Israel planning new settlement in flashpoint city

The illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the occupied West Bank [Wikicommons]

The illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the West Bank, 31 October 2019

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has approved the construction of a new settlement in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron, Anadolu Agency reports.

In a statement, Bennet’s office said the defense minister had ordered the relevant offices within the ministry to “inform the Hebron municipality that planning was starting for the new neighborhood” near the city’s old market.

The statement said the new Hebron settlement will create Jewish “territorial continuity” between the existing Avraham Avinu neighborhood and the Ibrahimi mosque.

“The market’s buildings will be demolished and new stores will be built instead,” it said.

READ: Israel advances settlement plans all over occupied East Jerusalem

The market area is on Hebron’s Old City and is close to the Ibrahimi mosque, which saw the massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers by Jewish extremist settler Baruch Goldstein in 1994.

Hebron is home to roughly 160,000 Palestinians and about 500 Jewish settlers. The latter live in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops.

The building comes weeks after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Israeli settlements in the West Bank will no longer be viewed as illegal “per se”.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians insist to regain the entire West Bank along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

READ: Israel court freezes sale of Jerusalem church buildings to Jewish settler group

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Israel: Arab lawmaker attacked by right-wing activists

Member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi protects himself as occupation forces use tear gas to disperse Palestinians who have gathered at the site of properties it demolished this week in the occupied East Jerusalem district of Sur Baher on 26 July 2019

Member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi protects himself as occupation forces use tear gas to disperse Palestinians who have gathered at the site of properties it demolished this week in the occupied East Jerusalem district of Sur Baher on 26 July 2019

Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Knesset for the Arab Movement for Change, was attacked by right-wing activists Saturday while entering an event in the central city of Ramat Hasharon, Anadolu Agency reports.

Tibi was called a terrorist and murderer by protesters who said he is not welcomed, according to Israeli media reports.

Tibi says members of the Arab-majority Joint List would have been murdered if a minority government was formed with their support, Haaretz added.

READ: 2 Arab Knesset members receive death threats

Following Israeli elections in September, 10 of the 13 Arab MKs recommended Israel’s President Reuven Rivli assign Benny Gantz to form a government in a bid to topple the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gantz failed and Rivlin told Parliament to find a new prime minister by December 11 or face elections for the third time in 112 months.

Netanyahu was unable to form a government following inconclusive elections as he remains embroiled in several corruption cases.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Israeli Troops Abduct Five Palestinians in Pre-Dawn Raids Across the West Bank

On Sunday morning before dawn, Israeli troops invaded several parts of the West Bank and abducted five Palestinians.

In the town of Beit Awwa in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, Israeli forces abducted Mohammad Osama Shalash and Uday Ismail Shalash.

Both are believed to be under age 18, although their exact ages have not been reported.

Meanwhile in Bethlehem, also in the southern West Bank, Israeli troops abducted Amer Ali Dhuib and Hafez Dauw , while another teenager,  Osama Ali al-Badan (16), received a notification to report to a nearby interrogation center for questioning.

Izz al-Din Freihat, from al-Yamoun village, was abducted in front of Tayyar checkpoint. He is also a former prisoner.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Illegal Israeli Settlers Harass Palestinians and International Supporters

Israeli settlers today chased down Palestinian sheep herders and international supporters away from their pastures in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, according Aref Daraghmeh, a local activist.

He said the settlers forced the sheep herders to leave the area and assaulted some of the international supporters who were accompanying them in solidarity.

Israeli settlers are known for their attacks on Palestinians, but assaults on Palestinian farmers and herders have been frequent over the past few weeks, since the Trump administration announced that the U.S. would support Israel’s illegal attempts to annex the Jordan Valley.

Armed settlers and soldiers often prevent Palestinian shepherds from herding in the open pastures of the occupied West Bank in order to force them to abandon the area. This would make space for the Israeli settlers to further colonize this area, which belongs to Palestinian landowners, but which is coveted by Israeli colonizers.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Israeli Troops Invade Al-Aroub Refugee Camp; Fire Tear Gas at Homes

On Saturday night, a squadron of heavily-armed Israeli soldiers invaded the al-Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron.

The troops did not announce the reason for the invasion, nor was there a statement from the Israeli military.

A number of Palestinian civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation due to the Israeli occupation forces’ firing of tear gas and tear gas canisters towards houses in the area.

A correspondent with the Wafa News Agency said that the Israeli occupation forces stormed the camp and fired sound bombs, tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets towards the houses of the Palestinian residents of the camp, causing panic among the children.

Those who suffered from tear gas inhalation were treated by local medics on the ground. None were hospitalized.

The troops, according to eyewitnesses, stayed for several hours firing tear gas and sound bombs at the houses of the camp.

