A sister’s nightmare: My little brother was shot one night during Ramadan by occupying soldiers

Amina Salah and her younger brother Mahmoud (Photo courtesy of Amina Salah)

Amina Salah and her younger brother Mahmoud

By Amina Salah 

Amina Salah, 30, is a Palestinian woman from the occupied West Bank living in California. She was born and raised in the town of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem city, where she graduated from Bethlehem University with a degree in Social Work. In addition to practicing as a social worker in Palestine, Amina taught traditional ‘dabke’ dancing to local youth, and played for the Palestinian national volleyball team. She married her husband Laith and moved to the United States in September 2018.

I am Amina Salah, a Palestinian woman. I grew up with three sisters, two brothers, and too many relatives and friends to count — too many loved ones who I try not to count, so that I don’t fall apart when I realize how many I have lost.

I always dreamt of an outrageous, courageous, and ambitious life, with a future of achievements and success waiting for me. But when I grew up, I quickly realized that as a Palestinian, holding on to my dreams wouldn’t be so simple.

First, I let go of my dream to study abroad because of visa complications. Then I let go of my dream of studying journalism in Ramallah because of the checkpoints and difficult financial situation. With every passing year, I let go of a dream somewhere, either because of the political or economic situation, until one day, I just forgot what I had been dreaming.

Since then, I learned to dream of a normal, boring life. A life where I do not wake up every day to terrifying news. A life where I do not pick up the phone and: “Amina, Nabil was shot, Mo’taz is dead, Bashar, Muhannad, Mohammad, Issa, Ahed, Khaled, your brother Ahmad, are imprisoned.”

I started to dream of a life where invasions, bombarding, shooting, confiscating lands, destroying houses, checkpoints, walls, curfews, demonstrations, and funerals do not exist. I put all my focus on starting a new life somewhere else. And now here I am, writing this in sunny California. I left that life in Palestine, but unfortunately it would not ever leave me.

Though as Palestinians we all go through these hardships on a daily basis, none of us accepts the idea that one day, it could be one of your family members who will be harmed. We live every day with the hope that when the day ends, we will see all of our family members sitting around the table for dinner. I never imagined that one day I will be facing such a fate with my younger brother.

The phone rang, and this time, Mahmoud, my 14-year-old brother was the one who was shot and imprisoned. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, a pressure in my head as if it as going to explode, my breathing was so fast and yet I could not feel any air going into my lungs. I was being choked by the news.

On the 21st of May at 9:30 pm, Mahmoud went out to hang around with his friends in our neighborhood. These late night hang outs are normal for children during Ramadan, after breaking their fasts. Three hundred meters away from our house in the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem city, children gathered to play in a small field behind the houses. Beyond the field are a few hundred meters of empty agricultural land, and at the end of that land stands the Apartheid Wall.

There is a tower at the wall where Israeli soldiers stand, as part of their “duty to secure their nation from us,” Palestinians. Sometimes they get bored and they need some action. And that night, one of them fired one shot.

It echoed, everyone in the neighborhood hurried towards the sounds of screaming children. They started running back to our house to tell my family that Mahmoud was shot. With those three words, my entire family and all our neighbors rushed towards Mahmoud.

They shouted those three words and all of the family and neighbors around were running towards him. I swear I could hear the sound of their feet hitting the ground, the beating of everyone’s heart, especially my mother’s. I could see her wide-opened eyes and I could hear her prayers to Allah that she would reach her son and find him alive. Those three hundred meters seemed like three thousand miles.

When they finally reached him, the Israeli soldiers were surrounding him and shouting at his face, “why won’t you just die?!” Meanwhile, the Palestinian ambulance arrived, but the soldiers prevented them providing any medical help. Mahmoud was lying on the ground, shocked, confused and bleeding. Then the soldiers dragged him on the ground to the other side of the wall, ignoring all the screams of everyone and the pleas of the Palestinian medical team. He was left on the street to bleed for half an hour more, until the Israeli ambulance came and took him, with no further information for us.

