Palestinian President Undermines Judiciary Independence

22 JUL9:31 PM

The Palestinian President issued two laws by decree on 15 July 2019.  The first one is dissolved the High Judicial Council (HJC) and assigned a transitional one while the other amended the Palestinian Judicial Authority Law No.1/2002 and reduced judges’ retirement age to 60 years.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the dissolution of the HJC by the Palestinian President and considers it a blatant interference in the judicial affairs and independence, in form and substance.

It is also considered a violation of the principle of separation of powers, codified in Article 98 of the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law: “Judges shall be independent and shall not be subject to any authority other than the authority of the law while exercising their duties.  No other authority may interfere in the judiciary or in judicial affairs.”

In response to the dissolution decision, PCHR’s Director, Raji Sourani, said that “This decision is not only an attack on the independence of the judiciary; it would also prejudice the judges’ personal and career interests and their reputation. It also reveals the absence of political will for real judicial reform.” Sourani continued, “Now that both the legislative and judicial authorities are dissolved; the institutional essence of the state is absent and we are left with a centric political system revolving around the President.”

Whereas both decrees mention being issued in compliance with the recommendations of the National Committee for the Development of the Justice Sector, PCHR reasserts that judges criticized the creation of the committee itself, and that the Judges’ Club issued a press release on the matter emphasizing that the formation of said Committee jeopardizes the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Palestinian human rights organizations supported the stance taken by the Judges’ Club at the time, as the latter is representative of the judiciary’s best interest and orientation.[1]

Additionally, the Committee overlooked the factual causes weakening the Palestinian judiciary, primarily the executive-overreach and meddling in judicial affairs.

This overreach was evident in a number of instances, most prominent was the overthrowing of Chief Justice, Sami Sarsour, who was blackmailed into signing his resignation letter before assuming his role as Chief Justice, and it was used by the executive branch upon deciding to oust him. PCHR vehemently condemned the incident and considered it an erosion of judicial independence[2].

The problematic independence of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) was disregarded by both the recommendations of the aforementioned Committee and the recent laws by decree.

HCC was the subject of wide legal criticism, because its members never took oath in the presence of the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and it was created within the current Palestinian political division with members of a single political faction.[3] This impression was reinforced by the HCC conduct with decisions that favored expanding the President’s authorities, such as granting him authority to lift parliamentary immunity on 06 November 2016[4], and dissolving the PLC in complicity with the President on 12 December 2018[5]. As such, it is evident that the Palestinian executive is moving towards imposing complete control over all branches of the judiciary, giving the Palestinian President supreme power, as is the case in the HCC.

PCHR reiterates that it attempted to protect judicial independence in 2005 when it appealed against the 2005 Judicial Authority Law, which was introduced shortly after the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took office and aimed to enhance the Ministry of Justice’s powers at the expense of the HJC.[6]

The Supreme Court, in its constitutional capacity, decided to drop the new law and maintain the Judicial Authority Law No. (1) of 2002; thus, reinforcing two main principles: a. the imperative consultation with the judicial authority before enacting relevant laws; and b. the independence of the judiciary.

The timing and nature of the 2005 Judicial Authority Law, reflects the early intentions of the executive authority to control the Judiciary and refutes its allegations that the most recent laws by decree were part of a reform process.

This step comes after the Palestinian President usurped legislative authority by dissolving the already absented PLC. Rather than prioritizing ending the Palestinian political division and holding presidential and legislative elections, the Palestinian Authority reinforces it with legislations only applicable in the West Bank.

It also extends presidential powers, making it a de facto substitute to all three branches of government. This trend proves that the HCC is a mere façade and its decisions are designed to facitiliate executive outreach.

The decrees in question were issued only a few months after dissolving the PLC. The latter was authorized by the HCC’s in a decision that was deemed controversial due to the deficient reasoning, and doubts over the Court’s own legitimacy[7]. Therefore, PCHR considered the dissolution of the PLC to be political par excellence. PCHR also condemned the HCC’s position, and considered it an outreach of its jurisdiction, and an interference in the legislative authority in complicity with the executive branch.

Furthermore, in its decision to dissolve the PLC, the HCC contradicted its former decision pertaining to the legitimacy of the PLC’s extended term. Therefore, PCHR affirms that these laws by decree are part of a systematic policy to control the three authorities and pave the way for power absolutism.

The allegation that the problem of the Palestinian judiciary is about current laws or judges is a lie, and an attempt to control the judiciary under the pretext of reform. PCHR considers that true reform starts by ending the executive authority’s interference in the judicial authority as it weaknesses were never in the Judicial Authority Law. Hence, PCHR demands that the President retract his decisions.

