UN Middle East peace coordinator Nickolay Mladenov has said that the punitive financial measures taken by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against its rivals in Gaza only put pressure on the population.
Mladenov made his remarks during an interview conducted on Friday by the French newspaper Liberation.
“In fact, the PA has put pressure on the population and not Hamas,” the UN official said.
He warned that Gaza always faces the looming threat of military confrontation because of the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation, pointing out that he had a difficult weekend last May when he and the Egyptians intervened to prevent another all-out military conflict.
Gaza has suffered recently from acute living and humanitarian crises after PA president Mahmoud Abbas deprived its population of medical treatment abroad, suspended its medical supplies, imposed heavy taxes on its fuel needs to generate electricity, asked Israel to reduce electricity provided through its cross-border power lines, lowered the salaries paid to civil servants and gave others early retirement.
The Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip have warned that Israel’s use of live ammunition against participants in the peaceful March of Return rallies cannot go unnoticed.
“We will not accept any change in the rules of engagement which the resistance has imposed during previous rounds of confrontation,” the factions stated in a press release, commenting on the Israeli occupation forces’ use of armed force against journalists and the participants in the 66th Friday of the March of Return rallies.
The factions also urged the mediators, especially the Egyptians, to pressure the Israeli occupation to respect the latest understandings over Gaza.
Nobody in Gaza is exempt from being an Israeli target. Luck is the only thing that saves anyone here from being killed.
The medic Muhammad al-Judaili ran out of luck.
On 3 May, he was working at the Great March of Return – weekly protests to demand that the rights of Palestine’s refugees be fully respected. He was next to an ambulance parked approximately 100 meters from the fence separating Gaza and Israel when he saw that a child had been shot in the arm.
Muhammad rushed toward the child, with the intention of administering first aid. Before he could do so, Muhammad had himself fallen to the ground. An Israeli sniper had shot him in the nose with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
He was taken to al-Quds hospital in southern Gaza, where he had previously worked. After three weeks, he was discharged so that he could celebrate Eid with his family in al-Bureij refugee camp.
While he was in his apartment, Muhammad lost consciousness. He was brought back to the hospital, where his heart stopped for minutes.
Although doctors succeeded in reviving his heart, he remained in a coma. His medical team was concerned that his brain would be damaged as a result of his injury.
On 4 June, Muhammad was transferred to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank. Six days later, he died. He was 36 years old.
“I never expected to be a widow and have the burden of raising four children alone,” said his wife Muna Shurrab. “Muhammad had a big heart that loved us all.”
Muhammad’s 10-year-old son Adel recalled how they had gone shopping together at Eid.
“We were very happy,” Adel said. “We thought we had our normal life back.”
Muhammad was the fourth medic in Gaza to have been killed since the Great March of Return began last year.
Yet the violence inflicted by Israel on medics has generally been met with indifference by Western governments.
Gaza’s health ministry argues that the killing of medics has been deliberate. Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra said Israel aimed at the victims “directly in the head or chest.”
Ahmad Abu Foul witnessed the shooting of his colleague Muhammad al-Judaili. The two men had worked together on numerous occasions.
When Abu Foul was injured by Israel during Operation Cast Lead – a major attack in late 2008 and early 2009 – it was Muhammad who gave him first aid.
Abu Foul has himself been wounded four times since the Great March of Return began last year. One week before Muhammad received his fatal injury, Abu Foul was shot in the leg.
Despite the danger that he faces, Abu Foul has pledged to continue his work. “It’s a duty,” he said. “I don’t deserve to be killed for doing what I do.”
He was also part of a medical crew targeted with a missile fired from an Israeli drone during Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza at this time five years ago. “It is a miracle that we survived,” he said.
Ali Saqir, a shoe shop owner, was a neighbor and close friend of Muhammad al-Judaili. He recalled Muhammad’s bravery during Israel’s 2014 attack.
When al-Bureij camp came under Israeli fire, Saqir called Muhammad asking for help in evacuating its residents. Although Muhammad was working in another part of Gaza at the time and road journeys were extremely dangerous, he insisted on bringing an ambulance to al-Bureij so that he could aid his neighbors.
On another day during the 2014 attack, Muhammad was working in the Beit Hanoun area of northern Gaza. Israel had destroyed homes in the area and many of those displaced had gathered around an ambulance in desperation.
The Israeli forces ordered that the people move away from the ambulance. But Muhammad disobeyed the order and drove away quickly, the ambulance full of people.
As the ambulance departed, the Israeli forces fired a missile in its direction. “Luckily, Muhammad managed to swerve away and he survived, along with his passengers,” said Saqir.
