Several Palestinians kidnaped in W. Bank IOF campaigns

IOF in the West Bank

WEST BANK, (PIC) – The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Thursday raided homes and kidnaped several Palestinian citizens during campaigns in different West Bank areas.

According to local sources, the IOF kidnaped four teenagers under age 18 near al-Arroub College in the north of al-Khalil. They were identified as Aram Bassam, Abdullah Hussein, Ayoub Dawoud and Yousef Dawoud.

Meanwhile, the IOF broke into and ransacked a house in al-Khalil city, without making arrests. They also set up a military checkpoint on Halhul Bridge in the north of al-Khalil and embarked on searching cars and checking IDs of passengers.

In Bethlehem, three young men were taken prisoners during an IOF campaign in al-Deheisha refugee camp.

Several citizens from the family of Abu Diya reportedly suffered injuries and received medical assistance at the Beit Jala Hospital after the IOF physically assaulted them during its campaign in al-Deheisha camp.

Another young man identified as Ahmed al-Hureimi was kidnaped by the IOF after ransacking his home in Bethlehem city.

In Ramallah, the IOF kidnaped a university student called Zeid al-Qadumi from his home in the city and another citizen called Amr al-Barghouthi from Kobar town.

The IOF also stormed Beitunia town in the west of Ramallah and clashed with local youths. One young man reportedly suffered a bullet injury in his hand.

In Tulkarem, the IOF raided homes in Anabta town and Nur Shams refugee camp and kidnaped three young men.

Two other West Bankers were kidnaped from their homes in Qalqilya city and Kafr Thulth town.

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Settlers attack Palestinian cars, block road in W. Bank

damaged car

WEST BANK, (PIC) – Jewish settlers on Wednesday evening carried out several attacks on Palestinian citizens and their property in different areas of the occupied West Bank.

According to local sources, a horde of settlers threw stones at Palestinian cars traveling on a road near Beitin village in the northeast of al-Bireh city.

One car reportedly sustained material damage in the settler attack.

Similar attacks took place in other areas of the West Bank.

Settlers also blocked, for several hours, the road which connects cities of Jerusalem and Ramallah, particularly near the junction of Burqa village.

(Source / 31.12.2020)

PIC, the voice of Palestine to the world, marks its 23rd anniversary


GAZA, (PIC) – On December 1, 1997, the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) was launched as the first multilingual website concerned with the Palestinian cause and the Arab conflict with the Israeli occupation.

PIC is considered the only Palestinian multilingual website, which is translated from Arabic into other seven languages.  
Adopting the slogan “the voice of Palestine to the world and the voice of the world to Palestine,” PIC started its mission, from the first day, with a focus on Jerusalem and all areas of Palestine, standing in the face of the Israeli media propaganda machine, which has always aimed to smear the Palestinian people and erase the eternal truth that the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves and claim their rights, mostly importantly their right to live in peace and with no occupation on their own land.

Since its inauguration, the multilingual website has worked on reaching out to the Western world and providing them with information on the Palestinian people’s usurped rights and their national cause as well as their daily suffering under occupation.

“The website, through its work, confirms its alignment with the Palestinian people’s rights and national constants and the patriots who defend the land and holy sites against the brutal Zionist occupation,” according to a statement published on the Arabic PIC website.

“The website also adopts editorial policies based on credibility, balance and accuracy when reporting events despite the real difficulties and challenges it faces in the field.”

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Israel initiates huge road project for settlers in W. Bank

The new settler road to devour thousands of dunums of land

Huwara bypass

RAMALLAH, (PIC) – Israeli minister of transportation Miri Regev has announced the initial steps to carry out a huge road project on vast tracts of annexed Palestinian land in the northern West Bank.

According to Israel’s Channel 7, Regev made the announcement during her visit along with chief of the Jewish settlements council Yossi Dagan to al-Lubban area between Nablus and Ramallah.

Regev had already approved a few days ago a budget of 76,000,000 76 million shekels for the construction of this bypass road, which is to devour thousands of dunums of agricultural land in the northern West Bank.

