Marwan Barghouti’s son threatens to expose corrupt PA officials

Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti flashes the V-sign of victory as he is escorted by Israeli police into Jerusalem's Magistrate Court to testify as part of a US civil lawsuit against the Palestinian leadership, on 25 January 2012. [MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti flashes the V-sign of victory as he is escorted by Israeli police into Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court to testify as part of a US civil lawsuit against the Palestinian leadership, on 25 January 2012

The son of senior Fatah leader and Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouti has threatened to expose corruption within Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Rai Al-Youm reported on Wednesday.

In a letter addressed to his father uploaded on Facebook on 20 November, Qassam Barghouti said that he would reveal some of those whom he described as “corrupt traitors” who are preventing the release of his father from prison in Israel. The same people, he believes, have been involved in the arrest of many Palestinians and also helped to thwart a major hunger strike in Israeli jails in 2017, led by his father.

Quoting Israeli journalist Yoni Ben-Menachem, the UAE newspaper said that Marwan Barghouti is involved in a war against Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, the PA and the PLO. Barghouti accuses him of undermining his release as part of the prisoner swap reached between Israel and the Palestinian resistance in Gaza in 2011. The veteran activist has been held by Israel for 19 years.

Ben-Menachem cited a letter leaked from prison in which Barghouti criticised the normalisation of some Arab states with Israel and the resumption of the PA’s security cooperation with the occupation state. The analyst for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs claimed that Barghouti has started to empower his supporters within Fatah in the West Bank as they get ready for the struggle over who Abbas’s successor will be. Sources close to Barghouti apparently believe that he is planning to stand as a candidate if and when the Palestinians are allowed to hold a presidential election, from his prison cell if he has not been released by then.

Hamas: PA’s return to security cooperation with Israel foiled reconciliation

Fearing his influence and power, Ben-Menachem said that the PA sought help from Egypt, Israel and the US to block his release in 2011. Sources told the journalist that senior Fatah and PA official Hussein Al-Sheikh warned Israel’s secret police, Shin Bet, not to release Barghouti. The head of the PA’s Intelligence Services, Majed Faraj, is said to have warned the CIA that Barghouti will stop security cooperation with Israel and incite violence if he is ever released.

Abbas, it is alleged, undermined Barghouti’s hunger strike in order to damage his status among the other Palestinian prisoners. The PA President proposed banning him from standing for public office; Al-Sheikh are Faraj are said to be working on this.

Israel is reluctant to release Marwan Barghouti, whose supporters describe him as the “Palestinian Mandela”. If Abbas told the Israelis not to release him in a prisoner swap, then they probably won’t.

Concluding his analysis, Ben-Menachem said that if Abbas’s successor is chosen through a free and fair presidential election, then Barghouti will succeed him. He is, added the journalist, the most popular of Fatah leaders.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Gaza photojournalists at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic

Mohammed Asad, a photographer for MEMO
Mohammed Asad, a photographer for MEMO (C), 26 November 2020 

By Mohammed Asad

As coronavirus spreads in the besieged Gaza Strip, photojournalists have been thrust into danger once again, having previously covered Israel’s numerous wars on the Strip, they now face an invisible adversary.

Photographer for Agence-France Presse Mahmoud Al-Hams, who covered wars and revolutions in Arab countries, told MEMO that even the youngest photographers in Gaza have covered three wars and have the ability to deal with dangerous and difficult situation, but covering the coronavirus, especially since it spread in August, means they are dealing with a danger that is invisible to the naked eye.AFP Mahamoud Hams

Photographer for Agence-France Presse Mahmoud Al-Hams

“While covering wars, you can determine the danger and take some measures, but in this case, even if the death rate is low and there is a high rate of recovery, it remains a threat to human life. This is especially true for the photographer that comes into contact with patients, follows medical staff dealing with the pandemic and moves around hospitals,” he explains.

Al-Hams adds: “We are talking about a densely populated area, with hundreds infected and thousands who have been in contact with the virus. Therefore, photojournalists must take all preventive measures because they have families and homes and if they are infected, they infect their families and those around them.”

READ: WHO warns of collapse of health system in Gaza due to coronavirus

“It is the duty of the photographer, specifically in Gaza, to ask and learn how to cover such a disaster. For example, my colleagues at AFP abroad lived the experience before me, starting in March, and we would follow their advice and their experience in dealing with covering this pandemic,” he notes.

