JORDAN VALLEY, (PIC) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) quelled a march in confiscated Ein al-Sakut lands in the northern Jordan Valley on Saturday.
Violent clashes erupted between IOF and participants. Dozens of Palestinian citizens suffered breathing problems due to the IOF firing of teargas canisters.
The IOF soldiers arrested two demonstrators, including the activist Jonathan Pollak, while they were participating in the march.
For her part, Ferihan Daraghmeh said that the IOF prevented her from reaching her land in Ein al-Sakut despite her possession of private property papers, in addition to preventing dozens of citizens from accessing the area.
Israel today banned the raising of the Muslim call to prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied Hebron under the pretext that settlers were celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ban was “a call for religious war” and went on to urge the international community and the relevant UN organisations and councils to assume their legal and moral responsibilities in protecting holy sites.
The Director and head of the Ibrahimi Mosque, Sheikh Hefzi Abu Sneina, said the ban came into effect at dusk yesterday and will remain in place until Saturday evening.
He added that these measures are an infringement on the freedom of worship guaranteed by international law.
The PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned Israel’s decision to ban West Bank ID holders from going to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, and its continued measures to prevent restoration works at the Ibrahimi Mosque, in what it said were efforts to Judaise the Old City of Hebron and expel and displaced Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Friday condemned Israeli violations against Islamic holy sites in the occupied cities of Jerusalem and Hebron, Anadolu Agency reported.
In a statement issued by its Foreign Ministry, the PA announced: “Israel imposes measures and arbitrary restrictions to block worshippers from reaching worship houses, and it is working hard to extend its domination of them and Judaise them.”
The statement disclosed that such measures “mount to flagrant violations of freedom of worship,” citing that Israeli occupation forces were blocking Palestinian worshippers from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform the Friday prayer.
The Israeli occupation authorities prevented Adhan (call to prayer) from occurring at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron during the Jewish holy days.
It is worth noting that 55 per cent of the area of Al-Ibrahimi Mosque was occupied in 1994, following a massacre carried out by an Israeli settler during the dawn prayer, killing 29 worshippers.
Al-Ibrahimi Mosque is located in the Old City of Hebron, which falls under Israeli occupation control. Around 400 Israeli Jewish settlers live in the occupied Palestinian area protected by 1,500 Israeli occupation soldiers.
According to a Safa Press Agency reporter, the Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from Israel and the occupied West Bank from entering the Old City.
The Israeli occupation forces stopped the Palestinian worshippers and inspected their ID cards, allowing very few to enter into the Old City and reach Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Recently, Israeli occupation settlers, protected by the Israeli occupation forces, have started to enter into Al-Aqsa Mosque from all of its gates, unlike previously when they entered mainly through Al-Magharbeh Gate.
The propagandists are having an increasingly hard time explaining Israel’s vaccine apartheid.
Broadly speaking, there are about six million Israeli Jews and 6.5 million Palestinian Arabs (mostly Muslims and Christians) living in historic Palestine.
This is the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea: the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and so-called “Israel proper”.
Israel controls the entirety of historic Palestine. There is a complicated system of passes, IDs and different rights. But generally speaking, Israeli law states that only “the Jewish people” have a right to self-determination in the so-called “Land of Israel”, while Palestinians are, at best, guests.
Five million Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza have absolutely no rights under the Jewish supremacist regime that Israel imposes on the entirety of historic Palestine.
As the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem finally recognised in a new position paper in January: “There is one regime governing the entire area and the people living in it, based on a single organising principle,” and it is an apartheid regime. “The Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.”
Because of the nature of its racist regime, Israel is refusing to protect the five million Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza by vaccinating them against the coronavirus.
This is pure, unbridled racism. And it is a racism that is self-defeating too. Palestinians in the West Bank are considered a source of cheap, disposable labour by Israel. Every day, thousands line up at Israeli army checkpoints at the crack of dawn to access low-paid jobs in Israel, enduring hellish conditions. Almost none have been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Israel’s racist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the chutzpah to blame the Palestinians for the pandemic.
Due to this harsh reality, the Israel lobby is finding it increasingly difficult to come up with justifications, excuses and obfuscations.
Predictably as clockwork, they’ve been smearing those who report the truth about Israel’s vaccine apartheid as “anti-Semitic” – once again deliberately conflating criticism of Israel’s crimes with anti-Jewish hatred.
In the US, this smear has now been directed at Saturday Night Live, the venerable current affairs comedy show.
On it, comedian Michael Che said: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
It was a funny line, but it was genuinely satirical too because the joke contained a lot of truth. Israel does indeed refuse to vaccinate most of the non-Jewish half of the population under its control – those five million Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Israel lobby went mad tossing the false allegation of anti-Semitism at the show. Israeli propagandist Avi Mayer, for example, claimed it was an “anti-Semitic myth”. He said that “every Israeli citizen” is eligible to be vaccinated.
But as my colleague at The Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah pointed out, during his appearance on the Katie Halper Show, Mayer was lying by omission.
