Israeli soldiers shot, Sunday, a Palestinian man on his land, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.
Media sources said the soldiers, stationed across the perimeter fence east of Beit Hanoun, fired many rubber-coated steel bullets at a Palestinian farmer, wounding him in the chest and arm.
They added that the Palestinian suffered moderate wounds before he was rushed to a hospital for treatment.
It is worth mentioning that the soldiers frequently target farmers and workers on their lands near the fence, in addition to attacking Palestinian fishermen and their boats in Gaza territorial waters, leading to hundreds of casualties, including fatalities.
Nearly 900 of Israel’s extremist settlers, last week, stormed the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque under heavy Israeli protection, according to Quds News Network.
Israeli media reported that 897 extremist settlers invaded the holy mosque under the armed protection of the Israeli police and special forces.
Groups of extreme far-right Israeli settlers called for Israelis to carry out intensive invasions into the holy mosque to mark the Jewish holiday of Hannukah.
The colonists stormed the holy mosque from the Magharbeh gate, which has been occupied by the Israelis since 1967, and carried out provocative tours that included Talmudic rituals.
Last week several Muslim worshipers were assaulted, and four women were arrested, and upon release, were banned from entering the holy mosque for arbitrarily set periods of time.
The occupation state allows uncompromising extremist settlers to break into Al-Aqsa Mosque every Sunday to Thursday. At the same time, Muslim worshipers are arrested and kicked out of their holy site to allow for the illegal colonists to desecrate the sacred site.
Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The occupation state of Israel is planning to ignore a request by the Palestinian Authority to allow the Palestinian legislative and presidential elections to be held in occupied East Jerusalem, Ynet news site reported Saturday.
Citing sources who are well-informed on the matter, the Israeli website reported that the final decision to “ignore” the letter sent by the PA last week came after top Israeli officials held discussions on the matter in the last few days.
The PA and all Palestinian factions agree that there will be no elections unless the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem get to vote.
“If Jerusalem residents can’t vote in the heart of the city where they live, there will not be elections,” Abbas said during a speech in Ramallah. “We are very interested in holding elections, but not at any price.”
Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Committee of Palestinian Prisoners and Former Prisoners said on Sunday that it has documented testimonies by Palestinian children prisoners, who were beaten by Israeli soldiers during their arrest.
The report comes after a visit by the NGO’s lawyer to several children held in the Damon and Megiddo Israeli jails.
Mu’tasem Anwar Sheikha (17 years old), from Shufat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem, said that a group of Israeli undercover soldiers arrested him while he was passing in a street in the camp. They took him to the Maskubiyyeh interrogation center, where he was detained for 30 days. He was brutally beaten after being put in a cell that has no surveillance cameras.
Abdel Mun’em Natsheh (17 years old) and Usama Taha (16 years old), from Shu’fat refugee camp as well, said that Israeli soldiers arrested and handcuffed them before sending them to be interrogated at an interrogation center for four hours. They were sent to the Maskubiyyeh interrogation center after that, where they were beaten and humiliated.
Natsheh added that he was beaten by members of the Nahshon unit several times while he was transferred to attend court sessions. In one incident, he was beaten only because he spoke with his mother, who was at the court to see her child.
Taha stated that the Nahshon unit used canines against him while he was being sent to court.
Abdurrahman Abu Lela (17 years old) said that Israeli soldiers in civilian clothes arrested him from his work in Acre. They sent him to Petah Tikva interrogation center, where he was held for ten days in solitary confinement and was interrogated with his hands cuffed.
Aws Raed Rasheed (16 years old) from Jenin said that Israeli soldiers arrested him from his house after breaking the house’s doors and breaking into his room while he was asleep. He woke up to find their rifles pointed at him. When his mother started crying and yelling they responded beating him in front of her. Aws was held handcuffed and blindfolded at the Jalameh checkpoint for ten hours.
Gaza (QNN)- Over 520 factories in Gaza are going to be shut down by the end of this year due to the very tough economic conditions in Gaza following the Israeli wars and besiegement on the heavy-populated enclave, according to the General Union of Palestinian Industries.
The union told “Sawa” that 2019 was even worse than the year before as 520 factories have been shut down this year while other factories moved outside the strip to Jordan or Egypt, leading to layoffs and increased unemployment among other social and humanitarian problems.
The Union stated that more than 35,000 workers used to work in the clothing industry but the figures dropped to 3-5 thousand only. The timber industry also used to hire 30,000 Gazans but it hires now only 3,000 because of the recent Israeli restrictions on exports of both industries.
Only 10-15% of Gazans currently work, as 10-15 thousand workers have been laid off.
