Israeli buffer zone covers 17% of Gaza Strip

 

 

GAZA, (PIC)– The Israeli buffer zone has deepened Palestinians’ suffering in Gaza Strip, where it denied farmers’ access to their lands, totaling 35% of the agricultural lands in Gaza Strip estimated at 17% of the whole area of the Strip.

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) have issued a report under the title “Under Fire” addressing Israeli violations in Access Restricted Areas (ARA) in the Gaza Strip.

The report highlighted “the suffering experienced by civilians, farmers and fishermen due to restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement in those areas, the frequent targeting of civilians with live ammunition, house demolitions and restrictions imposed on fishing areas.”

The report was launched in London with the participation of lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, via Skype.

The report confirmed “the farmers’ inability to access their lands, totaling 62.6 km2, i.e. 35% of the agricultural lands in the Gaza Strip or 17% of the whole area of the Gaza Strip.”

The Israeli authorities have imposed a buffer zone eastern the border fence along Gaza Strip ranging between 300 and 1000 meters.

The report also addressed the Israeli denial of the right to fish in 85% of the fishing area according to Oslo Accords.

Statistics and data are provided on the losses in lives and property due to the Israeli practices in that area. The report also tackles the financial and economic loss that afflicts civilians, farmers and fishermen and which is further exacerbated by the closure. The report indicated that the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in 2012 did not help in altering the situation in ARA.

The report has drawn attention to the fact that Israeli forces use live ammunition when targeting civilians in the ARA without taking into consideration the principles of distinction and proportionality, which is considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The report also emphasized that Israel does not respect the international standards related to the use of force and in many instances, directly resort to the use of lethal force.

The report confirmed that many relief foundations fail to understand the nature of the suffering of the ARA residents. “The relief foundations’ main focus is on finding shelter for residents whose houses have been demolished without paying attention to their real loss (homes and livelihood) or addressing the underlying cause of this; the ARA policy imposed by the Israeli authorities.”

The report concluded with a number of recommendations addressed to Israel, calling for lifting the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip as it is considered a collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, respecting international humanitarian law, and not using lethal force against Palestinian civilians.

It also called for stopping targeting farmers and fishermen in the ARA, stressing the need to allow the ARA residents to go back to their property immediately and remove all obstacles to achieve that.

The report called for ceasing the ARA imposed on the sea and allowing fishing according to the Oslo Accords, and to allow exportation and importation from and to the Palestinian territories, and to bring Israeli officials to account for violations of international law, and to direct international support for the border areas.

(Source / 26.02.2014

Qatar migrants caught up in “kafala” system

A migrant worker heading for Middle East countries holds her passport documents at an immigration office in Tangerang, Indonesia’s Banten province, June 23, 2011

Britain-based newspaper The Guardian reported on the case of several migrant workers in Qatar who are apparently caught up in the “kafala” system of employer sponsorship.

Using fake names to protect their interviewees, the newspaper spoke to “Maria” and “Maricel” who traveled to the Gulf state for a promised a salary of 1,200 Qatari riyals ($330), reportedly more than they had been making in their native Philippines.

It did not take long for their aspirations to fade, according to the newspaper. Upon arriving in Doha, their employer confiscated their passports and the women were placed in their employer’s care under the “kafala,” or sponsorship, system.

Since then, they have allegedly gone for long periods without pay, receiving barely 400 riyals in six months.

“Three of us came on 5 July and they gave us 100 riyals for July and 100 riyals for 2 August and 200 riyals for 8 August,” said another worker to The Guardian, she called herself Jane. “Four hundred riyals only for three months – the last money we received.”

The women told the newspaper they were hired as waitresses but have also worked as cleaners, maids, housekeepers, cooks and babysitters.

Domestic workers in Qatar work some of the longest hours in the world, according to figures released by the International Labor Organization in 2013.

According to the women, they are not regularly provided with food.

Rothna Begum, who researches women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, told The Guardian that food deprivation was a “huge issue.” She said, “food deprivation is a form of abuse.”

