Children in Al Khan Al-Ahmar rally to save their school

SCHOOL Al Khan Al Ahmar

Dozens of Palestinian children will rally on Monday to call on the international community and global leaders to intervene to prevent the demolition of their school. The children, whose ages range between 8 to 16 years old, are from the Jahalin tribe that has for decades lived on the hills in the periphery of Jerusalem. The tyre school – funded by the Italian government – is the only school for children from Al Khan Al Ahmar and neighbouring communities.

On May 24th 2018, the Israeli High Court ruled against an injunction by the community, paving the way for the Israeli military to demolish the school and other community structures and playing the entire community at imminent risk of forcible transfer. Over 200 homes and community structures are slated for demolition in the area.

The community in Al Khan al Ahmar-Abu is one of the 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank that the United Nations considers at risk of forcible transfer. Forcible transfer is defined as a war crime under international law.

According to Save the Children there are currently 36 school’s under threat of demolition.

Dr. Sabri Saidam, the Palestinian Minister of Education, said “we call upon our friends in the international community to protect children’s universal right to education. This school in the community of Al Khan al Ahmar is built with European funding and we urge European politicians and tax payers to join these children to help them save their school and to hold Israel to account for violations that threaten children’s rights to education and their wellbeing”.

“Two years ago, Palestine joined the growing list of countries to sign the Safe Schools Declaration. We have committed fully to adopting the guidelines to ‘support the protection of students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack”.

“I call upon our friends and partners in the international community and our counterparts in the Israeli government to commit to these guidelines and support our efforts to protect our future generations by ensuring safe access to education”.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Upending the Palestinian Leadership: The Role of Youth

The role of Youth

By: Al-Shabaka

Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law. This analysis, written by Fadi Quran, is part of the Al-Shabaka Policy Circle on Leadership and Accountability and is published alongside the contributions made by Dana El-Kurd, Marwa Fatafta, Ines Abdel Razek, Tareq Baconi, and Ali Abdel Wahab – to read their contributions see here.

