Israel expert says PA president regrets calling for elections

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 head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies, retired Colonel Michael Milstein, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a mistake by calling for elections because he could be forced to either suspend his proposal or hold the elections only in the occupied West Bank.

Milstein, who is a former adviser on Palestinian affairs to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the (occupied Palestinian) Territories and a senior officer in the Israeli army intelligence, explained that Hamas surprised Abbas by accepting all of his terms to hold the elections, forcing him to add two new conditions.

According to Milstein, the new conditions are to recognise the agreements signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel, including the Oslo Accords, and to control the financing of the electoral process, as well as disclose the funding sources of the movement’s electoral campaign.

Holding elections only in the West Bank would harm Fatah’s image, Milstein explained, because it would be seen to be separating between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

According to the Israeli expert, Abbas called for the elections out of his fear that the Arab Spring events taking place in Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq could be transferred to the Palestinian territories. He hopes, Milstein added, to gain legitimacy from the election.

The last Palestinian general election was held in the occupied territories in 2006 and Hamas was victorious. Abbas refused to hand over power to the movement thus setting in motion the political separation of the occupied West Bank – which his Fatah movement governs – and besieged Gaza Strip – headed by Hamas.

READ: Political implications of continued contacts between Abbas and Meshaal

(Source/ 28.12.2019) 

Torture of Palestinian detainees prevails in Israeli jails

A group of people stage a demonstration in front of the Israel’s West Bank separation wall to show their support to the Palestinian prisoners in Bethlehem, West Bank on 22 March 2019 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]

A group of people stage a demonstration in front of the Israel’s West Bank separation wall to show their support to the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prions on 22 March 2019 

By Ramona Wadi 

In comments to Al Jazeera regarding Israel’s use of torture against Palestinian detainees, Qadura Faris, head of the Palestinian Prisoner Societydeclared: “The Israeli security wants to leave a mark on the psyche of those it detains: resistance has a price, and it is hefty.”

Torture methods used by Israel include stress positions, beatings which result in severe injuries, sleep deprivation, emotional blackmail, threats of torture against family members of the detainees and the transfer of detainees to secret prisons. In one case reported by the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer: “The harsh beating was committed with the intention to kill the detainee.”

Israel allows the use of torture in so-called exceptional cases and exempts the officials involved in torture from criminal responsibility. This ambiguity has contributed to a rampant use of torture against Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails. Complaints to authorities have not yielded any results. Israel’s tactics of depriving legal counsel to tortured detainees during interrogation also hinders immediate recognition and awareness of such human rights violations as they occur.

READ: Palestinian human rights cannot be addressed without decolonisation 

Addameer’s latest update on torture in Israeli jails, since August 2019, shows how Israel manipulates its so-called state of exception in order to circumvent the absolute prohibition of torture in international law. Israel’s security narrative – a commodity that has become part of mainstream rhetoric and adopted globally – provides the legal loophole within Israeli legislation to torture Palestinian detainees. Given that Palestinians, without exception, are all deemed a purported threat to Israel, there are no parameters excluding detainees from torture. On the contrary, rather than having their rights protected, Palestinians in Israeli jails risk additional violations while the perpetrators of such violence are immune from prosecution, by means of the same security narrative that allows for the torture of Palestinians.

Lives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - Cartoon [Arabi 21]

The recent update notes: “According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), about 1,200 complaints of torture during Israeli interrogations have been filed since 2001. All the cases were closed without a single indictment.” Addameer also notes that torture is classified as a war crime – a pertinent point as Israel faces a possible investigation at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Interestingly, Addameer quotes a statement by Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, who draws comparisons in terms of occupation and torture, between the US presence in Guantanamo and Israel’s colonial entrenchment in Palestine. Both Israel and the US, he states, are setting an example of impunity when it comes to the torture of detainees.

Since 1967, 73 Palestinian prisoners were killed by torture in Israeli jails. Torture survivors have no recourse to justice, as it is Israel who decides whether an investigation should be opened. Meanwhile, the international community continues to ignore such flagrant violations of human rights – war crimes, to use the current assertions levelled against Israel. Indeed, if the international community paid less importance to Israel’s security narrative, and concerned itself primarily with the violations justified through its purported right to defend itself, it is possible that there will be more cohesion regarding the legal importance of holding Israel accountable for its repression of the Palestinian people.

READ: Israel’s contribution to UN accessibility is a façade for its violations 

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (19 – 25 December 2019)

Summary

This week, PCHR documented 224 violations of the international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. This week witnessed an increase of Israeli violation regarding demolition and settlement activities in addition to settlers’ attacks and incursions. They were as follows:

As part of the Israeli shooting and excessive use of force:

In terms of excessive use of force, IOF wounded 45 Palestinian civilians, including 18 children and 3 women, on the 85th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege protest (GMR) in eastern Gaza Strip. IOF shot and injured 11 civilians with live bullets and shrapnel; 4 of them deemed in serious health conditions, in addition to targeting protestors’ upper body. As a result, many civilians injured despite the peaceful nature of the protests in the 5 encampments. Moreover, 7 shootings were reported by IOF at agricultural lands in the Gaza Strip; while 3 shootings were reported by the Israeli gunboats against the Palestinian fishing boats, east and west of the Gaza Strip; no casualties were reported. Furthermore, a civilian shot and injured in the lower part of his body and arrested while attempting to sneak into Israel via the border fence.

