Palestine: Hamas Arrests Sderot Rocket Launchers

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel near the southern city of SderotRamallah- Asharq Al-Awsat Hamas arrested members responsible for the rocket fired on Thursday that struck a building in Sderot, Palestinian sources told i24NEWS Sunday.

The detainees were said to be residents of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip and members of the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Both Hamas’ internal security agency and Hamas’ al-Qassam military wing are investigating the possibility that the order for the launch came from outside of Gaza.

Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is a small armed group that has members from Gaza and is financed by Hamas.

The arrest came hours after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov that Hamas was investigating the rocket fire.

Haniyeh asserted to Mladenov that Hamas was committed to the understandings reached as part of the ceasefire with Israel, stressing that the movement wanted the ceasefire to remain in place.

The arrest of the rocket launchers is intended to send a message that the movement actually wants the situation to remain stable despite recent tensions. Israel responded to the missiles with raids on Gaza.

Tension in the Strip has risen with Hamas accusing Israel of delaying the implementation of the ceasefire, followed by the incendiary balloons launched from Gaza which Israel responded by imposing a naval embargo on Gaza.

Hamas said that demonstrations would see escalations if Israel continued to stall the implementation of the understandings brokered between both parties and sponsored by Egypt, UN, and Qatar. 

Israeli media said Qatari Ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi was informed by the Israeli government he should not arrive in Gaza for the transfer of money. However, Mladenov promised Haniyeh that the Qatari envoy would enter the Gaza Strip with a monthly cash delivery, and conveyed that Israel was interested in maintaining calm in the south. 

Israel’s Channel 13 said the Qatari mission would arrive in Gaza with a new shipment of cash. 

The total amount of the grant is expected to reach $25 million, of which $10 million will be transferred to Israel to purchase fuel to the power plant in Gaza City, according to Yedioth Ahrenot.

The remaining $10 million will be distributed to needy families, with each family receiving $100. In addition, $5 million will be donated in cash to the United Nations’ cash-for-work projects, where Gazans are temporarily employed and paid.

This week, an Egyptian security delegation is supposed to arrive in order to contain any possible escalation. Cairo had drawn up an agreement last month for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

The agreement includes expanding the fishing zone to 12 miles, improving electricity networks and supplies, facilitating export and import operations, and resuming transfers of funds to the Strip.

According to the agreement, if this stage is successful, another stage will be discussed to include a prisoner exchange deal and infrastructure projects.  (Source / 17.06.2019) 

Shin Bet Chief Meets Palestinian President, Warns of PA’s Bankruptcy

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian volunteer paramedic Sajed Mezher was killed by Israeli troops, during his funeral in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2019Ramallah, Tel Aviv – Kifah Zboun, Asharq al-Awsat Head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Nadav Argaman, recently met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to persuade him to agree to accept tax money collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf, according to political sources in Tel Aviv.

The sources said that Argaman tried during the meeting to convince Abbas to accept the funds after the deduction of amounts paid to families of martyrs and prisoners. He informed the PM that the amount Israel intends to decduct is far less than the salaries.

But Abbas refused to give up any “dime” and asked that Israel deal with these funds as Palestinian funds that no one has the right to dispose of them.

“Any deduction from these funds is a theft,” Abbas said.

After his meeting, the Israeli Minister reported to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that Abbas firmly and categorically refused the proposal and called for a political decision to resolve this crisis.

Argaman said that the Authority is suffering from a severe financial crisis, which led to the reduction in salaries of a large number of employees, including tens of thousands of members of the Palestinian security services.

Military analyst Amos Harel indicated that Abbas believes he is facing a triple attack from the United States, Israel and Hamas. Washington has almost completely curtailed economic aid to the Palestinians.

The United States is now offering “economic peace” without resolving the issue of Jerusalem and borders, and trying to impose a permanent separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The military estimates that Abbas considers that Israel is economically affected by the prisoner crisis, but continues to build the settlements, rejects the political dialogue and seeks the opportunity to annex parts of the West Bank after the failure of the deal of the century.

Hamas is building a state in the Gaza Strip with a “silent US-Israeli approval.” It is also believed that a number of Arab leaders in the region support Trump’s plan.

Israeli security services top officials agree that the Authority will begin its economic collapse within two or three months.

In related news, Abbas stressed that “we reject the US peace plan,” better known as the “deal of the century,” in a meeting with the leaders of the Fatah Youth Movement.

