IDF opens investigation into shooting of blindfolded, handcuffed Palestinian teen

Sixteen-year-old Osama Hajahjeh was shot twice in the leg last in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 18 April 2019 [Video still, Facebook]

Sixteen-year-old Osama Hajahjeh was shot twice in the leg last in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 18 April 2019

The Israel Defence Forces has opened an investigation into an incident in which its soldiers shot a Palestinian teenager while he was blindfolded and handcuffed. Sixteen-year-old Osama Hajahjeh was shot twice in the leg last Thursday in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Speaking to Agence France Presse (AFP) by phone from a hospital in Beit Jala yesterday, Hajahjeh explained that he had been attending the funeral of a local teacher when “he was tackled by a soldier who jumped out of an olive grove and forced him to the ground.” The soldier then handcuffed Hajahjeh and blindfolded him, Al Jazeera reported.

“They shot me the first time while I was trying to change my sitting position because they sat me on thorns,” the teenager explained. “I started walking towards the villagers asking for help, [then the soldiers] shot me again and hit my left thigh.”

Images of the incident captured by a local photographer clearly show Hajahjeh surrounded by several Israeli soldiers, his hands behind his back and a white cloth tied over his eyes. The aftermath of the event was also caught on video, which shows several Palestinians gathered around the teen – who can just be seen lying bleeding on the ground – and an Israeli soldier pointing a gun at those trying to help, warning them to stay away or “you’ll get shot”.

READ: Israeli forces arrest 10 Palestinians, including minors

The Israeli army yesterday confirmed the incident and was forced to issue a statement, saying: “On Thursday there was an incident, which included massive stone-throwing near [Israeli army] forces and Israeli cars on the road, risking the lives of civilians and soldiers. The soldiers responded with riot dispersal methods and arrested one of the demonstrators [Hajahjeh] who tried to flee after his arrest.”

The statement continued: “[Hajahjeh] was detained nearby and shortly thereafter he began to flee from the [army] squad again. The squad immediately began a pursuit, during which the detainee was shot in the lower body. The squad offered the Palestinian first aid immediately. The incident will be investigated.”

Hajahjeh’s father, Ali, said of the incident that “only a sick person would shoot a blindfolded boy.” Meanwhile, Roy Yellin, a spokesperson for Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, pointed out that four Palestinians in their late teens or early twenties had been shot since early March and that, “like the previous four cases [B’Tselem] investigated, this is an example of Israel’s reckless use of lethal fire and the fact that the human lives of Palestinians count very little in the eyes of the army.”

An investigation published by B’Tselem last week stressed that in all four incidents, the Israeli army’s use of lethal fire was “completely unjustified” since “none of the victims posed a threat to the lives of security personnel.” The report added: “As B’Tselem has cautioned countless times in the past, these are not aberrations or ‘bad apples’. These are incidents that occur as part of the routine actions of soldiers and police officers, pursuant to Israel’s dangerous, lethal open-fire policy.”

READ: Israel army covered up settlers’ killing of wounded Palestinian father

(Source / 23.04.2019)

Notre Dame of Gaza: Our mosques and churches are also burning

Palestinians from the village of Jabaa, east of Ramallah, look at damage at a mosque which settlers tried to burn overnight on June 19, 2012. [AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI / Getty]

Palestinians from the village of Jabaa, east of Ramallah, look at damage at a mosque which settlers tried to burn overnight on June 19, 2012 
By Ramzy Baroud  

As the 300-foot spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris tragically came tumbling down on live television, my thoughts ventured to Nuseirat Refugee Camp, my childhood home in the Gaza Strip.

Then, also on television, I watched as a small bulldozer hopelessly clawed through the rubble of my neighbourhood mosque. I grew up around that mosque. I spent many hours there with my grandfather, Mohammed, a refugee from historic Palestine. Before grandpa became a refugee, he was a young Imam in a small mosque in his long-destroyed village of Beit Daras.

Mohammed and many in his generation took solace in erecting their mosque in the refugee camp as soon as they arrived in the Gaza Strip in late 1948. The new mosque was first made of hardened mud but was eventually remade with bricks, and later concrete. He spent much of his time there, and when he died, his old, frail body was taken to the same mosque for a final prayer, before being buried in the adjacent Martyrs Graveyard. When I was still a child, he used to hold my hand as we walked together to the mosque during prayer times. When he aged, and could barely walk, I, in turn, held his hand.

But Al-Masjid al-Kabir – the Great Mosque, later renamed Al-Qassam Mosque – was pulverised entirely by Israeli missiles during the summer war on Gaza, starting July 8, 2014.

