Red Cross head says Gaza civilian casualties ‘unacceptable’

Robert Mardini, head of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) Middle East and North Africa operations, speaks at a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on July 27, 2017. [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images]
Robert Mardini, head of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) Middle East and North Africa operations, speaks at a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on July 27, 2017

The Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday that the Palestinian civilian casualties of the latest Israeli offensive against the besieged Gaza Strip are “unacceptable”, Anadolu has reported.

Robert Mardini made his comments shortly after arriving in Gaza as part of a scheduled three-day visit. He will also visit the occupied West Bank and Israel.

“Gaza residents have lived during the 11 days of the aggression a tragedy and difficult times,” he added.

Mardini explained that ICRC staff are “assessing the situation in Gaza and the extent of the destruction, in order to present their observations to the concerned parties.” He did not, however, name those parties.

At least 255 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli offensive which started on 10 May, including 66 children. A further 2,000 people were wounded.

READ: Malaysia calls for donors to support Palestinians in Gaza

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Egypt engineers visit Gaza to help with reconstruction

Head of the Egyptian Intelligence Service Abbas Kamil (R) meets Hamas' Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar (L) in Gaza City, Gaza on 31 May 2021. [Ashraf Amra - Anadolu Agency]
Head of the Egyptian Intelligence Service Abbas Kamil (R) meets Hamas’ Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar (L) in Gaza City, Gaza on 31 May 2021

An Egyptian delegation made up of engineers and technicians were due to enter the besieged Gaza Strip yesterday to assess the extent of damage caused by the recent Israeli aggression as part of reconstruction efforts, Quds Press reported.

The news agency quoted informed sources as saying that four engineers and three Egyptian technicians arrived at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing yesterday, in preparation for crossing into the Gaza Strip, adding that the engineers are due to bring in heavy machinery and equipment, including trucks, to help remove the rubble of destroyed homes.

According to the source, the delegation will focus on Al-Remal neighbourhood west of Gaza City, which witnessed great destruction during the recent aggression on Gaza.

On Monday, the Director of Egyptian Intelligence, General Abbas Kamel, visited the Gaza Strip and met with Hamas leader, Yahya Al-Sinwar.

Kamel visited a proposed site to establish a residential complex in the Al-Zahra area in the central Gaza Strip, with Egyptian funding and supervision, as part of the reconstruction projects.

From 10-21 May, Israel launched a violent war against Gaza killing 255 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounding nearly 2,000 others.

Residential buildings, private homes, schools, health care centresinternational media offices and roads were all targeted in the assault.

EU: Rebuilding Gaza requires unity government, lifting blockade

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Switzerland: Jewish groups fail to get Hamas designated as ‘terrorist’ group

Supporters of Israel stage a protest on June 29, 2015 in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva, during a session of the Human Right Council on the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war. [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]
Supporters of Israel stage a protest on June 29, 2015 in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva, during a session of the Human Right Council on the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war

A number of Jewish community groups in Switzerland have failed to have the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, designated as a “terrorist” organisation, Arabi 21 reported on Wednesday. The latest Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip has apparently reignited the debate in the European country about the movement’s status.

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Platform of Liberal Jews in Switzerland (PLJS) said on 20 May that Hamas is “clearly extremist, terrorist and anti-Semitic.” According to Swissinfo.ch they added that it was unacceptable that “members of Hamas moved around freely, raised funds and conducted business in Switzerland.” The Israeli Embassy in Bern issued similar calls.

Switzerland is a neutral country, with no formal alliances with other states. It is for this reason that it is often used as a mediator in international disputes, and hosts negotiations. Swiss Radio reported that this is why it is not taking a stand on Hamas, as it may be asked to mediate between the Palestinian movement and Israel, for example. “As part of its policy which supports peace in the region, it is important to continue having dialogue with all sides, as well as to continue exerting efforts between Israel and the Palestinians or between the Palestinians themselves, Hamas and Fatah,” it said.

READ: UN orders probe into Israel’s systematic abuses in Palestine

The EU regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation, and so has not played any mediation role. Switzerland is not a member of the bloc.

With Hamas now seen as the strongest Palestinian political party even outside its Gaza stronghold, Swissinfo.ch said that it is “questionable whether banning Hamas would achieve much.” It quoted Middle East expert Erich Gysling as telling Luzerner Zeitung: “Hamas is the winner on the Palestinian side. We have to maintain dialogue with them. Calling them terrorists would not work to anyone’s advantage.”

The Israeli offensive on Gaza killed at least 255 Palestinians, including 66 children, 40 women and 17 elderly people. Thousands more were wounded as homes and civilian infrastructure were destroyed by the eleven-day Israeli bombardment.

