The European Union (EU) is channelling European taxpayers’ money to Israeli entities accused of international law violations, according to a new briefing by human rights campaigners.
The research, carried out by the Brussels-based group European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), was published Tuesday.
“EU research funds have been a very important source of funding for Israeli academics, corporations and state institutions, among them a number of military companies and those involved in illegal Israeli settlements”, stated ECCP in a press release launching ‘EU and Israel: The Case of Complicity’.
“For many years European and Palestinian civil society and human rights organisations have been raising concerns over European taxpayers’ money being channelled to Israeli companies and institutions accused of war crimes and involved in violations of international law and human rights”.
According to ECCP, even at the same time as the EU has been criticising Israeli actions over the years in the occupied Palestinian territory, the body has also been “funding the very companies that sustain these unlawful activities”.
Thus, the human rights campaigners add, “when it comes to Israel the EU continues to violate its own directives and commitments to international law by funding Israeli complicit entities at the expense of Palestinians”.
In one example cited in the research, as part of the last funding cycle known as ‘Horizon 2020’, two of Israel’s largest military companies – Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industry – received almost 10 million Euros of European taxpayers’ money.
Although Israel is not an EU country, Israeli applicants have been able to access EU research funds on the same basis as member states since 1995 through the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
“While Israel, as the Occupying Power, bears the main responsibility to ensure respect for international law and human rights of the occupied Palestinian population”, ECCP states, “third states which are not party to the conflict, such as the EU and its member states, also have an obligation to not aid, assist or recognise bodies that violate international law”.
An internal report, alleging sexual misconduct and corruption among the agency’s top officials, was leaked to the press. It included accusations against UNRWA’s management of “nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives, jeopardising the credibility and interests of the agency.”
The sharp reduction in funding has had a direct impact on the situation of Palestinians in refugee camps, in particular.
In August 2018, the US suddenly announced it would cut all funding to the organisation. Until then, the US had been its top donor, with an annual contribution of $360 million.
Since the US withdrawal from the agency, widespread reports have emerged of worsening conditions in the camps scattered throughout Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon and Jordan, and the UN organisation continues to struggle financially amid the ongoing campaign against it, seeking urgent funds to maintain its work.
Marc Lassouaoui, chief of donor relations in UNRWA’s Department of External Relations and Communications, announced: “We welcome the decision by the Netherlands to unlock funds that will help UNRWA at an exceptionally challenging period of its existence.”
“The amount that we will receive will help the agency continue to provide critical humanitarian services and operations for the remainder of 2019 in the areas of primary health care, education and social services across its five fields of operations.”
In addition, the Netherlands agreed to provide a further $6.65 million (€6 million) for 2019, bringing the total amount of Dutch funding to UNRWA’s core budget in 2019 to $21 million (€19 million).
According to the organisation’s press release, the multiyear agreement covers the period of 2019 -2021, and promises to make unearmarked annual contributions of $13 million, to support the agency’s program budget.
Last month, the UN voted to extend UNRWA’s mandate until 2023. The vote was 170-2, with only Israel and the US voting against it. The second stage of approval is expected to occur on Friday, at the UN General Assembly.
Foreign Ministers of the European Union are expected to exchange views, next month, on whether the 28-nation bloc should recognize Palestine as a sovereign state as the US pushes ahead with pro-occupation policies, undermining the prospect of the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ireland and Luxembourg are among the EU member states seeking to raise the issue at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, on January 20, 2020.
Speaking on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the top diplomats will discuss whether the bloc should modify its Middle East policy, following Washington’s decision “on the legality of the Israeli colonies and some fears that they (the Americans) can continue taking decisions on this in this way.”
He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement, last month, that the establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank “is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
“Certainly we are in a difficult period in the Middle East Peace Process. We continue holding our position, that is to say a negotiated two-state solution. But for sure if we want a two-state solution we need to help and encourage both parties to enter a serious and credible negotiation. And this is not the case – really, it is not the case,” Borrell said, according to the PNN.
“Recognition is not an EU competence. It is a responsibility of individual Member States. But we continue, as European Union, supporting a two-state solution. And what we have decided is that in January, we will devote one point of the agenda to deeply discuss the situation in Middle East and of the Middle East Peace Process,” he added.
He also noted that the recognition of the Palestine is among the “very much dividing” issues among EU countries.
On Sunday, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn sent a letter to his EU counterparts and Borrell, saying the only way to save the so-called two-state bid was to create “a more equitable situation” between Israel and Palestine.
“It is time to start a debate within the European Union on the opportunity of a recognition of the State of Palestine by all its Member States,” Channel 13 cited the letter. Such recognition “would neither be a favor, nor a blank check, but a simple recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to their own State.”