The new bypass road is intended to connect the illegal settlements in the south of Nablus and Salfit with the settlements in the west of Ramallah and will go through an area near the villages of al-Lubban al-Gharbi and Rantis and its end will merge with Road 465 near Rantis village.

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Palestinian man reimprisoned upon leaving Israel prison after serving 19-year sentence

Israeli security forces intervene Palestinians with tear gas following a demonstration to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, at Beit El checkpoint near Ramallah, West Bank on October 1, 2019. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli security forces intervene Palestinians with tear gas following a demonstration to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, at Beit El checkpoint near Ramallah, West Bank on October 1, 2019

The Israeli occupation on Wednesday reimprisoned a Palestinian prisoner the moment he was released from Naqab Prison after completing his 19-year sentence, Wafa News Agency reported.

After leaving Naqab Prison, Malek Bukeirat, 41, was immediately re-detained and taken to Al-Moskobiyeh interrogation centre, also known as the Russian Compound, in West Jerusalem.

His family said that they were not allowed to shake hands with Bukeirat, nor to even touch him, after he was released from prison. The family were also banned from any celebration of his release.

The Israeli occupation forces raided and ransacked his family home in the Sur Baher neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem, forcing the family to remain outside, WafaNews Agency reported.

Bukeirat was initially detained on 31 December, 2001, at a checkpoint outside the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, and was later sentenced to 19 years in prison for “resisting the occupation”.

His father, Najeh Bukeirat, deputy director of the Waqf Department in Jerusalem, was also banned last month from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli authorities for a period of six months.

READ: Everything and nothing has changed for Palestine this year

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Military wings of Palestine factions in Gaza conclude drills

"Hard Corner" joint military drill organized by the armed wings of Palestinian groups held in Gaza Strip on 29 December 2020. [Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency]
“Hard Corner” joint military drill organized by the armed wings of Palestinian groups held in Gaza Strip on 29 December 2020

The military wings of all Palestinian factions in Gaza, with the exception of Fatah, on Wednesday, completed a 24-hour military drill codenamed “Strong Cornerstone”, simulating an Israeli offensive on the coastal enclave.

A statement issued by the Joint Command Room for the military wings indicated: “The exercise comes as part of efforts to boost the joint action and cooperation between the military wings of the Palestinian factions.”

The statement added that the training aims to: “Enhance the efficiency and combat-readiness of fighters to be able to fight in all different conditions. Thanks to Allah, our fighters showed advanced combat qualities during this drill that proved their readiness to take part in any battle under any circumstances.”

According to the statement, the drills, which started on Tuesday and ended on Wednesday, were carried out in most areas of the Gaza Strip and included most scenarios of possible Israeli attacks.

“After completing the Strong Cornerstone drill, we reiterate the continuous promotion of our abilities and the retention of our readiness, as well as the development of joint cooperation within the framework of the Joint Command Room,” the statement of the military wings affirmed.

Lebanon: Hezbollah claims to have doubled its precision-guided missiles in a year

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Israel uses Arab normalisers to attack Hamas on Twitter

A view of a giant billboard in Gaza City depicting the slain commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani on 29 December 2020 [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]
A view of a giant billboard in Gaza City depicting the slain commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani on 29 December 2020

Israeli occupation authorities have used the social media posts of Arab normalisers to wage attacks on the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas, Rai Al-Youm online newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Due to raising a large poster of the late Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Spokesman Ofir Gendelman tweeted: “A large picture for Qasem Soleimani in Gaza! The Iranian-Hamas militia honours a mass killer.”

On Soleimani, Gendelman stated: “He has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and Palestinians.”

Gendelman also tweeted: “This way, Iran’s collaborators allied with those who occupy four Arab capitals at the time when they call for Arab solidarity.”

The Arabic Twitter account for Israel’s Foreign Ministry posted a series of tweets and retweets of Arabs criticising Hamas over raising Soleimani’s picture.

