Abbas opposed to opening of US field hospital in Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on 11 November 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on 11 November 2019

The Palestinian president said Friday he would not allow a US field hospital to open in the Gaza Strip, Anadolu reports.

“Such steps show that Deal of Century is being realized section by section,” Mahmud Abbas said at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Ramallah.

The Deal of Century is US President Donald Trump’s backchannel plan to reach peace between the Palestinians and Israel. Funded by American NGO, Friend Ships, the hospital is planned to be opened in northern Gaza near the Israeli border.

Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Palestinian group Hamas seized control of the strip from rival Fatah, affecting livelihoods in the coastal enclave.

READ: Political implications of continued contacts between Abbas and Meshaal 

(Source / 07.12.2019)

Israeli army tests new rocket propulsion system

Soldiers stand near a battery of Iron Dome defence missile system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on 13 November 2019. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]

Soldiers stand near a battery of Iron Dome defence missile system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on 13 November 2019

Israeli Defense Forces have tested a new rocket propulsion system, Israeli media reported, noting that the test was conducted from an airbase in Israel.

The Israeli Defense Forces did not issue more detail, according to Israeli media. All that has emerged on the topic was that the test had been planned in advance and performed as expected.

The Jerusalem Post reported the Israeli TV channel, Channel 13, stating that Ben-Gurion International Airport had diverted air traffic during the test to allow for the system to be fired safely.

READ: Israel, Czech Republic sign $125m missile defence deal 

Analysts suspected that it may be the surface-to-surface Jericho system, an intercontinental ballistic missile which according to foreign reports can support a nuclear payload.

According to Israeli Ynet News, Israeli expert Ron Ben-Yishai, affirmed that this missile is to reinforce Israel’s deterrence against Iranian development of its Shehab 3 – a ballistic missile which is able of carrying nuclear warheads.

Commenting on this, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, posted on twitter: “Israel today tested a nuke-missile, aimed at Iran.”

Zarif added: “E3 & US never complain about the only nuclear arsenal in West Asia—armed with missiles actually DESIGNED to be capable of carrying nukes—but has fits of apoplexy over our conventional & defensive ones.”

(Source / 07.12.2019)

Data: 65,000 troops cost PA $1bn a year

Palestinian Authority Security forces raid a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank [file photo]

Palestinian Authority Security forces raid a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has 65,000 troops costing over NIS 3.5 billion ($1 billion) in 2018, Shehab News Agency reported.

According to Shehab News Agency, the data revealed that the general revenues of the PA contributed to 74 per cent of the PA budget. These revenues are mainly collected from taxes paid by Palestinians.

The net expenses of the PA in 2018 totalled NIS 5 billion ($1.44 billion), including only 19.7 per cent for the Ministry of Interior and Security.

The data showed that the interior and security budget was NIS 3.5 billion ($1 billion) in 2018, including NIS 2.9 million for salaries, NIS 19 million for travel and official missions, NIS 165 million for operation expenses, NIS 21 million for holidays and NIS 60 million for others.

It is worth noting that the PA has cut the salaries of thousands of its troops and other employees in Gaza, after failing to maintain control over the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ victory in the elections of 2006.

READ: Political implications of continued contacts between Abbas and Meshaal 

(Source / 07.12.2019)

Islamic Organization Criticizes Israel’s Settlement Plans in Hebron

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The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned a controversial plan by Israel to build a new settlement in the heart of the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron, the Palestine News Network reported.

Naftali Bennett, right-wing Israeli minister of military affairs, said on Sunday, that the new settlement, to be constructed at the site of a wholesale market complex used by Palestinians, will “double” the number of settlers in Hebron.

Under the construction project, the old market stalls will be demolished to make way for new shops and residential buildings.

Currently, approximately 200,000 Palestinians live Hebron, alongside, but separate from, about 800 illegal Israeli settlers, guarded by hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, OIC Secretary General, Yusuf bin Ahmed al-Uthaymeen said the Israeli decision to “is a flagrant breach of international law, the Geneva Accord and relevant UN resolutions, and undermines peace efforts.”

He also urged the international community and the UN Security Council to take “resolute action” towards ending Israeli settlement policies.

Earlier, Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) secretary general, said the project was the “first tangible result of the US decision to legitimize colonization.”

He was referring to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s announcement last month that the establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank “is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now also condemned Hebron settlement plan as an addition to the “ugliest face of Israel’s control in the occupied territories.”

In order to maintain the presence of 800 settlers among a quarter of a million Palestinians, entire streets in Hebron are closed to Palestinians, denying them freedom of movement,” Peace Now said in a statement.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank.

Emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements across the West Bank “a flagrant violation under international law.

(Source / 07.12.2019)

Palestinian Detainees In Asqalan Suspend Hunger Strike

Three days after starting a hunger strike in Asqalan Israeli prison, Palestinian detainees suspended their strike after reaching an agreement with the Prison Administration to move them to a section that has better living conditions.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the detainees will be resuming the hunger strike if the prison authority unilaterally voids the agreement.

The PPS added that the detainees declared the strike after a month-long series of punitive measures against them, including violent searches of their rooms, which led to the destruction of their property.

They also protested the dire living conditions they face in Asqalan, which only contains one section for holding the Palestinian political prisoners.

Last October, the prison authority transferred many detainees from Asqalan to Nafha, without allowing them to take their belongings with them, and when they were moved back to Asqalan, in November, they found out the extent of violence and destruction of their belongings, including finding the Holy Quran on the ground with marks of a military boot on it. The detainees immediately declared a hunger strike.

It is worth mentioning that dozens of detainees were injured, and many were forced into solitary confinement this year, due to the escalation of the Israeli violations against them.

(Source / 07.12.2019)

Belgian Trade Delegation to Israel Cancelled

The trade mission would have taken place from the 8th to the 11th of December, will not go forward, due to criticism from the political opposition and several activist organizations, leading to its discontinuation, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.

The delegation would have consisted of representatives from the Walloon and Brussels governments, which are separate political entities in Belgium, and numerous companies from the respective regions.

The Walloon government had already withdrawn from the delegation at an earlier stage, but now the Brussels government has done the same, effectively leaving the rest of the mission without political representation.

In the last couple of weeks, the general criticism towards the trade mission has grown. Specifically Israel’s disregard for international agreements concerning the blockade of the Gaza Strip, sparked the opposition’s distaste for the mission.

“We’re talking about participating in the Israeli colonization policy,”

said Stéphanie Koplowicz, member of the Flemish left-wing PVDA-party.

“The UN Human Rights Comittee has complained that over 200 companies do business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage Brussels’ companies to participate in this?”


Violations of the Geneva Convention

Former Belgian prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, of the Walloon socialist Party stated that the reason for the withdrawal from the trade mission was

“the lack of progress in the peace process, the lack of progress on the ground and the violations of important parts of the Geneva Convention by Israel”.

The Brussels government is now following this line of reasoning.

Joel Rubinfeld, a former leader of Belgian Jewry and president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, said the move was discriminatory in light of Belgium’s trade relations with nations accused of major human rights violations, including Iran and China.

Companies who were going to partake in the mission can still travel to the Middle-East on their own, however, they will have to cover their own expenses.

(Source / 07.12.2019)

Mai and Jacqueline.. Returning to Palestine with one eye

By Fatima Abu Sbeitan

Gaza (QNN)- In agony and sadness, the two laddies spoke about their experiences after Israeli bullets took their eyes. They did not hurt anyone, they were just among others demanding the rights of the Palestinian people.

Mai Abu Rweidah and Jacqueline Shihadeh are two young ladies, whose eyes were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers while they were participating in Gaza’s Great Return March protests in central Gaza. One of them has completely lost her eye while the other had 90% disability.

“I want my eye back!”, said Abu Rweidah (23 years old) to QNN reporter following a surgery to remove her damaged eye. “I was in a peaceful protest, seeking our rights”.

Remembering what happened with her during the protest, Abu Rweidah said: “I was standing close to the border fence along with others when the [Israeli] soldiers directly and deliberately targeted us with tear gas grenades”.

One of the soldiers made a provocative gesture before firing a rubber-coated metal bullet directly and deliberately at her right eye to completely damage it, according to Abu Rweidah.

After she was evacuated to hospital, she knew that there was a fracture in her skull and severe damage in the eye, which pushed doctors at the Shifaa hospital to remove the damaged eye.

Abu Rweidah, who studied medical secretary at Al-Azhar University and was graduated only last month, said she has been wounded twice before while participating in the weekly peaceful protests; the first was with two rubber-coated metal bullets in her legs and hand and the second was in her forehead, which was very close to her eye. “If it weren’t for God’s mercy, my eye would have been damaged at the time”, she said.

Jacqueline Shihadeh (31 years old) from Maghazi is a mother of two children. She was wounded nine months ago by the Israelis during Gaza’s Great Return March protests. She told QNN that Israeli soldiers were stationed behind the fence, targeting everyone at the protest.

