French Jews march through Hebron, claiming all West Bank belongs to Israel

Jews participate in a celebration march as part of the 52nd anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel, at Jerusalem’s Old City on 2 June 2019. [Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency]

Jews participate in a celebration march as part of the 52nd anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel, at Jerusalem’s Old City on 2 June 2019

French Jewish settlers marched through Hebron, in the occupied West Bank yesterday waving Israeli flags and claiming that the entire region belongs to Israel.

Pro-settler news outlet Arutz Sheva reported that more than 1,200 French Jews participated in the march, saying: “There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel.”

Palestinian sources in the city, meanwhile, described how “French-Israeli settlers stormed Shuhada Street and the surrounding areas in occupied Hebron…for an annual march claiming that God has promised them all the land in Hebron either side of the Ibrahimi Mosque.”

READ: Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshippers in Al-Aqsa 

The sources added that “Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers harassed local Palestinians and international activists, filming them and telling them to ‘go home’ whilst the soldiers tried (and failed) to break down the doors of a Palestinian owned building to occupy the roof.”

Yishai Fleisher 

🕎

 ישי פליישר @YishaiFleisher  

FRENCH JEWS are in the house in #Hebron!!! Celebrating Aliyah to Israel and the rights of Jews to live in Judea – the ancestral homeland!!#RealProudJews

Embedded video

27213:19 – 14 Aug 2019Twitter Ads information and privacy

On social media, Yishai Fleisher, the so-called international spokesperson for Israeli settlers in Hebron, boasted about the event, declaring that the marchers were “celebrating…the rights of Jews to live in Judea – the ancestral homeland”.

“These guys #RealProudJews and do not suffer from political-correctness-disease!” he added.

Yishai Fleisher 

🕎

 ישי פליישר @YishaiFleisher  

French Jews in Israel and in #Hebron! These guys #RealProudJews and do not suffer from political-correctness-desease!

View image on Twitter

4014:45 – 14 Aug 2019Twitter Ads information and privacy(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Israeli minister storms Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (C) is seen at the Al-Aqsa compound after he and dozens of Israeli settlers forced their way into the flashpoint compound in Jerusalem on November 18, 2018. ( JERUSALEM ISLAMIC WAQF / HANDOUT - Anadolu Agency )

Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (C) is with Israeli settlers after they stormed Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem on 18 November 2018 

Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel joined scores of settlers who stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque this morning.

Israeli occupation forces who accompanied the settlers allowed into the Muslim holy site through the Mughrabi Gate which is under the occupation’s control.

The first group of settlers entered the site at 7:30am for the first time since the Mughrabi Gate was closed on Monday after more than 1,700 settlers storm the area on Sunday in an effort to disrupt Palestinians marking the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha.

Israel violently cracked down on Muslim worshippers visiting Al-Aqsa for Eid Al-Adha prayers. At least 65 Palestinians were injured by Israel Police – which Erdan’s ministry oversees – on Sunday after officers shot rubber bullets and teargas into the crowds and used truncheons to beat worshippers.

READ: Over 1,700 settlers storm the Al-Aqsa mosque 

Over 1,700 Jewish settlers also stormed the compound under the protection of Israeli police officers, a “record” number in a single day.

Palestinian organisations in Jerusalem on Friday announced they would close all mosques in the city in a bid to encourage Muslim worshippers to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa and protect it from settler raids, after extremist groups – which advocate rebuilding the ancient Jewish Temple on the site – called for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque and conducting Jewish prayers on the compound, both to mark Tisha B’Av and disrupt Eid rituals.

Last month alone, Israeli forces raided Al-Aqsa and Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque 75 times, changing access regulations for Palestinians almost on a daily basis and routinely expelling worshippers from the holy sites.

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Remembering Israel’s ‘disengagement’ from Gaza

Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles are deployed to the Gaza Strip fence [File photo]

Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles are deployed to the Gaza Strip fence

By Rebecca Stead

What: Israel dismantled its illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip, withdrawing all settlers and ground troops from the enclave.

Where: The Gaza Strip, occupied Palestine.

When: 15 August 2005.

What happened?

On 15 August 2005, Israel began its disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which it had occupied since the Six Day War of 1967. Over the course of 38 years, Israel established some 21 settlements across the coastal enclave and transferred approximately 9,000 settlers into the territory, in contravention of international law.

Faced with spiralling costs of administering the territory, Israel decided to pull its armed forces and illegal settlers from the Strip. As the world’s cameras rolled, those settlers unwilling to leave were dragged from their houses, a perfect PR moment demonstrating Israel’s “willingness” to withdraw from the occupied territories in a bid to “rekindle” the peace process.

