Evil doctors torture Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails spoke of physical and psychological torture they were subjected to inside Israeli jails at the hands of Israeli doctors, who were supposed to treat them, during their arrest and interrogation. By doing do, these doctors acted like Nazis, serving the goals of the Israeli occupation against Palestinian prisoners.

In a report obtained by the PIC on Saturday, 4 March 2017, the prisoners and ex-prisoners commission said the Israeli prison service’s doctors, and Israeli doctors working for security forces and those working inside the Israeli army camps, torture Palestinian prisoners by psychologically pressuring and neglecting them, and leaving them alone to face illness invading their bodies, with no regard to the manner and teachings of medicine, and the international and humanitarian laws in this regard.

The report asserted that many prisoners testified to the collaboration between doctors and interrogators in subjecting Palestinian prisoners to torture and that doctors presented reports stating that Palestinian prisoners have the ability to endure torture and physical and psychological exhaustion and refused to provide needed medication for wounded Palestinian prisoners while being questioned at interrogation centers.

The report stated that the doctors didn’t object to the Israeli interrogators’ bargains to offer Palestinian prisoners medication in return for confession, which asserts their involvement in torture.

The report, published by the prisoners and ex-prisoners commission, revealed that the fact that Palestinian prisons have to wait for a long time, which extends to years sometimes, to be moved to hospitals for medical tests is a crime committed by doctors working at the Israeli prison service.

Some prisoners died and later it was revealed that their death was due to medical negligence, for not providing them with the needed early tests to identify their illness and to provide them with the needed medication.

Systemic Conspiracy
The report revealed that the doctors at the Israeli prison service didn’t carry out their responsibilities regarding conducting basic medical examinations for prisoners, and didn’t object moving prisoners in Bosta vans, not ambulances, to hospitals, and that they presented no reports regarding the suitability of conditions of imprisonment for Palestinian prisoners’ health.

The report added that there is an absolute silence and complicity from doctors, which makes them accused of violating all principles and laws related to medical service, as they abandoned their responsibilities related to providing healthcare for prisoners, and protecting them from harsh, humiliating and inhuman treatment.

The report noted, “There is a planned supervision by these doctors over the needs of Palestinian prisoners, which is related to prisoners’ healthcare, food and cleanliness. Many of these doctors remained silence when Palestinian prisoners were ill-treated, such as exposing them to beating, teargas attacks, and banning them from family visits.

The report said that Israeli doctors did not reveal the results of autopsy of dead Palestinian prisoners, and did not hand them over to the official Palestinian bodies, in addition to hiding information about medical mistakes and examinations conducted on Palestinian prisoners.

The report said the doctors at the Israeli prison service were complicit with the political position of the Israeli government as well as that of the Israeli security apparatus, in many cases, such as writing reports rejecting early release for sick and wounded Palestinian prisoners, claiming that their medical condition was good, in addition to creating many obstacles to deny other doctors’ access into jails to conduct necessary medical examinations for Palestinian sick prisoners.

Nazism at large
The report mentioned a number of examples, which clarified the Israeli prison service’s doctors’ complicity in neglecting Palestinian prisoners, who suffered from serious illnesses:

– A number of Palestinian prisoners passed away and later it was revealed that they suffered from many diseases, including prisoner Maysara Abuhamdia, Fadi Al-Darbi, Zuhair Lubadda, Yasser Hamdouna, Mohammed Al-Jallad, Ashraf Abu Zreei, Zakari Issa and others.

– The doctors’ reluctance to intervene in the case of prisoners suffering from psychological and mental issues due to placing them in solitary confinement.

– The doctors’ silence over medical mistakes prisoners had gone through, such as what happened to prisoner Samer Abu Diak, who suffered from poisoning during a surgery to remove tumor in the stomach in the Israeli hospital of Soroka on 3 September 2015. He then slipped into a coma. Another instance was what happened to prisoner Thaer Halahli, who suffered from Hepatitis E after seeing the dentist on 16 April 2013, who used polluted medial tools in Askalan prison’s clinic, and what happened to prisoner Othman Abukharj, who was given an injection ‘by mistake’ at Shata prison in 2007, which resulted in the prisoner’s suffering from Hepatitis E.

– The doctors’ silence over the continuing detention of sick prisoners at Al-Ramla prison clinic, which is worse than prison itself, and the lack of all humanitarian and health requirements.

– The doctors’ silence over the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, with all what that entails of health risks, and violation of the dignity and rights of hunger strikers.

