Israel army ‘shuts Palestinians in homes’ for ‘handful of Jewish worshippers’

Israeli force block roads in the West Bank on 18 September, 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli force block roads in the West Bank on 18 September 2019

Israeli occupation forces are shutting Palestinians in their homes for a “handful of Jewish worshippers” in the occupied West Bank, reported human rights NGO B’Tselem.

Two Palestinian towns in the northern West Bank – Kifl Haris and ‘Awarta – are home to “tombs that some recognize as Jewish holy sites”, explained B’Tselem.

Thus, once every few months, the military blocks the villages’ entrances, “sets up roadblocks within them and restricts residents’ movement for an entire night in order to allow Jewish worshippers to access the sites on foot or by car”.

According to the human rights organisation, “these incursions are an intolerable burden for the men, women, children and the elderly who live in the towns.”

READ: Jewish settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque despite coronavirus restrictions

Large numbers of Israeli occupation forces “arrive hours before the Jewish worshippers, spread out in the streets and order residents stay indoors,” B’Tselem explained.

“In some cases, they throw stun grenades at residents who refuse to comply. Businesses are ordered to close for the day, incurring losses.”

The worshippers, meanwhile, “arrive in buses and private cars, traveling from tomb to tomb with a tight escort…and causing a commotion”. Some “bring portable toilets and food, leaving filth behind when they are gone”, worshippers have “left sprayed Hebrew graffiti”, and some “swear at residents as they pass through, and throw stones at homes or vandalize personal property”.

READ: Gaza decides to close border to protect against coronavirus

This is done “in plain view” of Israeli forces, B’Tselem noted, “who take no action against them”.

According to B’Tselem, such “incursions are yet another blatant manifestation of Israel’s violent policy in the West Bank, which gives the interests of Jewish citizens absolute preference over the rights of Palestinian subjects”.

Even in the middle of the night, in the heart of Palestinian communities, Israel uses military might to enable its citizens to do almost as they please, completely ignoring the price paid by Palestinians.

“In this case,” the NGO concluded, “the price takes the form of damage to property, compromised safety and severe disruption of daily life.”

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

Israel further tightens restrictions on Palestinians, targeting day labourers

Palestinian construction workers work at the site in Gaza city on 9 September 2013 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Palestinian work at a construction site on 9 September 2013

Israeli authorities have further tightened restrictions on Palestinians, with the latest measures targeting day labourers coming from the occupied West Bank, reported the Times of Israel.

The restrictions come as Israel seeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Mass movement restrictions are being used exclusively against Palestinians, however.

In a pre-dawn announcement today, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett ordered that only Palestinian workers in “essential” sectors such as “healthcare, agriculture and construction” would be allowed entry.

In addition, the report added, “Palestinians would no longer be allowed to travel back and forth from the West Bank to work sites, but would need to sleep in Israel, with the employer providing lodging.” The workers “were told to expect to remain in Israel for one-to-two months.”

READ: Israel urged to ‘facilitate maximum activity’ at Gaza’s sole commercial crossing

As summarised by the Times of Israel, “Israel has largely shut off travel from outside the country, and ordered anyone who does enter to quarantine for 14 days.”

Palestinian health officials yesterday reported 39 cases of COVID-19 among West Bank Palestinians – almost all in Bethlehem – and none in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel had already placed some restrictions on Palestinians entering Israel, banning anyone over 50 and shutting the Erez crossing with Gaza,” the news site reported.

READ: Israel’s Netanyahu slammed for tracking phones of coronavirus patients

The coronavirus crisis threatens to push the Palestinian economy into unchartered waters, with unemployment and personal debt already high.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Finance Minister Shukri Bishara met his Israeli counterpart Moshe Kahlon yesterday to demand that Israel release hundreds of millions of shekels in tax funds unilaterally withheld from the PA as collective punishment for payments made to prisoners and their families.

Bishara urged Israeli authorities to hand over the funds owed to the PA, moneys which would “contribute to helping the Palestinian treasury adopt the best health-related measures to face off” the coronavirus.

It was announced yesterday that Kuwait had donated $5.5 million to the Palestinians to confront the virus, while last week, Qatar donated medical equipment valued at $10 million to the PA.

Israel fights with coronavirus fears - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

New campaign highlights right of return by collecting Palestinians’ signatures

Nablusi started and continues to collect old documents to preserve proof that a place called Palestine existed before the state of Israel was created in 1948

Nablusi collects old documents to preserve proof that a place called Palestine existed before the state of Israel was created in 1948

A campaign aiming to collect the signatures of as many Palestinian refugees as possible from all over the world has been launched by the London-based Palestinian Return Centre in cooperation with national and international Palestinian partners.

The initiative “Return is my right and my decision” began last month in Beirut, Lebanon, and seeks to collect the largest number of signatures through a platform on its website for a petition rejecting the US endeavours to negate Palestinians’ refugee status and the internationally-recognised right of return.

Volunteers from the campaign toured Al Nasr refugee camp last week in the Jordanian capital Amman in an attempt to garner signatures expressing their non-negotiable commitment and right of return to their homeland, Palestine.

READ: Israel further tightens restrictions on Palestinians, targeting day labourers

The Right of Return is a universally recognised right in international refugee law, human rights law, the law of nationality and the law of state responsibility.

The right is formulated in several modern treaties and conventions, most notably in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1948 Fourth Geneva Convention. The Geneva Conventions, it has been argued, have passed into customary international law and that the right of return is binding on non-signatories to the conventions.

Yahya Muhammad Mahmoud Al-Saud, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Palestine in the Jordanian House of Representatives, said: “The campaign aimed to collect one million signatures of Palestinian refugees residing on the land of the Hashemite Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in order to place the United Nations in front of its responsibilities towards them, and to confirm that this right does not fall with time, and the Palestinians will not give it up.”

READ: Israel army ‘shuts Palestinians in homes’ for ‘handful of Jewish worshippers’

According to Teller Report, the Speaker of the King’s Council, Faisal Al-Fayez, said during the campaign launch that all Palestinian refugees must return to their homeland and be compensated, and that the Kingdom of Jordan announced its eternal solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The international campaign – also launched in Jordan and Turkey – denounces Donald Trump’s “peace plan” that is heavily weighted in Israel’s favour.

The so-called “Peace Plan” presented by Trump and his administration as the ultimate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been overwhelmingly rejected by Palestinians and their leadership, as it was a deal that was negotiated only between Israel and America.

