5 Palestinians aggressively beaten by Israeli soldiers in custody

Violently beaten

Five Palestinians have been violently beaten by Israeli officers during the arrest and investigation phases, a lawyer has reported.

Lawyer Husain al-Sheikh, from the Commission of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners, said Mohamed Shalalda, aged 36 and from al-Khalil, was heavily beaten up by Israeli soldiers while being laid on the ground, handcuffed.

Khader Hadiya, 24 and from Bethlehem, was made to endure violent strokes on his stomach and head during the interrogation phase in Etzion detention center so as to force confession.

18-year-old Muhammad Salah was also hit with rifle butts on his hand shortly after heavily-armed Israeli soldiers broke into his family home in al-Khader town, in Bethlehem.

Two more cases of heavy beating were documented against 25-year-old Fahd Assaad, from Bethlehem’s refugee camp of al-Duheisheh, and 23-year-old Mootaz Aziyeh, from Doha town, in Bethlehem.

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Israeli tanks targeting Palestinians near Gaza border

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli tanks on Wednesday evening fired a missile at a group of Palestinian citizens east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

The PIC reporter said that the tanks opened fire at a group of Palestinian youths after they managed to remove part of the border fence.

He added that no casualties were reported among the targeted youths.

(Source / 02.08.2018)

‘Apartheid, formalised’: Palestinians to fight Jewish state law

Palestinian legislators in Israel prepare to launch series of events in protest of ‘racist’ nation-state bill

By Farah Najjar

Palestinian citizens of Israel are planning a series of actions, including a general strike and international campaigning, in a bid to cancel a controversial law that defines the country exclusively as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

Palestinian members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, described the legislation’s adoption on July 19 as an effort to sabotage the Palestinian “story and narrative.”

“It’s an attempt at destroying the entire rhetoric of historic Palestine … it stands against an entire people,” MK Ahmad Tibi, told Al Jazeera.

The Basic Law, which has standing similar to a constitution, gives only Jews the right to self-determination. It also strips Arabic of its official language designation, downgrading it to a “special status” that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions.

Additionally, it allows the Israeli government to expand the state’s annexation of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The law considers the expansion of the Jewish-only settlements a national value, encouraging and promoting their construction.

Adopted with 62 votes for and 55 against, the law has been met with widespread condemnation. Critics compare it to apartheid, saying it promotes ethnic superiority and further marginalises some 1.8 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and other smaller minorities.

“We now expect to see a storm of legal proposals that are racist in nature,” MK Aida-Touma Suleiman told Al Jazeera. “We must be ready to face them and fight them in parliament and on the public level as well”.

‘Battle of fate’

Since the law’s adoption, the High Follow-up Committee – a representative body for the Palestinian citizens of Israel – has been meeting to discuss a way to respond.

The various political factions within the committee have unanimously agreed to launch a series of counter-actions.

The first is scheduled for August 8 when Palestinians from various cities will attempt to block the main street where the Knesset building lies in Jerusalem during an extraordinary session called for by the Joint List, an alliance of four predominantly Arab parties in the Israeli parliament.

The committee will also soon announce the “national day of anti-apartheid”, Tibi said. A petition to cancel the law will be distributed soon, with the aim of garnering at least 500,000 signatures. A general strike is also on the works.

“The aim is to portray the impact of the day-to-day contributions,” said Tibi.

“We’re also considering the possibility of reading out our speeches in Arabic during upcoming parliamentary sessions, in protest of the revocation of the status of Arabic as an official language,” he said.

Organisers said the moves are meant to help escalate the “struggle” to a national, political and international level – not just in parliament.

“The Knesset to us has never been a place of privilege. It has served merely as one of the various spaces where we battle, struggle and strife,” Suleiman said.

“It’s going to be a long battle but it’s not impossible … it is a battle of fate,” she said, describing the difficult path towards scrapping the law.

Apart from campaigning locally, the legislators have so far pencilled in a meeting with European Union officials in Brussels and also plan on working with various United Nations bodies and the global organisation of national parliaments.

‘Never democratic’

Earlier this week, Zouheir Bahloul of the Labour Party resigned in protest against the law, bringing the number of Palestinian MKs down to 17, out of a total of 120. His party, which is part of the Zionist Union list and alliance, voted in favour of the legislation.

“The law oppresses me and oppresses the population that sent me to the Knesset,” Bahloul said.

“The government submits the Knesset to its whims. The Knesset has become a rubber stamp of exceptional and racist legislation. I will run from it as one runs from raging fire,” he added.

