Israeli forces attacked young Palestinian students in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday
Israeli forces attacked young Palestinian students in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron yesterday, firing tear-gas bombs and sound grenades towards them. According to local sources, Israeli forces physically attacked several students on their way to school, as well as attempted to detain one of them, and fired tear-gas bombs towards parents who attempted to intervene.
Sources confirmed that Israeli forces also fired tear-gas bombs and sound grenades in the vicinity of the Tareq Bin Zayed School, in Hebron City, leading to a number of students suffering tear-gas suffocation.
Injured students and staff received first aid on the scene. Meanwhile, Israeli police forces evacuated students and staff from Hebron’s Ibrahimi Elementary School shortly after a suspicious item was found at the entrance of the school.
Israeli occupation forces sealed off the area and safely removed the package. Locals believe it was left outside the school by local illegal settlers. EMBED image from this Tweet:
Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City of Hebron, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians. The UN documented 111 Israeli attacks on education in the West Bank affecting more than 19,000 children in the last four months of 2018.
The UN documentation identified the Israeli attacks as “iIncidents of interference in schools by Israeli forces,” which include “threats of demolition, clashes on the way to school between students and security forces, teachers stopped at checkpoints, and the violent actions of Israeli forces and settlers on some occasions.”
UN officials said: “More than half of the verified incidents involved live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades fired into or near schools by Israeli forces, impacting the delivery of education or injuring students.”
The debating team of Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University at the 5th International Universities’ Debating Championship in Doha, Qatar, March 2019
By Muhammad Javed
Between 16 and 20 March, the debating team of Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University was at the forefront of the 5th International Universities’ Debating Championship held in Qatar. The team, made up of five Palestinian students studying at the university – Dalia Alayassa, Yasmin Arda, Ahmad Toukan, Amani Ahmad and their coach Rania Al-Muhatadi – not only finished as top Palestinian university but also won the competition overall.
The rigorous annual competition, with 107 teams from 51 countries this year, includes participants from both Arabic and non-Arabic speaking countries. One of its aims is to promote Arabic as a language of innovation, as well as to provide young Arabic-speaking adults and students with opportunities to engage with participants from other cultures and backgrounds in a meaningful way by fostering their critical thinking, listening and debating skills.
According to Dalia Alayassa, the debating clubs in Palestinian universities are hugely important. “They bring students together and create an amazing sense of sisterhood and brotherhood,” she explained. “This is especially apparent given that in the majority of universities in Palestine most of the students focus more on their academic life than their social life.” The clubs, she added, teach students a myriad of other skills. “For example, they teach you how to organise events, how to raise funds and how to plan budgets, so that you may gain many other life skills apart from debating and public speaking.”
Despite all of the benefits of their debating activities, life for Palestinian students remains difficult. Those in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank have to negotiate military checkpoints just to get to university and back home again on a daily basis. Throughout all of their training sessions, there was also an ever-present threat of Israeli forces invading the university grounds, as they have done, it is reported, on at least two occasions this semester.
Despite such obstacles, Al-Quds University student debating team were not only successful in Qatar but also went to compete against other students in Barcelona last week. The opportunity to learn debating skills, Alayassa said, is going to change Palestinian culture, with a huge effect on the way Palestinian students and professionals conduct themselves both locally and internationally. “Since debating is new to Palestine it starts on the micro-level,” she explained, “and affects individuals who start debating and then it affects their surroundings, and then the circles of people thus affected start getting bigger and bigger.” She cited her personal experience by way of example, noting that she saw her future, possibilities and dreams change for the better after starting to debate at the age of sixteen.
Many Palestinian students move on from debating to become volunteer coaches and judges in debating tournaments. “Once your mind and the way you think is changed,” said Alayassa, “you start working to try and change others, so you’re definitely going to change the culture into accepting more positive and new ideas over time.” She has now set up her own debate coaching programme for young female Palestinian students, touring universities with the aim of empowering women of the new generation by teaching them debating skills.
Not only does this have an impact within Palestine, but it also has a significant impact on how Palestinian students are viewed abroad, particularly through their tournaments in Europe. Another member of Al-Quds University debating team, Yasmin Arda, believes that their victory in Qatar is “very important” for all Palestinians. “It has lifted Palestine’s name up to tell the world that we Palestinians do exist and, yes, we have brains and we have people who are capable of doing things.”
The past few years have witnessed the potential for a future Palestinian state being trampled on by the expansionist policies of the Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu and its ongoing building and growth of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel. While the political situation remains troublesome for the people of Palestine as a whole, the education of a new generation of Palestinian students is continuing, including the rising culture of debate within their universities. When coupled with the international recognition that they are gaining from this, the signs are positive for the political and diplomatic potential of any future independent Palestinian state.
Palestinian amputees this weekend held the first football championship for those who have lost a limb living in the Gaza Strip.
Secretary-General of the World Federation of Disabled Persons in the World, Simon Baker, launched the initiative at the Stadium of Palestine.
Baker, who lost his right leg in a workplace accident in 2004 and uses an artificial limb, was invited by the Red Cross to prepare for the tournament.
The championship kicked off in the Palestine Stadium, which was restored by FIFA after being targeted in the 2014 war. It is being held under the auspices of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Eighty players are taking part in the tournament, 20 of them lost their limbs while taking part in the Great March of Return along the Gaza-Israel fence, while others were injured during previous wars and incidents.
Suhair Zaqout, spokesperson for the ICRC in Gaza, said her organisation is sponsoring people with disabilities caused by military conflicts and is attempting to integrate them into the society via psychological and physical rehabilitation.
“People with special needs can represent their countries in regional and international sports competitions,” she told Xinhua.