Instead of bringing an end to the occupation, the current Palestinian leadership and its institutions have become a key component of it. Yet a new generation of leaders is slowly emerging. Their goal is to build a new framework for the Palestinian struggle that avoids the mistakes of the past and ensures that freedom is achieved in their lifetime. Their successful entrance into leadership will require both a reckoning with and breaking of a cycle that blocks change.Looking at former and current Palestinian leadership, one can observe a cyclical trajectory in which members of the elite first acquire the legitimacy to lead through a combination of traditional structures and foreign support. The legitimacy of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin Al-Husseini, for example, was grounded in religious and familial authority and enhanced and institutionalized by the Ottoman Empire and then the British Mandate. Ahmed Shuqeiri’s legitimacy derived from the Arab League as well as his educational status and familial ties, while President Mahmoud Abbas’s legitimacy was founded on factional loyalties within Fatah and then significantly consolidated by the US and Israel.These leaders and the institutions they administer fail to deliver on popular aspirations, leading to stagnation and public dissent. This precipitates an inter-Palestinian power struggle that is often intergenerational and highly destructive. The struggle ends when a national tragedy occurs that either destroys or unites the competing factions. During these historical moments of national chaos, a new generation of leaders rises, mesmerizing the public and accruing revolutionary legitimacy that propels them to the top.In each turn of this cycle, sitting leaders either adopt the new discourse and coopt members of the new generation or maintain status via intervention by foreign sponsors who kill or arrest insurgents. An example of this dynamic is the death of Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam, and later the leaders of the 1936 Revolt, who were crushed with great brutality by the British. Yasser Arafat’s conquest of the PLO from Shuqeiri in the 1960s, in which Arafat incorporated members of the new generation, is another. Such transitions also occurred on the local level during the First Intifada, and with Hamas’s gradual takeover in Gaza during and after the Second Intifada.The third phase of this cycle sees the rise of a technocratic class, a generation of leaders that attempts to rebuild or replace the institutions that were destroyed in the internal conflict. These leaders are or perceive themselves to be institution builders, and although they rarely reach the pinnacles of power, they are able to acquire significant authority. These builders can take many forms in their approach to reinvigorate society, from the revolutionary to the neoliberal. Examples include Khalil Al-Wazir, a key founder of Fatah who was pivotal in slowly rebuilding the national movement in Palestine after the PLO’s failures in Lebanon. He was assassinated by Israel in Tunisia for his role in laying the groundwork that launched the First Intifada. Another example is Salam Fayyad, who pursued a Western-backed neoliberal institution-building process in Palestine after the Second Intifada. Regardless of the political leanings of these builders, their efforts are often short-lived as they tend to clash with more deeply-rooted power structures. This phase of the cycle often closes with a return to the first phase, wherein a small set of elites, supported by outside forces, hold control.Today, this cycle seems blocked. An ossified Palestinian leadership has managed to cling to power for more than two decades. The institutional framework established by the Oslo Accords – a Palestinian Authority (PA) without authority providing inadequate administrative services, low-level employment, and security for Israel – still governs a subset of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The PA has become a buffer zone between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation, one that largely favors the occupation. Meanwhile, through heavy foreign assistance, the PA has transformed the socioeconomic landscape of Palestinian society by increasing inequality, widening political divisions, and even attempting to alter the media and educational landscape to weaken all forms of effective struggle against the occupation.The results of these developments, combined with the deteriorating regional politics of the Middle East, has led the most astute observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to conclude that the Palestinian struggle for freedom is comatose.But one need only look a bit deeper to see that something is stirring. A new generation of Palestinians is organizing and growing in strength. They are waiting for the right moment to transform the status quo and create the momentum that will end the occupation. The Israeli security establishment, although it may not fully understand these dynamics, sees this coming. Why else would Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ban the Palestinian “Youth Movement” and put it on the terrorist list? In fact, there is no organization or organized body called the “Youth Movement” on the ground in Palestine. Rather, the term Al-Hirak Al-Shababi is most commonly used to refer to any social or political action led by youth. What scares Lieberman so? Why does the Palestinian General Intelligence maintain a file on “youth-led activities?”Over the past five years I have met and spoken with thousands of young Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in the diaspora. In every town, city, and refugee camp, youth groups are blossoming. Most focus on very local needs and lead volunteer work. They appear non-political and are not affiliated with any faction. These groups often fail, fall apart, and use what they have learned to try something new. Their growth is anything but linear, but their learning is exponential.These groups’ driving questions are: What do we need to do to have a better life? What is our purpose? How do we achieve it? Having asked these questions, it is not long before they discover that the occupation and the PA as its governing body are obstacles in their path. This generation’s focus on grassroots action and its ability to conceptualize the PA as an impediment to a genuine liberation movement are fundamental to its potential to transform the stagnant Palestinian leadership model.Further, many young people in Palestine are despondent about the status quo. This is clearest in Palestinian universities, which have been transformed from beacons of liberation to factories of disenchantment. Once hotbeds of Palestinian political struggle, the universities today produce young men and women focused on two things: a paying job or an opportunity to emigrate. One university dean I spoke with defined his job as simply training a workforce for the PA economy. Although youth groups are active on campuses, offering glimpses of hope, the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and Hamas’ forces in Gaza have turned student politics and electioneering into a shadow of what they once were, ensuring that superficial slogans and fear override genuine student organizing and hope.However, despite these repressive policies, the new generation has not given up on its Palestinian identity or its dreams of freedom. Many are preparing to enter the struggle for freedom under the right leadership: one they can be part of and trust. This new generation of leaders, learning from the experiences of the past, have wisely chosen to work quietly, away from the spotlight, and patiently prepare for when the moment is ripe.Identifying that moment, however, will be difficult because three stars need to align: a) Reigniting hope: The Palestinian street needs to go from being risk averse to being hopeful that a better future is possible; b) Overcoming the power threshold: The youth must feel they have the human resources and endurance to slog through the obstacles the PA and Israel can put in their way; c) Consolidating to confront the occupation: Given that the PA and its security apparatus are pivotal in maintaining the status quo, and that any more internal Palestinian strife is to be avoided, the youth will have to find a moment when the occupation has committed an act so severe that they can mobilize many of the ranks of the apparatus into the struggle against the occupation and away from internal repression. Of course, Israel and its backers will do their best to make sure these stars do not align, from killing hope to arresting dozens of youth activists. The only way for this moment to arise is for Palestinian civil society and youth activists to build their strength and expand societal self-awareness.How will these young people avoid the mistakes of the past and break the cycle outlined above? For a new Palestinian leadership to be successful, a culture of transparency, accountability, and feedback must first be created at the local level. No matter how powerful, resilient, and disciplined a leader is, and no matter how much they love their country and people, they are human. It is only through developing a culture of accountability that a community can produce leaders that can move the struggle forward. While Palestine has had many leaders, none have maintained a culture around them that helped birth new leaders and ensured that they remain accountable. Creating this culture is not something done through legislation or rules alone, but is a daily practice.Although there is not enough space here to flesh out the necessary practices in detail, some are fairly straightforward. For example, leaders at all levels of society, from volunteer groups to ministries, can work with their teams to put forward a clear vision for what they want to achieve, define each person’s responsibilities and specific outcomes, and ensure that leaders take ownership of their and their teams’ results. They should allow team members to provide feedback on the process in an open setting, such as in a weekly meeting when tasks are tallied and learning is discussed in a convivial manner.In such a process, the group’s leader helps ensure that the team achieves its vision in a united, collaborative spirit. Eventually, this ensures that everyone in the group is a leader because leadership is not couched as a zero-sum process.

