Palestine calls on Israel to restrict travel to West Bank as virus numbers spike

Palestinian men stand in wait near the Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the flashpoint city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank early on May 26, 2020 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinian men stand in wait near the Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the flashpoint city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank early on May 26, 2020

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has urged Israel to close all crossings into the occupied West Bank to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The move comes as the Palestinian territories saw a surge in virus infections in recent days.

According to Wafa news agency, Shtayyeh stated that the lack of Palestinian control over crossings and borders coupled with the Israeli occupation authorities’ “racist” measures obstructing the Palestinian government’s efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus were the main reason for the increase in infections.

“We will send a request to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) to monitor the situation at the 1967 borders,” said Shtayyeh during the weekly meeting of the PA cabinet in Ramallah.

The appeal came after the Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh confirmed 64 new coronavirus cases this morning, raising the total number of infections in the occupied territories to 4,786.

India: Israel, Palestine should work on two-state solution

Among the 4,786 cases, 4,339 are in the West Bank, 72 in the Gaza Strip and 447 in East Jerusalem.

He revealed that 82 per cent of the new coronavirus cases were the result of gatherings at weddings and funerals, while 18 per cent came from Palestinians working in Israel and others traveling between the occupied West Bank and Israel.

Moreover, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday extended a state of emergency in the territory for 30 days, a measure that allows officials to impose additional virus restrictions, including extending lockdowns, banning movement between cities and deploying security forces.

Israel is currently reporting around 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave. The government today approved a series of new restrictions which will come into effect immediately, including the closure of clubs, bars, cultural shows and gyms. While attendance at synagogues will be capped at 19 people.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Annexation not on today’s or tomorrow’s agenda, says Israel’s Foreign Minister

Gabi Ashkenazi during the final stage of Blue and White election campaign in Tel Aviv, on 15 September 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]
Gabi Ashkenazi during the final stage of Blue and White election campaign in Tel Aviv, on 15 September 2019 

Israel’s annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank “is not on the agenda for today or tomorrow,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told KAN Bet on Monday.

Ashkenazi said that he did not know whether the annexation was cancelled forever, but pointed out: “I can say that the Foreign Ministry is preparing diplomatic assessments and the Defence Ministry is preparing security assessments. It has deep ramifications.”

He has held talks with more than 30 foreign ministers, mostly from Europe, on the issue. “I hear what they say, and I think it’s clear what we’re facing.” This was a reference to Europe’s opposition to the Israeli annexation plan.

“I think the government of Israel, led by Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, will make sure to enact a responsible, measured process. We will hear the evaluations and then act.”

READ: Let’s ’embrace’ Israeli annexation and work towards a single democratic state

The deal of the century, Ashkenazi noted, responds to the two things that concern most of the population in Israel: “Security and maintaining a Jewish majority.”

The Foreign Minister insisted that carrying out the deal of the century must be negotiated “with our neighbours,” but he did not mention the Palestinians specifically.

“We believe in a process that will bring peace, and that is not a dirty word,” he said. “We don’t want to damage the peace treaties with our neighbours.”

The goal of his Blue and White Party is simple: “A Jewish state that is democratic and safe.” He insisted that will do all that he can to ensure that.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Jordan FM: Just peace in Palestine will not be achieved by occupation

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Moscow, Russia on 28 December 2018 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Moscow, Russia on 28 December 2018

Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, said yesterday that a just peace in Palestine will not be achieved as long as the Israeli occupation remains.

Speaking at the 9th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), the minister said his country values China’s support for the Palestinians’ right to freedom and statehood and believes that it adheres to the international position that rejects Israel’s annexation of occupied Palestinian lands.

“We look forward to working with China and the international community to find a real horizon to achieve a just peace that people accept which will not be achieved as long as the [Israeli] occupation remains,” he added.

The Jordanian minister pointed out that the Middle East region is suffering from crises that have brought nothing but ruin, killing and destruction, in Syria, Yemen and Libya, adding that these crises have been fuelled by external interference in the countries’ affairs.

READ: ‘Most Arab leaders are indifferent to annexation plan’

“Therefore, their solution requires international cooperation that enshrines the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states and respect for international law,” he added.

The Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum aims to enhance dialogue and cooperation, as well as advance peace and progress between China and the Arab League member states.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Gaza to send doctors to help face West Bank tackle coronavirus

COVID-19 tests are being carried out at the Central Laboratory of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the city of Ramallah, West Bank on March 16, 2020. The total number of coronavirus cases in West Bank climbed to 39. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
COVID-19 tests are being carried out at the Central Laboratory of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the city of Ramallah, West Bank on March 16, 2020. The total number of coronavirus cases in West Bank climbed to 39

The Palestinian Minister of Health in the besieged Gaza Strip has today decided to dispatch a team of doctors to the occupied West Bank to help fight the coronavirus.

