Israeli shelling on Gaza kills Palestinian farmer

Relatives of Omar Wahid Semmur (28), who was killed by Israeli artillery fire while he was working in the field, mourn around his funeral at European Gaza Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza on March 30, 2018

A Palestinian farmer was killed and another injured Friday morning by Israeli artillery shelling in farming areas in the southern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that the farmer Omar Wahid Samour, 28, from the town of Bani Suheila, was killed by Israeli shelling, while, Ahmed Salim al-Shami, 23, was slightly injured. They added that Samour and al-Shami were working in their field near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The Israeli army has yet to comment on the incident.

Friday’s shelling comes only hours before planned Palestinian demonstrations in which Gazans plan to converge on the Gaza-Israel border.

All major Palestinian factions have endorsed the planned rallies, during which Gazan protesters will converge en masse on the strip’s roughly 45-kilometer-long eastern border with Israel.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has suffered from a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its more than 2 million inhabitants of basic commodities.

(Source / 30.03.2018)

Independent Study Accusing UN of Involvement in Killing & Starvation of Syrian Civilians

A study prepared by an independent Syrian studies center accused the United Nations of involvement in the humanitarian tragedy affecting various areas across Syria and that has already resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians of hunger and lack of medical supplies. The study said that the United Nations bears primary responsibility for forcing Syrian civilians to leave their areas or agree to humiliating so-called reconciliation deals with the Assad regime.

The study, which was published on the website of the Al-Jisr TV channel on Thursday, said that the failure to enforce the humanitarian provisions of UN resolutions led to medical aid reaching barely 3.5 percent of those in need and to food aid reaching as few as 0.07 percent in 2015.

The study emphasized that international resolutions demanding the delivery of food and medical aid to those in need in the besieged areas did not require authorization or approval from the Assad regime. These resolutions indicated that the Assad regime needed only to be notified of the aid deliveries. They also demanded that the UN aid convoys should be protected as they passed through conflict lines and border crossings.

“The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has shifted from notifying the Assad regime to requesting permission from it,” the study added. “This renders the UN a partner in the starvation and siege of Syrian civilians as well as deaths resulting from lack of food and medical supplies which are being either blocked from entering the besieged areas or removed from the aid convoys that were given a permission to go ahead.”

The study wondered as to why the United Nations had walked out on the resolutions it passed on Syria especially after the Assad regime accused it of smuggling weapons in the aid convoys.

The Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta was the scene of the largest mass forced displacement and demographic change in Syria by the Assad regime and Russia. The crime took place despite the adoption of UNSC resolution 2401 demanding a ceasefire in Syria, especially in eastern Ghouta and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

The Syrian Coalition earlier stressed that the continued international inaction served as a green light for the Assad regime to carry out genocide in eastern Ghouta and other areas across Syria.

The Assad regime has used siege and starvation against the liberated areas for several years and committed large-scale war crimes against civilians. The Coalition demanded the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court to hold all war criminals accountable.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 30.03.2018)

Report: 28 Palestinian journalists detained in Israeli jails

Palestinians hold a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza City, Gaza on 31 July, 2017 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians hold a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza City

The number of Palestinian journalists held in Israeli prisons has risen to 28 detainees following the arrest of three journalists over the past few days, the Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists announced yesterday.

In a statement, the Committee condemned what it described as the “barbaric and arbitrary” Israeli arrests of Palestinian journalists.

“The Israeli occupation tries to muzzle the Palestinian journalists’ mouths and to prevent them from unmasking its barbaric practices in the occupied Palestinian territories to the international media,” the Committee added.

The Israeli forces, the Committee pointed out, recently arrested the Director of Information at the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Thaer Shartih, after they had stormed his house in Ramallah’s northern village of Al-Mazraa Al-Gharbia.

Last Saturday, Israeli forces arrested Bakr Abdel Haqq, a correspondent for the Palestinian Authority’s broadcaster Palestine TV, at the Al-Karama border crossing between Israel and Jordan as he was returning after receiving a reporting award in Cairo. He was then interrogated at Al-Maskobia police station in Jerusalem.

Earlier in the month, the occupation forces arrested 21-year-old Ola Marshoud from the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, after she was summoned for interrogation which lasted several hours.

