Israeli court renews sentence of Palestinian activist without trial

Youssef Laham

The Israeli occupation authorities renewed the administrative sentence of 41-year-old Palestinian detainee Youssef Laham for the fourth consecutive time.

The Ofer court issued the renewed term on account of a secret file that even Youssef’s defense attorneys were not able to see.

Youssef Laham, a prominent pro-Hamas relief activist, was last arrested by the Israeli occupation forces one year and a half ago. He has spent over 14 years in Israeli dungeons, including eight years in administrative detention, with neither charge nor trial.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Committee: Urgent action should be made over abject situation in Gaza

Humanitarian crises Gaza Strip

The Popular Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza has called upon the international community to find practical solutions to the humanitarian crises rocking the besieged Gaza Strip.

Jamal al-Khudari, from the popular anti-siege committee, said Gazans are enduring a calamitous humanitarian situation due to the 12-year-long Israeli blockade, which needs urgent action.

“International warnings as regards the situation in Gaza should be translated into projects on the ground”, he said.

“By 2020 Gaza will be an uninhabitable zone”, warned al-Khudari.”The international community should force Israel to lift its illegal and immoral siege.”

A few hours earlier, the United Nation’s political chief Rosemary DiCarlo warned that the humanitarian situation in the blockaded Gaza Strip has further deteriorated as the enclave has been under blockade for more than a decade.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Fatah and Hamas: Failed Experiences and a Lack of Strategy

Palestinians rally in Gaza

The horizon appears cloudy for the rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas movements. After long decades of trying everything, from revolution to armed resistance to negotiations, the result on the ground has been a major catastrophe: Division verging on separation.

It is no secret that after hundreds of armed operations and hundreds of hours of negotiations, the Palestinians have found themselves at a dead-end. The Israeli-occupied West Bank is enjoying semi-autonomous rule, Gaza is under a tight siege and Jerusalem is under Israeli occupation. On top of everything, the Palestinian Authority’s option to hold negotiations appears to have failed as did Hamas’ option to adopt armed resistance and maintain rule over Gaza.

Many leaders from Fatah and Hamas have implicitly acknowledged that they are at a dead-end, otherwise Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would not have announced that he will not return to the negotiations table based on the old mechanism. He also said that he will not commit the same mistakes. Hamas, for its part, opted to alter its charter and adopt popular resistance as its new path, while negotiations are seen as a last resort.

Fatah’s crisis and options

Fatah’s major crisis is that it did not yield a state for the Palestinian people despite years of resistance and negotiations. More accurately, it did not succeed in transferring power from the PA to the state. Moreover, rounds of negotiations with successive Israeli governments and a completely Israel-biased American mediator have left it with nothing.

Abbas set a new plan, based on negotiations, to get rid of negotiations. The plan will be a departure from old mechanisms and will rely on an international peace conference, which the president had called for. The conference is expected to produce an international mechanism similar to the one adopted during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program in 2015.

Abbas wants his plan to serve as a response to US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This decision destroyed any possibility for the implementation of the two-state solution in which the Palestinians see Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Abbas also escalated his rhetoric by threatening to suspend the recognition of Israel, cancel treaties and announce the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian columnist Hani al-Masri dismissed these steps as an attempt by Abbas to buy some time, send a message of goodwill after the negotiations option collapsed and block the possibility of the eruption of an armed confrontation.

The predicament at the moment is that all options and policies that have been adopted for over a quarter of a century have only led to the deterioration of the situation on the ground. This deterioration accelerated with Trump’s election as president, added Masri.

The main predicament does not lie in the political process and international resolutions – none of which have been implemented – but in the absence of an Israeli partner that accepts the settlement, even if it falls in its favor, he noted.

Israel wants everything and only wants to give a semblance of autonomous rule to the Palestinians, but under Israeli sovereignty, he continued.

The solution lies in radically changing the rules of the game that have been adopted since the signing of the Oslo Accords. A new approach must give priority to restoring Palestinian unity and adopting resistance as a comprehensive way to achieve goals and building institutions through national consensus, said Masri.

