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Dagelijks archief 22 september 2017

Israel approves construction of tunnel network around Jerusalem

Tunnel network

District committees of Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem endorsed on Thursday a plan to construct a tunnel network around the holy city at the pretext of reducing traffic congestion east and west of occupied Jerusalem.

Quds Press news agency pointed out that the plan will establish a vital infrastructure for future settlement projects and facilitate the traffic of settlers from east and west Jerusalem to downtown.

Director of Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society, Khalil Tufakji, told al-Araby al-Jadeed news website that the tunnel network is associated with regional economic projects including al-Buqai’a Airport East of Jerusalem and a regional road to connect Israel to Jordan.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

Morocco to rehabilitate ‘repentant’ Islamists

Image of Moroccan police

Morocco is introducing a plan to reintegrate radicalised detainees who have been convicted on terror charges back into society through the “consecrating citizenship” programme.

“DGAPR [General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration] is deeply aware of the importance of ensuring the conditions for the reintegration of the category of prisoners in cases of terrorism and extremism in penitentiary institutions and which requires an innovative scientific approach,” it said in a statement.

The approach is divided into three principles of reconciliation through changing oneself, working with religious texts and finally with society.

The DGAPR has allied itself with the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and the country’s Muslim scholars, Ulema, whose experience and expertise will be used to construct the reintegration programme.

A meeting has since been organised between the three bodies as the local Ras El Ma prison in the city of Fez for the reconciliation programme which will focus on “the spiritual rehabilitation of prisoners” and mainly include workshops led by prisoners who have been former “Salafi Jihadists”.

Read: The weakening of Morocco’s state institutions worsens the political logjam

These workshops serve as an opportunity for meetings between “repentant” Islamists and those detained on the same charges where they discuss various topics including “the relationship between extremist thinking and organised crime”. The aim is to use repentant Islamists as a model for others who have gone the same way to then renounce their ways and move on with their lives removed from any radicalism.

According to the DGAPR’s press release, the first trial of this programme that was implemented earlier this year has been “successful” with detainees who volunteered from the Al Arjat 1 prison.

In order to test the effectiveness of its work with these prisoners, the DGAPR tests the beneficiaries of the programme through practical exercises where they demonstrate the extent in which they have mastered “the dismantling of extremist discourse”.

Reconciliation offered to Islamists isn’t new to North Africa. In the aftermath of the brutal ten year civil war in Algeria, Islamists who had not taken part in the killings were offered a general amnesty in return for their arms through a reconciliation policy introduced by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika which has been successful in minimising the effect of radicalisation in the country.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

PA struggles to stop gas smuggling in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank — So far, 2017 has been an exceptionally busy year for smugglers moving adulterated fuel from Israel to the West Bank. The fuel is not only causing damage to the machinery in which it is used, but also to the coffers of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which loses out on tax revenue that would normally be paid on regulated fuel.

On Sept. 17, the Preventive Security Service (PSS) announced the closure of an unlicensed point of sale for fuel in the Ramallah governorate. Earlier, on Sept. 8, the Palestinian Customs Police detained a smuggler with 3,000 liters of adulterated fuel headed for a gas station north of Ramallah. The customs police, in cooperation with the PSS, had on Aug. 30 shut down an unlicensed gas station in the Ramallah governorate, seizing its tanks and pumps. On Aug. 21, the customs police confiscated some 10,000 liters of smuggled fuel for noncompliance with specifications and standards and seized three gas pumps at two unlicensed gas stations in the town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem. That same day, the PSS shut down an unlicensed gas station in Ramallah.

Luai Bani Odeh, head of public relations and information with the customs police, told Al-Monitor, “Since the beginning of the year until Aug. 31, 82,000 liters of adulterated fuel have been seized compared to 58,300 liters in 2016.”

Odeh said that adulterated fuel — fuel mixed with spent oil or a hydraulic fluid — is being smuggled from Israel into Area C, which is under full Israeli security and administrative control. From there, it is smuggled further into Palestinian cities and towns for distribution to individuals and unlicensed gas stations.