Under IOF incursions and house raids in addition to arresting Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 121 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, enticing fear among civilians, arresting and/or injuring many others. During this week’s incursions, 76 Palestinians were arrested, including 8 children and 5 women.  In the Gaza Strip, IOF carried out 2 incursions in eastern Khan Younis and northern Gaza Strip; no levelling works were reported.

Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, PCHR documented 12 IOF violations that included banning farmers from afforestation of their lands in Tulkarm and Kisan village, east of Bethlehem, claiming that these lands are confiscated by IOF; demolishing 2 residential tents; levelling works to expand  ” Shvut Rachel” settlement established in lands of Jaloud village in Nablus; demolishing livestock barns, confiscating water tanks and an agricultural tractor in Tubas; demolishing 2 houses in Jerusalem; confiscating a bulldozer and digger; and demolishing 2 houses in Hebron.

PCHR also documented 10 settler-attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property, including puncturing vehicles’ tires, writing racist slogans in Jerusalem; attacking farmers in Bethlehem; writing racist slogans in Hebron; uprooting 300 olive trees in Bethlhem; throwing stones at vehicles in Nablus; setting fire in 2 vehicles in Qalqiliyah; attacking ‘Ain al-Helwas spring in Northern Jordan Valleys; raiding  Solomon’s Pools’ archaeological site, south of Bethlehem; putting the “Menorah Lampstand” at the roof of Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron Old City; and cutting 35 olive trees in Ramallah.

In terms of the Israeli closure policy, on 19 December 2019, Israeli authorities decided to decrease the fishing area from 10 to 6 nautical miles off the Gaza Strip shores, before increasing it to 15 nautical miles in southern Gaza Strip shores starting from Tuesday morning, 24 December 2019. This comes in a time where the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life. Furthermore, IOF uses Erez Crossing that is designated for movement of individuals as an ambush to arrest Palestinians who obtain permits to exit via Israel.  Meanwhile, the West Bank is divided into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilians movement is restricted and they are subject to arrest. In this week, IOF established 71 temporary checkpoints and arrested 4  Palestinians.

Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity

  1. Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the Gaza Strip

On the 85th Friday, 20 December 2019, weekly protests were launched in eastern Gaza Strip, in solidarity with Hebron Governorate, which has been lately the target of Israeli settlement schemes. This Friday’s protest titled: “Hebron is a thorn in the way of efforts to create a Jewish majority”, resulted in the injury of 45 civilians, including 18 children, 3 women and a journalist.

The incidents were as follows:

  • Northern Gaza Strip: demonstrations took place in northeast of Jabalia, and northern Gaza Strip. A few protesters threw stones at IOF stationed along the border fence. Israeli attacks resulted in the injury of 15 civilians, including 6 children, a woman and a journalist; one of them was deemed in serious condition: 3 civilians, including a child and 3 of them, including a girl and an elderly woman, were shot with live bullets and shrapnel; 11, including 3 children, were shot with rubber bullets; and a child was hit with a tear gas canister. The wounded journalist, Thair Khaled Fahmi Abu Rayash (24), was shot with a rubber bullet in his left leg. ‘Emad Fraij Mohammed Soboh (43), was deemed in  serious condition after being shot with a live bullet that entered his back and exited his abdomen.
  • Gaza City: protests took part in Malaka area in eastern Gaza City. IOF shot and injured protestors with live and rubber bullets as well as tear gas canisters. As a result, a child was shot with a rubber bullet in the face.
  • Central Gaza Strip: IOF stationed behind sand berms and in military SUVs along the border fence in eastern al-Buriej Camp fired live and rubber bullets as well as tear gas canisters at protestors. The shooting which lasted until 17:00, resulted in the injury of 6 civilians, including a woman and a child: 3 were shot with live bullets and 3 were shot with rubber bullets. The wounded were taken to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah: Ibrahim Mahmoud Saleh Abu Khashab (24), was deemed in serious condition after being shot with a live bullet in his abdomen and admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU), while others’ injuries were classified between moderate to minor. Furthermore, dozens of protestors suffocated due to tear gas inhalation; some of them were treated on spot while others were taken to hospitals.
  • Khan Younis: Hundreds civilians joined today’s protests in Khuza’ah area in eastern Khan Younis.  Most of the protesters stayed in the encampment for the activities while only few dozens gathered near the border fence and attempted to throw stones and Molotov cocktails. IOF fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 9 civilians, including 2 children and a woman, were shot with rubber bullets. Moreover, dozens of protestors suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  • Rafah: hundreds of protestors gathered in eastern al-Shawka neighborhood while others remained at the protest encampment, where speeches and theatrical performances were performed. Dozens attempted to approach the fence and throw stones. IOF fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at protestors. As a result, 14 civilians, including 8 children, were injured; 2 were deemed in serious condition, including a child: 5 shot with live bullets, 5 with rubber bullets and 4 were hit with tear gas canisters. Those sustained serious wounds were identified:
  • Hazem Khaled Abu Jaridah (20), who was shot with a live bullet in his neck and referred to the Gaza European Hospital.
  • Basel ‘Abdul Raouf Salam al-Lolahi (15), who was shot with a live bullet upper his thigh.
  1. Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the West Bank
  • At the end of Friday prayer on 20 December 2019, dozens of civilians carrying olive trees to implant them in al-Qubeyat area, which is threatened to be confiscated by IOF. Al-Qubeyat area is located near “Homesh” settlement that is unpopulated, northwest of Nablus. When the protestors approached the abovementioned area, a number of soldiers were waiting them. The soldiers dispersed the protestors by firing tear gas canisters at them and chasing them.
  1. Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
  • At approximately 07:30 on Thursday, 19 December 2019, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, north of the Gaza Strip, fired a number of tear gas canisters at agricultural lands, northeast of the city. As a result, many farmers, the area residents and schools’ students suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. Abu al-‘Ala’a al-Ma’ari School for girls, which is about 1 kilo meter away from the border fence, was evacuated for few minutes.
  • At approximately 09:15 on the same Thursday, Israeli gunboats stationed in northwest of Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza Strip, pumped water at a fishing boat that was moored at a distance of 2 nautical miles. The boat is owned by Zuhair Abdul Rahman Zuhair al-‘Amoudi (21), from al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City. As a result, the boats sustained damage, including 6 searchlights, a generator, and a number of fishing nets in the area.
  • At approximately 16:00 on the same Thursday, a number of Palestinian young men, gathered at the western entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and threw stones at Israeli soldiers stationed at a watchtower located in the camp’s main entrance. The soldiers chased stone-throwers and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. No arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 23:05 on the same Thursday, Israeli warplanes launched 2 missiles at an empty land in eastern al-Shoka village, east of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 07:50 on Friday, 20 December 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern of the Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 10:00 on the same Friday, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence in eastern al-Shoka village, east of Rafah, fired tear gas canisters at a number of Palestinian shepherds. As a result, the shepherds suffocated due to tear gas inhalation and left the area.
  • At approximately 21:00 on the same Friday, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, east of Deir al-Balah, opened fire at agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 08:30 on Sunday, 22 December 2019, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, east of al-Buraij, opened fire at agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 09:00 on the same Sunday, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire at a fishing boat that was moored at a distance of 1.5 nautical miles. The boat is owned by Fahed Zeyad Hasan Baker (43), from al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City. As a result, 8 searchlights were broken.

