Israel issues demolition orders to Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Issawiya

Israeli excavators demolish a Palestinian building for allegedly being unauthorized in Al-Issawiya district of East Jerusalem on August 15, 2018. [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli excavators demolish a Palestinian building in Issawiya, East Jerusalem on 15 August 2019

Israeli occupation forces yesterday delivered demolition notices to several houses inhabited by Palestinians in the Issawiya neighbourhood, located in occupied East Jerusalem, reported Wafa news agency.

According to Mohammed Abu Al-Hummus, a local activist, Israeli occupation forces stormed the neighbourhood during the early hours of the day and handed demolition notices under the pretext that the buildings lack the necessary building licenses.

Palestinians are rarely granted building permits by Israeli occupation authorities, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.

Last month it was reported that the number of building permits Israel has granted Palestinians in the occupied territories decreased by 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.

READ: Israel seeks ban on film documenting its crimes in Jenin

The building permits are charged at extortionate prices and are unaffordable for most Palestinians, creating a legal loophole for Israel to annex more land and to leave Palestinians in limbo by preventing them from developing infrastructure.

Abu Al-Hummus told Wafa that Israeli occupation soldiers were located on the rooftop of several houses and took pictures of the buildings in the neighbourhood, which is usually a prelude to demolishing them.

Israel’s widely practiced policy of home demolitions targeting entire families are acts of illegal collective punishment and come in direct violation of International Human Rights Law.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Hunger strikes highlight Israel’s unjust detention of political prisoners

People gather in Gaza to support Maher Al-Akhras, a Palestinian detainee on hunger strike on 23 October 2020 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
People gather in Gaza to support Maher Al-Akhras, a Palestinian detainee on hunger strike on 23 October 2020 

Calling for the freedom of one Palestinian political prisoner is what Israel expects from the international community. The latest detainee to go on hunger strike protesting against the administrative detention order that keeps him in prison indefinitely with neither formal charges nor trial is Maher Al-Akhras. His protest has now exceeded 90 days and he is in a frail condition. Cue the UN’s “concern” for human rights while simultaneously disregarding the Israeli colonial violence that has imprisoned thousands of Palestinians merely for exercising their right to anti-colonial resistance.

Al-Akhras was arrested on 27 July and placed under a renewable administrative detention order in August, supposedly for being a member of Islamic Jihad. He was subjected to the same ordeal in 2009 with an administration order for 16 months, and also in 2018 for a duration of 11 months. Three other Palestinian prisoners have started their own hunger strikes in solidarity with Al-Akhras; their predicament is not yet dire enough to warrant media attention, or UN statements for that matter, because the lives of Palestinian prisoners within the international context are only relevant in terms of how near they are to death.

Maher al-Akhras
Palestinian prisoner Maher Al-Akhras and his daughter

In a statement about Al-Akhras’s deteriorating health, the UN’s Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk condemned the concept of administrative detention as “an anathema in any democratic society that follows the rule of law.” Israeli security forces, Lynk said, “have not provided any persuasive evidence in an open hearing to justify its allegation that he [al-Akhras] is a security threat.” The UN knows that Israel justifies its actions through its “security” and “self-defence” narrative without the burden of having to actually prove that any security threat exists.

READ: Israel is subjecting Palestinian children to physical and psychological abuse

Administrative detention is arguably one of the practices that most defines Israel and what it stands for: the perpetuation of oppressive violence in which Palestinians have no rights and any recognition of such violations from the international community requires media depictions of a Palestinian prisoner on the brink of death. In other words, unless the media sensationalises hunger strikes, the UN – the purported guardian of human rights – feels no responsibility to act. Presumably, this is because the international community is used to seeing dead or dying Palestinians, and disrupting such normalised violence does not bode well in terms of the institution’s maintenance of violations to retain its relevance.

