Palestinians Met by Israeli Forces as Solidarity Marches Continued on 33rd Consecutive Day of Hunger Strike

As some 1,800 Palestinian detainees entered a critical phase on Friday, in the 33rd day of their hunger strike in Israeli jails, Palestinians made calls to continue solidarity marches and sit-ins across the West Bank.

The Media Committee of the Freedom and Dignity Strike called on Palestinians to organize solidarity marches and to crowd in sit-in tents and public squares in various West Bank districts.

According to a press statement, Palestinians would crowd in sit-in tents in al-Hussein Stadium in Hebron city, Manger’s Square in Bethlehem, Beit Dajan town, east of Nablus, Aqabet Jaber refugee camp, southwest of Jericho, Ramallah and al-Bireh, and Jenin.

WAFA reports that around 1,800 out of 6,500 Palestinians held by Israel launched a mass indefinite hunger strike on April 17, only consuming salt and water during the strike, without additives or supplements, to pressure Israel to improve their prison conditions.

Initially called for by Fateh-affiliated prisoners, most notably imprisoned senior Fatah official Marwan Barghouthi, the strike has been joined by other prisoners from various Palestinian political factions.

The hunger strikers’ demands are basic and can hardly be described as political. They include reinstating bimonthly family visits, better medical treatment, and the right to education.

Hunger strikers are also calling for an end to Israel’s widely-condemned policy of “administrative detention”, which allows the imprisonment of individuals on “secret evidence” for without trial or charge for six-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely.

Many Palestinians have gone on hunger strike to protest their administrative detention, raising fears that Israel would force-feed them, a practice that violates human rights standards. Some have managed to pressure Israel into releasing them, although some have been re-detained.

Clashes broke out on Friday, between Israeli forces and Palestinians, when the former attacked nonviolent Palestinian protesters marching in solidarity with the hunger-striking detainees.

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the march, leading to clashes in more than one location in Qalqilia governorate.

A Palestinian youth was shot and injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet, on Friday, and others suffocated from tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces attacked Palestinians marching in Hebron city and the nearby Beit Ummar town in solidarity with the hunger strikers, said local sources.

Similar marches were witnessed across various West Bank districts.

Israeli forces  attacked the weekly peaceful march held in Nilin village, west of Ramallah, to protest Israeli settlement activities, land expropriation, and the separation wall, said a local activist.

Member of the popular committee against the apartheid wall in Nilin, Mohammed ‘Emerah, said Israeli forces violently suppressed the rally, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters against the protesters to disperse them.

Dozens of protesters suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They were all treated at the scene.

Forces also briefly detained two Israeli solidarity activists, one of whom is a journalist, before releasing them.

Israeli special undercover units dressed as civilians, on Friday, kidnapped six Palestinian youth, during clashes that erupted at the northern entrance of Bethlehem city, in the southern West Bank, according to security sources.

Soldiers fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters toward the residents, however, no injuries were reported.

At least three Palestinians Friday were shot and injured with live bullets, fired by Israeli forces toward Palestinians marching near contacts points to the east, south, and north of the Gaza Strip, in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, said sources.

Israeli forces stationed at military watchtowers along the borders with Israel opened live fire toward Palestinians marching at contacts points along the eastern, southern, and northern borders of the Strip, shooting and injuring at least three Palestinians.

They were transferred to hospital for medical treatment, where their conditions were described as moderate.

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Forum of Palestinian Women Abroad launched in Beirut

Palestinian Women Abroad

Forum of Palestinian Women Abroad was launched on Friday in Beirut with the participation of over 200 Palestinian women from Europe, Jordan, Turkey, Gulf countries and others.

The Forum which is held on Friday and Saturday comes in response to the recommendations of the Palestinians Abroad Conference that was held in Istanbul last February.

In a statement on Friday, the Forum of Palestinian Women Abroad said that the forum aims at supporting Palestinian women through conducting educational and developmental programs in different fields. It also aims at building cooperation and coordination relations with Arab and international organizations for the sake of serving the Palestinian Question in general and the Palestinian woman in particular.

Head of the Preparatory Committee, Sana al-Serraj, said in her speech at the conference, that the forum is concerned with the issues of Palestinian woman and family as well as conducting researches and studies that support these issues.

