Israeli Soldiers Fire Missiles Into Gaza

Israeli war jets fired, on Friday at night, several missiles into a few areas in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip, causing damage.

Media sources said the army fire many missiles into an area, northwest of Gaza city, causing damage to homes and structures.

The army also fired two artillery shells into an east, east of Gaza city, causing property damage.

Furthermore, the army also fired missiles into at least one site, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, causing damage.

In a very brief statement, the Israeli army claimed that “it was retaliating to a homemade shell,” which was reportedly fired from the Gaza Strip and landed in an open area without leading to damage to injuries.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Hamas politically active to combat COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip

Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya (R) holds a press conference over the precautions against coronavirus (Covid-19) in Gaza City, Gaza on 14 March 2020. [Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency]

Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya (R) holds a press conference over the precautions against coronavirus (Covid-19) in Gaza City, Gaza on 14 March 2020

By Dr Adnan Abu Amer

Once the first infections with the coronavirus were announced in the Gaza Strip, Hamas showed intense political engagement by making contacts with several countries to provide aid to the strip. The movement’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, contacted the emir of Qatar, the Turkish president and the Iranian foreign minister, while he called on the king of Saudi Arabia to release Hamas’ detainees in the kingdom’s prisons for fear of contracting the virus.

This article will discuss the political activity of Hamas, its health and political goals, what these countries will provide for Gaza, and whether this aid will be delivered through Hamas’ channels of distribution or through the Palestinian Authority (PA), while speculating the type of response Saudi Arabia will extend to Hamas’ demands to release its detainees, especially after the Houthi initiative to conclude a swap deal with the kingdom to release Hamas’ prisoners in exchange for captured Saudi officers in Yemen.

Since the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip announced recording only a few cases of infection with the coronavirus, Hamas has shown a clear interest in encouraging friendly countries to yield humanitarian aid for the strip, for fear of a virus outbreak amid the poor health conditions and lack of medical care resources.

Immediately after this announcement was made, Haniyeh started working on developing high-level contacts with some of the leaders of the region, requesting humanitarian assistance to Palestinians inside and outside of Gaza.

READ: Israeli calls for dialogue with Hamas are prompted by common interests 

Haniyeh announced in a press statement the allocation of half a million dollars to support the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to face the pandemic, then contacted the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to show solidarity with the Iranian people who are suffering from an intense outbreak of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the movement’s leader called on Iran to provide the Palestinian people with the necessary medical materials to confront the spread of the virus.

Later, Haniyeh called for King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to release Hamas detainees, held in the kingdom’s prisons since April 2019, over health concerns following the propagation of the pandemic; though no link has been established between Haniyeh’s request from Saudi Arabia and the detection of two cases of infection with the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’ leader had two separate phone calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, during which he discussed with them the possible ways to combat the pandemic in Gaza.

Haniyeh confirmed in a statement that the two leaders expressed their willingness to help the Palestinian people to face the spread of the virus, by pumping the necessary funds and resources, even though the content of the two phone conversations was announced from the movement’s part only – i.e. neither the Qatari ruler nor the Turkish president issued official statements about the discussions they had with the Palestinian official.

Gaza decides to close border to protect against coronavirus in Gaza on 16 March 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Hamas spokespersons emphasised that since the detection of the first infections with the virus in Gaza, Hamas has moved to combat the spread of COVID-19 out of a high sense of national responsibility, and the movement’s wide presence in the Palestinian streets. Hamas has helped the government agencies in the Gaza Strip to equip the locations where the infected people will be quarantined, in addition to undertaking the political and diplomatic initiative to communicate with Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Egypt in order to ensure the continuity of bilateral trade movement with Gaza to avoid a food crisis. On the other hand, the movement has also requested from Saudi Arabia to release the Palestinian detainees, including the sick and the elderly, while the PA is falling short of helping Gaza, even with the spread of the pandemic.

Immediately after Hamas started contacting the aforementioned countries, the Qatar News Agency announced that Qatar provided $150 million to support the Gaza Strip to combat the pandemic, over a period of six months, to help alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. Thus, Haniyeh thanked the emir of Qatar, considering this financial aid as an extension of the long-standing Qatari position toward the Palestinians.

The Qatari ambassador to the Palestinian territories, Mohammed Al-Emadi, who heads the Qatari Committee for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, also started providing assistance to hundreds of Palestinians in the quarantine centres in the strip, including the distribution of meals, electrical appliances, blankets, pillows and mattresses, as well as securing the necessary quantities of fuel to provide electricity to the centres, in cooperation with the ministries of social development and health in Gaza.

