IOF shoots, injures 2 youths along Gaza borders

2 injured Gaza border

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Tuesday opened live fire at a group of Palestinians for allegedly approaching the border fence between Gaza and Israel, shooting and moderately injuring two young men.

Local sources said that Israeli forces stationed at military watchtowers along Gaza borders fired live ammunition at the Palestinians claiming they got too close to the border fence to the north of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, injuring one in the leg while another was wounded to the east of Breij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip.

Both young men were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment and their condition was described as moderate.

Palestinians in Gaza have been marching peacefully since 30th March along Gaza’s eastern borderline for their right of return. Dozens have been killed and thousands injured as a result of Israel’s use of lethal force against the unarmed protesters.

(Source / 08.05.2018)

Red Cross Calls on Israel to Respect Gaza Medical Crews

08 MAY
8:15 PM

Head of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in Gaza, Gilan Devorn, has called on Israeli occupation authorities to respect and ensure the unimpeded functioning of medical services for the wounded and sick.

In a statement on Saturday, Devorn expressed his deep regret over an incident in which a medic from the Red Crescent was wounded by Israeli fire while performing his work in the north of the Gaza Strip.

“Today, a medic at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society was shot while he was evacuating a wounded man in the border area. We look into the circumstances surrounding the incident, but the medic was clearly visible, wearing the Palestinian Red Crescent vest standing near the ambulance. Such incidents must stop,” he said, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency.

“With the increasing violence, ensuring that medical services for wounded and sick are unimpeded is extremely important. The PRCS has worked courageously and tirelessly to fulfill its humanitarian mission,” he added.

As part of its work, the ICRC acts as a neutral intermediary and [is] keen to conduct a public dialogue with all relevant authorities and security forces, in order to minimize the impact of the current events on civilians, and to maintain a humanitarian space that enables medical personnel to work safely.”

(Source / 08.05.2018)

Medecins du Monde condemns Israel’s use of force against civilians in Gaza

Médecins du Monde volunteers seen working with refugees in Brussels [Le Soir]

Médecins du Monde volunteers seen working with refugees in Brussels

Médecins du Monde (MDM) Chapters working in Palestine yesterday expressed their deepest concern regarding Israel’s violent response against Palestinian civilians demonstrating near the perimeter fence in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO, the MDM said: “In the short span of only six Fridays, the Israeli army has killed 45 Palestinians, including four children, and injured more than 7,930 civilians protesting for their right to return.”

Highlighting a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, the MDM added that more than 99 healthcare staff have been injured and 18 ambulances damaged as a result of Israel’s violent response to the unarmed protesters.

“So far, the hospitals in Gaza have treated 4,045 victims with severe injuries, 18 per cent of them are under age and less than half of the urgent patients requiring referral to other hospitals outside Gaza have received the necessary exit permit from Israel,” the statement said.

Read: The Maiming Fields of Gaza

It added: “The high number of emergency cases is challenging hospitals’ capacity and putting on hold thousands of elective surgeries.”

The MDM said:

The excessive use of force against Palestinians demonstrating in Gaza is a violation of the right to life, health and freedom of assembly.

According to the statement, the MDM said: “To this date, the use of live ammunition has severely injured 2,178 civilians. The majority of gunshot wounds have been to lower limbs, causing severe orthopaedic and vascular injuries leaving hundreds of the victims handicapped.”

The statement stated that the crisis in Gaza “comes on top of a protracted situation,”, noting that “for over 11 years the Israeli government has imposed a strict land, air and sea military blockade to Gaza.”

This, it added, “qualified as a violation of international humanitarian law, this collective punishment has had disastrous consequences on the daily life of millions of Palestinians.”

“While the availability of goods is the most visible aspect, the impacts of the blockade are ubiquitous along the Strip and felt every single day.”

MDM noted that the health services in particular are constantly struggling to cope with the increasing problems as “water pollution and lack of potable water represent an imminent risk of waterborne diseases, almost half of the essential drugs and disposables are constantly unavailable and electricity cuts limit the regular provision to four hours, and therefore hampering the quality and services primary health centres and hospitals provide.”

The three MDM Chapters in Palestine, namely Doctors of the World France, Spain and Switzerland, “condemn Israel’s excessive use of force against healthcare staff and civilians demonstrating in the Gaza Strip since March 30 and adhere to the international call for an independent investigation of each incident.”

“MDM chapters call for the absolute respect to the right to health, in particular eliminating any obstacle to access to health services outside the Gaza strip.”

