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Dagelijks archief 11 mei 2018

One dead as Gaza heads into last Friday protest before Nakba Day

Palestinians have been demonstrating for a month and a half to denounce the abysmal situation in besieged Gaza

Gaza return tyres and pliers

Palestinian demonstrators hold tyres to burn near the Israeli fence, as well as pliers to cut through heaps of barbed wire installed by the Israeli army

GAZA CITY – One Palestinian was killed in Gaza on Friday as the six-week “Great March of Return” headed into its last days ahead of Nakba Day on 15 May.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are joining demonstrations to demand the right of return sought by the besieged territory’s 1.3 million refugees.

The Gaza Ministry of Health identified the slain Palestinian as Jaber Salem Abu Mustafa, 40, adding that he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces east of Khan Younis.

Demonstrators have been gathering several hundred metres from the fence separating Israel from Gaza since 30 March to demand the right to return to their pre-1948 homes, highlighting different issues at stake in the blockaded strip – such as unemployment and the struggles of Palestinian youth.

Reports emerged on Friday that Israeli forces were heavily firing tear gas at the crowds in some areas, while at least five protesters were shot with live bullets east of Gaza City.

Another person was also reportedly shot east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, where a crew of journalists from Al-Aqsa TV was allegedly targeted with tear gas.

Several journalists were reported injured by live bullets and tear gas canisters across the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian protester assembles a makeshift kite in Gaza on 11 May (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

The Ministry of Health reported that 167 people had been injured as of 5pm local time, including at least three minors and one paramedic.

The ministry shared a graphic photograph of a 16-year-old boy in critical condition after having his cheek perforated by unidentified ammunition east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Earlier in the day protesters partially removed barbed wire set up by Israeli forces near the fence to prevent Palestinians from getting closer.

Friday’s demonstration was dubbed “Preparedness and Foreboding Friday”, in anticipation of the final protest of the march early next week.

The march was initially set to end on 15 May – the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

However, the final demonstration has been scheduled for Monday 14 May due to the imminent beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“On 14 and 15 May, we will fly kites with peaceful slogans for our right of return, we will burn tyres and cut the barbed wire, as we do not recognise this fence nor the Israeli borders,” Ayman, a member of the group of protesters who lead the activities closer to the fence, told MEE while holding large pliers meant to cut through the barbed wire.

Monday also marks the day when the United States is set to inaugurate the move of its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a move that has provoked anger among Palestinians.

‘The scent of my village’

A number of older refugees participated in Friday’s protest, reminiscing about their childhood memories before and during the Nakba of 1948.

“Today is the first time in my life I have come near the border. I stand near the return protest tents, and I turn my sight northeast in the direction of Bir Saba,” 73-year-old refugee Umm Usama told Middle East Eye on Friday, referring to her village of origin, now the location of the Israeli city of Beersheba.

“I keep in my heart all the stories that my father used to tell me about my village. I can still smell the scent of my village.

“I am relieved to see how this generation is aware of their right of return, unafraid of Israeli artillery,” she added. “The Israelis should not kill our right of return the same way they kill our children.”

Umm Usama stands with an injured younger relative

“We know that the Israelis are stronger than us, as they have weapons,” said Umm Raed, who was only two weeks old when her family was forced to flee their village of Barbara, only 20 kilometres away from the Gaza Strip.

“But our rights make us stronger. I will be the first to participate in the Nakba Day protest, I will come with my relatives and neighbours so that the whole world witnesses our unified stance for our right of return.”

According to the latest Gaza ministry of health tally on Wednesday, Israeli forces stationed behind the fence had killed 47 Palestinians and wounded 8,536 during demonstrations. AFP has counted an additional five Palestinian deaths since 30 March, outside the scope of the protests.

Wael, 29, was shot in the leg during a demonstration on 4 May, but nonetheless returned to protest a week later, despite still being on crutches.

“I am unemployed, I have no hope in this life. I protest hoping that we can change our lives, advocate for our rights and lift the siege imposed against Gaza. We want to let the whole world know that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza needs to end,” he told MEE. “Our right of return is our last hope.”

Palestinian protester Wael swings a slingshot a week after being shot and wounded by Israeli forces

No Israeli casualties have been reported, although several fires have erupted along the border after kites carrying improvised incendiary devices made their way into Israel.

On Friday, Israeli police reported on social media that three Israelis had been arrested after trying to fly kites into Gaza to set lands there on fire.

The Israeli army’s violent response to the demonstrations has sparked outrage globally, as more than 2,000 Palestinians have been struck by live bullets, and 24 wounded had to undergo amputations after being denied Israeli permits to exit Gaza and receive treatment in the occupied West Bank.

READ MORE ►

‘We have the right to live’: Why Palestinians in Gaza will keep protesting

International NGO Save the Children denounced on Friday the army’s targeting of Palestinian minors in Gaza, noting that out of more than 700 wounded children, at least 250 had been hit by live bullets.

“We are deeply concerned by the high number of children who have been hit by live ammunition and we agree with the high commissioner for human rights that this could suggest an excessive use of force and may amount to unlawful killing and maiming,” Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children’s country director for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement.

“The result has been devastating for the children of Gaza – physically and psychologically. Many have been injured, and many more have seen their parents or loved ones either hurt at the protests, or suffering increasing hardship in their daily lives.”

The Israeli army has rejected repeated pleas by the international community – including the United Nations – to use restraint and to conduct an independent inquiry into the deaths, maintaining the necessity of its open-fire policy, which it says targets “terrorists”.

