IOF tries to prevent Salfit municipality from drilling well

Salfit drilling well

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Thursday the western area of Salfit city and tried to prevent the local municipal council from drilling an artesian well.

Municipal official Ra’ed al-Zair said that the drilling activity would continue despite Israeli attempts to prevent the municipality from digging a well for the local residents.

Zair affirmed that the Salfit municipality is responsible for serving the city and its residents.

The Israeli occupation authority in the West Bank persist in stealing groundwater seizing natural resources in Palestinian areas and using them to the benefit of Jewish settlers.

(Source / 21.09.2018)

EP: Demolition of Khan al-Ahmar war crime

Demolition Khan al-Ahmar war crime

Member of the European Parliament (EP) Neoklis Sylikiotis on Thursday said that Israel’s demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and displacement of its residents is a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention that amounts to war crime.

EP office in Jerusalem said in a press statement on Thursday that Khan al-Ahmar is one of 46 Bedouin communities threatened with displacement in favor of illegal settlement expansion projects.

Sylikiotis, who was among a European delegation that visited Khan al-Ahmar on Wednesday, expressed his sincere solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom, justice and equality, and affirmed that he supports Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Sylikiotis vowed that the EP will work steadfastly to protect Khan al-Ahmar, stressing that the forcible transfer of people under occupation is serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention amounting to war crime.

He continued to say that demolition orders issued by the Israeli authorities have one goal: expanding settlements and dividing the West Bank, which is deemed illegal under UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

EP last week passed a resolution opposing Israel’s Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar village.

Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected multiple petitions filed the residents of Khan al-Ahmar against the demolition order.

(Source / 21.09.2018)

Palestinian children under Israeli military arrest ‘face rampant abuses’ says NGO

Israeli security forces take a Palestinian minor into custody in the West Bank on 20 December 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Israeli security forces take a Palestinian minor into custody in the West Bank on 20 December 2017

Palestinian children under Israeli military arrest face “institutionalised and routine” rights abuses, said NGO Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) on Tuesday, with 273 children in military detention as of the end of June according to Israeli official data.

Most of the 500-700 Palestinian children who undergo Israeli military arrest annually only meet their lawyer for the first time during their initial court appearance. A detained Palestinian child aged 16-17 may be held for a maximum of 72 hours prior to appearing before a military judge.

According to DCIP, “children most commonly face the charge of throwing stones, which carries maximum sentences of 10 or 20 years”. Though many children maintain their innocence, pleading guilty “is the fastest way to get out of the system”, and typical plea deals are less than 12 months.

Read: Greenblatt’s ‘crocodile tears’ for Palestinian children

DCIP collected affidavits from 76 West Bank children “detained and prosecuted under the jurisdiction of Israeli military courts between January and August this year”, 80 percent of whom “endured some form of physical violence following arrest”.

In addition, out of the 76 children who provided DCIP with sworn testimonies between January and August of 2018, 68 percent “did not receive legal counsel prior to interrogation”. 95 percent of the children also “did not have a parent present during interrogation”.

The lack of a “third-party presence to provide oversight of Israeli interrogation methods” renders Palestinian children “vulnerable to coercion and physical and psychological violence”, said DCIP.

In a phenomenon described as ‘alarming’, DCIP documented “the use of solitary confinement for interrogation purposes during pretrial detention against 11 children for an average period of 15 days between January and August”.

Read: 39 children killed by Israel in 2018

In 2011, the NGO noted, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, “called for an absolute prohibition on the use of solitary confinement with children”.

DCIP affirmed that the children “detained in the Israeli military court system deserve protections from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and fundamental fair trial rights”, and reminded Israel of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

(Source / 21.09.2018)

Israel declares it is above the law

Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech during a Knesset session [Prime Minister of Israel/Flickr]

Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech during a Knesset session

Israel’s critics often describe the country as being above the law, but until now this has never been brazenly declared by its government. Documents published this week shows a legal representative of the Israeli government audaciously claiming that Israel can “legislate anywhere in the world,” that it is “entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries,” and that it “is allowed to ignore the directives of international law in any field it desires”.

The bold declaration was made in legal materials recently submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court in which the government representative said that the Knesset is allowed to ignore international law anywhere it desires.

These remarks were made last month in a written response the government filed to the Israeli Supreme Court relating to the petition against the Settlement Regularisation Law filed by Palestinian legal groups, Adalah, The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza). Their petition was made on behalf of 17 local Palestinian authorities in the West Bank.