Asselborn further stated that hopes for the two-state solution were “being dismantled piece by piece, day after day.”
“The policy of settlement and demolition risks replacing the two-state solution with a one-state reality, marked by perpetual conflict, occupation and unequal rights,” he pointed out.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem al-Quds, with the latter as its capital.
In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” despite strong opposition from Israel.
The Palestinian national flag was hoisted, for the first time, at the UN headquarters in New York, in September of 2015.
Israeli forces, on Tuesday evening, raided the industrial zone in al-Bireh/Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, leading to confrontations.
Forces stormed the industrial zone and stationed their troops in the vicinity of the traffic department, there, where they proceeded to confiscate camera records from a number of facilities, leading to violence.
According to WAFA, two youth were reportedly shot and injured with rubber-coated steel bullets fired by forces during the confrontations.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Ahmad Zahran, 42, imprisoned by Israeli under repeatedly renewed arbitrary Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial, is ongoing with the hunger strike for the 80th consecutive day, despite his seriously deteriorating health condition.
The PPS stated that the Israeli Prison Authority is rejecting his demands, and that a court hearing is scheduled to take place on December 19th, to discuss an appeal filed by his lawyer, demanding the revocation of the new four-month Administrative Detention order against him.
Zahran, a married father of four, is currently at Kaplan Israeli medical center, and is facing serious health complications, but determined to continue his strike.
The PPS also said that the detainee remains denied visits with his family, and even his lawyers are facing numerous obstacles whenever they demand sitting with him.
He was repeatedly transferred to various prisons and was placed in solitary confinement, in cells that are not fit for human habitation.
Zahran, from Deir Abu Mashal town, near Ramallah, is also a former political prisoner who spent 15 years in Israeli prisons and detention centers.
Since the beginning of this year, dozens of detainees held hunger strikes for various periods demanding an end of their arbitrary detention; there are around 450 Palestinians held by Israel under the same orders.
Aishah Abu Laban is 70 years old. It has been 30 years since the fateful day in 1989 when an Israeli soldier shot and killed her 13-year-old daughter, Rufaydah – but she will never forget it. Rufaydah, who lived in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, was killed on her way home from the funeral of 16-year-old Naser al-Qassas, who had also been shot dead by soldiers a day earlier. The IDF Spokesperson responded to Rufaydah’s death by declaring “There was no connection between the death of the girl and IDF activity in the area.” Thirty years on, as Aishah puts it, there is only one conclusion: “When the judge is your enemy, who can you complain to?”
Twelve years later, we find ourselves in another refugee camp in the West Bank. This time Nur a-Shams and her two young sisters, Hanan, 11, and Iman, 8, were wounded in their home by an Israeli tank shell. Their mother, Najah Abu Sha’ala, was fearful of the tanks encircling the camp, as any mother would be. When the shelling grew heavier, she led her family to the safest place in the house: the staircase leading up to the roof. Then the shell hit. The IDF Spokesperson said: “After reviewing the overall circumstances of the incident, the decision is that there are no grounds for ordering an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit into this matter.”
Iman was taken to a hospital in East Jerusalem, but Najah couldn’t go with her as she didn’t have a permit to enter Israel. Several months later, Iman was scheduled to go to Jordan with her father to have the shrapnel from the shell removed. A few weeks before the trip, soldiers shot and killed her father at Anabta checkpoint while he was on his way to work.
Nine years earlier, soldiers shot dead three-year-old Na’im Abu Amneh in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip (“The decision is not to take legal action against the shooters,” said the IDF Spokesperson). Fast-forward 27 years, and Na’im’s mother, Asmahan, recalls how her little boy would always tell her how strong he was. It never crossed her mind that she would have to live without him – her eldest son, her first pride and joy.
Maryam Abu Nijem lost her husband, Bilal, in the summer of 2014. The bombing of their home in Gaza’s Jabalya Refugee Camp also killed Bilal’s father, his grandfather, and two of his brothers. Three neighbors were killed, including three-year-old Raghad and 14-year-old Shaymaa. Maryam’s mother-in-law, Fawzeyeh, was gravely injured. A few years earlier, in another bombardment of Gaza in 2008, Fawzeyeh’s parents’ home was bombed and eleven family members were killed.
Rewind to 1991, the West Bank village of Beit Rima. Muhammad al-Barghouti, 23, who had a mental disability caused by meningitis as a child, was sitting at the entrance of a house. When Israeli soldiers arrived, he stayed put. So they beat him (IDF Spokesperson: “Under these circumstances, we did not see fit to order any legal proceedings against the soldiers, and the investigation file was closed”). Since then, whenever Muhammad heard that soldiers were in the village, he would run for his life.
