BREAKING: Lebanon cabinet resigns

Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti, wears a medical mask to protect himself from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, speaks to press after he submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister Hassan Diab at his office in the capital Beirut, on August 3, 2020 [Houssam Shbaro - Anadolu Agency]
Lebanese Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti speaks to press after he submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister Hassan Diab at his office in the capital Beirut, on August 3, 2020

Lebanon cabinet has resigned, AP reported the health minister saying today, amid mounting criticism over the government’s response to the explosion which rocked Beirut last week.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab is set to address the nation at 7:30pm local time (4:30 GMT), when he is expected to formally announce the government’s resignation.

The move comes after the Minister for the Environment Damianos Katter and Minister for Information Manal Abdel Samad submitted their resignations yesterday while Minister for Justice Marie-Claude Najm stepped down this morning.

Later today local media reported Minister of Finance Ghazi Wazni had arrived at the Grand Serail for today’s cabinet session with his letter of resignation.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan spoke with reporters at the end of the Cabinet and said: “The whole government resigned,” adding that Diab was heading to the presidential palace to hand over the resignations.

Eight MPs and Lebanon’s ambassador to Jordan have also resigned in the wake of the explosions. While, Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti resigned from his post on Monday last week, before Tuesday’s explosions.

Lebanon: 3 ministers, 8 MPs resign after Beirut blast

During a cabinet meeting this afternoon, before the government announced its plan to resign, ministers officially referred the investigation surrounding the Beirut explosion to the Judicial Council.

Last week’s explosions, which was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in Beirut’s port, has killed more than 200, injuring thousands more and devastating the capital city.Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon – Cartoon

The blasts reignited nationwide anti-government protests which started in October 2019 denouncing government corruption and calling for an overhaul of the sectarian political system.

In recent days, thousands of Lebanese have attended demonstrations in downtown Beirut with some storming the foreign ministry and burning a picture of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun. Protesters later stormed the energy and economy ministries.

Meanwhile, protesters in downtown Beirut’s Martyrs Square erected mock gallows calling on politicians to resign.

Diab’s government is expected to continue as a caretaker government until a parliament can agree on a new nomination to head the government – a process which has been known to take months.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Palestinian MP condemns Israel’s theft of part of Al-Ibrahimi Mosque

Jewish worshippers visit the the Al-Ibrahimi mosque, known to Jewish worshippers as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to both faiths, in the West Bank town of Hebron on February 24, 2010. [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]
Jewish worshippers visit the the Al-Ibrahimi mosque, known to them as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to both faiths, in the West Bank town of Hebron on February 24, 2010

Chairman of Jerusalem’s Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council, MP Ahmed Abu Halabiyeh, yesterday condemned Israel’s expropriation of part of Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, Quds Press reported.

“Stripping [Palestinian Authority]’s municipality of Hebron from its supervision over Al-Ibrahimi Mosque and handing it over to the Settlement Planning Council is a new crime of judaisation,” the MP said in a statement.

He stated that this measure aims to expropriate the lands of the mosque to build new Jewish settlement projects.

The Palestinian MP considered this Israeli “violation” a “clear challenge for Muslims’ feelings”, noting that this is a “violation of the Muslims’ right to ownership of Al-Ibrahim and the other endowments around it.”

To undermine the Israeli endeavours, he called on Palestinians to increase their visits to the mosque and the time they spend there.

Last week, an Israeli court threw out a petition filed by Hebron Municipality requesting it cancel previous permission it had granted for the Settlement Planning Council to install an elevator inside Al-Ibrahimi Mosque.

READ: Israel stops call to Muslim prayer at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque

(Source / 10.08.2020)

500 Palestinian prisoners have been in Israel jails for 15 years

Palestinians stand in prison like cages as they rally to demand the release of loved ones being held in Israeli jails in Gaza City, 17 April 2007. [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinians stand in prison like cages as they rally to demand the release of loved ones being held in Israeli jails in Gaza City, 17 April 2007

More than 500 Palestinian prisoners have been detained in Israeli prisons for 15 years, specialist in Prisoners’ Affairs, Abdul Naser Ferwaneh, said yesterday.

In a press release, Ferwaneh also said 50 Palestinian prisoners have been held in Israeli detention for more than 20 years.

“This number will become 300 in just two year,” he said.

He called for all the Palestinians, in particular the resistance movements, to deal with this issue.

“Freeing prisoners is not only a national, religious, political, humanitarian and ethical duty, but it is a vital necessity to reinforce the resistance culture among the Palestinians,” he said.

