Palestinian Muslims gather in front of the Dome of the Rock after the mosque reopened in Jerusalem on January 14, 2019. “Palestinian guard closed the mosque after an Israeli policeman wearing a Jewish cap tried to enter the worship place,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, said
The Jordanian foreign ministry yesterday condemned Israel’s actions near Al-Buraq (the Western Wall), stressing it is an inalienable part of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel had reportedly set up steel and wooden structures near Al-Buraq, in contravention of the status quo agreement with Jordan over the administration of Al-Aqsa compound.
Foreign ministry spokesman, Sufian Al-Qudat, said that only the Palestinian Authority (PA) is responsible for dealing with issues related to Al-Aqsa Mosque, as stipulated by international law. Al-Qudat also stressed that Israel, as an occupying power, has to respect this agreement, Jordanian news agency Petra reported.
Al-Qudat also emphasised that Jerusalem’s Awqaf Department (which administers Al-Aqsa) is the only party with the power to carry out maintenance and renovation works in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the surrounding compound, an area which consists of 144 dunams (35 acres) of land.
The spokesman continued by reiterating the importance of the international community putting pressure on Israel to maintain the historical and legal status of Al-Aqsa Mosque. He blamed the Israeli occupation for anything which undermines the safety of the mosque and its worshippers, as well as calling for Israel to end all such measures immediately.
Jordan also called on Israel to hand over the brick which fell from the Al-Buraq on 23 July to Jerusalem’s Awqaf Department.
A human rights group has claimed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to torture and abuse Palestinian prisoners under its watch.
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK said that the PA’s security services continue their repressive approach against activists, using psychological and physical torture against them.
The organisation explained that, in the past two weeks, PA security services in the occupied West Bank have arrested 17 Palestinians, including previously-released prisoners and students. The arrests were carried out by the Preventive Security Service (PSS) in Tubas, northeast of Nablus, the Jenin Intelligence and the General Intelligence in Nablus.
The organisation said that among the detainees was Murad Fattash, whose mother has since declared a hunger strike in protest against his arrest and the harsh treatment he received at the PSS detention centre in Salfit, southwest of Nablus. The security services also prevented Fattash’s family from supplying him with appropriate winter clothes and blankets for the cold weather.
The group also pointed out that the wife and mother of detainee Abdulrahman Shaheen, from the city of Salfit, announced a hunger strike yesterday evening in solidarity with Abdulrahman, who was arbitrarily detained 21 days ago by the PSS.
Two detainees, Montasar Al-Shunnar and Qutaiba Azem, were reportedly presented to court on Tuesday. Both bore marks of severe brutality and torture and, though they filed complaints to the court about their treatment, their complaints were ignored. The court instead extended their confinement on charges of stirring up sectarian strife and collecting and receiving funds from illegal associations.
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK provided further examples of torture by PA security forces. One detainee, Qutaiba Azem, attended the court session with the scars of physical abuse and torture visible on his body. He attended the session without his glasses, which had been broken when he was beaten while being interrogated by the Nablus intelligence service.
Another prisoner, Al-Shunnar, was also in a state of extreme exhaustion, completely unable to stand or move. His state was a result of being subjected to the “Shabah” position – in which the prisoner is seated on a small chair which is then tilted forward – as well as other methods of torture which caused his feet to swell and for him to vomit blood.
The organisation added that the PA security services continue to arbitrarily arrest students and activists as an instrument of silencing them, especially after the decision to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). As a result, the Palestinian judiciary is unable to achieve justice for the detainees or open investigations into torture and abuse.
The group concluded by calling on the international community, particularly those who support the PA security services, to take a decisive position to stop the arbitrary detention of Palestinian citizens, torture and suppressing freedom of opinion and expression and to hold those responsible to account.
“I will reject all the money on earth. I will not betray my land or my people. Money is fine, but only when it is clean”
A Palestinian from Hebron has rejected a $100 million Israeli offer to buy his home.
An inhabitant of the West Bank city of Hebron, Abdul Raouf Al-Mohtaseb rejected an Israeli offer worth $100 million for his house and shop, located in the centre of the old neighbourhood of Al-Sahla, Hebron, Arabi 21 reported on Friday.
Al-Mohtaseb has rejected all previous Israeli offers made to him for his house and shop, which overlook Ibrahimi Mosque in the centre of the old city.
“I rejected $100 million,” Al-Mohtaseb said, adding: “I will reject all the money on earth. I will not betray my land or my people. Money is fine, but only when it is clean.”
Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Al-Mohtaseb said that the offers started at $6 million, before rising to $40 million and eventually reaching $100 million. He stressed however that he would not change his position, but rather that he would remain a guard of the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Israeli settlers in the city, he said, had suggested they could facilitate his travel to Australia or Canada to live a new life and found new businesses, but he also rejected this offer.
Al-Mohtaseb stressed that the higher the settlers raise their offer for his house, the more his love of the land rises, noting that he has 20 grandchildren who he hopes will spend their lives in Hebron. “I spent my childhood here, but my grandchildren are deprived of this,” he lamented.
In another interview, Al-Mohtaseb also explained the suffering of Palestinians in Hebron due to the Israeli occupation: “Once, I travelled to Jordan, but I felt so bad the next day and I cut my trip [short] and returned back to Hebron,” he said, stressing that: “However, we are living in a real prison.”
He said that a settler named Boaz once came to him and offered him $30 million for his house. He said that he took Boaz to his house and pointed to the bricks, asking him: “For which brick would you pay the $30 million?” Boaz replied: “I want to buy the whole house.” Al-Mohtaseb replied: “The $30 million is not enough for even one brick.”
Two Palestinians were shot, Friday, by Israeli soldiers, during the weekly protest in the northern West Bank village of Kufur Qaddoum, west of Nablus, while the soldiers also abducted one child.
The Israeli forces opened fire at protesters with live ammunition, rubber coated steel bullets, and tear-gas canisters, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum Morad Eshteiwi said.
Eshteiwi stated that one Palestinian was shot in the chest, and one was shot in the leg, both were transferred to hospital, while many others suffered the effects of tear-gas.
The Israeli soldiers opened fire at the home of Nusfat Eshteiwi, and abducted a child, identified as Tareq Hikmat Eshteiwi. Soldiers were reported to have “assaulted women and children” prior to the detention of the minor.
The Popular Committee said the soldiers caused excessive damage to the home of Hikmat, and his car, before abducting his son, in addition to causing serious damage to the homes of Hikmat’s brothers.
The community of Kufur Qaddoum has held protests every Friday for the past 8 years, expressing their opposition to the Annexation wall, and illegal Israeli settlements.
The expansion of the nearby illegal Israeli colony of Kedumim, in 2003, resulted in the army closing the road to Palestinians, in order to pander to the colonialist settlers, who had taken over the land in violation of both international and Israeli law.
According to Israeli based rights group, B’Tselem, the closure of the main road to Nablus city, caused Palestinians to take a bypass road, which nearly triples the travel time.
On Thursday January 17th Israel’s occupation forces invaded the family of home imprisoned teenager Khalil Yousef Jabarin(17) in the town of Yatta on Palestine’s occupied West Bank, put explosives on internal walls in the third floor of the house and detonated them. Damage to the house left it unlivable, leaving 12 members of the family homeless. The attack was a collective punishment and thus a war crime – and typically for Israeli Apartheid, it took place before Jabarin has been convicted of anything. In fact, his trial in Israeli occupation military court has not even started. Destroying a family home of a minor before the child has been even convicted of anything tells everything an observer needs to know about the Israeli ‘justice’ system. Jabarin has been imprisoned since September 16th when he was shot by United States -born illegal Israeli settler Ari Fuld(40), who he is accused of having stabbed in the illegal Israeli colony bloc of Gush Etzion in the Hebron district of the occupied West Bank. Khalil Jabarin’s 15-year-old brother Ihab had been released earlier on the week after he had been imprisoned for several months by the Israeli occupation. (Source / 19.01.2019)
Date: 18 January 2019, The Palestinian Center For Human Right (PCHR): On Friday evening, 18 January 2019, Israeli forces wounded 119 Palestinian civilians, including 30 children, 5 women, 5 paramedics, and 2 journalists, in the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there for the twelfth week consecutively and absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 10 months ago.
According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, though the demonstrators were around tens of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them.
As a result, many of the demonstrators were hit with bullets and teargas canisters to their head without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.
On this Friday, the Israeli forces have increasingly targeted the medical personnel in the field and wounded 5 of them, including 2 female and male paramedics in eastern Khan Yunis, 2 female paramedics in eastern Jabalia and a paramedic in eastern al-Buriej camp.
Moreover, the Israeli forces fired a barrage of teargas canisters near where ambulances were parked in Khan Younis. All of this indicates an Israeli systematic policy to target the medical personnel and obstruct their humanitarian action that is guaranteed with protection under the international humanitarian law.
On 18 January 2019, the incidents were as follows:
At approximately 14:30, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the five encampments established by the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege adjacent to the border fence with Israel in eastern Gaza Strip cities, except for northern Gaza due to bad weather.
Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel in front of each encampment and gathered tens of meters away from the main border fence, attempting to throw stones at the Israeli forces. A
lthough the demonstrators gathered in areas open to the Israeli snipers stationed on the top of the sand berms and military watchtowers and inside and behind the military jeeps, the Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets in addition to a barrage of teargas canisters.
The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 17:00, resulted in the injury of 119 civilians, including 30 children, 5 women, 5 paramedics, and 2 journalists. In addition, dozens of demonstrators, paramedics and journalists suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.
The following table shows the number of civilian victims due to the Israeli forces’ suppression of the Great March of Return since its beginning on 30 March:
Among those Killed, there were 8 Persons with Disabilities and a girl.
Among those wounded, 514 are in serious condition and 101 had their lower or upper limbs amputated; 89 lower-limb amputations, 2 upper-limb amputations, 10 finger amputations and 17 children had their limbs amputated according to the Ministry of Health. The number of those wounded only include those wounded with live bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters as there have been thousand others who suffered tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises.
PCHR emphasizes that continuously targeting civilians, who exercise their right to peaceful assembly or while carrying out their humanitarian duty, is a serious violation of the rules of international law, international humanitarian law, the ICC Rome Statute and Fourth Geneva Convention. Thus, PCHR calls upon the ICC Prosecutor to open an official investigation in these crimes and to prosecute and hold accountable all those applying or involved in issuing orders within the Israeli Forces at the security and political echelons.
PCHR hereby condemns the excessive use of force and commission of crimes by the Israeli forces despite the prevailed calmness, believing it is as a result of Israel’s enjoying impunity thanks to the U.S. and so encouraging the Israeli forces to commit further crimes upon an official decision by the highest military and political echelons.
PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
PCHR calls upon Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depository State for the Convention, to demand the High Contracting Parties to convene a meeting and ensure Israel’s respect for this Convention, noting that these grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied territories
When I met Ghassan Najjar, in the WestBank village of Burin, I gained the impression of speaking with a young man considerably older than the 26-year-old before me. As he pointed out during our conversation, under Israeli occupation children have to grow upfast. It was in 2000 when Ghassan, aged 10, first came into contact with the Israelioccupiers. He was helping his father, Zidan, and other members of his family in their apple orchard on a ridge overlooking the village when they were attacked by a group of armed men from the nearby Brakha settlement who wanted the land for themselves. They shot Ghassan’s cousin in the leg while Israeli soldiers looked on.
Following a number of similar settler attacks the army prohibited Zidan from accessing his orchard, so he obtained a court ruling that confirmed his right to work on his land. However, the army promptly invalidated the ruling by declaring the land to be a closed military zone, after which the 1,500 apple trees and a well were destroyed. Zidan and hisfamily were barred from entry permanently. It was during that time that the army also seized 65 dunams (16 acres) of land What’s left of the apple orchard on top of a hill near Brakha belonging to Ghassan’s mother.
It was unsurprising, then, that by the age of 15, Ghassan and other local boys would throw stones at the sight of soldiers for which he was arrested and charged. Ghassan was sentenced to six months in the juvenile section of HaSharon Prison in northern Israel [contravening the Third Geneva Convention, Article 4, which states: “protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein].
Four years later, Ghassan was charged again, this time accused of subversive activities against the Israeli state. For organising community events, such as flying kites decorated with Palestinian flags, and taking part in demonstrations to support local farmers experiencing settler attacks and land seizures, Ghassan was sentenced to one year and eight months in Megiddo Prison, again in northern Israel.
So when Israeli soldiers, using tear gas and stun bombs, attacked Burin Boys School on 26 August 2014(1), Ghassan, together with other villagers did not hesitate to rally in support of the teachers and pupils. Aged 24, Ghassan was the youngest in the group. The scene on their arrival was of Israeli soldiers surrounding the headmaster, Ibrahim Amur and his senior staff while the terrified pupils were locked in their classrooms with their teachers. Ibrahim, his senior teachers and the villagers told the soldiers to leave. They were ignored. “One soldier shouted to me that I was a ‘son of a bitch’,” Ghassan told me, “but I ignored him. Then I saw him, together with some of the other soldiers, move in to arrest Ibrahim. Instinctively, I pushed the soldier away and then ran off. But the soldiers had no problems in identifying me.”
The wheels were thus set in motion for Ghassan’s third prison sentence. That night, soldiers visited the homes of his brother, Abdullah, and his cousin, Zaid, who were not accused of any offence. Both young men were badly beaten and brought to Ghassan at his home where he lived with his parents. There they were ordered never to see Ghassan again.