Six years later, another place, another Palestinian: Border Police officers beat Jamal Sukar from Dheisheh (“I have decided to close the case on the grounds that unfortunately we were unable, despite our efforts, to locate the suspect”). Jamal has never forgotten that day, nor the pain in his leg. But he has never shared the experience with his children in order to spare them the resentment and rage that he feels.
Seventeen years after her son Nidal was killed, Muna Abu Muhsen hates the holidays and stills feels like he died yesterday. In 2002, in the town of Tubas, soldiers used her son as a human shield (“The examination found that the commanders of the forces on the ground did not estimate that employing the assistance of Mr. Abu Muhsen would place his life in danger”). Three years later, in the same town, Shahrzad Abu Muhsen would lose her youngest child, 14-year-old Salah a-Din – soldiers shot and killed him while he was playing with a plastic gun with a friend (“The complaint was not located,” said the IDF Spokesperson). When Shahrzad made the pilgrimage to Mecca, she could have sworn she saw her son circling the Ka’ba, wearing the holiday clothes he had on the day he was killed.
Hadil Ghaben from Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip loved cartoons. When she was seven years old, an Israeli artillery shell exploded in her living room. The Military Advocate General did not launch an investigation. Thirteen years later, the surviving members of her family are scarred in body and soul. Early 2009, again Beit Lahiya. This time, a white phosphorus bomb burned six members of the Abu Halima family to death, including one-year-old Shahd. The survivors were driven to a nearby hospital by tractor wagon. On the way, soldiers shot and killed two more of them (“The investigation file was closed”).
In 1994, a week before he was shot and killed by soldiers west of the town of Halhul, Imad, the eldest son of the al-Adarbeh family, took several of his brothers on a trip to the Dead Sea. After he was killed, his brother and sister named their children after him (The soldier who killed Al-Adarbeh was sentenced to a two-month suspended prison term for two years).
Ramzi Abu Amshah similarly named his eldest son after his 19-year-old brother, Yusef. Yusef was shot dead in 1995 by a soldier while sifting through settlement landfill in the northern Gaza Strip for copper and aluminum to sell. (“The Southern Command Advocate decided in his report, which was approved by the Military Advocate General, to take disciplinary action against an officer and a soldier who were connected to the incident”). The Abu Amshah family’s suffering didn’t end there: in 2003, the army demolished their home, and in the summer of 2014, the father of the family was killed, along with his second wife, in an Israeli bombardment.
In 1998, Saber Abu a-Russ from Qalandiya Refugee Camp was 21 years old. He was ashamed at the time to tell B’Tselem’s field researcher all the details of the beatings and abuse he had undergone (“The case was closed after the investigation due to lack of evidence”). Today, at 40, he is more open about the psychological pain he has carried all his life. To this day, he “can’t watch movies that have violence or news reports about incidents with the Israeli army, although every Palestinian should be aware of what’s happening around them.”
Amin Hamdan is also still afraid of anything related to the Israeli military or police. Sixteen years ago, soldiers beat him at the Ein Ariq checkpoint in front of cameras, an incident that gained international attention (“The case has not been located”). The next day at the same checkpoint, the very same soldiers prevented him from going to the hospital. Only three days after the beating did he manage to get medical treatment for jaw and rib fractures. In the months until his ribs healed, Hamdan felt as though he was being stabbed with every movement he made – and with every time his little boy asked how his father let himself get beaten up like that.
Twelve years after soldiers killed her father, Dr. Samir Hijazi, from a distance in 2004 (“The Military Advocate General did not see fit to order an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit”), Bayan Hijazi of Rafah decided to honor her late father’s wish and enrolled in medical school. Five years earlier, soldiers opened fire at fishermen in the Gaza Strip, wounding Sa’id al-Bardawil and Mahmoud a-Sharif from Khan Yunis Refugee Camp. “They didn’t even curse [at us]. They just opened fire and that’s it” (“We find no cause to order an investigation”).
Medat Shweiki, on the other hand, was cursed at as the soldiers’ blows landed. In 2000, a soldier claimed the 23-year-old was “trying to be a big man.” The beating that ensued led Shweiki to be admitted to the hospital hours later, where the police threatened to arrest him (the Department for the Investigation of Police “decided not to prosecute the officer due to lack of sufficient evidence”). The scars on Shweiki’s body remained — as did the depression. Nineteen years after that summer evening, he has one conclusion: “I have no faith in any system that is supposed to get justice for Arab victims whose rights have been violated.”
