Israeli police report reveals truth about expulsion of observers in Hebron

Israelis walk outside the Ibrahimi Mosque, also called the Tomb of the Patriarchs, during the Jewish Passover holiday, in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 5, 2015 [Mamoun Wazwaz / ApaImages]

Israelis walk outside the Ibrahimi Mosque, also called the Tomb of the Patriarchs, during the Jewish Passover holiday, in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 5, 2015

The Israeli Ministry of Public Security released to the public on 19 December the report which laid the basis for the expulsion of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), earlier this year.

The original document was issued by the Israeli police on 17 January, at the request of the minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, to document TIPH activities. This laid the groundwork for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision, on 28 January, to go against an internationally signed treaty and not renew the TIPH mandate.

The dismal three-page document outlined a weak analysis of TIPH’s activities, with vague and baseless claims, leading a number of activist groups to believe that the move by Netanyahu to not renew the mandate was purely politically motivated.

“It is proof that all the claims [made by] settlers in Hebron related to security [are] false,” exclaimed Issa Amro, Hebron native and founder of the Palestinian-led grassroots group, Youth Against Settlements (YAS).

The Israeli activist group, Peace Now, was able to bring the police report to light through a lengthy legal battle with the Movement for Freedom of Information, and reported that the police document is nothing but “a superficial report with no real findings.”

Despite years of settlers claiming TIPH harassment and violence toward them, the Peace Now report highlighted only three “exceptional events” – all of which involved settlers attacking TIPH observers. In only one event does the police report claim an observer retaliated against an attack, by slapping a child.

Read: US blocked UNSC criticism of Israel’s expulsion of international task force from Hebron

“The prime minister took… this dramatic decision [of expelling TIPH] when the basis for it was actually nothing,” Peace Now member, Hagit Ofran, expressed to MEMO. “You would imagine – like what settlers said, what soldiers said – that the observers are harassing the settlers, harassing the army, creating ‘friction’… and then you read the report and there’s nothing.”

The police document ended with vague “insights” which the Peace Now analysis found baseless. For example, the document claimed that “frictions” were reported daily, yet this was not forwarded to the Israeli police, so they didn’t have any details on them. The document also claimed that observers were “highly paid” thus “highly motivated” to issue a large number for reports, and that Palestinians “exploited” TIPH and gave them “false complaints”.

“There is not much into the decision [to expel TIPH] except for the pressure of the settlers and, maybe, that they don’t like the reports,” Ofran speculated, adding that the TIPH reports were classified, so it would be impossible for the reports alone to cause any indicated “friction” in Hebron.

To Amro, the released police document is “evidence that everything is happening according to a political agenda” in Hebron which includes, but is not limited to, “the quiet transfer” of Palestinians from their homes, the annexation of Hebron to Israel and the hushing of criticisms against Israel for any human rights violations.

Hebron is a city that witnesses a lot of “friction” as the only West Bank city that is itself occupied and settled in. Since the 1997 Hebron Protocol was signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the city was divided into two areas: H1 being Palestinian-controlled and H2 being Israeli military controlled.

Read: Remembering Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque massacre

H2 constitutes a great portion of the Old City, and is home to roughly 34,000 Palestinians and 700 Israeli settlers, according to the human rights group, B’Tselem. Nearly 7,000 Palestinians live in close proximity to settler enclaves in H2, which creates a lot of tension.

A primary function of TIPH, along with the various monitoring groups also present in Hebron, is to help alleviate tensions merely with their presence.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is one group that has been operating in Hebron since 1995, and remains until today, albeit with a lot more difficulty now with the absence of TIPH. “What we have traditionally always done is accompany children to school. That’s the biggest thing,” one CPT volunteer informed MEMO, who served three months in Hebron earlier this year and wished to remain anonymous. He explained how Palestinian children were escorted to school to thwart settler attacks or soldier harassment, which is commonplace in H2.

The CPT volunteer expressed that since the expulsion of TIPH, other monitoring groups or international volunteers are being targeted. “There has been a drastic increase in the number of passport checks that we’ve had to go through,” which causes great fear in volunteers, he explained, who are routinely denied re-entry into the country if their work in Hebron is discovered. “It seems like all they want us to do is become afraid of them. It’s an intimidation tactic,” he expressed.

