Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque on 11 August 2019
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated on Friday that Israel could allow Jews to freely perform their prayers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque soon, Arab48.com reported.
Asked by Makor Rishon regarding this possibility, Erdan confirmed “I am sure this will happen soon, God willing.”
He added “the situation in Jerusalem is heading towards regaining sovereignty and control over the place. We will reach our goal [opening Al-Aqsa gates for Jews] when more Jews express their desire to visit the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque). Then there will be an increasing pressure, following an increasing demand. I hope this happens soon.”
“When we reach this stage, we will work and push for changing the historical status quo in Jerusalem in light of respecting the international interests for Israel.”
On when this would happen, he stated “I cannot predict when because this is not related only to my power, but I expect this will happened in the coming few years, not more than a decade.”
He also expressed “we should consider the regional situation in the Middle East, which is complicated and complex. I respect the peace deal with Jordan and consider it a very important achievement, but it is impossible to accept a historical mistake. Principles change through time.”
Erdan stressed that there are no laws preventing this from taking place, especially with the backing of the Israeli Supreme Court.
During the reporting period, PCHR documented 138 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 a Palestinian civilian and wounded 67 others, including 30 children, a woman, and a paramedic on 77th Friday of the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, a civilian succumbed to wounds he sustained 8 months ago at the Great March of Return protests. Meanwhile in the West Bank, the Israeli forces wounded 11 Palestinian civilians, including 2 journalists and an Israeli activist; 3 of those wounded, including the activist, were wounded during the peaceful protests weekly organized on Friday against the occupation and settlement activity. While others, including the journalists, were wounded during Israeli forces raids to Palestinian cities, and an incident near the Annexation Wall in the West Bank.
As part of the Israeli incursions and house raids, Israel carried out 80 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and raided civilian houses, attacking and enticing fear among residents in addition to shooting in many incidents. As a result, 60 Palestinians were arrested, including 2 children and a woman. During this week, the Israeli forces raided Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem and searched the Oncology Department. They ransacked through the department and terrified patients with their police dogs.
As part of Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, 4 shootings were reported by the Israeli gunboats against the Palestinian fishing boats at sea within the allowed limited area for fishing while 2 shootings were reported against the agricultural lands in eastern Gaza Strip.
Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, PCHR documented 2 house demolitions in Hebron and Jenin and 8 attacks by settlers, including throwing stones at vehicles and puncturing their tires; preventing farmers from entering their lands; cutting and burning olive trees; raiding al-Aqsa and al-Ibrahimi Mosques and closing the latter.
In terms of the Israeli closure policy, the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods and ongoing isolation of 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 since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilians’ movement is restricted and others are arrested.
Moreover, during the reporting period, Israel imposed a complete closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for Jewish Holidays. In the West Bank, Israel completely closed the King Hussein Bridge starting from 08:00 on Tuesday, 08 October 2019, to Thursday, 10 October 2019, as announced by the General Administration of crossings and borders.
Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity
Excessive Use of Force against the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip
Israeli forces continued the excessive use of lethal force against “The Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege” (GMR) peaceful demonstrations in the Gaza Strip; as well as protests in the West Bank against settlement expansion activities.
This week’s protest in Gaza was titled “Reconciliation is the People’s Choice,” and witnessed large civilian participation, faced with excessive and lethal force by Israeli forces despite the peaceful nature of the demonstrations. At approximately 15:00 on 04 October 2019, protests started across the five GMR encampments until 19:00, and involved activities such as speeches and theatrical performances. Hundreds of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip, and threw stones, firecrackers and Molotov Cocktails at Israeli forces. As a result, a civilian was killed and 67 other were injured, including 30 children, a womanand a paramedic. Additionally, a previously wounded civilian at GMR succumbed to his wounds.
The incidents were as follows:
Northern Gaza Strip: Israeli shooting at the demonstrators resulted in the killing of ‘Ala’a Nizar ‘Ayesh Hamdan (28), from Beit Hanoun village, after being shot with a live bullet in the chest while he was about 50 – 100 meters west of the border fence. Hamdan was transferred via an ambulance of Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to the medical point where medical crews tried to resuscitate him for half an hour, with no avail. At approximately 17:05, Hamdan was pronounced dead. Furthermore, 12 civilians injured, including 9 children: 5 were shot with live bullets and their shrapnel, including 3 children; 5 children were shot with rubber bullets; and 2 civilians, including a child, were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded civilians were transferred via ambulances belonging to the Ministry of Health and the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) to the Indonesian and al-‘Awda Hospitals and their injuries were classified between minor and moderate.
Gaza City: Israeli shooting and teargasing at the demonstrations, which continued from 16:00 until 18:30, resulted in the injury of 11 protestors, including 7 children: 6 shot with live bullets and their shrapnel; 2 with rubber bullets and 3 were hit with tear gas canisters.
Central Gaza Strip: Israeli shooting and teargasing at the demonstrators, which continued from 15:00 from 19:00, resulted in the injury of 16 protestors, including 4 children; 10 were shot with live bullets and their shrapnel, 5 were shot with rubber bullets and 1civilians was hit with tear gas canister.
Khan Younis: Israeli shooting and teargasing at demonstrators resulted in the injury of 9 civilians, including 4 children and a paramedic; 3 of them were shot with live bullets and their shrapnel, 3 were shot with rubber bullets and 3 with tear gas canisters. The wounded volunteer paramedic, ‘Ali Abdul ‘Aziz Fuseifes (22), from Bani Suheilah, was hit with a tear gas canister in the head.
