$200m deficit in budget to rebuild destroyed homes in Gaza

Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli air strikes on the blockaded Gaza strip, on 5 May 2019 [Mohammad Asad - Middle East Monitor]

Destroyed homes are seen after Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza on 5 May 2019

Palestinian MP Jamal Al-Khodari revealed yesterday that there is a $200 million deficit in the budget for the reconstruction of homes destroyed during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2014, Quds Press reported.

In a press release, Al-Khodari said that many regional donors have not fulfilled pledges they gave five years ago, following the devastating Israeli offensive.

Al-Khodari called for the donors to meet their commitments regarding the rebuilding of destroyed homes, considering this an “ethical, humanitarian and legal” commitment.

Meanwhile, he stressed on the importance of lifting the 13-year-old Israeli siege, which paralysed all aspects of life in Gaza, which suffers from a severe lack of residential units to meet the needs of its population.

READ: Gaza’s only pharmaceutical factory operates at just 20% capacity

He stressed that the Israeli siege on Gaza is illegal and breaches all international laws and conventions, including the Geneva Conventions and the International Declaration of Human Rights.

The Gaza Strip has suffered as a result of the siege which has been imposed by Israel, with support from Egypt and the international community. Goods, food, aid, construction materials and other essentials have not been allowed into the Strip and people have been left unable to leave even to access medical care.

The General Federation of Palestinian Labour Unions reported last year that as a result of the siege, unemployment in the enclave almost doubled to 50 per cent, rising from 27.2 per cent before 2007.

Due to the ban on the entry of fuel, Gaza’s sole electricity plant has been forced to shut down leaving civilians with only 4 hours of electricity a day; further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

A report released by the UN last month raised concerns that the Strip is “de-developing” faster than anticipated, such that the 2020 deadline by which it was said that Gaza would be “unliveable” may have already arrived.

READ: 25,000 inhabited homes need urgent reconstruction in Gaza

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

Palestinian court blocks websites critical of PA

The Palestinian Authority has blocked 59 Palestinian and Arabic websites including Quds News Network 

Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists in Gaza protest against the PA's decision to block Palestinian news sites on 22 October 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The Palestinian Authority has blocked 59 Palestinian and Arabic websites, including Quds News Network sites, following a decision by a local Magistrates’ Court. Palestinians are angered at the decision which was revealed yesterday, as not a site single on the blocked list is Israeli.

Quds News challenged the PA’s decision to block its website for “harming civil peace”. According to the news network this move “reflects the [PA’s] repression of the press.”

It added that decision is “an obvious violation of the international standards on the freedom of speech, which comes while Palestinian [online] content fights to survive against efforts by Israeli and social media platforms, which intend to eliminate it.” Quds News urged the PA to stop such action as it will lead to the weakening or blocking of the Palestinian narrative.

Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian American writer based in Ramallah, expressed her frustration at the consistent suppression of Palestinian’s voices. “The Palestinian Authority and all of its institutions,” she wrote on Twitter, “insist on attacking Palestinian free speech, suppressing dissent, repressing critique, with no accountability for its corruption, while continuing to arrest youth.”

Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip held protests against the PA’s decision today. “We followed with concern the decision of the Magistrate’s Court in Ramallah regarding 60 Palestinian sites. We condemn this decision and consider it a violation of public freedoms,” Alaa Salama, coordinator of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, said.

“What is needed is to honor the Palestinian journalist and the media, who have long been fighting the Israeli narrative.”

“The correct measure is to block Israeli media and news sites which spread poison daily to the Palestinian people,” he added.

Israel and the PA: security relations have never been better

Headed by judge Mohammed Hussein, the court’s decision issued last week claimed that such sites which publish pictures and articles threaten Palestinian national security and civil peace, as well as disrupt public order and morals, and arouse Palestinian public opinion.