Read: Palestinian activists step in after Israel expels Hebron observers

YAS stepped in as local volunteer observers and escorts, shortly after the expulsion of TIPH, but were met with violence from both settlers and soldiers, with some volunteers being detained. “The space on the ground is shrinking for local or international observers to operate,” YAS leader Amro expressed to MEMO. “We don’t have any institution or body to call when we are harassed, attacked or detained” now with TIPH gone, he exclaimed.

TIPH was officially established as a part of the 1997 Hebron Protocol, as a team of international observers from Norway, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Switzerland, who would oversee violations of human rights in the city and ensure the implementation of the agreement. Every six months, both parties were required to renew the TIPH mandate.

In a damning report published by Haaretz exactly one year ago, the confidential TIPH reports – which only the Israeli, Palestinian and cooperating countries’ authorities have access to – indicated at least 40,000 incidents against Israel’s actions in Hebron, over the last 20 years of monitoring.

“Ultimately, the result of the removal of observers from Hebron, which violates an international agreement signed by Israel,” the Peace Now report indicated, “in fact harmed Israel’s image and now serves as proof that Israel has something to hide in its conduct in Hebron.”

My life in Hebron: ‘I dream of a day when there are no settlements’

(Source / 21.12.2019)

More than 400 Israeli settlers raided Al-Aqsa Mosque last week

Muslims arrive to perform the Friday Prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on October 18, 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh / Anadolu Agency]

Muslims arrive to perform the Friday Prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on October 18, 2019 

Protected by the Israeli occupation police, 407 Israeli settlers raided Al-Aqsa mosque last week, Palestine Information Centre reported on Friday.

Since 2003, the Israeli occupation police have been allowing and protecting Israeli settlers to raid Al-Aqsa mosque daily, with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays, arriving through Al-Magharbeh Gate.

The extremist Israeli settlers, including officials, MKs and ministers, raid the Islamic holy site through Al-Magharbeh Gate, carry out Jewish rituals inside the holy site, harass Muslim worshipers and leave through Bab Al-Silsila.

The Jerusalem Department of Islamic Religious Endowments, Awqaf, have been calling for a halt of Israeli settlers and police raids in Al-Aqsa mosque, but have received no responses yet.

(Source / 21.12.2019) 

Hamas: Great March of Return to continue in several forms

A Palestinian disabled man throws a stone with a slingshot towards Israeli forces during "Great March of Return" demonstration at Israel-Gaza border, near Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on September 6, 2019 [Mustafa Hassona / Anadolu Agency]

A Palestinian disabled man throws a stone with a slingshot towards Israeli forces during “Great March of Return” demonstration at Israel-Gaza border, near Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on September 6, 2019

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, announced on Friday that the Great March of Return will continue in several forms, stressing that the Palestinian factions have been working to develop it.

In a press release sent to mass media, Hamas spokesman, Abdel-Latif Al-Qanoon, hailed the mass turn out of the protesters on the 85th Friday of the protests of the Great March of Return.

He stressed that the protests would continue to oppose the Israeli occupation and defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

“The battle with the Israeli occupation continues and the Great March of Return is one of the forms of this battle,” Al-Qanoon affirmed, noting that the Palestinian factions have been developing the protests, as well as working to establish others forms of resistance.

The 85th protest was code-named “the Friday of Al-Khalil against Judaisation.” The Palestinian Human Rights Council reported 45 protesters wounded during the demonstration.

Mashal: Our people reject economic peace under occupation, Israel will not defeat Gaza

(Source / 21.12.2019) 

Israel claims ICC has no jurisdiction over occupied Palestinian territories

This picture taken on October 3, 2019 shows Israeli flags flying outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament) headquarters in Jerusalem [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]

This picture taken on October 3, 2019 shows Israeli flags flying outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament) headquarters in Jerusalem 

Israeli attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit, on Friday published a legal opinion claiming that that the “Palestinian actions with respect to the court are legally invalid,” Israeli media reports.

On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensoudaannounced:

I am satisfied that… war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Bensouda disclosed that the preliminary examination into alleged war crimes, opened in 2015, had rendered enough information to meet all criteria for opening an investigation.

