Six months on of the Great Return march, Palestinians still struggling against Israeli oppression

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Friday 19 October marks the 30th consecutive weekly gathering of thousands of Palestinian women, men and children near the Gaza fence.

These past six months of peaceful gatherings posed no security threat to the Israeli soldiers protected by armoured jeeps and sand barriers beyond the barbed fence. These soldiers could have dispersed the demonstrations with tear gas; instead, they used live bullets, killing more than 200 peaceful demonstrators and injuring around 10,000.

Many were injured in their legs, resulting in scores of disability and amputation cases. The high number of victims posed an additional challenge for medical crews, already suffering from severe shortages of supplies as a result of the siege imposed by the Israeli occupation for more than a decade.

Spreading protests

Despite the bloody fallout, all indications point to the continued momentum of Gaza’s Great March of Return. Last Friday, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the five encampment areas. Israeli soldiers killed seven of them.

The demonstrations are no longer limited to Fridays, but have extended to include Mondays and Wednesdays, with activities spilling into the night as young demonstrators conduct nightly protest activities near the fence. Protests have spread beyond the encampments, with a demonstration area near the Beit Hanoun crossing now active.

Every new victim of occupation bullets deepens the wound. Each of the martyrs killed by Israeli soldiers has left a vacuum in the lives of their loved ones

Forms of protest have evolved to include launching boats into the sea north of Gaza, both as a means of defiance and to remind the world of the plight of Palestinians in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Thirty weeks into the Great March of Return, it is evident that a powerful motive lies behind Palestinians’ determination to push forward with protests, despite the heavy toll exacted by the occupation as punishment.

The continued momentum shows that the environment that instigated these protests six months ago has not changed, and that all promises made to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza lack credibility for Palestinians living in the coastal enclave.

What do demonstrators want?

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip face two scenarios: to die slowly and quietly as a result of the siege, collapse of medical services, high unemployment, restrictions on movement, salary cuts and economic collapse; or to die loudly, with the world hearing their screams and demands for freedom, dignity and liberation.

The continued gathering of tens of thousands of Palestinians under these conditions should provoke international decision-makers to ask: what do they want? What pushed them into the arms of danger to continue these demonstrations?

The continued momentum shows that the environment that instigated these protests six months ago has not changed, and that all promises made to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza lack credibility for Palestinians living in the coastal enclave.

Palestinians carry a wounded protester east of Gaza City on 5 October 2018 (AFP)

From the outset, Palestinians have stated their intentions: we are refugees who want to return home, and we are humans who deserve to live in dignity.

More than two-thirds of Gaza’s population is made up of refugees forcibly evicted from their homes by Zionist gangs during the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe”). UN Security Council Resolution 194 stipulates that they should be able to return to their homes, and the ongoing demonstrations fall under the umbrella of this longstanding international resolution. Protesters’ lone demand is the implementation of international justice.

Endless grief

Since the Great March of Return turned into a major movement in Gaza, Palestinian factions have agreed on a tactical objective: to break the unjust siege. Israel, which enjoys international impunity, does not recognise the legitimate rights of Palestinians under international law, including their right to a dignified life.

It has failed to address the root of the problem, instead continuing its strategy of terror, killing and disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators, whose only crime is their call to end their displacement and life under siege and tyranny.

Israel’s deadly response to the protests has exacerbated Palestinians’ suffering. Since the movement began on 30 March, Palestinian mothers have lived in endless grief. Every new victim of occupation bullets deepens the wound. Each of the martyrs killed by Israeli soldiers has left a vacuum in the lives of their loved ones.

The slain protesters loved life, and they showed this love by banging on the walls of their giant prison. They refused to live in humiliation and defeat. They chose to die with honour, screaming “no” in the face of occupation and dehumanisation.

(Source / 20.10.2018)

Hamas leader accuses PA of firing rocket against Israel

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas leadership in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas leadership in Gaza on 15 November 2016

A senior member of Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of firing rockets from the besieged Gaza Strip and in to Israel yesterday.

