Annexation and the need to be proactive

Israelis gather to stage a demonstration to protest against Israel's annexation plan for the illegal settlements in West Bank and Jordan Valley, in Tel Aviv on 6 June 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency]
Israelis gather to stage a demonstration to protest against Israel’s annexation plan for the illegal settlements in West Bank and Jordan Valley, in Tel Aviv on 6 June 2020 

By Mustafa Barghouti

There are a number of issues that the occupation government is escalating: settlement expansion and demolition orders against Palestinian buildings; daily arrests of Palestinians, some of which are accompanied by heinous murders, as in the case of the martyr Dalia Al-Samoudi in Jenin; and attacking Jerusalem institutions and the attempt to reduce the Palestinian presence in the city.

The Israeli decision to establish 1,000 new settlement units in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley was basically the announcement of the start, to all intents and purposes, of the annexation and Judaisation process. Some analysts thought that this had been postponed or stopped, despite Benjamin Netanyahu reiterating almost daily that it is on the table for further investigation and implementation.

Regardless of this, though, Israeli practices on the ground must be seen for what they are: the changing of the status quo, attempts to Judaise Palestinian areas and the actual annexation of all of the areas that are unfortunately classified as Area “C”, meaning 62 per cent of the West Bank.

Read More: To resolve the Palestinian question we need to end colonialism

This indicates the significance of the leaked statement by US diplomats to their international counterparts about disregarding UN Resolutions 242 and 338 and other international resolutions. They are old, it is claimed, and reality changes with time and changes every day.

The measures required to deter the annexation process and prevent the implementation of the deal of the century must not be linked to or wait for an official announcement that annexation is about to begin. They must be connected to the continuation of Israel’s colonial settlement policy, and its actual consecration of the apartheid system.

Read More: Despite suffering, sons and daughters of martyrs and prisoners get high results at Palestine’s HSC

The Israeli government is studying the reactions to its practices and its stated intentions to implement official annexation, and it tries to contain these responses and adapt its measures accordingly to absorb them. However, it is facing three obstacles that can be seen clearly: the physical presence of Palestinians resisting its plans and rejecting the apartheid regime; the possibility of facing real sanctions, including a boycott that is growing exponentially at the popular level; and the Palestinian consensus to reject the deal of the century, its maps and its plots.

On the other hand, it is racing against time, fearing that Donald Trump will lose the November presidential election.

On the Palestinian side, the most dangerous thing that could happen is the adoption of a watch-and-wait policy, or the overestimation and exaggeration of what the fall of Trump and the election of Biden might mean. This is because even though Biden is against Netanyahu’s annexation plan, he will not stand in the way of the continuation of the three de facto processes that I mentioned above.

Continuing the process of changing the status quo, officially or not, means eliminating the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Suffice to say that the number of colonial-settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was no more than 120,000 when the Oslo Accords were signed, but today there are 750,000.

Whether it is Trump or Biden sitting in the White House, and regardless of whether Netanyahu or Gantz is Israeli prime minister, the Palestinian steps that must be taken as a matter of urgency remain the same: real national unity; adopting a unified national combat strategy; and effective activity to impose a boycott on the occupation and the apartheid regime.

The Palestinian people will not be in crisis if their various factions and leaders adopt the correct approach. They will be in crisis, though, if they remain reactive instead of proactive.

(Source / 11.08.2020)

Claims of medical neglect of Palestinian detainees as the pandemic reaches the occupation prisons

Nearly 70 Palestinians have died in Israelí prisons since 1967 as a result of medical neglect. Kamal Abu Waar could be next on the list, and more could follow

By Qassam Muaddi 

When Kamal Abu Waar received confirmation that he had Covid-19, early last month, he had already been struggling with throat cancer for two years. The 46-year-old Palestinian from the town of Qabatia, near Jenin, is behind the occupation bars since 2003, spending his six life-sentences, and facing two deadly diseases, in the middle of what human rights organizations describe as systematic medical neglect.

Abu Waar is the latest in a long series of Palestinians having to experience the consequences of falling sick inside occupation prisons. Exactly a month ago, another Palestinian, Saadi Gharabli, a 74-year-old Palestinian from Gaza, died of cancer in Israelí prisons. He had been arrested in 1994 and spent 12 years in solitary confinement. Last November, the 37-year-old Sami Abu Dyak fell to cancer too. In the previous months, he had entered the deadly phase of his disease, which sparked a popular and legal campaign demanding his release for humanitarian reasons. His last wish was to die in the arms of his mother, which he was denied.

Pandemic, neglect and contradictory orders

According to Palestinian prisoner support and human rights group, Addameer, near 70 Palestinians have died in Israelí prisons since 1967 as a result of medical neglect. Kamal Abu Waar could be next on the list, and more could follow. Especially after the Israeli supreme court ruled, last July 23 that Palestinian prisoners had no right to physical distancing protection against Covid-19. The court ruling came four months after the occupation began to ban family and lawyer visits, last March, supposedly as a Covid-19 precaution. Then, a month later, the same occupation authorities issued a military order, allowing the military court to extend the detention of Palestinians despite having a barrier against that, for pandemic reasons.

Nisreen Abu Waar, Kamal’s sister, states that “we were informed that my brother had Covid-19, by his lawyer”, adding that “we knew his condition deteriorated lately and that he was submitted to medical exams, but we thought it was due to his previous cancer condition or to stomach problems”. Abu Waar’s lawyer was only capable of visiting him last week, almost a full month after he tested positive. His family hasn’t been allowed to visit him yet.