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

PCHR: Weekly Report on Israeli Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (05-11 March 2020)

Israeli Violations Continue in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (05 – 11 March 2020)

Summary

During the period covered by the current report, the Israeli military occupation forces and Israeli settlers continued to commit further grave violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. During this week, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child and wounded others in Nablus, and continued to suppress peaceful demonstrations, which were launched in protest against US President Donald Trump’s announcement of his plan for peace in the Middle East, known in the media as the “Deal of the Century”, which violates Palestinian rights and contradicts the decisions of the United Nations and international law.

With the support of the occupation forces, settlers continued to seize more land and attack civilians and their property. PCHR researchers monitored (159) violations committed by the occupation forces during the period covered by the report. The state of emergency declared by the Palestinian Authority in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to confront the Corona virus, affected the ability of the PCHR staff to monitor violations as usual. The most prominent results of the violations that were monitored included the following:

Shooting and Other Violations of the Right to Bodily Integrity

  • On Wednesday 11/3/2020, the Israeli occupation forces killed a Palestinian child, and wounded (20) other civilians, including a journalist, in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem. The child was killed and 14 civilians were wounded, two of them seriously, during the suppression of a gathering of citizens, in Jabal Al-Arma, southeast of Beita, in the Nablus Governorate, in the northern West Bank. The other six were wounded in 3 attacks by the occupation forces in Qalqilia, occupied Jerusalem and Ramallah.
  • The occupation forces fired 9 times at agricultural land in the east of the Gaza Strip, concentrated in the middle and south of the Gaza Strip, and once at fishing boats in the open sea off the northern Gaza Strip.

Incursions and Arrests

The Israeli occupation forces carried out 80 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem. During that time, the forces committed several serious violations, including raiding homes, searching them and tampering with their contents, as they terrorized their residents, beat many of them, and fired bullets in many cases. These actions resulted in the arrest of 91 citizens, including 5 children. In the Gaza Strip, those forces carried out a limited incursion into the east of Al-Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip.

Settlement Crimes and Settler Attacks

  • The occupation authorities continued illegal settlement activities in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, where the center’s staff documented (5) demolitions, bulldozing and notifications, including: excavation work on the lands of citizens in occupied Jerusalem, confiscation of excavators in Hebron, uprooting 400 olive seedlings in Bethlehem, dismantling barns for livestock removing a tent in Ramallah, and ratifying the “sovereignty road” project in E1 area east of occupied Jerusalem, which aims to isolate Palestinian neighborhoods from the city of Jerusalem, to implement Israeli sovereignty.
  • The Center also documented (8) attacks by settlers, which included: attacking citizens’ homes and cars and assaulting citizens in Nablus, cutting dozens of grape trees, from the lands of Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, and attacking a citizen and homes in Hebron.

Collective Punishment

  • In the context of the collective punishment policy pursued by the Israeli occupation forces against the families of Palestinian citizens who accuse them of carrying out acts of resistance against them or against settlers. Israeli forces demolished the homes of the two Palestinian prisoners: Yazan Maghamis, in Birzeit town, north of Ramallah, and Walid Hanache, in Al-Tirah neighborhood in Ramallah.

Blockade on Gaza

  • On Friday 6/3/2020, the Israeli occupation authorities announced the imposition of a comprehensive security cordon on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, under the pretext of security on the occasion of the Israeli “Purim Day”.
  • According to what the occupation army announced, this procedure was effective from midnight on Sunday, 3/8/2020, and will continue until midnight on Thursday 12/3/2020. The decision included the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the only commercial outlet for the Gaza Strip, with Israel, from midnight on Monday to Tuesday for a period of 24 hours.
  • According to this procedure, the occupation authorities did not allow the crossings into Israel to enter, or return, except for humanitarian, medical and emergency cases, and only after they obtained the approval of the government coordinator in the Palestinian territories.
  • On Wednesday evening, 11/3/2020, the occupation authorities announced new measures that include new restrictions regarding the Beit Hanoun crossing and the West Bank crossings, after the end of the previous closure, under the pretext of facing the spread of the Corona virus.
  • This comes at a time when the Gaza Strip is still suffering from the worst siege in the history of the occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory, as the siege entered its fourteenth year without any tangible improvement on the movement of individuals and goods, while exacerbating the continuing deterioration in the humanitarian situation and having catastrophic effects on all aspects of life.
  • In many cases, the Israeli occupation forces use the Erez / Beit Hanoun crossing, north of the Gaza Strip, designated for the movement of individuals as a trap for the arrest of Palestinian civilians, despite obtaining permits to enable them to enter Israel.

Closures in the West Bank

  • The occupation authorities continue to divide Palestinian communities into small cantons, isolated from each other, with many roads remaining completely closed. In addition to the permanent checkpoints, the occupying forces erect many flying checkpoints which severely impede the movement of civilians, arresting one citizen this week. The occupation authorities decided to continue the closure imposed on the Bethlehem area, under the pretext of confronting the Corona virus, including preventing Bethlehem residents from entering Israeli territory, until further notice.

1. Shooting and Violations the Right to Bodily Integrity:

a. Excessive Use of Force Against Peaceful Protests in the West Bank:

  • On Friday 6/3/2020, the Israeli occupation forces suppressed three demonstrations in the West Bank to denounce the announcement of US President Donald Trump his plan for peace in the Middle East, known as the “Deal of the Century”. In these demonstrations, the Palestinian citizens gathered near the points of contact with the Israeli occupation forces, and chanted national chants, some of them tried to throw stones, at those forces that fired live bullets, and rubber-coated metal rounds, and sound and gas bombs towards the demonstrators. As a result, two civilians were wounded with live bullets, and dozens suffocated, as well as 5 citizens, including two children, were arrested.

The following are details of the demonstrations:

  • Demonstration near the “Separation Wall” that is located on the lands of the western region of Al-Arqa, west of Jenin. In addition to suppressing the demonstrators and suffocating several of them, the demonstration included the arrest of four Israeli citizens, including two children. The detainees are: Yazan Rasim Yahya, 18, Qutaiba Musa Waked, 17, Basil Nizar Waked, 25, and Muhammad Issam Waked, 16.
  • A demonstration on the “northern crossing” located on the lands of the city of Qalqilia. The occupation forces pursued the young men who gathered in the area, and arrested Alaa Mustafa Dwiri, 26, a resident of Qalqilia, and took him with her.
  • A demonstration on the “northern entrance” located on the lands of Kufur Qaddoum village, north-east of Qalqilia. The occupation forces pursued the young men who gathered in the area, amid confrontations, during which they launched metal bullets and tear gas and tear gas canisters towards them. As a result, two civilians, the first, 30 years old, were wounded, with a live bullet in the face, and the second, 47, in the right hand.

