Israeli army injures Palestinian protester in West Bank

Palestinian respond to Israeli forces' intervention during a demonstration against Jewish settlement construction and discrimination wall at Qafr Qaddum village in Nablus, West Bank on 16 August 2019 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian respond to Israeli forces’ intervention during a demonstration against Jewish settlement construction and discrimination wall at Qafr Qaddum village in Nablus, West Bank on 16 August 2019

Israeli army on Friday used rubber bullets and teargas shells to disperse Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank, Anadolu Agency reports.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli army prevented dozens of citizens from performing Friday prayers in Kafr Malik in northeast of Ramallah.

Cases of suffocation as a result of teargas shelling were treated on the ground.

On Thursday, Palestinian factions called for Friday prayers on the lands of Kafr Malik, which is feared to be subject to Israeli settlement plans.

Meanwhile, Israeli army dispersed a weekly march in Kafr Qaddum town, using rubber bullets and tear gas shells.

READ: Palestine warns of ‘religious war’ over Aqsa’s status

Eyewitnesses confirmed to Anadolu Agency that a foreign woman was shot in the head with a rubber bullet while she was showing solidarity with Palestinian protestors. Dozens of others were affected by the tear gas and treated on the ground.

Every Friday, Palestinians across the Israeli-occupied West Bank stage demonstrations to protest Israel’s decades-long policy of building Jewish-only settlements on the confiscated Palestinian land.

According to estimates, 640,000 Jewish settlers currently live on 196 different settlements built with the Israeli government’s approval and more than 200 settler “outposts”, built without Israeli approval, throughout the West Bank.

International law regards the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, an “occupied territory” and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there to be illegal. (Source / 16.08.2019) 

Hamas: Gantz’s threats effort to win Israel extremists’ votes

Benny Gantz, former Israeli military chief of staff, and presidential candidate, speaks during an electoral campaign gathering on 19 February 2019, in Tel Aviv [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]

Benny Gantz, former Israeli military chief of staff, and presidential candidate, speaks during an electoral campaign gathering on 19 February 2019 in Tel Aviv 

Hamas said threats made against its leadership by the head of Israel’s Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) Party, Benny Gantz, are an attempt to win the votes of extremists within Israeli society.

“Gantz must remember how the Palestinian resistance reacted to [Israeli] aggression on the Gaza Strip when he was Israel’s chief of staff,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim said, in a reference to the 2014 war on Gaza.

Israel “paid the price of crimes” it committed under Gantz, Qassim said in a statement on Facebook, adding that in that period, the “Palestinian resistance launched hundreds of rockets, which hit Tel Aviv, occupied Jerusalem, and the city of Haifa, and disrupted work in vital facilities in Israel” and forced Israelis into shelters.

Likud MK: Netanyahu open to coalition with Benny Gantz

Moreover, Qassim added, the Qassam Brigades “were able to capture soldiers from the Israeli occupation army” when Gantz was Israel’s chief of staff.

He added that the resistance has developed its capabilities and accumulated strength so that it can defend its people in the face of any future Israeli aggression.

“The calm that Gantz is looking for will not be realised as long as Israel is occupying the land, violating the sanctities and besieging the Gaza Strip,” Qassim said.

During his election campaign, Gantz vowed to “pound Gaza” if he became prime minister.

“If another conflict erupts while he is prime minister, the military would move to kill all of Hamas’ leadership,” the head of the Blue and White Party said.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

In first, Israel to sign free trade deal that excludes West Bank settlements

South Korea-Israel Free Trade Agreement 

In what is being described as a first of its kind, Israel is set to sign a free trade deal with South Korea that excludes settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and Syrian Golan Heights.

According to Ynet, the free trade deal is not only the first such deal to be signed between Israel and a “major Asian state”, but it is also “the first time Israeli government has agreed to sign a free trade deal, the benefits of which wouldn’t extend to the Jewish state’s disputed [i.e. occupied] territories”.

Reports say that the multi-billion-dollar deal will exclude Israeli settlements in occupied territory – all of which have been condemned as illegal under international law – from custom fees exemptions.

The Ynet article says that the deal – “which has been in negotiations for years” – is expected to be signed next week, during an official visit to Israel by South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

READ: UN slams Israel arms sales to Myanmar in Rohingya genocide report

“The deal with Seoul includes a provision where the goods originating from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights would not be exempt from customs fees,” added Ynet.

