Member of Hamas Political Bureau, Mohammed Nazzal, esteems that Hamas’s distinction lies particularly in the intellectual and cultural fields, and also with regards to its creativity in resisting the occupation.
According to Quds Press, Nazzal announced: “The Hamas movement celebrates its 32nd anniversary, and we take this occasion, dear to our hearts, to ask: ‘what kind of veritable contributions and added value has Hamas devoted since its launch?’”
In a televised speech on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Hamas movement, Nazzal explained that: “The added value that the movement presents comes in two forms: the first is on the intellectual and cultural level, where Islam is presented as an intellectual and cultural reference for the Palestinian people; and the second form relates to the Palestinian resistance, as Hamas presents a creative model, which it implements to preserve the Palestinian contemporary revolution and resistance, which other factions have previously launched.”
Nazzal asserted: “There are forces attempting to exclude Islam, to advance other theories, which are alien to this nation and its cultural heritage. While Hamas presents Islam as a jihadist and combatant model, in the face of the contemporary Zionist movement.”
He continued: “Hamas has excelled and resisted with creativity, resulting in the Gaza Strip becoming the backbone of Palestinian resistance, in the face of the Zionist occupation.”
“On this anniversary, we want Hamas, along with the other Palestinian factions, to be at the forefront of the resistance endeavour against the occupation, as the leading flame for this great nation, standing by us in this extended confrontation.”
He concluded by paying respect to: “Our righteous martyrs who have risen to heaven, as they fought our criminal enemy; a greeting to the prisoners standing still in the occupation prisons; a greeting to the Palestinian people in the land of the steadfast, the exiles and displacement areas and refugee camps.”
A Palestinian woman cries at debris of a building after Israeli forces demolished her home in Hebron, West Bank on 28 November 2019
Israel’s control of the occupied West Bank between 2000 and 2017 cost the Palestinian people approximately $47.7 billion and rising, according to a UN report published last week.
This equates to more than $2.5 billion annually.
Entitled “Economic cost of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: Fiscal aspects,” the report stated this situation has weakened the Palestinian economy, stripping it of the ability to benefit from economic resources in agriculture, tourism, trade and natural resources, which could have reduced the Palestinian budget deficit.
Presented at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the $47.7 billion figure over 17 years is almost triple the Palestinian GDP in 2017, the report said.
It illustrates how Israel is making enormous profit from its occupation, while deliberately causing huge financial loses to the Palestinian economy.
The UN report noted that if the same amount was invested in the Palestinian economy, they would have created two million jobs over the 17-year period, an average of 111,000 jobs each year.
Home to more than 1.5 million Palestinians, Gaza’s unemployment rate stands at 52 per cent, according to the World Bank.
The report attributes the fiscal losses to the measures imposed by the Israeli occupation, which include, among others: military operations and actions, the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, movement and access restrictions in force on the West Bank, the demolition of buildings and the uprooting of trees.
Misyef Jameel, senior researcher at MAS, who worked on the report, said they only measured the direct fiscal impact.
The real figure for all losses was likely much higher, he told AFP news agency.
To cover these fiscal costs the Palestinian government has relied on international aid, borrowed from local banks, and “accumulated arrears with the domestic private sector and rationalised its expenditures,” which have slowed down the drivers of economic growth.
Khaled Al-Osaily, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of national economy, said that the real figure was probably much higher, reported the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post.
“This figure isn’t accurate, where there are indirect costs of the Israeli occupation, that simply can’t be measured,” he said.
“Israel views its illegal occupation of the West Bank as a source of income. It’s a profitable project that generates great revenues for Israel.”
A report by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) said that since the beginning of 2019 and until the end of November, Israeli forces carried out 690 violations against Palestinian media.
The violations include the shooting of live ammunition and other bullets towards journalists, leading to the injury of 72 media professionals, some of them still under medical treatment.
These cases include photojournalist Moath Amarneh, who lost his eye as a result of a bullet, same as photojournalist Attia Darwish. Journalist Mohammad Al-Arbeed was shot with live ammunition in his thigh, photojournalist Nidal Shtayyeh was hit with two rubber-coated metal bullets in the left thigh.
Foreign media professionals were also victims of Israeli aggressions, including German journalist and author Jurgen Todenhofer, shot by a rubber-coated bullet on his shoulder in Gaza.
