Since 2005, tens of thousands of new settlement units have been built in the occupied West Bank, many of them were built in new settlements or outposts
A group of Likud members led by Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to rebuild Jewish settlements evacuated in 2005.
In a message to Netanyahu, they called for him to revoke the disengagement law from 2005, that enabled the settlers’ pullback from Gaza and disbanding four Jewish settlements in the Northern West Bank.
This came after members of the Likud along with others from the right-wing toured the site of Homesh, a settlement that was evicted in 2005 as part of the disengagement from Gaza.
Israeli Union of Right-Wing Parties put forth a law to re-settle the four settlements which were evicted as part of the plan. The group said they would support this law.
Yossi Dagan, from the Settlement Regional Council in the occupied West Bank, said 30 of the 35 Likud members in the newly elected Knesset, including all Likud ministers, support the legislation so the ball is in Netanyahu’s court adding he should lead the move to re-instate the settlements.
A member of delegation touring Homesh Thursday said the decision to evict the settlers was a terrible mistake.
Settlers had to leave their homes in expectation of some imaginary peace. There is no peace and they have lost their homes.
It is worth noting that the reality on the ground is different. Since 2005, tens of thousands of new settlement units have been built in the occupied West Bank, many of them were built in new settlements or outposts.
Several international bodies condemned Israeli army after killing the double-amputee protester because he has never posed any kind of danger on Israeli soldiers
Israeli occupation army closed criminal probe on Friday into the death of paraplegic Palestinian protester shot in 2017 in Gaza, claiming probe found no evidence its soldiers fired fatal bullet.
The Israeli occupation army claimed that the 29-year-old Ibrahim abu-Thurayeh was killed in a “violent riot” to which its troops responded by opening fire toward the lower body parts of “main instigators.”
It said the investigation found Palestinians threw improvised explosives, Molotov cocktails and rocks at troops on that day.
As part of its investigation, the military claimed it tried to obtain the bullet that killed abu-Thurayeh, but authorities in the Gaza Strip denied its request.
Palestinians and human rights groups reiterated that he was shot by an Israeli sniper. However, the Israeli occupation army claimed witnesses said there was no gunfire when he was killed.
The double-amputee, hailed as a symbol of heroism by Palestinians for persistently raising a Palestinian flag from his wheelchair at demonstrations, died of bleeding in his brain after a bullet fired by an Israeli sniper struck his head.
After an international outrage caused by his murder, the Israeli occupation army said it had announced opened an investigation after his death.
The disabled man was shot during protests in Gaza, which were part of wide-scale protests were organised across the occupied Palestinian territories after US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital and said he would move the US embassy there.
Abu-Thurayeh was a well-known figure in Gaza. He lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike while trying to rescue people.
“If anyone had a bullet, he might have been sent to prison for years.” Immigrant Jews, however, were allowed to buy, carry and store weapons
By Motasem A Dalloul
While the leaders of the Zionist movement said that the old would die and the young would forget, Abu-Ibrahim insists that the old die, but the young will not forget, but will fight to go home.
Ever since 1948, Abu Ibrahim has been waiting to return to the simple house that he and his father built in their village which was occupied by nascent Israeli occupation forces and turned into a moshav agricultural settlement. Although he has lost most of his relatives and friends who fled the village with him, he still has hope that one day he will go back.
“If I do not go back alive in order to live in my house,” he told MEMO on the eve of the 71st anniversary of his personal Nakba, “I hope to go back dead and be buried in the village cemetery.”
Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Najjar — known by his kunya Abu Ibrahim — is now 88 years old. His memories of his village, Yasur, include how he and his relatives and friends were ethnically cleansed under heavy fire by Jewish terror gangs.
According to Abu Ibrahim, all the Palestinians at the time lived a “simple” and “stable” life in their villages and cities across historic Palestine. “Like most of the other villages,” he explained, “in Yasur we lived on farming and our animals. Those living in the cities used to work in factories and transportation.”