– The doctors’ silence over making sick prisoners pay for their medical bills, especially when it comes to installing artificial limbs for handicapped prisoners.

– The doctors’ silence over forcing prisoners to confess under torture and threats, especially for minors, and refraining from providing information about prisoners who were subjected to harsh treatment during their interrogation and detention.

The report said the Israeli prison service’s doctors and the Israeli security forces violated the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1955, related to food, cleanliness, and medical care given to prisoners.

Israeli doctors violated the World Medical Association document of 1956, which stated that the basic task of doctors is to protect health and to save lives.

Israeli doctors also violated the Tokyo declaration of 1975, which explains the role of medical teams in protecting prisoners and detainees form torture even if authorities try to force them to be part of it and that it is their duty to provide the prisoners and detainees with the health and mental protection and to treat their illnesses with the same quality of healthcare given to non-prisoners and detainees.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

Israeli army arrests Palestinian writer over her new novel

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained Palestinian writer Khalida Ghusheh on Saturday morning after raiding her home in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem.

Ghusheh’s manager, Amani Abed al-Karim, said that the Israeli police had raided Ghusheh’s home, before detaining her and transporting her to a police station in the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Yaqouv in the Palestinian neighborhood.

Al-Karim added that Ghusheh called her after arriving at the interrogation center, informing her that she was in need of a lawyer and said the reason for her detention was related to her novel scheduled to be published in October. The novel, titled “The Jackal’s Trap,” explores Palestinian collaborators in the Israeli occupation.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the case.

Scores of Palestinians have been detained in recent months for expressing their opinions on the Israeli occupation, particularly through social media, in a crackdown that rights groups have said is aimed to stifle Palestinian freedom of speech.

Israeli forces detained Palestinian poet Dareen Tartour, a citizen of Israel, in Oct. 2015 and charged her with “incitement to violence” for posts she made on Facebook and a video clip of her poem “Qawim ya sha’abi, qawimhum” (Resist my people, resist them). She was facing up to eight years in prison and had already spent months in detention and house arrest.

Israeli authorities have claimed that a wave of violence that first erupted in Oct. 2015 was caused largely by “incitement” among Palestinians through social media.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence. Many Palestinians have also pointed out that Israeli violence has continued to shape everyday life in the occupied territory, regardless of any recent “upticks” in clashes or attacks.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

Slain A’raj among 6 anti-occupation youths to be trialed by PA court

Rechtszaak anti-bezetting protest

A hearing is expected to be held by a Palestinian Authority (PA) court in Ramallah on Sunday to decide on the case of six Palestinian anti-occupation protesters, including slain Basil al-A’raj.

The six anti-occupation youths will be trialed on allegations of holding illegitimate weapons and forming a resistance cell.

Those who will not turn themselves in will be brought to court by the PA forces under gunpoint.

Meanwhile, activists launched calls for mass rallies outside the Ramallah court and overseas.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

How Israel Uses Gas to Enforce Palestinian Dependency and Promote Normalization


Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory does not only exist above ground. Since 1967, Israel has systematically colonized Palestinian natural resources and, in the field of hydrocarbons, has prevented Palestinians from accessing their own oil and gas reserves. Such restrictions have ensured the continued dependence of Palestinians on Israel for their energy needs. The Palestinians’ own efforts to develop their energy sector fail to challenge Israel’s overarching hegemony over Palestinian resources. Rather, they pursue growth and state building within the reality of the occupation, further reinforcing – even if inadvertently – the asymmetric balance between occupied and occupier.

Al-Shabaka Policy Fellow Tareq Baconi begins by reviewing the context of recent gas deals. He goes on to discuss how efforts to develop the Palestinian energy sector fail to challenge this reality and rely primarily on occupation-circumventing practices that seek to enhance quality of life within the context of the occupation. As Baconi argues, these efforts ultimately reinforce the role of the Palestinian territories as a captive market for Israeli energy exports and lay the groundwork for regional normalization under the rubric of “economic peace.” He underscores that lasting peace and stability will only be produced if the underlying factors that maintain Palestinians as subservient to Israel’s rule are addressed and makes a number of policy recommendations as to how to do so.