Fourteen years later, Israel has not actually disengaged from Gaza; it still maintains control of its land borders, access to the sea and airspace. Gaza’s 1.9-million population remains under “remote control” occupation and a strict siege, which has destroyed the local economy and strangled Palestinian livelihoods.

READ: Israel’s siege killing demand for Qurbani meat in Gaza

Sharon’s grand plan

Although disengagement officially began in 2005, the policy had been long in the making. In the midst of the Second Intifada – a popular uprising across the Palestinian territories which took place between September 2000 and early 2005 – the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed disengaging from the Gaza Strip.

Prior to Israel’s January 2003 election, Sharon had expressed support for his country’s continued settlement of the Strip, saying that “the fate of Tel Aviv is the fate of Netzarim”, a settlement located south of Gaza City. Yet following his election Sharon appeared to change his mind, explaining in December of that year that “the purpose of the Disengagement Plan is to reduce terror as much as possible, and grant Israeli citizens the maximum level of security.”

He continued: “The process of disengagement will lead to an improvement in the quality of [Israeli] life, help strengthen the Israeli economy, […] will increase security for the residents of Israel and relieve the pressure on the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] and security forces.”

In an April 2004 letter to the then US President George W Bush, Sharon outlined his vision of disengagement, proposing that Israel “relocate military installations and all Israeli villages and towns in the Gaza Strip.” The plan was to includethe removal of four illegal settlements from the northern West Bank.

In October of that year, the Knesset gave preliminary approval for Sharon’s proposal. One of its most vehement critics was Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu, who threatened to resign from the government unless Sharon put the plan to a public referendum. He eventually backed down, citing the “new situation” presented by the expected departure of long-time Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died on 11 November 2004.

In February 2005, the disengagement plan was approved officially by the Knesset, while in March Israeli citizens who did not already live in the Gaza Strip were forbidden from settling in the territory. The stage was set.

WATCH: Israel confiscates Gaza-bound shoes, says they are part of ‘terror’ plot

Lights, camera, action

On 15 August, Israel began to carry out its disengagement. Gush Katif – a settlement bloc in the south of the Strip – was declared a closed military zone and the Kissufim crossing, the main artery connecting the settlement to Israel, was closed.

At 08:00 local time [05:00 GMT], Israeli forces entered Gush Katif, going door to door with instructions that the settlers must leave. Some agreed to do so peacefully, having been offeredcompensation packages up to $500,000. Others refused to leave, prompting the Israeli army to drag them forcibly from their settlements.

Images of settlers being hauled kicking and screaming from their homes were broadcast across the world. Israeli soldiers sobbed as they reluctantly followed orders. Some settler children left their homes with their hands up, wearing yellow Stars of David akin to those which marked out Jews during the Holocaust. These “rivers of wailing” were described by the Israeli press as “kitsch” and “shallow”, while many Israelis vehemently criticised the settlers’ invocation of the Holocaust.

As Donald Macintyre — the former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Independent — noted in his book Gaza: Preparing for dawn, “There was something theatrical about this enforced leave-taking – and indeed about the whole Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.”

By 22 August, the evacuation was largely complete. Israeli forces bulldozed thousands of houses, community buildings and places of worship; even the corpses in Jewish cemeteries were exhumed and reburied in Israel.

Most of Israel’s military apparatus was removed and, on 21 September, the government declared the Gaza Strip to be extrajudicial territory and designated the crossings into the enclave as international borders requiring travel documentation.

In the days that followed, Palestinians walked the streets of the now-abandoned settlements, which had been off-limits for decades. Children collected footballs and toys left behind by Israeli children to take home to their siblings. People rejoiced that the occupation had gone, while others rushed to the sea they previously could not reach. The celebrations would not last for long.

READ: Israel arrests 2 Palestinian children ‘trying to cross Gaza fence’

What happened next?

Sowing seeds

As Macintyre points out, although disengagement “was indeed a historic precedent, the paradox was that it also marked the beginning of a crippling decade-long economic blockade of Gaza and three military onslaughts by Israel more devastating than any in the territory’s turbulent history.”

Perhaps the seeds of what was to come were sown in September 2005. Less than a week after Israel declared Gaza extrajudicial territory, Israeli jets bombed the Strip, killing several Palestinians, among them Islamic Jihad commander Mohammed Khalil. Israeli strikes also hit a school and other buildings that it claimed were being used to make rockets.