Old policy, new form

Ehteram Ghazawneh, head of the legal documentation unit at Addameer explains that “Medical neglect is a systematic policy for the Israelí occupation. Not only it causes health deterioration to prisoners who are already sick, but it often causes healthy prisoners to fall sick because of unhealthy detention conditions”.

These conditions include old and improper detention facilities, like the Damon prison that was built back in the 1930s as a stable for horses. They also include dirty clothes and mattresses and poor quality food. But under the pandemic, this neglect has taken new forms, with new risks for Palestinian detainees. “The Israelí court decision to reject physical distancing of prisoners is in itself a new form of medical neglect”, says Ehteram Ghazawneh, adding that “cells were sterilized only a few times, and now guards continue to search them without wearing masks or taking any preventive measures. The quantities of masks and alcohol given to each cell are not enough either”.

Make it cheaper

Palestinian prisoners and human rights groups have been battling against medical neglect for years. More than particular practices, it is the health system of the occupation prisons itself that has been the main point of this struggle. Ex-prisoner Waleed Sharaf gives witness to this system; “When I was arrested in June 2018, I had a chronic skin disease. I needed a special medicine for my condition, but the only thing the prison clinic gave me for months was pain killers. Then I started to have severe pain in the stomach, so they gave me more pain killers. When I finally couldn’t hold the pain anymore they transferred me to the Ramleh clinic, which they call ‘hospital’”.

The Ramleh prison clinic is a medical facility for Palestinian prisoners with chronic and serious health conditions. Ehteram Ghazawneh clarifies that “In each prison, there is a clinic with nurses. The Ramleh prison clinic, on the contrary, has some 14 to 15 doctors, but without specialized equipment, That is why when a prisoner’s condition becomes very critical or needs surgery, they are taken to a regular, civil Israelí hospital”.

It is the case of Kamal Abu Waar, who received all his specialized treatment in Israelí civil hospitals; “he received his 50 radiation sessions for his cancer in the Israelí Rambam hospital”, explains his sister Nisreen, “when he was diagnosed with Covid-19 they transferred him to Ramleh, but then they took him to the Afuleh civil hospital, then to the Assaf Harofeh civil hospital, then back to Ramleh”.

Waleed Sharaf remembers that “in Ramleh, I was handcuffed to my bed all the time. They never told me what I had and I didn’t receive any treatment. Later they took me to a civil hospital, where I received no treatment either. Until one day, in the middle of an argument about the point of keeping me in the hospital, the doctor told me that had a liver dysfunction”. According to Ehteram Ghazawneh, “The entire logic of the occupation prison health system is to make it as cheap as possible to the occupation state. This is why in every case there is a delay in diagnosing health problems, delay in transferring sick prisoners, and delay in treatment, which often comes too late”.

“Constant anguish”

The impact of medical neglect includes prisoners’ families. Nisreen Abu Waar recalls that “The occupation authorities never gave us any information on my brother’s situation. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer. We knew when he told me personally, during a visit”, after holding her breath for few seconds, like avoiding to get emotional, she adds; “that moment was the hardest for me. I had been preparing for the visit for months, not thinking of the hours-long security check, anxious of seeing him for 45 minutes, to find out he had throat cancer”. After another brief silence, she concludes; “I could only pray and trust my brother’s life in God’s hands”. For Ehteram Ghazawneh, “the occupation uses the prisoners’ health conditions as a tool to torture them and their families psychologically. It’s a means of revenge, and as a collective punishment, it’s a war crime too”.

A collective punishment increased under the pandemic. “Since we knew that Kamal had Covid-19, our lives have practically stopped,” says Nisreen Abu Waar, “we didn’t even celebrate my son’s high school graduation. It’s constant anguish, especially that we aren’t allowed to visit him and his lawyer can only get very little information”.

“Holding our breath”

As the pandemic continues to spread, Palestinian prisoners become more vulnerable to medical neglect. “The occupation conducts around 20 arrests every night in the West Bank”, explains Ehterma Ghazawneh. “Although detainees are held in quarantine for 14 days”, she adds, “they are later exposed to interrogators without preventive measures. We know at least about three prisoners who tested positive after direct contact with infected Israelí interrogators”.

Meanwhile, thousands of families across Palestine continue to live through the pandemic expecting news from their beloved ones behind the occupation bars. Or as Nisreen abu Waar puts it; “holding our breath, and praying”.

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Israelis do not support Palestinian equality

Israeli settlers gather next to their flag on a rooftop of a house in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank on 12 June 2018 [Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli settlers gather next to their flag on a rooftop of a house in the West Bank on 12 June 2018 

By Asa Winstanley

It is a common platitude amongst some of the weaker parts of the Palestine solidarity movement that “Israelis want peace” and do not support their government’s policies of oppression against the Palestinians and other Arabs peoples.

But the facts simply don’t bear this out. Let’s take a cursory examination of some Israeli polling data.

poll of Israeli Jews taken at the end of last year shows that 55 per cent support “unilateral annexation” of all, or the majority, of the West Bank in one form or another.

It is unclear from the think tank’s data how many of the remaining 45 per cent still support another form of this blatant theft of Palestinian land and homes, so long as it is not “unilateral” – i.e. green-lighted by the imperialist power headquartered in Washington DC.

READ: The Beirut explosion has serious implications for Israel and Hezbollah

This indicates that the vast majority of Israeli society supports the military occupation and theft of Palestinian land, which annexation represents. Israel’s Jews-only settlements are illegal under international law – in fact, they are a war crime.

