Egypt Reassures Abbas… Hamas- Israel Truce in ‘Final Stretch’

A truck carrying goods arrives at Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 15, 2018

Egypt is finalizing details of a long-term truce deal based on 2014 Agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions, said reliable sources to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. This arrangement would pave the way towards a subsequent prisoner exchange deal and huge projects in Gaza.

Palestinian sources affirmed that there is an initial approval from Israel and Hamas, but Egypt hopes to conclude a reconciliation agreement before or parallel with the truce.

The sources added that truce talks sent a negative message because they were held during the meetings of the Palestinian Central Council, they went a long way without referring to President Abbas, and they disregarded the Palestine Liberation Organization as being the core of the deal.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior member of the Hamas, said that talks with Israel on a long-term ceasefire deal were in “the final stretch.” He added that the talks with the factions, Egypt and the UN have made a significant stride in rehabilitating the understandings of 2014.

An Egyptian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo in May, and he proposed a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas. Yaakov Amidror, National Security Adviser of Israel, said that this can’t be called a truce but an agreement through a third party…

“Hamas needs the truce as the person needs air,” he added.

“That’s the only way,” Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said on Thursday when asked if a broad arrangement depended on the return of the soldiers’ bodies.

“Nothing will be done to enable (Gaza’s) significant rehabilitation and the improvement of infrastructure and ports and other such fantasies, unless they release the bodies and the two Israeli captives,” he told Israel radio.

Extensive meetings will be resumed on Saturday between the Palestinian factions and the intelligence body leadership to discuss topics such as the truce and reconciliation.

(Source / 18.08.2018)

UN Chief Proposes Options for Improved Palestinian Protection

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaks to the media after a meeting with Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado at the Presidential house in San Jose, Costa Rica July 16, 2018

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from the deployment of UN-mandated armed forces or unarmed observers, to expanding UN assistance.

The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.

Guterres outlined four options, but he did not make a specific recommendation. He noted that all options would need the cooperation of both parties, a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources to ensure they were viable. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.

“The combination of prolonged military occupation, constant security threats, weak political institutions, and a deadlocked peace process provides for a protection challenge that is highly complex politically, legally and practically,” he wrote.

In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:

– Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.

– Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”

– Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.

– Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.

A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.

A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.

In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.

In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.

Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”

“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”

On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.

Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.

“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”

UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must be strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”

UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.

The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.

UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.

The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.

(Source / 18.08.2018)

After 12 hours closure, Israel reopens Al-Aqsa for Muslim worshipers

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli police reopened at dawn Saturday the gates of al-Aqsa Mosque, after being closed for hours on Friday.

Hundreds of Palestinian worshipers were managed early today to perform Dawn prayers in the compound.

Earlier Friday, Israeli police closed all gates to the Mosque and forced dozens of Palestinians protesting the closure to leave.

Police also prevented Palestinian protesters from gathering in front of Lion’s Gate (Bab Al-Asbat) for Isha prayer.

Police forces closed all entrances to the Old City and al-Aqsa gates, installed military checkpoints, and summoned more police officers in the area.

A state of tension prevailed in the compound and the occupied city as a whole after Israeli police shot and killed a 30-year-old Palestinian resident of Umm Al-Fahem for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack.

(Source / 18.08.2018)

Fatah: We will reject any truce in Gaza agreed without us

Senior member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Azzam Al-Ahmad

Senior member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Azzam Al-Ahmad

Member of PLO’s Executive Committee and Fatah’s Central Council Azzam Al-Ahmad said yesterday that his movement will reject any truce in Gaza if it was not part of the negotiations, Shehab reported.

Speaking to the BBCAl-Ahmad said that the PLO and Fatah’s conditions to accept any truce is accepting a PLO delegation chosen and dispatched by the body, Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Ahmad added that the truce agreement, which is being discussed in Cairo, is brokered by Qatar and the United Nations.

Delegations for the Palestinian factions which are active in Gaza are currently discussing a reconciliation agreement based on the 2014 understandings in parallel with a truce with the Israeli occupation.

Fatah has insisted it head the delegation however the other factions refused this proposal.

Meetings in Ramallah and Cairo and the spectre of an attack

(Source / 18.08.2018)

UN chief suggests deploying UN-mandated armed forces to protect Palestinians

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Palestine Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 August 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Palestine Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 August 2017

The protection of Palestinian civilians could be improved by the deployment of UN-mandated armed forces or unarmed observers, a beefed-up UN civilian presence or expanded UN assistance, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a report on Friday.

The United Nations General Assembly requested the report in a resolution adopted in June that condemned Israel for excessive force against Palestinian civilians and denounced the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas.

The resolution asked for proposals to ensure “the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including … recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

Guterres outlined four options, but he did not make a specific recommendation. He noted that all options would need the cooperation of both parties, a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources to ensure they were viable. He wrote:

The combination of prolonged military occupation, constant security threats, weak political institutions, and a deadlocked peace process provides for a protection challenge that is highly complex politically, legally and practically

Armed UN peacekeepers or armed forces from a group of like-minded states operating under a United Nations mandate could be deployed to offer physical protection, Guterres said. This option, however, would need a Security Council mandate and the United States, a close ally of Israel, would likely wield its veto.