(Source / 03.06.2021)

4,650 Palestinian in Israel jails, prisoner group says

Palestinians gather to stage a protest in support of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails during Palestinian Prisoners' Day in Ramallah, West Bank on 18 April 2021. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians gather to stage a protest in support of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails during Palestinian Prisoners’ Day in Ramallah, West Bank on 18 April 2021

Some 4,650 Palestinian prisoners were being held in the Israeli occupation’s jails as of the end of May, Anadolu reported the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPC) saying yesterday.

In a statement, the PPC said that 39 women and 180 minors are among the prisoners, who are enduring harsh conditions in Israeli prisons.

Last month, the Israeli occupation escalated its detention campaigns in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Arab cities in Israel.

This came after occupation forces attacked Muslim worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque and a deadline for the forced eviction of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem to make way for illegal settlers drew closer. Israel then launched an airstrikes campaign against Gaza killing more than 250 people, including 66 children.

In total, Israel killed around 285 Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territories and wounded thousands of others.

READ: Hamas rejects linking reconstruction of Gaza with prisoner swap

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Report: Hamas, Israel getting closer to concluding prisoner swap deal

Palestinians celebrate as they wait for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Rafah, crossing in southern Gaza strip, on December 18, 2011. Israel released 550 Palestinian prisoners to complete a swap deal which brought about the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. [MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinians celebrate as they wait for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Rafah, crossing in southern Gaza strip, on December 18, 2011. Israel released 550 Palestinian prisoners to complete a swap deal which brought about the release of captive soldier 

The chances of a prisoner exchange deal being completed between Israel and Hamas have increased over the past few days, a senior Israeli official said, explaining that Tel Aviv is now waiting for Egyptian mediators to convey Hamas’ offer to conclude the deal.

“The Egyptians are interested in the issue, and they understand that without a solution to the issue of [Israeli] prisoners and missing persons, there will be no reconstruction of the extensive destruction in the Gaza Strip,” Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted the senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying.

“The Egyptian role in achieving a ceasefire made Cairo an asset in the eyes of the US administration of President Joe Biden, who now considers it a key factor in maintaining stability in the region. This is a great achievement for President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi,” the source added.

“Therefore, the Egyptians are determined to reach a deal, and it is expected that they will put an offer on the table in the coming days,” he said.

READ: Hamas rejects linking reconstruction of Gaza with prisoner swap

The newspaper pointed out that Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz “will discuss these issues with his American counterparts during his quick visit to Washington today where he is expected to clarify once again Israel’s insistence on releasing Israelis detained by Hamas”.

The paper said an Israeli security delegation is scheduled to visit Cairo soon to discuss the matter.

It is unclear how many prisoners Hamas will demand in exchange for the four prisoners of war it is said to be holding. However, on Monday, Hamas leader Yahya Al-Sinwar said the movement is ready for “immediate negotiations” to reach a prisoner exchange with Israel.

Following his meeting with Egyptian Intelligence chief, General Abbas Kamel in Gaza, Sinwar told reporters cryptically to “write down the number 1,111.”

“You will recall it well [in the future],” Sinwar said.

Remarking on Sinwar’s hint, the Israeli official told the paper that “the problem is not the number, but the quality. We will not release prisoners with blood on their hands,” referring to Palestinians detained on charges of murder or attempted murder of Israelis.

Israel imprisons more than 4,500 Palestinians, including several hundred accused of murdering or attempting to kill Israelis.

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Palestine: agricultural sector loses $204 million due to Israeli offensive against Gaza

A Palestinian man waves a national flag near the border with Israel, east of Gaza City on 30 March 2021. [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]
A Palestinian man waves a national flag near the border with Israel, east of Gaza City on 30 March 2021

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza said on Wednesday that the total losses suffered by the sector as a result of the recent Israeli military offensive are estimated at $204 million, Anadolu has reported. Farmers, said the ministry, were forcibly displaced by Israel’s indiscriminate bombing which prevented them from reaching and working on their land.

“The losses included the destruction of hundreds of acres of vegetable crops and trees as a result of direct targeting, as well as the disruption of water for irrigation purposes,” the ministry explained. “Livestock owners also incurred losses, as a large number of birds and animals died as a result of the interruption of the supply of animal feed due to the closure of border crossings.”

Access to land as well as the absence of an open market for produce, including export opportunities, was already a major problem due to the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza. The bombardment made it worse. The result is a sharp drop in the prices of many agricultural products, causing losses to farmers.