Rafah: Israeli shooting and teargasing resulted in the injury of 19 civilians, including 6 children: 5 were shot with live bullets and their shrapnel, 11 were shot with rubber bullets and 3 were hit with tear gas canisters.
Civilian Succumbed to his wounds in northern Gaza Strip:
At approximately 12:30 on Monday, 07 October 2019, the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip declared the death of Fadi Osama Ramadan Hejazi (20), from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, after he succumbed to the wounds he sustained at GMR.
According to PCHR’s investigations, on 22 February 2019, Hejazi sustained serious wounds after he was shot with a live bullet in the thighs in eastern Jabalia, damaging his veins, tendons and arteries. He sustained additional wounds on 19 April 2019, as he was shot with a live bullet in the right knee in eastern al-Buraij camp protests in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, Hejazi suffered from another cut in the veins and arteries. Hejazi later suffered from blockage of arteries leading to a coma. At approximately 14:00 on Sunday, 06 October 2019, Hejazi was taken to the Indonesian Hospital and doctors said that he suffered from clots. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at approximately 09:30 on Monday, 07 October 2019. Hejazi was transferred to the Forensic Medicine Department in al-Shifa Hospital to reveal the cause of death; the forensic report identified the complications of thrombosis in the blood vessels in the lower extremities as the cause of death. Therefore, the Palestinian Ministry of Health officially announced that Hejazi’s death was caused by his wounds.
Excessive use of force in the West Bank:
At approximately 13:30 on Friday, 04 October 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 16 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 live and rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 3 civilians, were injured injured, including an activist from the Israeli Youth Civic Leadership Institute (YCLI); a 26-year-old civilian was shot with a sponge-bullet in the foot, a 28-year-old civilian was shot with a rubber bullet in the hand, and a 26-year-old civilian was hit with a rubber bullet in the shoulder.
At approximately 13:30 on Friday, 04 October 2019, a group of Palestinian civilians organized a peaceful protest from the center of Kafer Thuluth village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, into ‘Arab Khuli area in the village where Israeli forces established a steel gate to ban farmers from entering their lands behind the gate. The protestors threw stones at Israeli forces stationed behind sand berms, while the soldiers responded with rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, many civilians sustained tear gas inhalation. On Saturday, 05 October 2019, Israeli forces opened the gate.
Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
At approximately 02:00 on Thursday, 03 October 2019, Israeli forces moved into Ramallah and stationed in al-Tirah neighborhood, west of the city. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Walid Hanatshah and then arrested him. Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian young men and children gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers in military vehicles. The soldiers fired rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, photojournalist Mohammed Radi was shot with a rubber bullet in the foot. On 16 August 2017, photojournalist Radi was shot with a rubber bullet in the face while covering the demolition of a house by the Israeli forces along with Palestine TV Channel crews.
At approximately 08:30 on the same Thursday, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Sudaniyah shore, west of Jabalia in northern Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing between 3 to 5 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
At approximately 07:35 on Friday, 04 October 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed in northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; no casualties were reported.
At approximately 08:25 on Saturday, 05 October 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed in northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. The shooting recurred at approximately 08:55 on the same day. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; no casualties were reported.
On Saturday evening, Israeli forces assigned to guard the annexation wall, fired rubber bullets at Lo’ai Mohammed Abu Rmelah, from Ya’bud village, southwest of Jenin. As a result, he was shot with a rubber bullet in the leg while attempting to sneak into Israel through the Gate established on lands of Qifin village, north of Tulkarm. Rmelah was transferred to Dr. Khalil Suleiman Governmental Hospital in Jenin for treatment.
Also on Saturday evening, Israeli forces assigned to guard the annexation wall fired rubber bullets at Suheib ‘Ammar ‘Amer (26), from ‘Alar village in Tulkarm. As a result, he was shot with a rubber bullet in the foot while attempting to sneak into Israel through the gate established on lands of Zeta village, north of the city.
At approximately 10:00 on Sunday, 06 October 2019, Israeli forces assigned to guard the annexation wall, fired rubber bullets at Khalid Mahmoud Tawfiq Ja’arah (25), from ‘Alar village, north of Tulkarm, while attempting to sneak into Israel through the gate established at lands of Zeta village. As a result, Ja’arah was shot with a rubber bullet to the foot.
At approximately 23:00 on the same Sunday, Israeli forces moved into Nablus through its eastern and southern entrances and stationed in the eastern area of the city to secure the entry of dozens of buses carrying settlers to the abovementioned area in order to perform their religious rituals and Talmudic prayers in “Joseph’s Tomb” in Balatat al-Balad village. Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian civilians gathered and set tires on fire, put barricades on streets and threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli vehicles in the city. Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them to disperse them. As a result, a number of civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation and they received medical treatment on the spot. Journalist Mo’tasem Samir Saqf al-Hait (31) was shot with a rubber bullet in the abdomen. Emad Edden Yaseen Taha Hamzah (18) was shot with rubber bullet in the left hand, causing a fracture to it. Hamzah was transferred to Rafidiya Hospital to receive medical treatment. Israeli sources mentioned that Israeli forces moved into Nablus to secure the entry of 17 buses carrying 1100 settlers to “Joseph’s Tomb”. They added that “Eli Cohen”, Israeli Minister of Economy, “Yossi Dagan”, Head of the Shomron Regional Council, and “Moshe Arbel”, a member of the Knesset, were along with the settlers.
