A Palestinian woman prepares food for her children at her home in a poverty-stricken quarter of al-Zaytoon in Gaza City on 17 September 2013
Head of Popular Committee Against the Siege on Gaza, MP Jamal Al-Khodari, announced on Friday that there are up to 250,000 unemployed workers in Gaza, owing to the Israeli siege imposed on the coastal enclave.
In a statement sent to journalists, Al-Khodari disclosed that only 20 per cent of the factories and economic facilities are operational in Gaza.
Al-Khodari revealed that the 13-year-old “strict” Israeli siege imposed on Gaza “includes all sectors and has paralysed 80 per cent of the workforce.”
Commenting on the aid programmes offered by international bodies, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he acknowledged that they lack “realistic” and “effective” solutions for the consequences of the Israeli siege.
“We are at the door of 2020, the year when many international bodies have warned that Gaza would become uninhabitable,” he explained, stressing that there are “no signs of hope for a better future.”
He stated that the main issues rendering Gaza uninhabitable are the lack of work opportunities, the deficiency of proper medical equipment and the severe shortage of medicines, clean water and electricity.
Concluding his statement, Al-Khodari called for all the Arab, Islamic and international bodies to “urgently” work to save Gaza and to “stop the deterioration of the humanitarian situation,” stressing that the Israeli siege is opposed by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Palestinians, whose houses were damaged due to Israeli attacks on 2014, stage a sit-in protest demanding indemnity payment at UNRWA’s building in Gaza City, Gaza on 9 December, 2019
George Salameh’s family has lived in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem for 70 years. Still, he prefers his family be called “al-Yafawi”, meaning “of Jaffa”, an ode to the Mediterranean coastal town his family left in 1948 and still considers home, reports Reuters.
Salameh, like many Palestinians whose families were made refugees following the mid-20th century war that surrounded Israel’s creation, views his presence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city as temporary.
Other Palestinian refugees are scattered from the Gaza Strip to Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Many still hold iron keys which they say belong to homes they fled or were forced to flee amid what Palestinians call the “Nakba“, or catastrophe, in 1948.
Salameh, 59, now runs a falafel, ful and hummus restaurant, just off Bethlehem’s Manger Square. The motto “since 1948” is emblazoned on the restaurant’s menus and its waiters’ shirt sleeves.
He says his membership card from UNRWA – the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees – guarantees his right under international law to return to his family’s home in Jaffa, which now sits in central Israel, some 78 km (nearly 50 miles) away.
Moussa, 63, has spent her entire life living in Palestinian refugee camps in the Strip, which Israel has kept under blockade since 2007 citing security concerns from its Islamist rulers Hamas.
Near Moussa’s home in Gaza’s Beach refugee camp on the shores of the Mediterranean, Palestinians were unloading sacks of flour they receive from UNRWA, which provides aid to over half of the enclave’s two million residents.
UNRWA gives us flour, plant oil, beans and milk, we get treated for free, we get medication… We are nothing without UNRWA,
She says her family’s land had a house surrounded by tracts of fruit and vegetable fields, all now north of the Strip’s Erez border crossing with Israel.
Under different circumstances, it would be just a short walk away, she said.
“If I started walking now, I would be there in the afternoon.”
An impressive international coalition of 185 civil society organizations has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a formal investigation, into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, without further delay.
The ICC has been engaged in a preliminary investigation for almost five years without reaching a conclusion. Further delay, resulting in continuing impunity, is unacceptable. This message was delivered to the ICC, in The Hague, on December 10 (Human Rights Day), by representatives of The Rights Forum, the Dutch NGO which initiated the campaign.
Among the signatory organizations are human rights organizations, trade unions, lawyers guilds, solidarity groups, religious institutions and other civil society organizations from 25 different countries. Large numbers of signatory organizations hail from Palestine, Germany, the USA, the Netherlands, Australia and France. The list also includes organizations from Malaysia, India, Japan, Lebanon and Nicaragua.
Only two Israeli organizations endorsed the call. Several organizations from Israel informed the PNN that they support the call but do not want their names published, as they fear a backlash from subsidizing entities and the Israeli political echelon.
Since December 10, another 15 organizations have announced that they are joining the call. Their names have been added to the list of signatories, which now comprises exactly 200 organizations.
The ICC has come under intense pressure to act on Palestine. On November 29, 400 European citizens demonstrated outside the ICC offices, demanding justice and protection for Palestinians. Moreover, in early November, the book “I Accuse!”, written by American author Norman Finkelstein, was published, aimed at Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for her failure to hold Israel responsible for its crimes.