According to official statistics, the Gaza Strip has over 25,000 injured people in the last ten years, hundreds of whom suffer from amputations.
An investigation released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed that the Israeli forces destroyed evidence related to the murder of Abdel Fattah who was executed by extremist settlers earlier this month in the northern occupied West Bank, and this propagated a misleading version of events.
The Israeli troops claimed at the time that 23-year-old Mohammed Abdel Fattah was shot dead on 3 April after he tried to stab an Israeli settler in a car, who then shot him in self-defence.
But witnesses told B’Tselem that Abdel Fattah had in fact been throwing stones at Israeli settlers’ cars driving near the Palestinian village of Huwwara, in the Nablus district, when a settler pulled over after a stone hit his vehicle, and fired two shots at Abdel Fattah while still in his car, before getting out and firing “several more shots” as the Palestinian stood crouching behind movable waste containers.
The settler who shot Abdel Fattah was identified by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as Joshua Sherman, a resident of the illegal Israel settlement of Elon Moreh and an activist on behalf of the Union of the Right-Wing Parties.
“A truck driving along the road also stopped, the driver got out, came over to stand next to Sherman, and the two men fired several more shots at Abdel Fattah, who was lying wounded on the ground,” B’Tselem’s statement added.
‘Ensure that the truth never comes to light’
The Palestinian, a resident of the village of Khirbet Qeis and a father of one, reportedly succumbed to his wounds in an Israeli hospital.
Another Palestinian working in a nearby shop was also reportedly hit by a bullet to the abdomen, B’Tselem said.
“Minutes after the two settlers opened fire, Israeli military jeeps arrived on the scene and soldiers used stun grenades to disperse the crowd that had begun to gather,” the NGO wrote.
“Immediately after that, about eight soldiers went into two nearby shops to check their security cameras.”
According to witnesses, the IOF filmed the security camera footage on their mobile phones, before erasing the video from the shops’ DVRs.
B’Tselem denounced the actions of the army in the case, arguing that the fact that Sherman and the other settler were not detained, and that footage of the killing was destroyed, were efforts “to ensure that the truth never comes to light and the shooters would not face any charges or be held accountable in any way.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 37 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces – not including Israeli civilians – since the beginning of the year.
Three Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
Palestinians regularly accuse Israeli forces of smearing slain Palestinians by falsely claiming they constituted a deadly threat when they were killed.
After he was shot, the injured boy was grabbed by Israeli soldiers who thrust him into a military vehicle and took him to a military base in Israel. The Israeli military claimed that Issac and two other children were attempting to escape over the border fence when they were shot.
When the incident occurred, one of the teens suffered fatal injuries when he was shot. The Israeli military reported that Issac suffered “mild injuries” after he was shot at close range by their sharpshooters, and the third boy was taken onto custody without reported injury.
But he has remained in Israeli custody since being shot, and his family has not been allowed to see him, according to local sources.
His parents were informed on Sunday that Issac had succumbed to his injuries. It is unknown whether further injuries had been inflicted upon him while in Israeli military custody due to “harsh interrogation”/torture. Injured Palestinians detained by Israeli forces have frequently reported that Israeli forces torture them while in custody.
On the same day that Issac was killed, a 14-year old Palestinian boy was found, after his family had reported him missing for three days, in an Israeli prison. Ramez Tamimi, 14, was kidnapped by Israeli soldiers from his village, Dir Nitham, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and was eventually found in ‘Ofer’ prison, and his family was never informed.
Israeli soldiers attacked, Monday, dozens of schoolchildren and teachers in the southern area of Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, causing dozens of teachers and schoolchildren to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation.
Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs and concussion grenades into and around Hebron Elementary School for Boys, Khadija Bint Khweiled Emanatory School for Boys, Thu Nurain Elementary School for Bays, and Tareq Bin Ziad School for Boys, while the students were standing in line, in the yards of their schools, preparing to start the school day.
They added that dozens of schoolchildren and teachers suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, before local medics rushed to the educational facilities, and provided them with the needed treatment.
It is worth mentioning that the schools in that area are subject to daily violations and assaults by the soldiers, constantly stationed at the Abu ar-Reesh military roadblock, west of the Ibrahimi Mosque, and roadblock #60, south of the mosque, in addition to many roadblocks that are repeatedly installed near the schools.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported, Monday, that the Israeli Prison Authority is still rejecting the legitimate demands of the Palestinian detainees, as nearly 400 detainees are ongoing with the hunger strike, and dozens more are expected to join soon.
The PPS stated that the detainees negotiated with the administration in Ramon Israeli prison, but their demands remained ignored and denied, and added that another round of talks is expected later Monday.
It also said that the outcome of the new round of talks will be the determining factor of whether the detainees expand their strike to include all prisons and detention camps.
The detainees started the hunger strike eight days ago and were met with a series of punitive measures by the Israeli prison authority, which continues to deny their demands.
There are currently nearly 400 detainees who are holding the hunger strike, dubbed as Dignity Strike 2, and are indirectly holding talks with the prison authority.
The detainees are in the Negev Detention Camp, Ramon Prison, Eshil, Ofar, Galboa’ and Majeddo, and the strike will likely expand to include all prisons.
The PPS said the Egypt is involved in the talks to prevent further escalation; however, Israel has already started transferring and shuffling the detainees between its prisons and detention camps in an attempt to end their strike without listening to their demands.
The detainees are demanding the Israeli Prison Authority to remove dozens of detainees from solitary confinement, in addition to refusing to remove signal jammers, refraining from providing an answer to the demands regarding installing public phones, and continues to deny Gaza Strip detainees the right to family visits.
The detainees are complaining that the signal jammers are making them sick, as more detainees started facing health issues after their installation.