war, it took my family about a year and a half to rebuild it, due to the delay in construction material being allowed into the Gaza Strip and because of the prohibitive prices of such material when it is available. I lost my Master’s degree scholarship back in 2014 due to the closure and due to my family’s difficult financial situation after the war.

“I have spent the last three years applying for scholarships, only to learn that many universities in Europe know nothing, or very little, about the Israeli siege on Gaza and the continuous closure of the borders. I attained another scholarship, only to lose it again since I hadn’t enough time to complete my travel procedures and negotiate an exit from Gaza.

“Yes, I want a better life, but I also love Gaza. Yet, the situation is becoming more difficult with each passing day. It is hard to find a stable job and, even if one gets an opportunity elsewhere, it is nearly impossible to get out.”

Ghada, 23, studied English literature, and currently works as a translator:

“Day by day, the situation in Gaza becomes more complicated and even worse than before. Since the last war to this day, nothing seems to get better. Nothing at all.

“During my work at the Palestinian Trade Center (Pal-Trade) which focuses on the Palestinian economy, every day I see people struggling in all economic sectors. The electricity crisis is destroying businesses everywhere. The agriculture sector is in ruins as farmers cannot export their products, and cannot even access the Palestinian market in the West Bank.

“Despite substantial donor pledges to support reconstruction following the 2014 conflict, the situation for Palestinians living in Gaza has never been worse. Moreover, people in Gaza are facing a dire shortage of drinkable water and adequate and an equitable sanitation system. Even the sea has become polluted because of the sewage that is dumped daily. There is little hope on the horizon for better conditions.”

Banias Harb is a teacher:

“The unprecedented closure and blockade imposed on Gaza have created a feeling of helplessness. The most frustrating problem that youth have been suffering from is the closure of Rafah crossing border. Gaza youth constitute about a third of the Palestinian population, yet less than 10 percent of all youth have been able to see what’s beyond Gaza. We feel abandoned. Alone.”

Kholod Zughbor has a degree in English Literature from Al-Azhar University in Gaza:

“The siege on Gaza has been in place since 2006. The situation has been terrible here, even before the wars started. Unemployment among Gaza’s youth is estimated at 60 percent.

“I have witnessed three wars. I saw life gradually worsen, especially after the last war. Three years after the 2014 war, the situation is getting harder and more miserable. The Gaza Strip is still far from full recovery, and what has been built is only a drop in the ocean of destruction.”

Sondos has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She is a social worker:

“As a social worker, I have visited over three hundred and fifty families who are impacted by the war and its aftermath. They are burdened by deep psychological scars and are constantly overshadowed by the feeling of an impending catastrophe. In every house that I have visited, there is a heartbreaking story of poverty, unemployment, fear of the future, fear of another Israeli war.

“Without outside pressure on Israel, Gazans will continue to relive this nightmare in their open-air prison. They can neither reconstruct their demolished homes, import their basic needs nor have access to electricity and clean water on a regular basis.

“But Gaza will continue to hang on to life and will not fall into despair. Our youth will continue to pursue higher education and will labor to achieve their goals, no matter the odds. They will continue to use their imagination to overcome all hurdles, as we have done for many years. Courage and determination are our most prized qualities.”

(Source / 04.09.2017)

Palestinian security forces detain Palestinian activist over Facebook post

Farid al-Atrash

Farid al-Atrash, left, and Issa Amro at Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank on March 26, 2017