READ: First Palestinian child detainee in Israel prison infected with coronavirus

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Israeli Air Force Fires Missiles Into A Site In Northern Gaza

The Israeli Air Force fired, on Sunday at night, missiles into a building in Beit Lahia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Media sources in Gaza said the attack led to excessive property damage but did not lead to casualties.

The army said it targeted an observation post run by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and claimed it was retaliating to flammable balloons, which were reportedly launched from Gaza, causing no injuries.

Israeli media sources said two fires broke out due to the flammable balloons and alleged that some of them carried explosives.

Earlier Sunday, the army fired several artillery shells into Palestinian farmlands, and a site believed to be run by an armed resistance group, east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Soldiers Demolish A Palestinian Home Near Bethlehem

Israeli soldiers invaded, Monday, Khirbit Beit Iskariya village, isolated by the illegal Gush Etzion colonialist bloc, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and demolished a Palestinian home.

Hasan Breijiyya, the head of the Bethlehem office of the Wall & Colonization Resistance Commission, said the soldiers demolished a home, owned by No’man Mohammad Sa’ad.

He added that the army alleged the property, built by the Palestinian man on his privately-owned land, was constructed without a permit from the “Civil Administration Office,” the administrative branch of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine.

Breijiyya stated that the area is subject to constant violations, including the demolition of homes and property, in addition to frequent attacks by the illegal colonialist settlers, as Israel is trying to force the Palestinians out of their lands to expand its colonies, built in direct violation of International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Palestinian Man Released After Soldiers Assaulted And Abducted Him Near Hebron

Israeli soldiers released, Monday, a Palestinian man who was abducted by the army during a nonviolent procession against the constant violations by the soldiers and the illegal colonialist settlers against their village, Umm al-Kheir, near Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Fuad al-‘Amour, the coordinator of the Protection and Steadfastness Committee in the Southern Hebron Hills, said many soldiers invaded the village, before storming the home of Suleiman al-Hathalin.

Al-‘Amour added that the soldiers assaulted the man, before abducting him, and moved him to a military base in Karmiel illegal colony, which was built on Palestinian lands.

The abducted man was interrogated for a few hours before the soldiers threatened severe punishment if he continues to protest against the occupation and the constant attempts by illegal colonialist settlers and the Israeli government to confiscate more Palestinian lands in the area.

Al-‘Amour also said that the likely reason behind the detention and interrogation of the man is because, in a recent protest, he climbed onto an Israeli military jeep and refused to step down until the soldiers return two illegally confiscated cars to their Palestinian owners.

It is worth mentioning that Umm al-Kheir village was established in the 1960’s by Bedouin Palestinians who became refugees in the year 1948 after being forced out of their community, Tal Arad in the Negev Desert, during the establishment of Israel in the historic land of Palestine.

The lands where Umm al-Kheir is located are part of the Palestinian town of Yatta, eight kilometers south of Hebron city.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

PPS: “Israeli Soldiers Abduct Ten Palestinians In West Bank”

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, ten Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

The PPS said several army jeeps invaded the al-‘Isawiya town, northeast of Jerusalem, searched and ransacked many homes, and abducted four Palestinians.

It identified the abducted Palestinians as Ala’ Dirbas, Fares Darwish, Taiseer Mheisin, and Ala’ Abu Bakr.

The head of the Popular Committee in al-‘Isawiya, Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, stated that the invasions and searches of homes were carried out by soldiers and intelligence officers.

It is worth mentioning that, on Sunday at night, several army jeeps invaded the town, and fired many gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullet at Palestinian protesters.

The soldiers also invaded the Shu’fat refugee camp, in Jerusalem, searched homes, and abducted Omar al-‘Anati.

In addition, undercover soldiers invaded the al-Makhfiyya area, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped a former political prisoner, identified as Bader Husam Rezeq, after violently searching his home.

The soldiers were disguised as sanitary workers of Nablus Municipality and were carrying equipment for sterilizing buildings and roads.

The soldiers also invaded ‘Aseera ash-Shamaliya town, north of Nablus, searched homes and abducted Mohammad Walid Sawalma.

In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Mohammad Amin Lahlouh, after invading and ransacking his home in ‘Arraba town, south of Jenin.

In Salfit, in central West Bank, the soldiers invaded Yasuf village, north of the city, and stopped Palestinian workers while preparing to pave new acritical roads, funded by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief.

In Jericho, in northeastern West Bank, the soldiers invaded Ein al-Sultan refugee camp, west of the city, before searching homes, and abducted two young men, identified as Yacoub Abu Lawi and Ehab al-Kaloni.

The soldiers also installed a military roadblock at the southern entrance of Jericho city, before stopping and searching dozens of cars and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

In the besieged Gaza Strip, the soldiers fired live rounds at Palestinian agricultural lands east of Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region, forcing the farmers away.

