Israeli Court Rules To Evict Settlers From Palestinian-Owned Home

An Israeli court ordered the eviction of Israeli settlers from a Palestinian-owned home that they held illegally since 2005 in Hebron City, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, on Monday.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the Jerusalem Magistrate Court rejected claims by Israeli settlers, stating that given their “long occupation” of the property and their investments to improve it, the home should remain theirs. 

The court rejected the claims and ordered the Israeli settlers to pay the Palestinian family 580,000 shekels ($161,000) as compensation for the years it was held illegally by the settlers.

The legal owners, the Bakri family, were represented by attorney, Samer Shehadeh, who confirmed that the Israeli settlers were appealing the court ruling.

The home is located in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, in the center of Hebron City, and sits on 0.75 acres of land.
Palestinian residents in Hebron said that Tal Construction & Investments LTD., the company which bought the home based on forged documents, is registered as a Jordanian company, however, is operated by Israeli settlers who aim to promote illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank.

Tal Construction bought the Hebron home in 2005 from Hani al-Batash, who claimed to have legal rights over the property, for $300,000 and handed it over to Israeli families.

Nevertheless, Israeli police launched an investigation into the issue and determined that the documents used during the transaction were forged and that al-Batash was not the legal owner of the property.

The area of Tel Rumeida has long been a flash-point for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, as it is located near illegal Israeli settlements whose residents are notoriously aggressive toward Palestinians.

Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of Hebron’s Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements which continually expand into surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods.

The Israeli-controlled H2 area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces.

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.

(Source / 23.04.2019)

Medical supplies sent by Miles of Smiles to enter Gaza soon

Miles for Smiles 34 convoy arrives in the besieged Gaza Strip in an effort to distribute aid on 5 June 2018

Head of Miles of Smiles Delegations Dr Essam Yousef announced yesterday that a shipment of medicines and medical supplies will enter the besieged Gaza Strip soon.

In a press release sent to MEMO, Yousef said that this shipment is worth $100 million and is funded by the Indonesian National Committee for Palestinians (KNRP).

“Thanks to KNRP for their generous donations of $100,000 and thanks to others and each participant,” Yousef said.

READ: New Miles of Smiles convoy heading for Gaza next month

He noted that the second shipment of medical supplies is “to follow shortly”, calling for the people who pledged to fund it to “kindly confirm” their contributions in order to pay for the shipment.

This came after an appeal for donations launched by Miles of Smiles in order to buy urgently needed medical supplies and equipment for besieged Gaza, including wheelchairs, which are in urgent need following Israel’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protest along the Gaza-Israel border fence over the past year.

(Source / 23.04.2019) 

Boycotting Israel, PA to send patients to hospitals in Jordan, Egypt

Some of eighteen Palestinians injured during Israel’s weeks-long onslaught on the Gaza Strip are received medical treatment by Turkish Health Ministry medical rescue workers at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv before Turkish military plane airlift the wounded Palestinians to hospitals in Turkey on 13 August 2014 

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said yesterday that his government had sent delegations to Jordan and Egypt in order to prepare for transferring patients to hospitals abroad, Arab48 reported.

This measure, according to Shtayyeh, is part of his government’s efforts to find alternatives to Israeli hospitals as a result of Israel’s deduction of Palestinian taxes collected on behalf of the PA.

Speaking to Anadolu, the spokesman of the Ministry of Health Osama Al-Najjar said: “The decision is political and it was taken by the Palestinian leadership. It comes in to effect now.”

READ: Israel rejects France’s request to repay Palestine tax revenues

He noted that the annual cost of treating patients in Israeli hospitals is $100 million.

Al-Najjar said that the Palestinian Ministry of Health will transferring patients only to Palestinian hospitals in occupied Jerusalem or to medical centres in Jordan and Egypt.

Israel deducted $138 million from the PA’s tax revenues over claims that this amount is paid to Palestinians prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces. As a result, the PA has refused to accept any funds from Israel, saying all the funds owed to it should be transferred without deductions.

(Source / 23.04.2019) 

IDF opens investigation into shooting of blindfolded, handcuffed Palestinian teen

Sixteen-year-old Osama Hajahjeh was shot twice in the leg last in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 18 April 2019 [Video still, Facebook]

Sixteen-year-old Osama Hajahjeh was shot twice in the leg last in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 18 April 2019

The Israel Defence Forces has opened an investigation into an incident in which its soldiers shot a Palestinian teenager while he was blindfolded and handcuffed. Sixteen-year-old Osama Hajahjeh was shot twice in the leg last Thursday in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Speaking to Agence France Presse (AFP) by phone from a hospital in Beit Jala yesterday, Hajahjeh explained that he had been attending the funeral of a local teacher when “he was tackled by a soldier who jumped out of an olive grove and forced him to the ground.” The soldier then handcuffed Hajahjeh and blindfolded him, Al Jazeera reported.

“They shot me the first time while I was trying to change my sitting position because they sat me on thorns,” the teenager explained. “I started walking towards the villagers asking for help, [then the soldiers] shot me again and hit my left thigh.”