The representation of various factions must be ensured based on a comprehensive national and strategic vision that aims to alter the balance of power and not force one to succumb to the other, he explained.

Is the unity option possible?

Just a few days ago, Abbas announced that he wanted the PA to impose its complete control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The movement rejects this proposal and is insisting that Abbas lift the harsh measures he had adopted against the coastal enclave. This could then be followed with the formation of a national unity government and, later, the revival of the Palestinian Liberation Organization based on complete partnership.

In a nutshell, Fatah and Hamas are divided over central issues: a unity government, sanctions, fate of Hamas military employees, the PLO, security agencies, financial and judicial affairs, and territories. When combined, these issues reflect a much larger dispute: who rules the Palestinian territories.

Everyone is demanding that reconciliation be made, that the so-called “deal of the century” be rejected and that an international peace conference be held. They have also rejected temporary solutions. All these are justified demands, but their application on the ground appears to be unlikely any time soon as the rival factions continue to fight over power.

Hamas’ crisis and options

Hamas’ main crisis is its coup against Abbas. Eleven years after capturing the Gaza Strip, the movement fought three destructive wars against Israel and its rule has left the enclave in mounting poverty. The movement has found no other option but to escape, either by heading to war or reaching reconciliation or striking a deal with Israel.

The movement has always counted on popular resistance. It resorted to this option when it failed in ending the Gaza siege. It sought, through the blood shed on Gaza’s borders, to draw attention and it succeeded in doing so, but a truce does not seem within reach.

Hamas is now seeking calm that would allow it to hold talks over a prisoner exchange with Israel and later establish major projects in Gaza.

Hamas’ plans, however, are confronted by Abbas’ total rejection of these talks, which he deems as an attempt to completely separate Gaza from the West Bank. Many Palestinian officials have already accused the movement of seeking to destroy the Palestinian cause and accept the “deal of the century.”

Fatah and PLO executive committee member Azzam al-Ahmed rejected any deal between Hamas and Israel as “treason against the Palestinian people and their national cause.” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah warned Hamas against holding a truce with Israel, saying it could pave the way to implementing the “deal of the century.”

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Hanieh, meanwhile, vowed that the movement will continue with truce talks.

It remains to be seen whether Hamas could actually reach a truce without Abbas’ consent. The Palestinian president could resort to cutting off all funds from Gaza and transform the truce into a new nightmare.

It seems that none of the Palestinians are looking at the bigger picture or the long-term future.

Columnist Mustafa Ibrahim noted: “So far, we have not been presented with a clear Palestinian vision. Gaza is preoccupied with border marches and Abbas has not submitted a national strategy to confront the ‘deal of the century.’”

Moreover, none of the slogans of Palestinian resistance have yielded any results and no one has presented a real stance to confront the Israeli nation-state law, which effectively ended the two-state solution, he added.

“We repeat the same experiences without learning from them,” he lamented.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Erekat: “Israel’s Illegal Expansion Of Colonies, Direct Outcome of American Greed”

23 AUG
1:03 PM

Dr. Saeb Erekat, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) strongly denounced Israel’s approval of hundreds of new units in its illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank, and said the move is an outcome of the American greed, and the U.S. support to Israel’s apartheid policies.

Dr. Erekat said the U.S. Administration of President Donald Trump is not only silent about Israel’s violations, but also encourages them but the constant financial, political and military support.

“America’s silence, and the failure to condemn the illegal Israeli colonialist activities in occupied Palestine, are a green light to Tel Aviv to continue its violation of International Law,” Dr. Erekat stated, “Such violations, and the American support to them, threatens the stability of the entire region, and the efforts to achieve a lasting peace and security.”

The Palestinian official added that Israel must be held accountable for its violations, instead of being encouraged and supported as it continues its crimes.

Furthermore, Dr. Erekat said that last week’s report, which was published by the United Nations Secretary General regarding providing international protection to the Palestinian people, also called for holding those who violate the International Humanitarian Law accountable for their crimes.

