Palestinian prisoner re-detained hours after his release

The Israeli occupation forces on Sunday re-arrested the Palestinian prisoner Abdulrahman Mahmoud only hours after his release from Israeli jails, according to the head of the Committee of the Families of Jerusalem Detainees, Amjad Abu Asab.

Abu Asab said that the Israeli forces attacked the procession that was taking Mahmoud to Jericho and arrested him along with his brother.

The Israeli authorities released Mahmoud after he served 17 years in their jails on condition that he stays away from his hometown, al-Isawiya, for three days.

Local sources said that the Israeli forces kidnapped Mahmoud and his brother and decided to extend their detention for 24 hours.

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Slow death for Gaza cancer patients

Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip makes it difficult, if not impossible, for cancer patients to receive treatment. Over the last decade, Israel has controlled and restricted shipments of medicine, among other basic necessities, into Gaza. This often causes severe drug shortages in Gaza hospitals.

“I come to the hospital to receive treatment and I am surprised that there is no treatment,” Sabreen al-Najjar, 40, told The Electronic Intifada. Al-Najjar is one of many cancer patients in Gaza turned away by hospitals due to severe drug shortages. “It is unbelievable. They sentence us to death. A slow death,” she added. With the unreliable availability of medications, many patients try to receive treatment outside Gaza.

Israel denies many of those patients the permits necessary for them to leave the enclave and receive treatment in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or within Israel. More than 1,800 patients were denied permission to cross Erez checkpoint for healthcare in 2018, according to the World Health Organization, compared to approximately 700 denied in 2017.

 (Source / 25.02.2019)

Abbas urges European states to recognise ‘State of Palestine’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the EU-Arab League summit held under the theme "Investing in Stability" on 24 February 2019 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. [PALESTINIAN PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the EU-Arab League summit held under the theme “Investing in Stability” on 24 February 2019 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday urged European states to play a more active role in the peace process and recognise a “State of Palestine”, reported the Times of Israel.

“Has the time not come for European states that have not yet recognised the State of Palestine to do so, especially in light of your belief in the two-state solution?” Abbas said in a short speech at a two-day summit of Arab and European leaders in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

“You have recognised Israel, supported it since its establishment and defended its security. That is your right. But if you’ll allow me to say this: Your not recognising the Palestinian right to self-determination in its state is a move that contradicts your values and your European principles”.

READ: PA asks France to review Paris Economic Protocol 

According to Abbas, the recognition of a State of Palestine would not be a “substitute” for negotiations, but rather would encourage Palestinians to maintain hope for peace.

The Times of Israel reported that “Abbas also called on the Europeans to play a greater role in peace negotiations and repeated his frequent call for an international peace conference not under the auspices of the US”.

Abbas also reiterated his support for the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, the implementation of which he described as “the only way to achieve peace, and this is what all the Arabs are standing behind”.

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Israel re-arrests former hunger-striker Khader Adnan

Khader Adnan stencil on a wall by Manara square, Ramallah on February 23, 2012 [Wikipedia]

Khader Adnan stencil on a wall by Manara square, Ramallah on February 23, 2012

Israeli occupation forces arrested former Palestinian hunger-striker Khader Adnan in pre-dawn raids today, according to news agency Wafa.

The Palestine Prisoner’s Society said that at least seven Palestinians were detained in raids across the occupied West Bank.

In Arraba town, south-west of Jenin, soldiers detained two former prisoners identified as Khader Adnan and Tareq Qa’dan.

READ: Palestinian hunger striker free from Israel jails 

Adnan has spent a number of lengthy spells in Israeli military detention, and conducted four hunger strikes in 2004.

According to the Times of Israel, Israel’s security services Shin Bet acknowledged the detention of Adnan and Qa’dan, who were described as senior members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Shin Bet said the two men were arrested “for their activities with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” without elaborating on the nature of the suspicions against them, the report stated.

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Increase in Israel attempts to confiscate Palestinian flags during protests

Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 2 February 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 2 February 2019

In occupied East Jerusalem, activists are reporting an uptick in efforts by Israeli police to confiscate Palestinian flags during demonstrations, reported +972 Magazine.