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian security forces detained prominent human rights activist Issa Amro on Monday, a day after he posted comments on his Facebook criticizing Palestinian forces for arresting a journalist who also criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Ayman Qawasmeh, the director of the Hebron-based radio station Manbar al-Hurriya, was detained by the PA on Sunday, three days after the radio station’s offices were raided and shut down by the Israeli army.
Local media reports said Qawsmeh’s arrest came after he called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to resign.
In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Amro, a Hebron-based coordinator for Youth Against Settlements and a former field researcher for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, criticized the PA for arresting Qawsmeh and stifling freedom of expression.
Palestinian forces arrested Amro midday Monday. The human rights activist is known for advocating non-violent resistance and is facing charges in Israeli military court related to his activism.
Amnesty International called Amro’s arrest by the PA “a shameless attack on freedom of expression.”
“It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence. Issa Amro’s arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East director, said.
“We have seen an alarming escalation in the Palestinian authorities’ clampdown on freedom of expression in recent months. Instead of continuing to step up their efforts to quash dissenting voices, the Palestinian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Issa Amro and stop harassing and intimidating activists and others for daring to speak their minds freely.”
The human rights organization has highlighted “a chilling escalation in attacks on media and freedom of expression by both the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza, detaining a string of journalists and shutting down opposition websites.”
The PA’s new Cyber Crimes Law, issued by presidential decree in June, has been described by rights groups as “draconian” and “the worst law in the PA’s history,” for imposing jail time, hard labor, and fines for creating, publishing, and sharing information deemed dangerous by the PA. A number of journalists have already been detained under the new law.
The PA has also been the target of condemnation for its policy of security coordination with Israeli forces — particularly since Israel has long been criticized for suppressing Palestinians’ freedom of expression, by jailing hundreds of journalists, activists, and average citizens for social media activity.
Abbas claimed to freeze security coordination with Israel after Israeli forces imposed a bloody crackdown on a Palestinian civil disobedience campaign protesting new security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
However, reports have emerged that PA forces have been secretly continuing security coordination by carrying out a number of arrests, while Israeli forces have continued to violently raid PA-controlled areas of the occupied West Bank on a daily basis to detain Palestinians without interference from the PA.
(Source / 04.09.2017)

Sabri: Eid marred by Israeli violations across occupied Palestine

Sheikh Ekrema Sabri

The days of Holy Eid al-Adha in the occupied Palestinian territories have been far more painful than many would think, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the Head of the Supreme Islamic Committee in Occupied Jerusalem, said.

“We, the Palestinians, have been marking Eid while many among us have been jailed, injured, or even killed by the Israelis,” Sabri told the PIC. “Occupied Jerusalem has been grappling with a tough cordon, marring the joy we’re supposed to feel on such a holy occasion.”

“The Palestinians can only be happy if the Israeli occupation of our land is over,” added Sabri. “How on earth can we be happy in the midst of Israel’s simmering terrorism?”

Sabri urged the Palestinians to combine forces and rally round the poor and needy people at such a holy occasion.

(Source / 04.09.2017)

The Conflict In Syria Was Always Israel’s War

Israeli tourists watch smoke rising near the Syrian-Israeli border as the fighting Syrian army fights to regain control of the Quneitra border crossing from rebel groups. (Atef Safadi/EPA)

Because Israel has staked first its survival and ultimately its growth into a dominant regional power on the disunity of its neighboring nations, it comes as no surprise that, faced with a winding-down of the Syrian conflict, it is now moving sharply against that development.

After years of fomenting the Syrian conflict from the shadows, the U.S. has recently seemed to back away from its push to militarily intervene in the embattled nation, instead choosing to focus its saber-rattling and destabilization efforts on other theaters. The consequence of this has seemingly been the winding down of the long-running conflict, now entering its seventh year.

Buoyed by Russia, Iran and Lebanon, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has managed to retake vast swaths of territory, all while surviving and growing stronger over the course of a largely foreign-funded onslaught. As a result, many of the governments that were instrumental in funding and arming the so-called “moderate” opposition have begun to extricate themselves, unwilling to further test the resilience of Assad or the Syrian people.

With some anticipating the long-awaited conclusion of the Syrian conflict, recent threats from Israel’s government to assassinate Assad by bombing his residence seemed to appear out of the blue. According to the Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a recent visit to Russia warned the Kremlin that if Iran continues to “extend its reach” in Syria, Israel would bomb the presidential palace in Damascus.

Israel’s comments should come as no surprise, however, as the foreign-funded and manufactured conflict in Syria was always Israel’s war. The only real surprise is Israel’s growing isolation in pushing for the further escalation of the conflict.

 

WikiLeaks sheds light on the origins of the war

Though it has successfully avoided being labeled a major player in the effort to oust Assad, Israel has long been the mastermind of the plan, which stems in large part from the long-standing hostilities between the two nations as well as Israel’s own regional ambitions. State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have shown that in 2006, five years before the conflict in Syria manifested, the government of Israel had hatched a plan to overthrow the Assad government by engineering sectarian strife in the country, creating paranoia within the highest-ranks of the Syrian government, and isolating Syria from its strongest regional ally, Iran.

