Palestinians protest against the closure of the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip and the Israeli blockade on the territory, on 24 January 2019 in Rafah
Last month the Egyptian army began construction of a new separation wall on the border shared with the besieged Gaza Strip, allegedly to reinforce security in the Sinai Peninsula, Israeli media revealed earlier this week.
According to the Israeli news Channel TV7, the first phase of the wall, which started on 27 January, will be two kilometres in length, starting from Kerem Shalom and crossing to the Rafah border crossing.
The wall, which is only ten metres away from an older wall built in 2008, is six metres above ground level and is made of reinforced concrete. It is also five metres deep, below the surface of the ground.
No information has emerged regarding the second phase of the wall, and its construction began without announcement or media coverage.
It is worth noting that the Egyptian major general, Ahmed Abdel Khalek, who is in charge of Palestinian affairs, visited Gaza on 10 February along with an Egyptian security delegation. They had a field visit along the Gaza/Egyptian borders.
News reports claim that this wall aims to reinforce security in Sinai, as well as to ensure that all the cross-border tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, which were dug to smuggle food and construction material due to the strict Israeli siege, are shut down.
In October 2014, the Egyptians constructed a 14-kilometre-long buffer zone along the borders with Gaza. They forcefully displaced the Egyptian residents and razed their homes.
Originally, the buffer zone was 500 kilometres wide, but in October 2017, it was expanded to 1,500 metres wide.
A young boy carries food aid distributed UNRWA at Al-Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018
The Head of the Popular Committee against the Siege in the Gaza Strip said on Monday that the Israeli siege of the Palestinian territory has pushed the youth unemployment rate up to 70 per cent.
Jamal Al-Khudari, MP, pointed out in a media statement that the ongoing Israeli siege has entered its fourteenth year and resulted in the closure of dozens of factories, companies and workshops.
“This miserable reality has had a serious negative impact on the unemployment rate,” explained Al-Khudari. There are now more than 300,000 unemployed workers in Gaza and tens of thousands of unemployed university graduates. “There are no real solutions for the ailing economic situation as long as the Israeli siege is in place.” The young Palestinians in Gaza are being led to a dark future, he added.
The Palestinian legislator called for support for work programmes and the opening of the Arab and international markets for Gaza’s youth.
They can, for example, be employed remotely; such “long distance” employment schemes have started to prosper in Gaza. However, he stressed that the best way to reduce unemployment is to end the Israeli siege.
“Ending the Israeli siege, opening border crossings, connecting Gaza with the West Bank, allowing exports from Gaza and allowing free movement of people and trade,” insisted Al-Khudari. “This is the only way to bring about a real solution for the unemployment problem in Gaza.”
Bringing an end to the siege, he concluded, is the responsibility of the international community and this could only happen through putting “real pressure” on the Israeli government and taking “decisive measures” against it.
Israeli forces today destroyed couplings in pipes providing water to al-Shunah area of al-Jiftlik village, in the Jordan Valley, north of Jericho, according to local activist, Qais al-Sinawi.
Al-Sinawi, told WAFA that Israeli forces invaded the village and proceeded to destroy the connectors supplying running water to Palestinian crops.
Palestinians are forced to install a water connector to the main Israeli water carrier lines which supply between 400 and 700 cubic meters of underground Palestinian water per hour to the illegal colonial settlements.
This is the only way Palestinians are able to get water to their homes, crops and livestock, as Israel bans them from building water pipes of their own.
Israeli policemen searching bags of the children of Baida’a Ath Thalj kindergarten in the city of Tayibe, which is located in the land occupied in 1948
Tayibe (QNN)- Large numbers of heavily-armed Israeli policemen on Monday broke into Baida’a AthThalj kindergarten in the city of Tayibe in the land occupied in 1948 and searched children’s bags, spreading fear among the children, reported Arab 48.
The Israeli raid comes a few days after breaking into a school in occupied Acre and taking a 9-year-old girl for interrogation.
The Israelis searched the bags of all children despite trials by teachers to prevent them.
The police claimed that it was looking for weapons inside the children’s bags.
Rabab Oweidah, a teacher in the kindergarten, told Arab 48 that she “was very concerned about the children, who seemed very scared and shocked.”
“I tried very hard to prevent them from breaking into the kindergarten but they insisted. I told them that they are only children and that they will be scared. I suggested that they search every surrounding house until the children leave to their homes then they come back to search the kindergarten but they refused. The situation was out of the ordinary”, she said.
