A member of the Silwan Lands Defense Committee, a researcher in Jerusalem affairs, Fakhri Abu Dhiab, said that the Israeli occupation municipality in Jerusalem delivered, on Monday, notices to demolish 13 inhabited houses in the town of Silwan, south of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Abu Diyab added to the official news agency that the occupation municipality has notified the demolition of 10 houses in the Al-Bustan neighborhood of Silwan, and 3 others in the “Karam Al-Sheikh” area there, under the pretext of building without a permit, noting that the houses fulfill the conditions of construction, and there are also unlicensed homes for settlers not far from it. Only a few meters away.
According to Abu Diyab, the houses are inhabited and support the livelihood of 76 people, most of them children and women, and most of the houses were built for more than ten years.
He emphasized that the occupation authorities are now using a clear policy to displace Palestinians, represented by embodying the policy of “annexation” on the ground to liquidate the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.
The Japanese government signed today, Monday, a donation agreement worth 450 million Japanese yen (about 4.3 million dollars) with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
This important donation, according to a statement issued by the Agency, will enable UNRWA to continue providing food aid to a total of 99,000 Palestine refugees in Gaza, with the aim of reducing the impact of poverty and food insecurity for those in desperate need, especially in light of the “Covid-” pandemic. 19 “ongoing.
Ambassador Magoshi Masayuki said: “It is with great pleasure that I share with you the statement that the Japanese government has decided to donate approximately $ 4.3 million to UNRWA at this critical time. This donation represents our strong commitment and solidarity with Palestine refugees at a time when the region suffers from a humanitarian crisis. Serious. “
In turn, the Chargé d’Affairs of External Relations and Communications and Director of Communications at UNRWA, Sami Masha`, thanked the agency for this donation, saying: “On behalf of UNRWA, I would like to thank the Japanese government for its generous donation in support of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip. The Japanese government has always been an example of its support to the Agency. We highly appreciate this extremely generous support during an exceptionally difficult period of its existence in order to assist the community at risk. “
The Japanese government is a steadfast donor to UNRWA, and has supported the agency since 1953. In 2019, the Japanese government was the agency’s eighth largest donor, and played a critical role at a time when UNRWA was facing an existential crisis. Thanks to the constant support of donors such as the Japanese government, UNRWA is able to provide vital services to Palestine refugees in the Middle East in the face of its persistent challenges.
The Fatah region in occupied Jerusalem warned, on Sunday, of Emirati funds pumped through Israeli channels and used to build settlements.
This came in a statement by the Fatah Secretary in Jerusalem, Shadi Mutwar, published on the movement’s official website on Sunday.
Mutwar revealed what he described as “a new Emirati intrusion,” in reference to a delegation headed by the UAE’s ministers of economy and finance, which is expected to arrive in Occupied Palestine next Tuesday “carrying more arrows to stab Palestinians”.
He stated that there are partnership agreements between the occupation municipality in Jerusalem and the UAE government “to establish settlements on the lands of Sheikh Jarrah, Musarara and Wadi Al-Joz,” adding that “these projects, which the Jerusalemites have been fighting fiercely, are now being sneaked through other channels that are supposed to be Arab, not Arabised”.
Fatah’s Central Committee has approved the understandings agreed after talks with Hamas in Istanbul recently, and is apparently waiting for the Islamic movement’s formal approval, Wafa news agency reported on Monday.
Senior Fatah official Rawhi Fattouh told Palestine TV that following Hamas’s approval, the President of Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will issue decrees to hold elections.
“We still have hope that what has been agreed upon with Hamas in Istanbul will be accomplished,” said Fattouh. He added that all of the Palestinian factions agreed to participate in the parliamentary election, but if any decide not to take part, they will not put obstacles in its way.
The Fatah official explained that the process will begin with the parliamentary election, then the presidential election and finally the election for the Palestinian National Council. All will be carried out within six months.
“The ball is now in the court of Hamas to accept what was agreed upon,” he said. “There is still hope and the dialogue has not stopped.” He pointed out that all outstanding issues can be resolved after the elections.
In closing, Fattouh believes that some parties, “especially in Gaza,” might be delaying reconciliation because “some people may lose personal interests.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh has criticised a visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem by a UAE delegation under Israeli police protection, Anadolu has reported.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque should be entered through the gate of its owners, not through the gate of the Israeli occupation,” Shtayyeh said during the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday. “It is sad to see some Arab delegations entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Israeli gate, while Israel denies access for Palestinian worshippers to perform their prayers.”