Odeh noted that adulterated fuel causes damage to machinery and vehicles because it does not burn efficiently, leaving compounds behind in engines. Such fuel also causes damage to the national economy by not generating taxes for the treasury. Under the Paris Economic Agreement signed in 1994, a tax was imposed on the price of fuel in both Palestine and Israel. This tax accounts for about 90% of the basic price of a liter of fuel. In addition, the PA adds 15% VAT.

The General Directorate of Petroleum, which operates under the PA’s Ministry of Finance, is responsible for all matters related to oil and petrochemicals in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Teams with its Department of Monitoring and Quality Control at the directorate conduct inspections for the process of granting licenses, preventing smuggling, monitoring the quality of oil derivatives and controlling the quality of fuel on the Palestinian market distributed to stations.

“There appear to be gangs involved in the smuggling of fuel, especially as they all come in vehicles with an Israeli license plate [yellow] to Area C,” Fuad al-Shobaki, head of the General Directorate of Petroleum, told Al-Monitor. “All of the smuggled amounts are transported from inside Israel.” He believes Israeli authorities are turning a blind eye to the smuggling because it does not negatively affect Israel.

Odeh explained how smugglers have adopted several methods for transporting fuel to circumvent PA controls. One is to fill wastewater treatment tanks or plastic balloons with fuel and transport it in private or public vehicles. Others include filling large truck containers, water tanks, refrigerated cars and fuel tanks of electric cars.

As the Palestinian security services are prohibited from pursuing smugglers in Area C without Israeli permission and cooperation to prevent fuel from reaching PA-administered territories, they have instead intensified monitoring and inspection operations in the areas it controls.

“We are sending patrols to the entrances of cities, villages and governorates, and we’ve created a customs intelligence department to work on obtaining data from its own sources,” Odeh explained. “In addition to this, we rely on citizens’ complaints and the work of the Monitoring and Quality Control Department, whose members wear civilian clothing [working undercover] to monitor smugglers and entrances to cities, crossings and points of contact with Israel.”

The PA has apparently been unsuccessful in pursuing holders of Israeli identity cards involved in smuggling operations, and others whom it can pursue and actually catch tend to receive lenient treatment.

“Sanctions need to be toughened to deter those involved,” Odeh said. “Traffickers and smugglers know how much financial profit they can make from smuggling and will not be deterred except through severe penalties.” Odeh was referring to the absence of a legal provision specific to such operations, although parties could theoretically be charged under other statutes on the books.

Tareq Natsheh, owner of the Ramallah-based al-Huda Fuels Co., told Al-Monitor, “Smuggling fuel causes damage to all of us, to the import and distribution companies, the Palestinian citizens, the Palestinian economy and the public treasury.” He said residents have the most important role to play in exposing fuel smuggling operations. They should inform officials of fake products that they know of, especially in Area C where smugglers feel protected from accountability.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

As apartheid deepens Israel targets the UN settlements database

View of the Palestinian Shuafat refugee camp behind Israel's apartheid wall in east Jerusalem on 3 December 2014 [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]

View of a Palestinian refugee camp behind Israel’s apartheid wall in east Jerusalem on 3 December 2014

By Ben White

The Israeli government and its allies are mobilising to try and thwart a United Nations list of companies complicit in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

These efforts are taking place in parallel to significant initiatives by figures within and outside of the Israeli government to normalise the presence of the settlements, moves which could contribute towards a future, formal annexation of sections of the West Bank.

On 24 March 2016 the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution by 32 votes to 0 (with 15 abstentions) that called for the establishment of “a database of all business enterprises involved” in settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), to be updated annually.

While some saw the vote as “a symbolic victory for the Palestinians,” others went further, hailingit a “landmark decision” after “years of toothless UN condemnations of settlements”. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement praised the resolution for affirming that “companies must be held to account for their participation in Israeli violations”.

Read more: The UN should take a lead from the global BDS movement

In the past 18 months, preparatory work has moved ahead, albeit with delays. According to Fox News, in December 2016, the UN allocated $138,700 for the work required to establish the list. While the original publication date in February 2017 was put back, it now appears that UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein intends to publish the list by the end of the year.