READ: Gaza faces coronavirus alone after a 14-year lockdown 

The Hamas-managed ministries in the strip, and not the movement itself, have sought through recent contacts to support the medical capabilities in Gaza, as it has conducted direct coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the PA, especially the ministries of health and social development. Nonetheless, these government bodies, which have established indirect coordination with Israel to receive the necessary requirements to confront the virus, succeeded in providing laboratory testing equipment, sterilisation supplies and medical devices.

By pumping funds to help Gaza confront COVID-19, Qatar has chosen the only available option to cooperate with Hamas, within the limits of what is permitted by Israel and internationally. Since Israel is concerned about the outbreak of the epidemic in Gaza, it will not allow the situation to deteriorate there, and therefore the occupation authorities will facilitate the provision of preventive measures to aid the strip confront the spread of the virus.

While the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip revealed that the medical teams provided 1,420 hosts in the quarantine centres with necessary medical care, the health system in Gaza is struggling amid the shortage of 39 per cent of basic medications, 23 per cent of medical materials, and 60 per cent of laboratory supplies and blood banks, in addition to the severe lack of virus test kits.

Admittedly, Gaza’s Ministry of Health has revealed only several individual cases of the coronavirus so far. However, the increasing number of people in quarantine comes due to fear of being infected through existing cases, whether from the two people who have been examined, or from Palestinian travellers returning from abroad through the Rafah crossing, in the south with Egypt, and the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing.

Citizens in Gaza start wearing masks and gloves, after declaring coronavrius cases on 22 March 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The promises to help in fighting the coronavirus that the government entities in Gaza received from some countries, have not yet been fulfilled. Government entities are making efforts along with international bodies to purchase the necessary equipment to limit the spread of the pandemic, especially respirators, implantable cardioverter defibrillators and intensive care units.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza has a severe shortage of these materials, and it needs 100 respirators, costing $30,000 each, but the problem is that these devices are decreasing globally due to the high demand for them. As for the PA, it does not coordinate with the ministry, and Gaza did not receive anything from all the aid and grants that the PA received to deal with the pandemic.

Hamas announced that Turkey is prepared to provide Gaza with medical assistance to confront COVID-19, especially the opening of the Turkish-Palestinian Al-Sadaka Hospital in Gaza, which began construction in 2011, and was completed in 2017 but has not yet been opened, with no reason given. However, the Islamic University of Gaza announced hours earlier that it has been allowed to use the hospital in cases of emergency due to the coronavirus. The hospital, with all its capabilities and equipment, will be placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, as it possesses high-level capabilities and equipment.

The Turkish hospital in Gaza can accommodate two hundred beds, and it consists of several buildings. It is equipped with the latest devices, appropriate medical mattresses and the best equipment for the different types of radiology departments, operating room facilities, intensive care and various other forms of equipment.

Hamas clearly wants to use its foreign relations to provide humanitarian and health assistance to confront the coronavirus in Gaza, especially with its friends Iran, Turkey and Qatar, and to provide financial support for the relief of Palestinians who have been economically affected by the pandemic. Qatar and Turkey responded to Hamas’ humanitarian and health demands to confront COVID-19 in Gaza. As for Iran, Hamas obviously understands its worsening crisis due to the spread of the pandemic in the country.

READ: The EU supports UNRWA to safeguard its own diplomatic stance 

Regarding its detainees in Saudi prisons, Hamas fears that the coronavirus pandemic will reach them, and it may have wanted to play on the emotional tendencies, influence the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and ask some mediators to convince it to release them.

There were no Saudi reactions to Haniyeh’s request from the Saudi king to release the Hamas detainees in KSA. However, Hamas circles expected that the file of Hamas detainees in Saudi Arabia might be closed by releasing them before the month of Ramadan, in May, and revealed that Hamas is making direct contacts and mediators with Saudi Arabia to release them.

Later, the leader of the Houthis in Yemen, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, announced his willingness to release a Saudi captive pilot with four officers and soldiers, in exchange for Hamas detainees. Hamas has issued an important statement on this initiative, and confirmed its follow-up with interest, appreciating the spirit of fraternity and sympathy for the Palestinian people, and supporting its resistance. It also expressed its thanks for this interest and initiative, reiterating its continuous demand to Saudi Arabia of the urgent need to release all Palestinian detainees from the kingdom’s prisons.

The emergence of the coronavirus in Gaza came at a time when Haniyeh was outside of it, which gave Hamas a wide margin to move along with other countries, especially with its efforts to employ its political relations to support the humanitarian and health sectors. The spread of the coronavirus in many countries across the globe is unfavourable to Hamas, because it has problems that distract it from supporting Gaza.

Although the PA opposes Turkish, Iranian and Qatari relations with Hamas, it may turn a blind eye to them, especially at this stage, because these countries may help Gaza, and absolve the PA of its humanitarian and health responsibilities towards the strip which fears the spread of the coronavirus, especially as Hamas accuses the PA of ignoring Gaza.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies over coronavirus concerns

Palestinians gather at the Separation Fence as ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations continue on Friday 20 December in Gaza

Palestinian groups in Gaza cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organizers said on Saturday, Reuters reports.