The visit in question happened on Sunday. A video went viral on social media showing Palestinian worshippers pushing the Emiratis out and describing “normalisers” as “rubbish”.
The visit coincided with Bahrain and Israel signing an agreement which formalised their diplomatic relations. This was described by Shtayyeh as a “reward to the Israeli occupation to encourage it to confiscate more Palestinian land and build more settlements.”
Bahrain, the UAE and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations following the signing of controversial normalisation agreements on 15 September at the White House.
Israeli settlers today attacked Palestinian farmers and forced them off their own land in the village of Deir Al-Hatab in Nablus governorate, Wafa news agency has reported.
According to Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of the settlements’ portfolio in the northern West Bank, a group of settlers assaulted the farmers as they were picking the harvest from their olive trees to the north of the village. The assailants came from the illegal Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh, who yesterday flooded the Palestinian-owned land with sewage and wastewater.
Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank have long complained of frequent attacks by settlers, including assault, vandalism and the destruction of Palestinian farmlands. The settlers are usually protected by Israeli soldiers during such attacks.
The olive harvest is the main source of income for thousands of Palestinian families in the occupied territories, but they face many obstacles due to the Israeli occupation. These include Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to the farmers’ own land as well as attacks by the settlers.
Hundreds of thousands of settlers live in 250 settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, and make life very difficult for the Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal military occupation. Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in June 1967.
In theory, Europe and the United States stand on completely opposite sides when it comes to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the US government has fully embraced the tragic status quo created by 53 years of Israeli military occupation, the EU continues to advocate a negotiated settlement that is predicated on respect for international law.
In practice, however, despite the seeming rift between Washington and Brussels, the outcome is, essentially, the same. The US and Europe are Israel’s largest trade partners, weapon suppliers and political advocates.
One of the reasons that the illusion of an even-handed Europe has been maintained for so long lies partly in the Palestinian leadership itself. Politically and financially abandoned by Washington, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the European Union as its only possible saviour.
“Europe believes in the two-state solution,” PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Ishtayeh, said during a video discussion with the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 12. Unlike the US, Europe’s continued advocacy of the defunct two-state solution qualifies it to fill the massive gap created by Washington’s absence.
Ishtayeh called on EU leaders to “recognize the State of Palestine in order for us, and you, to break the status quo.”
However, there are already 139 countries that recognise the Stat,me of Palestine. While that recognition is a clear indication that the world remains firmly pro-Palestinian, recognizing Palestine as a State changes little on the ground. What is needed are concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violent occupation as well as real action to support the struggle of Palestinians.
Not only has the EU failed at this, it is, in fact, doing the exact opposite: funding Israel, arming its military and silencing its critics.
Listening to Ishtayeh’s words, one gets the impression that the top Palestinian official is addressing a conference of Arab, Muslim or socialist countries. “I call upon your Parliament and your distinguished Members of this Parliament, that Europe not wait for the American President to come up with ideas … We need a third party who can really remedy the imbalance in the relationship between an occupied people and an occupier country, that is Israel,” he said.
But is the EU qualified to be that ‘third party’? No. For decades, European governments have been an integral part of the US-Israel party. Just because the Donald Trump administration has, recently, taken a sharp turn in favour of Israel should not automatically transform Europe’s historical pro-Israel bias to be mistaken for pro-Palestinian solidarity.
Last June, more than 1,000 European parliamentarians representing various political parties issued a statement expressing “serious concerns” about Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century and opposing Israeli annexation of nearly a third of the West Bank. However, the pro-Israel US Democratic Party, including some traditionally staunch supporters of Israel, were equally critical of Israel’s plan because, in their minds, annexation means that a two-state solution would be made impossible.
While US Democrats made it clear that a Joe Biden administration would not reverse any of Trump’s actions should Biden be elected, European governments have also made it clear that they will not take a single action to dissuade – let alone punish – Israel for its repeated violations of international law.
Lip service is all that Palestinians have obtained from Europe, as well as much money, which was largely pocketed by loyalists of Abbas in the name of ‘State-building’ and other fantasies. Tellingly, much of the imaginary Palestinian State infrastructure that was subsidised by Europe in recent years has been blown up, demolished or construction ceased by the Israeli military during its various wars and raids. Yet, neither did the EU punish Israel, nor did the PA cease from asking for more money to continue funding a non-existent State.
