Palestine tourism revenue continues to fall

A tourist takes a 'selfie' against a view of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint Sabbas (Mar Saba), overlooking the Kidron valley, south of the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem, on March 6, 2021 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
A tourist takes a ‘selfie’ against a view of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint Sabbas (Mar Saba), overlooking the Kidron valley, south of the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem, on March 6, 2021

Palestine’s tourism revenue has continued to fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials have confirmed. There was an estimated loss of $1.5 billion last year, they added on World Tourism Day.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry has been huge with mandatory closures imposed upon hotels, tour operators, tourist sites, facilities, and restaurants. More than 30,000 workers within the industry have been affected directly.

The number of hotel guests during the first half of 2021 in the West Bank was 58,765, of whom more than 77 per cent were Palestinian citizens of Israel; 22.5 per cent were local residents and visitors, but only 0.3 per cent were visitors from abroad. There were no hotel guests recorded in Bethlehem during this period, making it the most affected location nationwide, said the official report.

However, tourist sites in the occupied West Bank witnessed a slight improvement in the number of local visitors, at 880,000. This was an increase of 48 per cent during the first half of 2021, compared with the same period last year.

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Moreover, Jericho and Al-Aghwar Governorate witnessed a record increase of 72 per cent in hotel guests during 2021 so far. In previous years, they had not gone above seven per cent of the total number of hotel guests in the West Bank.

The tourism sector, especially religious tourism, has always been vital to the Palestinian economy and has attracted substantial investment. It makes an important contribution to Palestine’s GDP but has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

(Source / 28.09.2021)

Support rising for journalist sacked for joining pro-Palestine protest in Germany

Nemi El-Hassan [@Nemi_Elh/Twitter]
Nemi El-Hassan

Nearly 400 journalists, academics, and cultural figures signed a letter of solidarity with journalist Nemi El-Hassan, after she was axed by Germany’s WDR channel for attending a Palestinian solidarity demonstration in 2014.

Twenty-eight-year-old El-Hassan attended the Al-Quds march in solidarity with Palestinians in 2014, when she was 20 years old.

After a photo emerged of her attending the demonstration, published by right-wing German publication Bild, Germany’s WDR channel quickly axed her from a science show known as ‘Quarks’, a role she was supposed to take up later this year.

Bild, which described the Palestine solidarity march as an ‘anti-Israel hate march‘, reported the story as an ‘Islamism scandal’, and the editor-in-chief questioned her scientific capabilities and knowledge live on TV, citing her religion as a reason.

El-Hassan was quick to express regret for attending the rally and condemned any anti-Semitic behaviour at the demonstration.

The letter, titled ‘Solidarity with Nemi El-Hassan’, expressed its shock at the attack on her personality, and was signed by prominent Jewish personalities including US-born Deborah Feldman, famous for her book ‘Unorthodox’, which was turned into an award-winning Netflix miniseries, Jewish journalist Fabian Wolff, and Israeli journalist Edo Konrad. In total 385 people backed the letter.

The letter states the entire debate had lost “all sense of proportion”, and said El-Hassan had been targeted for her Muslim identity and Palestinian roots.

READ: Times columnist suggests Young Labour supports ‘second Holocaust’ over criticism of Israel

“Since it became known that the doctor and award-winning journalist Nemi El-Hassan was to take over the moderation of the science program “Quarks” on WDR, her person and her past have been criticized. We are appalled by the defamatory and denunciating way in which this discussion is being conducted.”

“In a statement and in an interview, Nemi El-Hassan clearly admitted the mistakes of her past. She has problematised them, distanced herself from them, apologised, and credibly explained her change. As a journalist, she has been campaigning against anti-Semitism and racism for years.”

It continued: “The racist undertones of this campaign are also evident in the fact that photos are constantly being used for the illustrations that show Nemi El-Hassan with a headscarf, although she has not been wearing it for a long time. Such images, which link the headscarf to the accusation of Islamism, serve prejudices and fears of Islamisation and infiltration of society by Muslims, which have been fomented by right-wing populists for many years.”

In a statement on its website, WDR said it “does not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism and condemns the Al-Quds marches and the positions represented there in the strongest possible terms.”

It added: “The WDR will suspend the planned start of Quarks presented by Nemi El-Hassan for the time being. The allegations against them weigh heavily. But it is also difficult to deny a young journalist professional development. Careful examination is therefore required.”

(Source / 28.09.2021)

Gaza demolishing high rise building bombed by Israel

Palestinian men remove salvageable items from the bombarded Al-Jawhara Tower in Gaza City's Rimal neighbourhood on May 17, 2021 [ANAS BABA/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinian men remove salvageable items from the bombarded Al-Jawhara Tower in Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood on May 17, 2021 

In cooperation with the UNDP, the Palestinian Ministry of Works has started work to demolish Al-Jawhara Tower which was repeatedly bombed by Israeli occupation forces during the latest offensive on Gaza in May, Anadolu reported yesterday.

