Israel intensifies attacks on Palestinian activities, institutions in East Jerusalem

A man carries a Palestinian flag as a reaction to demolition of some of Palestinian houses by Israel in Sur Baher town on the southeastern outskirts of East Jerusalem on 2 August 2019. [Wisam Hashlamoun - Anadolu Agency]

A man carries a Palestinian flag as a reaction to demolition of some of Palestinian houses by Israel in Sur Baher town on the southeastern outskirts of East Jerusalem on 2 August 2019

Israeli authorities have been intensifying their attacks on Palestinian activities and institutions in occupied East Jerusalem, reported Al-Monitor, citing a number of recent incidents.

On 5 August, Israeli forces prevented a memorial service for the Palestinian writer Subhi Ghosheh from taking place at the Yabous Cultural Centre, assaulting participants and summoning a number for interrogation.

The next day, Israeli forces stopped a ceremony from being held in honour of the late athlete Ahmad Adilah at The East Jerusalem YMCA, while on 17 August, a lecture on the Israeli demolition of Jerusalemite homes at the Burj Luqluq Social Centre Society was also shutdown.

According to the report, these actions are a result of Minister of Internal Security Gilad Ardan’s 5 August order “to extend the closure of Palestinian institutions in the city and prohibit any cultural or political activities held by Palestinian organisations”.

READ: Israeli authorities advance planned settler expansion in heart of Hebron 

“The decision deems such events terror activities that violate Israeli sovereignty and laws in the city”, Al-Monitor added.

Ziad al-Hammouri, director of the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights, himself interrogated on 8 August, said such steps were “a prelude to the enactment of an Israeli law that sentences any Jerusalemite with ties to the PA [Palestinian Authority] to up to three years in prison in an effort to clamp down on Jerusalemites”.

Adnan al-Husseini, a member of the PLO Executive Committee in charge of Jerusalem affairs, told Al-Monitor “that the Israeli harassment and actions in East Jerusalem are becoming more severe in the wake of the Jerusalem-related US decisions”.

He added that “the US decisions on Jerusalem serve as a green light for Israel to further encroach upon the rights of Palestinians”, encouraging “Israel to make many racist decisions, expand its settlement activities, demolish houses and close institutions”.

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

Israeli authorities advance planned settler expansion in heart of Hebron

Israeli settlers walk towards the tomb of Atnaeil Ben Kinaz, a Jewish religious site in the divided West Bank town of Hebron on 22 July, 2018 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Israeli settlers walk towards the tomb of Atnaeil Ben Kinaz, a Jewish religious site in the divided West Bank town of Hebron on 22 July, 2018 

Israeli occupation authorities have advanced plans to expand the Jewish settler presence in the heart of Hebron, reported The Jerusalem Post.

According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered defence officials to allow settlers to register half of a three-storey building opposite Ibrahimi Mosque “in the name of the development company that claims to have purchased it from its Palestinian owners”.

The other half of the structure, known by settlers as ‘Beit HaMachpela’, “remains in the hands of the primary Palestinians owners, the Abu Rajab family”, the paper added.

In 2012, 2013, and 2018, settlers attempted to move into the building, prompting a Supreme Court ruling that the settlers “must wait to move into the structure until the property is registered in their name in the Land Registry”.

READ: Israel settlers attack Palestinian cars with stones 

According to The Jerusalem Post, “Sunday’s actions offer the possibility that the families can move into the structure”, but for now, Israeli military orders barring such entry were still in force.

The lawyer for the Abu Rajab family, Samer Shehadeh, “said he planned to appeal the decision to allow the building to be registered on behalf [of the settlers]”. The Abu Rajab family “disputes the settler’s purchase claim”, the report added.

Should settlers move into the building, the paper added, “it would mark the continued expansion” of the settlers in the H2 area near the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now urged the government not to allow settlers to move into the building.

“A responsible government is expected to refuse to submit to the dictates of an extreme minority group,” said Ofran. “It must follow a clear policy that takes into account security considerations and any future political settlement” with the Palestinians.

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

Israeli jets hit Hamas-held area in Gaza

Israeli F16 fighter jets [File photo]

Israeli military fighter jets 

Israeli jets late Sunday bombed an area in the northern part of Gaza belonging to Izzeddin al-Kassam, Hamas’s armed wing, according to sources on the ground Anadolu reports.

Medical sources reported that there were no casualties.

Read: Iraq Shia militia blame Israel for deadly air raid near Syria border

While the Israeli army has yet to make a statement on the bombing, the airstrikes followed three rockets being fired from Gaza at surrounding Israeli settlements earlier Sunday.

