Israel says filing error to blame for strike that killed nine members of al-Sawarka family

Israeli army says the home of the Palestinian family was not a military compound as it was previously categorised

Israel said a day after the strike that “no civilians were expected to be harmed”

Israel has said that an attack on the Gaza Strip which killed nine Palestinians from the same family happened after the premises were mistakenly categorised as a “military compound” used by Islamic Jihad.

In November, Israel conducted a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip after it assassinated a senior Islamic Jihad commander and his wife.

The Palestinian armed group retaliated to the assassination by launching a barrage of rockets into Israel, before the two parties agreed on a ceasefire following joint Egyptian and UN mediation.

‘All that’s left are their school uniforms’: Israeli air strike kills eight Palestinian relatives

During the two days of air strikes, at least 34 Palestinians were reported killed and more than 100 wounded.

No Israelis were killed during the same time period.

The deadliest of these attacks was carried out on the home of the al-Sawarka family, killing eight members of the family, including children.

A week after the strike, a ninth member of the family, Mohammed al-Sawarka, died from injuries sustained in the bombing.

“I was sleeping when the house was bombarded,” 11-year-old Diyaa Rasmi al-Sawarka, one of the survivors, told Middle East Eye at the time.

“I tried to run away but my foot was stuck under the rubble. I started screaming but no one heard me, all my family members were under the rubble.”

When Diyaa, who sustained minor injuries to his leg and head, was transferred to hospital, he found out that he had lost his father and a number of his cousins in the raid.

‘No justification’

At the time, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process said “there is no justification to attacking civilians in Gaza”.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said a day after the strike that the army’s intelligence had indicated “no civilians were expected to be harmed”.

But on Tuesday, the Israeli army said that while the intelligence it obtained showed that the family home was part of an Islamic Jihad “compound”, the premises should have been marked as a civilian complex “with some military activity.”

‘Some crimes speak for themselves’: ICC probe brings back raw memories in Gaza

According to a previous report by MEE, the victims’ family had rejected the Israeli army’s claims.

The al-Sawarka family home consisted of two shacks covered with corrugated metal sheets in an impoverished area of the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel has imposed a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007, after Hamas won contested Palestinian legislative elections a year earlier.

It holds Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, responsible for all fire coming from the small Palestinian territory, even though other armed factions also operate in the area.

Since 2008, it has  carried out three wars with Gaza killing thousands of Palestinians and creating major infrastructural damage.

The United Nations warned in 2012 that Gaza would become unliveable by 2020. 

(Source / 26.12.2019)  

Israel to reinstitute ‘assassinations policy’

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz in New York, US on 9 April 2019 [noa grayevsky/Getty Images for RSL Management Corpnoa]

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz in New York, US on 9 April 2019

Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday said Tel Aviv would return to “the policy of assassinations” against Palestinian resistance figures in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

In statements he made to Israel’s army radio, Yisrael Katz indicated that there was “an intelligence effort to identify the rockets’ launchers and work to eliminate them.”

He stressed: “Intelligence efforts are currently focused on determining who is responsible for ordering missile launch instructions in order to work to eliminate him.”

On Wednesday evening, Israel’s iron dome anti-missile system intercepted a missile reportedly fired from the Gaza Strip towards the country’s south while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was attending an election rally in Ashkelon province.

According to Israeli media, security forces transferred Netanyahu to a “protected area” while security forces responded by bombing several sites in the Gaza Strip without any casualties.

READ: Netanyahu faces party leadership challenge ahead of March election

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Soldiers Abduct Two Palestinians In Salfit and Jenin

Israeli soldiers abducted, Thursday, two Palestinians from Salfit and Jenin, in the occupied West Bank.

Media sources said several army jeeps invaded Qarawat Bani Hassan town, west of Salfit in central West Bank, before the soldiers invaded and ransacked a few homes.

They added that, during the searches, the soldiers abducted a young man, identified as Mustafa ‘Aassi, 19.

In addition, the soldiers abducted a young man, identified as Ahmad Ali Wahdan, after stopping him at a sudden military roadblock, near Nablus city, in northern West Bank.

The abducted Palestinian is from Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and is the brother of two political prisoners, identified as Mahmoud and Sa’id.

