Five Videos Israel Doesn’t Want You To See

Israeli soldiers gather and take aim at Palestinian protestors in the West Bank city of Nablus, on 13th October 2015

Israeli soldiers gather and take aim at Palestinian protestors in the West Bank city of Nablus, on 13th October 2015

Israel works hard to portray its violence against Palestinians as that of self-defence against terrorism; in fact, the primary, ongoing task of the ‘Israel Defense Forces’ is to protect a network of colonies and settlers, and maintain a military regime over millions of non-citizen Palestinians.

These videos, all from October, show the grimly-routine violence inherent in Israel’s apartheid regime; Palestinians are targeted by Israeli occupation forces and settlers whether they are simply going about their business, defending their property, or protesting.

These videos help give the lie to both Israel’s ‘security’ rhetoric and its army’s ‘ethical’ standards. Let’s see how many of these soldiers face any kind of disciplinary process.

1.

On October 6, Ansar ‘Asi was brutally beaten and taken away by Israeli occupation forces as he worked at a cleaning products company in al-Bireh, near Ramallah in the West Bank. The video, captured by the company’s security camera, shows a number of Israeli soldiers beating ‘Asi, kicking him while he is on the floor, and assaulting him with their rifles. The Palestinian worker required medical attention, and was detained for five days.

2.

During confrontations between Palestinian youth and Israeli occupation forces near Hebron on October 14, soldiers seized an unarmed teenager as he fled, before dragging him to the ground and beating and kicking him. As he is being assaulted, other soldiers open fire on the protesters.

3.

On October 7, undercover Israeli agents seized an unarmed Palestinian demonstrator, beat him, and shot him in the leg at point blank range. Uniformed Israeli occupation forces joined in the assault, kicking the young man as he is dragged on the ground. According to the AFP journalist present, the undercover agents also fired “live bullets into a crowd of protesters.”

4.

This video, recorded by a grocery store security camera, shows Israeli occupation forces brutally arresting a Palestinian child in East Jerusalem. They also kick the shop’s employee to the floor.

5.

This video shows Jewish settlers throwing stones at Palestinian homes in Hebron, as Israeli occupation forces look on. Far from an unusual occurrence, settler violence against Palestinians often takes place under the protection of Israeli soldiers. The clip is even more striking, given that Israeli forces shoot – sometimes fatally – Palestinian protesters who throw stones.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Palestine: The open wound

Palestine: The open wound

The violence is a direct result of Israeli injustices, writes Anouzla

Comment: The historical injustice against Palestine is the cause of violence – and only by restoring Palestinian rights will the violence end, argues Ali Anouzla

To describe the situation in occupied Palestine as being an aggression and a crime does not do the issue justice. An objective analyst would not find it hard to prove that current events are a continuation of the historical injustices against the Palestinian people.

It makes little difference if we describe the current situation as a third intifada or a precursor to an intifada.

We also should not spend too much time trying to find the right words to condemn the daily violence that furnishes our TV screens to the point that it has become an intrinsic part of us.

The victims innovate new methods of resistance while the tormentors find elaborate killing techniques

Nor should we question the victim as to why he or she resorts to defending themselves with stones, kitchen knifes, bare hands or even simply by screaming.

This has been a repeated scene for more than 60 years – the only difference is that the victims innovate new methods of resistance while the tormentors find elaborate killing techniques to quench their thirst for blood.

It is easy to explain the escalating clashes in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank as the result of Palestinian youth losing hope that the occupation that has been crushing them for decades will come to an end.

We could also explain it as Palestinian youth being sick and tired of listening to the same old regurgitated speeches about peace, settlements and just solutions.

But these explanations will not change a thing on the ground.

It is also very logical to argue that current events are the natural and inevitable result of the policies of repression and subjugation suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of Israeli authorities and settlers.

However, none of these arguments will provide a solution.

The Israeli occupation has tried all the methods of repression and murder and committed crimes against humanity, massacres and ethnic cleansing, however it has not been able to prevent the victims from continuing their blood-soaked journey of resistance.

Forget about the political analysis and the commentaries that conjure up geography and political strategies – this violence is a direct result of the historic Israeli injustices against Palestinians since 1948 and through all of Israel’s continuous massacres to this day.

