Halima Yassin, the widow of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, died on Tuesday evening in Gaza, one of her sons has announced. The 76-year-old had been suffering from several illnesses, and when her condition deteriorated she was rushed to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, but was pronounced dead just minutes after being admitted.
She was a relative of the quadriplegic Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom Halima married in 1968. Together they had three sons and eight daughters.
In 1987, along with a number of other Muslim Brotherhood members, Sheikh Ahmed founded the Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its Arabic acronym Hamas. He was detained by Israel several times over the years, and was released for the final time in 1998.
On 22 March 2004, the veteran leader was assassinated on the orders of the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A missile hit him in his wheelchair as he left his local mosque after the dawn prayers. His bodyguards and nine others were killed in the same attack, which was condemned widely.
International donors have pledged to contribute $130 million in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) working for the welfare of Palestinian refugees in support of its core programmes and services.
During an extra-ordinary global meeting on UNRWA at ministerial level hosted on Tuesday by the governments of Sweden and Jordan, 75 governments and non-governmental organisations pledged $130 million.
Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi said: “Giving up on UNRWA means giving up on five million Palestinian refugees who depend on it for education, treatment, food and cash assistance.”
“The Kingdom will continue to be the host for the largest number of Palestinian refugees and will continue working with the international community to find a just peace based on the two-state solution,” he added.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was imperative that the international community “continue in the effort to make UNRWA funding sustainable, predictable and sufficient.”
UNRWA’s funding comes almost entirely from voluntary donations made by UN member states. The Agency has faced severe financial difficulties since the Trump administration stopped US aid donations altogether in 2018.
“Palestine refugees have long lived with the threat that UNRWA operations might be suspended. UNRWA has long lived from hand to mouth,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
“Today, we took a significant step forward in addressing the Agency’s chronic short and long-term financial challenges, including promoting multi year agreements, expanding the donor base, and exploring innovative funding avenues and mechanisms. I commend today’s participants for sharing our goal to promote the dignity and the rights of Palestine refugees.”
The Belgian Chamber of Representatives will today be voting on whether to “formally recognise the State of Palestine.”
The resolution, said Socialist MP Malik Ban Achour, urges the federal government “to formally recognise the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel and to consider this recognition as a contribution by Belgium to the solution based on the coexistence of two democratic and independent states having the right to live in peace and security with mutually recognized, accepted and respected borders. ”
The 150-member House of Representatives will also debate a second resolution calling for the government to prepare a list of ‘’counter-measures’’ to be implemented if the Israeli annexation plan goes ahead on 1 July.
MPs from left-wing parties, including the Socialist Party and members of the French and Green parties, proposed the resolutions.
In a surprising step, Norway decided to reduce its funding to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, claiming that the Palestinian Authority continues to print school curricula that they say incites violence after an Israeli smear campaign that lasted several years. The campaign claims that the Palestinian curriculum contains terms encouraging armed attacks or mentions false facts about the history of Zionism in Palestine, such as the events of the Nakba and massacres committed by the Zionist gangs.
It is not the first time that Israel has waged an inflammatory campaign directed against the Palestinian curriculum. Pressure from its campaign resulted in the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issuing a report highlighting the context of the Palestinian school curricula and demanding Palestinians remove anything which incites violence in their textbooks.
The EU has also begun investigating what it describes as incitement in Palestinian educational institutions, following requests by members of the European Parliament to examine what they considered inflammatory content in Palestinian textbooks. Their requests are based on the results of a study conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which is charged with monitoring curriculum contents worldwide.
The inciteful Israeli narrative against the Palestinian school curriculum is based on a set of political and historical fallacies, the most important of which is that Palestinian students learn in Maths how to calculate the numbers of martyrs in the Palestinian uprisings using pictures of their funerals.
Israel claims that Arabic lessons require students to come up with words starting with a certain letter and examples include the words shahid (martyr) and hujoom (attack) and that in Physics, they learn about the rule of gravity by using the example of how to throw stones at Israeli soldiers using a slingshot. They also claim that in Islamic studies, they learn that the Buraq Wall -part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and referred to as the Wailing Wall by Jews – is sacred to Muslims alone.
Israeli propaganda promotes the idea that Palestinian textbooks are packed with concepts of incitement to carry out armed attacks against Israelis, because those carrying out these attacks are mostly high school graduates, and they attend religious lectures in mosques and schools, which are institutions that contribute to directing Palestinian public opinion.
