Israel opens natural spring to visitors – except Palestinians

Ein Hanya, a natural spring in southern Jerusalem [Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Jerusalem/Facebook]

Ein Hanya, a natural spring in southern Jerusalem

Israeli authorities have opened a natural spring in southern Jerusalem to visitors, “but on the explicit condition that Palestinians not be allowed to enter the site”, reported Haaretz.

The decision by police yesterday meant that the Ein Hanya spring “was kept under heavy guard by the police and Border Police, which even closed the road leading to Palestinian towns”.

Meanwhile, “hundreds of Israelis visited the site”, said Haaretz.

As described by the paper, Ein Hanya “is one of the largest and most important natural springs in the Jerusalem area”.

While it is located within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, Palestinian residents of neighbouring village Al-Walaja “regularly visit it”.

Much of Al-Walaja’s land has been confiscated by Israeli authorities over the decades, with village land straddling the 1967 ‘Green Line’

READ: ‘He re-occupied his land from the occupation’

The official opening of the spring as a tourism site was subject to repeated delays, thanks to “a dispute over whether entry fees should be charged”, as well as the “police’s demand that Palestinians not be allowed to enter”.

Police have also insisted that a checkpoint be relocated further south, “so that it would separate Palestinian towns from the spring”, at an estimated cost of 12 million shekels ($3.4 million).

The spring has now opened for just three days, before closing again “until the checkpoint is moved”.

According to Haaretz, “over the past few days, police have stepped up enforcement against Palestinian farmers seeking to work land near the spring”, and have “even forced a farmer to leave”.

Shaul Goldstein, the nature authority’s director, “said his agency has no objection to Palestinians visiting the spring, nor does it have any interest in moving the checkpoint.”

However, he noted that “since Ein Hanya is located in Jerusalem, from the defence establishment’s perspective, any Palestinian who goes there is in the capital illegally.”

READ: 14 Palestinians homeless as Israel razes homes in Jerusalem

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Salman Ouda’s relative detained after tweeting support for Palestine

Saudi cleric Salman Al-Ouda

Saudi cleric Salman Al-Ouda

Saudi Arabia has arrested young activist Abdel-Aziz Al-Ouda over a tweet in support of Palestine, Abdullah Al-Ouda, son of detained prominent preacher Salman Al-Ouda, revealed on Monday.

“The family was shocked by the detention of Abdel-Aziz Al-Odah over a tweet in support of the Palestinian cause,” Abdullah tweeted.

“This detention discloses the wicked intentions regarding the detention and crackdown campaigns [in Saudi Arabia]. Even tweeting in support of Palestine and defending it [became illegal].”

Twitter users in Saudi Arabia showed their support for Abdul-Aziz and led to his name trending in the kingdom.

#Saudi activist Abdul Aziz al-Odah was recently arrested by the Saudi authorities for tweeting in support of #Palestine,” Shujaat Ali Quadri tweeted.

READ: Saudi Arabia’s normalisation with Israel

He added: “Saudi blogger, Mohammed Saud, who visited Israeli officials recently, continues to tweet in support of Israel and calling for normalisation,” in reference to a little known social media user who visited Israel following an invitation from Tel Aviv.

Opposition activist Omar Al-Zahrani called for activists in the kingdom not to tweet about public issues, support the Palestinian cause or criticise the royal court, Turki Al-Sheikh and Saud Al-Qahtani for fear of being sent to prison.

Arab states, excepting Jordan and Egypt, do not officially recognise the State of Israel and have openly condemned the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories since the state’s creation in 1948. Over the past few years, however, there have been numerous secret visits to Israel by leaders such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and each year the concept of normalising relations with Israel becomes bolder and more resolute.

In July, the foreign ministers of both Israel and Bahrain held a public meeting in the US, marking the first such incident to openly take place between a Gulf country and Israel.