The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the country’s creation in 1948.

“We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

Instead, Batsh called upon Gazans to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.

According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.

A Terrifying Scenario: Coronavirus in ‘Quarantined’ Gaza 

One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations. Israel said the protests were often used as cover for militants trying to breach the border and that many protesters had hurled rocks and explosives at its troops.

In 2019 U.N. Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the fatalities.

So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Egypt sends humanitarian, medical aid to Gaza

A view of Rafah Crossing Point after it closed for passings as part of the measures against coronavirus (COVID-19), in Rafah, Gaza on 15 March 2020. [Abed Rahim Khatib - Anadolu Agency]

A view of Rafah Crossing Point after it closed for passings as part of the measures against coronavirus (COVID-19), in Rafah, Gaza on 15 March 2020

Egyptian Red Crescent has sent three truckloads of humanitarian and medical aid to the Palestinian Red Crescent in the Gaza Strip, Al-Ray News Agency reported on Friday.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that the aid shipment was sterilised and all other safety measures were applied before entry into the Gaza Strip.

As of Saturday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza announced that there are seven people who contracted the coronavirus in the besiege enclave.

The ministry stated that the first two cases returned to Gaza having the virus, and the other seven are security officers who were guarding the quarantine centre where the two cases were revealed.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza launched an appeal for help, stating that it needs urgent aid worth $23 million to face the outbreak of the coronavirus in the coastal enclave, which has been under strict Israeli siege since mid-2007.

READ: Hamas politically active to combat COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip 

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Hamas praises Houthis for offer to free Palestinian prisoners from Saudi Arabia

Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City, Gaza on 2 September 2019 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City, Gaza on 2 September 2019 

The Palestinian resistance group Hamas has praised the initiative by the Iran-backed Houthi militia to convince Saudi Arabia to release Palestinian detainees.

The offer presented to the kingdom by the Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi stated that they are prepared to release a number of captured Saudis – one pilot and four soldiers – in return for the kingdom’s release of Hamas members who have been detained.

A statement issued by Hamas last night confirmed that: “Hamas has followed with interest the much-appreciated initiative launched by Abdulmalik Al-Houthi on Thursday evening, regarding the exchange of prisoners in their possession for the release of Palestinian detainees in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

READ: What is this trial in Riyadh all about?

It added that: “We highly value the spirit of fraternity and sympathy for the Palestinian people and support their steadfastness and resistance, and we express our thanks for this interest and initiative.”

Hamas has long campaigned for the release of Palestinian detainees and Hamas members imprisoned within Saudi Arabia, and particularly urged for their release after it was revealed that the kingdom was to prosecute the Palestinian prisoners earlier this month after accusing them of funding terrorist activities. This week, the head of Hamas’ political bureau Ismail Haniyeh called on Saudi King Salman to release them. On Wednesday it was reported that Hamas representatives were in talks with top Saudi officials over their release.

READ: There is more to Haniyeh’s overseas tour than meets the eye

The group’s statement made reference to this, confirming that it: “Spared no efforts in communicating with the Saudi leadership for nearly a year, the latest of which was the call of the head of the movement’s political office, Brother Mujahid Ismail Haniyeh, to the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, to release Palestinian detainees who did not harm the kingdom, and respected the principles of hospitality in a brother country without compensation or condition, there was no sin committed and no crime committed.”

The statement concluded that: “The question of Palestine was, and will remain, the overarching issue of our Arab Islamic nation, and we call on all to unify their efforts to support the Palestinian people and their just cause, hoping the unity of our nation and gathering its rank.”

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (19 – 25 March 2020)

Summary

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to violate Palestinians’ human rights and commit crimes against civilians and their properties, conducting raids into Palestinian cities without regard to the state of emergency declared across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the efforts put forward to combat the spread of Coronavirus, despite that 8 deaths by said virus were announced in Israel along with hundreds of reported cases. Meanwhile, settlers backed up by IOF continued to seize more Palestinian land and attack civilians and their property.

This week, PCHR documented 97 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by IOF and settlers in the oPt. As the state of emergency enters its 3rd week, as well as the extreme Israeli restrictions on movement of individuals, have hindered our fieldwork team’s ability to cover all incidents in the oPt and were forced to collect information via phone from trusted local sources. As such, this report is a comprehensive record of Israeli violations of human rights against Palestinians in the oPt, as IOF continues its attacks against civilians despite the exceptional circumstances that have overcome the whole world in the face of a life-threatening viral pandemic.

