Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to strike the already-besieged Gaza Strip regardless of the country’s upcoming general election.
Speaking yesterday as he embarked on a two-day visit to Ukraine, Netanyahu said: “I heard comments that I am refraining from a large campaign [in Gaza] because of the elections. This is not correct. Everyone who knows me knows that my considerations are matter-of fact and real, that I act [in] full cooperation with the security forces, with assertiveness and responsibility.”
“If it is required, we will embark on a large campaign […] with elections or without elections,” Netanyahu stressed.
This comes after Israel this weekend killed three Palestinians near the Gaza fence, firing at them with an Israeli army helicopter and tank. There were also reports of an Israeli attack on an observation post used by Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Fazi Barhoum said on Saturday that “the Israeli strike is a message of escalation and aggression against the Gaza Strip”, claiming the strike is an attempt to divert attention from the occupied West Bank, where an Israeli settler was killed last week. “Resistance forces in Gaza will not let the Strip become an Israeli target for settling accounts,” Barhoum added.
After Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition in the wake of April’s general election, he pushed for the Knesset to dissolve itself and call a do-over election for 17 September. However, in the face of poor polling figures and widespread Israeli apathy to the country’s second election in a year, Netanyahu has sought to cancel the fresh election.
When the Knesset legal adviser ruled that the election could only be cancelled in extreme circumstances such as war, commentators speculated that Netanyahu’s government could start a war in Gaza to avoid electoral defeat. Netanyahu’s comments yesterday will be seen as the latest evidence of this strategy.
Israeli opposition figures have also goaded Netanyahu to attack Gaza, with head of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) party this weekend labelling his policy on the Strip “weak”. “People who are weak in front of Hamas in Gaza might bring a wave of horror to the West Bank,” Gantz wrote on Twitter, referring to recent incidents in the occupied territory.
Gantz also pledged to form “the strongest security government” which “will regain deterrence” if he is elected prime minister during the upcoming general election, continuing his long-standing hawkish approach to the coastal enclave.
Head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman – who almost single-handedly prevented Netanyahu from forming a ruling coalition in May – echoed Gantz’s sentiment, saying that Netanyahu “is an excellent presenter and campaigner, but a weak leader that lacks leadership and the ability to make decisions in times of real crises”.
This weekend reports surfaced that Lieberman could sign a vote-sharing agreement with Gantz’s Blue and White party, which would see those votes a party receives which are not enough to qualify for a full Knesset seat “donated” to the bigger party in the agreement.
With polls showing that Blue and White and Netanyahu’s Likud party are currently tied at 31 seats each, such an agreement could sway the final result and determine which party is given the first shot at forming a ruling coalition.
A Palestinian demonstrator throws a stone behind burning tires in response to Israeli forces’ intervention in a protest against the construction of Jewish settlements and the separation wall in Qafr Qaddum village in Nablus, West Bank on 2 August 2019
A new intifada could erupt in the occupied West Bank as a result of the political and economic crisis in the area, a secret Palestinian Authority intelligence report has warned.
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth revealed details of the document which it says was written for the heads of the Palestinian security forces and which warned of an escalation in the situation in the West Bank.
According to the site, 16-25-year-old Palestinians fear for their future and as a result are under a lot of pressure and harbour anger which is dangerous and likely to cause matters in the West Bank to escalate.
“Shootings and sabotage” are expected to increase, the report warned, with the number of so-called “lone wolf” attacks against illegal settlers also due to rise.
Jewish Israeli settlers are on a roll as they rampage across the occupied Palestinian West Bank. While settler violence is part of the daily routine in Palestine, the violence of recent weeks is linked directly to the General Election in Israel, scheduled to be held on 17 September.
The previous election, just four months ago on 9 April, failed to bring about political stability. Although Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is now the longest-serving Prime Minister in the 71-year history of the country, he was still unable to form a government coalition.
Tarnished by a series of corruption cases involving himself, his family and aides, Netanyahu’s leadership is in an unenviable position. Police investigators are closing in on him, while opportunistic political allies, such as Avigdor Lieberman, are twisting his arm in the hope of exacting future political concessions.
The political crisis in Israel is not the outcome of a resurrected Labor or invigorated central parties, but the failure of the Right (including far-right and ultra-nationalist parties) to articulate a unified political agenda.
Illegal Jewish settlers understand well that the future identity of any right-wing government coalition will have a lasting impact on their colonial enterprise. The settlers, however, are not exactly worried, since all major political parties, including that of the Blue and White, the supposedly centrist party of Benjamin Gantz, have made support for Jewish colonies an important part of their election campaigns.