For Suleiman and Tibi, whose parties are members of the Joint List, Bahloul’s resignation was inevitable.

“There are Zionist parties with Arab MKs that voted in favour of the bill – that is the danger of joining a Zionist camp; it should never be the case,” Tibi said.

Palestinian citizens of Israel make up about 20 percent of the country’s population.

According to Tibi, they have long been treated as inferior to Jewish citizens – and the new law will make this even easier.

“Israel was never democratic to begin with,” he said. “It was racist in its policies, actions and laws. What’s new is that this law is a Basic Law.”

When Israel defined itself as “Jewish and democratic” in 1958, the “Jewish nature” of the state had always been a point that Palestinians adamantly opposed, added Tibi.

But the law took it a step further. “It is the definition of apartheid,” he said.

“We want to say to the international community that there is a Basic Law that institutionalises apartheid and we demand steps to be taken.”

With hopes to attain a new vote in parliament, a motion to either scrap it entirely or reformulate its language requires at least 61 votes.

In conjunction, Palestinian MKs plan to appeal to Israel’s top court, Suleiman and Tibi confirmed.

‘Apartheid, formalised’

However, experts say neither a Supreme Court ruling nor a call to the international community is going to change the reality on the ground for Palestinians.

Diana Buttu, a lawyer and policy adviser at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, said the EU and the UN can only issue condemnations, but that would be the “extent of it” owing to the US’ Security Council veto.

Since coming to office, US President Donald Trump has been developing an even warmer relationship with Israel than previous US presidents.

From recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital amid talks of the “deal of the century”, the passing of the law seemed to come at an optimal timing, said Buttu, echoing Suleiman’s and Tibi’s views.

Buttu also noted the Israeli Supreme Court has a history of siding with the “Jewish” component when ruling in cases brought forward by Palestinians against the state.

“In the past, they have [Israeli courts] confronted this fundamental tension by always favouring the side of Jewish and not the side of democracy,” Buttu told Al Jazeera, citing the admissions committee law passed seven years ago, which permits smaller Jewish communities to market state lands and determine prerequisites for residency.

In almost half of the Israeli towns, residential admission committees have therefore continued to filter out Palestinian applicants on the grounds of “incompatibility with the social and cultural fabric”.

“This law is among at least 50 other discriminatory laws … And in the rulings has always fallen on the side of Jewish, rather than on the side of being democratic,” Buttu said.

With the recently enacted nation-state bill, Buttu said to issue similar rulings from now on will only become “that much easier”.

“Now clearly, they’re saying: apartheid, formalised,” she said. “This [law] was only to make it official.”

Buttu attributes the passing of the bill to the Supreme Court’s precedents and its previous rulings.

“The entire reason that this bill has been allowed to progress so far is because the Israeli Supreme Court has allowed Israel to be as racist as it wants to be,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Palestinian MKs remain adamant to find a way to either cancel the legislation or change its language.

“Our story is stronger than their law,” Tibi said.

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Number of Palestinians refused exit permits from Gaza by Israel soars

Palestinian security forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority stand at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on 17 July, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on 17 July, 2018

The number of Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip denied exit permits by Israeli authorities on the basis of family ties to Hamas “has soared this year”, reported AFP.

According to data obtained by four human rights NGOs – Gisha, Adalah, Al Mezan and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel – in the first quarter of 2018 alone, 833 exit permit applications by residents of Gaza were denied by Israel on such grounds.

For comparison, Israeli authorities refused 21 applications on these grounds in all of 2017.

As AFP reported, “those declined for having a close relative with alleged ties to Hamas have included people seeking medical care for cancer.”

PA: Any aid to Gaza must pass through Ramallah

The NGOs slammed the Israeli government for “using patients in need of medical treatment, including cancer patients, as pawns for political gain.”

“When reviewing permit applications submitted by patients from Gaza, Israel’s chief consideration should be their medical needs, rather exploiting their hardships as leverage for mounting pressure on the de-facto authorities in Gaza.”

Denying patients access to medical treatment on the grounds that they have family relations to Hamas members is a breach of international law, and completely immoral.

A report by Haaretz on the same matter noted “Israel is keeping its promise” to the family of Hadar Goldin, an Israeli soldier whose body is held by Hamas. “To get it returned, his family has mounted a campaign to reduce the number of humanitarian exit permits from Gaza,” Haaretzadded.