The Political Impact of Israel’s Gas Bonanza

Until a few years ago, both Israel and Jordan relied quite heavily on Egyptian gas imports. In 2011-2012, and especially after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, gas exports from Egypt became unreliable. This was due to both domestic issues within Egypt’s energy sector as well as increased instability in the Sinai Peninsula, which housed the main route of the pipeline carrying gas to Israel and Jordan. With the drop of Egyptian imports, Israel and Jordan began seeking alternative sources of supply. In 2009, an Israeli-American consortium of energy firms discovered Tamar, a field roughly 80km off the coast of Haifa, containing 10 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas. With Israel’s energy security in jeopardy, the consortium rapidly moved toward production, and gas began to flow in 2013. A year after Tamar’s discovery, the same consortium identified the much larger Leviathan gas field, estimated to hold around 20tcf of gas.

Figure One: Gas Reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean

Within the space of a few years, Israel moved from being a regional gas importer to acquiring the potential to become an exporter. It looked to both the local markets as well as neighboring countries and further afield to identify potential export destinations. Within its immediate vicinity, the implications for advancing economic normalization were evident: As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently declared, producing gas from Leviathan “will provide gas to Israel and promote cooperation with countries in the region.”

Jordan became the first country to commit to buying Israeli gas. Negotiations began between Jordan and Israel soon after Leviathan’s discovery, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2014. That same year, gas sales agreements were also finalized between Tamar’s owners and two Jordanian industrial players, the Jordan Bromine and Arab Potash companies. The MoU signed with Jordan’s government entailed a commitment from Jordan to buy Israeli gas for a period of 15 years. This was met with vigorous protests in Jordan: Many activists rejected dealings with Israel, particularly given its onslaught on the Gaza Strip that year, and Jordanian parliamentarians voted against the deal. In early 2017, gas began to flow from Israel to Jordan Bromine and Arab Potash, although players kept a low profile to avoid reigniting protests.

Anger that Jordan was financing Israel’s gas sector was aggravated by the fact that Jordan had other prospects for the purchase of gas. Following the decline of Egyptian gas, Jordan had constructed a terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas in Aqaba, on the coast of the Red Sea, which started operations in 2015. Furthermore, Egypt’s discovery of the supergiant gas field Zohr in 2016 resuscitated prospects for the resumption of Egypt’s role as a regional gas supplier. Nonetheless, and doubtless influenced by external pressure, Jordan formalized its MoU with Israel in September 2016, overriding parliamentary objections and popular protests.

The Energy Crisis Israel Imposes on Gaza – and Palestine

As Israel became awash with gas, the Gaza Strip’s pitiful reality became starker than ever. The Gaza Strip has been under blockade since 2007. The Gaza Power Generation Company (GPGC), the sole company of its kind in the Palestinian territory, currently runs on liquid fuel that is purchased and transported into the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. To supplement power from GPGC, Gaza purchases electricity from the Israeli Electricity Company as well as from the Egyptian electric grid. 1 Even so, fuel purchased for power generation in Gaza is insufficient to meet local demand, and the Strip has suffered from chronic electricity shortages since Israel imposed the blockade.

In early 2017, protests swept throughout Gaza as inhabitants of this coastal enclave protested having electricity for only three to four hours daily. Aside from the tremendous restrictions these shortages put on mundane facets of life, electricity outages have a crippling impact on the economic activity of the private sector, healthcare, education, and life-sustaining facilities such as water sanitation plants. Stunted operations in these areas have consequences that are both immediate and lasting, impacting rising generations.

As Israel became awash with gas, the Gaza Strip’s pitiful reality became starker than everCLICK TO TWEET

Blame for Gaza’s energy crisis is fired in all directions. Protestors flooding the winter streets blamed Hamas’s government, the PA, and Israel. Anger was directed at Hamas’s government for allegedly diverting funds from the purchase of fuel necessary to run Gaza’s only power plant toward other activities, including the building of tunnels. Frustrated demonstrators accused the PA of supporting the blockade by controlling fuel purchases and transfers into Gaza. The power company itself, a privately owned operation, is repeatedly criticized for supposedly making profit off the backs of ordinary Gazans who suffer from these shortages. To mitigate the particularly painful winter months of late 2016 and early 2017, interventions into Gaza’s energy sector were forthcoming from Turkey and Qatar in the form of fuel supplies that allowed the resumption of power generation from GPGC. These measures are at best short-term palliatives that will carry Gazans through another chapter of a chronic crisis.

In this wave of popular anger and recrimination, the impact of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and Israel’s broader colonization and control of Palestinian resources is diluted, if not pushed to the background.