“They would never do that to their children”, Oweidah added. “However, they treat us as if we were criminals. This is how they think. I’ve never seen such thing in my whole life.”
Saja Jaber, a mother of two children who happened to be in the kindergarten during the Israeli raid, told Arab 48 “I was running and I was very shocked of the huge number of the policemen, who broke into the kindergarten. I did not know what was happening at the beginning but I was scared.”
“I tried to prevent them from searching my son but they insisted and shamelessly said that they will search every single child and anyone entering or leaving the kindergarten. I told them that they were scaring the children but they didn’t care!”
“My son didn’t understand what was going on but my daughter did and she was very scared telling me all the details”, she said.
In another context, An Nas radio revealed that Israeli policemen broke into an Arabic school in Acre on Thursday and took a 9-year-old girl for interrogation.
Gaza (QNN)- Israeli forces on Tuesday arrested a Palestinian young man, who allegedly crossed the separation barrier in eastern Gaza.
Israeli Channel 12 mentioned that a young man from Gaza crossed the barrier in eastern Gaza.
It added that he was sent for interrogation.
Despite the ceasefire, the Israeli army continued to raid agricultural land in the besieged strip and open fire at locals and fishermen. The fishing zone was also shrunk several times while several fishermen were arrested in many incidents.
Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem forced a Palestinian family in Jerusalem to demolish their own house under the pretext of having no construction permit.
Local sources said that the Israeli municipality forced Muntaser Shqeirat to demolish his own 2-story house in Jabal Al Mukabbir in southern Jerusalem under the pretext of being “illegal and built without permission”.
The municipality threatened Shqeirat to impose heavy fines unless he demolishes his house himself. They gave him until last night to demolish it.
Last January, Israeli authorities forced 11 Palestinians to demolish their own houses, not mentioning other demolitions that were carried out by Israeli forces.
June 26, 2015 .Salem Saoody, 30, is getting his daughter Layan (L) and his niece Shaymaa 5 (R) in the only remaining piece from their damaged house, which is the bathing tub. They now live in a caravan near the rubbles
By Mats Svensson
I receive emails from Khaled. I have never met him. He tells me that he lives in southern Gaza; that many years ago he read one of my articles on counterpunch.org. His emails often look the same. A short text and the same short ending. My responses have also always been short. I thank him and then encourage him to write again.
During the Israeli military offensive in 2014 I received daily emails from him. They were often about his love for Gaza, that it was his home and that he never wanted to leave. He read my stories and didn’t recognise himself. He told me that my stories were too sad.
At the same time, Khaled thought it was strange that the American administration had questioned whether the ICC should investigate the 2014 bombings in Gaza. If, indeed, there were reasons to investigate. The mighty West was more concerned over what happened in Israel than the 2,000 Palestinians who were killed. Khaled found this strange and also a little funny. That’s how he often ends his emails: sad, strange and sometimes a little funny.
Khaled told me that some of his relatives had moved into his house. Their house had been demolished. There are more and more people on the Gaza Strip now. Families were crowded together, but the inhabitable area got smaller and smaller. It was sad. Khaled found it strange that Netanyahu thinks that settlers should have a right to organic expansion. It was even more strange when Barack Obama, through the US budget, continued to increase financial aid to the apartheid regime in Israel.
It is hard here, Khaled wrote, but not hopeless. This is where I want to live. I will never leave. I live, he wrote, in a house that lies closest to the wall against Egypt. I previously lived almost on the border. But someone thought that there should be a buffer zone alongside the wall. We no longer have a right to live in our own house, on our land. Somehow the world doesn’t find it strange that someone claimed the right to clear out thousands of homes; to force away thousands of people; to make it even more crowded on the strip; to make it a bit more impossible to live. It is sad, Khaled wrote, but isn’t it also strange that countries in the West, like the US, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Norway and pretty much everyone else kept quiet? They let it happen. We cried and laughed at the same time. Cried for ourselves and laughed at the world.
He asked me if I saw the images of the bombed UN school. If I had seen the children. The ones who died, those who were hurt and all the frightened children who survived. Very sad, he wrote, but also strange that the world’s leaders were so happy when Israel said that it was a mistake.
