Report: Israelis incite against Palestinians every 66 seconds on social media

Icons for the Facebook and Twitter applications are displayed on a smart phone in front of Google website in Ankara, Turkey on 29 August, 2018 [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

Icons for the Facebook and Twitter applications are displayed on a smart phone on 29 August 2018

A new report has found that last year Israelis incited against Palestinians on social media every 66 seconds, pointing to a worrying increase in anti-Palestinian rhetoric.

The report – which was conducted by 7amleh: The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media and distributed by Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network – found that, in 2018, Israelis posted “inciting content” every 66 seconds, up from every 71 seconds in 2017.

In addition, one in ten social media posts against Palestinian citizens of Israel denied Palestinian identity, contained hate speech or calls for violence such as rape and murder, the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday, citing 7amleh’s findings.

The report also noted that, “in total, in 2018 there were some 474,250 inciting posts against Palestinians on Israeli social networks,” the main catalyst for this being the controversial Nation-State Law.

The law, which was passed in July last year, declared Israel the “historical home of the Jewish people” and stated that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”. This effectively rendered Israel’s some 1.8 million Palestinian citizens, as well as the country’s myriad minority populations such as the Druze and Armenians, second class citizens.

The report notes that many of these inciting social media posts were directed against Israel’s Palestinian politicians, most of whom are Knesset Members (MKs) with the Hadash-Ta’al or Ra’am-Balad alliance. These Arab-Israeli politicians have come under repeated attack, not only from the Jewish-Israeli public but also from their colleagues in the Knesset.

This incitement was thrust into the spotlight once again by Israel’s general election last month, during which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used anti-Palestinian rhetoric to drive voters to the polls. In an echo of his controversial 2015 campaign message – that right-wing voters must vote Likud to counter Palestinian citizens going to the polls “in droves” – Netanyahu coined the slogan “it’s either Bibi or Tibi”, a move vehemently condemned by Arab-Israeli politician Ahmad Tibi whose name the mantra employed.

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A further aspect of the report noted that Israel is also using social media to censor content which supports the Palestinian cause. It explained: “Israel is using artificial intelligence techniques to locate users by matching traits like age, gender and location with keywords like ‘resistance’ and ‘martyr’.” Then, the report says, “Israeli authorities censor these people’s posts and pages, deleting their accounts and, in some cases, arresting these posters”.

Israel is no stranger to cracking down on pro-Palestinian social media content. Just one prominent example is the case of Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from outside Nazareth who was arrested in 2015 for a poem she published on Facebook.

Israel pass Facebook Bill which will authorise deleting content considered incitement - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The poem – called “Resist, my people, resist them” – included lines such as “in Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows, and carried the soul in my palm for an Arab Palestine”. It called on readers to “follow the caravan of martyrs” including “Ali [who] called from his grave,” likely referring to 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh who was burned to death in his West Bank home during an arson attack by extremist Israeli settlers in the summer of 2015.

Tatour was sentenced to five months in prison for “incitement to violence” and “supporting terrorist organisations”, eventually being released in September 2018. Earlier this month Tatour was partially acquitted of incitement, with the Nazareth District Court reversing her conviction. Tatour’s lawyer, renowned human rights attorney Gaby Lasky, hailed the acquittal as “a victory for the freedom of artistic creativity and democracy and a stop sign for the government that persecutes, censors and silences artists and artists who do not think like them”.

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(Source / 23.05.2019)

Israeli Soldiers Force Out Al-Aqsa Worshippers at Gunpoint

22 May 5:10 PM

Israeli authorities, last night, broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound and drove out Palestinians performing Iʿtikāf inside its courtyards, at gunpoint.

Jerusalemite Al Ray sources reported that Israeli forces stormed the mosque, forced worshipers  out. They also photographed them and demanded their IDs.

The sources added that worshipers were prevented from capturing the event with mobiles, and seized by the passport of a Swedish worshipper, there, after he had refused to hand it over.

For over a week, Israeli forces have deliberately been targeting people performing Iʿtikāf in the courtyards of the compound, during the holy month of Ramadan, and ejecting from  its courtyards by force.

(Source / 23.05.2019)

Child Suffers A Fracture After Israeli Soldiers Assaulted Him In Hebron

23 May 9:45 AM

A Palestinian child suffered, late on Wednesday at night, a fracture in one of his arms, after Israeli soldiers invaded his home in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Medical sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes in Jabal Johar area, south of Hebron city, and constantly assaulted a child, causing fractures in one of his arms, in addition to several bruises.

They added that the child, identified as Khaldoun Emad Da’na, 13, was rushed to Hebron Governmental Hospital, and received the needed treatment.

In related news, the soldiers invaded Yatta town, south of Hebron, searched homes and summoned Mohammad Tayeh Shehada for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center, north of Hebron.