It should be noted that this kind of boats is called “Felucca Boats”, which is uninhabited boat where lambs are installed on it to gather the fish around it to facilitate fishing. Fishermen usually leave these boats in the water. At approximately 16:00 on the same Sunday, fisherman Baker went to check the boat and found all the searchlights were damaged after Israeli naval forces opened fire at them.

  • At approximately 07:30 on Monday, 23 December 2019, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence in eastern Khan Younis, opened fire at a group of bird hunters, east of al-Farahin neighbourhood in ‘Abasan. As a result, bird hunters left the area fearing for their lives. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 11:00 on the same Monday, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence in eastern al-Buraij, opened fire at Sami Namer Salem al-Nabahin (32) when he attempted to sneak through the border fence to Israel. As a result, al-Nabahin was wounded in his lower extremities and arrested by IOF and taken to Soroka Medical Center for treatment. Al-Nabahin (32), from al-Buraij refugee camp, was interrogated at the hospital and released at approximately 16:00 on the next day evening via Erez crossing, north of the Gaza Strip.
  • At approximately 19:30 on the same Monday, IOF stationed along the border fence fired flare bombs and artillery shells at the east of Wadi al-Salqa village, east of Deir al-Balah. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 15:00 on Wednesday, 25 December 2019, a number of Palestinian young men gathered at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and threw stones at Israeli military vehicles stationed near the military watchtower. Israeli soldiers chased stone-throwers between houses and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a number of young men suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. The clashes continued until 18:00 on the same day. The soldiers arrested Mohammed Mahmoud Jawabrah (18) and Jamal Nawaf Jawabrah (19).

Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities

  • At approximately 10:00 on Saturday, 21 December 2019, IOF moved into Middle Mount area, southeast of Tulkarm. They prevented civilians from planting trees in their lands, claiming these lands were confiscated and forcing the farmers to leave the area at gunpoint.

The farmers had planted part of the lands with olive and forest seedlings as part of activities organized by the national factions in Tulkarm and local councils in the villages of al-Kafriyat and ‘Ezbet Shofah.  Those activities came after the Israeli government announced seizure of 788 dunums of these lands in favor of a new industrial settlement area.  According to this project, the agricultural area will turn into industrial and commercial areas where there are transportation, buildings, public institutions, car parking and roads for the new industrial settlement.

  • On the same day morning, an Israeli military force moved into agricultural lands in Kisan village, east of Bethlehem. They prevented the lands’ owners from plowing their lands and forced them to leave after threatening to arrest them.

Hussein Ghazal, an activist, said that IOF moved into this 100-dunum land and the officer in charge informed the Palestinian farmers that they are only allowed to enter their lands if they refer to the Military Governance office in “Gosh ‘Etzion” settlement complex in order to obtain an entry permit.  Ghazal said that IOF impose obstacles before lands’ owners, preluding to seize the lands as the settlers in the nearby settlements  continuously chase and attack farmers; the latest was against farmer ‘Atallah Ibrahim ‘Abyat when settlers sic their dogs on him.

  • At approximately 08:00 on Monday, 23 December 2019, IOF accompanied with Israeli Civil Administration officers and a construction vehicle moved into Kherbet Tana, northeast of Nablus. The construction vehicle demolished 2 residential tents of 50 square meters belonging to Hakam Zohdi Nasasrah and Yousif Fayez Nasasrah and confiscated their pillars.  They then damaged the trees planted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the international and local organizations in Tana Nature Reserve, which is around 90 dunums and planted with 3000 forest trees.
  • At approximately 08:30 on the same day, IOF accompanied with a construction vehicle moved into Khelet Abu Salah in the Northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. The construction vehicle demolished residential tents and sheep barns in addition to confiscating drinking water tanks, aiming to displace farmers.