The latest example came earlier this month, according to the article, during a protest against the eviction of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.

“A video published by Israeli activist Guy Butavia shows group of Israeli police officers walking into a crowd of Palestinian and left-wing Israeli activists…many of whom are holding small Palestinian stick flags,” the report stated. “The officers proceed to confiscate the flags, one by one.”

As noted by +972 Magazine, “prior to the Oslo Accords, Israel considered flying the Palestinian flag — still referred to in Israel as the flag of the Palestine Liberation Organisation — a criminal offense.”

READ: 15-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli army gunfire 

“The PLO still technically appears on Israel’s list of terrorist organisations, giving Israeli security forces leeway when deciding whether or not to confiscate — and even arrest those flying — Palestinian flags,” the report added.

According to official Israeli police data, officers “arrested 96 Israeli citizens on suspicion of waving the Palestinian flag between 2011 and 2015, with indictments filed in 45 of these cases.”

A police spokesperson said that officers have the discretion to confiscate flags “when there is a high level of probability that flying them will result in the violation of public safety, or in any case where there is suspicion of an offense under Section 4 of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance.”

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Remembering Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque massacre

Believed to be the burial place of the prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque is revered within Islam and Judaism. By Rebecca Stead  February 25, 2019 at 8:30 am   

What: Extremist Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein attacked Palestinian worshippers at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29 people and injuring 150 others

Where: Hebron, the occupied West Bank

When: 25 February 1994

What happened?

Believed to be the burial place of the prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque is revered within Islam and Judaism. In 1994, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Purim holiday coincided, causing illegal Jewish settlers and Palestinian Muslims to seek access to the religious site at the same time. On the evening of 24 February, eye witnesses described a disagreement between Jewish settlers and Palestinians, as both groups of worshippers tried to enter the mosque. Although there was no violence, the situation was described as “tense”.

The next day — at around 04:30 — Muslim worshippers went to the mosque for the daily Fajr (dawn) prayers. One Palestinian who attended the mosque that morning, Hosni Issa Al-Rajabeh, recalled the events of the day in an interview with Al Jazeera. Al-Rajabeh described going to the Ibrahimi Mosque with his wife and children: “When we arrived, a settler greeted us and welcomed us into the mosque, which was very strange.” Then, as Al-Rajabeh remembered: “The imam began to read the Sajdah verse [of the Qur’an]. He read for four minutes, and when the first people knelt down, I heard shooting and the power cut out.”

It is now known that the shooting which killed 29 people and injured a further 150 was carried out by extremist Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein. Goldstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, and migrated to Israel in 1983. He lived in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement, just outside Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

READ: Fatah: Israel planning for a second massacre in Hebron

Goldstein was a supporter of the extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, an Orthodox Jewish American known for his ultra-nationalist ideology and for founding the Kach party in 1971. Kach advocated the forcible removal of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). It also vehemently opposed any territorial concessions by Israel under international peace agreements, staging a sit-in at the Yamit settlement in the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula to prevent the region being handed back to Egypt under the Camp David Accords of 1979. After being elected to the Knesset in 1984, Kahane and his Kach party were declared racist by the Israeli government and banned from future political participation on the grounds of incitement.

Drawing inspiration from Kahane’s ideology, Goldstein had spawned his own history of extremist activity. In 1981, he wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, in which he stated: “The harsh reality is if Israel is to avert the kinds of problems found in Northern Ireland today, it must act decisively to remove the Arab minority from its borders.”

Relatives of Palestinians killed by an extremist Jew at Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994 hold a candle light vigil in the southern West Bank town of Hebron on February 25, 2009 to mark the 15th anniversary since Jewish fanatic Baruch Goldstein opened fire on worshippers, killing 29 people and wounding another 125 before being killed himself [Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images]

In October 1993 — after a series of disruptions for which he was already known to the Israeli authorities — Goldstein poured acid on prayer rugs at the Ibrahimi Mosque, burning large holes in them. He also assaulted six Palestinian worshippers, according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU). Later that month, IMEU adds, the Muslim authorities wrote to then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, warning of the “dangers” posed by Goldstein. Rabin’s office reportedly didn’t respond and the Israeli authorities took no action.