My family hurried to call the Red Cross, to see if they could get any information about his condition. Waiting in silence and grief was the only choice for them. The next day, they received the news that he was in Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and that his situation is critical. My family tried all the possible ways to enter Jerusalem, but they were  forbidden from visiting him.

On the 23th of May, our lawyer called and told my family that Mahmoud’s leg had been amputated. It was either his death or the loss of his leg. It was the most horrible and devastating news for all of us. We were not able to think anymore. For me, a million thoughts crossed my mind, starting with how will he continue his life with one leg? And will he ever accept this loss? My mind stopped at the horrific thought of, what will his reaction be when he wakes up alone, in a cold room, somewhere he does not feel safe, to find out that he has lost his leg?

Only the lawyer was there when he woke up. Mahmoud opened his eyes, confused and not fully aware of what was happening around him. In pain, but not recognizing the source, he moved his left hand, then the right one, in an attempt to check. He tried to move his right leg, and when his hand reached out his left leg, he finds that it does not exist anymore. Totally in shock, he screams, cries and calls for his mother over and over again. He screams as if he is in a nightmare, and repeats to himself that he has to wake up from this nightmare.

Ever since he woke up in the hospital, they tell us he has been having panic attacks. He is calm for several hours, and the next hours are full of screaming and crying for his leg, his mother, his father, his brother, his sisters and his home. He cries for his life back, and when he is desperate, he cries for just a phone call. But even these are not allowed. No one is allowed to visit or to call and speak to Mahmoud except the doctors and his lawyer. At the door stand two soldiers to guard him until he finishes the treatment and is taken to prison.

Two illegal trials at the Israeli military court were already held while he is in the hospital, and now he is waiting for the third one in order for Israel to press charges against him. I wonder what charges are going to be pressed against a child after he was shot while playing, left to bleed for more than half an hour and then lost his leg. To continue the brutality, he went through an interrogation while lying in pain in the hospital. There are other interrogations to come, and they will not even take into consideration his health condition, because clearly his psychological one is not that important to them.

In the meantime, he is physically and psychologically devastated. He has been through two surgeries and still in pain. He keeps asking for us, his family.

Mahmoud is a friendly child and a loved one among his family and friends. He has an independent character and feels a sense of responsibility towards his parents. He spends his summer vacations working in a car repair shop with a family friend. He never thought of spending the money on toys or trips. Instead, he offered it to his parents as a form of support.

He used to go with me to my volleyball trainings. He loved to train with us, sometimes playing around and teasing others, with the knowledge that I was always standing there to protect him, and no one could harm him.

We have a special and close relationship. In fact, we were planning that next summer he would visit me in California. I wanted him to see the other side of the world. A different life than the one we are used to. A one that may be hard but not that miserable. A one that may offer him opportunities and freedom. I promised him that he will be here with me and I will protect him and be there for him whenever he needs me. But time betrayed us, and fate betrayed him.

I am writing my brother’s story to show the world the brutality of the Israeli occupation. But my decision to shed light on Mahmoud’s story in the first place, is so that we can ask for support. This is an appeal for concrete action from human rights organizations, children’s rights organisations, human rights lawyers, politicians, and journalists. Anybody who can possibly help and use their voice to advocate for his freedom. To help him stand again and save his innocence as a child. If we can save Mahmoud we can prove that humanity is not just a word.

Please, make as much noise as possible, to get the help, care and support this child needs and deserves. Share and spread his story widely, on Facebook, on your timeline, in groups, sites, Twitter, wherever on social media, reach out to the media, to whoever you can, to make sure that the world, human right organizations, human right lawyers, politicians, everybody who can possibly help this child, know who Mahmoud is, what happened to him, and still is going on. Use the hashtag #free_Mahmoud_salah , for example in combination with #urgent and #StandUp4HumanRights.

Look at Mahmoud’s face in these pictures, and help to make sure that Mahmoud is soon back again with his family, in his home, where he belongs.

