Israel Labor Party leader rejects ‘evacuations’ of West Bank settlements

New leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay [Nimrod Zuk/Wikipedia]

New leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay

The leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, has rejected the need to evacuate West Bank settlements in the context of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Gabbay made the remarks in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2. Asked whether settlements like Eli and Ofra – colonies deep in the occupied West Bank – would have to be removed, Gabby replied:

If you make a peace deal, solutions can be found that do not necessitate evacuations.

“I think the dynamic or the terminology that we have become accustomed to, that if you make a peace deal you evacuate, is not actually true.”

The comments by Gabbay, whose party is the largest opposition party in the Knesset as part of the Zionist Camp faction, came a day after the Labor leader had vowed disproportionate military action, stating that “the Arabs have to be afraid of us”.

“You can’t be a compromiser on security,” Gabbay told a party gathering in Dimona. “You can’t say, ‘Fine, I understand, fine, they only fired one missile.’ There is no such thing. They fire one missile – you fire 20. That’s all they understand in the Middle East.”

On Saturday, meanwhile, the Israeli Labor party leader said he would never enter into coalition with the Joint List, a Knesset faction dominated by parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“We will not share a government with the Joint List, period,” Gabbay said. “Let that be clear.” He continued: “You see their behaviour. I don’t see any [connection] between us that would allow us to be part of a government with them.”

Read: Israel to build first new West Bank settlement since 1990s

On the other hand, Gabbay “didn’t reject the possibility of being part of a governing coalition alongside Kulanu, Yisrael Beiteinu and the ultra-Orthodox parties”, and specifically singled out Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid as a likely coalition partner.

Gabbay’s remarks on settlements prompted criticism from some members of the Zionist Camp, including Tzipi Livni, but also some statements of support from within the Labor Party.

Gabbay subsequently sought to clarify his remarks, telling a private WhatsApp group: “I stand behind what I said, but not behind the headline and the framing of my words.” He added that he remains committed to a “two-state solution” but believes “now is not the time to draw the borders of future negotiations and the recipe for the solution of the conflict.”

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Gazans protest against WFP decision to stop food aid

A press conference was held this morning at the Al-Amal Institute for Orphans in Gaza on 17 October, 2017

Thirty-five institutions benefitting from the World Food Programme (WFP) in the besieged Gaza Strip have demanded the immediate retraction of its recent decision to stop all food aid starting at the beginning of this month.

During a press conference held this morning at the Al-Amal Institute for Orphans in Gaza, the institutions said: “We were surprised a few days ago to hear that the WFP’s administration decided to stop the programme. We had sent several letters in the past to the WFP administration urging them to improve the programme, not end it.”

The institutions believe that this decision violates the agreement signed between the Ministry of Social Development, the benefitting institutions and the WFP, which stipulates the programme will continue to 31 December 2017.

The institutions also explained that since 2014, the WFP administration reduced the number of institutions benefitting from the programme from 56 to 35, while the number of beneficiaries was reduced over the years to 4,000 people after the 2014 war on Gaza.

They also noted that at the beginning of 2015, the bread project provided as part of the aid was turned into a flour project and the amounts provided were reduced, as well as the batches provided, which were reduced from six to four batches a year.

Read: Humanitarian organisations in the face of Israeli tyranny

During the second half of 2015, the food aid was reduced by 30 per cent, while at the beginning of 2016, it was reduced by 50 per cent, and later by 65 per cent.

Head of Al-Amal Orphans Institute, Dr Abdelmajed Al-Khudar, told Al-Rai that this decision was made “in light of the deterioration of food security in the Gaza Strip, which has reached over 70 per cent. It also comes at a time of deteriorated economic situation and a suffocating blockade on our people, in addition to a lack of funding from the donor institutions and the increase in poverty rate, reaching 68 per cent.”

He warned against the negative consequences of stopping the WFP, which would affect marginalised and poor individuals. He also noted that completely stopping the programme would further worsen the economic situation, undermine food security and intensify the harsh living conditions suffered by the poorest families.

Al-Khudar also noted that stopping the food programme would lead a large number of charities to shut down, forcing people out of employment, increasing the unemployment rate of Palestinians.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

UK bans anti-Balfour ad campaign

Lord Arthur James Balfour, former Prime Minister of the UK

The government body in charge of transport in the UK capital London has banned adverts which highlight Palestinians’ objections to the Balfour Declaration.

Transport for London said it blocked the campaign from transport links on the basis that the issue is politically controversial; however, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian accused the body of censorship.

The adverts had been drawn up to run in key stations in the run up to the centenary of the signing of the declaration on 2 November.