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

Six Homes, Including a Nine-Story Apartment Building, Demolished by Israeli Forces in Wadi al-Homs

22 JUL11:40 AM

Israeli forces invaded, Monday morning, the village of Wadi al-Homs, southeast of Jerusalem, and demolished five single-family homes and an apartment building nine stories high that was under construction.

The village is located in the township of Sur Bahir, located southeast of Jerusalem in an area that Israel has slated for colonization in its E1 Jerusalem expansion plan.

Israeli officials have issued demolition orders for sixteen Palestinian homes and apartment buildings in the neighborhood, claiming that they are too close to the Israeli-constructed Wall, and must be destroyed “for security reasons”.

According to local sources, more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers participated in the invasion of the neighborhood,  mainly to push out the hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international solidarity activists who had arrived in the area to try to protect the homes from demolition.

Reporters from the Ma’an News Agency report that Ali al-Obeidi of the neighborhood committee told them that the soldiers attacked women, children, the elderly and the foreign solidarity activists.

al-Obeidi added that the soldiers destroyed Palestinian furniture that was in the homes, in addition to the homes themselves.

He added that the Palestinian families who live in the homes, and those who had been planning to live in the apartment building under construction, have been working through legal and diplomatic channels to try to protect their homes.

But the Israeli authorities, in an attempt to establish “facts on the ground”, went ahead with the demolitions despite the legal case that is in progress.

al-Obeidi told reporters that what is happening today is a mass displacement of the people of the neighborhood of Wadi al-Homs, despite their legal and diplomatic attempt to protect their property.

Hamada Hamada, head of the committee of the residents of Wadi Al-Homs, noted that the 16 buildings threatened by demolition in the neighborhood make up more than 100 family homes, some of which are inhabited and others under construction.

The buildings are located in the area classified as “A” under the Palestinian Authority, which means that under the 1993 Oslo Accords, they are supposed to be under full Palestinian control.

But the Israeli occupying authorities say that these buildings must be demolished due to their proximity to the Israeli Wall constructed in the past several years by Israeli forces in the Palestinian neighborhood.

According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli occupation forces demolished the homes of the Al-Kiswani and Abu Haddwan families, and homes under construction belonging to Ja’far Abu Hamed, ‘Ala’ Amira, Ali Hamid, ‘Shuqair’ and Tariq Mahamid.

As to the nine-story apartment building, belonging to Mohammed Abu Tair, hundreds of soldiers accompanied by military explosives experts, surrounded the building and planted explosives in preparation for detonation.

The demolitions come after the recent Israeli Supreme Court rejection of the appeal by the residents of the Wadi al-Homs neighborhood to preserve their homes. But residents cited legal gaps in the decision, and hoped to appeal to diplomatic channels and international bodies to stop the mass demolition.

In recent weeks, Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood a number of times in preparation for the mass demolition that began this morning.

(Source / 22.07.2019) 

Journalist Injured as Soldiers Attack Bethlehem

21 JUL2:45 AM

A journalist was injured and many others suffocated from teargas when Israeli forces attacked Palestinians taking part in a rally protesting the planned demolition of hundreds of apartments in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Hummus.

WAFA correspondence said that Ayat Arqawi, who works as a photojournalist with APA agency, was hit and injured by a gas canister in her pelvis.

Meanwhile, several protesters sustained suffocation from gas inhalation, including Minister Walid Assaf, the chairman of the Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission.

(Source / 21.07.2019) 

B’Tselem: “Contrary to military statement: ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, was shot in the head with live ammunition”

18 JUL9:10 PM

This Report is prepared and published by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights In The Occupied Territories (B’Tselem): B’Tselem investigation published today proves a soldier fired live ammunition, hitting ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, in the head.

A-Shteiwi was injured last week while playing in the entrance to a home in Kafr Qadum during the weekly demonstration in the village. Now hospitalized in critical condition, he is the latest victim of the reckless open-fire policy that allows soldiers to use live fire even when neither they nor anyone else is in any danger.

At about 1:30 PM on Friday, 12 July 2019, the regular weekly demonstration against the closure of the main access road from Kafr Qadum to the regional capital Nablus took place. The military blocked the road in the early 2000s, following the expansion of the adjacent settlement of Kadum. Since then, residents have been forced to use a bypass road that lengthens the journey by about half an hour.