Israeli and US opposition

The database was fiercely opposed from the very beginning by the Israeli and US governments. In the weeks before the March 2016 vote, both made “intense diplomatic efforts” to block the resolution, with Israeli ambassadors “instructed to convey to the highest echelons” of their respective capitals that Israel wanted Council members “to oppose the resolution”.

But what explained Israel’s unusually intense level of mobilisation – or its depth of anger at the resolution’s adoption (government spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said the UNHRC was “in need of urgent mental treatment”)? As the Financial Times explained, Israel and the US “fought against the database provision for fear it would lead to pressure to boycott the companies in question”.

An op-ed in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth was clearer about the threat. In contrast to “the hundreds of other anti-Israeli resolutions” the UNHRC has passed “which didn’t change a thing,” the piece argued, the database would be “likely to cause serious trouble”. Why? The “list of Israeli companies working in the settlements is long and includes most of the business sector”.

Israel and the US have been trying to stymy the creation of the database ever since, with the two states unsuccessfully opposing the release of UN funding for the work. In June, US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, blasted the database as the latest in a “long line of shameful actions” by the UNHRC, and suggested the Trump administration may even withdraw from the Council altogether.

#LandGrab

On 21 August The Washington Post reported on US lobbying efforts to thwart the publication of the database, with unnamed diplomats painting a picture of “behind-the-scenes jockeying over the issue”. A senior US official quoted by the paper explained that the Trump administration is seeking to look for the list of companies to be implemented “in the most narrow way possible” – if at all.

Later that same month the Israeli media reported that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the US were ramping up the pressure to try and block the UN list of companies. From the Israeli government side, the panic and lobbying efforts stem from a perception of the publication of the list as a significant win for the BDS movement.

NGO Monitor joins the battle

The Israeli authorities have been aided in their offensive against the database by NGO Monitor, an outfit that has been described as a “government surrogate group”. In June, the organisation launched a document which, it claims, “reveals that business activity in occupied territories [around the world] is ubiquitous,” citing the likes of Northern Cyprus, Crimea, and Western Sahara.

The report, authored by Northwestern University professor Eugene Kontorovich, claims both that international law does not prohibit businesses from operating in occupied territories, and, that the UNHRC is singling out Israel for opprobrium. That is to say, NGO Monitor seeks consistency of impunity, not consistency of accountability.

The purpose of the report, according to Kontorovich, is “to name and shame… the Council for engaging in this effort, the countries that supported this effort, and any countries that might think of continuing to fund it or I would even say continuing to sit in the Council as they go down this one-sided path”. In other words, a glossy, 44-page-long trolling exercise.

Kontorovich, for his part, is as enthusiastic a supporter of Israel’s settlements in the oPt as he is an opponent of efforts to seek accountability for violations of international law. In recent weeks he has defended a marathon which winds through the West Bank, and, as an expert at “conservative think tank” Kohelet Policy Forum, attacked a Human Rights Watch report on settlements and Israeli banks.

Indeed, the Ukrainian-born, US-raised academic has himself lived in at least two West Bank settlements since emigrating (Alon Shvut and Neve Daniel). Earlier this year, Kontorovich gave a guest talk (video) at Netiv Ha’avot, a settlement outpost facing the prospect of house demolitions. A few years ago, he similarly addressed radical settlers at a site in the southern West Bank.

Israel looks to normalise apartheid

As Israel has sought to shield itself – and complicit parties – from accountability abroad for systematic violations of international law, at home influential political forces within and outside of government are looking to normalise the presence of settlements in the oPt, a possible precursor to formal annexation.

Responding to a petition against the recent bill retroactively authorising settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land, the Israeli government has submitted to the Supreme Court what has been called “one of its more forceful documents to date,” a legal brief “pushing to change the legal interpretation underpinning 50 years of its judicial treatment of Area C of the West Bank”.

If, as The Jerusalem Post reported, the court accepts the argument laid out in the brief, “it will have taken a significant step in the normalisation of Israeli life for the 400,000 citizens who live in Area C, which is outside the country’s sovereign borders, instead of viewing it as belligerent occupation”.