The Israeli army said two of the three rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome defence system.

No one has claimed responsibility for the rockets fired from Gaza.

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

Israeli Firms Facilitating Abuses of Press Worldwide

25 AUG9:19 PM

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has accused Israeli surveillance companies of paving the way for attacks on media freedom around the world, by easing rules governing the export of offensive cyber weapons, despite grave concerns by human rights and privacy groups that the technologies are used by some governments to spy on political foes and to crush dissent.

PNN/Press TV reports that the New York-based committee, which seeks to promote press freedom and defends the rights of journalists, stated that Israeli officials had confirmed that, under a rule change by the ministry of military affairs a year ago, Israeli surveillance companies “are able to obtain exemptions on marketing license for the sale of some products to certain countries.”

The CPJ stated that Israeli-exported technology undermined press freedom globally by allowing authorities to track reporters and potentially identify their sources.

The group then highlighted that the Mexican government had deployed super-stealth Pegasus spyware, developed by Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group, in order to infiltrate the mobile phones “of at least nine journalists.”

“Over and over again, we see Israeli technology facilitating press freedom abuses around the world, by lending a hand to governments that want to track and monitor reporters,” CPJ Advocacy Director, Courtney Radsch, said in Washington, D.C.

She added: “An unregulated surveillance industry is bad for press freedom. The Israeli government should heed the UN Special Rapporteur’s call to respect human rights in its export policies.”

Separately, WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, admitted on May 14 that hackers had managed to use the security breach on its messaging app to target human rights activists.

Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said WhatsApp had informed human rights groups that the spyware was likely developed by Israel’s NSO. This was also confirmed by another person familiar with the matter.

Amnesty International later said the Israeli firm behind the security breach that targeted human rights activists using the WhatsApp messenger app must be held into account for its close ties with repressive regimes.

Amnesty urged the Israeli regime in a statement to revoke export licenses of the NSO, which designed the spyware linked to the WhatsApp breach.

The London-based rights group told Reuters that the company’s deeds “resulted in human rights abuses.”

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (08 – 21 August 2019)

25 AUG9:57 PM

Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory

8- 21 August 2019

  • 2 Palestinians killed, including a child, under the pretext of carrying out stab and run-over attacks in the West Bank.
  • Great March of Return in Eastern Gaza Strip: 85 civilians injured, including 25 children and 6 women.
  • West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem: 73 civilians injured, including a Korean activist.
  • 86 civilians, including 4 children and a woman, arrested during 189 incursions into the West Bank.
  • 2 houses demolished and 20 facilities notified of demolition in occupied East Jerusalem while 3 houses received notices to halt construction works in Bethlehem.
  • 6 shooting incidents reported against Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza shores.
  • 46 temporary checkpoints established in the West Bank, where 2 Palestinian civilians were arrested.

Summary

During the reporting period, PCHR documented 210 violations of the international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory.

As part of the Israeli violations of the right to life and bodily integrity, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinians, including a child, and seriously wounded another child in the West Bank under the pretext of 2 separate stab and run-over attacks.  On Thursday afternoon, 15 August 2019, the Israeli police officers stationed at Bab al-Silsila, Gate to al-Haram al-Sharief, in the old City of occupied East Jerusalem opened fire at 2 Palestinian children, who stabbed one of the officers.  As a result, one of them was killed while the other was seriously wounded. PCHR investigations confirm that Israeli police could have used less fatal force against the children, or arrest them as they were within their reach. On 16 August 2019, an Israeli police officer in plain clothes opened fire at ‘Alaa’ Khader al-Hreimi (27), claiming he attempted to run over 2 settlers at a bus stop on Bypass Road (60) in “Gosh ‘Etzion” settlement, south of Bethlehem.  As a result, al-Hreimi was shot with several bullets and immediately died.  However, nothing proves the Israeli claims, and it is still unknown if it was a deliberate run-over or just an accident.

Israeli forces injured 157 Palestinian civilians in addition to a Korean activist in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.  85 of them, including 25 children and 6 women, were injured at the Great March of Return while 72 others in the West Bank; 65 of them were injured after the Israeli forces’ raid of al-Aqsa Mosque yards in Jerusalem following Eid al-Adha Prayer,

Israel carried out 189 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and raided civilian houses, attacking and enticing fear among residents. Moreover, 86 Palestinians were arrested, including 4 children and a woman.

Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusaelm, PCHR documented 9 incidents where Israeli forces notified 3 houses of stopping construction works, west of Bethlehem in addition to dismantling a barrack and confiscating equipment in Hebron. Furthermore, 2 houses were demolished in Beit Hanina in occupied Jerusalem while 20 demolition and evacuation notices were distributed to commercial facilities in the vicinity of Qalendia refugee camp.  Meanwhile, Israeli settlers carried out 4 attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property in the West Bank.

During the reporting period, the Israeli naval forces continued their attacks against the Palestinian fishermen and their equipment at sea though sailing within the allowed fishing area.  This week witnessed 6 shooting and chasing incidents against the fishermen and their boats.

In terms of the Israeli closure policy, it should be highlighted that Israel continues its closure of the Gaza Strip for the 14th consecutive year, severely restricting the freedom of movement of persons and goods and isolating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the West Bank is divided into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation and with temporary and permanent checkpoints.  During this week, 46 temporary military checkpoints were erected, and 2 Palestinian civilians were arrested there.

  1. Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity
  2. Excessive Use of Force against the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip

At approximately 18:00 on Friday, 09 August 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis opened fire at a group of Palestinian young men, who protested in eastern Khuza’ah village. As a result, 2 children were hit with live bullets in the lower extremities. They were taken to Gaza European Hospital and their injuries classified as moderate.

The 70th Great March of Return took off in eastern Gaza Strip on Friday, 16 August 2019, titled “Palestinian Youth’s Friday.” The Israeli attacks resulted in 83 injuries among civilians, including 24 children, 6 women including a female paramedic.

The incidents were as follows:

  • Northern Gaza Strip: At approximately 16:30 on Friday, 16 August 2019, hundreds of civilians marched towards the central tent of the Great March of Return in Abu Safiyah area, northeast of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip. The protest involved activities such as national songs of the Palestinian heritage, speeches by political leaders in addition to raising the Palestinian flag At approximately 17:00, Israeli forces stationed behind sand berms and in military vehicles along the border fence, fired live and rubber bullets as well as teargas canisters at the protesters. As a result, 27 of them were injured, including 11 children and a woman: 16, including 7 children, were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel, 5, including 2 children and a woman, were hit with a rubber bullet; and 6 including 2 children, were hit with teargas canisters.
  • Gaza City: hundreds of civilians marched in eastern Malakah area, east of Gaza City. Speeches, theatrical performances and other segments were performed at the protest central encampment. Tens of young men approached the border with Israel and threw stones at soldiers using slingshots. Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the protestors. As a result, 6 civilians injured, including a child: 5 were hit with rubber bullets and 1 with a tear gas canister.
  • Central Gaza Strip:  at approximately 15:30, hundreds of civilians, including women, children and families, took part in the eastern Bureij refugee camp protests; hundreds, including women and children, gathered adjacent to the border fence at a range varying between 3 – 300 meters while tens approached the fence at a range varying between 2 – 70 meters. Some protestors attempted to throw stones at Israeli soldiers with slingshots. The Israeli soldiers, reinforced with 9 military SUVs, responded with live and rubber bullets in addition to teargas canisters at the protesters, wounding 10 civilians, including a child. Among those injured, 5 were shot with live bullets and shrapnel, one with rubber bullets and 4 directly hit with teargas canisters. ‘Arabi Maher ‘Abed al-Hameed Abu Hasnah (29) sustained serious wounds after being shot with a live bullet in his testicles.
  • Khan Younis:  Hundreds participated in in Khuza’a protests; hundreds gathered in the camp’s central tent where national songs and speeches by political leaders were performed. Dozens of protestors were present tens of meters away from the border fence. Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the protestors. As a result, 23 civilians injured, including 5 children and 3 women: 14 were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel and 9 were hit with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.
  • Rafah: Hundreds participated in the eastern Shokah protests, where no activities were reported due to the power outage. Dozens approached the border fence and threw stones. The Israeli soldiers used live and rubber bullets and teargas canisters against the protestors. As a result, 17 civilians were injured, including 6 children and a volunteer paramedic: 6 were shot with live bullets, 4 shot with rubber bullets and 7 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The volunteer paramedic Nour ‘Atah Mohamed Saleem (16) was hit with a rubber bullet in her abdomen and sustained minor wounds. Additionally, Basem Raied Barakat (24) was hit with a live bullet in his right thigh; his condition was deemed critical.
  1. Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem
  • At approximately 13:30 on Friday afternoon, 16 August 2019, Palestinians from Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah launched their weekly peaceful protest and headed towards the village’s eastern entrance that has been closed by Israeli forces for the past 15 years in favor of “Kedumim” settlement. The demonstrators chanted national slogans demanding end of the occupation and protested the Israeli forces’ crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The protestors threw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed behind sand berms while the soldiers fired rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a 20-year-old civilian was hit with a rubber bullet to the shoulder, a 23-year-old civilian was hit with a rubber bullet to the leg and a Korean activist (26) was hit with a rubber bullet to the head.
  1. Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
  • At approximately 03:00 on Friday 09 August 2019, Israeli forces moved into Halhoul, north of Hebron and stationed in al-Nabi Younis area. The soldiers patrolled between houses, causing fear among the residents. Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian young men gathered and threw stones at Israeli soldiers, while the latter fired rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 3 of the stone-throwers were hit with rubber bullets to the lower extremities of their bodies and were transferred to a hospital in Hebron for treatment.
  • At approximately 17:30 on Monday, 12 August 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern al-Fukhari area. The shooting continued for half an hour; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 14:10 on Tuesday, 13 August 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern ‘Abasan al-Kabirah, al-Qararah and al-Fukhari areas. The shooting continued for an hour; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 16:00 on Tuesday, 13 August 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, opened fire at Palestinian young men present in eastern Khuza’a protests. The shooting continued for few minutes; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 14:30 on Wednesday, 14 August 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, opened fire at sewage vacuum truck adjacent to Khuza’a eastern camp; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 16:00 on Thursday, 15 August 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed northeast of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, chased and opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • On Tuesday evening, 15 August 2019, Israeli police officers stationed at Bab al-Silsila, Gate to Haram al-Shariefd, in the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, opened fire at two Palestinian children. The children had carried out stab attacks against police officers, one of them was killed in the attack while the other was seriously wounded.