According to the report, there is a clear increase in the targeting of journalists by occupation forces. There were several attacks with sound bombs, resulting in 58 different injuries, including Muhammad Omar Abdullah Kassab as well as Palestine TV Cameramen Fadi al-Jayyousi, hit directly in the head while covering a raid against a village north of Ramallah.
The report includes over 200 violations such as beatings, detentions and making use of force to prevent media coverage. Around 31% of such violations were carried against female media professionals. The targeting of media professionals has been particularly intense in the governorates of Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus.
PNN further reports that harassment and attacks against Palestinian media professional have also taken place through social media platforms, including Facebook, Whattsapp and Twitter. The Journalists’ Syndicate has monitored about 300 violations made in cooperation from Israeli occupation security services and political institutions.
During the period of this report there were 14 detentions of media professionals, while 18 are still in the occupation prisons. The report also highlights the intrusion of occupation forces into press institutions, private homes of journalists, imposing financial fines, the prohibition of movement and travel among other violations
Citing the lack of building permits, Israeli forces demolished 22 Palestinian-owned structures in in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past two weeks, displacing 49 people and otherwise affecting over 800 others, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in its biweekly report on Israel’s violations of human rights.
OCHA said that half of the structures demolished in the West Bank had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance, while four of the localities affected by the demolition of ten structures are Bedouin communities located in or around an area planned for settlement expansion (the “E1” plan) and face the risk of forcible transfer. Another eight structures were located in areas declared closed for Israeli military training (“firing zones”), the report added.
On 28 November, Israeli forces punitively demolished four homes and three water cisterns in Beit Kahil village (Hebron), in Area B, displacing 15 people, including six children. The structures belong to the families of four Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli soldier in August 2019. The incident triggered clashes with Israeli forces, which resulted in the injury of six Palestinians, including two children. This is the seventh punitive demolition incident so far this year, carried out citing “deterrence needs”.
On settler violence during the same period, the report said over 800 trees and 200 vehicles owned by Palestinians were vandalized in 11 separate incidents by Jewish settlers. Coinciding with the end of the annual olive harvest season, damage to (mostly olive) trees was recorded in the West Bank villages of Sebastia, Al Khadr and As Sawiya. In the latter village, which was attacked twice over the course of three days, Israeli settlers set up a tent near one of the targeted plots.
“Since the beginning of 2019, over 7,500 Palestinian-owned trees have been vandalized, reportedly by Israeli settlers,” said OCHA, according to WAFA. “On 9 December, assailants slashed the tires of 189 Palestinian cars in the Shu’fat neighborhood of East Jerusalem and sprayed “price tag” graffiti in Hebrew on the walls of several buildings. Additional vehicles were vandalized or set on fire in the villages of Khallet Sakariya (Bethlehem), Deir Ammar and At Tayba (both in Ramallah).”
Also during the past two weeks, Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy to the east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, and injured another eight Palestinians, including six children. The incident occurred on Friday, 29 November, when a group of youngsters approached Israel’s perimeter fence around Gaza and confronted Israeli forces.
Another 90 Palestinians, including 36 children, were injured by Israeli forces near the perimeter fence between Gaza and Israel, during the “Great March of Return” demonstrations, which resumed on 6 December after a three-week pause. Forty-four (44) of the injuries were hospitalized, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
On 30 November, Israeli forces shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian youth in Beit ‘Awwa village (Hebron), reportedly after he threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli military patrol; the corpse has been withheld by the Israeli authorities. Another two Palestinians, including one child, were arrested during the same incident.
An additional 181 Palestinians, including at least 18 children, were injured by Israeli forces during multiple protests and clashes across the West Bank. Over half of these injuries were recorded on 26 November, during protests against a recent statement by the US Secretary of State about the legality of Israeli settlements, and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who are holding a hunger strike.
This week, PCHR documented 148 violations of the international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory.
As part of the Israeli violations of the right to life and bodily integrity:
In terms of excessive use of force, IOF wounded 57 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, IOF wounded 49 civilians, including 23 children, 3 women, and 2 paramedics, including a woman, on the 83rd Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege protest (GMR). An employee at Jabalia Municipality was shot and injured after IOF opened fire at him while he was on duty at the border area. Meanwhile in the West Bank, 7 civilians were injured; 6 of them were injured near the annexation wall during their attempt to sneak into Israel for work.