Hossam Badran, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau, accused the court of “burying its head in the sand in its attempts to prevent freedom of expression, returning the [Palestinian] national press to the darkness sought by the Israeli occupation.” He called on the PA to respect international law and conventions that guarantee freedom of opinion and expression, and the right of every citizen to have access to information and expression.

READ: The PA is tainting Palestinian resistance

“Of course, Abbas will block Arabi21 website and he would die to provide a platform for Zionist journalists, who adopt anti-Palestinian opinions and who do not hesitate to criticise even Abbas himself and the corruption of his authority,” tweeted Saleh Na’ami, a Palestinian writer specialising in Israeli affairs. “If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.”

The head of the Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, Ammar Dweik, says that his organisation will appeal against the ruling, which “restricts free reporting and free speech.”

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

Report: 4,000 Palestinian refugees killed in Syria

The largest Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouki in Syria [Laila Ben Allal/Middle East Moni

The largest Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouk in Syria on 21 June 2017 

After eight years of war in Syria, 4,002 Palestinian refugees have been killed, including 487 women, according to the monitoring and documentation team of the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS).

In a report, the organisation pointed out that 1,987 Palestinians were killed in Palestinian refugee camps and communities up to 21 October, up from 1,953 victims until the same date last year.

According to statistics, Yarmouk camp in Damascus topped the list of areas where Palestinians were most at risk, with 1,457 deaths recorded there as a result of the siege, destruction and attempts to regain control of the camp.

Some 266 victims were reported in Daraa camp in southern Syria, 203 in Khan Al-Sheikh camp in Damascus’ countryside, 181 in Al-Neirab camp, Aleppo,  and 124 in Al-Husseinieh camp. A further 188 victims were documented but could not be identified, according to AGPS’ report.

READ: Syria regime forcibly disappears more than 1,700 Palestine refugees

3,800 Palestinians killed in #Syria since 2011

READ: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180830-report-3800-pal…/

MEMO #Infographic by The White Canvas

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Four Young Men In Bethlehem, One In Ramallah

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, four young Palestinian men, including two siblings, in West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem, in addition to one Palestinian in Ramallah, in central West Bank.

Media sources said the soldiers invaded and searched many homes, in several parts of Bethlehem governorate, and interrogated a few Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

They added that the soldiers abducted Ahmad Khaled Lahham, 25, from Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem.

The soldiers also abducted Mohammad Suleiman Sha’er, 19, from his home in Teqoua’ town, southeast of Bethlehem.

In addition, the soldiers invaded homes in Umm Salmouna village, south of Bethlehem, before abducting Hayyan Ibrahim Taqatqa, 32, and his brother Raddad, 29.

In Ramallah, in central West Bank, the soldiers invaded Beit Sira village, west of the city, and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Abdulrahman Wawi, after storming his home and searching it.

In related news, the soldiers abducted eight young Palestinian men in the al-Isawiya town, in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Monday at night, a group of illegal colonialist settlers attacked Palestinians, picking their own olive trees, near the main road between Nablus and Ramallah, and hurled stones at many cars, causing injuries and damage.

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

British Forensic Researchers Challenge Israeli Army over Shooting of Child

22 October | International Solidarity Movement | Kafr Qaddoum

Evidence is stacking up against the Israeli Army over the near-fatal shooting of a Palestinian child by a soldier in July, with the release of a damning report from a British research group.

Nine-year-old Abd el-Rahman Yasir Shatawi, was shot in the head on July 12 while sitting outside his friend’s house during a protest in the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddoum. He sustained severe brain damage and remains hospitalized more than three months after the attack.

Since then Abd’s parents have been left in the dark as to why their son, who was not even participating in the protest, was shot by Israeli soldiers from a hill opposite.

Despite eye-witness accounts, medical reports and investigations all saying that Abd was shot with live ammunition, the Israeli army has continued to insist that soldiers did not use live fire that day.

Instead the military claims that Abd was shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet [RCMB].

This has been challenged most recently by London-based research group Forensic Architecture, which carried out an investigation into the incident at the request of ISM.

