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)

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)

ICC Prosecutor: Eviction of Civilians under Occupation Constitutes War Crime

17 OCT
9:45 PM

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has warned that transfer of population in an occupied territory constitute war crime.

“I have been following with concern the planned eviction of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, in the West Bank. Evacuation by force now appears imminent, and with it the prospects for further escalation and violence,” Bensouda said, in a statement on the situation in Palestine, Wednesday.

“It bears recalling, as a general matter, that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute.”

Bensouda, who also said that she was similarly alarmed by the continued violence at the Gaza border with Israel, revealed that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories remains under preliminary examination by her office.

“I continue to keep a close eye on the developments on the ground and will not hesitate to take any appropriate action, within the confines of the independent and impartial exercise of my mandate under the Rome Statute, with full respect for the principle of complementarity,” she concluded her statement.

Israel plans to destroy the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, located east of Jerusalem, and transfer its residents in order to build a new Jewish settlement in its place.

(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)

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)

Palestinian Killed as Israeli Military drops Multiple Bombs in Gaza

17 OCT
9:47 AM

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said one Palestinian, identified as Naji Jamal Mohammad Za’anin, 25, was killed when the Israeli missiles struck a site in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza. The Palestinian was from Beit Hanoun, also in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli airforce dropped bombs in several parts of Gaza Wednesday morning, wounding 14 Palestinians in addition to killing Za’anin, including six schoolchildren, in Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza, before they 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.

The first center, Abu Jarad, south of Gaza city, and the second, al-Waha, west of Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, and the third in the Zeitoun neighborhood, in the center of Gaza city.

The army later fired more missiles into areas in Rafah, in southern Gaza, and another site of the al-Qassam Brigades in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza. In addition, the Israeli Air Force fired missiles into agricultural lands in the az-Zanna area, in Bani Suheila town, east of Khan Younis, and a near the seaport, west of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.

For its part, Egypt started contacting Palestinian officials in Gaza, and Israeli officials, in an attempt to mediate an prevent a further escalation in the area.

The bombs were dropped on Gaza after unknown Palestinians fired a rocket into Israel Wednesday morning, causing no injuries.

Abu Mujahed, the spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, said in a statement that no Palestinian resistance groups were involved in the firing of the rocket – and that all the armed Palestinian resistance groups are always willing to claim responsibility if they ever do fire rockets.

The statement was made after discussions with the representatives of all the Palestinian armed resistance groups.

(Source / 17.10.2018)