(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Indonesia president reiterates support for Palestine independence

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Moscow, Russia on 10 November 2014 

President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo has reiterated his country’s support for an independent Palestinian state on the basis of the two-state solution with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“Palestine will always be in the hearts of the Indonesian people, and we will always support the Palestinian people’s efforts to realise their rights,” the Indonesian president said in a letter responding to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in which he briefed him on the latest developments on the issue.

President Widodo stressed that Indonesia will always support any decision made by the Palestinian leadership, adding that, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, his country will always support the Palestinian cause.

READ: Indonesia’s Palestinian celebrations

(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Report: Israel killed 29 Palestinians, wounded 312, arrested 370 during May

Israeli occupation forces storm Khan Al-Ahmar and detain four people [Ä°ssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation forces storm Khan Al-Ahmar and detain four people

Israeli occupation forces killed 29 Palestinians, wounded 312 others and arrested 370 across the Palestinian territories during the month of May, PLO report revealed on Monday.

According to the report, 27 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks on Gaza, including a paramedic, four women and four children, while two “were executed with cold blood” over claims of stabbing and ramming attempts in the occupied West Bank.

The report stated that the 312 Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli strikes in Gaza, a crackdown on the Gaza protests and the attacks on the peaceful protesters staged against Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Read: Israel and the PA continue to drain Hamas’s financial sources

Regarding the 370 Palestinians, who were arrested in May, the number included four women, a disabled and a number of children.

Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation issued orders of administrative detention against 30 Palestinian prisoners who had been arrested without charges.

During the same month, the Israeli occupation authorities deported 16 Palestinians from Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem after releasing them on condition of paying large amounts of fines.

(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Egypt company launches ‘VIP travel service’ for Gaza Palestinians

Palestinians protest against the closure of the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip and the Israeli blockade on the territory, on 24 January 2019 in Rafah. [SAID KHATIB / AFP / Getty]

Palestinians protest against the closure of the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip and the Israeli blockade on the territory, on 24 January 2019 in Rafah

An Egyptian private travel company has launched a new “paid service” for the residents of the occupied Gaza Strip via the Egypt-Palestine Rafah crossing.

The company, Hala for Tourism Services, would provide the service through its newly-established VIP lounge inside the Egyptian side of the crossing.

Official source at Hala told the Anadolu Agency that the company would start accepting applications from those wishing to benefit from its new VIP service tomorrow. He added that the company had two branches, one in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and the other in Palestinian Rafah city.

READ: Israel and the PA continue to drain Hamas’ financial sources

The VIP lounge, the source explained, would serve travellers through the Rafah border crossing in both directions, “while ensuring speedy and safe transportation is being provided.”

“This new service will provide the Palestinians with full travel assistance, starting from the transfer of the traveller from the Strip to their final destination and vice versa,” the official source said, continuing that the chargeable service would include “the cost of a transit visa as well as the transportation fare.”

“The service for outbound travellers from Gaza will cost $1,200 per person, $600 for minors aged from eight to 16 years old, younger children will be exempt from any fees,” the source pointed out. “VIP service for inbound travellers to Gaza will cost $600,” he said.

(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Israel court rejects appeal against sale of Jerusalem church land to settlers

Supreme Court of Israel [Wikipedia]

Supreme Court of Israel 

Israel’s Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal against the sale of church land in the Old City of Jerusalem to right-wing settler organisation Ateret Cohanim.

Supreme Court Justice Alex Stein and Judges Yitzhak Amit and Yael Vilner yesterday ruled that the sale of the land – which took place in 2004 via international agents – was “legal”. The court therefore passed the three sites to Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing settler organisation which buys houses and land for illegal Jewish settlement.

The ruling will come as a blow to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which has been embroiled in the affair since the secret sales were made some 15 years ago. At the time the scandal rocked the church, with then-Greek Patriarch Irenaios denying knowledge of the sales; he subsequently backtracked on his position, accusing the church’s director of finance, Nicholas Papadimas, of authorising the sales without the church’s authorisation.

