UNRWA urgently needs $14m for its action against coronavirus

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said yesterday that it urgently needed $14 million to prepare and respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

In an appeal posted on its website, the agency outlined the immediate priorities and financial requirements for health and other services related to the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“Overcrowded living conditions, physical and mental stress and years of protracted conflict all make the vulnerable population of over 5.6 million Palestine refugees particularly susceptible to the ongoing threats of COVID-19,” UNRWA Acting Commissioner-General Christian Saunders was quoted as saying.

“All of the Agency’s five fields’ host governments and authorities have announced a series of robust measures to cope with the spread of COVID-19, which UNRWA will follow and factor into its operations,” he added.

READ: Palestine refugees in Lebanon start anti-coronavirus sterilisation drive

Saunders added: “Countless individuals and every government are involved in the massive global efforts to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and UNRWA, our staff and the Palestine refugee community we serve, are no different.”

He continued: “I humbly call on donors, whether governments, foundations or individuals, to help UNRWA face what could become a disaster of unconscionable proportions in places like Gaza and Syria.”

“COVID-19 has illustrated that no population is exempt and for a densely populated area like Gaza, already weakened by years of blockade, this could be disastrous.”

Saunders stressed that “Gaza simply does not have the resources and means to weather such a story. Any contribution is gratefully received, every penny will make a difference.”

READ: UNRWA to turn schools into clinics for patients with respiratory diseases in Gaza

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Coronavirus delays ICC investigation of Israel

Building of the International Criminal Court [Wikipedia]

Building of the International Criminal Court, in Hague on 23 December 2019

The decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel’s alleged human rights violations and war crimes in the occupied West Bank will most likely be delayed up to a month, the Jerusalem Post has reported.

The delay could last until at least 30 March, following the closure of the court building in The Hague on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic. As such, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has filed for an extension on the matter until 30 April, citing the global health crisis.

The Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes committed in the occupied territories relating to illegal settlements, land expropriation and the killing of civilians during military offensives against civilians in the Gaza Strip.

However, on 16 March and in the days leading up to it, some countries, NGOs and jurists filed amicus briefs to the ICC asking permission to present legal arguments against the tribunal’s jurisdiction to prosecute war crime suits against Israel. Some of the countries lining up with Israel against the tribunal’s jurisdiction are Canada, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Brazil. They argue that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case because Palestine does not meet the criteria for statehood.

READ: B’Tselem rejects Israel Attorney General’s objection to ICC jurisdiction

The issue is now whether the ICC Pre-trial Chamber will view “Palestine” as a state, and what territory it would say it has jurisdiction over in order to authorise a full criminal probe of Israelis for war crimes.

The Palestinian Authority published a statement on Monday calling on the ICC to reject any objections to the idea of Palestinian statehood. Such a decision, insists the PA, would undermine the objectives and purpose of the ICC on formalistic grounds by preventing it from prosecuting war crimes. In any case, the ICC does not investigate states, but officials who are accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Palestinian-Israeli woman indicted for ‘working with Hamas’

Hamas logo [File photo]

Israeli prosecutors issued an indictment on Wednesday afternoon against a Palestinian-Israeli citizen who is accused of working with the military wing of Hamas, Safa news agency has reported. Aya Al-Khatib worked as a medical assistant in Israel for Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip, and is also a member of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel and an activist for Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to the Israeli website Wallah, Al-Khatib was arrested along with her husband on 17 February. They were banned from having a meeting with a lawyer at the time. Her husband was later released.

The indictment claims that she was recruited by Muhammad Felfel and Mohamed Halawa from Gaza, both of whom are alleged to be members of Al-Qassam Brigades.

READ: Hamas builds coronavirus isolation facilities in Gaza

The prosecutors allege that Al-Khatib first met with Felfel in 2017 when he was accompanying his daughter for treatment at one of the Palestinian hospitals in Israel. Since then, she has allegedly been sending money for Hamas and Al-Qassam Brigades, and is accused of being linked to other Qassam operatives and passing intelligence about Israeli targets to them. Finally, the indictment says that she raised funds to be used to buy equipment for the resistance tunnels and making weapons in Gaza.

A court in Israel has extended her detention by two weeks in order to have time to complete the legal procedures related to her case.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Israeli Troops abduct a Number of Palestinian Youth in the West Bank

 Israeli troops abducted, before dawn on Thursday, three Palestinian youth in the West Bank refugee camp of Deheishe, located near the city of Bethlehem.

