Eid al-Adha brings joy to the hearts of children

Despite the siege of Gaza

Eid al-Adha

Children in the Gaza Strip are waiting impatiently for Eid al-Adha, where joyful celebrations take place in the streets of Gaza which witness offering sacrifices as followed by the Muslim tradition.

Inside cattle farms in the city of Khan Younis, hundreds of children gather along with their relatives as they stare at the animals being transported by trucks in preparation for slaughter.

Staring at one of the calves, child Mahmoud Al-Najjar stops, along with his brother Suhaib and his younger sister Lian, to enjoy the scene that stole their hearts and minds.

On the morning of Arafah (the day before the sacrifice), citizens flock to the cattle farms to transport the sacrifices to their homes via private cars and trucks.

In one of the neighborhoods of Ma’an, east of Khan Younis, dozens of children gather in front of one of the houses in the neighborhood to greet the calf of their neighbor, Abu Amr.

When the calf is brought down, the hit-and-run tricks start by the cheering boys whose whistles fill the place.

One of the children whispers in the ear of his friend about the arrival of another neighbor’s calf, as children get excited to enjoy the scene and then return home to tell their loved ones about their day.

Children welcome Eid al-Adha with blessings and joy, despite the atmosphere of pain, tragedy and siege that has been dominant in the Gaza Strip for 12 years.

This year, the cattle markets are witnessing a significant decline in demand in the Gaza Strip, due to the high prices of livestock as the Eid al-Adha approaches, especially in light of the deteriorating economic and living conditions.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Israeli police come down heavily on Palestinian saleswomen near Aqsa

Attack saleswoman Aqsa

Israeli municipal staff members escorted by policemen attacked on Monday Palestinian women and girls selling merchandise and vegetables in Jerusalem’s Old City, near the historic walls of holy al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli cops and officers cracked down on elderly vendors, subjected scores of them to fines, and damaged their goods.

The assault comes at a time when thousands of Palestinians have been gearing up to head for the holy city of Occupied Jerusalem to perform Eid prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Haneyya: Solution to Gaza crisis should not involve political costs

Haneyya Gaza blockade

Head of Hamas’s Political Bureau Ismail Haneyya on Tuesday said that Gaza is about to break an unjust blockade that lasted for 13 years.

During Eid al-Adha sermon in Gaza city, Haneyya stressed that any solution reached to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza should not involve political costs.

Haneyya affirmed that efforts are in full swing to end the Israeli blockade and the punitive measures imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

Hamas leader added that the Palestinian people have turned the page of the “Deal of the Century” and Oslo negotiations forever, calling for an end to the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

In another context, Haneyya said that talks are underway in Egypt and between the Palestinian factions on national reconciliation and Gaza situation but first of all the Palestinian Authority’s sanctions on Gaza must be lifted as soon as possible.

He also stressed the need for implementing the 2011 understandings, establishing a national unity government and a national council that includes all factions, and holding general elections with the participation of all Palestinians at home and abroad.

He concluded his speech by praising Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and assuring them that Palestinian resistance factions are doing their best to “break their chains” through a new prisoner swap deal.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Hamas will not disarm as part of ceasefire agreement with Israel

Hamas will not disarm or “pay any political price” as part of a ceasefire agreement with Israel, an official from the Gaza ruler said on Monday.

“We benefit from the truce. Our weapons will remain in our hands and there are no conditions regarding Hamas’s right to (continue) the resistance. The truce does not require a political price (from Hamas) and it is not part of the deal of the century,” senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar reportedly told online newspaper Al-Khaleej.

For months, both the United Nations and Egypt have been mediating between Hamas and Israel in order to bring an end to violence along the Gaza border and also ease conditions in the impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave.

The latter is exactly what Hamas is seeking to gain from the ceasefire, according to Zahar, who said the truce is “just a humanitarian step for the sake of the people of Gaza.”

The proposal under discussion is said to include a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the restoration of control over the enclave to the Abbas-led PA and the advancement of a number of humanitarian projects.

(AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

Hezbollah-affiliated media network al-Mayadeen published a report on Thursday claiming that Qatar will play a large role in financing the arrangement, funding Hamas officials’ salaries as well as fuel for the Strip.

The establishment of a direct shipping route between Gaza and Cyprus was also referenced, with Israel’s Hadashot TV reporting that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman conditioned the building of the seaport on the return of the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens being held captive by Hamas.