Meanwhile, it was reported last week that more than 500 Nepalese workers in Qatar died on the Gulf state’s building sites as the country prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

Responding to concerns about the treatment of its workers, Qatar’s World Cup authorities recently released a 50-page report which sets out in detail the guidles they expect World Cup stadium contractors to observe.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

7 demolition orders handed to villagers in Nablus

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces delivered demolition orders for seven homes that were allegedly built without permits in Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village south of Nablus on Wednesday evening.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that Israeli forces accompanied by civil administration officers raided the village and handed demolition orders to a number of local families.

He identified the individuals who had been handed the orders as Ihsan Hasan Daraghmeh, Yousef Hasan Daraghmeh, Omar Mohammad Hasan Oweis, Abd al-Rahman Ahmad Oweis, Ahmad Abd al-Rahman Oweis, and Mahmoud Mustafa Daraghmeh.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Israel destroyed more than 663 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2013, displacing 1,101 people, according to UNOCHA. Around 241 more people have been displaced just since the beginning of 2014.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

Lawyer: Israel puts Palestinian teen in solitary after suicide attempt

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities placed a Palestinian teenager with mental health issues in solitary confinement after a failed suicide attempt in Israeli prison, the Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs said on Wednesday.

Ministry lawyer Hiba Masalha said that Muhammad al-Rajabi, 16, from Hebron attempted to commit suicide in his prison cell in Hasharon prison, but was rescued by his fellow prisoners at the last moment.

“His fellow prisoners rescued him at the last moment after they heard unusual sounds in his bathroom. They forced open the door and found that he has tied a rope around his neck and tried to hang himself,” the lawyer said.

She added that Israeli prison guards handcuffed the teenager and took him to solitary confinement following his failed attempt, although he was brought back the next day.

The statement highlighted that al-Rajabi had been detained since Oct. 27, 2013 and that he was suffering from mental and psychological issues in prison.

Youths tell of torture in Israeli prisons

Separately, Masalha said she was told by several teenage prisoners that they were being tortured in Israeli jails.

Khalil Ameen Muhammad Abu Sanad, 17, from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan told Masalha how he was detained on Jan. 1, 2013 by undercover Israeli forces.

He said they “leaped upon me, beating me brutally,” adding that an undercover agent punched him in the face, smashing his glasses. A piece of glass, he said, pierced his eye and caused bleeding while the agents continued to beat him with clubs and rifle butts.

Sanad added that he was then evacuated to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem where he was treated before being taken to the Russian Compound detention center where he was interrogated for 27 days.

Another teenage prisoner, 17-year-old Anas Muhammad Ismail Abu Hilal, said he was detained from his home in Abu Dis on Aug. 11, 2013 at 3 a.m.

He told the lawyer that masked Israeli special agents in black uniform broke the main door and ransacked his family home. They then handcuffed his hands and dragged him out beating him with rifle butts and helmets. He sustained bruises in the head, face and other parts of his body.

Similarly, Ahmad Yousif Muhammad Abu Ghazi, 17, from al-Arrub refugee camp near Hebron said he had been detained since March 23, 2013. He told the ministry of prisoners’ affairs’ lawyer that Israeli troops broke into his family home at 3 a.m. before they blindfolded him and dragged him “brutally” to a military jeep, beating him until he fell to the ground.

A soldier, he added, attacked him with a rifle at his face breaking his nose. He was interrogated before he received any medical treatment to his bleeding nose. He was forced to stand still in the rain for long hours, according to his lawyer.

5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Oct. 2013, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.

Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, representing 20 percent of the total population and 40 percent of all males in the occupied territories.

Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners’ face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

Israel arrest Nablus student bloc leader

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Wednesday evening raided Nablus and arrested a student leader affiliated with Hamas, locals said.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli army vehicles raided the northern West Bank city from the south at al-Toor area and from the east at al-Quds street and arrested Abd al-Rahman Hindiya, 26.

Hindiya was arrested from al-Baloor area and was taken to an unknown destination.

An Israeli military spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 26.06.2014)

Sick Gaza woman dies at Erez crossing

(ALRAY Archive) Erez crossing

Erez crossing

Gaza, ALRAY – A Palestinian woman sick with a heart disease died Wednesday morning at Eretz crossing in northern Gaza Strip.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said that Wedad Deeb, 71, died while waiting at the Israeli side of the crossing, adding that she was on her way to a West Bank hospital to get medical treatment.