A UN or non-UN civilian observer mission could be deployed “with a specific mandate to report on protection and well-being issues and provide local mediation,” Guterres said. This would also need a UN-mandate.

Read: UN Chief calls for supporting efforts to avoid escalation in Gaza

A third option could be expanding current UN programs and development and humanitarian aid to address the needs of Palestinian civilians more effectively and strengthen Palestinian institutions, he wrote.

The final option could be to send additional UN human rights, coordination and political officers to boost monitoring and reporting on the situation and increase the UN’s visibility, Guterres said.

The General Assembly resolution requesting the report was adopted with 120 votes in favour, eight against and 45 abstentions. It was put forward in the General Assembly after the United States vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member UN Security Council.

“The best way to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population is still the negotiation of a comprehensive, just and final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Guterres said.

Read: US vows to veto UNSC proposal to protect Palestinians

(Source / 18.08.2018)

Clashes flare up in West Bank following weekly protests

Violent clashes West Bank

Violent clashes broke out between the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and dozens of Palestinian citizens who were taking part in the weekly demonstration of Kafr Qaddum village, east of Qalqilya.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that the IOF soldiers were deployed in large numbers in the village, and when the demonstrators finished their Friday prayer, they were attacked with sound bombs and teargas canisters.

Dozens of Palestinians took part in Kafr Qaddum’s demonstration which is launched on a weekly basis against Israel’s settlement activity in the village.

Other clashes were witnessed in Beit Furik and Kafr Qalil, east and south of Nablus respectively, after several IOF patrols stormed the towns in the afternoon, according to eyewitnesses.

(Source / 17.08.2018)

Occupation forces killed Palestinian after stabbing soldier in al-Quds

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — An Israeli soldier was injured Friday in an anti-occupation stabbing attack in the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem.

The Palestinian reporter said that an Israeli soldier suffered several wounds after being stabbed by a Palestinian youth at al-Majlis Gate near al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli police announced that the Palestinian youth was shot and killed by their forces for “deliberately” attempting to kill an Israeli soldier.

Local sources reported that the Israeli police closed all entrances to the Old City and some of al-Aqsa gates, installed military checkpoints, and summoned more police officers in the area.

(Source / 17.08.2018)

Gaza Strip: Attacks in the Border Areas and Their Consequences

16 AUG
2:52 PM

The term “buffer zone” in land and at sea is used for land and sea areas, which were unilaterally and illegally declared by Israeli forces as areas with no access along the eastern and northern borders and in the sea of the Gaza Strip following the Israeli Disengagement Plan in 2005.

In violation of the provisions of the international humanitarian law, the Gaza Strip’s population are denied access to their property in the “buffer zone” in land while the fishermen are prevented from sailing and fishing in the “buffer zone” at sea .

The area  of the buffer zone vary from time to time according to the Israeli forces declarations, without taking in consideration the international law that bans any changes to the occupied territories.

According to Israeli forces instructions, the “buffer zone” extends to an area ranging between 100 to 1,500 meters in some eastern land borders, while ranges between 3 to 9 nautical miles in the Gaza Strip sea.

Israeli forces expanded the fishing area in the Gaza Strip from 3 to 6 nautical miles following the ceasefire agreement post November 2012 Israeli offensive.

However, there is conflict over the Access Restricted Area (ARA) in land, which increases the risks endured by the Palestinian civilians. In a statement on his official website, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) declared that fishermen could now access the sea up to 6 nautical miles offshore, and that farmers could now access lands in the border area up to 100 meters from the border fence.

However, both references have since been removed from the statement, which obviously indicates the Israeli forces retreat of the above-mentioned ceasefire.

On 21 March 2013, the Israeli forces’ spokesperson announced re-reducing the fishing area allowed for Palestinian fishermen from 6 nautical miles to 3 nautical miles. The same announcement also included the re-expansion of the “buffer zone”  in land up to 300 meters.

However, on 21 May 2013, the Israeli authorities decided to allow fishermen to sail up to 6 nautical miles.

Following the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014, a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian armed groups was brokered by the Egyptian government, which allowed fishermen to sail up to 6 nautical miles.

However, the Israeli naval forces have not allowed fishermen to sail up to this limit. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) observed that all the Israeli attacks have taken place within less than 6 nautical miles.

On 07 March 2015, the Israeli naval forces declared via loud speakers that the allowed fishing area reduced to 4 nautical miles and warned Palestinian fishermen from approaching this area along the Gaza Sea.

On 01 April 2016, the Israeli authorities expanded the fishing area from 6 to 9 nautical miles between the area from Gaza valley to the southern Gaza Strip, while denied access to more than 6 miles in the other areas. On 03 May 2017, the Israeli authorities allowed fishermen to fish up to 9 nautical miles, instead of 6 nautical miles in the Sea in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip.