Interestingly, the government’s brief was authored by a private attorney, Harel Arnon, after the Attorney General refused to argue the state’s position. Arnon is listed as a ‘Legal Advisor’ to ‘We Have Legal Grounds!’ (along, incidentally, with Kontorovich), a lobby group seeking the Israeli government’s adoption of the 2012, pro-settlement Levy Report.

Read more: From criminalising normalisation to criminalising a boycott of Israel

Recently, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – a firm opponent of Palestinian statehood – praised the Settlements Regulations Law as part of a wider sea change. “We want to revolutionise our [legal] perception,” he said. “Foremost is that it is possible for [the Knesset] to legislate [for the West Bank] and in addition that we don’t solve one injustice with another.”

Interestingly, these initiatives are occurring at the same time as anti-BDS legislation is being vigorously promoted in the United States, an opportunity some are seizing to erase any distinction between Israel and settlements in the oPt (see a number of state-level anti-BDS laws, for example).

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, meanwhile, Jonathan Greenblatt, head of Anti-Defamation League, defended the Anti-Israel Boycott Act currently being debated on Capitol Hill by explicitly referring to – and tellingly misrepresenting – the UNHRC database. Indeed, one pro-Israel publication claimed that the very “impetus” for the legislation was the UNHRC resolution.

Where are we going with this?

It is instructive to note how these developments – Israel’s international offensive against the UN database and domestic efforts to normalise, legally and discursively, settlements in the oPt – are happening in parallel. Remember, it is only because of a lack of accountability that Israel’s de-facto annexation of the oPt has been able to proceed over the last half century.

It is because of this ongoing impunity that influential political currents within and outside the Israeli government see an opportunity, as they see it, to normalise the presence of illegal settlements, unilaterally carve out the contours of Palestinian reservations, and annex ‘Area C’ of the West Bank.

To understand the kind of end goal these people have in mind, we can go back to Kontorovich, and specifically, to an interview he gave in 2013. Asked what the solution is to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kontorovich didn’t hesitate: “The status quo”.

In this context it is vital the UN database comes to fruition. By itself, it is a drop in the ocean. But if such a modest gesture towards accountability was undermined by Israeli and US pressure this would serve as yet further encouragement for those Israelis – some of whom are in government – who believe that the status quo, namely a de facto, apartheid one state, is all too sustainable.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

Syrian Coalition Urges Accountability for Crimes Using Chemical Weapons in Syria

Former Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition, Abdul Ilah Fahad, called for bringing Bashar al-Assad and all those involved in the use of chemical weapons in Syria to account, the incidents of which all have been confirmed by UN investiogators.

Fahad was speaking during a conference on chemical weapons and mines in the US capital Washington in the period between 19-21 September.

Fahd gave a detailed overview of the number of victims of chemical attacks. He pointed out that the failure to hold Assad accountable for these crimes gave him the green light to launch more attacks against the Syrian people.

Fahd urged the international community to provide urgent assistance to the Syrian people and support their demands for freedom and dignity. He emphasized that this can only be achieved through the achievement of transitional justice after war criminals have been held to account.

UN investigators in early September announced they had evidence of the responsibility of the Assad regime for at least 27 out of 33 chemical attacks that took place in Syria following the issuance of UN Security Council resolution 2118 in 2012. The attacks included the April 4 sarin attack on the town of Khan Sheikoun claiming the lives of around 100 civilians, many of them women and children.

The Coalition called for the activation of Article 21 of UNSC resolution 2118 which threatened measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter in case chemical weapons were used.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 22.09.2017)

MADA launches campaign to ‘reduce self-censorship’ among Palestinian journalists

MADA protection journo's

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has launched two campaigns to reduce self-censorship by journalists, the group announced on Wednesday.

