Mishaal addresses Palestinians in Israeli jails

Khaled Mishaal former Hamas chief

Hamas former chief Khaled Mishaal hailed the Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails on the occasion of holy Eid al-Adhha (Muslims’ Greater Eid).

In a videotaped speech, Mishaal said the Palestinian resistance shall leave no stone unturned until the detainees are released from Israeli prisons.

He expressed wishes that they spend the next Eid at their homes and with their children and families.

“We feel your pains,” added Mishaal. “We are so proud of you. We look forward to the moment when you will be unshackled from Israeli detention.”

(Source / 31.08.2017)

Sinwar: We are keen on bridging the rift in the Palestinian arena

Yahya al-Sinwar

Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar has reiterated his Movement’s keenness on achieving the national reconciliation and ending the division.

Sinwar made his remarks during his meeting on Wednesday with several businessmen in Gaza.

He stressed that the administrative committee in Gaza is “a means to fill the vacuum and not an end,” asserting that “the committee will be dissolved immediately once there is no reason for its existence.”

The Hamas official also emphasized that the solution to the national division would be so easy if there was good faith to end it, calling for immediately convening a national council agreed upon by all sections of the Palestinian people at home and abroad.

“A national unity government has to be formed as well to shoulder all the burdens in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip alike,” he said.

In another context, the Hamas leader highlighted Egypt’s pivotal role in alleviating the blockade on Gaza, affirming that Hamas tried during its delegation’s recent visit to Cairo “to make a breakthrough in the wall of the blockade.”

“We discussed with the Egyptians the avenues for opening commercial and economic arenas, establishing a free zone and supplying Gaza with a larger amount of electricity,” he said, adding that contacts with Egypt are underway to implement what was agreed upon.

Sinwar also listened to the businessmen and their suggestions to improve the economic situation in Gaza and pledged to take their ideas positively and seriously and to remove all obstacles they face.

(Source / 31.08.2017)

Israel demolitions Arab properties in the Negev

Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian home

Israeli bulldozers yesterday carried out demolitions and razed land belonging to Bedouins in the Negev under the protection of armed Israeli security forces.

Eyewitnesses told Quds Press that Israel destroyed a container used for storage, as well as olive trees in the Al-Liqiya village. It also destroyed a water container and uprooted olive trees in the village of Al-Sayyid, while razing fences in Abu Talul.

The witnesses added that Israeli bulldozers also demolished fences and a water collection point in Um Bateen and demolished a caravan in Hura.

Read: For Israel displacing Bedouins is financially rewarding

Nearly 240,000 Palestinians live in the Negev desert, half in villages and complexes built hundreds of years ago.

The Israeli administration does not recognise their ownership of the land and refuses to supply them with basic services such as water and electricity. Israel is using various means and methods to displace the Palestinians in the area from their land.

(Source / 31.08.2017)

Legal complaint following church’s sale of Jerusalem land to Israel

Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Palestinians lawyers yesterday filed a legal complaint against the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III for selling land to Israeli companies and settlers.

Some 300 Palestinian Christians and associations have taken the action after the Greek Orthodox Clergy refused their requests to open the books on the property sales and reveals details surrounding them.

They accused the church primate of “treason,” “selling property to the enemy,” “breaking promises of safeguarding church property” and “contributing to Israeli plans to Judaize Jerusalem” by selling or leasing off large tracts of land to Israeli authorities and investors, betraying the church’s responsibility to protect Palestinian lands that were handed under its care during the Ottoman period.

Deputy Head of the Arab Orthodox Central Council in Palestine and Jordan, attorney Nabil Mashhour, said: “Many properties were transferred to Israeli companies and settlement groups.”

Read: Greek Orthodox Church to challenge settler land sale

In early August, an Israeli court ruled that Israeli settlement groups have the right to take overproperties that belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, which are two hotels and a large building in the Old City of Jerusalem. The church had argued that the deal had been made “illegally”.

In response, the Archbishop of Orthodox Sebastia insisted that “those who sell and forfeit our real estate and Orthodox endowments do not represent our Arab Church, its heritage, identity and historical presence in this holy land.”


However, Arab Christian figures confirm that the current Patriarch Theophilus III, who came to power in 2005, is indeed involved in making such deals.

The case dates back to 2004, after three foreign companies signed three secret real estate deals with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

In the first deal, Beresford Investments Limited, an Israeli settlement groups company, held a deal to take over the Petra Hotel, a four-storey building located in Omar Bin Al Khattab Square, between Bab Al-Khalil and Al-Hay Al-Arabi in Jerusalem.

The first deal’s contract states that this property will be leased for 99 years, with the possibility of extending it for another 99 years.

