Palestinian Land Day mass rallies in Gaza cancel due to Covid-19

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday.

The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus, in 1947-48.

They also mark Palestinian Land Day which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of land.

“We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group.

Instead, al-Batsh called on Palestinians in Gaza to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.

Traffic will also be stopped for an hour and sirens will sound across the territory to mark the occasion, the statement said, adding that a news conference would also be held for a limited number of attendees.

According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.

One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations.

In 2019, UN Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the casualties.

So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

(Source / 30.03.2020) 

Palestinian factions call for digitally marking Land Day

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — The Higher Committee for Follow-up, consisting of majority of Palestinian political factions in the occupied West Bank, decided Saturday that due to current widely-spread Coronavirus in Palestine and other world countries, there will be no marches for marking the Palestinian Land Day of March 30, 2020.

Instead, the committee urged all categories of Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Diaspora, to launch some digital events and activities by means of social media and online, to mark Land Day.

In a statement, issued Saturday, the committee said that the 44th anniversary of Land Day comes in the context of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, with almost all sectors of public life paralyzed.

The statement outlined a series of, what it described as Israeli apartheid measures, over the past several years, including non-recognition of some Bedouin Arab-Israeli communities in the southern Naqab desert, where tens of thousands of indigenous Palestinians live.

It also maintained that this year, Land Day comes just two months after the United States (US) announced the so-called ‘deal of the century’, “which aims at liquidizing the Palestinian cause and giving Israel an upper hand over the lands of Palestine”.

In response to the aforementioned Coronavirus crisis, which has prevented public gatherings and enforced a great deal of precautionary measures, across the occupied Palestinian territories, Palestinian political parties, involved in the Follow-up Higher Committee, called for a series of online/digital actions for marking Land Day.

Among the proposed actions, according to Saturday’s statement, are to broadcast the Palestinian national anthem, for inhabitants to stand on rooftops of their homes, to light a digital candle for victims, and for people to carry the Palestinian flag.

The committee also called on users of social media networks to replace their profile pictures with the Palestinian flag or images of those killed by Israel forces, back in March 31, 1976, known now as Land Day.

The committee urged all concerned Palestinian bodies including intellectuals, researchers, poets, writers and other artists, to manifest Land Day, each in their own way, as a means of raising awareness for the international community.

In the Gaza Strip, the National Palestinian Organizing Committee of the Great March of Return, declared on Saturday, cancellation of what it termed a One-million-member march, planned for Monday, March 30.

A statement, released by the committee, read ” the anniversary this year comes in a time people are being forcibly locked down in their homes, because of the Coronavirus, therefore, our Palestinian masses in Gaza are strongly encouraged not to approach the border fence with Israel, to mark Land Day. All should stay at homes”.

The Great March of Return was launched in Gaza on March 30, 2018, to mark Land Day and to demand lifting of the now 13-year-old Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

For almost a year and a half, organizers of the march have held weekly border protests, right along the Israel-Gaza border, east of the tiny coastal enclave.

Palestinian Land Day is an occasion, in which the majority of Palestinians inside the occupied Palestinian territories and in the Diaspora, renew their connection to the Palestinian homeland.

Back in 1976, Israeli authorities in the Arab-Israeli town of Sakhneen and some other nearby areas, confiscated around 1500 acres of Palestinian-owned farm lands for colonial settlement purposes.

The confiscation sparked widespread protests, across Arab-Israeli towns. Israeli police dispersed the crowds by lethal force, claiming the lives of six Arab protesters.

Israeli colonial settlement activities were officially kicked off by Israel in the 1970’s, as the Israeli occupation authorities in both Gaza and the West Bank, began erecting dozens of colonial settlements on Palestinian-owned lands.

As of today, Israeli colonial settlements have strangulated Palestinian-populated areas in the West Bank.