Under IOF incursions and house raids, 94 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, were reported. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, enticing fear among civilians, arresting and/or injuring many others. During this week’s incursions, 58 Palestinians were arrested, including 4 children, 4 women (3 of them are journalists). On 06 December 2019, IOF arrested the crew of Palestine Satellite Channel during their morning show “Good Morning Jerusalem” and arrested one of the guests, a former prisoner. IOF also arrested 2 civilians near the border fence in eastern Rafah and fired tear gas canisters at al-Najjar neighbourhood in Khuza’ah, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip.
Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank, PCHR documented 4 IOF violations that included demolishing 3 residential houses and razing a 200-square-meter land in Hebron, in addition to 27 dunums of Kafer Laqef village, east of Qalqiliyah to establish an industrial area to be annexed to “Karnei Shomron” settlement. Moreover, a civilian was forced to self-demolish his house in occupied Jerusalem.
PCHR also documented 2 settler-attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property, including stoning a vehicle in Nablus, and puncturing tires of 160 vehicles in Jerusalem, in addition to vandalization.
In terms of the Israeli closure policy, the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life. Furthermore, IOF uses Erez Crossing that is designated for movement of individuals as an ambush to arrest Palestinians who obtain permits to exit via Israel. Meanwhile, the West Bank is divided into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian movement is restricted and they are subject to arrest as 3 Palestinians were arrested this week only.
Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity
Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the Gaza Strip
On the 83rd Friday, 06 December 2019, weekly protests were launched in the 5 Great March of Return (GMR) encampments in eastern Gaza Strip. This Friday’s protest titled: “GMR Will Continue”, resulted in the injury of 49 civilians, including 23 children and 3 women, and 2 paramedics, including a woman.
The incidents were as follows:
Northern Gaza Strip: demonstrations took part in eastern Jabalia. Some protesters threw stones at IOF stationed along the border fence. IOF shot and injured 14 civilians, including 5 children and 2 women: 2 with live bullets and shrapnel, 8 with rubber bullets and 4 were hit with tear gas canisters.
Gaza City: hundreds took part in Malaka area in eastern Gaza City. IOF targeted them with teargas canisters and live and rubber bullets. As a result, 5 civilians were injured; 4 of them were hit with tear gas canisters, and one was shot with a rubber bullet in the head. Moreover, dozens of civilians suffocated due to teat gas inhalation.
Central Gaza Strip: protests took part in eastern al-Buriej Camp. Hundreds gathered near the border fence and some attempted to throw stones at IOF, who fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters in return. The shooting, which continued until 17:00 on the same day, caused the injury of 5 protestors, including 2 children and 2 women; 3 of them with rubber bullets, and 2 with tear gas canisters. Mai Suleiman Abdul Karim Abu Ruweidah (20), from al-Maghazi, who was directly hit with a tear gas canister in the right eye, was referred to the Eye Specialty Hospital in Gaza City. Mai’s right eye was removed after which she was referred to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Abu Ruweidah said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:
“At approximately 15:30 on Friday, 06 December 2019, during my participation at the GMR protests, I was directly hit with a tear gas canister in my right eye. I was taken to the field hospital, which is about 1000 meters away from where I was. After receiving first aid, I was referred to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. After that, I was referred to Eye Specialty Hospital in al-Nasser neighborhood, Gaza City, and then transferred to al-Shifa Hospital to for a CT scan. Later, I returned to the Eye Specialty Hospital. At approximately 21:15, I had a surgery to remove my right eye. On Sunday, 08 December 2019, I was referred again to al-Shifa Hospital and I am still receiving medical treatment.”
Khan Younis: Hundreds civilians joined today’s protests in Khuza’ah area in eastern Khan Yunis. Most of the protesters stayed in the encampment for the activities while only dozens gathered near the border fence and attempted to throw stones and firecrackers. IOF fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them in addition to firing skunk at them from water cannons. As a result, 8 civilians, including 5 children and 2 paramedics, were injured with rubber bullets and taken to hospitals. Moreover, many civilians sustained superficial rubber bullets wounds and suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They received treatment on the spot. The wounded paramedic, Dalia Bassam Ahmed Abu Reidah (21), working within Watan Medical Team, was shot with a rubber bullet in her left hand while paramedic Mohammed Ziyad Zoghbor(35), a PRCS volunteer paramedic, was shot with a rubber bullet in the right shoulder. It should be noted that some Palestinian young men flocked to today’s protests at 13:00 and were shot with live bullets and hit with tear gas canisters before the crowds headed to the area. As a result, a child was wounded with a rubber bullet.
