Palestinians stand alone in defending their land

Image of the Israeli wall along the West Bank which isolates the Palestinians and keep them confined in their own land [Scottmontreal/Flickr]

Israeli wall along the West Bank which isolates the Palestinians and keep them confined in their own land

By Ramona Wadi

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has relished the spotlight so far this year. In February, the PA launched the five-year National Policy Agenda which prioritised national unity and economic independence, among other plans. Meanwhile, Hamdallah was pushing for PA control over Gaza as the enclave succumbed to unprecedented humanitarian deprivation as a result of collective punishment inflicted by Israel and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas’ relinquishing control over Gaza so far seems to be going according to Hamdallah’s plan.

Last Wednesday at the annual olive picking festival in the district of Bethlehem, Hamdallah accused Israel of hindering Palestine’s economic growth. The rhetoric chosen by the Palestinian prime minister is weighed down by a multitude of facades – the most prominent among them being the impression of a leadership in concordance with the will of the people. Using imagery and evoking the Palestinian people’s tenacity towards the land, Hamdallah’s attempts at glorification, while remaining dissociated from the ramifications of settler-colonial expansion, could have impressed only if the leadership possessed a sliver of will to protect the remaining fragments of Palestinian territory.

Quoted by Wafa news agency, Hamdallah stated:

Israel aims at undermining our potential and resources, marginalising Palestinian productive base and obstructing the ability of our national economy to grow and develop.

Israel’s targeting of Palestine’s agricultural heritage is a continuation of the earlier historical violence unleashed upon the territory through the promotion of industrialisation. In recent years, settler violence has routinely targeted Palestinian cultivation of the remaining territory – stealing produce and damaging olive trees are a regular occurrence. This week, the International Middle East Media Centre reported the flooding of olive orchards in Deir Al-Hatab with sewage water. Restricting Palestinian freedom of movement has enhanced the settlers’ freedom to extensively damage Palestinian land and produce with impunity.

Hamdallah’s summary of Israeli violations, however, does not incorporate a challenge to the colonial authorities, to the extent that the damage incurred by Palestinians, in terms of politics and human rights, amounts to a mere illustration of daily infringements. There is also a lack of correlation between the projects which the Palestinian Authority, according to Hamdallah, is undertaking to aid the agricultural sector, and Israel’s usurpation of natural resources, such as water. The permanent backdrop of settler-colonies and military occupation is eliminated in the context of PA projects, thus enabling Israel to indulge in additional aggressive tactics.

Read: Pope Francis appeals for end to discrimination in Holy Land

If one had to glean anything of significance in Hamdallah’s speech, it would be the persistent isolation of Palestinians facing constant settler attacks. Indeed, the isolation is emphasised: “You bear the message of truth, justice and steadfastness in the face of destruction, displacement, settlement schemes and land confiscation.” If the PA was truly a representative of the Palestinian people, Hamdallah would have spoken differently. The futile glorification would have been replaced with a collective strategy that is politically supported by the leadership. There is a lot to be said about PA’s culpability in reducing Palestine to a transient metaphor, when Palestinians are actively resisting plans of obliteration.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Palestinian PM demands British apology for Balfour

Palestinians demand Britain apologize for that laid groundwork for Israel’s creation

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is seen touring the vital institutions in the besieged Gaza Strip after the Reconciliation Government took over governance on 5th October 2017. [Image: Mohammad Asad]

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is seen touring the vital institutions in the besieged Gaza Strip after the Reconciliation Government took over governance on 5th October 2017

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah demanded on Sunday that Britain apologise for the declaration promising a Jewish state in historical Palestine, ahead of its 100-year anniversary in the coming week.

Hamdallah said the Balfour declaration, made by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour while Palestine was a British protectorate, had been a “historical injustice” against the Palestinian people.

He also said Britain should not be celebrating the declaration, in reference to a dinner in London that will be attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his British counterpart Theresa May to mark the declaration’s importance in the creation of Israel in 1948.

Asa Winstanley: Overthrow the Balfour Declaration

“[The celebration] is a challenge to the international public opinion, which supports our national cause,” said Hamdallah, who was speaking at the opening of new public school in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and members of his government have previously claimed they are prepared to sue the British government for the Balfour declaration, on the grounds it led to the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, though they have not made any concrete steps towards doing so.

UK diplomat: No Palestinian state means Balfour Declaration ‘unfinished business’

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Illegal Colonists Again Harvest Palestinian Olive Orchards, Steal Produce

29 OCT
12:06 PM

In yet another attack, one of the numerous invasions and violations, a group of extremist Israeli colonists invaded, Sunday, Palestinian olive orchards owned by villagers of Jeet, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and harvested dozens of trees, stole the produce, and sprayed many trees with toxins.