I. IOF shooting and violation of right to bodily integrity: in excessive use of force against protests in the West Bank, IOF shot and killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another one on 22 March 2020, as IOF opened fire on their car by the Ni’lin village entrance, western Ramallah. IOF wounded 3 other Palestinian civilians, including two children while violently disrupting civilians and protests in Qalqilia and Ramallah; PCHR documented 8 other shooting incidents were IOF used live bullets and tear gas canisters during raids into several Palestinian cities, causing several cases of suffocation.

In the Gaza Strip, 2 shootings by IOF were reported against the agricultural lands in the southern and central Gaza Strip while 2 shootings were reported against Palestinian fishing boats off the northern Gaza Strip shore. No injuries were reported.

II. IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 59 incursions into the West Bank. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, inducing fear among civilians, and attacking many of them. During this week’s incursions, 51 Palestinians were arrested, including 6 children. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, IOF conducted a limited incursion into eastern Khan Younis.

III. Settlement expansion activities and settlers’ attacks: PCHR documented 4 IOF operations in the West Bank: razing in Salfit; 2 notices to halt construction at solar-cell plant; another notice to halt construction at a civilian house in the Northern Valley; and demolition of a wall in an agricultural land in Jenin.

PCHR also documented 13 settler attacks: 5 civilians assaulted, cutting trees and vandalizing Palestinian vehicles in Hebron; vandalizing and uprooting trees and vandalizing a water tank in Nablus; various properties vandalized across the West Bank mainly in the Northern Valley, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron.

IV. Israeli closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement: Israeli authorities continued to impose restrictions on Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing and West Bank Crossings under the pretext of confronting the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These restrictions were declared on Wednesday, 11 March 2020, and still in effect, except for humanitarian cases. This comes at a time when the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst blockade in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons or goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life. Furthermore, IOF uses Erez Crossing that is designated for movement of individuals as an ambush to arrest Palestinians who obtain permits to exit via Israel.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 23 and 24 March 2020, IOF threw out hundreds of Palestinians workers at checkpoints and points within the Annexation Wall without contact or coordination with the relevant Palestinian authorities. On 19 March 2020, thousands of Palestinian workers went into Israel on the promise employers granted that they would be given proper and healthy accommodation, who did not fulfill the commitments they made after the outbreak of Coronavirus in Israel. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the workers were kept in inadequate and unsanitary housing conditions amidst the Coronavirus outbreak in Israel. After some workers showed signs of illness and coronavirus symptoms, IOF left them at checkpoints between Israel and the northern West Bank without undergoing examinations in the Israeli or Palestinian hospitals. The Palestinian authorities called upon all workers to return home and quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Meanwhile, IOF continued to divide the West Bank into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian movement is restricted and they are subject to arrest.

I. Violation of the Right to Life and Bodily Integrity

a) Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the West Bank

  • At approximately 13:00 on Friday, 20 March 2020, IOF stationed at the northern entrance established at Kufur Qaddoum village’s land, north of Qalqilia, suppressed a protest in which dozens of Palestinian civilians participated. IOF chased the young men who gathered in the area. IOF clashed with the young men and fired rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a 63-year-old civilian was shot with a rubber bullet in the right leg and a16-year-old child was shot with a rubber bullet in the right hand.

b) Shooting and other Violations of the Right to Life and Bodily Integrity

  • At approximately 04:30 on Wednesday, 09 March 2020, IOF reinforced with military SUVs moved into Bethlehem via al-Nashash military checkpoint. They removed the cement cubes established by Palestinian security services in al-Khader village’s road, to isolate the city from other cities in light of the procedures taken by the Palestinian authority to put an end to Coronavirus. Large Israeli forces moved into al-Dheisha refugee camp, which is also isolated. They raided and searched 3 houses, blew up their doors, attacked the inhabitants and arrested 3 former prisoners, who were released few months ago. IOF cuffed the detainees’ hands and legs, and forced them to wear protective clothing and masks. The detainees were Identified as: Mustafa Atiyah al-Hasanat (22), Yazan Yusuf al-Bal’awi (22), and Ramez Yusuf al-Laham (22). In the meantime, dozens of young men gathered on the camp’s empty streets due to the PA’s directions and threw stones, Molotov Cocktail, and empty bottles at IOF soldiers and the latter responded with tear gas canisters. As a result, many civilians vomited and suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  • At approximately 15:35, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern al-Qararah village, northeast of Khan Younis, adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 15:05 on Saturday, 21 March 2020, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire at the border area, adjacent to the border fence. As a result, farmers whose lands are adjacent to the border area panicked. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 04:10 on Sunday, 22 March 2020, IOF gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia, west of al-Sudaniya area, west of Jabalia in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 – 3 nautical miles. Israeli gunboats also fired artillery shells. As a result, the fishing nets that belong to a number of fishermen sustained damage. Fishermen also panicked and fled away. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 16:20, on the same Sunday, IOF moved into Burin village, southeast of Nablus. A number of Palestinian children gathered and threw stones at IOF vehicles and the latter responded with tear gas canisters to disperse them. As a result, a number of children suffocated due to tear gas inhalation and they received medical treatment on the field.
  • At approximately 17:00 on the same Sunday, IOF moved into al-‘Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and deployed in the neighborhoods. They established checkpoints and searched civilians’ vehicles. In the meantime, a number of Palestinian young men protested in the vicinity of al-Araba’in Mosque and threw stones at IOF soldiers. The soldiers fired tear gas canister at them. As a result, many civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. IOF arrested Qais Haitham Mustafa (13) and Dawoud ‘A’ed Atiyah (13).
  • In new crime of excessive use of lethal force, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another on Sunday, 22 March 2020, as IOF opened fire at their vehicle by the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah.
  • According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 22:00 on Sunday, IOF stationed at the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah, fired live bullets at a Palestinian vehicle carrying 2 civilians while coming from Ramallah. As a result, the driver was killed while the passenger was wounded. The wounded civilian managed to flee and go to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. It turned out later that he sustained shrapnel wounds throughout his body.