Back in 2005, Israel disengaged unilaterally from Gaza and evicted 17 such settlements, along the coastal Gaza Strip. Two years later, Israel imposed a crippling blockade of the land, air and sea, on the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 30.03.2020) 

Activists launch media campaign to save prisoners from Covid-19

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — Palestinian and Arab activists have launched a media campaign to save the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails from the danger of coronavirus.

The campaign, which started on Saturday, would use local radio stations and Twitter hashtags to support the Palestinian prisoners and demand their release to protect them against any potential spread of coronavirus.

The activists said their campaign is aimed at drawing the world’s attention to Israel’s neglect of the prisoners’ health condition and exposing its measures that might lead to a virus outbreak among them.

The campaigners also intend to send letters to human rights institutions, governments, parliaments and political parties around the world to urge them to work on having Palestinian prisoners released — especially patients, elderlies, children and women — sending medical commissions periodically to jails and improving their incarceration conditions.

62 official and private institutions from around the world, including societies, unions and media outlets, have participated in the campaign.

(Source / 30.03.2020) 

Jewish Settlers Attack Palestinian Herders, Injure One near Hebron

Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli soldiers, often prevent Palestinian shepherds from herding in the occupied West Bank 

HEBRON, PALESTINOW.COM – Jewish settlers today attacked Palestinian herders and other civilians in the village of Al-Tuwani, south of Hebron (Al-Khalil), according to a local activist.

Fo’ad Amour, a local rights activist, told WAFA that Jewish settlers, along with attack dogs, assaulted herders in the village and injured one of them in his abdomen and hand. The man was moved to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

B’Tselem בצלם بتسيلم @btselem  

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian with stones Qusrah 21 Oct 2019 On the morning of 21 October 2019, at around 9:30 A.M., some 20 settlers, some with guns and dogs, assaulted residents of Qusrah who were picking olives on their own land. The settlers th…  YouTube #StayHome ‎@YouTube

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Illegal Jewish settlers are notorious for their attacks on Palestinians, but assaults on Palestinian farmers and herders have been frequent over the past few months.

Armed settlers and soldiers often prevent Palestinian shepherds from herding in the open pastures of the occupied West Bank in order to force them to abandon the area.

“Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely,” wrote Palestinian author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.

صوت العاصفةمن غزة@asefa2020  

The West Bank today: Settlers pursue sheep herders in the northern Jordan Valley
Al-Aghwar 2-20-2020 – Today, Thursday, settlers chased sheep herders near Khlet Makhoul in the northern Jordan Valley

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“Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation,” according to the Human Rights Group B’tselem. “Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinians casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks”.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

(Source / 27.03.2020) 

Israeli soldiers spit at Palestinian houses amid coronavirus outbreak

AL-KHALIL, PALESTINOW.COM – Dozens of Israeli occupation soldiers at daybreak Friday stormed several neighborhoods in the West Bank city of al-Khalil and deliberately spat at Palestinian houses’ doors and cars to intimidate the residents amid Coronavirus spread.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing Israeli soldiers intentionally and repeatedly spitting at cars, walls, and doorsteps.

READ : Jewish Settlers Attack Palestinian Herders, Injure One near Hebron

After the Israeli soldiers withdrew, Palestinian workers rushed to sterilize the places which the soldiers spat at, fearing Coronavirus infection, especially with recent news that many Israeli soldiers have been diagnosed with the novel virus.

Despite the lockdown in the West Bank and Jerusalem due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights last week documented 97 Israeli violations against Palestinian citizens, including 59 home raids and 51 arrests.

READ : Coronavirus: Israeli settlers exploit lockdown to annex Palestinian land

At least 6 Palestinian children were detained last week with no safety measures taken to protect them against Coronavirus infection, according to the human rights center.

(Source / 27.03.2020) 

Two Palestinian Farmers Attacked, Injured by Israeli Settlers near Ramallah

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM – Israeli settlers, on Tuesday, attacked Palestinian residents of the village of Umm Safa, northwest of Ramallah, injuring two, according to the head of the village council.

