People are forced to queue as a result of fuel shortages
Israel’s decision to block the transfer of fuel to the occupied Gaza Strip was slammed as “cruel, illegal, and immoral” Tuesday by human rights NGO Gisha.
In an urgent letter to Israeli authorities, Gisha said the move “must be reversed immediately”.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Israel announced that it was halting the transfer of fuel used to operate the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli defence ministry body (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT) (COGAT) tweeted that fuel supply to the power plant in Gaza would be stopped “following the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel…until further notice”.
According to Gisha, “Israel’s decision to deliberately reduce the supply of a basic humanitarian commodity, knowingly harming the civilian population in Gaza, constitutes illegal collective punishment”.
General view to the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan 21 June 2010
A “recent burst” in settler-run ‘tourism’ projects around Jerusalem’s Old City is further linking the west of the city with Silwan in the occupied East, reported NGO Ir Amim on Tuesday.
According to the organisation, the uptick in “touristic settlement projects” is part of an “intensifying belt of settlement activity in and around the Old City”.
“Blurring the Green Line”, Ir Amim added, “these projects are being implemented around the vicinity of the planned cable car recently approved”.
Together, these developments will “create a more seamless link between West Jerusalem and particularly Silwan and divert tourist traffic from its traditional routes via Jaffa and Damascus Gates”.
Settler-run, Israeli authority-backed, projects highlighted by Ir Amim include a new ‘cultural centre’ operated by right-wing settler group Elad, “strategically located between the Palestinian neighbourhoods of At-thuri and Silwan along the seam between East and West Jerusalem”.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality recently constructed a promenade connecting the Jerusalem Cinemateque, a popular cultural establishment in West Jerusalem, directly to Elad’s new complex in occupied East Jerusalem.
“Public funds have been invested in this project which will lead unwitting Israelis and tourists alike into an arts and culture centre owned and managed by a nationalist settler organization”, Ir Amim stated.
“As a means to further tighten the band of settlement activity around the Old City and its environs”, the NGO said, “the abovementioned developments are part and parcel of measures being employed to facilitate seamless and attractive access from West Jerusalem to settlement sites scattered throughout Silwan”.
In addition to the ongoing, parallel dispossession and evictions of Palestinians, the Ir Amim update noted that “the confiscation of privately-owned Palestinian land for purported purposes of beautification” is also “intended to serve the Israeli public projected to visit Elad’s new complex and likely lead to additional settler activities in the area”.
Palestinian woman holds a key, symbolising the right to her home from 1948, during the anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ in Ramallah, West Bank
By Nasim Ahmed
British Conservative MP Theresa Villiers blundered into a debate on Israel and Palestine last week. In doing so, the former Northern Ireland Secretary rehashed discredited myths the function of which has historically been to shield Israel from taking responsibility for the plight of Palestinian refugees. During deliberations in the House of Commons on “Jewish Refugees from the Middle East and North Africa”, Villiers spoke of the “untold story” of the “ethnic cleansing” of 856,000 Arab Jews from Arab countries.
According to the member of Conservative Friends of Israel, ignoring the plight of these Jewish refugees and concentrating only on the Palestinians “gives the international community a distorted view of the Middle East dispute.” Villiers added that, “A fair settlement needs to take into account the injustice suffered by Jewish refugees as well as the plight of the Palestinians.”
The MP for Chipping Barnet claimed that, “The historic UN Resolution 242 states that a comprehensive peace agreement should include ‘a just settlement of the refugee problem’; the language is inclusive of both Palestinian and Jewish refugees.”
Villiers-who often speaks in support of Israel and has even used a Commons debate about terrorism on the streets of London to appeal for “sympathy and solidarity” for the Zionist state- mimicked discredited claims made by Israeli officials since the 1950s to absolve the country from its obligations under international law to the 750,000 Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1947-8.
As others have pointed out, “The analogy between Palestinian displacement and the Jewish ‘exodus’ from Arab countries is misleading.” The claims of the two communities are very different; the history and circumstance of their displacement bears no resemblance to each other, which makes any attempt to use the plight of one group to dismiss the other, as though it were a kind of population transfer reminiscent of countries split apart by civil war, totally fanciful.