If it were not for all of this Israeli oppression, there would not be such a violent Palestinian reaction, and if it were not for the compound historical violence, there would be no justifications for violent jihadi rhetoric in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

If it were not for a historical injustice such as that of Palestine, would we see so many atrocities committed in its name?

We should not forget that the first Arab jihadist in Afghanistan was a Palestinian by the name of Abdullah Azzam, who was a product of this historical injustice.

We should also remember that Azzam’s fellow traveller, Osama Bin Laden, left his country to fight the United States, which he saw as an ally to the Zionist regime that had committed unfathomable atrocities.

This is not to justify the inexcusable crimes and atrocities committed by al-Qaeda, but we have to ask ourselves: if it were not for a historical injustice such as that of Palestine, would we see so many atrocities committed in its name?

The violence, killings and pain that we witness today are manifestations of the historic injustice against Palestine, an open would that continues to bleed.

The strength of the Palestinian people lays in their just cause, as they possess a historical right that they have fought to preserve, carrying the scars as badges of honour.

The only way to right this historical wrong against Palestinians and stop the escalating confrontations in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank is for justice to be done – by Palestinians being granted their legal rights.

Palestinians have the right to establish a sovereign and independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital, according to numerous agreements and international decisions.

This is the only solution that could end the historic tragedy that has spanned more than 60 years. Without this solution, the violence will only grow, and its victims will only increase as long as the oppression that feeds it continues.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

How to end the war in Yemen

Women stand next to graffiti painted by pro-Houthi activists on the gate of the Saudi Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, Oct. 21, 2015. The writing reads, “We will kneel only to Allah.”

The tragic war in Yemen needs a political solution urgently. UN Security Council Resolution 2216 provides a one-sided path forward. A better solution would outline a path forward for all the parties. All parties involved need to back off their extreme positions. Some creative imagination needs to be given to this crisis sooner rather than later.

The war expands and grinds on as the Saudi-led coalition brings in more troops from Sudan, Mauritania and elsewhere and prepares for an assault on Sanaa. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are growing more potent. Aden, the southern port recovered by the Saudi coalition, is a chaotic, broken city — not a symbol of restored law and order. There is little sign a real cease-fire is in the works. Talks planned to take place in Oman failed. Appeals for $1.6 billion in international aid have gone unfulfilled. Millions of Yemenis are suffering.

The current peace effort is based on a formula decided hastily by the Security Council to satisfy Riyadh. Only Russia demurred. A better approach would be to determine who needs to exit the Yemen equation, who needs to reconsider their posture, a new regional agreement for the Arabian Peninsula and a better role for Washington.

At the top of the list to go is the man who has done so much to ruin the Arab World’s poorest state. Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh needs to retire permanently and thoroughly from Yemeni politics and take his sons with him into exile. More than any other figure, Saleh is responsible for the tragedy of today’s Yemen. After 33 years of misrule, he refused to accept the results of the Arab Spring and systematically undermined efforts to build an inclusive broad national government. Saleh needs to go. It can be a comfortable retirement, but his departure should be the commonly agreed upon basis of a deal.

Two other parties don’t need to lose but do need to be sobered by the events of the last year. The Zaydi Shiite Houthi rebels have cost themselves and Yemen a humanitarian catastrophe by their arrogant pursuit of power. They need to be part of a national reconciliation process but not the sole or dominant power broker. The government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was elected in a legitimate process, even if he proved a very weak leader, as many expected. He can step down gracefully and let a government of national unity come forward that includes the Houthis. The UN should mediate its formation.

The Zaydis also need to recognize Iran is an unreliable and ineffective ally who did little or nothing to help Yemen or them. Iran meddled in Yemen solely to frustrate Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the other Gulf states. It has not been a responsible party in this crisis.

Saudi Arabia needs sobering, as well. Its hasty decision to begin airstrikes and a blockade (before even consulting some of its own allies such as Pakistan) plunged the region into war. The blockade has created a horrific humanitarian disaster for Yemenis. Both sides have caused terrible acts of violence, but the kingdom is a state that aspires to lead the Islamic world and must be held to a high standard.

Saudis in the border region have also paid a high price for the war, and all Saudis and their Gulf partners should have to foot the enormous bill for reconstruction in Yemen. The kingdom needs a more thoughtful and judicious foreign policy than the one that went to war this year.