 A vehicle removes the wreckage of the al-Oassam Mosque destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Gaza on August 9, 2014

The Israeli military targeted hundreds of Palestinian houses of worship in previous wars, most notably in 2008-9 and 2012. But the 2014 war was the most brutal and most destructive yet. Thousands were killed and more injured. Nothing was immune to Israeli bombs. According to Palestine Liberation Organization records, 63 mosques were destroyed and 150 damaged in that war alone, often with people seeking shelter inside. In the case of my mosque, two bodies were recovered after a long, agonising search. They had no chance of being rescued. If they survived the deadly explosives, they were crushed by the massive slabs of concrete.

In truth, concrete, cement, bricks and physical structures don’t carry much meaning on their own. We give them meaning. Our collective experiences, our pains, joys, hopes and faith make a house of worship what it is.

Many generations of French Catholics have assigned the Notre Dame Cathedral with its layered meanings and symbolism since the 12th century.

Read: Israeli forces arrest 10 Palestinians, including minors

While the fire consumed the oak roof and much of the structure, French citizens and many around the world watched in awe. It is as if the memories, prayers and hopes of a nation that is rooted in time were suddenly revealed, rising, all at once, with the pillars of smoke and fire.

But the very media that covered the news of the Notre Dame fire seemed oblivious to the obliteration of everything we hold sacred in Palestine as, day after day, Israeli war machinery continues to blow up, bulldoze and desecrate.

It is as if our religions are not worthy of respect, even though Christianity was born in Palestine. It was there that Jesus roamed the hills and valleys of our historic homeland teaching people about peace, love and justice. Palestine is also central to Islam. Haram al-Sharif, where al-Aqsa Mosque and The Dome of the Rock are kept, is the third holiest site for Muslims everywhere. Christian and Muslim religious sites are besieged, often raided and shut down per military diktats. Moreover, the Israeli army-protected messianic Jewish extremists want to demolish Al-Aqsa, and the Israeli government has been digging underneath its foundation for many years.

Although none of this is done in secret; international outrage remains muted. Many find Israel’s actions justified. Some have bought into the ridiculous explanation offered by the Israeli military that bombing mosques are a necessary security measure. Others are motivated by dark religious prophecies of their own.

Palestinians pray in a partially destroyed mosque in Gaza [File photo]

Palestine, though, is only a microcosm of the whole region. Many of us are familiar with the horrific destruction carried out by fringe militant groups against world cultural heritage in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most memorable among these are the destruction of Palmyra in Syria, Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan and the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul.

Palestinians pray in a partially destroyed mosque in Gaza 

Nothing, however, can be compared to what the invading US army has done to Iraq. Not only did the invaders desecrate a sovereign country and brutalise her people, but they also devastated her culture that goes back to the start of human civilisation. Just the immediate aftermath of the invasion alone resulted in the looting of over 15,000 Iraqi antiquities, including the Lady of Warka, also known as the Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia, a Sumerian artefact whose history goes back to 3100 BC.

I had the privilege of seeing many of these artefacts in a visit to the Iraq Museum only a few years before US soldiers looted it. At the time, Iraqi curators had all precious pieces hidden in a fortified basement in anticipation of a US bombing campaign. But nothing could prepare the museum for the savagery unleashed by the ground invasion. Since then, Iraqi culture has mostly been reduced to items on the black market of the very western invaders that have torn that country apart. The courageous work of Iraqi cultural warriors and their colleagues around the world has managed to restore some of that stolen dignity, but it will take many years for the cradle of human civilisation to redeem its vanquished honour.

Every mosque, every church, every graveyard, every piece of art and every artefact is significant because it is laden with meaning, the meaning bestowed on them by those who have built or sought in them an escape, a moment of solace, hope, faith and peace.

On August 2, 2014, the Israeli army bombed the historic Al-Omari Mosque in northern Gaza. The ancient mosque dates back to the 7th century and has since served as a symbol of resilience and faith for the people of Gaza.

As Notre Dame burned, I thought of Al-Omari too. While the fire at the French cathedral was likely accidental, destroyed Palestinian houses of worship were intentionally targeted. The Israeli culprits are yet to be held accountable.

I also thought of my grandfather, Mohammed, the kindly Imam with the handsome, small white beard. His mosque served as his only escape from a problematic existence, an exile that only ended with his death.