Israel then passed this plan along to the United States, which would then involve Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt in fomenting the “breakdown” of the Assad regime as a way of weakening both Iran and Hezbollah — with the effect of empowering both Israel and the Gulf monarchies, two seemingly disparate forces in the region that are becoming increasingly allied.


Related | As Syria Nears Victory Against Rebels, Israel Begins To Panic


Leaked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton further reveal Israel’s role in covertly creating the conflict and its clear role in securing the involvement of the U.S. and other nations in executing its plan for Assad’s removal. One email, forwarded by Clinton to her advisor Jacob Sullivan, argues that Israel is convinced that Iran would lose “its only ally” in the region were Assad’s government to collapse.

Clinton-Israel-Syria

It further stated that “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.” This possible sectarian war was perceived as a potential “factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran.”

Another Clinton email released by WikiLeaks stated”

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,”

Adding

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

The email also notes:

A successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States” and states that “arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

Read the full Wikileaks release below:

Wikileaks release

Stated plainly, the U.S.’ decision to spend over $1 billion until 2015 to arm Syria’s terrorist-linked “rebels” — and to invoke the assistance of Wahhabi terrorism exporters like Saudi Arabia and Qatar in funneling weapons and funds to these same groups — was spurred by Israel, which not only drafted the original blueprint for the Syrian conflict but guided U.S. involvement by exerting its powerful influence over the foreign policy of that country.

 

Aiding the Rebels

Two men, not specified which group of rebels, ride a motorcycle towards an abandoned UN base at Syria's Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel did more, however, than covertly instigate and guide the funding of opposition “rebels” — having secretly funded and aided opposition groups, including ones with overt terrorist affiliations, over the course of the six-year-long conflict.

Israeli involvement in direct funding and aiding the Syrian “rebels” was suspected for years before being officially made public by the Wall Street Journal in June of this year. The report revealed that Israel, since the beginning of the conflict, had been “supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel, and medical supplies for years, a secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces.” Israel has also frequently brought wounded “rebels” into Israel for medical treatment, a policy it often touts as a “humanitarian effort.”

These “friendly” forces were armed groups that formed part of or were allied with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, known for committing atrocities against thousands of Syrian civilians and slaughtering religious and ethnic minorities. Since 2013, al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups have dominated the “eight-square-kilometer separation zone on the Golan.” Israel has stated officially that these fighters are part of the U.S. coalition-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). However, it has long been known that the vast majority of the groups comprising FSA have pledged allegiance to the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, and that those who still fight under the FSA banner meet with al-Nusra on a daily basis.

Netanyahu looks at a Syrian rebel fighter being treated in an IDF field hospital. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel’s support for terrorist groups went far beyond medical treatment, food supplies and cash. The Israeli army was also found to have been in regular communication with these terrorist groups and even helped “pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons.” In addition, when the positions of the “rebel” groups it funded, armed and paid were in danger of being overtaken by Syrian government forces, Israel stepped in to directly bomb Syrian targets. For instance, in June, Israel attacked several Syrian military positions after claiming a stray mortar had landed within the boundaries of the Golan Heights, part of Syria that has long been occupied by Israel. However, the attack tellingly coincided with Syrian army advancements against the “rebel” groups that Israel has long cultivated as part of the so-called “buffer zone.”

Furthermore, Israel has launched attacks inside Syria “dozens and dozens of times,” according to a recent admission by Netanyahu. Earlier this year, Israel also threatened to “destroy” Syrian air defenses after the Syrian army fired missiles at Israeli warplanes striking targets within Syria.

Also very telling has been Israel’s position on Daesh (ISIS). In June of last year, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevi, openly stated that Israel does not want to see Daesh defeated in Syria — expressing concern about the offensives against Daesh territory and lamenting their “most difficult” situation. Prior to Halevi’s comments, Israeli officials had regularly noted that Daesh conquering the whole of Syria would be preferable to the survival of the Assad government. These comments have been echoed by Israeli and NATO-affiliated think tanks, one of which called Daesh “a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia — despite Daesh’s barbaric tactics, war crimes, enslavement of women and ethnic cleansing efforts.

