The Knesset’s Ethics Committee decided yesterday to “severely reprimand” MK Haneen Zoabi, over remarks made by the parliamentarian about Israeli forces’ attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip.
According to the report by right-wing Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva, Zoabi was the subject of a complaint filed by Likud MK Oren Hazan, after the Joint List legislator said that Palestinian civilians in Gaza had been “murdered by [Israeli] soldiers” during a Knesset debate.
“In this case,” the decision read, “most of the members of the committee believed that the use of the expression ‘murdered by the soldiers’ was not worthy of the broad protection that the committee spreads over the freedom of political expression of MKs.”
The committee also rejected a complaint filed by Zoabi herself, alleging that Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Tali Ploskov, who presided over the discussion, “did not defend her while she was speaking”. The committee concluded that “Ploskov’s conduct was not in violation of Knesset rules”.
Zoabi has frequently been targeted for censure by Knesset officials and racist incitement by fellow lawmakers over her outspoken support for Palestinian rights, and criticism of the Israeli army’s violations of international law.
The Palestinian Legislative Council held in Gaza on 27 July 2017
Some 40 per cent of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s members have been detained by Israeli occupation forces at one time or another since the 2006 elections, prisoner advocacy groups said on Tuesday.
According to WAFA, the joint report by the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Addameer and the Prisoners Commission said “Israeli authorities have been targeting Palestinian deputies and political activists by holding them in administrative detention without charge or trial for long periods of time in order to prevent them from performing their societal and national roles.”
The groups noted that there are currently six Palestinian parliamentarians held in so-called administrative detention – without charge or trial – including Khalida Jarrar, “who had served time in prison and was later re-arrested and placed in administrative detention since July 2017”.
Another lawmaker, Nasser Abdu Jawwad, “is in prison awaiting trial since his detention in January of this year.”
The new report stated that Israel detained 486 Palestinians during November, including 65 children and nine women. Those detained included 150 from Jerusalem, 71 from the governorate of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, and 77 from Hebron governorate. Overall, the number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails by 31 November was 5,700, including 230 children.
Three-year-old Palestinian refugee Mohammad Wahbah died on 18 December 2018 after being refused treatment in Lebanese hospitals
Three-year-old Palestinian refugee Mohammad Wahbah was announced dead yesterday morning after he was denied treatment at Lebanese hospitals, Arab48 reported.
Mohammad needed urgent brain surgery which his family could not afford and the hospital said they did not have the funds to complete.
Palestinian refugees launched a campaign on social media to put pressure on Lebanese health services to admitted Mohammad but it was too late. He fell in to a coma as soon as he was admitted to hospital and died three days later.
Mohammad’s family said UNRWA, the UN body in charge of Palestinian refugee affairs, for his death.
As a result, thousands of Palestinian refugees took to the streets and protested against UNRWA and the Lebanese government. They also announced a general strike in the refugee camps to express their anger with the policy of negligence.
Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel has ordered a stop in the import of fruits and vegetables from the occupied Palestinian territories, local media reported yesterday.
Despite warnings from Israeli security, army, intelligence and the civil administration that the Palestinian economy is fragile and cannot withstand such steps, Ariel insisted on his decision.
“This is a populist, irresponsible decision that derives solely from political considerations at the expense of the security of the entire public, including the settlers,” security sources told Channel 2.
The minister has justified his decision saying the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has decided to stop importing sheep from Israel.
Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria in 2014 December 19, 2018 at 9:27 am
Two Palestinian sisters from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus were tortured to death in Syrian regime prisons on Saturday, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria said, noting that they had spent four years in prison before their death, Arab48 reported yesterday.
They increase to 563 the number of Palestinian refugees tortured to death in Syrian regime prisons, the group said. While 1,711 Palestinian refugees are enduring difficult conditions in regime jails, in addition to the 12,000 who have been detained.
The Action Group also reported that the Syrian regime security forces had arrested a number of the Palestinian refugees who voluntarily returned to Syria from Europe.
According to the Action Group, 3,874 Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria over the past four years, including 200 who starved to death due to the lack of food and medicine in the Yarmouk refugee camp at the height of the fighting.