Mahmoud Al-Zahar told France24 , that firing the rockets aimed to strain the security relations ion the area and give the occupation an excuse to commit atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza.

“Therefore, the party that fired the rocket is either a party that is related to Israel or the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah,” he said.

“The Palestinian Authority wants the Palestinian street to revolt against the resistance, and divert it from confronting the occupation on the eastern border. If Hamas launched the rocket, it would have announced it without shame. Since we issued a statement denying our responsibility, then we did not launch the rocket,” he added.

Earlier this week, the Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip “reject[ed]” what they referred to as the “irresponsible attempts” to damage ceasefire talks headed by Egypt, including “the firing of rockets”.

Israeli occupation fighters launched a series of air strikes on several Palestinian targets along the Gaza Strip, claiming the strikes came in response to rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.

Resistance rockets are a lifeline for Israeli officials

(Source / 19.10.2018)

Watch: UK medics travel to Gaza to improve breast cancer care

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual worldwide campaign to raise understanding of the importance of breast cancer treatment, education and research. Across the occupied Palestinian territory, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is working to improve breast cancer care and supports multi-disciplinary teams of UK specialist oncologists, surgeons, nurses, and radiologists to make regular visits to Gaza and the West Bank.

Last month, a MAP-supported breast cancer mission travelled to Gaza. The team comprised of Dr Ashwini Sharma, Consultant Radiologist, and Dr Gerard O’Hare, Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist. Based at three hospitals, Al Shifa, Rantisi and the Gaza European, they delivered training to local health workers caring for women affected by the disease, teaching them new techniques to improve outcomes and quality of life for breast cancer patients.

Living in Gaza presents many barriers to breast cancer care. A woman treated by the breast cancer mission, Suhair Jaber, told MAP:

I hoped I would get the cancer removed as soon as I was diagnosed. If only things were available here, for example, if it were easy to get a medical transfer permit, or find the medicine, it would have been so much easier on me. But it is difficult to find your medicines, or travel for medical treatment. There are a lot of things we do not have here in Gaza due to the occupation.

One of the medics trained by the UK specialists, Ibrahim Zaqout, Head Nurse at the Tumour Clinic in Rantisi Hospital, outlined how shortages of cancer drugs undermine the treatment of breast cancer patients.

“A patient would start with a specific treatment, then this treatment is no longer available in Gaza, and after three to four months, the treatment becomes available again. This results in deepening the crisis, as the cancer cells become resistant to the treatment. This would require a change to another treatment protocol, and then the patient goes into another crisis similar to the one before.”

Writing on the week’s training Dr O’Hare said:

I would like to thank the fundraisers who have enabled this project to happen who recognise the fact that cancer is a serious public health issue in Palestine. It has a devastating effect on patients and their families. And there is hardly a family in Palestine that has not been affected by cancer. I hope that in the future the small changes that this project bring, make a significant improvement for some of the patients who are diagnosed with cancer.

(Source / 19.10.2018)

Barghouti Warns of New Offensive on Gaza

18 OCT
9:30 PM

Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement MP, Mustafa Barghouti, warned of serious intentions to launch a devastating aggression on the Gaza Strip, by Israeli forces.

 

Barghouti said, in a press statement, that “Similar to what happened in 2014, Israeli occupation ministers want to use the blood of the Palestinians in their competition on the votes of elections.”

He called to launch an international campaign to deter Israel from committing new war crimes.

Israeli aircraft launched a series of raids on Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, in response to a rocket attack on Beersheba, according to Al Ray.

The Israeli occupation army targeted 20 resistance sites in different areas in the Strip, which led to the killing of a Palestinian and wounding three others.

(Source / 19.10.2018)

Israel renews detention of Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar

Khalida Jarrar 4th time

An Israeli court on Thursday renewed the administrative detention of leading member of the PFLP Khalida Jarrar for the fourth consecutive time.

The military court approved the renewal order that would keep Jarrar in detention for three more months.

Israeli forces had detained Jarrar on July 2nd, 2017,a year after her release. Since then, her detention was renewed three times.