When the affair was made public in 2005, Patriarch Irenaios was forced from office by Greek Orthodox officials and replaced by the current Patriarch, Theophilos III. His successor has since waged a legal campaign to see the lands returned, arguing that the transactions were the result of corruption in the Patriarchate at that time and that a bribe was paid by Ateret Cohanim to employees of the Patriarchate to advance the sales.

READ: Israel to build new housing units in East Jerusalem

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling referred to three transactions: the first saw UK-based Berisford Investments Limited purchase a 99-year lease for the Petra Hotel, located just inside Jaffa Gate (Bab Al-Khalil) in Jerusalem’s Old City, for $500,000.

In the second sale, US-based Richards Marketing Corporation bought the Imperial Hotel – also located just inside Jaffa Gate – and its ground-level stores on a similar lease for $1.25 million.

The third sale saw Gallow Global Limited acquire the rights to a Palestinian home called Beit Azmiya – located in the Bab Al-Huta neighbourhood of the Old City, north of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – for $55,000.

Yet despite the uproar the church – which is thought to be the second-biggest land owner in Israel-Palestine after the Israel Land Authority (ILA) and believed to own nearly 30 per cent of Jerusalem’s Old City – has since continued such sales to pro-settlement organisations.

In 2017, Haaretz exposed three sales in which church land was sold at below-market prices to unknown companies “registered in tax havens”.

Some 430 dunams (106 acres) of land were sold in Caesarea – north of Netanya on Israel’s Mediterranean coast – for $1 million; six dunams (1.4 acres) at Clock Tower Square in Jaffa for $1.5 million; and an area of Jerusalem’s Givat Oranim neighbourhood – near Baq’a – containing 240 apartments which was sold for $3.3 million.

This was on top of sales conducted in 2010, in which Virgin Islands-registered-company Koronetti purchased a three-story office building on Jerusalem’s King David Street, another six-story building on nearby Hess Street, and a 2.3-dunam (0.5 acre) plot in Baq’a at below market value.

In an attempt to justify the sales, a church official known only as M. told Haaretz that the patriarchate “has no countries behind it, it has no sources of income. Its only sources of income are its properties”. He continued: “When the patriarch [Theophilos III] assumed his position, the church was $40 million in debt […] we have properties that we are interested in from a strategic perspective and there are properties that we sell and from that we support ourselves.”

READ: Israel slammed for releasing settlers following arson attack on church

The sales have sparked anger among Palestinians, particularly given the fact that many of these properties are eventually handed over to organisations such as Ateret Cohanim.

Ateret Cohanim has been at the forefront of attempts to forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes, notably in the Jerusalem neighbourhoods Silwan – which lies just outside the Old City walls – and Sheikh Jarrah, encouraging illegal Israeli settlement in the Holy City.

In March, Jewish-Israeli settlers moved into the historical Al-Alami family home in the Old City’s Muslim quarter. The home was sold by Issam Aqel, a Palestinian-American who the Palestinian Authority (PA) in January agreed to extradite to the US for selling land to Jewish-Israelis. Having obtained the rights to the property, Aqel sold the building to Ateret Cohanim, which subsequently moved the settler family in.

Selling or attempting to sell land to Jewish-Israelis is considered a crime by the Palestinian authorities and is punishable by hard labour, imprisonment or death. However, no death penalties have been signed off by PA President Mahmoud Abbas since 2006.

READ: Court sentences Palestinian to 5 years for selling land to Israelis(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Sohaib and Naziha lost their limbs, but did not lose their hope

By Motasem A Dalloul

Losing arms or legs does not mean losing hope. This is the story of the two siblings who lost their limbs in attacks by Israeli snipers but insist to carry on their resistance against Israeli occupation.

It was a long week to wait until Friday 30 March 2018 for 27-year-old Sohaib Qudeh, the hardworking farmer from Abbasan neighbourhood in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, in order to take part in the protests of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege. It was Palestine’s Land Day, which Sohaib has been taking part in since he was 15, but this time was “very different”.

