During its monthly report on the state of press freedoms for the month of August, the Journalists Support Committee monitored about 33 violations against journalists, including 15 by the occupation forces, and 10 by Palestinian parties.
In its report, Al-Jannah pointed out that 8 violations of social media companies’ websites, pages and personal accounts of journalists have been recorded, in the context of fighting Palestinian content and obliterating the occupation’s crimes against the people.
The committee said that the occupation forces continued their deliberate violations of Palestinian journalists and media outlets, despite international laws and charters that guarantee protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
According to the report, the Israeli attacks in the Palestinian territories expanded last month, with the occupation forces’ arrest of (3) journalists, namely Nidal Abu Aker, Mustafa Abu Ramz and Musab Saeed, as they extended the detention of Musab Saeed while they transferred Abu Aker to administrative detention and deported Mustafa Abu Codes.
The monthly report monitored (3) cases of targeting and injury to journalists while covering the anti-settlement activities and rallies, including the injury of the journalist, Mutassim Saqf Al-Hitt, as a result of being directly targeted by a gas bomb while covering an event.
Regarding the cases of prevention of coverage and obstruction of journalists’ work to obscure the occupation crimes against the Palestinian people, the report recorded (3) cases of bans, during which one case was monitored with a weapon threat, in addition to recording one case of storming and raiding the home of journalist Musab Saeed.
As for the occupation’s harassment of imprisoned journalists in prisons, the report recorded one case against prisoner Nidal Abu Aker and prevented him from meeting his wife.
With regard to fighting Palestinian content, social media sites and platforms continue to impose restrictions on Palestinian content, under pressure from the Israeli occupation to fight the Palestinian narrative. Gaza, without giving reasons.
Israeli occupation authorities yesterday ordered two Palestinians to demolish their homes in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighbourhood, Arab48 reported.
The demolitions of the Palestinian homes were ordered under the pretext that they lack the necessary building licenses.
Since the start of 2020, Arab48 news website said, Israeli occupation authorities have issued 650 demolition orders against Palestinian facilities in occupied Jerusalem.
Brothers Abdul-Salam and Odai Al-Razm, who were ordered to demolish their homes yesterday, said occupation authorities told them to level their properties or be forced to pay the fees for Israel to do it for them.
On Sunday, Israeli occupation forces ordered Khalid Bashir to demolish his home in the Jabal Al Mukaber in occupied Jerusalem.
Palestinian patients were injured as a result of tear gas fired by Israeli occupation forces into Princess Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron city.
Director of the Hebron governmental hospital, Dr Tariq Barbarawy, told Chinese news agency Xinhua that the Israeli soldiers fired tear gas towards one of the internal medicine department’s rooms, which has many patients infected with the coronavirus.
In a video statement, he said, “Between 4:30 and 5:00 am, we were caught off guard by a tear gas canister which suddenly landed in our coronavirus and internal medicine wards.”
He added that the tear gas was widespread inside the hospital departments, which suffocated medical staff and dozens of patients.
According to Wafa news agency, almost 25 patients and doctors required treatment due to the smoke.
Barbarawy said patients who suffered suffocation are now in a stable condition but the smell of tear gas can still be felt in the hospital, adding that there was no reason for the attack.
Rami Al-Qawasmi, director of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Hebron, condemned the Israeli attack, calling on the international community to pressure the occupation state to stop its violations against Palestinians.
According to the times of Israel, the Israeli army claimed it had “no knowledge of what happened inside the hospital.”
The Israeli authorities announced, Monday, the reopening of the “Kerem Shalom” crossing between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip, in addition to the restoration of the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles, as of Tuesday, September 1, 2020, the Jerusalem Press reported.
According to Hebrew media, the occupation government, in a statement, its decision to to reopen the “Kerem Shalom” crossing, after being closed since Aug. 11, in an act of collective punishment against the 2 million people of Gaza.
The Israeli government also decided to restore the fishing zone back 15 nautical miles, as of Tuesday, after being closed completely since Aug. 16.
Part of the statement said, “this decision will be tested in the face of reality, and if Hamas, which bears responsibility for what is happening in the Gaza Strip, does not comply with its statements, then Israel will take the necessary measures in response.”
Hamas announced, on Monday, that its leadership had reached an understanding to stop any further Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, after attempts by Egypt, and the most recent being with a Qatari Ambassador, Muhammad Al-Emadi.
Undercover Israeli agents, on Sunday evening, abducted senior Palestinian official, Husam al-Razza, who belongs to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.