Israel’s narrative surrounding disengagement claims that, following its decision to pull out of the Strip, Palestinians were given a golden opportunity to become economically prosperous. This narrative often points to greenhouses left behind by the settlers which, as the story goes, were immediately destroyed by Palestinians in a characteristic frenzy of short-sightedness.

However, though some of the greenhouses were looted for their component parts, they largely remained intact. The November harvest yielded $20 million worth of fruits and vegetables ready for export to Europe and beyond, most of which rotted in the autumn heat as it waited for security inspections at Karni Border Crossing. According to UN estimates, just four per cent of the season’s harvest was exported.

READ: Israeli ‘solution’ for Gaza includes massive military offensive and move to Sinai

Remote control occupation

In January 2006, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections were held across the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. Hamas, then a popular Palestinian movement, won 74 of the 132 seats, beating Fatah — which had dominated Palestinian politics for decades — to the top spot. The Islamic movement’s Ismail Haniyeh was elected as PA Prime Minister.

By February, Israel had suspended the transfer of customs duties to the Palestinian Authority (PA), imposing travel restrictions on Hamas members in Gaza. After Fatah refused to cooperate with the Hamas-led government — and a faction within Fatah was backed by Israel and the US to stage a coup against Hamas — a de facto civil war ensued, leading to the eventual split of the government in June 2007 and the consolidation of Hamas rule in the Strip, with Fatah continuing to govern under Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

The end of 2007 saw Israel completely seal Gaza’s borders, subjecting it to a strict siege which continues until today.

Over the course of the now 12-year-old siege, Israel has continued to strangle Gaza at arm’s length. Three major Israeli military offensives — in which almost 4,000 Palestinians were killed — and innumerable aerial attacks later, the Strip’s infrastructure and healthcare system lay in tatters. Approximately 54 per cent of Gaza’s population is now unemployed, while 53 per centlive under the official poverty line of $2 per day.

Unliveable”, “open-air prison” and “remote control” occupation have become commonplace when describing the coastal enclave today. Gaza remains occupied territory, having no control over its borders, territorial waters or airspace. Meanwhile, Israel upholds very few of its responsibilities as the occupying power, failing to provide for the basic needs of Palestinian civilians living in the territory.

READ: Hamas rejects Egypt proposal to return Rafah Crossing to PA

Resettlement

Within Israel, disengagement is broadly seen as a mistake, not due to the dire humanitarian conditions affecting the Palestinians in its wake, but because it did not bring any “security or diplomatic advantage” to Israel.

Today, high profile members of Israel’s political establishment, including Culture Minister Miri Regev and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, have expressed regret at Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. Right-wing politicians such as leader of Yemina, Ayelet Shaked, and Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich have called for the repeal of disengagement and the rebuilding of Israel’s illegal settlements there.

In the run up to Israel’s September 2019 General Election, the second this year, resettlement of the Gaza Strip has been touted by these right-wing ministers as a way of redressing Sharon’s historical mistake. With the same politicians actively advocating for Israeli annexation of Area C of the West Bank, the next Knesset term could see Israel resettle the Gaza Strip and place the Palestinian population under direct military rule once again.

READ: Former head of Shin Bet: annexing Area C will lead to ‘bloodbath’

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Israeli Forces Abduct Six Palestinians in Pre-Dawn Raids Thursday

15 AUG4:41 PM

Israeli forces invaded three different parts of the West Bank on Thursday before dawn, abducting six young men who were asleep in their beds.

According to the Palestinian Wafa News Agency, before dawn on Thursday, Israeli occupation forces invaded the Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem, located next to the Israeli Annexation Wall around Bethlehem.

Local sources report that the occupation forces abducted Faris Khader Zarina (22 years), after ransacking his parents’ home.

In the area of Beit Ta’mer, east of Bethlehem, the Israeli army raided an apartment owned by Khaled Ahmed Hamri, breaking down the doors using explosives.

In the northern West Bank, Israeli occupation forces invaded Qalqilia at dawn on Thursday, and abducted two young men.

Witnesses told the Wafa News Agency that the occupation forces abducted two young men: Mohammad Abdul Rahim Dawood (24 years), and Mohammad Afif Turkish (23 years), after raiding and searching their family homes.

And in the central West Bank, Israeli occupation forces on Thursday abducted three citizens of occupied Jerusalem.

Local sources said that the Israeli special forces raided the house of political prisoner Jaram Nasser and abducted his son Khalil (20 years), after invading his family home, attacking and beating members of his family, and searching the house.

Two Palestinians were abducted from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, when Israeli forces invaded before dawn and began harassing local residents and ransacking homes.