The account retweeted a tweet by Saudi journalist Abdul-Rahman Al-Rashed, who wrote: “We know that there are only a few people in the Arab world who are still believing in Hamas because of its adherence to the Iranian and Syrian regimes.”

In addition, the Israeli account quoted another tweet by the Saudi activist in which he wrote: “Today, Hamas has become completely bare as it allows raising a picture for Soleimani who has the blood of tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis on his hands.”

According to Rai Al-Youm, the Israeli Twitter account retweeted many tweets of Arab journalists and activists attacking Hamas over raising the picture or allowing it to be raised.

Hamas: Gulf reconciliation benefits Palestinians

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Yemen’s Houthis say Saudi pilots will only be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners

Yemeni loyalists of the Shi'ite Houthi movement hold their hands as they shout slogans during a rally held for celebrating the anniversary of Eid al-Ghadir which marks the day Shi'ites believe Prophet Muhammad nominated his cousin, Imam Ali, to be his successor on August 08, 2020 in Sana'a, Yemen [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]
Yemeni loyalists of the Shia Houthi movement on August 08, 2020 in Sana’a, Yemen 

An official in Yemen’s Houthi-led National Salvation Government (NSG) has reiterated that Saudi pilots currently being held captive will only be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in the kingdom.

In an interview yesterday with Al-Masirah TV, the head of the National Committee for Prisoners Affairs, Abdulqadir Al-Murtadha, stated: “We have assured the other party that the Saudi pilots will not be released from prison except in exchange for the Palestinian prisoners in Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “The negotiation rounds in the prisoners’ issue in 2020 were distinguished by the fact that they ended with implementation, unlike the previous rounds,” noting that 1,087 prisoners of the Houthi-allied Yemeni army and “popular committees” were freed earlier in the year; 670 prisoners through UN brokered agreements and 417 prisoners through local deals.

“The enemy thwarted 30 exchange deals during 2020, which were agreed upon through local parties to liberate more than 600 prisoners from both sides,” according to Al-Murtadha.

READ: Houthis ask Egypt to mediate for release of Hamas prisoners in Saudi Arabia

“We released 150 prisoners during 2020, including 64 children who were brought into the battles by the forces of aggression, while the rest were released for humanitarian reasons.”

Last year, Saudi Arabia incarcerated 68 Palestinians and Jordanians following a mass trial which has raised concerns by Human Rights Watch (HRW) over issues relating to due process. Some of the detainees had been held without charge for nearly two years.

Among the Palestinians detained is Mohammed Al-Khodari, who is over 80 years old and a high-ranking official from the Gaza-based resistance movement Hamas. Alike the other detainees he was charged on vague accusations relating to terrorism.

In March the leader of the Houthi movement known as the Ansarallah, Sayyid Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, extended an offer to the Saudis to release Hamas members held in Saudi in exchange for one of the captured Saudi coalition pilots held in Yemen along with four Saudi soldiers. The “much-appreciated initiative” was met with praise by Hamas who in a statement said it valued the “spirit of fraternity and sympathy” for the Palestinian people and their cause.

READ: STC refuses to cooperate with Yemen govt’s inquest into Aden blast

(Source / 31.12.2020)

Palestinian Airlines to close after 25 years

RAFAH, -: A lorry belonging to the Palestinian Airlines stands idle in the grounds of the Gaza International Airport, 29 April 2006. Not only have no planes landed for more than five years, but neither have any pay cheques for the last two months. At Gaza's ghost town airport, time stands still rather than flies. AFP PHOTO/Samuel ARANDA (Photo credit should read SAMUEL ARANDA/AFP via Getty Images)
A lorry belonging to the Palestinian Airlines stands idle in the grounds of the Gaza International Airport, 29 April 2006

Palestinian Airlines will be closing its carrier service after 25 years, the Palestinian Transport and Communications Ministry announced.

This comes after the airline offered its two remaining Fokker 50 aircraft, which were donated by the Netherlands, for sale in September.