Shootings and Other Physical Safety Threats

  • At approximately 08:30 on Friday, 6 March 2020, the Israeli occupation forces, positioned inside the border strip, with Israel, east of Khan Younis, fired bullets and tear gas canisters towards agricultural lands, east of the town of Qarara, without causing any injuries. .
  • At approximately 9:00 in the morning, the Israeli occupation forces, positioned inside the border strip, with Israel, east of Khan Younis, fired bullets and tear gas canisters towards agricultural lands, east of the town of Khuza’a, without causing any injuries.
  • At approximately 22:00 local time, the Israeli occupation forces moved into Al-Wadi Street, in the Old City of Occupied East Jerusalem. They raided the homes of the citizens: Muhammad Murad Najib, 20, and Hisham Muhammad al-Bashiti, 19, and arrested them. During the raid, a number of young men and boys demonstrated at the end of Al-Wadi Street, near the door of the Majlis, one of the doors of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and threw stones and fireworks towards the soldiers, who fired sound bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, towards the demonstrators.
  • At approximately 2:30 pm on Saturday, 7 March 2020, the Israeli occupation soldiers, stationed inside the border strip with Israel, east of Al-Maghazi camp in the central governorate, opened fire with their automatic weapons at the shepherds, no injuries were reported.
  • At approximately 16:00, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. Soldiers were deployed inside the neighborhoods of the village, erected barriers at its entrances, prevented entry and exit, and then subjected the vehicles to inspection before being allowed to leave the village. Meanwhile, a number of young men and boys demonstrated at the entrance to Obaid neighborhood, north of the village, and threw stones, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli occupation soldiers. Immediately, a large Israeli force stormed the neighborhood, and fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the demonstrators and the civilians, amid clashes in the area, which lasted for more than 3 hours. As a result, two civilians were wounded by shrapnel from the sound bombs, which required their transfer to a medical center in the village for treatment. Forces arrested the following citizens: Munir Muammar Obaid, 18, and Yazan Bassam Rushd Obaid, 23.
  • At approximately 8:00 on Sunday, 8 March 2020, Israeli occupation forces, positioned inside the border strip, with Israel, east of Khan Younis, fired bullets and-tear gas canisters towards agricultural lands, east of the town of Fukhari, east of Khan Younis, without injuries.
  • At approximately 08:30, the Israeli occupation forces, positioned inside the border strip, with Israel, east of Khan Younis, fired bullets and tear gas canisters towards agricultural lands, east of the town of Qarara, east of Khan Younis, this was repeated at approximately 9:00 pm, with no injuries.
  • At approximately 1:15 p.m. Sunday 8 March 2020, the Israeli occupation forces stormed the town of Qabatia, southeast of Jenin. A number of boys and children gathered and threw stones at the occupation vehicles. Immediately, these forces fired tear-gas canisters towards the demonstrators, which resulted in several cases of suffocation who were treated at the scene.
  • At approximately 15:30, Israeli forces moved into Burin village, southeast of Nablus. The force was stationed in the Al-Batin area, east of the aforementioned town. A number of boys and children gathered and threw stones at the occupation vehicles. Immediately, these forces fired tear gas canisters towards the demonstrators, which resulted in several of them suffocating cases, which were treated in the field.
  • At approximately 21:30, the Israeli occupation forces, positioned inside the border strip with Israel, east of Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, fired live bullets and light bombs in the sky, no injuries or damage were reported.
  • At approximately 6:00 on Monday, 9 March 2020, Israeli occupation forces, through their warships, stationed at sea off the northwest of the town of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, chased the Palestinian fishermen in their boats that were located about two miles away, opened heavy machine gunfire towards it. This caused fear and panic among the fishermen, who had to flee, with no injuries reported.
  • At approximately 08:30, Israeli occupation soldiers, positioned inside the border strip with Israel, east of Al-Maghazi camp, in the middle of the Gaza Strip, fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at the shepherds along the aforementioned tape. The shooting continued intermittently until evening hours, and no injuries or damage were reported.
  • At approximately 9:00 on Tuesday, 10 March 2020, the Israeli occupation soldiers, stationed inside the border strip with Israel, east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, fired bullets towards agricultural lands east of the town of Abasan al-Kabira, causing no injuries.
  • At approximately 7:00 pm, a force of the Israeli occupation army stormed Al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, claiming that its members stationed at the entrance to the camp threw stones. Once the soldiers reached the area of ​​the UNRWA distribution stores, a number of youths gathered and threw stones at the soldiers. The soldiers chased the stone-throwers between the residential houses, and fired stun grenades and gas bombs indiscriminately in the area. As a result, a number of citizens were suffocated. Later, that force withdrew from the camp, and no arrests were reported.
  • At the same time, the Israeli occupation forces moved into Tal village, southwest of Nablus governorate. The force was stationed in Al-Baraka area, west of the mentioned village. A number of citizens gathered and threw stones at the occupation vehicles. Immediately, the Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets to disperse them, causing many of them to suffocate, and were treated at the scene. Israeli forces chased the demonstrators, arrested and detained two citizens. The two detainees are: Hazem Omar Hindi, 25, and Bara ‘Abdel-Fattah Shtayeh, 23.
  • At approximately 14:00 on Wednesday, 11 March 2020, a large Israeli military force stormed the village of Deir Nizam, northwest of Ramallah. A number of Palestinian youths gathered at the main entrance to the village, and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired a heavy barrage of sound and gas bombs and rubber coated metal bullets, towards them. This resulted in several cases of suffocation, and they were treated on the ground. Before their withdrawal, these forces arrested the two children: Ramiz Muhammad Yahya Al-Tamimi, 15, and Usama Muhammad Yahya Al-Tamimi, 17, and took them with them to an unknown destination.
  • In a new crime resulting from the excessive use of force, the Israeli occupation forces killed, on Wednesday 11/3/2020, a Palestinian child, and wounded (14) other civilians, including a journalist, during their suppression of a gathering of citizens, in Jabal Al-Arma, south East of Beita, in the Nablus Governorate, in the northern West Bank. The case of two wounded people was described as critical.According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 5:00 in the morning, the Israeli occupation forces, reinforced by about 40 military vehicles and two bulldozers, stormed Jabal al-Arma and proceeded to suppress dozens of citizens who had gathered since 8:00 pm the previous day, in an attempt to protect the mountain from settler takeover. Forces fired live rounds, rubber-coated metal rounds and tear gas canisters at the citizens while clashes continued until 7:00 in the morning. Israeli actions resulted in the injury of 15 civilians, one of whom was the child Muhammad Abdel-Karim Khasab Hamayel, 15, who was shot in the head with a live round.The youth’s wounds were described as critical, the boy was pronounced dead just hours later at 12:00 pm, in the intensive care unit of Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus. Among the injured was journalist Bakr Muhammad Abdel-Haq, 30, who was shot with a live bullet in the leg, while covering the events on Palestine TV. The condition of two of the other wounded was described as very serious. Dozens of citizens also suffered inhalation injuires from tear-gas, and were treated at the scene.Eyewitnesses told PCHR’s fieldworker that the Israeli occupation forces did not allow the ambulance crews to evacuate the injured, including the child Hamayel, from the mountain, and left them bleeding in their places for more than 30 minutes.This was the third time that the Occupation Forces have stormed Jabal Al-Arma, in the past two weeks, to disperse the citizens who gather on it to protect it from the settlers’ attempts to seize it. The previous incidents resulted in 146 Palestinian civilian injuries.