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Israel projects aim to export Gaza problem to Egypt’s Sinai

Amir Oren: ‘Egypt’s concession of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia could prompt Israel to emulate the agreement to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians by annexing part of Sinai to Gaza’

By Adnan abu-Amer

In order to solve its claimed problems caused by Gaza Strip, Israel is planning to carry out mass population transfer of Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

There has been an increase recently in Israeli projects seeking solutions to what it calls the “Gaza problem”. They have been focusing on Egypt’s Sinai, and appear to be foreshadowing a potential population transfer of Palestinians to the Sinai Peninsula. Such a move would relieve Israel from the security burdens of managing Gaza and instead transfer it onto the Egyptian authorities.

The Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, run by Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and former Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, revealed a plan to solve the Gaza problem. This plan calls for a seaport and an airport in the Sinai thus facilitating travel for people and goods to and from Gaza. It also aims to establish a power plant and a water desalination project to meet the needs of the Palestinians in Gaza, as well as a train track extended from Al-Arish to Gaza and hotels and entertainment facilities.

This Israeli project was put together by Shimon Shapira, who served as the former Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff, and by Shlomi Fogel, one of the proposers of the regional initiatives between Israel and its Arab neighbours. This relies on keeping economic and tourism projects under the responsibility of the Egyptian government. The inhabitants of Gaza will also be under Egyptian security supervision. This project is a continuation of the past Israeli government projects that call for extending Gaza south, towards Sinai.

Yehuda Yifrach, an Israeli writer for the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, put forward a plan to solve the Gaza problem based on encouraging voluntary migration from it and offering incentives for every Palestinian family to leave and build a new life outside its walls. He claimed that money would convince hundreds of thousands of hesitant Gazans, especially if they find a third country willing to host those who want to move to that country if they receive financial incentives.

Amir Oren, a military analyst, told Haaretz that Egypt’s concession of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia could prompt Israel to emulate the agreement to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians by annexing part of Sinai to Gaza. This means that the establishment of a Palestinian state in Sinai is an option, and Israel hopes to reproduce such an agreement between Israel and the Arabs.

Brigadier-General Amir Avivi, a former assistant to the Comptroller General of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, revealed to the settlers’ Channel 7 website a plan to declare a Palestinian state in Gaza and Sinai, because as long as half of the Palestinians reside in the West Bank and Gaza, the solution lies in Gaza, as it will be expanded towards Sinai, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This enables the Palestinians to have free trade, an airport, a seaport, and a real geographic connection with the world.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi also announced a similar plan to expand Gaza towards Sinai, but withdrew from it because of angry reactions from the Arab world, despite Israeli convictions that Sisi will re-approve the plan. This is because he has many challenges, tens of millions of hungry and a complicated security situation, and this Israeli plan will give the Egyptians substantial financial support and security help, turning them into a stepping stone for any peace agreement in the region. This is despite the fact that they can resort to leasing the land rather than giving it to the Palestinians for free.

General Gershon HaCohen, former commander of the Israeli occupation forces’ military college, and researcher at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, said that after Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and then Hamas’s takeover in 2007, a new reality had arisen, and the Gaza Strip gradually transformed into a self-established political entity and semi-organised military force controlling a geographical area. After the political and geographic divide occurred between Gaza, under Hamas’s control, and the West Bank, under PA control, a major rift occurred in the hypothesis of a two-state solution.

A closer look at the Israeli projects to export the Gaza problem to the Sinai may require Israel to aggravate the humanitarian situation in Gaza, to create a difficult humanitarian crisis, and to lure a major military confrontation on its borders, until we reach an all-out war, resulting in a new crisis. This requires a new policy, different from the existing one.

These Israeli projects in Gaza are based on the premise of the economic peace project, and seek economic and commercial development of the Sinai Peninsula. This is achieved through granting Egypt an international aid package from key countries, led by the United States and the Arab Gulf states, and depends on the development of economic and tourism infrastructure in North Sinai, extending to Al-Arish. These projects will be carried out by Egyptian labourers in order to improve their living standards, and they will be joined by workers from Gaza to establish the Sinai projects, thus having a positive impact on their humanitarian situation.

As a condition for the implementation of these economic and tourism development projects in Gaza, Israel requires them to be under Egyptian responsibility and that the Gazans have a passage to use Egyptian security monitoring. This is based on assumptions that finding demographic and geographic alternatives for Gaza, by strengthening their deteriorating economy and expanding the Palestinian territory towards Sinai, will give the Gazans prosperity and comfortable living standards, although all of the Israeli projects are based on humanitarian, not political motives.