They urged the European Union to take concrete measures in order to implement the EU Parliament resolution 2018/2663(RSP) calling for the immediate and unconditional end to the blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 08.05.2018)

From Targeted Assassinations to Sniper Fire, How Israel Eliminates Palestinian Resistance

Its view is that, for Israel to survive, Palestine’s possibilities must be wiped out, whether the means used are targeted assassinations, sniper fire, or precision targeting of a civilian population

Mourners chant slogans while carry the coffin of Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh, after his body crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, during his funeral at Al Emari mosque in Jebaliya on Thursday, April 26, 2018. The body of the Hamas engineer who was gunned down in Malaysia last week was returned for burial. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

GAZA — Palestine’s Great Return March protests at the Gaza border, which commenced with the commemoration of Land Day on March 30 and are set to continue until the Nakba anniversary on May 15, have propelled Israel’s penchant for killing Palestinians to the fore. So far, 45 Palestinians have been killed by snipers and over 7,200 injured while demonstrating at the border for their right to return as enshrined in UN Resolution 194.

As the launch of the protests drew near, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that over 100 snipers would be placed at Gaza’s border. The rhetoric used was an attempt to distort the Return March, which is about rights, into a security concern for Israel, and thus legitimize, according to Israeli parameters, the killing of unarmed Palestinians.

Framed against the Great Return March protests at the Gaza border, Israel’s Minister of Transport, Road Safety and Intelligence, Israel Katz, warned that targeted killings of Hamas leaders would be renewed if attacks are launched against army commanders at the border.

No soldiers were harmed at the border. Rather than an empty threat, Katz’s statement reads as a veiled indication of premeditated aggression.

A day later, on Saturday April 21, 35-year-old Palestinian scientist and Hamas member Fadi Mohammed al-Batsh was gunned down by two assassins in the vicinity of his home while on his way to dawn prayers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Whether the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind the targeted assassination was neither confirmed nor denied by Israel.

Last week, Haaretz reported that the assassins entered Malaysia by using fake Serbia and Montenegro passports. It is also speculated that both assassins absconded to Thailand.

In response to al-Batsh’s assassination, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attempted to downplay Mossad’s role, stating:

There’s a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts.”

Israeli media, however, promoted the narrative of the colonial state’s policy of targeted assassinations and indicated the possible involvement of Mossad, linking al-Batsh’s assassination to his scientific research by citing a co-authored paper titled “Challenges of Integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Civil Application”. Five days after the assassination, the Jerusalem Post ran an article titled “The Mossad’s Greatest Hits: From Eichmann to al-Batsh.” About al-Batsh, the article stated that the modus operandi “may fit into the Tunisia operation pattern of assassinations of weapons engineers who are threats to Israel and without leaving a trace.”

Mourners carry the coffin of Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh, after his body crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt during his funeral April 26, 2018. (AP/Adel Hana)

Mourners carry the coffin of Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh, after his body crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt during his funeral April 26, 2018

The reference to Tunisia concerned the assassination of aeronautical engineer Muhammad al-Zawari, who was killed in Sfax in December 2016 outside his home. According to Hamas, Al-Zawari was part of the resistance movement  and specialized in drone development. A report by Al Jazeera had also stated that al-Zawari had developed the drones used by Hamas in 2014 during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

In al-Zawari’s case, the identified suspects are of Bosnian nationality. During a press conference organized by Hamas in Beirut, the movement claimed the targeted assassination was the work of “Mossad agents carrying Bosnian passports.” Tunisia is reported to be in discussions with Bosnia to extradite the suspect, who was arrested in Croatia in March 2018. The suspect is currently detained under extradition custody in Croatia, and Bosnia is seeking to impede his extradition.

A recently published book by Ronen Bergman, titled Rise and Kill First: the secret history of Israel’s targeted assassinations,reveals that over 2,700 operations carried out by Israel since its inception have been classified as targeted assassinations.

An ambiguous ruling by Israel’s High Court

In December 2005, Israel’s High Court upheld the “right” of the state to resort to targeted assassinations, in response to a petition submitted in 2002 by the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, which argued that the practice was illegal and violated international law. The petition was submitted within the context of the Second Intifada, when Israel embarked upon a series of targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.

The concluding remarks of the court judgment ensured that Israel was allowed to speculate and given the freedom to determine whether or not a targeted assassination would be permissible:

It is decided that it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is prohibited according to customary international law, just as it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is permissible according to customary international law.”

Israel enjoys further impunity in this regard based on the fact that there is no standard definition of targeted assassinations in international law.

A history of targeted assassinations

Many targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders have been attributed to Mossad. On July 8, 1972, Mossad assassinated Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian writer and political leader from the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine, by a car bomb in Beirut. His 17-year-old niece, Lamis, also died in the explosion.

Mossad is also said to be behind several assassinations of Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) members. In what was dubbed as “Operation Spring of Youth” in 1973 in Beirut, Mossad raided the flats of three PLO members — Muhammad Yousef al-Najjar, Kamal Adwan and Kamal Nasser — and gunned them down. Adwan’s head was severed from the body as a result of around 60 bullets fired into his neck.