Al-Qedra did not identified the deceased woman. He explained that she got referred by the ministry to undergo a surgery in a Nablus hospital, northern occupied West Bank.

Restrictions of movement through the Rafah crossing effective since July 2013 have seen referrals of patients to Egypt falling by half and through, according to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Patient permit applications during the second half of 2013 increased by 28.7 per cent compared to the first half of the year, the office stats showed.

It added that eighty-eight per cent of these applications during 2013 were approved, 11.7 per cent delayed and 0.3 per cent denied.

On a related note, the restrictions at Rafah practically halted shipments of medical aid used to be donated by international solidarity groups, which had accounted for 30 per cent of medicines used by the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

According to the Palestinian terminal authority in Rafah, there were no shipments of drugs in the second half of 2013 except for a single delivery comprising four truckloads in November, donated by the Union of Arab Physicians in Egypt.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

FMBA: No need for further examination on Arafat

MOSCOW (Ma’an) — Director of the Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) Vladimir Uiba said that there is no need to form a new committee to examine the remains of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.

The Arab League had filed a request for the formation of an international committee to re-examine the remains of Arafat after the Agency concluded that his death was due to natural causes, and not poisoning as previous examinations had suggested.

Russia Today quoted Uiba as saying, “we will not take part in this new committee,” adding that scientists are satisfied with the results they previously found.

“The scientists in the community have accepted this, but others who assess things according to their feelings did not,” he added.

In December, FMBA officials ruled that the late Palestinian leader died from “natural” causes. The tests followed a November report from Swiss scientists which “moderately supported the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210.”

Arafat died in France on Nov. 11, 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow Suha’s request.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

Israel lobby group compiles secret dossiers on pro-Palestinian speakers

(Photo: Facebook.com/StandWithUs)

The day before Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, gave a speech on Palestine in Port Townsend, Washington in 2010, he exposed a dossier circulated about him.  Authored by the right-wing pro-Israel group StandWithUs, it was a blueprint for what local activists should do when questioning Abunimah.

“When Ali Abunimah comes to your campus, be prepared for a sophisticated, smooth advocate of radical Palestinian positions,” the dossier circulated by Rob Jacobs, Northwest Regional Director of StandWithUs, said.


AliAbunimah-580x300

Screenshot of Stand4Facts’ dossier on Abunimah

But Abunimah is not the only public figure to get the StandWithUs treatment.  A whole website, accessed only by those with usernames and passwords given by StandWithUs, is filled with information on dozens of people who speak out for Palestinian human rights (though it also includes anti-Semites like Kevin MacDonald).  Mondoweiss obtained access to the website through a source.

Stand4Facts.org is meant to help “Israel advocates respond to and counter anti-Israel speakers who come to your campus.”  The site announces it was “made possible by generous funding from the Newton D. and Rochelle Becker Foundation in partnership with the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.”  The repository of information on speakers and groups is one part of StandWithUs’ efforts to boost Israel’s image on college campuses, where the group spends more than half of its money. (I previously revealed StandWithUs’ internal strategy for combatting Israel Apartheid Week, which began yesterday in the U.S.)

Through the website, you learn that the Israeli soldiers group Breaking the Silence, which documents human rights abuses, is “fringe” and helps “the cause of extremist organizations which oppose Israel’s existence”; that Palestinian-Israeli human rights group Adalah has a “far-reaching [agenda of] delegitimizing and defaming the Jewish State”; and that Human Rights Watch has become “an anti-Israel lobby.”

Far more material is devoted to individual Palestine solidarity activists.  In total, Stand4Facts.org has compiled material on about 101 speakers who frequent college campuses.  For each speaker, there’s an “overview”; biographical information; quotes that are critical of Israel followed by rejoinders; questions to ask the speaker and more.

The human rights attorney Noura Erakat, for instance, is described as a “young, attractive and inflammatory American-Palestinian” who “cloaks her attacks on Israel and defense of Palestinians in post-modern human rights, feminist jargon.”  (The listings on many of the female speakers contain comments on their attractiveness.)  Here’s a sampling of the questions they suggest StandWithUs activists ask Erakat when she speaks.