IOF surrounded the vehicle for over half an hour while the driver was inside. Afterwards, an Israeli ambulance arrived and took the driver to an Israeli hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The civilian killed was later identified as Sufian Nawaf ‘Abed al-Haleem al-Khawaja (31), and the wounded was his cousin Mohamed Bader al-Khawaja (20). They were returning from the outskirts of Ramallah after buying foodstuffs for their families, in preparation to implement the Palestinian Authority decision to abide all citizens to their homes in a measure to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

IOF claimed that they opened fire towards the suspects after they hurled a rock at them, but information obtained by PCHR’s fieldworker pointed out that when the two civilians arrived at Ni’lin village entrance, they saw an Israeli police vehicle and for fear of being stopped because their car was illegal, they turned their vehicle and made their way towards al-Mohalhel road. This road is designated to enter the village, despite that, IOF opened fire at their vehicle, killing one of them and wounding the other without any justification as they posed no threat or danger to the Israeli soldiers and police officers’ lives. It should be noted that IOF still holds Sufian al-Khawaja’s body.

  • At approximately 14:00 on Monday, 23 March 2020, IOF moved into Furik village, northeast of Nablus. A number of Palestinian children gathered and threw stones at IOF vehicles. IOF fired tear gas canisters at the m to disperse them. As a result, a number of children suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They received medical treatment on the field.
  • At approximately 16:20, IOF moved into Burin village, east of Nablus. A number of children gathered and threw stones at IOF vehicles and the latter fired tear gas canisters to disperse them. As a result, a number of children suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They received medical treatment on the field.
  • At approximately 00:00 on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, IOF moved into Deir Netham village, northwest of Ramallah and stationed in the vicinity of the village’s entrance. A number of Palestinian young men protested and threw stones and Molotov Cocktail at IOF and the latter chased the protestors and fired rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a 16-year-old child, from Deir Abu Mash’al, was wounded. The child was transferred to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive medical treatment.
  • At approximately 08:50 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, IOF gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; no casualties were reported. At approximately 17:50 on the same Wednesday, fishermen managed to remove a fishing boat belonging to Samer Husam Mohammed Baker (30), from al-Shati refugee camp, and took it to Gaza sea port. The boat’s engine was broken and its structure was targeted with several live bullets during the above mentioned attack.
  • At approximately 2:00 on the same Monday, an Israeli infantry unit moved into al-Tabaqah village, south of Dura, south of Hebron. They patrolled the main road and fired a tear gas canister near a house before they withdrew from the village. No casualties were reported.

II. Incursions and Arrests

Thursday, 19 March 2020:

  • At approximately 00:00, IOF moved into Qalqilia. They raided and searched Khalil Majdi Abu Samra’s (25) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into ‘Arraba, southwest of Jenin. They raided and searched Ayham Abdulah Abu Salah’s (25) house and arrested him.
  • Around the same time, IOF reinforced with several military vehicles, moved into southern Hebron. They raided and searched Mohammed Abdullah Abu Dawoud’s (19) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Solwan, south of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Ahmed Eyad al-Rajabi’s (17) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 17:00, IOF moved into Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Ra’fat Sameeh Najeeb’s (30) house and arrested him. After a few hours, IOF released him on condition that banning his entry to al-Aqsa Mosque for a week.
  • At approximately 18:00, IOF moved into Deir Abu Mish’al village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched several houses and arrested (5) civilians: Ibrahim Tayseer, Mousa Tabkh, Abdullah Abdul Naser, Yousef Abdul Jawad, and Mohammed Abdul Jawad.
  • At at approximately 21:00, IOF moved into Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Haitham Hisham al-‘Abbassi’s (29) house and handed him a summons to refer to al-Maskoubeya investigation center, west of the occupied city.
  • IOF carried out (10) incursions in Azoun in Qalqilia, Seelat al-Thuhr, south of Jenin, Sebastia, Barqa, Marin, northwest of Nablus, Aseera al-Shamaleya and Yaseed villages, north of Nablus, al-Fawwar refugee camp, al-Samoua’, Yatta villages in Hebron. No arrests were reported.