2. Incursions and Arrests

Thursday 3/5/2020

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Burqin village, west of Jenin. Some of them invaded and ransacked a family home, then arrested and detained Muhammad Imran Sabah, 24.
  • At the same time, Israeli occupation forces, reinforced with several military vehicles, stormed the town of Al-Samou’, south of Hebron. They invaded a family home and arrested and detained Uday Muhammad Mahmoud Rawashdeh, 25 from the home.
  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces raided a family home in Jenin, searched and ransacked the home before arresting and detaining Sayed Ibrahim Al-Sayed, 22.
  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces raided a family home in Al-Far’a refugee camp, south of Tubas governorate, searched the home and arrested and detained Omar Fathi Al-Shafi’i, 23.
  • At the same time, at dawn, the Israeli occupation forces stormed the village of Burin, southeast of Nablus, invaded, searched and ransacked a family home, before arresting and detaining Ahmed Ali Eid, 27.
  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Kharas, west of Hebron, raided four houses, and conducted searches there. Later, before its withdrawal, these forces arrested four citizens and took them with them. The detainees are: Rommel Kamel Atwan, 42, who was released from Nafhah Sahrawi prison, on 2/13/2020, after serving a 18-year sentence, and Shaher Aziz Halahlah, 42, who was released from Nafhah Sahrawi prison on 3/19/ 2019, after serving his 17-year sentence, Younis Audah Al-Hroub, 39, and Ismail Ahmed Al-Hroub, 29 years old.
  • At the same time, Israeli occupation forces, reinforced with several military vehicles, stormed the town of Surif, west of Hebron. They raided two houses, conducted searches at them, and later, before their withdrawal, those forces arrested the citizens: Wa’d al-Haq Muhammad al-Hudmi, 30, and Rami Muhammad Ihdush, 38, and detained them.
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces, backed by several military vehicles, stormed the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. They raided three houses, and delivered three citizens with requests to summon the Israeli intelligence agency (the Shin Bet), in the “Gush Ezion” settlement, south of Bethlehem. The three citizens are: Saqr Ahmad Hussein Sabarneh, 36, Waheeb Nimer Jamil Alqam, 35, and Mazen Hussein Mahmoud Al-Tait, 33.
  • At approximately 09:40, Israeli forces moved into Qalqilya. Some of its members raided the home of the family of Citizen Adel Suleiman Salem Abu Duhail, 32, who conducted searches and tampered with its contents. Prior to its withdrawal, those forces arrested the aforementioned citizen, and took him with it.Note: During the aforementioned day, the Israeli occupation forces (4) carried out incursions in the following areas without reporting any arrests: Sebastia, Qaryut, in Nablus, and Tafouh, in Hebron.

Friday 3/6/2020

  • At approximately 20:30, Israeli forces moved into Batn al-Hawa neighborhood, Silwan municipality, south of the Old City, from occupied East Jerusalem. They raided the house of Munther Hamza al-Rajabi, 21, and tampered with its contents. Prior to their withdrawal, the Israeli soldiers arrested the aforementioned citizen, and took him to the Salah El-Din Street police station in the center of the occupied city. After several hours, the occupation authorities released him unconditionally.
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Birzeit, north of Ramallah. They raided an apartment housing university students at Birzeit University, conducted searches and tampered with its contents. Before their withdrawal, the soldiers arrested (7) citizens, all of whom were residents of Tulkarm. The detainees are: Muhammad Mahmoud Thawabta, 21 years old, Yazid Kamal Abdul Dayem, 21 years oldMa, Muhammad Hassan Muhammim Jaber, 21, Osaid Abd al-Fateh Fayez Sa`id, 22, and Ahmed Farah, 19, Muhammad Nasir, 22, and Rayan Khraiwesh, 20, and took them with them.
  • At approximately 03:20, Israeli forces, reinforced with several military vehicles, stormed the Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. They raided the house of the family of the citizen Barakat Raed Nakhleh, 22, and searched him. Later, before their withdrawal, the forces arrested the aforementioned citizen, and took him with them.
  • At approximately 6:00 pm, the Israeli occupation forces moved into Bab Hatta neighborhood, in the old town of the occupied eastern city. They raided the home of Fuad Jamal Al-Shawish, 21, and carried out tampering with their contents. Before their withdrawal, the Israeli soldiers arrested the citizen, and took him with them.Note: During the aforementioned day, the Israeli occupation forces conducted (3) incursions without reporting arrests, in the following areas: Al-Shuyukh, Beit Al-Roush, and Al-Dhahrieh in Hebron Governorate.

Saturday 3/7/2020

  • At approximately 10:00 in the morning, the Israeli occupation forces arrested the citizens: Muhammad Abu Sneineh, 20, and Mustafa Abu Sneineh, 21, while they were in front of their homes on Al-Wadi Street, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, and took them to a police station In the town.Note: During the aforementioned day, the Israeli occupation forces conducted two incursions without reporting any arrests, in the following areas: the city of Hebron, and the city of Yatta in the Hebron governorate.

Sunday 3/8/2020

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Thawri neighborhood, south of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided the home of Ibrahim Jamil Ghaith, 19, the family, and carried out tampering with their contents. Before their withdrawal, the Israeli soldiers arrested the aforementioned citizen, and took him with them.
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Jabal Al-Mukabber neighborhood, south of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided the home of the family of Khaled Amer Elayyan Owaisat, 24, and conducted tampering with their contents. Before their withdrawal, the Israeli soldiers arrested the aforementioned citizen, and took him with them.
  • At approximately 6:00 a.m., Israeli forces moved into al-‘Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided the house of the family of Louay Ashraf Mahmoud, 23 years old, and conducted tampering with their contents. Before their withdrawal, the Israeli soldiers arrested the citizen, and took him with them.Note: During the aforementioned day, the Israeli occupation forces carried out (3) incursions without reporting arrests, in the following areas: Surif town, Abu Al-Asja village, and Beit Umrah village, in the Hebron governorate.