READ : Israel seizing nearly all of West Bank’s Jordan Valley, Palestine warns

Marwan Sabbah told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that illegal colonial settlers attacked Palestinian farmers with sharp tools as they worked on their land, injuring two people.

The settlers reportedly left their cattle to graze on Palestinian-owned land, the farmers reacted by rushing to protect their land from seizure, leading to confrontations between residents and illegal Israeli settlers.

Sabbah added that Israeli soldiers held one of the wounded Palestinians and closed roads leading to the village.

READ : COVID-19 cases in Palestine reach 60

It is important to note that on Monday, a group of illegal colonists attacked Palestinian homes in the northern West Bank village of Madama. Illegal Israeli settlers in Ein al-Hilwa, assaulted a young Palestinian shepherd while he was herding his cows.

(Source / 26.03.2020) 

Israeli settlers storm West Bank village, beat residents with sticks and sharp objects

Israeli army accused of allowing settler attack which resulted in the skull fracture of a 49-year-old man and several other injuries

WEST BANK, PALESTINOW.COM – Israeli settlers stormed a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and injured several residents, resulting in the skull fracture of a middle aged man, residents told Middle East Eye.

Naji Tanatra, a father of six, also sustained internal bleeding after Israeli settlers attacked him and other residents in the Umm al-Safa village with sharp tools and wooden sticks.

READ : Two Palestinian Farmers Attacked, Injured by Israeli Settlers near Ramallah

Residents said that the attack unfolded after a group of settlers descended onto the village’s farm lands and tried to provoke the Palestinians into an altercation. Soon after, more settlers arrived and carried out the attacks.

The settlers also unleashed their own cows in the area and allowed them to cause damage to the village’s crops.

The residents said Tanatra, 49, was taken to hospital and was expected to undergo surgery later on Tuesday.

Israeli army refused to intervene

Shortly after the attack, the Israeli army closed all entrances to the village, leading to confrontations with local Palestinian youths.

READ : Israel seizing nearly all of West Bank’s Jordan Valley, Palestine warns

During the clashes, which took place from 12pm until 5pm, the Israeli army fired teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets, causing dozens of cases of suffocation, and damage to a number of homes.

Mustafa Tanatra, a local activist, told MEE that the settlers constantly attack Umm al-Safa, but this was the first time they attacked the residents themselves.

He explained that residents asked the Israeli army to intervene and stop the assault, but instead the army blamed the residents and refused to intervene.

Umm al-Safa has a population of about 750. It is surrounded on all sides by three Israeli Jewish-only settlements, namely: Ateret, Halamish, and the Neve Tzuf settlement outpost. Additionally, a street adjacent to the village was built to connect the settlements with one another and serve the settlers.

READ : COVID-19 cases in Palestine reach 60

The proximity of the Israeli settlements makes the area a flashpoint for clashes between the residents on one side, and the settlers and Israeli army on another.

Daily harassment

The head of the local council in Umm al-Safa, Marwan Sabbah, told MEE that Israeli authorities confiscated about 1,000 dunums of land so far from the village to build the existing settlements.

Sabbah also pointed out that about a year and a half ago, a settler built a large cow farm on the hills of a nearby Palestinian village, Jibiya, and began to herd his cows in the area, well into Umm al-Safa.

READ : The PA’s response to the coronavirus shows that Palestine is ready for statehood

“The settlers create friction with the village residents on a daily basis; they curse at the residents, harass them, and threaten to bring the Israeli army even though the settlers are the ones carrying out these assaults,” Sabbah told MEE.

Violence by Israeli settlers has increased against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in recent years. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported that at least 61 Palestinians were injured in 147 incidents of settler violence in the territory.

(Source / 26.03.2020) 

Palestinian stock exchange closes amid coronavirus outbreak

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM – The Palestinian stock exchange said on Sunday it was shutting down until further notice to protect staff and prevent market volatility amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Palestine Exchange, or PEX, is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where authorities have confirmed 59 coronavirus cases, according to Reuters.

