Thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip take part in protests against the Palestinian Authority on 24 February 2019
At least 34 Palestinians were arrested in 2019 as part of the Palestinian Authority’s revolving door security coordination policy which sees Israel arrest Palestinians shortly after they are released by the PA or vice versa, the committee of prisoners’ families announced yesterday.
Reported by Safa news agency, the committee said that this policy is aimed at deterring Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Giving examples, the committee cited the case of Palestinian prisoner Musa Al-Khatib, who spent one month inside the PA’s prisons and was arrested by occupation forces just one hour after his release.
Muslims perform the Friday Prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on 20 December 2019
Since the start of the year, Israel has been implementing a plan to isolate and suffocate Al-Aqsa Mosque and change its status.
The Deputy Director of the Muslim Waqf (Religious Endowments) Department in occupied Jerusalem, Najeh Bkerat, said the occupation is increasing the frequency of its violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the performance of Talmudic rituals within its compound, restricting the movement of Muslim worshippers, and thus imposing a new reality in the mosque.
According to Brekat, Israel has also threatened to close the Rahma Gate in an effort to increase its presence in the compound and get a foothold within its walls.
Finally, Israel seeks to impose its sovereignty on Al-Aqsa Mosque by interfering with the powers of the Islamic Waqf, including by preventing the Muslim body from carrying out any work inside the compound, in addition to hindering restoration and reconstruction activities.
Brekat pointed out that since the beginning of the year, the occupation has arrested more than 15 citizens in Jerusalem, and assaulted women and men in Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He stressed that the occupation is paving the way to convert Jerusalem to a Jewish capital by waging an ideological war against the Arab-Islamic narrative in the Holy City.
Brekat continued: “The Arab-Islamic silence and the conflicts and chaos taking place in the vicinity of Palestine served the occupation very significantly, and assisted it in its quest to monopolise Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem. Thus, the Israeli authorities remain immune and avoid accountability for their violations.”
“It is clear that the occupation seeks, day in and day out, to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to change the equation significantly.”
Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh who was shot by an Israeli sniper in Gaza on 15 November 2019
Israeli occupation forces committed 760 violations and crimes against Palestinian journalists in 2019, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) has said.
In a report issued by the Freedoms Committee, the PJS recorded 12 critical injuries with live ammunition, 62 injuries with rubber-coated steel bullets and 58 injuries in which tear-gas canisters and stun grenades were directly fired toward journalists.
The report also recorded that 78 journalists suffered from suffocation as a result of tear gas while they were carrying out their work.
Committee head Mohammed Al-Lahham said the Palestinian media has been under constant attacks by the Israeli occupation forces over the last year.
He pointed to the recent closure of Palestinian media institutions in Jerusalem, the latest of which was the closure of Palestine TV, in addition to 30 other violations recorded against journalists in Jerusalem.
The report identified 92 cases in which Israeli occupation forces prevented journalists from doing their job and covering events.
It also noted that several cases of sexual harassment had been recorded against female journalists to force them to leave the field.
At least 250 social media accounts of journalists were shut down, said the report.
Al-Lahham stressed on the necessity of providing the right to freedom of movement for Palestinian journalists.
Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said yesterday that “Area C” of the occupied West Bank belongs to Israel, Anadolu reported.
“I solemnly declare that Area C belongs to Israel,” Bennett said at a conference on settlement construction, adding that he has repeatedly called for imposing Israeli sovereignty over this land.
He added: “Israel is fighting a real war on Area C.”
“We are launching a campaign for the future of Area C; it started a month ago and I’m announcing it here today,” Bennett added.
“Our objective is that within a short amount of time, and we will work for it, we will apply [Israeli] sovereignty to all of Area C, not just the settlements, not just this bloc or another,” Bennett told the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.
Area C constitutes about 60 per cent of the occupied West Bank and is under full control of the Israeli occupation state.
He continued: “About a month ago, I held a meeting and explained the ways that the State of Israel will do everything possible to ensure that these areas [Area C] will be part of the State of Israel.”