Offering Yemen full membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) would be an excellent start, and some prominent Saudis have already suggested the idea. A GCC with Yemen would contain 70 million people. It would unite the peninsula. Bringing Yemen into the rich Gulf club would emulate the European Union’s positive approach of bringing in poorer European states to help them transition to a stable and prosperous future. It will mean the Saudis, Emiratis, Qataris and others take on the task of rebuilding Yemen at their (considerable) expense. The alternative is to leave a festering open wound in the peninsula that will bleed them as Yemenis seek revenge for this war for a generation to come.

Of course bringing in Yemen means dealing with many complex issues involving currency, internal migration, internal security arrangements and many others. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi should lead the way in developing urgent and equitable ways forward on these issues. Not all or even most need to be fully resolved before Yemen gains admission to the GCC’s summits and top decision-making. It is long past time to treat Yemenis as equal partners in the peninsula. In the long term, a bigger GCC, perhaps also including Jordan, could be a transformational mechanism for income redistribution and political reform.

Finally, Washington needs some second thoughts. It facilitated a war it has no vital interest in and let several allies operate callously. It has done far too little to secure a cease-fire and lift the blockade. It should be much more engaged at a much higher level in resolving this war than it has been to date.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Netanyahu Says Israel Will Retain All Palestinian Territory

Speaking to Parliament, PM Vows Israel Will ‘Forever Live by the Sword’

Speaking today at the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ratcheted up the rhetoric to a dramatic degree, saying Israel will retain full military control over all of the occupied territories for the “foreseeable future” and dismissing the prospects of Palestinian statehood.

Incredibly, during the speech Netanyahu stared down the centrist opposition and declared that Israel “will forever live by the sword,” insisting that it is only the problem of “extreme Islam” that keeps the Palestinians from being potential partners in a two-state solution.

Yet this ultimately undercut his insistence that Israel intends to keep that territory for themselves, a plan which he was quick to include didn’t mean a “binational state” in which those living under occupation would become citizens.

Even members of the far-right Jewish Home party seemed taken aback by Netanyahu’s attitude, with Betzalel Smotrich asking why he even bothered with the pretense of talking to Abbas, claiming he was “pulling the world’s leg.”

Netanyahu insisted that he would talk with anyone who isn’t calling for Israel’s destruction, though at this point it seems more clear than ever that this is just talk for talk’s sake, and concessions aren’t being made to anyone.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Obama considering moving troops closer to front lines in Syria and Iraq

Coalition air strikes slow in Syria; Iranian deaths in Syria on the rise

As US-led coalition forces have slowed down in their air strikes in Syria, the Obama administration is considering moving US troops closer to the front lines in Syria and Iraq, reported The Washington Post on Monday.

According to the report, the recommendations, which come at US President Barack Obama request and still need his formal approval, a limited number of Special Operation forces would be put on the ground in Syria and advisers would be sent closer to the frontlines in Iraq.

The newly recommended Special Operations forces in Syria would reportedly work with moderate Syrian rebels and Kurdish groups like the YPG to help retake Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State, backed by American air power.

The advisers in Iraq would help with the Iraqi army with specific operations, such as retaking the key city of Ramadi, seized by IS this past spring

Marwan Ibrahim (AFP/File)

“Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive their military vehicle after they reportedly captured several villages from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists on the outskirts of the northern Iraqi oil capital of Kirkuk on September 30, 2015”

While the recommendations would put a US troops on the ground in Syria for the first time since the beginning of the US-led coalition against IS last year, the US has already carried out raids in Syria with small Special Operations teams several times.

Last week, elite Kurdish forces supported by US Delta Force fighters freed about 70 people who were being held by IS near the Iraqi city of Hawijah. The rare operation, which bore similarities with a raid against a top IS financier in Syria in May, resulted in the first death of a US serviceman since 2011.

While the troops would not be in a direct combat role, they reflect a major shift by Obama and the Pentagon who fear that the battle against Islamic State militants has largely reached a dead-end.

While Washington has declined to comment on the report, a US official, quoted by The Washington Post said that Obama could make a decision on the recommendations as soon as this week.