Friday, 20 March 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Falameya village, east of Qalqilia. They raided and searched several houses and arrested (5) civilians: Ahmed Taleb Abu Thaher (31), Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Thaher (27), Anas Ghassan Abu Thaher (24), Ahmed Hayad Abu Thaher (31), and Mohammed Rif’at Abu Thaher (34).
  • At approximately 16:00, IOF severely beaten and arrested Yousef al-Shawish (15), while present around the entrance of Bab Hatta neighborhood, one of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City’s neighborhoods.

Saturday, 21 March 2020:

  • At approximately 20:00, IOF moved into Wdi al-Jooz neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Mohammed Abu Shousha’s (24) house and arrested him.
    IOF carried out an incursion in Alar village in Tulkarem. No arrests were reported.

Sunday, 22 March 2020:

  • At approximately 16:00, IOF stationed at the entrance of al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, arrested Oday Issa Younis (22), and released him after two hours.
  • At approximately 18:30, IOF stopped and arrested Mahmoud Mohammed Fayez and Khamees Naser Khamees, on a temporary military checkpoint in the entrance of Aboud village. Both of them are from Abu Mish’al village, northwest of Ramallah.
  • At approximately 21:30, IOF stationed at the entrance of al-Zaweya village, west of Salfit, arrested (3) civilians from the village. The arrestees are: Nour Ameen Abu Laila, Ibrahim Hasan Shuqair, and Mo’taz Mashhour Shuqair.
  • IOF carried out (4) incursions in Azoun and Qalqilia, in Qalqilia governorate; Hares and Derastya in Salfit. No arrests were reported.

Monday, 23 March 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Azoun, east of Qalqilia. They raided and searched Mahmoud Mohammed Ghannawi’s (47) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 01:40, IOF moved into Snirya village, southeast of Qalqilia. They raided and searched two houses belonging to Mamdouh Ghaleb Barri (36) and Alaa Sadeq Omar (26) and arrested them.
  • At approximately 14:00, IOF arrested (4) civilians while sanitizing Bab al-Asbat (Lion’s Gate) one of the occupied East Jerusalem’s gates, to prevent Corona Virus, and confiscated their equipment. IOF took them to al-Qishla investigation center and investigated with them for several hours before releasing them on condition that come to continue investigation on the next day. The arrestees are: Mohamed al-Dabbagh, Mahmoud al-Salayma, Zeyad Sharifa, and Ehab Abdul Latif.
  • At approximately 19:00, IOF moved into al-‘Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched Reda Mohammed Obaid’s (16) house and arrested him.
  • IOF carried out an incursion in Kafr al-Deek in Salfit. No arrests were reported.

III. Settlement Expansion and Settler Violence in the West Bank

a) Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities

  • On Monday, 23 March 2020, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into al-Khafafeesh area, southeast of Nablus. The military construction vehicles levelled area No. (13), to expand “ Shvut Rachel” settlement and connect it with “Shilo” settlement and other settlement outposts located in the eastern side.
  • At approximately 13:20 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, IOF moved into Kherbet al-Dir in northern Jordan Valley and handed 2 notices to stop construction works for a solar cells project donated by GVC institution, and for Mohamed al-Sawafta’s house.
  • At approximately 14:00, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Um al-Rayhan village, southwest of Jenin. The military construction vehicles demolished a 200m wall in Mohamed ‘Ali Zaid al-Kilani’s agricultural land, under the pretext of non-licensing and being in Area C.