Away from the current context, Israel’s administrative detention practices are of no concern to the international community, just as the Palestinian prisoners do not attract attention unless they are transformed by media narratives as a hunger striker and therefore worthy of publicity. Who remembers Samer Issawi now? Once transformed into an icon of resistance only to be forgotten once released because his name no longer served any media function.

The truth is that Palestinian hunger strikers are fodder for exploitation and when their purpose is served, their identity is lost among the statistics. Sensationalism over hunger strikes is shifting attention away from the reality of administrative detention through which Israel keeps Palestinian political prisoners behind bars. With each repetitive occurrence, activism is being trapped in the illusion of victory. If Al-Akhras is released, it must not be paraded as a victory until the occupation’s unjust prison system is no longer functioning alongside the militarised surveillance forced upon the Palestinians.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Israel is subjecting Palestinian children to physical and psychological abuse

Israeli border guards detain a Palestinian child during a demonstration outside the Lions Gate, a main entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, due to newly-implemented security measures by Israeli authorities which include metal detectors and cameras, in Jerusalem's Old City on 17 July 2017. [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli border guards detain a Palestinian child during a demonstration outside the Lions Gate, a main entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, due to newly-implemented security measures by Israeli authorities which include metal detectors and cameras, in Jerusalem’s Old City on 17 July 2017

By Anjuman Rahman

“They destroyed the front door, entered my room, covered my face with a bag and took me away,” explained Abdullah. “They told my father that I would return the next day.” However, he did not return to his family until the following year and was detained six more times.

This is not uncommon in occupied Palestine where child prisoners are now a major part of the Palestinian narrative. Hundreds of children, some as young as 12, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system every year.

The most common charge is stone-throwing, which the Israeli military consider to be a “security offence”. Those found guilty can get up to 20 years in prison, depending on the child’s age.

Israel is the only country in the world to prosecute children routinely in military courts that lack basic safeguards for a fair trial. Moreover, Palestinian children detained by Israel face abuse and systematic torture, which has been legitimised by the judiciary and government.

The plight of these youngsters is well documented. The scale of the problem has been captured by NGO Save the Children in a new report.

There are currently at least 200 Palestinian children held in Israel’s Ofer, Damon and Megiddo Prisons. They include children with disabilities and mental health problems. Damon and Megiddo are seriously overcrowded, and child prisoners are kept in close proximity to each other in squalid and unsanitary conditions. There is little healthcare provision.

‘They Tried to Freeze Me to Death’: Torture and Resistance in Israeli Prisons

Campaigners say that Save the Children’s findings demonstrate that children in custody are being treated worse than animals, describing their treatment as “appalling” and warning that “children are being harmed.” The reality is that if animals were treated like this, it would be a national and even international scandal.

Female prisoners are also subjected to horrifying treatment. Interviews with former prisoners conducted by Save the Children reveal that girls reported being detained more frequently at checkpoints, whereas a majority of boys were arrested at their homes. It is common for Palestinian youngsters to be targeted when they are near illegal Israeli settlements.

While most of the punishments were carried out within the Israeli prisons, the report also documented that more than half of the children who were interviewed said that the abuse usually starts before any investigations, during which they are humiliated and tortured even more. In testimonies collected by the NGO, children reported the use of handcuffs and blindfolds, as well as physical and verbal abuse during their arrest and transportation. Furthermore, many were arrested at night and were not allowed to sleep before being interrogated.

Issa* was 15 years old when he was arrested. “While I was being interrogated,” he explained, “they kept shouting at me, and they put a gun on the table in front of me to scare me. They said bad, bad words. I don’t want to think about those words. Prison was an ugly place. They would set off alarms at midnight, 3am and 6am so we could never sleep for long. If you’re not awake at these alarms, you will be beaten. I was beaten with wooden sticks a few times. I still have back pain now because of a particularly bad beating.”

Another victim was detained when she was 14. Fatima’s testimony describes how she was assaulted by Israeli security forces when she was detained at a military checkpoint on the way to school. “They searched my bag and spoke to me in Hebrew, a language I do not understand. They handcuffed me, threw me on the floor and stepped on my back.”