Israeli Settler Violence

  • At approximately 02:00 on Thursday, 19 December 2019, Israeli settlers moved into al-Khalaylah neighborhood, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem. They punctured the tires of Palestinian vehicles and wrote racist slogans on the walls threatening the Palestinian residents.  Recently, the attacks by the “Price Tag” extreme groups against the Palestinian property repeated, especially burning vehicles and puncturing tires in Jerusalem.

It should be mentioned that IOF always arrive at the scene, interrogate the Palestinian civilians and take their testimonies.  However, the incidents are always recorded anonymously.  The Price Tag groups include extreme settlers who carry out hostilities against the Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

  • On the same day morning, Israeli settlers moved into Kisan village, east of Bethlehem, and prevented the Palestinian farmers from plowing their lands. They forced the farmers to leave and attacked ‘Atallah Ibrahim ‘Abayat (53).  They sic their dogs on him, and he was taken to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital to receive medical treatment.

Ahmed Ghazal, Deputy Head of the Kisan Village Council, said “settlers from “Evi Hanahel” settlement beat up the mentioned farmer and sic their dogs on him.  As a result, ‘Abayat sustained various wounds and taken to Beit Jala Hospital for medical treatment.”  Ghazal added that the settlers attacked ‘Abayat after he refused to obey their orders to leave his land for them, noting that such attacks recently recurred and shepherds have become afraid for their lives.

  • At approximately 04:20, 2 settlers from Giv’at Ha’avot settlement outpost established on the lands of eastern Hebron arrived at the house of ‘Abdel Karim Mahmoud al-Ja’bari in al-Hussein Valley adjacent to the outpost and wrote racist slogans against Arabs signed by the “Price Tag” groups on 2 vehicles parked on the main road.
  • At approximately 06:00, settlers moved into the lands al-Ghawit Valley area in al-Khader village, west of Bethlehem. They uprooted 300 olive trees and seized them.

The land’s owner, Hisham al-Barmil, said that he was surprised with a call from his neighbors telling him about what happened.  He immediately headed to his 30-dunum land to see hundreds of the trees that were planted tens of years ago uprooted and seized by settlers.  It should be mentioned that it was not the first attack by settlers on the area as 2 months ago they attacked plantings in the area, causing losses to the farmers.

  • At approximately 15:30 on the same day, settlers from Yitsihar settlement established on the lands of Burin, Madma, ‘Asiret al-Qabilah and ‘Orif villages, southeast of Nablus, threw stones at the Palestinian cars traveling on “Yitsihar” Bypass Road and Madma Bridge near “Yitshar” settlement. As a result, the windshield of a bus belonging to Redwan Ma’arouf Hussein ‘Asayrah (58) was broken.
  • At approximately 02:00 on Friday, 20 December 2019, settlers from “Havat Gilad” settlement moved into the southeastern area of Fre’ata village, north of Qalqilya. They set fire to 2 vehicles belonging to Saher ‘Abdel Rahim Rafiq Salim and Thaer Raed ‘Abdel Rahim Salim. They wrote racist slogans against Arabs on the floor and walls of a house belonging to Saher ‘Abdel Rahim Salim.

‘Abdel Men’em Shana’ah, Head of Fre’ata Village Council, said:

“At approximately 02:30 on Friday, 20 December 2019, one of the area residents called to tell me that the area and cars were on fire.  I immediately headed to the area, where 2 cars parked in front of Saher Salim’s house were on fire, but we could not do anything. The Civil Defense arrived to extinguish the fire, and the area was full of racist slogans on the walls and floor of Saher Salim’s house.  Next morning, we contacted the competent authority to tell them about what happened.”

  • On the same day morning, settlers moved into the Northern Valleys area, east of Tubas. They started repairing ‘Ein al-Helweh Spring that is used by the Valleys’ farmers for drinking and irrigation.  The farmers said that they were surprised with settlers’ repairing the spring, aiming to seize it and prevent civilians from using it.
  • At approximately 10:00 on Saturday, 21 December 2019, around 100 armed Israeli settlers moved into ancient Solomon’s Pools, south of Bethlehem. They wandered with their dogs and bathed in the springs while others swam in one of the pools under the IOF protection.  It should be mentioned that settlers come to the pools from time to time under the IOF protection and the area residents are afraid of the Israeli territorial appetites although the pools are located in Area “A” and many Palestinian projects are established there.
  • At approximately 10:00 on Monday, 23 December 2019, Israeli settlers under the IOF heavy guard placed the “Menorah” lampstand on the roof of al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City. This step is part of the settlers’ ongoing attempts to take over the mosque that started in 1994 when a settler carried out a massacre against the worshippers in the mosque.
  • On the same day afternoon, Israeli settlers from “‘Aadi ‘Aad” settlement under the IOF protection cut and damaged 35 olive trees in a land belonging to Ratib Haj Na’asan in al-Seder area in al-Moghir village, northeast of Ramallah.