According to Haaretz, Mendelblit accused the ICC, to which Israel is not a party, of lacking “jurisdiction in relation to Israel and that any Palestinian actions with respect to the court are legally invalid.”

Read: ICC to investigate alleged war crimes in Palestinian Territories

Mendelblit berated the Palestinian Authority for “purportedly” joining the ICC’s Rome Statutes. Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, also accused the ICC of having no jurisdiction in the case: “The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states. But there has never been a Palestinian state,” he announced in a statement.

Mandelblit also noted: “Israel has valid legal claims over the same territory in relation to which the Palestinians are seeking to submit to the court’s jurisdiction.”

The Israeli prosecutor claimed that the Palestinians have been seeking to put pressure on the ICC, in order to tackle political issues that could be handled through negotiations.

The Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes committed in the occupied territories, relating to illegal settlements, land expropriation and the killing of civilians during Israeli offensives on Gaza.

The ICC does not investigate states, but officials who are accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Read: Palestine artwork stolen and hidden at the ICC

(Source / 21.12.2019) 

ICC TO INVESTIGATE ISRAELI WAR CRIMES IN PALESTINE

The Hague (QNN)- The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said she would launch a full investigation into Israeli war crimes in Palestine as soon as the court’s jurisdiction had been established.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision. Meanwhile, Israel’s Netanyahu said the ICC had no jurisdiction to investigate the Palestinian Territories.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes, opened in 2015, had provided enough information to meet all criteria for opening an investigation.

“I am satisfied that … war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” Bensouda said in a statement.

She said she had filed a request with judges for a jurisdictional ruling because of the contested legal status of the Palestinian territories.

“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza,” Bensouda said.

Determining where she can investigate should be resolved before she starts an investigation “and not settled only later by judges after my investigations are completed,” she said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed in a statement that the United States did not believe Palestinians qualified as a sovereign state and added: “We firmly oppose this and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly.”

The ICC has the authority to hear cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the 123 countries that have signed up to it. The occupation state has not joined the court but the Palestinian Authority has done so.

‘Israel’ and its ally, the United States, have both refused to sign up to the court, which was set up in 2002 to be the only global tribunal trying the world’s worst crimes.

(Source / 21.12.2019) 

HOW ISRAEL CONTROLS PALESTINIAN BODIES, BOTH LIVING AND DEAD

By Mariam Barghouti

My uncle recently passed, and after his wife and children washed his body, gave him a final embrace, and put him in his final resting spot, they shared their grief with friends, family and acquaintances.

Only then were they able to begin mourning his loss. This sacred process of mourning allows communities and loved ones to begin moving forward – to move on, and to provide a final act of giving to the deceased. Only then can they begin accepting condolences.

At the funeral, I watched the pale, grieving faces and thought: “At least he died of natural causes. At least we got to bury him and shower him with love.”

Cemeteries of numbers

I say that with the recognition that most Palestinian families know of one martyr within their extended circles. Worse off are the families of Palestinian martyrs whose bodies are still being held by Israel.

Since 1967, hundreds of Palestinian bodies have been held by Israel: some in freezers, and others believed to be in the notorious “cemeteries of numbers”. Families of the martyrs have been trying to bring them back home.

Yet, the first demand of Palestinians is not for Israel to return our bodies; it is to stop killing us in the first place. Stop taking land, displacing families, incarcerating entire generations, and enabling a foreign population to take over what little remains of Palestinian cities, only to punish anyone who says “enough”.

Loss, in the frame of the Palestinian struggle, is a relentless reality in the Palestinian experience. It comes mired in political realities and psychosocial dominance. Loss becomes a fight against a powerful regime for the simple act of burial – to give prayers for peace and mercy over a body that was once so full of life, only to return to the phantoms they leave in the home – and that is no simple task.

During a news conference in 2016, one mother spoke to me, uttering in laboured breath: “Please write something. We want to bury our children. We want to bury our children.”

I listened to her pleas, and thought about how many families must endure loss first in the fact that their loved one is killed by Israel; then, in recognising the reality that there will not likely be any accountability; then, in the misconstrued reports and representations by mainstream media; and finally, in having to negotiate with the power that killed their loved one over the release of the corpse.