Al-Jawhara is a nine-story building located in the centre of Gaza City, which housed businesses and local and international media agencies.

Israeli warplanes bombed it several times but it remained standing until the end of the Israeli offensive which lasted between 11-21 May.

Engineers have, however, concluded that it must now be demolished.

The Palestinian Ministry of Works said that the demolition and removal of rubble would last three months.

READ: Israel attacks on high rises in Gaza violated international laws of war

“The Israeli military’s airstrikes that destroyed four high-rise buildings in Gaza City during the May 2021 fighting apparently violated the laws of war and may amount to war crimes,” Human Rights Watch said in a report issued following the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

“The attacks also damaged neighboring structures, made several dozen families homeless, and shuttered scores of businesses that provided livelihoods to many people,” the report added.

Gaza has been under a strict Israeli siege since 2007. “The Israeli closure, along with Egyptian border restrictions, has devastated Gaza’s economy,” HRW said, adding: “Eighty percent of Gaza’s people rely on humanitarian aid and more than half live below the poverty line.”

Israel killed at least 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, 39 women, and 17 elderly people during the bombardment. More than 1,900 were wounded, including 380 children, 540 women, and 91 elderly
MEMO #Infographic

(Source / 28.09.2021)

PA arrests key witness in Nizar Banat murder case

Palestinian activist Nizar Banat [@KhaledAbuToameh/Twitter]
Palestinian activist Nizar Banat

The Palestinian Authority security services arrested on Monday the key witness in the Nizar Banat murder case, local sources have revealed. Banat, a harsh critic of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, was killed by PA security officers in June.

“My brother, Hussein Banat, the cousin of Nizar Banat, was arrested today,” Ammar Banat wrote on Twitter. “Hussein is one of the key eyewitnesses of the murder of Nizar.” He pointed out that the PA security services raided the areas where Nizar’s relatives live and broke into their homes.

Nizar Banat was well-known for his criticism of Palestinian politics on social media. In his videos, he criticised Abbas and other senior PA officials regularly for corruption and their security cooperation with the Israeli occupation authorities. His killing attracted international condemnation and sparked rare protests against the PA leadership by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

READ: Nizar Banat’s family says won’t attend ‘incomplete’ trial

Hussein Banat, Nizar’s cousin, was one of two witnesses to the raid that ended with his killing. His testimony is central to the charges against the PA officers, whose trial opened on Monday. Local sources told Al-Maydan News Agency that Hussein “was beaten unconscious, and he was left without medical care.”

The sources added that the PA Protective Security agents asked Hussein “to deny that he saw Colonel Aziz Tamizi, the commander of the mission when Banat was murdered, putting gas into his cousin’s mouth, and deny that he heard him ordering other security officers to complete the mission.”

A Hebrew source confirmed to MEMO on Tuesday morning the information mentioned in this report.

Palestinians must ensure that Nizar Banat did not die in vain - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
Palestinians must ensure that Nizar Banat did not die in vain – Cartoon

(Source / 28.09.2021)

Barghouti: PA has no authority

Imprisoned senior Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti
Imprisoned senior Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, 25 April 2017 

Imprisoned member of Fatah Central Committee, Marwan Barghouti, has said: “the Palestinian Authority (PA) has no authority” adding that the Battle for Jerusalem “revealed the inability and fragility” of the Palestinian political system, Sama news agency reported yesterday.

Barghouti also said that the PA “has allowed the Israeli occupation to cost nothing,” noting that the occupation “is practicing ethnic cleansing and much aggression on the Palestinians.”

The main current in the PLO, he explained, “has agreed on less than the minimum demands” needed to make peace with the Israeli occupation.

Immigration, settlement, building up force, and strong international allies “are the backbone of the Israeli occupation,” Barghouti explained, noting that 32,000 Jews immigrate to Israel annually and the number of Israeli Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank has increased by 200,000 in the last ten years.

READ: 80% of Palestinians call for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resign

Meanwhile, Israel has been building up its military power and it is making alliances with Russia, China, and India, in addition to its alliance with the US. At the same time, the occupation state has been seeking to become a central state in the region, one which nearby countries have been seeking to forge alliances with, he explained.

The recent Battle for Jerusalem, which took place across the occupied territories and within Israel in May, “is proof that the Palestinians will not give up fighting for their rights despite their sufferings and pains,” Barghouti said.

It also “revealed the inability and fragility of the Palestinian political system and proved that we need to produce a new alternative leadership through general elections.”

(Source / 28.09.2021)

PA welcomes UK Labour Party’s motion on Israeli ‘apartheid’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Palestinian leadership at the presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 6, 2019. - Abbas said he would discuss plans for new parliamentary elections with all factions, including longterm rivals Hamas, and renewed a pledge to hold the first elections since 2006, but without giving a timeframe. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP) (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 6 October 2019

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the passing of a motion at the UK Labour Party conference on Monday that recognised Israel as an “apartheid” state and called for sanctions against it, as well as the immediate recognition of Palestine, Wafa news agency has reported.