The process may not always work perfectly, but the lessons learned are valuable, including lessons about how one’s ego can get in the way of achieving team goals. Most importantly, the youth participants become aware of a method of teamwork and leadership that transcends what they see in local politics. Though it may sound clich , it is nonetheless true that nothing is more impactful than leading by example and learning through experimentation.

These self-aware leaders and their culture of transformative leadership will clash with the socioeconomic environment and political elite established and strengthened by international players and Israel. Such a people’s-based leadership, whether directly or indirectly, will be the target of massive cooptation and, if that fails, assassination. One can argue that Israel’s “mowing the grass” in Gaza and the PA’s assault on student and youth politics are preemptively attempting to destroy rising leaders.

While some argue that a top-down approach to reform will fix the leadership problems – by restructuring the PLO, gaining representation, and holding elections, among other strategies – the current socioeconomic dynamics, reality of occupation, and international intervention in Palestinian politics make these efforts at internal reform easy targets for political manipulation. It is authentic change at the local level that can fix the problem from its roots and bring about a lasting leadership transformation for Palestinian society. If this generation succeeds, it will not only liberate the nation, but will ensure that the future beyond liberation is more beautiful than many of us today can imagine.
(Source / 10.06.2018)

27 journalists killed in Yemen since 2014: NGO

The NGO says hundreds of news portals have been blocked in Yemen

A total of 27 journalists have been killed since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war in 2014, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, an NGO, said Saturday.

“The press freedom [in Yemen] is going through very difficult conditions and has been subject to a systematic war since 2014,” the syndicate said in a statement marking the Yemeni Press Day, which was observed yesterday, 9 June.

According to the statement, a total of 27 journalists “have lost their lives for the sake of fulfilling the right of the society to obtain information”.

The syndicate said media outlets in Yemen have been looted, journalists and photographers chased and hundreds of news portals blocked.

It called for the release of 12 journalists held by Houthi rebels and another journalist taken hostage by al-Qaeda militants.

“They are living in poor conditions and are subject to brutal torture,” the statement said, going on to call for piling pressure on warring rivals in Yemen to “create an appropriate and safe environment for journalists and respect the right to obtain information”.

Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab its allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as Iranian proxies — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The violence has devastated the country’s basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Lebanon installs e-gates at Palestinian refugee camp

Fatah movement members clash with some Palestinian Islamic groups at Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon's southern port city of Sidon on February 28, 2017. ( Mahmoud Al Zain - Anadolu Agency )

Fatah movement members clash with some Palestinian Islamic groups at Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon on February 28, 2017

The Lebanese army has installed electronic gates at the entrances to the Palestinian Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, residents say according to a report by The New Arab.

The gates, which are placed at four main entrances and smaller exit points, are the latest measure to ramp up security at the Palestinian refugee camp.

In 2016, the Lebanese army began construction of a wall with watchtowers to segregate the camp from surrounding areas due to security concerns.

Reports indicated earlier this year that construction of the security wall were nearly complete.

The installation of e-gates in the Sidon refugee camp provoked outrage among Palestinian factions and residents.

“We condemn the existence of these gates because they undermine the dignity of our people, who line up in front of the gates, and [they] also obstruct traffic in and out,” Ayman Shana, the political leader of Hamas in Sidon, told The Daily Star, adding

It is common knowledge that these [electronic] gates are located at airports and on borders, and this camp is part of Lebanese territory.

The new gates will cause further friction between Palestinian residents and the army, he added.

Fouad Othman, Ain al-Hilweh’s Democratic Front leader, called the new security measures an “insult” to Palestinians.

He called on Lebanese President Michel Aoun to ensure Palestinian nationals are granted civil and humanitarian rights, as well as the right to own land, urging dialogue to “strengthen the steadfastness of our people to uphold the right of return [to Palestine].”

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees took to the streets to decry what they labelled the “racist separation wall”.

The army said the wall and new e-gates would not negatively affect the camp.

Ain al-Hilweh has been plagued by intermittent clashes between the multiple armed factions as well as against smaller extremist groups.

Lebanon’s Palestinian camps, which date back to the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbours, mainly fall outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services.  Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in Syria.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

IOF arrests Gazan attempting to cross border fence

Arrested at border

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday arrested a Palestinian youth for allegedly attempting to cross the border fence east of Gaza and took him for interrogation.