In their plan for Gaza, the Israelis are relying on the money that it will collect, as was the case in the recent Bahrain economic summit. This money will be answers to many doubts and concerns regarding the solution that will include the announcement of Egypt’s somewhat annexation of the Gaza Strip and the establishment of an industrial tourism area on its coast. This is similar to what Egypt did with the Bedouins in south Sinai. In this case, the Americans will pressure the UN to support the plan in a strategic manner.

The Israeli revelations of the plans to expand Gaza into the Sinai link to Israeli aspirations for the annexation of the West Bank. This is because it believes that Gaza is the key to the solution of the conflict with the Palestinians, not the West Bank.

There is Israeli talk of huge investment projects, the establishment of new cities, the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza and moving them south towards Sinai, and the construction of a network of hotels and infrastructure, However, it is worth noting that these Israeli plans were presented to several international forums and are met with excited reactions. Moreover, these plans do not reflect a specific Israeli political line, but rather various Israeli political trends from the far right to the far left.

The Israelis who proposed these projects argue that the arising situation in Gaza requires thinking outside of the box, because the geographical scope between the Palestinian of Rafah and Egypt’s Al-Arish may be a wide margin for the expansion of Gaza there that represent economic projects and infrastructure Gaza needs. However, this is all dependent on Egypt’s approval, and it will not easily concede any of its sovereign territories. Therefore, the matter requires creative solutions that do not require outright Egyptian concession, but through financial and economic compensations for Egypt, as it is suffering from increasing economic hardship.

At the same time, Israelis believe that what they call a creative solution, represented by a Palestinian state in Gaza and Sinai does not mean that Hamas will give up its dream of a Palestinian state from the sea to the river. However, they do believe that the promised economic projects that open the way for thousands of young Gazans to be employed may create a positive change, which requires initiative to implement this plan, Sinai.

Israel’s preoccupation with proposing ideas focused on expanding Gaza to the south, towards Sinai, reminds us of the old-new project proposed by General Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli National Security Council, which he proposed in 2005. His idea focused on reaching a settlement between Palestine and Egypt that stipulates Egypt’s concession of some of Sinai, amounting to 600 squared kilometres to Palestine, in order to resettle Palestinian refugees.

This means that the Israeli theses of extending Gaza towards Sinai are not new. There are many projects that Israel has deliberated to get rid of the Palestinian cause since the 1950s by throwing it under Egyptian auspices. This is despite the fact that the Palestinians in Gaza have no interest in Sinai, as it is a desert area. This means the new proposals are not likely to succeed, given the Palestinians’ commitment to their land in Gaza and their refusal to replace it for any other land.

Given the continued Israeli proposals to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and Sinai, we can point out the close relations between Egypt and Israel. We can also say that Tel Aviv’s influence over Cairo has grown, along with the level of coordination between the two, especially on a security and military level. This may be why the Israelis are not concerned about Egypt agreeing to grant the Palestinians some of Sinai.

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

WHY DO PALESTINIAN DETAINEES GO ON HUNGER STRIKE?

By Qassam Ma’ady

(Qassam Ma’ady) – Six Palestinian detainees entered their second month of hunger strike and dozens more joined them, but it is not the first time and it won’t be the last. Here is why.

After thirty days without eating, a human body begins to react violently. Visibility becomes blurry, muscles become so weak one can barely stand up, pain in the back and limbs becomes constant and increasingly intense and the stomach begins to throw-up blood. Since last month, six Palestinians have consciously entered this painful process. Twenty more joined them last week. They all have one thing in common: they are all held in the occupation prisons indefinitely and they are demanding their release. However, this is not the first time Palestinian detainees protest their detention through hunger strike. In April 2014, a hundred and twenty Palestinian detainees declared an open hunger strike collectively. It lasted 63 days and many were on the brink of death. It was this hunger strike that motivated two young Palestinians from Hebron to try and take Israelí settlers as prisoners, unleashing a series of events which culminated in the Israelí massive attack on the Gaza Strip.

But in order to understand why so many prisoners chose to risk their lives in such a painful way, one must understand the specific detention regime they are subjects to: the Israelí occupation’s “Administrative Detention” system.

An endless torture
“I said goodbye to all the friends in the section. My children’s photographs were the only valuable gift I could offer, so I gave them to my closest friends. I packed my few things and got ready to meet my family. I stood up and hugged everyone in the section when the guard came and called out my name. I was ready to walk out the corridors of the Magido prison, my way to freedom”. That is how the 42-year-old ex-prisoner Abdel Halim ghannam recalls the day when his administrative detention order expired in 2011. It was his day of release, or so he thought. The prison guard did not escort Abdel Halim along the corridors of the infamous Magido prison. Instead, he handed him a paper, from behind the wires of the prison section door. It was a detention renewal order issued by an Israeli military commander, for an additional six months.

