Hamas demands release 250 prisoners in exchange for information on missing Israelis

Palestinian activists sit in a mock prison, during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on 9 April 2019 [Mahmoud Nasser/ApaImages]

Palestinian activists sit in a mock prison, during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on 9 April 2019

Hamas has demanded Israel release 250 Palestinian prisoners in return for confidential information about four Israeli prisoners of war held in Gaza.

According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar today, Hamas officials held in Israeli jails have produced a list of 250 Palestinian prisoners they demand be freed as part of the first stage of negotiations, and sent the list to the movement’s leadership represented by Yahya Al-Sinwar in the Gaza Strip.

In exchange for the prisoners’ release, Hamas has offered to provide information regarding the bodies of two deceased Israeli soldiers Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Sergeant Oron Shaul, as well as the alleged civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed who Hamas says are also soldiers.

READ: Hamas rejects Israeli conditions to help Gaza confront coronavirus

A major figure in the negotiations is a German mediator who was also involved in the famous Shilat deal in 2011, in which 1,027 Palestinians were released in return for Israeli soldier Gilad Shilat. Some of those released in that deal, however, were rearrested by Israeli authorities in 2014.

In an interview with Nazareth Radio, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem referred to the earlier proposal made by Al-Sinwar that old and sick Palestinian prisoners would be released by Israel during the first stage of the deal, saying that “the ball is in Israel’s court”.

When the second stage of negotiations is conducted, Hamas has insisted that it will only take part in talks once Israel releases those 55 prisoners it rearrested following the Shilat deal.

While it is known that the two Israeli soldiers were killed during the Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2014, the health and medical condition of Mengistu and Al-Sayed remain unknown.

READ: Humanitarian concerns could swing it for a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel

A senior source from Hamas told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Saturday that while Egypt and Russia have expressed willingness to go ahead with the negotiations and come up with an agreement, Israel has not yet sent a “serious response”. Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing last week that his country is ready to negotiate, the source said that he was instead engaging in “media equivocation” without making any moves towards striking a deal.

Hamas’ offer also comes amid rising humanitarian concerns over the safety of Palestinian prisoners from the spread of the coronavirus.

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Israel settlers infected with coronavirus brutally attack Palestinian civilians

Palestinians inspect the damage done to their cars after Jewish settlers set fire to them in the West Bank on 20 December 2019 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians inspect the damage done to cars after Jewish settlers set fire to them in the West Bank on 20 December 2019

Extreme right-wing settlers attacked a group of Palestinians with rocks and tear gas and set two Palestinian cars on fire this morning in the occupied Jordan Valley, according to Wafa news agency.

The terror group known as “hilltop youth” from the notorious illegal settlement of Yitzhar, who were quarantined in an army post in the Jordan Valley after they were suspected to contracting the deadly coronavirus disease, escaped from their post and attacked two Palestinian men and a Palestinian woman.

According to the Jerusalem Post, an initial investigation found that three of the quarantined settlers saw two Palestinians and one Arab-Israeli woman having a picnic in the area and, after an interaction between the six, returned to the tent and brought ten of their friends to attack the Palestinians.

READ: Spreading the virus of occupation: Spitting as a weapon in the hand of colonial Israel

The settlers also beat the woman, hitting her in the face and abdomen. Her injuries caused her to lose consciousness and she was evacuated to Soroka Medical Centre in Be’er Sheva for treatment, reported Israel Hayoum.

In response to the attack, Joint List MK Ofer Cassif took to Twitter to criticise Israel’s authorities for rarely prosecuting settler violence against Palestinians and their property.

He wrote: “Jewish terrorists are repeatedly accepted with love and understanding by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and police, like the case tonight when we saw the racist violence that miraculously did not take human lives. Instead of establishing ‘Ma’ale coronavirus’ these hilltop youth should have been placed behind bars.”Ofer Cassif עופר כסיף@ofercass  

טרוריסטים יהודים מתקבלים שוב ושוב באהבה והבנה בידי משטרת ארדן ונתניהו, וכך גם הלילה ראינו אלימות גזענית שרק בנס לא גבתה חיי אדם. במקום להקים להם “מעלה קורונה” היה נכון לשלוח את נערי הגבעות לבידוד מאחורי סורג ובריח.

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The attack was condemned by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates who said it was not the first attack by Jewish settlers against Palestinian civilians and their property in the occupied territories, but an extension of dozens of similar attacks.

It added there has been a rise in such attacks since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to undermine Palestinian efforts to fight the outbreak.