Surely it is a serious crime to colonise a people, Khaled wrote. To take over land, steal houses, demolish houses, expel families and transform farmland into military zones. Surely this is very serious? Khaled wrote that he has read that I and many others refer to this as apartheid. He had learnt in school that what happened to the blacks and coloured people in South Africa belonged among the very worst tragedies for humanity. Khaled wrote that he hadn’t realised that what was happening to them in Palestine was even worse.
It is sad that leaders of the so called democratic world have become international criminals. Together they are financing this madness. Very sad and a little strange that Bush the elder, Clinton, Bush the younger, Obama and now Trump don’t understand what they are taking a leading role in. Funny, Khaled said, when you consider that Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Imagine financing war, killing children, demolishing homes, occupying land and then receiving the nice reward of the Nobel Peace Prize. Khaled wrote that it was sad, strange and really, really funny.
A child was killed by a grenade fired from a ship at sea. Three others started to run, tried to seek refuge; they were also killed. They were terrorists, Israel said. Sad how four children died; sad how the world didn’t care. Very sad, Khaled wrote, and not at all funny.
We start to cry and laugh when clinics are destroyed. At the clinic, there can be children with shrapnel; young men and women with gunshot wounds; men and women with sawn-off legs. Healthy human beings whose lives have been destroyed by nationalists, religious madness and authoritarians; the kind of people who never seem to get enough. Here they lie, those who have been injured by bullets. They are dying now when the UN is under fire. We cry, Khaled wrote, and we laugh at those who make decisions “over there”. All those who pray for the abuser and who think that we cannot get enough abuse. More weapons are exported to Israel, more bullets, more bombs. They say to each other that we can probably continue for a few more days.
It is obvious, Khaled said, that every house, every painting that was stolen or bank account that disappeared in Germany was to be returned. Wasn’t it sad and very strange that our demolished homes or our paintings that were stolen in 1948 are not to be returned? And that my father’s two bank books from 1944, which I have in my hand, became worthless in a second? It is tragicomic how the democratic world acts. One day the thief is punished, the next he is rewarded.
I work as a teacher, Khaled wrote. The month after the New Year bombings, the students wanted to talk about what happened; about why their classmate didn’t come back. Why the house had been razed to the ground. Khaled wrote that in school he had tried to explain, but that he couldn’t. He couldn’t find the words. It was so sad that there are no words to explain what happens around him. I try to get the children to laugh. Sometimes I dress up like a clown. It helps for a short moment. You know, Khaled wrote, the clown is both very sad and very funny.
I am angry, Khaled wrote. Very angry. Three young settlers killed. Sad, Khaled wrote. Why? To Khaled, those who killed the three settlers were terrorists. We don’t have a right to kill innocent people.
A few days passed. New emails. The war had begun, the bombs started falling. A new email. Mats, Mats, children are being killed. Hundreds are being slaughtered. Sad and cynically funny that the pilots are not called terrorists. Mats, how can it not be terrorism when a refugee camp is bombed, a ghetto?
The emails continued. The sad blended with the funny. Khaled was glad that I wasn’t there with him. That I’m not needed there but somewhere else. He writes that someone needs to be born here to survive here, to not go crazy. It’s not as bad as you think, Mats. It is at the same time so much worse. I live in hell already. It cannot get worse.
At the same time, Mats, it is so infinitely beautiful. Beautiful when the sun goes down over the Mediterranean. When the children swim and play on the beach, chase each other out in the water.
Mats, he writes, no children were killed on the beach today. You maybe should have been here. We still have good coffee. The houmous tastes good and the strawberries are red. Soon we will have another child. It can only get better.
Suddenly the emails stopped. Emptiness. Silence. The last email was about the children playing on the beach. That no children were killed on the beach that very day.
Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday demolished a horse barn and a cesspit in the Occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukaber under the pretext of unlicensed building.
Eyewitness confirmed that Israeli occupation forces escorted a bulldozer to Jabal al-Mukaber , where the heavy machinery proceeded to tear down the barn and the cesspit.
Owner of the demolished structures was identified as Ahmad Warad al-Zatraa.
Using the pretext of illegal building, Israel demolishes houses on a regular basis to restrict Palestinian expansion in occupied Jerusalem.
At the same time, the municipality and government build tens of thousands of housing units in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem for Jews with a goal to offset the demographic balance in favor of the Jewish settlers in the occupied city.