The comprehensive report compiles video, photo and eye-witness testimonies to piece together the sequence of events prior to the shooting. Based on this evidence they concluded that, “contrary to the repeated claims of Israeli officials, the available medical and image evidence, as well as witness testimony, strongly suggests that Abd el-Rahman’s injuries were caused by live ammunition.”

As part of the investigation, US forensic experts were shown CT scans of Abd’s brain (pictured below) which has over 100 bullet fragments still lodged in it. From analysing the scans, the experts said: “Although they [RCMB] can indeed penetrate individuals, and are more likely to do so in juveniles who exhibit less dense bone, they are not known to fragment, especially to the extent visible in the CT scans.”

Instead the experts said the level of fragmentation was “consistent with fragmentation seen in 5.56 mm [live] rounds.”

The medical scans also showed that there was no exit wound, corroborating eye-witness accounts that the shot was fired from a distance of 100-120m. “The farther away the shot, the less likely the bullet will still be travelling with enough energy to completely pass through the skull,” experts told Forensic Architecture.

The distance is a crucial element as 100-120m is twice the effective distance of a RCMB round.Video Player   

ISM activists present that day also witnessed soldiers firing live bullets at protesters.

“We heard gunshots that sounded like loud claps,” they said. “An Israeli activist told us it was live ammunition, saying he’d never seen such disregard for human life. The soldiers on the ridge were spraying bullets everywhere. After the protest we found live bullet casings littering the ground where soldiers had been firing at protesters. This case shows how far Israeli forces will go to avoid admitting their crimes despite the overwhelming evidence against them.”

Abd’s family told ISM that they were not surprised by the army’s refusal to admit to using live fire. “The Israeli army never admitted any crime here,” they said. “Of course they said that because they don’t want to be questioned about it.”

Recently Abd was moved from a Tel Aviv hospital to Beit Jala, after Israeli doctors said there was nothing else they could do. “He can’t speak and no changes [to his condition] occurred since he was shot,” his family said. “The doctors say that his condition is still in danger and that a huge damage occurred in his brain because of the bullet.”

Kafr Qaddoum residents said the feeling in the town since the shooting has been “indescribable.”

A resident who preferred not to be named told ISM: “A child who is supposed to live peacefully just like any child in the world is being shot brutally. Instead of offering a safe environment for children here, they are being shot and exposed to violent acts.”

Forensic Architecture’s report is the latest piece of evidence stacking up against the Israeli army over the shooting. It joins a previous report by Israeli human rights group B’tselem, which blamed the incident on Israel’s “reckless open-fire policy that allows soldiers to use live fire even when neither they nor anyone else is in any danger.”

In the past three months alone, 100 Palestinian children have been shot with live ammunition. Despite these gross human rights violations, government’s around the world have remained silent on the Israeli army’s callous use of live fire against children.

Instead Abd’s family has turned to the media in the hope that justice can be delivered through them. “If the world knows what is really happening to the children here, this may bring justice one day.”Video Player 

Visit the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

HOW ISRAEL’S GILAD ERDAN IS USING TEMPLE EXTREMISTS AS HIS TICKET TO POWER

By Richard Silverstein

The headline leapt off the page of Makor Rishon, one of the right-wing Israeli dailies owned by Sheldon Adelson. Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan, boasted: “Freedom of worship on the Temple Mount? It can happen in the next few years, a decade at most.”

He added: “Everyone must consider what he can do in the context of [Israeli] responsibility and authority to achieve sovereignty over our people’s holiest site, our holy Mount. This is what I myself do and promise to do even more in future.”

The explicit meaning of such statements is clear to all Israelis: Erdan plans to topple the decades-old compact between Israel and the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, according to which the Awqaf exercised exclusive authority over Al-Aqsa Mosque, to offer the most extreme Israeli settlers, who seek to rebuild the Temple, total and free access to Al-Aqsa.