It is not known what provoked Goldstein to carry out his massacre of Palestinian worshippers on that day, at that time. It is possible that he was at the Ibrahimi Mosque the evening before the attack, when tensions between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian community were high. He nonetheless entered the mosque with a Galil rifle – an assault weapon similar to the AK-47 – while wearing an Israeli army uniform. After having carried out the massacre, Goldstein tried to flee but was caught and beaten to death by the crowds. As a result, the case never went to trial. His grave in Kiryat Arba has become a shrine for extremists settlers.

READ: Israel settlers attack Palestinian farmers in southern Hebron

What happened next?

Israeli politicians were quick to condemn the attack, with Prime Minister Rabin saying: “You [illegal settlers] are not part of the community of Israel […] We say to this horrible man [Goldstein] and those like him: you are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.” Benjamin Netanyahu – who was at that time head of the Likud party serving as the country’s opposition – slammed Goldstein’s actions as “a despicable crime” and expressed his “unequivocal condemnation.”

In June 1994, Israel opened a commission of inquiry which became known as the “Shamgar Commission” after then president of the Supreme Court, Meir Shamgar. The commission concluded that the evidence against Goldstein was absolute and that his actions were premeditated, labelling them “a base and murderous act in which innocent people bending in prayer to their maker were killed.” Goldstein “took full advantage” of the “prestige and trust” he had built while serving as an Israeli army reserve officer, the commission claimed, adding that, “His appearance at the [Ibrahimi Mosque], in uniform, bearing the insignia of his rank, created an impression designed to remove all obstacles from his path.”

The commission also noted that Goldstein acted alone, contrary to the accounts of multiple eyewitnesses. Al-Rajabeh, for example, told Al Jazeera that he “saw two more men at the back of the mosque. One was moving in between the two, who were shooting.” The commission, however, concluded that it was “not presented with credible proof that [Goldstein] was helped, while carrying out the killing or prior to that time, by another individual acting as an accomplice.”

Shamgar recommended that, in order to prevent another attack of this kind in the future, “arrangements intended to create complete separation between the Moslem [sic] and Jewish worshippers be adopted”. This is indeed what happened; the Ibrahimi Mosque has been divided into two sections — one for Jews and one for Muslims – ever since.

READ: Likud deputy minister enlists Hebron shooter Elor Azaria in primary campaign

Other measures were also put in place across Hebron to ensure the complete separation of the two communities. Al-Shuhada Street, which was once the city’s commercial hub, was closed to Palestinians. Palestinian vendors were forced to close their shops, with many now likening the once-thriving street to a ghost town.

In 1997, the “Protocol on Redeployment in Hebron” – which formed part of the Interim Agreement signed under the Oslo Accords – saw the city divided into two zones called H1 and H2. H1 was handed to the Palestinian Authority (PA), while H2 came under Israeli control. The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was also founded to monitor the situation in Hebron and would continue to operate under the auspices of the United Nations, renewing its mandate every six months.

Twenty-five years later, Goldstein’s massacre is still seen as the spark for the situation in Hebron, which continues to deteriorate year on year. The brutal nature of his attack shocked the Israeli public and international community and, combined with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 by another extreme right-wing settler, helped to sow disillusionment with the Oslo peace process.

For Palestinians, the massacre was indicative of the danger posed by Israel’s illegal settlement project. Daily life for Palestinians in Hebron, particularly in the Old City, has since become unbearable, with Al-Shuhada street remaining closed and settler violence against Palestinians a regular occurrence. In October, Israel announced that it would invest $6 million to expand an illegal settlement near Al-Shuhada Street, which was said to include 31 settlement units, a kindergarten and other public facilities for Jew-only use.

The Kahane movement which inspired Goldstein’s rampage still inspires settler violence against Palestinians today. In December, posters depicting PA President Mahmoud Abbas as an assassination target appeared across the occupied West Bank. The campaign was believed to have been carried out by Derech Chaim, a group of extremist Israeli settlers with a history of incitement. The organisation is headed by right-wing rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, who is known to have justified Goldstein’s actions at the Ibrahimi Mosque 25 years ago today.

