Fatah: We will reject any truce in Gaza agreed without us

Senior member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Azzam Al-Ahmad

Senior member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Azzam Al-Ahmad

Member of PLO’s Executive Committee and Fatah’s Central Council Azzam Al-Ahmad said yesterday that his movement will reject any truce in Gaza if it was not part of the negotiations, Shehab reported.

Speaking to the BBCAl-Ahmad said that the PLO and Fatah’s conditions to accept any truce is accepting a PLO delegation chosen and dispatched by the body, Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Ahmad added that the truce agreement, which is being discussed in Cairo, is brokered by Qatar and the United Nations.

Delegations for the Palestinian factions which are active in Gaza are currently discussing a reconciliation agreement based on the 2014 understandings in parallel with a truce with the Israeli occupation.

Fatah has insisted it head the delegation however the other factions refused this proposal.

Meetings in Ramallah and Cairo and the spectre of an attack

(Source / 18.08.2018)

UN chief suggests deploying UN-mandated armed forces to protect Palestinians

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Palestine Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 August 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Palestine Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 August 2017

The protection of Palestinian civilians could be improved by the deployment of UN-mandated armed forces or unarmed observers, a beefed-up UN civilian presence or expanded UN assistance, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a report on Friday.

The United Nations General Assembly requested the report in a resolution adopted in June that condemned Israel for excessive force against Palestinian civilians and denounced the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas.

The resolution asked for proposals to ensure “the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including … recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

Guterres outlined four options, but he did not make a specific recommendation. He noted that all options would need the cooperation of both parties, a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources to ensure they were viable. He wrote:

The combination of prolonged military occupation, constant security threats, weak political institutions, and a deadlocked peace process provides for a protection challenge that is highly complex politically, legally and practically

Armed UN peacekeepers or armed forces from a group of like-minded states operating under a United Nations mandate could be deployed to offer physical protection, Guterres said. This option, however, would need a Security Council mandate and the United States, a close ally of Israel, would likely wield its veto.

A UN or non-UN civilian observer mission could be deployed “with a specific mandate to report on protection and well-being issues and provide local mediation,” Guterres said. This would also need a UN-mandate.

Read: UN Chief calls for supporting efforts to avoid escalation in Gaza

A third option could be expanding current UN programs and development and humanitarian aid to address the needs of Palestinian civilians more effectively and strengthen Palestinian institutions, he wrote.

The final option could be to send additional UN human rights, coordination and political officers to boost monitoring and reporting on the situation and increase the UN’s visibility, Guterres said.

The General Assembly resolution requesting the report was adopted with 120 votes in favour, eight against and 45 abstentions. It was put forward in the General Assembly after the United States vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member UN Security Council.

“The best way to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population is still the negotiation of a comprehensive, just and final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Guterres said.

Read: US vows to veto UNSC proposal to protect Palestinians

(Source / 18.08.2018)

Israel attacks Palestinian school, arrests 3 students in Bethlehem

Israeli occupation forces storm a school in Bethlehem while students are sitting exams on 16 August 2018

Israeli occupation forces storm a school in Bethlehem while students are sitting exams on 16 August 2018

Israeli occupation forces yesterday stormed a Palestinian school in the West Bank town of Al-Khader in Bethlehem and arrested three students.

The school secretary, Yunus Ghoneim, said occupation forces stormed the school’s courtyards and began firing tear gas grenades at the classroom while students were sitting exams.

He added that the soldiers then stormed the classrooms and arrested Hamza Khaled Salah and Ibrahim Issa, both 15 years old and in the ninth grade, as well as Mohammed Khaled Salah; a sixth grade student who is only 11 years old.

The boys were  taken to the Israeli Etzion army camp south of Bethlehem. No reason has been given for their arrest.

Israel bans Palestinian mother from accompanying her sick toddler for treatment

(Source / 17.08.2018)

US envoy to Israel: ‘No need’ to evacuate illegal settlements

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told Tel Aviv on Wednesday that there is “no need” to evacuate its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Friedman made the comments during a meeting with several settler leaders, including the chairman of Har Hebron Regional Council Yochai Damari. The council provides municipal services to illegal Israeli settlers living in the South Hebron Hills, in the south of the occupied West Bank.

The meeting was arranged by Israeli MK Yehudah Glick, a member of the right-wing Likud party that currently leads the Israeli parliament. Glick relayed Friedman’s comments to the Times of Israel saying that the ambassador was “very explicit” in his remark regarding illegal Israeli settlements. The Times of Israel added that “a spokeswoman for the [US] embassy declined to comment.”

READ: Israel to build 20,000 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem

Friedman has a long history of support for Israel’s illegal settlement movement. In May it was revealed that Friedman was president of pro-settler organisation Friends of Beit El Yeshiva when it donated 372,000 shekels ($93,000) to Komemiut. Komemiut is a right-wing group dedicated to turning Israel into a Jewish-religious state and advocates for the weakening of “secular institutions” such as the media. It also contains leaders who consistently support the transfer or expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

The US ambassador has also frequently promised settlers that they will not be forced to leave their homes, telling a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organisations in February that illegal settlers in the West Bank “are not going anywhere”. It is also known that Friedman’s daughter, Talia Friedman, moved to Israel in August 2017.