As regards the private sector, which is mainly made up of the construction industry and used to hire over 130,000 workers, has been hampered by the Israeli restrictions on the construction industry.
The occupation state has targeted all kinds of economic installations during its wars on the besieged enclave. It also prevents Gaza’s exportation of much essential material and equipment.
Ghada Abu Halima, 21, a mother of two, two months after giving her testimony to B’Tselem, she died of her wounds in hospital in Egypt
While the world is heading to 2020, it must keep remembering the crimes the Israeli occupation state is carrying out against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories.
I lived with my husband, Muhammad, 24, and our two little daughters, Farah, 3, and Aya, 6 months, in the a-Sifa section of Beit Lahiya. We lived in the same house as Muhammad’s parents and his seven siblings, the youngest of which was the baby, Shahd, 1.
Our house had two floors. On the first floor were 250 square meters of storage rooms, and we lived on the second floor. We are farmers and have land next to the house.
On Saturday night, 3 January 2009, Israeli jets dropped leaflets calling on residents of the area to leave their homes. The army did the same thing in previous incursions and we didn’t leave the house, so this time, too, we decided not to leave.
Around 4 P.M. the next day, 4 January, when all the family was in the house, the army started to shell our area. A few minutes later, shells landed on our house. Fire broke out in the house and several members of the family burned to death: my father-in-law, his baby daughter Shahd, and three of his sons – ‘Abd a-Rahim, Zeid and Hamzah.
My mother-in-law and her sons Yusef, ‘Omar and ‘Ali suffered burns. The fire spread throughout the house. I was holding my daughter Farah and we were both burned too. My clothes went up in flames, and some of my skin and Farah’s skin was scorched. Luckily, my baby daughter Aya wasn’t hurt. I ripped the clothes off my body and cried out that I was burning. I was naked in front of everybody in the house.
My body was burning and the pain was excruciating. I could smell my flesh burning. I was in a horrible condition. I looked for something to cover myself and shouted non-stop. My husband’s brother took off his pants and gave them to me to wear. The top part of my body stayed naked until my husband came and covered me with his jacket.
Then he ran to the road to get an ambulance or find some people to help us get the killed and injured people out of the house. He couldn’t find any ambulance or firefighting vehicle. His cousins, who live nearby came to help. My husband lifted me up and Nabilah, his aunt, picked up Farah. Another aunt, who also came to help, took Aya.
Muhammad, Farah, Nabilah, her son ‘Ali, ‘Omar, Matar and I all got onto a wagon hitched to a tractor. Muhammad-Hikmat drove it, heading to Kamal ‘Adwan Hospital. We also took the body of the baby Shahd. We left all the others in the house.
On the way, we saw soldiers about 300 meters from al-‘Atatrah Square. Muhammad stopped the tractor and suddenly, the soldiers opened fire at us. They killed Matar and Muhammad-Hikmat. ‘Ali was wounded and managed to run away with Nabilah and ‘Omar.
The soldiers told my husband to undress, which he did. Then he put his clothes back on and the soldiers told us to continue by foot. We left the three bodies in the wagon. My husband, Farah, and I walked toward the square, where we got into a car that happened to be passing by. He took us to a-Shifaa Hospital. It was about 6:00 P.M. when we got to the hospital.
I am still hospitalized. My whole body was burned, and so was my face. Farah has third-degree burns. We were referred to further treatment in Egypt and they tried to take us to Rafah by ambulance, but the army fired at us on the way. The driver was slightly wounded in the face and he drove back to the hospital. Now we are waiting for authorization to leave for Egypt.
It does not take a great legal scholar to understand that dropping tons of bombs from fighter jets on a defenceless civilian population constitutes a war crime
By Miko Peled
Israel has already started spreading its claims that Israeli officers and politicians are the purest people around the globe. It also threatened the Palestinians in order to withdrew their complaint.
Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, said in a statement regarding “alleged crimes” committed in the occupied Palestinian territories that “all the statutory criteria under the RomeStatute for the opening of an investigation have been met.” The territories in question include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. These territories constitute the state of Palestine, as it is recognized by the United Nations.
The decision flies in the face of anyone who still believes the Israeli claim that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) is the “most moral army in the world,” or that Israel does not commit war crimes.
Issues of Jurisdiction
Under the Rome Statute, the founding document that established the International Criminal Court, it is determined that cases can be heard by the court only if one of the affected parties is a signatory. The state of Palestine has been a signatory since 2015.
Israel, which like the United States never signed the Rome Statute, claims that Palestine is not a sovereign state and therefore the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction to investigate issues related to it. Yet according to UN General Assembly resolution 67/19, adopted on November 29, 2012, Palestine assumed the status of a UN “non-member observer state,” affording it the ability to accede to international treaties like the Rome Statute, and indeed it didn’t take long for Palestine to become the 123rd state party to the statute giving the ICC the legal right to exercise jurisdiction on its territory.