The same poll shows that 66 per cent of Israeli Jews agree with the openly racist statement that the Arab countries surrounding Israel are a “jungle” in which Israeli civilisation has been established.

With such a wide degree acceptance of racism and violence against the Indigenous people of Palestine within Israeli society, it is very clear that such disturbing views are not confined merely to the political right within Zionism.

The author of an essay published this week on the issue of Israeli settlements, in the leading Israeli liberal Zionist publication Haaretz, explained how it was, in reality, the so-called “left-wing” of Zionism which historically founded the first illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank – not the right-wing Likud governments which began in 1977.

The first Israeli colonies in the West Bank were established immediately after the conclusion of Israel’s 1967 war of aggression against the Palestinian people – which resulted in the illegal occupation of the remainder of historic Palestine (the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem) along with large parts of Syria and a massive swathe of Egypt.

It was not Likud, or the hardcore religious-Zionist settler colonists who did any of this – it was the Israeli government of the Alignment – the forerunner of the Israeli Labor Party.

READ: The countdown to the demise of Netanyahu’s political reign

Gershom Gorenberg (a US-born Zionist who emigrated to Palestine in 1977 and subsequently became a settler) is a journalist who has written a book on the history of the West Bank settler movement, Accidental Empire.

“Settlement in itself was a core value of Labor Zionism,” Gorenberg explained to Haaretz.

The paper expressed that: “Gorenberg has attempted to dispel the common conception that the settlement enterprise was forced on Israel by a small but highly committed coterie of messianic religious nationalists.”

The religious settlers were a sort of vanguard of course, but they could never act without the planning and go-ahead of the Israeli government.

According to the Haaretz essaypolls taken immediately after Israel’s illegal 1967 invasion and occupation showed that more than 60 per cent of Israelis felt that: “We should go ahead, we should annex everything.”

The essay continues: “Gorenberg mentions a poll from July 1967 showing that 71 per cent of the public was in favour of keeping the West Bank, and 85 per cent the Golan.”

READ: The Likud Conspiracy: Israel in the throes of a major political crisis

These trends have only magnified over the years.

Polling during Israel’s last massive war of destruction against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip showed that almost all Israeli Jews supported the massacre.

Around 2,200 Palestinians were killed, an overwhelming proportion were civilians. This included 500 children (only 71 Israelis were killed by Palestinian resistance fighters – almost all of them were soldiers).

As many as 97 per cent of Israeli Jews supported this atrocity, according to successive polls during the war (a minimum of 92 per cent).

None of this means that Israelis are uniquely war-like or some kind of ultimate metaphysical evil in the world. Far from it.

In actuality, Israel is only one part of the long ignoble, violent history of European and Euro-American settler-colonialism. It has been the norm for hundreds of years, for settler societies to support wars of aggression, massacre and expansion against indigenous populations.

READ: Israel demolished 313 Palestine homes in West Bank, East Jerusalem in 2020

This has been seen all over the world: in North American, southern Africa, Algeria, Australia and New Zealand.

Right up until the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, for example, almost all white South Africans supported the maintenance of the white supremacist regime, just as almost all Israeli Jews support the Jewish supremacist regime in historic Palestine.

Of course, there are some marginalised (and often brave) Israeli dissidents who have broken ranks and rejected Zionism, those few genuinely support equality, return and liberation, and that is a good thing.

But please, let’s stop deluding ourselves that “Israelis want peace” – it simply isn’t true.

(Source / 08.08.2020)

Israel whitewashes its barbarism through offering help to Lebanon

Lebanon does not want help from the state that invented the Dahiya Doctrine, which is a military strategy based on destroying civilian infrastructure under the claim of preventing combatants from using it

By Motasem A Dalloul

In the middle of the tragedy of Beirut, Israel offers to help Lebanon. Offers were ignored, but Israel insists to whitewash its barbarism through trying to persuade the world that it has a humanitarian face.


A massive explosion hit the Lebanese Port of Beirut on Tuesday, causing much havoc in the capital city, with more than 140 deaths and 5,000 wounded, while hundreds are still missing raising fears that the death toll will rise significantly.

The blast turned more than 300,000 people homeless according to the governor of the city, and the Lebanese authorities declared Beirut a “disaster city” before imposing a two-week state of emergency.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that the wounded are stranded in hospitals with long waiting times for medical attention. The country, which has already been suffering severe humanitarian, economic and political crises, is clearly unable to deal with such a large-scale disaster.

However, several countries including Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Iraq have already sent field hospitals and medical aid after the Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan expressed on Thursday that the country needed more assistance to deal with the aftermath of the catastrophe.

“We are in contact with Arab and European countries to secure medical aid for Lebanon,” Hassan told Sawt Lebnan Radio. “What is required today is to set up field hospitals in the capital and this should include military hospitals.”

Amid the heart-breaking disaster, several Israeli occupation officials affirmed that Israel is ready to help Lebanon. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi disclosed that Israel approached Lebanon through international defence and diplomatic channels to offer the government humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed National Security Council Head Meir Ben-Shabbat to speak with United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov to clarify how Israel can further assist Lebanon.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin offered his condolences for the deceased and injured, tweeting: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”

Of course, Lebanon has so far ignored Israel and the Israeli offers of aid despite this tweet posted by the spokesperson of the Israeli occupation forces: “This is the time to transcend any conflict.”

In fact, Lebanon, which has endured national hardship even before the explosion occurred, is in need of any assistance offered – but not from Israel – which early this week pledged to destroy its infrastructure.