The following article, by Rebecca Stead, was originally published by Middle East Monitor on 15 December, and is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license:
In the dead of night, Israeli forces knocked on the door of Salah Hamouri’s apartment in Jerusalem, he told me. “When I opened the door they told me they were looking for me and began to search the house. They destroyed the furniture, turning it upside down, searching for something; I don’t know what. Of course, they found nothing, but they took me away anyway.”
That was on 22 August 2017. Over a year later – thirteen months to be exact – Hamouri was finally released from administrative detention, a status Israel uses to imprison Palestinians indefinitely with neither charge nor trial. Speaking to MEMO shortly after his release, he recounted being moved repeatedly between Israeli detention centres and deprived of contact with his family, as well as the challenges faced by the hundreds of other Palestinian political prisoners just like him.
“That night I was transferred between three military bases in Ramallah [in the occupied West Bank] until 4 o clock the next afternoon, at which time I arrived at the Russian Compound,” explained Hamouri. Sometimes known by its Arabic name Al-Moscobiyeh, the Russian Compound is a notorious interrogation centre located in the centre of Jerusalem, renowned for its brutal interrogation and torture methods. “I passed two or three levels of interrogations, and at the end of the first week [in detention], the judge ruled that I should be released.”
Of course, there were strict conditions attached to his release: he would not be able to leave the coastal city of Haifa for three months, for example, and would be forbidden from entering Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank. “I accepted the deal,” he said, but… “Just one hour before I was due to be released, the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security agency] came and relayed a military order from the then Minister of Defence [Avigdor Lieberman] which blocked my release.” That is when administrative detention was used to imprison him for six months; it was then extended for a further seven months. He was never charged, so still has no idea why he was being held.
This uncertainty, the expectation of being released only to have your hopes dashed must be difficult to cope with, I suggested. “It’s tough on your psychology,” he admitted. “The knowledge that I could be detained over and over again was hard to come to terms with.”
This, quite clearly, is the whole purpose of the process. “The detention system is something the Israelis have developed over years of occupation. The strategy targets the consciousness of Palestinian prisoners and works to break their resolve. We see the constant isolation of prisoners, the rare contact they have with the outside world, and the way Israel denies them access to books and TV channels; everything is censored until their brains are destroyed.”
He told me about just one example of Israel trying to break prisoners’ morale, including his own. “One of the worst things about detention is the transfer from prison to court and between different prisons,” he pointed out. Hamouri was transferred several times during his detention, with moves from the Russian Compound to Al Naqab Prison, located south of Beersheba near the Egyptian border, and later to Megiddo Prison – south of Nazareth — as punishment for having spoken to a French journalist about his experience.
“We were obliged to wake up extremely early and [Israeli] Special Forces came to collect us, putting handcuffs on our wrists and shackles on our legs before boarding a special bus,” he recalled. “When you see the bus from the outside it looks like a tourist bus, but when you enter it’s made entirely of wood and iron. Even the chairs are iron, so in summer it’s extremely hot and in winter bitterly cold. We sometimes spent 12 or 14 hours being transferred from one prison to another. Many people lost consciousness and their illnesses became worse because of this brutality.”
Hamouri was keen to emphasise that, even taking into account the mistreatment that he suffered during his years spent in Israel’s prison system, his detention wasn’t just hard for him to bear. “I have convictions that I have to keep and my family respects me for this, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard for them.” For the 13 months that he was held by Israel on this occasion, he wasn’t able to see or contact his wife and son who were living in France and were prevented from entering Israel. “My son is two-and-a-half now,” he told me. “I’m not sure how far he is aware of what happened, but he keeps asking, ‘Where have you been?’ It’s difficult to hear.”
In an interview with MEMO in 2017, Hamouri’s wife Elsa explained that her husband’s constant cycle of detention and release is part of an ongoing harassment campaign by the Israelis. “The first actions were against Salah after his [initial] release in 2011. He could not go to Birzeit University, near Ramallah, to study law. They have interfered with all his freedoms – the right to study, the right to a family life.”
