Israel suppressing only pharmaceutical factory in Gaza

A Palestinian man has lit a gas lantern during a power shortage in Rafah, Gaza on 27 January 2012 [Abed Rahim Khatib/Apaimages]

A Palestinian pharmacist has lit a gas lantern during a power shortage in Rafah, Gaza on 27 January 2012

The only pharmaceutical factory in the Gaza Strip is struggling to survive Israeli restrictions and the economic crises brought about by the 12-year siege imposed on the coastal enclave.

The factory has been subjected to Israeli military attacks since 2003, long before the siege was imposed on the Strip in 2007, which caused an economic crisis, halted the factory’s development and caused production to drop by 80 per cent.

General manager of Middle East Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics Laboratories – or Megapharm, to which the factory is affiliated – Marwan Al-Astal, explained that: “Israeli attacks on the factory started in 2003 when the occupation army stormed its headquarters in the town of Beit Hanoun and stayed there for three months. During this period, lots of equipment, machines and raw materials were destroyed.”

“The Israeli occupation forces stormed the headquarters of the factory nine times after 2003, causing a lot of damage which cost us a fortune,” Al-Astal added during an interview with Anadolu Agency.

Al-Astal also pointed out that the Israeli army targeted the factory headquarters with rockets during the wars waged on Gaza Strip in 2008, 2012, and 2014. He estimated the losses caused by Israeli attacks on the factory since 2003 to exceed one million dollars.

Read: Israel officials warn Gaza war would collapse health system

Al-Astal explained that “since 2007, Israel has prevented the factory from exporting its goods from Gaza to the West Bank markets, in addition to other countries where we are granted working licence, such as Algeria”. He continued: “This situation, as well as the economic crisis the Palestinians have been suffering from due to the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, have caused the factory’s production to drop by 20 per cent.”

Al-Astal pointed out that the Israeli authorities prevented the factory from receiving raw materials for a year and a half in 2007, thereby suspending production during this period. However, regional and international human rights organisations intervened and work was resumed.

The suspension of the pharmaceutical factory’s production for a year and a half, as well as Israel’s prohibiting the exportation of its products to foreign markets, caused the factory to lose millions of dollars and curb its development. “The number of items expected to be produced was more than 200, but the factory only produced 105,” Al-Astal said.

The obstacles facing the factory have halted any further recruitment and the current number of employees is 51. “Israel is fighting against this factory because it wants to stop any Palestinian pharmaceutical industry, which represents a strategic and important industry,” said Al-Astal.

WHO: Palestinian cancer patients in Gaza wait months for Israel permits

Al-Astal also stressed that “despite the Israeli restrictions and attacks, as well as the economic crisis the Gaza Strip is witnessing, which have reduced the demand for medicines, we have maintained production at a monthly rate of 20 tons of pain killers, antibiotics, ointments and fluids used to treat respiratory diseases such as coughs and colds”.

He pointed out that the factory, which was established in 1999, is the only facility producing seven medicines which are not produced by Palestinian factories in the occupied West Bank or factories in Israel. Under the restrictions imposed by Israel on the supply of medicines to Gaza, the factory offers cheap pharmaceutical alternatives to many imported items, covering 12 per cent of the needs of the local market in the Strip.

One of the biggest challenges to the factory is access to raw materials. “Importing raw materials is the biggest problem the factory is currently facing because it needs both the approval of the Israeli Ministries of Health and Environment to import any material, as well as the Israeli army,” said Sami El-Taban, store manager at Megapharm.

During an interview with Anadolu, El-Taban stated that “the importation of raw materials takes six months, because of the obstacles imposed by Israel on this process”.

He highlighted that the factory is forced to import a large amount of raw materials every time Israel grants it permission in order to ensure the continuity of its work. As a result, large quantities of these materials have expired by the time they are used, causing the factory to suffer huge financial losses.

El-Taban stressed that Israel prevented the factory from importing 15 types of raw materials used to produce around 20 types of drugs.

Read: French delegation conduct 16 surgeries in occupied Gaza

(Source / 16.03.2019)

Hamas: Israel causing new crises in Gaza

Flame and smoke blow up after Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes towards points of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in Rafah, Gaza on March 15, 2019 [Abed Rahim Khatib / Anadolu Agency]

Flame and smoke blow up after Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes towards points of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in Rafah, Gaza on March 15, 2019

Hamas said yesterday that Israel is causing new crises in the Gaza Strip through its military escalation and targeting of Palestinian resistance sites and civilian facilities.