Al-Hams also noted that media organisations differ in providing safety supplies and equipment, as international organisations provide good supplies, while local bodies are unable to obtain similar items and provide the basics.

Emad Badwan who works for AlAraby television says: “Photographers may suffer a lot on a psychological level when covering the coronavirus pandemic because the danger is intangible this time and they remain worried about bringing harm to their family and those around him.”

Emad Badwan
Emad Badwan, a photographer for AlAraby, 26 November 2020 

“Due to the lack of a comprehensive journalism body in light of the Palestinian division, journalists have not been exposed to organised awareness campaigns on covering the new pandemic. Instead, we learn on the job and from the dangers we face during coverage,” he explains while urging for education programmes to be established to train those in this profession on how to correctly tackle such pandemics.

READ: There’s no childhood in occupied Palestine

As for me, Mohammed Asaad, a photographer for MEMO, while I was preparing this report, I discovered that I was infected with coronavirus, despite taking the necessary precautions, wearing a protective mask, and not coming into close contact with those infected. Gaza’s high population density has meant that the infection has spread quickly, not only through direct contact, but also through objects which those with the infection have touched previously.

What worries me is the inability of the Ministry of Health in Gaza to deal with and contain the problem, the blockade imposed on Gaza, the lack of respirators in and the insufficient number of beds in hospital ICUs.

Mohammed Asad, a photographer for MEMO (C), 26 November 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Mohammed Asad
Photographers in protective clothing due to the coronavirus pandemic in Gaza, 26 November 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Photographers in protective clothing due to the coronavirus pandemic in Gaza, 26 November 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Israel soldiers shoot dead Palestinian driver at checkpoint

Israel soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man at Al-Zaeem checkpoint, 25 November 2020 [manniefabian/Twitter]
Israel soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man at Al-Zaeem checkpoint, 25 November 2020

Israel soldiers have shot and killed a Palestinian man at Al-Zaeem checkpoint, which separates an illegal Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank from a neighbourhood that lies in occupied East Jerusalem.

According to Al Jazeera, Nour Shuqir, from the town of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, was accused of attempting to flee an inspection at the checkpoint, hitting and lightly injuring an Israeli border officer.

“The policeman and security personnel fired at the vehicle,” said the police statement, wounding the driver, who was rushed to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

The hospital said he arrived at the trauma unit “with no pulse and a severe stomach wound.”

This comes as attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank are on the increase.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian motorist was shot dead by Israeli soldiers who claimed he fired a pistol at the Huwara military checkpoint at the entrance of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.

Moving past apartheid: one-state is not ideal justice, but it is just and possible

The Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement that the Israeli army prevented its medics from accessing the scene and providing first aid to Rawajbeh after he was shot, and that his body is in Israeli custody and could not immediately be retrieved.

A number of local and international human rights groups have raised concerns that Israeli security forces have used excessive force when confronting Palestinians suspects.

Israeli occupation forces relaxed their open-fire regulations in December 2015, permitting officers to open fire with live ammunition on those throwing stones or firebombs as an initial option, without having to use non-lethal weapons first.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Indonesia reaffirms its support for Palestine independence

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Indonesia on 6 September 2019 [Anton Raharjo/Anadolu Agency]
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Indonesia on 6 September 2019

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi reaffirmed her country`s firm support for Palestinian independence.

During a phone call with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki, Marsudi inquired about the dialogue between Hamas and Fatah and its preparation for the elections to end internal division, as announced by President Mahmoud Abbas in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

In September, delegations from both movements met in Istanbul and agreed on laying down a vision for a comprehensive national dialogue in partnership with all Palestinian factions.

However, last Tuesday, the PA and Fatah declared the resumption of security cooperation with Israel, a measure strongly criticised by all Palestinian factions and described as a “stab in the back of the potential partnership”.

The foreign ministers also discussed the results of the US elections and its impact on the Palestinian cause, with Marsudi saying President-elect Joe Biden taking office in the White House should spell better prospects for the Israel-Palestine peace process.

READ: Djibouti refuses to establish ties with Israel until it makes peace with Palestine

She went on to invite Al-Maliki to Indonesia, confirming her willingness to cooperate with the State of Palestine at the United Nations (UN) and other regional and international forums.

Indonesia, a majority Muslim country, is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and presents one of its main goals on the council as dealing with the Palestinian question. It has had no formal relations with the occupation state of Israel since it was formed on Palestinian land in 1948. In support of Palestine, Jakarta issued a tax exemption on Palestinian imports.