On October 26, 1995, Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shqaqi was killed by two assailants in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Sliema, Malta. Shqaqi was shot five times at point blank range.

In 1997, Mossad poisoned former Hamas leader Khaled Mesha’al in Jordan. A diplomatic intervention by King Hussein saved his life as Mossad turned over the antidote.

Since the Second Intifada, Israel’s targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders have shifted towards Hamas. Salah Shehadeh, leader of Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed on July 23, 2002 in Gaza City, when the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) dropped a one-ton bomb onto his house. Fifteen people were killed in the attack.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was murdered upon exiting a mosque on March 22, 2004. Missiles were fired from an Apache helicopter, killing him and seven other bystanders.

Mossad is also said to have been behind the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of al-Qassam Brigades, on January 20, 2010, in Dubai. Tests on blood samples confirmed he was electrocuted.

On November 14, 2012, Ahmed Jabari, second in command of Hamas’s military wing, was killed by a drone strike on his car in Omar Mukhtar Street.

Uri Brodsky, believed to be a Mossad agent involved in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is escorted by police to a court of appeal session in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 5, 2010. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

Uri Brodsky, believed to be a Mossad agent involved in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is to a court in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 5, 2010

Changing history by scarring society

In an interview with the Times of Israel, Bergman states:

I want to say, that from the very beginning of the state, Israeli leaders thought that secret operations and assassinations far beyond enemy lines were a useful tool to change history, or to do something to reality, without resorting to all-out war.”

The statement is revelatory on several grounds. Apart from indicating Mossad’s worldwide operations, it also closes in on two main issues which are central to the current context of Israel’s resorting to targeted assassinations. The targeting of individuals who, if allowed to work in anti-colonial struggle, can embark upon building a resistance movement that goes beyond mere resilience, should dispel mainstream depiction of Israel’s aggression on Gaza as “war”. By Israel’s admission and actions, there is no war, but rather a premeditated action against a population by targeting individuals who can contribute to Palestinian security and, as a result, capacity to further their cause and their rights.

Second, changing history and reality, as stated by Bergman, can also be applied to the Gaza context. It is not only the fact that Israel is choosing strategy over diplomacy, as Bergman says within the context of his research. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are actively involved in resistance. However, the periodical Israeli assaults upon Gaza, and Hamas’ attempts to defend the enclave, have propelled the movement’s visibility when it comes to armed struggle. The movement also prioritizes education as a revolutionary goal. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Israel directly targeted higher educational facilities, prompting UNESCO to release a report documenting the damage done to infrastructure — 14 educational facilities were significantly damaged. In addition, 421 students were murdered during the operation, making up 27.4 percent of Gaza’s death toll.

Eliminating possibilities of Palestinian resistance

To eliminate Palestinian resistance, Israel has made it a point to target segments of Palestinian society, or individuals, that have potential to develop continuous anti-colonial struggle. It is a strategic decision for Israel to focus on the link between education and resistance — hence the high number of students murdered during Operation Protective Edge, the Palestinian youths murdered by snipers at the Great Return March, and the targeted assassination of Palestinian intellectuals and scientists who have the potential to lead a structured and continuous resistance.

Al-Batsh’s assassination can be seen as merely another strike against Hamas — the latest in a series of targeted killings that seek to weaken the movement’s capacity to develop its own potential for defense in its limited circumstances.

Yet it is the limited circumstances that should provoke further insight into al-Batsh’s assassination. Since 2014, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has not ceased calling for Hamas to hand over complete control of Gaza, including relinquishing armed resistance. As this appeal was refused repeatedly by Hamas, Abbas retaliated through sanctions and withholding of financial assistance, piling further hardships upon the entire enclave that is still reeling from the damage and displacement as a result of Operation Protective Edge.

There is no option for Palestinians other than resistance to the collaborative efforts by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to push Gaza into an irreversible deterioration. Al-Batsh’s assassination is part of the former’s plan to reduce the possibilities of resistance for Palestinians. For Abbas, who has ridiculed resistance even when Palestinians were being massacred in 2014, the loss of al-Batsh might trigger other attempts at fostering political disunity among Palestinians. Apart from the political isolation enforced upon Gaza, it is the lack of opportunity to develop its military capabilities further that has derailed resistance. It is clear that Israel will not take any chances of permitting Hamas to alter the current implosion. Its view is that, for Israel to survive, Palestine’s possibilities must be wiped out, whether the means used are targeted assassinations, sniper fire, or precision targeting of a civilian population.

(Source / 08.05.2018)

No Jerusalem permits for Palestinians in Gaza this Ramadan, says Israel military

Palestinian security forces check vehicles at a checkpoint to investigate the assassination of an official of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed branch of Hamas, Mazen Fuqaha, who was killed in Gaza City, Gaza on March 26, 2017. ( Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency )

Palestinian security forces check vehicles at a checkpoint in Gaza City, Gaza on 26 March, 2017

Israeli occupation authorities announced yesterday that there would be no travel permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan this year.