Contrary to what Villiers suggested, there was no forced mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries, in the way that there was a deliberate, forced expulsion of Palestinians from their own land. If we look at Iraq, for example, Arab Jews left due to a combination of factors, of which a hostile environment following the creation of the State of Israel in Palestine was certainly one. Other push factors, according to Abbas Shiblak, author of The Lure of Zion: Case of the Iraqi Jews, include laws that were enacted to facilitate the Jewish exodus. One such law is 1/1950, known as the denaturalisation law, which empowered the Iraqi government to “divest any Iraqi who wished of his own free will and choice to leave Iraq for good, of his Iraqi nationality.” Shiblak points out that this law was welcomed by Israel, as well as Britain and the US, both of which were applying pressure on Iraq to agree to a population transfer deal involving 100,000 Iraqi Jews. It was indeed a driving factor in the flight of Iraqi Jews.
Other factors, though mired in controversy, also played a part. The 1950s saw a number of Israeli false flag operations. One that grabbed global attention was the failed covert operation, known as the “Lavon Affair”. Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence to plant bombs inside British and American civilian targets, including churches and libraries. The attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian communists in order to induce the British government to maintain its occupation army in the Suez Canal zone.
While that operation was not intended to create a hostile environment for Jews in Egypt with the hope of persuading them to go to Israel — that result was an arguably unintended consequence — similar plots in Iraq were designed with exactly that in mind. From 1950 through to 1951 Israeli spy agency Mossad orchestrated five bomb attacks on Jewish targets in an operation known as Ali Baba, to drum up fear amongst and hostility towards Iraqi Jews. As the mood darkened, more than 120,000 Jews — 95 per cent of the Jewish population in Iraq — left for Israel via an airlift known as Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.
In addition to the anti-Jewish feelings that took root in Arab cities following the creation of the State of Israel and prompted Jewish flight, there was also a powerful pull factor that had nothing to do with hostility in Arab countries. The very creation of Israel was based on the idea of “the ingathering of the exiles”, which assumed that the self-styled “Jewish State” would attract as a matter of course Jews from around the world to make “aliyah” and migrate there. This was not only intended to fulfil the secular dream of a Jewish “national home” (as the Balfour Declaration put it, not a “state”) but also to bring about what fundamentalist Evangelical Christians believe is a Biblical prerequisite for the long-awaited return of Jesus Christ, Armageddon and the end days; what they refer to as the “rapture”. If the whole purpose of the State of Israel was and remains to attract Jewish migration from across the world — Arab states included, presumably — then to claim that those who make the move are “refugees” is totally inaccurate and a false representation of reality.
In stark contrast, the ethnic cleansing (a term applied by Israeli historians) of three-quarters of the Palestinian population of historic Palestine, and the subsequent further expulsions of the native population that followed the June 1967 war, was premeditated in order to create a Jewish majority in the land. This is not only an indisputable historical fact, but is also reflected in various UN resolutions.
Israel’s membership of the UN was conditional upon the nascent Zionist state taking responsibility for the plight of Palestinian refugees and allowing them to return to their homes. It’s worth noting that Israel first applied to join the UN on 15 May, 1948, the day after it declared its independence; the application was rejected. A second application on 17 December the same year was also turned down on the grounds that the fighting was ongoing in Palestine and that Israel had failed to establish a demilitarised zone in the Negev Desert. It was only at its third attempt a year later that the international community allowed Israel to become a member of the organisation with the aforesaid condition.
UN General Assembly Resolution 273 of 11 May, 1949 admitted the state as a member, but required Israel to comply with Resolution 194 of 11 December, 1948 which “resolves that the [Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” The Israeli government agreed to this condition. In pursuit of this goal, the UN ordered the creation of a commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation.
However, Israel has never shown any inclination to fulfil that condition of its UN membership, despite agreeing to do so. Palestinians who were expelled from their land, and their descendants, still live in refugee camps across the occupied Palestinian territories and neighbouring countries, with many others in the wider diaspora around the world.
The international community recognises no such moral and legal claims for Arab Jews who moved to Israel, though it should also be pointed out that many chose to settle elsewhere. Villiers cited UN Resolution 242 when she claimed that such an obligation does indeed exist. However, the strongest interpretation of this resolution given its context in being adopted by the Security Council in 1967 after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza during a war that led to the displacement of a further 400,000 Palestinians, is that UN Resolution 242 refers only to Palestinian refugees. The resolution also required Israel to withdraw from the territories that it occupied during the war; it hasn’t done that yet, either.
