Land in eastern Gaza declared a disaster zone due to Israel use of herbicides

Palestinians commemorate Land Day

Gaza farmland, 16 April 2016 

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture declared arable lands in eastern Gaza to be a disaster zone on Monday, after the Israeli army repeatedly sprayed the area with chemical herbicides.

Despite a year-long break from such practices, the Israeli authorities confirmed on 22 January that they have resumed unannounced the spraying of herbicides along the fence along the nominal border of the Gaza Strip, Haaretz has reported. It was said by the Ministry of Defence to be necessary “based on security needs… but solely [takes place] within Israel territory.”

However, an investigative report by Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, found that “aerial spraying by commercial crop-dusters flying on the Israeli side of the border mobilised the wind to carry chemicals into the Gaza Strip, at damaging concentrations.”

Analysis of first-hand videos from fields close to the border fence revealed Israeli armed forces using smoke from a burning tyre to confirm the westerly direction of the wind, ensuring that the chemicals landed in the Gaza Strip.

READ: Israel continues to flood Gaza farmland

The Israeli army said it has acted under the country’s “Plant Protection Law”, which enforces regulations on plant protection and the monitoring and prevention of diseases. Officials thus claim that spraying practices at the Gazan border are identical to those used across the country.

However, such use of chemicals between 2014 and 2018 damaged 14,000 acres of land in Gaza, destroying all the crops grown there. The latest spraying has damaged an estimated 2,000 acres of land so far, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture reported.

According to the Guardian, no Palestinians have ever received compensation for the damage caused by the spraying of chemicals by the Israelis, despite a petition from human rights groups in Haifa and Gaza. In contrast, farmers in the Israeli agricultural town Nahal Oz allegedly received compensation in 2015 after suing the authorities for the loss of crops.

READ: Israel once again bans import of cement to Gaza

Forensic Architecture reported that herbicide spraying predominantly takes place during key harvest periods, targeting spring and summer crops, with Glyphosate the most commonly used chemical. However, Glyphosate was declared “carcinogenic in humans” by the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Research Agency in March 2015. The chemical has since been ruled safe for use by various US and European safety agencies, although several environmental groups have opposed this ruling.

The UN Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) noted concerns over the ability to predict where, and in what concentration, toxic chemicals will land. In a report to the General Assembly in September 2019, it was said that as “damage cannot be reasonably predicted by the army… such herbicides should not be used in such close proximity to the fence.”

80% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are dependent on humanitarian aid

MEMO #Infographic QUAD Digital Media


(Source / 04.02.2020) 

HRW: ‘Unlawful’ Israel strikes killed 11 Palestinian civilians

Gazans inspect the debris of a building after Israeli air strikes hit Gaza on 14 November 2019 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Gazans sit among the debris of a building after Israeli air strikes hit Gaza on 14 November 2019

Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip last November killed “at least 11 civilians”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported today, “in apparent violations of the laws of war”.

The two Israeli attacks investigated by HRW “struck civilian objects with little or no evidence that the attackers took all feasible precautions to avoid or minimize loss of civilian life,” HRW explained.

“The first killed three people at a location where there appeared to be no combatants, weapons, or other military target. The second killed nine people in two homes, at least eight of them civilians.”

The investigation was based on interviews with survivors, witnesses, relatives, neighbours and first responders, including field visits to the sites in question.

READ: Israel uses intelligence to support its propaganda war

On 13 November at around 9am, a guided missile likely fired by an Israeli drone killed 54-year-old Rafat Ayyad, and two of his sons, Islam, 23, and Amir, 7, as they rode a motorcycle near Gaza City.

All of those interviewed by HRW stated that neither Rafat nor Islam had any ties to armed factions, and no faction “claimed either of the men as members”, HRW stated. In addition, “Israeli authorities have released no information to explain or justify the attack.”

Meanwhile, on 14 November, at around 12.15am, three airdropped munitions “fell within about two minutes on adjacent homes of the families of two brothers, Rasmi Abu Malhouse al-Sawarka and Mohammad al-Sawarka, on the edge of Deir al-Balah town in the central Gaza Strip”.

“The strikes killed the two brothers, two women, and five boys aged 1, 2, 7, 12, and 13, and injured a woman and nine other children,” HRW reported.

READ: Israeli soldier puts a snake inside a Palestinian car

HRW stated that eight of the nine killed were certainly civilians, and the ninth casualty, Mohammad Al-Sawarka, may well have been too: “one relative said he was as member of Islamic Jihad, though six others said he was not a member of any armed group, and Islamic Jihad neither referred to him on their website nor claimed him as a ‘martyr’”, HRW explained.

The organisation described how, on the day of the strike, the Israeli military “released a photo of two men, saying that an attack earlier in the day had killed a man called Rasmi Abu Malhous, and that he was a senior Islamic Jihad commander.”