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Steifo: Political Solution Must Be Top Priority in Geneva Process

Member of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ahad Steifo said that a political solution must be achieved only through the Geneva process, adding that the Astana track must remain committed to its original tasks, namely arrangement and consolidation of cease-fire and tackling humanitarian issues.

Steifo pointed out that negotiations in Geneva are based on international resolutions, which gives any potential outcome international legitimacy.

Steifo, who is also member of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said that results of the sixth round of talks were not satisfactory as they did not answer questions about the timing of the round and the fact that it was short. These results did not compel the Assad regime to change its policies as it continued to procrastinate and show lack of seriousness.

The proposal by the international envoy to Syria Staffqan de Misura for the consultative mechanism to discuss the constitution was impromptu and unclear and diverted attention away from the political process, Steifo said.

On the Russian role in the negotiations, Stiefo explained that Moscow has gone far in its support for the Assad regime and in its alliance with Iran, pointing out that the Iranian militias played a major role in the spread of terrorism in the region.

Stiefo stressed that Russia must reconsider its alliances and policies, noting that Moscow may be benefitting from playing the Syrian card today, but that will not be the case in the future.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 19.05.2017)

Israeli state comptroller calls for more checkpoints in occupied West Bank

Israel’s state comptroller has called for an increase in the number of military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank as well as tightening restrictions on the entry of Palestinians into Israel, Haaretz reported on Wednesday. Yousef Shapira made his comments in his official annual report, in which he criticised the “lack of development of infrastructure of checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank.”

Shapira also criticised the Israeli government for its procrastination in changing the management of these checkpoints from the military to civilians, or handing them over to private companies. The military aspects of the so-called “Separation Wall”, which splits the occupied West Bank into cantons kept apart from Israel and occupied Jerusalem, need to be tightened up, he added.

There are already more than 500 fixed and mobile Israeli checkpoints across the occupied West Bank and Palestinians using them face different treatment every time they have to pass through. At the beginning of this year, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem pointed out that there are 81 manned checkpoints across the occupied West Bank along with “hundreds of physical obstacles in the West Bank in the form of concrete blocks, piles of dirt, or trenches, which prevent access to and from towns and villages.”

The Israeli organisation added that “Palestinian travel is restricted or entirely prohibited on 41 roads and sections of roads throughout the West Bank, including many of the main traffic arteries, covering a total of over 700 kilometres of roadway.” It noted that “Israelis can travel freely on these roads.”

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee condemn IOF arrest of human rights defender & activist Ahmed Odeh

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee condemn Friday evening the  arrest of human rights defender & activist Ahmed Odeh by Israeli occupation forces in Bethlehem.

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said in press Statement PNN received by email that human rights activist Ahmad Odeh was arrested by Israeli occupation special units Known as under cover” Arabs” or mustarebeen.

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee added that Odeh was arrested when he was trying preventing Israeli solders attacks on children who were arrested by members of the Israeli special units northern Bethlehem.

The committee clarified that the Israeli forces arrested the human rights activist and brutally assaulted him along with the group of children and youth who were arrested in Bethlehem.

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee  called on all local, international human rights organizations to exert pressure on the Israeli government to release human rights defenders and children detained by the Israeli undercover units.

The committee affirmed that it will contact human rights defenders organizations to expose the practices of the Israeli occupation and its crimes against those who defend human rights and condemn Israeli crimes against children.

Israeli occupation forces have arrested six Palestinians during confrontations at northern entrance of  Bethlehem   after a public rally, went out to express solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for 33 days.

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Scores of Palestinians injured on Friday clashes east of Gaza Strip

Clashes Gaza Strip

14 Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire while 30 others suffered suffocation after Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) clashed with angry demonstrators east of Gaza Strip on Friday.

IOF soldiers opened gunfire and unleashed tear gas grenades towards participants in the Friday of anger demonstrations that were held in solidarity with hunger striking captives in Israeli jails and in protest at the Gaza siege.

Clashes Gaza Strip1

In a press statement on Friday, the spokesman of Health Ministry, Ashraf al-Qudra, described the injury of one of the wounded as very serious and reported that the foot of another man was amputated due to being shot by an explosive bullet.

The PIC reporters revealed that clashes erupted at five flashpoints with IOF troops along the Gaza border after Friday prayer. The protesters torched car tires while IOF soldiers opened their gunfire towards participants.