OPINION: Palestinians are being impoverished by the manipulation of humanitarian aid

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Abbas has turned against PLO, says DFLP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds an urgent cabinet meeting in Ramallah, West Bank on 14 May, 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a cabinet meeting in Ramallah, West Bank

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) has accused Mahmoud Abbas of turning against the Palestine Liberation Organisation. According to a statement from the group, the head of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and PLO is trying to oust the DFLP’s Tayseer Khalid from his position as chairman of the PLO’s Committee for Palestinian Refugees in the Diaspora and handing it to Nabil Shaath, one of Abbas’s close aides.

“This measure goes against the PLO’s decision, which was taken by the overwhelming majority of the Executive Committee on Saturday,” the DFLP explained. “This also undermines the prestige, credibility and respect of the PLO’s members, which must remain established values among the organisation’s members and institutions.”

The DFLP argued that this act by Abbas reiterates the fact that he has a “monopoly” over Palestinian national institutions and national agenda decisions. It also pointed out that the PLO committee in question plays a “special role” in uniting Palestinian refugees in the diaspora and rejecting any discrimination between them.

Read: Palestine and Palestinians should not be defined by Mahmoud Abbas

The group insisted that it will continue to fight the decision to remove one of its senior members from an important PLO role, as it goes against the principles of partnership and national agreement.

Earlier this week, the DFLP announced the suspension of its membership from the PLO in response to Abbas’s decision, but then pulled back from such a move. It is, however, continuing to study all other options to keep the PLO from being monopolised by Abbas.

One member of the DFLP’s Political Bureau, Ziyad Jargon, said that his organisation is not simply against Abbas’s decision regarding the refugee committee, but also his “complete coup against all the PLO’s institutions.”

Read: Mahmoud Abbas may well be shooting himself in the foot, but where is Fatah?

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Israeli Court Postpones Final Decision on the Fate of Khan al-Ahmar

A demonstrator holds a Palestinian flag during a rally in support of Khan al-Ahmar residents in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank August 1, 2018

The Israeli High Court on Wednesday decided to postpone the final decision on the evacuation of the Palestinian population from the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, southeast of Jerusalem after residents rejected a proposal to relocate them.

The inhabitants decided to continue protesting against the decision to deport them and demolish their homes.

The court had upheld its previous decision last May to displace the evacuated residents of the area, claiming that they built their homes without a permit, in violation of the Israeli laws.

During the five-hour court session, the judges criticized the position of the Israeli government, which does not provide the residents with a suitable humanitarian alternative to their housing.

The judges then proposed that the residents agree to leave the area provided that the government offers them a suitable alternative. The judges also confirmed their adherence to their previous decision to demolish the village and displace its inhabitants.

However, the defense team rejected the deportation and stressed commitment to the residents’ right to their land, homes and school, and the attorneys presented detailed plans on the means to legitimize the buildings in Khan al-Ahmar.

According to the Jordanian Planning and Building Law in force in the West Bank, it is possible to submit detailed and structural plans for the construction of houses.

The defense attorneys asserted that this area was an occupied land that falls under the Jordanian law. But even under the internal laws used by the civil administration of the occupation authorities, the demolition orders can be frozen until detailed plans are decided upon.

As expected, the Israeli prosecution rejected the proposal and insisted on implementing the court’s decision to evacuate the Palestinians, as it is currently preparing a major settlement project in the area.

Consequently, the court postponed the ruling and gave the defense staff and the prosecutor’s office five days to submit written submissions on the appeal, after which the judges would decide to issue a final decision or hold a new session.

Some 200 Bedouins face the threat of being deported from their land, while hundreds of students from nearby communities have been prevented from enrolling in the school built in the village years ago.

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Settlers attack Palestinian property in West Bank

Settlers vandalised Palestinian property in the West Bank [Twitter]

Settlers vandalised Palestinian property in the West Bank

Israeli settlers punctured and vandalised ten Palestinian vehicles in the Ein Yabrud village, east of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, today.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed the village escorting a number of Israeli settlers, who vandalised several Palestinian-owned vehicles and spray painted racist slogans on them.

The incident comes a few days after a similar attack in the village of Al-Mughayyir, northeast of the Ramallah district, during which Israeli settlers vandalised Palestinian property by slashing the tyres of eight Palestinian vehicles and spraying racist, anti-Palestinian graffiti on the walls of Palestinian homes.

According to a report by Israeli NGO B’Tselem in April 2018 alone, 14 Israeli settler assaults were documented across the occupied West Bank.

Read: Settlers raid West Bank village, spray anti-Arab graffiti

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israelis committing violent acts against Palestinians.