The Committee also pointed to the extension of the detention of the six Palestinian journalists, Mahmoud Issa, Salah Awad, Ahmed El-Saifi, Hamam Atili, Yousef Shalabi and Munzer Khalaf Mufleh, all of whom were handed prison sentences in previous years.

There are another six journalists who have been held under administrative detention in Israeli jails on incitement charges. They are Nidal Abu Akkar, Hammam Hantash, Mohammed Shukri Awad, Abdullah Shatat, Estabruq Tamimi and Beshra Al Tawil, according to the Committee statement.

(Source / 30.03.2018)

Gazans converge on Israel border for ‘Return’ marches

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Friday converged on the strip’s eastern border with Israel, where they are holding rallies reaffirming their right to return to their ancestral homes in historical Palestine.

Friday’s mass demonstrations are also intended to pressure Israel to lift its decade-long blockade of the coastal enclave.

The rallies have been endorsed by virtually all Palestinian political factions, which have repeatedly stressed the event’s peaceful nature.

By midday, tens of thousands of Palestinians had already arrived to different areas along the border in the northern, central and southern Gaza Strip, according to correspondents in the area.

Tent camps have been set up along the border — only 700 meters from the border fence in some cases — for planned open-ended sit-ins following Friday’s marches.

Palestinian activists have described the tent camps as “the staging point for our return to the land from which we were expelled in 1948”.

Some of those taking part in Friday’s marches have scrawled the names of the towns or villages from which their families were displaced above the entrances of their tents.

Organizers have also provided free bussing to the border for anyone who wants to take part in the event.

Only hours before the marches kicked off Friday morning, a Palestinian farmer was killed when an Israeli artillery shell struck his farmland in the southern Gaza Strip.

By midday, Palestinian health officials were already reporting injuries from the border.

“Three marchers were moderately injured by Israeli army gunfire in different areas along the strip’s eastern border,” Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement.

Dubbed the “Great Return March”, Friday’s rallies in the Gaza Strip also coincide with Land Day, which commemorates the murder of six Palestinians by Israeli forces in 1976.

(Source / 30.03.2018)

Israeli forces kill 10 in Gaza as Palestinians demonstrate on Land Day

Israeli forces have killed nine protesters and a farmer in Gaza as Palestinians call for right of return, end to land grabs

Wounded Pal

A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli security forces

Israeli forces killed at least 10 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday, according to Palestinian authorities, as tens of thousands of protesters were demonstrating across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel on Friday on “Land Day”, notably marking the beginning of the “Great March of Return” in Gaza.

The Gaza Ministry of Health confirmed that nine Palestinian demonstrators had been killed by Israeli forces on the border with Israel, identifying the slain Palestinians as Mohammad Kamel Najjar, 29, who was killed near Jabalia in northern Gaza; Mahmoud Abu Muammar, 38, near Rafah in the south; Mohammad Abu Amro, a well-known artist in the Gaza Strip; 16-year-old Ahmad Odeh, north of Gaza City; Jihad Farina, 33, east of Gaza City; Mahmoud Rahmi, 33; Ibrahim Abu Shaer 22, near Rafah; Abd al-Fattah Bahjat Abd al-Nabi, 18; abd Abd al-Qader al-Hawajra, 42, killed in central Gaza.

The Ministry also stated that at least 1,000 demonstrators had been wounded as of late afternoon, although a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society told MEE they estimated that some 800 protesters in Gaza had been injured by live fire.

Hours before the protests, an Israeli tank shell killed one Gaza farmer and wounded another, the Gaza health ministry said.

Thousands of Palestinians gathering east of the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shejaiya for Land Day demonstrations on 30 March

“Omar Samour, 27, was martyred and another citizen was wounded as a result of (Israeli) targeting of farmers east of Qarara village,” a Gaza health ministry spokesman said. Residents of the southern Gaza Strip village said Samour had been gathering crops to sell later.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the incident. “Overnight two suspects approached the security fence and began operating suspiciously and the tank fired towards them,” the spokesman said.

‘Brutal violation’

Human rights NGO Adalah denounced the Israeli army’s use of live fire as a “brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants,” and called for an investigation into the killings.

