Mayor of Bethlehem: PM Netanyahu’s Statement on Bethlehem and Palestinian Christians is Another Attempt at Distorting the Reality of Israeli Occupation

16 OCT
12:13 AM

Mayor of Bethlehem, advocate Anton Salman said, in response to Sunday’s statements by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Bethlehem and the situation of Palestinian Christians, that such a statement “is another Israeli attempt at distorting the reality of the Israeli occupation and particularly the effects that Israeli policies have had on the Palestinian Christian community since 1948.”

“If Mr. Netanyahu was concerned about the situation of Palestinian Christians, particularly in the Bethlehem area, he would return the 22,000 dunams of Bethlehem land illegally annexed to Israel for expansion of colonial settlements. He would dismantle the annexation wall that divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem, for the first time in 2000 years of Christianity, and would stop imposing restrictions to Palestinian movement, including the thousand of Palestinian Christians living in exile and whose return is impossible due to the Israeli control over the Palestinian population registry,” said the mayor in a statement issued by the Bethlehem municipality.

He continued, according to WAFA: “For example, in Jordan alone, a few kilometers away, there are at least 20,000 Palestinian Christians from the Bethlehem area that are denied family unification and even cannot enter the city, not even to celebrate Christmas, due to the Israeli military restrictions.

“We would like to remind Mr. Netanyahu that it was himself who supported the building of one of the most damaging colonial-settlements that surround Bethlehem, Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa), and that, in 2015, he declared that by doing so he is preventing the connection between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.”

There are over 100,000 Israeli settlers surrounding Bethlehem from all sides, reducing the area of Palestinian control over Bethlehem to less than 13% of the district, and making it impossible to plan for the future of our city, said the statement.

Furthermore, it was Mr. Netanyahu who voiced objection to declaring the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage route as a World Heritage site and his policies of harassment were behind the decision of the churches to close the church of the Holy Sepulcher for three days in Jerusalem in objection to church taxation policy, added the statement.

“His comment was also full of historical inaccuracies. It is shameful that while calling himself a ‘protector of Christianity’, he would use Christians as a tool for his Islamophobic talking points. The decrease in percentage of Christians in Bethlehem, as well as in the rest of Palestine, was provoked with the Nakba of 1948 and ongoing due to Israel’s colonial plans and policies that started in 1967.”

He said that this was also the case in West Jerusalem, from where a large Palestinian Christian community was expelled by Israel from Ein Karem, Talbiya, Qatamon, and other places. From 31,000 Christians in 1948, Jerusalem only has around 12,000 Christians today.

“We would like to advise Mr. Netanyahu to stop using Christians as a tool to pinkwash the occupation. The best he could do for a future of peace and coexistence, where the Christian community would thrive again, it is to respect his obligations under international law, including Security council resolutions 478 on Jerusalem and 2334 on settlements, dismantling illegal colonial-settlements and the annexation wall surrounding Bethlehem, including in the Cremisan Valley, fully end the occupation of Palestine and allow for the return of our people to their city. It is not the Palestinian government that prevents their return Mr. Netanyahu; It is your government.”

He said: “I would like to use this occasion to call upon the heads of the churches in Jerusalem as well as to the Holy See to raise their voices against the use of religion for political purposes. It cannot be tolerated anymore that the bible is used wrongfully in order to justify crimes and violations that go against the teachings of values spread by our lord Jesus Christ.”

(Source / 16.10.2018)

Israeli Settlers Led by Yehuda Glick Break into Al-Aqsa

16 OCT
12:48 AM

Dozens of Israeli settlers, headed by extremist American-born rabbi and member of the Knesset for Likud, Yehuda Glick, on Monday morning, broke into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Maghriba gate, and under heavy protection by Israeli occupation troops.

Jerusalemite sources reported, according to Al Ray, that the settlers carried out provocative tours, across the mosque’s courtyards, and received explanations on the alleged “Temple Mount”, delivered by Glick, amid repeated attempts to perform Talmudic rituals in the courtyards.

The sources added that Muslim worshippers, educational students, and guards of the mosque who were present, defended it with chanting and hampered the settlers from roaming it freely.

The Al-Aqsa mosque Compound is confronted, now on a daily basis, by the storming of Israeli settlers, upon which they perform Talmudic rituals and desecrate its sanctity.

The Israeli occupation seeks, through such measures, to divide the temporal and spatial division of the mosque, and to thoroughly Judaize the occupied city of Jerusalem.