Israeli forces targeting Palestinian children - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
Israeli forces targeting Palestinian children – Cartoon

Those left without lasting physical damage are often scarred psychologically. Almost half of the children interviewed agreed that they are failing to return fully to normal life. Eighty-five per cent said that they have changed due to their experiences. The impact of their detention is felt most when they try to get back to normal life with their families.

These vulnerable children are clearly stressed and broken. It’s not just the trauma of what happened to them inside the prisons, but also what they’ve had to bear before they were detained. The brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the systematic denial of the Palestinians’ legitimate rights have created a serious and very complex crisis that has affected the psychological and physical health of the people of Palestine. Emotional problems are common.

Moreover, from the time of their arrest — which is often in the middle of the night — until they are processed in court, children face a number of rights violations, including physical and verbal abuse, coercion and being denied the presence of parents or lawyers during their interrogation. Moreover, when they eventually leave prison, the Israeli occupation remains an ongoing and brutal part of their lives.

Human rights violations and the harsh conditions during detention have significant psychological effects on the children and their families. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common. “As a person, I have changed,” said Mahmoud, who was detained when he was 17. “My anger has increased, and I can’t tolerate anything.”

Former child detainees report an inability to trust anyone and build meaningful relationships in “post-detention life”. In fact, they display poor social skills and tend to isolate themselves from the outside world because of their insecurities and fear of “the others”. The effects of imprisonment also result in constant feelings of insecurity, with many children dropping out of school or struggling to sustain family relationships at home.

READ: Palestinian and Brazilian children share their hopes and dreams 

The Palestinian Authority has been criticised repeatedly for its lack of action to ease the return of children when they are released from Israeli prisons. Save the Children suggests in its report that the PA should facilitate the reintegration of former detainees in their communities and in the education system by changing the practice of children not being allowed to continue the school year after a certain number of days absent, for example. The NGO also urges the PA to support an awareness-raising programme to help children understand their rights at every stage of the detention process, including their right to silence, legal assistance and education. This should be integrated within the school curriculum, said Save the Children.

The international community must take action and put pressure on Israel to end its abuse of Palestinian children. International law is clear about what can and cannot be done to children who are arrested. As in so many other areas of life, though, Israel treats the law with contempt.

The 1989 international Convention on the Rights of the Child says that imprisonment of children must be “a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.” Israel ratified the convention in 1991 but has faced UN criticism about its implementation or lack thereof. The time has surely come for the state’s ability to act with impunity to be brought to an immediate end.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Israel Releases Wounded Palestinian Woman After Four Years In Prison

The Israeli occupation army released, Wednesday, a Palestinian woman, who was shot and injured four years ago, after an alleged stabbing attack targeting a soldier at the Qalandia Terminal, north of occupied Jerusalem.

The woman, Jihan Mohammad Hasheema, 39, was shot with three live rounds in her left leg, on December 30, 2016, after the soldiers claimed she attempted to stab them.

Jihan, a married mother of three children from the al-Isawiya town in Jerusalem, was sentenced to four years in prison after her court hearings were postponed more than ten times.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Soldiers Abduct Nine Palestinians In West Bank

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, nine Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, and launched a surveillance balloon above the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem.

The soldiers invaded Bethlehem city, south of occupied Jerusalem in the West Bank, and abducted Mohammad Tal’at al-Khatib, the brother of Daoud al-Khatib, 45, a political prisoner who died after suffering a heart attack in Ofer Israeli prison, on September 2nd 2020, just a few months prior to his release after spending 18 years in captivity.

The Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers abducted Mohammad to pressure his brother, Moayyad, to turn himself in to the army.

The soldiers also abducted Anwar Ahmad al-Faqeeh, 40, and Khalil Qassem Sheikh, 42, from their homes in Marah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem.

In addition, the soldiers invaded Wadi Abu Freeha area in Beit Sahour town, east of Bethlehem, searched homes, and abducted Tareq Mousa Obeyyat, 38.