Jarrar, a leading member of the PFLP, deputy at the PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council), heads the PLC’s prisoners’ committee and acts as the Palestinian representative in the Council of Europe, an international organization promoting human rights and democracy around the world, was previously detained in 2015 and had spent 14 months in Israeli jails.

(Source / 18.10.2018)

Abbas meets with liberal Zionist lobby group J Street

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on 12 October 2018 [Thaer Ganaim/Apaimages]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on 12 October 2018

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday met with the leadership of liberal Zionist advocacy group J Street at his headquarters in Ramallah, reported the Times of Israel.

Abbas welcomed the delegation, led by J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami, expressing his “appreciation for their efforts to support the peace process within American society”, including the organisation’s letter to the White House urging a reversal of the decision to end funding for UNRWA.

“We distinguish between America and the current American administration that has brought the peace process to a dead end,” Abbas told the group.

The meeting was attended by PLO Executive Committee members Ziad Abu Amr and Ahmad Majdalani, PA General Intelligence Services chief Majid Faraj, Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Al-Sheikh and Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma, according to reports.

J Street’s Ben Ami affirmed that his organisation is committed to “supporting peace and continuing to work in American Jewish circles and with American society to achieve peace”.

The members of the J Street delegation also “affirmed their readiness to continue efforts to resume the peace process on the basis of a two-state solution”.

The two-state solution: Decline or death?

(Source / 18.10.2018)

  Press Release by Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions on Israeli Attacks on Gaza

17 OCT
9:55 PM

On the heels of the Israeli arbitrary bombardment on the Gaza Strip, this morning, the Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian Factions state the following,  Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency has reported:

The Palestinian people have been involved in their peaceful battle against the Israeli occupation through the Great Return March, and we, in the Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions, stand with our people who gather on a weekly basis to strive for their freedom and get their legitimate demands.

We, in the armed wings of the Palestinian factions, state that all factions will fight off the Israeli attempts to stop the mass peaceful protests by imposing strict rules of engagement.

The Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions lauds the efforts exerted by Egypt to serve the Palestinians achieve their legitimate demands, and we reject any other attempt to undermine the Egyptian endeavors, including the launch of a rockets took place last night.

We explicitly stress that the armed wings of the Palestinian factions are prepared to defend the Palestinian people against any Israeli attacks, as we are nationally held responsible for the safety and security of our people.

At the same time, our guns will remain aimed at the face of our enemy.

~The Joint Operation Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions

(Source / 18.10.2018)

Study: Polluted water main cause of death in Gaza

Gaza is in urgent need for affordable water supplies to keep up with the needs.

Palestinian woman collecting water

More than a quarter of illnesses in Gaza are caused by water pollution, a new study has said, noting that this is the main cause of mortality in the coastal enclave that has endured an Israeli siege since 2007.

The study, which the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a copy of, was carried out by RAND Corporation, an American NGO. It said that it reached these findings four years ago and that “since that time these numbers have continued to grow”.

How clean is Gaza's water? [Infographic/Visualizing Palestine]

Based on the report, Haaretz said that the collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella.

The report said the situation is worsening due to repeated Israeli operations in Gaza which started in 2008.

READ: Lifting the siege means bringing Hezbollah to Gaza, says Lieberman

“Today, 97 per cent of drinking water in the Strip is not drinkable by any recognised international standard,” Haaretz reported.

“Some 90 per cent of residents drink water from private purifiers, because the larger installations have been damaged by fighting or have fallen into disuse since they couldn’t be maintained,” the Israeli paper continued.

Not enough water supplies

The study concluded that the current situation is that “Gaza is incapable of supplying enough water for its 2 million inhabitants”.

“Gaza schools have one toilet per 75 pupils and one sink for washing hands per 80. Most of this water is either recycled or from a reservoir. As a result, the very presence of children in these schools puts them at risk of contracting gastrointestinal diseases.”

It also said: “Schools, public buildings and hospitals are only cleaned when necessary in order to conserve water. Hospital staff only wash their hands when it’s essential and not on a regular basis when going from one patient to another, in order to conserve the water for life-saving treatment.”

