Ministry: IOF snipers deliberately target civilians in Gaza protests

Attack from snipers

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza on Saturday said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) deliberately target Gazan demonstrators with sniper fire.

Spokesman for the Ministry, Ashraf al-Qedra, said in a press statement that the IOF soldiers pursue a shoot-to-kill policy against the Palestinian civilians using explosive ammunition.

According to the Ministry, the IOF soldiers heavily fire an unknown kind of tear gas canisters at the Palestinian civilians during the demonstrations causing dozens of them to suffer from fatigue, convulsions, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and breathing difficulties.

Qedra called for urgent investigation by the concerned authorities on the nature of these weapons used by the IOF against unarmed protesters.

He also asked the international community to put an end to Israel’s violation of international humanitarian law and Fourth Geneva Convention through its “excessive use of violence” against unarmed civilians and repeated targeting of paramedics, ambulances and journalists.

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Egypt, Israel and Jordan Combine to Make Travel Nearly Impossible for Gaza Students

The Erez terminal constructed by Israel to control who goes in and out of Gaza is built on Palestinian land, but Palestinians are not welcome there. Thus, youths often protest by attempting to plant their flag by the cage-like fence

STUDYING ABROAD IS a dream for many students around the world. Typically, the most challenging part of making that dream a reality is securing a scholarship that will pay all or most of the tuition, fees, and room and board. Once they are selected, however, the difficult part for most students is over; getting a visa to visit their host country, booking an airline ticket and departing for their new, temporary home requires some work, but rarely poses major barriers.

For a Palestinian in Gaza, however, it’s a totally different story. Getting a scholarship is perhaps the easiest step—since there’s no guarantee you’ll ever be able to use it.

Palestine has no airport (Gaza had one for all of two years before it was destroyed in an Israeli missile strike), and we are not allowed to operate a seaport, despite our long coastline. Thus, there are only two ways to travel in and out of Gaza: via the Rafah Crossing, controlled by Egypt, and the Erez Crossing, controlled by Israel. Rafah is closed to the world most of the time; in fact, this year it has opened only 28 days through October. (The Egyptian government promised that Rafah will stay open now that a “unity” government has taken control of Gaza from Hamas, but violence in the Sinai has provided an excuse to keep it mostly shut.) And even when Rafah is open, most Palestinians must pay a bribe of $3,000 or more to be assured a place on the list of allowed travelers. Thus, Erez has become Gaza’s only gateway for those who cannot wait indefinitely.

In June, along with three other friends, I was awarded a scholarship to study audiovisual translation at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar. I remember so clearly the day we received the news. When I saw that e-mail in my inbox, my tears found their way down my face. “We DID it!” I shouted to one of my friends. I eagerly awaited the start of the semester on Aug. 20. I had never tried to leave Gaza before, and I had no idea of the torturous journey upon which I was embarking.

Before applying for a permit to exit Gaza through Erez, Palestinians first must obtain a “no-objection” letter from Jordan, basically saying it will allow the holder to enter the country for 48 hours to fly out of Amman. (Palestinians are not allowed to use the Israeli airport, Ben-Gurion.) Note that Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not required to obtain the same permit to enter Jordan; this restriction is for Gazans only. And without a letter from Jordan, applying for an Erez permit is out of the question. This raises a question: Is Jordan enforcing Israel’s policy? Who is protecting whom?

In earlier years, we could take a taxi from a station in Shujaiya or Palestine Square (Midan Falasteen) in Gaza to the Allenby Bridge, which crosses into Jordan. The journey took two hours or less, and students and workers traveling to other Arab countries regularly crossed the bridge. A permit to enter Jordan, while required, was a formality only, one easily and quickly obtained. But that has changed.