Not only did the EU fail to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing occupation and human rights violations, it is practically financing Israel, as well. According to Defence News, a quarter of all of Israel’s military export contracts (totalling $7.2 billion in 2019 alone) is allocated to European countries.
Moreover, Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, absorbing one-third of Israel’s total exports and shipping to Israel nearly 40% of its total import. These numbers also include products made in illegal Jewish settlements.
Additionally, the EU labours to incorporate Israel into the European way of life through cultural and music contests, sports competitions and in myriad other ways. While the EU possesses powerful tools that can be used to exact political concessions and enforce respect for international law, it opts to simply do very little.
Compare this with the recent ultimatum the EU has given the Palestinian leadership, linking EU aid to the PA’s financial ties with Israel. Last May, Abbas took the extraordinary step of considering all agreements with Israel and the US to be null and void. Effectively, this means that the PA would no longer be accountable for the stifling status quo that was created by the Oslo Accords, which was repeatedly violated by Tel Aviv and Washington. Severing ties with Israel also meant that the PA would refuse to accept nearly $150 million in tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the PA. This Palestinian step, while long overdue, was necessary.
Instead of supporting Abbas’ move, the EU criticized it, refusing to provide additional aid for Palestinians until Abbas restores ties with Israel and accepts the tax money. According to Axios news portal, Germany, France, the UK and even Norway are leading the charge.
Germany, in particular, has been relentless in its support for Israel. For months, it has advocated on behalf of Israel to spare Tel Aviv a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It has placed activists, who advocate the boycott of Israel, on trial. Recently, it has confirmed the shipment of missile boats and other military hardware to ensure the superiority of the Israeli navy in a potential war against Arab enemies. Germany is not alone. Israel and most European countries are closing ranks in terms of their unprecedented military cooperation and trade ties, including natural gas deals.
Continuing to make references to the unachievable two-state solution, while arming, funding and doing more business with Israel is the very definition of hypocrisy. The truth is that Europe should be held as accountable as the US in emboldening and sustaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Yet, while Washington is openly pro-Israel, the EU has played a more clever game: selling Palestinians empty words while selling Israel lethal weapons.
The Deal: Israel and Hamas conduct a prisoner exchange following the Gilad Shalit deal struck a week earlier, releasing over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for one Israeli soldier held for six years.
The Brokers: Palestine and Egypt
Nine years ago, on October 18, 2011, the historic prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the Palestinian resistance group Hamas took place, with its long-lasting effects still impacting on the present day. Known as the “Gilad Shalit deal”, it saw the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured by Hamas near the fence separating Gaza and Israel in 2006, in return for the liberation of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.
The deal was signed in Egypt on October 11, 2011, and was the result of months of clandestine talks between the leadership of Hamas and Israel, with Egyptian and German authorities involved in the compilation of the list of prisoners to be released.
It was hailed a success by many on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, with the former viewing it as a golden opportunity to return thousands of its people from Israeli jails, in return for one soldier. While the latter saw it as a moral victory signifying the notion that one Israeli life is worth a thousand Palestinian lives.
It was also seen as a failure by others on both sides, however. Some in Israel despised the release of Palestinians fighters and figures who had Israeli “blood on their hands”, for only one soldier, and some on the Palestinian side were sceptical of the Israeli guarantee that it would return all the prisoners as agreed.
A week later, on 18 October, the exchange finally took place in a staggered method. Shalit was transported by Hamas across the Gazan border crossing into Egypt, where he was held by the Red Cross and Egyptian authorities for a few hours, before being transported to Israel. That same day, 27 of the Palestinian prisoners were released and sent to Egypt, followed by a further 450, as part of the first phase of the deal.
As part of the second phase of the release two months later in December, 550 more prisoners were released by Israel, publicly finalising the deal.
Overall, the Palestinian prisoners were a mixed crowd, with the detainees coming from a variety of parties and organisations including Hamas, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Others were not affiliated with any political or militant group, and a few were not even Palestinian, but hailed from Ukraine, Jordan and Syria.
Many of the 1,027 freed prisoners were allowed to return to their homes and families in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, there were a few hundred who were released upon the condition that they would be deported and exiled, due to the danger that they allegedly posed to Israel.
Israel Betrays the Deal
Although the deal was fulfilled by Israel following Hamas’s return of Shalit – at least on paper – a series of pitfalls in the exchange emerged over the following years, revealing that Israel has circumvented and betrayed some of the terms set out by the deal.