Rafah: hundreds of protestors gathered in eastern al-Shawka neighborhood while others remained at the protest encampment, where speeches and theatrical performances were performed. Dozens attempted to approach the fence and throw stones and burnt tires. IOF fired live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at protestors and pumped wastewater at them. As a result, 17 civilians, including 11 children, were injured: 2 shot with live bullets and shrapnel, 8 with rubber bullets and 7 were hit with tear gas canisters. Rajeh Mohammed al-Qadi (24) was shot with a rubber bullet to the head, causing fracture in his skull. He was admitted to the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Yunis for his serious condition.
Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
At approximately 15:00 on Friday, 06 December 2019, a number of Palestinian young men gathered and threw stones at IOF stationed along the security fence of “Karmi Tsur” settlement, adjacent to Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. The soldiers chased the young men and fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, an 18-year-old civilian was shot with a live bullet in the abdomen. He was referred to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron via an ambulance of Palestine Red crescent Society (PRCS) in a critical condition. Medical sources said that the wounded civilian had a surgery to remove his The live bullet also caused partial laceration in the wounded civilian’s liver.
At approximately 15:00 on the same Friday, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of al-Shuhada’a Cemetery, east of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at a truck affiliated with Jabalia Municipality. As a result, the truck was targeted with 4 live bullets and Mesleh Nidal ‘Abed Rabbuh (24), from Jabalia, was shot with a live bullet in the left arm. ‘Abed Rabbuh was taken to the GMR medical point at Abu Safia area, northeast of Jabalia. ‘Abed Rabbuh’s injury coincided with the start of GMR. He was referred to al-‘Awda Hospital affiliated with the Union of Health Work Committees. His injury was classified as moderate and he left the hospital at approximately 16:30 on the same day.
At approximately 06:00 on Tuesday, 10 December 2019, IOF signed to guard the annexation wall opened fire at Saif Eyad Wajih al-‘Ardah (21), from ‘Arabah village, southwest of Jenin, while attempting to sneak into Israel for work through Thuhor al-‘Abed village lands, southwest of the city. As a result, he sustained a superficial wound in the right leg Al-‘Ardah was referred to Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin for treatment.
At approximately 07:20 on Tuesday, IOF stationed adjacent to the annexation wall near Nazlet ‘Essa village, north of Tulkarm, opened fire at a number of Palestinian workers, who attempted to sneak into Israel. As a result, 3 civilians, from Qifin village, north of the city, were injured and they were identified as:
Namer ‘Adel Khasib (26), was shot with a live bullet in the left leg;
Mohammed Tayseer ‘Ammar (28), was shot with a live bullet in the left leg; and
Yusuf Ziyad Khasib (29), was shot with a live bullet in the foot.
At approximately 07:30 on Wednesday, 11 December 2019, IOF signed to guard the annexation wall opened fire at Hazem Mohammed Mousa Lahlouh (30), from ‘Araba village, southwest of Jenin. As a result, he sustained a live bullet wound in the right foot while attempting to sneak into Israel, north of Tulkarm. Lahlouh as referred to Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin for treatment.
At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday morning, IOF signed to guard the annexation wall adjacent to Nazlet ‘Essa village, north of Tulkarm, opened fire at a number of Palestinian workers, attempting to enter Israel for work. As a result, ‘Ala’a Bassam Abu Baker (28), from Qifin village, north of the city, was shot with a live bullet in the right leg.
At approximately 17:30 on Wednesday, 11 December 2019, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, fired a number of tear gas canisters at al-Najjar neighbourhood, east of Khuza’ah village, east of the city. As a result, many civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem
Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities
At approximately 09:00 on Thursday, 05 December 2019, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Hebron’s Moghayir al-‘Abeed area, where they demolished 3 houses, under the pretext of non-licensing. These houses belong to:
Shehada Salama Shehada Makhamrah: a 50-sqaure-meter house built of tin plates and bricks and sheltered 6 persons, including 3 children.
Mosleh Shehada Salama Makhamrah: a 40-sqaure-meter house built of tin plates and bricks and sheltered 2 persons.
Salah Shehada Salama Makhamrah: a 45-sqaure-meter house built of tin plates and bricks and sheltered 3 persons, including a girl.