In the second deal, Richards Marketing, also an Israeli settlement groups company, took over the Imperial Hotel, including the shops underneath it, which a two-storey hotel located close to the Petra Hotel in Bab Al-Khalil.

(Source / 31.08.2017)

No Eid treats in Gaza

Sellers and vendors have seen a decrease in customers due to the austerity Palestinians are facing due to PA’s policies

As Eid Al-Adha approaches, Palestinians in Gaza are struggling more this year than ever before, following the Palestinian Authority’s decision to cut salaries, force a number of employees into early retirement and to stop paying Israel for Gaza’s electricity supply.

PA employees in Gaza are now only receiving about half of their salaries, making celebrating Eid a near impossible task.

In the markets across the Strip there is little activity with Palestinians only buying fruits, biscuits and sweets for their children. Clothing stores, which normally see increased activity during this time of year as people search for a new outfit for the occasion, have struggled.

Instead of paying for a Qurbani, a meat sacrifice, as is the tradition at this time of year, Palestinians in the Strip have been forced to settle for soft toys in the shape of sheep to bring some joy to their little ones and a taste of the occasion.

Read: Electricity crisis in Gaza Strip is an illegal ‘punishment on the entire nation’

(Source / 31.08.2017)

Report: 6,500 Palestinian prisoners held in 24 Israeli jails

Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian man outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City

Some 6,500 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in 24 Israeli jails, camps and detention centres, Quds Press reported, quoting the head of the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs (CDA).

Issa Qaraqe said that Israel has arrested an unprecedented number of Palestinians this year when compared to previous years. Some 4,000 people have been arrested, 850 of which are minors, he explained.

He added that the prisoners are in an “urgent” need of international protection as a result of the Israeli authorities’ violations of international humanitarian laws with regards the treatment of prisoners.

Read: Israel has arrested 800 Palestinian children since start of 2017

Israel, Qaraqe added, deliberately targets children and minors torturing them “collectively”.

Of those detained, he explained, 500 are being held under the controversial policy of administrative detention. They include a number of minors.

    Administrative detention is the arrest and detention of individuals by the state without charge or trial. It is applicable on a renewable six month term.

The ban of medical treatment for prisoners, he noted, has also raised concerns over the health conditions of hundreds of sick and seriously wounded detainees.

“Prisoners’ freedom and respect of their rights are the key for peace and stability in the region,” he stressed, calling for more support for those detained and their families who face “arbitrary measures” at the hands of Israeli authorities.

(Source / 31.08.2017)

UAE, Egypt approve more aid for Gaza, Hamas

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hamas and Egypt are moving forward quickly on projects to aid the Gaza Strip. A delegation from the National Islamic Committee for Social Solidarity, along with officials from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, will work with experts from both countries to oversee funding.

A solidarity committee source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The Emirati-Egyptian committee will fund projects in the Gaza Strip and oversee them [at a total] of $15 million a month, paid by the Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan Foundation [in the UAE] for humanitarian work.” The source noted that several sectors will be targeted, such as health (buying medication and treatment abroad), housing (building residential apartments) and electricity.

Hamas political bureau member Salah Bardawil told Al-Aqsa TV on Aug. 22 that 17 projects have been approved and the UAE will offer the aid through Egypt.

Egypt and Hamas recently developed an understanding by which they will build a security buffer zone on Gaza’s borders, indicating growing cooperation. Hamas also has been open to overtures from dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, who is close to Egypt and the UAE.

Conflict between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties, split the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2007. Now, Fatah — led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas — controls the West Bank, and Hamas administers operations in the Gaza Strip. Abbas and Dahlan were once close associates but now are sworn rivals.

Under the new arrangement with Hamas, the UAE will offer Gaza a package that includes mainly inaugurating a power generation station that will take 18 months to build, at a cost of $100 million. A launch date has not been set. The aid will also include funding to restore and maintain the Rafah land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Palestinian Legislative Council member Majed Abu Shamala, who heads the National Islamic Committee for Social Solidarity, told Al-Monitor, “We have agreed that Egypt will play a key role to facilitate the entry of aid to the Gaza Strip, just like the case with the industrial diesel.” He was referring to Egypt allowing trucks carrying industrial dieselto supply Gaza’s power station in June. Only a few technical measures have to be resolved before work can begin, he said.

“Egypt will firmly support the Gaza Strip with its essential needs,” Abu Shamala said. “The National Islamic Committee’s mission is to spare Gaza the stage of collapse, especially after [Abbas] imposed sanctions on it, burdening all life aspects. We are working with the UAE and Egypt to avoid further ripples of the catastrophic situation resulting from Abbas’ arbitrary measures against Gaza.”