In a press release, a copy of which sent to MEMO, Deputy Health Minister in Gaza Dr Yousef Abu Al-Rish said: “A well-qualified team of physicians are preparing to travel to the West Bank to help their colleagues fight the coronavirus.”

The “different challenges make it necessary for us to stand united against the pandemic,” he continued.

This came after a sharp rise of the number of coronavirus cases in the occupied West Bank, particularly in occupied Hebron.

Israel reimposes restrictions after COVID-19 spike

In the last 24 hours, 306 new cases of coronavirus have been registered in the occupied West Bank, including 278 in Hebron alone.

Meanwhile, Gaza has not recorded any new cases for more than three weeks.

While Gaza has started to ease the lockdown, the West Bank reinstated a stricter lockdown in several provinces yesterday, blaming the hike in numbers on Israel’s weak measures to restrict movement.

Palestinian Health Minister Mai Kila, who runs the ministry in the West Bank, said: “We are doing our best to fight the coronavirus.”

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Palestinian rights group concerned about ‘surge’ in Gaza suicide attempts

A Palestinian child can be seen outside make-shift homes in Gaza [Apaimages]
A Palestinian child can be seen outside make-shift homes in Gaza

At least 17 people have taken their own lives in the impoverished Gaza Strip this year and hundreds more have attempted suicide, a Palestinian human rights group has claimed.

“These have mainly been among young people,” explained Samir Zaqout, the Deputy Director of Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights. He told AFP that extreme poverty, difficult living conditions and a lack of freedom of expression were all factors behind the “surge” in the number of actual and attempted suicides.

The dire political, economic and social conditions of Palestinians in Gaza have led to an increase in mental health problems such as depression, as well as drug abuse. Narcotics are said to be one thing that Israel allows to be smuggled across the nominal border without restriction.

Israel has maintained a tight blockade of the occupied territory for at least thirteen years. It claims that the measure is necessary to stop weapons and funds from reaching Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement which is the de facto government in Gaza.

READ: Israel strikes dairy farm in Gaza

Hamas won the last free and fair election that the Palestinians had in 2006, and was running the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the West Bank until the PA’s Western donors joined Israel in the blockade ostensibly in protest at the democratic choice of the Palestinian people.

The Israeli blockade has pushed Gaza’s population deeper into poverty. Unemployment has reached an unprecedented level as people struggle to make ends meet, with 80 per cent of the population dependent on humanitarian aid. The Fatah-controlled PA in Ramallah has exacerbated the problem by withholding and cutting the salaries of its employees in Gaza.

The UN predicted in 2018 that Gaza would be “unliveable” by 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has made the situation much worse. The World Bank estimates that poverty affected 53 per cent of Gazans before the pandemic and that the number could now be 64 per cent.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Israeli authorities crack down on Arab fishermen

Israel to return 20 boats to Gaza fishermen on 2 July 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Israel to return 20 boats to Gaza fishermen on 2 July 2019

The Israeli authorities in Yafa (Jaffa) are continuing to crack down on Arab fishermen in order to stop them from working, Arab48.com reported on Tuesday.

A number of Arab fishermen, all of them Israeli citizens, reported to the media outlet that the port administration is behind the latest damage to their nets and fishing boats. The intention, it is alleged, is to uproot the fishermen from their homes in the city, where they have lived since before the state of Israel was created in their land in 1948. Their families did not flee during the Nakba.

Arab residents of Yafa are standing beside the fishermen and have undermined an attempt by Tel Aviv municipality to push the men out of the port under the pretext of plans to carry out renovation work.

Protests were organised which closed the road leading to the port. Petitions were also submitted against the municipality, which put a stop to its harassment.

READ: Israel navy fires at Gaza fishermen, forcing them back to shore

“The administration of the port threw the fishing nets away,” explained the Head of the Fishermen’s Committee, Sa’do Zeinab. “It claimed that its staff thought that they were no longer any good for fishing.” He told Arab 48 that the Israelis also “smashed” a number of fishing boats, claiming that they were making way for municipality-owned vessels.

“The years-long conflict between the fishermen and the Israeli authorities is a battle of resilience against deportation,” said Zeinab. “The authorities plan to deport every Arab fisherman in order to erase the Arab identity of the port.”

He concluded by pointing out that the fishermen are looking at ways to escalate their protests.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Statement: “Death Of Palestinian Detainee Not Confirmed”

The Israeli Prison Service has not yet officially informed the Palestinians or the Red Cross of the death of a Palestinian detainee in prison, while the current information reveals that the detainee is likely clinically dead, but so far, there has been no official confirmation, despite various conflicting reports.

Former political prisoner, researcher and the head of the Studies and Documentation Committee of the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees, has informed the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) that the Israeli Prison Service has not informed any party that the detainee, Sa’ad al-Gharabily, 75, has died, and only announced he is in a critical condition, or possibly clinically dead.

Ferwana added that his department is still awaiting an official confirmation about the detainee’s condition, and held Israel fully responsible for his life, especially amidst the lack of proper medical treatment to the detainees.