In a press release – a copy of which sent to MEMO – Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the latest Israeli escalation in Gaza is a new crime added to the criminal record of the Israeli occupation”.

Barhoum blamed Israel for the potential repercussions of this escalation, stressing that Hamas “knows very well how to deal with this criminal occupation, as well as how to prevent Israel from using Palestinian blood to fuel electoral campaigns.” Barhoum was likely referring to accusations that Israeli establishment figures are using the escalation in the besieged Gaza Strip to further their electoral prospects ahead of the upcoming general election on 9 April.

Barhoum’s statement came in the wake of a wave of Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, after Israel claimed two rockets from the besieged enclave were launched towards Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Israeli army announced that 100 strikes had been carried out across Gaza. Palestinian sources reported that several farms and open areas were targeted in addition to the resistance sites, causing horror among women and children and leaving a husband and wife wounded.

Israel blamed Hamas for firing the rockets, but Hamas and the Palestinian factions denied responsibility. The Egyptian intelligence delegation which was in Gaza at the time passed a message from Hamas that the two rockets were launched by mistake during maintenance works.

Read: Gaza waiting for implementation of truce with Israel

(Source / 16.03.2019)

Israel warns will use ‘uncompromising force’ against Gaza

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council in New York, US [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council in New York, US

Israel yesterday warned it would use “uncompromising force” against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip should the UN Security Council not condemn the alleged launching of two rockets towards Tel Aviv.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, sent a letter to the UN Security Council in which he called on its members to meet and condemn the two homemade rockets allegedly launched from the besieged Gaza Strip towards Tel Aviv.

In the letter, Danon wrote: “The terrorists that fired these rockets into Israel’s most populated civilian area did so while hiding behind Palestinian civilians in Gaza and exploiting them as human shields.” He added: “A terrorist organisation that tries to harm Israel will encounter relentless and uncompromising force.”

Israel on Thursday night struck civilian facilities including schools, hospitals and mosques, claiming to have hit over 100 targets. These airstrikes were reminiscent of Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians, including more than 500 women and children, were killed.

Read: Gaza calls off Great March of Return

(Source / 16.03.2019) 

Rights Group Condemns Repression of Gaza Protests

16 Mar 6:28 AM

For the second day in arrow, hundreds of Gazans took to the streets today demanding better economic conditions and protesting rise in taxes.

Protests were reported in the north, center and south of the Gaza Strip against tax hikes and high cost of living, and for the second day in a row, Hamas forces attacked the protesters causing injuries and arrests.

Hamas has also placed Deir al-Balah under curfew in an attempt to put an end to the popular protests.

Meanwhile, the youth movement leading the protests called for a general strike throughout the Gaza Strip tomorrow to protest Hamas crackdown on the demonstrations.

Human rights organizations have also condemned Hamas crackdown on the protests.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med), today, denounced the attack, by the security services of the Hamas authority, against citizens in the Gaza Strip who were practicing their right to peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression.

The Geneva-based NGO condemned the arrest and summons of dozens of protesters, in different areas of the Gaza Strip, over the call to demonstrate, yesterday, against poverty and difficult economic conditions.

The international human rights group said that its field team–which was present at the scene–monitored the gathering of some 600 demonstrators in the “Trans” area of the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, located in the northern Gaza Strip, in response to calls launched on the internet in protest against the difficult living conditions.

The Euro-Med explained that the venue of the demonstration witnessed an intense security presence even before the participants gathered at 4:00 PM, whereas the security forces began to warn the participants of the need to leave the area immediately, before masked security forces dressed in plain clothes and carrying batons began suppressing and dispersing demonstrators, detaining a number of them.

The Euro-Med said that, in conjunction with the repression of the security forces, demonstrators loyal to Hamas arrived at the scene of the demonstration and chanted slogans against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas without being subjected to security services harassment, while the other demonstrators chanted slogans confirming the peaceful nature of their gathering.

In the same context, the Euro-Med said that its team had documented in the past two days the detention of at least 10 people arbitrarily, as well as the summoning of others on the background of the calls to participate in the demonstration, by the Internal Security and the General Investigation Services.