Full access
Given that it is the third holiest site in Islam, and that the Jordanian government is its guardian, offering full access to settlers will cause an immediate rupture within the Muslim world. It will threaten to resume the deadly riots which brought tens of thousands of Palestinians to Al-Aqsa when in July 2017 Israel installed intrusive surveillance equipment at the compound entrances.

Erdan is banking on Israel’s budding bromance with the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia and its allies, to deflect any potential conflict with the Muslim world. Given how close these relations have become and the military-intelligence collaboration against their mutual enemy, Iran, today, the Saudis seem more than willing to abandon Palestinians.

And with such abandonment comes a retreat from previous Muslim commitments to defend Al-Aqsa against Israeli encroachment or desecration.

The Israeli government has made a cold, hard calculation that eventually it will get away with whatever it wishes at the holy site. Its alliance with Saudi Arabia will likely protect it from any charges of religious violations.

Palestinians will be outraged by the Israeli assaults on the sovereignty of the enclave but they will be left to their own devices – just as Israel wants it.

A ‘revolutionary change’
During his tenure as minister, the trespass – or as religious Jews would say, “pilgrimage” – of Israeli settlers on the holy site has increased nearly four-fold to reach 40,000 settlers annually (as of 2018), as Erdan boasted in the interview.

They make their visits during the three Jewish festivals when Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple. The unexpressed sentiment of these visits is to restore the Temple to its former glory, so they can make a pilgrimage to the holy site itself, and not its ruins.

Makor Rishon also lavished praise on Erdan for criminalising all the Muslim religious groups who acted as defenders of the holy site including the Mourabitat, Mourabitoun, and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.

According to the report, removing them from the scene has greatly facilitated the ability of Israeli worshippers to invade the sacred space. It also noted that it was Erdan who, for the first time ever, offered access to Israeli Jews to the Temple ruins on Tisha B’Av and Jerusalem Day.

The latter, in particular, is a day when settler hooligans parade through East Jerusalem neighbourhoods inciting violence and hate against the Palestinian residents.

The Jerusalem Day also falls during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which served as an even greater provocation. In the past, the “Temple Mount” had been off-limits to non-Muslims during the closing days of Ramadan.

Likud leadership battle
Erdan’s tenure as minister has encouraged radical Jewish extremists to expect that a “comprehensive revolutionary change” in status might be imminent. And he has not disappointed them.

He called the current situation “distorted” and promised radical change to correct so-called “discrimination” against Jews within the compound. The minister has gone a step further and promised action in the “near future”.

When asked by the reporter whether Jews would see “full freedom of worship”, Erdan replied: “I am certain of it, God willing. It cannot be otherwise. The direction in which things are moving is that we will regain an ever-greater level of sovereignty over the site. We will meet this objective when more and more Jews make pilgrimage there. ”

Then Erdan shockingly revealed his true intent to rebuild the Temple and restore it to its former glory at the expense of the Muslim holy places: “The fact that Jews can now pray on the Temple Mount does not mean that full redemption has arrived. Because this is dependent on powers beyond me, I cannot predict when this will happen. But it must be an objective realised in the coming years, a decade at most.”

Erdan’s interview comes at a crucial juncture for his ruling Likud Party. Its longtime leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is struggling to retain his position as prime minister after two indecisive elections. He also faces three serious corruption indictments which could force his resignation. Erdan, who has political ambitions, sees an opening for a leadership bid if Netanyahu falls.

This interview was a carefully crafted message meant to cater to his right-wing settler base, who would be a major constituency in any Likud party primary for a new party leader.

Historical fallacy
Erdan sees the religious conflict as an extension – not the primary motivating factor – of the conflict. Von Clausewitz said “war is a continuation of politics by other means”. In Israel, religious conflict is the pursuit of political supremacy by other means.

Israelis who argue that the Israeli-Arab conflict is essentially based on religious hatred of Jews, or that it is a conflict for global dominance between a western religion, Judaism, and an eastern one, Islam, engage in a dangerous historical fallacy.