He announced that Palestine will not participate in the US-sponsored economic workshop to be held in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25. 

“Jerusalem and Palestine are not for sale,” asserted Abbas, adding that “the Palestinian leadership is sticking to the stable legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state.

Abbas reiterated the Palestinians’ rejection to receive the partial funds of the tax revenue dues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA from the Palestinian trade. (Source / 17.06.2019) 

Hamas Chief Vows to Investigate Rocket Launch

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures as he delivers a speech in Gaza City Gaza – Asharq Al-Awsat Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh told the United Nations envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov that he did not know who in Gaza was responsible for this week’s rocket fire at Israel, sources reported.

Haniyeh said the movement was investigating to know who carried out the attacks, asserting that “no faction fired toward Israel” in the past week.

“We’re conducting an investigation to find out who fired,” Haniyeh told Mladenov at the meeting in Gaza, adding that all Gaza-based factions had denied firing at Israel.

Haniyeh stressed that Hamas does not want the ceasefire deal reached with Israel to collapse.

Recent developments came at a time Hamas and other factions threatened to escalate the situation if Israel did not honor the agreements. 

Israeli war jets raided Gaza Strip hours after a rocket launched from Gaza slammed into a religious school, causing damage but no injuries.

The Israeli military said in a statement that fighter jets and other aircraft attacked “several terror targets, including terror infrastructure in military compounds.”

On Thursday morning, the Iron Dome system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza and Israeli jets shelled an underground Hamas facility in the southern Gaza Strip. Tension in Gaza has risen as Israel imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

An army spokesman said that in the wake of the firing of incendiary balloons from Gaza, Israel imposed naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Over the past few days, many balloons were launched from the Strip towards the settlements in a clear shift in Hamas’ policy. Hamas said that demonstrations would see escalations if Israel continued to stall the implementation of the understandings brokered between both parties and sponsored by Egypt, UN, and Qatar. 

Israeli media said Qatari Ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi was informed by the Israeli government he should not arrive in Gaza for the transfer of money. However, Mladenov promised Haniyeh that the Qatari envoy would enter the Gaza Strip with a monthly cash delivery, and conveyed that Israel was interested in maintaining calm in the south.

Top Israeli army generals were expected to push for a much stronger response to rocket fire and arson balloons from the Gaza Strip after the attacks, according to Israeli media.

Citing a senior military source, a televised report said Israel was “on the verge of a serious military campaign,” and said the army was considering ending its policy of warning occupants of buildings ahead of airstrikes, even if it causes casualties.

“Everything is hanging by a very thin thread and the situation could change dramatically,” a veteran military source told Channel Two.

However, political analysts noted that it was unlikely that the government would authorize a major military campaign ahead of the elections set for September.

Tensions with Gaza have been steadily rising in recent weeks, with Israel blocking Gazan fishermen from access to the sea in response to multiple incendiary balloons being launched over the border. On Friday, the Israeli army deployed a battery system close to Gaza after a rocket was launched.

This week, an Egyptian security delegation is supposed to arrive in order to contain any possible escalation. Cairo had drawn up an agreement last month for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

The agreement include expanding the fishing zone to 12 miles, improving electricity networks and supplies, facilitating export and import operations and resuming transfers of funds to the Strip. In exchange, Hamas pledged to halt rocket fire and keep border protests under control and far from the separation fence. (Source / 16.06.2019) 

Palestinian detainees in Israel stage hunger strike

Palestinian demonstrators hold placards during a demonstration in support Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Gaza City, Gaza on May 25, 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian demonstrators hold placards during a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Gaza

Dozens of Palestinian detainees in the Israeli Ashkelon prison staged an open-ended hunger strike on Sunday to demand an improvement in their conditions, according to a Palestinian NGO, Anadolu Agency reported.

In a statement, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said the hunger strike comes in protest of the prison administration’s rejection to meet the detainees’ demands regarding the right of exposure to sunlight, ending night-time cell raids and easing visit conditions for their families.

In April, hundreds of Palestinian detainees staged a hunger-strike for specific demands from the Israeli prison service.

READ: Female Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails to launch hunger strike

Along with better living conditions and more family visits, hunger strikers then demanded the removal of cellphone-signal jammers from inside Israeli detention facilities and the installation of public telephones.

The prison service fulfilled some of their demands after which the prisoners halted their strike.

According to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, the total number of Palestinians in Israeli custody currently stands at 5,700 — including numerous women and children.