In a statement to the Euro-Med team, Ahmed Abdul Jawad, a resident of the Central Gaza Strip, said that the Internal Security Service sent him a summon in writing on Monday to immediately attend to the headquarters of the security Service in Deir Al-Balah, without explaining the reason for the summon.

“I went at 1:00 PM, on the same day I received the summon to the Internal Security Service headquarters in Deir Al-Balah (in the middle of the Gaza Strip), and, when I arrived, they explained to me that it had to do with my calls to encourage the youths to take part in the protest on social media sites. After I arrived at the headquarters, I was asked to stand on my feet and raise my hands up, and I stayed like this for about three hours, after which I was interrogated for half an hour, where they asked me questions about the youth movement and who incited it.”

Abdul Jawad stated, according to WAFA, that he remained in detention until the morning of Wednesday, when he was conditionally released to attend a university exam at his university, and to hand himself over on Thursday morning.

The Euro-Med team also documented the arrest of student Islam Abu Eisheh from Deir Al-Balah, where his brother Mohamed reported that the General Investigation Service arrested him on the morning of Wednesday at 10:00 AM from the campus of the Palestine Technical College in Deir Al-Balah. He added: “The police arrested my brother on the background of his calls to participate in the peaceful protest while he was at his university and with the help of the College’s security. He was taken to the Central Prison in the Middle area without obtaining a warrant from the Public Prosecutor’s office.”

In Gaza City, the Euro-Med documented the arrest of the two brothers, Abdul Rahman and Mohammed Majdalawi following their call to participate in the youth movement via the Internet, and they are still in detention, according to their families.

In contact with the Euro-Med team, Wissam Majdalawi, the brother of the detainees, said that security officers in plain clothes arrested his brother Abdul Rahman while he was traveling to receive his salary on Monday on the background of his calls to mobilize, and that his family did not know his whereabouts so far.

Majdalawi said that security officers in plain clothes arrested his younger brother Mohammed from inside his house. He is still detained without informing the family about the conditions of his arrest.

“The ruling authorities in the Gaza Strip are required to respect the right of citizens to peaceful assembly including expressing their political opinions,” said the Euro-Med spokeswoman Sarah Pritchett. “Even if the security services claim that the demonstration did not obtain a permit, this would not allow them to repress or arrest them, and that any action would be arbitrary and in violation of the right to peaceful assembly and to express opinions,” she said.

“The failure to follow the required procedures to obtain a license does not constitute a crime, and beatings, arbitrary arrests and threats do not, in any case, constitute penalties in accordance with the law,” said Pritchett.

The Euro-Med called on the authorities in the Gaza Strip to immediately release all detainees and to work to ensure public freedoms for citizens. The Geneva-based group stressed that “the policy of silencing people, preventing peaceful demonstrations, and restricting freedom of expression have never been a guarantee to achieve political stability in the society. On the contrary, it is a direct cause of tensions.”

The Euro-Med called on the authorities in the Gaza Strip to urgently deal with the demands of the demonstrators and to address them peacefully by working to provide a dignified life for citizens, especially with regard to living conditions, instead of suppressing protesters and violating their basic rights.

(Source / 16.03.2019)

PA Slams US for Dropping “Occupation Status” of Palestine

16 Mar 6:37 AM

The Palestinian Authority (PA), this week, slammed the United States for dropping the status of occupation for the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights of Syria.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, PA presidential spokesman, said in an official statement that “the US decision is a continuation of the U.S. anti-Palestinian approach and contrary to the legitimacy of all international resolutions.”

“The U.S. labels will never change the reality that the Palestinian territories have been occupied by Israel since 1967,” Abu Rudeineh said, in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

He added that “the Golan Heights are also territories under the Israeli occupation in accordance to the United Nations resolutions and the international law.”

The senior Palestinian official accused that U.S. dropping of the occupation status of the Palestinian territories “is part of the U.S. plot to pass the so-called “Deal of the Century, which aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause.”

Israeli media had reported, earlier, that a U.S. State Department report on human rights situation in the world didn’t refer the Golan Heights as an occupied area as it used to in the former reports.

The Israeli media also said, according to Al Ray, that the word “occupation” wasn’t mentioned in the report when it mentioned the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The PA has been boycotting the U.S. administration since December 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and decided to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the city last May.