Nash’at Nas’asan (38) said that at approximately 15:30 on the same day he saw 10 settlers approaching the barbed wire surrounding the trees in al-Seder area.  They destroyed it and then entered the land to cut the olive trees and damage the branches.  They then fled away to their settlement.

Fully detailed document available at the official website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

Report: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes

Eyes are a ‘common target’ of Israeli snipers at Gaza’s Great March of Return. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that Israeli soldiers have shot 50 men, women, and children in the eye since the weekly demonstrations began last March, leaving many permanently blind.

by Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey, reposted from TheNewArab

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank.

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

Mai Abu Rwedah, 20, grew up in north Gaza’s al-Bureij Refugee Camp in a family of nine children supported by a father who works as a janitor for a UN school. She just graduated from university, hoping to start her professional life as a medical secretary and contribute her income.

But that dream was dealt a severe blow December 6, when she became the most recent Gazan to lose an eye to an Israeli bullet.

Abu Rwedah believes in using peaceful, but active, resistance to reclaim Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homeland. So, she has joined participants in the Great Return March protest since its launch on March 30, 2018.

On September 21 of that year, she was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in one of her legs, but that didn’t stop her from participating; she kept on going.

 
 Doctors had to extract Mai’s right eye and the bullet damaged her jaw as well
 
 A sit-in protest takes place in Gaza in solidarity with Mai 

Earlier this month, stood with a few friends about 100 metres from the fence that marks the border between Gaza and Israel. She glimpsed an Israeli soldier waving and pointing his finger to his eye.

“He was trying to intimidate me, but I was not afraid because I was doing nothing wrong. I wasn’t even throwing stones,” Abu Rwedeh recalls.

The soldiers fired tear gas then, and Mai and her friends ran away, but still were in sight of the young man who had threatened her.

“He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye.”

The bullet damaged her jaw as well. Doctors had to extract her right eye, since it was destroyed, Her determination, however, is intact. Abu Rwedeh continues to protest.

The youngest victim

Mohammed Al-Najar, 12, is the second-oldest son among four children, supported by a father who works in a wedding hall in Khan Younis.

In January, during the mid-year vacation from school, Mohammed begged his parents to allow him to watch the Friday protest with his cousins and other relatives, thinking it would give him an exciting story to share with classmates.

He was given permission to ride one of the government buses that collected people from the various neighbourhoods, taking them to the protest sites. When he disembarked, teargas bombs were flying, and he shouted to warn those around him. Then next one hit him directly in his right eye.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school. When he did go back, he struggled.

“At first his marks at school dropped and he isolated himself. He tried to hide his missing eye,” says his mother, Um Edress.

She took to him an organisation that provided psychotherapy, but he refused to speak. Today, he is socialising, but goes quiet when asked about his injury.

 
 When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school  

The journalist

According to Dr Alqedra, most people with eye injuries from the Great Return March are journalists or photographers.

One of them is Sami Musran 35, a photographer who works for Al-Aqsa TV. On July 19, he was shot several times – first in his hand, the next two times in his shoulders and the fourth time in the chest. (Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so it did not harm him.) The last time cost him his left eye.

Sami says he had received several calls from Israeli officers warning him not to take photos at the Great Return March. His mother also received calls, saying her son might be killed.

“Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well,” he says. “But I decided to keep on with my work to reveal the Israeli crimes against unarmed Palestinians who participate in the march.”

The night before Musran was shot, his wife tried to insist he stay home, but he refused.

“Minutes before I was hit, my mother called me twice, saying she was very worried about me. But I said that nothing happens that isn’t God’s plan,” he recalls.

He was about 250 metres away from of the Israeli fence when two women and a child were shot. Musran was taking photos of them and went in close. That’s when a rubber-coated bullet hit his eye and he lost consciousness. Two days later, he woke up in the intensive care unit to find out he had a skull fracture and an injured eye. The bullet had damaged the iris, retina and cornea and his vision was gone.

Today, it is hard for him to continue with his job; his depth perception is off, he gets headaches and the sight in his remaining eye “fades” at night. But he will keep trying.

“Israel wants to blind the eyes of the truth by sending messages to photographers saying we will hit your eyes to make you stop taking photos,” he says. “But we do not surrender.”

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

897 JEWISH FANATICS STORMED AL AQSA MOSQUE LAST WEEK

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Hundreds of Israeli Jewish fanatics stormed the courtyards of Al Aqsa mosque under Israeli police protection last week.

Israeli media reported that 897 Jewish settlers stormed the holy mosque last week under the protection of Israeli police and special forces.

Groups of far-right Jewish settlers had called Israelis to carry out intensive raids into the holy mosque to mark the Jewish holiday of Hannukah.

The settlers stormed the holy mosque from the Magharbeh gate, which has been occupied by the Israelis since 1967, and carried out provocative tours that included rituals.

Last week saw several assaults against Muslim worshipers. Four women have been arrested before being released and banned from entry into the holy mosque for different periods.

The occupation state allows Israeli hardliners to break into Al Aqsa mosque on a daily basis, except for Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, Muslim worshipers are being arrested and kicked out to allow Israelis to carry their raids.

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

PALESTINIAN PRISONER ENTERS 98TH DAY OF HUNGER STRIKE PROTESTING ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION

Ramallah (QNN)- The Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Zahran (42 years old) is continuing his hunger strike for the 98th day protesting his administrative detention.