At approximately 16:00 on Sunday, 08 December 2019, IOF razed 27 dunums from Kafur Lqef village’s lands, east of Qalqiliyia, to establish an industrial area and join it to “Karnei Shomron“ settlement. These dunums belong to the heirs of the deceased Mahmoud ‘Othman Qadoura and Saleh Ibrahim ‘Asaf. IOF claimed that these dunums are “State Lands” and their owners stopped to challenge before courts. Nayif Jaber, Head of Village Council in Kafur Lqef Village, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that: “ On Sunday, 08 December 2019, we shocked when Israeli military construction vehicles moved into the village and demolished 27 dumums, under the pretext that their owners stopped to challenge before official bodies, noting that the owners submitted documents and challenge before official and legal bodies. The Israeli Civil Administration officer declared that these dumums would be joint to “Karnei Shomron” settlement to establish an industrial area. The village residents and dumuns’ owners headed to their dunums and attempted to stop the demolition, but in vain. They bulldozed half of these dunums until now.”
On Monday, 09 December 2019, ‘Ali Ja’abees implemented the Israeli Municipality decision and self-demolished his 70-sqaure-meter house in al-Mokaber Mount area, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, to avoid paying the demolition costs. Ja’abees said that the Israeli Municipality staff raided his house on Sunday, 08 December 2019, and gave him 3 days to implement the demolition, or they will do so, fine him and force him to pay the demolition costs. It should be noted that Ja’abees’s house was built of wood 7 months ago; nonetheless, the Israeli Municipality issued a decision to demolish his house, tiles surrounding the house and retaining walls.
At approximately 09:00 on Monday, IOF and Israeli Civil Administration officers backed by military construction vehicles moved into al-Qate’ area in Hebron. The soldiers were deployed between residents’ houses and the military construction vehicles bulldozed Ahmed Bader Abu ‘Ayish (55)’s 200sq.m plot of land planted with olive trees and grapes, under the pretext of being “State Lands”. It should be noted that Israeli authorities handed the lands’ owners notices to evacuate their lands a year ago.
At approximately 10:00 on Tuesday, 10 December 2019, IOF and Israeli Civil Administration backed by military construction vehicles moved into Kherbit al-Sema in Samou’a village, south of Hebron. The Israeli Civil Administration officers notified al-Tahadi and al-Somoud School to stop construction. It should be noted that on 10/30/2019, Israeli authorities handed the school a notice to stop construction works under the pretext of non-licensing. The notice set a court hearing on 11 November 2019 to challenge the order.
Israeli Settler Violence
At approximately 11:30 on Thursday, 05 December 2019, Israeli settlers threw stones at Hasan Ahmed ‘Abadi (44)’s vehicle while driving on Jenin-Nablus Street, northwest of Nablus. As a result, the vehicle’s windshield was broken. ‘Abadi said to PCHR’s fieldworker that: “At approximately 11:30 on Thursday, 05 December 2019, I was returning from Nablus to my house in Baqet al-Sharqiyia village. When I arrived at al-Mas’odiyia intersection, branching from Nablus-Jenin Street, I found 8 masked settlers closing the street with boulders. I stopped 500 meters away and waited for 15 minutes until the settlers got into 2 vehicles and drove towards “Shafi Shomron” settlement, northwest of Nablus. I noticed that we were driving in the same direction. Suddenly, one of the settlers’ vehicles approached me and a settler threw a stone at my vehicle’s windshield and broke it. Meantime, a military vehicle carrying 2 Israeli officers arrived at the area and asked me what happened. I answered their questions, but they did not do anything. After that, an Israeli police officer came and asked me if I photographed the settlers, I told him no. He told me to head to the Palestinian Liaison office and submit a complaint. I went to the Palestinian Liaison office in Jenin and did so.”
At approximately 02:30 on Monday, 09 December 2019, Israeli settlers, from “Ramat Shlomo“ settlement, moved into Sho’fat village in occupied East Jerusalem. They punctured the tires of 160 vehicles and trucks parking on the village street and vandalized them with racist slurs, in addition to houses walls. The village residents said that surveillance cameras recordings fixed in their houses showed that 3 settlers moved into al-Dahra Street and damaged the residents’ properties. The Israeli police and intelligence officers arrived at the area, photographed the vehicles, removed racist slurs, and took the affected persons’ testimonies.
