Some 2,000 people have travelled from the Gaza Strip over the past two days as Egypt opened the Rafah crossing for the first time in 66 days.
In addition to the 1,927 who left the enclave, 828 re-entered the Strip, while 79 were not permitted to travel by Egyptian authorities, the Palestinian ministry of the Interior said in a statement.
The ministry had said that some 7,000 people needed to travel from Gaza urgently either for treatment, study or to return to work.
Rafah Crossing was closed in 2007, when Hamas won the Palestinian elections and gained control of Gaza, with Israel and Egypt imposing a full and tight siege on the coastal enclave.
The crossing is open from time to time. The last time it opened was 27 November 2020 for three days during which 2,696 people left Gaza, 829 returned and 223 were prevented from leaving the besieged Strip.
Over the weekend Egypt announced that it would be reopening the crossing for four days beginning Monday.
Twafiq Abu Naim, the undersecretary of the Interior Ministry, told reporters at the Rafah crossing that his ministry hopes that the border would be opened continuously in order to alleviate the suffering of those in Gaza and Palestinians stranded in Egypt.
“The humanitarian cases, students as well as those who need to travel have suffered a lot when the Rafah border crossing was closed,” he said, calling on the Egyptian authorities to keep the gateway open all the time.
EU spokesman Shady Othman has revealed that the bloc is to pay €10,000 ($12,021) towards the Palestinian elections and is willing to take part in monitoring them, Felesteen newspaper reported yesterday.
The EU, Othman said, had received an official invitation to monitor the elections as it had done during the 2006 polls.
He noted that the EU’s monitoring mission in 2006 was the largest international monitoring team and it produced a detailed report about the elections and raised its recommendations to Brussels.
In addition to this, he said, the EU is studying the prospects of funding a gas pipeline for the only electricity plant in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that there are teams on the ground working on the preparation for the project. This is in an effort to find a solution to the electricity crisis facing the besieged enclave.
The Palestinian Authority began its Covid-19 vaccination campaign yesterday, starting with medical workers treating coronavirus patients, PA Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila has announced.
The move follows concerns raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the disparity between Israelis and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. International human rights groups and UN officials have called out Israel for its responsibility for the Palestinians as an occupying power under international law.
Following the global pressure, Israel’s defence ministry announced on Monday that it has transferred 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to the PA and said that it has earmarked another 3,000 doses for the Palestinians. Al-Kaila received the vaccine at Hugo Chavez Hospital in Ramallah. Medical staff working in the intensive care units were then vaccinated.
“This campaign will be completed with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, as 5,000 doses will arrive in Palestine within days, in addition to 37,000 doses under the COVAX initiative,” explained Al-Kaila. “The Palestinian government has also purchased the British AstraZeneca vaccine, and it will arrive in the country shortly.” COVAX is a global scheme backed by the WHO to provide vaccines to poorer countries.
As of yesterday evening, the number of coronavirus cases in Palestine totalled 180,018, including 2,032 deaths and 169,191 recovered patients. The figures cover the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, reported Wafa news agency.
Five Palestinian minors were physically assaulted and suffered aggression at the hands of Israeli soldiers and interrogators during detention, according to the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and ex-Detainees’ Affairs.
The Commission said statements from the minors, who were all 17-year-olds, include details of severe beatings and torture they suffered following their arrest.
Mustafa Salameh was detained at his family home in Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya. He was beaten with the butt of guns and shoved into an army jeep where he was thrown on the floor as soldiers kept trampling on him until he lost consciousness.
He woke up to find himself in Al-Jalama detention centre where he was interrogated for many hours, while being tied to a chair before being moved to the Megiddo prison for minors.
Mohammad Zalloum was dragged out of his home from the village of Silwan. He recounted being punched in the stomach till he vomited, and was later moved to Asqalan detention centre where he was detained for 23 days.
Another victim, Hani Rmeilat, from Jenin refugee camp in the north of the West Bank, was interrogated in difficult conditions at Al-Jalama detention centre, and assaulted with clubs by five prison guards resulting in bruises all over his body that required immediate treatment at an Israeli hospital.
However, he was forced back to Al-Jalama prison where he was detained for 20 days before being moved to Megiddo prison.
Majd Waari from Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighbourhood suffered hours long interrogation at the infamous Russian Compound detention centre in West Jerusalem for several hours while tied to a small chair.
Munir Arqoub from Kufr Ein, north of Ramallah, was detained at the Beit El military checkpoint after being attacked by three Israeli soldiers before he was taken to a nearby military base. There he was left in an open area during cold weather conditions and denied sleep. He was moved to Ofer military camp the next day for interrogation and then moved to Majeddo prison.
The commission noted that the mistreatment of prisoners is part of a “systematic and clear policy practiced by the administration of the occupation detention centres in order to restrict prisoners and detainees and impose sanctions on them and deprive them of the most basic human rights.”
