Palestinians gather at the separation fence in Gaza for the Great March of Return on 1 November 2019
The Higher National Commission of the Great March of Return and Breaking of the Gaza Siege decided to postpone the Friday protests, amid the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.
Despite the fact that the resistance reached an Egypt-mediated truce with the Israeli occupation, Israeli aircrafts continued the raids on the Gaza Strip, targeting on Friday morning resistance forces’ positions in Rafah and Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza Strip.
The spokesman for the occupation army claimed on Thursday evening that he spotted the launch of two missiles from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, however, the Iron Dome defence system had intercepted them.
He pointed out that “the erosion of the truce is caused by the occupation army’s ongoing targeting of participants in the peaceful and popular protests of the March of Return, and the occupation’s attempt to procrastinate the implementation of measures to ease the siege on the Gaza Strip.”
The Higher National Commission of the Great March of Return and Breaking of the Gaza Siege named the new Friday of the March of Return protests and the break of the siege with the slogan “Friday for the renewal of the mandate of UNRWA.”
He also asserted that Israel uses Area C as a geographic reserve for the settlement expansion, noting that this is a violation of all of the deals signed by the PA and Israel.
Such policies, he claimed during the meetings which were attended by researchers and NGOs, inflicted massive losses on the Palestinian economy.
“However, the government adopted a plan of gradual disengagement in relation to the dependency on the Israeli occupation,” he explained, stating that this would be reinforced through encouraging the national produce and commercial exchange with Arab and world countries.
Meanwhile, he briefed the attendees about the efforts of the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, regarding the elections, noting that there were positive responses from the Palestinian factions. He stressed that the election is the only way to end the Palestinian division.
He also called on the EU and the UN to put pressure on Israel, in order to allow the Palestinians to vote in occupied Jerusalem, noting that efforts towards this have already started.
WhatsApp yesterday blocked access to hundreds of Palestinian journalists and activists who were providing live updates during the Israeli offensive on Gaza, Safa news agency reported.
This came less than 24 hours after the end of the two-day Israeli offensive which resulted in the death of 34 Palestinians and wounded 111 others.
Palestinian journalists and activists, who were active during the Israeli offensive, reported that their accounts were blocked and they were unable to use them.
The Gathering of the Palestinian Journalists condemned this step and accused WhatsApp of being complicit in Israel crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Israel hacking WhatsApp – Cartoon
It also said that this came as a result of their efforts to disclose the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian civilians and civil targets.
“This is to cover up the Israeli crimes and this is a continuation of the mother company, Facebook, as well as Twitter which had banned and blocked pages and accounts of hundreds of Palestinian journalists and media companies with thousands and millions of followers,” the group said.
Israeli authorities have several times disclosed efforts being exerted with the social media companies, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in order to block Palestinian content.
15 years after the passing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian people continue to reflect on his legacy. Thousands of images of “Abu Ammar” have been shared across numerous social media platforms remembering a man whose nom de guerre has been affiliated with the Palestinian struggle for decades.
Arafat’s legacy, however, is a contentious subject. The deep sense of loyalty that many Palestinians feel towards him is admirable but also worrying. This creates a dilemma: how is one to honestly dissect the history of a man whose status, among many Palestinians, has been elevated to that of an infallible warrior?
Considering that this current Palestinian generation is suffering the consequences of a checkered past – one that was partly molded by Arafat himself – examining Abu Ammar’s successes and failures is more critical than ever before.
One can honestly say that it was Arafat and his generation of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals who helped resurrect the Palestinian national identity after the humiliating Arab defeat by Israel in the June 1967 war. Prior to that date, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was neither truly Palestinian nor a genuinely revolutionary force.
Moreover, Arafat, throughout the 1960s and 70s used the party he founded, Fatah, and the PLO to establish a large array of global alliances throughout the Southern hemisphere. This made the image of Arafat, adorned with his black and white Palestinian keffiyeh, a recognizable brand from Chile to South Africa, and from Iran to China.
But Arafat is also responsible for many of the ailments that continue to plague Palestinian society and hamper the Palestinian cause until this day. In fact, much of the widespread corruption, failures and absence of democratically run institutions in Palestine are rooted in the very system of political patronage created by the late Palestinian leader.
