Urgent: The current situation in Gaza

By Mamdouh H. Abu Ghali


The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights (ICSPR) highly appreciates your continued commitment to human and humanitarian intervention.
We are addressing you for the second time this year to invite you to exert more efforts to stop the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip which currently living in catastrophic conditions. Your immediate and urgent contribution to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe that is sweeping the Gazan population into a catastrophic fate is a legal and moral duty dictated by your legal mandates, your contributions and your lofty objectives that you are entrusted to achieve, which shouldn’t be sacrificed under any circumstances, Human beings in Gaza Strip live in conditions that lack the most basic requirements for decent living and human dignity, especially in light of the sharp deterioration in the human rights situation, the persistence of humanitarian crises, the lack of access to health and humanitarian services, safe water and human use.

2 million people are living in Gaza Strip in extremely difficult circumstances, which lead them to lose hope in the future, this creates a very fertile environment for extremism. The unprecedented deterioration of the humanitarian situation is due to the combination of a number of factors, including the ongoing Israeli siege measures for the eleventh year in a row, the continuation of punitive measures carried out by the Palestinian government, and the refusal to respond to the repeated calls to stop these punitive actions, which in short means the government’s abdication of its social, economic and political responsibilities towards the Palestinian people, unfortunately, the continued silence of the international community and the weakness of its reactions towards addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza Strip, which is currently in a state of a slow planned death.

The Palestinian government (the Government of National Accord) has initiated new measures such as re-levying the value-added tax, imposing strict conditions and controls on remittances entering Gaza, including the ones from the Western financiers community to NGOs, as well as the recent PA measures (since May 2017), including the termination of service for Gaza employees, the deduction of salaries and compulsory pensions, the imposition of a fuel tax that operates the only power plant.

These measures, and the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation forces, have exacerbated the conditions for humanity in Gaza Strip, where 80% of the population of Gaza live in extreme poverty, and unemployment rates exceeded 65%, among citizens, all of which led to a terrible economic recession amid the decline in the purchasing power of citizens, noting that these rates are the worst since 2002, according to official statistical data, as evidenced by the decline in import rates for goods to about 320 trucks a day out of nearly 1000 trucks a day.

The population of Gaza Strip is currently living in a very desperate situation, where more than 72% of the families are unable to provide their children with health food because of the extreme poverty and lack of purchasing power of these families, which will lead to a more miserable and hopeless reality.
The US decision to reduce its financial aid to UNRWA has worsened the crisis, the United States reduced its aid to the UNRWA treasury to less than half in 2018, affecting the functioning of UNRWA’s services for the poorest refugees in all areas of UNRWA operations (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip).
Gaza Strip is the most affected by this decision, which is evidenced by the increase in the number of beneficiaries of UNRWA’s food relief services in Gaza, from 100,000 beneficiaries to 1.3 million beneficiaries over the last 10 years as a result of the deterioration of the economic and living conditions, the high rates of poverty and unemployment, which will lead Gaza Strip to explode at any time, according to statements “Matthias Shamali,” director of UNRWA’s operations in Gaza Strip.

Gaza Strip continues to wither away under the siege and its inhuman consequences, from restrictions on freedom of movement and goods, deteriorating humanitarian conditions, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and deteriorating health, housing and education.

The multiple crises caused by the ongoing Israeli siege and the repeated Israeli aggression three times in a short period led to increase in the poverty rate in Gaza Strip to 65%, unemployment to 65%, and 63.8% among youth, about 72% of the families of Gaza Strip are food insecure, 4,600 families in Gaza Strip are still homeless, and 5,000 families live in tents or plastic houses, the percentage of safe drinking water is 5%, while the hours of daily electricity cuts are more than 16 hours a day, the health sector suffers from a shortage of medicines and medical consumables with a deficit of 30% per month.

As unfortunately 2017 brought an additional suffering to the population of Gaza Strip, as a result of the collective punishment imposed by the presidency and the Palestinian government, which continues until this moment, this compounded the number of human suffering in Gaza Strip and affected the whole life system, especially the health, education, electricity, water, economic, trade, banking and other vital sectors, these collective punishments were accompanied by the continued implementation of repressive measures affecting the enjoyment of rights by the Palestinian people, especially journalists, writers and opinion makers who were persecuted and arrested.
All restrictions on public rights and freedoms in the West Bank constitute violations under the Palestinian Basic Law and international covenants, in a situation that reflects the continuing encroachment of the Palestinian executive authority and its violation of all laws that have set its scope of powers.