The first of those pitfalls appeared in the second phase, when Israel liberated those who were not affiliated with acts of terrorism or resistance and did not have “blood on their hands”. A significant amount were revealed to not even be diplomatically effective with their release, with 300 of the freed prisoners intended to be released within a year regardless.
Furthermore, Israel also refused to free many notable senior Palestinian resistance figures such as Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat, keeping them imprisoned. This was reportedly for the purpose of giving Israel leverage in future negotiations for prisoner exchanges.
In 2014, Israel then launched a spree of arrests throughout the Palestinian territories, in response to the capture of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, re-arresting 60 of those who were released as part of the Shalit deal.
All of these moves by the Israeli side proved to the Palestinian leadership, regardless of their faction, that Israel had breached the terms of the deal and essentially betrayed the agreement over the years following the initial prisoner exchange.
The effects of the deception by Israel is still resented by Hamas, announcing in June of this year that there would be no further negotiations for prisoner exchanges until those who were re-arrested by Israel in 2014 are released once again.
Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- The head of Al Walajeh’s municipal council, Khader Al A’raj, said the Israeli so-called planning and housing council plans to construct a new illegal settlement outpost on the lands of the village.
Al A’raj told QNN that the project has not been approved yet but maps of it have bee published by several Israeli sources.
The maps show that the settlement will be built on over 900 dunums of the lands of the villages of Al Walajeh and Battir.
Al A’raj added that the plan, if applied, would increase the suffering of the locals, who are already surrounded by the apartheid wall and Israeli settlements, and turns the village into an unlivable place.
Before 1948, Al Walajeh extended an area of 17,000 dunums but after the second occupation in 1967, only 3000 dunums have been left for the indigenous people.
Yesh Din, Israeli rights group, said that over 90 per cent of investigations between 2005 and 2019 looking into ideologically motivated crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank by Israeli forces and settlers were eventually dropped without indictments
Defense for Children International – Palestine – Palestinian school children in occupied Palestinian territories report nightmarish experiences during their way to school due to repeated Israeli soldiers and settlers aggression.
“I was scared at school,” 15-year-old Amir H told Defense for Children International – Palestine. “Whenever I saw soldiers, while on the way to school, I would be scared and try to get away from them as much as possible because I had been stopped before, more than once.”
A return to school in September meant that for Palestinian students living near illegal Israeli settlements, journeys to school and schooldays would once again be marred by violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Amir, currently a ninth-grader at Tuqu Secondary School for Boys, located east of the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, has been subjected to numerous attempted arrests on his way to and from school by the Israeli military.
“I was extremely terrified and started screaming and felt the Israeli soldiers wanted to take me and hit me,” reflected Amir on a prior incident. “They scared me a lot.” His teachers, the school principal, and others intervened to protect him.
Amir’s story is not unique. Stationed throughout the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers, police, and private security staff protect settler populations. Unlike other Israeli civilians, many Israeli settlers are armed. This creates a hyper-militarized environment that results in the infliction of disproportionate physical and psychological violence against Palestinian children.
Students living under Israeli military occupation in the occupied West Bank commonly face arrest, detention, violence, and harassment at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Additional barriers such as checkpoints, roads used by Israeli forces and settlers, and other military infrastructure in or near Palestinian communities present additional barriers to the enjoyment of their right to a safe learning environment in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was ratified by Israel in 1991.
During the 2019–2020 school year, which was cut short due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, DCIP documented 134 violent incidents by Israeli forces between August 20, 2019, and March 6, 2020, impacting at least 9,042 students and teachers.
Targeting school children
Amir’s school is in close proximity to the nearby illegal Jewish-only settlements of Teqoa, Noqedim, and Ma’ale Amos, which surround Tuqu to the north, south, and east in the southern occupied West Bank. A main regional road used by Israeli forces and settlers cuts through Tuqu and nearby Khirbet Ad-Deir.
At the Tuqu Secondary School for Boys, DCIP documented 15 incidents involving Israeli forces, including five incidents between February 4 and March 4, 2020.
In those incidents, Israeli soldiers fired multiple tear gas canisters at students outside the school in the morning. Many children reported breathing difficulties as a result of the tear gas and, on one occasion, at least three students lost consciousness, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
Previously, on January 31, 2019, three Israeli soldiers in a military vehicle near the bypass road fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters at Tuqu students leaving their classes and chased them, according to documentation collected by DCIP. One Israeli soldier fired four live bullets, shooting two children. Mohammad A., 17, sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and 16-year-old Mazen S, sustained a gunshot wound to the thigh. Their classmates were left in a state of panic and fear.