 

Israel’s larger geopolitical agenda

An old Israeli tank sits in a position in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria,Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

Though Israel’s support of Wahhabi terrorists like Daesh (ISIS) and al-Nusra may seem counter-intuitive, Israel’s overarching purpose in expelling Assad from power is based on strategic geopolitical and economic goals that Israel is determined to meet at any cost. While Israel frequently mentions Iran as the pretext for its involvement in Syria, the strongest motivators for Israel’s participation in the destruction of its northern neighbor are oil and territorial expansion.

One of Israel’s clearest reasons for being interested in the destabilization of Syria is its ability to assert further control of the Golan Heights, an area of Syria that Israel has illegally occupied since 1967 and annexed in 1981. Despite filling the area with illegal settlements and military assets, Israel has been unable to convince the international community, and even its close allies such as the U.S., to recognize its sovereignty over the territory. However, the conflict in Syria has proven beneficial to this end, allowing Israel to send even more settlers into the Golan, an estimated 100,000 over five years.


Related | Nearly 3,500 Israeli Settlement Homes Built On Private Palestinian Land


Israel is largely interested in gaining control over the Golan for economic reasons, owing to the occupied territory’s oil reserves, which are estimated to contain “billions of barrels.” Under the cover of the Syrian conflict, the Israeli branch of an American oil company — whose investors include Dick Cheney, Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — has been drilling exploratory wells throughout the region, as the Heights’ uncertain territorial status prevents Israel from financially exploiting the resource.

Despite the prohibitions of international law, Israel is eager to tap into those reserves, as they have the potential to “make Israel energy self-sufficient.” Israel has even offered, per the Galant plan, to “rebuild” Syria with billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars in exchange for the Golan Heights — though the plan received a tepid reception from all involved parties other than Israel itself.

As its stands, Assad’s removal and replacement with a government friendly to Israeli and Western interests is Israel’s only real means of claiming the Golan Height’s energy resources for itself.

 

Pawns blocking Israel’s endgame

An Iraqi Kurd reads a copy of the magazine Israel-Kurd on a street in Irbil, Iraq in 2009. (Azad Lashkari/Reuters)

Aside from the oil and the territory it seeks to gain in the Golan Heights, Israel is also seeking to expand well beyond that territory in order to more widely exert its influence and become the region’s “superpower.” This ambition is described in the Yinon Plan, a strategy intended to ensure Israel’s regional superiority in the Middle East that chiefly involves reconfiguring the entire Arab world into smaller and weaker sectarian states. This has manifested in Israel’s support for the partition of Iraq as well as Syria, abetted by its support for the establishment of a separatist Kurdish state within these two nations.


Related | Israel Calls For Partition Of Iraq, Creation Of New Kurdish State


This goal, in particular, largely explains Israel’s obsession with curbing Iranian influence in the Middle East, whether in Syria or elsewhere. Iran – more than any other nation in the region – is the most likely to threaten the “superpower” status that Israel seeks to gain for itself, as well as Israel’s loss of monopoly as the region’s only nuclear power.

Given Israel’s compound interests in seeing the removal of Assad and the partition of Syria, it is hardly surprising that Israeli political rhetoric has reached new heights of saber-rattling as Tel Aviv becomes increasingly concerned that the conflict it masterminded could backfire. Prior to the explosive comments regarding Israeli threats to bomb Assad’s residence, an anonymous Israeli government minister blamed the U.S. for backing out of Syria, a move he argued sacrificed Israeli interests:

The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now that the United States ignores the fact that Iran is obtaining territorial continuity to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s northern border [through Syria].”

Not only that but Israel has recently vowed to “nullify” the ceasefire deal brokered between Russia and the U.S. with Syrian and Iranian support if it fails to comply with Israel’s needs — an ultimatum based on rather subjective terms given that “Israel’s needs” are hardly static. Israel’s response again shows the perception among officials in Tel Aviv that the Syrian conflict is of primary importance to Israeli geopolitical interests.

Furthermore, given that the response suggested so far by Israeli officials – on more than one occasion – has been to assassinate Syria’s democratically-elected President – the contemplated means of Israel “nullifying” the ceasefire deal will likely have explosive implications. Israel — apparently refusing to accept that the conflict it orchestrated is not going, and may not end, as planned — is now willing to escalate the situation militarily, with or without allies, resorting to dangerous brinkmanship with global implications.