At approximately 07:30 on Monday, 07 October 2019, Israeli forces assigned to guard the annexation wall fired rubber bullets at Ahmed Mustafa Tawfiq Sa’abnah (23), from Fahmah village, south of Jenin, while attempting to sneak into Israel through the Gate established on lands of Zeta village, north of the city. As a result, he was shot with a rubber bullet in the foot.
On Monday evening, 07 October 2019, Israeli forces assigned to guard the annexation wall fired rubber bullets at Abdul Salam Khalil Katanah (25), from Nazlet ‘Essa village, north of Tulkarm, while attempting to sneak into Israel through the gate established on lands of Zeta village, north of the city. As a result, he was shot with a rubber bullet in the leg. Israeli forces detained Katana at Barta’a checkpoint, southwest of Jenin for questioning him and then handed him to the Palestinian Military Liaison. The ambulance officer said that Katana was transferred to Dr. Thabet Governmental Hospital in Tulkarm for medical treatment. It should be noted that Katana is the fifth civilian, who was wounded by Israeli forces assigned to guard the annexation wall this week.
At approximately 07:20 on Tuesday, 08 October 2019, Israeli forces stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, opened fire and chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
At approximately 08:00 on the same Tuesday, Israeli soldiers stationed in eastern al-Shoka village, east of Rafah opened fire at agricultural lands; no casualties were reported.
At approximately 07:30 on Wednesday, 09 October 2019, Israeli soldiers stationed east of Khan Younis opened fire at agricultural lands in the west of the border fence; no casualties were reported.
On Sunday evening, 06 October 2019, Israeli forces informed Abu Hmaid family, al-Am’ari refugee camp residents, in al-Birah by phone to demolish their house. Lutfiyah Naji Abu Hmaid said that an Israeli officer phone called her and informed her of the demolition decision. The officer told Lutfiyah that she can appeal against the decision within a week, but she confirmed that she would not appeal before, what she called, moot courts. Lutfiyah added that she is currently reconstructing the house, which was blown up, and now building the third floor. Lutfiyah also said that the demolition of the house was on grounds of being built on a confiscated land and Israeli forces ban construction of any demolished house for 5 years.
This decision is part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against families of Palestinian individuals accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli forces and/or settlers. Israeli forces blew up Abu Hmaid family on Saturday, 15 December 2018 as a punishment for her after her son Islam threw a stone at the head of a soldier on 06 June 2018 leading to his death. Before its demolition, their residence was a 4-story house built on an area of 150 square meters. It should be noted that Israeli forces demolished Abu Hmaid family for the third time as they demolished it before in 1994 and in 2003. Moreover, Abu Hmaid’s family has 6 prisoners, who serve their sentences in the Israeli prisons; the last one of them was Islam, who was arrested on 13 June 2018.
Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank including occupied East Jerusalem
Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities
At approximately 09:00 on Thursday, 03 October 2019, an Israeli force backed by military construction vehicles and accompanied with 2 excavators and a vehicle of the Israeli Civil Administration moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They stationed in Wad al-Shaiekh area in the eastern part of the village and demolished an under-construction house under the pretext of non-licensing. The 150-sqaure-meter house belongs to ‘Ali Mohamed ‘Ali al-‘Alami. It should be noted that the Israeli authorities handed al-‘Alami a notice based on a military order No. (1797), which was issued in 2018. Al-‘Alami was given 96 hours to implement the demolition or the Israeli authorities will demolish it.
At approximately 14:00 on Thursday, an Israeli force backed by military construction vehicles and accompanied with a bulldozer and a vehicle of the Israeli Civil Administration moved into al-Taiba village in western Jenin. They stationed in al-Qars neighborhood, where the bulldozer demolished an under-construction house belonging to Mohamed Mahmoud Ahmed Jabareen, under the pretext of non-licensing in Area C. The houses was built on an area of 240 square meters and its cost was estimated at NIS 1000.000.
Israeli Settler Violence
At approximately 02:25 on Sunday, 06 October 2019, a group of Israeli settlers moved into Qirah village, north of Salfit, and punctured the tires of 11 vehicles. They wrote slogans on the vehicles and the walls of 3 houses. ‘Aisha Khalil Nimer, Head of the village’s council, said that surveillance cameras recordings fixed in al-Qibali neighborhood showed the settlers’ attack. She added that “when official authorities came to document the assault, the Israeli liaison officer confirmed that the attackers were the same ones who attacked Askaka village in afternoon”. The affected vehicles belong to: Saher ‘Abed al-Fattah ‘Arabasi, Raied Saleh Saleh, Hekmat Majed Dalelni, Yaseen ‘Abood Abu Shamma, Naseem ‘Abood Abu Shamma, ‘Abood Yaseen Abu Shamma, Jaser Kareem ‘Arbasi, Mohamed Hatem Dalelni, Akram Hatem Dalelni, and Rami Rashid Dalelni. The affected houses belong to: Wael Majed Dalelni, Mahmoud ‘Abed al-Fattah ‘Arbasi and ‘Abed al-Jabbar Abu Shamma.
At approximately 08:00 on Sunday, Israeli forces prevented Palestinian farmers from harvesting olive trees in the eastern side of Kafur Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyia. ‘Akef ‘Abed al-Raouf ‘Abdullaj Jum’a and his family headed to their lands and an Israeli force expelled them. On the next day, Israeli forces expelled Jum’a and other international solidarity groups from his land. Jum’a said that: “on Sunday morning, 06 October 2019, my wife, grandsons and I headed to Hariqat ‘Ali Hijlah area in eastern Kafur Qaddoum village to harvest olive trees. When we began harvesting the trees, the guard of Kedumim settlement, who was armed, came and attempted to expel us. We refused to leave and continue our work. The guard then left the area and an Israeli force came and expelled us. On the next day, international solidarity groups and I headed to my plot of land and the settlement’s guard followed us along with an Israeli force. The Israeli soldiers decided to expel me while the international solidarity groups stayed in the land. The Israeli force came again to inform us that the area is a “closed military zone” and we should leave it. On Tuesday, 08 October 2019, I headed alone to my land and picked up some olive trees while the settlement’s guard was there and shouting at me all the time.”