Israeli speakers claim that taking a look at what Palestinian educational institutions teach their students shows that they promote hating Israelis, which makes education a major factor in encouraging armed attacks by spreading concepts of anti-Semitism and the hatred of Jews. They also claim they promote the idea that achieving coexistence between the Palestinian and Israeli people requires getting rid of the roots of hatred present in Palestinian textbooks.
The levels of Israeli incitement reach the point of condemning the fact that Palestinian students are learning their national history or that some of their schools, city centres, women’s institutions and public squares are named after their leaders or martyrs.
They believe that the Palestinian curriculum views the conflict with Israel as not being based on its geographical size but rather based on the rejection of its existence because it is considered an occupation. The Green Line includes Tel Aviv, Haifa and Safad, while social studies books show the Palestinian borders to be between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, between Lebanon and Syria, and between the Gulf of Aqaba and Egypt.
Israeli propaganda tries to use this campaign against the Palestinian curriculum to link it to the phenomenon of Islamophobia, in order to raise the senses of Westerners and play on their emotions when they claim that these curriculums consider that self-sacrifice for the sake of Islam is a supreme divine value, because God welcomes these martyrs, gives them a sacred position, erases their sins, raises their levels in heaven and gives them 72 virgins. They even claim that the Islamic Studies and Arabic books mentioned the phrase “I would be happy if I sacrificed myself in order to eliminate the occupiers”.
The media machine is promoting that it has found in recent years harsh and dangerous content against Jews and Israel in Palestinian textbooks, and a number of academic institutions have directed these results to many international bodies, including the EU and UNESCO, claiming that these concepts hinder progress toward a two-state solution for the two peoples and increases rates of declining and decreasing trust between them.
Many research institutes have spent a large chunk of their material and human resources to investigate Palestinian textbooks and curricula, especially those that reinforce concepts of jihad, and increase motivation towards what they consider “violence” and systematically demonising Israel. This is even after the curriculum was updated three years ago following international criticism, and it included changing 200 textbooks across all grades.
Palestinians in schools affiliated with the PA, private schools, or the UNRWA, reject Israeli claims about their curriculum and state that they are inaccurate, as their curricula are free from promoting violence and incitement. The Palestinian Ministry of Education has publicly called on the United Nations to form international teams to examine their curricula on the condition that Israel agrees to have theirs examined as well, but the latter rejected this offer. This has made the talk of the alleged incitement in Palestinian the curricula a broken record that is on repeat and not worth standing by as the foundations of the Palestinian curriculum is linked to the Document for Independence of the Palestinian State and international resolutions.
Palestinians stress that their curricula do not advocate violence, killing and abuse of people and do not classify them based on their racial and ethnic backgrounds. They have global standards that they adhere to and adopt, and they seek to match the educational environment with the standards of global organisations such as the UNESCO and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO). They also have a curriculum document, which is considered a constitution for their curricula as it is a reference for its religious, national and moral aspects.
It is interesting that Israel is waging an incitement campaign against Palestinian curricula while its own curricula are full of anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim content and distorts their image, as well as stressing the expansion plans for the self-proclaimed Jewish state. They also promote looking at others from a position of power accompanied by hostility, superiority and humiliation, and are based on text from religious books and the opinions of the major Jewish philosophers.
Those who examine the official Israeli textbooks see how Jewish Israelis see themselves and Gentiles (a Jewish religious term referring to non-Jews), especially Arabs. They see themselves as more advanced and superior and others as servants and backwards. They associate negative traits with Arabs and Muslims, such as stupidity, failure, dirtiness, brutality, robbery and their tendency for vandalism, and therefore they must be uprooted, according to their Israeli convictions.
Press Release By Al-Mezan Center For Human Rights: On 15 June 2020, an Israeli military court sentenced an Israeli soldier, who shot and killed 23-year-old Palestinian fisherman, Nawwaf al-Attar, off the coast of Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip, to a derisory 45-day prison sentence to be served through military-related labor.
A suspended sentence ranging from two months to two years, and a demotion in rank were added by the court, which convicted the soldier on the charges of “disobeying an order leading to a threat to life or health”, per article 72 of Israeli Martial Law (1955) and “negligence and reckless endangerment”, per article 341 of Israeli Penal Law (1977).