(Source / 16.10.2018)

Dozens of Palestinians injured shot by Israeli navy

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli navy and soldiers attacked, Monday, dozens of Palestinian protesters, demanding an end to the deadly siege on the Gaza Strip, and injured at least 60 Palestinians with live fire, in addition to causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

The procession was organized by the Higher National Committee for the Great Return March, in the Gaza Strip, and was attended by hundreds of Palestinians along the eastern parts of the coastal region.

Media sources said the protesters gathered the shore, while many boarded boats that sailed in Gaza territorial waters, before the soldiers and the navy opened fire at them.

The sources added that 19 Palestinians were shot with live Israeli army fire, and dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

Most of the injuries tool place near Zikim military base, especially when some protesters managed to briefly cross through the northern Gaza, and the soldiers fired a barrage of live rounds at them.

Some protesters also managed to cut sections of the barb-wire fence in northern Gaza, and raised Palestinian flags.

Many protesters also burnt dozens of tires to limit the vision of the Israeli army sharpshooters, in the sea, and across the perimeter fence.

The Higher National Committee said the participation in today’s processions was the largest since the naval protests started, and added that the Palestinians are determined to continue the struggle for their legitimate rights, despite the escalating military violations, the fatal use of force, and the repeated threats by Israeli political leaders to wage a comprehensive war on the besieged coastal region.

It also called on the international community, and the United Nations, to uphold their responsibilities, and act on ending the deadly Israeli siege on two million Palestinians, living in poverty and “in the largest open-air prison on earth.”

(Source / 16.10.2018)

Zionist aircraft bombed resistance position in Gaza

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — An Israeli aircraft bombed on Monday afternoon a resistance position east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries in the airstrike.

“The strike was carried out after two Palestinians approached the security fence in the southern Strip and placed an explosive device near the fence,” the Israeli army said.

“The device exploded inside Gaza and damaged the fence. No troops were injured,” the army added.

(Source / 16.10.2018)

Israeli policewoman shoot, seriously injures Palestinian for ‘fun’

Israeli police officers secure the area near the scene of a shooting in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds on Jul 14, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Israeli police officers secure the area near the scene of a shooting in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds on Jul 14, 2017

An Israeli policewoman has been arrested on suspicion of opening fire at a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank, and critically wounding him as a “dubious form of entertainment.”

The judge at a hearing in the Jerusalem al-Quds Magistrate’s Court said on Tuesday that the unnamed suspect, who is said to be in her 20s, fired a sponge-tipped bullet at the back of the Palestinian man, without any apparent operational reason, near the al-Za’im checkpoint in East Jerusalem in May.

The policewoman is also suspected of obstructing justice, since she allegedly told her friend—an Israeli soldier who knew about the investigation and was summoned by the Police Investigation Unit to testify—she did not know anything about the incident.

Itzik Cohen, the Israeli policewoman’s defense attorney, denied the charges against his client, asserting she is innocent.

“The policewoman categorically denies that she fired a sponge-tipped bullet at the Palestinian man. Needless to say that the defendant’s face does not appear in the video obtained by the Police Investigation Unit, and nor does her voice,” Cohen said.

“The real reason for the defendant’s arrest is an attempt by the Police Investigation Unit to break her spirit and make her confess to an act she did not commit, apparently because she was unwilling to implicate others to save herself,” he added.

Tensions continue in the occupied Palestinian territories in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis Jerusalem al-Quds on December 6 last year has triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.

On December 21 last year, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”

In an attempt to prevent the passing of the resolution, Trump threatened reprisals against countries that backed the measure, which had earlier faced a US veto at the UN Security Council.

On June 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.

The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

It also called for “immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip.”

(Source / 16.10.2018)

Netanyahu threatens ‘very painful blows’ against Hamas

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli security forces during the 14th week of the Great March of Return at the Gaza-Israel border on 29 June 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

An injured Palestinian is seen after Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters during the Great March of Return in Gaza on 29 June 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday warned that Israel would strike Gaza with “very powerful blows” if the Great March of Return protests were not brought to an end.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said: “Hamas apparently has not understood the message: if it does not stop its attacks, they will stop in another way, in the form of painful blows, very painful.”

“We are very close to another type of action that includes very hard shots. If Hamas is clever, it will cease fire and violence now,” he said.