Early on Monday morning, 07 October 2019, the residents of Bureen village in southern Nablus wake up and found that Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, attacked Bab Khelet al-Ghoul area. The settlers cut 36 olive trees with automatic saws. This attack came in the olive harvest season to deprive the residents of reaping crop. The trees belong to Naser Isma’il Ibrahim Qadous and Ahmed Mahmoud al-Najjar.
At approximately 10:30 on the same day, a group of Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, attacked the mixed Bureen School in the eastern entrance to the village, under the Israeli forces’ protection. The School administration evacuate all students for fear of their lives.
On Tuesday, 08 October 2019, hundreds of Israeli settlers, including the Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel, and right wing MP Yehuda Glick, moved into al-Aqsa Mosque’s yards in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, amid tight Israeli security measures. They imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers and denied their access to the mosque, coinciding with Yom Kippur Holiday. The Islamic Endowment (Awqaf) Department stated that hundreds of Israeli setters raided al-Aqsa Mosque as groups via al-Maghareba Gate under Israeli forces and intelligence officers’ protection. It should be noted that many Palestinians were threatened with arrest and banned from entering the mosque by Israeli forces if they head to Bab al-Rahma Mosque. The Israeli forces also detained the worshipers’ IDs. It should be noted that groups of Temple Mount Movement have called via media and social networking sites for collective raids of al-Aqsa Mosque during the Jewish holidays, with assurances of full protection by the Israeli police.
At approximately 13:30, Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, set fire to olive trees belonging to Palestinian civilians on “Yatizhar” Bypass Road in Um Brais and al-Tanour areas, south of the village. As a result, at least 100 fruitful olive trees were burned before the residents and Civil Defense managed to extinguish the fire. The affected olive trees belong to Ahmed Mohamed Ya’qoub ‘Odah.
At approximately 17:30 on Tuesday, Israeli settlers, who were driving a car on Ramallah-Nablus main street in ‘Oyoun Haramiyia area, threw stones at Ibrahim Suliman Mohamed al-Deek’s (31) vehicle, from al-Sawiyia village, south of Nablus. As a result, the vehicle’s windshield was broken. Al-Deek said to PCHR’s fieldworker that: “At approximately 17:30 on Tuesday, 08 October 2019, I was returning from my workplace in Ramallah and heading to al-Sawiyia village. When I arrived at ‘Oyoun Haramiyia area, north of Ramallah, there was a traffic jam. I was startled when a stone hit my windshield. The glass scattered on my face, body and inside my car. I closed my eyes and paused for a moment, then proceeded with caution.”
On Wednesday, 09 October 2019, Israeli forces closed al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the central of Hebron’s Old City. They ordered the Islamic Endowment officers to get out of the mosque and prevented worshipers from entering it. Hundreds of Israeli settlers raided al-Ibrahimi Mosque to perform prayers on Yom Kippur Holiday.
Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday evening, four Palestinians, including a young woman and two children, in Qalqilia, Nablus, and Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.
Media sources said the soldiers abducted Yousef Barrouq al-Aqra’. 18, after stopping him near the northern road of Qalqilia, in northern West Bank.
In addition, the soldiers abducted a young woman, identified as Mais Hanatsha, a student at Birzeit University, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, after summoning her for interrogation.
The soldiers also abducted two children, identified as Mohammad Ahmad Hanani and Aref Nathir Hanani, in the al-Khirba neighborhood in Beit Forik town, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
In related news, the soldiers detained a young man, identified as Islam Mazen Eshteyya, after firing live rounds at him while driving his agricultural tractor near Beit Forik military roadblock, and released him shortly afterward.
Furthermore, the soldiers closed Ennab military roadblock, east of Qalqilia, and started searching Palestinian cars while inspecting the ID cards of the passengers and interrogating them.
In the late of 1970s, Islamists began to emerge as an effective group in the battle against the Israeli occupation. Their rise led to the formation of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in the 1980s which became an effective Palestinian national movement along with secular organisations Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Hamas’ Islamic ideology began to gain support from academics, traders, unionists, society leaders and even Palestinian fighters. When it participated in the elections of the Palestinian Doctors’ Syndicate in the early 1980s, it achieved a resounding victory. Then, it swept other unions, including university students’ unions.
Leaders and members of other Palestinian factions, who looked at the Islamists as reactionaries and primitive people were shocked at the consecutive successes.
At the start of the First Intifada in 1987, the Islamists, who officially named themselves Hamas, took the lead in popular resistance and then armed resistance. This led to severe clashes with Fatah which reached their peak in 1992. After Oslo, the Palestinian Authority (PA) – led by Fatah – cracked down on Hamas and its network of social and medical welfare NGOs. All other PLO factions remained silent.
By the start of Al-Aqsa Intifada, Hamas swept the public opinion among the Palestinians due to its success in carrying out armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. In 2006, three years after the assassination of its quadriplegic founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas took part in the Palestinian parliamentary elections and achieved an overwhelming victory, but its rival Fatah along with all members of the PLO and even Islamic Jihad, which did not participate in the elections, refused to recognise Hamas’ victory.