The campaigns were launched on social media platforms and on Ma’an TV. MADA’s General Director Mousa Rimawi explained that the campaigns aim to “raise awareness of the dangers of self-censorship on the freedom of expression, and thus on the development of Palestinian media and society.”
Rimawi said that MADA hopes to encourage journalists and activists to “get rid of self-censorship, or at least to limit it,” highlighting that self-censorship among Palestinian journalists has reached up to 80% according to a MADA study, “and is expected to increase after the adoption of the Cyber Crimes Law.
The decree, issued by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on June 24, 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.
Rimawi stressed the necessity of “freezing” the law, pointing out the numerous violations of journalistic freedoms by the PA in recent months, including “the extensive campaign to suppress journalists during Al-Aqsa events by the occupation security services last July, as well as the blocking of more than 29 news sites in June in the West Bank, and the arrests of journalists during the past two months by the Palestinian security services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”Earlier this year, MADA released a report showing records of a total of 383 violations against the media in Palestine during 2016, representing a significant decrease from 2015 which saw at least 599 violations of media freedoms in the Palestinian territory.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

Poll: Majority of Palestinian public want Abbas to resign

Poll Abbas

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip has revealed that an overwhelming majority have lost faith in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with two-thirds of poll participants demanding his resignation.
‘PA has now become a burden on the Palestinian people’
The poll, which was conducted between September 14-16 and published on Tuesday, revealed that a majority of the population in the West Bank and Gaza are worried about the future of civil liberties in the territories, amidst a rise in the arrest of journalists and activists who speak out against Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Abbas’ new Cyber Crimes Law, which has been described by rights groups as “draconian” and “the worst law in the PA’s history.”
According to the center’s findings, “a large majority believes that Palestinians cannot criticize the PA without fear. In fact, half of the public believes that the PA has now become a burden on the Palestinian people,” with the center adding that these fears “might be responsible for the increase in the demand for the resignation of President Abbas.”
Current poll numbers stated that 67 percent of the public want Abbas to resign, while 27 percent want him to remain in office, compared to three months ago, when 62 percent said they wanted Abbas to resign.
The center highlighted that demands for Abbas’ resignation stand at 60 percent in the PA-administered West Bank and at 80 percent in the Hamas controlled the Gaza Strip. Three months ago demand for Abbas resignation stood at 55 percent in the West Bank and 75 percent in the Gaza Strip.
In their findings, the center went on to declare that if presidential elections were to be held today, across the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas movement leader Ismail Haniyeh would win against Abbas, noting, however, that the Fatah movement still remains more popular than the Hamas movement in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, optimism about the success of national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas stood at 31 percent, while 61 percent of poll takers expressed pessimism towards the prospect. Three months ago optimism stood at 27 percent and pessimism at 64 percent.‘Lack of trust in diplomacy’ & little hope in the two-state solution
In regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, 74 percent of Palestinians believe the US Administration under Donald Trump is “not serious in its efforts” to reach a peace agreement, while 83 percent of the public believe that if negotiations are resumed under US sponsorship, the Trump Administration will be biased in favor of Israel.
Furthermore, 57% of Palestinians according to the poll think that the two-state solution is no longer viable or practical due to Israel’s increased settlement expansion, while a minority 40% think it remains feasible.
Similarly, 70% think the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel in the next five years “are slim to non-existent,” while 28% think the chances are medium or high, with the center noting that these findings may signal a “lack of trust in diplomacy.”
Israeli occupation remains number one problem confronting Palestinians
Despite a fast-growing distrust in diplomacy and fears of growing repressions against free speech from Palestinian leadership, the poll found that the main problems confronting Palestinians today, according to public opinion, are issues surround the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Forty percent of poll participants believed that the “most vital Palestinian goals” should be to end Israeli occupation in Palestinian territory that was occupied in 1967, and to build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Meanwhile, 33 percent stated that the first goal should be to obtain the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their towns and villages inside Israel from which they fled in 1948.
According to the center, the most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 26 percent of the public; 25 percent believe it is the spread of corruption in public institutions; 23 percent say it is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities; 20 percent say it is the siege of the Gaza Strip and the closure of its crossings.
(Source / 22.09.2017)

Army Abducts Five Palestinians Near Qalqilia

22 SEP
9:26 AM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, five young Palestinian men, when many army jeeps invaded Jayyous town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, before the soldiers broke into and searched many homes.

The soldiers conducted searches of homes and neighborhoods in the town, before abducting Ezz Bader Shamasna, Fahed Saqer Shamasna, Amjad Salim, Amir Nofal an Ali Khreishe.