On Sunday at night, the soldiers fired missiles into a building in Beit Lahia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Earlier Monday, the soldiers invaded Khirbit Beit Iskariya village, isolated by the illegal Gush Etzion colonialist bloc, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and demolished a Palestinian home.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Israel remands BDS coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa’s by eight days

Ramallah (QNN) – Ignoring Amnesty International’s call for his immediate and unconditional release, an Israeli military judge yesterday extended by eight days the detention of Palestinian human rights defender and BDS coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa for continued interrogation, according to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.

Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, which is interrogating Nawajaa at the Al-Jalameh interrogation center near Haifa, has presented no charges or evidence against him to date, even during yesterday’s hearing, held at a military court near Jenin.

Since his arrest on 30 July from his home near Ramallah, in the occupied Palestinian territory, Nawajaa has not been allowed to exercise his right to see his lawyer, appointed by Addameer.

On 7 August, Amnesty International issued a statement that said:

“Israeli authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Palestinian human rights defender Mahmoud Nawajaa, 34, the General Coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)…. He has been detained solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association and is therefore a prisoner of conscience.”

The Amnesty statement called for pressure on Israel to release Nawajaa, saying that Israel has interpreted the international community’s failure “to take concrete action” to pressure it “as a green light” to pursue its illegal policies, including the persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders.

An international campaign with the hashtag, #FreeMahmoud, has grown to include parliamentarians, trade unions, solidarity groups, and social movements in many countries.

Speaking for the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, Stephanie Adam said:

“This further extension of the illegal detention of Mahmoud by Israel’s military court system, which is notorious for its near 100% conviction rate of Palestinians, proves once more that only sustained international pressure, coupled with internal popular struggle, can help Palestinians achieve liberation from Israel’s apartheid and colonial system.

“Mahmoud’s detention is an attack on the entire non-violent global BDS movement. With the support of millions of people of conscience worldwide, we’ll continue growing our movement until all Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equality.”

The BDS movement has called on human rights activists worldwide to increase pressure in their respective countries to secure Israel’s immediate release of Mahmoud Nawajaa.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Claims of medical neglect of Palestinian detainees as the pandemic reaches the occupation prisons

Nearly 70 Palestinians have died in Israelí prisons since 1967 as a result of medical neglect. Kamal Abu Waar could be next on the list, and more could follow

By Qassam Muaddi 

When Kamal Abu Waar received confirmation that he had Covid-19, early last month, he had already been struggling with throat cancer for two years. The 46-year-old Palestinian from the town of Qabatia, near Jenin, is behind the occupation bars since 2003, spending his six life-sentences, and facing two deadly diseases, in the middle of what human rights organizations describe as systematic medical neglect.

Abu Waar is the latest in a long series of Palestinians having to experience the consequences of falling sick inside occupation prisons. Exactly a month ago, another Palestinian, Saadi Gharabli, a 74-year-old Palestinian from Gaza, died of cancer in Israelí prisons. He had been arrested in 1994 and spent 12 years in solitary confinement. Last November, the 37-year-old Sami Abu Dyak fell to cancer too. In the previous months, he had entered the deadly phase of his disease, which sparked a popular and legal campaign demanding his release for humanitarian reasons. His last wish was to die in the arms of his mother, which he was denied.

Pandemic, neglect and contradictory orders

According to Palestinian prisoner support and human rights group, Addameer, near 70 Palestinians have died in Israelí prisons since 1967 as a result of medical neglect. Kamal Abu Waar could be next on the list, and more could follow. Especially after the Israeli supreme court ruled, last July 23 that Palestinian prisoners had no right to physical distancing protection against Covid-19. The court ruling came four months after the occupation began to ban family and lawyer visits, last March, supposedly as a Covid-19 precaution. Then, a month later, the same occupation authorities issued a military order, allowing the military court to extend the detention of Palestinians despite having a barrier against that, for pandemic reasons.

Nisreen Abu Waar, Kamal’s sister, states that “we were informed that my brother had Covid-19, by his lawyer”, adding that “we knew his condition deteriorated lately and that he was submitted to medical exams, but we thought it was due to his previous cancer condition or to stomach problems”. Abu Waar’s lawyer was only capable of visiting him last week, almost a full month after he tested positive. His family hasn’t been allowed to visit him yet.

Old policy, new form

Ehteram Ghazawneh, head of the legal documentation unit at Addameer explains that “Medical neglect is a systematic policy for the Israelí occupation. Not only it causes health deterioration to prisoners who are already sick, but it often causes healthy prisoners to fall sick because of unhealthy detention conditions”.