The West Bank is divided into three areas according to the Oslo Accords; Area A, under full Palestinian control, Area B, under Palestinian administrative control and Israeli security control, and Area C, under full Israeli control.
Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 illegal settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.
On Tuesday, the family of Palestinian lawyer, Tareq Barghouth, 44, received a decision to withdraw his license to practice the profession, Quds News Network reported.
The decision was issued by the Israeli Bar Association, which requires the withdrawal of the license to practice law from Barghouth, on the pretext that he was involved in ‘resistance operations’.
Israeli occupation forces arrested Barghouth from his home in Ramallah, on February 27, 2019, he was then transferred to the “Al-Maskoubiyya” center, where he was subjected to harsh and prolonged interrogation.
The military court in “Ofer” sentenced him to thirteen and a half years, in July of 2019, as part of a deal between the defense and the prosecution, when he was accused of carrying out four shootings with Zakaria Al-Zubaidi.
Barghouth was transferred to several Israeli prisons, and is held today in the Negev desert prison. He was subjected to medical negligence, which he wrote about in a letter from prison, the punishment for this was solitary confinement.
Barghouth is considered one of the lawyers who defended many Palestinians over the course of his career, as he defended the prisoner Ahmed Manasra, the wounded prisoner Israa Ja`bis, and the wounded prisoner Bilal Abu Ghanem.
Barghouth was arrested in conjunction with the arrest of a member of the Revolutionary Council of the “Fatah” movement Zakaria Al-Zubaidi.
Palestinian lawyer, Sherine El-Essawy, spent 43 months in Israeli prison, and was released by the occupation authorities in 2017.
In January 2019, Israeli Bar Association ended El-Essawy’s legal profession for life, forbidding her from practicing law.
Israeli Defense Minister, Neftali Bennet, has formed a special committee tasked with boosting and strengthening the colonialist activities on Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that Naftali’s “Task Force” aims at legalizing the colonialist outposts, which were built on Palestinian lands without Israel’s approval.
Haaretz added that the task force also allows Israelis to buy lands in Area C of occupied West Bank, which constitutes about %60 of the Palestinian territory.
It said that the proposed plans are a “series of controversial proposals that legal sources are effectively equivalent to annexation.”
The plan aims at granting the colonists permits for “buy lands” in the West Bank, in addition to creating a geographic link between the illegal outposts and providing them with running water and electricity, and other infrastructure.
It also aims at barring the evacuation and the dismantling “random” (illegal outposts, which weren’t approved by Israel) in order to boost the colonies prior to the new Israeli general election.
The process would lead to the “legalization” of around thirty colonialist outposts, which previously received demolition and evacuation orders by Israel itself.
Haaretz added that Bennet, who heads the New Right-Wing Party, said the campaign started a month ago and aims as implementing Israel’s policy, which states that “Area C of the West Bank belongs to Israel.”
It is worth mentioning that Itay Hershkowitz, the Chief of Staff of Bennet’s office, has invited, over the past several weeks, various leaders of Israel’s colonialist movement who, according to Haaretz, discussed many issues that could advance in the coming months, despite the current limitation of the caretaker government, still headed by Netanyahu, until the Knesset election, planned to be held on March 2nd of this year.
Netanyahu recently said that he will never allow the removal and eviction of any settlement under any possible political agreement.
“Under my leadership, there will be no evacuation of any settlement in all territories west of the Jordan River,” Netanyahu said, “Military, security and political control will always be in Israel’s hands; no settlement will ever be removed, and Jerusalem will never be divided.”
All of Israel’s colonies in the occupied West Bank, including those in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and all related United Nations and Security Council resolutions.
The colonies do not only violate International Humanitarian L they also violate the United Nations Charters which prohibits the acquisition of territory by force, in addition to Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from moving its population into territories in occupies regardless whether the transfer was forced or voluntary.