Some of the youth of the camp threw stones at the soldiers to try to get them to leave. Eventually, the soldiers left the camp and headed back to their military base built on illegally-occupied Palestinian land.

In related news, the soldiers installed a roadblock at the entrance of Shuhada Street, in the center of Hebron city, in addition to many roadblocks on roads in several areas of Hebron governorate.

The roadblocks were installed at the entrances of Bani Neim and Beit Awwa towns, the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, and near Beit Hagai illegal colony.

The soldiers stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated the Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

Also Saturday, the soldiers killed Badawi Khaled al-Masalma, 18, in Beit Awwa town, west of Hebron, and abducted two other Palestinians.

Earlier this month, on Nov. 11th, a 22-year-old from the al-Aroub refugee camp was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during a similar invasion. He was allegedly among youth throwing stones at the soldiers when he was shot and killed. The slain Palestinian was identified as Omar Haitham al-Badawi.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Israeli soldiers prevent girls from reaching school in Nablus

Nablus (QNN)- Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinian students from reaching their school in Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, near the city of Nablus, under the pretext of turning the area into a “military zone”.

The head of the village Council, Ya’qoub Oweis, told QNN that Israeli soldiers prevented students from reaching their school located on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus.

He added that the Israelis claimed that the area has become a military zone because some young men had thrown stones at Israeli Jeeps in the area a few days ago, which is why the road to the village’s only high school was closed.

After confronting the Israelis, locals of the village were able to remove the concrete blocks and reopen the road, so that the students could reach their school.

Israeli soldiers routinely try to assault school children, which leads in some cases to arrests and confrontations.

(Source/ 01.12.2019)

Violations of Palestinian content 50% higher than previous month

Ramallah (QNN) – In a serious escalation of violations of the Palestinian content by the social media websites, Sada Social Center has documented 223 violations against the Palestinian content in November 2019, up by 50 percent from the previous month.

Facebook ranked at top of the violators, with a total of 134 violations ranging from the removal of pages, accounts, posts and publications and the restriction of access. The most notable of those violations were the removal of the following pages: Tulkarm Baldna, Shabab Baladna, Nablus Breaking News, Nablus Times, Anabta Times, Faqqu’a Town, Dura City, and We All Love You Nablus.

In another serious violation the first of its kind, WhatsApp banned more than 77 Palestinian phone numbers which belonged to activists, journalists and others without any legal justification.

Twitter has also deleted 8 Palestinian accounts, the most important of which are: Quds News Network (the English and Arabic pages), Quds Network Network – Breaking, the personal accounts of Yusuf Isleih, Yahya Helles, and Samir Al Khairy Account.

Sada Social Center also documented 4 violations of the Palestinian content by Instagram and one by YouTube.

The center said it has been in continuous contact with the social media administrations in order to restore the removed accounts and pages. So far this month, it was able to restore 18 Palestinian pages and accounts on Facebook, in addition to the Twitter account of the Palestinian government’s spokesman Ibrahim Melhem.

Launched in early September 2017, Sada Social Center has been concerned with launching initiatives to enrich Palestinian content on the Internet, especially on the social media, and monitor any violations of this content.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Israeli occupation murders Palestinian in West Bank

After shooting the two Palestinian youths, Israeli occupation forces prevented paramedics from helping them

Israeli occupation forces have opened fire at two Palestinian youths in West Bank city of Al Khalil (Hebron), leaving one dead and the other with serious wounds.

Witnesses named that the Palestinian youth, who was killed, as Badawi Khalid Masalmeh, 18, noting that he was shot and left bleeding on the ground.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that the Israeli occupation forces had prevented its paramedics to reach the Palestinians youths, who had been bleeding.

Badawi, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, remained bleeding without any medical assistance until he died.

Israeli occuaption army said that its troops spotted two Palestinians throwing bottles at them; so that, they opened fire, killing one and arresting the other.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

International law is clear on one point: Israel’s settlements are illegal

Despite the US administration’s announcement to the contrary, there is no question as to the unlawfulness of Israel’s settler encroachment

By Peter Falk

Blind US support for the Israeli oppression against the Palestinians will not make Israel stronger because of the existence of the Palestinian resistance and global solidarity movement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made headlines around the world two weeks ago in announcing that the US had shifted its position, and no longer viewed Israeli settlements as a violation of international law.

In one of the stupider public statements of our time, Pompeo explained that “arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace”. It is stupid, first, because there is no genuine argument about the unlawfulness of the settlements; until the US spoke out of turn, Israel was alone in defending their legality.

More definitively, the role of international law is to regulate the proper behaviour of sovereign states – not to make peace by negating the law’s relevance, which truly seems a cheer for the law of the jungle.