“There is also an environmental disaster looming in the north of the Gaza Strip, as a result of Israel’s bombing of the warehouses belonging to the supplier of agricultural necessities including fertilisers, pesticides and plastic,” warned officials. They called on international and human rights institutions to take the necessary steps to address this issue and its likely negative effects on human beings, animals, the environment and public health. Compensation should be paid to farmers and other workers in the agricultural sector, they concluded.

READ: Red Cross head says Gaza civilian casualties ‘unacceptable’

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Israeli Ordnance Explodes, Kills Two Palestinians in Gaza

In a press statement, Wednesday, the Ministry of Interior and National Security announced the death of two Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip after an Israeli ordnance exploded in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.

Spokesman for the Ministry in Gaza, Iyyad Al Bizem, stated that the explosive was fired at a resistance site during the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza, it exploded while the men were attempting to defuse it.

The two men killed were identified as, Usama Jineinah and Ahmad Zaki Abu Haseera, members of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas government

Quds News Network added that several others were injured from the explosion, no further details were available at the time of this report.

On May 10, the occupation army began another military assault on the tiny coastal enclave, which is home to 2 million Palestinians, living under an inhumane blockade by the Israeli occupation authorities.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet242 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Security Forces (the ISF) in strikes on Gaza, including 63 children. Thousands of others have been injured while it is estimated that over 74,000 Palestinians have been displaced. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, 28 Palestinians, including five children, were killed as of 24 May.

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Israeli Troops Abduct 14-Year Old Girl for Flying Palestinian Flag

In the embattled neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Thursday, Israeli military police for the city of Jerusalem snatched a 14-year old girl for the alleged ‘crime’ of flying a Palestinian flag. This comes just days after the Israeli military police in Jerusalem beat and arrested another child for allegedly mounting the Palestinian flag on his bicycle.

According to local sources, the child, identified as 14-year-old Nafth Hammad, was part of a recreational program for children in the neighborhood.

When Israeli militarized police arrived to break up the activity, the girl reportedly held a Palestinian flag, which infurited the soldiers and led to them assaulting and arresting her.

She was taken to the Israeli police station on Salah El-Din Street in Jerusalem for interrogation. Her parents were not informed, and she was not given access to legal counsel.

(Source / 03.06.2021)

Over 770 violations against Palestinian content on May, says NGO

Sada Social Center, a Palestinian digital rights organisation specializes in protecting Palestinian narratives on social media platforms, documented more than 770 violations against Palestinian content during May 2021.

Sada Social said that this number is the highest percentage documented by the center in years, and it was noteworthy that these violations were distributed among the majority of global social media platforms.

The Center also launched legal action against Facebook in London in cooperation with Palestinian news networks, accounts, and an international law firm.

Meanwhile, the center has sent a letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression about these violations.

The rate of violations against Palestinian content increased remarkably and escalated with the beginning of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood uprising, events of occupied Jerusalem, and the Israeli aggression on Gaza, with an unprecedented rise in the requests of the Israeli occupation to social media platforms to restrict Palestinian content, said the center.

Sada Social Center team documented more than 770 violations during May, as Facebook topped the list with 350 violations, followed by Twitter with 250 violations, Instagram with 100 violations, TikTok with 50 violations, WhatsApp 20, and 10 violations on YouTube.

These violations also varied between the complete ban and suspension of some features, the complete closure of accounts or pages, or the restriction of publications and lowering reach levels.

It was remarkable that Instagram application, during the top of international solidarity with the issue of expulsion of the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood from their homes, restricted the account of Mona al-Kurd, a media activist and a resident of the neighborhood, as well as blocking and restricting access to the Al-Aqsa hashtag, which was one of the most popular during the escalation period in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy month of Ramadan.

In addition, the application deleted publications and stories, restricted accounts, and banned live broadcasts for a number of Palestinian journalists and activists, in conjunction with the intensity of publishing to follow up on-field events and the Israeli occupation’s assault on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and the aggression on Gaza.

As for YouTube, it restricted access to the live broadcast of Al-Jazeera during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, while it deleted various clips and media materials that were published on different Palestinian channels.

Besides, Turkish and Arab users documented that the automatic version of the language translation on YouTube translated the word (Palestinians) into (Terrorists) for a video from a Turkish media platform.

Twitter violations came in deletion of hundreds of Palestinian and Arab accounts after tweeting and posting solidarity content with ongoing Palestinian matters, and the most prominent of which was the limitation of hashtags and posts published about the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, and others about the crimes of the occupation and the Palestinian narrative in Gaza.

Furthermore, Tik Tok application deleted many accounts of Palestinian and Arab journalists and media organizations, foremost of which are the accounts of the Quds Network and Safa Agency, just hours after the Israeli Minister of Justice, Benny Gates, met with the application’s administration staff.