According to the PIC reporters, demonstrations kicked off from the eastern cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip and from the vicinity of Karni and Nahal Oz crossings east of Gaza, east of al-Bureij refugee camp, east of Khuzaa town, east of Khan Younis and south of Gaza Strip.

Clashes Gaza Strip2

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Documenting deaths as Israel’s restrictions on Gaza patient travel continue

This week the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its latest data on the restriction of movement for Palestinians requiring medical treatment outside of Gaza. The report demonstrates a continuing negative trend, with almost half (46%) of patients applying to leave Gaza via the Erez Crossing in March 2017 being refused a permit by the Israeli authorities, or not receiving a response in time to attend their appointments. This is up from 40% delayed or denied in February.

More than half (55%) of patients’ companions – family members accompanying patients to hospital – were also denied permits or received no response to their requests.

Gaza’s health system is struggling from the effects of a decade of blockade and closure, deemed collective punishment by the UN and the ICRC and contrary to international law, the impact of repeated military offensives, and frequent shortages of essential medications. Hospitals in Gaza have been further impacted recently by the ongoing fuel crisis which has caused them to reduce cleaning and sterilisation services and cancel some operations. Many medical specialties and treatments – such as radiotherapy for cancer and some cardiac surgery – are completely unavailable in Gaza, meaning that patients must be referred to hospitals elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory (East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank) or abroad to receive adequate care.

Behind each case of a denied or delayed permit is an individual story of a sick or injured person unable to access the care which they need. Sometimes these cases can have tragic outcomes, and the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has recorded six cases this year of patients who have died after either being refused a permit or not receiving a response in time for them to reach hospital.

Shirin Mohamed Al-Ali, 39. Repeatedly received no response to requests for travel permits to receive cancer treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem from late 2015 to early 2017. Died 9 January 2017 after the cancer metastasised to other parts of her body.

Ahmed Hasan Shubeir, 17. Had travelled several times to receive treatment for a congenital heart defect in hospitals in Israel and the West Bank. In February 2016, his family applied for a permit again, and his mother was summoned for security interview at Erez crossing, where attempts were reportedly made to coerce her into cooperating with the Israeli authorities in order to secure a permit. Subsequent attempts to receive a permit throughout 2016 received no response or were refused. Ahmed was himself reportedly coerced at an Israeli security interview in late 2016, and subsequently denied a permit. He died on 14 January 2017, two weeks before his re-scheduled appointment.

Eman Saleem Al-Kahlout, 48. Was urgently referred to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem on the morning of 11 February. She died later that evening of complications following a heart attack, after Israeli authorities stalled in assessing her application.

Aya Khalil Abu-Mutlaq, 5. Aya was born with a metabolic disorder which required treatment outside of Gaza. Israeli authorities failed to respond to two applications for permission to exit for appointments in February and March at the Al Mekassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. They re-scheduled a third time for an appointment  on 27 April, but while the family were awaiting a permit Aya’s health deteriorated and she died on 17 April 2017.

Walid Mohamed Qa’oud, 59. Underwent a partial colectomy for colon cancer in Gaza in 2008, and exited Gaza for scans at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem on 10 November 2015 after cancerous cells were detected in his lungs. On his way back to Gaza, Walid was reportedly detained by Israeli forces for six hours at the Erez crossing, where he was strip-searched, forced to stand in a stressful posture, and interrogated about his family. He was told he would not be allowed to exit again unless he brought his sons to meet Israeli intelligence agents. Later applications for exit for treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital were rejected or delayed, and in the meantime his health deteriorated. He attended one medical appointment in Egypt when able to exit via the Rafah crossing, but subsequent applications for exit via Erez were again not responded to. He was called to security interview on 21 March 2017 but was unable to attend due to his health. He died on 2 May, 2017.

Kholoud Alsa’aidni, 36. This month, the WHO highlighted the case of 36-year-old lab technician and mother of two Kholoud Alsa’aidni:

 “Alsa’aidni, a 36-year-old woman and lab technician from Al-Burij refugee camp, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the Gaza European hospital in April 2016. Following one chemotherapy session at Al-Rantesi Hospital, doctors in Gaza decided to refer her for treatment outside Gaza. Kholoud, a mother of two children, applied four times for an Israeli permit. Three times her request was still under study at the time of her hospital appointment, forcing her to miss appointments at Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron in December 2016 and in early January 2017 and at Augusta Victoria Hospital in late January 2017. Her fourth application for travel 22 February 2017 to Augusta Victoria Hospital was approved.