According to eyewitnesses’ statement, at approximately 18:10, when Nasim Mokafeh Abu Romi (14) and Hamoudah Khader al-Sheikh (16), from al-‘Izariyah village, east of occupied East Jerusalem, were leaving from Bab al-Silsila, they pulled out 2 knifes they had hidden under their clothes and stabbed Israeli police officers stationed at the gate. Al-Sheikh caused moderate wounds to a police officer in the upper part of his body. The Israeli police fired a barrage of live bullets at the children, killing Abu Romi and seriously wounding al-Sheikh. During the shooting, ‘Omran Samir al-Rajbi (36), al-Aqsa Mosque caretaker, was shot with a live bullet to the thigh and taken to al-Makassed Hospital in eastern Jerusalem for treatment.

The Israeli police said in its statement: “At approximately 06:00, 2 Palestinian minors stabbed a police officer at Bab al-Silsila in Jerusalem’s Old City. The police officer was wounded and then referred for medical treatment.” The police spokesperson said: “police officers present in the area immediately opened fire at the 2 suspects.  In addition, a person, who was near scene, was wounded in the leg and is being treated.” PCHR’s preliminary investigations confirm that the Israeli police officers could have used less lethal force or they could have arrested the children as the distance between them was short, so they were able to control them.

Soon after the shooting, the Israeli forces closed al-Aqsa Mosque Gates and prevented civilians from entering or leaving  it. Two hours later, the Israeli forces allowed the officers of the Islamic Endowments Department (Awqaf) to enter al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented worshipers under 50 years old from entering al-Aqsa Mosque.

In al-‘Izariyah and Abu Dese villages, east of occupied East Jerusalem, violent clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youth, who threw Molotov Cocktails and fireworks at the military point in the village; set tires on fire and set barriers in several areas. The clashes continued for the next day despite a strike in both villages, during which Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the young men, wounding a volunteer paramedic with a rubber bullet to the head. Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said in a statement that a volunteer paramedic was hit with a rubber bullet to the head while covering the clashes in Abu Dese village, east of Jerusalem. PRCS pointed that its crews offered first aid for the wounded paramedic and then transferred him to a Palestinian hospital for treatment.