From the onset, back in the mid-1960s, Arafat and a small clique of Fatah members tried to dominate the PLO and by extension, all Palestinian national and political institutions, including the Palestine National Council (PNC) and the PLO’s Executive Committee. The former served as a Palestinian parliament in exile and the latter became the executive branch of a government-like structure. While Arafat assigned to himself most of the top positions, his allies were strategically allocated in all branches of Palestinian political life.
Under Arafat, the PLO operated according to the most minimal standards of democracy. Throughout his political career, whether in exile or following his return to Gaza in 1994, he labored to appear politically inclusive. In reality, Arafat shrewdly managed all Palestinian political affairs without any margins for meaningful dissent. Under immense American and Israeli pressure, Arafat and his Palestinian Authority cracked down on all Palestinian political parties that rejected the PA’s subservience to Israel and its “peace at all costs” approach.
Unlike the current leader of the PA and PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat, at least, was genuine in his desire to establish Palestinian political unity. However the unity he envisaged seemed to imply a united Palestinian front behind him and the political agenda of his choosing.
Palestinians continue to suffer the consequences of this misconstrued notion of ‘unity’, agreeing to a singular political agenda, as opposed to uniting within a single democratic political institution. Arafat could neither achieve the former nor secure the latter.
The shortcomings in Arafat’s legacy became even more amplified after his death. With no true democratic institutions that would permit Palestinians to sort out their many differences, Abbas, Arafat’s heir to the PA/PLO throne, used his position to accumulate wealth, prop up his cronies, and insist on his complete dominance over all Palestinian affairs.
On numerous occasions, Arafat dared to challenge Israel. His besiegement in his office in Ramallah for years, prior to his death from a “mysterious blood disorder” was a testimony to Israel’s loathing of the Palestinian leader. However, it was the skewed political structure that Arafat created that emboldened the aging Abbas in his drive for political supremacy. Indeed, Abbas has single-handedly squandered all Palestinian national achievements, including the PLO itself as a unifying Palestinian political platform.
15 years later, it has become clear that the lack of a meaningful Palestinian political dialogue under Arafat led to the weakening, fragility, and systematic dissolution of the Palestinian national project. If Arafat had allowed for the development of a healthy Palestinian democracy, the Oslo agreement would have never been signed in the first place. Thanks to Oslo, Palestinians are now as trapped in a political maze of unfulfilled agreements and broken promises as they are also imprisoned behind Israeli walls, fences and checkpoints. While the vast majority of Palestinians continue to reel under this horrific Oslo-induced reality, Abbas, the Fatah, and PA elites enjoy the perks of their acquiescence and outright betrayal of the Palestinian people.
Arafat, despite all of his political miscalculations, is still missed in Palestine 15 years following his death. This truth is a commentary on today’s sad state of affairs. What’s most ironic however, is that today’s tragic reality is, in many ways, the direct outcome of Arafat’s own legacy.
Israeli warplanes attacked, early Saturday morning, several targets throughout the besieged Gaza Strip, causing heavy damage but no bodily harm, The Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported.
The correspondent said warplanes fired more than 10 missiles at targets and agricultural land northwest of Gaza City and in Beit Lahia. Heavy destruction was reported in targeted areas and nearby property.
Israel claimed the attack came after rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel causing some destruction but no injuries.
Sporadic fighting has been reported over the past two days despite a ceasefire observed on Thursday. After three days of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza that left 34 people dead, including women and children from the same family, and over 100 wounded.
When The US, Germany and the UK simultaneously condemn the Palestinian rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on the Israeli colonies near the Gaza Strip, without even mentioning the Israeli assassination of a Palestinian leader, which provoked the hostilities in the first place, it is a very old colonialist paradigm is at display. And when the US vice president tweets his support of Israel’s “right to defend itself”, when over 20 Palestinians, including children, have been killed by Israeli weaponry and no Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets, the same paradigm reveals itself again. In fact, the official reactions from Western leaders in the past days are manifestations of a distorted logic, two-hundred-and-two years old.
Dr. Witzeman, It’s a boy!
In late October 1917, in London, the Zionist leader and lecturer in chemistry, Chaim Witzeman arrived in the British cabinet offices on 10 Downing Sreet. He walked through a long corridor and reached a waiting hall outside an office, where high-ranking figures of the British government were concluding their meeting. Before Witzeman took off his coat, the door of the office opened and an Englishman in a military suit emerged. He was Sir Mark Sykes. The man who knew the least about the Middle East in the British cabinet and whose only experience in the Arab world had only been as a tourist. He was also the man shaping all the British policy towards the region in the final stages of World War I. He walked towards Witzeman with a big smile, his arms extended forward in celebration and exclaimed with a cheering voice: “Doctor Witzeman, it’s a boy!”