Excluding settlements is seen as a price worth paying, since officials “believe the deal with South Korea has an immense strategic importance” as the “first free trade agreement signed with a major Asian country and is expected to pave the way for similar deals with other states in the region”.

According to Ynet, “the financial benefits of the agreement are estimated to be in the billions of dollars,” and it is also “expected to significantly contribute to reducing the cost of living for the Israeli public by lowering the price of exports.”

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

Palestine warns of ‘religious war’ over Aqsa’s status

Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshipers, who wanted to stop fanatic Jews' raids, in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex, injuring at least 37, in Jerusalem on 11 August 2019. [Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshipers, who wanted to stop fanatic Jews’ raids, in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex, injuring at least 37, in Jerusalem on 11 August 2019

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned Thursday that calls by an Israeli government minister to change the status quo at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque would lead to a “religious war” Anadolu reports.

In a written statement released after a meeting in Ramallah, the PLO’s Executive Committee said the recent calls are “an attempt to drag the region into a religious war” and “propaganda” for the division of the mosque.

On Tuesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called for changing the status of the mosque so that Jews can pray there individually or collectively in an open or closed area.

“I think there is an injustice in the status quo that has existed since 1967,” Erdan told Israeli Radio on Tuesday.

“We need to work to change [the status quo] so in the future, Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”

Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas meanwhile called for national unity in a written statement after holding an emergency meeting on the latest developments concerning al-Aqsa Mosque that occurred on the eve and first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

Read: The PA’s ‘rights’ rhetoric normalises US-Israel violence against Palestinians

Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex Sunday, injuring at least 37.

Terming Jerusalem a “red line”, Hamas said, “any attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque is an attack on the Palestinian people in particular and all the ummah.”

“The only way to resist this plot is real national unity based on a real partnership,” it said.

The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of Palestine in a written statement also warned against a “religious war” in the region.

Calling the recent Israeli actions a “provocative step” aimed at dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque, the ministry called on the international community to intervene.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Jews refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

Update: “Army Kills One Palestinian Near Bethlehem”

16 AUG6:16 PM

The Palestinian Health Ministry and the District Civil Coordination Office have reported that the Palestinian, who was killed by Israeli soldiers near Etzion, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, has been identified as Ala Khader al-Hreimi, 26.

The Israeli army claimed the soldiers fired many live rounds at his car after he reportedly deliberately rammed two Israeli colonists near Etzion illegal colony.

The Palestinian, a construction worker, is a former political prisoner who was detained by Israel for two years and was previously shot by Israeli soldiers.

Following his death, the soldiers summoned his brother, Abdul-Salam al-Hreimi, for interrogation at Roadblock #300, south of Bethlehem.

Israeli sources said the two wounded settlers are Noam Navis, 19, who was moderately injured, and her brother, Nachum, 17, who suffered a serious head injury and has been hooked to a respirator, from Gush Etzion.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

Four injured as Israeli troops attack a nonviolent protest east of Ramallah

16 AUG8:11 PM

Four non-violent demonstrators were injured, and dozens of others were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as Israeli troops attacked on  Friday a nonviolent protest organized at the village of Kufer Malek, east of the central west Bank city of Ramallah.

Among those injured were Jamiel Qassass, who was hit with a rubber coated steel bullet.

Israeli peace activists Udi Gor, Shai Iluk, Toli Flint and Nathan Lindou all sustained injuries after being attacked by Israeli troops. All four activists are from Combatants for Peace Movement.

The protest started at midday, and was organized by the local village council, the Fatah party, and the Combatants for Peace Movement and in coordination with the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements.

The protest called for an end to the land grab and water theft by Israeli settlers.

Beginning in the early morning hours Friday, the Israeli army closed all streets leading to Kufer Malek.

The protesters divided themselves into two groups. The first group started from the center of the village towards the Israeli settlement outpost constructed on stolen village land.

When they neared the outpost, the Israeli forces launched a barrage of tear gas canisters and sprayed demonstrators with chemical water that generated a bad smell. As a result, dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

In addition, due to the dry, hot conditions, the firing of tear gas led to fires that burnt large areas of farmers’ land.

Friday protest 8/16/19 (image by Ghassan Bannoura)

The second group, from Combatants for Peace Movement, managed to reach Alon settlers road, adjacent to the village. The road was shortly closed by the demonstrators before Israeli forces attacked the activists by beating them, firing tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets towards them and spraying them with chemical water that generated a bad smell, four were injured.

