‘Iyad was the flower of the family. They cut him down too early’

UN: There are very low levels of accountability for the use of force by Israeli security forces against Palestinians, with a handful of indictments in relation to hundreds of killings over the past five years

By Suha Arraf

The family of Iyad al-Hallaq, the Palestinian with autism killed by police, describes a man who had recently began to cook and was terrified of Israeli soldiers. ‘They took my mother’s joy and left a wound that won’t heal.’

Iyad al-Hallaq had waited to return to school “with bated breath,” said his sister, Diana al-Hallaq. During the coronavirus outbreak, the Elwyn school for children and adults with special needs, where Iyad studied, was shut down.

Iyad, a 32-year-old Palestinian man with autism, cried because he wanted to study, and their mother had to explain to him over and again that the school was closed. When he was still not convinced, their mother took him there twice to show him, explained Diana.

“Our mother felt he was different [from a young age],” said Diana. “The moment we understood that he has autism, my mother loved him even more. She believes in God, and she saw Iyad as an angel who was sent to her from heaven to protect us and her.”

When the school reopened, al-Hallaq was “elated,” continued Diana. “They learned many things there: how to cook, how to take care of themselves, how to take care of plants and the environment. He came home and wanted to help our mother cook. She was so happy that he was happy.”

Iyad was the flower of the family. They cut him down too early. He was our joy, a pure soul.”

Day of the crime

On Saturday morning, al-Hallaq left his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz toward the school, as he had down many times before. When he passed by a group of Israeli Border Police officers, they suspected al-Hallaq was carrying a weapon and ordered him to stop. Instead, al-Hallaq fled the scene, fearing for his life.

The officers chased him down and opened fire. They reportedly found him lying wounded in a dumpster room, accompanied by one of the Elwyn teachers who pleaded with the soldiers. According to reports, one of the officers opened fire from close range, killing al-Hallaq.

Al-Hallaq had started walking to school alone only in recent years. “His mother was too scared to let him go. It took us a long time to convince her,” said Sami, Diana’s husband. “The result was that he was shot to death on the way to school. I have no idea how my mother-in-law can go on without him. He is her soul, her life, the light in her eyes.”

For more than two years, Diana said, al-Hallaq was accompanied by an escort who would walk him to school every day. The escort explained to him how to walk on the sidewalk, how to stop at a crosswalk, how to cross the street. She even took him to the local police station and introduced him to the officers there.

“This was common practice,” noted Diana. “That’s how they have done it at the school ever since there was an incident with another child, in which a student was shot by soldiers after he was asked to stop but didn’t.

He didn’t die, but since then the school made sure that the police get to know the children. [Iyad] was very scared of the soldiers and the police, and when he saw them, he would always withdraw into himself and run away. Our area has lots of soldiers and police.”

‘Our mother’s love’

Even then, their mother was too worried to let him walk to school on his own, and would accompany him to and from school every day, said Diana. “Only after she saw that he knew how to do it on his own did she let him walk alone.”

“He was our mother’s love, her entire life,” laments Diana. “She would hold his hand like he was a baby, and he would walk with her to the market or the mosque or the clothing store. He was like her shadow. She worried about him and whether other kids would bother or hurt him.”

“He wasn’t only my brother — he was like my son. Everything I bought for my children, I bought for him too.”

“I can’t stop crying over him, and I don’t know what my mother will do without him,” said Diana. “They would sit for hours in his room, playing and eating and laughing together every day. They took him from her. They took her joy and left her with great sorrow and a broken heart. They left her with a wound that will never heal until the day she dies.”

(Source / 04.06.2020)

World Bank: Palestinian economy struggles as Coronavirus inflicts losses

The economy’s potential remains confined by restrictions on the movement of people and goods imposed by the Israeli occupation

An abrupt decline in economic activities and pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s finances have placed Palestinian livelihoods at high risks, due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), World Bank revealed on Sunday.

After growth of a mere 1 per cent in 2019, the economy is projected to contract by at least 7.6 per cent in 2020, the World Bank said.

Beyond the immediate crisis, lifting restrictions on the development of digital infrastructure and fostering better regulations could play an important role in stimulating an already faltering economy, it suggested.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic in its third month, the crisis is affecting Palestinian lives and livelihoods. The Palestinian Authority has acted early and decisively to save lives,” the World Bank said in a statement a copy of which sent to Palestine Post 24.