Zahar said that there had been some real progress the past couple of days in Cairo between Palestinian officials and Egyptian intelligence, such as easing travel restrictions from Gaza, but that the main focus was now on the establishment of a sea port in Cyprus leading to Gaza.

The Palestinian factions have returned from Cairo to celebrate the Muslim feast Eid al-Adha, but are expected to return on Friday when the feast ends to continue negotiations.

Another senior Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, said on Monday that he found it “strange” that Abbas’ Fatah party would insist that Hamas disarm and hand over the control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority.

Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense

The ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas continue to cause frictions to the already fragile relationship between internal Palestinian factions.

London based Al-Hayat daily newspaper reported on Sunday that Abbas insists that Egyptian efforts prioritize intra-Palestinian reconciliation between his Fatah party and Hamas, ahead of any ceasefire agreement with Israel, which he would eventually seek to play a central role in.

Last week, Abbas reportedly declined to meet with Egypt’s intelligence chief General Abbas Kamel who made a flying visit to Israel on Wednesday to continue thrashing out the long-term Israel and Hamas truce.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Monday slammed Hamas for its ceasefire negotiations with Israel.

“Hamas will bear historic responsibility for aborting the Palestinian national project if it signs an agreement with Israel. The Gaza Strip is an integral part of our homeland, and Hamas needs to realize that Israel and the US want to exclude the two million residents of the Gaza Strip (from a future political settlement),” Erekat said.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

100,000 Muslims perform Eid prayers at Al-Aqsa

Tens of thousands of Muslims, mostly Palestinians, performed Eid al-Adha at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque

Tens of thousands of Muslims, mostly Palestinians, performed Eid al-Adha prayers Tuesday at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque amid a heavy Israeli security presence in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, witnesses said.

Muslims around the world on Tuesday marked the first day of the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, during which animals are generally sacrificed, the meat from which is distributed to the poor.

Judaisation of Jerusalem - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, estimated the number of worshippers at 100,000, many of whom, he said, had come from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and from elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim world.

In a sermon delivered before Eid al-Adha prayers, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, grand mufti of Jerusalem, reiterated the Palestinians’ determination to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque “in the face of the [Israeli] occupation’s efforts to Judaize it”.

Following prayers, several activities for children were organized in the Al-Aqsa courtyards.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

The language of Palestinian freedom

Graffiti Bethlehem

Graffiti on the Separation Barrier near Bethlehem, West Bank

Ash Sarkar, of “I’m literally a communist” fame, recently set Palestine Twitter ablaze with an unusual pronouncement:

Ash Sarkar@AyoCaesar

Dr Kristin Ross suggested that words like “defend” and “protect” are better for mobilising political solidarity than “fight” or “resist”.

For this reason, I’m making a decision to try and speak of Palestinians’ right to protection and self-defence rather than resistance.

Reaction against this message was swift, but Sarkar, who in a single tweet appointed herself guardian of Palestine’s anti-colonial struggle, has yet to engage her Palestinian critics, many of whom patiently explained the importance of terms like “resistance.”  The lack of engagement isn’t surprising; any half-sentient pundit quickly learns that it’s okay to upset Palestinians if their antagonists are happy.

Some observers absolve Sarkar based on a recent piece for the Independent (London) in which she apparently makes a strong defense of Palestinians.  A close reading of that article, however, shows it to be subtly deferential to liberal orthodoxy.  The article uses crafty diction to elide Israeli colonization and instead conceptualize the state’s brutalization of civilians as an unfortunate example of disparate military power (an argument that tacitly normalizes Zionism).

Sarkar proclaims:  “the erasure of Palestinian voices in narrating their own history is itself in concurrence with the Israeli state’s strategy to delegitimize Palestinian struggle for self-determination in all its forms.”  This point might be more compelling had Sarkar not taken to Twitter the next day to dispose of words any cogent Palestinian would use if given the opportunity.

The decision to sanitize resistance into pleasant soundbites had clearly been made by the time she wrote the article.  Sarkar refers to Palestine-Israel as a “conflict” eight times (including the headline) and seems fond of “asymmetry,” which brings to mind a Foreign Policy shindig in a hotel ballroom with maroon carpet and plastic chandeliers; words like “colonization,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “ethnocracy,” “imperialism,” “settler,” “apartheid,” and “Zionism” are absent.  I’d normally chalk up the lexical dullness to the editing practices of corporate media, but Sarkar’s tweet suggests that Independent editors probably had an easy time making the language conform to house style.

