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Hamas: Israel is the main cause of Gaza’s suffering

A Palestinian family is seen inside their makeshift tent in Gaza City, Gaza on 13 February 2018

Israel is to blame for the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, a senior Hamas leader said on Tuesday adding that this is in spite of the punitive measures imposed on the enclave by the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking to Quds Press Salah Al-Bardaweel said: “Abbas’ plan to impose new punishments is part of the security and political measures with Israel. This is an attempt by Abbas to get the world’s attention on him at a time when he feels the occupation and the Americans are looking for someone else to run the PA.”

However, according to Al-Bardaweel, Abbas “chose the wrong time to escalate his hostility against Gaza as the international community believes it is on the verge of an explosion and is working to maintain calmness, not to cause chaos.”

Al-Bardaweel stressed that Gaza residents would hit back against Israel in the face of new measures by the PA “because they know that the occupation is the reason of the sickness.”

Read: Plurality of Palestinians blame PA, Abbas for stalled reconciliation efforts

“All facts on the ground prove that the Israeli occupation does not want to start a new war on Gaza, but we [Hamas] are a resistance movement whose goal is to liberate its land and holy sites from the occupation and to defend its people. Therefore, we are ready for all possibilities.”

Meanwhile, the senior Hamas leader said that his movement is interested in any international effort aiming at reducing the pressure on Palestinians and to help them regain their rights.

“We are ready to sit with anyone in the world on condition he is ready to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to leave our land and our sky,” he said. “Even if it is the US,” he said, “but this must not be part of the ‘Deal of the Century’ which is an extension of Oslo.”

On Monday evening, Abbas accused Hamas of targeting the convoy of the PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza last Tuesday and announced he would impose new punitive measures against the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 21.03.2018)

Khaled: PFLP will not attend Palestinian National Council meeting

Palestinians gather to attend a rally marking the anniversary of the founding of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Rafah, Gaza

A  member of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Laila Khaled confirmed that the Front will not participate in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting scheduled for April, 30th in the city of Ramallah.

“It is not possible to convene the Palestinian National Assembly with its current structure because its legal term ended long time ago and it is not possible to use the old structure to face the current needs” Khalid told Al-Resala news site from the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Khalid stressed that there is a national consensus among most factions and national forces on the need to convene a unified national council, noting that the council should not meet only to change people in the Executive Committee.

Read: PFLP boycotts Palestinian National Council meeting

She explained that holding the National Council in this form will perpetuate the division, stressing that the Popular Front will not accept that the PLO becomes a contributing factor in the division.

“The dispute between Hamas and Fatah should not affect the entire PLO” she said.

The Palestinian National Council includes Palestinian representatives from Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and the diaspora, however, it does not include representatives from Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

(Source / 21.03.2018)

Abbas is tool for ‘Deal of the Century,’ says ex-official

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes a speech during extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey on 13 December 2017

The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s President Mahmoud Abbas is one of the major tools for the deal of the century, the former Egyptian assistant foreign minister, Abdullah Al-Ashal, said today referring to the United States (US) administration’s peace deal that was recently announced.

Speaking in an interview with Shehab News Agency, Al-Ashal explained that “Abbas is required to strike the resistance movement [Hamas] in the Gaza Strip and to strangle the enclave’s residents.”

“He [Abbas] has been assigned to this role to achieve the deal of the century,” he added.

Addressing Hamas and cooperating with Israel, Al-Ashal noted, are “Abbas’ main tasks.” “He must pressure Hamas, sign the US deal and supervise its implementation.”

Targeting Iran and Hezbollah, the former official stressed, is part of Abbas’ integrated role to “liberate” Israel from Hamas’ pressures.

Read: Hamas and other factions condemn Abbas speech

On Abbas’ yesterday speech, during which he announced taking legal and economic measures against Gaza, Al-Ashal stressed that it proves that Hamas “is the main hurdle for achieving the deal of the century.”

Highlighting the fact that the US President Donald Trump is due to visit the Middle East in May, Al-Ashal stressed that the “the deal of the century must be finalised before Trump’s arrival to the region.”

Abbas decided yesterday to impose decided to take “national, legal and economic measures” against Gaza following assassination attempt against PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza last Tuesday, which he held Hamas responsible for. He also criticised the Trump’ plans in the Middle East and accused the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman of being more of a settler than the settlers themselves and called him “a son of bitch” in the peace process.

Read: Palestine’s Abbas to punish officials criticising Arab leaders

“In my capacity as the president of the Palestinian people and I have tolerated much in order to regain unity and unite the homeland, I decided to take national, economic and legal measures against Hamas,” the Palestinian leader told the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s executive committee last Monday.