On Sept. 5, I received the tragic news that my mother was diagnosed with cancer. As well as trying to cope with the shock and the unrelenting challenges of life-or-death uncertainty, as a Palestinian living in the West Bank, I also had to worry about something else: Israel’s occupation and its brutal control of all aspects of our daily lives.
When I learned about my mother’s illness, I applied for a travel permit from the Israeli military to accompany my mother to medical appointments at the hospital in East Jerusalem, where she was to receive chemotherapy treatment. For decades, Israel has imposed a permit system restricting all movement for Palestinians, who are required to apply for special authorization to enter Israel and occupied East Jerusalem for any reason, including work, medical care, family visits, and trips to religious, cultural, and archaeological sites.
As in so many cases involving younger Palestinians, particularly men, Israeli authorities denied my permit request for undisclosed “security reasons.” This means that twice a month, when my mom goes to receive her chemotherapy at the hospital — only a 15-minute drive from our home — I am forbidden from accompanying her. I must stay put, in the living room, and wait for updates about how she’s doing over the phone.
Israel’s punishment didn’t stop there. On Oct. 26, when I was heading to Jordan to attend my aunt’s funeral, Israel prevented me from traveling abroad, again for “security reasons.”
Israel’s occupation manages to separate us from our loved ones in life and death, in the most hideous and punitive ways. Now, I can no longer leave the occupied West Bank at all. In the simplest and most definitive terms: I am locked in.
The “security reasons” for which I have been banned have never been revealed to me. What has become increasingly clear, however, is that Israeli authorities are targeting human rights advocates with “security” bans for the role we play in exposing Israeli human rights violations.
When I began working for Amnesty International as the Israel and Palestine campaigner in 2017, I was granted a permit so I could travel to our office in East Jerusalem. But earlier this year, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan instructed his ministry to “examine the possibility of preventing the entry and stay of Amnesty International in Israel.” He made this decision following the release of our report exposing how tourism companies such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb are profiting from Israeli settlements.
The irony is salient, as throughout 2019, I’ve been campaigning on cases of human rights defenders who were either arrested, banned from traveling, or kicked out of the country. In September 2018, Israel arrested Ayman Nasser, the legal unit coordinator of Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, and he is still being held without charge or trial. Prominent Bedouin leader Sheikh Sayyah al-Turi was detained in December 2018 and released last August for his role in the fight for the residents of al-‘Araqib to remain on the lands of their village, which the Israeli authorities have demolished over 150 times.
Earlier this year, Israel prevented Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, from traveling abroad to attend his daughter’s wedding, when Israeli authorities refused to renew his travel document. Palestinian photojournalist Mustafa al-Kharouf continues to face threats of deportation, after having his application for family unification rejected by Israeli authorities.
These silencing attempts are not limited only to Palestinian human rights advocates. Last month, Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, who is a U.S. citizen, was deported for his role in highlighting Israel’s human rights violations.
These cases provide concrete proof of Israel’s intensifying war on human rights defenders and civil society organizations. As I campaign for the rights of these brave advocates, I now find myself in the same shackles.
The growing list of human rights defenders who are detained, attacked, denied entry, or facing deportation or travel bans illustrates the heavy price they are forced to pay for carrying out their vital work of protecting and promoting basic rights and freedoms. This list is neither comprehensive nor static. Trends in Israeli policies and practices indicate that the list is likely to continue to grow.
Human rights defenders today are unable to carry out their peaceful work without fear of reprisal by Israel. Activists who dare to challenge Israel’s appalling human rights record are operating in a worsening climate of fear, uncertainty, incitement, and repression.
Third states, particularly those that include human rights protection as part of their foreign policy, such as EU member states, have occasionally condemned such arbitrary measures, but have not taken concrete action. Israeli officials interpret this inaction as a green light to continue intensifying the repression of human rights defenders. Now is the time that they stand up for these rights defenders and make it clear that Israel’s attacks against civil society will not be tolerated.
Gaza (QNN)- Israeli authorities said on Thursday that Christians in the Gaza Strip will not be allowed to visit holy cities in the West Bank, such as Bethlehem and Jerusalem, to celebrate Christmas this year.
The decision was made due to recommendations by the Israeli security service, according to Israeli media.
Gazan Christians will be allowed to travel abroad but none will be allowed to go to occupied Palestine, home to many sites holy to Christians, a spokeswoman for Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said.
He also said that following “security orders”, Gazans would be allowed to travel abroad via Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan but not to visit cities in ‘Israel’ or the West Bank.