3. Settlement Crimes and Settler Attacks in the West Bank

The Israeli occupation forces continued, during this week, demolitions and bulldozers, in favor of settlement projects, while settlers continued to carry out their attacks against citizens and their property, under the protection of those forces. The details are as follows:

a. Demolitions, Bulldozing, Land Confiscation and Demolition Notifications

  • At approximately 3:00 on Thursday, 5 March 2020, crews from the Israeli Nature Authority stormed the land of Mohammed Daoud Al-Abbasi, 90, in Wadi Al-Rababa neighborhood, Silwan town, south of the old city of occupied East Jerusalem, and carried out work Dig in.
  • Abdel Karim Abu Sunaina, head of the Wadi Rababa neighborhood committee, said that the Nature Authority has been targeting the region for nearly 20 years to establish settlement projects on it, indicating that a session will be held in the Israeli court on the twenty-second of this month, on the lands of the neighborhood. Residents of the area rose up, confronted these crews, and forced them to stop digging in the presence of the occupation police forces.
  • At approximately 10:00 on Sunday, 3/82020, Israeli occupation forces, reinforced with two military vehicles, accompanied by a vehicle belonging to the Israeli Administration and Building Department in the (Civil Administration), and a truck, Khirbet Birin, east of Hebron. Soldiers deployed in the area, and confiscated two excavators belonging to Mohammed Ahmed Abu Turki, from Hebron, while they were working on reclaiming agricultural lands. Khirbet Birin is located in the classified area (c), and it is forbidden to work in it without prior permission from the occupation authorities.
  • On Monday morning, 3/3/2020, the Israeli occupation forces uprooted hundreds of olive seedlings from the lands of Wadi Fukin village, west of Bethlehem. The Fukin Valley Village Council stated that the occupation forces uprooted some 400 olive seedlings in the “Shaab Bahour” area, west of the village, belonging to Mohammed Mahmoud al-Haroub.
  • At approximately 2:00 pm, the Israeli occupation forces stormed the lands of Khirbet Jbaite, located in the eastern side of Al-Mughair village, northeast of Ramallah. The soldiers also uprooted the residential tent inhabited by a family of (6) individuals, including four children, and confiscated the generator. Prior to its withdrawal, the occupation forces informed the citizen that the lands are archaeological areas, claiming that they are closed military areas.
  • On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett approved the “Sovereignty Road” project in the E1 area east of occupied Jerusalem, which aims to isolate Palestinian neighborhoods from the city of Jerusalem, to implement Israeli sovereignty.According to the Hebrew News website (0404), the road will link the Arab village of al-Zaeem, near the “Ma’aleh Adumim” settlement, east of occupied Jerusalem, with the Arab villages on the other side of the area (Anata, Hazma, and Ram). The construction of this road designated for Palestinian citizens aims to separate the Palestinians and Israelis in the area, by not allowing Palestinian vehicles to pass through the Maale Adumim settlement and other settlements. This project allows the linking of the road between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, and the construction of more settlements in the area, which will significantly improve the quality of life for settlers in the area. Hebrew media indicated that the procedures for planning for the construction will be in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Transport and Communications, which will be responsible for its implementation. “Today, we give the green light to sovereignty road, and we are beginning to link Jerusalem to Maale Adumim,” Bennett told Israeli media. We will continue to apply sovereignty with deeds, not with words, and most importantly, to allow continued building of settlements.” It is noteworthy that the construction of this road means that “Israel” has already begun to annex this area, and to separate the northern and southern West Bank, which greatly undermines the chances of establishing a viable and continuous Palestinian state.

b. Settlers’ Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Their Property

  • At approximately 2:45 pm on Saturday, 7/3/2020, with the protection of the occupation forces, a group of settlers from the “Yitzhar” settlement, southeast of Nablus, threw stones at the houses, so the Palestinian village immediately gathered a number of citizens and threw stones back at the settlers and the occupation soldiers who secured their protection. The Israeli soldiers responded to the Palestinians by firing tear-gas canisters, before they secured the settlers’ withdrawal towards the settlement, which resulted in many suffocation cases who were treated at the scene.
  • On Tuesday morning, 10 March 2020, Israeli settlers cut down dozens of grape vines from the lands of Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem.
  • The director of the Office of the Resistance of the Wall and Settlement Authority, Hassan Brijieh, stated that the settlers cut a number of vine trees in the Fagur area, which is surrounded by the settlements of “Daniel”, “Eliezer” and “Efrat” built on the lands of citizens, and owned by Abdel Salam Ahmed Al-Sir. Bareijah warned of the danger of settlers taking advantage of the declared state of emergency in the Palestinian territories following the outbreak of the Corona virus, and the commitment of citizens to their homes to seize their lands. It is noteworthy that during the past two weeks, settlers uprooted about 800 trees from the town of Al-Khader and 400 seedlings in the Fukin Valley the previous day.
  • At approximately 12:30, on the evening of Wednesday, 11 March 2020, while a Palestinian citizens’ cars crossed the main Hawara Street, southeast of Nablus, a vehicle with an Israeli naval registration plate stopped on the Interior Circle roundabout. Three settlers got out of the car, carrying sticks, and attacked cars crossing the roundabout. The settlers attacked two young men who tried to confront them, smashing the windows of their car, before the two young men fled towards the Hawara checkpoint, and filed a complaint with the Israeli police. The two injured young men, Salah Wael Lotfi Khamous, 23, and Ghazi Dawood Shehadeh, 23, went to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.
  • At approximately 10:00 in the morning, a number of settlers organized tours in the residential neighborhood, Tel Al-Ramdiyah, in the center of Hebron, under the pretext of celebrating “Purim”.
  • At the same time, a number of settlers, who are located in the closed neighborhoods of Hebron, claiming to celebrate “Purim Festival”, attacked the Palestinian citizens in Al-Shuhada Street neighborhood. The daily life of the Palestinian residents in the closed neighborhoods of Hebron was disrupted during the day, due to the large number of settlers who arrived in the city to celebrate the holiday. This included the closure of the main entrance to Al-Shuhada Street, which residents take along the military checkpoint (56).
  • At approximately 11:45 a.m. on the same day, a group of settlers from the “price-tag” groups attacked, from the “Yitzhar” settlement on the lands of the towns of Hawara and ‘Orif, and threw stones towards the home of Mu’taz Sadiq Qasrawi breaking windows. The settlers also smashed the windows of three cars parked in the yard of the house of Mohammed Abdel Aziz Ahmed Harzala.
  • At approximately 6:00 pm, Muhannad Khlawi al-Ja`bari, 30, was wounded in the head, after being hit by a stone thrown by a settler, who attacked the homes of citizens in the Wadi al-Nassari neighborhood, in Hebron. This came when a group of settlers was advancing from the settlement of Kiryat Arba to the Ibrahimi Mosque, to perform religious rituals on the occasion of Purim. The injured was taken to the government hospital in the city.