(Source / 16.06.2019) 

3 years, 119 court hearings: Mohammed Halabi continues to fight back against Israeli imprisonment

Mohammed Halabi

Palestinian charity worker Mohammed Halabi has been brought 119 times to Israeli court during the three years of detention. Halabi, a manager in Gaza for World Vision, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 15 June 2016. After being secretly detained for nearly two months, he was then the subject of a massive international propaganda campaign, largely spearheaded by Gilad Erdan, in August of that year. Erdan is a member of the Netanyahu government as both Minister of Public Security and Minister of Strategic Affairs, responsible for directing global campaigns of incitement against organizations that defend Palestinian rights.

Benjamin Netanyahu himself contributed a video accusing Palestinians of not caring about their people on the basis of allegations that Halabi had diverted $43 million in funds for charity work in Gaza to instead support Palestinian resistance. This figure far exceeded any reasonable amount of World Vision’s budget; over seven years, World Vision’s entire budget in Gaza amounted to no more than $22 million.

Despite the factual impossibility of the Israeli state’s claims, however, both the Australian and German governments initially suspended funding to the global Christian charity. Over 100 workers in Gaza lost their jobs amid an already extreme unemployment crisis in the besieged Strip. In line with his ongoing official attacks on Palestinian and international organizations that provide any support to Palestinian rights, Erdan even accused World Vision of “turning a blind eye” because it is “very anti-Israeli.”

Anthony Loewenstein published an extensive report in 972mag reporting on the three years of the prosecution of Mohammed Halabi.  By 2017, an official investigation carried out by the Australian government concluded that there was no basis to support the Israeli claim. Funding to World Vision was apparently restored, although none of these international funds are used to support Halabi’s defense.

Upon his arrest, he was denied access to a lawyer for 50 days. Israeli officials issued statements claiming that he confessed. In 972mag, Halabi and his lawyer Maher Hanna both affirm that, like many other Palestinians seized by the Israeli occupation – including children – Halabi was subjected to torture by Shin Bet forces.

Three years and 119 separate court hearings later, no evidence has been asserted to prove the Israeli state’s claims. All that the Israeli prosecution has submitted to the court is testimony by Shin Bet officials and interrogators. When Halabi has sought to bring witnesses from Gaza to speak in his defense in the nominally civilian trial, permission has been denied, one after the other, on “security grounds.”  Halabi’s lawyer has himself been denied permission to visit Gaza and interview witnesses himself.

Throughout the process, Halabi has refused to sign a plea agreement. Over 90 percent of all Palestinian political cases in Israeli military or civil courts are resolved through plea agreements. The endless hearings and lengthy procedures are themselves a form of intense pressure to force Palestinians to agree to a plea – which is often later then used against them as an “admission of guilt.” The judge in the case pressured Halabi to accept a plea agreement, saying “you know how these issues are handled.”

The Halabi case makes clear that the “civil” guise of Israeli courts is often a sham in cases labeled “security matters” – that is, political prosecutions of Palestinians from occupied Palestine ’48 who hold Israeli citizenship, Jerusalemites or even some Palestinians from Gaza, like Halabi. There is very little difference from the Israeli military courts used for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

Halabi’s father issued a call to all international institutions, urging them to pressure Israel to release Halabi and drop the baseless charges. He noted that his son’s health had declined substantially in Israeli prison.

Three years later, Mohammed Halabi remains imprisoned; the Gaza Strip and millions of Palestinians remain under siege. While World Vision has consistently supported Halabi’s defense, each new round of allegationsagainst Palestinian rights defenders by Erdan and his ministry seems to lead to new repressive actions, closures of accounts, intensified surveillance and widespread media coverage, with few questions asked about the authenticity of these assertions.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the broadest possible support for Mohammed Halabi and all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Like Halabi himself, we note that his imprisonment is part and parcel of the political repression of Palestinians and of the siege on Gaza. It is an attempt to continue the siege on Palestinians by all means, including the smearing, torture and imprisonment of charity workers, the targeting of farmers and fishermen and the weekly shooting of popular protesters participating in the Great March of Return.

We also note the complicity of the “international community” not only in the persecution of Mohammed Halabi but, more fundamentally, in the siege of Gaza and the ongoing Nakba targeting the Palestinian people for over 71 years. This case, and those of all over 5,200 Palestinian prisoners, also highlights the critical necessity of escalating the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and the isolation of the Israeli occupation state, confronting official complicity with popular solidarity.