“However,” Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza, said, “several years of declining donor support and the ed economic instruments available have turned the ability of the government to protect livelihoods into a monumental task.

“Hence, external support will be critical to help grow the economy during this unprecedented period.”

The new World Bank economic monitoring report highlights critical challenges facing the Palestinian economy. The economy may shrink by at least 7.6 per cent, based on a gradual return to normality from the containment, and by up to 11 per cent in the case of a slower recovery or further restrictions.

The PA’s fiscal situation is expected to become increasingly difficult, due to a decline in revenues and substantial increase in public spending on people’s medical, social, and economic needs.

Even with reallocations of some expenditures, the financing gap could increase alarmingly, from an already high $800 million in 2019 to over $1.5 billion in 2020 to adequately address these needs.

Even prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, more than a quarter of Palestinians lived below the poverty line. The share of poor households is now expected to increase to 30 per cent in the West Bank and to 64 per cent in Gaza.

Even more striking is the youth unemployment rate of 38 per cent, well beyond the Middle East & North Africa’s regional average.

The economy’s potential remains confined by restrictions on the movement of people and goods imposed by the Israeli occupation.

The report will be presented to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) during a virtual meeting on June 2, 2020. This will be a policy-level meeting for development assistance to the Palestinian people.

(Source / 01.06.2020)

Israeli police ‘murder’ disabled Palestinian youth in Jerusalem

The disabled Palestinians was left bleeding until he died

Israeli occupation police “murdered” on Saturday morning disabled Palestinian youth at Lion’s Gate of Al Aqsa Mosque in the occupied holy city of Jerusalem.

The Israeli police said they suspected that the Palestinian had arms in his hand so that they opened fire at him.

Israeli MK Ofer Cassif said following the youth’s death that “the incident today in Jerusalem can only be defined as murder by the Israeli occupation police officers.”

Cassif blamed the Israeli government for the “murder” of the disabled Palestinian.

“The incitement from the government’s corridors has worked as planned and now every Palestinian is a terrorist until proven otherwise. ‘Terrorists’ are executed even when lying on the ground or running for their lives,” he said.

The shooting came a day after Israeli occupation soldiers liquidated a Palestinian in the West Bank who they claimed had tried to ram them with his vehicle.

No one was wounded in either incidents.

(Source / 31.05.2020)

Israel: 72 years of catastrophe

There will be no peace in the Middle East until Israel is compelled to recognise all the rights of the Palestinian, mainly the right of return

By Asa Winstanley 

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist militias and the newly-formed Israeli army expelled more than half of the indigenous population of Palestine.

Some 800,000 Palestinians were either forced out literally at the barrel of a gun, or fled in fear of being massacred by the Zionist forces.

This is commemorated by Palestinians every year as “Nakba Day” – Nakba meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic. The establishment of Israel was, and remains, a complete and utter disaster for the indigenous people of Palestine.

But Nakba Day is not only about memory – it is about resistance.

The Nakba was not a singular event, centred around 15 May, 1948 – the day after the new state of Israel was established.

As leading Palestinian intellectual Joseph Massad has for many years explained, the Nakba has never really ended.

Zionist expulsions, dispossessions and killings of the indigenous people of Palestine continue right up until this very day. The Nakba then, not only has a continuous, decades-long history, but it has a future for as long as Zionism endures.

In 1948, the Zionist militias carried out strategic massacres of Palestinians villages in order to act as examples to the rest, encouraging the villagers to flee in fear. The Deir Yassin massacre is only the most well-known example of this.

The refugees fled in 1948 because they feared for their lives, and because they were expecting to be able to return after the war was over. But they have never been permitted to return – solely because they are not Jewish.

Immediately, Israel began importing Jewish people from around the world – as if they were human cargo – in order to encourage, and (in some cases) compel them to become settlers in the newly-established Jewish state.

In the years immediately following 1948, Israel established a series of racist apartheid laws which permitted Jews from around the world – regardless of the reality of their family links to the country – privileged access to, and the right to settle in and receive citizenship in the new country.

This was codified under the “Law of Return” – which is based on the ahistorical contention that all Jews the world over are somehow “ethnically” related to ancient Palestinian Hebrews.