While it’s technically true that the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are eligible, the other five million Palestinians living under Israel’s apartheid regime (in the West Bank and Gaza) are not.
Israel has even gone out of its way to block Palestinians from receiving vaccines from other countries. The Palestinian Authority (PA) wanted to send doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to the Gaza Strip for frontline medical workers. However, Israel blocked it from doing so as part of the crushing military siege it has enforced on the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Another proof of the apartheid nature of Israel’s vaccine policies is its behaviour in the West Bank. Israeli settlers living in the West Bank on stolen Palestinian land (in violation of international law, as settlements are a war crime under the Geneva Conventions) are being given the vaccine. Meanwhile, the Palestinians living in the villages, towns and cities only a few short miles away are not – purely and exclusively because they are not Jewish.
Another ruse the propagandists are attempting, is claiming that the Oslo Accords absolve them of responsibility. Even putting aside the fact that Oslo is a sham and Israel in practice rules the entire West Bank, this justification is a lie even on its own terms.
Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure “public health and hygiene in the occupied territory”, makes: “Particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”
The Oslo documents themselves make clear that Israel is still responsible for combating epidemics and contagious diseases.
Any way that you cut it, Israel’s vaccine apartheid is a violation of international law.
On Friday morning, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza, severely damaging one fishing boat.
In addition, along the southern Gaza border, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers who were tending their crops in Al Qararah village, northeast of Khan Younis. No injuries were reported, but the farmers were forced to abandon their crops.
In the attack on the fishers, local sources reported that the fishing boats were operating within the parameters set up by the Israeli authorities – which requires that they remain within six nautical miles of the shore.
The restriction has had a devastating impact on the Palestinian fishing industry, as many of the best locations for fishing are outside of the boundary set by the Israeli authorities.
However, even when the Palestinian fishers follow the arbitrary rules of the Israeli navy and remain within the designated zone, they are frequently fired upon and attacked by Israeli naval ships stationed off the coast of Gaza to enforce the naval blockade on the coastal strip.
In addition to firing live ammunition at the fishing boats, the Israeli naval forces also fired sound bombs and water cannons.
One boat was damaged and had to be abandoned at sea, while the other fishing boats were forced to return to shore without having completed their catch for the day.
Such attacks by the Israeli navy are frequent, according to local sources.
In the first month since President Joe Biden has taken office, Israel has escalated its home demolition campaign, settlement expansion and all out aggression against the Palestinian people. Even worse is that Biden has been completely silent.
In the month of February, Israel has made approximately 150 Palestinians homeless, due to illegal home demolitions in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem (al-Quds). The home demolition campaign had one of its worst years on record last year, with 610 Palestinians being left homeless in the West Bank and 379 left homeless in East Jerusalem, according to B’tselem. Roughly half of the close to 1000 Palestinians made homeless were children and this year seem to have all the tell tale signs of being a similar repeat.
Perhaps one of the worst, Jerusalem based, cases we’ve seen in recent years occurred in al-Issawiya (East Jerusalem), on February 22. Israeli forces demolished a home belonging to the Olayyan family, making 17 homeless including small children. The case specifically enraged local Jerusalemite residents, due to its scale and led to the family setting up tents on the site of their demolished home, living there as an act of protest and to show their lack of options after being made homeless.
Even worse was the demolition of 40 homes in the Jordan Valley area, in early February, leaving 11 Palestinian families homeless. This act had been described as a blatant act of ethnic cleansing and was widely condemned as a violation of international law.
Also in the Gaza Strip, not only has Israel been routinely opening fire upon fishermen, but is also destroying the besieged coastal enclaves remaining agricultural lands. Israel purposefully opened its rainwater floodgates twice this month in order to destroy Palestinian crops and submerge equipment. The destruction caused to the 148 acres East of Gaza City and 24.7 acres in Beit Hanoun, cost 1.5 million US dollars worth of damage.
The Gaza Strip has been declared, by experts at the United Nations, as of last year to be completely unlivable. Gaza’s health care system is overburdened, with little space having existed in the ICU’s prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the territory. Yet, despite the suffering in Gaza, solely caused by Israel’s brutal siege and military operations, Israel had routinely sabotaged the arrival of P.P.E. into Gaza and had stalled the transfer of 2,000 Sputnik Vaccines from reaching the territory. Also, Israel has continued to prevent the transfer of the large majority of Gazans seeking medical aid, entry through Israeli territory in order to get the proper treatment they need.
Joe Biden has refused to call out Israel for denying 5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank access to the vaccine program that Biden proclaims to be so passionate about. This crime under international law, committed by the United State’s top ally, quite literally makes Israel the worst country on earth in terms of its Covid response. Because it has used ethno-religious supremacism in order to exclude Palestinians in the occupied territories and collectively punish them for who they are.