READ: Israeli waves Saudi flag in occupied Jerusalem

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

PA to probe impact of Israel mobile phone towers in West Bank

Image of an phone [File photo]

The Palestinian Authority (PA) announced yesterday that it has formed a committee to investigate the impact of Israeli mobile phone towers built in the occupied West Bank, reported Xinhua.

A PA statement said the committee will work on “documenting the violations” of the towers in the West Bank, and assessing their “impact”, in order to “enact resolutions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) relevant to Palestine’s control over its resources”, said the report.

Xinhua noted that “Palestinians have repeatedly accused Israel of restricting the Palestinian telecommunications sector under security and economic pretexts.”

According to Palestinian officials, Israeli telecommunications companies deliberately flood the Palestinian market with Israeli SIM cards “to provide Palestinian customers with competitive offers of internet data and phone calls that Palestinian companies cannot provide”.

READ: Israel to push mobile companies to improve settlement coverage

Official data shows Israeli telecommunications companies have made more than $150 million of profit from Palestinian users, “who make up around 20 percent of their clients”, reported Xinhua.

Under the Oslo Accords, “the frequencies were to remain under Israel’s control till the end of the interim period, which was supposed to be in 1999.”

Since no final deal has been reached since, “frequencies and telecommunications-related matters have remained unresolved”.

In September 2012, the ITU resolved to send a fact-finding mission to the occupied West Bank “over Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinians to advance utilisation of frequencies”, but the decision has gone unimplemented.

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Israeli Soldiers Invade, Bulldoze, Palestinian Lands In Northern Gaza

A few armored Israeli army vehicles, including bulldozers, invaded Palestinian lands, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and bulldozed several sections while firing live rounds to force the Palestinians away.

Media sources said the invading vehicles came from Abu Safiyya military base, across the perimeter fence.

They added that the soldiers advanced dozens of meters into the Palestinian lands, and bulldozed several sections, in addition to installing sand hills, while sporadically firing rounds of live ammunition.

The soldiers carry out repeated invasions and violations against the Palestinians and their lands, near the perimeter fence in the northern and eastern parts of the coastal region.

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Army Shoots A Palestinian Teen Near Tulkarem

Israeli soldiers shot, earlier Wednesday, a young Palestinian man near the gate of the Annexation Wall, close to Qaffin village, north of Tulkarem, in northern West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers shot Bara’ Mohammad Es’eed, 17, while he was on his way to occupied Jerusalem.

They added that Palestinian medics rushed to the scene, and transferred Es’eed to Thabet Thabet hospital, in Tulkarem.

In the past few days, the soldiers shot and injured five young Palestinian men, in the same area.

In related news, the soldiers invade a home in Bal’a town, east of Tulkarem, and violently searched a home, belonging to Abdul-Qader Salama.

The family said the soldiers destroyed the main door, and several other doors, before storming and ransacking the property, taking 10.000 Shekels from the property.

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Israel has normalised torture of Palestinian prisoners

Brutal treatment meted out to Samir Arbeed by Shin Bet agents has prompted strong condemnation from human rights campaigners

By Ben White

The impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces for the violent and degrading treatment of Palestinian prisoners makes international pressure and intervention essential.

Last week, a Palestinian detainee arrested by Israeli occupation forces was admitted to a Jerusalem hospital suffering from severe injuries, including broken ribs and kidney failure.

Samir Arbeed, 44 and in good health when detained, had been tortured during his interrogation at the hands of Shin Bet agents. According to reports, the agents had been given permission by an Israeli “judicial body” to use “exceptional ways to investigate”.

The treatment meted out to Arbeed in custody has prompted strong condemnation from Palestinian and international human rights campaigners, with Amnesty International describing the “legally sanctioned torture” as “utterly outrageous”.

Systemic abuse

That reference to “legally sanctioned” is key. In its most recent annual report, Amnesty noted how “torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, remained pervasive and was committed with impunity [by Israeli forces]”.