The street where ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi was shot. ‘Abd a-Rahman was sitting at the entrance to the home in the center of the photo. The man who helped evacuate ‘Abd a-Rahman to the ambulance was sitting with his children opposite the boy, under the shade of the olive tree  

During the demonstration, a few dozen youths threw stones at a number of soldiers deployed along the ridge on the outskirts of the village, several dozen meters from the demonstrators. The soldiers fired rubber coated metal bullets at the protestors, but, in a departure from previous practice in Kadum protests, this time, they also fired a large number of live rounds in the air.

At a distance of about 200 meters from the main protest, about ten protestors threw stones at four soldiers who were a few dozen meters away from them, on another hill on the same ridge. About 100 meters away from this group, further down the road, a resident of Kafr Qadum was sitting under an olive tree with his two 10-year-old children. Opposite them, about 10 meters away, ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, was sitting at the entrance of one of the homes on the edge of the village playing with a piece of wood.

At about 2:20 PM, as the main demonstration, some 200 meters away from ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, began to disperse, a soldier fired a live bullet. It hit boy’s head and he immediately fell to the ground. The resident who was sitting nearby and a young man who was in the area evacuated the boy to an ambulance waiting some 50 meters away down the road. ‘Abd a-Rahman was taken unconscious to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus and underwent head surgery. Two days later, on 14 July 2019, sedated and ventilated, he was transferred to the intensive care unit at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer.

View from the point where ‘Abd a-Rahman was injured to the hill where the soldiers were standing. The man on the hill is standing where the soldiers were standing at the time of the firing 

In its statements to the media, the military denied that soldiers used live fire, and even rejected any responsibility for the incident. A response the military released claimed that the soldiers had used “various crowd-control methods” and that “a report was received of an injured boy aged around ten.” However, 9-year-old A-Shteiwi’s injury is a direct result of the open-fire policy implemented by the military in the Occupied Territories. This policy illegally and without any justification permits the use of live fire against Palestinians who are not endangering anyone. The policy remains in force despite the fact that it has resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries.

The military prides itself on regulations restricting the circumstances in which live fire may be used, while at the same time claiming that the law enforcement system will take action against soldiers who violate the regulations. However, these statements are hollow and meaningless. In many cases, the open-fire regulations are completely disregarded. Meanwhile, the law enforcement system is actually a whitewashing system intended to create the illusion of investigations. A-Shteiwi is the latest victim of this policy, but unless it is changed, it is only a matter of time before the next victim is added to the list.

(Source / 19.07.2019) 

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (11 – 17 July 2019)

19 JUL4:32 AM

Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory for the week of 11- 17 July, 2019.

74 Palestinian civilians injured; 24 of them were children, a woman, 2 journalists including a female, and a paramedic at the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip.

5 civilians, including a child, injured in the West Bank.

  1. Shootings, i.e. killings and injuries
  • At approximately 02:30 on Thursday, 11 July 2019, officers from the Israeli “Mista’arvim”undercover unit dressed like Palestinian civilians sneaked to al-Duheisha refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, driving 2 civilian vehicles with Palestinian registration plate. They raided and searched a house belonging to Sami Ismail al-Ja’fari (33) and then arrested him. Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian children and youngsters gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers while the soldiers fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 2 civilians were shot with live bullets to the lower extremities. They were taken to Al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala for treatment.
  • At approximately 22:00 on the same Thursday, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence with Israel, northern Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, opened fire and arrested at Majed Mohammed Husein al-Shafei (44) after crossing the village. As a result, he sustained a live bullet to his lower extremities. According to field investigations, al-Shafei left his house in Jabalia approximately 21:30 on the same day and then disappeared. At approximately 11:00 on Friday, 12 July 2019, his brother Mazen received a phone call informing him that his brother is injured and detained by Israeli forces.
  • At approximately 10:30 on Friday 12 July 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip in the vicinity of a Palestinian border control point. The shooting continued for few minutes, but no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 06:30 on Saturday, 13 July 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah Shore opened fire at Palestinian Fishing boats sailing within 6 nautical miles. The Israeli gunboats then surrounded one of the boats manned by Mohammed Isma’el Isma’el al-Bardawil (40) and his nephew, Ahmed Wael Isma’el al-Bardawil (16); both from al-Mawasi neighborhood, west of Rafah. The Israeli naval soldiers then ordered the fishermen to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat. They were arrested and their boat was confiscated. At approximately 18:00, Ahmed was released through Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing while Mohammed al-Bardawil is still under arrest and their fishing boat is still confiscated.
  • At approximately 13:35 on Sunday, 14 July 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of Khan Youni in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern ‘Abasan village, west of the border fence. The shooting continued for few minutes, but no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 16:30 on Monday, 15 July 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of Kahn Younis, in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at eastern Khuza’ah village. The shooting continued for few minutes, but no casualties were reported.
  • Also on Monday evening, Israeli forces opened fire at Fares Ahmed Mahmoud ‘Azem (34), when he was between Ramina and Bazaria villages, east of Tulkarm. As a result, he sustained a live bullet wound to the back, causing him internal bleeding in the lungs. ‘Azem was taken to Dr. Thabet Thabet Hospital in Tulkarm. Due to the serious injury, ‘Azem was transferred to Beilinson Hospital in Israel. An eyewitness stated that:

“At approximately 22:00 on Monday, 15 July 2019, I received a call telling me that a person from my village was wounded and screaming of pain and that the caller is trying to rescure him. I immediately headed to the site and knew that the victim is from Thanabeh village, carries an Israeli ID card and drives a vehicle with an Israeli registration plate. He was taken via an ambulance to Dr. Thabet Thabet hospital in Tulkarm and then transferred to Beilinson Hospital in Israel due to his serious injury.”

‘Azem’s father said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:

“I received the news of my son’s injury and then headed to Israel to follow-up on his health condition. Doctors only informed me that his injury was serious and he suffers from bleeding in the lungs as the bullet penetrated his back to the lungs. We do not know how this happened to our son; he was probably visiting his in-laws in Ramin village. We are waiting until he wakes up to find out what happened with him.”

  • At approximately 17:35 on Tuesday, 16 July 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of Kahn Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at ‘Abasan al-Kabirah. The shooting continued for few minutes, but no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 08:10 on Wednesday, 17 July 2019, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of Kahn Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Khuza’ah village. The shooting continued for few minutes, but no casualties were reported.
  • Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank including occupied East Jerusalem
  1. Demolitions and attacks on civilian property for settlement expansion
  • At approximately 10:00 on Thursday, 11 July 2019, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles and Israeli Civil Administration officers moved into Beit Ummer village in northern Hebron. They then stationed in Wadi al-Shaiekh neighborhood, where the Israeli Civil Administration officers handed Mohamed ‘Ali al-‘Alami a 96-hour demolition notice, under the pretext of non-licensing.  Mohamed’s house was under-construction and built on an area of 150 square meters. On 17 April 2018, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the occupied Territory (COGAT), under the direct control of the Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, issued a military order that makes it possible for Israeli forces to demolish Palestinian homes in Area C within 96 hours after delivering demolition orders. Under the order, COGAT excuses itself from informing Palestinian homeowners directly that their homes are slated for demolition and only requires demolition orders be placed “next to” targeted structures 96 hours before Israeli forces arrive to execute demolitions.
  • At approximately 11:00, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles and Israeli Civil Administration officers moved into Kherbit Shabouqa in western Hebron, where they handed Amjad Nofal Sulimah a notice to demolish his 150-sqaure-meter barn under the pretext of non-licensing in Area C, and gave him until 24 July 2019 to challenge.
  • At approximately 12:30 on Thursday, 11 July 2019, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles moved into ‘Izbit Salman in southern Qalqiliyia, and demolished an agricultural barrack belonging to Dawoud Mahmoud Yousef Ahmed under the pretext of non-licensing. Dawoud said to PCHR’s fieldworker: “I returned from France 3 months ago and my family told me that they found a notice in my land written on it “this is the second notice to demolish the agricultural barrack”. My family, who live in Qalqiliyia, told me that they did not see the first notice as they usually go there for picnic. On Thursday evening, 11 July 2019, our neighbors phoned and informed us that Israeli forces are demolishing the barrack in our land, so they went there and found the barrack was already demolished. We told both the Israeli and Palestinian Liaisons and they informed us that we could challenge the demolition.”
  • At approximately 14:00 on Thursday, Israeli forces dismantled a sit-in tent established by the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee in Wadi al-Humis neighborhood in Surbaher village, south of occupied East Jerusalem, protesting at the Israeli decision to demolish 12 residential buildings under the pretext of being near the annexation wall. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces attacked civilians staying in the tent and fired tear gas canisters at them. As a result, dozens of them suffocated due to tear gas inhalation, and agricultural crops were burned. It should be noted that the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision to demolish 16 residential buildings, comprising of 100 apartments, few weeks ago under the pretext of being close to the annexation wall and pose a security threat. This gives the green light to the Israeli forces to demolish all buildings near the annexation wall in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem. In 2003, the residents of Surbaher village submitted a petition against the annexation wall route, which passes in the center of their village, so the route was changed and the neighborhood was annexed within the wall.
  • At approximately 09:00 on Tuesday, 16 July 2019, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles and Israeli Civil Administration officers moved into Wadi al-Ghrouz area in eastern Hebron. Israeli soldiers were deployed in the area and the construction vehicles demolished a concrete pool used for irrigating plants under the pretext of non-licensing. The pool belongs to Zayid Nimer Mohamed al-Ja’bari (65), whose family attempted to stop the demolition, but Israeli border guard officers attacked and beat them. The Israeli border guard officers also attacked two photographers identified as ‘Abed al-Hafeez Daib ‘Abed al-Hafeez al-Hashlamoun (55), who sustained minor wounds in his hands and legs; and Mashhour Hasan Mahmoud al-Wahwah (34), who sustained minor bruises in his hand. Zayid al-Ja’bari said the Israeli authorities handed him a notice to stop construction works 3 months ago and handed him a demolition notice on 14 July 2019. Zayid was intending to file documents to the Israeli court for challenging the demolition.
  • At approximately 16:00 on Tuesday, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles and Israeli Civil Administration officers moved into Khelet al-Foron area in eastern Hebron. The construction vehicles demolished a water well used for irrigating plants. The well belongs to Nayif No’man Shokri Da’nah, who was handed a demolition notice on 10 July 2019. It should be noted that the well was partially funded by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.
  • At approximately 17:00 on Tuesday, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles and Israeli Civil Administration officers moved into Ghoween al-Foqah area in southern Hebron. The construction vehicles demolished a 100-sqaure-meter barrack built of concrete and tin plates and used for breeding livestock, under the pretext of non-licensing. The barrack belongs to Ahmed Mohamed Mousa Hawamdah (44), who was handed a 96-hour demolition notice on 03 July 2019, so there was no enough time to challenge the demolition.
  • At approximately 04:00 on Wednesday, 17 July 2019, Israeli forces backed by military construction vehicles and Israeli Civil Administration officers moved into al-Khalilah neighborhood in al-Jeep village, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem. The construction vehicles demolished a 80-sqaure-meter garage and store belonging to Waddah Wasfi Abu Dayyiah, under the pretext of non-licensing. It should be noted that the garage and store were demolished for the 3rd time.
  • In the same context, Israeli construction vehicles demolished a 900-sqaure-meter commercial barrack and a concrete floor belonging to al-Natshah family in Beit Haninah village, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The construction vehicles also demolished a 400-sqaure-meter car wash belonging to ‘Atiyah and Bakirat families in Surbaher vilolage, south of occupied Jerusalem.
  • At approximately 13:00 on Wednesday, 17 July 2019, Israeli construction vehicles demolished 5 shops built 4 years ago on an area of 250 square meters in Abu Tayieh neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. Eyewitnesses said that a large force of Israeli police officers and Special Forces accompanied with bulldozers moved into Abu Tayieh neighborhood, where they surrounded 5 shops belonging to Mohamed Hamdan al-‘Abasi. The shops were demolished after the Israeli Supreme Court refused a petition submitted by Mohamed’s lawyer. The eyewitnesses also said that the Israeli forces forcibly disperse the neighborhood’s residents from the area and beat them up. Meanwhile, the Israeli forces arrested Mahdi Hamdan al-‘Abasi after beating him. It should be noted that al-‘Abasi family headed to the Israeli Supreme Court in order to freeze the demolition order and license the shops, but it refused.
  1. Closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement of persons and goods