Local Palestinian security sources confirmed that Israeli army forces abducted Yousef Albal’awi, 19, Ramez Allaham, 22 and Mustafa Hasanat, 22, after the soldiers broke into, vandalized and inspected their residential homes .

The sources said that right after the invasion by Israeli troops of Deheishe, dozens of locals took out to streets, in protest.

In response, Israeli troops fired volleys of tear gas canisters, with no casualties reported.

Meanwhile, the West Bank city of Qalqilia, saw a similar Israeli abduction of local Palestinian youth, early on Thursday dawn.

Witnesses told local media outlets that Israeli troops broke into the family home of Khalil Abu Samra, a 22-year-old local youth and abducted him, leaving his family members in a great deal of concern.

Israeli abduction of local Palestinian youth across the occupied West Bank occurs every morning before dawn, and is a direct violation of the Oslo Agreement, a long-standing peace agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which recognized Israel’s right to exist back in 1993. Since then, Israel has vastly expanded its colonial settlement blocs in the West Bank, using abductions as a pretext for invading and taking over Palestinian land.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

PCHR Demands Provision of Health and Humanitarian Standards at Gaza Strip COVID-19 Quarantine Centers

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is closely monitoring the precautionary measures adopted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the Gaza Strip in the face of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the medical exam procedures and quarantine policies for Palestinians returning from abroad via Rafah and Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossings, south and north of Gaza.

PCHR expresses its concern for the conditions at the quarantine centers in southern Gaza Strip, in light of the complaints PCHR received from persons in quarantine that indicate lack of health and safety standards.

According to PCHR’s investigations, MOH – Gaza conducts medical examinations on Palestinians returning from abroad via Rafah and Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossings, and is keeping several persons for 14 days as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 at the 3 centers dedicated for quarantine in southern Gaza Strip: Marmara Elementary School for Girls and Ghassan Kanafany School for Boys in Rafah, and al-Safwa Elementary School in Khan Younis.

Approximately 80 persons were checked into quarantine at Maramara and Ghassan Kanafany schools in Rafah immediately upon return from Egypt, including dozens of patients who were in Egypt for medical treatment, and dozens of students at Egyptian universities.

Meanwhile, approximately 300 persons were checked into al-Safwa school in Khan Younis upon their return from Beit Hanoun Crossing, including patients with cancer, renal failure, and hemiplegia who were receiving treatment in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israeli hospitals. They were all subjected to medical examinations and had pledged to commit to at-home quarantine for 14 days.

PCHR received multiple and consistent complaints from persons in quarantine that highlighted the lack of minimum health and safety standards at the quarantine centers, as each classroom is filled by a group of 10, without beds or covers.

Bathrooms are commonly used, unhygienic and lack cleaning and sterilizing materials; additionally, water supply is inconsistent and is cut for several hours. The complaints stressed as well that there are persons with serious diseases in the quarantine centers and are in need of medicine and continued medical observation.

PCHR appreciates the importance of precautionary measures at the Gaza Strips’ border crossings and the necessity of quarantine for Palestinians returning from abroad for the sake of public safety; thus, the Centre:

  • Calls for provision of health and safety standards at the quarantine centers, especially with the number of persons checked-in and the provision of basic services, including proper lavatories and suitable meals.
  • Calls for MOH to uphold its direct and full responsibility for the supervision of quarantine centers in a manner that ensures both the safety of persons in quarantine and interrupting transmission of COVID-19. PCHR stresses the need for coordination between MOH in Gaza and Ramallah to benefit from the efforts of MOH-Ramallah in facing the spread of Coronavirus and operating quarantine centers which were applauded by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Calls upon the international community and HWO to pressure Israeli authorities to allow the entry of medical supplies and equipment necessary for Coronavirus medical examination, as well as other basic commodities via the border crossings under its control.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

HUMAN RIGHTS NGO DEMANDS RELEASE OF FEMALE, CHILDREN, SICK PALESTINIAN PRISONERS

Ramallah (QNN)- The Committee of Prisoners and Former Prisoners Affairs demanded Wednesday the immediate release of all sick, elderly, children, and female prisoners in Israeli jails as they are more vulnerable for coronavirus infections if the virus reaches Israeli jails.

The committee said in a statement that the prisoners live in fear for their lives as their crowded cells lack the minimal requirements of sanitation.

The statement added that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has increased its violations against the prisoners. It prevents them from using cleaning supplies and does not provide any guidance on the virus, not mentioning the very poor conditions in which the prisoners live.

