IOF punishes Palestinian families in al-Khalil

Families al-Khalil punished

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) imposed sanctions on Palestinian families in Beit Ummar town in al-Khalil as a collective punishment for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at IOF soldiers and settlers.

The PIC reporter said that IOF soldiers broke into a score of Palestinian homes of Allami family and threatened them of imposing penalties against them if they persist in confronting IOF troops at the town’s main road.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

Palestinian prisoner’s health takes turn for worse in Israeli jail

Emad al-Saraj

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) raised on Wednesday alarm bells over the deteriorating health condition of prisoner Emad al-Saraj, held in an Israeli jail.

PPS spoke out against the medical neglect which prisoner al-Saraj has been subjected to in the Israeli Nafha lock-up.

Al-Saraj said he has been waiting for over a couple of months to undergo medical checks. The Israeli prison authorities reneged on their promises to bring him a doctor.

Sentenced to life and 30 years in jail, prisoner al-Saraj, a native of the blockaded Gaza Strip, has been diagnosed with a high stomach acid level that affected his vocal cords due to a hunger strike he had undergone in April 2017.

Al-Saraj has lost his ability to speak and is communicating with fellow inmates through writing.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

PA forces arrest 3 Palestinians over political affiliation

PA arrest Palestinians

The PA security forces arrested on Wednesday three Palestinians and summoned another for investigation over their political affiliations.

In Salfit, PA Preventive Service (PPS) arrested a university student after being summoned for investigation on Tuesday.

Another university student who was earlier detained in Israeli jails was also summoned for investigation in Salfit.

A second ex-prisoner was arrested in Nablus while a young man was detained in Ramallah.

In al-Khalil, PA forces launched a large-scale raid campaign where several houses were stormed and violently searched.

Locals including women were brutally beaten during the raids.

Meanwhile, seven political prisoners, from Qalqilia, resumed their hunger strike after PA forces refused their release.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

Palestinian badly injured in settlers’ attack

Mustafa al-Maghrabi

A Palestinian young man was severely injured Wednesday afternoon when a horde of Jewish settlers savagely attacked him in al-Aqsa Mosque.

Shortly after breaking into the Mosque, a group of settlers attacked the young man Mustafa al-Maghrabi near al-Silsila gate.

According to the PIC field reporter, the young man suffered serious injuries during the attack including a skull fracture.

The wounded young man was found unconscious and immediately transferred to Hadassah Hospital in critical condition.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

FAO: Iraq lost 40% of its agricultural production

Iraqis start reconstruction of their buildings after Mosul completely freed from Daesh in Mosul on 10 July, 2017 [Yunus Keleş/ Anadolu Agency]

Iraqis start the reconstruction of their buildings after Mosul completely freed from Daesh in Mosul on 10 July, 2017

Iraq has lost 40 per cent of its agricultural produce as a result of its war against Daesh, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said yesterday.

“There are 12 million Iraqis; almost a third of the country’s population who reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods,” the organisation said in a statement at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

“Restoring the crucial agriculture sector that has been severely damaged by ISIL’s takeover of vast areas of Iraq is critical to the country’s recovery from years of conflict and to its long-term prosperity,” it added, using another acronym for Daesh.

Read: The reconstruction of Iraq is no longer a priority for the US

Violence in the past few years forced farmers in northern and north-western parts of Iraq to abandon their farms, destroying or damaging harvests.

“Infrastructure such as water supply for drinking and agricultural production was damaged or destroyed. Agricultural equipment, seeds, crops, stored harvests and livestock were looted.”

According to the statement, the FAO has set up a large-scale programme to help rehabilitate irrigation systems and veterinary services to help 1.6 million people living in these areas by 2018.

The lack of rainfall this season has further damaged the agricultural sector with the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture predicting a loss of up to 30 per cent of the wheat and barley crops due to drought.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

UN slams Israel for violating Palestinian teen’s rights

Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory said; “…Israel detains and prosecutes between 500 to 700 Palestinian children in military courts annually”

Israel is violating the international Convention on the Rights of the Child by detaining a Palestinian teenager for slapping an Israeli soldier, UN human rights experts said on Tuesday.

After an incident in which she slapped an Israeli soldier, Ahed Tamimi, 17, appeared before an Israeli military court on Tuesday.

The UN experts called for her release, saying that future hearings should be held in strict accordance with international legal standards.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel has ratified, clearly states that children are to be deprived of their liberty only as a last resort, and only for the shortest appropriate period of time,” said Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.