They, along with the Annexation Wall, are meant to fragment the Palestinian territory, and isolate dozens of Palestinian communities, in addition to further illegal annexation of their lands.
The TV series Fauda (Arabic for “chaos”) deals with the story of an Israeli undercover unit, the mistaravim, whose commandos carry out missions in the occupied Palestinian territories while disguised as Arabs.
Among the most successful Israeli drama series ever made, the show has garnered numerous awards, both at home and abroad. The show premiered in 2015 and Netflix acquired it the following year, after which Fauda became a wildly successful international hit.
Journalist Avi Issacharoff and actor Lior Raz created the series, based in part on their experiences in the Israeli army’s Duvdevan commando unit. Consultants for the show included Gonen Ben-Yitzhak, a former Israeli security coordinator and elite commando, and Aviram Elad, another Duvdevan graduate.
The first two seasons focused on the unit’s undercover operations in the occupied West Bank. The third season, which just started, deals with operations in Gaza. Before the current season began airing, producers launched an aggressive ad campaign that flooded Israel’s streets with huge billboards.
Every time I drive by one of these promo visuals or get stopped at a red light next to one, I cringe with shame.
The new season’s ads portray the steely-eyed, bruised and bloodied face of an actor alongside the message “Welcome to Gaza”, written in English but using Hebrew letters. I look at this and think of the incredible cynicism, the barefaced arrogance of this mockery.
Welcome to Gaza. Welcome to the ghetto whose exits Israel has locked down for more than a decade, punishing more than two million people with a slow death. This, apparently, is the new virtual playground to gratify Israeli viewers’ need for thrills, put into English to emphasise the American nature of this entertainment juggernaut.
A right-leaning Hebrew media site described the new season this way: “Fauda and its undercover mistaravim operatives commanded by Doron (Lior Raz) return for another tense and thrilling season. Their main mission this time is to damage the West Bank Hamas infrastructure operating from Gaza and take out the commander of the Hamas military wing there.”
Gaza: A myth for Israelis
Thrilling and suspenseful new challenges, and daring new missions. As in an elaborate computer game, the viewer can lean back and let himself be swept along with the drama, protected by the screen from the dramatic scenes unfolding in Gaza. The brutal situation of two million people under siege becomes merely a stage set for the storyline.
As such, the siege of Gaza itself becomes the best promo for the TV series. Thanks to another long year of closure, Gaza has become a kind of myth for Israelis: not wholly real, in the sense that real people live there, and yet simultaneously very scary and threatening.
The ignorance of ordinary Israelis that flourishes behind the dark screen Israel has imposed around the West Bank and Gaza, and the primeval fear it engenders, are major components in the secret to the success of this series.
Even more grotesque is how following tensely along with the stories of “our wonderful boys” in Gaza does not prevent most viewers of Fauda from claiming, in political arguments, “But we left Gaza! There’s no more occupation there!” In the meantime, they applaud every execution, detention or sophisticated ambush they see on their TV screens. We withdrew from Gaza, but what a great job we are doing there!
This alienation also encompasses a kind of exoticisation of Palestinians under occupation. For the vast majority of the Jewish Israeli audience, not only the action set in besieged Gaza, but also parts of the series set in the West Bank, describe places beyond the mountains of darkness. Nablus, Ramallah, Jenin – all have come to symbolise the realms of the netherworld that our boys bravely enter and leave, rather than vibrant cities a short drive from where we live.
I remember very well the first time I visited a friend in Jenin. At first, I was unable to comprehend the instructions he gave me. It did not sound logical that I should just get into my car and drive straight to him. I was astounded to discover how easy and short a drive it was.
Frightening and exotic
Fauda not only relies on this fear of Palestinian spaces, but amplifies it, legitimises it and normalises it. Palestinians are depicted as frightening and exotic creatures inhabiting places where only commandos dare to venture. Zionism has managed to transform Palestinians into exotic figures in their own homeland.
One key argument that emerges in many discussions of Fauda is that this series actually embodies a humane, even leftist, agenda, because it “portrays the complexity” and shows that the people on the other side are also human beings.