It was only later that month that the Israeli military “admitted that it had made a targeting error”, saying “it was not expected that noncombatant civilians would be hurt in the strike”.

Then in December, the military “said it had mistakenly categorized the two homes as a ‘military compound’ instead of a civilian complex ‘with some military activity’”.

HRW, however, noted that “one relative and two neighbours said that both of the families had lived in their homes for at least 10 years”, and “all seven adults interviewed said they were not aware of any activity in the houses that might have made the structures a target.”

(Source / 04.02.2020)

Israeli soldiers harass Palestinian teachers and collect student fingerprints

Members of the Israeli security forces gather at the main entrance of a Palestinian school in the West Bank on 15 October 2018 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty Images]

Members of the Israeli security forces gather at the main entrance of a Palestinian school in the West Bank on 15 October 2018

Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinian teachers as they were heading to their school this morning. The incident happened near the village of Taqu, south-east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Morad Abu Muffareh, a teacher at the school, told Wafa that the soldiers often provoke teachers and students by being stationed around the premises. “They threaten to storm the school under false pretences,” he added. “There are numerous examples of Israeli aggression against the school.” They include troops firing tear gas into the school playground where children play football; patrolling the area and preventing students and teachers from entering school grounds; and detaining teachers and students for interrogation.

Moreover, soldiers briefly detained a number of students from the same school and took their fingerprints on Sunday. The students were on their way to school at the time.

The procedure followed days of clashes in the village as well as in other areas of the occupied region between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops, in the aftermath of the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s so-called “peace plan”.

READ: PA to stop security cooperation with Israel if US ‘peace deal’ is applied

While most of the violations at the school were committed by the Israeli army, explained Abu Muffareh, on several occasions during the first semester armed Israeli settlers also entered the school grounds, escorted by soldiers, and harassed and threatened students.

Students attending schools targeted by the Israeli army and settlers have reported being in a “constant state of panic”; “always feeling tired”; having “great difficulty” in focusing on lessons; and having “less motivation” to attend school, with a resultant increase in violent behaviour.

The Palestinian village of Taqu has been subject to frequent military incursions, in addition to the repeated attacks by illegal colonial-settlers.

(Source / 04.02.2020) 

Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate condemns Israel’s aggression against members

Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip goes on strike in protest against the security officers' aggression towards their colleagues in occupied Ramallah, West Bank, 13 March 2017. [Images by Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) protest against ill treatment of their colleagues on 13 March 2017

Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) yesterday condemned Israel’s aggression on photojournalist Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh and journalist Mohamed Melhem in occupied Hebron.

In a statement, the PJS said it would send a message to the International Federation of Journalists briefing it about the Israeli aggression.

The PJS said that it would ask the International Federation of Journalists to put pressure on Israel in order to stop its violations against Palestinian journalists.

Meanwhile, the PJS called for all international bodies to pressure Israel and occupation forces to stop their repeated violations against Palestinian journalists, noting that the violations have been increasing.

It called for the Arab Journalists’ Union and the International Federation of Journalists and all other international bodies to take serious measures in order to stop the suffering of the Palestinian journalists.

Report: 600 Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists in 2019

(Source / 04.02.2020) 

Egypt raises price of cooking gas exported to Gaza

Palestinians wait to fill gas canisters in Gaza 17 September 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Palestinians wait in line to fill their gas canisters in Gaza on 17 September 2017

The besieged Gaza Strip has suffered a greater shortage in cooking gas over the past three weeks as a result of Egypt’s price increases, Arab48 reported yesterday.

Daily consumption of cooking gas in Gaza is about 250 tonnes in winter and between 200 and 220 tonnes in summer.

Director of Public Relations and Media Officer in Gaza, Bayan Baker, said the shortage was a response to the Egyptian attempt to raise the price of cooking gas.

The Palestinian government in Gaza stopped importing gas in protest against the attempts to raise its price; however, it reached a compromise with the Egyptian authorities to make a very symbolic rise, according to Baker, who did not say how much prices would increase by.

READ: Israel to host music festival in Egypt’s Sinai

A cooking gas contain in Gaza is 12 kilogrammes and is sold to consumers at 57 shekels ($16.5).

The increase in consumption in Israel, due to the drop in temperatures, is also leading to a shortage of gas in Gaza.

Israel prevents Palestinians from using gas from the Gaza Marine fields off the enclave’s coast which was discovered more than two decades ago by British Gas.

(Source / 04.02.2020) 

Settlers Invade Al-Aqsa, Police Arrest Guard and Female Worshiper

Illegal Israeli settlers stormed, the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound via the Moroccan Gate, on Sunday morning, heavily protected by Israeli forces, Alray reported.

Several groups of settlers invaded the mosque, and toured its courtyards, guided by rabbis that gave settlers explanations on the alleged “Temple Mount.”