Freedom for Mohammed Halabi and all Palestinian prisoners! Freedom for Palestine, from the river to the sea!

(Source / 15.06.2019) 

European Union: Gaza siege must end

KHAN YOUNIS, PALESTINOW.COM — The European Union (EU) has said that the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip must end.

Head of the EU mission to the Palestinian territories Ralph Tarraf said, at the inauguration of al-Fukhari (Sofa) Landfill in Gaza on Wednesday, “Time has come to bring about radical changes in the economic, political and security situation in Gaza.”

“We are here today with our partners in the Palestinian Authority to reaffirm our commitment to joint action everywhere in Palestine, especially in Gaza,” he said.

Tarraf continued to say, “For more than 12 years there have been unprecedented and difficult challenges including the Israeli blockade and the failure of Palestinian reconciliation, but despite all obstacles, we have chosen to continue to support the Palestinian Authority in many sectors in Gaza.”

He noted that Sofa Landfill is the outcome of two-years efforts that will serve half the population in the Gaza Strip and have a positive impact on the environment.

Tarraf explained that the landfill project is a living example of joint cooperation between the EU, the Palestinian Authority and France. “This project is not the only one in Gaza. We are working with the Water Authority for the construction of a seawater treatment plant that will provide clean drinking water to more than 250,000 Palestinians.”

Tarraf re-confirmed the EU’s commitment to Gaza development and that the EU believes that the Palestinians in Gaza have a right to a decent life, and that joint projects keep hope alive amid what it going on.

(Source / 14.06.2019) 

Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, AOC Sign Bill To Stop US Aid To Israel Over Child Detentions

AOC, Tlaib, and Omar signed bill to stop Israeli aid. | Photo: Reuters

AOC, Tlaib, and Omar signed bill to stop Israeli aid 

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib have signed a bill to stop U.S. aid to Israel.

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) said they would be signing a bill to stop funding Israel due to its abuse of Palestinian children by detaining them.

he bill was introduced by Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum and would prohibit aid from being used by the Israeli authorities to detain Palestinian minors.

Congresswoman McCollum’s Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act was introduced in November 2017. It was revived in April 2019 after AOC spoke about the bill in a podcast.

Initially, AOC did not sign the bill but she commented on Ilhan Omar’s tweet that she is “excited to sign on.”

I am sure @AOC and every member of Congress who cares about children will sign on. Super proud of @BettyMcCollum04 for her leadership on this issue. https://t.co/yMVOkJj4lR— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 12, 2019

She tweeted on June 11 thanking her colleagues for signing the bill. Among her co-sponsors are Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first ever Palestinian-American to hold office in the U.S. Congress. Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to ever be in Congress in the United States. 

Thank you to my colleagues for signing on to #HR2407, my legislation to ensure U.S. aid dollars are not spent on putting children in military detention. #NoWayToTreatAChildhttps://t.co/NoW5PZ95pdpic.twitter.com/UDeuVMjb2R— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) June 11, 2019

Her legislation “amends a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act known as the “Leahy Law” to prohibit funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel.”

McCollum herself commented that the bill, “highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations.”

The senior legislator added, “Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

 (Source / 14.06.2019)  

No To Annex West Bank: Palestinians Protest The 61st Friday Of March Of Return

46 Palestinians were shot injured by the Israeli forces in the 61st of Great March Of Return

Palestinians protest the 61st Friday of March of Return - (Photo File)

Palestinians protest the 61st Friday of March of Return

In response to the comments made by  the United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman who declared that Israel has the right to annex parts of West Bank, Palestinians in Gaza protested at the 61st Friday of the Great March of Return in the eastern parts of Gaza Strip near the Israeli separation fence to show their refusal to what Friedman’s statement.

Thousands of Palestinians of all ages participated the 61st Friday of Great Return March to affirm to the world that the West Bank is Palestinian territory and no one has the right to steal any part of its lands.

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Days Of Palestine’s photographer Mohammad Ayash participated in the march and took some photos of the Palestinians who carried some messages to the world.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that the Israeli occupation army shot and injured at least 46 citizens including three paramedics, east of Gaza, in the 61st Friday of Great Return March.

Furthermore, local sources added that a Palestinian child,11-year-old was seriously wounded by an Israeli sniper’s bullet today in the 61st Friday of the Great March of Return in the east of Al Bureij refugee camp.

