A Palestinian man reads a newspaper outside his store in Gaza City 19 September, 2016
A court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has banned the distribution of Al-Hayat al-Jadida, a newspaper close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine’s WAFA news agency reported Monday.
According to WAFA, the decision was made after Gaza’s Interior Ministry accused the newspaper of “publishing materials that promote sedition and incitement”.
Neither the public prosecutor’s office in Gaza nor the Hamas-run government’s media bureau have yet to comment on the decision.
But in a Monday statement, the Palestinian Journalists’ Bloc, an NGO known to be close to Hamas (which has governed Gaza since 2007), demanded “an end to incitement and hate speech by the [Palestinian Authority’s] Palestine TV Channel and the Al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper”.
For the 2 million Palestinians who make up almost 22 per cent of the population of Israel, discrimination and institutional racism has been a reality since the Nakba
By Nasim Ahmed
Last year, Palestinian citizens of Israel suffered two major set-backs in their ongoing fight for equality. The first was the Nation-State Law, which basically turned non-Jews into second class citizens. The second, which is related to the first, was a slump in Palestinian and Arab representation within the Israeli Knesset (parliament).
For the 2 million Palestinians who make up almost 22 per cent of the population of Israel, discrimination and institutional racism has been a reality since the Nakba of 1948. Even though “the right to equality is not yet enshrined in law regarding most aspects of life,” no previous decree with constitutional status has relegated non-Jewish Israeli citizens to an inferior status resembling the apartheid laws in White-ruled South Africa rather than the equal rights and democracy celebrated in the West.
To discuss the implications of the Nation-State Law and the reasons why growing numbers of Palestinian citizens of Israel feel disillusioned and alienated, I sat with Yousef Jabareen. The Palestinian academic born in Umm Al-Fahm in northern Israel was elected for a second time to the Israeli Knesset in April.
This law, he told me, “deepens discrimination” and “excludes” the Arab Palestinian community within Israel. It also “enshrines the purity of the Jewish citizen in Israel and of the Jewish people in general.” Because of this, he added, “it’s important to explain to the international community the dangers of this law, and how it will lead to greater conflict in the region.”
But haven’t the Palestinian citizens of Israel been subjected to racist and discriminatory policies ever since the creation of the state in 1948? Is this law any different? “The Nation-State Law did not create discrimination, which has been ever-present,” Jabareen replied. “Dozens of laws have been adopted by Israel which discriminate against its Arab citizens, relegating them to second or even third class citizens.” What this law does, he explained, is to deepen the discrimination and the exclusion. “It goes one step further by denying Palestinians in Israel and Palestinians in general any right that would be equal to the rights granted to the Jewish people.”
The parliamentarian shed light on the racist ideological origins of the law. “It reflects the extreme right-wing ideology of Jewish supremacy in Israel, as well as the ongoing process of strengthening the occupation and expanding settlements. So it’s basically part of the ongoing process of the Judaisation of the land.” This term is often used to explain the constant erasure of Palestinian connection to the land and supplanting it with a new narrative.
The process has also been likened to apartheid in South Africa by the MK’s namesake, Hassan Jabareen, head of Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. “Apartheid in South Africa was a process,” he pointed out. “It was a system that took years to develop and was built on the work of academics and theologians who had to create justifications for white supremacy. It was a system of hierarchy, in which there is one group with all the power and another without any power.”
According to Yousef Jabareen, as far as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned the law is basically saying that there is no right for the Palestinians to have an independent state alongside Israel. “The right for self-determination in Netanyahu’s view is only for the Jewish people.” Such an extreme position, he said, puts Netanyahu in a position diametrically opposed to international consensus about the need to establish a Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution. He finds this bewildering.
“Ironically, while the international community speaks about peace and justice and equality and equal citizenship, we see that Israel is going in the opposite direction by passing discriminatory legislation, perpetuating Jewish control over millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Jabareen fears that the Nation-State Law has been designed to pave the way for Israel to annex the illegal settlements in the West Bank and basically put an end to any hope for a Palestinian state.
Our focus turned to last month’s General Election in Israel and the low voter turnout which has been blamed partially on Netanyahu’s intimidation of Palestinian voters by installing security cameras in polling stations. For the Palestinian-Israeli MK, this was a “clearly racist act” by the Prime Minister himself to instil fear in the Palestinian community and keep them away from polling stations. A criminal complaint has been filed by Jabareen’s party with the Attorney General.
There were other factors at play, though, as Netanyahu’s intimidation alone could not explain the low turnout which stood at 50 per cent, a 13 per cent drop on 2015. Many Palestinians boycotted the election because of the Nation-State Law and Netanyahu’s openly racist statements, including his claim that, “Israel isn’t a state of all its citizens… Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it alone.”
The disillusionment of Palestinians was reflected in the election results. Only 10 Arab representatives were elected to the Knesset compared to 13 in 2015. Jabareen put it down to the “frustration and despair” that exists amongst Palestinian citizens in Israel. “The Arab community, especially the new generation, are very concerned about their basic needs, future, jobs, housing and the economic situation, and are also definitely concerned by such discriminatory and anti-democratic laws.”
Jabareen’s message to his community is for them to engage with politics. He is disappointed that they have very little influence, especially under what he calls “a dangerous and extreme right-wing government in Israel.” The solution, he insisted, is not to abandon Arab representatives but to go out and vote so that more Arab politicians will stand a greater chance of being elected to the Knesset.
While encouraging his constituency to back their MKs he noted that the work of the Arab members of the Knesset goes beyond Israel. As well as leading demonstrations and protests inside the country they are involved in international advocacy on behalf of the overall Palestinian cause. Being in the Knesset, he pointed out eagerly, enables him and his colleagues to reach out to the international community and to participate in international meetings and conferences, meeting influential figures at the EU and the UN along the way.