At the same time that Israel established these racist laws, it denied Palestinian refugees and their decedents the right to return to their homeland, despite this right being enshrined in international law.

Palestinian refugees are still denied their right of return until this day.

In recent years, Palestinians in Gaza began a regular “March of Return” (the population of the Gaza Strip is two million-strong – consisting of about 70 per cent refugees). In a series of brutal reprisals for having the sheer audacity to peacefully exercise their rights under international law, Israel mowed hundreds of them down in cold blood using sniper bullets.

Most world leaders did little more than toothlessly protest – if they were not actively encouraging the slaughter.

After 1948, Israel systematically handed over the land and homes of the dispossessed Palestinians refugees to Jews from Europe, and later from the Middle East.

In fact, many Palestinian villages – more than 500 of them – were systematically wiped off the face of the earth by the Zionist militias and the new Israeli army, using bulldozers and dynamite.

As infamous Israeli General Moshe Dayan admitted some years later: “Jewish villages were built in the place of [Palestinian] Arab villages. You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahalal arose in the place of Mahlul, Gvat in the place of Jibta; Sarid in the place of Haneifa, and Kfar-Yehoshua in the place of Tel-Shaman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

It is, however, today untrue to say that such geography books do not exist. Thanks to pioneering Palestinian historians and geographers like Walid Khalidi and Salman Abu Sitta, we know today exactly where the destroyed Palestinian villages were, and which Israeli settlements are built on their ruins and on their lands.

As Abu Sitta has shown, the right to return is no mere abstract principle, but is an eminently practical and realisable goal.

Palestinians have a right to return to their homeland.

Justice, freedom and equality demand it.

There will be no peace in the Middle East until Israel is compelled to recognise these facts.


(Source / 18.05.2020) 

Palestinian youth shot, detained near Jerusalem

Thee youth sustained critical injuries and Israeli occupation soldiers undermined arrival of paramedics for a while

Israeli occupation forces shot and wounded Palestinian youth on Tuesday and detained him nearIsraeli military checkpoint of Qalandiya, north of occupied city of Jerusalem.

Witnesses said that Israeli occupation soldiers at the checkpoint shot a youth, whose identity has yet to be identified, before proceeding to detaining him.

The Israeli occupation soldiers closed off the checkpoint and prevented people and vehicles from crossing in both directions.

Video footage showed the youth lying on the ground, surrounded by armed Israeli occupation troops.

Israeli severely restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement through a complex combination of approximately 350 fixed checkpoints, flying checkpoints, settler-only roads and various other physical obstructions.

(Source / 13.05.2020) 

Israeli forces shot dead Palestinian boy in West Bank

The boy was shot with live ammunition directly in the head, witnesses and paramedics said

Israeli occupation forces shot dead on Wednesday morning 14-year-old Palestinian boy in Al Fawwar Refugee Camp in occupied West Bank city of Al Khalil.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the Palestinian boy was shot with live ammunition in the head.

The boy, who was identified as Zaid Qaysia, was among tens of other youths who took to the streets protesting the continuous Israeli violations against the Palestinians and their properties, including homes and mosques.

Palestinian paramedics rushed the boy to the hospital in the city of Al Khalil, but he was pronounced dead upon his arrival.Palestine Post 24@PalestinePost24  

14-year-old Palestinian #boy killed by #Israeli_Occupation in #Jenin

فيديو مُضمّن

٨المعلومات والخصوصية لإعلانات تويتر

(Source / 13.05.2020) 

ICC Prosecutor: Smear campaigns do not affect my office’s work concerning Palestine

nsouda decided on 20 December 2019 that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda has stressed that “misinformation and smear campaigns” would not affect probes of possible Israel crimes.

“Misinformation and smear campaigns do not change facts about the conduct of my Office’s work concerning the situation in Palestine,” she wrote on her twitter account.

Bensouda added: “Fact: my office is executing its mandate concerning Palestine situation with utmost professionalism, independence and objectivity in strict conformity with the Rome Statute.”

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court continued: “Any insinuation or assertion to the contrary is simply misled and unfounded.”