Hundreds of Palestinian administrative detainees go through this very scene every year. Currently, more than 400 Palestinians are being held under this system, including one woman. According to the Palestinian human rights and prisoner support organization, Addameer, the Israeli occupation issued 912 administrative detention orders in 2018 alone. 514 of these were renewal orders. As Addameer’s legal researcher, Ehteram Ghazawneh, puts it, “administrative detention is more than an arbitrary detention. It is a form of systematic torture and it can be seen in the way it is designed to function.”

How it works
By the time Abdel Halim was getting ready to meet his family, minutes before he received his detention renewal order, he had been in prison for two years already without charges. He was arrested based on alleged secret information that neither he nor his lawyer had any access to. His detention had been renewed several times already, but this time, he had news from his lawyer that the occupation authorities were willing to end his detention.

In fact, his lawyer could not know for sure if Abdel Halim’s detention was going to be over, because the decision does not really depend on the court, but on the occupation’s secret intelligence, the “Shabak”. It is the Shabak, after all, that presents the secret dossier to the military court, based on which it argues in favor of administrative detention. As Abdel Halim says, “ the prosecution is the Shabak itself and it decides everything.” Addameer’s lawyer, Mahmoud Hassan, explains that “as a lawyer, one is unable to defend the detainee, because there are no charges and the detention reasons are inaccessible to us. The only thing we, as lawyers, can do is to appeal the detention orders repeatedly and demand the detainee’s release.” However, the appeals are systematically rejected, so long the Shabak continues to present secret information to the court. As Ehteram Ghazawneh clarifies, “the occupation authorities use administrative detention precisely when they have no grounds to charge a Palestinian, but seek to repress him or her anyway. It is an instrument used mostly to repress community leaders, journalists, human rights defenders or anyone who expresses rejection to the occupation, including on social media.”

An endless nightmare Palestinians can remain trapped in for months or even years, not knowing when it will end, continuously failing to escape from it through legal means. This is why many Palestinian detainees decide to challenge their administrative detention themselves, with the only weapon they possess: their own bodies.

The battle of Empty Stomachs
In 2012, sheikh Khader Adnan, a Palestinian then-administrative detainee in his forties, decided to go on a hunger strike, alone, to protest his detention renewal and demand his release. Khader Adnan took nothing else than water and salt for 66 days, during which his case became a hot topic in all of Palestine. Palestinians demonstrated, marched on checkpoints holding his pictures and clashed with the occupation soldiers on a daily basis. Internationally, the case of Khader Adnan became a mobilization point for solidarity campaigns that included grassroots organizations, human rights activists and even Irish ex-hunger strikers who voiced their support for Adnan’s struggle. Eventually, the occupation’s prosecution accepted a deal with Adnan’s lawyer. The Shabak pledged not to renew his then-ongoing detention period, in exchange for him suspending his hunger strike. Palestinians saw this as a victory for Khader Adnan who was released a few months later and celebrated all over Palestine as a hero. Since then, hundreds of Palestinian administrative detainees have repeated Khader Adnan’s experience. On social media, Palestinians gave a name for this type of action: “The battle of Empty Stomachs.”

Since January 2019, Addameer documented more than 40 individual hunger strikes by Palestinian detainees, the longest lasting 70 days. At each case, hunger strikers are put into isolation, medically neglected, threatened and in many cases physically aggressed, in an attempt to break their morale and compel them to end their strikes. However, all hunger strikes ended with an agreement between the occupation authorities and the detainees, defining a definitive release date. A type of agreement the occupation could make with hunger strikers from the beginning, sparing them the unnecessary suffering and health degradation. Especially knowing that such an agreement is the only eventuality ahead. But according to Ehteram Ghazawneh, “the occupation makes the hunger strikes last as long as possible to make the cost of engaging in one even higher. It is a way of deterrence.”

“Not a single moment of weakness”
Despite the cost, as the current hunger strike takes a collective form, Palestinian detainees don’t seem deterred at all. It is only an escalation of a confrontation which is present at every moment of detention. One that Abdel Halim Ghannam remembers vividly:

“When the guard gave me the renewal order from behind the wired door, he did not go away. He remained there, looking at me as I opened the folded paper and read it. He wanted to see what my reaction was going to be. He probably expected me to break into tears or hit my head against the wall”. Abdel Halim takes a deep breath as he brings his memories back to life. “I only contained myself and kneeled in prayer with my front against the floor, loudly giving thanks to God. Many detainees do this in defiance” stresses Abdel Halim. “We know that we must not show the occupiers a single moment of weakness.”