4. Collective Punishment

  • In the context of the collective punishment policy pursued by the Israeli occupation forces against the families of Palestinian citizens accused of carrying out acts of resistance. Israeli forces demolished the homes of the two prisoners: Yazan Maghamis, in Birzeit town, north of Ramallah, and Walid Hanache, in Al-Tirah neighborhood, from the western side of Ramallah.
  • According to the investigations of the center and the eyewitnesses, at dawn hours on Thursday 5/3/2020, the Israeli occupation forces, reinforced with dozens of military vehicles and a military bulldozer, stormed the town of Birzeit, north of Ramallah. Dozens of soldiers got out of their military vehicles and spread between residential buildings and fired tear-gas and sound bombs in the middle of the town. Meanwhile, a large number of soldiers raided the family home of Yazan Maghamis. During those hours, an occupying army force demolished the walls of the house, by means of a military bulldozer, which consisted of one floor with an area of ​​150 square meters. Prior to its withdrawal from the aforementioned town, dozens of young men and boys gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers deployed throughout the town, who fired tear-gas canisters at the youths. As a result, dozens of citizens suffered inhalation injuries and were treated at the scene by the Palestinian Red Crescent staff.
  • At approximately 02:30, approximately (200) Israeli occupation forces and about 20 military vehicles stormed Al-Tirah neighborhood, located in the western side of the city of Ramallah. Members of the force deployed to the neighborhood’s streets and entrances, transformed it into a closed military zone, and denied entry into, either by vehicle or on foot. Soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and sound bombs at vehicles and some residential buildings. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces stormed a residential building in the neighborhood consisting of (6) floors and containing (13) apartments, and raided the house of the prisoner Walid Hanache, located on the third floor inside the aforementioned residential building, and its area is approximately 170 square meters, after they forced the residents out of the house, they held them inside one of the other apartments in the building. Soldiers began to demolish the walls of the house with hammers. Before the withdrawal of these forces from the aforementioned neighborhood, confrontations broke out with the youths who threw stones and empty bottles and lit rubber tires. The soldiers fired at the youths, wounding two civilians with live bullets in the lower limbs, Palestinian Red Crescent staff described the injuries as light. Many citizens suffered from suffocation due to inhaling tear-gas.

~ Palestinian Center for Human Rights

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

Sheikh Bukairat Arrested from Home in Jerusalem

The Israeli police, on Sunday evening, arrested Sheikh Najeh Bukairat, deputy director of the Administration of Islamic Awqaf and Aqsa Mosque Affairs, from his home in Sur Baher neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, Days of Palestine reported.

The Administration of Islamic Awqaf and Aqsa Mosque Affairs in Occupied Jerusalem, announced on Sunday, its decision to shut down all the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s enclosed prayer buildings until further notice as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said that all prayers would be held in the open areas of the Aqsa Mosque, adding that the holy site’s doors would remain open to Muslim worshipers.

In related news, the Israeli authorities, on Sunday, closed doors to Palestinian muslim worshipers, allegedly to slow the spread of the Corona virus, while allowing the illegal Israeli settlers to storm the sacred Islamic holy site.

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

PCHR Calls for the Expedited Release of Investigation Results on Tragic Nusairat Camp Fire

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights continues to monitor, with great pain, the consequences of the catastrophic fire at Nusairat camp that took place on 05 March 2020 in a densely populated area at the heart of Nusairat refugee camp market. As a result of the unfortunate event, 19 civilians, including 4 children and 4 women, died and 66 others were wounded. Additionally, the fire caused grave damage to properties, including shops, vehicles, and street vendors.

PCHR investigated the incident thoroughly its fieldworkers met with dozens of eyewitnesses. Accordingly, it appears that the fire was the result of blast explosion of a gas tank (capacity 2000kg), that was at 1,340kg; the tank was used as a reserve at al-Bana Bakery, and it was stored approximately 20m behind the bakery. The gas tank was the property of al-Mashharawi Gas Company.

The fire extended into a nearby carpenter shop, which had incendiary materials inside and then expanded onto nearby shops, manufacturing establishments, houses, street vending stalls, NGOs and vehicles.

The fire caused grave damage to citizens’ properties, including 20 manufacturing and trade establishments, 42 street vendors and 16 vehicles. Eyewitnesses confirmed that they heard a blast explosion, followed by pillars of white smoke shooting up the sky, before the big explosion of the gas tank and expansion of the fire.

Ambulances arrived at the scene within 10 minutes and started to transport victims, while the Civil Defense Firetrucks arrived within 25 minutes, but were unable to control the fire. Approximately 1 hour later, help arrived in the form of private companies’ construction and water distribution vehicles who helped put out the first which kept going for several hours.

The Ministry of Interior and National Security in the Gaza Strip issued a press release on 05 March 2020, that clarified that concerned bodies are conducting necessary investigations to identify the causes of the incident.

According to former Nusairat Mayor[1]’s, Mohammed Yusuf Abushekan, statement to PCHR fieldworker, the fire was caused by a gas leak from al-Bana Bakery’s reserve, which is in a densely populated area. He added that the High National Technical Committee for Work Safety, members include Nusairat Municipality, Civil Defense, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and the Ministries of Health, Work and National Economy, had conducted a field inspection visit to all bakeries in Nusairat on 25 February 2020, including al-Bana Bakery.

This visit is part of the standard protocol for renewing licenses, which aims at ensuring the bakeries are inline with the health and safety standards. He added that al-Bana Bakery’s owners were asked to conduct several safety measures, including using gas cylinders daily, refrain from storing multiple gas cylinders in the bakery and to improve the electric network.

The Bakery was given 2 weeks to meet the Committee’s conditions and obtain concerned authorities’ approval in order to renew their annual license, to which the owners provided a written pledge; however, the incident took place within the 2-week grace period.

Ahmed al-Bana, the owner of al-Bana Bakery, stated to PCHR that his bakery was established in 2012 on an area of 450 m2 and it had 42 employees (workers and management), 22 of whom were present at the time of the fire. Al-Bana said that the bakery has 2 large gas tanks, capacity 2000kg/each, and one of them was in use at the time, next to it there were 24 gas cylinders (capacity:24kg each).