Over a year of Zionist lobbying had just given fruit. The British cabinet had just approved the final draft of a 67-words-long letter, later to be known as the “Balfour Declaration”. In it, the British government expressed its policy of supporting the Zionist colonization of Palestine, without explicitly supporting the creation of a Jewish state. The declaration rather mentioned a “national home for the Jewish people”. However, the letter revealed a deeply distorted understanding of Palestine as a country. The British did not necessarily sympathize with the Zionist cause. In the midst of World War I, they were seeking to win over the support of what they imagined to be the influence of a world Jewry, to help them win the war and outmaneuver the French, the competing emerging force in the region. Exploiting the classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that dominated the minds of British policy-makers, the Zionist leaders managed to convince them that they, the Zionist movement, represented this supposed influential world Jewry. At the very same time, the British top decision makers ignored completely the existence of a people in Palestine with national aspirations.
The text of the declaration, which was reviewed and edited tens of times before its submission to the British cabinet, with the participation of Zionist leaders like Witzeman, Gester and Sokolaw, reads, “ His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … “ recognizing the Jews, who represented around 8 percent of Palestine’s population, with no common origin or cultural background, as a people in the full political sense of the word. Whereas it referred to the Palestinian people as follows, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” Thus, the Balfour declaration turned the native people of Palestine, representing more than 92 percent of the population and centuries of culture and history, into mere “communities”, whose only characteristic was the fact of not being Jewish. Furthermore, these “existing” communities only had, according to the declaration, civil and religious rights, and not political ones.
Nevertheless, one person in the British cabinet saw the mistake and prophetically foretold its consequences. Lord George Curzon, member of the cabinet as Privy Seal, former British Viceroy of India and later to become Britain’s secretary of foreign affairs, passed a memorandum in opposition to the Balfour declaration, on October 26th, only a few days before the declaration was made public. In it. Curzon pulled the alarm on an important question, which no one else seemed to have thought of, “What is to become of the people of the country [Palestine]?” he asked, “There are over half a million Syrian Arabs. A mixed community with Arab, Hebrew, Canaanite, Greek, Egyptian and possibly crusaders’ blood. They and their ancestors have occupied the country for the best part of 1500 years. They own the soil, which belongs either to individual landowners or to village communities (…) they will not be content either to be expropriated for Jewish immigrants or to act merely as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the latter”.
Paving the way for the Nakba
In fact, the Palestinians were much more ahead in their national aspirations than even Curzon had described them. In 1919, only two years after the British had taken over Palestine from the Turks, and three years before the League of Nations decreed the British mandate over the country, Palestinians were already organizing. In that year, the mayor of Jerusalem, Mousa Kazem Husseini, presided the first “Arab National Congress of Palestine”. The congress ended with several decisions, which included forming a delegation that would travel to London, in order to meet the British government and officially, in the name of the Arab Palestinians, oppose the Balfour declaration. Nine other congresses followed until the year 1929. In that year, Palestinians took to the streets in protest to the British support of the Zionist colonization of their country. More Palestinian revolts followed, where Palestinians demonstrated, went into general strikes, fought with arms and voiced out their existence in every way possible.
This made the Zionist leaders understand, for good, that Palestinians were not going to accept to be an exotic decoration in a Jewish state and that they were a real people, with national aspirations and, thus, had to be removed; physically removed. The contradiction between two opposed national projects was self-evident. However, to the British, there was only one people and one national project. Therefore, they carried on with the violent crushing of the Palestinian national movement until it could no longer put up a fight, paving the way for the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, the Nakba.
A continuous mindset
For decades to follow, Palestinians had to struggle for the recognition of their very existence that had been since 1917 by the colonial mindset of the Western powers. A mindset that manifested itself for the first time when Mark Sykes, on behalf of the British empire and the Western world, congratulated Chaim Witzeman for the “birth” of a boy, not even noticing he was actually announcing the murder of another. That same mindset that reveals itself today every time a Western leader condemns the resistance of two-million people besieged for over a decade, tweets in support Israel’s “right to defend itself”.