In turn, Israel has taken soft measures against Indonesia such as banning tourists from the country but has made overtures towards it in recent years in order to influence the process of normalisation.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

‘My heart is Palestinian’: World mourns death of football legend Maradona

Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona at the Mother's Wax Museum in Kolkata on 26 November 2020 [DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images]
Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona at the Mother’s Wax Museum in Kolkata on 26 November 2020

Palestinians are morning footballer star Diego Armando Maradona. The legendary icon who many consider to be the greatest player to ever play the game, died yesterday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at just 60 years of age, following a heart attack.

While Maradona’s prowess on the pitch turned him into a global icon, he gained fame off the field as well for his stance against colonialism and foreign occupation. He has been hailed as an anti-imperialist and a great supporter of progressive movements across the world.

Maradona’s affection and unapologetic support for the Palestinian cause is well-known. Two years ago during the 2018 World Cup tournament he said in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “my heart is Palestinian.”

Maradona posted a photo of the meeting with Abbas on his Instagram account, which has nearly seven million followers, and wrote: “This man wants peace in Palestine. Mr. President Abbas has a country and has a right.” Abbas presented Maradona with a painting of a dove with an olive branch in its beak.

READ: Argentina cancels match with Israel amid protests

This wasn’t the only time he expressed support. In 2012, Maradona described himself as “the number one fan of the Palestinian people.”

“I respect them and sympathise with them,” he said. “I support Palestine without any fear.”

Two years later, during Israel’s summer offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip that killed at least 2,500 Palestinians, Maradona expressed his outrage and criticised Israel. “What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is shameful,” he said in a statement.

A year later, reports circulated that Maradona was in negotiations with the Palestinian Football Association over the possibility of coaching the Palestinian national team during the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

Palestinians have joined millions around the world to mourn the icon’s death, sharing clips of his unmatched prowess on the field and his stance on social justice off it.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Israeli Soldiers Kill A Palestinian Man In Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers killed, on Wednesday evening, a Palestinian man while driving through the Za’im military roadblock, east of occupied Jerusalem. The army claimed the man tried to ram the soldiers with his vehicle.

The Palestinian, identified as Nour Jamal Shqeir, 37, was moved to Hadassah Israeli medical center in Jerusalem, apparently suffering multiple gunshot wounds in the abdomen area, and died from his serious injuries.

After his death, the soldiers summoned his father and brothers for interrogation at the al-Maskobiyya facility in West Jerusalem.

The Israeli army claimed the man attempted to ram the soldiers with his vehicle at the roadblock, an allegation that was vehemently denied by his family.

His brother said Nour works in transportation, and due to the nature of his job, he has to cross through various military roadblocks.

Attorney Mohammad Mahmoud of Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the army is still refusing to transfer Nour’s body back to his family.

He added that the police interrogated Nour’s father, along with his two brothers.

Jamal, the father, told Silwanic that he and his sons headed to Za’im military roadblock after hearing the news about the shooting, and parked his vehicle on the other side of the terminal after the soldiers refused to allow them to cross.

“I saw videos of the incident, and I could see my son’s vehicle after various videos were posted on social media networks,” he said, “However, we were met by dozens of soldiers, intelligence officers, who ordered us to leave, and that is when I saw my son’s vehicle riddled with bullets, just meters away from the roadblock.”

“Israeli intelligence officers inspected my ID card, and that of my son, Yahia, before they abducted him,” Jamal stated, “I was then ordered to head to al-Maskobiyya for interrogation, and after heading there, they refused to give me any information about Nour.”

The father and his two sons were separately interrogated for several hours, before they were released.

After the fatal shooting, the soldiers invaded Silwan, and closed Wadi ar-Rababa neighborhood in Silwan, and closed the entire area.

Silwanic stated that Jalal and Yahia are former political prisoners, who were abducted in the year 2013, and were sentenced to 26 months in prison, in addition to being forced to pay fines after an Israeli court “convicted them of throwing stones at the soldiers and a bus transporting colonialist settler, wounding one of them.”

Their father was abducted later in the same year while visiting his sons in Eshil prison after the soldiers claimed he was trying to smuggle a cell phone sim card into the facility.

He was later released but was denied visits with his detained sons, in addition to being banned from returning to his home, for several months.