Haidar Hamdani (AFP/File)

“Iraqi police take part in a training session in Najaf on October 11, 2015 before being deployed against the Islamic State group”

-US led coalition air strikes slow in Syria-

Earlier Thursday it was reported that the US-led coalition forces have not carried out any air strikes in Syria for three days as of Monday, a lull that contrasts with the continued intensity of Russia’s bombing campaign.

According to Pentagon data, the last coalition strike was a drone attack on October 22 that targeted an Islamic State vehicle and a “mortar tube.”

As of Sunday, coalition aircraft had carried out a total of 2,679 air strikes in Syria.

According to Pentagon figures, the coalition launched 359 air strikes in July. The number dropped to 206 in August and 115 in September.

Continuing the downward trend, there have been 91 strikes so far this month.

The United States has led a coalition of more than 60 countries that since June 2014 has been conducting regular air raids against IS positions in Iraq and Syria.

Russian Defence Ministry/AFP/File

“Footage taken from the Russian Defence Ministry’s website, on October 15, 2015, purports to show airstrikes carried out by Russian force an Islamic State foothold in the Syrian province of Idlib”

-As Iranian deaths in Syria rise, debate opens at home-

A spike in the number of Iranian military officers killed in Syria has started a rare debate back home about the country’s increased efforts to prop up President Bashar al-Assad.

In Tehran, where war dead are revered and remembered in giant public murals, newly erected memorials are a sign of the human cost that Iran is paying in Syria, amid worries of what is to come.

Though not comparable to the 1980-1988 war with Iraq — in which hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed — the Islamic republic’s role in Syrian hotspots such as Aleppo has intensified.

The past two weeks have seen the deaths there of one of Iran’s best known generals, Hossein Hamedani, two colonels and nine other members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The mounting toll has followed Russia’s launch of an air campaign in support of Assad that has coincided with an escalation in the ground war.

Behrouz Mehri (AFP/File)

“A picture taken in Tehran on September 6, 2011, shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani attending a ceremony”

The confluence of events has for the first time in Iran led some to openly question the country’s four-year involvement in Syria, with concerns aired on social media.

“We shouldn’t lose our commanders so easily. This is a mistake that we also often made during the imposed war,” said one online post following confirmation of the two colonels’ deaths, comparing them to those who fell in the conflict against Saddam Hussein.

“The fact that our generals are being martyred shows that they are right in the middle of the battle,” another said on Instagram after some of the IRGC deaths emerged via the photosharing service.

Iran’s ties with Syria are deep — Assad’s late father, Hafez, when president sided with Iran against Saddam. Tehran has provided the current leader with military and financial aid against Western- and Gulf-backed rebel fighters since the unrest broke out in 2011.

Diplomatic efforts to end the civil war are stalemated, with Russia and Iran sticking with Assad while the United States and Saudi Arabia insist he must agree to step down, even if not immediately.

Many of those taking to social media defend Iran’s military action in Syria as necessary to stop the Islamic State jihadist group.

But others caution that were IS to reach Iran’s borders, the country’s best commanders would no longer be alive to lead the fight.

Giant posters of Hamedani, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war who had conducted 80 missions in Syria, and others killed there dominate squares, bridges and other prominent places in Tehran.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Israeli crackdown has a devastating effect on Gaza farms

Hatem Shamali found it relatively easy for to continue working his Gaza farm in the period between last year’s Israeli offensive on the Strip and the ongoing Palestinian intifada that started in the occupied West Bank and expanded to the coastal enclave.

“It was quiet,” says the 48-year-old, “but I did not feel safe during that period because Israeli soldiers were patrolling near my farm and from time to time they would fire warning shots to tell farmers going close the border to turn back.”

“After the war, there were many shootings, but there were no causalities,” he says, “for us, the farmers, we got used to this system. When they shoot, we go back.”

A similar story is told by Ahmed Al-Dose, Ashour Badawi and Habib Shurrab. All of them work their farms on the Israeli border and say that there has been a kind of implicit agreement with the Israeli soldiers that they must not get too close to the border.

New measures

At the beginning of this month, the situation changed completely, the farmers told MEMO. As Palestinian youths started to gather at several points along the eastern Gaza border to protest Israeli violence in the West Bank, the situation has become dangerous.

“Three weeks ago, when the school boys started their protests along the borders, the situation changed,” Ashour Badawi said. “The Israeli soldiers shot at the boys in order to disperse them, but they shot indiscriminately towards them; therefore, we flee fearing to be hurt.”