Zahran, a father of four kids from the village of Deir Mash’al in Ramallah, has spent a total of 15 years in Israeli jails. He was sent from the prison clinic to hospital a few days ago after a deterioration in his health condition.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club has said two days ago that Zahran’s health condition is deteriorating dangerously. He suffers from several conditions and is now in the hospital of Ramleh prison.

Zahran was arrested last March under administrative detention for no charges. This is his second hunger strike; the first one has continued for 39 days and was ended when the Israelis promised to release him before breaking their promise and renewing his arrest.

Administrative detention is arrest and detention without charges or trials. It continues for prolonged periods and depends on charges that remain “classified” upon military orders.

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

To understand the violence of Israel’s occupation, know these 30 stories

Because of Israeli indifference with the life of Palestinians, in 2016, after 25 years of experience and hundreds of cases, B’Tselem, the Israeli rights group, decided to stop cooperating with the Israeli whitewashing mechanisms

By Hagai El-Ad

Violence and whitewashing are the double helix of occupation’s DNA. Here are 30 stories of Palestinians killed or harmed by its brutality, collected by B’Tselem over three decades. And they are just the tip of the iceberg.


Aishah Abu Laban is 70 years old. It has been 30 years since the fateful day in 1989 when an Israeli soldier shot and killed her 13-year-old daughter, Rufaydah – but she will never forget it. Rufaydah, who lived in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, was killed on her way home from the funeral of 16-year-old Naser al-Qassas, who had also been shot dead by soldiers a day earlier.

The IDF Spokesperson responded to Rufaydah’s death by declaring: “There was no connection between the death of the girl and IDF activity in the area.” Thirty years on, as Aishah puts it, there is only one conclusion: “When the judge is your enemy, who can you complain to?”

Twelve years later, we find ourselves in another refugee camp in the West Bank. This time Nur a-Shams and her two young sisters, Hanan, 11, and Iman, 8, were wounded in their home by an Israeli tank shell. Their mother, Najah Abu Sha’ala, was fearful of the tanks encircling the camp, as any mother would be.

When the shelling grew heavier, the mother led her family to the safest place in the house: the staircase leading up to the roof. Then the shell hit. The IDF Spokesperson said: “After reviewing the overall circumstances of the incident, the decision is that there are no grounds for ordering an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit into this matter.

Iman was taken to a hospital in East Jerusalem, but Najah couldn’t go with her as she didn’t have a permit to enter Israel. Several months later, Iman was scheduled to go to Jordan with her father to have the shrapnel from the shell removed. A few weeks before the trip, soldiers shot and killed her father at Anabta checkpoint while he was on his way to work.

Nine years earlier, soldiers shot dead three-year-old Na’im Abu Amneh in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip (“The decision is not to take legal action against the shooters,” said the IDF Spokesperson). Fast-forward 27 years, and Na’im’s mother, Asmahan, recalls how her little boy would always tell her how strong he was. It never crossed her mind that she would have to live without him – her eldest son, her first pride and joy.

Maryam Abu Nijem lost her husband, Bilal, in the summer of 2014. The bombing of their home in Gaza’s Jabalya Refugee Camp also killed Bilal’s father, his grandfather, and two of his brothers. Three neighbors were killed, including three-year-old Raghad and 14-year-old Shaymaa.

Maryam’s mother-in-law, Fawzeyeh, was gravely injured. A few years earlier, in another bombardment of Gaza in 2008, Fawzeyeh’s parents’ home was bombed and eleven family members were killed.

Rewind to 1991, the West Bank village of Beit Rima. Muhammad al-Barghouti, 23, who had a mental disability caused by meningitis as a child, was sitting at the entrance of a house. When Israeli soldiers arrived, he stayed put. So they beat him (IDF Spokesperson: “Under these circumstances, we did not see fit to order any legal proceedings against the soldiers, and the investigation file was closed”). Since then, whenever Muhammad heard that soldiers were in the village, he would run for his life.

Six years later, another place, another Palestinian: Border Police officers beat Jamal Sukar from Dheisheh. (“I have decided to close the case on the grounds that unfortunately we were unable, despite our efforts, to locate the suspect”).

Jamal has never forgotten that day, nor the pain in his leg. But he has never shared the experience with his children in order to spare them the resentment and rage that he feels.

Seventeen years after her son Nidal was killed, Muna Abu Muhsen hates the holidays and stills feels like he died yesterday. In 2002, in the town of Tubas, soldiers used her son as a human shield. (“The examination found that the commanders of the forces on the ground did not estimate that employing the assistance of Mr. Abu Muhsen would place his life in danger”).

Three years later, in the same town, Shahrazad Abu Muhsen would lose her youngest child, 14-year-old Salah a-Din – soldiers shot and killed him while he was playing with a plastic gun with a friend. (“The complaint was not located,” said the IDF Spokesperson).

When Shahrazad made the pilgrimage to Mecca, she could have sworn she saw her son circling the Ka’ba, wearing the holiday clothes he had on the day he was killed.

Hadil Ghaben from Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip loved cartoons. When she was seven years old, an Israeli artillery shell exploded in her living room. The Military Advocate General did not launch an investigation. Thirteen years later, the surviving members of her family are scarred in body and soul.

Early 2009, again Beit Lahiya. This time, a white phosphorus bomb burned six members of Abu Halima family to death, including one-year-old Shahd. The survivors were driven to a nearby hospital by tractor wagon. On the way, soldiers shot and killed two more of them (“The investigation file was closed”).