Israeli occupation authorities launch almost daily arrest campaigns in the occupied West Bank, releasing some detainees after interrogation and referring others to court.
Around 4,400 Palestinians are currently languishing in Israeli jails, including 40 women, 170 children, and 380 people under administrative detention with no charges or trials.
Israeli occupation soldiers, on Monday, dismantled residential tents and agricultural structures, and seized a vehicle in the northern Jordan Valley, Quds News Network has reported.
Israeli forces stormed the northern occupied West Bank village of Khirbet Humsa al-Fouqa, sealing off the area, before demolishing Palestinian-owned residential tents and farming structures, according to QNN correspondent.
He added that soldiers also confiscated a privately-owned vehicle, for reasons not identified.
Furthermore, the IOF demolished a wall on the private lands of Jabara village, south of Tulkarem, and an agricultural shed, belonging to a former Palestinian prisoner, near Qalqilia, both in the northern West Bank.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA )December 2020 West Bank Demolitions and Displacement report;
“The cumulative number of structures demolished or seized in 2020 (849) across the occupied West Bank, and the number of Palestinians displaced as a result (996) are the largest since 2016. The number of donor-funded aid structures targeted in 2020 (156) is also the highest since 2016.”
“One of the major trends observed in 2020 was the increased use of military orders and other legislation, preventing or limiting people’s ability to legally challenge the targeting of their homes and sources of livelihood in Israeli courts.”
On Monday morning, 01 February 2021, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) carried out a large-scale demolition operation against civilian properties in Hemsa al-Foqa area in the northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas. Twenty-eight homes and facilities were demolished, displacing 85 Palestinians, including 45 children) in the operation. These demolitions are part of an accelerated campaign by IOF to demolish and destroy Palestinians’ homes and properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, under the Israeli annexation and settlement-expansion schemes in what can only be considered an act of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian population.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 08:45 on Monday, IOF accompanied by Israeli Civil Administration SUVs and construction vehicles, moved into Kherbet Hemsa al-Foqa in the northern Jordan valleys, eastern Tubas. Immediately, workers accompanying IOF proceeded to demolish and dismantle civilian homes and sheep barns, loaded them onto their trucks and confiscated their contents. The demolition included 14 residential tents, 7 tents and 5 barracks for cattle; the destroyed structures belonged to 11 families (85 civilians, including 45 children) who were rendered homeless. IOF told the affected area’s residents to accompany them to be transferred to Ein Shibley area, west of Al-Hamra checkpoint in the central Jordan valleys; however, they refused to leave the area. IOF threatened the residents that they would return the following day and expel them from Hemsa al-Foqa. It should be noted that on 03 November 2020, IOF conducted a wide-scale demolition campaign in the same area, that included the demolition of 70 homes and facilities and displacing 60 Palestinians (mostly children).
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns the Israeli demolitions and confiscation of Palestinian properties and warns against the threat of the continued Israeli attempts to displace Palestinians and oust them from their lands by destroying their houses and confiscating/demolishing their properties. This is an Israeli systematic policy to impose a fait accompli to enforce its control and sovereignty on parts of the West Bank.
PCHR recalls that Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons ..” unless “the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.” Additionally, Article 7.1.d of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population is a crime against humanity.” Also, Article 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute assert that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” is a war crime.
PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations bodies to uphold their legal and moral duties, and to urgently intervene to stop the Israeli occupation’s crime against Palestinians and to guarantee their protection.
RAMALLAH, Tuesday, February 02, 2021 (WAFA) – Israeli occupation forces last night and today detained at least 30 Palestinians, including four minors, from various parts of the occupied territories, according to local and Palestinian security sources.
They said Israeli occupation forces rounded up five Palestinians, including a minor, from Ramallah and al-Bireh district, in the central West Bank.
Soldiers detained two Palestinians, including a 16-year-old child, after ransacking their families’ houses in Beitunia city, west of Ramallah.
Soldiers detained two others after ransacking their houses in Ramallah’s al-Irsal neighborhood.
The fifth Palestinian was detained in a similar invasion in Kufr Malek town, east of Ramallah city.
During the unfolding confrontations in the town, Israeli troops opened fire toward local youngsters, injuring two; one in the foot and another in the thigh.
Meanwhile, five Palestinians were detained in occupied East Jerusalem.
Local sources said that Israeli police detained a minor after storming his parents’ house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Isawiya.
Police detained another, identified as a resident of al-Tur neighborhood, from a shopping center in West Jerusalem on Monday evening.
The three others were rounded up during an Israeli military raid that triggered violent confrontations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur.
In Hebron district in the south of the West Bank, soldiers stormed al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of the city, where they rounded up four Palestinians, including two minors, aged 15 and 16.
They conducted a similar raid in Taffuh town, west of the city, resulting in the detention of three others.