(Source / 04.09.2017)

 

Israeli forces raid Sheikh Jarrah, threaten 7 Palestinian homes with eviction

Jabbal al-Mukabbir

Israeli police patrol a street in Jabbal al-Mukabbir, a Palestinian neighbourhood of East Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities raided the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday and delivered eviction notices to six families in the area, also raiding the home of the Shamasna family, who has recently been fighting eviction from their home of 53 years.A local committee in the neighborhood told Ma’an that Israeli authorities handed over six eviction notices to the Tarwa, Shalalda, and Bader families. The six houses are home to about 30 Palestinians.Meanwhile, Israeli police forces raided the home of the Shamasna family, telling them that they had until Sept. 9 to voluntarily leave their home.

An Israeli court decided on Aug. 18 to suspend their eviction due to challenges submitted by the family’s lawyer based on the lack of documentation of the plots of lands in the neighborhood on the municipal level. The lawyer reportedly argued that the land was not properly divided and the plot settlers were claiming was not same one as the Shamasna home.
Reports emerged on Aug. 21 that the appeal was eventually rejected by the court, but that the family’s lawyer said more legal steps could be taken. A spokesperson for Israel’s Jerusalem municipality did not respond to a request to confirm the reports at the time.

Meanwhile, a municipality spokesperson told Ma’an on Sunday that the municipality was not involved in either the raid of the Shamasna home or the delivery of the eviction orders in the neighborhood. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.Like the Shamasna family, the families that were delivered eviction notices on Sunday are being forced out of their homes amid claims that the properties belong to Israeli settlers.

According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule. However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel.
Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighborhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.Before the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Shamasna, Tarwa, Shalalda, Bader families had rented the property from the Jordanian government.Some of the properties that had once been owned by Jews — thousands of whom fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war — were repurposed by the Jordanian government, who took control over the territory following the war, to house some of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were forced from homes that were consumed by the new Israeli state.
When Israel took control over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza after the Six-Day War in 1967, the Jordanian-controlled properties were transferred to Israel’s general custodian.
If the eviction plans are carried out, they would be the first evictions in the neighborhood since 2009, when the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families were evicted from their homes by Israeli settlers under similar ownership claims.Meanwhile in late August, Arieh King, director of right-wing settler organization the Israel Land Fund (ILF) — which receives tax-deductible status as a nonprofit in the United States — told an Israeli newspaper that up to 500 Israeli families would move into the neighborhood within the next decade.The ILF has been behind several evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, including the attempts against the Shamasna family and the evictions of the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families in 2009.
(Source / 04.09.2017)

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian, detain 5 others in overnight raids

Shoot and detained

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians in overnight raids between Sunday and Monday in the occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli army, with one raid erupting into clashes that reportedly saw one Palestinian shot and injured by Israeli troops.In the northern West Bank, two Palestinians were detained from the Jenin district. An Israeli army spokesperson identified one detention from the village of Qabatiya, and one from Beit Anan. an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an.In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, one Palestinian was detained from the Beit Rima village, the Israeli army confirmed. Wafa news agency reported that Israeli forces shot and injured a young man during the raid.The soldiers opened fire at the young man, who was not yet identified, injuring him in the thighbone. He was moved to hospital for medical treatment, according to the Palestinian news agency. An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the case.

Separately, in the Ramallah-area al-Jalazun refugee camp, the army claimed that they found a number of weapons during a raid on the camp. No detentions were reported from al-Jalazun.Meanwhile in the southern West Bank, the Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that one Palestinian was detained from Bethlehem city, while another was detained from the Bethlehem-area village of Beit Fajjar.Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a biweekly average of 85 search and detention raids carried thus far in 2017, according to UN documentation.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,128 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of July. The group has estimated that some 40 percent of Palestinian men will be detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
(Source / 04.09.2017)

Israel transfers body of slain Palestinian between Israeli hospitals

Raed al-Salhi body hospitals

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Monday continued to hold the body of Raed al-Salhi, 22, a resident of the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank, who succumbed to critical injuries in an Israeli hospital on Sunday, weeks after he was shot by Israeli forces during a violent detention raid in the camp.