After the Oslo accords were signed in 1993 and the Palestinian Authority created the following year, Gaza residents were allowed to exit only through Israeli-controlled Erez. Permits to enter Jordan were routinely issued within a day or two—until around August 2015. Why did Jordan suddenly start making it so difficult to enter its country? No one has been able to get a straight answer. According to Human Rights Watch staff, “We hear informally that Jordan doesn’t want to be asked to ‘solve Gaza’s problem’ or be seen as an alternative to Egypt for crossing.”

REJECTION WITHOUT EXPLANATION

In late June, I submitted the required documents and paid about $40 to Friends for Express Transportation, which is the only official agent in Gaza authorized to process requests for no-objection letters. Several days later, I was informed that the Jordanian General Intelligence Department had accepted my application, and I was over the moon—gullibly thinking I had been approved.

However, a message sent three days later by the Jordanian Liaison Office in Ramallah stated, “We regret to inform you that your application was not accepted.” It was a horrible shock! When I asked why, I was informed that the Jordanian Borders and Residence Department makes the final decision, with no explanation required. It has the right to reject us, but we have no right to know the reasons for depriving us of our dreams and our future.

To add insult to injury, the Jordanian authorities recently extended the time required before a new application can be filed to six months. I had a feeling I was doomed.

SUCCESSIVE DEPRESSING ATTEMPTS

Armed with my Qatari visa, I applied to exit via Rafah in case it opened. (A visa issued by another country is necessary to apply to leave Gaza through Rafah; fortunately, I had received it via e-mail after submitting my information—a much easier process than the United States requirement that Palestinians travel to Jerusalem for an interview, possible only if Israel agrees.) I was assigned spot No. 16,798. That’s how many other people were waiting to get out. Even if the crossing opened, I’d never make it.

In late August, I contacted the Palestinian ambassador in Qatar, begging him to help me get the no-objection letter from Jordan. He kindly agreed, and the Jordanian authorities received an application on my behalf on Sept. 6. Meanwhile, I stayed in constant touch with my assigned professors in Qatar, trying to follow the lectures using the university’s distance-learning system and to submit the assignments. If I could make it there, I didn’t want to be too far behind. Anxious waiting dominated my days.

Strangely enough, the Palestinian website that tracks requests to exit through Erez showed that my application to leave was on file, indicating that a Jordanian letter had been submitted without anyone’s knowledge. But despite repeated inquiries, no approval to exit came.

Then, on Oct. 8, I received an e-mail from the university’s coordinator of master’s programs stating, “In accordance with university policies, your late presence is not accepted and you can no longer join the Translation and Interpretation Institute.” I plunged into the depths of despair; my efforts for the last three months had been in vain.

A TOUGH CHALLENGE

You may be wondering about my three friends from Gaza who received the same scholarship from Qatar. Two suffered the same fate I did. The other, Doaa, surprisingly received the Jordanian letter, and then a permit to exit Gaza through Erez. On that day, I tweeted: “It is with a combination of grief and joy that one of my closest friends has just left Gaza. We were supposed to leave together.”

She was fortunate to make it to the university in time. In October, it was reported that, on average, Gazans were forced to wait 23 working days for a permit for medical treatment, 50 days for family concerns or work appointments, and 70 days for other cases like studying.

When a permit is issued, you’re notified the night before your departure date, leaving hardly any time to pack and say your good-byes. Thus, an airline ticket can only be purchased at the last minute, when it is most expensive. To make matters even worse, Israeli authorities adopted a new rule effective Aug. 1: When Palestinians do exit Gaza, they may not carry electronic devices (including laptops, a necessity for students), food, hard-sided luggage, toiletries, medicine, and even perfume and makeup. They must travel to Amman hungry, and buy new supplies at their destination—an expensive burden for an impoverished Gazan. Added to all that is a new mandate that all Gazans exiting via Erez must sign an agreement not to return for at least one year.

While discussing my woes with one of the officers at Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, one of them told me, “Ghada, you are braving significant obstacles in order to study. But thank God you aren’t a cancer patient, for instance. You can try again, but how long can a terminally ill patient wait?” We are supposed to feel blessed for not being in an even worse situation!