“We can only hope that al-Gharabily is alive, and we wish him a full recovery; we also hold Israel fully responsible for what happens to him,” Ferwana told the IMEMC, “All that we know, especially since Israel is not providing much information, is that the detainee is still alive, but in a very critical condition.”

It is worth mentioning that al-Gharabily is from the Gaza Strip, and was taken prisoner in the year 1994, before he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of participating in attacks against Israeli occupation targets.

Ferwana voiced an appeal to media outlets to refrain from publishing unconfirmed reports, that are largely conflicting and only cause more agony and suffering to the families of the detainees.

His statements came after various media outlets, journalists and activists, published reports, or posts, claiming the detainee has died in prison, even though no official confirmation was ever made.

“The issue of the detainees is a humanitarian cause; it is not a subject for media outlets to deal with it as breaking news, competing on who publishes first before all others,” Ferwana told the IMEMC, “Media outlets and social media activists must be aware of the facts, and should never publish such reports before they are officially confirmed or denied.”

“It is already always difficult to get any news from the Israeli prisons, detention centers, and interrogation facilities. Israel’s lack of cooperation with human rights groups and the Red Cross, makes getting such news nearly impossible,” Ferwana said, “I call on all individuals, media outlets, officials, institutions, and political factions to refrain from making statements and publishing hasty reports without official confirmations. We also need to always respect the families, and what they go through in these conditions.”

“A martyr is not a number, is not a new breaking news item; we need to wait; we need to confirm before we make official statements and issue press releases,” Ferwana concluded, “to those who just want to publish, those who claim to know the full truth, if I could whisper in their ears, I would say please have compassion and respect to the feelings of others, respect the people, respect their minds, and then, they will respect you back.”

(Source / 07.07.2020)

‘Israel’ imposes 2000 Nis penalty on detained Palestinian-French lawyer

Salah Hamouri and his wife Elsa Lefort

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- The Israeli Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday decided to conditionally release the Palestinian-French lawyer Salah Hamouri after one week of detention at the Maskubiyyeh detention center.

The Committee of Jerusalem’s Prisoners said the Israeli Magistrate’s Court decided to release Hamouri on the conditions of not to contact anyone for three months and pay a 2000 NIS penalty.

Hamouri is a former prisoner, who spend nearly nine years in Israeli jails and was released in the prisoners’ swap between the occupation state and the Palestinian resistance in 2011.

He is married to the pro-Palestine activist Elsa Lefort and they have a child.

The occupation state had expelled Hamouri’s wife and son two years ago claiming that they pose a threat to the security of ‘Israel’.

In 2017, Hamouri was rearrested under administrative detention without charge or trial for 13 months. After being released, he was prevented from entry into the West Bank and he was repeatedly prevented from traveling, depriving him of his right to reunite with his wife and son.

Although of holding the French nationality, Hamouri cannot reunite with his wife and child until now.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Israeli court allows leveling of Islamic graveyard in occupied Jaffa

Occupied Jaffa (QNN)- The Israeli central court on Tuesday ordered resumption of the leveling of al-Isaaf Islamic graveyard in occupied Jaffa.

The court rejected an appeal by the elected Islamic committee in Jaffa and Al Mizan center for human rights to stop the construction work in the graveyard, according to Arab 48.

The website added that the court allowed the municipality of Tel Aviv to continue its work, constructing a shop and a building for homeless Israelis over the graveyard. Furthermore, it imposed a penalty of 15,000 NIS (over $4000) on the Islamic committee.

With the court decision, the precautionary suspension of construction ends, allowing the municipality to resume the construction works, ignoring the locals’ calls and demands to show respect for the dead.

The municipality of Tel Aviv plans to build a three-story-building for homeless Israelis over the ruins of the graveyard.

Several protests by native Palestinians were organized, demanding to stop the construction works. The Israeli police repressed all peaceful protests and carried out an arrest campaign against the protesters.

(Source / 07.07.2020)

Mahmoud Sa’di starts dry hunger strike protesting his administrative detention

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- Mahmoud Sa’di has started a dry hunger strike today in protest against his administrative detention without charge or trial, said the Committee of Prisoners and Former Prisoners’ Affairs.

In dry hunger strikes, the striker refuses both food and water. It is dangerous and can quickly lead to death.

The committee said the occupation state has been holding Sa’di at Hadarim jail without charge or trial, which pushed him to start his hunger start on July 2.

The committee added that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has been deliberately ignoring the poor health condition of Sa’di, rejecting to do any tests for him despite having kidney problems.

Sa’di was arrested on May 20 and held under administrative detention. He had been previously arrested several times to serve a total of ten years in Israeli jails.

The Israeli army had killed two of Sa’di’s brothers and several nephews of him. After he was released, he had his bachelor’s degree in law from the Arab American University then got married and had seven children.

(Source / 07.07.2020)