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement Monday that al-Salhi’s body was transferred from the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem to the Rishon Lezion hospital in central Israel after he was pronounced dead on Sunday.
Al-Salhi was being held in the intensive care unit following a predawn military raid on Aug. 9, when Israeli forces shot him several times in his chest at close range, puncturing his liver and causing severe damage to his internal organs.
It remained unclear when al-Salhi’s body would be buried or when he would be handed over by Israeli authorities, who routinely detain the bodies of slain Palestinians for extended periods and impose strict restrictions on their funerals.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, Riyad al-Ashqar, said in a statement that Israeli authorities shot al-Salhi “without justification and with the intention of killing him.”
Al-Ashqar also accused Israel of medical negligence and not providing the young Palestinian with proper medical care.
Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun reported that during the weeks following his detention, al-Salhi, held in the intensive care unit in a coma, was denied family visits and heavy guarded despite his unconsciousness and severe medical condition.“All of the family’s attempts to obtain a permit to visit have failed. The occupation authorities are preventing all members of his family from visiting him to check on his health. The last attempt was several weeks ago by his mother, who suffers from several diseases herself and cannot sleep due to her worry,” Khaled al-Salhi, Raed’s brother, recently told al-Quds News.Meanwhile, al-Salhi’s brother Bassam al-Salhi was detained during a raid into al-Duheisha refugee camp on Aug. 16.
The leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued a statement Sunday, saying that “Palestine, Duheisha camp, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have lost a courageous struggler committed to liberation of the Palestinian people from Zionist occupation. This young man was committed in his veins with loyalty to the Palestinian cause and his people.”According to Ma’an documentation, al-Salhi was the 55th Palestinian to be killed by an Israeli since the beginning of 2017. During the same time period, 13 Israelis — almost all of whom were uniformed Israeli officers or settlers residing in Palestinian territory in violation of international law — were killed by Palestinians.
(Source / 04.09.2017)

Israel delays evacuation of settlers from Palestinian-owned home in Hebron

Building Pal Hebron

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — After the state of Israel ordered a group of Israeli settlers to evacuate a Palestinian-owned building in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered to delay the evacuation based on an appeal submitted by the settlers.

According to Israeli media reports, the settlers’ appeal is based on the same erroneous ownership claims to the property — owned by the Abu Rajab family and referred to as Beit HaMachpela by the settlers — that have already been debunked in previous legal proceedings.
The 15 settler families forcibly took over parts of the three-story Abu Rajab house in July. Last Sunday on Aug. 27, the Israeli state prosecutor gave them a week to leave peacefully in response to the petitions submitted by the Palestinian owners to the Israeli Supreme Court.
A week later on Sep. 3, the settlers submitted their own petition to the court, which then issued a temporary injunction to prevent the evacuation until the deadline for the state’s response to that appeal, due on Sep. 10, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.
According to Israeli news daily Haaretz, the settlers asserted that they purchased the building from a member of the Abu Rajab family who was later arrested by the Palestinian Authority. The family denied that this man had the right to sell the house. The Israeli Civil Administration also determined in the past that the sale was invalid, but an appeals committee criticized that decision and said the purchase must be reexamined.
Peace Now noted that the Israeli state has strongly rejected the settlers’ arguments that the appeals committee’s decisions and the transaction permit gave them the right to reside in the property.
“The settlers’ petition is absolutely outrageous and its baseless arguments have been rejected again and again in previous legal proceedings. After having been granted an independent administration a few days ago, it is no wonder the Hebron settlers feel empowered to do as they wish, while ignoring the law and on the expense of Palestinians,” Peace Now said.
The NGO’s statement referred to a recent decision by the Israeli army to expand powers for Hebron’s notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers by establishing a municipal services administration there.
The order broke with the Hebron Protocol, a 1997 treaty that split up Hebron city into H1 and H2, with H1 to be under full Palestinian control, while security in H2 was put under Israeli military control. However civil issues such as infrastructure, construction, and traffic arrangements in the settler’s section of H2 was to remain controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Peace Now said that the military order “formalizes the system of apartheid in the city and could potentially lead to new projects and budget transfers to the Hebron settlers.”
Located in the center of Hebron — one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank — the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. The Abu Rajab home is located near to this mosque.
Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.
Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 20 checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets, as well as the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque itself.
(Source / 04.09.2017)

Israel Delivers Eviction Orders Against Six Homes In Jerusalem

04 SEP
2:51 AM

The Israeli Authorities delivered, Sunday, eviction orders targeting homes of six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, and informing them that they have thirty days to evacuate.