“None of the facts of this case would appear to justify her ongoing detention prior to her trial, particularly given the concerns expressed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child about the use of pre-trial detention and detention on remand,” Lynk said.

Read: Judge orders closed trial for Ahed Tamimi

Tamimi has been held in detention since she was arrested at her home by Israeli soldiers last December when she was 16. Four days earlier, she was filmed physically confronting Israeli soldiers on her family’s property in Nabi Salah, in the occupied West Bank.

On 1 January, Tamimi was charged with a number of offenses under Israeli military law, some stemming from the December incident, and others dating back to last April. The court ruled that she should remain in detention until the end of her trial, due to reconvene in early March.

Questioned without her parents or lawyer

“Tamimi was arrested in the middle of the night by well-armed soldiers, and then questioned by Israeli security officials without a lawyer or family members present. This violates the fundamental legal guarantee to have access to counsel during interrogation,” said Jose Guevara, chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The UN experts also said that “her place of detention — Hasharon prison in Israel — [is] in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that the deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power, or to that of any other country, is prohibited, regardless of the motive.”

“Figures from Palestine show that Israel detains and prosecutes between 500 to 700 Palestinian children in military courts annually,” Lynk noted.

“We have received reports that these children are commonly mistreated while in detention, subjected to both physical and psychological abuse, deprived of access to lawyers or family members during interrogation, and tried under a military court system in which there are significant concerns regarding independence and impartiality, and which has a worryingly high conviction rate,” he said.

The experts also called on Israeli authorities to respect and ensure basic due process rights, with particular attention to the rights and protections afforded to children, and re-emphasized their call for Tamimi to be released in line with these protections.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

PA has to cancel punitive measures on Gaza or quit, insists Hamas

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman [Mohammed Asad/Apaimages]

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement is insisting that the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah should cancel its punitive measures against the Gaza Strip, Felesteen.ps has reported. Hamas denounced the PA’s decision on Tuesday to “intentionally reinforce” the measures.

The current government was formed in 2014 based on a national agreement but remains dominated by Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office was supposed to end in 2009.

A spokesman for Hamas, Fawzi Barhoum, denounced the government’s “justification” of the punitive measures, which have contributed to the “miserable” situation faced by all Palestinians in the besieged territory. The healthcare sector is particularly badly hit. According to Barhoum, the government is not meeting the needs of its hospitals and healthcare centres in Gaza and has not paid the cleaning companies working in them, pushing them to go on strike.

#GazaHealthCrisis

In fact, the spokesman pointed out, the PA government does not pay any attention to the demands of graduates and unemployed workers in both Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas, he explained, stands with all sections of Palestinian society being harmed by the PA, and “supports their demands.”

He reiterated the movement’s call for the government to end the punitive measures imposed on Gaza “immediately”. If it does not, he added, “it must quit and a government of national salvation that serves the Palestinians and protects them must be formed.”

Read: PA pushing for ‘dilapidation’ of Gaza says Hamas

(Source / 14.02.2018)

Israel demands Palestinian family pay $28,000 for jeep which killed their son

Palestinian child looks at Israeli jeep during scuffles in the West Bank city of Hebron on August 2, 2010 after Israeli authorities destroyed the irrigation system in the Jaber family's land

Palestinian child looks at Israeli jeep during scuffles in the West Bank city of Hebron on August 2, 2010

Israel has sent the family of Abdullah Ghneimat, a Palestinian in his early twenties who was crushed to death by an Israeli army jeep, a bill for $28,000 for damage caused to the vehicle which killed him.

The incident occurred at around 4am on 14 June 2015 as Ghneimat was walking home from work in the West Bank town of Kufr Malek, northeast of Ramallah. The Israeli vehicle reportedly flipped over while conducting military activities in the area, trapping Ghneimat underneath. Al Jazeera reports that Ghneimat was “denied medical attention for over three hours and bled to death under the vehicle.” The Israeli Ministry of Defence says that Ghneimat threw a Molotov cocktail at the vehicle, meaning the state is thus “immune from prosecution” regarding the killing.

The Ghneimat family has been engaged in a protracted legal battle since they filed a lawsuit against the Israeli soldiers who were driving the vehicle six months after Ghneimat’s death. The Israeli Ministry of Defence then filed a countersuit against the family, the latest development of which is the $28,000 bill for damages to the jeep.

