PA calls on ICC to deal with Israeli courts as tools of occupation, judges as war criminals

Building of the International Criminal Court [file photo]

Building of the International Criminal Court [File photo]

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to deal with the Israeli court as tools of the occupation and Israeli judges as war criminals.

In a statement issued by the PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, the ministry affirmed that the Israeli courts are part and parcel of the Israeli occupation regime.

Therefore, the ministry called on the ICC to deal with these courts as tools of the Israeli occupation, used to terrorise Palestinian citizens, stressing that their rulings are “equal to war crimes” and their judges are “war criminals”.

According to the statement, the ministry argued that the Israeli courts serve the settlement organisations which aim to judaise and Israelise Jerusalem.

Justice at Last? ‘Panic’ in Israel as the ICC Takes ‘momentous step’ in the right direction

It gave examples regarding the decisions of the Israeli courts, including the ruling to evacuate Al-Rajabi Building in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, and handing it over to Ateret Cohanim,

an organisation seeking to increase Jewish presence in the Old City.

The statement also argued that the Israeli courts approve the demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, as well as the excavation works beneath Palestinian homes and other buildings, noting that such decisions have recently multiplied.

Meanwhile, the ministry renewed its call for UNICEF, the United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children, to form an international mission to visit Jerusalem and stand closely at the Israeli destructive excavations, in order to report them to the international bodies.

In addition, the statement raised the issue of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Wadi Al-Hummus last year, to the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who consequently issued a warning on this subject and stressed that she would follow up this “dangerous issue” with the ICC.

Will Israel ‘invade The Hague’ now?

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

Just 3% of Palestinian building permits in Area C are approved by Israel

Israeli soldiers inspect the house of Palestinian Arafat Irfaiyye, after it was demolished by a bulldozer in Hebron, West Bank on April 19, 2019 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli soldiers inspect the house of Palestinian Arafat Irfaiyye, after it was demolished by a bulldozer in Hebron, West Bank on April 19, 2019

Only 21 of 1,485 applications from Palestinians for construction permits in Area C of the West Bank were approved by the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank between 2016 and 2018, figures revealed in response to a freedom of information request by human rights organisation Bimkom.

However, Civil Administration data shows that over 2,000 demolition orders were issued in Area C for “violations” by Palestinians of planning and construction regulations during the same period.

A restrictive planning regime applied by Israeli authorities makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in Area C, impeding the development of adequate housing, infrastructure and livelihoods.

Earlier this month, Bennett issued instructions to authorities to intensify Israel’s crackdown after stating that Area C of the occupied West Bank belongs to Israel.

According to Israel Hayom, Bennett has held several meetings in the past few weeks with senior officials as the right-wing minister seeks a “total stop to illegal Palestinian construction within two years.”

In light of Israel’s discriminatory planning system, some European governments have provided modest funding to Palestinian communities under threat, support that has infuriated Israel. For Israeli authorities, such Palestinian constructions constitutes an illegal “take over” of land.

WATCH: Israeli forces assault Palestinian woman in Jerusalem

Further stats provided by the Civil Administration showed that 56 building permits were granted to Palestinians between 2018 and 2019. However, 35 of those were granted as part of a state plan to relocate Jahalin Bedouins from the Al-Mintar neighbourhood, and were not implemented.

The Israeli government seeks to deport Bedouin communities east of Jerusalem in order to establish a settlement project called the E1 zone.

Also requested by Bimkom was comparable data for the entire period since 2000, which brought to light that Palestinians have submitted 6,532 building permits in Area C, since 2000, of which only 245 – just 3.7 per cent – were approved.

According to Haaretz, Bimkom coordinator Alon Cohen-Lifshitz says: “As the Israeli stake in the West Bank keeps increasing over the years, the number of permits is dramatically decreasing. You see it especially after the Oslo Accords, when you see a dramatic drop. In ’72, no one thought there was a stake in stopping Palestinian construction. To the contrary – they saw it as the country’s obligation.”

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 as illegal.

READ: PA calls on ICC to deal with Israeli courts as tools of occupation, judges as war criminals

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

Israel transfers dozens of Palestinian child detainees outside the West Bank

Israeli security forces take a Palestinian minor into custody in the West Bank on 20 December 2017

Israeli authorities “transferred dozens of Palestinian child detainees outside the occupied West Bank to a prison inside Israel last week”, human rights NGO Defence for Children Palestine (DCIP) has revealed, in a move it described as “amounting to a war crime”.

According to DCIP, on 13 January the Israel Prison Service (IPS) moved 33 Palestinian children from Ofer prison, located near Ramallah inside the occupied West Bank, to Damon prison, located inside the Green Line near Haifa.

“The transfer of Palestinian child prisoners outside the occupied West Bank is a war crime,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Programme Director at DCIP.

READ: Israel arrests rabbi who detained, abused 50 women in ‘cult’ 

“Israeli authorities must only detain children as a measure of last resort for the shortest necessary period of time without transferring them outside the occupied West Bank”.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power transferring members of the occupied civilian population outside of the occupied territory, including detainees.

The children told their lawyers that they were held at Damon prison “in basement rooms with terrible conditions, including mice”, and during the first three days at Damon prison the children refused meals to protest the transfer and prison conditions”.

As DCIP highlighted, “the immediate practical consequence is that the trip to Ofer military court is now a three-day journey, as children are transferred to Al-Ramleh prison before and after they appear in the military court”.

READ: Israel army demolishes school to disrupt education for Palestinians

In addition, “the children are more severely separated from their families as parents face undue obstacles when attempting to visit children detained at prisons inside Israel”.

Such obstacles can include “permit delays” from Israeli occupation authorities, and “families must travel long distances and pass through checkpoints in order to visit their children”.

The most recent data released by Israeli occupation authorities revealed that, as of the end of December 2019, at least 186 Palestinian children aged between 14 and 17 years old were detained in the Israeli military detention system.

“Israel’s practice of unlawfully transferring Palestinian prisoners out of occupied territory has been challenged twice before the Israeli Supreme Court”, but that “in both instances, the court held that when in conflict, primary Israeli legislation overrides the provisions of international law”, said DCIP.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

PA to carry out projects worth $100m in Gaza

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh speaks to press in Ramallah, West Bank on 30 July 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh speaks to press in Ramallah, West Bank on 30 July 2019

Palestinian Authority (PA) announced on Monday that it will carry out projects worth $100 million in the occupied Gaza Strip, noting the funds pledged by the World Bank.

The PA prime minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, announced on Facebook that his ministerial council has approved the package for 2020 development projects in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Shtayyeh disclosed that $66 million will come from Al-Aqsa Fund, and other Arab funds run by the Islamic Development Bank.

He also revealed that the World Bank pledged $100 million for development projects to be carried out in the Gaza Strip. More information on the projects can be found here.

READ: Palestine is under multiple occupations

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

UN Calls for International Support to the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Following a six-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, called on the international community to ensure continued commitment and consistent and sustained funding to help alleviate the challenges faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“My visit leaves me concerned,” Mueller declared, according to WAFA. “The challenges here are immense, but recent positive steps, along with the extraordinary people I met, give me hope that there are opportunities for improvement. We must seize them.”

The Assistant Secretary-General was a key note speaker at the sixth international conference on preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters, held in Tel Aviv. During her visit, she met with Israeli authorities, and commended Israel on its contribution to global emergency relief efforts.

She also met with Palestinian authorities and citizens to better understand the challenges of the crisis. She reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to address humanitarian needs across the oPt, and advocate for longer-term solutions, including lifting of the blockade in Gaza and a fair planning and zoning regime, and more conducive living conditions in the West Bank.

In the oPt, Mueller met Mohammed Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, and Major General Yousef Nassar, Director General of Palestinian Civil Defense, to identify areas for strengthened cooperation. She visited the central West Bank, including East Jerusalem, where she met with vulnerable communities who are exposed to a coercive environment that reduces their access to shelter, basic services and natural resources, placing them at risk of forcible transfer.

In Gaza, she visited a major hospital, vulnerable women and men benefitting from the support of a women’s center and youth leaders, learning more about the deprivations of life under blockade and the negative impact of the Palestinian political divide.

“Until there is a viable political solution, it is critical that the international community continues to render support in a consistent and sustained manner to meet the needs of the most vulnerable Palestinians,” Mueller said. “Member States must continue to support humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. At the same time, they must work to rekindle a robust political dialogue and promote long-term solutions, to address the root causes of this crisis.”

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

IN THE NAME OF ‘ISRAEL’S SECURITY’: RETREATING US GIVES ISRAEL BILLIONS MORE IN MILITARY FUNDING

By Ramzy Baroud

BILLIONS of US taxpayers’ money will continue to be funnelled into Israel in the next fiscal year, and for many years in the foreseeable future.

Republican and Democratic senators have recently achieved just that, passing a Bill aimed at providing Israel with $3.3 billion in annual aid.

The Bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Chris Coons and Republican Senator Marco Rubio, passed on January 9, only one day after Iran struck US positions in Iraq.

Enthusiasm to push the Bill forward was meant as an assurance to Tel Aviv from Washington that the US is committed to Israel’s security and military superiority in the Middle East.

Despite a palpable sense of war fatigue among all US citizens, regardless of their political leaning, the US continues to sink deeper into Middle East conflicts simply because it is unable — or, perhaps, unwilling — to challenge Israel’s benefactors in all facets of the US government.

The maxim “What’s good for Israel is good for America” continues to reign supreme among Washington’s political elites, despite the fact that such irrational thinking has wrought disasters on the Middle East region, and is finally forcing a hasty and humiliating US retreat.

The latest aid package to Israel will officially put into law a “memorandum of understanding” that was reached between the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Barack Obama administration in 2016. Obama had then offered Israel the largest military aid package in US history.

Senator Rubio explained the passing of the recent Bill in terms of the “unprecedented threats” that are supposedly faced by Israel.

For his part, Senator Coons said that “the events of the past few days,” referring to the US-Iran escalation, were “a stark reminder of the importance of US assistance to Israel’s security.”

Particularly odd in Coons’s statement is the fact that it was not Israel, but US positions in Iraq that were struck by Iranian missiles, themselves a response to the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

Yet the US funding of Israel’s military adventures continues unabated, despite the rapidly changing political reality in the Middle East, and the shifting US role in the region as well.

This further confirms that the blind US support of Israel is not motivated by a centralised US strategy, one that aims at serving US interests.

Instead, the unconditional — and, often, self-defeating — US funding of the Israeli war machine is largely linked to domestic politics and, indeed, the unparalleled power wielded by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

According to the public policy research institute of the United States Congress, Congressional Research Centre (CRS), between 1946 and 2019 (including the requested funds for 2020) US aid to Israel has exceeded $142bn.

The vast majority of this funding — over $101bn — went directly to the Israeli military budget, while over $34bn and $7bn were given to Israel in terms of economic aid and missile defence funding, respectively.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the US no longer possesses a well-defined and centralised strategy in the Middle East, with President Donald Trump changing US priorities from one speech to the next.

However, one key phrase that seems consistent in whatever political agenda that is still championed by Washington in the region is “Israel’s security.”

This precarious term seems to be linked to every US action pertaining to the Middle East, as it has for decades under every administration, without exception.

Wars were launched or funded in the name of Israel’s security; human rights were violated on a massive scale; the five-decade — and counting — military occupation of Palestine; the protracted siege on the impoverished Gaza Strip and much more, have all been carried out, defended and sustained in the name of “Israel’s security.”

US aid to Israel continues, despite the fact that all US aid to the Palestinians has been cut off, including the $300 million of annual US funding to the UN agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

The latter, which has provided education, healthcare and shelter for millions of refugees throughout the years is now, bizarrely, seen by both Israel and the US as “an obstacle to peace.”

Inexplicably, Israel receives roughly “one-third of the American foreign-aid budget, even though [it] comprises just .001 per cent of the world’s population and already has one of the world’s higher per capita incomes,” wrote Professor Stephen Zunes in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

This massive budget includes much more than the $3.3bn of annual funding, but other amounts and perks rarely make headlines.

Anywhere between $500m to $800m are given to Israel every year as part of a missile defence package; approximately, an additional $1bn benefits Israel in the form of tax-deductible donations, while $500bn is invested in Israeli bonds.

Then there are the loan guarantees, where the US government assumes the responsibility for billions of dollars that Israel can access as a borrower from international creditors.

If Israel defaults on its loans, it is the legal responsibility of the US government to offset the interest on the borrowed money.

Starting in 1982, Israel has been receiving US aid as a lump sum, as opposed to scheduled payments, as is the case with other countries.

To satisfy its obligations to Israel, the US government borrows the money, thus being left to pay interest on the loans.

Meanwhile, “Israel even lends some of this money back through US Treasury bills and collects the additional interest,” Zunes wrote.

US relations with Israel are not governed by the kind of political wisdom that is predicated on mutual benefit. But they are not entirely irrational either, as the US ruling classes have aligned their interests, their perception of the Middle East and their country’s role in that region with that of Israel, thanks to years of media and official indoctrination.

Despite the fact that the US is retreating from the region, lacking strategy and future vision, US lawmakers are congratulating themselves on passing yet another generous aid package to Israel.

They feel proud of their great feat, because, in their confused thinking, a “secured” Israel is the only guarantor of US dominance in the Middle East, a theory that has been proven false, time and time again.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

HORRIBLE DETAILS ON PALESTINIAN CHILDREN TREATMENT IN DAMON JAIL

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Committee of Prisoners and Former Prisoners unveiled horrible details about the conditions of 33 Palestinian children prisoners, who were recently transferred from Ofer to Damon Israeli jails.