The other gas tank was a reserve, stored 20m away from the bakery (south) and it had 1340 kgs. Al-Bana added that he heard an explosion that was followed by another that extended to the reserve and on towards neighboring establishments, shops and vehicles.

One of the Bakery’s owners was wounded in the fire, and later died, Osama al-Bana (47); while six workers were wounded in the fire and 2 in critical condition. He added that the Bakery received members of the National Technical Committee on 25 February 2020, who inspected the premises to verify it is fit to run operations and to renew its 2020 license.

The Committee advised the Bakery to fix its power grid, remove empty gas cylinders from their former location behind the Bakery; yet, he confirmed that none of the recommendations concerned the gas tank kept in the area behind the bakery, insisting that they had seen it and examined it.

PCHR team had visited the tragic scene of the fire and collected testimonies from official bodies responsible for licensing manufacturing and trade establishments, as well as testimonies of the bakery’s owners, and victims and their families. Thereby, PCHR reiterates that:

  • The concerned authorities, namely Nusairat Municipality, Civil Defense, and the Ministries of Health, Work and National Economy did not adopt any serious measures to prevent the catastrophe during the grace period given to the Bakery, despite finding several issues with standard work safety.
  • Dangerous error in adherence to work health and safety standards at al-Bana Bakery, which caused the fire, including the storage of large quantities of gas that exceed the Bakery’s daily need and usage, especially that the Bakery was in a densely populated area; let alone that a reserve gas cylinder was kept among trade and manufacturing establishments, and in close proximity to civilian houses.
  • the Civil Defense and firefighter crew’s response was poor, which is caused by the inadequate resources and capacities of the Civil Defense, the depreciating firetrucks and equipment, as Israeli occupation authorities have refused to allow entry of new firetrucks and equipment since 2007.

The tragic fire at Nusairat camp was not the first of its kind. On 17 September 2009, a gas cylinder exploded at a restaurant in Jabalia and caused the death of 10 people and wounded 50 others; another gas cylinder exploded at a restaurant in Deir al-Balah on 03 March 2015 that killed 1 person and wounded several others; and on 24 November 2017, a gas cylinder exploded at a restaurant in Khan Younis killing 1 person and wounding 2 others.

In light of the above, PCHR:

  • calls upon concerned authorities to expedite the release of investigation results and to hold those responsible accountable and to take the necessary legal procedures;
  • calls upon the municipalities, civil defense and relevant ministries (health, work and economy) to increase and implement health and work safety standards immediately on establishments that use dangerous and incendiary materials, especially gas tanks and cylinders in order to ascertain that they are safe for use and can sustain pressure.
  • Calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to allow the entry of new fire trucks and fire fighting equipment into the Gaza Strip, to enable Civil Defense Service to carry out its duties and protect citizens and their properties in times of crisis and emergencies.

Public Document

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

475 lawyers demand Israel Bar Association rescind effort to intervene in Int’l Criminal Court deliberations on ‘Situation in Palestine’

By The Legal Center For Arab Minority Rights In Israel – Aadalah:Lawyers: IBA move, pushed through in a hasty and underhanded manner, is strictly political in motive and is seemingly intended to advocate Israeli government positions entrenching occupation.

475 lawyers in Israel are demanding that the Israel Bar Association (IBA) rescind its request to submit an amicus curiae legal opinion to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in advance of its pending deliberations on the pressing question of territorial jurisdiction in relation to the “Situation in Palestine”.

The lawyers –  themselves all members of the IBA – contend that the IBA decision is strictly political in motive and intended to support the Israeli government’s positions entrenching occupation, that it falls far beyond both the IBA’s authority and area of legal expertise, and that the move was pushed through in a hasty and underhanded manner.

The attorneys who signed the letter of objection, drafted by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and sent on Thursday, 12 March 2020 to IBA Chairman Avi Himi, are Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israeli human rights lawyers.

On 10 February 2020, IBA Chairman Himi contacted the 34 members of the IBA’s National Council via its WhatsApp group in order to seek their opinion on the IBA’s submission of an amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – request to the ICC. Himi called on the council members to convey their position on the issue within just three hours.

An amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – is not a party to a particular litigation but is nevertheless permitted by the court to advise it in respect to some matter of law that directly affects the case in question.

Himi’s explanation for the proposed submission was general in nature. National Council members – including Arab attorneys – voiced their firm objections to both the manner in which the deliberation was being conducted, and to the decision itself. The lawyers who objected to the submission emphasized that the IBA is forbidden from intervening in issues that are clearly political and which raise political and legal controversy; they stressed that no serious discussion on the matter was held; and stressed that the issue does not fall within the IBA’s area of expertise.

Nevertheless, IBA Chairman Himi submitted the request for an amicus curiae on 14 February 2020.

The IBA has never before sought to involve itself in any Israeli Supreme Court proceedings concerning issues relating to the law of occupation and the applicability of international humanitarian law to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, nor has it ever expressed a legal position on these issues. The letter emphasized that the IBA, therefore, “cannot pretend to have any special professional expertise at the international level. There is no doubt that it seeks to intervene only in order to support the political position of the Israeli government.”

IBA Chairman Himi told the IBA National Council members that the State of Israel is not a member of the ICC and will likely boycott the proceedings. In a seemingly overt indication that the IBA’s move is indeed intended to advocate on behalf of Israel, Himi added that “So that the Palestinian Authority’s position will not to remain without a response, the chairman of the IBA’s International Forum was asked … about the possibility that the IBA would submit its position to the Court as an ‘amicus curiae’. For that purpose, a team was formed, headed by Advocate Nick Kaufman, an expert in international law who has represented several states at the Court in the Hague.”

CLICK HERE to read the letter [English translation]

CLICK HERE to read the letter [Original Hebrew]

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

Due to Corona, Israel to Let Palestinian Workers Stay in Workplaces

Israeli Minister of Defense, Naftali Bennett, decided on Tuesday to let many thousands of Palestinian workers, working inside Israel, to stay for several weeks in Israel.

Bennett’s statement, reported by Israeli media, suggested that Palestinian workers, who work in the various sectors with recruitment by Israeli contractors, can stay for a period of one to two months, provided that their contractors produce a statement of guarantee to the concerned Israeli authorities.

“Starting Wednesday, those West Bank-based Palestinians, who happen to work or trade in vital sectors, such as health, agriculture and building, can reside in Israel”, Bennet was quoted as saying on Israeli radio.

The Israeli official added that regarding the West Bank city of Bethlehem and the coastal Gaza Strip, a closure of border crossings will remain in place, except for the southern Gaza commercial crossing of Kerem Shalom, of which Israel has exclusive control.