Despite the perilous journey to school, Amir told DCIP he feels safe once he’s inside. “I am excited, and I am challenging myself for the new school year,” said Amir.
Another student, 16-year-old Baha A., an 11th grader at Tuqu Secondary School for Boys, expressed similar feelings of safety once he reached school, though his commute frequently includes confrontations with soldiers.
“Whenever I see Israeli soldiers, the first thing that occurs to me is that something bad is about to happen. They either search or arrest us,” Baha told DCIP. “I do not feel safe on my way to school. But, I feel safe when I reach school. I feel safe inside the classroom because I am surrounded by many students and teachers.”
Zain, 12, a seventh-grade student at the Hebron Basic School for Boys, which is located in the Israeli-controlled H2 section of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, feels the continuous presence of Israeli soldiers on his route to and from school has impacted his ability to concentrate in class.
“I think of how to run away, and I feel scared of being shot with a rubber bullet from the back,” Zain told DCIP. “I think that I am about to lose my life. I feel off and sleepy and unable to focus on the teacher and lesson.”
Asked how he feels after he encounters soldiers, Zain said, “I feel as if I was choking, and my heart starts beating faster. I feel dizzy and cannot move when I see soldiers near me.”
Abdullah R, 9, from the Ziad Jaber School in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, said, “I love school, and I am happy that we have returned.” But he, too, noted he is not able to focus after incidents of violence.
On his way to school in November 2019, Israeli forces used two military dogs to chase and intimidate Abdullah, according to documentation collected by DCIP. The Israeli soldiers searched his schoolbag and held Abdullah for about an hour. Abdullah lives in close proximity to the Jewish-only settlement of Kiryat Arba so Israeli soldiers are regularly present and deployed nearby his home.
“I no longer take the road where I was assaulted by the Israeli army,” said Abdullah. “Whenever I find myself there, I remember what happened to me.”
Between 1967–2017, more than 200 illegal Israeli settlements were built in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to B’Tselem. These settlements are illegal under international law and are protected by Israeli soldiers, police, and private security, exposing Palestinian children to frequent violence.
In such a hyper-militarized environment, frequent and disproportionate physical and psychological violence is inflicted on Palestinian children who report, among other abuses, regular harassment by Israeli soldiers and settlers on their way to school and attacks against schools.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) recorded 547 incidents of attacks and trespass by Israeli settlers against Palestinians between January 1 and October 13, 2020. During this period, Israeli settlers injured 100 Palestinians and vandalized 5,650 olive trees and 166 Palestinian vehicles.
The Al-Khansa Elementary Mixed School and Al-Jarmaq Elementary School for Girls in Tuqu were attacked in March 2019 by a group of 25 armed Israeli settlers. School administration and staff told DCIP that the Israeli settlers attempted to sneak into the schools but were stopped by teachers and parents, who rushed to the school to help stop the attack.
Israeli forces arrived to support and protect the Israeli settlers, firing stun grenades, which scared the children. A full day of instruction was lost for a total of 569 students and teachers.
“The first time the settlers attacked us, I was very distracted the following day and could not focus inside the classroom,” Baha told DCIP. “All I could think of was which way to go home.”
Attacked by dogs
According to Baha, he and his classmates were harassed after school every Wednesday in September 2019 by an Israeli settler in a white vehicle with three dogs along Khirbet Ad-Deir Street in Tuqu.
“We expected that this settler would shoot us because he showed us his handgun,” explained Baha. “Even though we changed our route to school every Wednesday, we still encountered the settler no matter where we went. He was there all the time, and we felt terrified.”
Following incidents of settler violence, DCIP has found that lack of justice and impunity is the norm and not the exception. At the center of the issue is the disparate treatment by the Israeli government of Palestinians and Israelis living in the occupied West Bank.
Though they live in the same territory, all Palestinians are subject to military law, while Israeli settlers fall under the Israeli civilian and criminal legal system.
Israeli settlers, including children, often attack Palestinians with stones and other objects, but they are rarely held accountable as the Israeli army lacks the authority to arrest Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Despite persistent settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities have consistently failed to adequately investigate complaints filed against settlers.
Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, published a data-sheet in January 2020 showing that over 90 per cent of investigations between 2005 and 2019 looking into ideologically motivated crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank by Israeli forces and settlers were eventually dropped without indictments.