The army also invaded the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and launched a surveillance balloon to monitor Umm Rokba and Solomon Pools areas.

In Hebron, in southern West Bank, the soldiers invaded the at-Tabaqa area in Dour town, south of the city, and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Hisham Ismael Abu Hawwash, 39.

Three other Palestinians, identified as Mohammad Ziad Sa’adi, Ahmad Husam Abu Tabeekh and Abdullah Burhan Abdul-Halim, were abducted from their homes in Kharsa town, southwest of Hebron.

In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted Fadi Mitwer, from his home in Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood, after invading and ransacking it.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Israeli High Court Rejects Appeal To Release Al-Akhras

The Israeli High Court denied, Thursday, an appeal for the release of detainee Maher al-Akhras, who is currently nearing death after 95 days of an ongoing hunger strike.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the court denied an appeal for his immediate release due to his serious health condition, although he is being held under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial.

The PPS added that the current health condition of al-Akhras is profoundly serious, but he insists on continuing his strike demanding to be released.

It stated that, by denying the appeal for his release and his transfer to a Palestinian hospital, the Israeli court is practically sentencing him to death.

It is worth mentioning that al-Akhras has been abducted and imprisoned by Israel numerous times, including when he was taken prisoner on July 27th, 2020, and was instantly slapped with a four-month Administrative Detention order, without charges or trial.

Before his current imprisonment, al-Akhras, a married father of four children, spent over four years in prisons, including many months under the arbitrary Administrative Detention orders.

Besides al-Akhras, three other detainees are ongoing with a hunger strike demanding an end to their illegal Administrative Detention.

Mohammad Zghayyar, 33, from Hebron, a married father of three children, was taken prisoner on April 19, 2020, stated the hunger strike nine days ago.

Mahmoud Sa’adi, 40, from Jenin, was taken prisoner on May 20, 2020, and started the strike nine days ago. He is a married father of eight children and suffers from Kidney disease.

Bassel Rimawi, 24, from Ramallah, was abducted on February 1, 2020, and started the strike eight days ago.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Remembering the Kafr Qasim Massacre

The 29th of October 1956 started as a quiet day in the village of Kafr Qasim, then under military rule since it was transferred to Israeli occupation by the Jordanian king in 1949. The villagers, hard-working peasants and workers, went out early to work in the fields and in near-by stone quarries. In the afternoon a unit of the Israeli army came in and informed the village head that they are coming to impose a curfew. They told him to warn the villagers not to get out of their homes. “But what about the people that will come from work, I can’t warn them of the curfew?” he asked. “Don’t worry, I will let them in” answered the soldiers.

Eventually, as farmers came back from their fields and workers from the workshops, the soldiers gathered them in small groups on the entrance to the village. Then the officer ordered to “mow them down” and they were shot dead, their bodies piled in heaps at the side of the road. Fourty-nine people were killed in cold blood without any provocation, for violating a curfew order that they was not aware of. Twelve of the martyrs were women and girls, 17 children, the youngest of them only 7 years old.

The massacre of Kafr Qasim was not an isolated incident. It was intentionally planned by elements in the Israeli army command as part of a much bigger plan to complete the ethnic cleansing of 1948. The massacre was carried in the first day of October 1956 Tripartite Aggression of Britain, France and Israel against Egypt. Israel hoped that, under the cover of the fog of war, new massacres would cause the Arab Palestinian population to seek refuge and safety beyond the Jordanian border.

Commemorating the massacre

The people of Kafr Qasim were not even allowed to bury their dead. The army kidnapped at gun-point some men from the nearby village of Jaljulia and forced them to bury the massacre’s victims in Kafr Qasim’s cemetery, while the curfew over the village was extended to three whole days. Israeli military censorship prevented any mention of the crime in the press. It required a prolonged struggle, mostly led by the Communist Party, just to publish the shocking facts about what the army did.