It’s now the middle of November, and there has been no progress in my case. Egypt, Jordan and Israel play with the lives of Gazans just like a game of dominos.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story,” Orson Welles once wrote. But in Gaza, there is no happy ending, no matter where you stop the story. Each time a glimmer of hope tries to put down roots, it shatters into pieces.

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Palestinian girl injured in Israeli quelling of protest in Jerusalem

Pal woman assaulted

Israeli policemen on Saturday evening assaulted a group of Jerusalemite women after trying to stage a protest near Bab al-Amoud area in Occupied Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that a Palestinian girl was transferred to hospital after Israeli forces had beaten her in the head.

The protest was aimed to object to the US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Youth group presses for fueling uprising over Trump’s Jerusalem move

Youth Movement

The Palestinian Youth Movement has called for stepping up protest moves across the occupied Palestinian territories in response to the U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a Saturday statement, the Youth Movement urged the Palestinian Authority, chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, to opt for serious steps and work on boosting armed resistance and anti-occupation uprisings.

The movement vowed to keep up protest moves in support for Occupied Jerusalem, calling on the Arab and Islamic governments and institutions to break their silence and react to the U.S. biased decision.

The statement mourned the four Palestinian protesters who were killed by the Israeli occupation army during Friday’s anti-Trump protests.

On Friday, four Palestinians were fatally shot by the occupation army and over 560 others injured in clashes across 70 flashpoints with the Israeli forces in the West Bank, Occupied Jerusalem, and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Tension has reached a zenith across the occupied Palestinian territories after Trump recognized, in a Wednesday speech from the White House, Jerusalem as the capital of the self-proclaimed Israeli state and pledged to transfer the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv (territories occupied in 1948) to the historic city—home to Muslims’ third holiest site, al-Aqsa Mosque.

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Guest Writer: Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

Dr Munir Ravalia

Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, who have been under strict Israeli blockade for 11 years, are suffering of the severe lack of all basic needs with healthcare on top of them.

The World Employment Conference in 1976 proposed that the satisfaction of basic human needs is the overriding objective of any national and international development policy. When one looks at such a policy, one thinks of a traditional list of immediate basic needs: food, water, shelter and clothing. One could easily add sanitation, education and healthcare.

Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” established the “Hierarchy of Needs.” It included safety, belonging and esteem, to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. Such terms can be afforded to many around the globe, but what about the impoverished Gazan’s?

Over the decades, the Palestinian population in Gaza has been subjected to conditions many of us would not tolerate. As those around the globe prepare for the festivities of 2018 New Year’s celebrations, there is no glimmer of hope for Gazans, rather a continued sense of despair amongst the residents of this small strip of land surrounded by a heavily militarised land and waterway.

There are two ways in and out of Gaza; one via the Rafah border to Egypt; and the other is through the Erez crossing to Israel. Permits granted to Gazans to leave via this point decreased by over 50 per cent in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. With an ever increasing unemployment rate, many live well below the poverty line. The situation is described as being dire. Many preventable communicable diseases are suffered by the residents due to a lack of fresh drinking water, because of the destruction of a water purification plant, and lack of fuel which is needed to pump and treat sewage adding to the ever declining situation.

Public health is in crisis while the world watches on and does very little. Political shenanigans are played out while the pawns in this bigger game, namely the common man in Gaza, continue to suffer. Many wonder why their Arab neighbours do very little or nothing for their plight.

UNRWA describes the situation in the Gaza Strip as a “population suffering psychological trauma, poverty and environmental degradation, which has had a negative impact on residents’ physical and mental health; many, including children, suffer from anxiety, distress and depression.”

In July, the World Health Organisation described the situation as coming “close to collapse”. Electricity cuts and continued shortages of medicines and medical supplies in the Gaza Strip are severely restricting the access of two million people to critical medical care, WHO has warned. At least 30 hospitals, 70 primary health care centres and a blood bank are at risk of full or partial closure due to continued power outages and insufficient fuel or spare parts for back-up generators.