Gaza (QNN)- Some children, who survived the massacre in which an Israeli strike killed 8 of the Abu Malhous “Sawarkah” family, including five children and two women, spoke about what happened with them last Thursday.
That night, Noor Sawarkah (12 years old) could not sleep. She was scarred hearing the Israeli drones hovering over the area.
“I couldn’t sleep that night. I was scared of the sounds of the Israeli drones”, said Noor, who lives now with her grandmother and who was on a visit to her wounded siblings.
Noor also stated that her family used to live inside a plastic room in their shanty house. They were asleep when Noor spotted a red light and heard a massive explosion.
“I rushed out of the house and couldn’t wake my family up. I stood in a land near the house, shaking and crying”, Noor said. When the explosions stopped Noor went back to her house and saw what made her absolutely thunderstruck.
“I did not find the house but there was only a huge hole while everything was thrown here and there and my family was buried in the sands”, Noor said.
Other members of Noor’s family survived the Israeli massacre. Noor’s siblings Nermin (10 years old) has broken legs, Reem (8 years old) has a broken nose, and Salem (3 years old) has a fractured pelvis. Her father Muhammad (40 years old) also survived but he is still in the ICU. Noor’s mother, Yusra (39 years old) and her brothers Muath (7 year sold) and waseem (13 years old) were killed in the strike.
Noor now has only her Grandmother’s house, where she sleeps, left but she prefers to spend her day at hospital comforting her siblings, who keep asking about their mother, as they don’t know that she is gone.
Several Palestinian families and mothers spend their time with the survivors to alleviate their grief.
Diaa Sawarkah (13 years old) is another survivor, who is still in shock of what he witnissed.
He was wounded in the face as a result of shrapnel while he was escaping towards the house of his grandmother, which became his only refuge.
“I was lying in the house when everything turned to red and I heard an explosion in my uncle’s house. I rushed out to my grandmother’s house (500 meters away)”, AA quoted him.
“Then other explosions took place while I was running. I reached my grandmother and asked her to call an ambulance because our house was bombed. My grandmother did not know that our house was bombed”, said Diaa, whose relatives describe him as daring and strong hearted.
“I went back with my brother Muhammad and a neighbor to the place of the explosion to find many people there. I saw my brother Muhannad (12 years old) buried in the sand and his legs outside. I saw my cousin Nermin (10 years old) as well buried in the sand”, he added.
“I tried to pull Nermin out. she was crying. Then they took me with them to the hospital and I don’t know what happened. They told me that my dad and Muhannad died”.
The bereaved grandmother Silmiyyah Sawarkah (70 years old) spoke out about the new concerns that she will have to face.
“The children will live with me. My sons, both the martyr and the wounded one, suffered from financial straits. They lived in shanty and plastic houses. They even could not send all their children to school.”
“I don’t know how to provide food and the basic needs for them. This is too much for me!”, she said.
She added that when the massacre happened, Diaa came yelling “we want an ambulance.. my family and my uncle got killed”.
“I’m very old. I couldn’t do anything, so I called the neighbors and asked them to call an ambulance. Shortly afterwards, they told me that eight of my sons and their families were killed.. It was a shock!”, she explained.
Awatef Sawarkah (35 years old), the aunt of the children, seemed to be the strongest among the bereaved family members.
“What happened with the families of my brothers Rasmi and Muhammad is unbelievable and beyond description and logic. How would they use bombs that weigh tons to bombard a shanty house, which would burn in few minutes if it is set on fire”, she said.
“They bombarded the house on the heads of women and children, who were inside, all of a sudden. I don’t know, where is the international law and the conscientious people around the world to see what happened? Why did they bombard our houses?”
On the dawn of Thursday, Israeli warplanes bombarded two houses of the Sawarkah family, murdering eight of them, including five children and two ladies. The Israeli army claimed responsibility of the massacre and claimed that it was a mistake.
To justify killing Palestinians, Israeli army uses videos about terror attacks including 9/11, Mumbai, Manchester, Paris, Sweden, Indonesia and Nigeria, none of which had anything to do with the Palestinians
By Yvonne Ridley
Each claimed targeted killing carried out by the Israeli occupation army included several innocent civilians. Sometimes, the targeted killings just slaughter women, children and infants.
The seriously misnamed Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and its supporters get very upset when members of the fifth largest army in the world are accused of targeting innocent women and children. They issue vehement denials to the world even though that is exactly what happens as a direct consequence of firing high explosives into densely populated civilian areas.