(Source / 23.04.2019) 

PCHR: “Silence or Deportation…Israel’s Message to Human Rights Defenders”

22 APR10:20 PM

The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): In a new and unprecedented move, an Israeli Court on April 16, 2019 has decided to uphold the revocation of the work permit of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel and Palestine Director, Omar Shakir, ordering him to leave the country within 14 days based on allegations that he supported a boycott of Israel.

The ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by Human Rights Watch in May 2018 to challenge the decision of the Israeli government to revoke the work permit of Omar Shakir, who assumed his role as Director of HRW in Israel and Palestine in October 2016, as well as the law upon which the ruling is based, the anti-boycott law, a 2017 amendment to Israel’s Law of the Entry which bars entry or the grant of residence or work permit to foreign nationals  who allegedly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The court found that Shakir has “continuously” been calling for boycotts of Israel, citing his student activism as well as his subsequent work for HRW particularly through his social media posts.

The court found as “boycott-promoting activities” HRW’s research on the activities of businesses such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Fifa, and its recommendations that they crease operating in settlements in the West Bank as their continuation will make them complicit in violating Palestinians’ human rights and constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the court held that the anti-boycott law applies equally to boycotts directed at Israel and those directed at the settlements.

This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and is a reflection of the shrinking space for human rights defenders, who work on monitoring and documenting violations of international humanitarian and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Israel has increasingly targeted civil society organizations and human rights defenders, particularly those who have submitted evidence to the ICC, including PCHR,  by launching attacks in the form of false accusations, defamation, and smear campaigns intended to undermine their legitimacy, silence their independent voices, and limit their donor funding.

The rights and responsibilities that protect the work of human rights defenders are well-entrenched in international law.

Among other primary human rights instruments, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have proclaimed the inalienable freedoms of opinion and expression, and movement.

Those foundational instruments do not only champions all people rights, but also the activities of human rights defenders. Furthermore, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly in 1999, provides a range of rights and protection for human rights defenders and imposes duties and responsibilities on states to protect them even if they are openly critical of government entities, policies, or actions in the name of promoting and protecting human rights (Article 12).

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the measures taken against Omar Shakir, whose case represents the latest assault by Israel on human rights defenders. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to abide by its obligations under international law by taking measures to repeal the 2017 amendment to Israel’s Law of the Entry and to cease hampering the work of human rights defenders and organizations.

(Source / 23.04.2019) 

Israel seals off Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshipers

Palestinians hold banners during a protest against Israeli restrictions on the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, occupied West Bank on 28 August 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces sealed off the Ibrahimi Mosque in front of Muslim worshipers, on Monday, in preparation for Israeli settlers raid for the third day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, Ma’an Agency reports.

Israeli forces were heavily deployed around the holy site.

The mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades.

The holy site was split into a synagogue — known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs — and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.

Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vice versa in an effort to prevent violence from erupting at the holy site.

Located in the centre of Hebron — one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank — the Old City was also divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas at the time, known as H1 and H2.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

READ: Handicapped Palestinians’ demonstration in Gaza

(Source / 22.04.2019)

Israel Imposes Heavy Fines on Child Detainees

22 APR8:51 AM

The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies reported that Israeli military courts have imposed fines, against Palestinian minor detainees, amount to 170.000 NIS during the first quarter of this year.

The spokesperson for the center, Reyad Al-Ashqar, said that Israeli courts impose heavy fines on most detained children , in addition to the actual prison terms.

He added that the fines constitute a heavy burden on the detainees’ families and an arbitrary punishment exercised, by the courts of occupation, against them, with the aim of terrorizing and preventing them from participating in resistance actions.

He explained that the total amount of fines that Ofra prison imposed against child detainees, during the first three months of this year, adds up to 170.000 NIS.

Al-Ashqar  noted that this policy is a clear and political theft aimed at looting money from the families of the children, in order to pressure and blackmail them.

He pointed out, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that Israeli military courts impose heavy fines for trivial reasons.

Al-Ashqar called on human rights institutions to intervene, in protecting child detainees from Israeli violations.

(Source / 22.04.2019) 

PPS: “Israeli Soldiers Abduct Eleven Palestinians In The West Bank”

22 APR8:44 PM

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, at least eleven Palestinians, including three children, from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank.

The PPS office in Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem, said the soldiers stormed and ransacked several homes, and abducted four Palestinians, identified as Anan Ahmad Abd-Rabbo, 18, Yazan Khaled ‘Ayesh, 16, Firas Omar al-Jo’eidi, 28, from Beit Jala city, in addition to Moath Hasan ‘Oweina, from Battir town.

Furthermore, the soldiers abducted a young man, identified as Qassam Faisal Abu Seriyya, from his home in Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin.