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Palestinians affirm that they will never stop protesting the Great March of Return until they have their legitimate rights that were stolen by Israel and until breaking the Israeli immoral siege against the enclave since 2007.

Since the beginning of the Great March of Return, Israel killed more than 270 Palestiniansand injured dozen of thousands of others with different injuries while the world keeps watching and does nothing.  02

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 (Source / 14.06.2019) 

Palestinian women prisoners announce demands, plan for collective strike 1 July

Palestinian women protest for Palestinian prisoners’ freedom, Ramallah

Palestinian women prisoners in Damon prison delivered an official letter to the Israeli prison administration, informing them of their intention to launch an open hunger strike on 1 July if their demands are not addressed. In a statement, former prisoner Mona Qa’adan said that 13 prisoners would launch the strike, led by Damon prisoners’ representative Yasmin Shaaban. Others who have announced their participation in the strike include women serving long sentences such as Shorouq DwayyatAmal TaqatqaNurhan Awad and Malak Salman.  She noted that all of the women prisoners are prepared to join the strike as it progresses.

The “Strike of the Free Women,” the name given the struggle by the women prisoners, will focus on a number of demands, including:

  • Removal of intrusive surveillance cameras from the prison yard
  • Extension of exercise time to eight hours between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Restoration of the exercise yard to eliminate hazards
  • Opening of a library for female prisoners and a classroom for girls
  • A private room near the “canteen” (prison store) for the preparation of food
  • Improved conditions for visiting family members
  • Return of confiscated books and family photos

Qa’adan noted that these are simple demands, yet very important for the imprisoned Palestinian women, emphasizing their right to human dignity and a decent life. She urged all to stand with the women prisoners in this struggle to extract their rights. They have issued demands repeatedly and have found no relief but further repression; she said that they have no option but to strike to extract their legitimate rights.

The prisoners’ message is a call to the people and the masses, not simply to officials and institutions, to take an urgent stand on this issue in order to reach a solution so that it is not necessary to repeat this strike in order to defend the gains achieved by the prisoners through struggle, Qa’adan said.

The announcement comes after imprisoned writer Lama Khater, 43, was sentenced to 13 months in Israeli prison by the Ofer military court. Khater was seized from her home in al-Khalil on 24 July 2018. She was subjected to harsh and abusive interrogation in Ashkelon detention center and denied sleep for days. Khater was accused of “incitement” for her publications on social media and in the press; she was also accused of support for a prohibited organization. All major Palestinian political parties are banned by the Israeli occupation.

On 11 June, Nurhan Awad’s sentence was reduced to 10 years when she was successful in her appeal at the Jerusalem high court, Asra Media reported. Awad, 19, was only 17 when she was sentenced to 13 years in Israeli prison.  She was one of several Palestinian children targeted for extreme sentencing, especially Jerusalemite children. Nurhan was accused of attempting with her 14-year-old cousin Hadeel to stab a man with scissors: a 70-year-old Palestinian man was lightly injured. Hadeel was shot dead by Israeli occupation soldiers and Nurhan was shot with two bullets. After her cousin was extrajudicially executed, Nurhan was imprisoned.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls on all supporters of Palestine and the Palestinian people to join the campaign to support the women prisoners. Palestinian women prisoners have been in the forefront of the prisoners’ movement over the years, including organizing multiple hunger strikes that played a significant role in securing key rights for the prisoners – the very rights now once again under attack. We urge supporters to organize events and actions, issue statements and build the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli occupation state. Palestinian women prisoners are struggling for basic rights, dignity and justice – it is critical that we support their efforts.

(Source / 14.06.2019) 

Female Palestinian Journalist Jailed for ‘Incitement’

13 JUN2:53 AM

An Israeli court, on Monday, sentenced a Palestinian journalist with 13-month jail term, on incitement charges, according to Palestinian sources.

Lama Khater, 42, was also fined 5,000 shekel (around £1,400), the Palestinian Prisoners Society said in a statement.

Khater was arrested by Israeli forces last year during a raid on her home in the West Bank city of Hebron, Al Ray further reports.

She was accused of incitement, through her writings, and membership in a banned organization.

An activist and a mother of five, Khater is a writer for several Palestinian publications.

She is expected to be released from prison in August.

According to Palestinian figures, more than 5,700 Palestinians are currently being held in detention facilities throughout Israel.

(Source / 13.06.2019)