READ: Jewish settlers kidnap Palestinian brothers after attacking father

Israel fights with coronavirus fears - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Israel arrests 8 Palestinians despite coronavirus lockdown

Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian boy on 11 February 2020 [Mosab Shawer/ApaImages]

Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian boy on 11 February 2020

Israeli occupation forces arrested eight Palestinians from the occupied West Bank over the past 2 days despite the complete lockdown in place to combat the coronavirus, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club reported.

The group said in a statement that Israeli forces have continued with their arrest campaigns which target “patients, the elderly and children” despite the coronavirus pandemic ignoring warnings that the spread of the coronavirus would have dire consequences in jail.

Among those detainees was former member of Palestinian parliament who has been deported from Jerusalem, Muhammad Abu Tair. The sixty-eight-year-old has spent a total of nearly 34 years in the occupation’s prisons.

According to the statement, the detainees are from the governorates of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, Qalqilya, Nablus and Bethlehem.

READ: Israel holds 200 child prisoners with minimum healthcare provision

(Source / 14.04.2020)

Gaza’s library goes mobile during coronavirus lockdown

'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

‘Bicycle: For us is life’ is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020

Palestinians in Gaza launched an initiative to deliver library books to children living in refugee camps who have been ordered to stay at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Bicycle: For us is life” was launched by Osama Fayyad who said books were trapped in libraries as a result of the virus and could not be reached by children. He brought together a team that sterilises each book before delivering it to minors at home using bicycles.

The books are dropped off on Saturdays and picked up on Tuesdays and those interested in getting their hands on any publications can contact the organisers on Facebook.

READ: Gaza resumes coronavirus testing amid shortages

'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
'Bicycle: For us is life' is an initiative which brings books to children living in refugee camps in Gaza 14 April 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Israel to open coronavirus testing centres in occupied East Jerusalem

Israeli medical personnel from the Magen David Adom (MDA) national emergency service swab a resident from the city of Bnei Brak at their complex for COVID-19 testing in the city of Ramat Gan on March 31, 2020, [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli medical personnel from the Magen David Adom (MDA) national emergency service swab a resident from the city of Bnei Brak at their complex for COVID-19 testing in the city of Ramat Gan on March 31, 2020

Israel will open health clinics and coronavirus testing centres for 150,000 Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhoods beyond Israel’s illegal Separation Wall.

The decision comes in response to a petition filed to the High Court of Justice by Adalah, the Israeli Arab Minority Legal Center, earlier this month, calling on the government to provide coronavirus testing to residents in the Shuafat refugee camp and Kufr Aqab, in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem.

In its petition, Adalah attorney and co-author of the petition Myssana Morany said the organisation “gave the government two options: either set up temporary or drive-in testing facilities in the communities themselves or provide testing kits and the appropriate equipment to the existing health facilities in Shuafat and Kufr Aqab.”

It also warned that these neighbourhoods have very dense populations and infrastructure is very poor, which puts residents at an increased risk of the spread of the coronavirus.

READ: Despite the Israeli blockade, Gaza is tackling Covid-19 with typical determination

The organisation demanded testing centres or mobile testing centres for residents; training for local clinics in these neighborhoods to conduct the tests; and other remedies that would make virus detection tests accessible, reported Wafa news agency.

Following Israel’s announcement to open health clinics and coronavirus testing centres, the Adalah attorneys said in a statement, “Despite the delay and the possibility that these measures to open health clinics and coronavirus testing centers come too late, Israel’s commitment to fulfilling some of our demands is an important step.”

“However, it is not enough. We will certainly monitor the implementation of these commitments, and we look forward to the rest of our demands being met in order to ensure the health of the Palestinian population in these areas of East Jerusalem.”

Mahmoud Al-Sheikh, head of Shuafat’s local council, said the camp’s residents are routinely neglected by both Palestinian and Israeli authorities, despite the fact that 70 per cent of them have Jerusalem IDs and pay municipality and national health insurance taxes.

He added Adalah remains extremely concerned that Israel’s actions are coming too late, especially given that Israeli authorities had not examined the extent of the spread of the virus until today in Kufr Aqab, Shuafat refugee camp and the adjacent neighbourhoods.

“In the absence of coronavirus testing over the past month and a half, Israel does not have the slightest idea about the extent of the virus’ spread in these Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem behind the Separation Wall. There is an urgent need for additional measures,” said Adalah attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany.

READ: Israel arrests 8 Palestinians despite coronavirus lockdown

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Israeli Settlers Assault Palestinians, Damage Vehicles, Near Dead Sea

Dozens of Israeli colonial settlers reportedly, on Tuesday, fired tear-gas canisters and threw rocks towards Palestinian residents of the Al-Aghwar area, in the West Bank.

According to Israeli media outlets, dozens of Israeli settlers belonging to a known terrorist organization called Hilltops’ Youth, attacked Palestinian residents, near the Dead Sea, earlier on Tuesday.