Sources added that Israeli forces detained an Al-Aqsa Mosque guard, Ahmad Abu Aliya, and took him to an interrogation center.

A female worshiper was also detained by Israeli police after being assaulted.

(Source / 04.02.2020) 

Pressure Campaign Launched by US against Palestinian Administration, EU Responds

The US government has begun a campaign to pressure the Palestinian National Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the “Deal of the Century” launched by US President Donald Trump, in the form of criticism made by his adviser, Jared Kushner, adviser during an interview with CNN.

In the interview, Kushner threatened Palestinian leadership, saying that if the Palestinians are unable to fulfill certain conditions under the plan, Israel should not recognize them as a state.

Kushner also criticized the behavior of the Palestinian Authority, saying that Abbas “has served 16 years instead of four years, and this is not a prosperous democracy.”

Kushner said there were promises of a democratic Palestinian state, but there is something that makes him believe that with this program and the “offering,” there is no one and that this state and order does not exist and that there will be no such state.

“Page 34 of the plan states that the basic condition for recognition of this Palestinian state is that it will enjoy free press, free elections, freedom of religion, stable and transparent financial institutions such as the Western world, and an independent judiciary, and it is clear that this does not currently exist,” he said.

“He also states in the plan that the United States and Israel are the two countries that will rule if the Palestinian state meets these conditions, but I fear that there are currently no Arab countries that meet these criteria,” the US adviser said. Is this not a simple way to tell the Palestinians that you will never have a state?”

The European Union, in a statement, said that it was fully committed to the transatlantic partnership and values all efforts to help find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The EU recalls its commitment to a negotiated two-State solution, based on 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps, as may be agreed between the parties, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition – as set out in the Council Conclusions of July 2014.”

The statement said that the US initiative, as presented on 28 January, departs from these internationally agreed parameters:

“To build a just and lasting peace, the unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties. This includes, notably, the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, security and the refugee question,” it added.

The European Union called on both sides to re-engage and to refrain from any unilateral actions contrary to international law that could exacerbate tensions. We are especially concerned by statements on the prospect of annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank. In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967. Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged, PNN reports.

The United States has requested a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting for Thursday at which Kushner is to present the administration’s new plan, diplomats said, Al Ray further reports.

Kushner has requested a closed-door session on Thursday, during which he can clarify details of the plan and respond to questions from the UNSC’s other 14 members.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to be at the United Nations on February 11, to make his case against the U.S. proposals

In late 2017, a Palestinian-inspired resolution condemning Washington’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital received 14 votes in the Security Council, but the United States quashed it with its veto.

Kushner is the architect of the plan unveiled by Trump last week, and rejected Saturday by the Arab League and by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Monday.

The plan proposed the establishment of a Palestinian capital in Abu Dis, a suburb of Jerusalem.

In a statement, Saturday, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said he has launched a campaign to persuade member countries not to support any Palestinian action that is hostile to the US plan.

(Source / 04.02.2020) 

Soldiers Destroy Water Pipes in Jordan Valley

Israeli forces, today, destroyed pipelines that were supplying the northern Jordan Valley village of Bardala with irrigation water, according to Ziad Sawafta, deputy mayor of Bardala village council.

Mayor Sawafta told WAFA correspondence that Israeli forces regularly destroy the pipes supplying water for irrigation in Bardala, noting that the village suffers from water shortage due to Israel’s refusal to provide it with more than 100 cubic meters of water per hour, when the needed amount is 240 cubic meters.

He added that this harms the agricultural crops, which is the village’s main source of income.

Report: Netanyahu Plans to Extend Israeli Sovereignty Over Jordan Valley and Settlements

(Source / 04.02.2020) 


By Belen Fernandez

On 28 January, amidst great fanfare, US President Donald Trump unveiled new details of the so-called “deal of the century”- designed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by, you know, definitively screwing over the Palestinians.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes that, according to the Trumpian plan, the Palestinians “would have no territorial contiguity, would be fully economically dependent on Israel, and most importantly, would be giving up the Palestinian national vision to establish a sovereign state”.

Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank would be annexed to Israel, and Jerusalem would be recognised as the undivided Israeli capital.

Some “deal”.

The reading list

The day after the unveiling, Trump’s senior White House adviser and simultaneous son-in-law Jared Kushner – the primary architect of the plan – appeared on Sky News Arabia to enumerate some of his qualifications as Middle East peacemaker: “I’ve been studying this now for three years. I’ve read 25 books on it.” To be sure, three years is an impressively short time to go from having zero experience in politics or foreign policy to resolving one of the defining conflicts of the modern era.

A Washington Post columnist aptly quipped: “I have just read 25 books and am here to perform your open-heart surgery.”

Since Kushner has not deigned to reveal the titles of any of his chosen texts, I attempted to contact him for the full reading list, stressing that I felt it would be “an immensely helpful resource for other folks out there who might be considering spontaneous reinvention as Middle East experts”.