Bensouda decided on 20 December 2019 that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

She said that “there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

(Source / 11.05.2020) 

Egypt says it destroyed more than 3,000 Gaza tunnels

Besieged Gaza residents used the tunnels to smuggle the necessary needs for the blockaded Gazans, including food and medicines

Egyptian army has destroyed more than 3,000 tunnels along its border with the besieged Gaza Strip in the past five years, Egyptian Army Spokesperson Tamer al-Refai has revealed on Sunday.

In an interview with the private Egyptian news channel Extra News, Refai said: “In 2015, the [Egyptian] government took a decision to establish a buffer zone along the border [with the Gaza Strip].”

Gaza Strip has been under a strict Israeli-Egyptian siege since 2007 and Gaza residents have been struggling for the basic commodities.

“These tunnels,” Refai claimed, “were used to threaten Egypt’s national security, including the infiltration of terrorists, smuggling of weapons, ammunition, goods, narcotic drugs and vehicles.”

In fact, the tunnels were used to smuggle the necessary needs for the blockaded Gazans, including food and medicines.

Refai added: “We established the buffer zone in stages because residents had to be relocated. They have received compensation.”

The Egyptian army displaced people and destroyed their homes in order to establish the buffer zone. The displaced people were left in the open air without any compensation.

It is worth noting that the Israeli-Egyptian siege against Gaza is still in place despite tens of international bodies have reiterated it is a flagrant violation of the international law and called for lifting it immediately.

(Source / 05.05.2020) 

Israel settler who murdered Palestinian mum returns to his settlement

The extremist settler deliberately targeted the family car in October 2018 in the occupied West Bank in an anti-Arab attack ‘as part of an act of terror’

The Israeli settler who stoned Palestinian mother to death less than two years ago has been allowed to return to the occupied West Bank settlement where he lives

Forty-seven-year-old mother of eight, Aisha Al-Rabi, was killed in 2018 after being hit on the side of her head by a rock which was hurled by Jewish settlers through the windshield of the car in which she was travelling.

The rock-throwing attack by the 16-year-old Jewish Israeli, who cannot be named due to a court-imposed gag order, and four others took place at Za’atara Junction, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, as Aisha and her husband Yaqoub Al-Rabi were driving past an illegal settlement, causing Al-Rabi to lose control of their car.

According to the indictment, the suspect deliberately targeted the family car in October 2018 in the occupied West Bank in an anti-Arab attack “as part of an act of terror”.

The suspect “held a rock weighing close to two kilograms, with the intention of using it to harm Arab passengers, out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere”, the indictment states.

Despite the teen being charged with manslaughter after being arrested in December 2018, he was released under house arrest after just four months.

Although Israeli law allows for the jailing of minors convicted of serious crimes, the law is used discriminately to jail Palestinian children, while Israelis are allowed to walk free – even if they pose a threat to innocent Palestinians.

Moreover, the suspect will be allowed to return to the West Bank settlement he lives in despite objections by state prosecutors. According to Haaretz, prosecutors feared the suspect’s potential “link up with extremist elements”.

Earlier this year, the murder of Aisha was recognised as a terror attack by the Israeli authorities, but they did not acknowledge her as a victim of terrorism.

(Source / 04.05.2020) 

On World Press Freedom Day, 12 journalists are in Israeli detention

Four out of the 12 journalists are serving life terms of long sentences over their role in disclosing Israeli crimes against the Palestinians

Marking the World Press Freedom Day, which coincides 3 May, Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that 12 Palestinian journalists are currently held behind Israeli prison bars.

It said the longest serving of these 12 journalists are Mahmoud Essa, Basem Khendoggi, Munther Mefleh and Ahmad Saifi.

The first, the PPS said, is serving three life sentences and 45 years, the second is serving three life sentences, the third is serving 30 years and the fourth is serving 17 years.

In addition, the PPS said some of these 12 journalists are held in Israeli detention without charge or trial, based on what the Israeli intelligence describes as the “secret file”.

“The occupation authorities have pursued the policy of arresting journalists and activists in an attempt to undermine their societal, cultural and political role, and prevent them from revealing the crimes of the occupation,” the PPS said on this occasion.

Detention of journalists by Israeli occupation authorities have been on the rise since 2015, when Israeli courts started to use the pretext of “incitement” to justify the detention of journalists and the closure of TVs and media institutions under military orders.

(Source / 03.05.2020)