In a statement the Palestine Mission said: “We are deeply disappointed that TfL refused to run our modest advocacy campaign which aimed to raise awareness, among the British public, about the way the Balfour Declaration affected the Palestinian people.”

“It was appropriate and timely to run this campaign as we mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which was instrumental in the forced expulsion of the Palestinians from Palestine who made up 90% of the population in 1917.”

It added:

Britain has unfinished business when it comes to Palestine. It has a legal and moral responsibility which must be acknowledged. Restorative action must be taken to give back the Palestinians their basic rights and self-determination.

The Balfour Declaration refers to the letter sent by UK Foreign Minister, Sir Arthur James Balfour, on 2 November 1917 to Lord Lionel Walter de Rothschild, referring to the British government’s support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Human rights activists have reiterated calls for Britain to acknowledge the role it played in creating the Israeli state and facilitating the ongoing occupation of Palestine.

Read: Israeli Embassy Balfour celebration at British university condemned by students

Last year, the Palestinian Authority called for the UK government to apologise for the declaration, and sought to sue the UK for causing irreparable damage to the Palestinian people. Such calls have been largely ignored by British politicians who have instead reinforced their support of Israel.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, are expected to be the guests of honour at a London dinner celebrating the 100th year since the signing of the declaration.

There are nearly six million Palestinians around the world; the majority are refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, while hundreds of thousands live in Europe, the United States and other countries.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Israel demolishes 2 homes in East Jerusalem, displacing Palestinian family of 9

Demolished homes at Silwan

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities raided the SIlwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, where bulldozers demolished two Palestinian homes under the pretext that they were built without a permit.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozer escorted by armed forces raided and surrounded the neighborhood, closing all roads to the area before forcing residents of the two homes to evacuate prior to the demolition.

The homes belonged to Murad Abu Rajab and his son Raed. Raed told Ma’an that the two homes were built 14 months ago, and that their was a valid court decision postponing the demolition.

He added that he informed the officer in charge of Tuesday’s demolition of the postponement, but the Jerusalem Municipality crews carried out the demolition anyways.

Raed  said that nine family members lived in the two homes.

This story continues below. 
According to official Palestinian Authority (PA) Wafa news agency, two other homes also slated for demolition in Silwan and the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya were allegedly “spared at the last minute,” after the homeowners presented Israeli court orders that temporarily prevented the demolitions.
A spokesperson from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available for comment. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said on their Twitter that a home demolition had been reported in Silwan Tuesday morning.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.
For Jewish Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem’s illegal settlements, the planning, marketing, development, and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. By contrast, in Palestinian neighborhoods, all the burden falls on individual families to contend with a lengthy permit application that can last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Daniel Seidemann of the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, “Since 1967, the Government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago. So much for (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat’s claim ‘we build for everyone.’”

According to United Nations documentation, 202 Palestinians were displaced and 116 buildings have been demolished in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year as of Oct. 9. Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem reached a record high in 2016.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Army Injures Many School Children In Jerusalem

17 OCT
11:57 AM

Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya village, in occupied East Jerusalem, said the soldiers injured, throughout the day Monday, several Palestinian schoolchildren, in the village.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic), quoted Abu al-Hummus stating that the soldiers invaded the Schools Street, in al-‘Isawiya, and fired many gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, wounding ten children, 9 to 16 years of age.

The wounded children were moved to several hospitals and clinics, in the town and in Jerusalem, suffering various wounds, mainly to the face, limbs and abdomen.

Abu al-Hummus added that one of the wounded children was later transferred from al-Makassed Hospital to Shaare Tzedek Medical center, due to the seriousness of his condition.

The families in the town, including the students’ parents committee, decided to suspend classes in all schools in the town until further notice, demanding an end to Israel’s ongoing military invasions, especially since the beginning of the new school year, and the army’s provocative acts targeting the students.

Abu al-Hummus denounced the ongoing and escalating invasions, and called on the international community to intervene, especially since the soldiers constantly attack the students, and fire gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.

The residents said that the invasions are carried out under several vague Israeli allegations, and only aim at placing further challenges and difficulties in the daily lives of the residents, especially the children.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Two Palestinians injured, others arrested east of Qalqilia

Clashes Azzun

Two Palestinian youths were injured by rubber bullets as clashes broke out Monday evening with Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in Azzun town east of Qalqiliya.

Local sources affirmed that two youngsters were rounded up while another was arrested after being brutally attacked during the confrontations.

Three other youths were detained at a military checkpoint east of the town.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Undercover Israeli policemen arrest Palestinian in Jerusalem

Undercover to arrest Palestinians

A Palestinian youth was arrested on Tuesday evening by undercover Israeli policemen during the clashes that erupted in al-Isawiya town to the northeast of Occupied Jerusalem.