The truth is that the successive Palestinian presidential decisions – despite the fact that there is a consensus oriented among the Palestinian opponents – can’t be found to be legal or even moral. In short, they mean compromising Palestinian human rights in Gaza Strip, especially their economic and social rights, which may lead the situation in Gaza Strip to explode, and would cause great harm to the security and safety of the Palestinian person, the circumstances and developments of that scenario may lead to increase the height of extremism in all its forms.

Finally, the International Commission appeals to you to seize the last chance before humanity, to triumph for humanity in Palestine and Gaza Strip.
We call upon you to immediately intervene to end the suffocating siege imposed by the Israeli occupation for the eleventh year in a row, and to ensure that the occupation state complies with the obligations contained in international humanitarian law, in particular the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to ensure freedom of travel and movement for the Palestinian people between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and secure the freedom of movement of individuals and goods with Egypt.
The Commission also calls upon you to exert pressure on the President of the national authority to stop the collective punishment imposed on Gaza Strip and to put the rights and freedoms of citizens and employees away from disputes and political intrigues.

We hope that you will act now in order to save Gaza before it is too late.
Pressure creates explosion. The citizens of Gaza Strip deserve to work with them and for them, they all are looking for an international role that guarantees them and their children their right to human dignity as a non-negotiable right.
Therefore, we hope that you will adopt this appeal, and carry out all the solidarity measures to ensure that the demands and rights of Gaza Strip residents are met.

Your sincerely /  Mamdouh Ghali

100 Palestinian female refugees forcibly disappeared in Syria

Female Pal refugees

The Action Group of Palestinians in Syria revealed, in a new report issued on Monday, that the fate of dozens of Palestinian female refugees remains unknown in Syrian regime’s prisons.

More than 100 Palestinian mothers and young women were forcibly disappeared behind Syrian regime’s bars.

Newly released female prisoners had earlier confirmed they were subjected to torture and ill-treatment at the hands of Syrian security forces, the group said.

Torture methods include severe beating, electric shocks, rape and sexual assault, according to the group.

(Source / 26.02.2018)

Israeli forces assault Palestinian prisoners in Nafha jail

Nafha Jail

Israeli troops have raided prisoners’ rooms in Nafha prison, assaulted dozens of Palestinian inmates and then forcibly transferred a prisoner to solitary confinement.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee reported that the prisoner Wael al-Natsheh was subjected to violent attack after he refused to be strip searched.

Al-Natsheh, who spent 20 years behind Israeli bars, was then taken to hospital suffering different injuries.

The development came only few hours after Israeli forces broke into Ward 65 of Raymond prison and moved 70 prisoners, including al-Natsheh, to Nafha prison.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly incarcerated in 17 Israeli prisons and detention centers, many of them without charge or trial.

(Source / 26.02.2018)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct 5 Palestinians In Shu’fat Refugee Camp, 24 Since Dawn In West Bank

26 FEB
12:48 PM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at noon, five young Palestinian men in Shu’fat refugee camp, in occupied East Jerusalem, bringing the number of abducted Palestinians since dawn hours to 24, including many children.

Media sources in Jerusalem said many several jeeps invaded Shu’fat refugee camp and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades at many youngsters, who hurled stones at them.

They added that the soldiers abducted five young men and took them to an interrogation facility in the city.

On Monday at dawn, the soldiers abducted nine Palestinians in the West Bank governorates of Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah, in addition to ten Palestinians from Tamimi family, including a wounded child, in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah.

(Source / 26.02.2018)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Ten Tamimi Family Members, Including Wounded Child, In Nabi Saleh

26 FEB
10:46 AM

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and abducted a wounded child, and nine other Palestinians, mainly children, from Tamimi family, during extensive and violent searches of their homes.

Media sources in Ramallah said the soldiers abducted a wounded child, identified as Mohammad Fadel Tamimi, 15, and his brother Tamim, 17.

It is worth mentioning that Mohammad was shot two months ago in the head, and is still in a serious condition, awaiting a new surgery scheduled for early March.