(Source / 23.05.2019)

Nurse in Gaza: “We had no choice but to lay patients on the ground.”

23 May 7:39 PM

by Sarah Collins, for Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency

Sarah Collins has just completed her first mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The emergency department nurse from Woodbury, in Devon, reflects on her time in Gaza.

I don’t think I will ever forget May 14, 2018. I have worked as a nurse for 13 years in many different settings and I didn’t think there was much left that could shock me.

“I began to realize my mission might be quite different from what I anticipated.”

I had arrived in Gaza less than a month earlier. My job description was to support and train emergency department staff to improve trauma care – a ‘hands-off’ role – but, things didn’t exactly turn out that way.

A few weeks before I was due to travel to Gaza, the first ‘Great Return March’ took place. The subsequent violence resulted in more than 700 people suffering gunshot wounds, in the border areas, and the health service was taken completely by surprise.

Suddenly, Gaza dominated the headlines, once more, and I began to realize my mission might be quite different from what I anticipated.

I was thrown into it as soon as I arrived – spending each Friday of my first few weeks in the emergency departments of different hospitals, helping the local staff to manage the influx of mass casualties.

We knew in advance that May 14 was going to be big, but no one could have predicted quite how bad it would be. Everyone was on high alert, at the hospital.

It was a trickle, at first, but that soon became a steady stream. Patient after patient – mostly young men, but there were older people and women, too.

“Soon, we began to run out of beds. An emergency donation was made, but it didn’t last.”

Almost all had gunshot wounds to the legs. We moved from patient to patient, doing what we could – mostly packing wounds, splinting fractures, applying makeshift tourniquets and starting intravenous fluids.

We picked up shattered limbs and tried, over and over, with endless packets of gauze and bandages, to stop the bleeding. At the same time, I knew that many legs were past saving.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the critical cases – those with gunshot wounds to the chest, or the head, being whisked through to the resuscitation room.

The number of patients kept increasing. Soon, we began to run out of beds. An emergency donation was made, but it didn’t last.

Before long, we had no choice but to lay our patients on the ground, and kneel beside them, to treat them. The numbers quickly threatened to overwhelm us. Each patient was accompanied by family or friends, and the small department became desperately overcrowded.

After some hours, we were pulled outside, through the crowds that had gathered, and we sat on a bench at the back of the hospital.

Someone pressed coffee and falafel sandwiches into our hands. I couldn’t believe what was happening. After a few minutes, we fought our way back inside.

The crowds and patient numbers had become overwhelming: it was no longer possible to triage or organize people – they just piled in, filling every conceivable space: you could not move a meter without stepping over a patient.

“I cannot remember the face of a single patient I cared for, that day.”

It was impossible to work in any kind of systematic way – all you could do was try to do something for the patient nearest you, until another nurse, or a relative, called you to help them with something else.

Everyone was giving every bit of their energy. Hospital cleaners became nursing assistants, families did whatever they could. I remember clearly the moment when I knew it was really bad: in this deeply conservative place, cultural boundaries were suddenly forgotten – male colleagues reached into my pockets to take scissors or bandages, fathers grabbed my hands to pull me to where their son lay on the floor.

People became desperate, fights broke out. I tried to close my ears to the cries of patients as I wrestled with their broken legs: we didn’t have enough pain killers, and we had to stop the bleeding.

I remember a moment when I stood in the middle of the room, chaos swirling around me, and I thought, “I don’t know what to do!” … and, then, one of the nurses called my name, pulled me to another patient, pressed more packets of gauze into my hand, and we continued.

The hours flew past like that. Eventually, as supplies became critical, the flow of patients finally began to slow down. The security situation was deteriorating as emotions ran higher, and our management decided to pull us out.

I remember coming back to the office where many of our colleagues were waiting for us: I remember the concern on their faces when I couldn’t hold back the tears. I remember putting my scrubs, and my shoes, in a bucket of bleach when I arrived home. I remember standing alone in my kitchen, in the dark, trying to wrap my mind around what had just happened.

The one thing I don’t remember is faces. I cannot remember the face of a single patient I cared for, that day.

“I share something special with the nurses I worked with, that day.”

Once a man stopped me and told me he recognized me, that I took care of his father when he was lying on that crowded floor, bleeding. We saw almost 600 patients, that day.

There was a doctor on duty that I saw many patients with. I found out, later, that they had brought his brother in, during the afternoon. He died before they could find my colleague.

It’s nearly one year on, now, and we have all found a way to put that day behind us: tucked it away in a corner of our minds so that we can carry on with our jobs.

I share something special with the nurses I worked with that day – if I see them now for a training session, or in passing, we share a nod, a smile, a greeting.