More beatings: in 2010, in the city of Ashkelon, Muhammad Dababseh from Tarqumya was attacked by an Israeli police officer. After passing out at the police station, he woke up in hospital. He lost the ability to speak and didn’t believe he would ever get it back. He remembers the moment in which he found his voice again (IDF Spokesperson: “We decided to close the case for lack of evidence”).
It’s 2012 in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. Police beat 9-year-old Amir Darwish. After about two hours at the police station, he was released. Jihad, Amir’s mother, recounts how her son’s childhood changed that day, followed by more arrests and more abuse (based on previous experience, the family found no reason to complain to the investigation department).
Twenty-nine years have passed since Amneh Fanun, now 77, was beaten by soldiers in the village of Battir (“We passed on the complaint for review by the Office of the Advocate of Central Command”). She still remembers what happened. In her words: “Life goes on, despite the pain.” Meanwhile, every day, she hears about more military killings and assaults.
The family of Yazan Safi from Jalazoun Refugee Camp had to obtain a permit every six months to enter Israel repeatedly during their son’s adolescent years. A teargas canister fired by a soldier had hit Yazan in the mouth in 2008 when he was 13, and he had to get prosthetic teeth that needed to be adjusted regularly (The case was closed after an examination by military officials, said the army). Sometimes the family didn’t get the permit and the son had to go alone for the treatment. When Yazan turned 18, the army stopped giving him permits.
Salma a-Sawarkah of Juhar a-Dik in the Gaza Strip was 74 in 2011. That’s when soldiers shot her from the Israeli side of the fence while she was grazing her flock inside the strip (“The case was forwarded for supplementary investigation by the MPIU”). After the injury, she was afraid to go near the Gaza-Israel fence ever again.
Tharwat Sha’rawi was a year younger than Salma when she was shot dead in her car by soldiers in Hebron. That was four years ago (“The case was closed after an examination of the operational debriefing”). She wanted her car to be sold with the proceeds donated to Al-Ahli Hospital after her death, but the car was foreclosed.
Six years after his brother Samir was killed in 2013, Mahmoud Awad turned 16 – the same age his brother was when soldiers shot him at the separation barrier near the West Bank village of Budrus. Mahmoud’s father Ahmad became unemployed after Israel revoked his work permit immediately after the army killed his son (The indictment against two soldiers involved in the incident, for “reckless and negligent act using a firearm,” was withdrawn two and a half years later). Ahmad has turned the documentation and exposure of the occupation into a central part of his life — a living commemoration of his son and all Palestinian victims of injustice.
Six years earlier, at another fence east of Deir al-Balah in Gaza, sixteen-year-old Mahran Abu Nseir was shot dead and two of his friends wounded by IDF fire. The three wanted to escape poverty in Gaza and look for work in Israel (“The case was closed after an examination by military officials”). Mahran’s father says his firstborn was a quiet, beloved boy.
Ata Amira from the West Bank village of Ni’lin was born an orphan. Soldiers killed his father Atallah in 1996 (“The MAG ordered the investigation file closed”), while his mother Hanaa was five months pregnant. Twenty-three years later, Hanaa is a 56-year-old widow. She speaks painfully of the time that followed, and of raising her children without their father.
The same year, in another shooting incident, four soldiers were sentenced to “a fine of one agora (0.01 of a shekel)” for the offense of “failing to comply with compulsory army regulations.” About three years earlier, they had killed Iyad Amleh of Qabalan, who was traveling with his friends on the way back to his village. The soldiers’ sentence was overturned on appeal and the defendants were sentenced to a one-month suspended prison term for one year. Iyad’s parents never recovered.
To 2016. Muhammad a-Tabakhi from a-Ram is the father of Muhyi a-Din, who was killed by Border Police officers when he was 10 years old. In the first year after Muhyi’s death, Muhammad would still say his late son’s name whenever he tried to call one of his sons.
To 2017. Baraa Kan’an from the village of Nabi Saleh was 19 when soldiers arrested him and abused him for hours on end. He was blindfolded when one of the soldiers threatened to shoot him. He heard the gun being loaded and was certain he was about to die. Kan’an was abandoned late at night and picked up by a passerby. His father says the arrest and abuse drove his son to continue protesting the occupation. A year later, he was arrested again and sentenced to 14 months in prison.
To 2018: Alaa a-Dali from Rafah was 20 when he was wounded by army gunfire. He was riding his bike to a Land Day demonstration when was shot from afar in his right leg. Israel refused to permit him access to hospital in Ramallah, and doctors in Gaza had to amputate his leg. A member of the Palestinian cycling team, he couldn’t participate in any competition outside the Gaza Strip because of the blockade. He now dreams of getting an advanced prosthesis.