READ : Six new coronavirus cases in Palestine

Forty-eight companies are listed on the exchange, which was established in 1995 and has a total market capitalisation of about $3.8bn.

The exchange takes up three floors of a six-story white stone building in Nablus, a city of about 150,000 people, about 22 miles (35km) as the crow flies from the Palestinian Authority’s base in Ramallah. About 40 people work there, though all trading is done electronically so there’s little activity. About two-thirds of the shares are owned by Palestinians, with Jordanians and Saudis also investing, Bloomberg News reported when the PEX was included in the FTSE Russell index in 2016.

READ : First coronavirus cases confirmed in the Palestinian Gaza Strip

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has told West Bank residents to stay at home and ordered the closure of schools and crossings with Israel and Jordan.

Earlier on Sunday, authorities in the besieged Gaza Strip confirmed the first two cases of the coronavirus, identifying the individuals as Palestinians who had travelled to Pakistan and were held in quarantine on their return.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said in a statement that “two citizens tested positive (for Covid-19) after they returned from Pakistan”, but stressed that neither person left the quarantine facility near the Egyptian border and had not mixed with the wider population, AFP reported.

READ : Turkey assures Palestine of help to fight coronavirus

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said the two infected men, aged 30 and 40, were in stable condition.

(Source / 23.03.2020) 

Six new coronavirus cases in Palestine

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM – Spokesman for the Palestinian government has just announced six new Coronavirus cases, including 4 in the West Bank, and 2 in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of cases in Palestine to 59, 17 of whom have recovered in Bethlehem.

READ : First coronavirus cases confirmed in the Palestinian Gaza Strip

Melhem said in the daily press conference held today that 4 new cases were in Ramallah and Qalandia of contacts, and 2 in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number to 59, including 17 cases that were cured.

He said that the two cases in the Gaza Strip are those returning from Pakistan, aged (40 years) and (50 years), stressing that they were under health supervision.

As for the injuries that were recorded in Ramallah, including two cases of contact with the girl who was announced yesterday in Shuqba, west of Ramallah, the sister of the injured woman, who is 20, and the daughter of the infected woman, who is 8 years old, stressing the necessity of avoiding mixing with those coming from travel.

READ : Turkey assures Palestine of help to fight coronavirus

Melhem added that the Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh will announce the new measures in a press conference at 1:30 PM, following the cabinet meeting.

(Source / 23.03.2020) 

Zionist police brutally assaulted Palestinian worshippers in Al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation police at dawn Thursday brutalized and assaulted Palestinian citizens as they flocked to the Aqsa Mosque’s closed gates to perform Fajr prayers.

Palestinian worshipers reported that police officers behind barriers at the Mosque’s gates shoved them and other citizens as they gathered to perform the Fajr prayers outside the holy site and threatened to make them pay exorbitant fines if they insisted on congregating for prayers.

Police officers also tried to seize the IDs of Palestinian citizens before allowing them into the Aqsa Mosque in order to identify them and fine them later if they gathered in large crowds. However, many worshipers refused to hand over their cards and preferred to pray at the Mosque’s gates to avoid paying penalties.

The Israeli police have been shutting most of the Aqsa Mosque’s doors and imposing entry and gathering restrictions on Muslim worshipers for some days now at the pretext of fighting the spread of coronavirus while flagrantly allowing Jewish settlers to defile the Islamic holy site in groups through al-Maghariba Gate.

A few days ago, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director of the Aqsa Mosque, decided to shut down the holy site’s enclosed prayer buildings after having them sanitized and called on Muslim worshipers to perform their prayers in the courtyards.

Accordingly, Muslim worshipers have showed keenness on praying only in the Mosque’s courtyards and avoid gathering in large crowds in response to Sheikh Kiswani’s temporary coronavirus countermeasures.

(Source / 20.03.2020)