READ: Palestinian doctor from Gaza kidnapped in West Bank

Haaretz also reported that the “researchers estimate that within two years, even the isolated sources of water used today will cease to operate without proper maintenance”.

The study said that the average cost of water use per capita in the West is 0.7 per cent of monthly wages, but in Gaza a third of monthly wages goes toward the purchase of water, pointing out that the high rate of unemployment makes many people unable to buy clean water.

“The few, wealthier people in Gaza can purchase bottled mineral water but most Gaza residents must suffice with the one day a week that the authorities turn on the taps for a few hours.”

(Source / 17.10.2018)

UN allows Palestinians to act more like full member in 2019

President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, US on 27 September 2018 [Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Presidency/Anadolu Agency]

President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, US on 27 September 2018

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday allowed the Palestinians to act more like a full UN member state during meetings in 2019 when they will chair the group of 77 developing nations, Reuters reports.

The United States, Israel, and Australia voted against the move, which won 146 votes in favour. There were 15 abstentions and 29 countries didn’t vote.

“We cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations. The United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state,” US Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the General Assembly.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally.

“We strongly oppose the Palestinians’ election as chair of the G77 as well as this so-called enabling resolution,” he said. “Only UN member states should be entitled to speak and act on behalf of major groups of states at the United Nations.”

READ: Israel policewoman ‘shot Palestinian for fun’, court hears

In 2012, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine when it upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s UN observer status to non-member state – like the Vatican – from entity.

The status upgrade has allowed them to participate in some General Assembly votes and join some international bodies. However, as a non-member state the Palestinians cannot speak in meetings until after member states, diplomats said.

The Egyptian-drafted resolution allows them to procedurally operate like a member state when acting on behalf of the G77 and China – making statements, submitting and co-sponsoring proposals and amendments, giving rights of reply and raising points of order.

“Australia’s decision to vote no on this resolution reflects our long-standing position that Palestinian attempts to seek recognition as a state in international fora are deeply unhelpful to efforts towards a two-state solution,” Australian UN Ambassador Gillian Bird told the General Assembly.

(Source / 17.10.2018)

Unknown Group Fires Rocket Into Israel

17 OCT
9:19 AM

For the first time in months, a Grad rocket was fired from Gaza at around 4 am on Wednesday, hitting the yard of a house in the city of Beersheba, causing no injuries or damage.

Various Palestinian armed resistance movements rejected responsibility for the rocket.

They issued a statement stating that, “The representatives of the resistance in Gaza salute and thank the Egyptian effort to achieve our national goals and reject and reject all irresponsible attempts to thwart these efforts – including these rockets fired last night.”

They added, “The resistance does not hide behind any veil – we are always willing to claim responsibility for our actions. But we did not fire these rockets.”

In addition, Abu Mujahed, the spokesperson of the National Resistance Committees in Gaza, said “the [Israeli] occupation is coming up with excuses to attack and bomb Gaza,” and added that “the resistance will always be ready to retaliation to any Israeli offensive.”

It is worth mentioning that both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad issued similar statement denying responsibility for firing the missile, and also said that the “rockets are only meant to sabotage and foil the indirect talks, mediated by Egypt.

The resistance has restrained its fighters from firing rockets toward Israel since the weekly Great March of Return non-violent protests at the border of Gaza began on March 30th, 2018.

The rocket fired Wednesday morning was one of two fired at around the same time, according to the Israeli military. The second rocket ended up falling into the sea.

When the rocket was airborne, the Israeli alarm system sounded and Israeli residents of the city entered shelters set up for that purpose.

The Iron Dome missile defense system, which Israel set up with U.S. funding to fire air-to-air missiles at any rockets fired from Gaza, did not activate.

Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, decided to close all border terminals in Gaza, and to impose further reductions on the fishing zone.

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli Air Force fired several missiles at many areas in the Gaza Strip, wounding 14 Palestinians, including six schoolchildren in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza. The wounded were rushed to the Al-Aqsa Hospital.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said the army targeted three of its centers in several parts of the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 17.10.2018)