Yasur was a Palestinian village 40 kilometres north-east of the Gaza Strip. The Zionists drove out its residents — over 1,000 of them — at gunpoint in June 1948 and built the moshav called Talmei Yechi. Its residents fled to other villages and passed through Al-Majdal, now Ashkelon, before reaching Gaza where they stayed. Today, they and their descendants living as refugees in Gaza and the wider diaspora are estimated to total more than 7,000 people.
When Abu Ibrahim was old enough to understand that British occupation of Palestine, he asked his father about the military presence on three sides of his village. “In the west,” he recalled, “there was an airport. In the south, there was an army camp. In the north, there was a barracks.”
During the British Mandate era, the old man said, the villagers of Yasur did not experience much suffering, but they were prevented from owning any kind of arms, even if it was a single bullet.
“If anyone had a bullet, he might have been sent to prison for years.” Immigrant Jews, however, were allowed to buy, carry and store weapons.
“The residents of our village were peaceful. Many of them, including my father, worked in the British camps along with the occupiers and Jewish migrants and at the end of the day, the villagers went to work in their farms and the Jews went to military training camps run by the British occupation authorities.”
Abu Ibrahim was too young to remember much about the disturbances in Palestine during the 1930s, but in the 1940s, he said, he was old enough to observe and remember. “The Jewish gangs started to carry out sporadic attacks here and there across Palestine. In 1948, the British handed over Palestine to the Jews and left most of their arms for them to carry out massacres of the Palestinians.”
He heard about massacres in Palestine’s cities, towns and villages. “We continued our normal life, though. Yes, we were afraid, but it was very necessary to care for our farms and animals. Then on 9 June, 1948, we woke up to the noise of Jewish bullets fired at our homes. We could do nothing except flee.”
He was just 16, and had to take care of his mother, brother, sister and father, who was by then blind. “We persuaded ourselves that it was normal, but we had packed our luggage from the moment that we heard about massacres in other villages.” He and the other villagers from Yasur first headed for Beit Jibrin, 21km north-west of Hebron, before going to Gaza via Al-Majdal.
“Only three of the villagers were killed and four were wounded. We went to Al-Majdal and stayed for a couple of days, hoping that we would be able to return to our home, but the attacks continued and thousands of people walked south along the Mediterranean coast to Gaza.”
Some of the Palestinian refugees in Gaza looked for a chance to resettle somewhere else. Abu Ibrahim’s family, along with around 5,000 others, continued their walk along the coast to El-Arish in Egypt. There they lived in a refugee camp in an old British army barracks. In 1951, they went back to Gaza and lived in Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp. They still hoped to return to their village, but that time has still not come.
“The UN created the ‘Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees’ — UNRWA — to take care of our urgent needs,” Abu Ibrahim pointed out. “At first, it gave us tents, then built clay rooms and then very small makeshift homes which were later turned into strong concrete buildings by the refugees.”
At 88, Abu Ibrahim has lived under the British occupation, Egyptian rule and Israeli occupation. Despite it being 71 years since he fled his village and it was turned into an Israeli farming community, he still feels homesick for Yasur, its primary school and its mosque.
He told MEMO that he teaches his sons and grandsons about his village and its exact location in order not to miss it when they exercise their legitimate right of return. “I am almost 90 years old now,” he noted. “I still have a lot of hope that I will go home, but in case I don’t, I teach my sons and grandsons about the village, its people, its farms and its exact location in order to go straight to it when the time comes and I am not with them.”
Yasur is just one of more than 550 Palestinian towns and villages from which the residents were driven out and replaced by immigrant Jews. Most of the places have been wiped off the map by the Israelis. Abu Ibrahim himself was among more than 750,000 Palestinian refugees who now number 12 million men, women and children still living in refugee camps or scattered around the world.