The proceedings represent a shallow attempt at portraying a system that functions in accordance with international justice principles.
Al Mezan had submitted a criminal complaint to the Israeli Military Advocate General on 27 November 2018, requesting a criminal investigation into the killing of Nawaf al-Attar on the 14th of that month; the Military Police only initiated a criminal investigation nearly six months later on 7 April 2019. On 13 May 2020, with Al Mezan’s legal and technical support to the family, investigators interviewed Nawaf’s brother at Erez crossing.
The evidence collected by Al Mezan indicates that the fatal shooting of Nawaf was an act of willful killing, requiring charges and a sentence commensurate with the gravity of the crime.
However, the Israeli military court handed down a sentence on one disciplinary charge and a relatively low criminal charge of negligence and reckless endangerment. In addition, the court issued the victim’s legal representative and family a highly redacted document that concealed the start date of the sentence.
This is the second case in two years in which Al Mezan cases received woefully inadequate sentences—the 2019 case being for the killing of 14-year-old Othman Hillis, an unarmed protester participating in the ‘Great March of Return’, whose killing also garnered a short sentence to be served through military-related labor for misconduct. These cases are further evidence of the rampant impunity in Israel and lack of effective means of redress for Palestinian victims and their families.
The proceedings are testament to the manner in which the Israeli justice system, including its military courts, shields State actors from genuine accountability while simultaneously attempting to portray itself as a system that functions in accordance with international law.
Al Mezan views these proceedings as a flagrant attempt to deter international justice mechanisms from assuming jurisdiction.
We, therefore, recall that the Rome Statute empowers the International Criminal Court to hold secondary trials if domestic proceedings “were for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility”, or “were not conducted independently or impartially in accordance with the norms of due process recognized by international law” (article 20).
Al Mezan’s long engagement with the Israeli system definitively evidences the need for Third states and international justice mechanisms to genuinely pursue legal accountability for alleged commission of serious international crimes on Palestinian territory.
The protection of civilians and the rule of law are gravely undermined through the perpetuation of a state of impunity. Al Mezan calls for justice for these and all other victims of Israeli violations of international law and calls on the international community to exercise its jurisdiction to deter the commission of future crimes.
On Tuesday, 23 June 2020, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian after opening fire at his vehicle, which collided into the traffic island in the center of al-container military checkpoint, east of Bethlehem. The military claimed that the victim attempted to carry out a run-over attack, but according to the information collected by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) the victim was in fact en route to pick up his mother, in preparation for his sister’s wedding, which was supposed to be held in the evening in Abu Dis village.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) stresses that the Israeli military used disproportionate force, especially considering the fact that the victim posed no real threat to the soldiers’ lives in light of the heavy fortifications at the checkpoint. This incident is yet another example of Israel’s systemic policy of shooting Palestinian civilians in a direct manner and as an immediate reaction.
According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ testimonies, at approximately 15:53 on Tuesday, Ahmad Mustafa Erekat (27), from Abu Dis village in occupied East Jerusalem, was waiting in queue at al-container military checkpoint in eastern Bethlehem, to cross into Bethlehem where he was supposed to pick up his mother and sisters from a beauty salon in the city and return to Abu Dis village to attend his sister, Eman’s wedding.
At approximately 15:55, when Erekat’s vehicle approached the checkpoint, it deviated from its path and collided into the traffic island opposite the glass room where Israeli border guard soldiers were stationed. The soldiers immediately opened fire at the vehicle, wounding Erekat with several live bullets in his upper body. They pulled him out of the vehicle, threw him on the ground and prevented the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) medical crew from approaching him or providing first aid; leaving him to bleed to his death at the checkpoint.
It should be noted that the “container” military checkpoint separates villages located in south-eastern occupied East Jerusalem from eastern Bethlehem. Following the incident, Israeli forces closed the checkpoint, fired a barrage of tear-gas canisters, and denied vehicles’ access to the city, causing a traffic jam.
Israeli police justified the execution of Ahmad Erekat alleging a suspected car-ramming attack, as the statement read “a speeding Palestinian vehicle arrived at al-container crossing in the eastern Sawahra in Benjamin area; the driver drove his vehicle quickly towards the direction of a female border police officer who was injured lightly. Border police officers opened fire and neutralized the driver. Medical crews declared him dead.”