Abbas said that the motion sends a strong message to the Israeli government that the world no longer accepts the continuation of its occupation. Measures must eventually follow to corner, isolate and impose sanctions on the occupation state.

During the conference in Brighton, the Labour Party condemned “the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarised violence attacking Al Aqsa Mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza.” It also noted “the 2021 reports by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch that conclude unequivocally that Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.”

Labour Party delegates voted for an ethical trade policy and an end to the arms trade with Israel and “effective measures” including sanctions to counter Israeli violations of international law, such as settlement construction and the blockade of Gaza.

Abbas stressed that such a motion is a message of hope and support for the Palestinian people, which affirms that, however long the occupation may last, it is coming to an end. The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, and the Palestinian Mission to the UK also both welcomed the motion.

The current Labour leadership under Sir Keir Starmer, however, is likely to ignore the motion. His wife comes from a Jewish family and has relatives in Tel Aviv, reported the Times of Israel last year. “I support Zionism without qualification,” insisted Starmer.

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(Source / 28.09.2021)

Palestinian economy crippled by virus, Israeli occupation in 2020: UN

Palestinian citizens wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19) at public places in Bethlehem, West Bank on 5 March, 2020 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian citizens wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19) at public places in Bethlehem, West Bank on 5 March, 2020

The year 2020 was the worst for the Palestinian Authority (PA) since its establishment in 1994 due to the Israeli occupation and the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said yesterday.

UNCTAD said in its annual report that the PA’s economic decline in 2020 was a continuation of its already bad economic conditions in 2019.

It blamed the COVID-19 and measures taken by the Israeli occupation for the economic downturn across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Palestine has been hit by COVID-19 in March 2020, forcing the PA to impose a lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of the pandemic.

The report said despite the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli occupation was the main obstacle to Palestinian development.

UNCTAD noted that more than 66,000 Palestinians lost their jobs and the unemployment rate soared to 26 per cent.

It said before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Palestinian economy was suffering disintegration and instability, amid economic and political deterioration due to the loss of natural resources to Israeli settlements built on Palestinian lands.

UNCTAD said the Palestinian economy in 2020 shrank by 11.5 per cent, which constituted the second-biggest decline since the PA establishment.

READ: Palestine tourism revenue continues to fall

(Source / 28.09.2021)

Israeli Colonizers Attack Family, Injure One, Near Hebron

Israeli colonizers attacked, Tuesday, a Palestinian family on their lands in Lasefer village, in Masafer Yatta, souther of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, wounding one.

Media sources said the family’s land is isolated behind the illegal Annexation Wall,  and a week ago, they were able to enter it and work on it after receiving a permit from the Israeli army.

They added that the Palestinians, from Abu Qbeita local family, were working on their lands before several Israeli colonizers assaulted them, wounding Othman Qbeita, who was rushed to a hospital.Video Player00:0000:18

After the attack, the Israeli army declared the lands a closed military zone, preventing the Palestinians from entering for 24 hours.

It is worth mentioning that, a day earlier, the colonizers attacked several members of the family in front of their homes.

The family was denied access to lands for more than four years and was eventually granted a permit to enter certain parts of the lands, a week ago, after extended court hearings and motions.

The village is completely isolated by the illegal Annexation Wall, which also led to the annexation of the villagers’ lands; the Palestinians in the village also cannot leave without crossing a military roadblock in a section of the Wall.

The villagers are subject to frequent assaults and violations by the colonizers who also constantly attack the shepherds and prevent them from entering grazing areas.

In related news, Israeli soldiers shot two young Palestinian men with live fire, and abducted a former political prisoner, in Qabatia and Kafr Ra’ey, near Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

(Source / 28.09.2021)

Israeli Soldiers Injure A Journalist Near Ramallah

Israeli soldiers attacked, Monday, Palestinian protesters at the northern entrance of the al-Biereh city, in central West Bank, causing several injuries, including a photojournalist.

Medical sources said the soldiers shot the photojournalist, identified as Yousef Shehada, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the leg.

They added that several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation before receiving the needed treatment.

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers deliberately targeted Palestinian journalists to force them away.Video Player

(Source / 28.09.2021)

Israeli Colonizer Opens Fire At Students In Jerusalem, Soldiers Abduct One

A paramilitary Israeli colonizer opened fire, Monday, at Palestinian students in Ras al-Amoud in occupied Jerusalem, before the soldiers attacked them and abducted one.

Eyewitnesses said the students were leaving their school in the Schools Street in Ras al-Amoud when the colonizer opened fire at them.

They added that the attack did not lead to physical injuries, but caused some of them to suffer anxiety attacks.

Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene, and instead of arresting the colonizer, they abducted one student and briefly detained another.

Earlier Monday, hundreds of colonizers, accompanied by dozens of soldiers and police officers, stormed the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, while the soldiers imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers trying to enter the holy site.

In Hebron, in the southern West Bank, Israeli colonizes attacked Palestinian shepherds on their lands near Lasefer village, in Masafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and forced them away.

(Source / 28.09.2021)