Other NGOs have documented the use by Israeli interrogators of physical violence, stress positions and sleep deprivation – methodsdeployed while the Palestinian prisoner is denied access to a lawyer. An academic study published in 2015 found that “sexual ill-treatment is systemic”.

In 2017, Haaretz reported on Israel’s torture methods as confirmed by interrogators themselves, and cited a piece published two years earlier that suggested the “use of torture was on the rise”.

Clearly, this is not just a case of “a few rotten apples”. In fact, the issue goes deeper than the actions of the individual agents, right to the heart of Israel’s institutionalised – and judicially rubber-stamped – violations of Palestinian rights and of international human rights norms.

In 1999, Israel’s top court famously ruled that Shin Bet agents could not use “physical means” against Palestinian prisoners – but that those who did so in the case of a “ticking bomb” situation would be immune from prosecution.

‘Dangerous precedent’

As human rights NGO B’Tselem describes, Shin Bet agents thus continued to use methods “that constitute abuse and even torture … These methods were not limited to exceptional cases and quickly became standard interrogation policy.”

It gets worse. In December 2017, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition brought by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) on behalf of Palestinian prisoner Assad Abu Ghosh.

With the court taking “the state’s side on all of the key issues before it”, Judge Uri Shoham declared: “The definition of certain interrogation methods as ‘torture’ is dependent on concrete circumstances, even when these are methods recognized explicitly in international law as ‘torture’.”

The decision was slammed by the UN special rapporteur on torture as setting “a dangerous precedent” and “gravely undermining the universal prohibition of torture”.

Yet, more was to come. In a November 2018 ruling, Israel’s Supreme Court again gave its backing to the violent interrogation of Palestinian prisoner Fares Tbeish, stating that his torture by Shin Bet agents was not illegal and the perpetrators should not face prosecution.

A report in +972 Magazine described the ruling as having “broadened and effectively removed” even the limitations imposed in the 1999 court decision, with legal scholar Itamar Mann telling the news site that in the eyes of the High Court, physical abuse “is a legitimate and perhaps even the preferable way of carrying out an interrogation in cases of national security”.

Israeli impunity

It is no wonder, then, given the support for torture among Israeli officials and judges, that out of hundreds of complaints made against Shin Bet interrogators in recent years, not a single criminal investigation has been opened.

And it is in light of these precedents that one must view with scepticism the announcement by Israel’s Justice Ministry that it is launching an investigation into “potential wrongdoing” by Shin Bet agents in the case of Arbeed; no one is holding their breath for anything like meaningful accountability.

The impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces for the violent and degrading treatment of Palestinian prisoners makes international pressure and intervention essential.

On Tuesday, Palestinians protested at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) offices in Ramallah, demanding that the body exercise its right to visit Arbeed.

Prisoners’ rights groups and the Palestinian health ministry delivered a letter to the ICRC expressing their collective concern, and the ICRC said on Wednesday that it was attempting to visit Arbeed “as soon as possible”.

The torture of Arbeed shines a light on yet another way in which Israel is singled out for impunity. An ally of Western states, which benefits from multiple bilateral and multilateral agreements in trade and defence, is openly torturing prisoners detained in occupied territory – with judicial backing.

Addameer has called on the UN and its bodies “to act immediately in actual attempts to hold the Israeli occupation authorities accountable for their crimes”.

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Settlers Conduct ‘Provocative Tours’ in Aqsa Mosque

More than 250 settlers stormed the yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, under strict security measures by the Israeli occupation forces. The raid came in response to calls by Jewish organizations to intensify “visits” to the place in celebration of the Jewish Throne Day.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf said that the settlers entered through the Mughrabi Gate and carried out “provocative tours” in the mosque, while listening to explanations about the “alleged temple” which the Jews say was built there.

The number of settlers entering the mosque is expected to increase in the coming days. Israeli ministers and officials participated in some of these incursions, creating further tension with the Palestinians.