The decisive vote of the Jewish settlers of the West Bank and their backers inside Israel became very clear in the last election. Their power has forced Gantz to adopt an entirely different political approach.
The man who, two days before polling day in April, criticised Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” announcement regarding his intention to annex the West Bank, is now apparently a great supporter of the settlements. According to the Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, Gantz has vowed to continue expanding the settlements “from a strategic point of view and not as a political strategy.”
Considering the shift in Gantz’s perspective regarding the settlements Netanyahu is left with no other option but to up the ante. He is now pushing for complete and irreversible annexation of the West Bank.
Annexing the occupied Palestinian territory is, from Netanyahu’s point of view, a sound political strategy. The Israeli Prime Minister, of course, is oblivious to international law which regards Israel’s military and settler presence as illegal. Neither Netanyahu nor any other Israeli leader, though, has ever cared about international law. All that truly counts as far as Israel is concerned, is that it has Washington’s support, both blind and unconditional.
According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu is now officially lobbying for a public statement by US President Donald Trump to back Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. Although the White House refused to comment on the story, and an official in Netanyahu’s office claimed that it was “incorrect”, the Israeli right is on the fast track to make that annexation possible.
Encouraged by US Ambassador David Friedman’s comment that, “Israel has the right to retain some of the West Bank,” more Israeli officials are speaking boldly and openly regarding their intentions to annex the occupied territory. Netanyahu actually hinted at that possibility in August during a visit to the illegal settlement of Beit El. “We come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all parts of it,” he said at a ceremony celebrating the expansion of the illegal settlements with another 650 housing units.
Unlike Netanyahu, former Israeli Justice Minister and leader of the newly-formed United Right, Ayelet Shaked, didn’t speak in code. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, she called for the full annexation of Area C, which constitutes nearly 60 per cent of the West Bank. “We have to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” insisted Shaked, using Biblical terminology to describe Palestinian land as if that somehow strengthened her case.
Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, however, wants to go the extra mile. According to Arutz Sheva and the Jerusalem Post, Erdan has called for the annexation of all illegal settlements in the West Bank as well as the ouster of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Now situated at the centre of Israeli politics, Jewish settlers are enjoying the spectacle of being courted by all major political parties. Their increased violence against the indigenous Palestinians in the West Bank is a form of political muscle-flexing, an expression of dominance and a brutish display of political priorities.
“There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea, the flag of Israel,” was the slogan of a rallyinvolving over 1,200 Jewish settlers who roamed the streets of the Palestinian city of Hebron on 14 August. The settlers, together with Israeli soldiers, stormed along Al-Shuhada Street and harassed Palestinian residents and international activists in the beleaguered city.
Just a few days earlier, an estimated 1,700 Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli police, stormed into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 60 Palestinians were wounded when Israeli forces and settlers attacked Muslim worshippers. The violence was repeated in Nablus, where armed women settlers stormed the town of Al-Masoudiya and conducted “military training” under the protection of the Israeli occupation army. The settlers’ message is clear: we now rule the roost, not only in the West Bank, but in Israeli politics as well.
At what cost, though? All of this is happening as if it is entirely an Israeli political affair. The PA, which has now been dropped out of US political calculations altogether, is left to issue occasional, irrelevant press releases about its intention to hold Israel accountable according to international law.
Moreover, the guardians of international law are also suspiciously absent. Neither the United Nations, nor advocates of democracy and international law in the European Union, seem to be interested in confronting Israeli intransigence and blatant violations of human rights.
With Jewish settlers dictating the political agenda in Israel, and constantly provoking Palestinians in the occupied territories, violence is likely to grow exponentially in the coming months. As is often the case, this will be used strategically by the Israeli government, this time to set the stage for a final and complete annexation of Palestinian land. That will be a disastrous outcome, no matter which way you look at it.
Israeli officials continue to threaten with a massive military operation against the Gaza Strip, while Israel still refuses to ease the blockade.
Israeli Minister of Energy, Yuval Steinitz, also a member of Israel’s cabinet, said on Monday that they “are planning a large-scale military operation in Gaza,” adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working “firmly but in a wise and deliberate manner.”
Speaking to Israeli public radio, Steinitz said that the thee Palestinian men who were killed on Saturday night were killed before they approached the security fence.
“We also bombed inside Gaza to clarify who is responsible, ”he said, referring to the bombing of Hamas positions.
“None of the former generals had and will not be a long-term solution to the Gaza problem. But, when we try to achieve a long-term truce, we demand a calm in the Gaza envelope and the return of the (Israeli citizens) prisoners and the bodies of the two soldiers. The truth is that Israel has never succeeded in preventing terrorism,” he said, according to the PNN, referring to Palestinian resistance operations.