Gaza Strip

As the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip enters its 14th consecutive year this July, severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons and goods enhance the de facto separation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The most significant implications of the continued Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip are:

  • Movement of goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip is restricted on all three functioning crossings: Rafah border crossing, under Egyptian control; Beit Hanoun “Erez” checkpoint and Karm Abu-Salem Commercial Crossing, under Israeli control.
  • The Rafah Border Crossing operates only 5 days a week with severe limitation on travel of persons (300 travelers/day).
  • Beit Hanoun checkpoint, designated for the movement of persons, is under severe restrictions for exit and entry of the Gaza Strip. Only limited categories are issued Israeli permits to cross the checkpoint after an exhausting and lengthy security process that may subject civilians to the threat of arrest and often blackmail by Israeli forces.[1]
  • Karm Abu-Salem crossing, designated for the movement of goods, bans the export of Gaza Strip products, except for agricultural goods. Also, Israeli forces continue the 12-year ban on the import of 118 goods considered as “dual-use items.” [2] While Israeli authorities announced on Friday, 05 July 2019, that 18 of the banned dual-use items would be allowed into the Gaza Strip; the operating officers at Karm Abu-Salem crossing denied receiving new instructions in this regard.
  • Electricity crisis: with power cuts of at least 12 hours a day, the electricity crisis continues to haunt the Gaza Strip and paralyze all sectors of life, including health, education, the economy and the environment.
  • Naval blockade: Israel continues to restrict movement within the Gaza Sea, primarily on fishing. Despite imposing a 15-nautical-mile restricted fishing area, Israeli forces launch daily attacks on fishermen while at sea even within 1 – 6 nautical miles, including shootings, arrests and confiscation of fishing boats and equipment. It also restricts the import of necessary fishing equipment.