Moreover, the tear gas fired by Israeli troops caused a fire in the nearby crops belonging to the villagers. The villagers managed to bring in fire engines to put out the fire.

At the end of the protest, Governor Abdel Fattah Hamayel gave a speech welcoming the solidarity activists and praised the efforts of the activist groups like  Combatants for Peace against settlement expansion  and the occupation.

Mr. Jaafar Hamayel, a member of the Fatah regional committee in Ramallah, said, “The aggression of the occupation against us today will increase our determination to continue the journey until we stop the theft of our water and land by the settlers.”

“Today’s activity is the beginning of a peaceful resistance campaign aimed at stopping the theft of Palestinian land by Israeli occupation and settlers,” said Adam Rabie, activity Coordinator for Combatants for Peace.

For seven years, the Israeli settlers from the Kfar Shahar colonial settlement have been expanding their settlement and seizing the land of the village under the protection of Israeli soldiers as part of a plan to link and expand the settlement at the expense of the Palestinian farmers.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

Tlaib to Visit Palestine on Condition of BDS Silence

16 AUG4:58 PM

Israeli occupation authorities announced, today, that they will allow US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit her family in the occupied West Bank on “humanitarian” grounds, hours after the Israeli government said it would ban her from entering Palestine for a planned political trip.

Israel said, earlier. that it would block Tlaib and another US Democratic lawmaker, Ilhan Omar, from entering Palestine, under the pretext of their support for the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Movement (BDS).

Israel’s decision to bar their entry was encouraged by President Donald Trump in a remarkable step both by the US President and his ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to punish political opponents.

After the announcement, Tlaib made a personal plea in a letter addressed to Israel’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, which was approved on Friday morning, according to WAFA.

Tlaib asked Deri for access to visit her family, “and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her.”

“I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit,” Tlaib promised, in the letter.

The boycott movement, formally known as the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, aims to end international support for Israel because of its policies toward Palestinians, as well as its continued construction of West Bank settlements, considered a violation of international law.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

What’s happening in Kashmir looks a lot like Israel’s rule over Palestine

By Abdulla Moaswes

The last few weeks have seen a sharp escalation in tensions in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the territory’s long-standing autonomy, putting it on lockdown and plunging the region into chaos.

India has ordered all tourists and religious pilgrims to evacuate the territory, while sending in tens of thousands of armed soldiers and shutting down virtually all telecommunication networks. These soldiers join an occupying force estimated to number within the hundreds of thousands in what is already considered the most militarized place on earth.

India’s oppression of Kashmiris, however, cannot be seen in a vacuum. Over the past decades, the country’s growing ties with Israel have created a situation in which the the oppression of Kashmir is linked to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The Indian occupation of Kashmir and the establishment of Israel in 1948, which resulted in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, began only months apart from one another. In July 1949, two years after India and Pakistan declared independence from British rule, the two countries signed an agreement to establish a ceasefire line, dividing the Kashmir region between them. Indian rule in the territory has led to decades of unrest.

Although the Indian presence in Kashmir never amounted to settler colonialism like in the Palestinian case, where a large proportion of the existing population of the region was expelled and replaced by a settler population, India has maintained a heavy military presence in the area and has acted as a police state vis-à-vis Kashmiri civilians and politicians.

Kashmiri solidarity with the Palestinians can be traced as far back as the 1950s and 60s, when the Kashmir liberation movement sought to align itself with other anti-imperialist struggles abroad. It was also during this period when India first established relations with Israel. Although then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru publicly championed the Palestinian cause, he permitted the opening of an Israeli consulate in Mumbai in 1953. The consulate gathered information on India’s Evacuee Property Laws, which served as a model for Israel’s Absentee Property Law, a legal instrument that allowed the state to expropriate land belonging to Palestinian refugees.

The late stages of the Cold War saw a dramatic improvement in Indian-Israeli relations. In 1992, under the premiership of Narasimha Rao, a member of the Indian National Congress, India and Israel established normal relations, with India opening an embassy in Tel Aviv in January. Two main factors explain this development, both of which are related to the outbreak of the First Intifada against Israel’s occupation as well as armed insurrection in Kashmir against Indian rule in the late 1980s.