The large-scale raid on Tuesday came a day after Palestine and Jordan warned against dragging the region into a “religious war” if Aqsa continued to be targeted.

In this context, Ramallah and Amman condemned the statements of the Israeli Minister of Public Security, Gilad Ardan, who called for the Jews to be allowed to pray freely in the Aqsa Mosque.

The Mosque is run by hundreds of Jordanian employees of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, but Israel allows Jews to visit the place contrary to the Waqf’s will.

Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Head of the Jerusalem Affairs Department Adnan al-Husseini warned of the repercussions of the “fierce attacks carried out by the settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation authorities, on the Aqsa Mosque.”

Husseini said in a press statement that developments at the Aqsa “call for more resolve and presence to protect the place, and preserve its sanctity.”

Jordan’s Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh said on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation violated all principles of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy.

Addressing the 141st meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Belgrade, he said: “We in Jordan, where we are bound by a peace treaty with the Israeli occupation government, today see that this peace is under threat, in light of the blatant violation of its provisions, especially with the issue of Jerusalem.”

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

IOF abducts four Palestinians in West Bank

WEST BANK, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Tuesday kidnaped at least four Palestinian citizens in the West Bank.

A statement released by the Israeli army claimed that four wanted Palestinians were arrested during campaigns in the West Bank.

According to local sources, the IOF kidnaped a young man called Mahmoud Zahran from his home in Deir Abu Masha’al village, west of Ramallah.

The IOF also stormed Beit Ummar town in al-Khalil and kidnaped a citizen called Ali al-Allami two weeks after demolishing his unfinished house.

In a separate incident, some Jewish settlers physically assaulted a Palestinian woman in Khirbet Umm al-Marajem area in Duma village, south of Nablus.

Local official Ghassan Daghlas said that settlers attacked a 35-year-old woman called Zubda Musallam with pepper spray in Khirbet Umm al-Marajem, adding that she was rushed to hospital for medical assistance.

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Israeli Settlers Vandalize Vehicles, Scrawl Hate Graffiti Near Ramallah

Israeli settlers Wednesday morning punctured the tires of some 15 Palestinian vehicles and scrawled hate graffiti in Deir Ammar village, located to the west of the occupied West Bank of Ramallah.

Local sources confirmed that the settlers sneaked their way into the village, punctured the tires of some 15 vehicles and spray-painted hate graffiti and slogans on vehicles and houses.

‘The Star of David’ and slogans threatening revenge against Palestinians were scrawled in Hebrew on one of the vehicles.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

Settlers’ violence includes property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others.

Over 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

All settlements across the West Bank are illegal under international law, particularly article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Israel Demolishes Araqib Village In Negev For 163rd Time

The Israeli authorities on Tuesday demolished all the crude homes and tents in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Araqib in the Negev desert for the 163rd consecutive time, displacing its residents.

According to local sources, Israeli police forces and employees from the Bedouin development authority, which is responsible for such demolitions, stormed the village and forcibly removed the residents from their homes before wreaking havoc on everything.

Police forces also arrested Sheikh Sayyah Attouri, chief of the village, and his son Aziz.

Sheikh Attouri and many local residents, including women and children, were exposed to detention several times following recent demolition campaigns in an attempt to intimidate them and force them to leave the area.

The Israeli authorities also imposed exorbitant financial penalties on the Araqib villagers recently.

Araqib residents live in a constant state of fear because they expect the demolition of their village at any moment after they manage to rebuild their homes again.

However, such Israeli arbitrary, criminal and inhumane policy of demolition, uprooting and displacement will only increase the residents’ resolve and adherence to their land and village even if Israel demolishes it thousands of times.  

Araqib is one of several Bedouin villages in the Negev desert, which are “unrecognized” by Israel.

The demolition of Araqib and other villages in the Negev is a systematic Israeli policy aimed at expelling the native population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned areas to pave the way to expand and build Jewish-only settlements.

(Source / 16.10.2019)