Yet Palestinians discovered gas reserves almost a decade before Israel’s gas bonanza. In 1999, the Gaza Marine field was discovered off the coast of Gaza, and the license for exploration and production was awarded to BG Group, the major British oil and gas company since acquired by Shell. In the early days of the discovery, this national treasure was hailed as a breakthrough that could offer Palestinians a windfall. At a time when the Oslo Accords that had been signed in 1993 still seemed plausible, the resource discovery was viewed as something that could provide Palestinians with a much-needed boost toward self-determination.

With an estimated 1tcf of gas, Gaza Marine is not sufficiently large to act as an exporter. But the gas volumes it holds are sufficient to make the Palestinian energy sector entirely self-sufficient. Not only would Palestinians not have to import Israeli or Egyptian gas or electricity, but the Gaza Strip would not suffer from any electricity shortages. Moreover, the Palestinian economy would enjoy a significant source of revenue.

That move to sovereign rule was not to be. Despite persistent attempts by owners of the field and investors to develop Gaza Marine, Israel placed unyielding restrictions that have prevented any measures from taking place. This is despite the fact that exploration and production from Gaza Marine would be relatively straightforward given the shallow depth of the reserve and its location close to Palestinian shores. 2 According to documents uncovered by Al-Shabaka, Israel initially prevented the development of this field as it sought commercially favorable terms for the gas produced. After Israel discovered its own resources, it began citing “security concerns” that were heightened with Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip. Although Netanyahu allegedly considered allowing Palestinians to develop Gaza Marine in 2012 as part of a broader strategy to stabilize the Gaza Strip, these efforts have yet to materialize. Given the recent acquisition of BG Group by Shell, and the latter’s global asset divestment program, it is likely that Gaza Marine will be sold off.

Until Israel ends its stranglehold on the Palestinian economy, this Palestinian asset is likely to remain stranded. Indeed, the manner in which the Israeli and Palestinian gas discoveries have shaped economic development in Israel and the Palestinian territory elucidates the power disparity between the two parties. Unlike Israel, which rapidly secured energy independence after the discovery of its gas fields, Palestinians are unable to access a resource they discovered close to two decades earlier. Rather than addressing the root cause of the blockade and the occupation regime that has prevented their control of resources such as Gaza Marine, Palestinians are instead forced to seek immediate measures that mitigate the pressing misery they face. Although this is understandable in the context of a brutal occupation, efforts to enhance quality of life under occupation overlook the longer-term strategic goal of securing energy independence within the broader goal of freedom from occupation and realization of Palestinian rights.

Economic Peace and Normalization

Israel’s gas discoveries are often heralded as potential catalysts for a regional transformation. The positioning of the Israeli state as an energy supplier to resource-poor neighbors is considered a sure way to facilitate economic integration between countries such as Jordan and Egypt as well as the Palestinians. The economic benefit that cheap pipeline gas could offer these countries is seen to offset any social and political concerns among their citizens regarding dealings with Israel. This line of thinking assumes that through economic integration, the pursuant stability would diminish prospects of volatility in an explosive region as Israel and its neighbors become integrated in mutual dependency.

The notion of “economic peace” has a long history in the region and has manifested itself in various forms, including recently in Secretary of State John Kerry’s economic development proposal. This view also appears favored by the Trump administration’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Rather than directly addressing the political impasse caused by Israel’s prolonged occupation and other violations, such proposals address issues related to quality of life, trade, or economic growth, presumably as a stepping stone to peace. With similar thinking, once the Israeli gas discoveries were made, the Obama administration began to explore ways to position Israel as a regional energy hub.

Palestinians are forced to seek immediate measures that mitigate the pressing misery they faceCLICK TO TWEET

Proponents of this approach of separating national and political rights from economic incentives would argue that there is an obvious commercial advantage for Israeli gas to be used within the Palestinian territory and Jordan. Israel now has an excess of gas, and these regions are still dependent on energy imports. In the case of the Palestinian territory, dependence on Israel already exists, and not only in Gaza: close to 88 percent of Palestinian consumption is supplied by Israel, with the West Bank importing almost the entirety of its electricity from Israel. Advocates for economic peace believe that prospects for instability diminish when such mutual dependency is reinforced.

Rooted in such conviction, the US Department of State facilitated many of the gas negotiations between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians. The newly created Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, a post through which the US strengthened its energy diplomacy arm worldwide under the Obama administration, encouraged discussions to enable Israel’s export of gas to Jordan and the Palestinians, with evident success.