According to field updates followed up by PCHR, the Israeli occupation forces have escalated their attacks against the Palestinian civilians, including farmers and fishermen, and prevented them from safe and free access to their lands and fishing areas.

This constitutes a violation of their rights according to the international human rights standards, including their right to security, personal safety and protection of their property, their right to work, the right to adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

Enforcing the “buffer zone” through the use of live fire which has often led to direct targeting of civilians, is a war crime, where killings under these circumstances constitute a wilful killing in grave violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Attacks

July 2018

Attacks Total “Buffer zone” on land “Buffer zone” at sea
Shelling 20 20 0
Shooting 545 520 25
Incursions 6 6 0
Land leveling 0 0 0
Detention incidents 5 5 0
Total incidents 576 551                25

 

Consequences of attacks

 

  1. Deaths and injuries

July 2018

Consequences Total “Buffer zone” on land “Buffer zone” at sea
Death of persons 17 17 0
Minors 3 3 0
Women 0 0 0
Injury of persons 493 493 0
Minors 104 104 0
Women 20 20 0

 

  1. Property related violations

July 2018

Consequences Total “Buffer zone” on land “Buffer zone” at sea
Property damaged 2 2 0
Property confiscated 1 0 1
Dunums razed 0 0 0

 

  1. Detention

 July 2018

Consequences Total “Buffer zone” on land “Buffer zone” at sea
Total persons detained 15 8
Minors detained 0 0 0
Women detained 0 0 0

 

Note:

 

  • Among the arrestees were 2 civilians, who were arrested at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing.
  • Eight civilians, who were on board of a ship for Breaking Siege, were arrested and their ship was confiscated by the Israeli forces.

Public Document

(Source / 17.08.2018)

Hours Before Her Release, Palestinian Woman Receives Administrative Detention Order

17 AUG
1:40 PM

The Israeli authorities issued, Friday, an Administrative Detention order against a young Palestinian female detainee, just hours before he scheduled release.

The young Palestinian woman, identified as Fida’ Mohammad Ekhlayyel, 21, is from Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Fida’ was supposed to be released today, and her family traveled to Tulkarem, in northern West Bank, to welcome her at an Israeli military roadblock, but were informed by an army officer that their daughter will not be released because she received an order, holding her under Administrative Detention.

The family is yet to be informed about how long their daughter will be held under Administrative Detention, especially since her defense attorney has not been informed about that the Israeli Authorities.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said Fida’ was taken prisoner on May 29th, 2018, and was charged with “incitement against Israel on social media outlets,” before she was sentenced to 95 days in prison.

The young woman is also a former political prisoner who spent a year in Israeli prisons.

It is worth mentioning that Israel has issued more than 4.000 administrative detention orders during the last three years, 456 of which were issued since the beginning of 2018.

(Source / 17.08.2018)

Solidarity Cup’ goes ahead Sunday despite cancellation of Gaza Kids to Ireland trip

Al Helal Football Academy

GAZA/PNN/

THE young footballers from Gaza who visited Ireland for the past two summers have been forced to cancel their trip this year.

The Palestinian boys from Al Helal Football Academy, who live under Israeli occupation in Gaza, planned to travel Tuesday (August 14th) through the territory’s border with Egypt at the Rafah crossing and across the Sinai Desert to Cairo, where they would fly to Dublin.

However, the difficult trip was prevented when the Rafah crossing was unexpectedly closed, forcing Gaza Action Ireland to cancel the programme for now.

Despite this terrible disappointment for the children and the organisers, ‘Gaza Kids to Dublin’ are determined to stand with the Palestinians living under siege in Gaza by holding the Solidarity Cup tournament on Sunday, August 19th.

There will be a football tournament with Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians/ SKB and Cliftonville FC as well as a family fun day. The football kicks off at 10am until 4pm, with the family events starting at 1pm. At 4pm, after the winning trophy is presented, everyone who sponsored one of the Al Helal players will release a balloon as a symbol of support.

This will be livestreamed to the kids in Gaza to show them how much they are missed.

Gaza Kids to Dublin organiser Danielle Robinson said: “We need to let the boys know we stand with them because football is a way of life for these kids – they live and breathe it and it is an opportunity for them to have a future. Sport is a magnificent way for children to bond and show solidarity and it’s exactly what this event is all about.”

As well as the Solidarity Cup, a full nine days of events had been planned for the team of teenagers, with events organised around the country, including in Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Leitrim and Wexford.

“We are heartbroken that a visit that hundreds of Irish people had prepared for, fundraised for, and supported in all sorts of ways has had to be abandoned because of the extreme vulnerability of the children’s situation, in what is effectively a prison camp in Gaza,” Gaza Action Ireland coordinator Zoë Lawlor said.

“We are really heartened that this tournament is going ahead on Sunday and urge as many people as possible to come along and show these kids that we are with them,” she added.

(Source / 17.08.2018)