Read: Israel’s demolition of Khan al-Ahmar violation of international law

The Palestinian plaintiffs challenged an Israeli law passed last year which aimed to retroactively legalise thousands of settler homes and structures built on Palestinian private land, to avert the possibility that the Israeli Supreme Court might one day sanction their removal. Before the law was passed, even Israeli law considered such structures illegal, not to mention that all settlements are a flagrant violation of international law.

In a statement by Adalah, the legal centre said that “fellow petitioners argued that the Knesset is not permitted to enact and impose laws on territory occupied by the State of Israel. Thus, the Knesset cannot enact laws that annex the West Bank or that violate the rights of Palestinian residents of the West Bank”.

In its defence government lawyer, Attorney Arnon Harel said in a statement in which he referred to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” that “the Knesset has no limitation which prevents it from legislating extra-territorially anywhere in the world, including the area [‘Judea and Samaria’]”.

In the government statement, which is likely to evoke outrage, Harel rebuffs the legal groups claim by insisting that the plaintiff argument is baseless because Israel is entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries and the West Bank is no exception.

Read: A parliamentary vote to occupy history and the future

“Although the Knesset can legislate [concerning] any place in the world, although it is entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries through legislation that would be applied to events occurring in their territories […], although it is within the authority of the Government of Israel to annex any territory […], although the Knesset may ignore directives of international law in any area it pleases […] despite all these, the plaintiffs seek to define a ‘rule’ by which precisely in Judea and Samaria the Knesset is prohibited from legislating anything, and that precisely there, and nowhere else in the world, it is subject to the directives of international law,” the Israeli government said.

In their response Adalah said: “The Israeli government’s extremist response has no parallel anywhere in the world. It stands in gross violation of international law and of the United Nations Charter which obligates member states to refrain from threatening or using force against the territorial integrity of other states – including occupied territories. The Israeli government’s extremist position is, in fact, a declaration of its intention to proceed with its annexation of the West Bank.”

(Source / 21.09.2018)

Israel bans restoration of East Jerusalem sports stadium

Israeli occupation forces [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation forces

The Israeli authorities yesterday banned the renovation of a sports stadium in the Palestinian town of Issawiya, northeast of East Jerusalem.

A member of the follow-up committee in Issawiya, Mohammed Abu Al-Homs, said that joint teams from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality and police forces stormed the Yasser Arafat sports stadium during renovation work and forced the workers to stop working under the pretext that the renovation was being financed by a terrorist group.

He explained that the Issawiya management club started about a month ago to restore the stadium with donations from the local residents, but they were surprised yesterday when the Israeli army forces stormed the stadium and stopped the restoration work.

He added that the Jerusalem municipality tried to seize the stadium by offering to restore it themselves and turn it into a public arena, but the club’s management and the town residents refused, stressing that they will restore the stadium on their own.

Read: UN: Israel has done nothing to halt settlement growth

(Source / 21.09.2018)

In new ‘political persecution’, Israel indicts Palestinian activist over alleged incitement

Facebook

Israeli authorities indicted a prominent Palestinian activist on Thursday on charges of “incitement to terrorism” and “expressing solidarity with a terrorist organisation”, reported Haaretz. The decision to indict was slammed as “political persecution” by The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.

Haifa District Prosecutor’s Office also extended the detention of Raja Agbariyeh, a 66-year-old resident of Umm al-Fahm, until 2 October. He was first arrested on 11 September.

According to the indictment, “between July 2017 and July 2018, Agbariyeh published posts in which he expressed solidarity with a terrorist organization, incited and supported terrorism”.

In one of the Facebook posts cited in the indictment, Agbariyeh marked the one-year anniversary of a July 2017 shooting by three residents of Umm al-Fahm outside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by wondering whether the incident brought “news of a new phase inside 1948”.

Read: Israel group secretly ran misleading Facebook ads targeting Palestinian poet

The indictment also states that Agbariyeh published videos that documented the shooting.

In another cited post, Agbariyeh posted photos of George Habash, founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, marking the anniversary of his death.

According to Haaretz, “Agbariyeh argued that his posts don’t justify the police’s suspicions, and that they are protected by freedom of expression”.

Agbariyeh has previously served as general secretary of the Sons of the Village movement, and as a member of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.

Attorney Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, that represents Agbariyeh, told Haaretz “that there is a policy that clearly discriminates between Arab political activists and Jewish ones on the right or extreme right”.

Read: Israel jails Palestinian poet over ‘incitement’ on Facebook

“According to Jabareen, there wasn’t even one case in the past year in which the state filed an indictment and a request for arrest until the end of proceedings for social media posts”, the paper continued.

“There is a clear change in policy in the prosecution and attorney general’s office with regards to freedom of expression of political leaders and activists in the Arab community”, he said.