Glorifying martyrdom

Although martyrdom is often singularly showcased as part of the Palestinian experience, it is an intricate and important narrative of most nations trying to glorify the death of their people in the name of ideology. Even Israel participates in martyrdom glorification, but more often that is coated in the prevalent jingoism and the remembrance of its soldiers.

Our martyrs are valuable to us not just because of the struggle they represent, but also because they are people we have played with, fought, loved or disliked. Palestinian martyrdom takes on another dimension through how it is illustrated in the media, hindering our ability to bring a shred of dignity to those killed and those trying to move forward.

Not only are Palestinians denied the ability to die in peace; they are also stripped of the right to acknowledge that their death was caused by an unremitting occupying power.

When Palestinians are killed by Israeli forces, they are referred to in the passive form. The Palestinian “dies” rather than being “killed”. The Palestinian rarely has a name to showcase the travesty of this loss of life to the power of an army and a regime that is violently forcing itself into the Palestinian space.

This helps Israel not only to systemically colonise, displace, and mass incarcerate Palestinians with impunity, but also to colonise the space between Palestinians themselves. Even in mourning, there looms a scent of oppression and degradation.

Israeli forces even sometimes raid funeral processions of martyrs. By doing so, Israel transforms human bodies into bargaining chips and mourning into a political act that is easily criminalised.

Collective punishment

It is no wonder that in 2018, the Knesset passed a law that judicially affirmed Israel’s ability to withhold Palestinian bodies until preconditions are accepted for funeral arrangements.

Bodies are kept from bereaved families and utilised for political gain by various parties, despite this being a violation of international humanitarian law. It is a testament to Israel’s effort to control Palestinian bodies and further objectify them, in line with Israel’s common practice of collective punishment.

Gaza is enduring a slow death because of the punitive measures against the entire strip. A man in Rafah once told me: “We are being prepped to be sent to burial.”

But Gaza and the withholding of bodies are not the exception. From the increased surveillance of Palestinians through CCTV cameras stationed across towns and cities, to checkpoints, to incessant home demolitions, Israel is also socially engineering our emotions.

We cannot mourn, move or breathe without considering what Israel’s powerful army may do to us. Israel’s army is among the top 20 most powerful in the world, with a defence budget exceeding $19bn.

The fact that Israel maintains its right to withhold Palestinian bodies “regardless of their political affiliations” shows that the efforts behind this are not simply tied to Israel’s constant explanations of “security” and “defence”.

This is a statement that Israel is in control of not only the land, but the people – and that includes denying the right to mourn those taken from us.

(Source / 21.12.2019) 

Due to Israeli restrictions, Gaza girl fights cancer alone at West Bank Hospital

Miral Abu Amsha, a 10-year-old suffering from leukaemia, is undergoing chemotherapy in a Nablus hospital by herself. And she is not the only patient in such situation

By Gideon Levy

Due to strict Israeli restrictions imposed on Gaza Strip, Gaza patients, including children are obliged to travel for treatment in West Bank, Jerusalem alone.


Writing for Haaretz about several cases, the Israeli journalist Gideon Livy said: “It is not difficult to imagine what the child’s parents, in the prison that is the Gaza Strip, are going through, hearing the weeping of their little girl every day over the phone and unable to help – not to be by her side, not to hug her, caress her, tend to her in her suffering.

“You do not have to be an oncologist or an expert in the psyche to know that the mental condition of a youngster hospitalised far from his or her parents affects the prospects of recovery. There are studies that have concluded as much.”

Taking Miral Abu Aisha as an example, Levy said: “The look on Miral’s face says it all: the anguished features of a little girl, a study in pain. There are balloons in the room, dolls on the bed, and a grandmother by her side – but Miral’s face bespeaks suffering.

“Occasionally, she is on the brink of tears, but holds back in order not to cry in front of strangers. But at some point, she can no longer contain herself and begins to weep. She’s sitting on the bed, the chemo tube attached to her arm, dripping the liquid directly into her vein.”

Miral Abu Amsha is a 10-year-old girl with leukaemia. She has been hospitalised for two weeks in Al Najah University Hospital in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.

She has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment that is expected to continue for another four months at least, and her father and mother are not at her side. Her parents are far away, in the occupied Gaza Strip, beyond the hills of darkness, where a strict Israeli siege has been in place for more than 13 years.