The soldiers also abducted Soheib Sameeh Tamimi, 14, Ahmad Sami Tamimi, 19, Moayyad Hamza Tamimi, 17, Mohammad Mojahed Tamimi, 15, Amjad Abdul-Hafith Tamimi, 28, Omar Saleh Tamimi, 29, Islam Saleh Tamimi, 21, and We’am Eyad Tamimi, 17.

Nabi Saleh has been under constant Israeli attacks, invasions and violations since the army abducted ‘Ahed Tamimi, 17, and her mother, especially after various Israeli media outlets, Israeli social media posts and even government officials started a massive incitement campaign against Ahed, and the entire village.

The village has been frequently attacked by armed colonialist settlers, who also closed roads and tried to prevent the Palestinians from entering or leaving it.

The Palestinian Detainees Ministry warned of the sharp rise in the Israeli abductions of children, and the constant violent invasions and searches of homes, which led to extensive damage and terrified entire families.

Commenting on Monday’s invasions of homes and abductions, the committee said that the soldiers invaded Nabi Saleh and Deir Nitham town, northwest of Ramallah, and carried out massive violent searches of homes, and added that such violations reflect the racist nature of the occupation and its military, targeting all Palestinians, especially the children.

It called on the International Red Cross and all legal and human rights groups to intervene and provide the needed protection to the Palestinian people, and their properties.

(Source / 26.02.2018)

Ashrawi: “Israeli Violations Against Churches Are Attacks Aimed At All Palestinians”

26 FEB
7:07 AM

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the latest Israeli decision targeting churches and their property in occupied Jerusalem, and said that such violations not only target holy sites, but are attacks against all Palestinians.

She said that freezing church assets in occupied Jerusalem, and the illegal decision to impose taxes on church property, are very serious violations targeting holy sites in occupied Palestine.

“These churches and their lands have existed in the holy land centuries before the Israel occupied Palestine, including Jerusalem – The Palestinian identity and heritage include the oldest and contiguous Christian presence in the holy land,” Dr. Ashrawi added, “Israel is now violating international laws, and basic religious rights, in addition to violating the status quo of the holy sites.”

|Updated: Church of the Holy Sepulcher Closes in Protest of Israeli Policies|

She also said that the latest Israeli legislations are part of Israel’s illegal policies that aim at erasing and ethnically cleansing the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, and to isolate the city from its surroundings.

“This is part of illegal policies targeting the churches, their finances and their properties, in order to control them,” Dr. Ashrawi said, “Israel wants to remove the indigenous Palestinian Muslims and Christians from the holy city, and to replace them with Jewish extremists.”

Dr. Ashrawi also said that Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and continues to violate the basic religious rights of the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike.

“Since Israel occupied the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, in 1967, it systematically placed various legislations, obstacles and laws violating the fundamental right to worship in the holy city,” she said, “It also deprived the Jerusalemite Palestinians from basic human rights, including the right to education, health services and the right to build on their own lands.”

(Source / 26.02.2018)

Israel to impose security cordon on occupied West Bank until Sunday

Palestinians stop with their lorries near the Israeli crossing Kerem Shalom

The Israeli occupation authorities announced on Sunday the imposition of a comprehensive security cordon on the occupied West Bank and the closure of the crossings into the Gaza Strip during the Jewish “Purim” holiday, Quds Press has reported. A spokesperson for the Israeli Army said that the authorities have ordered the cordon to be in place from Tuesday.

While the cordon is in place, he added, only humanitarian and medical cases will be considered for permission to pass through checkpoints — there are more than 600 of them in the West Bank — and the border posts. The closure will end at midnight next Sunday.

Many Jewish holidays impose great difficulties on the Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied Jerusalem, as these are usually accompanied by such cordons and other restrictive practices. All such abusive and oppressive actions against the Palestinians are justified by “securing the celebrations of the settlers”. Israel’s settlements and settlers are all illegal under international law.

The Israeli measures include the closure of all major roads, setting up military checkpoints and the intensification of the army’s presence, as well as the closure of all crossings around the Gaza Strip, tightening the siege even further.

Read: Israel’s closure of Gaza crossings slammed as ‘collective punishment’

(Source / 26.02.2018)

Many Civilians Killed as Relentless Bombardment of Eastern Ghouta Continues

Local news networks said that military operations by the Assad regime and its allies did not stop across Syria as dozens of civilians were killed and injured in relentless aerial bombardment of residential areas in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta.