The soldiers handcuffed and blindfolded the five Palestinians, and took them to an unknown destination.

(Source / 22.09.2017)

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (14-19 September 2017)

22 SEP
4:39 AM

Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the week of 14- 19 September 2017.

7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Israeli forces continued to target the border areas of Gaza, with no casualties reported.

Shooting:

 

During the reporting period, 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Three of them were wounded in the West Bank while four others, including a child, in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Israeli naval forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea and target the border areas.

In the West Bank, on 15 September 2017, 2 Palestinian young men were hit with rubber-coated metal bullets in a protest organized by dozens of Palestinian civilians in the vicinity of a military watchtower established north of ‘Aidah refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. The demonstration was organised in protest at burying the corpses of 4 Palestinian victims detained in the Israeli cemeteries of numbers.

On 17 September 2017, a 20-year-old male was hit with a rubber-coated metal bullet to the right leg when the Israeli forces moved into Qalqliyia, in order to arrest Palestinian civilians.

In the Gaza Strip, border areas witnessed protests against the unjust closure imposed on the Gaza population.  During these protests, Israeli forces used force against the protestors, particularly when dispersing them.  As a result, 4 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded while participating in a protest organized in the east of Jabalia refugee camp, north of the Gaza Strip.

In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen offshore, on 15 September 2017, Israeli gunboats sporadically opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, and chased them.  The shooting recurred in the abovementioned area on 16 and 18 September 2017. No casualties were reported, but the Israeli naval forces arrested 2 fishermen who are also brothers and confiscated their fishing boat.

On 18 September 2017, Israeli gunboats sporadically opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats, west of al-Sudaniyia shore, north of the Gaza Strip and chased them.  The shooting recurred in the abovementioned area before midnight.

In the context of targeting the border areas, on 17 September 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence opened fire at the agricultural lands in ‘Abasan village, east of Khan Younis.  However, no casualties were reported.

Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 65 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 7 ones in Jerusalem. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 48 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children and a woman. Sixteen of them, including 3 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs.

 

Efforts to create Jewish Majority in occupied East Jerusalem:

 

As part of house demolitions, on 18 September 2017, Israeli Municipality vehicles demolished an under-construction residential apartment belonging to the sons of late ‘Issa Abed  al-Fattah Matour under the pretext of non-licensing. The apartment is on the 2nd floor added to the house exiting before the occupation of Jerusalem, sheltering Issa’s Family of 20 members. Following the House demolition, the 1st floor was mostly damaged and became uninhabitable due to cracks in the walls and ceilings.

On 19 September 2017, the Israeli Municipality demolished a commercial facility belonging to Bashar Bader in Beit Haninah neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The abovementioned facility is a car wash and showroom of 4 barracks. The Israeli forces also levelled the land, where the facility was established. Bader said that the court delayed the demolition decision to 28 September 2017, but he was surprised with the facility being raided and completely deolished.

 

Settlement Activities and Settlers’ Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and their property:

 

As part of settlers’ attacks, on 14 September 2017, Israeli settlers from “Bracha” settlement, south of Nablus, moved into Kafur Qaleel village, south of Nablus, and cut down 40 fruitful olive trees with automatic saws.  Those trees which are one kilometer away from the settlement belong to Fathi Rasheed Mnsour and Jaser Abed al-Jabbar.

 

Restrictions on movement:

 

Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.  The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people.  The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy.  They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons.  Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.

Demonstrations in protest against the annexation wall and settlement activities

 

West Bank:

 

  • Following the Friday, 15 September 2017, dozens of Palestinian residents from Hebron organized a demonstration in front of ‘Ali al-Bakaa’ Mosque in the city in protest against the Israeli authorities’ decision to build a municipality for settlers in Heron’s Old City. The participants raised Palestinian flags and chanted national slogans. When the protestors approached the old municipality building, dozens of Israeli soldiers moved towards them and pushed them back. They heavily fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters in the area to force the participants to withdraw. After a while, the participants withdrew from the area.