The international community and the UN have been unable or unwilling to ensure that justice has been served for Palestine and the Palestinians. Nevertheless, the Palestinians themselves have not given up hope of returning to their homes no matter what their current conditions happen to be.
“If I pass away before we return,” concluded Abu Ibrahim, “my sons and grandsons will continue fighting for their right of return. The old die and the young live on and remember.”
The world should not forget that simple fact. The people of Palestine are not simply going to go away just because Israel and its allies want them to. They have a legitimate right under international law to return to the land from which they were ethnically cleansed, and Abu Ibrahim is not alone in believing that, one day, they will exercise that right.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu waged short brutal offensive on Gaza and said his campaign against Palestinians did not stop. This is not the truth, the truth is that he is weak, his army is afraid.
Former head of the Israeli National Security Council Yaakov Amidror was asked by Army Radio today whether the Gaza “problem” has a solution? He referred to the rule of Hamas then answered: “No, there is no way to get Hamas out of Gaza without completely defeating it.” But he did not mention anything about his country’s prime minister and defence minister who is not ready for such a mission.
This came about one week after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waged a brutal offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip that lasted only two days and whose stated goal was to deter the Palestinian resistance. Netanyahu did not only get the support of the centre and left during his attack, but he also received the “100 per cent support” of the strongest country in the world.
“Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” the American President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, justifying the Israeli offensive by describing it as defence against attack rockets of another state equal with army and power. “We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens,” he added.
Palestinians and Israelis have different views regarding how quickly Netanyahu’s offensive on the coastal enclave came to an end.
For the Palestinians, the continued bombing of Gaza would lead to international pressure on Netanyahu as a result of the civilian deaths wish would result from the bombing. “If he continued his attacks, he would commit more crimes among civilians and this might arouse an international outcry against him,” Waleed Al-Agha, a specialist in Israeli affairs told MEMO.
He also said that Netanyahu is afraid that he might not make real achievements if he continued his offensive and this would undermine his position as a faction leader who is designated to form a government.
“Netanyahu holds the defence ministry and if he lost or at least achieved nothing from such an offensive, he might lose the opportunity to form the government,” Al-Agha said.
Wisam Afifa, editor of the Gaza-based Al-Resalah newspaper, said that Netanyahu might have been busy with “something bigger, which is Iran and its proxy army – Hezbollah.”
While, Mohammad Mardawi said that Netanyahu was shocked with the “qualitative” abilities of the Palestinian resistance and confirmed that this might have been the reason why Netanyahu ended the offensive as quickly as possible.
However, the Israeli critic Jonathan Tobin of the Jewish News Syndicate claimed that Netanyahu was trying to save Gaza from the “Islamist tyranny”, and this is not his job. So, he fails to carry out the mission from time to time and “allows Hamas to periodically terrorize much of the population of Israel without doing anything to put an end to the problem.”
Israeli Professor Yoram Yuval wrote in Ynet News that Netanyahu is a weak prime minister as he is working hard to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank in order to “continue claiming that there is no one on the Palestinian side to talk to, thereby avoiding any peace arrangement that would require the return of territories and the evacuation of settlements.”
“After we allowed Hamas to grow and entrench itself for more than a decade, the cost of ousting it from the Gaza Strip once and for all could be hundreds of dead soldiers.”
But it seems the real reason for Netanyahu’s retreat in Gaza is the reluctance of the Israeli army to enter the coastal enclave. “What do you want from me?” Yuval reported Netanyahu saying. “The army is reluctant to enter into a ground battle, and they tell me to improve the conditions in Gaza so that the Gazans have something to lose, and that’s what I do.”
The New Yorker’s Bernard Avishay wrote that managing “periodic outbreaks of violence” is the best choice for Netanyahu to deal with such an enemy like Hamas in Gaza. “Netanyahu evidently wants observers to believe that, given such an enemy, his government has no choice but to manage periodic outbreaks of violence—to ‘mow the grass,’ as the common military metaphor has it.”