Local sources said, plain-clothes soldiers abducted Razza, a former detainee, after they ambushed him when he was in Huwara town, south of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank.
Recently, soldiers dressed as municipal workers abducted Razza’s son, Bader, also a former prisoner, from his home in Nablus city.
In related news, undercover Israeli troops, also known as Musta’ribeen, ambushed and abducted a young Palestinian man, identified as Yaser Walid Khzemiya, in the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
Two Palestinian brothers in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, began demolishing their homes, in order to avoid having the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem demolish it, according to the Palestinian WAFA News Agency.
The Israeli municipality ordered the demolition of the house, under the standard pretext of the lack of a building permit.
The Israeli municipality will demolish the house and then force the owner of the home to pay a substantial fine.
The two 65 square meter homes were home to 9 people, who have now been displaced by the state of Israel.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
In related news, confrontations erupted on Sunday, after the Israeli police invaded al-‘Isawiya district in occupied East Jerusalem and opened fire with tear-gas canisters, towards Palestinian youths, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
Local sources stated that several youths in al-‘Isawiya neighborhood, protested the police invasion by throwing stones and Molotov-cocktails at their vehicles.
The Israeli police tightened the restriction of movement on the Palestinian civilians in the Old City of Jerusalem and surrounding areas, blocking the entrances leading to Silwan district.
Henri Eichholtzer, one of twelve BDS activists who won historical case in the European Court of Human Rights speaks to Quds News Network
Last June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave a major blow to the pro-Israeli propaganda, which has for decades associated the Palestinian struggle and international solidarity with Palestine, to antisemitism. The court ruled in favor of twelve French Palestine solidarity activists from the Alsace branch of the France- Palestine Solidarity Association.
The activists were sued in French courts for charges of antisemitism and incitation to racial hatred, after they performed a public call for the boycott of Israeli products in the French city of Mulhouse, in the Alsace, in 2009. After years of judicial battling in French courts, the ECRH acquitted the twelve activists and recognized the boycott of Israeli products as a legitimate form of freedom of speech. The court decision sets a judicial precedent in Europe, at a time in which the Palestine solidarity movement faces attempts of delegitimization, and at a time in which the occupation state makes all efforts to normalize its relations with the Arab states.
Quds News Network met Henri Eichholtzer, one of the twelve activists acquitted by the ECHR, in an exclusive interview. He spoke of the ECHR ruling and its importance, of the Palestine solidarity movement in France and the challenges it faces, of the pro-Israeli groups’ use of antisemitism to repress the solidarity speech, and of the relation between the Palestinian people’s struggle and the international solidarity movement. Following is his full dialogue with our correspondent, Qassam Muaddi:
Did you expect, when you were first accused, that your case will bring about a European judicial precedent, establishing the boycott of ‘Israel’ as freedom of speech? How did it happen?
No, we didn’t. It all started in 2009, when about fifteen of us, all belonging to the France-Palestine Solidarity Asociation (AFPS) were holding a peaceful activity in a supermarket in Mulhouse, Eastern France. We placed some Israeli products in a shopping cart and made a public statement about it, demanding the supermarket to remove the products from their shelves because they fund occupation in Palestine. Next thing we knew we had a law-suit against us filed by a pro-Israeli group for antisemitism and incitation to racial discrimination.
First, the court of Mulhouse acquitted us, but then the pro-Israeli group appealed in front of the court of Colmar, and then we were sentenced to a heavy fee. We took it to the last instance of French justice, the court of cassation, which confirmed the sentence against us.
What was your reaction?
It was a shock. A hard blow to us and to the Palestine solidarity movement. It was then that we decided to go to the European Court of Human Rights -ECHR. We were confident of our case, and we were not willing to give up. Eventually, as we expected, the ECHR acquitted us and recognized the boycott of ‘Israel’ as a form of freedom of expression.
Although your activities focused on the boycott of commercial products, you were sued for racial incitation and antisemitism. What is the connection?
I would like to know that too, we should ask the pro-Israeli groups in France. In fact, these groups usually can’t face our message on Palestinian rights, which is why they evoke antisemitism and slander us. Many of these groups make part of the ‘CRIF’ (The representative council of Jewish institutions in France), whose direction is usually close to the Israeli government policies. In 2009, when our case started, the French minister of interior at the time, Michelle Alliot-Marie, had promised the CRIF in one of its PR dinners to block all anti-Israel boycott speech as a form of antisemitism.
We should note that not all the Jewish community in France has the same attitude. Many Jews supported us during our case and many Jews support the Palestinian cause as well. We also recognize that antisemitism does exist in France, but some politicians deliberately use the accusation to slander the Palestine solidarity movement and delegitimize it.