Along with thousands of protesters, Sohaib went to the fence which lies along the eastern side of the Gaza Strip. They raised placards and chanted slogans for the Palestinian right of return and breaking the 12-year-old Israeli siege imposed on the coastal enclave. Thirty-seven-year-old Naziha, Sohaib’s sister, was standing with him side-by-side.

“The demonstrators got closer to the fence and the Israeli Jewish snipers started shooting at them. My sister and I fled westward and hid behind an old, dry tree,” Sohaib told MEMO. “We remained frozen behind the tree for up to 15 minutes and, when the firing seemed to have stopped, we moved about three metres. Suddenly I fell on the ground after feeling something strong hit my leg,” he added.

Never stood again

At first glance, Sohaib thought it was a rubber bullet, but when he tried to stand up and resume his walk, his leg could not help him and he saw it covered in blood.

“At first, I did not feel the wounds because they were warm,” he said. “I became sure that I was wounded when I failed to stand up alone and the other demonstrators gathered around me. At this time, I laid down on the ground and waited for the paramedics to help.”

Naziha was shocked when she saw her brother bleeding, but had enough courage to run towards the paramedics and call for them to evacuate him to the hospital.

“When my sister saw my wounds bleeding, she ran towards the paramedics and shouted for help,” he said. “They came directly and took me to the hospital, where the doctors found that the Israeli sniper shot an explosive bullet at my leg which damaged it to the degree it was necessary to amputate.”

Sohaib knew he would never be able to stand again. Speaking to MEMO, he said: “Before entering the operation room, I fell unconscious and two days later, I woke up to find that I have only one leg.”

Back to the demonstrations

A couple of days later, Sohaib was discharged from hospital and went home. He started to depend on Naziha to carry out his daily life. He watched the demonstrations on TV, but when he found that he was able to join the demonstrations on the fourth Friday using his crutches, he did.

“I asked Naziha to help me join the demonstrations,” he said. “At first she refused, but when I insisted she accepted and accompanied me to the site of the demonstrations. We continued this for a couple of months until my wound had completely healed and I had an artificial limb.”

“I returned back to my farm and resumed planting vegetables, irrigating them and collecting them along with Naziha, who became part of my life,” he said. “We, the Palestinians, do not surrender to fate. Being disabled makes it difficult for you to practice even the simplest jobs, so think about how hard it is to farm!”

Naziha’s turn

Naziha was happy helping her brother in his work, daily life and joining the Friday demonstrations; he didn’t expect that she would soon be in her brother’s shoes.

“On Monday 14 May 2018, when Naziha had just ended a phone call with her mother telling her that she and Sohaib were heading home, she screamed,” Sohaib said. “I looked around and found her covered in blood and I screamed for help.”

Naziha was rushed to hospital and had her leg amputated due to severe damage caused by an explosive bullet fired by an Israeli sniper near the place where her brother was shot.

“I called my mother and told her that I was hungry because I left the house at lunch time and stayed with Sohaib at the protest site for about five hours,” Naziha said. “I had just ended the phone call and turned my back to the side of the fence, then, I felt that something hit my leg and immediately fell on the ground.”

Back to the farm

Naziha did not surrender and, when she recovered, she insisted on continuing her life on the farm side-by-side with Sohaib. However, it became very difficult for them to continue working as farmers, but the issue for them is life.

Both Naziha and Sohaib still need better artificial legs for easier movement, but having makeshift ones did not give them an excuse to stay at home.

They insist on going to work together, joining the demonstrations together and doing everything together. “We feel we got closer to each other after losing our limbs,” Sohaib said: “We have the same life, the same job and the same fate.”

Regarding their work, both said that it is a very hard job, but they do not have any other kind of job which would be appropriate for their conditions. “This job makes you feel more connected to the land,” Naziha, said.

Demonstration casualties

As of 15 May 2019, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that Israeli forces have killed 306 demonstrators during the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege and wounded 17,335, including 136 lost their limbs.

Amputees in Gaza could have makeshift artificial limbs. In April, Qatar inaugurated a specialised hospital in Gaza to help these people.