During meetings with Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and other members of the general staff held last Thursday, Gantz instructed the Israeli Defence Forces to bomb Lebanese infrastructure in any potential conflict with Lebanon. This came following days of tension in the northern front.

Lebanon does not want help from the state that invented the Dahiya Doctrine, which is a military strategy based on destroying civilian infrastructure under the claim of preventing combatants from using it.

To achieve this end, the Israeli forces are allowed to employ disproportionate power. This strategy is named after the Dahiya neighbourhood of Beirut which was completely destroyed by Israel in 2006.

The former Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett once told the Israeli daily Haaretz that: “The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out. That’s what we should already be saying to them and the world now. If Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front, this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages.”

Gantz, who declared that he approached Lebanon through international and diplomatic channels to offer humanitarian aid, once bragged about the destruction of the Gaza Strip and sending it back to the Stone Age.

As he put his foot at the doorstep of politics, the former Israeli chief of staff took pride in the killing of Palestinians. Only recently in 2014, when he was chief of staff, his army killed more than 2,260 Palestinians in a 51-day onslaught in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu, who claimed that he contacted a UN envoy on the same day of the explosion to inform him that Israel is ready to help Lebanon, was reported by Israeli media as threatening to attack Lebanon as tension between the two countries increased.

Referring to his threats, he avowed: “These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the IDF behind them and this should be taken seriously.”

This is enough to prove that Israel is not a state that offers humanitarian aid, but rather causes humanitarian tragedies. It is a state built on the bones and skulls of Palestinians who have been living in Palestine for thousands of years, and the Zionist Jews killed them and displaced them under the pretext that they are “God’s chosen people” who are entitled to live alone in the Holy Land.

Like most people around the world, I do not believe that Israel has a humanitarian face. When it proposes humanitarian help, surely it has in mind another purpose – possibly collecting intelligence in Beirut.

If Israel has a humanitarian face, why is it imposing a strict siege on the Gaza Strip and preventing its residents from receiving proper treatment? Why is it cutting the occupied West Bank into cantons and surrounding Palestinian cities and villages with the apartheid wall? Why does it not offer proper medical treatment for prisoners inside its jails, resulting in unnecessary, senseless deaths every year? There exists an unlimited number of similar questions.

I am sure that the real Israeli face was reflected through the veteran Israeli politician, Chairman of Zehut Party Moshe Feiglin. He celebrated the Beirut explosion and claimed it was a “gift” from Gaza to the Jewish people, claiming that he wished Israel was responsible for it.

The former Israeli MK posted on Facebook on Wednesday: “In honour of [Tu B’Av – the Jewish holiday of love which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday], we got a ‘spectacular pyrotechnics show’ in the Port of Beirut. If it was us, and I hope it was us, then we should be proud of it, and with that we will create a balance of terror. By avoiding saying it’s us – we are putting ourselves on the dark side of morality.” This is the real Israel, not the one claiming to belong to humanity.

Feiglin thanked God for organising such a “marvellous celebration”, referring to the blast. “Today is Tu B’Av, it is a day to rejoice – and a sincere and great thanks to the Lord and all the geniuses and heroes (!) who organised this marvellous celebration in honour of the holiday of love,” he wrote.

This is Israel – no more, no less.

(Source / 08.08.2020)

It is early to leave us alone, Palestinian infant tells his mother killed by Israeli forces

Opening fire at the ambulance which evacuated the Palestinian mother, who was critically wounded, proves that the Israeli occupation intentionally wanted her to die

By Thayer Abu Bakr

On Friday at dawn, Israeli occupation forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin and opened fire at Palestinians. A live bullet penetrated wall of Palestinian, hit young mother and ended her life.

“I am hit, Bassem. Take care of the children,” Dalia Smoudi, 23, yelled to her husband before she fell on the ground, bleeding after she was hit by a fatal Israeli bullet in the chest that penetrated the liver, pancreas and artery.

Friday at dawn, when, Dalia, a Palestinian mother, was preparing breakfast for her children, a bullet surprised her. She did not know that closing the windows of her kitchen to protect her 4-month-old baby, Iyas, and his brother, Siraj, who is a year-and-a-half, would be the last thing to do to protect her kids in this life.

After the Israeli occupation forces, which raided the West Bank city of Jenin had fired heavy tear gas and this toxic gas started to enter into her kitchen, Dalia immediately decided to close the windows of her house, starting by the kitchen window.

Dalia’s father, Ahmad Istiti, himself a former prisoner who spent several intermittent periods in the prisons of the Israeli occupation, told WAFA, with pain in his heart: “I had Dalia while I was a prisoner in the occupation jails in 1996, and I named her Dalia (grapevines) as a reflection of my belonging and love for Palestine, its land and its grapes.”

He added: “The cold-blooded murder of my daughter is not the first and it will not be the last. It is a systematic policy by the occupiers against our women, children and elderly people while they are in their homes without any real deterrent that would stop this tragedy that is repeated continuously.”

Dalia did not pose a threat to the occupiers when she was shot, he said, adding that, the unruliness of the soldiers was evident when they opened fire at the Red Crescent ambulance that came to save her life, hitting it with two bullets.

“Why was my niece murdered?” wondered Dalia’s uncle, Omar. “She was martyred while holding her children, trying to protect them from the bullets of the occupation forces and the teargas canisters they were madly shooting everywhere, as usual, without any consideration for anyone’s life.”

Dalia’s grieving mother, still under shock, had only to call on her daughter not to leave them. “Don’t go away, Dalia. Stay with us,” she said as she wept by her side while getting ready to bury her.