  • At approximately 01:00 on Friday, 16 August 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis area, fired flare bombs and opened fire in the border area; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 13:00 on Friday, 16 August 2019, an Israeli police officer wearing civilian clothes opened fire at ‘Ala’a Khader al-Haremi (27) claiming that he carried out a run-over attack against 2 settlers present on Street (60) in “Gush Etzion” settlement, south of Bethlehem. As a result, ‘Ala’a was shot with many live bullets, causing his death. Zaki Heller, a spokesman for the Magen David Adom emergency service (MDA) said that a police officer in civilian clothing opened fire at a man driving a vehicle with an Israeli registration plate as the driver was speeding towards a 17-year-old settler and 19-year-old female civilian. Heller pointed out that the injuries of both settlers classified between  moderate and serious. It should be noted that al-Haremi, a former prisoner and have one child, served 3 years in the Israeli prisons. Nothing affirms the Israeli claims and if the run over incident was deliberate or accidental.
  • At approximately 00:20 on Saturday, 17 August 2019, an Israeli warplane launched 4 missiles at an open land in eastern Deir al-Balah area. The bombardment caused severe damage to the land; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 09:00 on the same day, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, east of al-Shoka village, east of Rafah, opened fire at agricultural lands; no arrests or injuries were reported.
  • At the same time on the same day, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. Neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 18:00 on the same day, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. The shooting continued until 19:20 on the same day. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 07:20 on Sunday, 18 August 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed west of al-Sudaniyah shore, west of Jabalia in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. They also fired a number of artillery shells in the vicinity of the boats. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 07:30 on Tuesday, 20 August 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 08:40, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence in eastern al-Shokah village, east of Rafah, opened fire at agricultural lands; no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 22:00, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire, fired flare bombs and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; neither casualties nor material damage was reported.

More at the official website for the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

‘ISRAEL’ LAUNCHES MASSIVE ARREST CAMPAIGN IN WEST BANK AND JERUSALEM

Israeli soldiers conduct searches in the northern West Bank village of Madama on August 24, 2016 after a Palestinian reportedly exited a car and stabbed an Israeli soldier on a road close to the village and to the Israeli settlement of Ariel. An Israeli army army statement said Israeli forces had been chasing a group of alleged rock throwers who were in a car on a road, near the Palestinian city of Nablus in the northern West Bank. “One of the assailants exited the vehicle and stabbed a soldier,” it said

Occupied West Bank (QNN)- Israeli occupation forces launched Monday a massive arrest campaign, which targeted different areas of the occupied West Bank, arresting 25 Palestinians.

Most Palestinians, who were arrested, are from the village of Kobar in western Ramallah, with nine Palestinians being arrested from it.

Other civilians from Ein Qinyh, Bireh, Kafr Ein, Safa, Badras, and Zawyeh were also arrested.

In occupied Jerusalem, Israeli forces broke into the house of the Chairman of the Islamic Higher Commission and Preacher of the Al Aqsa mosque Sheikh Ikrima Sabri and summoned him for interrogation.

On Saturday, the Israeli army also summoned the Director-General of the Islamic Waqf Department in occupied Jerusalem for interrogation Sheikh Azzam Khatib.

Israeli forces have arrested in the last few days three guards of the Al Aqsa mosque and two teenage girls.

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

Israeli ban on Tlaib, Omar brought Palestinian cause to spotlight

The two congresswomen were invited by Miftah, a Palestinian NGO chaired by PLO official Hanan Ashrawi. The NGO planned to organise meetings with both Palestinian and Israeli activists and rights groups

By Motasem A Dalloul

US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were invited by an unknown PLO group to visit Palestine to stand closely on Israeli crimes, but Israel’s ban on their visit did the job better than the visit.


When Benjamin Netanyahu and three of his cabinet ministers cancelled the visit to Israel of Democratic US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, he no doubt thought that he had achieved a victory for “the only democracy in the Middle East”. Israel’s Prime Minister said in a statement that his country is a “vibrant and free democracy” and “is open to any visitor and to any criticism.” However, he argued, it is a “norm in other democracies” to prevent the entry of people who are seen to be “harming” such countries.

Netanyahu, though, also made it clear that the real reason for cancelling the Congresswomen’s visit was that they did not plan to meet any Israeli official, either from the ruling party or the opposition. He added that Tlaib and Omar support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is banned in Israel along with its supporters, although Tlaib pointed out that she would not promote BDS during her visit.

“Sadly,” said Tlaib, “this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”

The two Democratic representatives have been critical of Israeli crimes and violations against the Palestinian people for years. With Palestine-born parents, Tlaib has sought to promote the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and diaspora while exposing Israel’s crimes against them. By preventing Tlaib and her colleague from entering Palestine or Israel, Netanyahu probably believed that would be able to put an end to their courageous campaigning.

“When I won [a seat in Congress], it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions,” tweeted Tlaib. “I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my city to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.”