Most recently, on December 9, an explosive article by Emeritus Professor of Law John Dugard provided insight into the possible motives of Bensouda and her staff for their reluctance to act. Dugard holds that Bensouda’s past in The Gambia might be used against her.
The Rights Forum was founded in 2009 by former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt. Its mission is to promote a just and durable outcome of the Israel-Palestine conflict, based on international law and human rights. Its Advisory Board consists of former ministers and professors of international law.
Israeli soldiers abducted, Thursday, the head of Shu’fat Town Council, and a member of the council, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem.
Media sources said the soldiers abducted the head of the Town Council, Ishaq Abu Khdeir, and a member of the council, Nasser Abu Khdeir.
The two were apparently taken prisoner for calling for a procession in front of the local mosque, after groups of illegal Israeli colonialist settlers escalated their invasions and violations in the area.
In recent attacks by the illegal Israeli squatters, the colonists punctured the tires of more than 186 Palestinian cars, and wrote racist graffiti on walls of homes, the local mosque and many cars.
It is worth mentioning that, on Friday evening, Israeli soldiers abducted a child, identified as Ahmad Atef Sharif, 14, east of Qalqilia city, in northern West Bank.
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 21 : President Donald J. Trump stops to talk to reporters and members of the media as he departs on the South Lawn at the White House on Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019 in Washington, DC
By Nada Elia
On 11 December, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order – allegedly to protect Jewish students from antisemitism on campuses – that constitutes a critical escalation of his anti-Palestine rhetoric.
Yet, the order is a logical development, rather than a departure from his previous actions. As activists, organisers and our allies will undoubtedly be focusing on the best ways to address this latest outrage, it is important to keep a few concerns in mind.
Quelling BDS Firstly, Trump’s order is only the latest in a long campaign by Israel advocates and politicians, both Democratic and Republican, to silence criticism of Israel – and specifically, to quell the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses.
Mondoweiss described it as a declaration of war on the Palestine solidarity movement, but that war has been ongoing for decades, and was certainly not “launched” by Trump.
A decade ago, University of California professors Saree Makdisi and David Theo Goldberg documented 33 organisations monitoring speech critical of Israel on US campuses – a number that has since grown, and whose mission has evolved beyond mere “monitoring” to active legislation against students and faculty who support Palestine justice.
Solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people has always come under attack in the US, but as BDS offered concrete steps to enact that solidarity, transforming the global discourse on Zionism and indigenous Palestinian resistance, it became the target of focused attacks at the highest governmental levels, in both Israel and the West. The US, Canada, UK, France and Germany have all come down heavy-handedly on the grassroots movement.
So, while many Jews were justifiably concerned about Trump’s claim that their religion is a nationality – a claim that circulated widely before the order was signed, and which would make them “outsiders” to all countries they live in, except for Israel – those Jews who are not Zionists cannot, and should not, make this about themselves.
Solidarity with Palestine is growing, despite the censorship and muzzling. Trump’s threatened order, inspired by Zionist advisers, is ultimately about silencing Palestinians and criticism of Israel.
Intrinsic racist inequality Israel has always maintained a distinction between “nationality” and “citizenship”, whereby all Jews, Israeli or not, can obtain “nationality”, while non-Jews, meaning Israel’s Palestinian population, are only ever granted citizenship.
Any support for Israel is a support of this intrinsic racist inequality, upon which Israel was founded as a “Jewish nation”. Trump’s executive order creates another opportunity to explain to “liberal Zionists” that all Zionism is racism, because Zionism is the belief that Jews should be an exclusivist, undemocratic nation.
Trump’s order is also the logical follow-up to all of the anti-BDS legislation that activists have been fighting for the past few years, as politicians, including supposedly “progressive” ones, fail to defend BDS, with few exceptions.
None of the measures to criminalise BDS have tamped the rise of antisemitism in this country, as evidenced by the worrisome number of attacks on Jewish stores, community centres, synagogues and cemeteries. And these attacks are perpetrated by white supremacists, not BDS activists.
We should convey this message to those politicians who are genuinely concerned about antisemitism, and who have mistakenly – or conveniently, or simply out of intellectual and moral laziness – blamed BDS for it.
Trump’s order could withhold funding from universities that do not shut down criticism of Israel. But pro-Palestine justice activism has never relied on major funding from state grants and university administrators for its work, which continues to flourish at the grassroots level.
Unlike the Zionist trolls who are paid to spread pro-Israel discourse, BDS activists are volunteers, donating their time, energy and creativity, and paying out of pocket to give talks, create flyers and produce banners.