Established in 1995, the company became operational in 1997, flying across the Middle East from Yasser Arafat International Airport in the Gaza Strip. However, the airport was destroyed by Israel in 2001 during the Second Intifada.

The airline moved to Egypt’s Al-Arish airport near the Gaza border but was forced to lease its aircraft and halted most of its activity by 2017.

Report: 50,000 Israel tourists visit the UAE in two weeks

Ammar Yassin, the ministry’s undersecretary, told the Palestinian News Network (PNN) that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not received offers for the plane parked in Amman and that the one parked in Cairo had been leased to an airline in Nigeria.

However, he explained that the contract was suspended as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to PNN, Palestinian Airlines had eight employees, two pilots, three administrative employees and three ground staff.

(Source / 31.12.2020)

UNRWA and Palestinian refugees are the next targets of normalisation deals with Israel

Palestinians gathering in front of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stage a demonstration against reducing UNRWA's services, in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 23 December 2020. [Ashraf Amra - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians gathering in front of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stage a demonstration against reducing UNRWA’s services, in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 23 December 2020

By Ramona Wadi

When US President Donald Trump leaves office in three weeks’ time, he will have laid the foundations for a further downgrading of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. It is, perhaps, little wonder that the Palestinian Authority was so eager to resume the illusion of “normal” in preparation for improved relations with the incoming Biden administration.

As a result of the normalisation agreements reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the latter is following in America’s footsteps in halting its donations to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). UAE officials reportedly stated that the intention is for UNRWA to “gradually disappear”. If that happens, of course, the status of Palestinian refugees will also be history. UNRWA and Palestinian refugees, it seems, are the next targets of normalisation deals with Israel.

In 2019, Trump’s Senior Adviser Jared Kushner expressed his certain belief that Palestinian refugees will never return to their land. While the White House promoted this political shift that compromises the legitimate Palestinian right of return, the groundwork was laid by UN Resolution 194, which fails to make the case for decolonisation. Trump’s politics, in particular the defunding of UNRWA and the campaign to alter the definition of a Palestinian refugee in order to reduce their number and therefore dilute the extent of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, exposed the international intent to discard the Palestinian people’s political rights. UNRWA, despite the undoubted necessity of its humanitarian work, has contributed to this exploitation.

READ: Refugee camps contain the hidden victims of Covid-19

The normalisation deals will facilitate even more corruption, and sooner. While the international community praised the agreements with Israel upon the premise of annexation being suspended, the UN has refused to conceptualise how Israel and the UAE have chartered an additional course of colonialist impunity in Palestine.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon 

In 2019, UNRWA’s mandate was extended until June 2023. This was hailed as a victory in the context of the funding deficit which has plagued the agency since the US withdrew its support. However, the existence of UNRWA also points to the international community’s refusal to take the Palestinian right of return seriously. UN Resolution 194 is a convenient loophole for Israel’s existence and it has also played a role in turning the Palestinian people into a permanent, politicised humanitarian project. Taking away the rights of Palestinian refugees through humanitarian aid is a political manoeuvre that requires UNRWA to compensate for the loss of their land. Palestinians, and the agency itself – the latter promoting neutrality to the benefit of Israel – are backdrops to the normalisation agreements which the international community praised, while Israel moved on to its next step in throwing the refugees to the dogs.

Israel will have an easy time in moving forward and eliminating Palestinian representation at an international level. UNRWA’s existence depends upon voluntary donations which may dwindle further as a result of the normalisation agreements.

Yet the PA quickly forgot its opposition to normalisation when Joe Biden won the US Presidential election. How will the authority attempt to frame this latest chapter in Palestinian refugee history? The refugees are the key to Palestine’s liberation. Israel recognises this fact and works against it. In this regard, the same can be said of the PA, even before Trump became the convenient scapegoat. Before pointing fingers, the PA should embark upon a moment of introspection for all the times that it has failed the Palestinian refugees by diluting their right of return in “peace” negotiations for the two-state compromise.

READ: UNRWA, the EU and humanitarian aid all have a political agenda

(Source / 31.12.2020)