In May, Friedman stoked controversy when he was photographed posing with a poster in which Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock were replaced with a Jewish Temple. The incident was lambasted by Arab-Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List, who responded to the image on Twitter by saying “and this madman wants to bring peace good thing you didn’t put the embassy there!” Friedman’s actions were also denounced by Al-Azhar, the leading Sunni institution in the Arab and Muslim world, which described the act as “irresponsible behaviour in the context of the continued Zionist-US provocations of the feelings of more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.”

#LandGrab

Israel has maintained a policy of illegal settlement in the West Bank since it occupied the territory during the Six Day War of 1967. Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem states that, as of the end of 2015, there were 127 Israeli government-sanctioned settlements in the West Bank (not including occupied East Jerusalem and Hebron). This was in addition to 100 non-recognised outposts and 15 Israeli neighbourhoods inside the Jerusalem Municipality. These settlements are inhabited by approximately half a million illegal settlers, who remain under the protection of Israeli domestic law despite their location in the West Bank. Such settlements have been deemed illegal under international law, which prevents the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territories.

READ: Israel demolishes Al-Araqeeb for 132nd time, arrests residents

(Source / 17.08.2018)

Palestinian journalists being ‘tortured’ in Israel jails

Palestinian writer Lama Khater [Al Jazeera English/Twitter]

Palestinian writer Lama Khater

Female Palestinian journalist, Lama Khater, has said that she is being exposed to “torture” by Israeli interrogators who are attempting to get “baseless confessions” from her, Felesteenreported yesterday.

A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPC) who visited Khater said: “Interrogators threaten to arrest relatives if she does not confess.” Khater did not give in to the pressure, the lawyer added.

The journalist spends all the time in jail sitting on a small chair, handcuffed and with her legs-chained in the investigation room. She is not allowed to leave except to go to the toilet.

The PPC stressed the 42-year-old mother had been subjected to “harsh and continuous” interrogation from the minute she was detained, noting that some interrogation sessions lasted up to 20 hours.

Talking through our fears: Resisting the Palestinian complacency of silence

An active columnist who is critical of the occupation and the Palestinian Authorities’ cooperation with it, Khater is being held because Israel believes her work is a “time bomb”.

Her husband, Hazim Al-Fakhouri, said that his wife told him during the court hearing two days ago that she had started to suffer from sever pains in her back due to the prolonged hours sitting on the interrogation chair.

He stressed that the Israeli occupation is putting pressure on his wife in order to get confessions that it could use to indict her.

Al-Fakhouri said that the Israeli interrogators also threaten to harm her two-year-old son.

(Source / 16.08.2018)

Israel army concludes probe into 2014 ‘Battle of Rafah’

Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house which was destroyed by an Israeli air strike during Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip on 24 July 2014 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house which was destroyed during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip on 24 July 2014

Israeli military prosecutors on Wednesday closed a years-long probe into the “Battle of Rafah”, also known as “Black Friday” — one of the bloodiest events of Israel’s 2014 onslaught against the blockaded Gaza Strip, Anadolu reports.

“Military prosecutors have decided to close their investigation into clashes that occurred between the Israeli army and Hamas during Operation Protective Edge,” Israeli daily Haaretzquoted an Israeli army statement as saying.

“Prosecutors have decided not to file any criminal charges against the [Israeli] commander involved in the incident,” the statement read.

During the battle, 42 Hamas fighters — along with at least 72 Palestinian civilians — were killed, according to Israeli figures.

The battle began on Aug. 1, 2014, after Israeli Army Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was captured — and two other Israeli soldiers killed — by Palestinian resistance fighters.

Read: Israel reopens Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza

Israeli troops deployed in the area reportedly initiated the so-called “Hannibal Protocol”, a controversial directive giving field commanders the right to “do anything” to prevent the capture of Israeli soldiers.

Israel’s 2014 military onslaught left more than 2,300 Palestinians dead and much of the Gaza Strip’s vital infrastructure in ruins.

At least 70 Israelis — 65 soldiers and five civilians — were also killed in the conflict, according to Israeli figures.

(Source / 16.08.2018)

Claims of torture in PA prisons resurface as prisoner dies in custody

28-year-old Palestinian Ahmed Abu Hamada, died in a Palestinian Authority jail [Twitter]

28-year-old Palestinian Ahmed Abu Hamada died in a Palestinian Authority jail

The death of 28-year-old Palestinian Ahmed Abu Hamada in a Palestinian Authority jail has brought to the surface claims of torture in detention, Felesteen reported yesterday.

The PA had claimed that Abu Hamada had a heart attack however rights groups have said that many prisoners die as a result of torture in detention.

Abu Hamada was detained last year along with fellow member of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, Abdullah Daraghmeh, and charged with causing security chaos.

Daraghmeh also died in detention, with the PA claiming he died of natural causes.