While Trump’s executive order may impact speech on campus, possibly putting an end to events such as Israeli Apartheid Week – which may now have to move to the basements and meeting rooms of churches, mosques and hopefully a few synagogues – truly radical activists have long known that “the revolution will not be funded”.
Legality and morality As a former member of the steering collective of Incite!, a network of feminists of colour organising to end violence, I recall that in early 2004 – even before the call for BDS was issued – we had secured a generous grant from the Ford Foundation for our work.
We started two major projects unrelated to Palestine solidarity, only to be told months later that the grant had been withdrawn after Ford Foundation board members read online our “points of unity”, which included solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. After the initial shock, Incite! went ahead with the projects regardless, raising money a dollar at a time, without foundation grants.
We must not fool ourselves with the idea that truly revolutionary work is necessarily “legal”, nor that legality is necessarily moral. The most important response at this moment is to renew our commitment to justice, knowing that justice has at many times throughout history been at odds with “power”.
Slavery was legal, and so was apartheid, as well as the Holocaust. What is legal is not necessarily moral, and what is “illegal” may be the most moral behaviour.
Let 2020 be the year that we all recommit to a vision of justice for all – in the US, where white supremacy is expressing itself in nativism, Islamophobia and antisemitism, but also in Palestine, where Zionism, which has always maintained that Jews are a “nation” and not just a religion, must also be challenged, as we work to establish justice from the river to the sea.
A new campaign launched this month by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the Adalah Justice Project asserts a commitment to “the right to resist”.
At the same time, Palestine Legal’s director, Dima Khalidi, has asserted that “rather than providing any new protections to Jewish students against the rampant and deadly antisemitism of a resurgent white nationalism, [Trump’s order] aims to define the contours of what we can say about Palestine and Israel. We won’t abide, and it will be challenged.”
Tulkarem (QNN)- Two Palestinian young men were reportedly wounded on Saturday morning near the apartheid wall between northern Tulkarem and occupied Palestine.
An activist told QNN that Israeli soldiers tear-gassed and opened fire at Palestinian workers, who were trying to reach their jobs inside the occupied land.
An unknown number of them were arrested, while two were wounded. The wounded young men have been identified as Ahmad Hussam Kittaneh and Dirar Rasem Kittaneh.
Israeli forces carry out daily crackdown campaigns on Palestinian workers, who go to their jobs inside the occupied land through holes in the apartheid wall.
Israeli soldiers open fire at the workers to prevent them from passing through.
Approximately 100,000 Palestinian workers have to work inside the occupied land. However, they can’t reach their jobs every day due to Israeli restrictions. The occupation state prevents Palestinians from reaching their jobs inside the Green Line unless they have permissions, which pushes many of them to pass through holes in the apartheid wall.
The occupation state controls the movement of nearly 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and 2 million in Gaza, barring them from moving for treatment, work, or any other goal through Israeli-controlled checkpoints and border-crossings unless they have permissions.
But Google’s massive memory seems to have suffered amnesia over what took place just one month ago in Deir al-Baba, Gaza.
To recap, because you, too, may have forgotten: on 14 November, an Israeli pilot dropped a one-tonne JDAM bomb on a building where eight members of one family were sleeping. Five of them were children. Two of them were infants.
At first, the Israeli army tried to lie its way out of responsibility for the killing of al-Sawarka family (one other family member has since died of injuries, taking the total to nine). Its Arabic-language spokesman claimed that the building was a command post for an Islamic Jihad rocket-launching unit in the central Gaza Strip.
However, as Haaretz revealed, the target was at least a year old. The intelligence was based on rumours, and no one had bothered to check who was living inside that building: they just dropped the bomb anyway.
Military intelligence capable of identifying and hitting moving targets like Bahaa Abu al-Atta, the Islamic Jihad’s commander in the northern Gaza Strip – or attempting to kill Akram al-Ajouri, a member of its political bureau in Damascus – is simultaneously incapable of updating its target bank from one year ago.
The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice. Neither the exchange of rocket fire nor the killing of the Sawarka family made the front pages of the Guardian, New York Times or Washington Post.
Israel’s diet plan for Gaza
This is Gaza now: a brutal siege of a forgotten people subsisting in conditions predicted to be unlivable by the UN in 2020, a year that is just a few weeks away.
It is inaccurate to say that the deaths of the Sawarka family were met with indifference in Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole rival for the leadership is Benny Gantz. Anyone in western capitals mistaking Gantz for a peacenik, merely because he is challenging Netanyahu, should look at a series of campaign videos the former Israeli army chief published recently about Gaza.