According to Quds Press, violent clashes broke out between the Israeli police and Palestinian youths during which stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown.

It added that the Israeli police heavily and randomly fired sound bombs, tear gas canisters, and rubber and live bullets at the Palestinian youths and used the rooftops of the Palestinian citizens’ houses as lookouts.

The Jerusalemite activist Yousuf Obeid said that an undercover Israeli unit accompanied the Israeli police forces who stormed al-Isawiya town and arrested a Palestinian youth, pointing out that there is no news yet whether the young man was shot or not.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Israel Draws Red Lines after Attacking Anti-Aircraft Syrian Battery

Israeli Jets Strike Syrian Anti-Aircraft Battery Site After Being Fired Upon

An Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman said that Israeli jets bombed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery east of Damascus after it fired an anti-aircraft missile at the Israeli aircraft on a spy mission overflying Lebanon.

Other Israeli sources confirmed notifying the Russian army, a major backer supporting the Assad regime in Damascus, about the airstrike “in real-time mode”.

No Israeli planes were hit by the missile fired by the Syrians, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. The counter-strike took place two hours later and “incapacitated” the anti-aircraft unit located 50 km east of Damascus, he said.

“We know according to our intelligence it was a battery controlled by the Syrian regime and we hold the Syrian regime responsible for the fire,” Conricus said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later issued a statement saying Israel would not hesitate to defend itself.
“Today there was an attempt to harm our aircraft — this is unacceptable to us.

The air force acted quickly and accurately to destroy what needed to be destroyed,” Reuters cited Netanyahu as saying.

“Our policy is clear. Whoever tries to harm us, we will strike at him. We will continue to act in the region as is required in order to defend Israel.”

But the Syrian army said it struck an Israeli warplane that had breached its air space at the Syria-Lebanon border.

“The Israeli enemy this morning violated our air space… Our air defense mediums confronted it, hit one of its planes directly and forced it to flee,” the Syrian military statement said.

According to military sources, the Syrian anti-aircraft missile was fired at the Israeli warplane at about 10:00 am on Monday.

Later on, Israeli officials reported that the Israeli aircraft responded with four air-to-surface missiles demolishing the Syrian missile battery.

(Source / 17.10.2017)

Activists: Regime Forces Summarily Execute Civilians in Deir Ezzor

The Syrian Coalition called on the United Nations and UN Security Council to stop standing idly by while war crimes are being committed against civilians in Deir Ezzor. It condemned the Assad regime’s summary execution and mass arrests of civilians in the areas taken recently from the ISIS extremist group.

Deir Ezzor 24 media campaign said that Assad forces are carrying out summary executions of civilians in the province. The victims included Ibrahim Khalaf Al-Hadrous and Ali Suleiman Dabbal who were executed in the town of Boqras on Tuesday. Regime forces also rounded up dozens of civilians inside a house in the town on charges of belonging to ISIS, Deir Ezzor 24 added.

Deir Ezzor 24, an independent media campaign which documents violations against civilians in Deir Ezzor, previously said that regime forces and their allied Iranian militias had carried out summary executions against civilians in the town of Mayadeen which they recaptured from ISIS last week. It warned of a repeat of these crimes in the areas that may fell to regime forces and their allied foreign militias in the future.

Deir Ezzor province has been the site for fierce battles between regime forces and the Iranian militias backed by Russia aerial cover as well as the US-backed militias of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on one hand and ISIS on the other. Hundreds of civilians were killed in indiscriminate aerial bombardment on residential areas, while tens of thousands more were forced to flee and seek refuge in camps erected the desert that activists nicknamed “camps of death.”

Meanwhile, the Coalition held a workshop with leaders and representatives of military and civic bodies in the province of Deir Ezzor in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa on Sunday and Monday (15-16 October to discuss the humanitarian and military situation in the province.

Participants called for sparing the lives of civilians fleeing the fighting in Deir Ezzor province and for the opening of safe humanitarian corridors for civilians who are caught in the middle of battles raging in the province.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 17.10.2017)

IOF arrests Palestinian child north of al-Khalil

Child arrested Beit Ummar

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Monday evening a Palestinian child after clashes broke out in Beit Ummar town, north of al-Khalil.

Local sources identified the detained minor as Khaled Bahar, 14.

Khaled was playing with his friends outside his family house when clashes broke out in the area, the sources added.

IOF fired rubber bullets at the group of children and arrested Khaled for allegedly throwing stones during the clashes.

Local residents tried to free the child, however; the IOF soldiers took him away in a military jeep.

Similar clashes erupted in Seir town, north of al-Khalil.

(Source / 17.10.2017)