The Palestinian factions left Hamas to form a government alone, hoping that it would fail and then retreat. Fatah, backed by Israel and Arab states, worked hard to destroy Hamas’ government, but failed due to the overwhelming popularity of the movement among Palestinians.
Backed by Israel, Fatah succeeded to ousting Hamas’ government from the occupied West Bank, but failed to do the same in the Gaza Strip. Since then, Fatah has been ruling the West Bank and Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip. Israel and Egypt, backed by the international community, has been imposing a strict air, sea and ground siege on Gaza to push people to rebel against Hamas.
Their acts have had some success, but they have also aroused the anger of most Palestinians forcing them and other factions to back Hamas.
“Hamas recognises that the Palestinian issue needs all the Palestinian factions together,” Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, a veteran Palestinian political analyst told MEMO. “So, it sought to bring them together since it won the elections, but the Palestinian factions did not respond to its initiatives until it proved that it is stronger.”
Today, Hamas is leading all the major Palestinian national factions in the Palestinian territories. Hamas is currently sitting in the back bench and introducing leaders from the other factions to lead the popular activities and factional initiatives exactly the way it is planning for them to be done.
Take for example the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege. This was triggered by a popular proposal and continued by Hamas’ financial and popular support, but the spokesman of this popular activity is Khalid Al-Batch, a senior Islamic Jihad leader.
Another example is the factional initiative, which includes all Hamas’ demands and conditions for ending the division with Fatah. Its spokesperson is Jamil Mizhir, the senior leader of the PFLP.
Explaining why Palestinian factions support Hamas to lead the national project, Al-Sawwaf said: “[Palestinian Authority President] Abbas, who monopolises the decision of all the PLO bodies, has been indiscriminately turning his back on the Palestinian factions while he is opening his arms to Israel through the security cooperation and mutual overt and covert meetings.”
While the PFLP’s Mizhir said: “Hamas proved that it has not changed its national goals – the liberation of Palestine from the Israeli occupation through both the popular and armed resistance, which is guaranteed by all the international laws.”
Hamas found that Palestinian factions had been ignored by Fatah, the PA and PLO, which are being controlled by autocrat Mahmoud Abbas, and gave them a better alternative. While Fatah, the PA and the PLO completely gave up armed resistance and agreed on security cooperation with Israel. This decision was against the will of Palestinians who maintained their right to armed resistance.
Hamas seized the opportunity when a group of activists launched the Great March of Return and formed the High Committee for Following up the Great March of Return and established different subcommittees to run this popular resistance. Embracing factions which adopt this form of resistance.
At the same time, it formed the Joint Military Room that included the armed wings of all Palestinian factions who believe in the right to armed resistance; broadening its support base.
Hamas once again gained popular support when it unconditionally accepted the latest reconciliation initiative which was proposed to end the hostility with Fatah. Fatah provided no official response to the deal but a number of its senior member were clear that the party would “not accept it”.
“Rejecting the reconciliation initiative proves that Fatah has turned its back, not only on the Palestinian factions, but also on the Palestinian people… Hamas’ agreement to it proves that it is a highly responsible faction,” Mizhir explained.
Palestinian refugees, who were expelled from Yaffa and resettled in refugee camps in Gaza, holding a sign, which reads “Yaffa is waiting for you”. The photo was taken shortly after Nakba in 1948
By Mariam Barghouti
If I were given a dollar for the number of times diplomats, journalists, activists, and policy-makers have asked me “Have you thought about speaking with Israelis?” I could buy myself a chateau in Yaffa.
I choose Yaffa because that question rings loudly in my head whenever I visit the city. It is where my great-grandfather was killed in 1947, and where my grandfather spent his childhood and adolescence. Like most Palestinian cities, Yaffa is de jure banned to most Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza by Israel.
I was able to visit Yaffa some weeks ago, when the District Coordination Office (DCO), a part of the Israeli army’s Civil Administration that manages the day to day aspects of the occupation, issued me a travel permit. Permits are difficult to get, because they are conditional on strict yet arbitrary criteria that Israel determines.
On an intimate level, getting a permit takes a toll in that it affirms that we are only allowed to enter historic Palestine as tourists. Our visit is to remain an ephemeral experience, never with a possibility of remaining or returning.
More generally, the permit system is a reminder that Israel dictates all Palestinian movement, determining where we can go and how often we can meet one another. Even cities like Gaza, which are considered Palestinian districts, are barred from certain groups of Palestinians — I am more likely to meet fellow Palestinians from Gaza abroad than in Palestine, for example. Those in Gaza seeking to leave the strip for medical attention, often for treatment that is only available to them in the West Bank or Jerusalem, must also go through Israel’s permit regime. No matter the reason, Israel has assumed the role of providing permission for our movement — permission that can be revoked at any given moment.
I watch the beach waves undulate back and forth in Yaffa. I hear Hebrew all around me, mixed with the laughter of youth. Men, women and children lounge under umbrellas whipping in the sea breeze. Occasionally, Arabic escapes from the mouths of Palestinians who are of the city.
In 1948, after Zionist militias occupied Yaffa, a quarter of Palestinians were forced to flee. Israel’s Absentees Property Law allowed for the official confiscation of the emptied Palestinian homes and lands. Yaffa’s Old City has been turned into an Israeli artist colony. I walk feeling so foreign, yet the city is so loud with its Palestinianisms.