The first reason stems from the decline of the Soviet Union, which forced India to search for a new supplier of arms and military technology. Israel, whose flagging economy at the time necessitated entering new markets, represented an ideal partner. The relationship was further strengthened when the U.S. imposed sanctions on arms sales to India after the latter conducted nuclear tests in 1998. Those sanctions resulted in India becoming Israel’s largest client for arms and military technology, a legacy that persists until today.

The second reason is based on the convergence of the logic that Israel and India employed in suppressing popular resistance in the occupied territories and armed insurrection in Kashmir, respectively, highlighting issues of security, counterterrorism and the threat of Islamic extremism. In 1992, then Indian Defense Minister Sharad Pawar admitted to Indian-Israeli cooperation on issues of counterterrorism, including exchanging information on so-called terrorist groups, national doctrines, and operational experience – in other words, strategies, methods, and tactics of occupation and domination. This lead to a shift in India’s position on Palestine, which began mirroring Israel’s insistence that Kashmir was primarily a matter of Indian domestic concern.

Between Zionism and Hindu Nationalism
Relations between India and Israel grew even closer with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 1990s. The BJP, which today is led by Modi, adheres to the political ideology known as Hindutva, or Hindu Nationalism. The history of Hindu nationalists’ affinity with Zionism is well documented by professor Sumantra Bose of the London School of Economics, who traces it back to the 1920s when Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the father of Hindutva, supported the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The BJP and other Hindu Nationalists have since become obsessed with replicating the Zionist project in turning a constitutionally secular India into a Hindu ethnocratic state.

Many of the BJP’s aspirations and policy proposals for Kashmir are imitations of extant Israeli practices in Palestine. Key among these is the desire to build Israeli-style Hindu-only settlements in Kashmir as a way of instigating demographic change. For example, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a non-state volunteer Hindu paramilitary volunteer group to which the BJP are affiliated, have long desired the repeal of the state subject laws that have maintained the demographic make-up of Kashmir.

These changes are clearly inspired by the Israeli settlement model, as expressed by BJP lawmaker Ravinder Raina, who, in 2015, stated that the government of India will use its army to protect Hindu-only settlements in Jammu and Kashmir. This type of securitization and protection would entail an expansion of the security apparatus that already restricts the flow of life for most Kashmiris, using them as a pretext to justify a new level of domination and intrusiveness.

Aside from the parallels in policy objectives, the discourse used by supporters of the current regime in India resemble old Israeli refrains. Both Israel and India claim to be exceptional democracies, despite their treatment of large swaths of populations under their control. Additionally, both Zionists and Hindu Nationalists argue that the existence of many Muslim countries in the world necessitates a Jewish and Hindu state, respectively. This perpetuates the lie that Palestinians and Indian Muslims can supposedly live elsewhere, yet choose to live in Palestine and India only to antagonize Jews and Hindus.

Meanwhile, the variety of tactics used by India to control the civilian population of Kashmir strongly resembles those used by Israel in Palestine. These include, “arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, curfews, collective punishment, administrative detention, torture, rape and sexual abuse, the suppression of freedom of speech and assembly, house demolitions, and so forth.”

Decades of Solidarity
The bond of solidarity that exists between Palestinians and Kashmiris runs deep, and can be traced as far back as the 1960s, when protests erupted in Kashmir over Israel’s behavior around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, resulting in deaths and curfews. Since then, Kashmiri solidarity with the Palestinian cause can be loosely understood as having gone through three, relatively overlapping stages.

The first of these stages, which began during the 1960s, saw the Kashmiri Plebiscite Front first cast India as an “imperialist state” that rejected the Kashmiri right to self-determination. In doing this, the Kashmiri liberation movement aligned itself with similar global causes, including the Vietnamese struggle against the United States, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and the Palestinian struggle against Israel. Kashmiri scholar Mohamad Junaid writes that Palestine “became an evocative metaphor among Kashmiris to describe their own condition, reflecting an incipient fear of ethnic cleansing, land dispossession, and an ever-tightening architecture of the occupation.”

The second stage, which began during the 1980s, saw the basis of solidarity take on a more religious character. This period coincided with the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet Union, which indirectly led to the rise of armed Islamist resistance groups such as Hamas in Palestine and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in Kashmir. Rather than the discourse of solidarity being based largely in the language of anti-imperalism and nationalism, it became characterized by concepts of jihad and Islamic solidarity. This trend was further strengthened during the 1990s with the rise of the BJP, which led to an increase in communal tensions and insecurity surrounding Muslim life in India.