Religion serves as a fig leaf to conceal Israeli nationalist objectives for dominance over its neighbours. The real goals are political-military power, control of natural resources, and the land.

Most Israeli Jews, if they care at all, consider issues like rebuilding the Temple or gaining sovereignty over the site to be peripheral. But these Israelis have permitted the settlers to drive the national agenda in these matters.

Thus, the religious zealots have hijacked the political class and moulded it to their own religious-supremacist specifications. It is much easier to believe that God is on your side than to make difficult political compromises for the sake of peace and security.

Politics can offer a means for two opposing sides to negotiate and resolve differences via compromise. Religion, however, when it is distorted in this context, is a poison that can breed only war and hate.

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

‘ISRAEL’ TO CONFISCATE 700 DONUMS OF NABLUS

Nablus (QNN)- Israeli authorities issued a new settlement plan, which implies confiscating nearly 700 Donums of the lands of Qaryout village in southern Nablus, according to the anti-settlement activist, Bashar Sadeq.

Sadeq stated that the Israeli authorities issued an aerial plan, which shows lands in B zone in the village being shrunk in favor of the illegal settlement of Ileh.

Sadeq said that the lands have been announced a restricted area, which Palestinians cannot enter unless they get permissions. Even farmers, whose farms are located in the confiscated area should get a permission to take care of their own trees.

The confiscated area has been recently a target of illegal settlers, who have routinely attacked farmers in the area and prevented them from harvesting olive.

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

Israel attempts to wipe out Palestinian curriculum in Jerusalem

In addition to arresting and killing Palestinian students and teachers, Israel is targeting schoolbooks, Saleh said

Up to 100,000 Palestinian students are facing the threat of using distorted schoolbooks in occupied Jerusalem, Deputy Palestinian Education Minister Basri Saleh said on Sunday.

During a meeting held in Cairo, Basri said that the Israeli occupation has been working hard to impose the distorted Israeli narratives related to the history of Palestine and the conflict in the schoolbooks.

He also said that the Israeli occupation has been exerting efforts to impose the Israeli curriculum on Palestinian schools in occupied Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is waiting intensified efforts from us,” he told the meeting, calling on the Arab League to address the urgent educational needs of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Basri also stressed on the importance of facing the “continuous Israeli aggression” on Jerusalem, mainly the aggression on the Palestinian syllabus.

“The Israeli occupation is still targeting Palestinian schools, teachers and students,” he said, noting that many of the Palestinian teachers and students had been detained and killed.

He also called for the importance of helping to maintain the UNRWA because it reflects the sustainability of the refugee issue.

In October last year, Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, announced that he plans to remove the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees from occupied East Jerusalem, accusing it of “operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel”.

The Jerusalem Municipality also said UN schools, which serve about 1,800 students, would be closed. The municipality did not provide a specific time schedule for the closures.

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

IOF Opens Fire At Agricultural Areas, Fishing Boats In Gaza

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday morning opened fire towards plots of cultivated land and fishing boats in the Gaza Strip.

According to local sources, Israeli soldiers opened fire towards agricultural areas in the east of Jabalia and Khuza’ah in the east of Gaza.

In the west of Gaza, fishermen and their boats also came under fire from Israeli gunboats. The intensity of the shooting prompted fishermen to return ashore.

No one was hurt in the shooting attacks in Gaza.

(Source / 22.10.2019) 

IOF Bars Olive Farmers From Reaching Groves For 4th Day

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday prevented, for the fourth consecutive day, olive farmers from reaching their groves in the village of Qaryut, south of Nablus.

Local official Ghassan Daghlas said that many Palestinian farmers tried to reach their groves in Batisha area in the western area of Qaryut to collect olives, but soldiers attacked them with tear gas and prompted them to leave the area.

He added that the farmers do not need prior coordination or permits to enter or work their lands, describing such practice as unjustified.

(Source / 22.10.2019)