Following his triumph in the Likud party’s primary elections, on December 26, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a political plan aimed at securing US recognition of Israel’s annexation of West Bank settlements and rolling back Iran’s influence in the region.
Netanyahu’s plan, which is likely to play a major role in his desperate attempt to cling to power after yet another general election, slated for March, also proposes the normalization of ties between Tel Aviv and Arab countries, without ending Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Israeli newspaper Times of Israel reported on Netanyahu’s six-point plan, which was revealed during the Israeli leader’s victory speech on Friday.
“First, we will finalize our borders; second, we will push the US to recognize our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea; third, we will push for US recognition of our extension of sovereignty over all the communities in Judea and Samaria, all of them without exception,” Netanyahu said.
“Fourth, we will push for a historic defense alliance with the US that will preserve Israeli freedom of action; fifth, stop Iran and its allies decisively; and sixth, push for normalization and agreements that will lead to peace accords with Arab countries”.
“Israeli officials have been preparing for this moment for more than half a century, since the West Bank and Gaza were seized back in 1967,” Palestine Chronicle contributor Jonathan Cook wrote last June.
“Annexation is not a right-wing project that has hijacked the benign intentions of Israel’s founding generation. Annexation was on the cards from the occupation’s very beginnings in 1967, when the so-called center-left – now presented as a peace-loving alternative to Netanyahu – ran the government,” Cook added.
“Ultimately, Israel wants the Palestinians gone entirely, squeezed out into neighboring Arab states, such as Egypt and Jordan. That next chapter is likely to begin in earnest if Trump ever gets the chance to unveil his deal of the century’.”
In his speech on Friday, Netanyahu promised his Likud supporters that he will “fight for them” as “they fought for me,” reported The Times of Israel.
The Popular Committee Against the Siege appealed to UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to solve the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006, Days of Palestine reported.
“The situation in the Gaza Strip entails urgent and decisive intervention from the UN Secretary-General to pressure the occupation to lift the siege,” head of the Committee, Jamal al-Khudari said in a statement, on Saturday, adding that “Ending the Israeli blockade will contribute to saving the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
He stressed that “the blockade is immoral and inhuman, and contradicts all principles of the international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ministry, on Monday, slammed Israel’s decision to deduct millions of dollars from the Palestinian tax revenues, the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported.
The ministry denounced Israel’s decision to deduct 150 million Israeli shekels ($43 million) from the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on goods destined to the Palestinian areas as “an attempt to stigmatize the Palestinian people with terrorism” and as an “act of piracy” and “organized state terrorism”.
“Stealing more funds from the Palestinian people falls under the systematic economic war waged by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people,” said the ministry in a statement, adding that it was tantamount to “a desperate attempt to disrupt the domestic stability and the social fabric.”
It added, “Attempts to weaken the Palestinian Authority and its institutions are central to these Israeli schemes.”
Israel said it will freeze $43 million from the tax revenues, which it says is equivalent to the amount the monthly Palestinian allowance given to the families of prisoners and those killed by Israel for resisting its occupation of Palestine.
Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Journalist Support Committee documented 598 violations against Palestinian journalists throughout Palestine in 2019.
The committee asserted in a new report that the Israeli assaults on Palestinian journalists have increased in May 2019, when the Israelis increased their crackdown on journalists to prevent them from covering the activities that marked Land Day.
The report also noted that the Israelis deliberately targeted journalists with live ammunition and grenades in addition to beating, humiliation, and use as human shields. Palestinian journalists have been arrested, prevented from travel, and prevented from covering events.
The committee documented 163 cases of assaults against journalists. The assaults included direct shooting, beating, humiliation, targeting with tear gas, and confiscation of equipment.
The committee also held the occupation state responsible for sniping Palestinian journalists in several incidents, including sniping the journalists Sami Musran from Gaza and Muath Amarneh from the West Bank, who were both blinded by the Isreali bullets. The journalist Atiyyeh Darweesh had severe damage in his eye as well when Israeli soldiers shot at his eye.
79 cases of arrest, interrogation, and use as human shields have been documented as well according to the report. Moreover, 26 cases of renewal of detention and delay of releasing jailed journalists have been documented.
In 62 cases, the report documented Israel’s barring of journalists to practice their work. 5 cases of incitement and 174 cases of closure of media institutions were documented.
The report also documented 29 cases of raid and vandalism of journalists’ houses in addition to confiscation of their equipment.
The report stated that social media platforms closed several accounts of News and media institutions and journalists. They also imposed restrictions, which varied from closing accounts and preventing from publishing content to the removal of old posts and blocking of journalists’ accounts.
Occupied West Bank (QNN)- A new study by the Land Research Center in occupied Jerusalem has stated that 2019 could be titled as the years of legitimizing illegal settlement, especially following the US announcement, which deemed the Israeli settlement legal.