The Sheik Jarrah Local committee said that the orders were delivered on the third day of Al-Adha Muslim feast, and that the properties belong to several families, including Tarwa, Shalalda and Bader.

It added that thirty Palestinians live in the targeted properties; most of them are renters, and whenever renew their releases, they face further Israeli restrictions.

Dozens of Palestinian families have been renting homes and apartments in the western part of Sheikh Jarrah prior to Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

After the war, Israel initiated a massive campaign to control the homes and apartment buildings, and placed most of them under the so-called ” Property Law,” which granted it control over them, despite the fact the most families have official ownership papers.

In related news, Israeli officers invaded the home of Ayyoub Shamasna, also in Sheikh Jarrah, and demanded the family to leave voluntarily before September 9th.

Israel is trying to settle at least 400 Israeli families in Sheikh Jarrah within the coming five years, and in the process, plans to link Mount Scopus with Road #1 and Mea She’arim in West Jerusalem.

Last week on Tuesday, the Israeli army ordered a halt on the construction of Palestinian residential buildings in the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in Jerusalem, allegedly for being built without a permit.

Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Eesawiyya, said the soldiers and City Council officials, invaded many neighborhoods, especially in the center of the town, Mahmoud neighborhood in the eastern part, and Abu Ryala neighborhood, and distributed the orders, in addition to handing demolition orders of existing properties.

He stated that the latest orders are clear indicators of the hostile policies of the City Council against the indigenous Palestinians, especially since the council itself is renting one of the buildings, now slated for demolition.

“When we demand basic rights and services, such as schools and popular centers, they start talking about licensing and just slap us with so many impossible per-conditions, and complicated procedures,” he said, “Now they want to demolish these buildings, including a center they are renting!”

(Source / 04.09.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Assault Nonviolent Protesters, Abduct One, In Hebron

04 SEP
6:09 AM

Israeli soldiers assaulted, Sunday, dozens of Palestinians marching nonviolently against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in the center of Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, and abducted a local volunteer with the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem).

The residents were marching against the Israeli decision to isolate the Old City from its surrounding areas, and the illegal Israeli apartheid polices against the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. The new Israeli policies provide increased power for the illegal Israeli settlers to act with impunity against Palestinians.

As they marched, they chanted and called for the removal of the Annexation Wall, the removal of all Israeli colonies, including the removal of the illegal settlers occupying Abu Rajab family home, in the Old City.

They called for a life with dignity, free from occupation, colonization and oppression, and for resistance to Israel’s illegal policies of segregation and apartheid, especially the recent Israeli decision signed by the Head of the Central Command, Major General Roni Numa, establishing a municipal services administration for the Jewish settlers in Hebron.

The procession was organized by the Youth Coalition Against Settlements, the International Committee Against Racism and Apartheid, in addition to the  Salayma and Gheith families.

The demanded an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, the preservation of the Palestinian identity of Hebron city, freedom of movement and basic rights of dignity and liberty as stated by International Law.

|Hebron’s Governor says Expansion of Settlers’ Municipal Powers Most Dangerous since 1967|

The soldiers resorted to excessive force against the nonviolent protesters, and abducted Ra’ed Abu Mayyala, 35, who is also a volunteer with the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem).

Issa Amro, the coordinator of the Youth Coalition against Settlements, said this activity is the beginning of various demonstrations against an illegal Israeli order to “develop the Jewish quarter in Hebron” to officially recognize it as a settlement under the full control of the “Civil Administration Office.”

This could mean the removal of native Palestinians, and the illegal confiscation and annexation of their property.

Amro added that preparations are underway for an international campaign titled “Hebron is a Palestinian City and not for Settlers,” aiming at ending the apartheid and segregation polices in the city, and reopening all closed Palestinian roads and homes, by removing the illegal colonists from the heart of the city.

Responding to the decision, the Israeli Peace Now Movement said, “By granting an official status to the Hebron settlers, the Israeli government is formalizing the apartheid system in the city. This step, which happened immediately following the announcement of the evacuation of the settlers who took over a house in Hebron, is another illustration of the policy of compensating the most extreme settlers for their illegal actions.

“It appears that the order does not create a new local authority or a new community within a regional authority, but rather a settler body with a certain degree of administrative power. Needless to say, this body will not include any Palestinian representation.”

(Source / 04.09.2017)