Hamouri himself pointed out that the strain that Israel puts on his family is part of its pressure to force him to leave Jerusalem. “They didn’t allow my wife to enter the country when she was pregnant, so our son wasn’t born in Jerusalem. The Israelis have said it to me clearly: ‘Why don’t you go live in France?’ and ‘Don’t come back here, we would have fewer problems if you stayed away’.”
He was just one of 5,554 Palestinian political prisoners being held by Israel. According to Addameer, of these, there are 482 administrative detainees, with almost 500 serving sentences longer than 25 years. “Unlike other political prisoners, I’m lucky enough to hold French nationality. They don’t have the chance to talk about their suffering and what happened to them, so I talk not just about my own experience but that of all of us.” To this end, Hamouri plans to go back to Jerusalem in January. “I don’t know what will happen when I go back; all the possibilities are on the table,” he noted. “I am ready for all eventualities because the Israelis don’t behave rationally when it comes to dealing with the Palestinians.”
Despite the very real probability that he will be detained again when he returns to his home city, Salah Hamouri believes that this is his only option. “We are under occupation and we have to stay,” he insisted. “If every Palestinian leaves, the occupation will be here for another 100 years. We have the right to resist and we have the right to stay in Jerusalem where we were born. Because of this, I must go back.”
Latifa (Umm Nasser) Abu Hmeid, with a photo of four of her imprisoned sons
Israeli occupation forces demolished the home of Latifa (Umm Nasser) Abu Hmeid, 72, the mother of five Palestinian prisoners and one killed by the Israeli occupation. Occupation forces exploded the home twice in a row after ringing the home with explosives, forcing over 400 Palestinians to be evacuated from their homes in al-Amari refugee camp. Occupation forces occupied the home for six hours, filling it with explosives.
They were detained inside a nearby school for over five hours as the residents of the camp struggled to defend the home and prevent its demolition. (During this mass detention, a woman gave birth to a baby inside the school, and medical treatment was delayed repeatedly by Israeli occupation forces.) Umm Nasser herself was detained for some time before being released. In a press statement, she reiterated her determination: “This is our land, and as long as there is occupation, we will resist.”
Hundreds of occupation soldiers and dozens of military patrols stormed the camps with bulldozers and armored personnel vehicles, accompanied by aircraft overhead as well as drones apparently photographing the scene. The people of the camp resisted the occupation invasion, showering military vehicles with stones. This explosion marked the third time that Latifa Abu Hmeid’s home was destroyed by the Israeli occupation; her family home was also destroyed in 1991 and 2003
Occupation soldiers fired tear gas on the people of the camp, injuring dozens; Majdi Bannoura, a photographer from al-Jazeera, was injured when he was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. At least 10 people were transferred to nearby hospitals due to injuries, while snipers occupied the rooftops of homes throughout the camp as soldiers spread throughout its streets.
Occupation forces demanded the family demolish their own home within 48 hours after the imprisonment of Islam Abu Hmeid, 32, in June 2018, accused of participating in a resistance action that killed an Israeli colonial soldier actively invading Al-Amari refugee camp. Four of Islam’s brothers, Latifa’s sons, are currently imprisoned by Israel, and another son was killed during the first Intifada.
The attack on the Abu Hmeid home was followed by the pre-dawn destruction of the Na’alwa family home in Shweika, north of Tulkarem. As hundreds of Palestinians gathered to protect the family home, occupation forces attacked the village, invading at 3:00 a.m., firing rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas on the people of the village to force them away from the home and demolishing the walls of the home’s first floor.
Palestinian youth resisted the invasion, committed to protecting the home from the occupation attack. Three Palestinians were shot by rubber-coated metal bullets and another was burned by an Israeli occupation projectile. The people of the village had maintained a sit-in around the home after the occupation forces ordered the demolition of the ground and first floors of the home, and schools were closed due to the massive presence of colonial soldiers.
Ashraf Na’alwa, 23, was killed by occupation forces on Thursday, 13 December, one of a series of extrajudicial executions by the Israeli colonial forces. He had evaded occupation forces for over 60 days after carrying out an armed resistance action. His brother, brother-in-law and mother are all currently imprisoned by the Israeli occupation because they did not divulge the location of their son, who was killed far from home in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus.