“But he is also seeding the grass—spreading resentment from which Hamas’s support grows,” he warned.
A report issued by the United Nations in 2017 warned that the Gaza Strip would be “uninhabitable” by 2020
UN Relief and Works Agency warned on Monday that one million people in Gaza Strip, half of its residents, would starve if the organisation did not secure $60m in aid for its food programmes.
In a statement the international organisation said: “At a time when Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, often characterised by the festive nature of its Iftars, in Gaza, more than half the population depends on food aid from the international community.”
The statement stressed that unless UNRWA secures “at least an additional $60 million by June, their ability to continue providing food to more than one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, including some 620,000 abject poor – those who cannot cover their basic food needs and who have to survive on $1.6 per day – and nearly 390,000 absolute poor – those who survive on about $3.5 per day – will be severely challenged.”
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. From fewer than 80,000 Palestine refugees receiving UNRWA social assistance in Gaza in the year 2000, there are today over one million people who need emergency food assistance without which they cannot get through their day.
Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, said: “This is a near ten-fold increase caused by the blockade that lead to the closure of Gaza and its disastrous impact on the local economy, the successive conflicts that razed entire neighbourhoods and public infrastructure to the ground, and the ongoing internal Palestinian political crisis that started in 2007 with the arrival of Hamas to power in Gaza.”
A report issued by the United Nations in 2017 warned that the Gaza Strip would be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
The unemployment rate in Gaza rose to 52 per cent last year, with more than one million of the enclaves two million population dependent on quarterly UNRWA food handouts.
Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The US had been UNRWA’s largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly a quarter of the agency’s overall budget.
This came a month after reports emerged of a secret American report stated that there are only 40,000 Palestinian refugees, noting they are the Palestinians who left their home land in 1948 and remain alive today and not their descendants.
US President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reported to have tried to pressure Jordan to strip more than two million Palestinians of refugee status in a move that aims to end the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The indictment was modified to specify the crime as arson, and not murder, as had originally been the case
Extremist Israeli Jewish settler who, in 2015, burnt Dawabsheh family to death in the West Bank village of Duma was acquitted on Sunday, judicial source in Lod District Court revealed.
The murderer of the Palestinian family, which consisted of a mother, father and 18-month-old son, reached a plea agreement with the Israeli State Prosecutor’s Office in which he avoided being convicted for planning the murder of the whole family.
His name is barred from publication, but he admitted to having planned the torching of a Palestinian home in the northern West Bank four years ago.
However, the indictment against him was amended to make no mention of toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha and his parents, Riham and Saad, who were burnt to death then.
Approved by a Lod District Court judge, the agreement saw the murderer confess to conspiring to commit a crime motivated by racism — the same count for which he was charged in January 2016.
However, the indictment was modified to specify the crime as arson, and not murder, as had originally been the case.
The murderer, who was acquitted, confessed that he had carried out three other hate crimes targeting Palestinians: torching a garage in West Bank village of Aqraba, torching a taxi in the town of Yasuf and slashing tires of cars in the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa.
Israeli State Prosecutor’s Office requested that the murderer be sentenced to five and a half years of actual jail time.
Last July, the Lod District Court released the defendant to house arrest, less than two months after it threw out several of his confessions because they were allegedly extracted under extreme duress by interrogators of the Shin Bet security service.
The court also quashed a number of confessions given by Ben-Uliel, the main suspect in the Duma attack, who is charged with having hurled the lethal firebomb at the Dawabsha home.
Hussein Dawabsha, whose son, daughter-in-law and grandson were killed in the attack, told the court that he did not accept the agreement, insisting that justice must be achieved in this case.
According to the deal of the century, the Palestinians “must” accept the existence of Israel on their land and give up their right to resist the occupation or return to their homes
Israel Hayom, a leading Israeli newspaper, leaked on Tuesday details of US President Donald Trump’s deal of the century, pointing that it was circulated among officials in Israeli Foreign Ministry.