She was standing close to the fence along with other protesters when Israeli soldiers unexpectedly targeted them with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets in addition to tear gas. A rubber-coated metal bullet wounded her hand then bounced to wound her eye as well.

When she was evacuated to hospital, she found out that she had lacerated tendons in her hand. But the worst part is that her retina was severely damaged and she had hemorrhage in the eye, leading to 90% vision loss.

Although Shihadeh has been getting treatment at specialized medical centers, she hasn’t been healed yet and her hope of restoring eyesight haven’t been fulfilled. It was a psychological damage more than just a physical one.

She told QNN that she can’t do the very simple things that she used to do for her family and children. She can’t focus or read a lot. She has been increasingly losing her morale especially that treatment opportunities in Gaza’s and Palestine’s hospitals are very limited.

“My life has been turned inside out. I didn’t expect that the injury would affect my life this way. My eye looks fine but I need treatment so that I can be able to use it again”, she said.

Both ladies hope to be treated at hospitals in the occupied land. They also called on officials to help them get treatment there because the occupation state rejects all those, who were wounded during participation in the Great Return March protests.

(Source / 07.12.2019)

IOF arrest two Palestinians in southern Gaza

Gaza (QNN)- The Israeli army on Saturday arrested two Palestinians from Gaza, who allegedly crossed the separation barrier between the enclave and the occupied land.

The Israeli occupation army said in a statement that it arrested two Palestinians, who crossed the fence in southern Gaza.

It also stated that they were sent to interrogation centers after being searched. The young guys did not have any kind of weapons, according to the statement.

(Source / 07.12.2019)

‘Misleading narrative’: ICC war crimes report angers Palestinians

Even the ICC is biased with Israel against the Palestinians

Palestinians are concerned over International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor warning that paying salaries for families of Palestinians killed, wounded or detained by Israel could constitute war crime.

Palestine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki said on Thursday the ICC report was “based on misleading narratives of a political nature … rather than an objective and accurate description of the relevant facts”.

The Palestinians have long sought redress with international bodies such as the ICC for what they consider Israeli crimes.

Palestinian Authority (PA) has long paid stipends to the families of people killed or imprisoned by Israel. The PA says these payments are a national duty to families affected by decades of violence.

But Israel, which argues the fund encourages violence, earlier this year withheld millions of dollars in tax revenues it collected on behalf of the PA equal to the sum of the Palestinian stipends.

Thursday’s report, released in The Hague, highlighted possible crimes by both Israel and the Palestinians that are under investigation, including Israel’s use of deadly force against the protesters along the Israel-Gaza fence.

At the Palestinians’ request, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2015 opened a preliminary investigation into alleged violations of international law following the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Thursday’s report said the prosecutor “believes that it is time to take the necessary steps to bring the preliminary examination to a conclusion”.

A number of local and international human rights groups have raised concerns that Israeli security forces have used excessive force when confronting Palestinians who carried out attacks or were suspected of doing so.

(Source / 07.12.219)

Palestine mother, son reunited after 20 years

Yaghi was finally granted a visa to enter Egypt via Jordan

Palestinian journalist Amjad Yaghi was just nine years old when his mother left the Gaza Strip on what should have been a short trip to Egypt for medical treatment.

But until a joyful reunion this week, they did not see each other again for 20 years.

After leaving Gaza in 1999, Yaghi’s mother, Nevine Zouheir, could not return to Gaza because of spinal disc pain for which she needs surgery.

Despite 14 attempts to go to see her, Yaghi was unable to get out of Gaza after the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza following Hamas’ victory in free Palestinian elections in 2007.

The blockade included travel restrictions.

Though he was invited to attend several conferences abroad, he received travel clearance only after they ended, leaving him without a valid reason to cross the border.

Yaghi was finally granted a visa to enter Egypt via Jordan, and made his way to his mother’s apartment in the Nile Delta town of Banha on Monday.

When she saw him from her balcony, Zouheir cried out her son’s name. She went to the bottom of the stairwell to embrace him and they held hands as they walked up to the apartment.

“It was very difficult, knowing you could die without having realised your dreams, without having seen your family, your mother,” said Yaghi, who was wounded in 2009 during the Israeli offensive on Gaza which left over 1,400 Palestinian citizens dead.

“In all of these situations, you need a mother. Yes, okay, I am 29 years old. But I need a mother beside me,” he said.

He concluded: “I have relatives who are all great, but a mother is important in a country which lives under occupation.”

(Source / 07.12.2019)