The Israeli assailants, who came from the illegal Kidumim colony, which was built on private Palestinian lands, also cut many trees.

Lawyer Omar Yameen, an owner of an orchard in the area, said he was shocked to see the destruction caused by the colonists to his land, especially since the attackers illegally harvested his trees, and then sprayed them with chemicals.

He added that one of the colonists, who illegally lives in an RV near his land, has also flooded the orchard with sewage water.

Yameen stated that these violations aim at the destroying the only source of livelihood to dozens of families, to force them out and illegally annex their lands.

The orchards are isolated behind the Annexation Wall, and the Israeli authorities only granted the Palestinians four days to pick their olive trees, which is not enough to harvest them.

The villagers in Jeet own more than 500 dunams of lands that became isolated behind the wall, but Israel only allowed them into their orchards during the olive harvest season, under very strict conditions, while the colonists have an easy, unrestricted access.

On Saturday at dawn, Israeli colonists invaded,  a Palestinian olive orchard, owned by a villager from ‘Awarta, east of Nablus, and harvested many trees before steeling the produce.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Annexation Wall Gate Prevents Elderly Man From Visiting Family Graves

29 OCT
9:35 AM

Although his family graveyard is now located behind the Annexation Wall in al-Walaja village, northwest of Bethlehem, resident Ahmad Barghouth (Abu Nidal) has continued to visit the graves of his father, mother and grandmother, by going through a special underground tunnel constructed by Israeli authorities when they constructed the Wall, to allow certain Palestinians with special permission to enter and exit.

But recently, Israel decided to block this tunnel with an iron gate, and now, the 70-year -old man is unable to reach the graveyard.

The Israeli army told him that the gate is part of new so-called ‘security measures’ related to the construction of the Wall, in addition to surveillance cameras in all surrounding areas.

In an interview with al-Quds.com news agency, Abu Nidal said that these measures are just meant to impose further restrictions on the Palestinians who are trying to enter their own lands and properties that became isolated behind the Annexation Wall.

This, he added, is just the first step before Israel completely confiscates the lands because, once the Palestinians cannot enter them, the occupation authorities consider them abandoned under Israeli law, and take control of them.

“It seems that it is not enough to the to build this apartheid wall around our land, and isolate is from our orchards and even the family graveyard — they have already illegally annexed 13 Dunams — now, they want to control when and if we can enter what is left, to control when and if we can visit the graves of our loved ones,” he said.

“This is our land, if they decide to completely block us from entering it, we will not just stand still, even if we had to smash this gate,” Abu Nidal added, “This is our land, our graveyard, and our livelihood… they have no right to prevent us from entering.”

The family’s suffering began more than seven years ago when Israel decided to confiscate part of their land to build the Annexation Wall. When that happened, Abu Nidal managed to get an Israeli court ruling allowing the construction of a tunnel under the wall, so that he could reach his land and family cemetery.

The Palestinian elder and long-time farmer goes frequently to his land, to plant it, to harvest it, to care for it, while Israel has continued to build and expand its illegal apartheid wall, separating Abu Nidal and other Palestinians from their land in al-Walaja.

His condition is no different than other families in the area, for instance, Israel recently placed many iron gates at the entrance of a tunnel leading to the home of Omar Hajajla, in addition to erecting barb-wires and surveillance cameras.

Firas al-Atrash, a member of al-Walaja Village Council, told Quds.com that the various gates installed by the Israeli military are serious threats to the Palestinians, isolating and separating them from their own lands. This is especially difficult now that Israel has ordered the Palestinian to obtain special permits in order to enter these lands, and even those permits have various restrictions on them.

Al-Atrash added that the Israeli occupation authorities have the objective of isolating the Palestinians from their land, which is the first step towards illegally annexing and confiscating these lands, in order to build and expand Jewish-only colonies on Palestinian lands and link them with occupied Jerusalem.

It is worth mentioning that Israel has recently issued orders halting the construction of several homes, in addition to demolition orders targeting seventy other homes, under the allegation that they are “built on lands that are under Israeli control.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Official Statement: UNRWA Condemns Neutrality Violation in Gaza

28 OCT
10:09 PM

Statement by Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

28 October 2017

East Jerusalem

On 15 October 2017, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) discovered the existence of what appeared to be a tunnel underneath one of its schools in Gaza.  In accordance with its protocol, the Agency has taken the necessary measures immediately to render the school safe and has sealed the cavity underneath its premises. The school resumed its operations on the 25th of October.