The media outlets reported that the settlers wore masks while they assaulted the local Palestinian residents, with tear-gas canisters and rocks.

They added that the attack resulted in the damage of two Palestinian-owned cars, no injuries among Palestinians were reported.

Israeli media outlets added that the settlers, prior to the incident, were placed under quarantine by Israeli police at one of their facilities and provided with food and blankets, within precautionary measures to fight the Coronavirus.

However, the colonial settlers were able to escape the quarantine and embark on their assault on Palestinians in the area, media outlets said, adding that Israeli police forces chased and held them all.

Over the past several years, a number of Israeli terror groups have committed crimes against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Among those crimes was the burning to death of the Palestinian Dawabsha family, in Douma village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on July 31st, 2015, as the family slept. 18 month old Ali was killed in the fire, his older brother was badly burned, and both the father, Sa’ad Dawabsha, and his wife Reham died after months of suffering from the severe burns inflicted on them.

Another similar burning crime was that against a 16-year-old Palestinian child, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir on July 2, 2014.

Concerned Palestinian bodies have always contended that such terrorist groups have not been brought to justice, therefore, their crimes continue.

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Israeli Troops Abduct Three Palestinians in Jenin and Al-Bireh

Israeli troops reportedly abducted, on Tuesday, three Palestinian men in both Al-Bireh and Jenin towns, in the West Bank.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Media Office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, announced that both Loui Alsho’la and Omar Abu Alrob from Al-Bireh town, in the central occupied West Bank, were abducted by Israeli troops at dawn.

In another similar incident, Israeli troops abducted 31-year-old Palestinian, Naser Jarrar, after he was summoned by Israeli authorities to an interrogation center, near the northern West Bank town of Jenin.

The media office added that the Israeli troops summoned Jarrar to the Salem Israeli center, late on Monday night, before they put him onto custody.

The office noted that Jarrar is an ex-prisoner, who has been frequently detained by Israeli occupation authorities.

Abduction of Palestinian civilians, across the occupied West Bank is a daily Israeli army practice. Since 2000, Israeli occupation authorities have stepped up arrest campaigns against Palestinian residents.

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Spreading the virus of occupation: Spitting as a weapon in the hand of colonial Israel

 Israeli soldiers spotted in surveillance video spitting at Palestinians property to spread the coronavirus during a raid into occupied Hebron 

By Ramzy Baroud

Spitting at someone is a universal insult. In Israel, however, spitting at Palestinians is an entirely different story.

Now that we know that the deadly coronavirus can be transmitted through saliva droplets, Israeli soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers are working extra hard to spit at as many Palestinians, their cars, doorknobs, and so on, as possible.

If this sounds to you too surreal and repugnant, then you might not be as familiar with the particular breed of Israeli colonialism as you may think you are.

In all fairness, Israelis have been spitting at Palestinians well before the World Health Organization (WHO) lectured us on the elusive nature of the COVID-19 disease and on the critical need to apply ‘social distancing’.

Indeed, if you Google the phrase ‘Israeli spitting’, you will be inundated with many interesting search results, the like of “Jerusalem Judge to Jews: Don’t Spit On Christians“, “Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to Stop Spitting on Them“, and the more recent, “Israel Settlers Spitting on Palestinian Cars Raises Concern over Attempt to Spread Coronavirus”.

Interestingly, most of this coverage throughout the years has been carried out by Israel’s own media, while receiving little attention in Western mainstream media.

One could easily classify such degrading acts as yet another example of the Israelis’ false sense of superiority over Palestinians. But the deliberate attempt at infecting occupied Palestinians with the coronavirus is beneath contempt, even for a settler-colonial regime.

Two particular elements in this story require a pause:

First, that acts of spitting at Palestinians and their properties, by both occupation soldiers and settlers, have been widely reported in many parts of occupied Palestine.

This means that, within a matter of days, the Israeli army and settlers’ cultures so swiftly adapted their pre-existing racism to employ a deadly virus as the latest tool in subjugating and harming Palestinians, whether physically or symbolically.

Second, the degree of ignorance and buffoonery that accompany these racist and degrading acts.

The power paradigm that has governed the relationship between colonial Israel and colonized Palestinians has, thus far, followed a typical trajectory, where Israel’s bad deeds often go unpunished.

Those racist Israelis who are deliberately trying to infect Palestinians with the COVID-19 are not only criminal in their thinking and behavior, but utterly foolish as well.

When Israeli soldiers arrest or beat up Palestinian activists, they are as likely to contract the coronavirus as they are to transmit it.