Jordan is not the sole prospective recipient of Israeli gas. In 2010, the PA approved plans for the establishment of the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC), the first such company in the West Bank and the second in the Palestinian territory after GPGC in Gaza. Located in Jenin, this 200 megawatt power plant is spearheaded by private investors (including PADICO and CCC) who are working to strengthen the Palestinian energy sector by securing electricity generation in the West Bank and reducing the high cost of Israeli electricity imports. PPGC entered into negotiations with Israel to purchase gas from Leviathan for electricity generation. Palestinians protested this decision, calling for efforts to develop Gaza Marine instead of relying on Israeli gas. Talks collapsed in 2015, but it is unclear if these have merely been temporarily suspended.

The Dangers of Truncated Sovereignty

There are several national and regional dangers to the push for closer integration through gas deals in the absence of a concurrent effort on the political front.

The first danger is that Palestinian energy security is pinned to Israel’s goodwill. Israel can and has in the past used its power to effectively turn the taps off for Palestinian consumers. The most evident (and violent) manifestation of Israel’s willingness to withhold power to Palestinians is its decision to destroy without hesitation the sole power generation company in the Gaza Strip during its bombardment of the coastal enclave in 2006 and again in 2014.

Secondly, this approach legitimizes the Israeli occupation, soon entering its fiftieth year. Not only is there no cost to Israel’s prevention of Palestinian state building, there is rather a direct reward in the form of revenue from the sales of gas to territories maintained indefinitely under Israel’s territorial control.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, such energy exchange and trade in the pursuit of economic peace in the absence of any political prospects merely entrenches the power imbalance between the two parties – the occupier and the occupied. Such integration propagates a fiction of normative sovereign relations between an occupying power and a captive economy in the West Bank and Gaza.

One might think back to similar quality of life initiatives that were put forward in the 1980s, with the direct encouragement of the Reagan White House, as a failed alternative to political engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The constant efforts to circumvent Palestinian political demands through such measures has allowed Israel to manage, rather than resolve, the conflict.

American diplomats are facilitating negotiations that leave Palestinians bound to IsraelCLICK TO TWEET

The case of gas demonstrates most starkly how Palestinian state building efforts through the development of national resources have been elided in favor of alleviating energy crises within the framework of truncated sovereignty. Instead of addressing Palestinians’ inability to explore their own natural resources, American diplomats are actively working with Israel to facilitate negotiations that enhance Palestinian “quality of life” that ultimately leaves them bound to Israel in perpetuity.

This approach carries regional dangers as well. Jordan is currently dependent on Israel for around 40 percent of its energy imports. Jordan’s willingness to enter into this kind of commitment, despite several geostrategic disadvantages, advances Israel’s normalization in the region even as it maintains its occupation of Palestinian territory. This disposition heralds several threats at a time when the Trump administration is proposing the pursuit of “outside in” diplomatic measures that might entirely circumvent the Palestinians.

Strategies for Pushback

In normal conditions, mutual dependency and economic development are indeed anchors against instability and hold the benefit of advancing the quality of life of the inhabitants of the region. However, they must not be viewed as an end in their own right, and certainly not as a substitute for the realization of Palestinian rights. Such a depoliticized view can only go so far. Focusing solely on economic peace has detrimental consequences precisely because it overlooks the broader historical context that has led to Palestinian, and possibly regional, dependency.

Economic growth will never remove Palestinian calls for sovereignty and rights or the demand for self-determination. That was a lesson that was fully articulated with the eruption of the first intifada close to 30 years ago, after decades of normalized economic relations between Israel and the territories under its military occupation. While “economic peace” could offer short-term relief, it will only pave the way toward greater stability if it is built on a foundation of equality and justice.

Palestinians’ right to their own resources is subject to final status negotiations with the Israelis. The current gas agreements being pursued will create an infrastructure of dependency that will be difficult to untangle in the case of a negotiated settlement. More importantly, given the vanishing hopes of a negotiated two-state solution, these agreements merely concretize the status quo.

Therefore, while economic relations may have to be pursued to avert humanitarian suffering, as the case might be with increasing fuel and electricity supply to Gaza, the PLO and PA as well as Palestinian civil society and the Palestine solidarity movement must continue to use all the tools at their disposal to push for justice and rights for Palestinians.