While holding putting his cute infant between his two arms and closing him to his chest, husband of the beautiful Palestinian mother spoke on behalf of the little kid saying: “It is early to leave us alone. We still need you.”

(Source / 08.08.2020)

Israel, destroyer of Lebanon, poses as its savior

By Tamara Nassar

Even amidst catastrophe, Israel’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people, injuring more than 5,000 and displacing hundreds of thousands.

The death toll is likely to climb as rescue workers search the devastated Lebanese capital.

The blast left little unscathed, as citizens posted pictures and videos of shattered homes, damaged cars and collapsed buildings across the city.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Lebanese officials linked it to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored for the past six years in warehouses at the port without safety precautions.

Now, Israel is exploiting the tragedy to erase its own crimes against Lebanon, distract from military occupation and polish its image – a propaganda strategy called bluewashing.

Bluewashing
Israel announced it was offering Lebanon humanitarian aid through diplomatic channels.

https://mobile.twitter.com/yairlapid/status/1290728299841433600

https://mobile.twitter.com/IDF/status/1290733534685134848

The breathtaking hypocrisy was not lost on Twitter users who posted notorious images taken during Israel’s 2006 invasion showing Israeli children writing messages on artillery shells before the army fired them into Lebanon.

“Will your gift baskets be signed just like your missiles?” One social media user wrote.

The offers of “humanitarian” aid come from the same country that has killed and injured tens of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and regularly threatens to destroy Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure as it has done time and again.

During the 2006 invasion, Israel fired more than a million cluster munitions into the country.

“What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs,” an Israeli army officer told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

In the course of that war, Israel dropped some 7,000 bombs and missiles, and bombarded all parts of Lebanon by land and naval artillery as well.

More than 1,100 people were killed and some 4,400 injured, the vast majority civilians.

An investigation by Human Rights Watch completely debunked Israel’s claims that the horrifying toll was as a result of “collateral damage” because Hizballah fighters were hiding among civilians or using them as “human shields.”

Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel indiscriminately targeted civilian areas – a strategy known as the “Dahiya Doctrine,” after the southern suburb of Beirut that Israel deliberately flattened.

And Israeli leaders frequently threaten to do it again.

In 2018, for example, Yisrael Katz, a senior member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, threatened to bomb Lebanon to the “Stone Age” and “the age of cavemen.”

And just days ago, after claiming that Hizballah fighters had attempted to attack the Israeli army across the border, Netanyahu alluded to the 2006 war.

The Israeli leader said on 27 July, that in 2006 Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah “made a big mistake in testing Israel’s determination to defend itself, and the Lebanese state has paid a heavy price for this.”

“I suggest he does not repeat this mistake,” Netanyahu added – a barely veiled threat to repeat the same massive destruction.

Netanyahu repeated his threats just hours before the Beirut explosion.

Spreading rumors
For maximum propaganda value, Israel is reportedly insisting on keeping Hebrew markings on any aid shipments that might reach Lebanon – although Lebanon is almost certain to reject such aid.

Meanwhile, Israel rushed to spread baseless rumors blaming Hizballah for the blast.

“Following the tragedy in Beirut, Israel has officially offered humanitarian assistance to Lebanon,” 4IL, a propaganda outlet of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, tweeted.

“This comes despite the evidence the explosion stemmed from a storehouse of Hizballah munitions,” the account added.

Absolutely no such evidence has come to light.

UN sells Israel
Israel regularly violates Lebanese airspace and sovereignty, flying unmanned aircraft and fighter jets over the south of the country and even its capital.

Instead of condemning such violations and calling for justice for the victims of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, lauded Israel for offering aid:

https://mobile.twitter.com/nmladenov/status/1290761423883247616

Mladenov appeared to be cynically using the tragedy as an opportunity to advance a political agenda of normalizing regional ties with Israel.

Israel’s Arabic-language propaganda Twitter account continued to put out shameless assertions of “solidarity” with the Lebanese people:

https://mobile.twitter.com/IsraelArabic/status/1290979415023910915

Not everyone was on message, however.

Moshe Feiglin, the former deputy speaker of Israel’s Knesset, celebrated the blast in Beirut as “spectacular pyrotechnics show” and a “wonderful celebration” coinciding with a date Jews mark as a holiday of love.

This is the same Feiglin who during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza proposed a plan to “concentrate” Palestinians in border camps and “exterminate” any who resisted, while destroying all civilian housing and infrastructure.

But most Israeli politicians apparently got the memo that these sorts of declarations are not the image Israel wants to send out.

Even as Israel lights up Tel Aviv city hall in a cynical display of support, few Lebanese will forget that almost 14 years ago to the day, Israel was lighting up Lebanon’s skies with missiles and bombs.

(Source / 07.08.2020)

Free Mahmoud Nawajaa!

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the General Coordinator of the BDS movement, Mahmoud Nawajaa [Twitter]
Mahmoud Nawajaa, the General Coordinator of the BDS movement, Mahmoud Nawajaa [Twitter]

By Asa Winstanley

A nine-year-old boy shouts: “Leave dad alone. Get out. Your dog doesn’t scare me!”

The boy’s home has just been invaded in the middle of the night by a score of soldiers in full battle-dress, armed to the teeth. Accompanying them is a vicious, trained military hound.

The boy and his younger brother are outwardly defiant.

“Take care of the kids,” their father tells his wife as the soldiers take him away.

He is blindfolded, handcuffed and led away into the night by this cowardly gang of thugs who pass themselves off as soldiers.

This scene is not fiction. It happened in the early hours of Thursday morning, 30 July, in occupied Palestine.