‘Reality on the ground’

Pompeo removed any doubt about this when he justified the shift by admitting that the US “recognised the reality on the ground”. In plainer language, lawless behaviour can become lawful if sustained long enough by force – a logic that not only defies international law, but is contrary to the core legal commitments of the UN Charter.

Particularly in the area of peace and security, international law can be somewhat ambiguous. Opposing positions can be reasonably maintained, resolved by either an authorised tribunal or by practice sustained over time.

The establishment of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, however, is an example of an issue upon which it is not possible to make a responsible argument in support of legality.

The unlawfulness of the settler encroachment has been pointed out repeatedly by informed observers as the biggest single obstacle to peace, and the most vivid and unabashed Israeli defiance of international law.

So, has Washington given Israel its blessing to do whatever it wants in the future regarding settlements – and for that matter, in the entirety of the occupied West Bank? After all, if the White House now endorses Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights in Syrian sovereign territory, the West Bank may be thought of as small potatoes.

The clarity of international law on the issue of Israeli settlements arises in part from the unusual fact that they have been formally declared illegal by the most authoritative sources of international guidance. Several key examples illustrate this international consensus.

Consensus of illegality

Firstly, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. This important provision of international humanitarian law is universally understood as prohibiting the establishment of Israeli settlements on any part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

If Israel was complying with international law, it should have ceased settlement activity and dismantled what had been built in the years after the 1967 war. Instead, Israel continued building, at an accelerated pace, advancing the lame rationale that Israelis should be able to live wherever they wish in Palestine.

Israel does not even view the areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank where settlements exist as being “occupied” in a legal sense, viewing this as part of the “promised land”.

Secondly, the International Court of Justice in 2004 strongly reaffirmed the unlawfulness of Israel’s settlement construction in occupied territory – and with a 14-1 ruling, the court showed a highly unusual degree of unity.

The court pointed out that the separation wall was built so as to put on the Israeli side 80 percent of the settler population, noting in passing that the settlements were established in violation of applicable law. Israel refused to comply with this conclusive judgment, emphasising its “advisory” character.

Thirdly, in December 2016, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, deeming by a vote of 14-0 that the settlements had no legal validity. The US abstained from the vote. The resolution noted that the settlements constituted “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. It stressed exactly the opposite point to the one made by Pompeo.

Geopolitical significance

No country can, by its decree, influence the legal status of Israeli settlement activity. What Pompeo declared was a shift in the political position of the US government. It is legally insignificant, but geopolitically significant.

The Trump spin room sought to minimise the shift by recalling that Ronald Reagan, while president, once indicated off-the-cuff that he didn’t think the settlements were illegal – but as is not so often noted, he went on to suggest that settlement expansion was “unnecessarily provocative”.

More relevant was the exchange of letters by former US President George W Bush and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, in which they agreed that any viable peace deal with the Palestinians would allow the settlement blocs along the border to be incorporated into Israel.

Again, such a side agreement was without legal legs, representing nothing more than a geopolitical pat on Israel’s back – but it was a good indicator of what Israel and the US would demand in future peace negotiations.

What makes the Pompeo statement different is its positioning in relation to other controversial Trump moves and its whitewashing language, which gives Israel an incentive to move ahead with annexation. This is another instance of US overreach.

Final nail in the coffin

Palestinian resistance remains strong, as the Great March of Return along the Gaza-Israel fence illustrates, and global solidarity initiatives are gathering strength – a reality that Israel seems to acknowledge, by defaming its nonviolent opponents as antisemites.

The new settlements rhetoric continues the pattern established by the Trump administration: repudiating the international consensus on key issues bearing on the rights and duties of states.

The highlights of this pattern in the Palestinian context have included moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, endorsing Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, and now, sidelining as irrelevant the illegality of Israel’s settlements.

This step has been condemned in diplomatic circles as a final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. It moves the political compass towards a one-state outcome, with the likelihood being Jewish dominance and Palestinian subjugation in a state structure that increasingly looks and behaves like an apartheid regime.

Is this, then, the endgame of the Palestinian struggle? I think not. Palestinian resistance and the global solidarity movement will be telling the world a different story.

(Source / 01.12.2019)

Israeli forces assault students near Nablus

Photos File

Photos File

Israeli forces on Sunday morning assaulted students and prevented them from attending their school in the village of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, to the south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, local sources said.

Israeli soldiers stopped students as they were walking to their school, located on the main Nablus-Ramallah Street, and asked to either go back or take some other long road.

Harassment of students and civilians by Israeli forces and settlers is a routine occurrence in the occupied West Bank, especially in areas adjacent to illegal settlements.

(Source / 01.12.2019)