The Israeli army announced in a statement that it had declared the border area of the Gaza Strip a closed military zone – meaning all Palestinians getting close to the border fence could risk getting shot.

“The march has achieved its goals, it has shaken the pillars of the entity (Israel), and laid the first brick for the road of return,” Ismail Haniyeh, one of Hamas’ top political leaders, told MEE, while visiting a protest camp in Gaza.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at a demonstration in Gaza for the “Great Return March”

Held annually, Land Day marks the killing by Israeli troops of six Palestinian citizens of Israel on 30 March 1976 during a protest against land confiscations.

In the Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million of the small territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, protest organisers have called for six weeks of demonstrations called the “Great March of Return” along the border of the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel, starting on Friday and culminating on 15 May for Nakba Day.

Palestinians wave flags and fly kites during a demonstration as part of the Great Return March on 30 March

“Seven hundred meters away from those soldiers lies my right and the Palestinian people’s right to return home after 70 years of displacement. We will not wait another 70,” Alaa Shahin, a young Palestinian man who was celebrating his wedding at a protest camp near Jabaliya, told MEE.

“I still keep the original documents for our land in Nilya, which I inherited from my father,” said Yousef al-Kahlout, a retired history teacher who attended one of the Gaza demonstrations on Friday with five of his grandchildren. “Today, I explain to my grandchildren that they have the right to regain possession of it if I am not alive to achieve my dream to return.”

Youssef al-Kahlout and his grandchildren hold signs bearing the name of their village of origin in a tent protest camp in northern Gaza

While Gaza organisers have insisted that the demonstrations will be peaceful, several incidents of Gazans being detained after entering Israel in recent days – including three Palestinians who were carrying weapons – have seen Israeli forces keen to prove their control of the situation.

The Israeli army confirmed in a statement that it was using “riot dispersal means” – a term typically used to refer to tear gas and sound bombs – as well as firing at “main instigators” of the protest.

Israel’s military chief said on Wednesday that more than 100 snipers had been deployed on the Gaza border ahead of the planned mass demonstration near the frontier. Heavy earth-moving vehicles have built up dirt mounds on the Israeli side of the border and barbed wire has been placed as an additional obstacle against any mass attempt to breach the border into Israeli territory.

A wounded protester is carried away after being shot by Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip

Land Day protests in Israel, West Bank

Meanwhile, Palestinians demonstrated in Israel and the West Bank on Friday to commemorate Land Day. In the Palestinian-majority town of Arraba in the Galilee region of northern Israel, thousands, including Palestinian MPs from the Israeli Knesset, heads of municipalities, and religious figures, took to the streets.

Prior to the march, members of the Knesset’s High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel visited the graves of the six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were killed during the first Land Day March in 1976, in cemeteries in Arraba, Sakhnin, and Deir Hanna.

“Israel is still stealing and confiscating our lands, and the oppression continues against our people inside ’48, in the diaspora, and in Gaza,” Arraba Mayor Ali Asleh said in a speech, using a term to refer to the lands on which Israel declared its state in 1948.

Palestinian citizens of Israel march in Arraba to mark Land Day

According to Palestinian media, clashes took places in some West Bank towns, including Ramallah-al-Bireh, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, and a number of villages.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent told MEE that the organisation treated at least 63 demonstrators in the West Bank, the majority of whom suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation, while at least 10 were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets.

On 30 March 1976, Israeli forces killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel during a protest against land confiscations. Palestinians have since marked Land Day for the past 42 years to denounce Israeli policies to take over Palestinian land.

This year’s Land Day comes on the heels of months of anger over US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, largely perceived as the United States rejecting Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem as their capital as part of a two-state solution.

Nakba Day this year will also mark 70 years since the creation of the state of Israel and the forced displacement of 750,000 Palestinians, whose descendants now number millions living as refugees abroad or in the occupied Palestinian territory.

With Israeli political discourse veering further to the right under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinians have grown increasingly disillusioned regarding the likelihood of negotiations or an improvement in their living situation in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel itself.

(Source / 30.03.2018)

Israel extends detention of student leader kidnapped from West Bank university

Omar Al-Kiswani, a Palestinian student leader, is on hunger-strike in protest of his detention, torture and interrogation without charges

An Israeli occupation military court renewed the detention of Omar Al-Kiswani, head of the Students’ Council, who was kidnapped by undercover Israeli forces from Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, Al-Resalah newspaper reported yesterday.

Lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club Mamoun Al-Hashim said that Al-Kiswani stopped drinking water since Tuesday in protest against the harsh investigations he is undergoing at Al-Maskopia Israeli Detention Centre.

According to the lawyer, he is exposed to investigation sessions lasting for hours and he is prevented from sleeping.

This is the third time the Israeli military court in Ofer Prison has renewed Al-Kiswani’s detention, the lawyer said, noting that the court extended his detention for six days under the pretext of completing the investigations.

Read: New report demolishes Israeli claims over ‘reform’ of military detention for minors

He also said that Al-Kiswani is prevented by the Israeli occupation authorities from meeting lawyers until the first of April.

On 7 March, a group of Israeli occupation forces claimed they were journalists, raided the university and attacked Al-Kiswani before kidnapping him.

(Source / 29.03.2018)

Israel: Raed Salah can be released, placed under house arrest

Leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah (C) appears in court after he was taken into custody in Haifa, Israel on 28 March 2018

An Israeli court has ruled that Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, can be released from prison and put under house arrest.

The Haifa Magistrates’ Court issued the ruling yesterday seven months after Salah was arrested and held on charges of “incitement to terror”.

According to the terms of his release, Salah will wear an electronic tag, be prohibited from using the internet or mobile phones, be banned from holding public meetings or giving speeches and has had a travel ban imposed on him.

The mayor of Umm Al-Fahm, Salah has been arrested on numerous occasions as a result of his activism against Israeli efforts to Judaise Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Read: Israel court delays approval of conditional release of Raed Salah

Charges levied against him include that of “incitement”, channelling funds to Hamas and criticising Israeli policy on his Facebook account.

Sheikh Salah was arrested from his house on 25 August 2017 and was indicted nine days later by the Israeli Public Prosecution. He was accused of violating the law and inciting terror after he referred to three Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces “martyrs”.

Israel then accused him of inciting violence during the wave of protests against the authorities’ placement of metal detectors at the gates of the compound and their restriction of the vast majority of worshippers from entering.

An Israeli court in Haifa ordered that he remain in prison until the end of the judicial measures against him. His defence team appealed the ruling, but the appeal was turned down by the court.

Though the Haifa District Court’s decision was made yesterday, its will only be implemented once an appeal is heard today.

(Source / 29.03.2018)

3-year-old Palestinian briefly detained by Israel

Israeli occupation forces felt threatened by a Palestinian toddler who was carrying a ‘courgette corer’ and detained him.

Israeli occupation forces tried to arrest a three-year-old Palestinian child who was playing outside his home in the occupied West bank city of Hebron, a video posted online has shown.

According to Raed Abu Rumaila, who uploaded the footage, soldiers mocked and swore at the toddler as he played in the Ibrahimi Mosque neighbourhood of the city. The boy later went into his house and returned with a “courgette corer”. He was then detained by the soldiers.

Clearly distressed, the three-year-old was released after his brothers intervened and forced the soldiers to let him go.

Hundreds of Palestinian children are unlawfully arrested by Israel on an annual basis. According to Defence for Children International – Palestine 10,000 Palestinians aged between 12 and 17 have been arrested by occupation forces in the West Bank since 2000.

(Source / 29.03.2018)

Palestinians Prepare for Great Return March & Israel threatens

Great March Return

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates strongly condemns the Israeli threats against the Palestinian people ingeneral, and against our resilient people in Gaza strip in particular,especially on Land Day(March 30), wherePalestinians are planning a “Mass March of Return”, when thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are expected to stand on fences marking the borders with Israel, commemorating the Israeli expropriation of lands in 1976 in the Galilee; in which public threats of judicial killings were issued by Israeli officials, the most prominent of these threats is the statement of the Israeli Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Gadi Eizenkot.