“Israel’s ongoing construction and expansion of its illegal colonies in occupied Palestine does not only violate International Law, but is also a war crime that would not have been committed without the silence of the International Community, and the American support which regards Israel as a state above the law.”

Dr. Erekat called on the International Community to impose sanctions on Israel until it implements its responsibilities and commitments under International Law, and all resolutions by the United Nations.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Israeli Colonialist Settlers Attack Homes And Cars Near Nablus

23 AUG
11:02 AM

A group of fanatic illegal Israeli colonialist settlers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the village of Orif, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and attacked homes and cars, causing property damage.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors Israel’s illegal colonialist activities, said the Israeli assailants came from Yitzhar colony, which was built on private Palestinian lands, and targeted many homes in the eastern part of the village.

Daghlas added that the colonists caused damage to homes, in addition to smashing windows and windshields of a number of cars, and slashed their tires.

The attacked cars are owned by Ziad Abdul-Aziz Shehada, Mahmoud Mahfouth Shehada and Bakr Nabil Shehada.

Locals noticed the assailants during the commission of their assaults, and chased them out of the village.

The attack is part of dozens of similar assaults and violations targeting the Palestinians, their property and lands, not only in Nablus, but also in several  parts of the occupied West Bank.

 (Source / 23.08.2018)

Israel draft law to imprison any holders of Palestinian flag

A Palestinian boy holds a Palestinian flag

The representative of the Likud Party, Anat Barko, has suggested a bill to punish anyone who lifts the Palestinian flag inside Israel after it was flown during a demonstration against the Nation-State law in the centre of Tel Aviv.

Barko stated that the bill, which will be introduced to the Knesset during the upcoming winter session starting October, will sentence those who raise the Palestinian flag or the flag of “enemies” inside Israel to one year of imprisonment.

Read: Israel court rejects petition to reveal identity of lawyers fighting BDS

The Likud MK confirmed that the bill enjoys broad party support. She also pointed out that the government promised to pass the draft law in the Knesset after winning the help of the coalition parties.

Barko highlighted that the bill above would emphasise the principle of reciprocity. Therefore, anyone who would raise the flag of a country which is already banning the flag of Israel will be punished too.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

UNRWA head: ‘One cannot simply wish away 5m people’

Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) seen during his visit to Gaza on Janaury 22, 2018 [Middle East Monitor / Mohammad Asad]

Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is seen during his visit to Gaza on 22 January, 2018

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has spoken out against efforts underway to see the organisation dismantled, stating: “One cannot simply wish away five million people”.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), made the remarks in an interview with Foreign Policy.

Krahenbuhl also spoke to the impact US funding cuts have already had on URNWA’s operations, noting that in the Gaza Strip, the agency “had to announce cuts to some of our emergency services like community mental health, job creation” and “there was even a risk for our food distribution”.

Read: The plan to end UNRWA will not take away Palestinians’ right of return

According to the Swiss diplomat, the protests in response to job cuts led to UNRWA losing control of its compound in Gaza for “about 20 days”.

Asked by Foreign Policy about the claim made by Israel and the Trump administration that “Palestinians are the only people in the world who are allowed to pass their refugee status down through generations,” Krahenbuhl said this was “clearly a misrepresentation”.

“UNRWA, in ways that are no different from the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], considers children and descendants of refugees as refugees,” he said, before citing Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Burundi and Sudan as cases of protracted refugee situations where “the children and grandchildren of the original refugee[s]” are also considered refugees.

“It rests on the notion that family unity, the principle of family unity, is keeping families united and together as one of the key parameters of managing refugee crises,” he added.

Read: Politicising UNRWA

Pressed as to what life would be like for refugees were UNRWA to be dismantled – a key demand of many Israeli and US politicians – Krahenbuhl replied:

“If UNRWA didn’t exist tomorrow, and even if UNHCR didn’t exist, the world would still have to tackle the reality of protracted, long-term refugee situations that are impacting the well-being of people, but also the security and stability of states in many parts of the world. One cannot simply wish away five million people”.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Gaza running out of fuel and medicine, warns UN

Gaza running out of fuel and medicine, warns UN

The besieged enclave has seen a surge of violence since protests began in March

The UN urged Israel to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip are not “held hostage to political and security developments”.
The United Nations has run out of funding to pay for fuel needed for hospitals, water plants and other critical facilities in the Gaza Strip, the UN political chief said Wednesday.