In addition, the army ordered five young Palestinian men from occupied Jerusalem, under a nightly house arrest for “participating in protests.”

They have been identified as Saleh Abu Assab, Anwar Obeid, Nidal Ghanem, Fayez Mheisin, Mohammad Oleyyan, and Mohammad Mustafa, after they were summoned for interrogation.

In related news, the soldiers abducted a Palestinian man from his home in Bani Neim town, east of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Soldiers Abduct One Palestinian Near Hebron

Israeli soldiers abducted, earlier Thursday, a Palestinian man from his home in Bani Neim town, east of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Media sources said several army jeeps invaded the town, before the soldiers stormed and ransacked one home, owned by Zeid Abdul-Nasser D’eis, before abducting him.

The soldiers cuffed and blindfolded the abducted Palestinian before moving him to a military base near Hebron.

The sources added that the soldiers also invaded Halhoul town, north of Hebron, before storming and violently searching several homes.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Palestinian Arrested for Alleged Stabbing of Settler

Israeli military forces arrested, on Wednesday, a Palestinian man in the occupied city of East Jerusalem, for allegedly stabbing an Israeli settler, Press TV reported.

Israeli media outlets stated that an unidentified Israeli settler, sustained serious wounds, when an unidentified Palestinian man stabbed him near the illegal Har Homa settlement in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli settler was reportedly transferred to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in critical condition, where he later died of his injuries.

Tensions continue between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians protesting against the Israel’s expropriation of their lands and settlement expansion activities. Not to mention the daily oppression, segregation, arrests and harassment suffered by Palestinians, at the hands of the Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Under the Fourth Geneva convention, all Israeli settlements are deemed illegal, as the occupying power, Israel is forbidden to transfer members of its population onto the land it occupies.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Israel Jets and Helicopters Strike Gaza in Response to Alleged Rocket Fire

The Israeli occupation forces said that it struck Hamas targets, in the besieged Gaza Strip, early Thursday morning, Israel’s Haaretz reported.

In a statement, an IDF Spokesperson said that “The Hamas organization is responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip, and it will be held accountable for its actions against Israel’s citizens,” adding “combat jets and helicopters struck several targets belonging to the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip, including military compounds.”

The army claimed that the strike was carried out in response to the alleged rocket fire from Gaza, on Wednesday evening.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Palestinian child prisoner starts hunger strike after being sent to penal jail

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Mus’ab Ghazaleh (15 years old) announced on Wednesday that he has started a hunger strike, protesting against the Israeli decision to transfer him to a penal jail.

The teenager had turned himself to the Israeli police at Al Maskubiyyeh jail in western Jerusalem. However, he was shocked when they transferred him to Ovik jail, a penal jail that was built on the ruins of the depopulated village of Um Khaled.

Mus’ab has been put under house arrest for a year and a half before being sentenced to three months of jail for allegedly throwing stones.

Amjad Abu Assab, the head of the Detainees’ Parents Committee in Jerusalem, told QNN that Musab turned himself to Al Maskkubiyyeh jail last Sunday after being promised to be sent to the Damoun or Magiddo jails. However, the Israeli Shin Bet transferred him to Ovik jail.

Ghazaleh has started a hunger strike demanding to be sent to another jail, as he was arrested on a charge related to security issues.

The 15-year-old child said that he prefers to be in solitary confinement over being jailed with Israeli civilians convicted with murder and drugs crimes.

Abu Asab stated that the Israelis have tried on several occasions to put Palestinian children in the same cells with Israeli adult criminals, which endangered the lives of the children.

Many children stated that they were scared to sleep.

“It is an Israeli policy to humiliate Palestinian children so that they tell other children about their experiences and intimidate them”, Abu Asab said.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

How Israeli doctors enable Israeli intelligence agency’s torture industry

It is not only doctors in the Shin Bet and the Israel Prison Service that collaborate with torture, but also doctors in emergency rooms across Israel write false medical opinions

By Ruchama Marton

From approving brutal interrogation techniques to writing false medical reports, doctors in Israel have taken an active role in the torture of Palestinian prisoners.