Almost all of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) criticised his speech.

(Source / 21.03.2018)

Danish pension giant divests from Motorola over ties to Israeli settlements

Motorola logo [Wikipedia]

Motorola logo

Danish pension fund giant Sampension has officially excluded Motorola over the latter’s ties to Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

Sampension, a DKK290 billion ($43.5 billion) Danish labour market pension fund, made the announcement in an update to its exclusion list, stating that Motorola’s provision of products to Israeli settlements is a violation of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

According to ActionAid Denmark (Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke), which welcomed the news, Sampension is withdrawing DKK15 million (some $2.5 million).

Motorola has well documented links to the Israeli military occupation and settlement enterprise, and is widely believed to be one of the companies contacted by the UN Human Rights Office, in the context of the latter’s work to publish a database of settlements-complicit businesses.

Read: ACLU says revised anti-BDS bill remains unconstitutional, in blow to pro-Israel groups

The latest development follows on from Sampension’s exclusion last October of four companies – including two Israeli banks and telecommunications company Bezeq – for their ties to Israeli settlements in, and the extraction of natural resources from, the oPt.

The companies were excluded for violating Sampension’s guidelines for investments in occupied territories, and specifically, “due to the financing of settlements, and the extraction of natural resources and establishment of infrastructure for telecommunication on occupied territory”.

(Source / 21.03.2018)

Gaza farmers denounce Israel pesticide use along border

Agricultural lands along the eastern Gaza border are being sprayed with pesticides by Israeli gliders, resulting in the destruction of cultivated crops on Palestinian lands.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Ali Abu Said woke up March 7 to irrigate his crops in the village of Juhor ad-Dik, south of Gaza City, like he does every morning. But this time he saw Israeli gliders spraying unknown pesticides on lands along Gaza’s eastern borders.

“I saw the soldiers setting tires on fire to determine the direction of the wind. Then the Israeli gliders began spraying unknown pesticides at an altitude of 400 meters [0.25 miles] on the Israeli side of the border. The [pesticides] reached the Palestinian agricultural lands at a distance of 1 kilometer [0.6 miles] from the separation fence. By the end of the day, crops such as spinach and peas on my land and the adjacent lands died. In the following days the zucchinis and berries turned yellow,” he told Al-Monitor.

Abu Said’s land is 300 meters (328 yards) from the Gaza-Israel border and extends along 20 acres. He shares the land with his siblings, and he owns about 7 dunams (1.7 acres) that he cannot use because it is 100 meters (109 yards) from the border fence. Every time he tries to plant crops there, he is shot at.

He said that this is the second time in two months that the Israelis sprayed pesticides in the area. “Every year since the 2014 war, the Israelis spray pesticides and burn crops at the beginning of the season — in January and April,” he added.

In January, after the Israeli soldiers sprayed pesticides, the Palestinian farmers turned over the soil to try to prevent the pesticides from having an impact.

Some farmers were surprised with the early spraying in March, as crops were exposed. Abu Said noted, “My neighbor lifted the cover off the zucchinis to let them breathe. After the Israelis sprayed the pesticides, he sprayed water to neutralize the effect and barely saved the crops from dying.”

Statistics covering the period December 2017 until mid-March by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the food security cluster, show that around 544 acres in eastern Gaza were affected due to the Israeli authorities’ spraying on the Palestinian side — 250 acres in Khan Yunis alone. The surface area of pastures that were affected reached 2,570 acres.

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza City has accused the Israeli authorities of launching a “chemical war” on the agricultural sector in the border areas of the Gaza Strip. Wael Thabet, the general director of the Plants Protection and Quarantine Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, said, “We consider this a chemical warbecause it targets [farmers] through spraying pesticides [that reach] agricultural border areas that represent a food basket for Gaza, making up 35% of the agricultural land area in the enclave.”

He told Al-Monitor, “Not all components of the pesticides that were sprayed have been identified, but the results of the lab analysis of sprayed plants showed traces of Oxygal that deters seasonal germination and burns the green part of plants. Most crops in these areas are cucurbitales and leaf vegetables such as spinach, spinach beets, barley, parsley, peas, fodder, zucchinis and others.”

The ICRC in Gaza considers spraying pesticides on agricultural lands “worrying.” Suheir Zakout, the spokeswoman for the ICRC in Gaza City, told Al-Monitor, “The ICRC has been following up on the spraying near the border for three years, and it worries us. We call on the Israeli authorities to [stop aerial spraying of pesticides] because this has long-term negative effects on the environment and the people.”