According to Shawan Jabarin, director of independent Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, the billing of Palestinian families for damages is part of a new strategy by the Israeli authorities to punish Palestinians for any form of resistance. He told Al Jazeera: “I think they’re heading to a level where anyone who utters the word ‘occupation’ can be arrested, harassed and possibly fined.”

Read: Israel arrests donkey in Jerusalem

Iyad Ghneimat, Abdullah’s father, told Middle East Eye that he did not hold much hope for a fair trial. He lamented:

You know, not once in their existence have the Israeli courts given a fair and just trial to any Palestinian […] we would be lying to ourselves if we say there was a real chance for justice.

The possibility of Palestinians receiving compensation for harm caused to them by Israeli forces is becoming increasingly unlikely, according to a 2017 report by Israeli Human Rights organisation B’tselem. The report found that from 2012 to 2016, Israel paid an average of 3.8 million shekels (around $1 million) in compensation, a decline of more than 80 per cent from the 1997 to 2001 period. This has led to a drop of nearly 95 per cent in the number of Palestinians filing new claims in the courts, the report noted.

(Source / 14.02.2018)

54 Palestinians from Gaza died in 2017 awaiting Israeli travel permits

Palestinian children wait to receive travel permits to travel through the Rafah crossing [File photo]

Palestinian children wait to receive travel permits to travel through the Rafah crossing [File photo]

The record low rate of permits issued by Israel for Palestinians seeking vital medical treatment to travel outside the Gaza Strip underlines the urgent need for the Zionist state to end its decade-long closure of the enclave, a group of Palestinian and international rights groups have said in a joint statement. Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) confirmed that 54 Palestinians from Gaza died while they were waiting for Israeli travel permits. They added that a record level of delays by the Palestinian Authority in issuing required approvals last year, as well as Egypt’s continued closure of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza have further restricted movement and caused additional suffering to the Palestinian people.

According to the NGOs report, the Israeli authorities approved travel permits for medical reasons for only 54 per cent of those who applied in 2017, the lowest rate since the World Health Organisation (WHO) began collecting statistics in 2008. The WHO reported that 54 Palestinians, 46 of whom had cancer, died last year following the rejection or delays in their travel permit applications.

“We’re seeing Israel increasingly deny or delay access to potentially life-saving cancer and other treatment outside Gaza, with shockingly high numbers of Palestinian patients subsequently dying,” explained Aimee Shalan, the CEO of MAP. “Gaza’s healthcare system, meanwhile, having been subjected to half a century of occupation and a decade of blockade is increasingly unable to meet the needs of its population.”

Read:16 medical centres cease work due to lack of electricity, fuel in Gaza

The NGOs insisted that Israel should lift the unlawful sweeping restrictions on the freedom of movement of people from Gaza, most critically those with significant health problems.

For the past two decades, and especially since 2007 when Israel imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza, Israel has kept Gaza mostly closed, unlawfully depriving its population of basic rights. The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), among others, have declared this policy “collective punishment” and called for Israel to lift its closure. Israel controls all access to and from Gaza, with the exception of the Rafah Crossing via the Egyptian border, and all transport between Gaza and the occupied West Bank, as well as the border between the West Bank and Jordan. The Israeli authorities will not allow the Palestinians in Gaza to rebuild and open their airport — destroyed by Israel in 2001/2 — or build a functional seaport, leaving Palestinians dependent on foreign ports for travel abroad.

Travel through the Erez Crossing, Gaza’s pedestrian route to Israel, the West Bank and the outside world, is limited to what the Israeli military calls “exceptional humanitarian cases,” meaning mainly those with significant health issues and their companions, as well as prominent business people. The gradual decline in Israel’s issue of medical permits, from 92 per cent approval of applications in 2012 to 88.7 per cent in 2013; 82.4 per cent in 2014, 77.5 per cent in 2015, 62.07 per cent in 2016 and 54 per cent in 2017 indicates that Israel has increasingly restricted travel even for “exceptional humanitarian cases,” said WHO. In 2017, travel via Erez accounted for less than 1 per cent of the travel recorded in September 2000.

Palestinians from Gaza missed at least 11,000 scheduled medical appointments in 2017 after the Israeli authorities denied or failed to respond in time to applications for permits. Researchby Al Mezan, supported by MAP, into the cases of 20 Palestinians who died after missing hospital appointments due to denied or delayed travel permits found that 14 had cancer, nine of whom were women. PHRI has highlighted how women in Gaza with cancer have faced heightened obstacles to accessing medical care and consequently expended energy fighting bureaucracy rather than their illness.