 

  • Around the same time, dozens of residents from Kherbet Qalqas, east of Hebron, organized a peaceful protest to reopen the road to the village that was closed 14 years ago. The resident had to take a bumpy road to reach the street that leads to the city. They raised banners demanding to open the road. Israeli force arrived at the area and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protestors. They also chased them into the olive fields. The Israeli forces arrested Taha Hamad Mohammed ‘Abas (22) and Suheib ‘Awni Abu Turki(19).

 

  • Following the Friday praying, dozens of Palestinians organized a peaceful march which started from Abu Bakr Al-sedeeq Mosque in Aida camp, north of Bethlehem towards the military watchtower near the camp, protesting against Israeli authorities burying corpses of Palestinians detained by them in cemeteries of numbers. When the demonstration arrived in the vicinity of the military watchtower, the Israeli forces intensively fired live and rubber-coated metal bullets and gas canisters towards them. As a result, two young men were hit with rubber-coated bullets. The Aida refugee camp residents said that the Israeli forces intentionally fired gas canisters at the civilians’ houses; dozens suffered tear gas inhalation.  Moreover, parts of a house belonging to Monther ‘Amirah, activist in the Polular Comittees, were burnt.  It should be mentioned that on 13 September 2017, the Israeli Public Prosecution declared the burial of 4 Palestinian corpses in cemeteries of numbers for: Abd Al-Hameed Abu Srour from Aida camp, Mohammed Al-Tarayra and Mohammad Al-Faqeeh from Hebron, and Rami Ourtani from Nablus.

 

  • Following the Friday prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized protests in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages, west of Ramallah; al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the city. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protesters, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased protesters into olive fields and between the houses. As a result, some of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up. Israeli forces also arrested an Israeli peace activist when they chased the protestors.

 

 

Gaza Strip:

 

  • At approximately 16:30 on the same Friday, 15 September 2017, dozens of Palestinian civilians gathered near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, in response to calls for protests in the border area against the Israeli imposed closure on the Gaza Strip. Some of the young men set fire to tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed along the abovementioned border fence. The soldiers fired live bullets, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at them. The clashes continued until approximately 19:30 on the same day. As a result, 4 civilians, including a child, were directly hit with tear gas canisters. They were transferred to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia. Medical sources classified as minor.

(PCHR keeps the name of the wounded civilians)

  • House Demolition:

 

  • At approximately 08:00 on Monday, 18 September 2017, Israeli bulldozers accompanied with Israeli Municipality vehicles demolished a residential apartment in Za’eem village, east of the city, under the pretext of non-licensing. Matour family said that the Israeli forces accompanied with Israeli Municipality crews raided their building in Za’eem village and evacuated all residents. They then demolished the 2nd floor without prior warning. The family also said that the 2-storey building belongs to the sons of late ‘Issa Abed al-Fattah Matour. The 1st floor, which shelters the 20 members of Issa Family, exited before the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem while the 2nd floor is under-construction. The family added that the 1st floor was completely damaged and became uninhabitable due to cracks in the walls and ceilings.

 

  • At approximately 11:00 on Tuesday, 19 September 2017, the Israeli Municipality demolished a commercial facility in Beit Haninah neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The abovementioned facility is a car wash and showroom and belonging to Bashar Bader. Bashar said that the Israeli police accompanied with Israeli Municipality crews and bulldozers raided the facility and demolished all the 4 barracks in addition to leveling the land. Bader also said that the court delayed the demolition decision to 28 September 2017, but he was surprised with raiding the facility and demolishing it completely.

 

  • Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and property

 

  • On Thursday, 14 September 2017, Israeli settlers from “Bracha” settlement, south of Nablus, moved into Kafur Qaleel village, south of Nablus, and cut down 40 fruitful olive trees with automatic saws. Those trees, which are one kilometer away from the settlement, belong to Fathi Rasheed Mansour and Jaser Abed al-Jabbar. Mansour said that the Israeli settlers cut down 20 olive trees of 70 from his 3-dunum plot of land. He is also afraid that the settlers would cut down the other trees, as he along with other civilians saw the Israeli settlers wandering in the same land on the same day, but chased and expelled them from his land. He also added that about 20 olive trees out of 300 were cut down from a 25-dumun plot of land belonging to Abed al-Jabbar.