According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli military said it had approved “a series of civilian measures for the holiday period” in the occupied West Bank, a reference to a loosening of routine movement restrictions. Such a step typically takes place every Ramadan.

The Times of Israel added that “the measures will allow Palestinians in the West Bank to see family members in Israel”, to “travel abroad from Ben Gurion Airport”, and to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque.

READ: Denied entry, Palestinians have iftar at Hebron checkpoint

However, the Israeli news site continued, “these will not apply to Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip” despite the fact that “in previous years, residents of the coastal enclave were given some special dispensations for Ramadan — normally in the form of permits to visit Jerusalem”.

The Israeli occupation authorities decided not to grant these permits following a “situational assessment”, an Israeli military spokesperson said according to the Times of Israel.

(Source / 08.05.2018)

Reports: Israel army changed open fire regulations in Gaza

Israeli security forces can be seen on patrol during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank on 12 December 2017

Reports in the Israeli media suggest that the Israeli military has made changes to its open fire regulations for soldiers repressing Great March of Return protests in the occupied Gaza Strip.

According to Maariv correspondent Tal Lev-Ram, writing last Friday, the Israeli army “internalised lessons” after the first two weeks of the protests, which began on 30 March, following a “very high” death toll amongst Palestinian demonstrators at the hands of Israeli snipers.

According to Lev-Ram, as a result of such “lessons” being learned, the number of fatalities has decreased each week.

Lev-Ram further reported on Sunday that the lack of fatalities amongst Palestinian demonstrators this past Friday was “not coincidental” and reflected changes in how the Israeli army has dealt with the protests.

READ: Medics in Gaza report Israel forces using devastating ‘butterfly bullet’

Meanwhile, Asaf Ronel, foreign news editor at Haaretztweeted that while “it took more than a month”, the Israeli army “finally realised that killing unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza is bad & changed its rules of engagement accordingly. The results: no deaths in Friday protests.”

On Monday, Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel similarly reported that the Israeli army “is now showing more restraint in handling these demonstrations”.

During a Supreme Court hearing on 30 April, following a petition by human rights groups, the Israeli government lawyer said that the rules of engagement had indeed changed since protests began: “the instructions about from what range to fire and how to size up and define a dangerous situation were continually evolving, as the IDF [army] has been learning from each round of protests.”

(Source / 08.05.2018)

Israel settlement to use drone for Palestinian surveillance

File photo of a recreational drone

The illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat has become the first to use drone technology to observe Palestinians in the surrounding area, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The $37,000 unmanned aerial device was paid for by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and is the first time settlers have been given such high grade equipment to monitor Palestinians. A demonstration of the technology on Sunday showed how a small black drone could even observe Palestinians in the night with the use of thermal cameras.

The settlement council claims that the drone is needed to protect residents from Palestinian resistance attacks, after an alleged stabbing incident this year left one person with minor injuries.

“We are going to have this drone in our own yard in case we do have any other terrorists who want to come into Efrat. We will be able to raise the drone into the air, freeze the situation, get a good visual picture and direct the army and police forces to exactly where the terrorists are hiding,” Council Head Oded Revivi said.

However, it is more a regular occurrence that Palestinians are harassed and assaulted by settlers and Israeli soldiers, as well as being already disadvantaged due to the presence of the settlement.

Read: Ex-Israel chief military prosecutor lives in home built on privately-owned Palestinian land

Efrat, the fourth largest settlement built on private Palestinian land, has a road for settlers which Palestinians are only allowed to use during daylight hours. The road cuts off nearby Arab residents from their farmland.

Last week, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that Palestinian school children from Al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank also face violence and disruptionthanks to the proximity of their school to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El.

Israeli occupation forces “use teargas, rubber-coated metal bullets and, in some cases, live fire”, B’Tselem continued, adding that camp residents, including minors, “have been killed and injured”.

The NGO also found that Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the West Bank village of ‘Einabus with the assistance of Israeli soldiers last week. Two Palestinians were attacked by settlers from the notorious Yitzhar settlement as they paved a road on their farmland. Some 50 villagers then went to protect their lands, after which the settlers returned accompanied by soldiers who fired live bullets and tear gas at the Palestinians.

With the drone now ready for use in Efrat, IFCJ founder and President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said his organisation plans to provide similar drones to other communities in Israel, including those along the Gaza border. “The security of the citizens of the State of Israel is one of the most important areas in our remit and we are certain that this drone will help the residents and significantly increase their personal safety,” Eckstein added.

Read: 38 Israel police stations in illegal West Bank settlements, report finds

(Source / 08.05.2018)