(Source / 21.09.2018)

Army Injures Seven Palestinians In Gaza

20 SEP
11:50 PM

An Israeli drone fired, on Thursday evening, a missile at Palestinians east of Gaza city, wounding one, while the soldiers shot six Palestinians, east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza.

Medical sources said one Palestinian suffered a moderate injury, after an Israeli military drone fired a missile at several young men, near the perimeter fence, east of Gaza city.

The sources added that the soldiers fired a barrage of live rounds at dozens of Palestinians, who approached the perimeter fence, east of Deir al-Balah, wounding six, before they were rushed to Al-Aqsa Hospital.

Media sources in Gaza said many Palestinians managed to reach the fence in several areas along the eastern part of the coastal region, and launched fireworks at the soldiers, who fired many live rounds.

The protesters also burnt tires, and released flammable balloons, while the military pushed more troops and armored vehicles along the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip.

(Source /21.09.2018)

MADA Announces Launch of Freedom of the Press Index

20 SEP
11:39 PM

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has announced the kick off to its work on the first index on the freedom of the press in Palestine; it will be launched by the end of 2018, in the framework of its hard work to promote media freedom in Palestine.

This was announced via a round table which engaged journalists, human rights defenders and other experts in the field. The round table was held at MADA’s headquarter in Ramallah.

The meeting focused on the definition and significance of the index, and discussed the main themes and issues that the index will consist of, in order to be comprehensive, objective and accurate about the state of press freedom in Palestine.

The participants emphasized the importance of achieving a general index to measure the freedom of the press in Palestine, based on the specificity of the current Palestinian situation, and the periodicity of the publication of the index in the positive effect towards further entrenching media freedoms and assisting various stakeholders, including duty bearers in determining media policies.

On a different note, MADA center previously published a poll on freedom of the press in Palestine, earlier this year, noting that 91% of the journalists surveyed said that they were subjected to violations related to their work. 89% assured that legal measures prevented their access to information. This indicates a number of obstacles which hinder the media from operating.

Therefore, PNN reports, the launch of a general index to examine the dissemination of information and to ensure professional access to the public (the main task of the press), would give a more detailed and in-depth picture of press freedom in Palestine, to serve any basis for reform and development.

Finally, MADA center will publish the Freedom of the Press Index and update it regularly, aiming to contribute in increasing Palestinian opportunities to freely express their opinion and enjoy their right to access information, through a three- year project funded by the EU entitled, “a step forward towards enhancing freedom of expression in Palestine”.

(Source / 21.09.2018)

Palestinian Self-Demolishes Home upon Israeli Court Order

21 SEP
12:21 AM

A Palestinian from the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, in the central occupied West Bank, demolished his own home on Thursday afternoon, upon order by an Israeli court.

Fadi Shawamreh said, according to Ma’an News Agency, that he had to demolish his own home; that was built in 2006, following an order by an Israeli court that the house was not licensed.

Shawamreh said that a demolition order against his house was issued after he started renovating the ceiling and walls of the house, over the past two years.

He added that he was able to postpone the demolition several times until a final order was issued by the court to demolish the structure.
The court allowed Shawamreh until the beginning of September to carry out its order, or else paying demolition fees imposed by the Israeli municipality for crews that would be carrying out the demolition instead.

Shawamreh said that Israeli municipality crews, escorted by Israeli forces, had raided his house several months ago to demolish the structure, evacuated its content and assaulted those present at the time, however, the demolition was prevented by a lawyer.

He pointed out that the municipality had imposed a fine of 50,000 shekels, on another part of his house, a steel-structure with a cement floor, several years ago.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.

For Jewish Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem’s illegal settlements, the planning, marketing, development and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. By contrast, in Palestinian neighborhoods, all the burden falls on individual families to contend with a lengthy permit application that can last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

According to Daniel Seidemann of the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, “Since 1967, the Government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago. So much for (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat’s claim ‘we build for everyone.’”

(Source / 21.09.2018)

Palestinian Writer Released from Prison after Finishing Sentence Over Poem

20 SEP
11:51 PM

Israeli authorities released, on Thursday, Palestinian writer Dareen Tatour, aged 36, after completing her five-month prison term for a poem she wrote, and which Israel considered to incite to violence.

Tatour, from the town of Reineh, near Nazareth, in northern Israel, was detained in October of 2015, after she published a poem on social media entitled, “Resist my people, resist,” and included with it pictures of young Palestinians confronting heavily armed Israeli soldiers with stones and bottles.

After being held until January 2016, she was released and placed under house arrest until she was sentenced, in August 2018, to five months in prison.

After serving two months in prison and counting the three months she had earlier spent in jail, after her initial arrest, Tatour was freed, WAFA reports.

(Source / 21.09.2018)