 

Jamil Dakwar@jdakwar

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issues strongly worded statement (under its early warning and urgent action procedures) condemning Israel’s use of disproportionate force against demonstrators and calling to lift the blockade on #Gaza. #GreatReturnMarch

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called for a global arms embargo against Israel, accusing its forces of “carrying out a murderous assault” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 11.05.2018)

Israel on alert ahead of US embassy move, Nakba Day

Israeli occupation forces aim at Palestinian protesters in Hizma, West Bank

Israel has made large scale security arrangements ahead of next week’s US embassy move to Jerusalem and the anniversary of Nakba Day.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, on Monday – when the US embassy is due to be inaugurated in occupied Jerusalem and when Israelis will be celebrating “independence” – police plan to create a wall of security officers and snipers and to deploy helicopters for surveillance in the neighbourhood where the embassy is located.

The call to prayer will also be banned in Jerusalem while the ceremony takes place at the new embassy.

A number of Palestinian factions have called for a general strike on Monday and for people to come and protect against America’s unilateral move.

Read: Israel bans Al-Aqsa Imam from entering West Bank

Last December, US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel, and announced that he would transfer his country’s embassy to the holy city.

Dozens of events are planned to celebrate “Israeli independence”, the largest of which is the Israeli flags march in which more than 20,000 people are expected to participate. Channel 2 reported that participants will surround the occupied Old City of Jerusalem before heading to the Western (Buraq) Wall.

Palestinians will mark Nakba Day – when nearly a million were forced to flee their homes to make way for the formation of the state of Israel – on Tuesday.

(Source / 11.05.2018)

Palestinian killed in last Friday protests before Nakba anniversary

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is carried by health team members after getting injured on intervention of Israeli occupation forces during a demonstration within the "Great March of Return" in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 11 May 2018. [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is carried by health team members after getting injured on intervention of Israeli occupation forces during a demonstration within the “Great March of Return” in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 11 May 2018

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man and injured nearly 170 today as thousands of Gazans protested on the last Friday before the US embassy moves to Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the Nakba next week.

Demonstrations this week were once again met with violence from Israeli forces who fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at protesters participating in the Great March of Return.

40-year-old Jabir Abu Mustafa was killed in the 'Great March of Return' protest in the Gaza Strip on 11 May 2018 [Al-Quds/Twitter]

Jabir Abu Mustafa became the latest victim of Israel’s heavy handed response to the unarmed demonstrators. The 40-year-old was killed while protesting east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, medics said.

At least 48 people have been injured as of 4pm local time according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, including at least two journalists, one of whom was identified as Yasser Qudah who was clearly wearing a vest marked “PRESS”. At least 16 people have been hit with live ammunition.

Israeli police also reported on social media that three Israelis had been arrested after trying to fly kites into Gaza to set lands there on fire.

Palestinians dubbed today the “Friday of Preparation and Foreboding” ahead of the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday. The Palestinian Authority has announced that Monday will be a Day of Rage, calling on Palestinians to protest against the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Tuesday will also see demonstrations as the Great March of Return culminates on the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Read: Official: Over 2m Palestinians live tragic situation in Gaza

Over 6,800 Gazans have been wounded during the demonstrations and at least 49 people have been killed by Israeli forces over the past six weeks.

Concerns have also been raised over the type of wounds being caused by Israeli forces; over 2,000 people have been wounded as a result of live fire, with Israeli forces using the “butterfly bullet” that explodes after becoming lodged in the victim, resulting in irreparable damage to the tissue. Gaza doctors say they have not seen such severe wounds since Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is carried by health team members after getting injured on intervention of Israeli occupation forces during a demonstration within the "Great March of Return" as smoke rises near Gaza-Israel border in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 11 May 2018. [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli army’s disproportionate use of force during the protests has drawn international criticism and calls for an independent probe – which Israel has rejected. Earlier today, international NGO Save the Children condemned the army’s targeting of Palestinian minors in Gaza, noting that out of more than 700 wounded children, at least 250 had been hit by live bullets.

However, earlier this week reports surfaced which suggested that the Israeli military has made limited changes to its open fire regulations for soldiers on the border after the first two weeks of the protests, which began on 30 March, following a “very high” death toll amongst Palestinian demonstrators at the hands of Israeli snipers.

Despite the deaths of two journalists and the injury of some 70 others by Israeli forces, the head of the Palestinian Government Information Office in Gaza, Salama Marouf, announced this week that there had been a “notable” increase in the number of foreign journalists visiting Gaza since the start of the Great March of Return.

Read: Israel envoy to UK says slain demonstrators ‘not innocent civilians’

(Source / 11.05.2018)

Dawabsheh family survives second settler arson attack

A Palestinian girl stands in her living room after it was set alight by Jewish settlers in the West Bank on 11 May 2018

Jewish settlers set fire to a house belonging to the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus early this morning, according to eyewitness.

“A group of settlers attacked my home at dawn today, breaking a window and throwing a Molotov cocktail inside before fleeing the scene,” Yasser Dawabsheh said.

“We were lucky that I was able to hear them when they attacked, so I was able to evacuate all my family,” he said.

“Fire crews reacted quickly and put out the fire before the whole house burnt down,” he added.

Police are reportedly investigating the incident.

Read: Palestinian hospitalised after settler drives in to him

In July of 2015, Israeli settlers torched the Dawabsheh family home in an attack that claimed the lives of Saad and Riham Dawabsheh and their 18-month-old baby.

Their eldest son, Ahmed, 6, survived the attack, but suffered severe burns that have affected his mobility.

The attack sparked international outrage, with the family accusing Israel of dragging its feet in prosecuting the suspects, despite admissions by Israeli officials that they knew who was responsible.

(Source / 11.05.2018)