Two reports said, yesterday, that the Israeli security service estimates that the storming of Palestinian fighters from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday night – Sunday was not planned by Hamas but “a local initiative.”
“Hamas is trying to maintain calm, but there are those who are not interested in calm,” an Israeli security official told Israel Radio. He said the Israeli army expects rocket fire from Gaza to continue, in the coming days.
Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- An Israeli special undercover force abducted late at last night three Palestinian young men from Al Eizariya in occupied Jerusalem.
Local sources said that undercover soldiers broke into Al Ezariya in a civil vehicle and abducted three young Palestinians, identified as Shawkat Khader Skeikh, Amir Shishtawi, and Mahmoud Erikat. One of the three young men is the brother of a wounded and arrested Palestinian.
The undercover unit is a special unit, which carries out abductions and shootings while dressing in civilian Arab dress. It also breaks into Arab districts in civilian vehicles.
Occupied Palestine (QNN)- Thee Palestinian Committee for Detainees and Ex- detainees Affairs said on Monday that the Israeli Prison service (IPS) continues to arrest eight Palestinian prisoners, who have been on hunger strike to protest administrative detention, in very dangerous condition.
The committee also said that the IPS carries out daily investigations and punitive measures to force them end hunger strike.
Punitive measures are being taken against the prisoners; like daily search, transfer, sleep deprivation, and psychological pressure.
“The IPS detain the hunger strikers in inhumane isolation cells”, the committee said.
Prisoner Hythaifa Halabiyyeh (28 years old), who has been on hunger strike for 50 days, suffers from very dangerous health condition as the Israelis continue to detain him in administrative detention in very hard conditions at Nitzan jail.
The committee said that Halabiyyeh suffer from severe burns and leukemia, which need vigorous follow-up.
Other seven prisoners have been also on hunger strike to protest the IPS arbitrary politics. The huger strikers are Ahmad Ghannam (on hunger strike for 37 day so far), Sultan Khlof (on hunger strike for 33 days so far), Ismael Ali (on hunger strike for 27 days so far), Wajdi Awawdeh (on hunger strike for 22 days so far), Tareq Qaadan (on hunger strike for 20 days so far), Naser Jadaa (on hunger strike for 13 days so far), and Thaer Hamdan (on hunger strike for 8 days).
Ahmad Ghannam (42 years old) from Dora in occupied Hebron is a former prisoner. He has spent nine years in Israeli jails despite of suffering from leukemia.
Occupied West Bank (QNN)- Israeli occupation forces arrested Monday 23 Palestinians during raids into different areas throughout the occupied West Bank.
In the North, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian young men in Osarin town in Nablus.
Local sources said that Israeli forces arrested Saad Ideli and Nassar Ideli from their houses in the town.
In Ramallah, Israeli occupation forces arrested three young men during raids into villages of of Ramallah.
Local sources said that Israeli military patrols and troop carriers broke into Beit Rima village to rearrest Yaqoub Rimawi after breaking into his house . They have also rearrested Homam Rimawi and both were taken to an unknown destination.
Israeli forces also broke into Sinjil town in northern Ramallah and arrested Hussain Shabaneh after raiding his house.
In Dora in southern Hebron, Israeli forces arrested Jihad Faqqouseh after breaking into his house.
Occupied Hebron (QNN)- A new Israeli investigation published by Israeli media on Monday revealed that the Israeli army is responsible for the death of three Palestinian children, who were burnt to death in occupied Hebron five months ago.
Fire has started in a house, which belongs to Rajabi family in occupied Hebron, and led to the death of three children; two of them are 4 years old and the third is one year and a half.
The investigation revealed that Israeli soldiers have blocked the fire brigade from reaching the house for 10 minutes before being blocked again on another checkpoint for further a few minutes, which caused the children to die.
Walla Israeli website said that the fire brigade, who immediately rushed to the fire, were blocked and held back on the checkpoint under the pretext of “lack of coordination”. The father of the children said that if the firemen were not blocked, it could have been possible to put off the fire and save the children.
“The fire was reported on 10:30 pm, however firemen were too late to reach the location; as they were trying to communicate with the Israelis, untill they finally reached the fire and put it off”, according to the fire service in Hebron.
Israeli lawyer Ronnie Fili said that “the apartheid in Hebron, which deny Palestinians their basic rights, led in this case to the death of three children.”
“Nothing justifies blocking the fire brigade”, he said. “This horrible tragedy, which happened because of the apathy of the Israeli army, who doesn’t care not only to Palestinians’ basic right, but also to their lives”.