If the Shin Bet runs a school for its agents and interrogators, the curriculum most certainly includes a class on how to tell a lie. The texts taught, it seems, do not change with the years. In 1993, responding to accusations that the Shin Bet brutally tortured Palestinian detainee Hassan Zubeidi, then Commander of the IDF Northern Command Yossi Peled told Israeli journalist Gabi Nitzan that “there is no torture in Israel. I served for 30 years in the IDF and I know what I am talking about.”

Twenty-six years later, Deputy Chief of the Shin Bet and former Shin Bet interrogator, Yitzhak Ilan repeated the same line to news presenter Ya’akov Eilon on national television while speaking about Samer Arbeed, a 44-year-old Palestinian who was hospitalized in critical condition after he had been reportedly tortured by the Shin Bet. Arbeed is suspected of organizing a deadly bombing that killed a teenage Israeli girl and wounded her father and brother at a spring in the West Bank in August. Ilan bristled at the notion that the Shin Bet was somehow responsible for Arbeed’s condition.

Putting aside these absurd forms of denial, as a doctor and founder of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, I have always been troubled by how Israeli doctors cooperate with and enable Israel’s torture industry.

In June 1993, I organized an international conference in Tel Aviv on behalf of PHR against torture in Israel. At the conference, I presented a Shin Bet medical document that had been discovered by chance by Israeli journalist Michal Sela. In the document, the Shin Bet doctor was asked whether the prisoner in question had any medical restrictions when it came to keeping them in isolation, whether they could be tied, whether their face could be covered, or whether they could be made to stand for prolonged periods of time.

The Shin Bet denied such a document ever existed. “There is no document. It was simply an experimental paper that is not in use,” the agency claimed. Four years later, a second document, suspiciously similar to the first, came to light. That document asked doctors to sign off on torture in accordance with several previously agreed-upon clauses.

The first document, along with other findings, were published in the book titled “Torture: Human Rights, Medical Ethics and the Case of Israel.” The book cannot be found in Israel; Steimatzky, Israel’s oldest and largest bookstore chain, has banned its sale. Perhaps this is further proof that there is no torture in Israel.

After the document was uncovered, PHR turned to the Israel Medical Association and asked it to join the struggle against torture. The IMA requested that PHR hand over the names of the Shin Bet doctors who signed off on the document so that they could be dealt with internally.

I refused to hand over the names and told the IMA attorney that I was not interested in going after rank-and-file doctors — I wanted to change the entire system. That meant doing away with legitimacy granted to confessions exacted under torture, educating IMA members about non-cooperation with torturers, and particularly providing active help to those doctors who do report on suspicion of torture or brutal interrogations.

Back then, the IMA was satisfied with putting our statements while doing nothing to prevent the Shin Bet’s doctors from cooperating with torture. Furthermore, the organization failed to fulfill its obligation to establish a forum for doctors to report on suspected torture.

An ethical, moral and practical failure

But it is not only doctors in the Shin Bet and the Israel Prison Service that collaborate with torture. Doctors in emergency rooms across Israel write false medical opinions in accordance with the demands of the Shin Bet. Take, for example, the case of Nader Qumsieh from the West Bank city of Beit Sahour. He was arrested in his home on May 4, 1993 and was brought to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva five days later. There a urologist diagnosed him a hemorrhage and a torn scrotum.

Qumsieh testified that he was beaten during his interrogation and kicked in his testicles.

Ten days later, Qumsieh was brought before the same urologist for a medical examination, after the latter had received a phone call from the Israeli military. The urologist wrote a retroactive letter (as if it had been written two days earlier), without actually conducting an additional examination of the patient, in which he said that “according to the patient, he fell down the stairs two days before he arrived in the emergency room.” This time, the diagnosis was “superficial hematoma in the scrotal area, which corresponds to local bruises sustained between two and five days prior to the examination.” The urologist’s original letter, written after the first examination, disappeared from Qumsieh’s medical file.

History teaches us that doctors everywhere easily and effectively internalize the regime’s values, and many of them become loyal servants of the regime. That was the case in Nazi Germany, in the United States, and in various countries in Latin America. The same goes for Israel. Qumsieh’s case, along with countless others, reflects the ethical, moral, and practical failure of the medical establishment in Israel vis-à-vis torture.