It should be noted that Ahmad Erekat is a member at Abu Dis village’s Youth Council, and he was a popular and well-known person in his community. According to Erekat’s relatives, he was excited to attend his sister’s wedding, which was scheduled to be held in the Royal Hall in the village that night, and he himself was set to get married next month, having postponed the ceremony due to the corona virus pandemic.
PCHR strongly condemns the murder of the young Palestinian, which reflects a clear disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians who are shot with the intent to kill them on grounds of suspicion, without any threat present to the lives of Israeli soldiers.
PCHR also condemns Israeli forces failure to provide medical aid, denying Palestinian medical crews from access to the victim and leaving him to bleed to death, which constitutes a violation of the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL).
PCHR also calls upon the international community to immediately take action to stop similar Israeli crimes and reiterates its calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances.
PCHR also calls upon the High Contracting Parties to fulfill their obligations under Article 146; i.e., to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, noting that these violations constitute war crimes according to Article 147 of the same Convention, and Additional Protocol (I) to the Geneva Conventions, regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied territories.
Israeli troops caused, on Wednesday night, the injury of at least thirty-eight Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem, after the army fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas bombs in the town of Abu Dis, east of the occupied Palestinian city.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that the society’s crews were able to provide first aid to nine Palestinians, who were shot with rubber-coated steel Israeli bullets to different parts of their bodies.
The PRCS also noted that twenty-two other cases have been treated for suffocation, due to teargas inhalation, four others have suffered some burns, while three others have suffered bruises.
Local sources and witnesses in Abu Dis, stated that dozens of Palestinian residents took to the streets of the town, after the soldiers invaded it, and that army fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets, to disperse them.
The PRCS added that among those affected by the tear gas canisters are seven Palestinians from one family, after several tear gas canisters fell on their home, causing the home to partially burn.
The protest in Abu Dis comes as the occupied East Jerusalem has seen mounted Israeli troops practices, across the internationally-recognized occupied East Jerusalem, over the past couple of years.
The escalating crackdown on Palestinian residents over there has included abductions, demolition of homes and restrictions on worshiping at the ancient Islamic shrine of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
All such practices are believed to have been driven by Washington’s recognition of the entire Jerusalem area, including East Jerusalem, as the capital of Israel.
Israeli troops abducted, early on Thursday morning, two Palestinian residents from two different West Bank cities.
Local media outlets reported that Israeli soldiers, backed by armored vehicles, invaded the Nur Shams refugee camp, east of Tulkarem city, in northern West Bank.
The sources said that the soldiers broke into and vandalized the home of Ahmad Zandeeq, before they abducted him and took him to an unknown destination.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank city of Nablus, also in northern West Bank, mainly at the Huwara Israeli military checkpoint, south of the city, the soldiers abducted a Palestinian youth and took him to a nearby military base.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society’s representative in the West Bank city of Jenin, Montaser Samour, the soldiers at the Huwara roadblock abducted the local youth, Ahmad Onaiter, from Jenin.
The Israeli abductions of Palestinian residents, across the West Bank, have significantly increased over the past several weeks, after Israel announced intention to annex large swathes of the West Bank, especially the Jordan Valley and northern West Bank.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) stated that Israel currently holds approximately 5,000 Palestinian residents at various Israeli detention facilities, across the West Bank, and in Israel.
Israeli soldiers attacked, Thursday, dozens of Palestinians in Fasayel village, in the Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank, causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.
The villagers, accompanied by several cabinet members and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officials, were trying to hold a meeting in the village, located north of the Palestinian city of Jericho, to discuss measures the American-backed illegal Israeli colonial annexation of the Jordan Valley.
The soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force against the civilians, leading to protests; the army fired a barrage of gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets, causing dozens of injuries.
Despite the military closures and strict measures, scores of residents managed to reach Fasayel village on bicycles, on foot through the hills and lands, to express their rejection to the Israeli, American-backed, theft of the lands, especially in the Jordan Valley.
The Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank is the fruit basket of Palestine, and is a vital fertile area used by the Palestinian farmers and shepherds, who are subject to constant and escalating Israeli violations, including invasions and live-fire military training.
It is also an area widely targeted by Israel for the construction and expansion of the illegal colonies, built in direct violation of International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention in addition to various United Nations and Security Council resolutions.