Images of the incident captured by a local photographer clearly show Hajahjeh surrounded by several Israeli soldiers, his hands behind his back and a white cloth tied over his eyes. The aftermath of the event was also caught on video, which shows several Palestinians gathered around the teen – who can just be seen lying bleeding on the ground – and an Israeli soldier pointing a gun at those trying to help, warning them to stay away or “you’ll get shot”.

READ: Israeli forces arrest 10 Palestinians, including minors

The Israeli army yesterday confirmed the incident and was forced to issue a statement, saying: “On Thursday there was an incident, which included massive stone-throwing near [Israeli army] forces and Israeli cars on the road, risking the lives of civilians and soldiers. The soldiers responded with riot dispersal methods and arrested one of the demonstrators [Hajahjeh] who tried to flee after his arrest.”

The statement continued: “[Hajahjeh] was detained nearby and shortly thereafter he began to flee from the [army] squad again. The squad immediately began a pursuit, during which the detainee was shot in the lower body. The squad offered the Palestinian first aid immediately. The incident will be investigated.”

Hajahjeh’s father, Ali, said of the incident that “only a sick person would shoot a blindfolded boy.” Meanwhile, Roy Yellin, a spokesperson for Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, pointed out that four Palestinians in their late teens or early twenties had been shot since early March and that, “like the previous four cases [B’Tselem] investigated, this is an example of Israel’s reckless use of lethal fire and the fact that the human lives of Palestinians count very little in the eyes of the army.”

An investigation published by B’Tselem last week stressed that in all four incidents, the Israeli army’s use of lethal fire was “completely unjustified” since “none of the victims posed a threat to the lives of security personnel.” The report added: “As B’Tselem has cautioned countless times in the past, these are not aberrations or ‘bad apples’. These are incidents that occur as part of the routine actions of soldiers and police officers, pursuant to Israel’s dangerous, lethal open-fire policy.”

READ: Israel army covered up settlers’ killing of wounded Palestinian father

(Source / 23.04.2019)

Notre Dame of Gaza: Our mosques and churches are also burning

Palestinians from the village of Jabaa, east of Ramallah, look at damage at a mosque which settlers tried to burn overnight on June 19, 2012. [AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI / Getty]

Palestinians from the village of Jabaa, east of Ramallah, look at damage at a mosque which settlers tried to burn overnight on June 19, 2012 
By Ramzy Baroud  

As the 300-foot spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris tragically came tumbling down on live television, my thoughts ventured to Nuseirat Refugee Camp, my childhood home in the Gaza Strip.

Then, also on television, I watched as a small bulldozer hopelessly clawed through the rubble of my neighbourhood mosque. I grew up around that mosque. I spent many hours there with my grandfather, Mohammed, a refugee from historic Palestine. Before grandpa became a refugee, he was a young Imam in a small mosque in his long-destroyed village of Beit Daras.

Mohammed and many in his generation took solace in erecting their mosque in the refugee camp as soon as they arrived in the Gaza Strip in late 1948. The new mosque was first made of hardened mud but was eventually remade with bricks, and later concrete. He spent much of his time there, and when he died, his old, frail body was taken to the same mosque for a final prayer, before being buried in the adjacent Martyrs Graveyard. When I was still a child, he used to hold my hand as we walked together to the mosque during prayer times. When he aged, and could barely walk, I, in turn, held his hand.

But Al-Masjid al-Kabir – the Great Mosque, later renamed Al-Qassam Mosque – was pulverised entirely by Israeli missiles during the summer war on Gaza, starting July 8, 2014.

 A vehicle removes the wreckage of the al-Oassam Mosque destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Gaza on August 9, 2014

The Israeli military targeted hundreds of Palestinian houses of worship in previous wars, most notably in 2008-9 and 2012. But the 2014 war was the most brutal and most destructive yet. Thousands were killed and more injured. Nothing was immune to Israeli bombs. According to Palestine Liberation Organization records, 63 mosques were destroyed and 150 damaged in that war alone, often with people seeking shelter inside. In the case of my mosque, two bodies were recovered after a long, agonising search. They had no chance of being rescued. If they survived the deadly explosives, they were crushed by the massive slabs of concrete.

In truth, concrete, cement, bricks and physical structures don’t carry much meaning on their own. We give them meaning. Our collective experiences, our pains, joys, hopes and faith make a house of worship what it is.

Many generations of French Catholics have assigned the Notre Dame Cathedral with its layered meanings and symbolism since the 12th century.

Read: Israeli forces arrest 10 Palestinians, including minors

While the fire consumed the oak roof and much of the structure, French citizens and many around the world watched in awe. It is as if the memories, prayers and hopes of a nation that is rooted in time were suddenly revealed, rising, all at once, with the pillars of smoke and fire.

But the very media that covered the news of the Notre Dame fire seemed oblivious to the obliteration of everything we hold sacred in Palestine as, day after day, Israeli war machinery continues to blow up, bulldoze and desecrate.