In Tulkarem, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Morad Fathi Mousa, 40, from Shoufa village, east of the city.

In Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Abdul-Qader Thiab, after storming his home and assaulting him along with his family, in addition to illegally confiscating cash from the property. His brother, Sa’id, 30, is a political prisoner who is serving a term of 30 years in Israeli prisons.

In addition, the soldiers abducted Ashraf Abdul-‘Al Qattawi, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, in northern West Bank, after the army invaded and under-construction home, where he worked, in Rojeeb village, east of Nablus.

In Kobar town, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, the soldiers abducted Nawras Mohammad Abu Khattab, 18.

In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted two children from Shu’fat refugee camp, identified as Malek Nasr Houshiyya, 15, and Saleh Sharqawi, 15.

Updated From:
Army Abducts Six Palestinians In West Bank
Published on: Apr 22, 2019 @ 09:03

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, at least six Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded Shu’fat refugee camp, and Anata town, in Jerusalem governorate, searched and ransacked several homes and abducted two children, identified as Saleh Sharqawi and Malek Nasr Houshiyya.

The soldiers also invaded Teqoua’ town, and Beit Jala city, in the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, searched homes and abducted Anan Ahmad Hameeda.

Furthermore, the soldiers abducted Abdul-Qader Thiab, and confiscated money from his home, in Qalqilia city, in northern West Bank.

In addition, the soldiers abducted a former political prisoner, Morad Fathi Mousa, 40, from his home in Shoufa village, southeast of Tulkarem, in northern West Bank.

(Source / 22.04.2019) 

ONE HUNDRED PEOPLE WOUNDED IN ISRAELI OCCUPATION ATTACK ON GREAT RETURN MARCH

On Friday April 19th Israel’s occupation forces wounded up to 100 people in its attacks against participants of the Great Return March in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Among those wounded were up to 23 children, 5 women, 4-5 paramedics and 4 journalists. 42 people suffered injuries after being hit with tear-gas canisters, 33 people were shot with live ammunition and 13 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets.

One person, a child, suffered head injuries described as “critical” from being hit by Israeli occupation forces’ tear-gas canister. These are launched at high velocity from batteries mounted on vehicles.

An ambulance was hit and damaged by Israeli occupation troops.

Earlier in the day Israel had attacked three observation posts belonging to Hamas armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, without causing injuries. Both artillery and air-strikes were used in the bombing. Israeli occupation claimed that ‘shots were fired’ towards ethnically cleansed Palestine 1948 before IDF / IOF started its own attacks.

(Source / 22.04.2019) 

Palestinian Resistence Condemns Terror Attacks In Sri Lanka

The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, strongly denounced the terrorist attacks that targeted hotels and places of worship in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Hamas said in an official statement, “This barbaric and unjustified act is a crime against humanity.”

Hamas, on behalf of the Palestinian people, extended condolences to the families of the victims and wished those injured in the attacks speedy recovery.

At least 215 were killed and hundreds injured in a series of explosions inside churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

The government of Sri Lanka announced a curfew and temporarily blocked access to several social media services following the deadly explosions.

(Source / 22.04.2019) 

Israeli Minister, 200 Settlers Break Into Aqsa Mosque

Scores of Israeli settlers on Monday morning defiled al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem under police guard.

Local sources said that the Israeli police in the early morning hours opened al-Maghareba Gate, which has been under Israeli control since 1967, and allowed dozens of settlers to enter the site.

According to the Islamic Awqaf, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel, accompanied by nearly 200 settlers, broke into al-Aqsa Mosque and performed Talmudic rituals there.

Extremist settler groups have called on Israelis to flock in large numbers to al-Aqsa Mosque and pressured the Israeli police to empty the holy site of Palestinian worshipers to celebrate the Passover holiday.

(Source / 22.04.2019) 

Israeli occupation troops kidnap Palestinian boy in Al-Khalil

“I swear to God that I did nothing, my teacher,” the boy said, as he was appealing for his teacher in order to help release him

Gang of Israeli occupation soldiers kidnapped little Palestinian school boy in occupied West Bank city of Al-Khalil on Saturday morning.

One of the teachers of the boy passed across the gang of the Israeli kidnappers and did his best to help, but the gangsters refused.

The boy screamed at his teacher, appealing for help. “I swear to God that I did nothing, my teacher,” the boy said.

However, the Israeli gangsters pushed the teacher away and out the boy inside the armoured military jeep and went away.

Reports from Al-Khalil said that the boy is still in Israeli custody.


(Source / 22.04.2019)