b) Israeli Settler Violence

  • At approximately 05:30 on Thursday, 19 March 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Sosiya” settlement, which is established on the confiscated Palestinians lands, attacked Yatta city in southern Hebron. The settlers cut 3 olive trees belonging to al-Nawaj’a family and threw stones at Palestinians’ houses and tents, and no injuries were reported.
  • At approximately 18:00, Israeli settlers, from “Kiryat ‘Arba’” settlement, east of Hebron, threw stones at Palestinians’ vehicles traveling on the Bypass road (60), causing fear among the vehicles’ drivers and passengers. Neither injuries nor damage were reported.
  • At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 20 March 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Homish” settlement, attacked the northern outskirts of Barqah village, northwest of Nablus. The settlers uprooted forest trees funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. The settlers also damaged Mohanad Yaseen’s water tank. In the meantime, Palestinian young men gathered and confronted them.
  • At approximately 15:30, Israeli settlers, from “Homish” settlement, attacked Mostafa Abu Za’bal, from al-Fandoqumiyia village, south of Jenin. Abu Za’bal was working in his plot of land on Nablus-Jenin Road. The settlers beat him and stole his horse.
  • At approximately 13:30 on Sunday, 22 March 2020, Israeli settlers set up a number of tents and caravans near a settlement outpost established on Khelet Hamad area in northern Jordan Valley, in an attempt to expand the settlement outpost.
  • At approximately 11:00 on Monday, 23 March 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Homish” settlement, on Nablus-Jenin Road, northwest of Nablus, attacked and threw stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling on the road. As a result, Hasan Nayif al-Qadi’s vehicle sustained damage and the rear window was broken. Hasan fled towards Silat al-Daher village and the settlers stole his vehicle. The Palestinian Liaison recovered the vehicle later.
  • At approximately 17:00, Israeli settlers, from “Kawkab al-Sabbah” settlement, which is established in ‘Ain al-Samiyia area, east of Ramallah, attacked Arwa’ Mohamed al-Na’san (35), from al-Moghair village, northeast of the city. Al-Na’san was severely beaten and attacked with stones while present in his agricultural land located near the settlement. As a result, he sustained bruises throughout his body and received treatment at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
  • At approximately 17:30, Israeli settlers, from ‘Ain al-Helwa area in northern Jordan Valley, attacked a farmer Moheeb Fathi ‘Eliyan Daraghmah (30) while breeding livestock. As a result, he sustained bruises throughout his body and received treatment at Tubas Turkish Government Hospital.
  • At approximately 18:00, Israeli settlers, from “Price Tag group”, attacked the outskirt of Ma’dama village from the southern side. They threw stones at Palestinians houses. The residents confronted them and forced them to leave.
  • At approximately 12:30 on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, Israeli settlers moved into Um Safa village, northwest of Ramallah, and attacked Naji Mohamed Tanatra’s agricultural land. Tanatra was working in his land when the settlers beat him with a sharp tool. As a result, he sustained deep wounds in his back and received treatment at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
  • At approximately 14:30 on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, Israeli settlers attacked the outskirt of Nablus from the northern side and threw stones at Mohanad Mohamed Hejjah’s house, causing material damage.
  • At approximately 17:30, settlers, from “Price Tag group”, attacked the outskirt of ‘Ainabous village from the northern side. They threw stones at Palestinians houses. The residents confronted them and forced them to leave.
  • At approximately 09:00 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds while present near Metar Crossing, west of al-Dahiriyia village in southern Hebron, and forced them to leave. As a result, Sa’ied Mahmoud Khdirat (33) sustained bruises.

For the full report, visit PCHR.org

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Israeli Forces Suppress West Bank Demonstrations, Arrest Journalist, Injure One

Israeli forces, on Friday, attacked citizens during demonstrations in the occupied West Bank, including the cities of Ramallah, Tulkarem and Qalqilia, according to local sources.

Local sources told Palestinian Information Center that violent confrontations broke out between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians in al-Mazra’a al-Gharbiya village, northeast of Ramallah City. They reported that a Palestinian journalist named Ahmad Abu Qare’ was detained during the clashes and transferred to an unknown destination.

For the fourth day in a row, Shweika village in Tulkarem witnessed conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting Israel’s illegal land seizure to make way for settlement expansion. Soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear-gas canisters towards the protesters.

Meanwhile in Qalqilia, Israeli soldiers violently dispersed the weekly demonstration against the settlement in Kufur Qaddoum village, attacking Palestinian demonstrators with rubber-coated metal bullets and tear-gas canisters.

Morad Eshteiwi, coordinator of the popular resistance in the village of Kufur Qaddoum, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that Israeli soldiers injured a 50-year-old man, who was treated on site, in addition to causing many cases of suffocation from gas inhalation.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

300 Palestinian-owned Olive Trees Cut by Illegal Settlers near Bethlehem

Israeli settlers, on Saturday, cut down 300 olive trees on Palestinian owned land in the southern occupied West Bank, according to a local official.

Hasan Breijieh, a member of the Anti-Wall, Anti-Settlements Commission, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that the illegal colonial settlers cut the trees in an area close to an illegal settlement, between the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Hebron.

Breijieh said the settlers are taking full advantage of the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of on the Bethlehem governorate to cut trees in Palestinian lands.

In related news, illegal Israeli settlers damaged 40 grapevines and 10 olive trees belonging to Hisham Mohammad Sbeih, on Wednesday, in al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem city.