It is as if our religions are not worthy of respect, even though Christianity was born in Palestine. It was there that Jesus roamed the hills and valleys of our historic homeland teaching people about peace, love and justice. Palestine is also central to Islam. Haram al-Sharif, where al-Aqsa Mosque and The Dome of the Rock are kept, is the third holiest site for Muslims everywhere. Christian and Muslim religious sites are besieged, often raided and shut down per military diktats. Moreover, the Israeli army-protected messianic Jewish extremists want to demolish Al-Aqsa, and the Israeli government has been digging underneath its foundation for many years.

Although none of this is done in secret; international outrage remains muted. Many find Israel’s actions justified. Some have bought into the ridiculous explanation offered by the Israeli military that bombing mosques are a necessary security measure. Others are motivated by dark religious prophecies of their own.

Palestinians pray in a partially destroyed mosque in Gaza [File photo]

Palestine, though, is only a microcosm of the whole region. Many of us are familiar with the horrific destruction carried out by fringe militant groups against world cultural heritage in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most memorable among these are the destruction of Palmyra in Syria, Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan and the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul.

Palestinians pray in a partially destroyed mosque in Gaza 

Nothing, however, can be compared to what the invading US army has done to Iraq. Not only did the invaders desecrate a sovereign country and brutalise her people, but they also devastated her culture that goes back to the start of human civilisation. Just the immediate aftermath of the invasion alone resulted in the looting of over 15,000 Iraqi antiquities, including the Lady of Warka, also known as the Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia, a Sumerian artefact whose history goes back to 3100 BC.

I had the privilege of seeing many of these artefacts in a visit to the Iraq Museum only a few years before US soldiers looted it. At the time, Iraqi curators had all precious pieces hidden in a fortified basement in anticipation of a US bombing campaign. But nothing could prepare the museum for the savagery unleashed by the ground invasion. Since then, Iraqi culture has mostly been reduced to items on the black market of the very western invaders that have torn that country apart. The courageous work of Iraqi cultural warriors and their colleagues around the world has managed to restore some of that stolen dignity, but it will take many years for the cradle of human civilisation to redeem its vanquished honour.

Every mosque, every church, every graveyard, every piece of art and every artefact is significant because it is laden with meaning, the meaning bestowed on them by those who have built or sought in them an escape, a moment of solace, hope, faith and peace.

On August 2, 2014, the Israeli army bombed the historic Al-Omari Mosque in northern Gaza. The ancient mosque dates back to the 7th century and has since served as a symbol of resilience and faith for the people of Gaza.

As Notre Dame burned, I thought of Al-Omari too. While the fire at the French cathedral was likely accidental, destroyed Palestinian houses of worship were intentionally targeted. The Israeli culprits are yet to be held accountable.

I also thought of my grandfather, Mohammed, the kindly Imam with the handsome, small white beard. His mosque served as his only escape from a problematic existence, an exile that only ended with his death.

(Source / 23.04.2019) 

PCHR: “Silence or Deportation…Israel’s Message to Human Rights Defenders”

22 APR10:20 PM

The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): In a new and unprecedented move, an Israeli Court on April 16, 2019 has decided to uphold the revocation of the work permit of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel and Palestine Director, Omar Shakir, ordering him to leave the country within 14 days based on allegations that he supported a boycott of Israel.

The ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by Human Rights Watch in May 2018 to challenge the decision of the Israeli government to revoke the work permit of Omar Shakir, who assumed his role as Director of HRW in Israel and Palestine in October 2016, as well as the law upon which the ruling is based, the anti-boycott law, a 2017 amendment to Israel’s Law of the Entry which bars entry or the grant of residence or work permit to foreign nationals  who allegedly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The court found that Shakir has “continuously” been calling for boycotts of Israel, citing his student activism as well as his subsequent work for HRW particularly through his social media posts.

The court found as “boycott-promoting activities” HRW’s research on the activities of businesses such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Fifa, and its recommendations that they crease operating in settlements in the West Bank as their continuation will make them complicit in violating Palestinians’ human rights and constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the court held that the anti-boycott law applies equally to boycotts directed at Israel and those directed at the settlements.

This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and is a reflection of the shrinking space for human rights defenders, who work on monitoring and documenting violations of international humanitarian and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Israel has increasingly targeted civil society organizations and human rights defenders, particularly those who have submitted evidence to the ICC, including PCHR,  by launching attacks in the form of false accusations, defamation, and smear campaigns intended to undermine their legitimacy, silence their independent voices, and limit their donor funding.

The rights and responsibilities that protect the work of human rights defenders are well-entrenched in international law.

Among other primary human rights instruments, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have proclaimed the inalienable freedoms of opinion and expression, and movement.

Those foundational instruments do not only champions all people rights, but also the activities of human rights defenders. Furthermore, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly in 1999, provides a range of rights and protection for human rights defenders and imposes duties and responsibilities on states to protect them even if they are openly critical of government entities, policies, or actions in the name of promoting and protecting human rights (Article 12).

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the measures taken against Omar Shakir, whose case represents the latest assault by Israel on human rights defenders. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to abide by its obligations under international law by taking measures to repeal the 2017 amendment to Israel’s Law of the Entry and to cease hampering the work of human rights defenders and organizations.

(Source / 23.04.2019)