The Israeli army sealed off with barbed wire and a metal gate the ancient Jabal al-Firdis, also known as Herodion, near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, today said Hasan Breijieh, from the Settlements and Wall Resistance Commission.
He said the army sealed off the mountain located east of Bethlehem and separated it from the village of Beit Tamar.
As a result, Palestinians will not have easy access to the site, which has been controlled by Israel and turned into a national park.
Days of Palestine – Jordan Valley – In an attempt to steal Palestinian land, Israeli occupation settlers set up a tent and fenced off dozens of dunums of land in the Jordan Valley, Tuesday said Mahdi Daraghme, head of al-Maleh village council.
He said that over the past two days, settlers set up a tent and placed a fence around land in the Bayoud and Umm Kharoubeh villages in the northern Jordan Valley.
The settlers, he explained, have grabbed thousands of dunums of herding land in the Jordan Valley in order to prevent shepherds from reaching them and in order to eventually takeover this land.
Annexation of the Jordan Valley is the proposed application of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. The idea has been advocated by some Israeli politicians since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began in 1967, most notably with the Allon Plan and the 2019 Netanyahu plan.
According to B’Tselem, 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the area.
According to PeaceNow, the proposal includes 30 settlements with 12,778 settlers, 18 illegal outposts, 15 Area A and B communities, including 44,175 Palestinians and 48 shepherding communities in Area C including 8,775 Palestinians.
The area to be annexed is about 22% of the West Bank, 90% of which is in Area C and 20% of the land is Palestinian-owned.
On 10 September 2019 (a week before the September 2019 Israeli legislative election), Netanyahu announced his government’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley, if it won the election.
The map that Netanyahu displayed of the area to be annexed had several errors, incorrectly noting the location of several settlements and omitting Palestinian villages.
Netanyahu said that he had received a green light from the United States’ Donald Trump administration. The administration said that there had been no change in United States policy.
The next day, there was international condemnation of the proposal from Palestinians, the Arab league, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, the UK and the UN, the latter stating “..that any Israeli move to impose its administration over the Palestinian territory would be illegal under international law.”
Several Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum and Hebrew media outlets described this announcement as a political stunt for votes. Most notably, Moshe Ya’alon, a Knesset Member from the Blue and White party, said that in 2014 Netanyahu agreed in principle to evacuate Jordan Valley settlements.
On Wednesday morning, 24 June 2020, at around 8:00 A.M., Civil Administration personnel came with military jeeps and two bulldozers to the Palestinian village of Bardala in the northern Jordan Valley. The force uprooted and vandalized some 70 six-year-old olive trees belonging to a family in the village.
Days of Palestine – Ramallah – The Israeli occupation army detained 10 Palestinians in early morning raids Tuesday in the occupied Palestinian territories, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).
It said Israeli occupation forces detained five youths in the Old City of Jerusalem, in addition to one in Bethlehem, one from the town of Burqin in the north of the West Bank, one from al-Jadideh town and two brothers from Hizma, near Jerusalem.
According to PA data, Palestine has already confirmed hundred cases of COVID-19. With very limited financial and medical resources at hand, preventing the further spread of the novel coronavirus in the Palestinian territories remains a significant challenge.
The brutal Israeli occupation however remains undeterred. Israel has further been accused of disregarding many of the internationally prescribed COVID-19 containment guidelines and has been allegedly flouting physical distancing norms including through its continued violent raids and arrests.
In addition, the Israeli occupation state, as an occupying power, has failed to provide adequate testing, protective gear and medical supplies to check the pandemic’s outbreak in the occupied Palestinian territories, in contravention of its obligations under international law and various international conventions.
More than 80 Palestinian, regional, and international civil society organizations from across 16 countries submitted yesterday a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures on the extrajudicial execution and willful killing of Ahmad Mustafa Erekat, 26, by the Israeli occupying forces, in cooperation with the Erekat family, urging international justice and accountability for Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy targeting Palestinians.
Erekat, a resident of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint near Bethlehem on 23 June. “Ahmad was shot with lethal force by Israeli soldiers in the absence of necessity and without posing a threat to life or serious injury. He was then left to bleed to death for an hour and a half, while the Israeli occupying forces denied him access to medical care, despite the presence of an Israeli ambulance at the scene. They also prevented a Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance from reaching Ahmad,” said the organizations.
“Under international law, the killing of Ahmad Erekat amounts to an extrajudicial execution and a willful killing, giving rise to individual criminal responsibility as a war crime at the International Criminal Court (ICC),” they said.
Erekat was the 21st Palestinian killed by the Israeli forces throughout the occupied Palestinian territory during the first half of 2020. Less than a month before his killing, the Israeli forces killed Iyad Hallaq in occupied East Jerusalem while he was on his way to a day center for persons with disabilities in the Old City, “in what amounts to an extrajudicial execution, a willful killing, and war crime,” said the organizations.