The Egyptian regime is seeking to restore calm in the Sinai through the security cooperation with Hamas and to return Dahlan to the Palestinian political arena, all the while trying to foil Abbas’ measures against Gaza.

Animosity flared between the PA and the UAE after Dahlan was dismissed as Fatah leader in 2011 and escaped to the UAE to live. Abbas refused Emirati mediation to try to halt legal measures against Dahlan before he was dismissed and to reunite Fatah’s ranks.

Abu Shamala blames Abbas for the suffering in the Gaza Strip, since Abbas collects tax money and does not spend the funds of international aid on the Gaza Strip. Abu Shamala said, “We will call on Arab states supporting the PA to force it to offer services to Gaza, just like it does in the West Bank.”

The UAE-Egyptian committee’s work appears to be upping the stakes in the Qatar crisis. The UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and of being hostile toward Egypt. The UAE would like to quash Qatar’s influence in Gaza, even though Qatar has long been a financial supporter. Qatar played a major role in supporting Hamas by funding social, health and economic projects. In January, Qatar paid around $12 million to alleviate the power crisis in Gaza and build large residential projects like Hamad City. It also paid the salaries of Hamas employees and made other humanitarian donations.

Khaled al-Batsh, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a member of the social solidarity committee, denied claims that the UAE-Egyptian committee might seek political favors against Qatar in return for the UAE’s aid to the Gaza Strip. “The Emirati aid is important, but not huge. It is not a way out of the Gaza Strip crisis, which will only end when the [consensus] government reassumes its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip or when a national unity government made up of all Palestinian factions is formed,” he told Al-Monitor.

“The dispute between the UAE and Qatar is strictly internal, and we are open to any state that wants to help the Palestinian people.”

Batsh also said the UAE’s support for Gaza has nothing to do with the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Dahlan. “The UAE’s support is related to the Gazans’ situation, rather than such understandings. The funds to help Gaza will be courtesy of the Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan Foundation after security understandings are signed between Hamas and Egypt,” he said.

The National Islamic Committee for Social Solidarity was formed in 2011 and includes representatives of five Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip: Fatah (Dahlan’s party), Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The committee provides humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip without regard for political disputes among factions.

(Source / 31.08.2017)

Trump’s peace envoy: Palestinian Authority must control the Gaza Strip

Trump's idea about Palestine

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must resume its control over the government in the besieged Gaza Strip during a tour of the Gaza-Israel border.

Jason Greenblatt voiced vehement opposition to Hamas’ rule in the small Palestinian territory, and his support of the PA to take back control of the besieged enclave.
“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” Greenblatt said following the tour, which also included Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai.
Greenblatt said he had “learned a great deal” from the border tour, particularly concerning the “challenges” facing the Israeli army, Israeli civilians living near the border, and Palestinians living in Gaza, which he then singularly attributed to “Hamas’ mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist violence.”
Hamas and the Fatah-ruled PA have been embroiled in a more than a decade-long conflict since 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections and a bloody conflict between the two groups broke out.
Hamas, the de facto leaders in Gaza, is often criticized by the international community and among Palestinians themselves, most notably owing to the group’s attempted rocket attacks on Israel, which rarely result in casualties, and what is seen as their mismanagement of the government in Gaza.
However, Palestinian frustrations have also continued to mount against the PA, as the semi-governmental body in the occupied West Bank has passed devastating policies in recent months aiming to plunge the Gaza Strip deeper into a humanitarian crisis in an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish their authority.
These policies have included halting medical referrals so patients can receive treatment abroad while simultaneously cutting funding to the local medical sector, cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees, discontinuing payments to former prisoners of Israel, and dramatically reducing fundingfor Israeli fuel.
Greenblatt’s trip to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel is part of Trump’s attempts at relaunching peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders that have remained stagnant for decades.
However, leaders and analysts have expressed doubt that Trump’s initiatives will lead to a peace plan, as Trump himself has remained elusive concerning his stance on the conflict, while a number of high-profile US officials, including Trump’s son-in-law and Chief Adviser Jared Kushner, are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also visited the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The UN head demanded that Israel’s decade-long blockade on the territory be lifted, describing life in the besieged coastal enclave as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” he had seen.
In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current trends were not altered. However, a new report released last month by the UN said that “life for the average Palestinian in Gaza is getting more and more wretched,” and that for the majority of Gaza’s residents, the territory may already be unlivable.
(Source / 31.08.2017)

Israel-Jordan relations remain frozen as Jordan refuses re-entry of Israeli ambassador

Embassy in Jordan

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Jordanian government is reportedly refusing to allow the return of the Israeli ambassador to the country, more than a month after an Israeli embassy security guard shot and killed two Jordanian citizens, Israeli news website Ynet reported on Thursday. 