Even as the bombs are falling, Israeli propaganda goes into top gear. An IDF tweet yesterday announced dramatically: “BREAKING: We just targeted Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, Baha Abu Al Ata. Al Ata was directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. His next attack was imminent.” This was followed quickly up by another post which claimed that the deadly attack was a “precision strike”.
That claim is debateable. What the IDF hasbara team failed to mention was that while targeting Abu Al-Ata the occupation army also killed his wife, and seriously injured four of their children and a neighbour. There was nothing “precision” or “surgical” about this strike; it was arguably a war crime.
When you lob Hellfire missiles — “used in a number of targeted killings of high-profile individuals,” explains Wikipedia — and other so-called smart bombs into a civilian area you will kill civilians. Non-combatant civilians were not protected in such a way during World War Two, which is why Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions was drawn up. It states that no one should be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
Now we have to sit back and witness the twin obscenities not only of Israel ignoring the Geneva Conventions and killing civilians, but also of pro-Israel lobbyists defending such action. Among the many tweets posted in support of the military strike, one which caught my eye came from the public relations director of a German NGO; Josias Terschüren challenged me when I had the temerity to point out that there was no such thing as a “surgical strike” in civilian areas.
“Apparently nobody but the targeted terrorist and his wife died in the surgical strike and two of his children were severely wounded,” tweeted Terschüren. “This can happen and has happened to other terrorist family members. No civilians were hurt.”
In this man’s eyes, therefore, neither Abu Al-Ata’s wife nor his children can be regarded as innocent civilians; they are members of a “terrorist family”.
When I challenged him on this, the public relations director of the Berlin-based Holocaust charity “Initiative 27. Januar” responded: “I was referring to your critique of Israeli strikes in densely populated areas. All I wanted to express was, that apart from his family members no other civilians were hit. While unfortunate and sad, this is not uncommon in cases of terrorists‘ family members.”
I’m not sure if Terschüren, who describes himself as “Conservative” and “Christian”, deliberately pushes out this vile propaganda or is a victim of Israeli propaganda himself, because that is a weapon which the IDF uses and abuses with great skill.
Consider this, for example: “This morning we killed an Islamic Jihad commander in #Gaza,” tweeted the IDF yesterday. “This is why you should care.” The accompanying video included news clips about terror attacks including 9/11, Mumbai, Manchester, Paris, Sweden, Indonesia and Nigeria, none of which had anything to do with the Palestinians. Trying to link Palestinian resistance groups to transnational terrorist attacks elsewhere is simply dishonest. They are not branches of Al-Qaeda or Daesh, no matter how many times the IDF and Israel’s lackeys try to convince us otherwise. It simply isn’t true.
That, though, is what we have come to expect from a country which cannot justify its state terrorism in any other way. “Lies, damn lies and Israeli propaganda,” as Mark Twain might have said. Sadly, such propaganda seems to work, judging by social media; those who are anti-Palestinian fall for it hook, line and sinker, probably because it fuels their own inherent racism and hatred.
The IDF has been busy with more “surgical strikes” since the murder of Abu Al-Ata and his wife. The death toll as I write is 23 Palestinians, of which pro-Israel lobbyists claim just 12 were “confirmed to be members of terror groups”. The strikes were not so surgical after all.
Perhaps the 18 innocents caught up in all of this were the wives and children of the “terrorists”. So that’s all right then, according to Israel’s deluded and blinkered war crime apologists. Their sophistry to justify the murder of innocent men, women and children is sickening.
Journalist blinded in one eye by the Israeli occupation forces
Violent clashes broke out on Friday between Palestinian protesters and Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in al-Khalil and Qalqilya in the West Bank.
Local sources said that a number of Palestinians were injured by IOF rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters, including a journalist, during protests in Surif town in al-Khalil.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that journalist Mu’ath Amarneh was shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the eye. He was transferred to a local hospital for treatment but doctors couldn’t save his eye.
Dozens of Palestinian citizens marched in Surif to protest land seizure by the Israeli authorities in favor of settlement construction.
Meanwhile, confrontations flared up in Kafr Qaddum in Qalqilya after the IOF violently quelled the weekly demonstration in the town.
Activist Murad Shtewi said that the IOF showered the peaceful demonstrators with tear gas canisters, stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets.
Dozens of Palestinians choked on tear gas and were treated in the field, he added.