Screenshot of Stand4Facts' page on Noura Erakat.

Screenshot of Stand4Facts’ page on Noura Erakat.

You wrote that your family worked very hard to maintain your Palestinian identity and to keep you from becoming ‘Americanized.’ Can you please explain what aspects of Americanization were most offensive to you and what aspects of Palestinian political and cultural life should be introduced into the US?

As a lawyer, you must be acutely aware of the difference between South Africa whose laws set up apartheid and Israel whose laws strive to ensure equal human and civil rights for all. Are you intentionally deceiving this audience by claiming Israel has an apartheid system or do you really not understand the difference?

In order to have peace, there must be mutual understanding and even respect for each other’s narratives and history. Which aspects of Israel’s history and situation do you and other Palestinians find most persuasive and legitimate?

Stand4Facts.org describes Craig and Cindy Corrie, the parents of American activist Rachel Corrie, as “a pleasant, soft-spoken middle-aged couple” who nonetheless “travel in deeply anti-Israel circles.” The website adds:

Their daughter died while working with the Palestinian-allied International Solidarity Movement, and neither Cindy nor Craig publicly have distanced themselves from the ISM’s militant record. In fact, the Corries continue to work with the ISM in spite of the fact that the organization played a leading role in Rachel’s death.

The site encourages Israel advocates to ask the Corries questions like:

Since Israel’s withdrawal, Gaza has turned into an anarchic, violent place of armed clans fighting one another for power and money, and more Palestinians have been killed this year by Palestinian violence than by Israelis. Did your daughter have any knowledge of these power struggles and competing clans? If not, how come she wasn’t more aware of the realities around her?

Another speaker profiled is Josh Ruebner, author of Shattered Hopes: The Failure of Obama’s Middle East Peace Process.  Described as “well educated, articulate, and young,” Stand4Facts states that Ruebner is “a Jew willing to concede that the Palestinians have been wronged and that it is appropriate to publicly criticize Israel.”

Other speakers on the website include: Asad Abu’Khalil; Anna Baltzer; Dalit Baum; Phyllis Bennis; Norman Finkelstein; and Nadia Hijab.

In addition to the information on speakers and activist groups, StandWithUs provides campus activists with “lies and distortions” about Israel that they can challenge. According to the right-wing group:

The Deir Yassin massacre was no massacre.  It was “a military Arab-Jewish battle with unfortunate civilian casualties.” Israel did not create Palestinian refugees–”The Zionists frequently urged Palestinians not to flee the areas they secured and encouraged them to stay in their homes and communities.” The Israeli military hardly killed any civilians during Operation Cast Lead.  “75% to 85% of casualties were terrorist operatives, according to the IDF, the U.N., and other sources.”

When the Electronic Intifada’s Abunimah revealed the existence of the dossier on him, activist Emma Rosenthal took to Twitter to say that StandWithUs had a dossier on her. In response, the group told her, “Happy to assure you, you aren’t that important.”

But there is a dossier on Rosenthal–and many, many more people.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

Lebanon’s Hezbollah vows to respond to Israeli attack

The Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has confirmed that Israel targeted one of its bases in a recent airstrike, vowing to retaliate against the attack.

Hezbollah on Wednesday condemned the act of violence, saying it would respond to the Israeli airstrike near the village of Janta, which hit a base on the Lebanon-Syria border on February 24.

The Lebanese group said Tel Aviv had violated its country’s sovereignty and that the group would retaliate  at the appropriate time and place.

“We will retaliate for this Israeli aggression, and the resistance will choose the appropriate time and place as well as appropriate means to respond,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

They also denied reports suggesting the airstrike had hit a missile base.

The resistance movement said that although the attack had caused no casualties, some material damage had been done.

Although some Israeli officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Tel Aviv had carried out the attack on Monday, the Israeli military has not released any comments on the airstrike.

Beirut has filed several complaints to the United Nations over the violation of the country’s airspace by Israeli military aircraft.

Tel Aviv violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Earlier reports said that the airstrike on Monday had hit an area inside Syrian territory.