In 1994, a week before he was shot and killed by soldiers west of the town of Halhul, Imad, the eldest son of Al-Adarbeh family, took several of his brothers on a trip to the Dead Sea. After he was killed, his brother and sister named their children after him. (The soldier who killed Al-Adarbeh was sentenced to a two-month suspended prison term for two years).

Ramzi Abu Amshah similarly named his eldest son after his 19-year-old brother, Yusef, who was shot dead in 1995 by a soldier while sifting through settlement landfill in the northern Gaza Strip for copper and aluminum to sell. (“The Southern Command Advocate decided in his report, which was approved by the Military Advocate General, to take disciplinary action against an officer and a soldier who were connected to the incident”).

Abu Amshah family’s suffering didn’t end there: in 2003, the army demolished their home, and in the summer of 2014, the father of the family was killed, along with his second wife, in an Israeli bombardment.

In 1998, Saber Abu a-Russ from Qalandiya Refugee Camp was 21 years old. He was ashamed at the time to tell B’Tselem’s field researcher all the details of the beatings and abuse he had undergone. (“The case was closed after the investigation due to lack of evidence”).

Today, at 40, he is more open about the psychological pain he has carried all his life. To this day, he “can’t watch movies that have violence or news reports about incidents with the Israeli army, although every Palestinian should be aware of what’s happening around them.”

Amin Hamdan is also still afraid of anything related to the Israeli military or police. Sixteen years ago, soldiers beat him at the Ein Ariq checkpoint in front of cameras, an incident that gained international attention. (“The case has not been located”). The next day at the same checkpoint, the very same soldiers prevented him from going to the hospital. Only three days after the beating did he manage to get medical treatment for jaw and rib fractures.

In the months until his ribs healed, Hamdan felt as though he was being stabbed with every movement he made – and with every time his little boy asked how his father let himself get beaten up like that.

Twelve years after soldiers killed her father, Dr Samir Hijazi, from a distance in 2004 (“The Military Advocate General did not see fit to order an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit”), Bayan Hijazi of Rafah decided to honour her late father’s wish and enrolled in medical school.

Five years earlier, soldiers opened fire at fishermen in the Gaza Strip, wounding Sa’id al-Bardawil and Mahmoud a-Sharif from Khan Yunis Refugee Camp. “They didn’t even curse [at us]. They just opened fire and that’s it.” (“We find no cause to order an investigation”).

Medat Shweiki, on the other hand, was cursed at as the soldiers’ blows landed. In 2000, a soldier claimed the 23-year-old was “trying to be a big man.” The beating that ensued led Shweiki to be admitted to the hospital hours later, where the police threatened to arrest him (the Department for the Investigation of Police “decided not to prosecute the officer due to lack of sufficient evidence”).

The scars on Shweiki’s body remained — as did the depression. Nineteen years after that summer evening, he has one conclusion: “I have no faith in any system that is supposed to get justice for Arab victims whose rights have been violated.”

More beatings: in 2010, in the city of Ashkelon, Muhammad Dababseh from Tarqumya was attacked by an Israeli police officer. After passing out at the police station, he woke up in hospital. He lost the ability to speak and didn’t believe he would ever get it back. He remembers the moment in which he found his voice again (IDF Spokesperson: “We decided to close the case for lack of evidence”).

It’s 2012 in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya. Police beat 9-year-old Amir Darwish. After about two hours at the police station, he was released. Jihad, Amir’s mother, recounts how her son’s childhood changed that day, followed by more arrests and more abuse. (based on previous experience, the family found no reason to complain to the investigation department).

Twenty-nine years have passed since Amneh Fanun, now 77, was beaten by soldiers in the village of Battir (“We passed on the complaint for review by the Office of the Advocate of Central Command”). She still remembers what happened. In her words: “Life goes on, despite the pain.” Meanwhile, every day, she hears about more military killings and assaults.

The family of Yazan Safi from Jalazoun Refugee Camp had to obtain a permit every six months to enter Israel repeatedly during their son’s adolescent years. A teargas canister fired by a soldier had hit Yazan in the mouth in 2008 when he was 13, and he had to get prosthetic teeth that needed to be adjusted regularly. (The case was closed after an examination by military officials, said the army).

Sometimes the family didn’t get the permit and the son had to go alone for the treatment. When Yazan turned 18, the army stopped giving him permits.

Salma a-Sawarkah of Juhar a-Dik in the Gaza Strip was 74 in 2011. That’s when soldiers shot her from the Israeli side of the fence while she was grazing her flock inside the strip (“The case was forwarded for supplementary investigation by the MPIU”). After the injury, she was afraid to go near the Gaza-Israel fence ever again.

Tharwat Sha’rawi was a year younger than Salma when she was shot dead in her car by soldiers in Hebron. That was four years ago (“The case was closed after an examination of the operational debriefing”). She wanted her car to be sold with the proceeds donated to Al-Ahli Hospital after her death, but the car was foreclosed.

Six years after his brother Samir was killed in 2013, Mahmoud Awad turned 16 – the same age his brother was when Israeli soldiers shot him at the separation barrier near the West Bank village of Budrus.

Mahmoud’s father Ahmad became unemployed after Israel revoked his work permit immediately after the army killed his son. (The indictment against two soldiers involved in the incident, for “reckless and negligent act using a firearm,” was withdrawn two and a half years later). Ahmad has turned the documentation and exposure of the occupation into a central part of his life — a living commemoration of his son and all Palestinian victims of injustice.