I watch as Israelis roam freely, wondering if the ongoing violations of rights and injustice ever occur to them. A young woman, a police officer, walks with a pistol on her hip. She doesn’t look older than 18. Her long, jet black hair matches her black skirt. The purse over her shoulder reads “Forever Young” in big, bold letters. Have too many generations passed to recognize the history in which Israel drowns? Have decades of negating injustice normalized a new form of justice?
I enter one of the art galleries near the sea. The curator is Israeli. She watches as two young women walk in speaking Arabic loudly, laughing at this reality we were experiencing. The Israeli woman asks where I am from. “Ramallah,” I say, quickly. A privilege of traveling with a permit is not having to conceal my identity out of fear of arrest.
She smiles and says: “Oh, I would love to come party in Ramallah.” My heart sinks. My veins feel like they are burning. I feel so angry, so hurt. All I can muster is a labored “When Palestine is liberated, there will be a massive party. Until then.”
I want to shout at her. I want to ask her if she ever questions her position, if it ever occurs to her what the history of that ancient building she carefully crafts her art in used to be. It is no wonder that the Palestinian plight is so camouflaged for Israelis. Our existence is narrated in the voices of an exaggerated heroism of soldiers and armies, of security complexes, of fearing the Arab and yet, somehow, fetishizing us.
The first time I saw my grandfather cry was a few blocks away from here, at the Clock Tower Square. It took my grandfather years of heartache, of resistance, of life in exile, to be afforded the “right” to visit the city he is from, decades after he was forced out. His old age graced him with the ability to visit — his fragile bones, atrophying body, and wrinkled, leathery skin mean he is not the threat he once was to Israel. He held the stones of the Clock Tower and called for his father, long dead. There he was, my 88-year-old grandfather, crumbling in front of a large stone clock in a city he holds so dear but can only temporarily come back to.
At some point in the evening, an older woman hears my Arabic and asks where I am from. “Ramallah,” I say again, this time as I eagerly wait for my bucket of fried shrimp at a Palestinian-owned restaurant in Yaffa.
Although Yaffa used to be at the core of Palestinian economy, Palestinians who have remained are struggling to survive as second and third-class citizens. It is an injustice reflective of Israel’s Jewish supremacy, where privileges are often afforded not only to Israeli-Jewish citizens but especially those of Ashkenazi (European) origin. I made sure that every penny I would spend would support the Palestinians who remain, despite all odds.
The woman, also waiting for her own order, smiles back. I finally ask her where she’s from. “I am from Akka. But the old Akka,” she says in Arabic.
I was excited. Akka, a city in northern historic Palestine, had captivated me in a manner which I cannot describe in words. I learned that many Palestinians romanticize the struggle in a similar way. It has become a necessary coping mechanism, given the incessant feelings of loss; to hold on to what is us in some beautiful way. To remember that while our reality may be tragic, we are not a tragedy.
I smile from cheek to cheek wanting to hug the woman, to smell Akka off her flesh. To feel like I saw Akka in Yaffa that night.
Something in the way Arabic rolls off her tongue feels outlandish, though. She said Akka al-Qadeema (Old Akka) with so much pride and such a true sense of belonging — but it turns out she is Israeli. A settler.
I feel betrayed. We focus on the settlers in the West Bank, but somehow purposely ignore the settlers of Akka, Yaffa, Haifa, and Safad. Israel built its entire state by forcing Palestinians out. What’s worse is that this is still happening today.
Israel’s discriminatory land policies make it even more difficult for Palestinians to keep or own lands. As the state annexes and settles over more occupied land, it keeps the Palestinians living in those areas under military rule, disenfranchised. Israel feels so emboldened, it demolishes homes even in areas meant to be under full Palestinian control.
Before departing the table, the woman looks at my friends and I and asks if she could take a picture of us. Not with us, but of us. Were we exhibits? My mind returns to the art gallery.
I wonder if some decades from now settlements like Ariel and Modi’n will be drawn into maps as part of Israel, with Palestinians merely as “exotic” passersby to be photographed and fetishized rather than recognized. It terrifies me. I wonder if the woman recognized what she was saying in her broken Arabic, of the city that I can only see in momentary glimpses. It is hours — days, weeks, maybe some months if we’re fortunate — before my permit expires, when I would have to make my way back to the West Bank, or else Israel will deem my presence in my own ancestral city as “illegal.”
“Have you thought about speaking with Israelis?” I have. More times than I can recall. I find that the Israelis who call out the occupation and recognize their settler-colonial position do not join Palestinians in “dialogue” but actively refuse to tolerate or participate in the continued displacement and oppression of Palestinians.
On one of the days of her interrogation by the Shin Bet security service in July 2018, Dina Karmi of Hebron felt twice she was fainting. “The first time she was taken to be examined by a doctor, who she said told the interrogators she was stronger than he was, thus she was sent back to the interrogation,” according to a complaint filed for her by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
“The second time the complainant woke up after cold water was poured on her. She was taken to the infirmary wet, very tired and trembling. She says the doctor gave her a tranquilizer and sent her back to the interrogation, which lasted for about another two hours.”
This description appears in one of the 31 paragraphs that spell out the manner and methods of the interrogation of Karmi, as explained in a complaint also sent to Rabia Hino of the Justice Ministry unit examining complaints by interrogees. The complaint was also sent to the military advocate general and the National Prison Wardens Investigations Unit, due to the aggressive arrest by the soldiers and the wardens’ treatment of her.
According to the complaint, when Karmi was interrogated by the Shin Bet man known as Dov, she too felt faint several times. But “Dov shouted at her in his loud voice until she woke up, and she wasn’t taken for a checkup at the infirmary.”