Now, the home of imprisoned Palestinian Khalil Jabarin in the village of Yatta near al-Khalil has been ordered demolished within 48 hours. Khalil, 17, is accused of participating in an armed resistance action at the illegal Israeli colonial settlement of Gush Etzion. Khalil’s mother spoke to Quds News, saying that “the home demolition policy of the occupation is not a deterrent to resistance fighters or their families. On the contrary, it increases their strength, determination, resilience and resistance.” She noted the widespread support she and the family have received from fellow Palestinians.
Sheikh Khader Adnan, recently freed from prison after his third hunger strike to secure his release, said that these home demolitions are a form of collective punishment and systematic terror aimed at stifling the youth of the Palestinian resistance. However, Adnan said, “The Palestinian people will not bow down, despite home demolitions, mass arrests and the policy of collective punishment. What has happened recently in the West Bank has done nothing but increase Palestinians’ strength and steadfastness.”
He also commented on announced threats by the occupation to deport the family members of resistance strugglers, saying that this would also fail to suppress the resistance. “Palestinians have always shown that they will hold to their land and preserve their Palestinian identity and roots in the most difficult of conditions,” he said. He urged the strongest support for these young people and their families, who have sacrificed so much for the liberation of Palestine.
Like administrative detention, the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial, home demolitions by colonial forces in Palestine date back to the British colonial mandate in Palestine. Home demolitions are a form of collective punishment that targets entire families and violates binding international law, including the Geneva Convention, which notes that “no protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or terrorism are prohibited…”
These arbitrary demolitions, of course, operate hand in hand with a larger Israeli goal of settlement building and exclusion of the indigenous people of the land and over 70 years of continuing Nakba. After all, many home demolitions in Palestine take place after Palestinians build without Israeli permits (constantly delayed or denied) on their own land. Entire Palestinian villages and neighborhoods, like Khan al-Ahmar in Jerusalem, Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab or al-Araqib, destroyed over 100 times, are targeted for destruction. These “punitive” home demolitions, which the Israeli occupation claims to be a “deterrent” for resistance, must be seen in the overall context of colonial settlement and destruction.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with the Abu Hmeid family, the Na’alwa family, the Jabarin family and all Palestinian families whose homes and lives are under constant attack by a settler colonial force. Israel’s policy of home demolition and the complete impunity it enjoys on an official level only highlight the necessity of international collective and grassroots action and organizing to support the Palestinian people, including building the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to isolate Israel at all levels, including economic, cultural and academic boycott and a military embargo on the occupaiton state.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, and conducted very violent searches of homes, before abducting two Palestinians, and wounding two others, including one who suffered serious injuries, during ensuing protests.
Media sources said the soldiers surrounded the home of No’man Abu ‘Ashour, and used loudspeakers ordering his son, Issa, to turn himself in to the army, but he apparently was not there.
They added that dozens of youngsters protested the invasion and hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the armored military vehicles, while the army fire live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.
During the invasion and ensuing protests, the soldiers moderately injured Mohammad Ra’ed Shamrookh, 19, after shooting him with a live round in the chest.
Another Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his leg, and several others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.
The soldiers also invaded and searched homes, before abducting Hamza Khalil al-Ja’fari, 21, and Monir Khaled al-Ja’fari, 21.
In its worth mentioning that a Palestinian car, owned by Ma’moun Naji, was burnt after the soldiers fired a gas bomb at it.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, dozens of Palestinian homes and buildings in the al-‘Isawiya town in occupied Jerusalem, and violently searched them, before interrogating many Palestinians, and abducted at least twenty of them, in addition to summoning two others for interrogation.
Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, said dozens of soldiers surrounded the town, and were heavily deployed in many areas, especially on its main entrance, before invading it.
He added that the soldiers installed roadblocks in the town, before conducting massive and violent searches of cars, homes, commercial buildings, and a gas station where they also confiscated a propane tank.
Abu al-Hummus further stated that the soldiers summoned two Palestinians for interrogation, and installed a military tent at the western entrance of the town to use it as an “operation room,” after complete sealing the area.
Israeli police officers were also deployed at the entrance of the town, during early morning hours, before stopping and searching dozens of vehicles, including buses transporting children to their schools.
Fifteen of the abducted Palestinians have been identified as: