‘Israeli police shot Palestinian man and left him to die,’ confirms new probe’

Yacoub Abu Al-Qiyan, a Palestinian teacher, was left to die after he was shot dead by Israeli forces in 2017 [Youtube]

Yacoub Abu Al-Qiyan, a Palestinian teacher, was left to die after he was shot by Israeli forces in 2017

Israeli police officers shot an innocent Palestinian teacher and left him to die, a new investigation has found. Shocking details of the killing of Yacoub Abu Al-Qiyan in 2017 have been uncovered by Haaretz, exposing the negligence of Israeli soldiers who allowed the 47-year-old to bleed to death even though medical personnel were only a few metres away.

Al-Qiyan’s death has been mired in controversy from the start. An Israel cover-up of his killing was exposed last year.

The incident took place during the forcible evacuation of Umm Al-Hiran, a Bedouin village located just outside Beersheba in the Negev Desert in southern Israel. Several homes in Umm Al-Hiran – a village that is “unrecognised” by Israel – had been slated for demolition, one of which belonged to Musa Hussein Abu Al-Qiyan, the elderly father of Yacoub.

READ: Israel hangs dead Palestinian from bulldozer

During the pre-dawn demolition raid, the Israeli authorities claim, he had tried to ram his car into some policemen, killing one of them. The incident was subsequently labelled as a Daesh-inspired “terror attack”, to which the police responded in “self-defence”. Abu Al-Qiyan was shot dead at the scene.

However, an exclusive report by Haaretz last year revealed that one police officer – known only as “S” – admitted hours after the incident that he did not believe that his life or the lives of his colleagues were in danger as a result of Al-Qiyan’s driving. This remark, the Israeli daily pointed out, was made to a Shin Bet coordinator known as “Taher” and contradicted his testimony given later to investigators from a unit of Israel’s Justice Ministry, which probes allegations of police misconduct.

The latest probe by Haaretz found that Al-Qiyan had asked villagers to avoid any violence and to permit the Israeli forces to destroy the village homes to prevent an altercation. Moreover, Justice Ministry investigators who searched Al-Qiyan’s computers found no links to terrorism and nothing to suggest that he posed a threat.

The shocking details of his killing confirmed that Al-Qiyan had died as a result of the failure to receive medical treatment. Dr Maya Forman of the forensics unit that performed the autopsy is reported as saying that, “Had he received treatment, he apparently would not have died.”

READ: Israel forces kill Palestinian in West Bank protest

Al-Qiyan was left in his car wounded but alive, while medical personnel stood just 10 metres away. The medics were told not to provide the teacher with any treatment.

According to the Justice Ministry investigator, “He [Al-Qiyan] didn’t die of a gunshot. The guy died of loss of blood for dozens of minutes. In other words, if you would have noticed and worked as you should, this guy wouldn’t have died.”

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

Food for thought: Providing jobs for Gaza’s widows

Palestinian women prepare to make maftool, as part of a project to help widows in Gaza provide for their families  

Palestinian women sift flour in preparation to make maftool in Gaza, 26 February 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinian women sift flour in preparation to make maftool in Gaza, 26 February 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinian women prepare make maftool, as part of a project to help widows in Gaza provide for their families, 26 February 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinian women prepare make maftool, as part of a project to help widows in Gaza provide for their families, 26 February 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinian women prepare make maftool, as part of a project to help widows in Gaza provide for their families, 26 February 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Palestinian women prepare make maftool, as part of a project to help widows in Gaza provide for their families, 26 February 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Eight women sit on the roof of a small house in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City, in an area where poverty is prevalent. They are supervised by 47-year-old Eitidal Filfil, who founded the project “Habbat Al-Loulou” or “grains of pearls”, to make maftool.

Water is poured slowly over balls of semolina and ghee to make tiny balls the size of lentils. This is maftool, known as couscous in North Africa; a very popular dish in the Levant, North Africa and some Mediterranean Basin countries.

Eitidal says that the project targets widows and gives them job opportunities. The women don’t earn much, she explains, but it helps them provide for themselves and their children.

READ: 21 Palestinians in Gaza lose one or both eyes from Israel forces’ fire during protests

“Most [of the women] have five to eight children who need an allowance, food, drink, education and healthcare. All of this weighs heavily on us.”

Eitidal says the initiative produces about 300 kilogrammes of maftool a month, which are sold at $1.60 a kilo. The women’s wages range between $8-$15 a day.

Production can be doubled, she explains, but only if sells increase and people rely on her goods. Habbat Al-Loulou would also need to purchase a maftool-making machine, which would save on the time and manpower used to forming the dough balls to make the dish.

Wish rising unemployment in the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinians are turning to traditional crafts to earn a living and provide for their families.

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

US’ Sanders may return Israel embassy back to Tel Aviv

US Senator Bernie Sanders delivers a speech during his first presidential campaign rally at Brooklyn College in New York, US, 2 March 2019 
 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders delivers a speech in New York, US on 2 March 2019

US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said he would consider moving the US embassy from occupied Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv.

During a Democratic Party primaries debate in South Carolina, Sanders was asked about American Jews who are “worried” he is not supportive enough of Israel, and if he’d move the embassy back to Tel Aviv, he said it would be something he would take into consideration.

He also doubled down on his view that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist.

He said: “The answer is yes, it is something we would take into consideration, but here’s the point. I am very proud of being Jewish, I actually lived in Israel for some months. But I happen to believe, is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country.”

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He went on to say that US foreign policy should indeed support the independence and security of Israel, however the suffering of Palestinians could not be ignored.

He continued: “But we absolutely cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the Americans, and in answer to the question, that will come within the context of bringing nations together in the Mid-East.”

READ: The Israel lobby is mobilising to stop Bernie Sanders

Opponent former Mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg, who also owns corporation and media empire Bloomberg however, said he would not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

He told Sanders: “You can’t move the embassy back. We should not have done it without getting something from the Israelis in return, but it was done and we need to leave it there.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz condemned Sanders’ comments and said he had a “long history” of attacking Israel adding he was “horrified” by his statement.

Katz said: “Naturally, people who support Israel will not support someone who goes against these things.”

Sanders volunteered on a Kibbutz near Haifa in 1963, and is the only Democratic presidential candidate to actually have lived in Israel.

READ: AIPAC is in a losing battle to preserve Israel’s bipartisan status in America

He has previously called Netanyahu a racist, has pledged to skip the controversial conference of Israel lobby group America Israel Public Affairs Committee, which he has called a platform for bigotry.

Sanders has also suggested part of the substantial military aid package Israel enjoys from the US should be diverted to the Palestinians. 

This comes as the Democratic candidates face “Super Tuesday” on 3 March, where 15 different states will head to the polls and vote for who will become the party’s presidential nominee.

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

Army Invades Palestinians Lands, Navy Attacks Fishing Boats, In Southern Gaza

Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Wednesday morning, Palestinian lands east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, while navy ships opened fire on fishing boats.

Media sources said three armored D9 bulldozers, a digger, and a few military jeeps, advanced dozens of meters into Palestinian farmlands before bulldozing several sections and digging trenches.

They added that the invasion was carried out in the same area where the Israeli army killed, last Sunday, Mohammad Ali an-Na’em, 27, who was not only shot by the soldiers, but also had his body crushed by a military bulldozer, before it was lifted in the air by its blade before it was swung back and forth in the air.

In addition, Israeli navy ships opened fire, and used water cannons, against Palestinian fishing boats in Khan Younis sea, forcing the fishermen back to the shore without being able to fish and provide for their families.

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

As Part of Ceasefire Agreement, Israel Closes Gaza Border Crossings and Fishing Zone

Israel closed Gaza’s border crossings and the entire fishing area, Monday night, as part of the ceasefire agreed between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza, according to Days of Palestine.

The ceasefire went into effect at 11:30 p.m. local time, on Monday, after 2 days of intense fire, that began after Israel murdered a Palestinian man, then continued to desecrate the slain man’s body.

Reports said Israel ordered the Karm Abu Salem/Kerem Shalom border crossing to be closed, which is considered Gaza’s only commercial crossing with Israel, except for food, fuel and medical supplies.

Erez/Beit Hanoun border crossing will also be closed, except for humanitarian cases, in addition to closing the entire fishing area, which is one of the besieged Gaza Strip’s main income sources.

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

EU Representative Deplores Israeli Army Actions in Gaza

European Union (EU) Representative in Jerusalem, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff said Tuesday that the incident in which an Israeli soldier drove a bulldozer onto Palestinian territory, and dragged the body of a slain Palestinian in Gaza, on Sunday, goes counter to all principles of human dignity, Palestine News Network reported.

“No one should be witnessing scenes like that one when a military bulldozer drags away a lifeless body. This is something that goes counter to all principles of human dignity and respect,” von Burgsdorff said.

“The EU has consistently reiterated on numerous occasions, that the destructive cycle of violence and counter-violence has to come to an end,” he said. “De-escalation is now imperative, not least to preserve lives of the citizens of Gaza and to relieve their suffering.”

Human Rights groups Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), both expressed their grave concern over the incident which sparked 2 days of fighting.

(Source / 26.02.2020)

B’Tselem: “Turning A Blind Eye: 19 Protestors In Gaza Lose Eye From Israeli Forces’ Fire, 2 Lose Both”

B’Tselem: In the last two years, 19 Palestinians lost their vision in one eye while participating in March of Return protests near the Gaza perimeter fence. At least two more lost their vision in both eyes. Each of these personal tragedies adds to the alarming casualty count in the protests: more than 200 people have been killed, some 8,000 wounded by live fire, about 2,400 wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets, and almost 3,000 wounded by tear gas canisters.

Israel’s nearly 13-year blockade of the Gaza Strip has severely impaired local health care. As Gaza’s collapsing health care system is grappling with a shortage of medicine, physicians, equipment and medical training, it is unable to offer many forms of treatment. Israel abuses its control over Gaza’s border crossings and denies residents passage to medical treatment elsewhere, including in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, other than in exceptional cases it deems “life-saving”.

Wounded persons have to make do with the limited treatment options available within Gaza or try to make to another country – assuming they manage to get a permit to leave via Rafah crossing and shoulder the high costs. Meanwhile, just several dozen kilometers away, are hospitals that could provide the critical care they need.

As B’Tselem has previously reported, the use of crowd control measures as lethal weapons, which may result in death or serious injury, has been a feature of Israel’s open-fire policy regarding the demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter fence for nearly two years. This illegal, immoral policy conveys disregard for the lives and bodily integrity of Palestinians. So long as Israel persists in implementing it despite the horrific outcomes, demonstrators will continue to be killed and seriously injured. The ordeal suffered by the wounded, who have to receive treatment and rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip while better care is available elsewhere, is yet another horrifying facet of Israel’s callous policy towards the residents of Gaza.

* According to figures published by the World Health Organization (WHO).
** According to the Protection of Civilians Database maintained by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

B’Tselem field researchers in the Gaza Strip collected testimonies from demonstrators who were injured in their eyes by Israeli security forces’ gunfire. Here are three of their stories.

מאי אבו רווידה בהפגנה לפני פציעתה. צילום: מחמוד אבו מוסלם, 6.12.19
MAI ABU RAWIDA AT THE PROTEST, BEFORE SHE WAS INJURED.   6 DEC. 2019

Mai Abu Rawida, 20, 6 December 2019

On Friday, 6 December 2019, at around 2:30 P.M., Mai Abu Rawida, 20, from al-Maghazi R.C., arrived with her two sisters at the Return March protest held near the perimeter fence east of al-Bureij R.C., in the central Gaza Strip. After attending prayer in the protest tents, she went with several friends up to a distance of a few dozen meters from the fence, waving a Palestinian flag. At around 3:30 P.M., Abu Rawida went closer to the fence, and then a member of the Israeli security forces fired a “rubber” bullet that hit her in the eye.

In a testimony she gave Olfat al-Kurd on 10 December 2019, Abu Rawida said:

I’ve been going to the March of Return protests east of al-Bureij R.C. since they started. On Friday, 6 December 2019, at around 3:30 P.M., after I walked away from my friends and stood several dozen meters away from the fence, one of the soldiers fired a “rubber” bullet that hit me in the left eye. I fell to the ground and put my hand over my eye, which was full of blood. Blood was coming out of my mouth. I was sure I’d lost my eye. I screamed and my friends rushed over with some guy. They lifted me up and carried me to the paramedics. The paramedics took me to an ambulance that drove me to the field infirmary and there, the doctors cleaned the wound and sent me to Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital right away.

Mai’s friend, Shaimaa Abu Yusef, 26, from a-Nuseirat R.C. said in a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd on 15 December 2019:

SHAIMAA ABU YUSEF.   15 DEC. 2019

I walked towards the fence with Mai and a few other girls. We waved the Palestinian flag, and then the army fired tear gas canisters at us and we ran back. After that, we withdrew to about 100 meters from the fence. A few minutes later, Mai walked a few dozen meters towards the fence. I was just turning to head another way when one of the soldiers shot a “rubber” bullet at Mai and she fell down. I ran over to her with some other friends. Her face was covered in blood. I said: “They killed Mai!” Our friends started yelling at the top of their lungs. One of the guys came over, picked Mai up and said she wasn’t dead. I looked at her and saw she was hurt in the right eye. We took her to the paramedics, who were about twenty meters away. They gave Mai first aid and transferred her to an ambulance that took her to the field infirmary. From there, Mai was taken to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital.

What did Mai do? She waved the Palestinian flag and didn’t endanger the soldiers in any way. Why does the Israeli army hurt us, when all we do is protest quietly?

Abu Rawida was transferred from one hospital to another and finally underwent surgery at a-Nasr Hospital, where her ocular cavity was cleaned. Two days later, she was transferred to a-Shifaa Hospital, where she was treated for a skull fracture.

In her testimony, she further recounted:

When I came out of surgery, my eye was bandaged. I asked my father: “What happened to my eye”? He told me, “You’re okay”, because he didn’t want to shock me. When the doctor examined me, I asked him and he said I’d lost my eye. I’m very sad. I lost my eye just like that, for no reason. I wasn’t a threat to the Israeli army in any way. Sometimes I feel that my face is disfigured. I look in the mirror and I don’t like it. The army ruined my life and my future. As a woman, my life has been ruined. The most important thing for me right now is to get out of Gaza to access treatment and have a prosthetic eye implanted, so I can go back to being myself, so there isn’t such a hole in my face.

Muhammad Abu Raidah, 10, 27 December 2019

On Friday, 27 December 2019, Muhammad Abu Raidah, 10, from the town of Khuza’ah, arrived at a March of Return protest held near the fence north of Khuza’ah. He was there to collect metal items and sell them. Muhammad and his friends collect tear gas cannisters fired by Israeli security forces at protestors and sometimes even cut pieces from the concertina wire the military lays be the main fence, looking to earn a few shekels. At around 4:00 P.M., while he was near the fence, Abu Raidah was hurt in the right eye. The hospital found he had been hit by a tear gas canister. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem researcher Khaled al-’Azayzeh on 6 January 2020, he said:

MUHAMMAD ABU RAIDAH AND HIS MOTHER, JIHAN.   6 JAN. 2020

The hospital found he had been hit by a tear gas canister. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem researcher Khaled al-’Azayzeh on 6 January 2020, he said:

When I was hit in the eye, I passed out and fell down. When I woke up, I was in the European Hospital. I could see only through my left eye and the right eye was bandaged. My head really hurt.

For the first four days at the hospital, I was in shock and couldn’t speak to anyone. A few days later, the swelling around my eye started going down, but I couldn’t see anything with it. My bandages were replaced every day.

I was released from hospital after ten days. Now I’m home and all I do is sleep. I get medicines and all kinds of eye drops every hour or every few hours.

Muhammad’s mother, Jihan Abu Raidah, 41, a married mother of four, spoke about her son’s life since the injury in a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd on 6 January 2020:

On Friday, 27 December 2019, my children and I had lunch together. I asked Muhammad not to go to the fence, even though he doesn’t go there to protest but to collect pieces of metal and used tear gas canisters. Our financial situation is tough, and he sells the scraps for three shekels and earns some pocket money that way. He went anyway, and I waited at home for him to come back and eat the dessert I’d made for him. At about 4:00 P.M., my daughter, Hanan, told me Muhammad had been hurt.

The doctors at the European Hospital told me Muhammad’s eye was in bad shape and he might lose his eyesight. When I saw him, I fainted. There was blood on his face, and I was afraid he was going to die.

Muhammad was bleeding and was in pain, but the doctors couldn’t do anything except give him antibiotics and pain killers. They said Muhammad would have to get treatment outside Gaza to save his eye. When his friends came to visit, all he did was cry. He didn’t talk to them. His cousin, Ibrahim, who’s also ten years old, came to visit him every day. He kept asking me: “Why doesn’t Muhammad want to talk to me? Why does he just keep quiet all the time? I miss his voice”. My heart ached for both of them, and I cried a lot too.

At home, after he was released from the hospital, Muhammad grew very quiet. Before the injury, he was very active, he was the driving force in the house. He would go out every day to sell vegetables and pieces of metal and aluminum to bring in some money. After he came out of the hospital, he kept telling me, “I want to go out of the house and play with my friends. I want to play soccer and ride a bike. I feel like I’m suffocating. I’ve had enough. I’m bored”.

Muhammad still has strong pain in the spot where he was injured, as well as headaches and dizziness. He can only see through his left eye. He gets eye drops and antibiotics. I really really hope he’ll get a referral for surgery in a hospital in East Jerusalem or the West Bank.

Muhammad is my youngest and most pampered son. I’m always near him, looking at him, and my heart aches with pain. He’s only a ten-year-old kid who didn’t threaten the Israeli army. I pray to God to give him health, that I see him playing and running in the neighborhood again, that the smile returns to his face.

Muhammad Abu Raidah did not receive a referral for treatment in a West Bank hospital and in mid-January 2020, went with his parents to get treatment in Egypt.

SAED MAHANI.  , 2 JAN. 2020

Saed Mahani, 28, 27 December 2019

On Friday, 27 December 2019, at around 3:00 P.M., Saed Mahani, 28, an unmarried resident of Gaza City, arrived at the Return March protest held near the perimeter fence east of al-Bureij R.C., in the central Gaza Strip. Mahani approached the fence and threw stones at soldiers standing on the other side. At around 4:30 P.M., a soldier fired a “rubber” bullet, hitting him in the eye.

Mahmoud Abu Musalam, a reporter and photojournalist who attended the demonstration as part of his work, described the incident in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-’Azayzeh on 8 January 2020:

MAHMOUD ABU MUSALAM  8 JAN. 2020

There were only a few dozen demonstrators that day because the March of Return protests had been cancelled. The guys who came must not have known about it. They stood a few dozen meters from the fence. At around 4:00-4:30 P.M., a soldier, who got out of a jeep, started swearing at them and then fired “rubber” bullets at them. I dropped to the ground and lay flat. I heard about three shots and when I got up, I heard the guys saying one hadn’t gotten up and had been killed. They lifted him up and carried him to an ambulance that was parked on Jakar Road. When they passed by me, I saw he was bleeding profusely from the left eye. He wasn’t talking, and we all kept quiet because we were shocked by the sight of the blood gushing down his entire face.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd on 2 January 2020, Saed Mahani spoke about what happened:

At around 4:30 P.M., I was close to the fence. One of the soldiers fired a “rubber” bullet at me and I was hit in the eye. I fell to the ground. A few protestors came to help me and took me to an ambulance that took me to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. From there, I was immediately transferred to Nasr Eye Hospital in Gaza City. The doctors told me my eye was in really bad shape and there was no choice but to remove it, even though my family and I objected.

I was released from hospital after the surgery. Since then, I haven’t wanted to go outside or see anyone. I’ve been injured in the protests before, but losing my eye has really affected me. I’d rather have a hand amputated than lose my eye. I feel frustrated, hopeless and sorry for myself. I never thought I’d lose my eye. I feel like I have no future. I’m going to Egypt with my brother. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get treatment there and have a prosthetic eye fitted.

As of 2 February 2020, Egyptian border guards have not allowed Mahani to travel for treatment in Egypt via Rafah Crossing.

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

ISRAELI MINISTER OF WAR: GAZANS NEED TO “BEHAVE WELL” OR WE WILL START NEW WAR

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- There is a 95% chance that the occupation state will launch a large-scale military aggression on the Gaza strip in the near future, Israeli Minister of War Naftali Bennett told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“I have come to the conclusion that there is a 95% chance it is inevitable that we will have to launch a large campaign to restart Gaza,” he said threatening the already besieged strip.

“We are ready, and the plans have been formulated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military,” Bennett added. “We will give one very last chance to the terrorists to maintain quiet. But I don’t believe them. They are liars, murderers, and we are going to have to act. It’s always a last resort to go to war. But this time it will be on our terms with our timing and with a very clear vision of the day after.”

Meanwhile, Bennet repeated the same threats to Israeli 12 Channel.

“I do not want short rounds [of fighting],” he said. “Now we have eliminated terrorists in both Gaza and Damascus and made a new rule. The Prime Minister is telling the truth, we are preparing something – but we need a little patience.”

In the interview, Bennett said that he would not be seeking a “dragged out” offensive, “because then you lose a good deal of effectiveness”.

“We need a regular plan under our conditions, not that they will set the rules, but we will set the rules. They have another last chance to behave well,” Bennett explained.

Answering a question about the recent escalation sparked by an Israeli army bulldozer intruding into Gaza to seize pieces of the body of a Palestinian killed and mutilated by the Israeli occupation forces, Bennet said: “I have been criticized for days from the left that it does not look good.” He also added that he fully backed the soldiers’ actions.

“I set a goal to bring home the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oren Saul and the others. How will I do it? With a ballet dance?”, Bennett continued.

“So, if things have to be done that don’t look good on TV – I will do it. And if more bodies are to be collected – I will collect more bodies and if we have to pick up live terrorists we do that too.”

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

I WAS MEANT TO TALK ABOUT PALESTINIAN KIDS AT THE UN. ISRAEL FORCED ME OUT

By Brad Parker

Last week, the government of Belgium caved in to intense Israeli government pressure and effectively disinvited me from briefing the UN Security Council in New York today.

Ironically, the decision to exclude my voice as a representative of Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), a Palestinian human rights organization, exemplifies and reinforces the message I had prepared to deliver before the Council.

I was invited by Belgium’s Permanent Mission to the UN in late January to brief members of the Security Council on violations of children’s rights in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Belgium, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency for this month, is a leader of the UN’s global agenda on children and armed conflict, and as such wanted to highlight these specific themes during the Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East and Palestine Question. The Belgians wrote in their invitation that this focused discussion would help “to enrich the debate” on the Palestinian issue.

I gladly accepted. The fact that Belgium was willing to invite a local Palestinian human rights organization like DCIP to brief the Council was commendable, as civil society space at the UN has been shrinking for years. While they urged me to be “balanced” in my statement (which I had shared with them for feedback), they understood that Palestinian children overwhelmingly and disproportionately bear the brunt of the kinds of violations they sought to highlight.

Then the troubles began.

As soon as Israeli diplomats were informed of my attendance, Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, reportedly asked the Belgian government in early February to cancel the invitation. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Belgium’s Deputy Ambassador to Israel, Pascal Buffin, on two separate occasions to formally object to the invitation. These requests were initially rejected.

Israeli officials and right-wing organizations, like NGO Monitor, and their affiliates subsequently mounted a well-orchestrated political and media disinformation campaign to press the Belgians to capitulate.

Then, four days ago, I received an early morning phone call informing me that Brussels had decided to change the Security Council event from an open meeting to a closed meeting — meaning that I was no longer a participant.

Targeted defamation campaigns

Belgium’s acquiescence to Israel’s demands is a frustrating and devastating blow. Not only is it a shameful act of censorship, but it also boosts longstanding efforts to delegitimize human rights work and basic tenets of international law when it comes to Palestinians.

Over the past two weeks, I have falsely been called everything from an “extreme anti-Israel activist” and “minor American propogandist,” to a “terror supporter” and “diplomatic terrorist.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, even wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres calling DCIP “an arm of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) in order to enact diplomatic terror against Israel,” adding, “A place that promotes peace and security in the world has no room for people like Parker.”

DCIP and other civil society organizations in Palestine and Israel have been increasingly targeted and attacked by Israeli officials, government ministries, and a rising network of right-wing and nationalist social forces in Israel, the U.S., the U.K., and across Europe. A key strategy of these forces is to launch targeted and organized defamation campaigns, based on a range of allegations that try to link us to national counter-terrorism legislation in order to undercut our work.

For DCIP specifically, officials like Ambassador Danny Danon, the Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry, NGO Monitor, and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) are alleging that we support and further terrorist acts. They amorphously claim that DCIP board and staff members are “affiliated,” “linked,” or have “alleged ties” to the PFLP.

Yet, no evidence is presented on how DCIP’s work — our field research, documentation, legal services, and advocacy — is in any way involved in supporting terrorist acts. Moreover, no trials or indictments have been initiated by Israeli authorities against DCIP board or staff members on such accusations during their time with the organization.

Rather than demand Israeli authorities stop unlawfully killing Palestinian child protesters in Gaza with live ammunition, or end ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child detainees, or hold perpetrators accountable, these actors are disseminating misinformation aimed at silencing, defunding, and eliminating legitimate human rights work and criticism of illegal Israeli policies toward Palestinians. And unfortunately — wittingly or unwittingly — governments like Belgium are helping them.

Exempted from UN blacklist

So, if Belgium had not crumbled to the pressure, what did the Israeli government not want me to tell the UN Security Council today?

First, using largely UN-verified information, I would have explained how Palestinian children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict at the hands of Israeli forces. Second, I would have highlighted how the persistent failure of the UN Secretary-General to hold Israel accountable has fostered impunity for such grave violations against children.

My planned statement offered a solution. Each year the UN Secretary-General submits a report to the Security Council detailing the situation of children’s rights in specific situations of armed conflict, including Israel and the State of Palestine.

Security Council Resolution 1612, adopted in 2005, formally established a UN-led, evidence-based monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave violations against children during armed conflict. The six violations include killing and maiming; child recruitment; sexual violence; attacks on schools or hospitals; denial of humanitarian access for children; and abduction.

Where armed forces or groups are found to commit such violations against children, the Secretary-General is obligated to list them in the annex of his annual report. This list has become known as the UN’s child rights “blacklist” or “list of shame.”

The mechanism has proven to be a strong tool to bolster protections for children during armed conflict over the past decade. But despite persistent reports by UN agencies like UNICEF and local groups like DCIP, both Guterres and his predecessor Ban Ki-moon refused to include Israeli armed forces on the blacklist.

This was despite the fact that Ban Ki-moon, for example, noted in his 2014 report that there had been a “dramatic increase in the number of children killed and injured, especially in Gaza,” with at least 557 Palestinian children and four Israeli children killed, and 4,249 Palestinian children and 22 Israeli children wounded.

While he expressed alarm at the “unprecedented and unacceptable scale” of destruction and harm caused by Israel’s military operation that year, he still omitted Israel’s forces from the annex. Reportedly, he caved in to significant pressure from the U.S. and Israel.

Defending international law

Ban Ki-moon’s decision, and Guterres’ continuation of that decision, has effectively transformed a strong accountability mechanism into a politicized process where powerful governments can exempt themselves from scrutiny and the rules of international law.

As I wrote in my planned statement to the Security Council, Israel’s absence from the blacklist essentially gives it “tacit approval to continue committing grave breaches of international law with impunity. We are still, today, dealing with the impact of this decision.”

Today, I had hoped to reaffirm a message that Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of the human rights organization B’Tselem, had brought to the Council in 2018: a rules-based international order will not defend itself.

If the UN’s children and armed conflict agenda is to remain relevant and credible, it is imperative that the listing process does not give an exception to Israel for its grave violations. Year after year, Palestinian children must deal with the compounded failures of these policymakers, and without accountability, these violations will continue bleeding from one year to the next.

Given the attacks and campaigns against Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society, Belgium’s actions are entirely irresponsible. When a supposed champion of these values lifts you up, knowing full well that it may place a target on you, it is disheartening to seem them give in to such pressure. This lack of political will all but ensures systemic impunity will remain the norm for Palestinian children.

(Source / 26.02.2020) 

IOF REPRESS PEACEFUL PROTEST AGAINST TRUMP’S PLAN WOUNDING 56 PROTESTERS

The Jordan Valley (QNN)- 56 Palestinians were reportedly wounded during Israeli repression of a peaceful demonstration near the village of Tayaseer in north-east Tubas in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday.

QNN reporter stated that large numbers of native Palestinians took part in the demonstration, responding to calls by Palestinian parties, popular committees, and the anti-wall and anti-settlement committee to protest against Trump’s plan.

Israeli forces started repressing the protest from its very beginning, targeting peaceful protesters with stun and tear gas grenades, in addition to live and sponge ammunition, leaving dozens of injuries.

Israeli forces also targeted journalists, wounding QNN reporter Mu’tasem Saqfel Heit and photojournalist Hazem Naser. Both journalists were treated by the Red Crescent teams.

The Red Crescent confirmed that its teams have dealt with 56 injuries during the repression; one with live rounds, five with rubber-coated metal bullets, and 50 with tear gas grenades.

Human rights activist Aref Daraghmeh added that the Israeli army set up blocks on the roads to the village in order to prevent international activists from reaching the area.

One of the protesters stressed that the protest aims at doubling down on the Palestinian rejection of Trump’s plan to annex most of the West Bank.

“We are here to defend our land and tell Netanyahu that your decisions are only words on papers”, he said.

“Nothing can beat our will, not Trump’s plan nor land-grabbing. We are the owners of this land and they cannot take it from us”, he added.

(Source / 26.02.2020)