Israeli police officers arrest a Palestinian youth in Issawiya, Jerusalem, 4 January 2017
Israeli occupation forces detained over 5,500 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories in 2019, including 889 children and 128 girls and women, Quds Press reported rights groups saying yesterday.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission, Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and Addameer for Human Rights, there are approximately 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, including 40 girls and women, 200 children. Some 450 are under administrative detention.
A total of approximately 100 Palestinians living in the caves lack access to water, electricity, schools and roads. They rely on rainwater and harvest their own food, many work as shepherds.
The European Union has in recent years provided the residents with semi-permanent homes made of corrugated iron and solar panels to generate electricity. However, Israel has repeatedly demolished the homes and confiscated the electricity generators.
A Palestinian sits among the debris of destroyed buildings following Israel’s offensive in Gaza on 31 August 2014
Gaza still needs $280 million to rebuild homes demolished during Israel’s 2014 offensive on the enclave, head of the Popular Committee Against the Israeli Siege on Gaza, MP Jamal Al-Khodari, said yesterday.
In a statement reported by the Safa News Agency, Al-Khodari said that the reconstruction of these homes is a “humanitarian, ethical and legal issue”, noting that women, children and men who used to live in these homes “are currently homeless”.
He called on the Palestinian factions, government and everyone to work hard in order to solve this problem, which is being aggravated by the 13-year-old Israeli siege.
“All the Palestinians at all levels must take this issue directly to the donors in order to get a solution for it,” Al-Khodari said, adding: “Solving it means ending the suffering of hundreds of homeless people.”
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.
Fateh, Israel and the international community did not recognise the results of the elections. Rejecting the results by Fateh, 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.
Then, on 30 March 2018, the weekly demonstrations, dubbed the ‘Great March of Return’ and Breaking the Siege’ along the eastern side of the Gaza Strip, started and this added to the suffering of the Gazan residents due to the Israeli use of “lethal force” against “peaceful” protesters.
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.”
Israeli soldiers demolished, Wednesday, two Palestinian flats in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem.
Khaled Abu Tayeh, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in Silwan, said dozens of soldiers and personnel of the Jerusalem Municipality, invaded the town, before surrounding the two flats.
Abu Tayeh added that the soldiers demolished the two flats, 100 square/meters each, owned by Yazid Khalayla and his brother Mohannad.
The army claimed the flats were built without construction permits.The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the family managed to obtain court order halting the demolition, but the army went ahead and demolished the property anyway.
While Israel continues to build and expand its illegal colonies in occupied Palestine, in direct violation of International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and various international resolutions, the Palestinians in and around east Jerusalem, and the rest of Area C (%61 the occupied West Bank), continue to be largely denied construction permits, in addition to the excessively high costs of the applications.
Geneva (QNN)- A UN human rights expert on Tuesday described the ICC’s decision to investigate Israeli war crimes in Palestine as a “momentous step forward in the quest for accountability”.
“Accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action throughout the 52-year-old occupation,” said Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
He added that over the years, the international community adopted hundreds of resolutions through the UN condemning various features of Israel’s entrenched occupation of the Palestinian territory but it rarely combined criticism with consequences for Israel.
“Now, the possibility of accountability is finally on the horizon”, he added.
On 20 December, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she was “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine”.
She has spent the past five years reviewing the initial evidence as part of a preliminary investigation in the 2014 war on Gaza, the IsraeIi settlements and, more recently, the killing and wounding of Palestinian demonstrators near the Gaza frontier, according to the UN website.
Bensouda said that before initiating a formal investigation, she would ask for a ruling by the Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm that the territory over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
Lynk defended Bensouda’s decision saying that “in a world that proclaims its devotion to human rights and a rules-based international order, it is vital that the international community defend the decision of the ICC Prosecutor to advance her investigation and to seek a favourable ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber on the issue of territorial jurisdiction”.
“International law must be the basis for seeking justice for the victims of war crimes in this interminable conflict, and the international community must resolutely support the laws and the institutions that it has created and nurtured.”
Gaza (QNN)- Muhammad Abu Reidah (11 years old) was playing with his friends near the border between Gaza and the occupied land when an Israeli sniper directly shot his eye.