“The first time I felt helpless”
The fifth anniversary of the 2014 attack brings back painful memories for Gaza’s medics.
In total, 23 Palestinian health workers were killed during that offensive, 16 of them while on duty. The medics who survived have, in many cases, had to cope with bereavement.
Basem al-Batsh works for Gaza’s civil defense department. Late in the evening of 29 July 2014, he received a phone call to say that Israel was bombarding Jabaliya refugee camp, where he lived.
Basem set out for home. Yet when he got to the entrance of his neighborhood, it was impossible to venture any farther.
Israel was firing missiles “at everything that moved,” he said. “I could see my family running in the street, fleeing the house.”
The extended al-Batsh family lived in a multi-story building. As they tried to escape, the Israeli forces attacked them.
Five members of the family were killed. Among them were Basem’s mother Halima. “I watched my mother dying,” he said. “At that moment, Israel killed me as well.”
Once he felt safe enough to move, Basem took his mother’s body and placed it in the back of the ambulance.
“I sat in the front seat and couldn’t look in the back at my mother’s body,” he said. “It was the first time I felt helpless. I’m a paramedic and a civil defenseman, who couldn’t save the life of his mother.”
A number of British Members of Parliament have slammed the killing of Palestinian medics at the hands of Israeli forces in the occupied Gaza Strip.
On 15 July, an Early Day Motion (EDM) entitled “Health Workers in Gaza” was tabled in Parliament.
The EDM begins with a condemnation of “the killing of healthcare workers in Gaza and in particular the recent killing of Gaza paramedic Mohammed Al-Jedaili”, who, the motion adds, was “the fifth Palestinian health worker to be killed by Israeli forces in just over a year”.
The motion then “notes that according to the World Health Organisation more than 750 health workers in Gaza were also injured between 30 March 2018 and 31 May 2019.”
The context for the timeframe is the Great March of Return, and the efforts taken by Israeli forces to violently suppress its associated demonstrations.
Finally, the EDM also “calls on the Government to take diplomatic steps to ensure that medical workers in Gaza can perform their humanitarian functions without risk of attack”.
MPs are also requesting “an investigation which complies with international standards of independence, impartiality, promptness, thoroughness and transparency into those deaths”.
Israeli military investigations are notorious for what human rights group B’Tselem has described as a “whitewashing” process, with prosecutions of soldiers almost impossible.
The primary sponsor of the new EDM is Labour MP Alex Sobel, with cross-party co-sponsors listed as Jim Cunningham (Labour), Paul Farrelly (Labour), Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat), Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative), and Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru).
MP signatories who have added their names thus far include Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru), Roger Godsiff (Labour), Ian Mearns (Labour), Ronnie Campbell (Labour), and Dennis Skinner (Labour).
The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas stated in a press release its stance on the statements made by a member of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Fathi Hamad on Monday
In its statement, Hamas’ leadership rejected the statements made by Political Bureau of Hamas, Fathi Hammad during the mass demonstration of the march of return and breaking the siege on Friday 12/07/2019.
They stressed on the following:
First: These statements do not reflect the official positions of Hamas and its adopted and consistent policies, which stipulate that the Palestinian struggle is with the Israeli occupation that occupies our land and desecrates our sanctities. There is no conflict with Jews around the world or with Judaism as a religion. The movement has always condemned the attacks against safe Jews in their places of worship.
Second: The Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege are popular peaceful rallies aimed at establishing the right of return and breaking the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and the national consensus on its popularity and peacefulness does not mean allowing the occupation to assault the peaceful demonstrators and target and kill them. We call upon the protestors to abide by the decisions of the National Commission of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege policies, decisions, and activities.
Third: We reiterate our great appreciation to all mediators, especially the Egyptian brothers, for their efforts in working on breaking the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and helping the Palestinians achieve national unity.
The African Group has called on the United Nations (UN) to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinians.
The African Group – sometimes known as the Group of African States – is a regional assembly within the UN comprised of 54 member states from the African continent. It represents 28 per cent of all UN members.
The group yesterday addressed the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, one item of which discussed the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
The group’s representative, Andre da Conceicao Domingos of Angola, called for the international community to act to end Israel’s now 52-year-old occupation and the blockadeit has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007, as well as to end Israel’s illegal settlement project, imprisonment of Palestinians and policy of collective punishment.
Some members of the African Group also submitted individual statements, with Nigeria’s representative Muhammad Isa stressing the need to avoid double standards in the implementation of international law and human rights. He also demanded accountability from Israel in this regard.