In October, Fatah and Hamas signed a preliminary reconciliatory deal over the control of the Gaza Strip, part of a series of attempts to end a decade long territorial, political and ideological split that has been crippling for individuals and statehood aspirations. Under the agreement, the Palestinian Authority is to take full control of the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip by December. In exchange, crippling restrictions on the electricity supply are to be lifted. Yet residents are not holding on to any hope; they have been promised so much over the years.

Dr Shadi Al-Yazji, a specialist dental surgeon in Gaza, gained his primary training in Bangalore, India, then moved to the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He describes how he was funded by the Sudanese government to become a specialist in his field. Sudan is well known for supporting many disadvantaged peoples throughout the globe.

Al-Yazli spoke about the general problems he faces with medical health care in Gaza. “The lack of availability of basic medicines which are supposed to come from Ramallah [the PA-controlled West Bank] is a real issue and is getting worse. The lack of many capable specialties such as cardiac surgery and neuro surgery, providing lifesaving care is non-existent. There is great difficulty in referring cases via the Erez gate as well as via the Rafah gate to Egypt, which is often closed for months on end.”

Al-Yazji describes day-today challenges in completing his work including a lack of electricity, “now only four hours a day and cut for 12 hours at a time”. This, he explains, puts severe restrictions on when and for how long he can treat patients.

Low incomes in the Strip mean patients are unable to afford the treatment they need leaving Al-Yazji offering huge discounts with prices only covering his overheads and the costs of feeding his family.

What can be done?

Al-Yazji feels that over the next few years there needs to be a concerted effort by central government to concentrate on preventive health campaigns. Should the matter be ignored, the morbidity rate will only increase, in particular patient care in oncology and cardiology. “We are seeing a serious spike in cancer cases in Gaza,” he explains.

It is clear that there is an ongoing effort to disable all public health amenities and keep the population surviving on the breadline. Unemployment brings with it financial strife which leads to a lack of nutrition. This is of particular important during pregnancy, for newborns and infants. Malnourishment can lead children to be immunocompromised leaving them at greater risk of being infected by a disease that an otherwise healthy child would not succumb to.

Collective punishment

Whatever one’s political viewpoint, the question remains should mothers and babies be subjected to collective punishment?

“Why should the world over be provided with funding to treat diseases such as diabetes , blood pressure, high cholesterol, big killers in the world often caused by excesses and overindulging, when in Gaza mothers and babies die because of the lack of basic medical care?” Al-Yazji asks.

Surely to bring peace to any land and any human, there has to be justice. If a child growing up in Gaza or the West Bank sees no justice, how can they then trust the world to make decisions on their behalf and really feel that peace is within sight? Is peace mere talk? Are their grandfathers right that there will never be peace without justice? Maybe for the people of Gaza the World Employment Conference and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are just another exercise on paper which are not afforded to them but are available to the rest of the world. Perhaps like the impotence of the UN and the Security Council.

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Israeli troops wounds more than 40 Palestinians in protests over US Jerusalem move

Tension has risen across the Palestinian territories since US President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Israeli troops shot and wounded more than 40 Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank on Friday, Israeli medical officials said as reported by Reuters, as protests over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital entered a second week. Reports all other sources report 900 wounded and 4 killed during yesterday’s clashes.

Near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, Israeli police troopers said they shot a man after he stabbed and hurt one of their unit. Medical officials said three more Palestinians were shot and wounded in the West Bank. A further 38 were wounded on the border of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas have called for a revolt against Israel in protest against Trump’s December 6 decision.

The Israeli military said that about 2,500 Palestinian took part in riots in the West Bank, rolling flaming tyres and throwing firebombs and rocks at soldiers and border police. Troops took action to break up the riots, it said in a statement. Over 300 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank since the protests began last week.