In a statement to Al-Monitor, Zakout said that the ICRC is coordinating with the local authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture by documenting the spraying operations and the results of lab tests performed on the pesticides and using them in undisclosed bilateral talks with Israel.

She noted that the ICRC rehabilitated agricultural lands near the border with Gaza after the 2014 war. Around 74 acres in seven agricultural border areas in the Gaza Strip have been rehabilitated.

“The lands of some of the farmers benefiting from the rehabilitation have been affected by the pesticides that were sprayed recently by Israel. We tried to focus on rehabilitating the lands by planting rainfed crops such as barley and corn that need little care and presence from farmers in the fields that have become dangerous areas,” she added.

Security expert and assistant dean of the Police College in Gaza Ibrahim Habib believes that Israel is targeting agricultural lands in a calculative manner. He told Al-Monitor, “Spraying pesticides is clearly a security measure aimed at destroying any agricultural presence facing the Gaza border fence to prevent agricultural activity, especially in Khan Yunis where rural areas abound.”

He said, “Israel wants the farmers to leave the border area to create an isolated zone that stretches along the Gaza Strip, so that resistance fighters cannot enter while farmers are at work.”

Habib noted that the gliders are using the direction of the wind because they cannot spray over the Palestinian agricultural lands directly since they could be targeted. He said, “The gliders that are being used to spray the border areas are flying at low altitude. They are not military jets and cannot respond or defend themselves.”

The border areas are confrontation zones between the Israeli army and the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip; several tunnels have been targeted in separate military operations by the Israeli army.

Human rights centers in Gaza are closely watching the pesticide spraying in the border areas. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights considers the spraying operations as one of Israel’s many violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The center detailed in a fact sheet it released following the Israeli spraying operations in June 2017 the impact of these Israeli actions and warned against “their repercussions on agriculture, food security and living conditions of farmers.”

(Source / 21.03.2018)

Palestinian detainee released after 16 years of imprisonment

Mohammad Shawahna free after 16 years

Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on Tuesday evening set free Mohammad Shawahna, of Silat al-Harithiya town west of Jenin city in the northern West Bank after 16 years of continuous imprisonment.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that the release of Shawahna came after completely serving his 16-year sentence. He was released from the Israeli Negev desert jail.

His family received him at al-Thahiriya barrier in al-Khalil city before he was taken home in his town in Jenin, the PIC reporter added.

(Source / 20.03.2018)

Israel to conditionally set free Sheikh Raed Salah

Sheikh Raed Salah maybe released

Israeli Magistrate Court of Haifa approved on Tuesday an appeal made by lawyers of Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Occupied Palestine, to release him on condition.

Laywer Khaled Zabarqah, member of the defense team, said that the court decided to set him free on condition of house arrest in his town, Kafr Anna, and not at his home in Umm al-Fahm city in 1948 Occupied Palestine as suggested by his advocates with the possibility of wearing an electronic ankle bracelet and having bodyguards.

Zabarqah added that the Israeli Prison Service official is expected to file a report in five days on the restricting terms on the release of Sheikh Salah.

He pointed out that the court is going to hold a session on March 26 to announce its final decision on the release conditions assigned against Sheikh Salah who has been detained since last August.

(Source / 20.03.2018)

Hamas: Abbas seeks to bring Gaza to its knees

Hamas and Abbas

The Hamas Movement has strongly denounced Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas for threatening to take further punitive measures against Gaza, accusing him of trying to bring the Gaza population to their knees and strike the pillars of their steadfastness.

Calling his remarks irresponsible, Hamas stated in a press release on Monday that Abbas’s actions aim to undermine any chance to elevate the national project and achieve the unity, and seek to perpetuate the separation of Gaza from the West Bank to pave the way for the US-backed deal of the century.

“We see such remarks and decisions as a departure from the reconciliation agreements and a disregard for the Egyptian role, which is still following up the steps to implement them,” Hamas said, calling on all factions to urgently intervene to save the national project and unity and assume their responsibilities towards “Abbas’s destructive and serious practices.”

“While the Hamas Movement has been keen on making every effort to achieve the unity of our people in the face of lurking conspiracies targeting our national cause and inalienable rights, we have been surprised to hear from Abbas tensioning remarks that burn down bridges, perpetuate the division, torpedo the unity of our people and the elements of their steadfastness at home and abroad, and create climates contributing to supporting Trump’s project that aims to liquidate our national cause,” the Movement stated.

Hamas called on all regional and international parties and the Arab League to swiftly and responsibly intervene to prevent the occurrence of a inter-Palestinian disaster resulting from Abbas’s policies and decisions on Gaza.