One could of course make a case for Arab Jews to be compensated for the suffering that they endured and the property they left behind, but that should not in any way be at the expense of Palestinian refugees. Such a move would have no basis in international humanitarian law, and would thus be baseless. Human rights are not interchangeable: you cannot simply exchange the rights of one person with those of another as though it were some kind of commodity to be bartered. The rights and claims of Palestinian refugees on the state of Israel cannot be wiped away by rights that Jews may or may not have over Arab states. The simple truth is that there is not, and never has been, any parity between the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians since 1947, and the exodus of Jews from Arab states. As a lawyer, Theresa Villiers should know that but, as a strong supporter of the State of Israel, like many others she chooses to ignore it as she tries to deny Palestinians of their legitimate rights.
Quds Press said that the plan to build the barricade was laid down in the wake of the last escalation with Gaza after the joint operations room of Palestinian military factions announced targeting two Israeli military vehicles.
The joint room broadcast footage of the attacks, but Israel has denied they took place.
Israeli authorities also want to fortify roads to meet the settlers’ security needs and plant large trees along route 24 and other open areas.
The conference kicked off today in Bahraini capital Manama to discuss the economic aspects of the long-awaited “deal of the century”
Palestinian factions today announced a general strike in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip in protest against Bahrain’s hosting of the “Peace to Prosperity” conference.
The conference kicked off today in Bahraini capital Manama to discuss the economic aspects of the long-awaited “deal of the century”.
Last weekend US President Donald Trump’s advisor for the Middle East, Jared Kushner, revealed details of the plan, stating that $50 billion would be invested in the region. More than half of this $50 billion would be spent in the economically-troubled Palestinian territories over ten years, while the rest would be split between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.
The National Committee for the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege announced a series of activities this week in rejection of the conference. It has called for widespread participation in the general strike and said it will organise a National Conference in the Strip’s central Gaza City.
Meanwhile, the Committee condemned Arab participation in the Bahrain summit and called on them to respect the united Palestinian rejection of the conference, which it argues aims to undermine Palestinian rights and principles.
As part of the activities announced by the Committee and the Palestinian factions, the Palestinian protesters will gather near Israeli checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank. Witnesses reported that tens of Palestinians are currently gathering in front of Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip.
Israel demolishes parts of Palestinian cemetery in Jerusalem on 11 September 2017
A Palestinian grandmother has won her battle to visit her father’s grave, after decades of being stone-walled by Israeli authorities.
Following legal intervention by Haifa-based rights centre Adalah, 70-year-old Salwa Salem Copty, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, will finally be able to visit the grave of her father in a Christian cemetery surrounded by an Israeli military base.
The base was established on the ruins of Ma’alul, a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces during the Nakba in 1948.
In January 2019, Adalah filed a Supreme Court petition on behalf of Copty and her 93-year-old uncle Subhi Mansour, “demanding the Israeli military permit them to visit the cemetery”.
In response to the petition, “the Israeli State Attorney’s Office has now announced that it will allow Salwa and her uncle to visit the cemetery”, Adalah stated.
According to Adalah, Salwa Salem Copty was born in 1948 several months after her father, Fares Salem, was shot and killed by Israeli troops.
“Israeli forces occupied their home village of Ma’alul in July 1948, expelled its Palestinian residents, and destroyed the entire village with the exception of two churches and a mosque”.
Now, “the Israeli military has decided it will allow Salwa, her uncle, and two other people up to three visits a year to the cemetery”.
“For almost 20 years, the Israeli military refused – with absolutely zero justification – to address Salwa’s requests to exercise her basic constitutional right to visit the grave of her father who was killed just months before she was born”, said Adalah Deputy General Director Attorney Sawsan Zaher.
“The Israeli army will never be able to compensate Salwa for these decades of injustice but we are pleased that, after such a long struggle, she will finally be able to visit her father’s grave”.
Jared Kushner pushed State and Defence Department officials to pump up the figure with aspirational arms sales following Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, according to a former National Security Council (NSC) official
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that prosperity for the Palestinians was not possible without a fair political solution – but that agreement on an economic way forward was a necessary precondition for Israeli-Palestinian peace, reports Reuters.