This point is worth pondering a moment, so that we can consider what it says about us, as Israelis, if after so many years of our violent rule over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians, we need to be reminded that they, too, are human beings. But the deeper moral failure in this argument is the symmetry it posits: see, there are people on both sides.
Given the underlying reality of Gaza, which years ago a UN report projected would be unfit for human habitation by the year 2020 – a forecast that has come true ahead of schedule – there is no symmetry.
On one side is the place whose existence for decades has been crushed by a regime of violence, poverty, destruction and death, wrought by one of the mightiest armies in the world; on the opposing side, that army maintains absolute control over the destiny of the other, with no intention of stopping.
Fauda was created by people who took an active role in this regime of control and abuse. This TV series is the fruit of that collaboration, and as such, it is by definition illegitimate.
It is immoral to turn the suffering of the victim into entertainment for the victimiser. It is immoral to succumb to an adrenaline addiction at the expense of those in the crosshairs of our weaponry. Gaza is not a stage set for a drama series; it is a real place with real people experiencing indescribable suffering that we Israelis impose on them every single day.
Yes, it is important to know what is going on in Gaza as it disintegrates under siege, but not via entertainment for the masses. We could, for instance, get to know the voices of young Gazans themselves via the important website “We Are Not Numbers”.
It’s easy to say “to hell with politics and morality”, or “there’s no choice but to go with the flow” – but there are always choices. We can, for instance, refuse to cooperate in turning victims into amusement for the occupiers or entertainment for the international community – the very same international community that has enabled the occupation to perpetuate these abuses for so many years.
Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Wednesday that he will not remove any Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank in the context of any peace deal.
As reported by the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu was speaking at a conference organised by influential right-wing think-tank the Kohelet Policy Forum, alongside US envoy David Friedman among others.
“I will not let any settlements be uprooted in any diplomatic plan. This idea of ethnic cleansing…it will not happen,” Netanyahu said.
Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.
Addressing the upcoming elections in March, Netanyahu suggested that urgent action was needed to consolidate Israel’s hold on the West Bank.
“There is a window of opportunity. It opened, but it could close,” Netanyahu said, warning of “weak leadership” that will “hit rewind”, reportedly a reference to Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) leader Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu focused a portion of his remarks on justifying Israel’s permanent occupation of the West Bank, claiming that Palestinians “don’t have an economy without it [the settlements]”.
The Israeli prime minister also praised US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration last year that Washington no longer sees Israeli settlements as illegal.
“In a clearly defensive war, we returned…to the land where our forefathers put down roots thousands of years ago,” Netanyahu said.
“Unlike some in Europe who think the Pompeo declaration distances peace, I think it will promote peace, because peace must be based on truth, not lies. Settlements are not the root of the conflict. We are standing with justice and the truth. It is a great struggle.”
Zionist Jewish gangs displaced over 550 Palestinian villages and cities, displaced over 800,000 Palestinians and slaughtered tens of thousands others in 1947 and 1948 in Palestine and created their occupation state of Israel
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman announced on Wednesday that his country’s next step is the annexation of the occupied West Bank.
In a conference held in Israel, Friedman said that he has been doing his best since he become ambassador to “fix” the issues which remain outstanding after the 1967 war.
“Since coming here l have worked to add one more item to a busy agenda: helping to find a fix to the issues that still linger from the Six Day War,” he said.
There are three important issues, he said, Jerusalem, which US has already recognised as Israel’s capital and relocated its embassy to, the Golan Heights, which America has recognised Israel’s sovereignty of, and the West Bank.
Friedman said that this step comes after recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.
The US envoy claimed that the West Bank has been a Jewish territory for thousands of years and the Jews have historical links to the lands.
However, the fact is that the Zionist Jewish gangs displaced over 550 Palestinian villages and cities, displaced over 800,000 Palestinians and slaughtered tens of thousands others in 1947 and 1948 in Palestine and created their occupation state of Israel.