But, of course, Israel is doing much more to complicate, if not entirely hinder, Palestinian efforts aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.

On March 23, a Palestinian worker, Malek Jayousi, was tossed out by Israeli authorities at the Beit Sira military checkpoint, near Ramallah, after he was suspected of having the coronavirus.

A video footage of the poor worker huddling near the checkpoint, after he was “dumped like trash”, has gone viral on social media.

As shocking as that image was, it was repeated in other parts of the West Bank.

Of course, the Palestinian workers were not tested for the virus, but had merely exhibited flu-like symptoms, enough to make Israel dispose of them as if their lives did not matter in the least.

Two weeks later, the Palestinian Governor of the occupied city of Qalqiliya, Rafi’ Rawajbeh, told reporters that the Israeli army has opened several wastewater tunnels near the northern Palestinian city, with the aim of smuggling Palestinian workers back to the West Bank, without prior coordination with the Palestinian Authority.

Without testing hundreds of those smuggled workers, the PA, already operating with limited capacity to confront the disease, will find it impossible to contain the spread of the virus.

Palestinian claims of Israel’s deliberate attempt at worsening the spread of the coronavirus in Palestine were further confirmed by the Geneva-based Euro-med Monitor, which, on March 31, called on the international community to investigate the ‘suspicious behavior’ of Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers.

During Israeli army raids on Palestinian homes, soldiers “spat at parked cars, ATMs and shop locks, which raises fears of deliberate attempts to spread the virus and cause panic in the Palestinian society,” Euro-Med stated.

Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention does not say anything about the need for members of the Occupying Power to stop spitting at occupied and subjugated communities; most likely, because it is a given that such sordid behavior is completely unacceptable and does not require a separate textual reference.

However, Article 56, as was recently emphasized by UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, Michael Lynk, does require Israel, the Occupying Power, to “ensure that all the necessary preventive means available to it are utilized to ‘combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.’”

Israel, however, is failing its legal mandate, and horribly so.

Even the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, has himself stressed the inequality in the official Israeli response to the spread of the coronavirus.

In his letter of April 7 to the Israeli Health Ministry Director General, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Leon warned against “the serious shortage of medical equipment at (Palestinian) hospitals in (occupied) East Jerusalem, particularly protective equipment and equipment to conduct coronavirus testing.”

Despite the severe shortages in East Jerusalem and West Bank hospitals, the situation in the besieged Gaza Strip is simply disastrous, as Gaza’s Health Ministry has declared on April 9 that it has run out of its coronavirus test kits, which never amounted to more than few hundred, in the first place.

This means that the many Gazans who are already under quarantine will not be released any time soon, and that new cases will not be detected, let alone cured.

We have repeatedly warned in the last few weeks that this terrifying scenario was going to happen, especially as Israel is using the coronavirus as an opportunity to further isolate Palestinians and to barter potential humanitarian aid with political concessions.

Without immediate and sustainable intervention from the international community, occupied Palestine, and especially impoverished and besieged Gaza, could become a hotbed for COVID-19 for years to come.

Israel will never relent without international intervention. Without being held accountable, even a deadly virus will never alter the habits of a vile military occupation.

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

Israeli forces arrest three Palestinians in West Bank

Even with the Coronavirus crisis, ‘Israel’ continues its ‘daily night arrests’ policy

Occupied West Bank (QNN)- The Israeli occupation forces continued its night arrests policy, arresting three Palestinians from the occupied West Bank on Tuesday night.

The Prisoners’ Information Bureau said that Israeli forces arrested Luai Abu Sho’lah and Omar Abur Rob from the city of Bireh last night.

The bureau added that the Israelis also arrested Suhaib Jarrar (31 years old) after summoning him for interrogation.

The Israelis had assassinated Suhaib’s father back in 2002 after amputation his right arm and left leg. They also killed Suhaib’s brother in 2018, demolished his family’s house, and arrested him several times.

The Israeli forces have summoned Suhaib for interrogation before arresting him.

(Source / 14.04.2020) 

10 new COVID-19 cases rising total in Palestine to 320

Ramallah (QNN)- The spokesman for the Palestinian government, Ibrahim Melhem, announced that medical teams detected 10 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 320.

Doctor Kamal Kahkhrah, who is responsible for COVID-19 in the Ministry of Health, said that five of the new cases are in Al-Eizariya in East Jerusalem. Two cases are of workers, who work in the occupation state, while three others are of Palestinians in the north-west of Jerusalem.

Shakhrah added that three patients have recovered and they will leave hospitals today, bringing the total recoveries to 64.

He also said that the Ministry of health has made 19250 tests and quarantined 18800 cases since the virus started spreading in the Palestinian territories.

(Source / 14.04.2020)