In 2017 French President Emmanuel Macron declared that anti-Zionism was a form of antisemitism. Before him, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that both terms were synonyms. Why do you think that French politicians take this position? And how does it affect the Palestine solidarity movement?
They do it because antisemitism is an easy accusation to make in France. It works very well in silencing people, and many politicians are personally close to pro-Israeli groups, who use the antisemitism card to silence us. These groups are very influential and many of them are connected to the Israeli government.
Our mission is to counter this influence, to clarify facts and explain to both our politicians and our society, that our solidarity of Palestine is a legitimate support of a just cause. It’s a difficult task that requires a lot of work and patience, but things are slowly advancing.
Why are they advancing so slowly?
Because there is a big amount of disinformation. People in France get their information from the same places. People from the older generation, like myself, read a specific newspaper that they trust or are used to and watch a TV channel that they prefer. Younger people get their information from the internet, which is more open and diverse, but nevertheless overwhelmed with superficial information and propaganda.
The pro-Israeli groups and ‘Israel’ itself invests heavily in white-washing its own image. A recent example is the Tour de France bike competitions, that were postponed to the end of this month of August. ‘Israel’ managed to get an Israeli team in the competitions, promoting it massively. We are currently engaging the organizers and the public, to explain that this is an attempt to present ‘Israel’ as a normal, liberal state, hiding its true face of occupation and war crimes.
Has there been any evolution in recent years on the level of information about Palestinian reality? How does your case impact such evolution?
Things advance slowly as I said, and again, require a lot of work. But Palestine solidarity is more present than before because the Palestinian cause has proved to be able to unite people from very different backgrounds. You can find far-left activists along-side Catholics and Muslims. Young people from the neighborhoods as well as retired citizens. Palestine as a cause can do that in France because everybody understands the essential values that the Palestinian cause stands for, namely Justice, freedom, and human rights.
As far as our case is concerned, the ruling of the ECHR is very important for freedom of expression. It guarantees our right to communicate, advocate, and inform about Palestine, not only in France but in Europe. At the same time, we have to be humble. Palestine is not on the top-list of public interest in France right now. Our victory in the ECHR had a limited impact on public opinion in France.
All solidarity groups celebrated it, whereas pro-Israeli groups attacked the ECHR, claiming that the ruling of the court will encourage, again, antisemitism. One of their websites called us, the activists acquitted by the court, “Islamo-leftists”. They have a strange way of making up names and slanders, but it doesn’t affect us. We will build on this victory and continue our work of solidarity for Palestine. The ruling of the ECHR is just one step forward.
How do you think the pro-Israeli lobby will respond to this ruling of the ECHR in favor of you and of the right to boycott ‘Israel’?
Normally, they can appeal until September. If they don’t, then the ruling becomes definitive. We don’t think though that they will appeal because the ruling is very solid. It came after a very long procedure and was pronounced by seven judges unanimously. There is no much of a chance to change the ruling, which is why we believe there will be no appeal.
It is a reality now, that the boycott of ‘Israel’ and calling to it is recognized as a right and a legitimate form of freedom of speech. This is not only a victory for the Palestine solidarity movement but rather a victory for freedom of speech in general.
What role do Palestinians have in your efforts in France and in the world?
Palestinians have the main role in continuing their resistance. We support their struggle, but it is their struggle. They also have an important role in acknowledging their cause and countering the false image that has been made of them and their cause.
We believe that it is very important to have a direct connection between the solidarity movement internationally and the Palestinian people in Palestine. We, in the French solidarity movement, have a direct connection with communities in Palestine. We make yearly visits to Palestine to strengthen these ties and get as many solidarity people in France to get in touch with Palestinian reality first-hand. We believe this to be very important because it is the Palestinian voice that we should communicate.
What message would you give to the Palestinian people in these moments, when some Arab states are normalizing relations with the occupation state?
We know that some Arab states are abandoning the Palestinian cause, but Palestinians can count on the solidarity of peoples all over the world. In France, we admire the energy and steadfastness of Palestinians. Your resistance and your determination are an inspiration to us. We know too well that the Palestinian people are not defeated or submitted, but rather the contrary, proud and strong people. We will continue to draw inspiration from your resistance and communicate it to the world.
Forcibly disappeared people inside Syrian regime prisons are subject to daily torture in secret detention centres that lack the basic healthcare
There are more than 1,800 forcibly disappeared Palestinians, including women and children enduring the worst torture and suffering inside Syrian regime prisons.