According to Hebrew media sources, the IOF arrested a Palestinian who broke through the border fence into Nahal Oz military site and found a slingshot in his possession.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli occupation army announced that an Israeli drone fired a warning missile at a group of Palestinian youths in northern Gaza who were preparing to launch flaming kites and balloons toward neighboring Israeli settlements.

The Israeli army said in a statement that it considers the use of balloons and kites to be severe and that it will act to prevent their use.

The attack came after six massive fires erupted in settler farmlands in the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories by burning kites and balloons sent from the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Calls for protest in Ramallah against PA sanctions on Gaza

Protest Ramallah

Head of the Consortium of Independent Palestinians in the West Bank Khalil Assaf on Saturday called for a large participation in a protest scheduled for Sunday in Ramallah against the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the Gaza Strip.

Assaf said that the PA is offering a free service to the Israeli occupation through these punitive measures, adding that if Gaza is the victim today, Jerusalem and the West Bank will be the next.

He affirmed that if the PA refused to lift the sanctions, further steps would be taken in the coming days.

Palestinian activists, artists and journalists earlier called for a protest on Sunday near al-Manara Circle in Ramallah, the central West Bank, to pressure the PA to lift the sanctions imposed on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The PA president Mahmoud Abbas in April 2017 decided to wage a series of punitive measures against the Gaza Strip to pressure Hamas to dissolve its Administrative Committee.

Although Hamas dissolved the committee in September 2017, further sanctions were imposed. Most of the PA employees in Gaza receive only 30% of their monthly salaries.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Palestinian boy kidnapped in IOF ambush north of W. Bank

Pal boy kidnapped Kafr Qaddum

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday afternoon ambushed a Palestinian child from Kafr Qaddum town in Qalqilya, north of the West Bank, and rounded him up on the outskirts of the town.

Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers waited in ambush for 15-year-old Hamza Mustafa and kidnapped him in an olive grove.

The sources added the soldiers assaulted local citizens during their presence in the area and obstructed traffic at the main entrance to Kafr Qaddum town for hours during the day.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Injuries as Israeli settlers attack Palestinian homes in al-Khalil

Injuries al-Khalil

Clashes erupted at daybreak Sunday as dozens of Israeli settlers broke into Palestinian homes and attacked the residents, resulting in injuries.

A PIC news correspondent said hordes of extremist Israeli settlers targeted Palestinian homes in the Shuhadaa Street with stones and empty bottles, before they aggressively beat civilians passing through the area.

At least five Palestinians sustained injuries and bruises in the assault, carried out under Israeli military escort.

An elderly Palestinian fell over after Israeli settlers heavily beat him up. The occupation soldiers prevented ambulances from reaching the area to evacuate the wounded.

At the same time the Israeli soldiers closed off a Palestinian home in the area shortly after it was assaulted by Israeli settlers. All the residents were forced out of the building under the pretext that they attacked Israeli settlers and soldiers.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Arrests, settler violence reported in predawn sweep by Israel army

Predawn sweep

Several Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at daybreak Sunday in abduction sweeps rocking the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The IOF kidnapped six Palestinian youths from Ramallah’s towns of al-Nabi Saleh and Beit Rima, among them three brothers from the Rimawi family.

Clashes broke out in Kafar’in village, northwest of Ramallah, after Israeli soldiers stormed the area and terrorized civilians.

At the same time, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the Shuhadaa Street, in al-Khalil.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces opened fire at a vehicle driving near Nour Shams refugee camp, in Tulkarem, before they kidnapped the four Palestinians who were aboard.

The campaign culminated in the abduction of three Palestinian young men from Abu Dis town, in Occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 10.06.2018)

Jerusalem: Police arrest chamber of commerce officials

Head chamber of commerce arrested

The Israeli police on Saturday evening arrested the head of the chamber of commerce in Jerusalem Kamal Obeidat and his deputy Raed Sa’ada and took them for interrogation over their organization of an Iftar gathering for journalists.

The police, accompanied by intelligence officers, stormed Jerusalem Hotel, surrounded it, forced all people inside the hotel out, and distributed an order banning Ramadan Iftar gatherings in the place.

The Israeli authorities have been gradually trying to ban Palestinian events of any kind in Jerusalem encouraged by the US recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital.

In another context, the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality on Sunday morning confiscated equipment belonging to Palestinian shops in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The municipality claimed that the owners of these shops had brought the confiscated equipment without obtaining a legal license.

The Ramadan season was always considered a chance by Jerusalem traders to revive the city’s economy. However, Israel’s tightened restrictions recently have created a state of stagnation among Jerusalem markets.

These measures include the municipality’s daily targeting of Palestinian shops and stalls, especially in the Old City, and the ban imposed on Palestinian women coming from neighboring villages to sell their vegetables and handcrafts in Jerusalem.

(Source / 10.06.2018)