“The killings of Ahmad Erekat and Iyad Hallaq, as well as countless Palestinians, must be understood within the context of Israel’s widespread and systematic shoot-to-kill policy targeting Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line,” they said.
Al-Haq human rights organization said it has documented an escalation in Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinians over the past five years, resulting in the killing of 754 Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces in the occupied Palestinian territory since October 2015. “Israel’s pervasive impunity must be seen as part and parcel of its institutionalized regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people, which constitutes the crime of apartheid,” said al-Haq.
Since the killing, Erekat’s body has been punitively withheld by the Israeli occupying authorities, as unlawful collective punishment, thereby prolonging his family’s suffering and denying him a dignified burial. The Israeli occupying forces continue to withhold the bodies of 63 Palestinians, under the pretext of using them as “bargaining chips.” In addition, the bodies of at least 253 Palestinians have been languishing, yet to be identified, in Israel’s “cemeteries of numbers.”
In 2016, the UN Committee against Torture considered that the practice of withholding Palestinians’ bodies amounts to prohibited ill-treatment, and called on Israel, the Occupying Power, to “take the measures necessary to return the bodies of the Palestinians that have not yet been returned to their relatives as soon as possible so they can be buried in accordance with their traditions and religious customs, and to avoid that similar situations are repeated in the future.”
Accordingly, the organizations urgently called for international justice and accountability to put an end to Israeli impunity and urged the UN human rights experts to publicly condemn the killing of Ahmad Erekat, to call for the unconditional release of Ahmad’s body as well as the bodies of all Palestinians punitively withheld by the Israeli occupying authorities, and to call on Israel, the Occupying Power, to revise its rules of engagement for the use of live fire.
The organizations also called on the Special Procedures to “Recognize Israel’s systematic shoot-to-kill policy as contributing to the maintenance of Israel’s apartheid regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, which, embedded in a system of impunity, prevents Palestinians from effectively challenging Israel’s apartheid policies and practices.” As stressed by the Erekat family, “These killings are taking place in a broader context of apartheid and settler-colonial expansion.”
Overall, the organizations endorsed calls by the Erekat family for international justice and accountability, including for Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy. They requested that the UN Special Procedures urge third States to activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms to try suspected perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in their own jurisdictions, and to call for “the immediate opening, without any further delay, of a full, thorough, and comprehensive ICC investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine.”
Finally, the groups urged “Member States and the UN at large to address the root causes prolonging Palestinian oppression, including by bringing an end to Israel’s prolonged occupation and illegal annexation of Jerusalem, lifting the Gaza closure with immediate effect, and dismantling Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, in order to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to return to their homes, lands, and property, as mandated by international law.”
The organizations addressed their appeal to five UN Special Rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism.
An attack on pro-Palestine activists by lobby groups favouring the state of Israel took a violent turn in Canada over the weekend as the right-wing Jewish terrorist group the Jewish Defence League (JDL), took to the streets in an effort to bankrupt a Toronto food store and take away restaurant which has taking an anti-racist stance.
JDL thugs, allied with some of Canada’s more mainstream pro-Israel lobby groups, took part in what was described as a “hate fest” outside Foodbenders yesterday, following threats to burn the store down. In the ugly scenes that followed, JDL supporters defaced “Palestinian Lives Matter” written on the pavement. It was, said witnessed, reminiscent of what illegal Jewish settlers do to Palestinians and their homes in the occupied West Bank.
The far-right Jewish terrorists are also reported to have painted an Israeli flag on the shop window. The Star of David was painted on the storefront.
Owner Kimberly Hawkins became a target of the pro-Israel lobby for taking an anti-racist stance in her announcement about its re-opening. “Open Now – 8 PM for non-racist shoppers #Bloordale #Bloorstreet, #Toronto, #Open, #ftp [f*ck the police] #FreePalestine and #ZionistsNotWelcome,” she said in an Instagram post.
Her comments triggered a backlash from anti-Palestinian groups. In the bevy of online abuse and threats, Hawkins was called a “dirty Palestinian whore” and told that “Palestine sucks I will burn your business down” and “I hope your family gets trapped inside the restaurant when it burns”.
Although the JDL — designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre and accused of carrying out acts of terrorism by the FBI — appeared to have been at the forefront of the more violent intimidation, Canada’s other prominent pro-Israel groups have also been involved.
B’nai B’rith, a pro-Israel organisation that claims to be concerned about human rights, is reported to have posted dozens of tweets about Foodbenders and different ways to bankrupt it. One statement called on its supporters to, “Contact ac.otnorot@113 to request that Foodbenders have its business licence investigated. Be sure to mention section 27 of By-law No. 574-2000, which prohibits the use of a licensed business to ‘discriminate against any member of the public’ on grounds of ‘race, colour, or creed.’”