The study revealed that for each 3.4 Palestinians in the West Bank, there is one settler living in illegal settlements. Meanwhile, the figures show that for each dunum controlled by native Palestinians, there is another dunum that goes for settlers.
The study also noted that the most dangerous figures were documented in occupied Jerusalem, where there is one settler for each 1.3 native Palestinians and 7.5 dunums that go for settlements for each dunum owned by Palestinians.
2019 has seen the demolition of 648 Palestinian structures while 730 other structures have been threatened to be demolished.
Nearly 68,000 dunums of Palestinian land were confiscated, 3553 dunums were damaged, and 15,670 trees were damaged in the same year.
The occupation state has also set 34 additional checkpoints, increasing the total number of military checkpoints that dismember what is left of historic Palestine to 888 checkpoints.
According to the study, the occupation state has built six new settlement outposts, approved 40 settlement plans, and announced intentions to approve 26 other plans to expand 47 settlements.
Occupied Palestine (QNN)- A joint report by human rights and prisoners’ NGOs stated that the occupation state has increased its arbitrary arrests against children and women and increased torture as well throughout 2019.
The annual report by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer), and the Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs stated that the occupation state has arrested over 5500 Palestinians in 2019, including at least 889 children and 128 women.
It also noted that the total number of prisoners in Israeli jails has reached nearly 5000, including 40 women, 200 children, and 450 administrative detainees.
Martyrs in Israeli jails
In 2019, five Palestinian prisoners were killed in the Israeli jails. The martyrs are Faris Baroud, Omar Awni Younes, Nassar Taqatqa, Bassam Sayeh, and Sami Abu Diyak. Moreover, the Israelis continue to hold the bodies of four martyrs, who died under torture in Israeli jails. This has increased the total number of martyrs in Israeli jails to 222 since 1967.
The Israeli raids into prisoners’ cells never stopped this year. The most violent raids were reported in the jails of Ofer, Negev, and Rimon.
The condition of ill prisoners
Ill prisoners have reportedly reached over 700, including at least ten prisoners who suffer from cancer. The Israelis continued to deny them medical treatment and use their pains to blackmail and torture them.
The report also stated that the occupation state continued to practice the policy of collective punishment against families of Palestinian prisoners through arrests, interrogations, intimidation, house raids, and house demolition.
It also noted that the Israeli courts have been used as a tool to validate the Israeli violations against prisoners, including torture.
2019 has seen hunger strikes by more than 50 prisoners, most of them were against administrative detention.
In several cases, prisoners organized mass hunger strikes to protest against the Israeli repression, which was described as the worst and most violent this year.
The report called on local and international organizations to take action in order to protect Palestinian prisoners and their rights.
“When they saw my mother screaming as they were aiming their guns at me, they beat me harshly in front of her,” one of the boys told the lawyer
Palestinian minor prisoners inside Israeli jails are being harshly tortured and humiliated inside Israeli occupation jails, Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission (PPC) reported on Sunday.
Speaking to the lawyer of the PPC, when he visited them, the Palestinian boys said they were harshly beaten when they were arrested and during their investigations.
Minor prisoner, Abdul-Min’em Al-Natsha, 17, told the PPC’s lawyer that Israeli undercover forces kidnapped him from the streets of Shu’fat Refugee Camp along with Usama Taha, 16.
Both boys disclosed that they were taken to an investigation centre and spent four hours being investigated. They were handcuffed, insulted and beaten.
Al-Natsha noted that members of the Israeli army unit, Nahkshon, beat him more than one time on his way to attend the court sessions.
“They beat me just because I spoke with my mother during one of the court sessions,” Al-Natsha added.
Meanwhile, Taha explained that the officers of the Nahkshon unit unleashed the police dog at him on his way to the court.
Another boy, Motasem Sheikha, 17, described his kidnapping by Israeli undercover forces while walking in the streets of Shu’fat Refugee Camp.
He added that he spent 30 days being investigated in Al-Moskobiyeh Detention Centre, where he was tortured after he was incarcerated in a room with no monitoring cameras.
Abdul-Rahman Abu-Laila, 17, was also kidnapped by Israeli undercover forces from his workplace in the city of Akka, Israel.
According to the PPC, Abu-Laila was locked up in Petah-Tikva Detention Centre for ten days. He spent each day handcuffed in an isolated cell.
Raed Rashid, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from the West Bank of Jenin, told that the Israeli occupation forces broke down the main door of his house at night, broke into his room and arrested him while he was sleeping.
“When they saw my mother screaming as they were aiming their guns at me, they beat me harshly in front of her,” he told the PPC.
Rashid revealed that he was imprisoned in Al-Jalama Detention Centre, while blindfolded and handcuffed, for around 10 hours.
The boys Sheikha, Al-Natsha and Taha are being detained in Al-Damoun Prison and the others, Rashid and Abu-Laila, are being held in Meggido Prison.
It was a very happy moment when the Palestinians knew that they would cast their votes in order to choose their representatives, after waiting a long time. They voted and unexpectedly, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, won the overwhelming majority of the parliament seats, but this was not a blessing for the Palestinians, because it did not bring them safety, nor security – the basics for a stable life.
Fatah, Israel and the international community did not recognise the results of the elections. Rejecting the results by Fatah, led to internal clashes with Hamas, resulting in the latter sweeping the former from Gaza, in order to end the security chaos which erupted to undermine Hamas’ victory. Israel used this a pretext to impose a strict air, sea and ground siege on Gaza, and gave the international community a pretext to ignore Gaza, and stop its support for its people.
Since then, Gaza has been moving from one crisis to another. Gazan residents felt the first major crisis when the Palestinian Authority (PA) ordered its public servants, including the security personnel, teachers, doctors and employees in different ministries, to stay home or lose their salaries. Therefore, Gazan students went to their schools where were no teachers and patients went to hospitals and clinics, to find no doctors.
Adding to this, Israel reduced fuel and electricity supplies, at certain point to zero, paralysing almost all forms of life. Over 300 patients passed away in hospitals because of the lack of electricity and medicine. The suffering of hundreds of dialysis, heart and cancer patients, in addition to newly born babies, increased due to the lack of proper medical equipment or spare parts for the already operating equipment.
Over 70 per cent of factories, according to the office of the Chamber of Commerce in Gaza, were stopped due to the lack or severe shortages of raw materials banned by Israel, under the pretext of dual use. Exports and imports were largely stopped, and at certain points were completely blocked. All these things, in addition to others, led to high rates of unemployment, 46.7 per cent, and consequently, high rates of poverty, 53 per cent.
The situation deteriorated due to the continuous tensions between Israel and Hamas, which is dedicated to fighting the Israeli occupation, leading to several deadly offensives, including three main ones – in 2008/9, 2012 and 2014. These three offensives alone resulted in the deaths of around 3,900 Gazan residents, wounded over 15,000, completely destroyed over 11,000 homes, partially damaged over 12,000 homes and hundreds of other facilities, including clinics, schools, mosques, water and sewage plants.
In 2012, the UN Country Team produced a report predicting, based on trends, that Gaza would become “unliveable” by 2020. This report was issued after two of the aforementioned Israeli offensives on Gaza and before the third one, which was the most destructive. Five years later, the same UN team announced: “Sadly, as we check-in on those same trends again in this 2017 report, the deterioration has accelerated.”
One of the most serious problems facing Gazan residents is the fast growth of population, compared to the insufficient area of land, along with the severe shortage of health and education services and the lack of basics for economic growth. Originally, the area of the Gaza Strip, which was defined with the Armistice Line, is about 560 square kilometres. However, in a secret deal reached in the early 1950s, between Israel and Egypt, which controlled Gaza between the 1948 and 1967 wars, Israel seized an extra 200 square kilometres. The two million inhabitants of Gaza make it one of the most densely populated areas on earth.
In order to meet the needs of the population growth, the report stated that Gaza, which had about 2,000 hospital beds in 2012, needed 800 more beds in 2020, in order to meet the population growth (two million) expected by the UN Country Team in 2012. Three years before 2020, the population became two million, while the hospital beds and other health facilities became more obsolete, impacting negatively on the health services.
Regarding the education system, however, few more schools have been built since the report was issued, but unfortunately, the number of teachers has declined because of the budget deficit which the Hamas government in Gaza has been suffering, due to the lack of funds compared to the need of teachers, in order to compensate those who were instructed by the PA to stay at home.
The difficult and uncertain political situation in the Gaza Strip, along with the almost permanent closure of the crossings, as well as the lack of prospective internal reconciliation, make economic growth impossible. In fact, the Israeli crossings had been reopened and there has been commercial movement between Gaza and West Bank, Israel and the world, but the average monthly number of truckloads of goods exiting or entering Gaza is still less than a third of what was prior to 2007.
If we want to see Gaza liveable in 2020, its residents “must be enabled to live dignified, healthy and productive lives in peace and security, both now and in the future.” This could be achieved if the internal reconciliation and general elections were done, the 13-year-old Israel siege was lifted and the international support and donation were resumed. However, these goals seem unachievable because of Israel’s unwillingness to do so.
The UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Michael Lynk, announced last year that Israel had prevented him from entering the territories, in order to stand closely on its obligation to preserve human rights for the Palestinians. Now, Israel claims that the ICC does not have jurisdictions over the occupied territories, enabling it to probe possible Israeli crimes. These factors prove that Israel is unwilling to stop its aggression against the Palestinians, including those in Gaza, at very least, lifting the siege and facilitating their livelihoods.
The strange thing is that Gazan residents, “who pose a threat to no-one,” according to the former UN coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Robert Piper, have been enduring all of these sufferings and “paying a high price for acts and failures of others.”