West Bank

Israeli forces continue to strangle West Bankers with continued restrictions on their freedom of movement, especially with frequent checkpoints between governorates. Currently, 92 permanent military checkpoints exist along the connecting roads between West Bank governorates, some of which have permanent military presence and others are staffed irregularly. Some of these checkpoints act as a terminal into Israel, even though they are located within Palestinian territory.

It should be highlighted that Israel continues to corporatize and privatize its occupation of the Palestinian territory by contracting military security corporations who operate checkpoints with fully armed civilian guards; yet, they act under the umbrella of the Ministry of Defense.

Israeli occupation’s presence in the West Bank is not limited to permanent checkpoints, as temporary checkpoints are haphazardly erected across the territory on a daily basis. These temporary checkpoints impede traffic between Palestinian cities, with illegal searches of civilian vehicles and long wait times. These temporary checkpoints are used to ambush civilians as hundreds of arrests are reported at these checkpoints annually.

This week, Israeli forces established 110 temporary checkpoint across the West Bank and arrested four Palestinian civilians. A civilian was arrested while returning via King Hussein Bridge.

Additionally, with the ongoing closure of 30 key roads in the West Bank, Palestinian’s’ freedom of movement is heavily restricted especially in areas adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlements.

Israel allows holders of West Bank IDs (men over 55 and women over 50) to access East Jerusalem without a pre-issued permit; nonetheless, they have to undergo security checks.

In terms of the movement of Palestinians to and from the occupied territory via King Hussein Bridge, Israeli forces continue to impose security measures that threaten the well being of civilians by forcing them to go through a body-search machine that subjects them to harmful radiations. It is also a common practice to arrest civilians at the crossing or deny them travel.

A 6-month research conducted by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ), stated that Palestinians lose about 60 million hours of work per year, due to the checkpoints and restrictions imposed by the Israeli forces on Palestinian movement between the towns and villages of the West Bank. ARIJ estimated the loss at about $ 270 million per year, according to the wage of workers per hour, in addition to extra fuel consumption at about 80 million liters per year, estimated at $ 135 million. The consumption of this amount of fuel leads to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, by about 196 thousand tons per year.

Full document available at the official website for the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

(Source / 19.07.2019) 

International Lawyers Support Khaled Barakat’s Struggle against Political Ban

July 18, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

International, European and German lawyers issued statements in support of Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat, subjected to a political ban in Germany since 22 June, when he was prevented by Berlin police from speaking at a community event on Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century.” Barakat has filed an urgent appeal against the political ban, demanding it be lifted immediately. He was threatened with up to a year in prison if he participated in events, demonstrations or even gatherings.

The political ban imposed on Barakat comes amid other repressive German actions targeting Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organizing, such as the anti-BDS resolution passed by the Bundestag in May; the criminal prosecution of activists for interrupting a member of the Knesset speaking; the ongoing threats of funding cuts against community organizations hosting Palestine events; the closure of bank accounts of organizations supporting Palestine, including Jewish Voices for a Just Peace; the deportation of former prisoner and torture survivor Rasmea Odeh; and the forced resignation of the director of the Jewish Museum following Israeli official pressure.

Organizations and activists around the world have denounced the political ban imposed on Barakat as a severe attack on freedom of expression and fundamental human rights. Several legal organizations have joined in the call to lift the political ban, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. The IADL, founded in 1946, has consultative status as an NGO with the United Nations. It has individual and organizational members from more than 50 countries.

The European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights, headquartered in Düsseldorf, has members across Europe. It joined with the Association of Democratic Lawyers in Germany (VDJ) and the International League for Human Rights to issue a statement demanding the immediate end of the political ban, which was also published in Junge Welt newspaper.

The lawyers’ organizations’ statements emphasized that the political ban on Barakat violates his human rights under the German constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), urging that it be lifted immediately.

Around the world, people of conscience are raising their voices in solidarity with Khaled Barakat and against the ongoing racist violations of Palestinian human rights both in Europe and in occupied Palestine. Please join the support campaign! Send your statements of solidarity to samidoun@samidoun.net or take a solidarity photo featuring the campaign posters to post online or share with us!