Six years earlier, at another fence east of Deir al-Balah in Gaza, sixteen-year-old Mahran Abu Nseir was shot dead and two of his friends wounded by Israeli fire. The three wanted to escape poverty in Gaza and look for work in Israel (“The case was closed after an examination by military officials”). Mahran’s father says his firstborn was a quiet, beloved boy.

Ata Amira from the West Bank village of Ni’lin was born an orphan. Soldiers killed his father Atallah in 1996 (“The MAG ordered the investigation file closed”), while his mother Hanaa was five months pregnant.

Twenty-three years later, Hanaa is a 56-year-old widow. She speaks painfully of the time that followed, and of raising her children without their father.

The same year, in another shooting incident, four soldiers were sentenced to “a fine of one agora (0.01 of a shekel)” for the offense of “failing to comply with compulsory army regulations.”

About three years earlier, they had killed Iyad Amleh of Qabalan, who was traveling with his friends on the way back to his village. The soldiers’ sentence was overturned on appeal and the defendants were sentenced to a one-month suspended prison term for one year. Iyad’s parents never recovered.

To 2016: Muhammad a-Tabakhi from a-Ram is the father of Muhyi a-Din, who was killed by Border Police officers when he was 10 years old. In the first year after Muhyi’s death, Muhammad would still say his late son’s name whenever he tried to call one of his sons.

To 2017: Baraa Kan’an from the village of Nabi Saleh was 19 when soldiers arrested him and abused him for hours on end. He was blindfolded when one of the soldiers threatened to shoot him. He heard the gun being loaded and was certain he was about to die.

Kan’an was abandoned late at night and picked up by a passerby. His father says the arrest and abuse drove his son to continue protesting the occupation. A year later, he was arrested again and sentenced to 14 months in prison.

To 2018: Alaa a-Dali from Rafah was 20 when he was wounded by army gunfire. He was riding his bike to a Land Day demonstration when was shot from afar in his right leg. Israel refused to permit him access to hospital in Ramallah, and doctors in Gaza had to amputate his leg.

A member of the Palestinian cycling team, he couldn’t participate in any competition outside the Gaza Strip because of the blockade. He now dreams of getting an advanced prosthesis.

And so, in 2016, after 25 years of experience and hundreds of cases, B’Tselem decided to stop cooperating with Israel’s whitewashing mechanisms. The organisation has not contacted Israeli authorities since then to investigate incidents where Palestinian residents of the occupied territories were killed or wounded.

All the cases above are from B’Tselem’s archives, researched and documented by B’Tselem field researchers and data coordinators since 1989. They are featured in a new B’Tselem project highlighting thirty stories of Palestinian victims of Israel’s occupation, one for each year since the organisation’s founding.

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

Israeli occupation forces wound 39 protesters, including 11 kids in Gaza

During the 86th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli occupation forces shot and wounded 39 peaceful protesters, including 11 children.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said in a report that the number of the wounded also included a woman.

Since 30 March 2018, the Palestinians have been marching along the eastern side of Gaza, protesting against the 13-year-old strict Israeli siege imposed on the coastal enclave.

Along with protesting against the siege, the Palestinians intend to reinforce the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes where they were forcefully displaced by Zionist Jewish gangs in 1948.

UN and other international bodies have several times accused the Israeli occupation forces using lethal force against the peaceful protesters.

So far, the Israeli occupation forces have killed more than 315 peaceful protesters and wounded around 30,000 others.

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

Gaza: Return March Rallies To Be Organized Monthly In 2020

Photos File

Photos File

The Higher National Commission of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege has announced that the border rallies in Gaza will be staged on a monthly basis and during national occasions in 2020.

In a news conference held on Friday, the Commission said it would maintain its presence on the ground and keep its committees ready in order to develop and correct its performance, establish new committees and follow up the issue of the wounded.

The Commission reiterated its adherence to organizing the March of Return as part of the Palestinian struggle to extract the just national rights.

It announced its intention to lay out a media and legal plan aimed at highlighting and documenting Israel’s crimes against the civilians in Gaza and putting all information filed in this regard at the disposal of the International Criminal Court, which will launch a pertinent investigation soon.

(Source / 28.12.2019) 

After Almost A Record 100 Days Of Hunger Strike, Israel Insists On Keeping Palestinian Behind Bars

The Prisoner Ahmad Zahran

The Prisoner Ahmad Zahran

After almost a record 100 days of hunger strike, Israel insists on keeping behind bars Ahmad Zahran, a Palestinian held in administrative detention without charge or trial and based on secret evidence.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission said in a statement today that Zahran, 42, has been on hunger strike for 97 days demanding a fair trial or his release from prison as the Israeli military court keeps delaying a hearing on an appeal against renewing his administrative detention for four more months.

Zahran, from the Ramallah-area village of Deir Abu Mishaal, was previously also on hunger strike but ended it 39 days later after he was told that his administrative detention would not be renewed after it runs out.

However, when the Israeli military reneged on this promise and extended his detention by four months, he resumed the hunger strike.

Prisoners’ Commission spokesman Hassan Abed Rabbo told WAFA news agency that Zahran’s health was rapidly deteriorating after losing 30 kilograms of his weight and that he is currently kept at Ramleh prison clinic.

Zahran had spent a total of 15 years in Israeli prisons for resisting the occupation. He is a father of four.

(Source / 28.12.2019)