The West Bank city of Bethlehem is reported to have been hit by the Corona Virus, with dozens of cases discovered. Meanwhile, Gaza Strip has been reportedly proved a virus-free region. Israel has been imposing a blockade on Gaza since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas party took control of the coastal enclave.

These new Israeli measures for Palestinian workers, whose number surpasses 100,000, comes as Israel has been hit by the internationally-spread Corona Virus.

According to Israeli media, the number of cases of Corona Virus in Israel has reached 298, with four in critical condition.

Additional Israeli measures to counter the virus has been to give unpaid vacations for some employees of the various Israeli ministries, thus reducing the number of those employees to 70% only.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quoted as commenting on the situation, “New measures are not yet enforced on public transport means. For the time being, we are not going to impose a lockdown all over the country, yet we may consider enforcing such a lockdown only on areas that prove to be plagued by the Corona Virus”.

Prior to the current Corona Virus crisis that has swept various world countries, more than 100,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank, would go to workplaces inside Israel, holding special working permits and returning home on daily basis.

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

TWO NEW CASES INCREASE CORONAVIRUS CASES IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES TO 41

Occupied West Bank (QNN)- Two new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the West Bank on Tuesday increasing the total to 41, according to the Palestinian government.

The spokesman for the government, Ibrahim Milhem, said in his daily report on coronavirus that the two cases were of Palestinians returning to the cities of Nablus and Ramallah through Jordan across the River Jordan bridge and that they were placed in quarantine in Jericho upon arrival.

One of the new cases is a student, who came to Ramallah from the UK. while the other is a 65-year-old man from Nablus.

(Source / 17.03.2020) 

BETHLEHEM RESPONDS TO CORONAVIRUS ‘THE PALESTINIAN WAY’ – WITH SWEETS AND SONG

By Akram Al-Waara

Nestled between the sloping hills of Beit Jala, the sister town of Bethlehem, is the Angel Hotel – the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic in the occupied West Bank city.

The hotel is “ground zero” for the city’s outbreak, after seven of its staff members were diagnosed with coronavirus, which they caught after coming into contact with a group of Greek tourists who stayed at the hotel.

Since the first seven cases were announced on 5 March, the number of confirmed patients has risen to 20, all of whom are Palestinian residents of Bethlehem.

The city has since been placed on lockdown by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Of the 20 cases, 16 were being quarantined in the Angel Hotel, along with 15 American tourists who are believed to have come into contact with those carrying the virus according to the PA.

The hotel has become somewhat of a spectacle in the city, as curious residents of Bethlehem pass by in their cars, trying to get a glimpse at the hotel past the police barricades and dozens of mask-clad PA soldiers.

But while the scenes outside the hotel seem like something straight out of a chilling science-fiction film, the people stuck inside the hotel have been telling a different, much more positive story.

Palestinian hospitality takes over

Photos of pastries, fruit smoothies and traditional Palestinian dishes flood the Facebook page of Phyllis McDuffie Creel, one of the Americans under quarantine at the Angel Hotel.

Creel travelled to Bethlehem as part of a mission trip with her Alabama-based church group, which stayed at the hotel for the duration of their stay in Bethlehem.

But on the morning the 13-people group was supposed to leave, it was ordered to stay for a 14-day quarantine at the hotel to ensure none of them were infected.

The visitors, however, have looked on the bright side. Since the hotel was closed off on Thursday, local Palestinian restaurants and residents have been flooding it with medical supplies, personal hygiene products, and most importantly, food.

“Amazing community! These 13 Americans love all of you!” Creel said in one of many posts on Facebook praising the local community for their hospitality towards those quarantined at the hotel.

“Thank you to all of the Palestinian community of Beit Jala for the love and kindness that you have shown the 13 Americans during our stay at the Angel Hotel!” Creel wrote alongside a photo of a boxed fried chicken meal from a popular Beit Jala restaurant.

In another post, Creel shared a photo raving about traditional Palestinian dessert knafeh sent to the hotel by local knafeh giant Fawaniss. “Cannot say thank you enough!” she wrote.

Rajwan Ibdeir, 44, the owner of Fawaniss, told Middle East Eye that he didn’t think twice about sending knafeh and other sweets to people in quarantine.

“We are trying to support the people to fill in the gaps that may be the government cannot,” Ibdeir said. “This is a way of showing love to our city and solidarity with the people who are now sick that have supported our business for years.”

Ibdeir said he was thrilled to see people like Creel thanking his restaurant and posting photos of his knafeh, but emphasised that “we didn’t do this to show off, we did this because it is our responsibility as Palestinians.

“It doesn’t matter if they are Americans, Africans, Europeans, or Arabs. We know they need help, so it is part of our culture to help them and support them,” Ibdeir said.

MEE was unable to reach Creel. Local sources reported that her group was transferred out of the hotel and to Tel Aviv airport to go back to the US after their tests for COVID-19 came back negative.

‘It’s the Palestinian way’

In a video that has been shared widely on Facebook, Beit Jala mayor Anton Salman holds his phone up to reporters so they can hear the voice on the other end of the line – Angel Hotel owner Nancy al-Arja.

After an overwhelming amount of supplies and food were sent to the hotel, Arja can be heard urging the people of Bethlehem to coordinate with local authorities before sending any more packages.

Arja’s pleas came after a group of young men from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem arrived at the doors of the hotel in a solidarity procession, blasting uplifting music as they delivered fresh juices and other parcels to the hotel steps.

“It was an act of solidarity, to show the people in quarantine that we are not scared of them, and that we stand by them no matter what,” 24-year-old law student Muhannad Abu Srour, who participated in the procession, told MEE.

Abu Srour said the idea started small within a group of friends, but soon grew as more and more people in the community expressed their desire to contribute.

“We collected donations from people so we could send fresh juices, snacks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other clothing items that they may need,” Abu Srour said.

When he saw members of the American group and fellow Palestinians stuck in the hotel posting positive things about their act of kindness, Abu Srour said he felt a sense of validation.

“This type of act is not novel for the Palestinian people,” he said. “If you have something, you share it with others. This is the Palestinian way.

“For hundreds of years, despite all the adversity we have faced, we are still a welcoming and hospitable people,” Abu Srour continued.

“If you have something, you share it with others. It doesn’t matter if they are foreigners or Arabs. They all need to feel our support, so that’s why we did it,” he said.

Abu Srour expressed hope that his actions, and the actions of others like him would not only help change American perceptions of Palestinians, but send a message to communities around the world who are dealing with the coronavirus.

“For those who are seeing what’s happening in Bethlehem, we ask you to pray for us, and to learn from our experience,” he said.

“Be kind to one another. Don’t let fear take over. Support one another and we will get through this difficult time.”

(Source / 17.03.2020)