Read the statement of the IADL:

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) a non-governmental organization founded in 1946 with consultative status with ECOSOC, opposes in the strongest terms the German government’s imposition of “political ban” on German resident Mr. Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian activist and writer.   This ban was imposed on June 22, 2019.

IADL has been informed that the stated bases for the political ban are Mr. Barakat’s opinions regarding Palestine and his open support for Palestinian self-determination. IADL has no illusion regarding the source of this ban.  It reflects a disturbing trend by the State of Israel to pressure governments such as Germany to isolate and quiet critics of Israel by equating criticism of the State of Israel or its government with anti-Semitism.  IADL fundamentally rejects this equivalency and notes that many of the people who have spoken out against Israeli violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and who generally oppose Zionism are members of the Jewish community.   Advocating against oppression of Palestinians or for Palestinian self-determination is neither anti-Semitic nor advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred.

IADL views this “political ban” as an impermissible and illegal restriction on the rights of all persons to freedom of opinion and expression, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantees everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference; the right to freedom of expression which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.   IADL notes that to be permissible restrictions placed on these rights must be justified by a finding they are “necessary” to protect national security, public ordre public health or morals. (General Comment 10 paragraph 4).    The ICCPR also in Article 2 prevents discrimination on many bases including on the bases of political or other opinion, or national or social origin.

IADL is aware that Germany has ratified the ICCPR but placed reservations on its ratification which conditioned its ratification on its right to interpret ICCPR Article 19 and Article 2 consistent with Article 16 of the European Convention on Human Rights which exempts aliens from provisions of Article 10 and 14. Article 10 and 14 correspond to ICCPR Articles 19 and 2. This reservation ostensibly allows Germany to restrict the freedom of expression of aliens and to discriminate against them on the basis of their political or other opinion or national or social origin.

IADL rejects these reservations as being contrary to the purposes and objects of Articles 2 and 19 of the ICCPR, and states affirmatively that such reservations destroy the right of people not to be discriminated against on the basis of their national or social origin.  The Human Rights Committee which interprets the ICCPR has also confirmed that such reservations would not permitted by Article 19(3) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.  (General Comment 24 paragraph 6 of the Human Rights Committee.)

IADL further states that political bans were widely used in South Africa during the Apartheid era to stifle opposition to Apartheid.  They were widely imposed and were part of the actions universally condemned by the United Nations.    IADL opposed the use of such bans to restrict freedom of thought, expression and conscience by the anti-Apartheid activists.    At that time South Africa was not a democracy as it prevented its African majority population from participating in any elections.    The use of these political bans were desperate attempts by the South African government to stave off the day when it would have to change to a democratic state. Germany is a democratic state already.  There is no political necessity for aliens to suffer restrictions on their freedoms of speech, expression or conscience.

Therefore, IADL publicly calls upon German officials to lift the political ban on Mr. Barakat.

Read the statement of the ELDH:

The journalist Khaled Barakat was forbidden to take part in an event in Berlin with the topic, “Palestine and the Arabs – American Deal of the Century from Compromise to Liquidation” under threat of imprisonment by decision of the Foreigners’ Office on 21.06.2019. He was also barred from participating in any other events with reference to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Khaled Barakat is a Canadian citizen who has been in Germany for 4 years. The refusal to extend his residence permit after 31.07.2019 was also announced in the document.

In the detailed but not very substantial statement of reasons of the German Foreigners’ Office it is alleged, among other things, that Mr. Barakat is a functionary of the PFLP. The PFLP is on the EU terror list, as it is in Israel and in the USA. In Germany it is not classified as a terrorist organization. In Great Britain it has not been listed since 2014. Neither the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution nor Berlin’s report mentions the PFLP. There is no evidence that Khlaled Barakat is an official of the PFLP, which he denies by the way.

The Foreigners’ Authority bases the prohibition of lectures on § 47 para. 1 sentence no. 1 AufenthG. Through his lectures, the Foreigners Authority alleges that the peaceful co-existence of Germans and foreigners or of different foreign groups in Germany is imperiled. It refers to the unproven assessment of the Berlin Anti-Semitism Research and Information Centre (RIAS) that anti-Semitic propaganda had been carried out at the event “STOP APARTHEID – Decolonise Palestine.” RIAS here regards the depiction of Palestinians throwing stones on a poster as a visual element “glorifying violence.” Therefore, the statement alleges peaceful coexistence between non-Jewish and Jewish citizens in Germany may be impaired. There is no evidence of this presented either. After his multiple past lectures, there were never any such conflicts. The reason for any conflict is rather the “smouldering political conflicts between Jews and Arabs/Palestinians”, as the Foreigners’ Office itself declares.