The Israeli newspaper said that some of the terms have been mentioned by Trump’s Middle East advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner and his advisor on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, in their informal talks with Israeli officials.
Israeli Hayom is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who maintains an amicable relationship with Trump, Kushner and Greenblatt.
According to the leaked terms, the Deal of the Century will be signed by three parties: Israel, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Hamas movement that governs the besieged Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian state called “New Palestine” would be established on lands in the now-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip after the signing of the agreement. An election would be held after a year and Israel would start releasing Palestinian prisoners gradually over the course of three years.
Regarding the future of the Palestinian holy city of Jerusalem, which Trump’s administration recognised as the Israeli capital in December 2017 and where it moved the US embassy in May 2018, the leaks stated that it would remain undivided but responsibilities would be shared between Israel and “New Palestine” – with Israel maintaining general control.
Palestinian residents in Jerusalem would be citizens of the Palestinian state, but the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem would remain in charge of matters related to land. “New Palestine” would pay taxes to the Israeli municipality and in return be in charge of education for Palestinians in the city.
The Palestinian population in Jerusalem is estimated to number around 435,000. Palestinian Jerusalemites currently hold permanent residency documents – which Israel can revoke if they live outside the city for a certain period of time – and are not qualified for any citizenship rights.
Since 1967, Palestinians have boycotted municipal elections, as they see them as a part and parcel of Israel’s occupation of the city.
The deal would maintain the status quo of holy sites in the city, and Jewish Israelis won’t be allowed to buy Palestinian houses and vice versa.
Meanwhile, Israeli settlements in the West Bank – which are deemed illegal under international law – would formally be recognised as part of Israel.
According to the deal, Egypt will offer lands near the Gaza Strip for the “New Palestine” state to build an airport, factories and serve the commercial and agriculture sectors, without allowing Palestinians to reside on these lands.
The Egyptian lands to be included in the deal would be determined at a later date, with this part of the agreement to be implemented within five years following its signature.
A highway would be built 30 metres above ground across Israel to connect the now-isolated Gaza Strip and West Bank. China would pay 50 per cent of the highway’s cost; South Korea, Australia, Canada, the US and EU would each pay 10 per cent.
The leaked document indicated that the US, EU and unnamed Gulf states would fund and sponsor the deal, spending a total of $30bn – or $6bn per year – over the span of five years to fund projects in “New Palestine”.
According to the document, the US would pay 20 per cent of the cost for such projects, or $1.2bn per year, the EU 10 per cent, while the unnamed Gulf states would fund the lion’s share of 70 per cent.
“New Palestine” wouldn’t be allowed to create an army, only maintaining a police force. A protection treaty would be signed between Israel and “New Palestine” stating that the fledgling state would pay Israel to defend it from eventual foreign attacks.
Arab states would also contribute to payments to Israel in exchange for New Palestine’s protection if needed.
Punishments and money
Once the deal is signed, Hamas – the de facto ruling party in Gaza and the main armed Palestinian resistance movement – would have to hand all its weapons, including personal weapons, to Egyptian authorities.
Hamas figures would be compensated in return for their weapons and paid monthly salaries by Arab states.
The Gaza Strip’s borders would reopen to commerce with the outside world through Israeli terminals and crossings. Until a seaport and an airport are built on Palestinian lands, Palestinians would be able to use Israeli airports and seaports.
The leaked document stated that the PLO and Hamas would face “punishments” if they refused to sign the Deal of the Century – saying that the US would cease to fund any and all projects benefitting Palestinians and would ask other parties to do so.
The US already cut all its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, last year, and has also halted funding for Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem.
If the PLO signed the deal but Hamas and Islamic Jihad both refused, a war would be launched on the two Gaza-based organisations, with the US fully supporting Israel in its endeavour, the document reads.
If Israel refused to sign the Deal of the Century, then the US would cease financial support, according to the document.