Karmi, 40, was arrested on July 2 last year. Before her another two women who were linked to her were arrested. On June 5, Suzan Aweiwe, 41, a member of the Hebron Municipal Council, was arrested. On June 18, it was Safaa Abu Sneineh, 38.
Lama Khater, who recently told Haaretz about her interrogation, was the fourth woman to be arrested. The Shin Bet attributed to all four membership in a Hamas women’s committee established by Karmi in 2010.
After what is described in the complaints as painful and humiliating arrests by soldiers, the four were immediately transferred for interrogation by the Shin Bet at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon. Later, when they were in Damon Prison, the four women gave testimony on torture to attorney Ola Shtewe of the Public Committee Against Torture, so the statements could be processed into complaints. (Due to a misunderstanding, Khater’s testimony has not yet been processed into a complaint and sent to the authorities.)
In the end, seven women were arrested on the same suspicion. Hino, the Justice Ministry lawyer, met with the three complainants in prison. At the end of August last year the Shin Bet released a dramatic statement about the exposure of a broad Hamas infrastructure that includes women receiving instructions from Hamas commanders and funding for terror activity.
Shouts and humiliation The seven women have already been released to their homes after spending 10 to 12 months in prison following plea deals – less than the sentence first demanded by the military prosecution, 20 to 24 months. Experienced attorneys who represent defendants at military court say that such jail time is considered short, reflecting minor offenses, even according to the criteria of the Israeli military system: social and religious activity linked with Hamas, organizing and taking part in demonstrations, starting a Facebook page, distributing prayer books, visiting the families of prisoners.
Already upon Aweiwe’s arrest there was no suspicion of military activity posing an immediate danger to human life; the women who were arrested subsequently were also interrogated for social and civil activity linked to Hamas. The women’s testimonies, as worded in the complaints, spell out the daily worsening of their conditions.
“The interrogation became increasingly difficult as time passed,” according to a complaint filed for Karmi. “At first the plaintiff was interrogated by Andy alone, but other interrogators entered and left the room, claiming that they wanted to meet the wife of the shahid [martyr] Nashat al-Karmi.” (According to the Shin Bet, Karmi’s husband shot dead four people in the settlement of Beit Hagai in 2010, while wounding two people in another attack. After a manhunt, he was killed by Israeli soldiers.)
According to the complaint, “the hours of interrogation became longer and harsher with time, as did the ‘tone of the interrogation.’ The interrogators made various threats, including that she would remain there forever, would not go home and would receive a harsh punishment. After three days of interrogation, Andy was replaced by Haroun, who took charge of the interrogation. The interrogator Haroun used shouts, humiliation and contempt for the plaintiff and her husband.”
The three women’s complaints and Khater’s testimony present a similar pattern. Each was deprived of sleep by long interrogations (17 hours in Karmi’s case, 20 in Khater’s) or a variety of noises near the cell where they were kept in solitary confinement between interrogations. This included banging on the wall, loud conversations among the wardens and female wardens entering the cell every half hour “to ask if everything was all right,” according to Karmi, who said she “didn’t get an hour’s sleep without being awakened.”
Each was held in a sitting position for hours with her hands tied behind her. The interrogations included screaming and threats against the women and members of their families, as well as comments and hints at times of a clearly sexual nature.
In between the interrogations, each was held in solitary confinement in a dirty and smelly cell for several weeks. For a few days some were sent to a cell for a few days where conditions were even worse.
Aweiwe needed a doctor while she was in isolation. The doctor spoke to her through a small opening in the door and then received permission from Andy to take her to an infirmary. Following consultations with a social worker and senior physician, Aweiwe received Valerian herbal medicinal drops, but it was still advised that she be returned to her cell and be checked on every 20 to 30 minutes, according to the complaint.
Abu Sneineh also had to see a doctor several times during her interrogation. On one occasion, she said the doctor asked “why are you bringing her in every day?” She also received pain relievers and was sent back for further interrogation. She testified that her legs were often tied during the process.
Aweiwe was interrogated for 27 days in two separate rounds. After 21 days she was transferred to Sharon Prison due to her medical condition, and was then sent back for another seven days of interrogations. Abu Sneineh was interrogated for 45 days, including 35 days of solitary confinement.
At the beginning of her interrogation, she was sent to Megiddo Prison for a week, but was later returned to Shikma. Karmi estimates she was interrogated for about a month and Khater was interrogated for 35 days.
In their testimonies, the women for the most part mentioned the same interrogators: Andy, Binji, Johnny, Haroun, Dov, Rino, Marcel, Guy, Yehiya and Herzl. The women estimate that there were 13 in all.
“Interrogator Andy was particularly harsh during the interrogation,” the complaint for Aweiwe says. “He would yell, swear … and sometimes put his face right near the complainant’s as he yelled and spit, and a bad smell emanated from him.”
Karmi, meanwhile, said that at first, the interrogator Marcel “spoke with the complainant gently and calmly, and even offered her food that he brought with him to the interrogation room.”
The following day his approach changed: “Marcel arrived and accused the complainant of betraying him,” Karmi’s complaint says. “He said he had thought there was a close connection between them …. One of the interrogators told the complainant that he was the man who killed her husband; as he put it: ‘I turned your husband into a sieve.’ For example, the interrogator Marcel told the complainant: ‘We killed your husband like a cockroach.’”
The food they received was inedible, according to the complaints. Aweiwe, Karmi and Abu Sneineh were interrogated during the fast month of Ramadan and got one meal in which the only thing they could eat was the yogurt.