These conditions include old and improper detention facilities, like the Damon prison that was built back in the 1930s as a stable for horses. They also include dirty clothes and mattresses and poor quality food. But under the pandemic, this neglect has taken new forms, with new risks for Palestinian detainees. “The Israelí court decision to reject physical distancing of prisoners is in itself a new form of medical neglect”, says Ehteram Ghazawneh, adding that “cells were sterilized only a few times, and now guards continue to search them without wearing masks or taking any preventive measures. The quantities of masks and alcohol given to each cell are not enough either”.

Make it cheaper

Palestinian prisoners and human rights groups have been battling against medical neglect for years. More than particular practices, it is the health system of the occupation prisons itself that has been the main point of this struggle. Ex-prisoner Waleed Sharaf gives witness to this system; “When I was arrested in June 2018, I had a chronic skin disease. I needed a special medicine for my condition, but the only thing the prison clinic gave me for months was pain killers. Then I started to have severe pain in the stomach, so they gave me more pain killers. When I finally couldn’t hold the pain anymore they transferred me to the Ramleh clinic, which they call ‘hospital’”.

The Ramleh prison clinic is a medical facility for Palestinian prisoners with chronic and serious health conditions. Ehteram Ghazawneh clarifies that “In each prison, there is a clinic with nurses. The Ramleh prison clinic, on the contrary, has some 14 to 15 doctors, but without specialized equipment, That is why when a prisoner’s condition becomes very critical or needs surgery, they are taken to a regular, civil Israelí hospital”.

It is the case of Kamal Abu Waar, who received all his specialized treatment in Israelí civil hospitals; “he received his 50 radiation sessions for his cancer in the Israelí Rambam hospital”, explains his sister Nisreen, “when he was diagnosed with Covid-19 they transferred him to Ramleh, but then they took him to the Afuleh civil hospital, then to the Assaf Harofeh civil hospital, then back to Ramleh”.

Waleed Sharaf remembers that “in Ramleh, I was handcuffed to my bed all the time. They never told me what I had and I didn’t receive any treatment. Later they took me to a civil hospital, where I received no treatment either. Until one day, in the middle of an argument about the point of keeping me in the hospital, the doctor told me that had a liver dysfunction”. According to Ehteram Ghazawneh, “The entire logic of the occupation prison health system is to make it as cheap as possible to the occupation state. This is why in every case there is a delay in diagnosing health problems, delay in transferring sick prisoners, and delay in treatment, which often comes too late”.

“Constant anguish”

The impact of medical neglect includes prisoners’ families. Nisreen Abu Waar recalls that “The occupation authorities never gave us any information on my brother’s situation. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer. We knew when he told me personally, during a visit”, after holding her breath for few seconds, like avoiding to get emotional, she adds; “that moment was the hardest for me. I had been preparing for the visit for months, not thinking of the hours-long security check, anxious of seeing him for 45 minutes, to find out he had throat cancer”. After another brief silence, she concludes; “I could only pray and trust my brother’s life in God’s hands”. For Ehteram Ghazawneh, “the occupation uses the prisoners’ health conditions as a tool to torture them and their families psychologically. It’s a means of revenge, and as a collective punishment, it’s a war crime too”.

A collective punishment increased under the pandemic. “Since we knew that Kamal had Covid-19, our lives have practically stopped,” says Nisreen Abu Waar, “we didn’t even celebrate my son’s high school graduation. It’s constant anguish, especially that we aren’t allowed to visit him and his lawyer can only get very little information”.

“Holding our breath”

As the pandemic continues to spread, Palestinian prisoners become more vulnerable to medical neglect. “The occupation conducts around 20 arrests every night in the West Bank”, explains Ehterma Ghazawneh. “Although detainees are held in quarantine for 14 days”, she adds, “they are later exposed to interrogators without preventive measures. We know at least about three prisoners who tested positive after direct contact with infected Israelí interrogators”.

Meanwhile, thousands of families across Palestine continue to live through the pandemic expecting news from their beloved ones behind the occupation bars. Or as Nisreen abu Waar puts it; “holding our breath, and praying”.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Israeli warplanes strike Gaza Strip

Tens of Palestinian children and women reported admitted to hospitals for trauma treatment

Israeli warplanes attacked on Sunday night several areas across the occupied besieged Gaza Strip causing sever material damage in property.

The warplanes attacked farms in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, causing huge fire in agricultural crops.

At the same time, the Israeli occupation forces opened its artillery fire at the Palestinian farms, east of the central area of the Gaza Strip.

Eyewitnesses said that a tractor and a number of agricultural equipment were damaged and water will used to irrigate hundreds of dunams of citrus and olive fields.

(Source / 10.08.2020)