Next, the soldiers set about vandalising the family home while shouting threats and insults at Ghassan’s elderly parents, after which they took him to a military post in nearby Huwwara. There, he was beaten so badly that he lost consciousness and was rushed to a hospital in Israel, near Tel Aviv where he Ghassan’s home after soldiers’ visit remained for two weeks. Because of laws prohibiting Palestinians living in the West Bank from freely entering Israel,his parents and other family members were not allowed to visit him. “On being discharged from hospital,” continued Ghassan, “I was taken to an interrogation centre in Israel near Petah Tikva which is run by Shin Bet [the internal Israeli intelligence services] and it was here I received the worst treatment. They wanted to break me, but didn’t succeed.” For two months, Ghassan was kept in isolation in a windowless basement cell measuring about 2m x 1.5m. “There was an electric light on continuously. I lost all track of time, not knowing whether it was day or night.”
The interrogations started. Ghassan told me the officials wanted to know names of friends and associates. He described how he was seated in a chair with his hands tied behind his back for one to two days, allowed to visit the bathroom for five minutes every 6 hours. On other occasions he was laid handcuffed to a bed with his arms and legs outstretched. Despite the stifling heat, he was often refused permission to shower. Still in custody, Ghassan spent the next 14 months in Megiddo Prison. Here, the prisoners were divided into blocks of 120 prisoners according to their political affiliation. Ghassan’s block was for members of the Peoples’ Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Every block contained cells, each holding ten prisoners and equipped with electric rings for cooking. “The daily routine at Megiddo was crushing,” said Ghassan. “Prisoners remained in their cells during the day except for two hours in the morning and evening when they walked up and down corridors. Ten prisoners a day from each block were allowed to play sport for an hour, which they took turns in doing.” Prisoners received 400 shekels (£86) a month from the Palestinian Authority for food either from the canteen, run at a profit by the Israeli company Dadash(2), or from a shop for prisoners to prepare themselves. The canteen was expensive and the food inadequate and of poor quality: “For breakfast we would be given a single egg and a packet of crisps which cost ten shekels (£2.17).” So prisoners prepared their own meals. However, it is the prison guards that give Megiddo its bad reputation. “We were subjected constantly to taunts, threats and beatings by prison guards. They would attack us at whim and pump tear gas into our cells, causing us virtually to suffocate in the crowded, enclosed space, then waiting for 3 minutes or so before providing oxygen. I was put into solitary confinement on about 14 occasions. I believe the prison authorities disliked me because I initiated classes for my cellmates in Palestinian history and literacy. For them education was a threat.”
About a month into his detention at Megiddo, Ghassan first met his lawyer. Six months later, his mother received permission to visit her son, assisted by the Red Cross. From then on she could visit him quite regularly, although his father, aged over 70, who had also been imprisoned by the Israelis on a number of occasions, had to wait longer and subsequently was only permitted visits every 6-7 months. After Megiddo, Ghassan was transferred to a punishment prison, Hadarim, also in northern Israel where he spent two weeks in isolation. Ghassan believes it was because he threatened to go on hunger strike that he was moved quickly to Gilbo’a Prison (again in northern Israel) where he stayed for a year until his release. It was while he was at Gilbo’a, 18 months after his arrest, that Ghassan’s trial finally took place at Salem Military Court. “I was accused of attacking the soldier at the boys’ school and of subversive activity,” he explained.
The District Army Commander gave evidence as well as the ‘ravshatz’ [security officer] from Yitzhar (another violent(3) religious settlement overlooking Burin) who had not been present at the school. He alleged Ghassan had attacked him on a number of occasions previously. Ghassan said it was on account of the ravshatz’s allegations that he was sentenced to 26 months and ordered to pay 7,000 shekels (approximately £1,520) to the soldier he pushed. The family paid the fine, against Ghassan’s wishes.
The ravshatz from Yitzhar talking to soldiers Ghassan described Gilbo’a as “a place of learning, a school for change rather than a place for becoming embittered.” Prisoners of all political persuasions, except for Hamas, lived together in one unit. They set up a daily routine consisting of classes, two hours reading, written tasks and sport in addition to preparing meals and watching TV. There were courses in Palestinian history, culture and crafts, economics and the his tory of colonisation and liberation struggles of other countries. Prisoners taught each other and Ghassan proudly showed me the certificate he was awarded for teaching Palestinian history. Similarly, students were awarded diplomas for courses they had attended.