“Threats, sleep deprivation, painful restraints and being kept in uncomfortable positions are all, unfortunately, types of torture familiar in Israel and around the world,” says attorney Efrat Bergman-Sapir, director of the legal department of the Public Committee Against Torture. “International law defines torture as acts that cause serious emotional or physical pain and suffering. These methods, and especially the combination of them, certainly meet that definition and do long-term physical and psychological damage to the victim.”
1,200 complaints From the beginning of 2018 there has been an increase in the number of testimonies from Palestinian women who undergo harsh interrogations, according to Rachel Stroumsa, the public committee’s executive director. They indicate that methods are being employed that in the past had only been used for heavier suspicions. But these methods – sleep deprivation and restraint in painful positions for many hours – are common in the interrogating of Palestinian prisoners even when the suspicions aren’t of the “ticking bomb” variety.
This is also the conclusion of attorney Labib Habib, who represented Karmi toward the end of her legal proceedings. He said that most of the male prisoners who are interrogated don’t want to file complaints because they don’t believe they will be investigated seriously, doubting that the Israeli legal system is willing to deal with them.
Since 2001 the public committee has submitted 1,200 complaints of torture to the Justice Ministry unit that investigates them. Of those, only one has led to a criminal investigation, which was closed without charges. A complaint about torture and abuse takes an average of three years and three months to be examined. The committee is currently awaiting decisions on 37 cases; in 15 of them, it has been waiting more than five years.
Shtewe of the public committee regularly takes testimonies from both male and female detainees. If there are signs of torture, the statements are processed into a complaint if the detainee requests this. Shtewe says men don’t usually mention loneliness during interrogations as a problem, while women stress it as part of the suffering. There are doctors who believe that 15 days in solitary confinement is a type of torture, and when the detainee’s physical condition is particular difficult, even one day is considered torture.
In the High Court of Justice’s ruling on torture in 1999, the justices banned sleep deprivation as an interrogation tactic. But as the public committee’s documentation chief, Efrat Shir, notes, the justices said sleep deprivation or long interrogations may be used if there is an investigatory need. One can thus conclude that the Shin Bet exploits this gray area to withhold sleep.
“In the Shin Bet’s documentation of its interrogations, it notes how many hours the interrogation took and when the person was taken to rest in his cell, but sleep deprivation doesn’t always take place during the hours of interrogation and restraint,” she says.
“One must also look at what takes place in the cell. Often the conditions there don’t allow for sleep; the light, the temperature, the smell, the noise. Thus it turns out that three hours of rest on paper aren’t actually three hours of sleep. The guards are meant to check that everything is all right with the person after he is brought to the cell. Those are the regulations, and on the surface it’s fine. But that’s also how they can wake him.”
Shir says sleep deprivation falls somewhere between physical and psychological torture, and it affects the detainee at all levels – physical, cognitive and emotional.
“Those interrogated testify that sleep deprivation was the hardest thing,” she says. “Studies done under laboratory conditions show that it lowers the pain threshold and leads to a feeling of tension and panic, as well as difficulties with time orientation. In extreme cases it also causes hallucinations.”
Attorney Shir Noy Feiner, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry, wrote in response, “The unit for examining the complaints of interrogees opens an inquiry file for every complaint that is received, and that’s what was done for the three complainants mentioned in the Haaretz query, from whom testimony has already been collected. The Public Committee Against Torture receives regular updates from the unit on the status of the inquiries in cases that were opened following complaints submitted through it.
“The process of checking the complaints mentioned has yet to be completed. The length of time for dealing with each complaint is unspecified and is influenced by various factors. Among other things, the length of time is affected by the fact that under the review mechanism, the unit will not begin investigating a complaint until the complainant’s trial ends (on the assumption he is indicted).”
Dozens of Palestinian citizens were injured on Friday when Israeli occupation forces heavily opened fire at the peaceful demonstrators taking part in the Great March of Return near Gaza border.
The Ministry of Health said that 49 Palestinians were injured by live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas bombs, including 22 children, on the 78th Friday of the Great March of Return.
The Gaza Strip Palestinians on 30 March 2018 launched peaceful demonstrations in five camps along the borderline between the enclave and the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories to demand the right to return for refugees and call for lifting the 13-year-long siege on Gaza.
Since the start of the border protests, the Israeli occupation forces have killed 334 Palestinians and injured over 32,000. Israel is still holding the bodies of 16 Palestinians who were killed in the marches.
Israeli occupation forces continue its crimes against the peaceful Palestinians protesters who call for the right of return and breaking Gaza siege.
The Ministry of Health reported that Israeli forces shot 49 Palestinian non-violent protesters, including 22 children,east of Gaza Strip in the 78th Friday of the Great Return March.
This video shows how Israeli forces burtally attachked a Palestinian eldery without any mercy in the head.
Since the start of the border protests, the Israeli occupation forces have killed 334 Palestinians and injured over 32,000. Israel is still holding the bodies of 16 Palestinians who were killed in the marches.
A Palestinian farmer suffered wounds and fractures on Friday evening after he was attacked by Israeli settlers during olive harvest in Tell village southwest of Nablus City.
Local sources said that Isa Ramadan, 55, suffered bruises and fractures after being assaulted by Israeli settlers while he was picking olives in his land.
They added that groups of Israeli settlers coming from settlements built illegally on Palestinian land in the villages of Tell and Sarra chased and attacked Palestinian citizens during olive harvest on Friday.
According to the same sources, Ramadan, who was injured in the settler attack, was transferred to a hospital in Nablus City for treatment.