Before sniping his eye, said his mother, an Israeli soldier inside a military Jeep called his name, which made him run away to be a moving hunting target for the Israelis. They did not give him a long time to run as he was immediately shot under his eye and fell on the ground.
Muhammad Abu Reidah was sniped by Israeli soldiers, who preferred to see him as a hunting target instead of a child who was playing with other children.
The crime took place in eastern Khan Younes last Friday and Muhammad is now at the European hospital of Gaza.
“I was only standing with my friends”, said Muhammad. “I want my eye back and I want to play with them again.”
Muhammad’s mother told QNN that “Muhammad’s injury was directly under his eye. He cannot see now and he suffers from fractures in his nose”.
The 11-year-old child suffers from retinal hemorrhage and fracture in the nose and the upper jaw in addition to problems in his ears.
“The doctors are waiting for permission so that they transfer him to Al Najah hospital in Nablus or the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied Jerusalem as there is no treatment for his case in Gaza”, said his mother.
The bereaved mother called on all officials and activists to help her send Muhammad to another hospital so that he gets treatment and does not lose his eye.
“I have lost a child to cancer before and I don’t want to lose Muhammad’s eye too”, she said.
“The economic condition is very tough. I call on all institutions to help me cover the expenses of Muhammad’s medicine”.
Over 30,000 Palestinians have been injured by the Israelis during Gaza’s weekly protests, which started two years ago. Hundreds of them suffer from eye injuries and amputations.
Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Israeli bulldozers on the early morning of the first day of 2020 demolished seven structures in southern and eastern Jerusalem, displacing 33 Palestinians.
The councilman of Sawahreh village, Younes Ja’far, told QNN that Israeli forces stormed the Mintar area in the village and started the new year by the demolition of five houses, displacing nearly 20 Palestinians.
He added that the houses were only tents and tin houses. The Israelis also confiscated a water tank, leaving the families in freezing weather.
He also stated that one of those, whose houses were demolished, had his house demolished by the Israelis three months ago.
What the occupation state is doing aims at increasing settlement and closing the holy city as a part of the Israeli plans to Judaize it, according to Ja’far.
In Silwan, Israeli bulldozers demolished another house owned by the Khalaileh family, raising the number of those displaced today by the Israelis to 33.
The activist Khaled Abu Tayeh told QNN that Israeli vehicles surrounded the house and evicted its residents before demolishing it.
The house included two apartments, which used to provide shelter for 13 Palestinians.
In Bethlehem, Israeli vehicles raided the village of Khillet Farwaneh in the village of Jaba and uprooted olive trees.
More than 13 million Palestinians in the world by the end of 2019 – statistics bureau
The projected number of Palestinians in the world is 13.350 million, of whom 5.039 million are in the State of Palestine, which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, 1.597 million inside the green line or current day Israel, 5.986 million in Arab countries and around 727,000 in foreign countries, according to a report published today by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) marking the end of the year 2019.
Of the 5.039 million living in the State of Palestine, around 3.020 million reside in the West Bank and 2.019 million in Gaza Strip. Palestinian refugees make up 42% of the Palestinian population in State of Palestine: 26% of them in the West Bank and 66% in Gaza Strip, said the report.
The total fertility rate declined during (2011-2013) to 4.1 births (compared to 5.9 births in 1999). In Gaza Strip the rate was 4.5 births compared to 3.7 births in the West Bank during 2011-2013.
The average household size in the State of Palestine was 5.1 persons in 2017 (compared to 6.1 in 2000): 4.8 persons in the West Bank and 5.6 persons in Gaza Strip.
The crude birth rate is 30.2 births for every 1000 of population in the State of Palestine in 2019: 27.7 in the West Bank compared to 34.0 in Gaza Strip. The crude death rate is 3.7 deaths for every 1000 of population during the same year: 3.9 in the West Bank compared to 3.5 in Gaza Strip.
The total fertility rate for the Palestinian women living in Jordan was 3.3 births in 2010 compared to 2.5 in Syria in 2010 and 2.7 for the Palestinian women in Lebanon in 2017.
The number of Palestinians living in Israel is 1.597 million at the end of 2019, of whom the percentage of individuals under 15 years was about 32.8% for males and 31.8% for females, while the percentage of individuals 65 years and above was 4.4% for males and 5.3% for females at the end of 2018.