“The fundamental issue,” Sarkar proclaims in closing, “is about our right to stand in solidarity with oppressed peoples in highly asymmetric conflicts.”  Note that Palestinians are absent from this appeal. The fundamental issue isn’t the right of oppressed peoples to fight, resist, or do much of anything else; it is about the Westerner’s right to solidarity, an insidious logic given the article’s pretense of centering Palestinians.

And what’s this about “highly asymmetric conflicts”?  Which others does she have in mind? Police officers versus Black children?  The National Guard versus water protectors? Slaughterhouses versus herd animals?  Monsanto versus organic crops?

Sarkar’s lack of self-awareness is alarming, as when she argues, “[I]t would be fair to say that the military asymmetry of the Israel-Palestine conflict is matched in the media.  Language itself is a battlefield.” Word choice is important to public discourse says the person who just referred to settler colonization as “military asymmetry” in a major newspaper.

Sarkar’s unfortunate tweet gives us an opportunity to examine the uses of language in political and activist formations.  The vocabulary of Palestinian nationalism exists in Arabic and has been subject to debate for over a century. Much of that vocabulary isn’t easily translated, so by having the conversation in English we’re already displacing Palestine onto foreign terrain.

Nevertheless, it’s viable to maintain the spirit of the homeland and to support those seeking its renewal.  Leaving aside the dubious act of forfeiting language important to the very people under discussion, we have to examine who benefits from the forfeiture.  “Resistance” doesn’t simply denote obstinacy; it connotes political and economic self-realization. “Fighting” isn’t an irrational desire to inflict harm; it is a necessary survival mechanism.  The colony cannot maintain its endurance without antagonism. These points are elementary to decolonial theory; it is baffling that a self-proclaimed communist would so breezily dismiss them.

Sarkar and her mentor Dr. Kristin Ross—who came out of nowhere—want to explore what is permissible and persuasive to Western audiences, a useful concern.  But the Western audiences they invoke as universal are in fact media bosses, sitting politicians, think tank wonks, and other such functionaries. We cannot make decolonization palatable to the liberal wing of the ruling class—and even if doing so were possible, it would be undesirable.  The purpose of decolonization is to upend inhuman norms, including those of speech and elocution. Limiting our imagination to rhetorical customs in the metropole commits us to invisibility.

Communicating to people in the West is important—even better if they decide to listen.  I don’t want my argument to be read as a disavowal of conversation in either friendly or hostile environs.  I submit instead that it’s not the responsibility of dispossessed people to assure their oppressors’ comfort.  In the end, if arbiters of respectable opinion won’t accept Palestine’s national liberation movement as it actually exists, then it’s not because of language, but a fundamental difference of politics.  No amount of dissimulation will alter this reality.

Finally, relinquishing the venerable language of Palestinian struggle is a conciliation to Zionist discipline.  The colonized have only a few sources of power: native knowledge, cultural memory, filial bonds, historical legitimacy.  Perhaps their greatest power is a refusal to absolve the colonizer’s perpetual violence. Zionists are desperate for affirmation; the sharp tones of our dialect foreclose that possibility.

Saying “fuck Israel” may not be prudent and yet we should have learned by now that kowtowing to Zionist angst isn’t a prelude to approval, but a voluntary disappearance.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Israeli army orders criminal probe into killing of two Palestinian teens in Gaza

Protestors seen at the Gaza-Israel border, gathered as part of the continuing 'Great March of Return' on August 3, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Protestors seen at the Gaza-Israel border, gathered as part of the continuing ‘Great March of Return’ on August 3, 2018

Israel’s military said on Tuesday it would launch a criminal investigation into two incidents in which its troops shot and killed Palestinian teenagers taking part in protests along the Gaza border.

The inquiry into the deaths of Abed Nabi, 18, on March 30, and 15-year-old Othman Helles on July 13, was the first announced by the military into its use of lethal force in the border demonstrations that began five months ago.

At least 170 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers during the weekly protests, drawing international criticism of Israel. One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Gaza sniper.

112 Palestinians were killed in #Gaza by Israeli forces from 30th March to 15 May 2018

Read more: ow.ly/wwyF30k7j4A
MEMO infographic by The White Canvas

See more

Protests have included attempts to breach Israel’s security fence along the frontier with the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip.

There was no immediate comment by Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank or Gaza, where celebrations for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha have begun.

A statement from the Israeli military said its initial inquiries into the two events raised “a suspicion that the shooting in these incidents was not in accordance with standard operating procedures”.