How dispiriting it is to be Palestinian and told day after day that you don’t matter; that you shouldn’t be protesting the erasure of your humanity.
Eurovision has always been an exercise in bad taste, but this year’s event takes things to an extreme. If you want to enjoy the kitschy song contest, which will take place from 14 to 18 May in Tel Aviv, Israel, then you have got to ignore the bloody political context that surrounds it. Indeed, Israel is so intent on keeping Eurovision politics-free that anyone it says might disrupt the event will be blocked from entering the country.
One of the most frustrating things about being Palestinian (I’m half-Palestinian myself) is that there seems to be no acceptable way to defend your humanity or protest agains your oppression. Calls to boycott Eurovision, for example, have been decried as divisive. Last month, celebrities including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Marina Abramović signed a letter stating that Eurovision’s “spirit of togetherness” is “under attack by those calling to boycott [the competition] because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division”.
Look at that language. A peaceful form of protest is described as an “attack” and a “weapon”.
Palestinians and their supporters are cast as unreasonable, violent aggressors. Meanwhile, the larger context is ignored. The fact that most Palestinians, even those just a few miles from Tel Aviv, have no hope of attending Eurovision thanks to the severe travel restrictions imposed on them, is ignored. The fact that there is an entire infrastructure – from a concrete border wall to segregated roads – that is designed to separate Palestinians and Israelis is ignored.
Unless you have been to Palestine, it is hard to understand the daily violence of the occupation. It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone such as my father, who was born in the West Bank, could have no right to return there. It is hard to imagine what it is like to see your homes and history demolished. It is hard to understand the humiliation involved in traversing Israeli checkpoints to go to visit a relative in the next village. It is hard to imagine what it is like to be constantly told that you do not exist.
Palestinians aren’t just dehumanised in life, they are dehumanised in death. Just look, for example, at some of the coverage of the recent violence in Gaza. According to the Washington Post on 6 May, “four Israeli civilians were killed … and 23 Palestinians died”. CNN similarly reported that 23 people “have died in Gaza” while “in Israel, four people have been killed”. Palestinian lives don’t matter. The American media makes that clear every time it talks about Palestinian deaths, which are routinely described with a passive voice that casts them as random accidents. Weird how Palestinians keep walking into bullets; can’t say who is to blame, really.
Actually, scratch that. Palestinians are always to blame, according to some news organisations. Israeli violence, we are repeatedly told, is simply self-defence. “Gaza militants fire 250 rockets, and Israel responds with airstrikes,” the New York Times proclaimed on Sunday; this ubiquitous framing would have you believe that Gaza was peaceful until Hamas started firing rockets. What isn’t mentioned is the fact that Israeli forces shot dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters on Friday, before any rockets were fired; two of these protesters, one just 19 years old, died.
Palestinian deaths such as the ones on Friday don’t get much coverage because violence in the region only seems to matter when Israelis die.
The Washington Post and the New York Times as much as said so themselves when, on Monday, they stated that this recent violence was the “deadliest fighting since the 2014 war”. More than 50 Palestinians in Gaza were killedand more than 2,400 injured on 14 May last year, during protests sparked by the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. The past few days were not, by any means, the “deadliest fighting” since 2014 for Palestinians.
Life in Gaza, under an Israeli blockade for 12 years, is unbearable. Unemployment is above 50%; there is little electricity; less than 4% of the water is drinkable.
It is also practically impossible to enter or leave; the place is an open-air prison. The situation in Gaza is blamed on the people electing an extremist government in the form of Hamas, but even the Israeli military has conceded that Israel needs to improve living conditions in the Gaza strip if it wants to avoid more violence.
It is hard to imagine what it is like to be told that there is no right way you can protest against this treatment. Violent resistance is obviously out of the question. But so, apparently, are non-violent forms of resistance, such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which the US is trying to make illegal. The only acceptable thing you can do as a Palestinian, it would seem, is just shut up and die. And, for God’s sake, do not protest against Eurovision!