‘A portrait of the essence of Israeli evil’

Levy says: “Miral misses them, Miral is sad, Miral barely speaks. Her grandmother who has been allowed to be with her, is in despair, imploring the Israeli guests who have suddenly entered the room to help.”

He adds: “This could well be the saddest place in the occupied territories. Every children’s ward in every hospital is a sad place; the rooms of children suffering from cancer are sadder still.

“But the rooms of children from Gaza who are suffering from cancer and hospitalised here at Al Najah in Nablus – where many are cut off from their parents at such a terrible time – are truly heartrending places.

“It is hard to spend any length of time here. The atmosphere of distress and helplessness is unbearable. A portrait of the essence of Israeli evil.

“Physically, the scene resembles any children’s ward in a modern hospital: colourful paintings on the walls, a playroom, a classroom for those hospitalised for long periods, spacious rooms for no more than two patients, comfortable armchairs for the family – everything that could help relieve a child’s suffering.

“But this week there were seven children from the Gaza Strip here, and only two were with their mothers. As for fathers, dream on. Israel’s ‘security’ considerations, you know.

“Most of the children were with their grandmother or aunt, and in some cases with a woman they didn’t know – whatever person was able to get an exit permit from the Gaza prison.

“All these children are here, in the West Bank, in an area supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, without their parents – by order of Israel – because no treatment is available for them in Gaza under the siege conditions there.”

(Source / 21.12.2019)

Israeli Army Forces Palestinian Farmers Off Their Land In South Of West Bank

Photos File

Israeli occupation forces on Saturday forced a number of farmers in the southern West Bank village of Kisan to leave their land and threatened to arrest them if they do not, according to Kisan deputy head of village council, Ahmad Ghazal.

He told WAFA news agency that soldiers raided the village and prevented the farmers from ploughing their land after ordering them to leave it or face arrest.

The farmers were ordered to get a permit from the Israeli security at the nearby Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Bethlehem, if they are to enter and work on their land.

The land in question is around 100 dunums in area and owners have been working and planting their land with crops for years. They also have deeds proving ownership of the land.

(Source / 21.12.2019) 

After 90 Days Of Hunger Strike, Palestinian Prisoner In Serious Condition At Israeli Hospital

Palestinian administrative detainee in Israel, Ahmad Zahran

Palestinian administrative detainee in Israel, Ahmad Zahran

Palestinian administrative detainee in Israel, Ahmad Zahran, has been today on 90 days of hunger strike demanding an end to his incarceration without charge or trial and based on secret evidence, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission.

Commission spokesman Hasan Abed Rabbo told WAFA news agency that Zahran was transported to hospital last week in serious health condition and has lost 30 kilograms of his weight.

An Israeli military court was supposed to consider Zahran’s case on Thursday, but postponed it until Monday despite his deteriorating condition, said Abed Rabbo.

Zahran, 42, from the Ramallah-district village of Deir Abu Mishaal, was detained in March. He has served a total of 15 years in prison for resisting the Israeli occupation. He is a father of four children.

(Source/ 21.12.2019) 

ISRAEL WOUNDS 44 PARTICIPANTS OF THE 85TH GREAT RETURN MARCH DEMONSTRATION

ISRAEL WOUNDS 44 PARTICIPANTS OF THE 85TH GREAT RETURN MARCH DEMONSTRATION
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On Friday December 20th the Great Return March demonstrations for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes in ethnically cleansed Palestine 1948 were held for the 85th time in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israel’s occupation forces attacked the demonstrations on the border and wounded 44 participants, 3 of them seriously, according to the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. 11 of the victims were shot with live bullets, 5 were directly hit by tear-gas grenades and assume that the rest of those injured were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets or hit by shrapnel.

Among the wounded are 18 minors, a female demonstrator injured in her face and photojournalist Thaer Khaled Fahmy Abu Rayash(24), who was shot in in his left leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the northern part of the small coastal enclave.

Dozens of people are also reported of having suffered from the ill effects of tear-gas inhalation. Israeli occupation is said to have used a large amount of tear-gas east of Khuzaa according to @SafaPS.

 (Source / 21.12.2019)