One of them starts with the sort of footage that a Russian drone could have taken after its bombardment of East Aleppo. The devastation is like Dresden or Nagasaki. It takes a disturbing few seconds to realise that this horrendous drone footage is a celebration of destruction, not an indictment of it.
Its message in Hebrew is unambiguous for what is considered in international law a war crime. “Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages… 6,231 targets destroyed… 1,364 terrorists killed… 3.5 years of quiet… Only the strong win.”
Indifference is not the right word. It is more like jubilation.
Israel’s suffocation of Gaza predates the siege that started when Hamas took over in 2007. As Israeli writer Meron Rapoport has said, Israel’s leaders have long harboured genocidal thoughts about what to do with the enclave that they chased all those refugees into after 1948.
“Precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip… Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he suggested, according to declassified minutes of cabinet meetings released in 2017.
In 2006, Dov Weisglass, a government adviser, said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
The Rafah crossing as relief valve
The passage of time has not dulled nor modified these sentiments.
The difference today is that Israeli leaders no longer feel the need to disguise their thoughts about Gaza. As Gantz did, they say out loud what previously they had said or thought in private.
In private, Israeli prime ministers have never stopped communicating with Hamas through intermediaries, mainly about prisoner exchanges.
Tony Blair, the former Middle East envoy for the Quartet, engaged in his own diplomacy by offering Hamas a sea port and airport in exchange for an end to the conflict with Israel. It did not get anywhere.
Hamas has independently offered a long-term hudna or ceasefire and changed its charter to reflect a settlement based on the June 1967 borders of Palestine. But it has refused to decommission or hand over its armed forces. Fatah and the PLO ended up on a path to decay and political irrelevance since they each recognised Israel’s existence. That does not provide much of an incentive for Hamas and the other resistance groups in Gaza.
Throughout, the oscillation between jaw-jaw and war-war, and the interests of other parties to the siege of Gaza, have also become apparent. At times, these parties have been more Catholic than the pope in wishing to see Gaza and Hamas brought to heal.
In 2012, under president Mohamed Morsi’s rule, an average of 34,000 people passed through the Rafah crossing every month. In 2014, after Sisi came to power, the border with Egypt remained closed for 241 days. In 2015 it was shut for 346 days – and open for only 19 days. Sisi has operated the border crossing at Rafah very much in the manner of Israel itself.
The crossing is a tap. Close it and you put political pressure on Hamas by denying the dying access to proper medical care. Open it and you relieve the pressure on the inmates of this giant prison.
A third collaborator to the siege is the Palestinian Authority itself. According to Hamas, since April 2007, the PA has cut the salaries of its employees in Gaza, forced 30,000 of its public servants into early retirement, reduced the number of medical permits to receive treatment abroad, cut medicines and medical supplies. The salary cuts are largely undisputed .
An inhuman experiment
The cumulative effect of the siege on the enclave is devastating, as MEE has reported this week.
Imagine how the international community would react if in Hong Kong or New York, two other similarly crowded territories, unemployment was 47 per cent, the poverty rate 53 per cent, the average class size was 39 and the infant mortality rate at 10.5 per 1,000 live births.
The international community has grown used to absolving Israel of any accountability for collective punishment and gross human rights abuses.
But surely the point now is that Gaza must be considered a human stain on the conscience of the world.
By neglect, or default, all western governments have actively contributed to its misery. All are deeply complicit in an inhuman experiment: how to keep more than 2 million people on a level of subsistence considered intolerable and unlivable by the UN, without tipping them over into mass death.
What has to happen for this to change? For how much longer will we delete, as Google apparently does, Gaza, its refugees, its daily suffering from the collective consciousness of the world?
Israeli occupation army on Saturday morning shot two Palestinian young workmen during their presence near the gate of the separation wall in the west of Nazlat Isa town, north of Tulkarem.
The victims were identified as Ahmed Kattana, 25, and Dirar Kattana, 21, and both of them were transferred to Martyr Thabet Thabet Hospital, according to media sources.
The workers were seeking to enter Israel (the 1948 occupied lands) to find jobs.
In recent months, dozens of West Bank workers had been injured in similar shooting incidents upon their attempts to reach workplaces in Israel.
The harsh economic conditions of many Palestinian families in the West Bank drive their sons and breadwinners to work in Israeli areas.
Only limited numbers of West Bank citizens manage to get work permits from the Israeli occupation authority — a situation that prompts hundreds of thousands of other workers to infiltrate into Israeli areas through the separation fence or wall.