UNRWA has robustly intervened with relevant parties to protest the violation of the sanctity and disrespect of the neutrality of UN premises. The presence of a tunnel underneath an UNRWA installation, which enjoys inviolability under international law, is unacceptable. It places children and Agency staff at risk.

The Agency again demands full respect of the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Anactivities or conduct that put beneficiaries and staff alike at risk, and undermine the ability of UNRWA staff to provide assistance to Palestine refugees in safety and security, must cease.

ends

c.gunness@unrwa.org

(Source / 29.10.2017)

IOF assaults farmers and activists in as-Sawiya town

Assault activists as-Sawiya

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday physically assaulted Palestinian farmers and activists as they were intending to collect olives in a grove in as-Sawiya town, south of Nablus in the West Bank.

A local activist told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that dozens of Palestinian and foreign activists went to as-Sawiya town to help farmers collect olives when scores of Israeli soldiers and security guards from a nearby settlement stormed the area and attacked them.

He said that the soldiers savagely assaulted them, leading to the injury of two activists, and confiscated the equipment which the farmers and activists brought with them to use it in the collection of olives.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

IOF kidnaps two Palestinians in Jerusalem and Jenin

2 Pal's kidnapped

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday kidnapped two Palestinian young men at checkpoints in Jerusalem and Jenin.

In a statement, the Israeli border police said their forces arrested a young Hamas activist, from Nablus, at the Container checkpoint east of Jerusalem and confiscated his car.

They added that the young man was driving a car and tried to cross the checkpoint several times before border soldiers stopped and searched his car, claiming they found a gun inside the vehicle.

In Jenin, Israeli soldiers kidnapped a young man called Omar Hamarsheh, the son of a wheelchaired Hamas official Adnan Hamarsheh.

Hamarsheh’s sister said her brother, Omar, was on his way home from work when soldiers rounded him up at a makeshift checkpoint on a road near Ya’bad town.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Minors among several Palestinians kidnapped in predawn sweep by IOF

Minors in sweep by IOF

Several Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces an abduction sweeps launched at daybreak Sunday.

The Israeli army claimed responsibility for the abduction of nine Palestinians on account of their involvement in anti-occupation protests.

The list of arrestees includes 15-year-old Kusay Abu Maria and 17-year-old Kusay Abu Hashem, both kidnapped from the southern occupied West Bank province of al-Khalil.

Two Palestinian young men were also kidnapped by the IOF from Bethlehem’s refugee camp of al-Duheisheh.

The occupation soldiers further kidnapped the Palestinian ex-prisoner Muadh Eshtiyeh at a military checkpoint set up in Abu Dis town.

At the same time, 26-year-old Omar Hamarsha, the son of the Hamas leader Omar Hamarsha, was kidnapped by the IOF at a makeshift military checkpoint near Kfirt town, south of Jenin.

Omar’s brother and two other relatives were kidnapped from their family homes in the city over the past few days.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Israel’s notorious Kafr Qasim massacre marked by Palestinians

Kafr Qasim massacre

A series of events kicked off on Sunday morning to mark the 61st anniversary of the Kafr Qasim massacre committed by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinians.

A general strike and a mass rally were held in Kafr Qasim to mark the event.

Dozens of Palestinians joined a march that kicked off from Abu Bakr Mosque. Municipal delegates, civil society representatives, activists from 1948 Occupied Palestine, and MKs from the joint Arab List were in attendance.

The rally-goers chanted slogans condemning the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians and vowing to keep up the anti-occupation struggle.

The marchers also called on the Israeli occupation to extend an official apology over the massacre.

The Kafr Qasim massacre was perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces on October 29, 1956 in territories occupied in 1948, claiming the lives of at least 49 Palestinians, among them women and children.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

Foreign ministry slams settlers’ ongoing violations in W. Bank

Violations of settlers

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly denounced the settlers’ persistence in attacking Palestinian citizens, their homes and their agricultural properties in the West Bank.

“The settlers, under the protection of the Israeli army, persist in their attacks and provocative actions, especially their assaults on farmers, their stealing of olive fruits and the burning of trees,” the ministry stated in a press release on Saturday.

“They also continue to occupy Palestinian houses every once in a while and attack homes and lands in the Jordan Valley and West Bank villages, especially those in isolated areas,” the ministry added.

It also accused settlers of having stolen olive fruits from about 6,000 trees since the beginning of the harvest season, in addition to the destruction of hundreds of fruitful trees of different types.

The ministry held the Israeli government fully responsible for providing protection for settlers’ aggressive practices in the West Bank, describing its attitude towards such violations as “organized state terrorism.”

(Source / 29.10.2017)