Prior to Netanyahu’s remarks, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that the time had come to deliver “the hardest blow” to Hamas should the “violence” on the “border” not stop, he said in reference to the protests being held by unarmed activists.

Read: Netanyahu’s Israel has eliminated peace

“We have turned every stone, and we have passed the point of no return… We have reached the stage where we must deliver the hardest blow imaginable on Hamas,” Lieberman said, according to Ynet News.

He added: “When you send soldiers into battle, you understand that some of them might not come home. So, we must exhaust every other possibility.”

“Hamas is determined to continue the violence until the blockade is fully lifted without reaching an agreement, especially regarding prisoner exchange, and without giving up on the main article in their charter—the destruction of the state of Israel.”

Gazans suffer at the hands of Israel - Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/Twitter]

(Source / 15.10.2018)

Settlers run over 2 Palestine workers in West Bank

Palestinian workers were injured after an Israeli settler ran them in the West Bank

Two Palestinian workers were injured after an Israeli settler ran them over yesterday near the Kafr Laqif village, east of the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya.

According to local sources, an Israeli settler ran over two Palestinian workers, who were identified as Oqab Raji Mahmoud Abed Al-Hafith and Ameer Hayel Raji.

The two were transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Sources added that Al-Hafith suffered serious injuries to the head, while Raji suffered moderate injuries to the head and shoulder.

On late Friday, Aisha Muhammad Talal Al-Rabi, 47, a mother of eight children, from the Bidya village near Salfit in the northern West Bank, was killed and her husband was injured, after Israeli settlers hurled rocks at their vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Read: Jewish settlers vandalise Palestinian cars in West Bank

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The majority of settler attacks committed against Palestinians are met with impunity, with Israelis rarely being indicted following such attacks.

Only 1.9 per cent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks result in a conviction, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din reported.

(Source / 15.10.2018)

Report: Israel army under ‘pressure’ from politicians over Gaza protests

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli forces at the Gaza-Israel border, as they take part in the Great March of Return protests in the Gaza Strip on 14 September 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians as they took part in the Great March of Return protests in the Gaza Strip on 15 September 2018

Israeli defence officials are feeling “pressure” from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ministers over ongoing protests in the occupied Gaza Strip, reported Haaretz.

According to the report, defence officials told the security cabinet yesterday “that it does not believe a large-scale conflict in the Gaza Strip is necessary”, following aggressive rhetoric and threats by Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The unnamed officials referred to “pressure from politicians to do something” about the Great Return March protests at the Gaza perimeter fence.

Haaretz stated that the army’s Southern Command is preparing for soldiers to “respond more forcefully” at the fence, and that “the no-entry area” could be “enlarged”.

However, in contrast to the language from ministers, the military has reportedly “not altered its decision to try to avoid being dragged into a military confrontation before the end of 2019”, by which time the new fence and underground barrier are expected to have been completed.

Read: Israel’s Bennett wants ‘shoot to kill’ policy in Gaza

One senior defence official, addressing the possibility that Israel’s political leadership would order a large-scale assault on the Gaza Strip, “argued that the conditions in Gaza would make it difficult for Israel to fight without being barraged by international criticism”.

The official noted that

the Gaza health system is on the verge of collapse and aid groups can barely help those in need, which means that fighting now in Gaza would lead to a serious humanitarian crisis there, limiting Israel’s room to manoeuvre vis a vis the international community.

In addition, “defence sources” cited by the paper “expressed surprise” at Lieberman’s “conditioning the resumption of fuel deliveries on total quiet”.

“These sources say that his remark puts both Israel and Hamas in a position from which it will be difficult to actually achieve an agreement”, the Haaretz report added.

112 Palestinians were killed in #Gaza by Israeli forces from 30th March to 15 May 2018

Read more: ow.ly/wwyF30k7j4A
MEMO infographic by The White Canvas

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(Source / 15.10.2018)

Abbas calls for dissolving Palestinian parliament

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas participates in the Palestinian Central Council meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s National Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Without reaching a reconciliation with the Palestinian factions, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday called for the Palestinian parliament to be dissolved.

During a meeting of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council in Ramallah, Abbas issued a decision calling for the PLO’s Central Council to take the needed measures to dissolve parliament.

The PLO’s Central Council is slated for a meeting at the end of this month.