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Tamimi’s mother: Support for Ahed is based on racism

“All the children here are facing occupation,” says Ahed Tamimi’s mother

Ahed Tamimi’s mother said that the media attention and worldwide solidarity that her daughter received following her arrest by Israeli occupation forces was rooted in racism.

“Frankly it is probably Ahed’s looks that prompted this worldwide solidarity and that’s racist by the way,” Nariman Tamimi told the Anadolu Agency, “because many Palestinian children are in Ahed’s position but weren’t treated in this way.”

“In fact one journalist wrote in Haaretz once on why they sympathized with Ahed when they were trying to arrest me once; they arrested me and she was crying,” she explained. “It’s because they felt that she looked like them, she said. So perhaps the world showed more solidarity because she looks like their children, but all Palestinian children are Ahed Tamimi.”

“There are thousands of stories that the media needs to pay attention to and highlight all of the occupation’s crimes, because the occupation needs to be seen as the war crime it is and legal measures need to be taken to that effect,” she added.

Read: Ahed Tamimi ‘model of Palestinian resistance,’ Abbas says

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Israel bans entry of gas, fuel in to Gaza

A view of the commercial border crossing Karam Abu Salem after Israel closed the crossing, except for food and mecidine goods, in Gaza City, Gaza on 17 July, 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

A view of the commercial border crossing Karam Abu Salem after Israel closed the crossing, except for food and mecidine goods, in Gaza City, Gaza on 17 July, 2018

Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, issued an order banning the entry of fuel and gas into the besieged Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom (Karm Abu Salem) crossing from this morning.

Lieberman said he was doing this in an effort to stop Palestinians flying kites and balloons near the border fence.

Although, the Kerem Shalom crossing was recently partially reopened after it had been closed for about a week, Lieberman announced that the reopening would depend on the reduction of launched of the kites.

The partial reopening included allowing food, medicine, fuel and gas to enter the Gaza Strip.

Prior to that, the one-week closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is Gaza’s main commercial crossing, came as a result of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to impose severe economic sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

Read: Aid convoy arrives in blockaded Gaza via Egypt

The decision included the temporary suspension of imports and exports with the exception of basic humanitarian supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and the reduction of the fishing zone from six to three nautical miles.

Palestinians have used kites as part of protest calling for an end to the 12-year Israeli siege on the Strip and calling for their right of return to the homes their families were forced out of during the Nakba.

(Source / 02.08.2018)

Amnesty International Targeted with Israeli NSO Cyberweapons

02 AUG
5:27 AM

An Amnesty International employee has been targeted with Israeli-made surveillance software, the human rights group said, Wednesday, adding to a growing number of examples of Israeli technology being used to spy on human rights workers and opposition figures, in the Middle East and beyond.

In a 20-page report, Amnesty outlined how it thinks a hacker tried to break into an unidentified staff member’s smartphone in early June by baiting the employee with a WhatsApp message about a protest in front of the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

The London-based human rights organization said, according to the PNN, that it traced the malicious link in the message to a network of sites tied to the NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company implicated in a series of digital break-in attempts, including a campaign to compromise proponents of a soda tax in Mexico and an effort to hack into the phone of an Arab dissident that prompted an update to Apple’s operating system.

Joshua Franco, Amnesty’s head of technology and human rights, said the latest hacking attempt was emblematic of the increased digital risk faced by activists worldwide.

NSO said in a written statement that its product was “intended to be used exclusively for the investigation and prevention of crime and terrorism” and that allegations of wrongdoing would be investigated. In response to a series of written questions, the company said past allegations of customer misuse had, in an undisclosed number of cases, led to the termination of contracts.Amnesty’s findings were corroborated by internet watchdog Citizen Lab, which has been tracking NSO spyware for two years and is based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

In its own report being released Wednesday, Citizen Lab said it so far had counted some 175 targets of NSO spyware worldwide, including 150 people in Panama identified as part of a massive domestic espionage scandal swirling around the country’s former president.

The Amnesty International report said the organization identified a second human rights activist, in Saudi Arabia, who was targeted in a similar way to its staffer. Citizen Lab said it found traces of similar hacking attempts tied to Qatar or Saudi, hinting at the use of the Israeli spyware elsewhere in the Gulf.

Any possible use of Israeli technology to police dissent in the Arab world could raise uncomfortable questions both for Israel, which still sees itself as a bastion of democracy in the region, and for countries with no formal diplomatic ties to the Jewish state.

For Amnesty’s Franco, it was a sign of an out-of-control trade in high-tech surveillance tools.

“This is a huge market that’s completely opaque and under-regulated,” he said.

(Source / 02.08.2018)