READ: Israel soldiers who shot Palestinian teen in the back to walk free

Video posted on social media after the March 30 incident showed a Palestinian, identified by protest organisers as Nabi, dropping to the ground as he ran, holding a tyre. The organisers said he was shot with his back to Israeli forces.

The Gaza Health Ministry said that in the July 13 shooting, Helles was hit in the chest.

Israel has accused Hamas, regarded by the West as a terrorist group, of using the demonstrations as a cover for launching attacks. Hamas denies this.

Palestinians along the Gaza-Israel border reaffirm the ‘Right of Return’ and get shot by IOF - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]


Palestinians along the Gaza-Israel border reaffirm the ‘Right of Return’ and get shot by IOF – Cartoon

The protest campaign is pressing for an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza and for the right to return to land that Palestinians lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation. More than half of Gaza’s two million residents are war refugees and their descendants.

Citing security concerns over Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza, Israel and Egypt keep tight restrictions on their border crossings with the enclave which have reduced its economy to a state of collapse.

The United Nations and Egypt have been leading efforts to mediate a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, tackle humanitarian issues in Gaza and improve its economy.

READ: UN Coordinator says halting Israel-Palestinian security cooperation may destroy Oslo

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Notorious Israeli settlement’s population to expand by two-thirds

Construction workers build illegal settlements in Jerusalem [Sliman Khader/Apaimages]

Construction workers build illegal settlements in occupied Jerusalem

A notorious Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank is set for significant expansion, according to a report in Israeli media on Tuesday.

Beit El, which lies near Ramallah in the central region of the West Bank, is set to receive “approximately 650 new homes” say the report, with the housing project having “received approval from the Housing Ministry”.

The new neighbourhood “is expected to increase the population of Beit El, which currently includes just under 1,000 homes, by some 65%”, said Arutz Sheva.

“This is a real cause for celebration for the residents of Beit El and the entire settlement enterprise,” said Beit El mayor Shai Alon.

READ: US backs Israeli decision to build 400 new illegal settlement units

“Thanks to our determined efforts, the town will soon expand with hundreds of new homes and thousands of new residents. This is a great gift on the eve of the new year [Rosh Hashana]”.

As noted by Arutz Sheva, Beit El settlement is seen as a “flagship” of the settlement enterprise, but over the past decade, “not a single new housing unit” had been approved.

All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.

There has been a 17% increase in illegal settlement construction in the occupied #WestBank in the first year of #US President Donald J. Trump‘s term

Read more: ow.ly/6zhH30k1wGS

MEMO infographic by QUAD Business House

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Israeli minister seeks to make it easier for army vets to carry guns

Image of Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan “is easing restrictions to obtain a permit for owning a gun, which will make hundreds of thousands of additional civilians eligible to carry a firearm”, reported Haaretz.

According to the plan, “any citizen with what was known as level 7 Rifleman training, as is the case with most infantry units in Israel, will be able to apply for a gun permit”.

Speaking Monday, Erdan claimed that “skilled civilians carrying a gun in public contribute to a sense of security, act as an important line of defense against lone-wolf terror attacks”.

Haaretz noted that “there are approximately 145,000 gun-license holders in Israel at present”, a number which “does not include people who have firearms because their job requires it, and does not include soldiers and police”.

READ: Israel eases gun licensing laws

Now, the new plan will mean that “almost anyone who has done combat service in the Israeli army [will be able] to apply for a permit”.

MK Haneen Zoabi attacked Erdan’s plan on Tuesday, accusing his ministry of wanting “to control Arab citizens, and impose fear on Arab streets”.

Haaretz added that “in 2016, on Erdan’s initiative, officers with the rank of lieutenant and above who are still serving in the reserves were added to the list of people who could apply for a gun license, along with veterans of elite military units, farmers, tour guides and first aid personnel”.

(Source / 21.08.2018)

Gaza without cancer medicine as Haley blames Arabs for Washington’s sins

Three-year-old Luay from Gaza has been transferred to the occupied West Bank for cancer treatment

Three-year-old Luay from Gaza has been transferred to the occupied West Bank for cancer treatment

By Ramzy Baroud

On Sunday, August 12, news from Gaza was distressing: The Ministry of Health announced that it would no longer be able to treat cancer patients in the Israel-besieged Strip.

“Colon and lung cancer, as well as lymphoma patients, cannot be provided with the necessary therapy now,” said Dr Mohammed Abu Silmiya, director of Abdulaziz Al-Rantisi Hospital for Children.