(Source / 16.03.2019)

Normalizing violence takes precedence over targeted assassinations

By Ramona Wadi

One outcome is certain when it comes to the forthcoming Israeli elections – Gaza will remain a top target for the new government. Amid the sparring between contenders for the elections, former IDF chief Benny Gantz declared he would implement Israel’s policy of targeted assassinations against Hamas leaders if elected, and if necessary.

His comments sought to counter Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s remarks over “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, in which the latter used derogatory language to criticise Gantz’s decisions which, according to Bennett, endangered the lives of Israeli soldiers. Bennett alleged that Gantz would be Hamas’ preferable leadership option. This claim is also being supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has stated that Gantz’s party would make “significant concessions to the Palestinians.”

Both Gantz and Netanyahu have increasingly focused on Gaza in their electoral campaigns, with “Operation Protective Edge” and the Great March of Return providing premises for their arguments. Gantz, who was in charge of the aggression against the enclave, has compared the 2014 aftermath to the ongoing protests and Netanyahu’s response, which was to order snipers positioned at the border to kill and injure Palestinians participating in the demonstration.

Gantz described Netanyahu’s strategy as a “tired policy”. The alternative in such a scenario, according to the former army chief, is to “return to a policy of targeted killings.”

In June 2018, Israel’s Security Minister Gilad Erdan advocated for the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders and Palestinians launching the “incendiary kites” from Gaza’s border.

A return to targeted killings, however, is not accurate. Israel has a long history of assassinating Palestinian leaders from Hamas and other Palestinian political factions. Only last year, a Palestinian scientist affiliated to Hamas was gunned down in Malaysia, in an operation which raised speculation about Mossad’s role even in Israeli media, although there was no forthright confirmation of the agency’s involvement.

Gantz, therefore, will not be “returning” to a policy of targeted assassinations but embarking upon a continuation of Israel’s policy. Yet, speculation on targeted assassinations alone is just a deviation from the damage which both Netanyahu and Gantz have the power to inflict on the enclave in terms of political and humanitarian related violence.

Following “Operation Protective Edge”, Netanyahu adopted a strategy that prolongs violence for Israel’s benefit. The Great March of Return is one such example. Extrajudicial killings by Israel’s snipers raised international scrutiny which, with time, mellowed down to the usual expressions of concerns regarding what is deemed as routine violence. Distancing Israel from targeted assassinations in Gaza during this period provided Israel with the opportunity to normalize its ongoing violence on the border.

Gantz is no stranger to strategy. Targeted assassinations cannot be attributed to one single leader but to the existence of the colonial state and its policies of elimination. What Gaza will face under the new Israeli government is more likely to be a continuation of measures which maintains Palestinians’ deprivation in the enclave. Electoral campaign rhetoric aside, an outright endorsement and implementation of targeted assassinations contradict the intentional ambiguity which Israel has employed against leaders or individuals who have the potential to challenge its existence.

(Source / 16.03.2019)

In pictures | 12 Palestinians killed and injured in NZ terror shooting attack

(QNN) – Six Palestinians were murdered in New Zealand’s terror attack against two mosques, according to official Palestinian sources.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that, so far, there have been 12 Palestinians among those killed and injured in the shooting attack in Christchurch’s city in New Zealand on Friday.

The Palestinian Ministry published the names of those killed according to primary information. Those murdered are Abdul-Fattah al-Daqqa, Ali al-Madani, Atta Elyan, Amjad Hmaid, Osama Abu Kwaik, and Kamel Darwish.

Regarding those injured, they are Waseen Daraghma and his daughter Elin, Basil As’ad, Shehada al-Sinnawi, Mohammed Elyan (father of slain Attan), and Khalid Hijjawi.

The Palestinian embassy announced that it is making contacts with the authorities in New Zealand for more official information.

On Friday, an extremist Australian gunman, identified as Brenton Tarrant, attacked two mosques in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand at noon time. The gunman live streamed the massacre on his Facebook account, which took almost 17 minutes. Tarrant opened fire at the worshippers while they were performing Friday prayer, killing at least 50.

Amjad Hmaid
Atta Elyan
Osama Abu Kwaik

(Source / 16.03.2019)