The committee called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as human rights and legal organizations to immediately intervene and put pressure on the occupation state to protect the prisoners from any possible coronavirus outbreak.

The occupation state holds nearly 5000 Palestinian prisoners in its jails, including 180 children, 700 sick prisoners, and over 200 with chronic diseases.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

ISRAELI POLICE SUMMONS AL AQSA MOSQUE MANAGER AND IMAM FOR INTERROGATION

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- The Israeli police on Wednesday summoned both the manager and Imam of Al Aqsa mosque for interrogation.

QNN reporter stated that the Israeli police summoned Sheikh Omar Kiswani for interrogation at Qashlah interrogation centre in the West of the city.

It summoned the Imam of the holy mosque, Sheikh Amer Abdeen, for interrogation as well.

In the same context, Israeli police arrested a child from Issawiyyeh in the occupied Palestinian capital city.

Israeli cops broke into the house of Mahmoud Mahmoud and arrested his 14-year-old son before taking him for interrogation, according to our reporter.

(Source / 19.03.2020)

Four Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli prison contracted coronavirus

According to the organisation, the infections started with one inmate who recently came into contact with an Israeli interrogator

Israeli occupation authorities have informed Palestinian prisoners at Megiddo prison in Israel that four cases of novel coronavirus have been detected inside the facility.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), an organisation advocating for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, said on Thursday that four Palestinian prisoners in Megiddo Sections 5, 6 and 10 have contracted the virus through one Israeli investigator.

According to the organisation, the infections started with one inmate who recently came into contact with an Israeli officer during interrogations in the city of Petah Tikva.

“The prison administration has officially informed the inmates about the infections, and everyone is on high alert,” the PPS said in a statement shared with journalists.

“Prisoners are facing today the danger of infection from the prison guards and investigators,” it added.

The PPS called on authorities to intervene to protect the inmates from Covid-19, by providing disinfectants and taking preventive measures recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Israeli occuaption forces have been raiding prisons and imposing restrictions on Palestinian prisoners.

The Israeli Prison Services confiscated on Wednesday the belongisings of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in several of its prisons due to their repeated requests for disinfectants.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Largest Israeli party proposes bill to execute Palestinian prisoners

In 2017, Avigdor Lieberman, the then Israeli defence minister, introduced a bill allowing the execution of Palestinian prisoners

The right-wing Israeli Likud party headed by current Crimes Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed on Wednesday bill calling for executing Palestinian political prisoners.

Reporting Miki Zohar, the head of the Likud faction in the Knesset, the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom said that the party also proposed another bill to annex the Jordan Valley, the Northern Dead Sea and the desert of Al Khalil (Hebron) in the occupied West Bank to Israel.

It is worth noting that Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Yisrael Beitenu, who is currently endorsing the head of Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, for the prime minister post, has called for the heads of the Palestinian prisoners to be chopped off with an axe.

Lieberman has also described the Palestinians inside Israel as a “fifth column” and called them “enemies.”

“We will see how they will work together with those [Palestinians in Israel] who work against the state,” Zohar said.

In December 2017, Lieberman, who then served as defence minister, introduced a bill allowing the use of the death penalty against Palestinian prisoners. The bill did not go through the Knesset.

(Source / 19.03.2020) 

Rights Groups Call For Medical Resources For Gaza To Face Coronavirus

Photos File

Rights groups operating in the Gaza Strip called on Wednesday for Israel to allow medical equipment and medicines needed for the fight against coronavirus to be allowed into the besieged enclave.

“The Israeli authorities are legally responsible [as the occupying power] for providing Gaza with the medical equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus,” explained the Executive Director of Himaya Centre for Human Rights, Omar Al-Qaroot. “Despite this, Israel is still imposing restrictions on the entry of medical resources which are needed urgently to curb the outbreak of the virus.”

Speaking on behalf of all rights groups in the Gaza Strip, Al-Qaroot called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to abide by its legal obligations towards the residents of the occupied Palestinian territories. This includes the lifting of the blockade imposed on Gaza and allowing desperately-needed medical assistance for the seriously-depleted health sector.

Al-Qaroot also called for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to open a regional centre in the Palestinian territories to monitor the spread of the disease.

The Gaza Strip has entered the 14th year of a strict Israeli-led siege which has caused severe shortages of basic items, especially in the health sector where medicines, medical equipment and resources are currently estimated to be at just 45 per cent of essential levels. _00-10

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(Source / 19.03.2020)