And so, in 2016, after 25 years of experience and hundreds of cases, B’Tselem decided to stop cooperating with Israel’s whitewashing mechanisms. The organization has not contacted Israeli authorities since then to investigate incidents where Palestinian residents of the occupied territories were killed or wounded.
All the cases above are from B’Tselem’s archives, researched and documented by B’Tselem field researchers and data coordinators since 1989. They are featured in a new B’Tselem project highlighting thirty stories of Palestinian victims of Israel’s occupation, one for each year since the organization’s founding.
Al Bireh (QNN)- Israeli forces on Wednesday rearrested the journalist and prisoners’ rights activist Bushra Taweel after breaking into her house in the West Bank city of Al Bireh.
This arrest would be the fourth for Bushra. She spent a total of 20 months in Israeli jails before. Her father, Jamal Taweel, is a former mayor of the city and he was also arrested several times.
In 2017, Bushra Taweel was arrested after a raid into her house. Israeli soldiers vandalized the house and stole money before arresting her to spend four months under administrative detention in Israeli jails.
Bushra Taweel is a prisoners’ rights activist. She works as a spokesperson for Anin Al Qaid institution. Her father has been released from Israeli jails only last week.
Marouf: ‘Israeli occupation forces beat Palestinian journalists, insult them, hinder their work, arrest them, raid their homes, confiscate their equipment and impose travel bans on them’
The Israeli occupation has committed 557 violations against Palestinian mass media during 2019 alone, Government Media Office (GMO) revealed in a report issued on Tuesday.
Commenting on the report, GMO director, Salama Marouf, announced that Palestinian journalists are facing the “worst violations” by the Israeli occupation, noting that a number of them were killed, with some losing body parts or suffering from serious injuries.
The most recent Israeli violation, according to Marouf, was the Israeli shooting of the Palestinian photojournalist from the West Bank, Muath Amarneh, causing serious injuries to his eye leading to its removal.
Marouf also cited the Israeli closure of Palestine TV’s office in Jerusalem, after raiding it and confiscating its contents.
Marouf stressed that the Israeli occupation forces use “direct excessive force” to crackdown on Palestinian journalists and mass media, in order to undermine their coverage of the Israeli violations against the Palestinians.
Recounting only some of the Israeli violations against journalists, Marouf cited “the Israeli occupation forces beat them, insult them, hinder their work, arrest them, raid their homes, confiscate their equipment and impose travel bans on them.”
Marouf also described the Israeli pressure and cooperation with the owners of the different social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, which closed and disabled hundreds of Palestinian pages and accounts, as part of the violations against Palestinian media.
He called for bringing the Israeli occupation to court over its crimes against Palestinian journalists and mass media, and called for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2222, which guarantees the protection of journalists.
In 1948, Zionist Jewish gangs forcefully displaced over 800,000 Palestinians and built the state of Israel on the ruins of their homes. Today, Israel is to evict Palestinian Bedouins to build malls and military training camps in the ruins of their homes
Israeli occupation authorities are taking practical steps to displace tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in Israel, Israeli rights groups Adalah revealed on Wednesday.
The Israeli measures are targeting Palestinian Bedouins who live in their villages in Al-Naqab (Negev) south of Israel.
According to Adalah, the Israeli occupation authorities are to evict them “without even offering any permanent or just housing solutions.”
Marking the International Human Rights Day, Adalah (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) issued a detailed report about the Israeli violations against the Palestinians that Israel is planning to displace in Al-Naqab.
In its report, Adalah takes a detailed look at and explains the ramifications of the Israeli occupation plans and the ways in which they violate the human rights of the Palestinian Bedouin community.
The basic aim of Israeli plan, according to Adalah, is to transfer the residents of unrecognised Palestinian Bedouin villages to temporary structures for a period of up to six years.
Adalah insists that this plan constitutes another step by the Israeli occupation statee to forcibly remove the Palestinian Bedouin population of the unrecognised villages from their homes and lands in the quickest possible way.
In January 2019, the Israeli Bedouin Authority announced that it intends evict 36,000 Palestinian Bedouins for the needs of “economic development projects” and the expansion of military training areas, said the report.
These plans – expected to affect thousands of families, children, and the elderly – will have devastating consequences for the entire Palestinian Bedouin population of Al-Naqab, both in the unrecognised villages and in the recognised townships where the refugee displacement camps are to be constructed, Adalah said.
Palestinian Bedouins have been living in their villages, which Israel does not recognise, for hundreds of years before the creation of the occupation state of Israel.