The man, who now languishes inside an Israeli dungeon without charge, is Mahmoud Nawajaa.

Nawajaa is not a “terrorist” or even a member of the legitimate armed resistance. He is the general coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Palestine.

The BDS movement which Nawajaa helps to lead is an entirely peaceful, legitimate campaign of resistance against Israel’s illegal occupation and systemic racism.

The 15-year campaign to hold Israel to account with targeted, ethical boycotts, divestments and sanctions has made massive strides. Israel considers it such a threat to its apartheid regime that it dedicates its spy agencies – including Mossad – towards a global campaign of sabotage and dirty tricks to fight it.

Now Israel has also engaged its “soldiers” in this particular war against Palestinian human rights.

It is a typical sign of Israeli weakness and fragility that they felt they needed around 20 soldiers to kidnap this one unarmed man, who posed no threat to their lives.

A decade or so ago, in all likelihood, the Israeli army and secret police would by now have briefed the Israeli press with disinformation intended to smear a non-violent activist like Nawajaa – and most Israeli journalists would have dutifully parroted their line.

On a quick review of Israeli websites the day after Nawajaa’s arrest, they have not even bothered to do that. There is no story about Nawajaa yet published that I can see. To Israelis, he is simply yet another dangerous Palestinian “extremist” who must have done something wrong.

This is a lie. We must pressure our political leaders to demand Nawajaa’s immediate, unconditional release from Israeli detention.

In a press release, the BDS National Committee (or BNC, the coordinating body for Palestinian civil society for which Nawajaa works) explained Nawajaa’s arrest by Israeli occupation forces: “Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is desperately trying to terrorise Palestinian BDS activists and their families, after having failed to slow down the growth of the movement. We call on all BDS activists everywhere to further strengthen BDS campaigning to hold Israel accountable.”

Their persecution of Nawajaa is only the latest of many examples of Israel’s constant violations of international law – aided by its US, Canadian and European allies.

The United Nations’ International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines the objective conditions in which the term “apartheid” applies. Israel of course qualifies, as a multitude of experts have pointed out for many decades.

Under the convention, the “persecution of organisations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid,” is one of the inhumane acts committed to maintaining an apartheid system. Israel is clearly guilty of this in the case of Nawajaa.

While Nawajaa remains in Israeli prison, there is the additional threat to him and the other political prisoners of the coronavirus.

As the BNC further explained in an email rallying international activists to Nawajaa’s defence: “Mahmoud is one of the more than 4,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. In the current circumstances, with the COVID-19 virus spreading, mass detention aggravates health and safety risks to all detainees, adding to the common culture of torture and degrading and inhumane treatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails.”

The BNC is calling on the BDS movement’s supporters to write to their governments to demand Nawajaa’s release, mobilise support in local groups, parties and unions, raise awareness on social media (using the hashtags #FreeMahmoud or #LibertadParaMahmoud) and strengthen and escalate our BDS campaigns.

Take inspiration from the fearless example of Nawajaa’s young son – yet another sign that the Palestinian people refuse to give up, go away and die quietly.

Take action: Free Mahmoud Nawajaa!

(Source / 01.08.2020)

Activists worldwide demand immediate release of BDS coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa

Mahmoud Nawajaa. (Photo: via Twitter)
Mahmoud Nawajaa (Photo: via Twitter)

The arrest of Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s National Committee (BNC) in Palestine, has invited global condemnation and demands for his immediate release are being raised by activists worldwide. Nawajaa (34) was arrested by Israeli forces in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank early morning on July 30, Thursday. 

Nawajaa has been a vocal opponent of the Israeli occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people. He has also criticized Israel’s proposed annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank as a crystallization of “a 21st century apartheid”.  Pointing to Israel’s consistent denial of Palestinians’ “inalienable right to self-determination”, he has previously said that “it is high time for all states and international organizations to comply with their legal obligations by adopting effective countermeasures, including sanctions” against Israel.

According to a statement issued by the BDS movement, scores of Israeli forces personnel stormed Nawajaa’s home at around 3:30 a.m on Thursday, blindfolded and handcuffed him in front of his wife and three children, before taking him away. According to the last reports, even after 24 hours of his arrest, his whereabouts are still unknown.

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ISRAEL’S BID TO ATTACK ALL FORM OF RESISTANCE

Nawajaa was among 17 Palestinians arrested by the Israeli forces from different parts of the occupied Palestine on Thursday and Wednesday. Jamal Juma, one of Nawajaa’s colleagues in the BNC in Palestine, told Middle East Eye that they have no information about his whereabouts. “They [Israeli occupation forces] are attacking any form of resistance movement in Palestine, including the BDS movement,” Juma said.  

Taking its cue from the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS movement was launched by Palestinians in 2005 as a global campaign for the economic and cultural boycott of Israel in order to pressure it to end its occupation and apartheid against Palestinians. Israel has actively tried to suppress its activities and discredit its agenda by calling it anti-Semitic.  

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BNC is a coalition of more than 200 organizations inside occupied Palestine, including various women’s groups, trade unions and other civil society and political organizations united against the Israeli occupation and peacefully campaigning for the boycott of Israel.

The BDS movement’s co-founder, Omar Barghouti, issued a statement following news of Nawajaa’s arrest and called for his immediate release. As per the statement, “Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid is desperately trying to terrorize Palestinian BDS activists and their families, after having failed to slow down the growth of the movement. We call on all BDS activists everywhere to further strengthen BDS campaigning to hold Israel accountable”.  