On Sunday, December 8, the American media network CBS aired a report on its “60 Minutes” show, which is one of the oldest news programs in America. The topic of this program was about Rawabi, which is described as Palestine’s first planned city, one that could serve as an “example” of what a Palestinian state could look like.
Rawabi is a city located about 6 miles north of Ramallah, and is funded by the Palestinian-American, multi-millionaire businessman Bashar Masri, as well as the government of Qatar. So far, it has come with a price tag of at least $1.4 billion. According to Business Insider, Rawabi is the “largest private sector project in Palestinian history.” CBS adds that Rawabi has created about 5,000 jobs for Palestinians, mainly in construction, engineering, and retail. Rawabi is supposed to feature apartments, luxury retail stores, an amphitheater, cafes, an outdoor amusement park, and other attractions– all of which are unaffordable for the average Palestinian.
To the average observer, the development of Rawabi sounds like a positive achievement. It implies that even under Israeli occupation, Palestinians can build and thrive economically. In other (condescending) words, Israel is not responsible for the economic stagnation of Palestine’s economy. If only Palestinians would get their act together, they would be able to improve their situation.
But this is far from the truth. Rawabi, or any other Palestinian city, town, or village, for that matter, can never achieve its full potential as long as it remains under Israeli military occupation and domination.
It is extremely difficult for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, which are under full Israeli control, to obtain permits to build on their own land, or even to renovate and expand their homes to meet the needs of their growing families. This has caused their towns to turn into crowded ghettos or forced Palestinians to build without permits. On a frequent basis, Israel demolishes many of these homes at the expense of the owners. It is the high-profile nature of Rawabi, and the involvement of influential people on all sides, that allowed Rawabi get to this point.
In Masri’s own words, “Israel hasn’t made it easy” for him to develop Rawabi. Israeli “bureaucracy,” as well as Israeli right-wing opposition, hindered his abilities to provide basic infrastructure such as water connections and paved roads to the city. Despite the fact that Rawabi has been under construction since 2010, only about a quarter of the city has been constructed.
According to the Washington Post, Masri said that Rawabi was at one point about to receive $120 million for apartments that were sold, but 452 of the 639 apartment buyers canceled their purchases when Israel refused to provide the necessary water connections. It was only by appealing to sympathetic politicians in the US, Europe, and the UN that Masri was able to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to supply water to Rawabi.
This leads to obvious questions. How can a city such as Rawabi prosper when it can barely even guarantee access to water and roads? Why would any domestic or foreign party invest in a city that is in such a precarious situation, where Israel can dictate at a whim what its short or long-term success will be? The reality is that Rawabi will never succeed, nor will it attract serious investors while it remains under the tight grip of Israeli occupation.
Rawabi’s aim is to be home for about 40,000 Palestinians, but since 2015, only around 5,000 people have moved into its apartments. In stark contrast, Israel’s largest settlement in the West Bank, Modi’in Illit, has a population of at least 73,000. Three other Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are Ariel, Beitar Illit, and Ma’ale Adumim, and they have a combined population of around 115,000 settlers. In just four settlements, almost 200,000 Israeli settlers live comfortably, yet illegally, on stolen Palestinian land.
Israel consumes 86 percent of the water resources in the occupied West Bank, and Palestinians are forced to manage with whatever remains. To meet their needs, Palestinians are also forced to buy back their own water from Israel.
Israel also maintains full control of “security” and land management in “Area C” of the West Bank, which, uncoincidentally, contains the majority of land that is suitable for agriculture and farming.
Israel controls all entry and exit points, and Palestinians cannot go in or out without Israeli permission. But even within the West Bank, travel is restricted. As of January 2017, there were at least 98 permanent checkpoints, and according to the UN, there were an average of 327 flying checkpoints (temporary, random checkpoints) per month for nine months in 2017, in flagrant violation of international law concerning the freedom of movement.
As a result, travel between different points in the West Bank can take 10 times longer than normal. Medical patients in the West Bank have even died as a result of these restrictions; in just one example in 2015, a 65 year-old Palestinian women with respiratory problems died due to road closures that prevented her from reaching a hospital in time. These are just a few examples of the ways in which Israel control’s even the most basic aspects of daily lives for Palestinians, and these alone are crippling to the livelihood and growth of Palestinian society.