Kholoud’s mother, who was accompanying her on that date, said that when they arrived to Erez, Kholoud was stopped for a security interview. She was asked by Israeli security officers to provide information on one of her relatives in return for allowing her to cross Erez. Kholoud replied that she did not have any information about the relative.

At that point, said Kholoud’s mother, “We were forced by the Israeli security to return to Gaza. Altogether the travel to Erez, the waiting at the border and the security interview amounted to seven hours and Kholoud’s medical condition deteriorated as a result. We returned back at Al-Rantesi Hospital in Gaza. She was suffering from dehydration and was treated with a drip solution and a dose of chemotherapy over a period of five days.”

Kholoud’s husband arranged to change her medical referral to Egypt and she managed the difficult trip through Rafah and Sinai to Egypt on 8 March 2017 after 3 months of delay. In a Cairo hospital, her condition continued to deteriorate and she died on 12 March 2017.”

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Russia: Hamas’s new political document “a step in the right direction”

Russia and Hamas

The Russian ministry of foreign affairs has commended the Hamas Movement’s new political document, especially with regard to its acceptance of establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, describing it as a step in the right direction.

“We regard some provisions of the new Hamas charter, in particular the possibility of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, as moving in the right direction. We believe that the goal of Palestine’s national unity implies that Hamas and other Palestinian groups should take further steps in this spirit,” the ministry stated in a press release on Thursday.

Its statement welcomed the changes that happened with Hamas and the election of Ismail Haneyya as the new head of its political bureau.

It conveyed Moscow’s support for the restoration of the Palestinian unity based on the PLO’s political platform and the Arab Peace Initiative.

It also called for ending the inter-Palestinian differences in order to create the necessary conditions for finding a fair negotiated solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Israeli settlers set fire to tractor, spray racist graffiti in Nablus-area village

Nablus racist graffiti

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers set fire to an agricultural tractor and sprayed racist, anti-Arab graffiti “demanding to take revenge on Burin village,” south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday night.Locals from Burin told Ma’an that a group of Israeli settlers raided the village, set fire to an agricultural tractor owned by local resident Abd al-Athem Idris, and sprayed racist slogans “against Arabs” onto cement blocks in the area.Israeli police said in statement that they were informed of the incident by Palestinian officials, and were opening an investigation.

Nablus racist graffiti1

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

In March, Israeli NGO Yesh Din revealed that Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016. OCHA has recorded 46 such attacks since the beginning of the year.
(Source / 19.05.2017)

Israeli forces detain, injure Palestinians in clashes across West Bank, Gaza

Marches West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — At least seven Palestinians have been detained, while several others have been wounded with live fire during clashes in the occupied West Bank districts of Bethlehem and Ramallah, and in the Gaza Strip on Friday.