In the immediate future, if gas deals persist despite popular opposition, Palestinian negotiators involved in prospective gas deals with Israel must at the very least insist on provisions that do not lock out the prospects for future gas from Gaza Marine. This could be done by creating the legal mechanisms that would allow the introduction of third-party access into the supply agreements. Although it would be difficult to negotiate such provisions, this is of vital importance as it leaves room for flexibility around future supply from Gaza Marine and reduced dependency on Israel. The gas supply contracts should also include provisions for revision of agreement terms in the case of major developments on the political front.

Palestinian negotiators should also look to civil society resistance to reinforce their efforts rather than seeking to dismiss or crush them. There are models that can be emulated whereby negotiators are able to harness the power of the popular movements against some of these deals. When it comes to water rights, for example, there is an advocacy task force (EWASH) that coordinates the work of local and international groups. EWASH carried out a campaign that exposed Israeli settlements’ theft of water from Palestinians and raised the issue in the European Parliament. Perhaps such a coalition could be established to mobilize for energy sovereignty.

At the same time, the PLO/PA must use such economic negotiations as a means of securing accountability from Israel rather than as a way of acquiescing to enforced dependency. In particular, the non-observer member state status that Palestine has secured at the UN must be used to lobby at international legal forums such as the International Criminal Court to push Israel to meet its responsibility as an occupying power under international law. This means it is tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding the livelihood of inhabitants under its control, including the provision of electricity and fuel, and it is accountable for decisions it might make to “turn the taps off.”

Certain elements of economic peace may serve the Palestinians in the short term by underpinning economic growth and development. But these cannot come at the expense of an indefinite state of dependency and truncated sovereignty. Palestinians must work on two fronts: They must push to hold Israel’s occupation accountable in international forums. And they must ensure that prospects of forced economic integration and any attempt by Israel to impose a one-state apartheid reality is met by a call for rights and equality. Whichever political vision is pursued for Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinian leadership must formulate a strategy around these gas deals and contextualize notions of economic development within the wider struggle for Palestinian liberation.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

Israeli forces, settlers raid Palestinian village to visit shrine


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces reportedly raided the Palestinian town of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Sunday morning to provide protection for Israeli settlers visiting a site believed to be a Jewish shrine.According to a report in Hebrew from Israeli news site Arutz Sheva, chief of the illegal Nablus-area settlement bloc Yossi Dagan and Eli Shapiro, the chief of the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, were among the visitors to the tomb of Joshua. The Israel army’s commander in the Nablus area was also reportedly among the visitors.

Residents of Kifl Haris have been living under continuous tension due to Israeli settlers’ raids to allegedly visit Jewish religious sites.
A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of Muslim prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century Sultan Saladin.
However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun.
Like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Kifl Haris, situated on the main road connecting the illegal Ariel settlement to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers accompanied by armed escorts.
Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property.
Meanwhile, Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel without hard-to-obtain permits from Israeli authorities.
The raid came as Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip were placed under a lock down, with Israeli forces only permitting humanitarian and special cases to pass in and out of the territory, due to the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.

Last year during Purim, Israel shut down all checkpoints in the occupied territory, while Palestinians were also restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem with all Palestinian men younger than 50 denied entry to the site.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrate against home demolitions

Tatyibe demo

NEGEV (Ma’an) — Dozens of Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated in the town of Tayibe in central Israel on Sunday against Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes.

Palestinians from the nearby town of Qalansawe traveled to Tayibe to participate in the demonstration that gathered in front of a police station.
Protesters raised signs printed in Arabic and Hebrew with slogans expressing rejection to home demolitions, such as: “Enough with home demolition and displacement,” “Our struggle will continue against all home demolition orders,” and “No to the policy of oppression and injustice.”
The issue of home demolitions in Israel has been in the limelight since the beginning of the year, notably due to the outrage caused by demolitions in the town of Qalansawe and demolition raid in the unrecognized Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran that left two people killed.
Right groups have argued that the aim of home demolitions is to forcibly displace Palestinians from the region, regardless of their status as residents of the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem, or as citizens of Israel — despite the varying legal justifications used by Israel in each instance.
Tatyibe demo1
Tatyibe demo2
(Source / 12.03.2017)

Jamal Abu al-Leil suspends hunger strike after striking deal with Israel

Jamal Abu al-Leil

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian prisoner Jamal Abu al-Leil suspended his hunger strike after 25 days on Sunday after reaching an agreement that would see him freed from Israeli custody after serving the remainder of his current six-month administrative detention sentence.