Additionally, Ynet reported that relations between Israel and Jordan have remained frozen and no visas are being issued, meaning that “thousands of Jordanians and Palestinians living in Jordan who cannot enter Israel through the Allenby crossing” and “163 passports of Jordanian citizens waiting to receive a visa to Israel have been held in a safe of the Israeli embassy in Jordan.”
Staff members of the Israeli embassy to Jordan, including the security guard who Ynet identified as Ziv Moyan — who killed Jordanian citizens Muhammad Zakariya al-Jawawdeh, 17, and Bashar Hamarneh in what Jordanian media and officials said was a professional dispute — had returned to Israel in  late July, just days after high tensions following the shooting incident.
According to Jordanian media, the Jordanian government had decided not to allow the Israeli ambassador to Jordan and the embassy staff to return to Amman until “gaining complete assurances” guaranteeing that Moyan would be prosecuted.
Ynet reported that Jordan’s refusal to accept ambassador Einat Shlain’s return to Amman was due Shlain’s participation with Moyal and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a celebratory reception upon their return to Tel Aviv.
At the time, Jordanian news sites reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah had criticized Netanyahu’s welcoming home of the guard as “a political showoff,” saying it was “provocative and destabilizes security and encourages extremism in the region.”
Ynet cited unidentified sources as saying that “Israel will have no choice but to appoint a new ambassador, if it intends to restore normal relations with Jordan.”
Meanwhile, Israeli police are ongoing in their investigation of Moyan, who has maintained that he acted in self defense.
(Source / 31.08.2017)

Right to Education Severely Impeded for Qurtuba School Students

31 AUG
6:22 AM

Photo: Palestinian students detained at staircase leading to Shuhada Street, when leaving Qurtuba school, on Monday.

08/29/17 | International Solidarity Movement |al-Khalil team

Israeli forces in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) are severely restricting, for the second day in a row, the freedom of movement for Palestinian students and teachers at Qurtuba school. Whereas, on Monday, students and teachers were detained by Israeli forces for almost half an hour before being allowed to continue on their way home after the school day, the following day Israeli forces prevented the students from bringing essential school materials and denying them, again, to pass the checkpoint.

Qurtuba school is located in the H2-area of occupied al-Khalil, under full Israeli military control. In order to reach Qurtuba school, all students and teachers are forced to pass at least one, sometimes two, or even three Israeli military checkpoints within Palestinian neighborhoods. The majority of the students and teachers accesses the school through a set of stairs at Daboya checkpoint. This checkpoint marks for Palestinians the spot where Shuhada Street has been ethnically cleansed of Palestinians, an undergoing policy which continuously forbids them from this point further down the road – the part of Shuhada Street where the illegal Israeli settlements in the heart of the city are located. At Daboya checkpoint, thus, the only possible direction for Palestinians is to go up the stairs, which lead to Qurtuba school.

At the end of 2015, though, right after the whole area of Tel Rumeida, including Shuhada Street, was declared a ‘closed military zone’ by the Israelis, limiting the access to registered (that is, numbered Palestinians), the access to the staircase has been closed for use by Palestinians, whereas settlers are free to use the stairs as they please. The only exception to this closure is Qurtuba school’s students and teachers twice a day: in the morning, at the start of the school day, and in the afternoon once school finishes – at least, in theory. Several times students and teachers have been denied passage or detained for hours, at this spot.

This setting alone creates an atmosphere not especially conducive to learning, with the constant uncertainty of what will happen: whether you will be checked, searched, detained or arrested at a checkpoint on the way to school or home, whether your teachers will get to school or settlers might attack you on the way or inside the school, in what becomes a vital part of the (psychological) occupation of the Palestinian civilians living in this area. On Monday, 28th August, the students were detained with their teachers after the end of the school day, waiting at the top of the staircase for the soldiers to finally decide to allow them to reach their homes. On Tuesday, when students wanted to bring school books, they were again detained by the soldiers at the top of the stairs, while down on Shuhada Street, infamous and aggressive settlers Anat Cohen and Ofer Yohana gathered to watch the show of power by the Israeli forces. Eventually, the soldiers denied children the possibility of carrying their school materials altogether, and the children went back to their classes without books.

These actions constitute severe infringements on the Palestinian students basic human right to education, and are deliberate attempts at the quiet transfer of the Palestinian community from the whole area. Israeli forces are creating a coercive environment in order to leave no other option for Palestinians to leave the area and, thus, create an already connected area of illegal settlements – free of any Palestinian presence.

(Source / 31.08.2017)