Kushner was addressing the opening of a workshop in Bahrain to showcase the economic portion of Washington’s long-awaited Arab-Israeli peace plan, a $50 billion development blueprint unveiled this week that has been sharply criticised by Palestinians and Arabs across the region.
He told an audience that included International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde:
What we have developed is the most comprehensive economic plan ever created specifically for the Palestinians and the broader Middle East. We can turn this region from a victim of past conflicts into a model for commerce and advancement throughout the world.
The lack of a political solution, which Washington has said will be unveiled later, has prompted rejection not only from Palestinians but in Arab countries with which Israel seeks to normalise relations. Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments were attending the curtain-raising event in Manama.
My direct message to the Palestinian people is that, despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you. This workshop is for you.
He said economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinians were not possible without an “enduring and fair political solution” to the conflict – one that guaranteed Israel’s security and respected the dignity of the Palestinian people.
“However, today is not about political issues. We will get to those at the right time,” he said.
“The plan was that they would climb over the barrier and meet the rest of the family on the other side, as many Palestinians do”, B’Tselem stated.
After ‘Abdallah and ‘A. climbed over the wire onto the buffer path, ‘A. spotted a Border Police officer “standing on the other side of the main fence”, so jumped back over the wire and shouted to ‘Abdallah to flee. At that point, Israeli forces shot at ‘Abdallah, hitting him in the chest.
‘Abdallah’s father, Luai, drove him to al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala, where the boy passed away.
“I raised my son for fifteen years, and I still can’t believe that he was martyred in the blink of an eye”, said Luai. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He just wanted to get to al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan”.
“He was daring and I think that’s what got him killed. He was in a rush to get to al-Aqsa and didn’t wait like the other young men”, the father continued.
“‘Abdallah was a good boy. He was cheerful and everyone loved him. He used to help me at work after school. He loved his family and was always joking around with his sisters. I can still see him cracking jokes with them and with my niece in the car that morning”.
According to B’Tselem, “there can be no justification for this type of gunfire, with its predictably fatal consequences. It shows just how little the lives of Palestinians count in the eyes of both the officers in the field and the entire chain of command that allows such actions to take place”.
“Based on past experience”, the human rights group added, “no one…will be held accountable”.
Settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque on first day of Ramadan on 6 May 2019
Hanna Issa, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Secretary-General for the Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places, has announced that the number of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) has reached 503, with 474 located in the West Bank and 29 in East Jerusalem.
In a press release today, Issa also stated that the illegal settlers living in these settlements number over one million, adding that the settler population is increasing at a far higher rate than the population growth rate of Israel itself.
He also expressed concern that the growing number of settlements and their population would be a further hindrance to the creation of a future Palestinian state if they cut the occupied West Bank off from East Jerusalem, which Palestinians have earmarked as their future capital.
“How can we talk about an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967 borders and a Palestinian population of five million today, [when] Israeli settlements are swallowing land, depriving indigenous people of their freedom and economy, while concealing the possibility of real sovereignty?”
Throughout the past few decades, the building of illegal Israeli settlements in the oPt has increased, despite the fact that this is in direct violation of international law.
Issa reiterated this fact, citing laws such as Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids occupying states from transferring civilians to occupied territory. Another example is the International Criminal Court (ICC) Convention of 1998, which considers as war crimes the occupying state’s transfer of its civilian population to the territories it occupies.
Issa’s remarks come amid a recent increase in assaults by Israeli settlers on occupied Palestinian land, such as setting fire to farmland in the occupied West Bank in order to destroy Palestinians’ livelihood and the demolition and seizure of Palestinian households in East Jerusalem to make space for new Jewish-Israeli homes.
She later filed an official complaint at the police station
A representative of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Fatma Seyma Agaca was verbally attacked in Istanbul’s Atakoy polling station during mayoral elections by an opposition supporter asking her to remove her headscarf.
Seyma asked representatives of Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) to get rid of flyers promoting CHP mayoral race candidate Ekrem Imamoglu from the polling station, noting it was illegal during elections, when a CHP supporter interfered, asking Seyma to remove her headscarf first.
Footage of the incident has been widely circulated on social media.”It’s 2019 and they are still on the headscarf topic,” Seyma can be heard saying. She later filed an official complaint at the police station.