Badawi described the situation of his farm like a “hit and run” scene. “When it is calm, we quickly rush to our farms, reform the plants, irrigate them and pick up the ripe vegetables,” he says. However, when there are clashes, the farmers do not dare approach their farms, preferring to remain safe.

“We always follow the news in order to know the latest regarding the situation on the border,” Badawi says, “if it is calm, we go to work, if not, we stay at home even if we know that there is an urgent need to work the plants.”

If the situation turns unsafe when the farmers are at their farms, they are obliged to leave. “It happened several times that we picked up our ripe vegetables and left them to rot in the farms because we are obliged to flee without taking them with us,” says Al-Dose.

Damaged crops

Badawi, who planted olive trees on his farm following last year’s war, said that he is afraid that one day he will arrive at his farm to find the all the new olives trees uprooted.

“In fact, I was afraid when I first planted them because, like all other farmers, our olive trees in the farms near the borders were uprooted several times and it became common among all of us that the Israeli soldiers do not allow us planting trees here,” he says.

“However, I felt it was safe after the war, so I decided to plant trees,” he adds, “but today, I feel that I am going to lose them.”

Israeli soldiers did not immediately uproot trees and copses following the start of the intifada, but Shurrab expects that they will do so soon should the tension escalate.

“Several of my crops were damaged because I was unable to irrigate the plants on time,” Shurrab says, “I also lost the vegetables I picked because I had to flee Israeli fire several times.”

“If the situation becomes more and more complex, I am afraid I will come to my farm one day to find everything damaged,” he added.

Far from the border

Abu-Haitham, whose farm is more than 1,000 metres from the border, says that he is worried about this year’s olive harvest. “I am far from the border, but when the situation heats up, I immediately leave,” he says.

He says that live bullets fired by Israelis soldiers arrive on his farm. “Three years ago, my niece was hit by a live bullet that came from close to the border,” says Abu-Haitham. “We considered that incident a warning for us. Now, whenever there are clashes, we immediately leave.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 57 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of October; 17 in the Gaza Strip and 40 in the West Bank, Jerusalem and occupied Palestine.

Around 5,000 Palestinians have been wounded in the recent fighting, many by rubber bullets. At least 800 Gazans have also been wounded, including 369 hit by live bullets.

 

US has no right to choose Syrian president: Analyst

The US government does not have the right to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power and determine the country’s next leader, an American analyst says.

“Why is the United States involving itself in deciding who or who will not be the president of Syria,” said Mark Glenn, co-founder of the Crescent and Cross Solidarity Movement.

If a group of powerful countries gathered and decided to overthrow the US government, it would create a “tsunami” in Washington, Glenn said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

“But yet this is what the United States does and this is what the United States is doing right now with regards to trying to remove President Assad from Syria,” he added.

The analyst said Iran has had an important and “pivotal role” in ending the conflict in Syria. “Iran has been kind of this silent player in all of this…and the United States recognizes this.”

“Iran and other players involved in all of this need to tread very carefully when they’re dealing with the United States because you’re dealing with a player who simply cannot be trusted on any level,” Glenn argued.

The United States acknowledged on Monday that Iran would eventually need to be involved in diplomatic discussions on ending the Syrian conflict.

The US State Department said that Iran is a stakeholder in this process because of Tehran’s close relationship with President Assad.

“At some point … we know there’s going to need to be a conversation with Iran toward the end of a political transition there,” Spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Vienna on Monday.

Several US officials said Tuesday that Iran has been invited to participate for the first time in international talks over Syria’s future.

Several top European and Arab diplomats are also expected to attend the talks in Vienna on Thursday.

Iran has never been invited to meetings on Syria since the crisis began in the country in 2011. Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed the need for Iran’s presence in the negotiations.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Israel must take action to regulate the status of tens of thousands of Gazans living without IDs

Article of 21 Jul 2013
Illustration: Noam Rabinovich, B'Tselem

There are 40,000 to 50,000 individuals currently living in the Gaza Strip without ID cards recognized by Israel, and they have no official status anywhere else in the world. Some of them were born in the Gaza Strip but were never recognized as residents by Israel; some fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war, or left Gaza for various reasons after 1967 and returned later. A small number of these individuals were born in the Gaza Strip and have never left it, but do not have ID cards for various reasons. Other stateless individuals in the Gaza Strip are Palestinians from abroad who married Gaza residents, entered Gaza with visitor permits and remained after their permits expired.