Abu al-Leil, a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, declared a hunger strike on Feb. 16 along with fellow Qalandiya refugee camp resident Raed Mteir, after they had both been imprisoned under administrative detention — Israel’s policy of internment without trial or charges — for a year.
The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that Abu al-Leil had only consumed water for 25 days, adding that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) had transferred Abu al-Leil between prisons a number of times in order to pressure him to end his hunger strike.
Mteir ended his hunger strike after going 12 days without food, after reaching an agreement to be released in April 2017 without his administrative detention being renewed.
Meanwhile, fellow Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq ended his second prominent hunger strike on Friday after 33 days without food.
While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Rights groups say that Israel’s administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of January, 536 of whom were held in administrative detention.
(Source / 12.03.2017)

Three Palestinians including minor injured in settlers’ attacks

Settlers aanval al-Quds

Three Palestinians including a minor were injured on Saturday evening due to two separate attacks by Jewish settlers in Occupied Jerusalem.

Ratib al-Jabour, coordinator of the popular committees against Separation Wall and Settlement in southern al-Khalil, said that a group of Jewish settlers from Ma’aleh Michmash settlement northeast of Occupied Jerusalem assaulted two Palestinian men: Ahmad al-Shawahin from Yatta town in al-Khalil and Jamil al-Khatib from Hazma town in Occupied Jerusalem. The fanatic settlers smashed the Palestinians’ car before beating them brutally and leaving them with bruises.

Jabour quoted the wounded men as saying that the attacking settlers also robbed their money, according to WAFA news agency.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said that three Israeli settlers assaulted the 15-year-old Palestinian boy Malek Siyam in the French Hill in Occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

Iran and Israel’s Struggle in Syria

Following the defeat of the Syrian forces and its impact on the regime, a number of regional and international powers warned against a peace deal in Syria that parties supporting the regime and Iran could benefit from.

Israel had expressed that, considering any plan to end the war should not allow Iran to stay in Syria as a military power, otherwise, it will be deemed a threat to its security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of this and said will inform Russian President Vladimir Putin of the message given that he is the ‘godfather’ of the Syrian solution.

Netanyahu said that Israel does not object to the arrangements of a solution in Syria but it strongly opposes the possibility of Iranian military presence and its proxies in Syria.

Truth is, Iran and its proxies’ military presence in Syria also poses a threat to other countries.

Allowing Iran, along with its Lebanese, Iraqi and other militias, to stay in Syria will threaten regional balance and affect the security of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf.

Iran might possibly be finally convinced to be in agreement with Israel and end the role of its agents, like Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in Gaza, that threaten Israel’s presence.

However, their threat on other countries will remain for years to come.

Israeli officials believe it is unlikely for the state to accept guarantees from Iran or any side that reflects it such as the Syrian regime, if those reassurances are linked to keeping thousands of fighters and experts for a very long period of time without a regional solution that includes both Tehran and Tel Aviv.

One might wonder why Israel has begun to pose its opinion regarding Geneva talks, when it has been silent during the six years of war.

Well, probably because a political solution has become clearer now.

Since the beginning, Israel has been against any change in Damascus because it had co-existed with the regime for almost half a century and despite the disagreements and hostility, Tel Aviv believes its neighbor Syria was more secure than Egypt and Jordan, two countries that it has peace deals with.

Yet, the weakness of the Syrian regime’s military capabilities and Iran’s will to compensate that by its own forces and militias altered the security and political aspects of the entire region and not just Syria.

Can fighting be over in Syria and can peace be instated with all the growing Russian support the regime forces are receiving?

Russia is not only supplying the regime with fighting troops but it has also provided the regime with police forces that organize traffic in some Syrian cities.

Most likely the region’s countries, particularly Israel, Jordan and the Gulf, will not oppose Russia in taking charge of filling military and security vacuum using its forces or other international ones, when needed as long as they do not include Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Corps or other foreign militias.

But the question here is whether Russia is willing to carry out this huge task and if the Syrian government accepts to abandon its Iranian ally.

In addition, will Iranians accept to leave Syria empty handed?

We must not forget that through Syria, Iran has managed to make US’ life in Iraq a hell. It is doing the same against Saudis in Yemen and even against Israel through Hezbollah.

The possibility of having a successful agreement in Syria is based on the interpretation of the role of Iran and its militias there.

The new US administration agrees with most of the region’s countries that it is important to limit Iran’s expansion in the region without allowing it to spread out to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

All of this is strongly linked to a Syrian agreement to put an end to the war.