In the northern West Bank, director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society office in Tubas, Kamal Bani-Odeh, confirmed an Israeli military raid in Tammun town, south of Tubas, resulting in the detention of a father and his son.
In the northern Jenin governorate, the Israeli military stormed Barta‘a town, southwest of the city, where soldiers rounded up nine Palestinians, including three brothers.
They detained two others after breaking into and searching their families’ houses in two separate invasions in Jenin refugee camp and Tura town, southwest of the city.
Washington (QNN)- Spokesperson for the United States Department of State said that the Trump administration’s suspension of aid to the Palestinians had failed to produce results and reiterated the new American leadership’s intention to restore such financial assistance.
“The suspension of aid to the Palestinian people has neither produced political progress, nor secured concessions from the Palestinian leadership. It has only harmed innocent Palestinians,” Ned Price said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
He added, “The US will reinvigorate our humanitarian leadership and work to galvanize the international community to meet its humanitarian obligations, including to the Palestinian people. This is something we’re working on very quickly to restore and announced.”
Price also referred to the speech given by the US Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills, who said the Biden administration was renewing US relations with the Palestinian leadership, and restoring “credible engagement” with the Palestinians, as it works toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Biden administration will restore credible US engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis. This will involve renewing US relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people, relations which have atrophied over the last four years,” he said.
He added, “President Biden has been clear in his intent to restore US assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.”
In 2018, the Trump administration had cut financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a UN body that supports more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, and also slashed an aid of more than $200 million to Palestine in the same year.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Richard Falk, international law expert at the US-based Princeton University, said that a “peaceful future” in the Palestinian issue “will not arise until Israel dismantles apartheid.”
“A peaceful future will not arise until Israel dismantles apartheid and agrees to treat Palestinians under human rights standards, including respect for the Palestinian right of self-determination.”
Recently, leading Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, has described ‘Israel’ as an ‘apartheid regime’.
The group said in a report that while Palestinians live under different forms of Israeli control in the occupied West Bank, blockaded Gaza, annexed east Jerusalem and within ‘Israel’ itself, they have fewer rights than Jews in the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
“One of the key points in our analysis is that this is a single geopolitical area ruled by one government,” said B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad. “This is not democracy plus occupation. This is apartheid between the river and the sea.”
B’Tselem argues that by dividing up the territories and using different means of control, ‘Israel’ masks the underlying reality — that roughly 7 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians live under a single system with vastly unequal rights.
“We are not saying that the degree of discrimination that a Palestinian has to endure is the same if one is a citizen of the state of ‘Israel’ or if one is besieged in Gaza,” El-Ad said. “The point is that there isn’t a single square inch between the river and the sea in which a Palestinian and a Jew are equal.”
Commenting on the organization’s describtion, Professor Falk said, “It is definitely an important development when Israel’s most respected human rights organization issues a report that confirms earlier UN reports and allegations that the Palestinians are victimized by an apartheid regime that seeks to impose policies and practices that ensure the supremacy of Jews by victimizing the Palestinian people throughout the whole of historic Palestine.”
He added, “a de facto one-state reality of unified Israeli control suggests that the internationally endorsed goal of a negotiated two-state solution superseded by Israeli ambitions to complete the Zionist project of establishing a Jewish exclusivist state on the entire ‘the promised land’.”
“These ambitions were implicitly acknowledged by Israel in 2018 when it enacted a Basic Law that asserted that only the Jewish people had a right to self-determination within the state of Israel, that the internationally unlawful settlement enterprise deserved national support, and that Hebrew was the only official language.”
The International Criminal Court defines apartheid as an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.”
As “apartheid” is listed as a crime against humanity according to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Falk said, “The government of Israel, especially in international settings such as the UN, is outraged by allegations of apartheid that it repudiates as nothing other than a vicious form of anti-Semitism.”
However, ‘Israel’ rejects the term, claiming the restrictions it imposes in Gaza and the West Bank are temporary measures needed for security.
Falk noted that “one of the contributions of the report is to identify the elements of Israeli apartheid by reference to specific policies and practices that are relied upon to maintain Jewish supremacy over non-Jews within its sovereign territory.”
“Among these are discriminatory standards applicable to immigration, giving Jews worldwide an unrestricted ‘right of return’ while denying Palestinians any immigration rights even if parents or grandparents were born within its territory,” he added.
As the report dealing with “apartheid as control of territory rather than the control of people” is a weakness, Falk pointed out, “From 1948 to the present, Palestinians have suffered as a people, hundreds of thousands being displaced and dispossessed as integral to the Israeli overall plan to be a Jewish majority state.”
B’Tselem, as it describes itself, is an “Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories strives to end Israel’s occupation, recognizing that this is the only way to achieve a future that ensures human rights, democracy, liberty and equality to all people, Palestinian and Israeli alike, living on the bit of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”