These are some of the reasons why Rawabi has come under intense criticism from Palestinians. Many see Rawabi as an unrealistic pipe dream that places profits above Palestinian rights and freedom. The project has also been criticized for significantly engaging and collaborating with Israel and Israeli companies. For example, about 85 percent of the cement came from an Israeli company, and other Israeli companies contributed to Rawabi’s construction. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement also condemned Rawabi as a project that normalizes Israeli occupation rather than resist it.
While the “60 Minutes” report on Rawabi may or may not have intended to serve as propaganda in favor of Israel, it unfortunately promotes the idea of normalization with Israel, particularly now that the US decided to withdraw from its position that Israeli settlements (and by implication, Israeli occupation), are not illegal under international law.
“60 Minutes” attempts to push the idea of co-existence without highlighting the devastating effects of Israeli occupation and oppression. The program quotes Eyal Waldman, an Israeli businessman who opened an office in Rawabi and said that, “I think it’s time to do peace. It’s enough killing each other for 70 years.” Ironically, he also said that he would kill Palestinians who threaten “what’s important” to him. This is indicative of the imbalance of power and the high level of impunity that Israelis enjoy over Palestinians.
Masri says that “We can continue the atrocities for the next 1,000 years or we can take a shortcut and start working together and end this misery.” But there is no such shortcut. Palestinians need liberation and every single one of their basic human rights before they can even begin to consider working with Israelis.
The report basically suggests that even though Palestinians live under the rule of Israeli occupation, they can still prosper and succeed with cities like Rawabi. Yet in the same report, “60 Minutes” mentions that Rawabi is the “biggest construction project in modern Palestinian history and the first planned city for Palestinians in more than 1,000 years.”
But if that is true, “60 Minutes” (and other media outlets throughout the world) should ask why it has taken so long for such a large project and such a city to be developed. The answer to this question is that Israeli occupation is by far the most negative factor contributing to the economic and developmental stagnation in Palestine. When the occupation disappears, Palestinians will thrive.
Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday overnight detained 14 Palestinians and injured another across the West Bank, said the Palestine Prisoners’ Society (PPS).
PPS confirmed in a press release that Israeli forces rounded up seven Palestinians, all former prisoner, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
One of the seven detainees was identified as former Minister of Local Governance Issa al-Ja’bari, and another as lawmaker Mohammad Jamal al-Natsheh.
WAFA news agency correspondent said that a similar Israeli military raid was conducted in Sa’ir and Dura town, located to the southwest and east of Hebron, where soldiers ransacked seven houses, turning them upside down.
Meanwhile, PPS said that two Palestinians were rounded up from the central West Bank district of Ramallah.
Israeli forces rounded up a female undergraduate student from her family’s house in the Ramallah city neighborhood of Ein Misbah, and another Palestinian from Beitunia city, west of Ramallah.
The predawn raid into Ein Misbah neighborhood triggered confrontations, during a paramedic was injured from Israeli military gunfire and several others suffocated from tear gas.
An Israeli military raid was carried out in Bethlehem district, resulting in the detention of a Palestinian.
Another, identified as a former prisoner, was nabbed from Jericho.
PPS added that a woman was detained as she attempted to cross a military checkpoint near Qalqilia city. She was identified as a resident of Raba village, located to the southeast of Jenin.
Two other Palestinians were detained at a military checkpoint near Qalqilia city. They were identified as residents of the Nablus-district refugee camp of Balata.
Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.
According to Palestinian figures, roughly 5,700 Palestinians — including numerous women and children — are currently languishing in Israeli detention facilities.
An Israeli municipal crew on Wednesday stormed different neighborhoods of Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem, and photographed some homes, raising Palestinian fears of intents to demolish dozens of houses.
Local official Fakhri Abu Diyab said that police forces escorting municipal employees stormed, in particular, the neighborhoods of al-Bustan, Ein a-Luza, Wadi Hilweh, Wadi Yasoul, al-Thuri and Wadi al-Rababa.
In addition to photographing homes, the municipal crew was seen carrying aerial photos, maps and documents, which raised fears among the local residents of Israeli intents to carry out mass demolitions in Issawiya.
Abu Diyab voiced concern that the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem would demolish entire neighborhoods in Issawiya at the pretext of unlicenced construction in order to please the extremist Jewish groups and gain votes for the right wing.
He appealed to the international community to urgently move to prevent a new catastrophe against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, pointing out that there are about 100 housing units threatened with demolition in al-Bustan neighborhood.