Recommendations to the International Community

PCHR warns of the escalating settlement construction in the West Bank, the attempts to legitimize settlement outposts established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the continued summary executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they pose a security threat to the Israeli forces. PCHR reminds the international community that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been rendered homeless and lived in caravans under tragic circumstances due to the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight closure for almost 10 years. PCHR welcomes the UN Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334, which states that settlements are a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and calls upon Israel to stop them and not to recognize any demographic change in the oPt since 1967.  PCHR hopes this resolution will pave the way for eliminating the settlement crime and bring to justice those responsible for it. PCHR further reiterates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation in spite of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of 2005.  PCHR emphasizes that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law.  Israel is bound to apply international human rights law and the law of war, sometimes reciprocally and other times in parallel, in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for the victims.

 

  1. PCHR calls upon the international community to respect the Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334 and to ensure that Israel respects it as well, in particular point 5 which obliges Israel not to deal with settlements as if they were part of Israel.
  2. PCHR calls upon the ICC in 2017 to open an investigation into Israeli crimes committed in the oPt, particularly the settlement crimes and the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
  3. PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.
  4. PCHR calls upon the international community to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine.
  5. PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations to take all necessary measures to stop Israeli policies aimed at creating a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem and at voiding Palestine from its original inhabitants through deportations and house demolitions as a collective punishment, which violates international humanitarian law, amounting to a crime against humanity.
  6. PCHR calls upon the international community to condemn summary executions carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians and to pressurize Israel to stop them.
  7. PCHR calls upon the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to work hard to hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
  8. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under article (1) of the Convention to ensure respect for the Conventions under all circumstances, and under articles (146) and (147) to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to ensure justice and remedy for Palestinian victims, especially in light of the almost complete denial of justice for them before the Israeli judiciary.
  9. PCHR calls upon the international community to speed up the reconstruction process necessary because of the destruction inflicted by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
  10. PCHR calls for a prompt intervention to compel the Israeli authorities to lift the closure that obstructs the freedom of movement of goods and 1.8 million civilians that experience unprecedented economic, social, political and cultural hardships due to collective punishment policies and retaliatory action against civilians.
  11. PCHR calls upon the European Union to apply human rights standards embedded in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to respect its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when dealing with Israel.
  12. PCHR calls upon the international community, especially states that import Israeli weapons and military services, to meet their moral and legal responsibility not to allow Israel to use the offensive in Gaza to test new weapons and not accept training services based on the field experience in Gaza in order to avoid turning Palestinian civilians in Gaza into testing objects for Israeli weapons and military tactics.
  13. PCHR calls upon the parties to international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to pressurize Israel to comply with its provisions in the oPt and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the relevant committees.
  14. PCHR calls upon the EU and international human rights bodies to pressurize the Israeli forces to stop their attacks against Palestinian fishermen and farmers, mainly in the border area.

 

At PCHR Official: Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Hold Press Conference to Declare Submission of Forth Substantive Communication to ICC on Israeli Settlement Activity in oPt

(Source / 22.09.2017)

Palestinian activist Rasmieh Odeh deported to Jordan from Chicago

Odeh deported

Rasmieh Odeh, a former Michigan resident convicted in Detroit of lying on immigration forms and whose case became a flashpoint in the Arab-Israel dispute, has been deported to Jordan.

Odeh, 70, who was sentenced last month in Detroit, left Chicago O’Hare Airport Tuesday night and has arrived in Jordan. She was deported to Jordan from Chicago because of a controversial, and decades-old record of bombings in Jerusalem.

The U.S. government argued in court that Odeh committed “immigration fraud” by omitting her 1969 conviction by an Israeli military court on her U.S. citizenship application. She insists that she was tortured by Israeli authorities to confess her alleged involvement in two bombings in Jerusalem that killed two young men at a supermarket.

Despite receiving a lifetime prison sentence in Israeli jails, she was released as part of a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1979.

In 2014, Odeh was found guilty of immigration fraud, sentenced to 18 months in prison and had her U.S citizenship revoked. On September 02, she was obliged to the leave the U.S. by September 19.

(Source / 22.09.2017)