#GazaHealthCrisis

The significant decline runs counter to the ever-increasing health needs in Gaza. The besieged territory’s 2 million people endure what the UN labels “a protracted humanitarian crisis.” Amid widespread poverty and unemployment, at least 10 per cent of young children are stunted by chronic malnutrition; up to half of all medicines and medical disposables in Gaza are completely depleted or below one month’s supply; and chronic electricity shortages have caused officials to cut health and other essential services.

The three Israeli military offensives on Gaza since 2008 have also taken a heavy toll on essential infrastructure and further debilitated Gaza’s health system and economy. In light of the control Israel effectively exercises over the lives and welfare of the people of Gaza, the Zionist state continues to maintain ultimate responsibility for ensuring their well-being under the laws governing military occupation, as the ICRC and UN, among others, have recognised.

“It’s unconscionable that Israel prevented so many critically ill people from accessing care that might have saved their lives,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Israel’s continued control over movement into and out of Gaza creates obligations to facilitate – not thwart – humanitarian access.”

Palestinians in Gaza require referral permits to access the more advanced health care in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, as well as in Israel. The health services most commonly requiring referral outside of Gaza are for oncology, paediatrics, cardiology and heart problems, and haematology. The Israeli authorities state that they can process priority permits in one day, although the typical waiting time averages two weeks, while “regular” cases require 23 days, and often fail to meet this timetable.

The WHO has deemed the ensuing process “neither transparent nor timely,” and the UN coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities in the occupied Palestinian territory has stated that a “minefield of interviews, paperwork, opaque procedures  and logistical hurdles stand between a cancer patient and his or her urgent treatment.”

The Palestinian Authority’s financial approval of referrals for those in need of essential medical treatment in Gaza also fell in 2017, with at least one subsequent death reported. While the PA approved about 2,000 applications in each of the first three months, this fell to under 500 in June, before increasing to more than 2,000 later in the year amid efforts at Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, according to the WHO. Additionally, the PA’s reduction of essential services to the Gaza Strip between July and December 2017 – including electricity and medical supplies – also undermined Palestinians’ right to health.

Egypt has kept the Rafah Crossing mostly closed for the population in Gaza since 2013, which contributed to restricting access to health care. Before July 2013, more than 4,000 Palestinianstravelled monthly via Rafah for health-related purposes. As a state bordering a territory with a protracted humanitarian crisis, Egypt should facilitate humanitarian access for the population. Nevertheless, ultimate responsibility remains with Israel, the occupying power.

“The Israeli government’s restrictions on movement are directly connected to patient deaths and compounded suffering as ill patients seek permits,” Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan, pointed out. “These practices form part of the closure and permit regime that prevents patients from a life of dignity, and violates the right to life.” The closure system must be abolished so that patients have safe access to healthcare in Palestinian hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territories and elsewhere, he added. “The victims and their families must have their right to justice and redress upheld.”

(Source / 14.02.2018)

Syrian Coalition Officials: No political Solution in Syria Without Ceasefire

Officials in the Syrian Coalition warned that the ceasefire agreements in Syria are at risk of total collapse as they stressed that Russia bears full responsibility for the consequences.

The remarks were made during a teleconference between members of the Coalition’s political committee and civil and military leaders in rural Hama and rural Homs. Both sides discussed the latest field developments and the intensifying onslaught on Syrian civilians by the Assad regime forces and their allied Iranian militias.

Representatives of northern rural Homs expressed concern about possible military action against civilians in the area. They pointed out that the Assad regime did not abide by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement as it continued to impose siege on the area. Participants also discussed the dire humanitarian conditions in the towns of Houla and Talbeesah.

A Representative of rural Hama said that the regime’s shelling was affecting the displaced people and civilians who were already suffering lack of the most basic necessities. He pointed out that the area straddling northern rural Homs and southern rural Hama is home to around 50,000 people who have been trapped for four years and suffer from poor living conditions.

Members of the political committee said that reaching a ceasefire is the first step on the road to political solution, warning of the total collapse of the political process should bombings and violations continued.

Members of the committee held Russia fully responsible as it claims to play the role of guarantor of the regime, calling on the international community and the United Nations to assume their full responsibilities towards civilians.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 14.02.2018)