(Source / 26.02.2014)

A few tanks in the Jordan Valley will not make Israel safe

A Bedouin shepherd leads his herd of cattle in the Judean desert overlooking the Jordan Valley, on Jan. 8, 2014.
Muhammad Shtayyeh is head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, and a former PLO negotiator.
The government of Israel has done everything possible to make negotiations fail.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone: the ruling coalition represents the political platform of the majority of its members, who are staunchly and outspokenly against the concept of a sovereign Palestinian state in any part of historical Palestine.

Intensified settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, one of a whole host of other violations of international law, speaks for itself. If Israel’s actions on the ground are not loud enough, the statements of numerous high-ranking Israeli officials on the subject of the two-state solution certainly are.

Less apparent, however, are the diversionary tactics being used to stall the negotiations process and prevent the internationally-endorsed end goal, allowing Israel time to further entrench its occupation and colonization of Palestine.

There are six final status issues in negotiations. Rather than genuinely trying to reach an agreement on these issues, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is attempting to bring two non-issues to the table.

These are issues which divert attention from the core questions. They are designed to appease a government that is by, for and of the settlers. And they are issues that the Israeli government knows that no Palestinian negotiator could ever accept, giving Israel the opportunity to stall the negotiations process while attempting to blame the Palestinian side for its failure.

The first non-issue is the new Israeli proposal to effectively annex the Jordan Valley under the pretext of “security.” The Jordan Valley is an integral part of the occupied state of Palestine. It is deep within the Green Line, constitutes almost a third of the occupied West Bank and can never be a part of the state of Israel within the framework of the two-state solution.

It has never been discussed at any point during the past twenty plus years of negotiations. It is an absolute non-starter that would deny Palestine’s sovereignty over its own natural resources.

In terms of demands for an Israeli military presence, Israeli military experts have clearly stated that in this age of modern warfare, the Jordan Valley has no security value. A few tanks in the Jordan Valley will not make Israel safe.

Nevertheless, Palestinian officials have repeatedly stated that they are willing to accept a third party presence, which directly addresses any security claim, whether genuine or not.

The second new issue, which Netanyahu and his colleagues have succeeded in bringing to the fore, is the idea that Palestine should recognize Israel as a “Jewish State.” Again, this is a non-issue. Palestine recognized the State of Israel in 1988, just as any other country has recognized Israel. In fact, even Israel’s president Shimon Peres has reportedly called the recognition of a Jewish state “unnecessary.”

The simple truth is clear: this is a government that does not want the internationally-endorsed two-state solution. The statements made by Israeli minister Moshe Yaalon against Secretary Kerry should not be considered a mere personal opinion: they are a reflection of the Israeli government’s true attitude towards the peace process.

This is a government whose main political agenda is to replace occupation by force with occupation by invitation. Israeli officials talk as if the vast majority of settlements in the occupied state of Palestine will be kept by Israel under any agreement. Netanyahu’s slogan that “there is no difference between Tel Aviv and (the settlement of) Maale Adumim,” has set the tone for the failure of any negotiations process.

The Palestinian position is clear, an independent sovereign Palestinian state is impossible while Israeli military and settler presence remains. The international community knows this well.

Israel’s settlement policy has earned it widespread condemnation. Most recently, Israeli ambassadors were summoned in Rome, Madrid, London and Paris about the continued settlement activity. Israel’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Lieberman, complained that these actions were “one sided.”

But there are no two sides when it comes to violations of international law. Illegal is illegal.

We continue to negotiate in good faith, knowing that peace will benefit no one more than us, the occupied people. But at the same time, and in the face of the Israeli government’s willful sabotage of any effort towards peace, Palestine must press on with its international endeavors in order to hold Israel accountable for its severe and repeated violations of international law.

We owe it to our people to take every legitimate step towards fulfilling their rights and the international community has a duty to help us attain those rights, through every forum to which we are entitled under international law.

Netanyahu’s placation of the settlers, including coalition partners, is short-sighted and dangerous.

He now has two options: he can either choose to make peace and take the necessary steps which that entails — beginning by dropping these non-issues and pre-conditions and using the next three months to work on the real core issues — or he can continue on the path he has chosen and make history as the Israeli PM who consolidated apartheid in Palestine.

I, for one, hope that wisdom and justice will prevail.

(Source / 26.02.2014)