Palestinians across the West Bank have launched several marches and protests in recent days in solidarity with some 1,300 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, who entered their 33rd day of a mass strike on Friday.
Tens of Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces in several districts of the West Bank Thursday, with many injured by live ammunition.
A 23-year-old Palestinian was shot in the head and killed by an Israeli settler on Thursday during clashes that erupted in the Nablus-area village of Huwwara following a solidarity march in the area.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an regarding protests in the West Bank that earlier today “a number of violent riots took place in Judea and Samaria,” using the Israeli term for the West Bank, when “hundreds of Palestinians lit tires on fire, threw firebombs and rocks” at Israeli forces. She added that Israeli forces responded with “crowd control means in order to disperse the riots.”
She could not confirm to Ma’an that Israeli forces had used live ammunition on the Palestinian protesters.
Bethlehem city
Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces disguised as Palestinian protesters “kidnapped” six Palestinian “youths” at gunpoint after infiltrating a crowd of protesters during clashes that erupted at the northern entrance of Bethlehem city.
Palestinian security sources confirmed the reports, adding that the identities of the six detained Palestinians remained unknown.
Sources added that Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters and sound bombs at Palestinian protesters, causing many to suffer from severe tear gas inhalation.
Ramallah district
At least seven Palestinians were injured with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes that erupted in the villages of Nilin and Aboud, as well as the Qalandiya military checkpoint in the central occupied West Bank Ramallah area.
In the Aboud village, several Palestinian youths were injured with live bullets during clashes that erupted at the entrance of the village following a march that was organized in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.
The crowd of protesters, which consisted of residents of Aboud as well as Palestinians from at least 10 other northern-Ramallah villages, marched from the village’s mosque and headed to the entrance of the village, where armed Israeli forces were deployed.
Israeli forces fired live ammunition, tear gas canisters, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters, as five Palestinians were injured with live ammunition to the lower part of the body and one protester was injured with a rubber bullet in the leg, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. A Palestinian infant was also reported to be in a “serious health condition” after inhaling tear gas shot by Israeli forces, the Red Crescent added.
Protesters responded by throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, who closed the entrance to the village and prevented people from passing in or out.
At the Qalandiya military checkpoint — which was the site of violent clashes Thursday night — two Palestinians were injured, one of them in his mouth, with rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes that erupted following a solidarity march that set off from the Qalandiya refugee camp.
Israeli forces, stationed behind large cement by cement blocks, fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at Palestinians who threw rocks and empty bottles at the soldiers.
In the village of Nilin, three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated bullets, while others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation during clashes that erupted at the main entrance of the village, following a march in support of hunger strikers.
Nilin locals gathered at an Israeli bypass road near Nilin and closed it entirely to Israeli settler vehicles, causing a traffic jam.
Israeli soldiers chased the Palestinians back into the village, heavily firing rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters and Palestinian journalists covering the clashes.
One Palestinian protester was detained after Israeli forces violently assaulted him.
An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into reports of all the clashes.
Nablus district
In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, clashes erupted during solidarity protests in the villages of Beita — the hometown of 23-year-old Muataz Bani Shamsa, who was shot dead by an Israeli settler Thursday– and Beit Dajan.
Spokesperson of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Nablus Ahmad Jibreel told Ma’an that a Palestinian was injured with live fire in his thigh, and three others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, while more than 40 suffered from tear gas inhalation during clashes in Beita.
Jibreel said that the Palestinian injured with live fire was in moderate condition and was being transferred to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital in Nablus city.
Israeli forces banned medical crews of the Red Crescent from passing through the nearby Huwwara military checkpoint south of Nablus, Jibreel said.
In the village of Beit Dajan, Jibreel reported that six Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation during clashes, where Jibreel said Israeli forces deliberately targeted Red Crescent crews with their fire.
Witnesses in the area told Ma’an that Israelis settlers threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles passing the Yitzhar settlement road south of Nablus, while Israeli forces closed the Beita junction with cement blocks, as well as the Yitzhar road, and the Huwwara and Zaatara checkpoints.
Marches West Bank1
Marches West Bank2
In the district of Qalqiliya, Israeli forces suppressed a march in the village of Kafr Qaddum held in solidarity with the hunger strikers, injuring several Palestinians with rubber-coated bullets, including two who locals reported to be children.
According to the popular resistance coordinator of the village Murad Shteiwi, the march was expected to be launched following Friday prayers. However, Israeli forces raided the village and deployed themselves around Omar al-Khatab mosque while residents were performing prayers in an attempt to block the march from starting.
Following prayers, Shteiwi said that clashes erupted with Israeli forces, who fired tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber bullets at Palestinians, causing injuries to nine Palestinians, and two “children,” he said and damaging five cars owned by residents of the village.
He added that despite Israeli attempts at preventing the march, it was still lauched with the participation of hundreds of Palestinians.
Marches West Bank3
Marches West Bank4
Marches West Bank5
Gaza Strip
Two Palestinian youths were injured with live bullets, fired by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted near the Nahel Oz Israeli military site along the border of the central Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces fired live fire and tear gas at Palestinians who were protesting in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners and against the near-decade long Israeli siege imposed on the small coastal enclave.
In the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, two Palestinians were injured with live fire near al-Shuhada cemetary, as Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters and ambulances.
Protests have also sprung up in Khan Yunis, the Bureij refugee camp, and near the northern border of the Beit Lahiya town.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “hundreds of Palestinians began a number of violent riot across the Gaza Strip. Rioters are currently igniting fires and hurling rocks; Israeli army forces are using crowd control means, including firing warning shots into the air and towards main perpetrators.”
The spokesperson added that they were aware of reports that two Palestinians were injured, though she did not specify the location where the two were injured.
(Source / 19.05.2017)