The center denounced the social media’s neglect of Israeli settlers’ calls to burn children and rape Palestinian women, considering it a new conspiracy and a severe blow to Palestinian people.

In the context of protecting and promoting Palestinian content, the Center, along with some specialists in social media and modern media, launched the “Unified Room for Palestinian Digital Activities” initiative, to unify digital efforts in Palestine and direct these efforts and activities to effective and efficient mechanisms and ways to deal with current events on the Palestinian arena.

The Center contributed to the restoration of a number of Palestinian accounts on Facebook and Instagram, including the account of activist Mona al-Kurd on Instagram, and Azmi Bishara’s Facebook page.

The center also recovered more than 130 Twitter accounts that were suspended due to the recent events in Jerusalem and Gaza.

Within the framework of cooperation with official institutions, the Center met with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to follow up on the human rights complaint that the Center sent to Facebook about the arbitrary censorship of Palestinian digital content.

The center’s team also participated in dozens of press and media interviews, the most important of which were the Washington Post, TRT, Al-Mayadeen, Al-Araby, and Al-Jazeera Net.

The Center discussed with the Palestinian ambassador in London, Husam Zomlot, the message he received as an official apology from Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and a statement of good intentions to correct errors and respect Palestinian content and the right of expression through social networking sites.

The center also participated in the popular campaign of reducing the evaluation of Facebook application through the “Google Play” and “App Store”, which led to Facebook’s request from the “App Store” to remove the negative comments.

It is noteworthy that Sada Social Center is a voluntary youth initiative launched in 2017 to protect Palestinian digital content.

(Source / 03.06.2021)

European countries’ opposition to investigate Israeli violations “obstructs justice”

Smoke billows after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City targeted the Ansar compound, linked to the Hamas movement, in the Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021. – Israel pounded Gaza and deployed extra troops to the border as Palestinians fired barrages of rockets back, with the death toll in the enclave on the fourth day of conflict climbing to over 100

Geneva (QNN)- Three European countries have voted against the Human Rights Council’s decision to establish a broad, international investigation into violations surrounding Israel’s latest aggression on the Gaza Strip and “systematic” abuses in the Palestinian territories and inside the occupied territories.

Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement that such an attitude would undermine efforts aiming to bring accountability and achieve justice.

Image

Euro-Med Monitor has sent written letters to foreign ministers in Germany, Britain, and Austria, expressing deep concern over their votes against forming an investigation committee.

Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor Ramy Abdu said in the letter that “we find it disappointing that multiple European council members either abstained or voted against an impartial effort towards transparency and accountability”.

The letter said that the international investigation is paramount to creating an authoritative account of potentially grave violations committed by both sides during the last round of violence while also highlighting the factors that made this scrouge of violence possible to begin within the Palestinian territories.

Abdu clarified that the recent Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip caused severe losses to lives and civilian properties and urges everyone, especially the European countries, to push towards accountability for those responsible for these human rights violations. And to take further steps to prevent t such infringements from reoccurring in the future.

On Thursday, the Human Rights Council approved, with 24 votes in favour, nine votes against and 14 abstentions, to establish an investigation commission to probe Israel’s human rights violations since April and investigate the root causes of the tensions.

“Such crucial investigation will essentially depend on the cooperation of all concerned parties,” Abdu added.

“While Palestinians have shown consistent cooperation with fact-finding missions, Israel has unfortunately denied access to UN investigations, including the UN Special Rapporteur regarding the situation in the Occupied Territories”.

Abdu stressed that European countries bear a substantial moral and political responsibility to pressure Israel to cooperate with this investigation if they genuinely want a law-based international order.

“It is paramount that European states of central importance […] facilitate rather than obstruct efforts towards accountability and transparency, which are the two key values to European principles,” he said.

Euro-Med Monitor’s chairman warned that the position of European countries opposing the decision to form the investigation committee threatens to undermine its – and Europe’s – international credibility.

He concluded the letter by wondering, “How would one expect the world to respect Europe’s call for a rule-based international order when Europe is aiding and abetting Israel’s government to flout such orders with impunity amid lack of transparency?”

Israel launched an 11-day aggression on the Gaza Strip, killing 254 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women; the aggression started on May 10 and ended on May 21.

Euro-Med Monitor published a report at the end of May entitled “Inescapable Hell”, documenting the Israeli forces’ violations of the rules of international humanitarian law during its military attack on the Gaza Strip.

The report called on the International Criminal Court to hold Israeli officials and forces accountable and not allow them to enjoy impunity.

(Source / 03.06.2021)