The third and current stage of Kashmiri-Palestinian solidarity comes as a response to the growing ties between India and Israel. It has no longer become accurate for Palestinians and Kashmiris to view Israel and India as simply analogous oppressors — many now view them as partners in occupation. As has been demonstrated by the transnational Palestinian response to the recent events, solidarity with Kashmir has taken on an increasingly more practical importance.

An Instrument of Surrender
The revocation of Articles 35A and 370 paves the way for Indian presence in Kashmir to further mirror Zionist presence in historic Palestine, since this allows the Indian state to rule Kashmir directly without the need for Kashmir’s state legislature, which was also recently abolished. Furthermore, it facilitates the execution of plans to alter the demographic make-up of Kashmir by allowing Indians from across the country to purchase property and settle there under the protection of the Indian military presence, just as the demographic make-up of the West Bank continues to be altered with the construction of Jewish-only settlements.

The Kashmiri state legislature and its main politicians, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have long acted as middlemen who manage the natives on behalf of the occupying power, facilitating the occupation in much the same way as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does in the West Bank. Just as Edward Said once referred to the Oslo Accords as “an instrument of Palestinian surrender,” many Kashmiris regard the 1975 Indira-Sheikh Accord as a betrayal of past liberation movements. The Accord allowed previously popular Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah to become the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in exchange for forfeiting the longstanding Kashmiri demand for self-determination.

With the unprecedented change of Jammu and Kashmir’s legal status from a special status state to a union territory without a legislative assembly, India’s colonial domination over the contested region will only become more overtly coercive in representing Indian interests. This is a crucial development to be observed closely by Palestinians who live in areas where the Israeli occupation is currently facilitated by the Palestinian Authority.

As things move forward, it is increasingly clear that the colonial processes in Kashmir and Palestine will become further interdependent on one another. What Israel does in Palestine is likely to happen in Kashmir, and what India does in Kashmir is likely to happen in Palestine. In aiming to dismantle Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism, it is essential to observe its global consequences, for it is highly likely that these interdependent processes will require a multilateral confrontation.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

FOLLOWING MASS PROTESTS BY WORSHIPERS.. AL AQSA IS OPEN FOR PALESTINIANS OF ALL AGES

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Israeli occupation forces opened Friday the Al Aqsa mosque for worshipers of all ages after closing it on Thursday, which pushed hundreds of worshipers to to protest and pray at the Asbat gate of the holy mosque.

Israeli occupation forces have broke into the holy mosque before Maghreb prayer on Thursday and forcefully evicted worshipers then closed all gates before allowing only employees over 50 years old into the holy mosque.

The Palestinian Ministry of Islamic Waqf and religious affairs condemned the eviction of worshipers by Israeli forces and deemed it ” a new provocative step being added to previous ones, which aim at achieving the temporal and spatial division of the mosque to facilitate its seizure”.

The Ministry also called on the International community to end “the vicious attack,which pushes the whole region towards religious tension”.

(Source / 16.08.2019) 

ISRAEL KILLS TWO CHILDREN IN OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM

Israel’s occupation forces killed two boys in their mid-teens near the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday August 15th. Naseem Mokabeh Abu Roumi and Hamouda Khader al-Sheikh were captured on video rushing towards Israeli occupation police officers at the Gate of the Chain with knives in their hands, one of them stabbing and lightly injuring one Israeli occupation police officer before they were both shot multiple times and fell on the ground. The shooting didn’t stop then, but two occupation police officers continued to fire at the boys laying on the ground, one of them being shot at least twice again and the other at least once. (This video can be seen at our Twitter account.) One of them died on the scene and the other one in hospital in Thursday evening. Israeli occupation stopped Palestinian medics from reaching the boys and Israeli medics appear to have given preference to the lightly injured occupation police officer, aged 40, who had already been evacuated from the scene at the time the still surviving boy was given medical aid in another video. Both victims were from the neighbourhood of al-Issawiya, which has experienced daily occupation aggression for months, including the killing of Mohammed Samir Obaid(20) on June 27th. Their ages were reported as 14 or 15, with 14 given more often. A third person, guard in the al-Aqsa mosque, was wounded from the bullets fired by the Israeli occupation police officers. His condition was described as “moderate” in a news report.   

 (Source / 16.08.2019)