Individuals who live in the Gaza Strip without status and without an ID card or a passport of any country find it difficult to lead normal lives. They cannot leave the Gaza Strip for any reason, including studies, work, visiting family or pilgrimage to Mecca (al-Hajj). They cannot hold down jobs that require travel outside the Gaza Strip. Any stateless individuals in need of medical treatment not available in the Gaza Strip cannot go to Egypt to receive treatment and very rarely do they receive permission to enter Israel for this purpose. All of this is compounded by the constant overall sense of insecurity experienced by people who have no official status. This feeling is linked, among other things, to fear of an Israeli incursion into Gaza which may result in their deportation.

Walid Judah, 26, was born in Kuwait to parents who left the Gaza Strip in 1965 to work abroad. In 1999, he arrived in the Gaza Strip along with his parents on visitor permits requested for them by relatives. Judah’s parents applied for family reunification for the entire family. Yet shortly after, in 2000, Israel froze all family unification procedures. Judah finished high school with honors in 2004 and received scholarships to study abroad, but could not travel because he has no ID card. Following is what he told B’Tselem:

Local ID issued by Hamas authorities

In 2004, I finished high school with a 95.5% average. I got two scholarships from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, one to study engineering in Turkey and the other to study medicine in Tunisia. Because I don’t have an ID card, I couldn’t go. I stayed in Gaza and studied information technology at al-Azhar University, even though I wasn’t interested in this profession. I wanted to study dentistry abroad, but I couldn’t. I stayed in Gaza and finished my studies.

After I finished my studies, I was unemployed for two years. Then I got a job with the welfare agency, as head of their information department. I’d like to study for a Master’s degree outside of Gaza, but I can’t, because I don’t have an ID card. I got married two years ago. My wife does have an ID so our two children were registered on her card.

Rafiq Masah, 78, came to Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip as a young refugee from Majdal, present-day Ashkelon in 1948. He got married in the Gaza Strip and had four children. According to Masah, in 1967, after Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, he was deported to Egypt along with other men from Khan Yunis. He was later joined by his family. The family then moved to Kuwait, where he found a job. In 1995, one of his sons returned to the Gaza Strip on a visitor permit and received official status through the family reunification procedure. In 2000, Rafiq Masah returned to the Gaza Strip with his wife and one of their daughters on visitor permits their son had obtained. They filed for family reunification, but the application was not processed because of the Israeli freeze on these procedures. In his testimony to B’Tselem, Masah describes the difficulties he has had as a stateless person in the Gaza Strip:

Rafiq Masah, Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'TselemBefore the Israeli military withdrew from Gaza, I couldn’t visit my relatives in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, because of the many checkpoints the military had established. There was a checkpoint at [the settlement of] Netzarim that separated Gaza City from the central Gaza Strip and one near [the settlement of] Kfar Darom, which separated the central part of the Gaza Strip from northern Gaza. I was afraid to go through the checkpoints because the soldiers ask to see IDs, and if they’d realized I didn’t have one, I could have been deported from Gaza. I was only able to visit relatives after the Israeli withdrawal.

I have a heart condition and arthritis, and I need medical care that I can’t get in Gaza. The doctors in Gaza only give me drugs and pain killers, but that doesn’t solve the problem. I also really want to go visit my children who live in Saudi Arabia. I haven’t seen them since 2000.

Israel still retains control of the Population Registry of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Although the Oslo Accords imparted much relevant authority in this sphere to the Palestinian Authority, Israel stopped updating its copy of the population registry in 2000 and no longer recognizes changes made to it by the PA ever since. Israel now only allows the PA to register births and deaths and to issue replacements for worn documents. As a result, the PA and the Hamas government have no possibility of issuing recognized ID cards to residents of the Occupied Territories.