Then there are the Israeli police murders of Palestinians inside of Israel, as well a blatant refusal of the police to crackdown on crime in Palestinian areas. So far this year, Israeli police forces have murdered at least 8 Palestinians with Israeli citizenships, leading to mass protests in Haifa, Jaffa and Nazareth.
Another concerning trend, which has only escalated since Biden came to power, is the Israeli large scale arrest campaign in the West Bank. Since the announcement by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, that Presidential and legislative elections will be held later this year, Israel has cracked down on anyone and everyone who is politically active. The raids have reportedly intensified, specifically targeting members of Palestinian political parties vocal against the occupation.
Many Palestinians have accused Israel of attempting to interfere in the Palestinian democratic process, by arrested top officials from political parties such as Hamas. This being the case, Joe Biden should be addressing the issue, in an immediate attempt to prevent Israel from undermining the elections. But Biden’s administration has refused to criticise this.
The raids have been so intense that a 67 year old woman, Rahmeh Abu Ahour, suffered a heart attack and died, after Israeli forces brutally broke into her home during the early hours of the morning.
Israel’s settlement expansion has also continued, with no comment from the US. Israel has started the construction of the illegal segregated settler road project, known as the ‘Huwara bypass road’. The new settler road, on which Palestinians will not be permitted to drive, will run through Palestinian lands and enable the illegal settlers living nearby the ability to avoid having to drive on the same roads as those they are there to steal the land from.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, sent a message to the US urging them to convince Israel to halt its expansion of its E1 settlement project in East Jerusalem. Shtayyeh warned that this settlement expansion would disconnect Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley and Bethlehem, making a two-State solution even more impossible.
Joe Biden along with his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, have made it abundantly clear that they wish to see a two-State solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, yet they are currently helping Israel work towards the opposite.
England (QNN)- 42 members of UK Parliament have signed a motion condemning Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in Hamsa al-Foqa in the northern Jordan Valley, calling their government to take action to prevent equipment supplied by British companies, including JCB, from operating in Israeli settlements.
Among the signatures are Ali Tahir, Jeremy Corbyn, Tommy Sheppard, Caroline Lucas, Zarah Sultana, and Olivia Blake.
2020 saw the highest level of Palestinian home demolitions in four years, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left over 800 people homeless. I am one of 42 MPs to have signed this important Early Day Motion on the demolition of Palestinian homes.
Many of my constituents have been in touch in the last few days about the appalling scenes in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Hamsa al-Foqa, where peoples homes are being demolished. The international community must step in.
The members said that they “strongly condemns Israel’s destruction of the entire Palestinian village of Khirbet Hamsa al-Foqa.
“The House is appalled that 73 people, including 41 children, have been made homeless in the largest incident of forced displacement in the West Bank for years; notes that 2020 has seen the highest level of Palestinian home demolitions in four years, despite the covid-19 pandemic, which has left over 800 people homeless many of who are children,” the members said.
The members said they are alarmed that the UK-based construction equipment company, JCB, is being used in the demolitions of Paleatinian homes.
“The House is alarmed that JCB equipment is being supplied to Israeli forces for the destruction of Palestinian structures, and that the UN Human Rights Office has listed the British company as sustaining illegal settlements.”
On 28 February 2020, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights listed JCB on its database of companies with a “substantial and material” involvement in settlement activities, finding that “the violations of human rights associated with settlements are devastating and pervasive, reaching every facet of Palestinian life.”
The British members have called on the British Government to “immediately ban all UK trade with illegal Israeli settlements, and take action to prevent equipment supplied by British companies, including JCB, from operating in them.”
The Israeli occupation forces demolished Hamsa al-Bqaia community four times this month under the pretext that the area is designated for training and displaced its community with a plan to relocate them to another area.
On 3 November 2020, in the largest forced displacement incident recorded in recent years, 73 people, including 41 children were displaced. The structures demolished were residential, WASH and livestock related, of which 29 structures had been provided as humanitarian assistance.
On 1 February, Israeli occupation forces confiscated 25 structures in Hamsa al-Bqaia on the alleged basis that they lacked an Israeli building permit for construction in Area C.
On 3 February, Israeli occupation forces returned to seize a further 21 structures. Sixty Palestinians have been uprooted from their homes, including 35 children. Structures demolished included 21 homes, 17 livestock shelters, and 8 water and hygiene facilities.
On 8 February, the Israeli Civil Administration, accompanied by the military, returned to the Palestinian Bedouin community and confiscated or demolished another 16 residential and animal structures. Thirteen were donor-funded and had been provided as a humanitarian response to two incidents on 1 and 3 February.
On 16 February, the occupation forces confiscated five donor-funded livelihood tents, which were being assembled to provide shelter to the community and their livestock.
Since the start of 2021, the Israeli occupation authorities have demolished, seized or forced people to demolish at least 199 Palestinian-owned structures, including 77 donor-funded, displacing 285 people, including some 150 children. This represents an over 200 per cent increase in structures targeted, and an over 500 per cent increase in donor-funded structures targeted, compared to the equivalent period in 2020, according to The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).