We hold the memory of that day silently between us, for just a second, and then we move on. I left a tiny part of myself on the floor of that emergency room, that day, and I know that long after I have moved on from Gaza, that part of me will remain, remembering.

Sarah Collins is an emergency department nurse with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza.

(Source / 23.05.2019)

Me And My Aunt Vs. Cancer

By Haneen Abed Elnaby

“No one knows what the next day will be like. Hope is the only thing that keeps me moving forward. Coping with cancer is only possible when I take it one day at a time, and value the present.”

Those are the words of my Aunt Hanan, 55 years young. And, she was diagnosed with breast, ovarian and colon cancer—all at the same time. Since the colon cancer is advanced (stage IV), she likely won’t live more than three to five years—and, that is with proper treatment. She has a strong will to live, though, and knowing my aunt, she can beat the odds. (Her name means “tenderness,” but she has a will of steel.) But, she needs help, fast. I want to believe in miracles. And, so, I share her story:

I have 11 aunts (yes, you read that correctly!), but Aunt Hanan is my favorite. Part of the reason, of course, is that two of her daughters are my best friends, so I spend a lot of time in their home. But, it’s more than that. At night, when I am there, I burrow into bed with my cousins and she tucks us in, sitting down beside us like when we were children. She tells us stories from the Quran, and her low, soothing, melodic voice—strong with confidence and conviction—filled me with a deep sense of peace, lulling me off to sleep. I treasured my nights, there.

But, my aunt’s entire world—and thus mine—changed in December, 2015, when a routine colonoscopy found a tumor that turned out to be cancerous. Three weeks later, she was in the operating theater, to remove the tumor, when cancer was found on one of her ovaries, as well. Then, the physicians found the beginnings of cancer in her left breast.

It came as a shock to everyone, me included. Imagine that a woman who is as close to you as your mom is drowning and tries to catch your hand. You frantically reach out, trying to save her, but your effort is in vain. That is exactly how I felt.

For the next three years, my aunt received 30 doses of chemotherapy; the only time when she wasn’t having those toxic chemicals injected into her veins was about five months when Israel refused to let her travel out of Gaza. (According to the World Health Organization, nuclear medicine scanning, which is needed for staging cancers, radiotherapy equipment and some specialized surgeries are unavailable in Gaza. As for chemotherapy, more than half of the needed drugs dropped to less than a month’s supply, throughout 2018.) Many patients are forced to leave Gaza, to get the care they need. But, 39 percent of applications for exit permits were unsuccessful, last year. For some, their health spirals downward before then, even resulting in death. Yet, Israel never offers a reason for its delays and denials.

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“The challenges we as doctors face are many,” says Dr. Rasmi Qishta, her physician. “For example, we often lack the right medicines. Sometimes, we are able to start to give a patient a course of treatment, but then run short. The gap affects patients in a very bad way. We also have no access to radiation therapy or atomic scanning equipment. That’s important to help us figure out exactly where the carcinoma is located. Likewise, in Gaza, we don’t have the tools to study cancer cells to determine the right way to fight them. As a result, we must send many patients to Jerusalem. That’s assuming they can get an exit permit.”

Chemotherapy was not enough for my aunt. Last year, she received the news that, in addition to her ovaries, part of her colon had to be removed. And, that meant she needed a colostomy, in which the lower part of her intestine is replaced by a bag for collecting waste, worn on the outside of her body.

“When I lost my hair during chemotherapy, I was ok,” says my aunt. “But, the colostomy is hard; the skin around the (exit) tube is painful most of the time. And, it’s not temporary; I have to live with it.”

A colostomy, also, is not cheap. While the local Ministry of Health gives cancer patients colostomy bags free, every month, they are of poor quality, leaving the skin even more sore than usual. Thus, my aunt buys her own bags, which cost 70 shekels (about $20) each. She requires 30 every month, totaling $600. That’s in addition to other expenses, such as the medicine.

Even with a loving family and a crowd of friends, cancer is lonely. Very lonely. No matter how strong and deep your support system, cancer is a journey that must be taken alone. Still, I fight against that.

I have talked to her doctor many times, asking what can be done.

“Her case is very complicated, since cancer is spreading throughout her body,” says Dr. Qishta.

Hope is all we have and all we seek. That, and the money needed to afford the treatment to help her stay comfortable.

(Source / 23.05.2019)

Israel Punishes Gazans After Fire Balloons, Cuts Fishing Limit

Several thousand Gazans depend on fishing for their livelihoods but often changing Israeli restrictions have led to prolonged layoffs that mean many live below the poverty line

Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.

The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.

“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.

“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel,” it added.

Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.

The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Hamas in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.

But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.

Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 ceasefire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.

The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.

Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.

(Source / 23.05.2019)