It is this spirit that inspires detainees to continue the struggle against administrative detention, with their empty stomachs. A struggle with no close end in sight. As Ehteram Ghazawneh explains, “the struggle against administrative detention is a struggle against the occupation itself. Because the only way to end administrative detention is to end the occupation.”

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Israeli minister: We will kill Hamas leaders in Gaza

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation on Tuesday threatened to assassinate Hamas leaders during any future military aggression on the Gaza Strip.

Israel held Hamas responsible for the “recent attacks” carried out “armed Palestinians” on the border between the Gaza Strip and the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz in press statements said, “We are working constantly to reduce the threat of Hamas, such as by destroying their tunnels. We currently respond to every security incident, but there is the possibility that we could begin a campaign there.”

Kats talked about the latest infiltration attempts into the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories from the Gaza Strip which led to the killing of five Palestinians and said, “We will not tolerate this.”

He added that the moment Israel decides a new military campaign against the Gaza Strip there will be no immunity for Hamas leaders.

Member of Hamas’s political bureau Salah al-Bardawil said that his movement is not afraid of Israeli threats to assassinate Hamas figures and launch a new military assault on the Gaza Strip.

Al-Bardawil said that these threats, which are part of internal election campaigns, are not the first of their kind.

“Every party want to show the public that they are the strongest through racist statements against the Palestinian people and their resistance. That’s all they have for the elections,” he added.

He continued, “Who wants to fight for the future of Palestine is fully aware that the price will  be very high, and we are ready to pay all the prices for our rights.”

The Hamas official said that Israel is not ready for a new war, but warned that Israel now bets on the increasing normalization between Israel and some Arab countries hoping that it would isolate the Palestinians in the region and push them to surrender, which “will not happen” as al-Bardawil said.

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Ilhan Omar And Rashida Tlaib ‘Barred From Entering Palestine’

Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have been barred from entering Israel ahead of an expected visit, Israeli media has reported.

The decision was announced on Israeli television station Channel 12, which cited Israeli Interior minister Arye Deri as having made the decision.

It comes just four days after reports indicated that Donald Trump told advisers he believed Israel should enforce its 2017 law that allows individuals to be denied entry into the country if they have supported boycotting Israel.

The White House has denied Mr Trump expressed such an opinion, with press secretary Stephanie Grisham telling Axios earlier in the week: “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news.”

The decision by Mr Deri, whose post grants him the power to approve visas, would likely have been made after consultation with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and comes roughly a week after the United States House of Representatives voted in opposition to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to force the end of international support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.

The resolution disapproved of BDS tactics, “including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel.” The measure received overwhelming support in the House, with just 17 voting against it, including Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib.

Even so, the decision by Mr Deri was quickly criticised by foreign dignitaries, including by Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel who wrote on Twitter that the decision would hurt Israel’s relationship with the US while boosting BDS.

“Original Israeli decision to allow Tlaib/Omar visit was wise. Reversal makes little sense. I disagree with their stands on Israel, have criticised them,” Mr Shapiro, who served during the Obama administration, wrote. “But zero harm in letting them come learn, see (even if they had an agenda). Reversal harms Israel’s standing in US, boosts BDS.”

Requests for comment sent to the offices of Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib were not immediately returned. The White House has not commented publicly on the reported decision.

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Samidoun condemns Palestinian Authority normalization meetings

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins organizers and activists throughout occupied Palestine in condemning the normalization meetings undertaken by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a delegation from the so-called “Israel Democratic Party” and it alliance, the Democratic Union. This meeting comes amid the approach to the Israeli elections scheduled in early September, in which the Israeli war criminal Ehud Barak – founder of this party – is marketing himself as a “left” competitor to his fellow war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas’ meeting with the representatives of Barak’s party – presented as a reunion with the granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin and a symbolic reconstruction of the Oslo alliance – aims to perpetuate normalization of allegedly “left” Israeli forces which in fact represent the same brutal policies toward the Palestinian people, rooted in settler colonialism and Zionist racism, as their electoral rivals in the Likud or the Yisrael Beitenu of Avigdor Lieberman.

Such meetings with representatives of Israeli parties, competing for the right to oppress, exile and besiege the Palestinian people and escalate war threats against Iran and even Lebanon, only serve to normalize war criminals. Instead, all such parties – fundamentally based on the negation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people to return, self-determination and national liberation on their land – should instead be clearly and firmly boycotted.