Commenting on the fatal shooting, Jerusalem Governor Adnan Gheith, said the soldiers killed Nour in cold blood, as there was no reason to fire these shots.

He added that Israel’s military roadblocks are notorious for such incidents, especially since the soldiers are always fast in resorting to fatal shots without being subject to any physical danger.

On November 4, the soldiers Bilal Adnan Rawajba, 29, while driving his car near the Huwwara checkpoint, in the northern part of the West Bank. Bilal was a married father of an infant girl, only three months of age.

On October 25, the soldiers killed a Palestinian child, identified as Amer Abdul-Rahim Snobar, 16, from Yitma village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Snobar was killed when the soldiers repeatedly struck and assaulted him, after they had chased his car and opened fire at it, on the main Ramallah-Nablus road, in the occupied West Bank.

On October 5th, the soldiers killed Samir Hmeidi, 28, from Beit Lid, in Tulkarem, in northern West Bank, when he was crossing a military roadblock.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Detainee Maher Al-Akhras Released

Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian political prisoner who held a hunger strike for 103 days, rejecting his arbitrary Administrative Detention without charges or trial, was released on Thursday morning.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Al-Akhras, 49, was released, and was moved to a Palestinian hospital.

Al-Akhras, from Sielet ath-Thaher town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, went on hunger strike on the day of his abduction, on July 27th 2020, after Israel slapped him with a four-month Administrative Detention order.

During his hunger strike, Israeli intelligence officers tried to get him to quit his strike, by promising without guarantees that the Administrative Detention order will be renewed just one time.

Despite his seriously deteriorating condition during his strike, the detainee refused to end the strike, and insisted on being released.

He suspended the strike after the final commitment by the Israeli authorities to release him on November 26, 2020, and a firm commitment not to renew his administrative detention, as he will spend the remaining period until his release receiving hospital treatment.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Israel To Retroactively “Legalize” Colonialist Outposts Before Trump Leaves Office

Deze afbeelding heeft een leeg alt-atribuut; de bestandsnaam is colonyIM-e1606377285922.jpg

Tzachi Hanegbi, the Israeli Minister of “Settlement Affairs,” has vowed to retroactively legalize dozens of illegal colonialist outposts, installed on Palestinian lands, before the outgoing U.S. President D. Trump leaves office.

In a speech during a Knesset session, on Thursday at night, Hanegbi said that he, along with Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has agreed to conduct all needed measures to legalize 70 outposts.

He added that, after legalizing the outposts, they would be turned into “settlements,” to receive all the benefits, including infrastructure and other services.

On its part, the so-called “Regional Council of Settlements,” in the occupied West Bank, praised the decision, and called for fast action on the ground by forming a team that would handle all legal issues.

Israel’s colonies in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law, various United Nations and Security Council resolutions, in addition to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory and a constant violator.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

PPS: “Israeli Soldiers Abduct 16 Palestinians In West Bank”

Updated: The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, sixteen Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the West Bank, and added that seven of them were taken from Kobar village, near Ramallah.

The PPS said the soldiers stormed and ransacked many homes in Kobar, northwest of Ramallah, before abducting seven Palestinians, identified as Bajes Barghouthi, Ibrahim Afeef Barghouthi, Suleiman Kanaan, Ali Kanaan, Mahmoud Ahmad Shannan, Ali Ahmad Shannan, and Jadallah Ahmad Abu al-Haj.

The soldiers also invaded the al-Mughayer village, northeast of Ramallah, searched homes, and abducted Ahmad Hazem Na’san, 38, along with Emad Rida Abu Alia, 27.

Another Palestinian, identified as Yousef Mer’ey, was abducted from his home in Birzeit town, north of Ramallah.

In Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Ala’ Abatly, from his home in the town.

In Jenin, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Aysar Mohammad Nawwaf, Qais Abu Salah, and Mohammad Raslan al-‘Ardha, from their homes in Arraba town, southwest of Jenin.

The soldiers also invaded and searched the home of two detained siblings, identified as Sari and Obeida Majid Fashafsha, in addition to Fathi Kanaan, in Jaba’ town, southwest of Jenin.

In Qabatia, south of Jenin, the soldiers invaded and searched the home of Tamer Saba’na, a former political prisoner and a researcher specialized in detainee’s affairs and right, and interrogated him in addition to threatening to abduct him if he doesn’t stop his work.