According to the Task Group for Palestinians in Syria, there are 1,797 forcibly disappeared Palestinians inside Syrian regime prisons in addition to 620 victims who died as a result of torture.
On the International Day for the Forcibly Disappeared Persons, which is marked on 30 August, the Task Group said many families of Palestinian refugees refuse to release information about their forcibly disappeared or dead sons fearing arrest and interrogation by the Syrian regime.
The organisation said that these people are subject to daily torture in secret detention centres that lack the basic healthcare.
It called on the Syrian regime to release these people or release information about them, stressing on the importance of revealing who was killed and who is still alive.
In addition, it stressed on the importance of releasing details of the burial places of those who have died in detention.
If the UN and its resolutions are to have any credibility whatsoever, it must move today to protect the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
By Eman Abusidu
Since Covid-19 first appeared, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have tackled the pandemic with typical determination. Without delay, they implemented a strict quarantine regime with mandatory 21-day isolation in government-run facilities adjacent to the border posts.
This seems to have worked well until last week’s announcement of confirmed cases outside the quarantine centres. Four people in the same family tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that the healthcare sector in the besieged territory will not be able to deal with the inevitable spread of the virus.
The situation in Gaza is already one of the most complex in the world; how it deals with the coronavirus will be difficult to compare with other places. It really is exceptional and a special case in itself.
The authorities in Gaza cannot impose self-isolation or even a complete curfew because it is home to 2 million people, including 1.4m refugees, living in extremely overcrowded conditions. According to UNRWA, there are 30,000 inhabitants per square kilometre, which rises to 55,000 per square kilometre in the refugee camps.
The Gaza Strip is thus not only one of the most densely-populated places in the world but also one of the poorest. Hundreds of thousands of people live in ramshackle refugee camps and bombed-out buildings with simple and limited facilities.
Shati (Beach) Camp, for example, is the third largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps, and one of the most crowded. Initially accommodating 23,000 refugees, there are now more than 85,600 living in just over half a square kilometre. The camp hasn’t been able to grow, but the population has.
With very narrow alleyways and streets there is one food distribution centre in the camp, one health centre, one UN area relief and social services office, one maintenance and sanitation office and two wells. How can the government impose self-isolation or curfew measures in such circumstances?
“Stay at home” is not an option when you depend on daily work at very low wages to meet even the very basic necessities. Staying at home for 14 days means no work, no income and no food.
Added to the economic crisis is the fact that electricity power cuts take place at least 12 hours every day. Moreover, 96 per cent of the water in Gaza is not fit for human consumption. Throw extreme temperatures into the mix — very hot in summer, very cold in winter — as well as Israeli bombs and military incursions and the crisis is very obviously overwhelming. “Stay at home”? It’s just not possible.
The ongoing blockade imposed on Gaza is one of the main reasons why tackling Covid-19 is particularly difficult. It has been said that the Gaza Strip is the world’s largest open-air prison. Since 2007, it has endured a strict air, sea and ground siege imposed by Israel and its allies, including Egypt.
Medicines, medical disposables, laboratory materials and equipment are among the essential items restricted severely by the siege. Palestinians in need of medical treatment abroad face every likelihood of being refused permission to travel due to the blockade.
A human being’s immune system depends on a balanced diet and fresh water to drink, all within a health environment. Gaza has none of these. The crumbling health sector is struggling to cope with day to day issues, never mind the coronavirus. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply, as are disinfectant and other basic cleaning materials.
In a 2017 report, the UN said that the Gaza Strip would be “unliveable” by 2020. Well, here we are, in 2020, with the blockade still in place despite the coronavirus pandemic; extensive poverty; a crippled health sector; and dire living conditions which are ideal for the spread of Covid-19.
“If the outbreak reaches the magnitude where you need more than 40 ICU beds to treat patients, it… could well turn into a disaster of gigantic proportions,” explained Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the World Health Organisation’s Palestine office. What are the prospects for a besieged territory which has just 40 intensive care beds for a population of two million people?
Despite everything, the Palestinians in Gaza remain optimistic. They have to be, and they refuse to be broken by this latest challenge. While the developed world has advanced technology to tackle the pandemic, the Gaza Strip stands alone, with simple and primitive facilities at its disposal. Life has more or less shut down, with roads closed to reinforce the lockdown, and field hospitals in the south of the Strip.
Israel, meanwhile, has been bombing Gaza for the past two weeks and more. Why is the world remaining silent about this? If the UN and its resolutions are to have any credibility whatsoever, it must move today to protect the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This is a basic human right at the best of times; during a deadly pandemic it is imperative.