As of this article’s publication, however, I had yet to hear back.

But it doesn’t take a Middle East expert to guess the nature and orientation of Kushner’s top 25. After all, only by reading 25 books of undiluted Zionist propaganda could anyone concoct the “deal of the century”.

Undoubtedly absent from the list are works like, for example, Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which documents the founding of the state of Israel on policies of ethnic cleansing and slaughter. The new deal would absolve Israel of that history – not to mention more recent histories like regular massacres of Palestinian civilians.

asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل @asadabukhalil  

He read 25 books: do you think any of them was by a Palestinian or pro-Palestinian author? …Bel Trew @Beltrew 

Kushner on the study he put into #Trump’s peace plan: “I’ve been studying this now for three years, I’ve read 25 books on it, I’ve spoken to every leader in the region, I’ve spoken to everyone who’s been involved in this” …342:55 PM – Jan 30, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy See asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل’s other Tweets  

One of the “conceptual maps” provided as part of the Kushner-Trump “vision for peace” comes equipped with the specification that “All Muslims who come in peace will be welcome to visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem.

No equivalent condescending admonition is directed at the Israelis, despite Israel’s monopoly on violence in the area – including, as it so happens, a certain 1990 mass killing of Palestinians at none other than Al-Aqsa Mosque.

If you ask Trump, of course, the proper pronunciation is “Al-Aqua” Mosque, and “Palestinians are in poverty and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism”.

This from the man who delights in terrorising everyone from Afghanistan to the US-Mexico border.

A visit to Gaza

The bookworm Kushner, for his part, is similarly patronising, denouncing the Palestinians as “quite foolish” for rejecting his amazing deal and suggesting that they “probably need a little bit of time to take a cold shower and to kind of digest the plan”.

Perhaps he could arrange a visit to the Gaza Strip to see just how much showering is possible when Israel has effectively crippled the water and sanitation system. At the very least, he could add Edward Said’s Orientalism to his reading itinerary to brush up on why it’s not cool to go lecturing Arabs on how to behave – especially if you’re the white dude presently orchestrating their permanent dispossession.

Meanwhile, Kushner’s intensive book study schedule has apparently prevented him from reading much shorter things, like a statement from Jordan- traditional US buddy and longtime sellout to Israel- opposing the “peace” deal.

Tikun Olam@richards1052  


Jared Kushner read a whole *25 books* which entitled him to prepare the Deal of the Century. Among them were the collected works of Meir Kahane, Zeev Jabotinsky, and Ben Zion Netanyahu! 2012:02 AM – Jan 31, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy See Tikun Olam’s other Tweets  

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour – which entailed a brief hissy fit when he perceived that Amanpour was antagonising him – Kushner claimed he had “not had a chance to see” the statement from Jordan, but that anyway, all was dandy. He furthermore swore that this was a “big opportunity” for the Palestinians, who “have a perfect track record of blowing every opportunity they’ve had in their past”.

Oldest trick

Granted, the Trump administration has never been too keen on that thing called reality. But while the truth may not exist in Kushner’s mind or in his elusive 25 books, there’s no denying that Israel has been the party to sabotage peace at every turn – all the while blaming the Palestinians for their own continued victimisation

One manoeuvre specifically designed to be rejected by the Palestinians and thereby promote the narrative of a Palestinian refusal to cooperate was Israel’s offer at Camp David in 2000 to part with some 16 percent of historic Palestine – all chopped up into noncontiguous enclaves under de facto Israeli control.

As even former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami subsequently remarked, “if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well”.

Now, as bibliophile Kushner & Co charge forward with the latest plan for territorial mutilation, you might say it’s the oldest trick in the book.

(Source / 04.02.2020) 


Gaza (QNN)- The Ministry of Agriculture declared lands of eastern Gaza a disaster area after the Israeli army has sprayed it with herbicides.

The ministry said in a press conference, which was attended by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), that the losses of the crops in eastern Gaza, which were resulted from the Israeli crime, are estimated at over one and a quarter million dollars.

It added that 2000 dunums of agricultural land was damaged, according to preliminary estimates.

The ministry also said that the Israeli crime had started in 2000 when Israeli jets sprayed poisonous herbicides that needed long periods to break down.

Witnesses by farmers stated that Israeli soldiers, stationed within the borderline, burn tires to identify the wind direction before ordering to spray Palestinians’ land, preventing the chemicals from reaching agricultural land on the other side.

The ministry added that most losses were in winter crops like wheat, barley, peas, cabbages, onions, zucchini, spinach, and parsley.

It notified Palestinian farmers not to harvest or sell their affected crops. It also urged international and human rights organizations to undertake field trips in order to identify and document the losses of Palestinian farmers and expose the Israeli crimes.

(Source / 04.02.2020)