Clearly anticipating that the ICC jurisdiction over Palestine would be called into questions by Israel, Prosecutor Bensouda said in her statement, the full version of which can be found on the ICC website, that she had filed a request for a jurisdictional ruling on the issue.
“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza,” Bensouda said.
She went on to say that she recognises that “Palestine does not have full control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its borders are disputed.” The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are heavily controlled by the Israeli government and East Jerusalem has been effectively annexed by Israel.
Bensouda quite oddly adds that “The Palestinian Authority does not govern Gaza.” Hamas, however, is the party that currently governs Gaza, in as much as Israeli permits it to do so, as it is the party that won the 2006 Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections.”
Bensouda says that although she is of the view that “the Court may exercise its jurisdiction notwithstanding these matters,” she is aware of contrary views, and therefore “requests that a Pre-Trial Chamber I (“the Chamber”) rule on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the situation in Palestine.”
Specifically, Bensouda affirmed, she is seeking confirmation that the “territory” over which the ICC may exercise jurisdiction comprises the “Occupied Palestinian Territory, that is the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
She also made it clear that she wants the issue determined before she begins an investigation instead of being settled later by judges after her investigations are completed. It is not clear when a decision will be made on this, but Bensouda said she had asked the court to “rule expeditiously” and to allow potential victims to participate in proceedings.
Notwithstanding the legal challenges, the decision of the prosecutor is encouraging. In Israel, the reactions to her decision were predictably fast, and not surprisingly, fierce. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Bensouda’s decision was that it is “baseless and outrageous.” As expected, he said that “the court has no jurisdiction” because only sovereign states can petition the court, and “there has never been a sovereign Palestinian state.” He added that the ICC’s decision means that Jews living in their historic homeland, the land of the Bible, is a war crime.
National Union chairman and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted his response to the ICC prosecutor’s decision saying that the Prime Minister should give the Palestinian Authority 48-hours to pull its petition to the ICC or else face being “torn down.” He added that this should have been done long ago when the Palestinians first petitioned the UN for statehood.
Yair Lapid, a co-founder of Israel’s Blue and White party, tweeted, “The ICC prosecutor has caved in to Palestinian lies and hatred. As a former member of the Security Cabinet and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, I can testify that the IDF does more than any army in history to prevent civilian casualties.” Despite the evidence, this is a claim often repeated by Israeli politicians.
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz also attacked the court’s decision. Having served as the IDF Chief of Staff, he is likely to be a major target of any investigation into war crimes. In his response to the decision, he mentioned his decades of military service, including “serving as the IDF’s 20th Chief of Staff.” He stated that “the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world,” and asserted that “The IDF and the State of Israel do not commit war crimes.” Gantz oversaw more than one Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza strip, assaults that saw scores of civilian casualties.
Israel has good reason to fear the International Criminal Court’s decision. Moving forward with an investigation into crimes committed in the Palestinian territories will expose both current and former government officials and military personnel to prosecution when they travel abroad. That fear is not entirely irrational and not without precedent.
In 2011, it was reported that retired Israeli General Danny Rothschild was forced to cut a scheduled visit to London short and cancel two planned lectures there. This after the Israeli Embassy warned him he was in danger of being arrested if he stayed in the country. The event came a day after Knesset member and former Defense Minister Amir Peretz was forced to cut short a London visit for the same reason.
Trial International, an NGO that fights impunity for international crimes and supports victims in their quest for justice, reports that on June 30, 2016, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in London for a conference and was summoned to the police regarding allegations of war crimes committed between 2008 and 2009. Livni was ultimately granted diplomatic immunity.
Then, on January 23, 2017, Livni was invited to attend a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels when the Belgium prosecutor’s office announced its intention to arrest and question her regarding her alleged involvement in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s bloody 22-day military assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008. Livini decided to cancel her trip to Belgium.
Matan Kahana is a member of the Israeli “New Right” party. Kahana is a retired colonel in the IDF who served both as a soldier in Israel’s notorious murder squad “Sayeret Matkal” and as a fighter pilot and officer in the Israeli Airforce. He participated in countless “operations” in which Palestinian civilians were killed.
As an airforce pilot, he would have been directly involved in bombing and killing countless defenceless citizens in the Gaza Strip. Kahana made a statement on Twitter following the ICC’s announcement that “if only people knew how careful the IDF soldiers try not to harm “uninvolved persons.”