Naziha and Sohaib send a message to the world saying: “We have done our duty and sacrificed our limb. Now, it is your turn, you have to work hard to stop the Israeli siege and fulfill our dream of returning back to our homes.”

(Source / 11.06.2019) 


Occupied Palestine (QNN)- During the last year, Israel worked in secret on a new way to target pro-BDS international organizations which support Palestinians, according to the Israeli channel 13.

The Israeli channel quoted officials in the Israeli Ministry of Strategy saying that the ministry succeeded to close dozens of bank accounts by Jewish organizations, which are founded for this specific purpose.

Jewish zionist organizations in France and the United States have been fiercely working against pro-Palestine organizations.

the occupation state of Israel has also used non-governmental international organizations to target pro-BDS bank accounts, which they describe as “terrorism financing”. Law firms and foreign journalists have been used in some cases to target pro-BDS organizations.

(Source / 11.06.2019) 


Smoke rises from air strikes carried out by the Assad regime in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria where Palestinian refugees take shelter on 24 April 2018

Damascus (QNN) – The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria said the Syrian regime forces continue to detain ten-year-old Palestinian girl, Hadeel Al-Ayyathi, six years after she was captured.

According to the group, Hadeel was arrested at the age of four while passing through a Syrian regime checkpoint near Yarmouk camp in March 2013.

Her fate and that of her mother’s remain unknown.

The group has documented the detention of 1,758 Palestinians since the start of the war in Syria, including hundreds of women, children and elderly persons.

Palestinian refugees in Syria have suffered greatly as a result of the civil war in the country with many unable to flee as they neighbouring countries do not allow them refugee status. The group said more than 600 Palestinian families in the Daraa refugee camp are suffering as a result of a lack of medical services and facilities.

The group explained that the UNRWA clinic in the camp has not been renovated or rebuilt while an alternative place for treatment has not been provided in or near the camp to serve its residents.

(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Caravan Seized by Israeli Forces near Tulkarem

10 JUN11:16 PM

Israeli forces have seized an agricultural caravan belonging to a farmer from village of Khirbet Jubara, to the south of the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem.

Head of the Khirbet Jubara Village Council, Ihsan Tahseen, told WAFA that Israeli forces escorted a large crane to a plot of land belonging to the Dasouki family, and seized the caravan.

He added that the land owner had just finished reclaiming their plot of land, which occupied a dunam and 800 square meters, and had a caravan placed in it, for agricultural purposes.

The targeted land is located at the entrance of the village, next a house demolished by Israeli forces, earlier in April, under the pretext that it was built without a permit.

The villagers of Khirbet Jubara, a small town trapped between the 1976 borderline and Israel’s apartheid wall, depend on agriculture and cultivation of chickens for their livelihood.

Israel has confiscated hundreds of dunams of farmland from the villagers, for the construction of the apartheid wall, which surrounds the village from all directions and leaves only two passage ways, al-Kafriyat checkpoint and Gate number 22, north and south of the village.

Israel’s wall has segregated approximately 4,000 dunams of land belonging to Khirbet Jubara and a number of neighboring villages.

(Source / 11.06.2019) 

Israeli Soldiers Surround A Palestinian Security Center In Nablus, Shoot One Officer

11 JUN7:40 AM

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and surrounded a center run by the Palestinian Preventative Security Force before opening a barrage of live fire at it, wounding one officer and causing property damage.

Nablus Governor, Lieutenant Ibrahim Ramadan, said dozens of soldiers surrounded the Palestinian Preventative Security building in Nablus, and fired dozens of live rounds at it, wounding one officers, in addition to smashing many windows and causing damage to vehicles.

He added that the Israeli military claims about its soldiers coming under fire while invading an area near the security center are fabrications, and that this attack is not the first, and won’t be the last, especially amidst the current serious escalation against the Palestinians, their homes and lands.

The governor also stated that the army’s bullets were meant to kill, as the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds into the buildings through their windows, and many of their bullets struck various offices and dorms.

The soldiers later withdrew from the city, without abducting any of the officers, and fired many live rounds at random while driving away.

(Source / 11.06.2019)