The committee said in a report issued on Tuesday that after the children arrived at the Damon jail, they were thrown in section (1), which has been abandoned for a long time and infested with insects and cockroaches and not suitable for human occupancy.

The statement added that the section, which lacks ventilation and sunlight, has five small rooms, three of them have no windows at all while the two others have two small windows. The ceilings of the rooms are too low and the rooms are too small, not mentioning the very bad smell of the section.

The transferred children do not have any of their basic needs. They do not have any water heaters or any cooking tools. They were only allowed to take their clothes and blankets with them.

Last week, the children announced a state of rebellion in protest against their horrible conditions. The measures that they followed included banging on cells’ doors, breaking some cupboards, screaming and insulting the jailers, according to the report.

However, the jail administration used a repression unit against the children, which brutally beat and handcuffed them for lengthy periods, sprayed them with pepper gas, confiscated their belongings, and transferred some of them to the Jalameh jail, which is even worse.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

Israeli occupation kidnaps 16 Palestinians in West Bank raids

Israeli occupation carried out daily night raids in the occupied Palestinian territories and kidnap Palestinians from their homes

Israeli occupation forces kidnapped on Tuesday night 16 Palestinians in multiple raids across the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said.

In a press release, the PPS said that the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped nine Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Al Khalil.

Local sources elaborated that Israeli military vehicles raided Arroub refugee camp, north of Al Khalil, where soldiers kidnapped five Palestinians, including three minors.

Sources confirmed a similar Israeli military raid in Deir Samet village, south of Al Khalil, resulting in the kidnapped of a Palestinian man.

Three others from Al Khalil, identified as former prisoners, were kidnapped from their hometown of Beit Ummar town, north of the city.

In the northern West Bank, the PPS said that two former prisoners were kidnapped from the city of Tulkarm. One was identified as a resident of Tulkarm and the other as a resident of Nur Shams refugee camp, east of the city.

Three Palestinians were kidnapped in a predawn Israeli military raid in the city of Tubas.

In Nablus district, Israeli occupation troops barged their way into the town of Burin, south of Nablus, where they kidnapped a former prisoner.

Israeli occupation troops kidnapped another Palestinian after storming and thoroughly searching his house in Zawata town, north of the city.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

Freezing, rainy, snowy cold snap hits besieged Gaza Strip

Last year, three children died after they froze inside their homes which lack even primitive warming equipment

Freezing, rainy and snowy cold snap has been hitting the besieged Gaza Strip since the start beginning of last week; forecasters predict it would continue until the end of this week.

It is one of the worst spells of cold weather that hit Palestine this winter.

The people of Gaza are being affected particularly badly, due to the shortage of fuel and lack of vital equipment as a result of the 13-year-old Israeli siege imposed on the enclave.

Palestinian weather forecasters said that the cold front, which has been accompanied with heavy rains, high winds reaching up to 90km per hour, with waves up to three metres high, and snow, would continue until the end of this week.

In response to the harsh weather conditions, the Palestinian Ministry of Works said that its rescue teams were ready to deal with any emergencies.

However, the ministry complained of severe shortages of emergency equipment due to the Israeli-led siege, as the Israeli occupation authorities do not allow many of the related machinery, including pumps, steel cables and pipes, to be imported.

The ministry also warned that old pumps might not work properly. This prompted fears of flooding and high water levels in low-lying residential areas.

In January 2015, 2016 and 2017, Gaza suffered massive floods and thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes during heavy storms.

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is now the head of the Hamas political bureau, took part personally in rescue efforts in 2015.

The situation in Gaza deteriorated after major Israeli military offensives severely damaged sewage, water and communication infrastructure, aside from the appalling human losses

The Palestinian Civil Defence put its staff on alert, fearing any emergency across the Gaza Strip, where the sewage system and rainwater pumps are not functioning fully due to the decade-long Israeli siege.

Thousands of Gaza residents are still living in makeshift tents and caravans after their houses were destroyed during the 51-day Israeli offensive in 2014.

Others are living in partly damaged properties which are susceptible to rainwater and the cold weather as they have not been repaired following the Israeli offensive.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

Torture of Palestinian detainees prevails in Israeli jails

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

By Ramona Wadi 

Israeli occupation continues torturing Palestinian prisoners inside its jails in a show of clear disrespect of all international laws and conventions which ban torture of prisoners.


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.

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.

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.

(Source / 21.01.2020)