“It was through the education I received in Gilbo’a that I learnt not all Jews were Zionists,” he explained, “and that my anger against our treatment by the Israelis and the Occupation should not be directed against all Jews, many of whom oppose what is happening to us.” It was also in Gilbo’a that Ghassan first went on hunger strike as an act of solidarity with Bilal Kayed, a Palestinian activist(4) who, after spending 14 years in Israeli prisons, on the day of his release was imprisoned again without charge.
Disobedience tactics accompanied the initial call for Bilal’s release: “In every cell during morning roll call, prisoners would give Bilal Kayed’s name instead of their own.” The hunger strike started on 17 July 2015. “The evening before, we had received the coded message ‘Freedom awaits you’, meaning the strike would commence the following day,” explained Ghassan.
Ghassan said that within days of starting the strike, he and another prisoner were put in isolation – a small windowless cell where the temperature often rose to 45oC which made his skin peel. On the sixteenth day, guards took away his underwear. He had no right to a shower during the 21 days of his strike. Most of the hunger strikers in Gilbo’a ended their action at 8.00pm on 7 August, following instructions from the unit organiser. However, Israeli officials forbade him from seeing Ghassan who was given the news of the strike’s end by a prison guard. Ghassan, therefore, refused to stop, adding that he would stop drinking water too. The strike organiser was called promptly to his cell.
Recovery following the strike was hard: the prison authorities did not provide salt and the prisoners were given cold water to drink, which they could not digest. Ghassan described how they resorted to drinking warm water from the bathroom. Ghassan was released in September 2016 and returned home to a big celebration. But there were restrictions: for six months, he could only to walk in the streets around his house in the outskirts of Burin. However, this did not deter him from resuming his rôle as a community worker and activist. The Bilal Al-Najjar community centre which Ghassan had founded in 2007 was vandalised by Israeli soldiers in 2009 and 2010 and totally trashed in July 2013. Ten volunteers were beaten and twenty arrested. So since his release Ghassan has had to start afresh. He has formed the Target Association for Rural Development-Burin which holds classes, meetings and lectures, mainly for young people. With friends, he has also created a permaculture centre. In July 2017, despite personal threats he resurrected the kite festival attended by crowds of children and young people from the village and elsewhere. During the afternoon, soldiers and settlers appeared on a nearby hillside, exploding grenades(5).
Bilal al Najjar Community Centre after army raid
“Aren’t you worried about being arrested again?” I asked Ghassan. He replied in his customary defiant manner: “I’m not afraid of arrest. Nothing will stop me from dedicating my life to fighting for a free Palestine. If I’m sent to prison again, so be it.”
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will end all of its projects in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip on January 31st following the US administration’s decision to cut funding to the Palestinians, Dave Harden, former USAID Mission Director and Managing Director of the Georgetown Strategy Group, confirmed on Thursday.
According to Hebrew-language news outlets, Harden expressed deep concern over the move to shut down USAID and said that the US administration “demonstrates again a lack of nuance, sophistication, and appreciation for the complexity of the situation.”
He stressed, “Who suffers when USAID leaves schools and water systems unfinished? Palestinians, of course, but also Israelis and Americans. The administration just gave Hamas more running room.”
Ma;an News Agency further reports that the shut down on January 31st matches the implementation of the Anti Terrorism Clarification Act, a bill signed into law last October by the Trump administration, which creates liability for the Palestinian Authority (PA) should it accept any foreign assistance from the US government – effectively shutting dwon all USAID programming.
Harden posted, on his Twitter account, that halting USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza is “another example of the end of the two-state solution.”
Dan Shapiro, former US Ambassador to Israel, responded on Twitter asking whether the PA will continue to accept US assistance for their security forces “if it is the only stream of US funding.” That, he said, “would layer another security risk on top of the ones associated with economic instability.”
The Jerusalem Post reported that several foreign nationals who were assigned to various USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have left the country in recent weeks and months, together with their families, after being informed of the decision to end the projects they were working on, at the end of this month.
US President Donald Trump’s administration notified Congress, in August 2018, of its decision to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of US assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer,” the State Department said. “As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million … originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Israeli soldiers fired, on Friday evening, many gas bombs at and near the Stadium in the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, causing many players, and other Palestinians watching the match, to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.
The soccer match was between two teams consisting of players born in 2001 and 2002, from the al-‘Obeydiyya and Doha towns, in the Bethlehem governorate, when Israeli soldiers invaded the area, and fired many gas bombs into the soccer field, and the areas surrounding it.
Medical sources said many players suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, and the match was postponed until further notice.
The attack was not the first of its kind, as the soldiers previously detained many players, and fired gas bombs into the soccer field, also causing injuries.