READ: Palestinian rejects $100m Israel offer to buy his Hebron home

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Press Targeted during Peaceful Protest in Al-Khalil

25 Feb 7:24 AM

02/22/19 | International Solidarity Movement | Al-Khalil team

ISM and members of the press targeted and attacked with teargas and concussion grenades at peaceful protest in Al-Khalil (Hebron).

Peaceful demonstrators gathered at the checkpoint to the closed historical Shuhada street, asking for an increased international presence and for re-entry into Shuhada street.

Shortly after, Israeli forces escalated the demonstration with brute force, illegally entering the Palestinian H1 side of Hebron, attacking children with rubber coated steel bullets and grenades, and eventually kidnapping one youth.

This is one incident of many in the recent history of Khalil, in which internationals and observers are currently being targeted, intimidated, attacked and deliberately removed from the area.

(Video below.)

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Israeli News Anchor Defends Anti-occupation Statements Despite Threat of Violence

25 Feb 7:16 AM

An Israeli news anchor who has blamed the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands for turning regime troops into “animals” has defended her comments despite having received death threats from “thousands.”

Israeli Channel 13 TV anchor Oshrat Kotler had, last week, denounced the mistreatment of Palestinians in Israeli custody, following a piece aired on the channel about five Israeli soldiers indicted for beating two handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinians — a father and his 15-year-old son.

According to the indictment, the father was hospitalized for three days after sustaining multiple broken ribs, a “severely” broken nose, and subdermal bleeding around his stomach. The son also suffered a number of wounds to his head and “significant swelling” on his face.

After the report was aired, Kotler said, “We send children to the army, to the [occupied] territories, and get back animals. That is the result of the occupation.”

On Saturday, however, Kotler said she stood by her comments despite having been flooded with death threats, according to The Times of Israel.

She accused Israeli politicians of taking “cynical” advantage of her comments and taking them out of context in the midst of an election campaign.

“I am sorry if I hurt anyone with my words, but I cannot see the price we pay through our children for the reality of controlling another nation,” she said, appearing to fight back tears and referring to Palestinians. “We have lived this reality for 52 years. I do not have a magic solution; I am not a politician.”

‘Thousands of death threats’

She said her comments, “spoken with great pain,” had been “directed only at the soldiers who violated the law” and not all Israeli troopers.

“Thousands threatened my life and the life of my family, and I am afraid, but I hope to find the strength to continue and express my opinion as a reporter,” she said.

Israeli NGO Peace Now backed Kotler, saying, “It is permissible and even desirable to look into the mirror from time to time and honestly admit to the damage [caused by] the occupation. Those whose children’s futures are important to them should work to end the conflict rather than maintain it, because the price is high.”

Tamar Zandberg, the leader of left-wing Meretz Party, called the attacks on Kotler “pathetic and yet predictable… shutting your eyes [to the problem] and then assailing the messenger is not a solution.”

Israeli forces have on numerous occasions been caught on camera brutally beating or killing Palestinians, with the videos going viral online and sparking widespread condemnations, Press TV/Al Ray reports.

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Settlers Seize Land in Jordan Valley


25 Feb 7:01 AM

Israeli settlers, today, seized a large area of Palestinian land in the northern Jordan Valley, according  to Aref Daraghmeh, a local rights activist.

He said the settlers placed barbed wire around the seized land, estimated in the hundreds of dunams, in Khillet al-Oqda and al-Sweideh area of the Jordan Valley.

The illegal Israeli land grab in the occupied Jordan Valley is a regular occurrence by the settlers and the military government, WAFA reports.

(Source / 25.02.2019)

Palestinian Teacher Injured in Jerusalem

25 Feb 7:54 AM

A Palestinian teacher was shot and injured by Israeli forces, on Saturday, during raids of the al-Eesawiyya neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of a local follow-up committee, said that Israeli forces raided the neighborhood as Palestinian students and teachers made their way back home from school.

Abu al-Hummus stressed, according to Ma’an, that one teacher was shot and injured in her hand after Israeli forces repeatedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades across al-Eesawiyya.

The teacher was transferred to a hospital for medical treatment. Her medical condition remained unknown.

(Source / 25.02.2019)