Israel is ultimately responsible for the Gaza siege which has extended for more than 11 years. With direct US backing, Israel has launched three major wars on Gaza in the name of fighting terrorism, destroying much of the tiny region’s infrastructure. A hermetic siege has punished ordinary Gazans, who are now lacking everything, including the most basic needs of clean water and electricity.

Now, even chemotherapy is no longer available.

But the war on the Palestinians has been a joint venture right from the start. The US has stood by Israel for many years and, as of late, orchestrated the demise of Gaza.

Washington has done everything in its power to isolate the impoverished Strip: It warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party against reconciliation with its Hamas rivals. It fueled and sustained the Israeli war and siege on Gaza. It backed Israelpolitically on every available platform to shield Tel Aviv from its war crimes in the Strip and throughout Occupied Palestinian Territories.

For many years, the US acted as if a peace broker. Although the American act failed to impress Palestinians, it perpetuated the illusion in the minds of US allies that US administrations are forces for good, standing at an equal distance between two parties in an even-handed ‘conflict’.

The arrival of Donald Trump’s to the White House has ended the charade.

Read: Israel approves new settlement units near Bethlehem

While the new administration brazenly defied international law by moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it also took a series of measures to financially punish international bodies that extended recognition, political support or any sort of aid to Palestinians. In the course of a few months, the US took on the United Nations culture agency, UNESCO, pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council and has cut aid to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.

The attack on UN organizations was led by the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who has played a central role in the new, anti-Palestinian discourse.

But she is not alone. In an article for CNN, Haley, along with US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President and Jason Greenblatt,  US representative for international negotiations, articulated an American point of view that read like textbook Israeli Zionist narrative.

They placed all the blame on Palestinians and spared Israel from any wrong-doing.

“Unfortunately,” they wrote, “Hamas’ malign activity is pushing Israel to engage in increasingly significant acts of self-defence. As in the case of past conflicts, Hamas starts a clash, loses the battle and its people suffer. That is the reality that needs to change.”

That was on July 23. A day later, Haley, using twisted language, chastised Arabs for failing Palestine and the Palestinians. In an 8-minute address to the UN, Haley spoke as if a pro-Palestinian activist, agonizing over the losses and suffering of the Palestinian people.

“Country after country claims solidarity with the Palestinian people … Talk is cheap. No group of countries is more generous with their words than the Palestinians’ Arab neighbours,” she said.

She lamented: “But all of the words spoken here in New York do not feed, clothe or educate a single Palestinian child. All they do is get the international community riled up.”

Welcome to ‘post-truth’ America.

Read: Trump: Israel PM ‘will soon be called Mohammed’

While the Arabs are expected – in fact, required – to stand in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren, the primary reason for the subjugation of the Palestinian people is the continued US support for Israel.

Since 1999, the US has supported Israel through 10-year long Memorandums of Understanding. According to these arrangements, support for Israel does not require Senate approval and, despite the massive aid, it still does not include missile defence funding.

The last US president to sign a decade-long commitment of funding to Israel, which is set to last between 2019-2028, was President Barack Obama, who provided Israel with more money than any other president in US history.

According to US Congressional Research Service, as of April 2018, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.” This means that, to date, “the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defence funding.”

Most of that military assistance has been used to fight Palestinians and Arab neighbours, to support the Israeli military Occupation of Palestine and to reinforce the Israeli blockade of Gaza. For Haley to rebuke Arabs for not doing enough to help Palestinians is simply disingenuous.

As harmful as US military support for Israel and the manipulation of the comparatively limited aid to Palestinians as it has been, US interference in Palestinian political affairs has been equally destructive.

The blatant American interference in Palestinian politics is juxtaposed with complete insubordination to the Israeli government, regardless of the fact that Tel Aviv has moved sharply to the right, and is increasingly shedding any claims to true democracy.

Considering that the US anti-Palestinian and pro-Israel stances have accentuated in recent months, one is hardly moved by Haley’s false sympathy with Gaza and the Palestinians.

Only weeks before she criticized the lack of Arab support, she lectured the international community on Israel’s benevolent approach to what she saw as Palestinian violence.

“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” she said on May 15, shortly after many UN ambassadors stood up for a minute’s silence to mourn 60 Palestinians who were killed while peacefully protesting the siege at the fence separating Gaza from Israel.

Haley’s peculiar attacks on unsupportive Arab governments is designed to distract from the US’ own role that has emboldened Israel and held Palestinians prisoners to military Occupation and an inhumane siege for far too long.

(Source / 21.08.2018)