In an attempt to resolve the plight of stateless individuals in the Gaza Strip, in January 2008, the Hamas government began issuing temporary internal ID cards to Gaza residents who are not listed in the Population Registry. This measure was implemented in order to help these individuals in leading their daily life within the Gaza Strip and enable them to do things like open a bank account, enroll children in school or acquire medical insurance. According to figures collected by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza, there are currently about 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza who hold these temporary ID cards. However, these cards are not valid at the crossings into Israel or at the Rafah border crossing to Egypt, currently managed by Hamas and Egypt. Egypt does not allow individuals who have these cards to cross the border, unless they also hold Jordanian passports. Individuals who have expired Jordanian passports are permitted to leave, but cannot return without renewing their passports.

Najah Tawil, of Gaza City, recounted her existence as a stateless individual:

Najah TawilIn 1967, before the war, my father went to Egypt to study at the university. He wasn’t present in the Gaza Strip when the census was conducted, so he wasn’t registered. In 1970 he traveled to Saudi Arabia where he married my mother, who is also a native of Gaza… My mother got an ID as far back as 1998 in a family reunification procedure. My brothers came to Gaza on a visitors permit in 1999, and my father and I joined them in 2000… We all had Jordanian passports valid for two years, but now they can no longer be renewed. I have an ID card issued by Hamas. I used it to open a bank account, but it’s not good for anything else… I stopped thinking about school or work outside of Gaza… Our lives depend on having an ID card and a passport.

Citizenship status is what facilitates the existence of civil structures, allowing citizens to communicate with the ruling authorities. It is crucial to leading a normal life and necessary in order to exercise the right to enter a country, achieve equality before the law, have access to health services and employment options and more. Because of its great importance, the right to nationality has been enshrined in Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and states are prohibited from arbitrarily revoking this right. Since the Declaration, attempts have been made to enshrine the right to nationality in international conventions. Among others, in 1954 the UN accepted the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and in 1961, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. These conventions reflect the concept that this status is essential for every person.

Israel, which still controls the Palestinian Population Registry, must allow all stateless individuals in Gaza to obtain official status, so that they may lead normal lives. As a first step in this direction, Israel must complete the process of regulating the status of 10,000 stateless individuals whose applications for family unification were approved as part of the goodwill gestures offered to the PA in 2007, but were not granted the official status once the process was frozen in 2008.

Click here for more information on stateless residents of the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Israeli forces erasing Palestinian lives as if they never existed – 23-year old gunned down in Hebron

28th October 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine

At 10.30pm last night, Tuesday 27th October 2015, a Palestinian man who has been identified as 23 year old Hammam Said was shot in al-Kahlil (Hebron) at the Gilbert checkpoint, directly outside the ISM apartment. The man was in the H2 neighborhood of Tel Rumeida which was otherwise quiet at the time.

No commotion, shouting or running was heard prior to the six gun shots echoing suddenly through the streets and no other security risk could otherwise be perceived.

execution photo c edited

Immediately following the incident, Israeli forces, who are permanently posted at the checkpoint for 24 hours a day, surrounded the body of the fallen man. Within minutes settlers from the nearby illegal settlement arrived and were allowed to approach and photograph the scene. Further forces then arrived, including soldiers and several police vehicles. An Israeli ambulance arrived but no medical aid was delivered to Said, instead paramedics stood close to the bleeding man and watched passively as he died.

Said was then stripped of his clothes, revealing that the gunshot wounds were all on the back of his body. He was then placed in a bodybag and the street was cleaned. By midnight the scene was totally cleared of all evidence of the incident.

A short video shows Hammam after he was stripped of his clothes by Israeli forces:

Eyewitnesses reported that no knife was originally witnessed on the scene, though one appeared after the soldiers surrounded the body. “I cannot say for sure they put the knife there, but I know even 5 seconds after the shooting I looked, I really looked, and I could see nothing. I am 99% sure of it. But afterwards, it was there.” She added “if an attack was planned at this location it wouldn’t even make sense. He was still 20 meters from the soldiers or checkpoint, in the middle of the night. Why would he wave the knife around?”

The body of Hammam after Israeli forces stripped him of his clothes

The body of Hammam Said after Israeli forces stripped him of his clothes

Extrajudicial executions of this kind are illegal in international law and there is no evidence that warning or deescalating force was applied before the lethal shooting of Said. The checkpoint has a camera positioned above the street and the International Solidarity Movement is demanding that Israeli forces release the raw footage to prove an association between the man and the knife allegedly found at the scene.