It also called for holding general presidential, legislative and national council elections in order to enable the Palestinian people to choose new leaders representing them and able to achieve the unity and shoulder the national responsibilities towards their people.

(Source / 20.03.2018)

Israeli Colonizers Injure Schoolchildren Near Hebron

20 MAR
1:14 PM

Israeli colonizers attacked and injured, Tuesday, several Palestinian schoolchildren, while heading to school in the Tiwana village, in Yatta town, south of Hebron, in the southern part pf the occupied West Bank.

Rateb Jabour, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in southern Hebron, said many students suffered various cuts and bruises.

He added that some of the wounded students have been identified as Reem Awad, Jaber Awad, Shaima’ Awad, Kifah Abu Jundiyya, Hamza Abu Jundiyya, Inshirah Abu Jundiyya and Ezzeddin Makhamra.

The head of Tiwana Local Council Mohammad Rib’ey told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that the colonizers have been stepping up their attacks against the Palestinians, and their lands, to force them to leave.

He added that the attack against the children is not the first, and is part of a series of seriously escalating violations.

In related news, several colonizers invaded, earlier Tuesday, a Palestinian olive orchard in the al-Jab’a village, southwest of Bethlehem, cut at least thirty olive trees, and took them away.

PPS: “Israeli soldiers Abduct Fifteen Palestinians In The West Bank”

Israeli Soldiers Fire At Farmers, Invades Lands, In The Gaza Strip

Army Injures Many Students Near Nablus

(Source / 20.03.2018)

Second Arrest in 3 Days, PCHR Denounces Arrest of Patient’s Companion by the Israeli Forces at Beit Hanoun Crossing

20 MAR
4:51 PM

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns that Israeli forces stationed at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing continued to apply the policy of arresting patients and their companions when traveling for treatment in the Israeli or Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

The latest was arrest of a patient’s companion from the Gaza Strip yesterday after summoning him for a security interview with the Israeli authorities in Beit Hanoun Crossing.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, at approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 18 March 2018, the Israeli forces stationed in Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing in the northern Gaza Strip arrested Eyad ‘Omer Ibrahim Ba’loushah (42) from Al-Sheikh Redwan neighborhood in Gaza City after the Israeli authorities summoned him for a security interview in Beit Hanoun Crossing.  Ba’loushah was summoned for the interview after he applied for a permit to cross the Beit Hanoun Crossing as a companion for his father, who is a cancer patient referred for treatment in Hadasa ‘Ein Karem Hospital in Israel.

Rami ‘Omer Ibrahim Ba’loushah (44), brother of the arrested civilian, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:

On Sunday, 18 March 2018, my brother, Eyad ‘Omer Ibrahim Ba’loushah (42) headed for a security interview in Beit Hanoun Crossing after the Medical Coordination Department informed him via a text message sent to his cell phone on Thursday, 15 March 2018, that the Israeli authorities asked him for the interview.  The request for the interview came to examine the possibility of giving him a permit to travel via Beit Hanoun Crossing in order to accompany my father, ‘Omer Ibrahim Ba’loushah (68), who suffers from throat cancer and was referred for treatment in Hadasa ‘Ein Karem Hospital two weeks ago.  After waiting for my brother to come back from the crossing for hours, we tried to call him but his cellphone was off.  At approximately 20:30 on the same day, the General Authority of Civil Affairs (GACA) in Gaza City called to inform us that my brother Eyad was arrested by the Israeli intelligence and taken to an investigation center in Israel without clarifying the reasons behind his arrest.”

Previously, on Thursday, 15 March 2018, the Israeli forces stationed in Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing in the northern Gaza Strip arrested Na’im Mohammed Hussein Kotkot (44) from Jabalia refugee camp after the Israeli authorities summoned him for a security interview in Beit Hanoun Crossing.  Kotkot was summoned for the interview after he applied for a permit to cross the Beit Hanoun Crossing as a companion for his son, who is a patient suffering blood disorders and was referred for treatment in Augusta Victoria Hospital “al-Motale’a” in occupied Jerusalem.

PCHR reiterates its strong condemnation of the Israeli policy to arrest patients and their companions at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing and calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as the international organizations, particularly the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to practice pressure immediately on the Israeli authorities to stop this inhuman and unjustifiable policy.

PCHR also calls for serious action to facilitate the movement and travel of patients from the Gaza Strip to the hospitals in Israel or the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem especially that continuing to apply this policy endangers the life of hundreds of patients in the Gaza Strip and deprives them of receiving the proper medical treatment for their serious diseases that cannot be remedied in the Gaza Strip hospitals.

(Source / 20.03.2018)