#FREEMAHMOUD

Several other organizations across the globe condemned the BDS activist’s arrest and demanded his immediate release. BDS Colombia pointed out that “by stopping him they attack the heart of the non-violent campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel.” It called on activists everywhere to ” demand the immediate release of Mahmoud and all Palestinian prisoners and prisoners.” BDS India issued a statement calling for solidarity across the movement. “We in India know much too well the face of persecution and the moral necessity to defend prisoners of conscience. The use of draconian laws like UAPA to silence dissent is an ongoing battle for us. We understand the need to build solidarities across movements, especially as the regimes that rule us start to mirror one another,” the statement reads.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, tweeted, “Israeli occupation forces in Palestine have kidnapped Mahmoud Nawajaa, @BDSmovement coordinator! Solidarity with Mahmood and BDS movement. Immediately release Mahmood and all political prisoners! #FreeMahmoud.”

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) too has issued a statement condemning the arrest. It said the arrest is yet another attack by “the Apartheid state of Israel on those who speak out and organize against its crimes against the Palestinian people. That a human rights defender and community leader can be arrested in the dead of night, in front of his wife and terrified small children by dozens of armed soldiers speaks volumes about Israel’s system of oppression.” IPSC also demanded that the Irish government intervene to secure Nawajaa’s release.

Irish Congress for Trade Unions released a similar statement demanding the Irish state to intervene in the matter to secure the release of Nawajaa. 

CODEPINK  in a tweet called the arrest totally reprehensible, and drew parallels between the US government’s actions against the Portland protesters and the arrest of Palestinian activists by the Israeli state.

(Source / 01.08.2020)

Six years after Gaza war, Palestinian victims lament housing crisis

A Palestinian woman stands at the doorway of her impoverished house in the southern Gaza Strip amid growing concerns over Israeli expansion plans. (AFP)
A Palestinian woman stands at the doorway of her impoverished house in the southern Gaza Strip amid growing concerns over Israeli expansion plans

By Hazem Balousha

Six years have passed since the last bloody war on the Gaza Strip, but Palestinian Saber Abu Nahl is still moving from one house to another after he lost his home to Israeli airstrikes in the northern Al-Nada neighborhood.

Abu Nahl, who works as a taxi driver, was one of hundreds who lost their homes during the conflict.

He dreams of rebuilding his home again.

Read More: Six Palestinians kidnapped by Israel in West Bank

“The rent fees overwhelmed me and I dream day and night to go back to home,” said Abu Nahl, 43.

The war launched by Israel against Gaza, which lasted from July 8 till Aug. 26, 2014, destroyed 12,000 housing units and partially destroyed 160,000, of which 6,600 were uninhabitable, according to the Ministry of Works and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in cooperation with the UN Development Program.

Read More: Palestinian prisoner completes 17 years in Israeli jails

More than 1,500 housing units are yet to be rebuilt and their owners are homeless, according to the non-governmental organization People’s Committee to Face the Siege.

Abu Nahl, who supports a family of seven, lives in a modest rental home in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The former owner of the house forced him to leave because he could not pay the estimated monthly rent of $117.

Like other homeowners ruined by the war, Abu Nahl was receiving financial aid from the UNRWA as an allowance for the value of rent until they returned to their homes after reconstruction.

However, UNRWA has stopped paying the allowance since 2018. Abu Nahl disagreed with the decision and accused Palestinian forces of breaking promises.

“The UNRWA is lying, the Palestinian factions do not care about us and we are homeless without any horizon,” he said.

“Many days I return to my children with not enough to feed them, so how do I manage their affairs and pay the rent in light of a devastating economic situation?”

Since the 2014 conflict, the Gaza Strip has endured fighting between Hamas and other factions, and Israel.

Nevin Barakat is no better off than Abu Nahl, and despite receiving a new apartment at the beginning of the year, she still feels the painful effects of the war, where she lost her home.

The Al-Nada neighborhood apartment was destroyed, and Barakat, her husband Rami, and her five children took refuge in a school shelter. But an Israeli artillery shell hit the classroom where she was staying, killing her husband and wounding her children.

Although she was happy to move her children to the new apartment, the “ghosts of war” still affect Barakat, who fears another war could displace them again.

“I lost my husband at the age of 37. I want to live in peace and raise my children.” she said.

Osama Drabieh, a member of the destroyed homeowners’ committee in the Al-Nada neighborhood, said: “It is true that most destroyed homes in the neighborhood have been rebuilt, but residents are afraid a new war will bring back the suffering.”

Drabieh, a retired civil servant, returned to his new apartment at the beginning of the year after six long years of separation from his family.

“We have suffered a lot from the burden of destroyed housing and we cannot tolerate any new war that will destroy what has been rebuilt,” he said.

“The impact of the previous war is still visible on our bodies, homes, factories and streets.”

Jamal Al-Khudari, head of the People’s Committee to Face the Siege, said that more than 1,500 housing units have still not been rebuilt after the 2014 war.

More than 500 factories were also severely damaged during the fighting, he said.

“The reality in the Gaza Strip remains difficult, exceptional and tragic,” Al-Khudari said.

Six years after the war, life on the Gaza Strip faces the growing threats of a deteriorating economy, poverty and unprecedented unemployment rates.

(Source / 25.07.2020)

Jerusalemites caught up in annexation plight

By Essam Yousef

Jerusalemites live in a complex situation, amid an immense sense of suffering and concern about the current stage, as headlines of escalating violations, whether by the occupation authorities or extremist Jewish groups, prevail in the media scene. On the other hand, the spectre of the annexation plan of the lands on which the settlements are built, and the increasing spread of the coronavirus with its dramatic rise in cases, add to the locals’ fears.