Similar scenes occurred along the border with Gaza Strip, where about 3,500 Palestinians demonstrated.

“During the violent riots IDF soldiers fired selectively towards main instigators,” the military said.

Read: Malaysian army ‘ready to perform its duty’ towards Palestinians

Trump’s announcement, reversing decades of US policy which treated Jerusalem’s status as a matter for Israeli-Palestinian negotiation, stirred anger across the Arab and Muslim world and concern among Washington’s European allies.

Tension has risen across the Palestinian territories since US President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory, and say the status of the city should be left to be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

While the international community has almost unanimously disagreed with Donald Trump’s announcement, reports suggest that the announcement was done with the pre-agreement of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with the Saudi Arabia going as far as, allegedly, stating to the Palestinian President to accept a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem as the alternative Palestinian capital.

US Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to visit Israel, as well as Egypt, next week. However, due to the PA’s refusals to meet him, he has now cancelled part of his trip.

VIDEO: Israel stops Palestinian ambulance arrests teen girls

(Source / 16.12.2017)

900 wounded, 4 killed incl wheelchair-bound Gazan as Israel cracks down on protesters

Israeli occupation forces yesterday killed four Palestinian protesters and wounded 793 others in occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said.

The Palestinian sources identified the four dead as Basil Ibrahim, 29, from Jerusalem, Mohamed Aqel, 21, from Hebron, Yaser Sukkar, 23, and Ibrahim Abu-Thurayya, 29, from Gaza.

One of the dead, Abu-Thurayya, was disabled having lost both his legs previously. He was shot by an Israeli sniper in the head.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) said that the Israeli occupation wounded 793 protesters across the occupied territories.

According to the PRC, 566 were wounded in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and 227 in the Gaza Strip. It noted that the Israeli occupation forces shot 111 of them with live bullets.

article continues after images

Read: Israeli troops wounds more than 40 Palestinians in protests over US Jerusalem move

Spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf Al-Qidra said in a statement that the Israeli occupation forces used explosive live bullets in its crackdown on the unarmed protesters.

Al-Qidra called for the regional powers and the international community to protect unarmed Palestinian protesters from the “savage crackdown” of the Israeli occupation.

Read: Malaysian army ‘ready to perform its duty’ towards Palestinians

Trump’s announcement, reversing decades of US policy which treated Jerusalem’s status as a matter for Israeli-Palestinian negotiation, stirred anger across the Arab and Muslim world and concern among Washington’s European allies.

Tension has risen across the Palestinian territories since US President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory, and say the status of the city should be left to be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

While the international community has almost unanimously disagreed with Donald Trump’s announcement, reports suggest that the announcement was done with the pre-agreement of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with the Saudi Arabia going as far as, allegedly, stating to the Palestinian President to accept a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem as the alternative Palestinian capital.

US Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to visit Israel, as well as Egypt, next week. However, due to the PA’s refusals to meet him, he has now cancelled part of his trip.

VIDEO: Israel stops Palestinian ambulance arrests teen girls

 

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Humanitarian cases among 529 Palestinians crossing Rafah terminal

529 passengers Rafah

The Gaza-based Palestinian Ministry of Interior said 529 Palestinians had left the Gaza Strip to Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Saturday.

Ten buses carrying 529 passengers passed through Rafah crossing point after the Egyptian authorities unblocked the passageway for a two-way opening for four days.

Among those who crossed the passageway were 317 students, 25 sick passengers and their companions, along with a dead citizen in an ambulance car.

The Palestinian Ministry of Interior urged registered passengers to flock to Abu Yousef al-Najar terminal in Khan Younis pending their transfer.

The Egyptian authorities have kept Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s sole passageway, shut down since March. Since the start of 2017, the crossing has been opened for 18 days only, leaving thousands of Gazans, including hundreds of sick civilians and humanitarian cases, stranded.

(Source / 16.12.2017)