Eizenkot bragged that he had given a death warrant to hundreds of snipers deployed on the border of the Gaza Strip and who to target unarmed Palestinian citizens participating in peaceful protests. Eisenkot justified this radical statement: “If the snipers feel the lives of Israelis is under threat”, which reminds us of the same statement that was authorized by the Israeli  government’s decision to allow Israeli soldiers to kill Palestinian citizens as they wish, which resulted in hundreds or even thousands of executions on the ground against our people. These executions, were later documented in videos that proved that these crimes against Palestiniansare done with premeditation, without causing any danger to the Israeli soldiers.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, bears full and direct responsibility for the consequences of this extremist criminal

The ministry affirms that this authorization to commit murders against Palestinians is a continuation of the fascist, racist and colonial ideologies that are based on violence and organized state terrorism. Therefore, Israeli officials publicly admit that they are preparing to commit a massacre on Friday against our people, and here we ask: What will the international community do? The Ministry assures that the failure to hold Israel accountable as an occupying force for its crimes and violations has encouraged Israeli politicians, military and security officials to continue to abuse, suppress our people, aiming to exterminate the national existence in Palestine.

The biased and unlimited American support for the occupation’s policies and measures,and the double standards of many countries in their foreign policy has encouraged the expansion of the colonial projects, in addition to escalating the mass murder of Palestinians.

The international community must realize, before it is too late, the magnitude of the catastrophic consequences of the colonial ideology of force and violence that lead to the repression and killing of unarmed Palestinian citizens solely for their participation in peaceful protests.

All major Palestinian factions have endorsed the planned rallies, during which demonstrators plan to converge en masse on the Gaza Strip’s roughly 45-kilometer-long eastern border with Israel.

While the event is meant to ratchet up pressure on Israel to lift its decade-long blockade of the strip, it is also intended to reiterate the Palestinians’ right to return to their homes in historical Palestine.

Last Monday Gaza-based members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convened near the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel in the run-up to a mass demonstration — dubbed the “Great Return March”  planned for Friday.

In a special tent erected for the occasion, PLC Deputy Speaker Ahmed Bahar declared: “We have convened an unprecedented session near the temporary border [with Israel] with the aim of reaching our lands occupied in 1948.”

Bahar described  meeting on the border as “an affirmation of the sanctity of Palestinian rights, which we will never forsake”.

He also stressed the PLC’s support for the planned Friday rallies, during which, he said, “Our children will set up numerous tents along the strip’s .”

The tents, he explained, “are intended to represent the many Palestinian towns and villages from which we were expelled 70 years ago”.

According to Bahar, the rallies are also meant to “raise awareness about Israel’s crimes” in hopes of “prompting the international community to bear its legal, moral and humanitarian responsibilities vis-à-vis the Palestinian people”.

The Hamas-run Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade since 2007.

The embargo has largely destroyed the enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

(Source / 29.03.2018)

BDS calls for boycott of Israel’s ‘racist propaganda’ Netflix series

Fauda, an Israeli thriller show

The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is leading a campaign against the hit Israeli series, “Fauda”. Denouncing the widely acclaimed series as “racist propaganda for the Israeli occupation army”, BDS called on Netflix, which bought the rights to “Fauda”, to remove the show or face legal action.

In its statement announcing the campaign to boycott “Fauda”, BDS claims that the series serves as propaganda for Israel’s political and security establishment. It notes that the “Fauda” cast, including the production team, were hosted by the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, last month along with Israeli soldiers. The crew expressed gratitude to the Israeli soldiers and were described as a “source of inspiration” for the series while Rivlin expressed “gratitude” to the series’ producers.

Read: Fauda brings Israel’s ‘shoots and cries’ genre to the Netflix generation

Explaining the reasons for calling for the boycott, BDS said that “Fauda” celebrates secret Israeli military units which are known to have carried out numerous assassinations and extrajudicial executions, murder and the brutal arrest of unarmed demonstrators, including children. Yamas, for example, which is the Israeli border police unit, is accused of violating the sanctity of universities and hospitals, which constitute crimes of war under international humanitarian law, BDS campaigners have said.

“The celebration by the Israeli political and security establishment by Fauda,” stress the BDS group “reveals the contribution made by the series to Israeli propaganda efforts in concealing Israeli crimes, including ethnic cleansing, particularly in Jerusalem, the Negev and the Jordan Valley, the demolition of houses and the bulldozing of agricultural land and the siege of two million Palestinians in Gaza and the establishment of colonies.”

(Source / 29.03.2018)