Over the past week the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) reportedly tweeted no less than 25 times about the business, which is known for supporting indigenous rights, Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes. “CIJA and associates have targeted Foodbenders’ delivery services, institutional customers, website host and social media accounts,” explained Montreal-based activist and author Yves Engler.
Canada’s pro-Israel groups are even said to have succeeding in getting the Prime Minister, the Premier of Ontario, the Mayor of Toronto and numerous other politicians to denounce directly or indirectly the small business that has “I love Gaza” painted on its window.
Several other anti-Palestinian groups have put out dozens of tweets supporting efforts to bankrupt Hawkins.
The Israel-based International Legal Forum is said to have filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against the business owner. In what appears to be worrying signs indicating further misuse of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, they are claiming that under its stipulations she should be charged with discrimination.
The IHRA controversially conflates legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies with racism against Jews.
June 2020 witnessed a surge of violations against media freedoms in Palestine, most of which were committed by the Israeli authorities and its military forces, Palestinian News Network reported.
The Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms “MADA” has documented a total of 58 infringements, 48 of which were committed by the Israeli occupation, while 8 violations were committed by different Palestinian factions across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Facebook Company committed one violation.
The Israeli forces and authorities escalated their breaches against journalists and media outlets in Palestine during the month of June, in an apparent effort to conceal the numerous peaceful Palestinian protests, across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
During June, the Israeli forces committed a total of 48 violations against journalists/media outlets in Palestine, which represents a 166% increase compared to the total number of Israeli attacks documented in May 2020, which amounted to 18 infringements.
Preventing journalists from covering events, and targeting journalists to force them to stay away from events, constituted about 65% of all the Israeli violations documented during June (29).
The Israeli military shot and injured three photo-journalists with rubber-coated steel rounds and detained two journalists during the month of June.
Israel also banned journalist, Sondos Owais, from the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for three months, preventing her from covering events at the holy site.
The Palestinian Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported that a former political prisoner was shot and stabbed to death, on Sunday evening, by several assailants near his home in the Saudi neighborhood, west of Rafah, in the southern part of the coastal region.
Eyewitnesses said unknown gunmen opened fire at Jaber al-Qeeq, 50, while walking with his sons, and that the assailants also stabbed him before fleeing the scene.
Eyad al-Bozom, the spokesperson of the Interior Ministry in Gaza, said the Palestinian was rushed to Abu Yousef an-Najjar hospital, but succumbed to his serious wounds.
Al-Bozom added that al-Qeeq was a Palestinian officer and was attacked near the main entrance of the Internal Security building, west of Rafah.
The people who attacked him were masked and riding a motorcycle before; they shot him in the head, then proceeded to stab him in the neck.
It is worth mentioning that the slain Palestinian, a senior member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was serving a sentence of six life terms in Israeli prisons before he was released as part of the Oslo agreement in the mid 1990’s. His release came after he spent more than 15 years in prison.
On Monday at dawn, the Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza published pictures of three suspects who are believed to be behind the fatal shooting and stabbing attack, and called on anybody who has any information about their whereabouts to contact its offices; it also warned of severe punitive measures against those who aid and abet them.
Although it cannot be confirmed, reports claim that, many years ago, al-Qeeq killed another Palestinian identified as Sobhi Soufi for “being an informant working for the Israeli security,” and that the family now killed al-Qeeq as an act of vengeance; they also claim their son was not an informant, and was murdered without any justification.
On its part, Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), issued a statement warning against “all attempts to smear the reputation of al-Qeeq, by publishing false narrative and lies to justify the crime.”
It added that the original decision made by the PFLP leadership during the first Palestinian Intifada (which started in the late 1980s) to assassinate Sobhi Soufi was an official decision, for being a collaborator with Israel, and did not carry any personal or criminal motives.
It also vowed to retaliate and to punish those responsible for al-Qeeq’s murder.
Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Israeli army has arrested 2330 Palestinians during the first half of 2020, including 1363 during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a joint report by human rights watchdogs.
The report added that since the start of this year, the occupation state has arrested 304 children, 70 women, and 565 under administrative detention.
The watchdogs (the Committee of Prisoners and Former Prisoners Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Association, Addamir, and Wadi Hilweh Information Center) stated that the total number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has been estimated at nearly 4700 prisoners until the end of June, including 41 women, 160 children, and 365 administrative detainees.
In June only, Israeli forces arrested 469 Palestinians, including 211 from Jerusalem, 45 from Ramallah and Bireh, 33 from Hebron, 36 from Jenin, 43 from Bethlehem, 32 from Nablus, 27 from Tulkarm, 18 from Qalqilya, 11 from Tubas, 4 from Salfit, 8 from Jericho, and one from Gaza.
Most arrests took place in January with 496 arrests, while the Palestinian capital city had the highest arrests’ number with 1057 arrests, including 57 women.