“We don’t have the luxury of not trying to use our political power in parliament,” he concluded. If he and those like him can be more effective, perhaps his prediction of an end to any hope for a Palestinian state will be misplaced.
GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — The Gaza Strip suffered financial losses of more than $9.5 million as a result of Israeli attacks during the escalation in early May, reported Xinhua.
The figure was given by Naji Sarhan, deputy minister of Public Works and Housing, during a press conference on Sunday, who said that the “losses affected agriculture, economy, health, education and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip”.
Sarhan stated that “a number of agencies and institutions have been approached to coordinate the relief aid”, including funds needed for those whose homes wither either destroyed or damaged.
The ministry has said that more than 700 houses were damaged in Israel’s attacks in early May, with 130 destroyed.
In addition, “dozens of installations, workshops, shops and media offices were also damaged in the attacks”.
Xinhua reported that “Sarhan called on donor countries and international institutions to intervene to ‘protect the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip from repeated Israeli attacks and help lift the siege’ on the coastal enclave”.
The official also highlighted how some 2,000 out of the 11,000 housing units completely destroyed in the Israeli offensive on Gaza in the summer of 2014 are still awaiting reconstruction.
RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — A new study revealed that about 16,500 Palestinian children have been arrested by the Israeli occupation since the outbreak of the Second Intifada on 28 September 2000.
The 26-page study was prepared by the Palestinian ex-prisoner and researcher at the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission Abdul-Naser Farwana about the Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli occupation.
Farwana said that during the past decade (2000-2010) at least 700 cases of arrest were documented annually, while the number has jumped to 1,250 in the last eight years.
Farwana added that all facts and statistics have confirmed that there is a systematic arrest policy targeting Palestinian children, and that the numbers of child detainees have increased steadily since 2000 and significantly since 2011.
The numbers even rose higher during al-Quds Intifada which erupted in October 2015, the Palestinian researcher noted.
The imposition of Israeli law on West Bank settlements became the winning card for a forming Israeli government, after the recent Knesset elections between Likud and other right-wing parties, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and National Bureau for Defending Land reported.
The office explained, in a statement on Saturday, that settler leaders in the occupied West Bank are demanding the Israeli law to include all Jewish settlements in these territories, including them in agreements to form the next government.
The report pointed out,according to Al Ray, that pressures are excreted in this direction, and that these tendencies arise following estimates that Donald Trump’s management plan known as the “Deal of the Century” calls for keeping the settlements under Israeli rule, in any permanent peace agreement, and that the US administration will not oppose the expansion of Israeli law to include settlements in the West Bank.
It explained that the illegal settlers believe that the opportunity is now ripe for such a move, after the transfer of US Embassy to Jerusalem and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Netanyahu had pledged several times, in the run-up to the elections, last April, to expand the scope of Israeli law to include all settlements, and that he would be able to do so with US support.
The report pointed out that, days before the election, Netanyahu pledged to expand the scope of Israeli sovereignty to include all settlements, both the large settlement blocs or small settlement outposts, ruling out the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he said “poses a threat to the existence of Israel.”
It considered Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights encouraged Netanyahu to annex the settlements. The timing of this move would follow with Trump’s offer of peace plan. If the Palestinian leadership, as expected, rejected the plan and Netanyahu agreed with certain reservations, the latter believed Trump would give him legitimacy to annex and expand Israeli law to include all West Bank settlements or at least some blocs.
In an additional step aimed at imposing Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank without formally announcing it, the Israeli “right-wing coalition” demanded that Netanyahu and the Likud party reduce the powers of the “civil administration” in the West Bank, and prevent them completely from interfering in settler affairs.
Some 200 former Israeli security officials signed a petition, addressed to Netanyahu, demanding a referendum before deciding to impose Israeli law on areas of the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority’s Detainee and Ex-Detainees Commission said, today, that Palestinian political detainees in the Israeli prison of Etzion, near Bethlehem city, in the occupied West Bank, have been suffering unbearable imprisonment conditions, particularly with regard to the meals they get for the break of their daily Ramadan fast.
According to the Commission, instead of fasting only from sunrise to sunset every day, during the holy month of Ramadan, the detainees are compelled to fast for many consecutive days without a break because of the extremely bad meals – in terms and quality and quantity – they get from the prison administration, which has forced many of the prisoners to refuse to receive them.
For instance, the Commission adds, the prison administration provides the prisoners with badly-cooked food, such as rotten boiled eggs that are cooked a long time before being served to the prisoner.
WAFA further reports that the Commision has called on international human rights organizations to intervene in putting an end to Israel’s ill-treatment of the Palestinian political detainees, and to allow them access to good food and cold water, especially during Ramadan and the current unbearable weather conditions.
The death of 30-year-old Mohammad Abdul-Jawad Zo’rob was announced on Tuesday May 21st in the besieged Gaza Strip, almost thirteen months after he was shot and wounded by Israel’s occupation forces. Zo’rob had been shot with an expanding bullet by Israeli occupation forces’ sniper on Friday April 27th 2018 during a Great Return March demonstration. He was apparently wounded in his foot. He went through several surgeries, but the foot became infected several times and developed tumours. His apparent direct cause of death is said to have been cancer (exacerbated by lack of medical care and medicine as a result of the siege), which his family believes was caused by the physical trauma he suffered. Although physical trauma has been evoked as a possible cause to some cancers in medical studies, this has never been proved and is now considered unlikely. Mohammad Zo’rob’s funeral took place in his home town of Rafah in southern part of the small coastal enclave.