Yet these “efforts” Kahana and other Israeli officials speak of seem to fail time and time again. The number of civilian casualties from Israeli attacks is staggering and has reached the point where one must question the intent of the IDF and those who send it on these so-called missions.
While a thorough investigation will no doubt precede any decision by the International Criminal Court, it doesn’t take a great legal scholar to understand that dropping tons of bombs from fighter jets on a defenceless civilian population constitutes a war crime.
The fullreport of the prosecutor states that the scope of any formal proceedings is also likely to include an investigation into the “use by members of the IDF of non-lethal and lethal means against persons participating in demonstrations beginning in March 2018.”
The demonstrations the ICC is referring to are the protests known as “The Great Return March.” This means that the enormous efforts Israel makes to justify its attacks on Palestinians — and to claim that they are carried out in self-defence only — may finally be beginning to fail.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that the Israeli occupation authorities demolished or seized 617 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, displacing 898 Palestinians.
OCHA said that the new figures represent a noticeable increase compared to those documented in 2018.
Over 20% of all structures targeted in 2019 and some 40% of all donor-funded aid structures were located in firing zones, which cover about 30% of Area C, it added.
In a newly released report covering the period 10-23 December, OCHA mentioned that the Israeli occupation authorities, over the alleged lack of building permits, demolished or forced people to demolish 29 structures in Area C and East Jerusalem the past two weeks, displacing 45 Palestinians and affecting over 100 others.
Twelve of the structures targeted, including five previously provided as humanitarian assistance, were in three herding communities located in areas designated as firing zones for military training in the Tubas, Nablus and Jericho governorates.
During one of the demolitions in a firing zone east of Nablus, Israeli occupation forces uprooted or cut about 2,500 forest trees and saplings, according to OCHA’s report.
The trees were part of a recreational area (also described by Palestinians as a ‘nature reserve’) serving some 14,000 residents in the nearby town of Beit Furik and the Khirbet Tana herding community.
During the same reported period, some 80 Palestinian farmers from three villages in Salfit governorate lost access to their land behind the West Bank apartheid wall after the Israeli occupation authorities confiscated their entry permits.
Over the past two weeks, a total of 129 Palestinians, including 44 children, were injured by Israeli forces during the Great March of Return demonstrations near the fence between Gaza and the 1948 territories.
OCHA pointed out that an 18-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces on 17 December east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, while approaching the fence. His body was withheld by Israeli authorities.
On at least 15 other occasions, Israeli forces opened fire in areas adjacent to the border fence while enforcing access restrictions; no injuries were reported. Israeli forces carried out one incursion and land-levelling operation near the fence. Four Palestinians, including three children, were arrested in two separate incidents.
In the West Bank, 14 Palestinians, including at least three children, were injured by Israeli forces in several incidents. A total of 154 search and arrest operations were carried out across the West Bank. At least 146 Palestinians were arrested, 17 of whom were children.
As for settler assaults, four Palestinians were injured, and some 330 olive trees and seven vehicles were damaged in eight attacks by Israeli settlers in the West Bank in the past two weeks.
At least 12 Palestinians were detained last night by Israeli occupation forces, during a wide-scale detention campaign which targeted the occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Issawiya, according to local sources.
Large numbers of police forces broke into the flashpoint neighborhood, raided and searched several homes before detaining 12 civilians, including three brothers from the Ebeid family.
It has been almost six months of unrest in Issawiya. Excessive police brutality and indiscriminate daily raids by Israeli forces with no justification have left residents of the Jerusalem district exhausted, with no end in sight.
Since June, dozens of heavily armed Israeli forces from the Border Guards Police and Riot Police units have entered Issawiya almost every evening, staking out positions around the district under the pretext of security.
According to Amit Gilutz, a spokesman of human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli forces have been “detaining hundreds of residents, including minors, issuing traffic tickets for spurious infractions, serving of house demolition orders, and acts of violence,” Gilutz told Mondoweiss in a statement.
80-year-old Fo’ad Shobaki, the eldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails, has told his attorney that he can no longer withstand the difficult health conditions he’s experiencing behind Israeli prison bars.
Shobaki said during a visit by the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission attorney that he lived his toughest days during the last couple of weeks after he underwent an eye surgery, due to which he became completely dependent on other prisoners for basic life needs such as moving, which severely affected his psychological state.
On October 20, an Israeli court rejected an appeal made by the Commission in order to release Shobaki, claiming he was a “dangerous case”, and that “he did not show regret”.
Shobaki, from the Gaza Strip, is the eldest Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli detention, and was detained in 2006 and sentenced for 20 years then shortened to 17 in 2015 after several appeals were made considering his current health conditions and age.
More than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails for resisting the Israeli occupation of their homeland.