The gravity of their suffering deepens the Jerusalemites’ apprehensions regarding the fateful challenges awaiting the city and its people, especially in light of the acceleration of Zionist plans to impose political control on the administrative side, while competing against time in order to fully dominate the situation, by annexing 30 per cent of the lands of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Although East Jerusalem is under Israel’s control, the implementation of the annexation plan will further enshrine the hegemony of the occupation, as the Israeli authorities have insisted on postponing negotiations on the future of the holy city and adding the file to the list of issues that will be discussed in the “final status” stage of the Oslo agreement. This allowed them to impose new procedures on the ground that led to a pivotal event, after US President Donald Trump announced the city as the capital of the Jewish state, more than a year ago.

The Jerusalemites are expressing alarming concerns about the occupation’s intention to change the demographic traits of the city after the approval of the annexation plan, by continuing the Judaisation process and the uprooting of the city’s residents at a faster pace, while covering up for its foul policies by a sense of “legitimacy” acquired by the US decisions in light of the deal of the century.

After annexing the lands of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, Jerusalemites are expecting that the Israeli authorities will proceed in changing the status of Jerusalem at a fast pace, starting with granting the occupation state the legitimacy of all decisions issued against the city and its Arab residents since 1967. In addition, there are fears that adopting new policies will aggravate the rift within the community, and establish larger Jewish settlements that would completely erase the Arab and Islamic identity of the holy city.

Israel’s secretive intentions to carry out a comprehensive change of the status of Jerusalem can be clearly depicted through the situation of the East Jerusalemites, who were ambushed by the authorities to unwillingly remain “stuck” with the status of residents rather than of citizens. This comes in addition to the occupation’s unfair handling of the Palestinians’ right to legally own real estate, which facilitates the expulsion of families from their homes under several pretexts, either for the absence of a building license, or failing to pay exorbitant taxes. In fact, confiscating houses and lands does not require significant legal justifications, especially since the authorities often take advantage of the owner’s absence to argue for expropriating their land or home.

The occupation’s goals are translated through a number of procedures and practices, including the violation of the Jerusalemites’ right to access neighbourhoods and areas with an Arab minority in the holy city, as the annexation plan requires the consecration of the essential ​​”larger land with less people”. However, East Jerusalem neighbourhoods were, and are still, overcrowded with Palestinians, which constitutes a fundamental problem for Israel.

The occupation state anticipated the annexation phase, which is described by its leaders as historical, through implementing policies and measures for many years on the ground with the aim of changing the features of the holy city. The most prominent step in this direction was to build the apartheid wall that cuts off Palestinian lands, including Jerusalem, in order to separate the settlements from Palestinian communities on the one hand, and East Jerusalem from the West Bank and Palestinian areas, on the other. The objective of this strategy was to bring about a change in the area’s demographic features in favour of the Jewish settlers.

The occupation strategy regarding the situation of the Palestinian population in the coming stage was voiced by Israeli leaders calling for the isolation of Palestinian areas and neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, east of the separation wall, and then working to transfer them to separate regional directorates under Israeli control, with the aim of preserving the Jewish majority of the population. This would serve as a model to unfold the essence of the entire annexation plan, which is to take over large parts of the West Bank and transfer the Palestinian residents, who will be considered as residents rather than citizens, to separate Israeli administrative units.

The Israeli frenzy to finalise the afore-detailed demarche appears in the final touches to prepare the last stage that precedes the annexation declaration by: “Implementing several plans to disperse Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied Jerusalem, and to prevent geographical communication between the Arab communities, while continuing to build roads and move the existing barriers between settlements, to ensure that geographic connectivity between the Jewish residential areas that may tighten a demographic belt around Jerusalem from all sides,” according to Jerusalem affairs expert Fakhri Abu Diab, who described the occupation’s measures as a “silent annexation” in occupied Jerusalem.

The particular infrastructure project currently implemented by the occupation, including the railway line linking the coast to the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and paving the so-called “American Street”, to facilitate the passage from one settlement to the other, while systematically demolishing Palestinian homes, is telling about the future of the area under these extreme changes that will result in taking Jerusalemites out of the equation. Jerusalemites, after being isolated in areas where they lose their legal status and citizenship, may not even enjoy residents’ rights.

The holy city, which is suffering due to the actual application of a racist “apartheid” system that has been working on tearing the Arab Jerusalemite society apart and imposing extremely difficult social and economic conditions on them, stands as an epitome for the Palestinian people’s plight amid the annexation crisis. Jerusalemites have been fighting the occupation authorities on their own, who imposed a new reality on the ground over the years, and took advantage of an ideal opportunity that was created with regional and international complicity, to execute the recent crackdown on the rights of the Palestinians to their lands, resources and holy sites.

This bitter situation was further complicated by a series of shocks that ravaged the peace of Jerusalemites, as the occupation authorities are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic in the city to intensify the arrest campaigns, to distance the population, including many officials, from Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and hampering the provision of medical assistance to combat the spread of the virus, in addition to speeding up the demolition of more houses.

Amid this crisis, Jerusalemites found no other solution but to stand alone in the face of the pandemic and confront the violations committed by the occupation, while hoping for a change in political balances in their favour, and a push of support from brotherly countries, as well as everyone with a vivid conscience. Jerusalem has become a leading humanitarian and liberation cause that no logic, pure instinct, or even basic principle of law, can accept half-solutions for.

(Source / 24.07.2020)