In a statement, Fatah’s Revolutionary Council said that the Central Council would prepare for general elections in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

According to the statement, the Central Council is to carry out the elections only in the occupied West Bank if the situation on the ground does not allow for them to be carried out in Gaza and Jerusalem.

Read: Abbas misses a chance to help Palestinians

(Source / 15.10.2018)

Israel minister: Settler stoning of Palestinian mother ‘scrap of an incident’

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin [Betar NSW/Facebook]

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin

An Israeli minister yesterday belittled the stoning to death of a Palestinian mother by illegal Israeli settlers, calling it nothing more than a “scrap of an incident”.

Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin made the comments during an interview with Israel’s Army Radio yesterday, adding that left-wing organisations such as Peace Now were jumping on the incident to “condemn” illegal Israeli settlers. According to the Times of Israel, Levin told the radio:

It is impossible to not be aggravated by the hypocrisy of that kind of people [left-wing organisations], that finds sufficient the scrap of an incident that hasn’t even been checked, and they already know that the Jewish side is guilty.

Levin was commenting on an attack which took place on Friday night and left 47-year-old Aisha Muhammad Talal Al-Rabi dead. The attack took place at Tapuah Junction (Za’atara), south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, as Aisha and her husband Yaqoub were driving past a nearby illegal settlement. Their car was hit by stones believed to have been thrown by the settlers, causing Yaqoub to lose control of the car.

47-year-old Aisha Muhammad Talal Al-Rabi was killed after illegal Israeli settlers attacked her and her husband with stones in the West Bank [Ethan Anderson/Twitter]

According to Middle East Eye (MEE), the attackers “encroached on the right shoulder of the road, ambushed Aisha’s car [then hurled] large stones at the front windshield and passenger side window, where she was sitting”. MEE explains that “in the midst of the assault […] Aisha was struck with a large rock on the right side of her head, causing her to lose consciousness”. A MEE video showed graphic images of the blood-soaked car seat and shattered windscreen in the wake of the attack.

Yacoub’s cousin Issam told MEE: “Yaqoub was so disoriented, he could barely get a sense of what was going on, and he looked over and saw his wife unconscious and bleeding heavily from her head. He didn’t know what to do so he rushed to the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus City, a 20-minute drive away.” Despite Yaqoub’s attempt to save his wife, Aisha was pronounced dead on arrival, Ynet reported. She leaves behind seven children, one of whom was due to be engaged in the coming weeks.

READ: Jewish settlers vandalise Palestinian cars in West Bank

Israel’s security agency Shin Bet on Saturday launched an investigation into the attack, a fact which the Times of Israel sees as “suggesting that it was indeed suspected of being an act of terror carried out by area settlers.” Numerous other Israeli bodies have been cited as aiding the investigation, including “the division within the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] District Police that handles far-right activity” and Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, which issued a gag order on the investigation on Saturday. The involvement of so many organisations in the probe seems to add weight to the view that Israel believes its citizens were directly involved.

It is thought that the attack on the Al-Rabi family’s car could be a revenge attack for the shooting of two Israelis last week at the Barkan industrial park, itself situated near Tapuah Junction where Al-Rabi was murdered. Revenge attacks by settlers – sometimes dubbed “price tag” attacks – are commonplace and the perpetrators rarely face prosecution. According to human rights organisation Yesh Din, only three per cent of investigations into ideologically-motivated crimes committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians have resulted in a conviction. In addition, only eight per cent of investigations monitored by Yesh Din between 2005 and 2017 have led to indictments.

READ: Settlers run over 2 Palestine workers in West Bank

Friday’s attack has received international condemnation, with the UN’s Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov yesterday issuing an official statement saying: “I urge all to condemn violence and stand up to terrorism […] Such attacks only seek to drag everyone into a new cycle of violence that would further undermine the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis,” Haaretz reported.

The European Union also issued a statement on the attack, with the spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini saying: “The cycle of violence leads only to more violence and deprives entire generations from the legitimate aspiration to live in peace and free to build their own future. Only a political solution can put an end to the violence.”

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967 and has since pursued a policy of illegal settlement across the territory. According to B’Tselem, as of the end of 2015 there were 127 government-sanctioned Israeli settlements in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem and central Hebron), in addition to a further 100 outposts. Though Israel differentiates between settlements and outposts, both are illegal under international law, which forbids the occupying power from transferring its civilians to the territory it occupies.

READ: Israel: $6m to build new illegal settlement in Hebron

(Source / 15.10.2018)