(Source / 12.03.2017)

From journalism to parliament then to Israeli jails

Samira Halayka

Samira Halayka

After documenting the suffering of Palestinian prisoners as a journalist for years, and suffering the imprisonment of her closest family members, as well as indulging in solidarity acts with Palestinian prisoners as an MP in the Palestinian parliament, the Israeli occupation forces arrested MP Samira Halayka, marking a new phase of sacrifice and giving in her life, and first-hand experience of what she has always written about.

At the end of International Women’s Day, and in the first hours of 9 March 2016, the knocks of Israeli soldiers on the doors of the house of MP Samria Halayka broke the silence of the night and the calmness of the house inhabited by the Hamas MP in the town of al-Shuyukh in al-Khalil, to the south of the West Bank, before storming it, interrogating and searching her, confiscating her cell-phone and personal computer and arresting her.

From Journalism to PLC
After working as a journalist, Samria Halayka, 53, ran for legislative elections in January 2006, representing the city of al-Khalil, and won a seat at the Palestinian Legislative Council, representing the Change and Reform Bloc affiliated with Hamas.

Before being elected to the PLC, Halayka had worked in several jobs, such as a consultant for health education at al-Shuyukh Charitable Society, an employee with the Charitable Society from 1983 to 1987, and then enrolled as a student at al-Rahma College for Girls, graduating with a degree in Islamic Shariaa in 1993. After graduation, she worked as a teacher at al-Hanan private school for one year. She then quit teaching to work as a journalist to document the crimes of the occupation and to defend national issues.

Journalism career
Halayka started her journalism career at al-Risalah newspaper, working for it since it was established in 1996; a job that lasted for 11 years. During that period, she also worked as a reporter for various other newspapers, magazines and online news sites, most importantly the Filisteen al-Muslema magazine, and the Palestinian Information Center.

MP Halayka left a clear fingerprint in various fields on the social and humanitarian levels and during her solidarity with prisoners and their families. Furthermore, she was involved in supporting women’s issues and various cultural, public awareness and national occasions.

Working as a bee
The family of MP Halayka describes her as the sun that spreads light and warmth. Her family members remember her as a symbol for giving, as she “is always giving, gives and never takes, with a big heart. She gives even during difficult times. Her smile is healing and her passion is a refuge from the tough reality.”

MP Halayka is married to Sheikh Mohammed Zaytoun Halayka who works at the Department of Religious Affairs and Waqf in al-Khalil. They have 7 children, two boys (Osama and Anas) and five girls (Itisam, Ithar, Abrar, Asila and Ibtihal). All of them are married except for their youngest child Ibtihal, 10.

One of her sons told the PIC, “Our mother is like the hard-working bee that never forgets to carry out her duties. She never missed the morning coffee or the housework. She begins her day by performing the Dawn Prayer then reads and watches the latest news, then she carries out her housework and takes care of her house and family.”

By sunrise, she takes her coffee and sits on her desk, beginning her day with a joke or a wise saying. Her morning is never without positive energy, beauty, activism, and hard work.

Abu Anas, her husband, told the PIC, “She does not know laziness. Impossible is out of her dictionary. Despite the fact that she is an MP, she never missed doing her duties as a wife and a mother. She is a humble, rural lady who sticks to her tradition regardless of time and situation. She belongs to Halayka family, the biggest Palestinian family in the town of al-Shuyukh, to the north-east of Hebron, the town of green caps, which goes back to the Sufi tradition of the founders of the town.”

Co-existing with hardships
Palestinian writer Lama Khater wrote about the arrest of MP Halayka, “May Allah release our dear sister Um Anas, Palestinian PLC member Samira Halayka. I was saddened and surprised by the news of her arrest, yet hardship is not new to her, as she has gone through various forms of hardships and difficulties and she was always patient.” Khater mentioned the arrest of Halayka’s husband and kids and torturing them at the hands of the Israeli occupation and the PA, the same as what happened to many others of her own family members.

The Palestinian MP was not immune to the assaults of the Israeli occupation and that of the PA. She has documented 16 assaults against her and her office and employees assisting her, between June 2007 and October 2016, by the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, including assaulting her kids and husband.

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces have arrested her husband, Mohammed Halayka four times, while it arrested her son Anas, 27, twice, and her son Osama, 24, once; other than the arrests made by the Israeli occupation.

(Source / 12.03.2017)