Member of Freedoms Committee in the West Bank, Khalil Assaf, said: “Based on complaints from people who were detained, we found that they were exposed to different forms of torture,” noting that most of them do not file complaints because they are afraid of revenge.

Read: Abbas cuts salaries of Gaza prisoners inside Israeli jails

Assaf said that Jericho Prison is the most notorious because Palestinians are brought there for investigation.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights based in London has several times called for the PA to immediately stop the political detention and stop practicing “systematic torture and humiliation” of Palestinian inmates.

Rights groups documented cases of Palestinians tortured to death inside PA prisons, including Farid Jarbou, 28, who died in July 1994 – less than a year after the establishment of the PA.

(Source / 16.08.2018)

Senior Israel security advisor: Calls to reoccupy Gaza ‘absurd’

Image of former Israeli National Security Advisor, Yaakov Amidror [BICOM‏/Twitter]

Former Israeli National Security Advisor, Yaakov Amidror

Former National Security Advisor to the Israeli prime minister and former head of the National Security Council, Yaakov Amidror, described Israeli calls to reoccupy the Gaza Strip “absurd”, Arab48 reported yesterday.

Replying to a number of Israeli politicians, who called for reoccupying Gaza, Amidror said: “This is absurd. Whoever suggests this does not recognise what he says.”

He added: “Let’s imagine that we had occupied Gaza, what will we do the next day? Become responsible for two million people? This is absolutely not a reliable suggestion.”

Last week, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak suggested that ending Hamas’ control of besieged Gaza could be achieved through a “full” reoccupation of the coastal enclave, noting that this proposal was put on the table for discussion in 2011.

Read: Ex-Israel PM denounces rival politicians as ‘fascists’

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called for his government to reoccupy Gaza in order to end Hamas’ rule.

Regarding the political proposal being offered to Hamas, Amidror said that its problem is that it does not touch on Hamas’ military abilities. This presses Israel to continue building up its power in order to be ready for the increasing abilities of Hamas.

Amidror said that there are only two options: continue attacking Hamas, and they would rebuild their power, or reoccupying Gaza.

He also suggested a third; targeting Hamas leaders. This, however, would lead to a fierce encounter with the Palestinian movement. “This option should be considered and we should remain ready to carry it out when the price deserves it,” he said.

(Source / 16.08.2018)

Israel military storms Hebron, injures Palestinians

Israeli occupation forces fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at Palestinians after storming into Hebron

Israeli occupation forces stormed the occupied West Bank city of Hebron yesterday shooting sound bombs and tear gas canisters at Palestinians in the city.

Locals who witnessed the incident stated that the Israeli soldiers began stopping and searching Palestinian residents and vehicles.

Occupation forces fired tear gas in to a local shopping centre causing many Palestinians to suffer from suffocation.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, dozens of Palestinians were injured in the attack, including six who suffered from tear gas inhalation and one who was hit on the head with a tear gas canister and was rushed to hospital suffered major head injuries.

Video footage has been released by local residents showing Israeli forces questioning and searching residents, and Palestinian residents running as soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs.

Palestinian residents of Hebron endure a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, as at least 32 permanent and partial Israeli checkpoints are set up throughout the city.

In recent months, there has been a sharp rise in raids conducted by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, with 520 Palestinians – including journalists – having been arrested in July alone. The arrests come as settlements are also currently being expanded in Hebron.

Read: Israel army raids Palestinian school in West Bank

(Source / 16.08.2018)

Palestine journalist arrested by Israel military, accused of inciting violence

Palestinian journalist with Israeli soldiers

Israeli soldiers threaten Palestinian journalist [File photo]

A Palestinian journalist was arrested by Israeli occupation forces yesterday morning during a raid on his hometown of Burham, north of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

Ali Dar Ali, a journalist and reporter for the Palestinian Authority-run news channel Palestine TV,livestreamed two videos of Israeli soldiers operating in a Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah on Tuesday morning. He was then accused of inciting violence towards the soldiers, a charge he denies, and was arrested the next morning.

Read more: Palestinian journalists being ‘tortured’ in Israel jails

The Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has  protested the arrest and detention of Dar Ali, insisting that “these measures are intended to silence the Palestinian voice and dim the picture so that it [the Israeli military] can commit its crimes without any noise…such measures will not deter us or stop us from doing our national duty toward our cause.”

Dar Ali is the seventh Palestinian journalist to be arrested in the space of two weeks as part of Israel’s ongoing campaign against local news outlets. Since 30 July, numerous raids and arrests have been conducted by the Israeli military throughout the West Bank after Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared Al-Quds TV a terrorist organisation.

Read more: Israel to close Al-Quds satellite channel

Middle East and North Africa program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Sherif Mansour, stated last week that “declaring a media outlet a terrorist organisation set the tone for the country’s latest crackdown on Palestinian journalists. We call on Israeli authorities to disclose charges against the seven journalists arrested over the past week or release them and allow them to work freely.”

Palestinian Journalists Arrested by Israel - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 16.08.2018)