It is worth mention that, late on Wednesday at night, the soldiers placed big rocks and sand hills on a minor road between the town of Ya’bad, and the villages of Barta’a and Zibda, near Jenin.

In Hebron, in southern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Ali Jawad Atawna, 23, from his home in Beit Kahil town, northwest of the city, after storming and ransacking his property.

The soldiers also abducted Ahmad Mohammad Jalal, 20, after invading and searching his home in the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Over one million Palestinians under poverty line in besieged Gaza: UN

The UN report calls for a stop to 13-year-long Israeli siege that has crippled economic activities in the coastal enclave

Deze afbeelding heeft een leeg alt-atribuut; de bestandsnaam is iP4JT.jpeg

Israel-led blockade of Gaza Strip cost Palestinian enclave more than $16bn and pushed more than one million people below poverty line in just more than 10 years, according to a new United Nations report.

The document issued on Wednesday by the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to the General Assembly covered the years between 2007 and 2018.

It called for an immediate stop to the continuing siege that has caused a near-collapse of economic activities in Gaza and a poverty rate of 56 percent.

“The situation is going to get worse if the blockade continues,” said Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People of UNCTAD.

“This unfair blockade in which two million Palestinians are kept inside Gaza should be lifted immediately. They should be allowed to move freely, do business, trade with the outside world and reconnect with their families outside of the Strip,” Elkhafif added.

Since June 2007, people of Gaza have been confined to the 365 square kilometres enclave of the Strip and subject to a land, air and sea embargo. The entry of goods has been reduced to a minimum, while external trade and exports have been stopped. Meanwhile, the population has very limited access to safe water and lack regular electricity supply or even a proper sewage system.

“Unless Palestinians in the Strip get access to the outside world, it is difficult to see anything but underdevelopment being the fate of the Gaza Palestinian society,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. “It is really shocking that in the 21st century, two million people can be left in that kind of condition.”

In addition to the prolonged blockade and restrictions by neighbouring Egypt, the Hamas-run enclave endured three Israeli military operations in 2007, 2012 and 2014 that severely damaged civilian infrastructure and caused heavy casualties.

At least 3,793 Palestinians were killed, some 18,000 were wounded and more than half of Gaza’s population was displaced, according to the UNCTAD’s report.

More than 1,500 commercial and industrial enterprises were damaged, along with some 150,000 household units and public infrastructure including energy, water, sanitation, health and educational facilities and government buildings.

As a result of the siege and the wars on Gaza, the poverty rate jumped from 40 in 2007 to 56 percent in 2017, meaning that more than 1 million Palestinians have no survival means. The report estimates that bringing these segment of the population above the poverty line would require an injection of funds amounting to $838m, four times the amount needed in 2007.

Between 2007 and 2018, the economy in Gaza grew by less than 5 percent, and its share in the Palestinian economy decreased from 31 percent to 18 percent in 2018. As a result, GDP per capita shrank by 27 percent.

Meanwhile, the isolation of the Strip has not prevented the coronavirus pandemic from reaching Gaza, worsening an already critical situation. As of Monday, 14,768 people had contracted COVID-19, with 65 deaths.

On Monday, health authorities in Gaza warned of an imminent catastrophe if Israel continued to block humanitarian access as well as the entry of necessary health equipment and medical supplies. Hospitals and healthcare staff are in need of protective clothing, ventilators and beds.

“The health crisis is exposing the underlying conditions that have been worsening over a decade,” said Kozul-Wright.

Addressing UN reporters in Geneva, the UNCTAD official said he was hopeful there would be a change in Israeli-Palestinian relations under the new US administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew its funding of UNRWA, the UN agency that supports five million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

“The $200m cut was a huge hit to the Palestinian economy. It will be interesting to see if the new administration will go back to its decision towards UNRWA,” said Kozul-Wright. “However, even before 2016, the human rights of Palestinians and the international law as codified in the UN resolution were ignored and political tensions were high.”

The report called for the end of the blockade in the context of Security Council resolution 1860 (January 8, 2009) to allow Gaza’s economy to reintegrate with the rest of the world and the reconstruction of all essential infrastructure.

It also called for the restoration of the basic human rights of people in Gaza, their right to free movement, healthcare, study and work, and recommended that the state of Palestine be enabled to develop offshore natural gasfields discovered in the 1990s in the Palestinian territorial waters off the Gaza coast.

These revenues would allow some financial respite and funding for the reconstruction of essential infrastructure.

(Source / 26.11.2020)