An hour and a half after the incident, an eyewitness reported that “it is like nothing happened, there is no bloodstain, nothing but a dog sniffing the ground. The street is eerily quiet and there are just the normal number of soldiers at the checkpoint.” They added that “they cannot really feel like there is a security threat here right now.” An hour after that an illegal settler vehicle was parked by the location of the shooting, playing loud festive music.

Listen to audio of settlers playing party songs after Hammam Said’s blood was washed off the ground:

Said’s death marks four Palestinian deaths in Hebron within two days, and brings the total death toll within the Occupied Territories of Palestine to 64 since the start of October. Hebron has been a centre of the rising tension in the West Bank, and today witnessed extreme suppression of peaceful protests in Bab Al-Zawwiya, when innumerable rounds of teargas were shot directly at dense crowd of demonstrators who were demanding the release of Palestinian corpses killed by Israeli forces.

It is anticipated that with allegations that Said had a knife that no investigation will be launched, yet another Palestinian will be branded as a terrorist, and as a final injustice another family will be denied their rightful mourning rites.

(Source / 28.10.2015)

Saudi Arabia Bombs another “Doctors Without Borders” Hospital, How Such “Mistakes” Happen

Whenever you’re running an air campaign there’s always the possibility of collateral damage. In simpler terms, we you’re dropping bombs on populated areas, you’re invariably going to kill some non-combatants.

Now ideally, you want to keep the number of dead civilians to a minimum, which is why The Intercept’s recent investigative report on America’s drone program was so disturbing – it turns out 90% of people killed aren’t the intended target.

And while that would be bad enough on its own, the US and its regional allies in the Mid-East have recently made a number of “mistakes” while attempting to strike Taliban and Houthi targets in Afghanistan and Yemen, respectively.

The most high profile screw up came earlier this month when US warplanes somehow mistook a hospital run by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors without Borders, in the Afghan city of Kunduz for a Taliban hangout.

Of course that’s not the only example of questionable targeting by “coalition” forces. In September, the Saudi-led coalition battling revolutionaries in Yemen struck a wedding party in in the Red Sea village of Al-Wahijah killing dozens upon dozens including “many” women and children. The groom was allegedly affiliated with the Houthis. About a week later, the Saudis bombed another wedding south of Sana’a killing dozens more Yemenis.

Finally, Western media reported last week that Russian warplanes are targeting hospitals in Idlib and Aleppo. Here’s what the Russian foreign ministry had to say about those reports (via Maria Zakharova):

“There are so-called mass media reports which allege that Russian aircraft bombed a field hospital in the Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria and reportedly killed 13 people. I cannot say that these reports are written by journalists but their ingenuity delights. This information appears with reference to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. As we all understand, it is very ‘convenient’ to cover and observe what is happening in Syria without leaving London and without the ability to collect information in the field.”

On Tuesday we learn that yet another Doctors Without Borders facility has been bombed, this time in Saada, Yemen. As Reuters reports, Saudi warplanes apparently “destroyed the entire hospital with all that was inside.” Here’s more:

A Yemeni hospital run by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was hit by a Saudi-led air strike, the group said on Tuesday, the latest bombing of a civilian target in the seven-month air campaign in Yemen.

“MSF facility in Saada Yemen was hit by several air strikes last night with patients and staff inside the facility,” the group said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Yemen’s state news agency Saba quoted the Heedan hospital director saying that several people were injured in the attack.

“The air raids resulted in the destruction of the entire hospital with all that was inside – devices and medical supplies – and the moderate wounding of several people,” Doctor Ali Mughli said.

Saba said other air strikes hit a nearby girls school and damaged several civilian homes.

And so, once more we see the head of the UN Human Rights Council displaying little regard for human life as Riyadh, Doha, and the UAE continue relentless airstrikes in the proxy war against their bitter regional rival Iran.

It’s worth noting here that reports of “collateral damage” are par for the proverbial course in Yemen. Since Saudi airstrikes began in March, more than 2,300 civilians have been killed according to the UN. UNICEF estimates some 500 of those were children. Of course the Houthis and Riyadh routinely tell completely different stories when it comes to who’s responsible for civilian casualties, but at the end of the day, innocent people are dying as a result of what’s become a multi-front sectarian-fueled, regional power struggle.

(Source / 28.10.2015)