However, the Foreigners’ Office wrongly equates Jews with the Israeli government. Numerous prominent Jews in Israel, Germany and other countries are rather very critical of the policies of the the Israeli government. The Foreigners’ Office also justifies its decision by reference to a threat to public safety and order. They also mention forbidden meetings of other organizations. However, Mr. Barakat never gave lectures at any forbidden gatherings. Listing of the PFLP as a terrorist organisation in the USA, Israel and the EU is alleged to be sufficient for the Foreigners’ Office to claim that public safety and order, and Germany’s good relations with the state of Israel, are at risk due to his lectures.

This decision of the Foreigners’ Office intervenes massively against the fundamental rights of Khaled Barakat. The justified and necessary fight against anti-Semitism is not facilitated by such decisions, but in fact made more difficult. Equating criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism distracts from the danger of real anti-Semitism.

The prohibition means that his rights under Art. 5, 8 of the German constitution, Art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are injured. The core of freedom of expression consists precisely in being critical of the policy of one’s own government and to the policies of other governments. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental for a democratic community.

The ELDH, the VDJ and the International League for Human Rights call on the Berlin authorities to cease these unlawful practices without delay and also to annul their decision on the extension of Mr. Barakat’s residence permit on the basis of speculation and defamation.

(Source / 19.07.2019) 

Israeli Soldiers Abduct A Palestinian In Northern Gaza

18 JUL6:24 PM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, a young Palestinian man allegedly after he breached the perimeter fence, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said the young Palestinian man breached the fence and was instantly taken prisoner by the soldiers.

It added that the young man “carried a knife,” and was moved to an interrogation facility.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army frequently abducts Palestinians who approach the fence, without even crossing it, in addition to its constant assaults and violations targeting farmers, workers and shepherds on Palestinian lands near the fence.

The violations also include constantly targeting Palestinian fishermen and their boats.
These violations have led to dozens of casualties, including many fatalities among the farmers, workers and fishermen, in addition to scores of abductions, and the destruction and confiscation of many Palestinian fishing boats.

(Source / 18.07.2019) 

Army Abducts Fifteen Palestinians Celebrating High-School Graduation In Jerusalem

18 JUL6:39 PM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, fifteen young Palestinian men in occupied Jerusalem, who were celebrating their high-school graduation using fireworks, after illegal Israeli colonists complained that the Palestinians are “firing live rounds.”

Palestinian sources said dozens of Palestinians, including the graduating students, were celebrating the graduations, and using fireworks.

They added that illegal Israeli colonialist settlers, living on Palestinian lands in and around the area, complained to the army and the police, and alleged that the Palestinians were also firing rounds of live ammunition.

The colonists also alleged that “some of the bullets reached their homes and cars and endangered their lives.”

The Israeli army and the police then invaded many Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and abducted fifteen young men, in addition to initiating searches trying to abduct more of them.

(Source / 18.07.2019) 

Irrigation Pool Demolished by Israeli Forces in Southern West Bank

17 JUL1:13 AM

Israeli forces, on Tuesday, demolished a pool used for irrigation in Wad al-Ghroos, an area close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, to the east of the occupied southern West Bank city of Hebron, reported WAFA correspondence.

A large unit of Israeli forces, accompanied by bulldozers and other heavy machinery, raided the area and demolished a 4,500 cubic meter pool owned by local resident Ziad Jaabari, and used for the irrigation of fields and crops in the area, under the pretext that it was built in Area C of the occupied West Bank, which is under full Israeli military rule.

He added that Israeli forces verbally insulted and physically attacked residents, journalists and activists while they were at the scene.

Jaabari said the pool was used to collect rain water in order to use it during the summer season, to irrigate their farms, expressing fear that without the pool and the water, many crops, particularly, tomatoes and cucumber, may be ruined.

Several houses in the same area have been given notices of demolition by Israeli soldiers, and for the same reason, which is construction without a the impossible-to-get permit in Area C.

(Source / 17.07.2019) 

Mother of Nasser Taqatqa Speaks to PNN

17 JUL12:59 AM

Through tears, the mother of Nassar Taqatqa expressed her devastation at the loss of her son who died in solitary confinement, in an Israeli prison.

In an interview with a correspondent for the Palestine News Network (PNN), at her home in the town of Beit Fajjar, southwest of Bethlehem, she spoke about the passing of her son who died at dawn today.

Taqatqa’s mother said that she was waiting for her son’s body to be returned to her, his sisters and the rest of his family.

She added that she wished she could take the place of her son, so that she died instead.

Also in IMEMC interviews — Dr. Alaa Tartir: Palestine and Rule of Power

(Source / 17.07.2019)