Already back in the 18th century, jurists — rather than doctors — published legal opinions accompanied by proof that there is no connection between causing pain and getting to the truth. Thus, both torture and confessions exacted through pain were legally disqualified. One can only assume that the heads of the Shin Bet, the army, and the police know this bit of history.

And yet, torture — which includes both mental and physical cruelty — continues to take place on a large scale. Why? Because the real goal of torture and humiliation is to break the spirit and body of the prisoner. To eliminate his or her personality.

The legal understanding for forbidding torture is based on the utilitarian idea that one cannot arrive at the truth through inflicting pain. But doctors are committed — first and foremost — to the idea that anything that causes physical or mental harm to a patient is prohibited.

The Shin Bet medical eligibility document allows for sleep prevention, it allows interrogators to expose prisoners to extreme temperatures, to beat them, to tie them for long hours in painful positions, to force them to stand for hours until the vessels in their feet burst, to cover their heads for prolonged periods of time, to sexually humiliate them, to break their spirits by severing their ties to family and lawyers, to keep them in isolation until they lose their sanity.

The Shin Bet’s medical eligibility form is not the same as the one used to check eligibility to join the air force or even to drive a car. This kind of “eligibility” leads the prisoner directly into the torture chamber — and the doctor knows this. The doctor knows to what kind of systematic process of pain and humiliation he or she is lending their consent and approval. It is doctors who oversee the torture, examine the tortured prisoner, and write the medical opinion or the pathology report.

The white robe passes through the torture chamber like a lurking shadow during interrogations. A doctor who cooperates with Israel’s torture industry is complicit in that very industry. If a prisoner dies during interrogation, the doctor is an accomplice to his or her murder. Doctors, nurses, medics, and judges who know what is taking place and prefer to remain silent are all accomplices.

We must unconditionally oppose all forms of torture — without exceptions. We must refuse to cooperate with the crime of torture, and all the more so when it comes to doctors.

We must also not hide behind the idea that torture is a symptom of the occupation while telling ourselves that the practice will disappear when the occupation ends. Torture is a worldview according to which human rights have no place or value. It existed well before the occupation and it will continue to exist if we do not change that worldview.

Violent and cruel investigative practices do not benefit national security even if they are committed on its behalf. Torture causes a spiraling destruction of our very social fabric. Not only do those who carry out this terrible kind of “work” lose the values of morality, human dignity, and democracy, but also all those who remain silent, unwilling to know. In fact, all of us.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Haneyya condemns Israeli attempt to assassinate Father Hanna

Head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haneyya has denounced the Israeli attempt to assassinate Father Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of the Palestinian Orthodox Church in Occupied Jerusalem.

Haneyya phoned Father Hanna and wished him a speedy recovery.

Father Atallah Hanna on Monday accused the Israeli occupation of being responsible for the poisoning incident that happened to him last week.

“What happened could be an attempt to assassinate me or keep me sick for the rest of my life. The effects of the poisonous substance are dangerous, especially to the nervous system,” Hanna told the official Jordanian TV channel.

He said that a Palestinian team embarked on ascertaining the type and source of the substance he had inhaled.

Father Hanna was rushed to a hospital in Jordan last week after he inhaled a chemical substance that had been sprayed by the Israeli occupation authority near the patriarchate in the holy city.

(Source / 26.12.2019)

Israeli airstrikes target different areas of Gaza

Photos File

Photos File

The Israeli occupation army at dawn Thursday launched aerial attacks on different areas of the Gaza Strip, with no reported casualties.

Local sources said that an Israeli warplane fired five missiles in the vicinity of the new Gaza Port in the west of Khan Younis, south of Gaza, PIC reported.

Successive raids also targeted a resistance site in the north of Beit Lahia, north of Gaza.

Different warplanes also targeted empty agricultural lands and other resistance sites in the north and west of Gaza.

The Israeli army claimed the air raids on Gaza were in response to a rocket that was intercepted by its anti-missile batteries in Israeli airspace.

The Hebrew media claimed that one rocket was fired Wednesday from Gaza at the southern city of Ashkelon during Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearance at an election event held there.

The sirens warning of upcoming rocket fire blared at around 9 pm in the city of Ashkelon and Israeli settlements bordering Gaza, prompting Netanyahu to leave the event and take shelter.

(Source / 26.12.2019)