South Africa’s representative Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko also addressed the session, telling the council that “Israel’s occupation is virtually indistinguishable from annexation”. Mxakato-Diseko also condemned Israel’s theft of Palestinian water resources and pointed out that while Israel markets desalination and water technology to the world, it is responsible for water scarcity in the oPt.
African states have long been outspoken supporters of the Palestinian cause. This weekend the grandson of iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, attended London’s Palestine Expo – Europe’s biggest Palestine exhibition which shed light on the plight of Palestinian refugees and those living under Israel’s occupation.
Addressing the conference, Mandela said that “we have a moral duty to support BDS and to support the Palestinian struggle,” referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Mandela congratulated the Palestine Expo for “creating a unique experience which proudly celebrates Palestinian art, history and culture whilst fostering discussion and activism in the UK”, but emphasised to audiences that the event “reminds us of the reality of a nation that has now withstood 71 years of the Nakba,” during which 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes.
Mandela was also critical of an attempt by anti-Palestine group UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) to cancel the Palestine Expo. Last week it emerged that UKLFI had made several attempts to cancel the exhibition, claiming its organisers are “major promoters” of BDS. The group also tried to convince the German owners of London Olympia – where the event took place – to cancel the exhibition in light of a non-binding motion recently passed in Germany claiming that BDS is “anti-Semitic”.
The South African MP slammed these moves, claiming they “reflect the desperation that Apartheid Israel and its lackeys are resorting to in silencing peaceful popular protest”. He stressed: “We say to them and all who seek to deny our basic human rights such as freedom of expression – hands off BDS, hands off Palestine Expo.”
Palestinian journalist Fathi Sabbah has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) government and its health ministry of not being serious about providing medical treatment for his daughter, Rima, who suffers from blood cancer.
In Facebook remarks, Sabbah said he received pledges from premier Mohamed Shtayyeh over the phone to personally follow up the case of his daughter after he published her story a few days ago.
He added that he was also phoned by Ahmed Abu Houli, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, who pledged to provide his daughter with appropriate medical treatment in hospitals like any citizen.
However, he affirmed that the medical referral to Hadassah Hospital in Israel only included a medical checkup without covering the expenses of medication.
The Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip have condemned the assassination of Mahmoud al-Adham from al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas as a “Zionist crime” and “foolishness,” holding the Israeli occupation state fully responsible for the consequences.
In a joint press release on Thursday, the resistance factions warned that the occupation state of testing their patience, adding it would pay dearly for its crimes in Gaza.
They affirmed that the resistance in Gaza would not allow the occupation to change the rules of engagement and impose new faits accomplis on the ground to serve its interests.
The Israeli occupation forces on Thursday morning carried out two shooting attacks on resistance observation posts in Gaza, killing one Qassam Brigades fighter.
The Hamas Movement has applauded the car-ramming operation that took place near Hizma town in Occupied Jerusalem and led to the injury of five Israeli soldiers, describing it as “a natural response to Israel’s crimes.”
In a statement, Hamas said the operation was a response to Israel’s persistence in committing crimes against the Palestinian people, especially its recent practices in Jerusalem neighborhood and Issawiya district.
“The Judaization activities in Jerusalem and the ongoing break-ins at the Aqsa Mosque will provoke more Palestinian anger, which will turn into an explosion in the face of the occupation,” Hamas added.
“Through their resistance, the Palestinians assert their adherence to their land and their full readiness to sacrifice themselves to defend it,” the Movement said.
Jordanian delegation leaves OSCE conference because of Israel
A Jordanian parliamentary delegation on Wednesday withdrew from the annual five-day conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is being held in Luxembourg.
The Jordanian delegation, led by assistant speaker of the house of representatives MP Ibrahim Al-Qar’an, withdrew from the first day of the conference to protest against the seating of its delegation site next to lawmakers from the Israeli occupation state.
It is not clear if the Jordanian delegation will attend the remaining days of the conference or not.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is meeting for its 28th annual session in Luxembourg on 4-8 July 2019, which is held under the theme “Advancing Sustainable Development to Promote Security.”
Al-Qar’an said the Jordanian delegation withdrew after he was surprised that the seat allocated to him was at the same table prepared for the Israeli delegation.
The Jordanians made several attempts to convince the organizers of the conference to change the seat of their delegation or to remove the Israeli delegation, but their request was declined.
Al-Qar’an said that despite the delegation’s keenness on attending the conference, the principle of not sitting next to Israelis “came from our principles, morals and our religion that does not allow us to sit with people from the Zionist entity that has usurped our holy places.”