Baladi News Network quoted its correspondent in eastern Ghouta as saying that Russian jets carried out multiple airstrikes on the town of Douma in the early morning hours of Monday. The airstrikes killed at least 10 civilians from one family and injuring two others.

The Syrian Negotiations Commission expressed hope that UN Security Council resolution 2401 demanding a ceasefire in Syria would be implemented, especially as the Assad regime and its allies have a track record of violating all previous resolutions on Syria.

The Commission said in a statement that it “does not rule out that the Assad regime will violate the ceasefire as it did many times in the past as long as it feels secure from punishment and accountability.” It warned of the consequences of failure to enforce the UN resolution, stressing that “every minute of delay means the loss of more lives of children and women in Syria.”

The Commission pointed out that the majority of the victims of the bombings are civilians. “It is a disgrace to humanity that Syrian remains a battlefield for competition between the major stakeholders who obstruct the process of political solution. We are aware that peoples of the world do not accept that blood of the Syrian people continues to be shed.”

“We hope that UN Security Council resolution 2401 will have the necessary implementation mechanisms and tools,” the Commission added. It also expressed hope that it will represent “a quick step to enforce UN resolution 2254 through a comprehensive cease-fire, the lifting of the sieges, and the introduction of humanitarian assistance.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday said that he expected resolution 2401 to be “immediately implemented and sustained, particularly to ensure the immediate, safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services, the evacuation of the critically sick and the wounded, and the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Germany and France called on Russia to put “maximum pressure” on the Assad regime to ensure “immediate” implementation of UN resolution 2401.

In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macaron stressed the vital importance of a immediate and comprehensive implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2401, according to a statement issued by the German Chancellor’s Office.

UN Security Council resolution 2401 calls for 30-day ceasefire across Syria and the lifting of the sieges imposed by the Assad regime and its allied militias on eastern Ghouta and the rest of besieged areas in Syria.

The adoption of resolution 2401, which was proposed by Kuwait and Sweden, came after more than 500 civilians, including about 100 children, were killed in a week of heavy bombardment by the Assad regime and Russian air forces of the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 26.02.2018)

Union of Gaza Employees announces general strike

Reported by Abedarrahman Shaaban

The Union of Gaza Employees has today declared a general strike.

Strike Gaza

They are protesting the Palestinian Union Government because of their ignoring the rights of its civil servants.
The Union of Gaza Employees started the strike today, Monday, 26th of February. A general strike is in all government institutions in Gaza Strip.

All educational institutions and ministries will be closed today to press the PA government to put an end to the crisis over its civil servants in Gaza.

The strike comes as a persistence of the Union government in ignoring and denying the rights of its civil servants and it’s reluctance to pay their salaries.

Cairo Launches New Round of Palestinian Reconciliation Process

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (left) shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza on October 2

Egypt has resumed its efforts to complete the Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas following stalemate and delay by both sides to implement an agreement signed in October.

A security delegation from the Egyptian intelligence service arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, headed by chief of the Palestinian file in the intelligence body General Sameh Nabil, along with the Egyptian Consul General in Ramallah Khaled Sami and Brigadier Abdel Hadi Faraj. The delegation entered Gaza through Beit Hanoun crossing, which is controlled by Israeli forces.

Egypt had informed Fatah and Hamas that it would send the delegation to Gaza as a step to confirm its commitment to proceed with the reconciliation. The delegation will follow up the steps that will be taken by the two sides in order to enable the government to perform its duties and to resolve the rest of the pending files.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Egyptian delegation met with the Telecommunications Minister in the Consensus Government, Samih Tabila, to discuss obstacles preventing him from fully assuming his work in Gaza, in addition to other matters related to plans to accommodate old employees.

Egyptian intelligence officials will also hold a series of meetings with representatives from the government of consensus in the coming days to talk over the need to enable the government to perform its functions and implement the decisions taken by the relevant officials.

According to the sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Hamas delegation, which is present in Cairo since more than ten days, reiterated the movement’s readiness to provide the necessary facilitations for the government to carry out its duties without obstacles, stressing at the same time, the need for the government to resolve the crises accumulated in recent months, and work on the integration of employees.

Fatah, for its part, did not comment on the new developments regarding the reconciliation process, but Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the movement’s reconciliation delegation, underlined the Palestinian Authority’s determination to move forward to implement the Cairo agreement, despite stalling by Hamas in this matter, as he said.

(Source / 26.02.2018)