When Palestinian Authority officials engage in normalization meetings, this undermines the efforts of people of conscience around the world – including and especially Palestinian communities and organizations in exile and diaspora – to boycott Israeli political parties and institutions. International solidarity with the Palestinian liberation movement can never be found in the accommodation of war criminals like Ehud Barak and his latest political machinations. Instead, popular movements around the world stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their legitimate resistance to the regime of occupation, apartheid, racism and colonialism that Barak’s party aims to helm.

The Israeli elections are being used to fuel one attack on the other upon the Palestinian people, from “anti-BDS minister” Gilad Erdan‘s alliance with the most overtly racist and reactionary settlers to invade al-Aqsa and displace Palestinian worshippers, to escalating threats of war from Gaza to Iran, to the promotion of a “neo-Oslo” normalization by Barak’s pseudo-leftist party whose very name is a fundamental contradiction: “Democratic Israel,” based on apartheid and colonization. Attempts by the Palestinian Authority to promote such figures come only at the expense of the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights.

The Oslo process has never been anything but deeply destructive to the Palestinian people, and normalization has never done anything but undermine Palestinian rights and cover up the reality of a struggle between a colonizer exerting its domination in alliance with the most powerful imperialist forces in the world and a colonized people continuing to struggle and resist.

While the Zionist parties may debate intensely with each other over a range of issues, they are unified in their commitment to the apartheid regime, the dispossession of the Palestinian people, the denial of Palestinian rights, the colonization of Palestinian land and the labeling of Palestinian resistance as “terror.” They compete with each other about how to more “effectively” combat the “Iranian strategic threat” and “Palestinian terror.” None of the Zionist parties recognize the national rights of the Palestinian people, and all are committed to denying Palestinian refugees’ right to return. Palestinians – especially Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails – are labeled “extremists” for pursuing their rights at the same time that occupation forces invade Palestinian homes on a daily basis and impose a deadly siege on the Gaza Strip.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people around the world committed to Palestinian rights and especially Palestinian communities in exile to confront these dangerous normalization meetings. Instead, we must prioritize Palestinian prisoners and refugees, fighting for their fundamental right to return home and putting their bodies and lives on the line within Israeli occupation prisons in hunger strikes for dignity, justice and freedom. Any attempt to promote Zionist parties that continue to reject fundamental Palestinian rights, including by the Palestinian Authority and reactionary Arab regimes, can only harm Palestinians struggling for their lives, land and liberation.

We join the demand to immediately bring to an end the so-called “Committee for Communication with Israeli Society” in the PLO, which is in reality a mechanism to promote normalization with Zionist war criminals and their official political parties and institutions. We urge all friends of Palestine to confront normalization with intensified mobilization to support Palestinian refugees struggling in Gaza, Lebanon and around the world for their rights, and Palestinian prisoners on the front lines fighting for freedom. In particular, this is a critical moment to escalate the international call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and the complicit corporations that continue to prop up its colonial regime.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Abbas Hopes for Dialogue with New Israeli Government

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets members of the Democratic Camp, including Noa Rothman, granddaughter of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his hope to resume dialogue with the new government that will be formed in Israel after the next elections.

Abbas, in a secret meeting with members of the Democratic Camp, including Noa Rothman – the granddaughter of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of refusing to meet with him several times in Moscow, referring to the invitation made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to both leaders.

Abbas strongly attacked Netanyahu, saying he had “repeatedly opposed the formation of a unity government with Hamas and the establishment of Palestinian internal reconciliation, but he immediately paid millions of dollars to Hamas.”

The meeting, which took place on Tuesday, was not published by the Palestinian official news agency, but was revealed by the Israeli channel 13, which broadcast images of Abbas receiving the Israeli delegation.

The meeting with Abbas was secretly organized, with the sole knowledge of the party chairman Ehud Barak, who supported the initiative to meet with the Palestinian Authority president.

Rothman asked Abbas to take steps to free Israeli citizen of Ethiopian origin Avera Mengistu, who is being held by Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian president promised to help.

Hamas immediately described the meeting as “suspicious” and said it was a form of normalization with Israel and disregard for Palestinian sacrifices.

The Democratic Camp seeks to attract voters from the Blue and White or Labor parties.

Relations between Netanyahu and Abbas are currently at their worst with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing the Israeli government of waging an open war on the Palestinian people.

Israel’s general elections are set for September 17.

(Source / 15.08.2019)