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Israeli Troops Open Fire on Palestinian Farmer in Southern Gaza

Israeli troops opened fire at Palestinian farmers and shepherds, early on Saturday, near the border fence in eastern Khan Younis city, southern Gaza Strip, according to local sources.

Local Palestinian media sources and witnesses said that Israeli troops, stationed on the Israeli side of the border, opened their machine guns abruptly on local farmers and shepherds in the rural neighborhoods of Alfaraheen and Alsenati in the Abbassan Alkabeera town.

The sources added that no causalities were reported, however, all farmers were immediately forced to leave their workplaces.

In a similar incident in Khan Younis city, Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, were reportedly unleashed their ammunition on farmers in the Qarrara neighborhood. No causalities were reported, witnesses said farmers fled the scene,.

Over the past several years, Israeli troops have shot at Palestinian farmers, who cultivate farm lands, along the Israel-Gaza border line, in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Those farmers and their families lived in the region before the existence of the state of Israel, back in 1948.

Also of note is the fact that Israeli warplanes attacked some locations in the Gaza Strip, Friday night, in what the Israeli army claimed, was a retaliation to a so-called homemade shell that was allegedly fired from Gaza into nearby Israeli areas

(Source / 28.03.2020) 

Palestinian Political Parties Call for Digitally Marking Land Day

The Higher Committee for Follow-up, consisting of majority of Palestinian political factions in the occupied West Bank, decided Saturday that due to current widely-spread Coronavirus in Palestine and other world countries, there will be no marches for marking the Palestinian Land Day of March 30, 2020.

Instead, the committee urged all categories of Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Diaspora, to launch some digital events and activities by means of social media and online, to mark Land Day.

In a statement, issued Saturday, the committee said that the 44th anniversary of Land Day comes in the context of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, with almost all sectors of public life paralyzed.

The statement outlined a series of, what it described as Israeli apartheid measures, over the past several years, including non-recognition of some Bedouin Arab-Israeli communities in the southern Naqab desert, where tens of thousands of indigenous Palestinians live.

It also maintained that this year, Land Day comes just two months after the United States (US) announced the so-called ‘deal of the century’, “which aims at liquidizing the Palestinian cause and giving Israel an upper hand over the lands of Palestine”.

In response to the aforementioned Coronavirus crisis, which has prevented public gatherings and enforced a great deal of precautionary measures, across the occupied Palestinian territories, Palestinian political parties, involved in the Follow-up Higher Committee, called for a series of online/digital actions for marking Land Day.

Among the proposed actions, according to Saturday’s statement, are to broadcast the Palestinian national anthem, for inhabitants to stand on rooftops of their homes, to light a digital candle for victims, and for people to carry the Palestinian flag.

The committee also called on users of social media networks to replace their profile pictures with the Palestinian flag or images of those killed by Israel forces, back in March 31, 1976, known now as Land Day.

The committee urged all concerned Palestinian bodies including intellectuals, researchers, poets, writers and other artists, to manifest Land Day, each in their own way, as a means of raising awareness for the international community.

In the Gaza Strip, the National Palestinian Organizing Committee of the Great March of Return, declared on Saturday, cancellation of what it termed a One-million-member march, planned for Monday, March 30.

A statement, released by the committee, read ” the anniversary this year comes in a time people are being forcibly locked down in their homes, because of the Coronavirus, therefore, our Palestinian masses in Gaza are strongly encouraged not to approach the border fence with Israel, to mark Land Day. All should stay at homes”.

The Great March of Return was launched in Gaza on March 30, 2018, to mark Land Day and to demand lifting of the now 13-year-old Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

For almost a year and a half, organizers of the march have held weekly border protests, right along the Israel-Gaza border, east of the tiny coastal enclave.

Palestinian Land Day is an occasion, in which the majority of Palestinians inside the occupied Palestinian territories and in the Diaspora, renew their connection to the Palestinian homeland.

Back in 1976, Israeli authorities in the Arab-Israeli town of Sakhneen and some other nearby areas, confiscated around 1500 acres of Palestinian-owned farm lands for colonial settlement purposes.

The confiscation sparked widespread protests, across Arab-Israeli towns. Israeli police dispersed the crowds by lethal force, claiming the lives of six Arab protesters.

Israeli colonial settlement activities were officially kicked off by Israel in the 1970’s, as the Israeli occupation authorities in both Gaza and the West Bank, began erecting dozens of colonial settlements on Palestinian-owned lands.

As of today, Israeli colonial settlements have strangulated Palestinian-populated areas in the West Bank.

Back in 2005, Israel disengaged unilaterally from Gaza and evicted 17 such settlements, along the coastal Gaza Strip. Two years later, Israel imposed a crippling blockade of the land, air and sea, on the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 28.03.2020)