In the coming years the military government continued to terrorize the population and prevent the commemoration of the massacre. As we visited Kafr Qasim today, our hosts told us how the army used to force a siege of the village on the anniversary of the massacre. The army was even searching homes and confiscating any piece of black cloth in order to prevent any sign of mourning.

Only in 1966, at the 10th anniversary, as the military rule in the 1948 and 49 occupied territories was abolished, could the people of Kafr Qasim for the first time openly and more or less freely commemorate their martyrs, with solidarity delegations coming from all over the country.

Israeli authorities launched an investigation into the killings and the border policemen who were involved in the shooting were brought to trial and sentenced to prison terms ranging between 8-17 years.

However, all were released two years after the massacre, while the brigade commander was ordered to pay a fine of one piaster.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Twitter suspends dozens of accounts rejecting annexation plans

Dubai (QNN)- The administration of Twitter suspended dozens of accounts that slammed the Israeli West Bank annexation plans and called for investigating crimes committed by Israeli leaders against Palestinians.

The Israeli minister of strategic affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen has stated that “thanks to Israeli pressure, Twitter suspended 30 accounts that slammed the West Bank annexation.”

Hacohen claimed that that suspended accounts also called for an international investigation against Israel’s crimes.

According to Israeli media, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs has recently started a campaign to observe hundreds of accounts that slammed the Israeli annexation plans and called for opening an international investigation against the occupation state.

In the same vein, Sada Social said the suspension of pro-Palestine accounts is a violation of the freedom of expression, which has to be guaranteed for all users.

According to media reports, Twitter has complied with Israeli pressure and suspended 250 accounts.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Israeli police arrests two worshipers at Al Aqsa mosque

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Israeli police on Wednesday arrested, two worshipers, a lady and a young man at Al Aqsa mosque.

Local sources said Israeli police arrested Aseel Eid and a young man, who has not been identified yet, from the holy mosque.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet summoned a young man for interrogation after breaking into his house in Wadi Al Jouz in occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli forces had arrested the deputy manager of Jerusalem’s Waqf, Sheikh Najeh Ibkerat, and confiscated laptops from the building of the department of preaching in the old city in occupied Jerusalem.

(Source / 29.10.2020)

Palestine condemns US funding of research projects in the illegal settlements

Ramallah (QNN) – The Palestinian presidency yesterday denounced the expansion of US funding of Israeli scientific cooperation to include research projects in the illegal Israeli colonial settlements across the occupied West Bank.

Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh stated that the US announcement on lifting the ban on US funding of Israeli scientific research projects in the settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 “is a serious precedent that is condemned, rejected and could not be tolerated.”

He added: “This step indicates an active US complicity in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and a consolidation of (US President Donald) Trump administration policy of violating the international law and the United Nations resolutions which have condemned settlement activities in all their forms, most recently of which was (UN Security Council) Resolution 2334.”

“All settlements in the occupied territories are illegal, and any US action in this respect is illegal and constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he said.

Abu Rudeineh reiterated Palestine’s rejection of the US policies which attempt to help Israel cement its occupation of the Palestinian territories, and affirmed that such policies would never give legitimacy to anyone as Israeli settlements are doomed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman inked the amended deal expanding scientific research funding to Israeli settlements in Ariel colonial settlement in the north of the West Bank.

Israeli Higher Education Minister Ze’ev Elkin tweeted praise for amending the agreements, calling it “a great achievement in promoting sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and strengthening Ariel University.”

Israel uses the Jewish nationalist name “Judea and Samaria” to refer to the occupied West Bank to reinforce its bogus claims to the territory and to give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.

There are over 700,000 Israeli settlers living in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The number of settlers has almost tripled since the Oslo Accords of 1993 when settlers’ number estimated 252,000. Illegal settlements have leaped from 144 to 515 in that time.

Israel’s nation-state law that passed last July stated that building and strengthening the settlements is a “national interest.”

(Source / 29.10.2020)