The two congresswomen were invited by Miftah, a Palestinian NGO chaired by PLO official Hanan Ashrawi. The NGO planned to organise meetings with both Palestinian and Israeli activists and rights groups.

Miftah described the entry ban as “an assault on the Palestinian people’s right to reach out to decision-makers and other actors from around the world.” The NGO noted that it wanted to facilitate Omar and Tlaib’s “direct contact with the Palestinian people, who are subject to Israel’s cruel regime of colonisation, oppression and land grab.”

If the visit had gone ahead, it would have received modest media coverage and been wrapped up in a couple of days. Netanyahu’s decision, though, has garnered it much wider exposure, and helped to publicise its objectives. Indeed, Miftah has organised several trips for members of the US Congress in the past, but could never have thought that it would one day have AIPAC and other groups in America’s pro-Israel Lobby, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress, criticising Israel and thus exposing its sham democracy and fear of the truth.

“We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution,” tweeted AIPAC. “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally, Israel, firsthand [sic].” If Tlaib and Omar had been able to make their visit, the leading anti-Palestinian group in the US would never have made such a public rebuke of Israel.

Moreover, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, described Israel’s ban as a “sign of weakness”. Pelosi, who has been described as having “warm feelings toward Jews and toward Israel,” said: “Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel. The president’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”

Having said not so long ago that Tlaib and Omar should “go back” to where they came from, Donald Trump has now praised Israel for not letting Tlaib enter her familial homeland. The irony is probably lost on him.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the AIPAC conference earlier this year that, “You can be, all at once, completely Jewish, completely pro-Israel and completely American.” He has also been critical of Somali-born Ilhan Omar. Nevertheless, he commented on the ban by pointing out that, “No democratic society should fear an open debate. Many strong supporters of Israel will be deeply disappointed in this decision, which the Israeli government should reverse.”

Many people around the world who support Israel have expressed their criticism of the Israeli ban on Tlaib and Omar, and used the occasion to reveal some of the suffering inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel. A number of Democratic members of the US House of Representatives are considering a statement of no confidence in Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and opening an investigation into the conduct of the US Ambassador in Israel, David Friedman, following the ban.

Apart from anything else, Israel’s ban on Tlaib and Omar visiting the country has highlighted the kind of restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation on the free movement of the Palestinians, not because of alleged “security” reasons, but simply because a Palestinian is a Palestinian, even if elected to the US Congress. Rashida Tlaib now has every right to let the world know — if we didn’t already —that Benjamin Netanyahu is no advocate for peace; she can also use this ban to throw the spotlight on the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s brutal military occupation, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

Israel reduces fuel shipments to sole Gaza power plant

Israeli PM ordered halving the fuel shipments entering Gaza

Israeli occupation authorities announced on Monday reduction of fuel shipments to the Gaza’s sole power plant in the whole the Palestinian enclave.

A statement from the Israeli Defence Ministry’s liaison to the Palestinians said it would halve the amount of fuel sent through Karm abu-Salem crossing.

The statement stated that the decision is to take effect “immediately.”

Downsizing the fuel shipments, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said, was ordered by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defence minister.

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

Hunger striker detainee in Zionist prison transferred to hospital

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred, on Sunday, Palestinian detainee Wajdi al-Awawdeh, from the town of Dersamet, in the occupied West Bank, to the hospital.

According to the family of the prisoner, they received a call from an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) informing them that he had been transferred to Ramla prison hospital, after his health markedly deteriorated. 

He has continued his hunger strike for some 30 days, rejecting his administrative detention, an archaic detention procedure dating back to the days of Mandate Palestine, in which a prisoner is detained indefinitely, without charge or trial. 

(Source / 26.08.2019) 

17,000 Palestinian women detained by Israel since 1967

Israeli soldiers escort blindfolded Palestinian women to the Kissufim Israeli army base

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli occupation forces rounded up more than 17,000 Palestinian women, including minors and elderly, since 1967.

The Palestinian prisoners authority said in a report a couple of days ago that 3,000 women were arrested by the IOF in the first intifada that erupted in 1987.

In the second intifada in 2000 that was known as the Aqsa intifada, the IOF detained 1,000 Palestinian women, the report went on.

The number of those arrested witnessed ups and downs up until 2019 that saw an upsurge in the detention of Palestinian women especially those in Occupied Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque in particular.

There are currently around 40 women in the Israeli jail of Damon half of whom are mothers and six suffering from bullet wounds sustained during their arrest, the report said, adding that they complain of medical neglect and worsening incarceration conditions.

(Source / 26.08.2019)