Rosemary Di Carlo also told the Security Council that recent violent escalations between Israel and Palestinian militants “threatened to plunge Gaza into war”.

She urged Israel to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip are not “held hostage to political and security developments”.

The Security Council held its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the United Nations was working with Egypt to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and halt the violence.

Di Carlo said she was “deeply concerned that funding for UN emergency fuel, which sustains some 250 critical facilities in Gaza has now run out” and appealed for $4.5 million to ensure essential services for the rest of the year.

The UN undersecretary-general for political affairs also raised concern over a “dangerously short supply of essential medicines” after 40 percent of the stocks of drugs were completely depleted.

The besieged enclave has seen a surge of violence since Palestinian protests that began in March have been met with Israeli fire, killing 171 Palestinians.

Israel has carried out strikes in Gaza at least 125 times in response to rocket attacks fired toward Israeli towns and cities.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egyptian officials have been seeking to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza. The two sides have fought three wars since 2008.

Israeli media have speculated that a deal could entail easing Israel’s crippling blockade of Gaza in exchange for calm on the border and the return of the bodies of two soldiers killed in 2014.

Israel is also seeking the return of two Israeli citizens believed held by Hamas.

Di Carlo called “on all parties” to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches Gaza and urged Hamas to provide information on Israeli nationals held in the strip.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Settlers attack Palestinians in Nablus

Two Palestinians were injured after Israeli settlers attacked them while they were inside a vehicle in Nablus, West Bank [Ma'an News Agency]

Two Palestinians were injured after Israeli settlers attacked them while they were inside a vehicle in Nablus, West Bank

Dozens of Israeli settlers today attacked two Palestinians while they were inside a vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus.

According to the victims’ relative, Uqab Qanna, the men were driving home to Kafr Qalil village, when heavily armed Israeli settlers stopped the vehicle some 200 metres from the Zaatara checkpoint.

Qanna confirmed that after his relatives stopped the vehicle, the settlers began “brutally” kicking and beating them with guns and sticks, causing them severe injuries.

They went on to smash and destroyed parts of the vehicle before fleeing the area.

Read: Israel settlers march to Umm Al-Fahm, demand destruction of mosques

Qanna identified the two Palestinians as Suleiman Idris Qanna, 20, and Yahiya Naim Qanna, 23.

Both of them were immediately taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital near Nablus for treatment.

Yahya’s injuries included bruises, fractures and an open cut on the side of his head, while Suleiman suffered various bruising all over his body.

(Source / 23.08.2018)

Khater sees her detention extended for 7th time

Palestinians take part in a protest in solidarity with writer Lama Khater held in Israeli jails in front of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Gaza city on 24 July 2018 [Mahmoud Ajour/Apaimages]

Palestinians take part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian female writer Lama Khater held in Israeli jails in front of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Gaza city on 24 July 2018

Israel today extended the detention of Palestinian writer Lama Khater for a period of one week.

This is the seventh time the 42-year-old has had her time in jail prolonged under the pretext that further investigations are being conducted, Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) lawyer, Firas Al-Sabbah, said.

Khater has undergone harsh interrogation techniques while incarcerated, the lawyer added.

The writer had previously told Al-Sabbah that Israeli security services handcuff her to a chair throughout the interrogation, deprived her of sleep and continue to curse and shout at her.

Interrogation sessions last more than 20 hours, she added.

Read: Israel arrested 3,000 Palestinians since start of 2018

Khater was detained by Israeli forces on 24 July from her home in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

She was detained for her anti-occupation writings and was accused of incitement and being a member in an illegal organisation. She denies all the charges.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are 5,820 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons, 63 are women.

(Source / 23.08.2018)