OCHA: Israel must stop daily pressure to deport Palestinians from Masafer Yatta

An aerial view of a settlement as Masafer Yatta communities living in caves and makeshift buildings determined to remain in their land despite the Israeli court’s decision allowing the forced eviction, south of Hebron in West Bank on May 7, 2022

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory has called on Israel to stop demolitions, military activities and other increasingly coercive measures in Masafer Yatta and allow Palestinian residents to remain in their homes in safety and dignity.

“Pressure on the communities of Masafer Yatta in the West Bank to leave their homes has been mounting since 4 May when the Israeli High Court sanctioned their planned expulsion to make way for military training,” said Yevonne Helle, the acting humanitarian coordinator.

“The humanitarian community stands ready to provide assistance to the people of Masafer Yatta. But ultimately, the authorities must fulfil their obligations to protect them in accordance with international law,” she added.

“Over the past weeks, dozens of people have had their homes demolished in Khirbet Al Fakhiet and Mirkez, in some cases for the third time in less than a year. In Khirbet at Tabban and Khallet Athaba’, new demolition orders have been issued in the past two weeks. Most recently, a military exercise was launched close to residential areas. They are frightened,” she added.

Masafer Yatta is home to 1,144 people, including 569 children. In addition to the immediate impact of any demolitions on lives and livelihoods, these measures could amount to human rights violations including forced evictions, exposing people to the risk of forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to the same source.

READ: EU official confirms release of aid for Palestine

(Source / 24.06.2022)

‘Israel’ hands over body of Palestinian martyr killed by IOF while heading to workplace

Picture of Nabil Ahmad Ghanem, a 53-year-old Palestinian man who was shot dead by Israeli gunfire near the apartheid wall on June 19, 2022 while he was heading to his workplace

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Israeli occupation authorities on Thursday handed over the body of Palestinian martyr Nabil Ghanem who was shot dead by Israeli gunfire while heading to his workplace few days ago.

On June 19, Nabil Ghanem, a resident of Nablus, was shot dead by Israeli forces while he was heading to his workplace inside the 1948-occupied territories. He was killed near the apaetheid wall, south of the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilia.

The body of the 53-year-old slain worker was handed over to the Red Crescent yesterday at Huwwara checkpoint, south of Nablus, before it was handed over to his family for burial.

For families, Israel’s practice of withholding their sons’ bodies amounts to collective punishment in violation of international humanitarian law.

Since 1967, ‘Israel’ had also established cemeteries of numbers in closed military zones where it held the bodies of Palestinians and Arabs who were killed during the war or the struggle against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, eastern part of Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

Israel is still withholding the bodies of 104 Palestinian martyrs killed by its forces since 2015, including the bodies of nine detainees, according to the Palestinian Commission of Detainees.

Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, says “the withholding of Palestinian bodies is a standard practice long used by Israel which violates its obligations as an Occupying Power under international law. Customary international humanitarian law stipulates that parties to an armed conflict must respect the dead who “must be disposed of in a respectful manner.” It further obliges parties to the conflict to return the remains and personal effects of the dead to their families. In addition, Article 17 of the Second Geneva Convention requires that the deceased must be held in accordance with the religious rites that they belong to.”

(Source / 24.06.2022)

Updated: Israeli Soldiers Injure 82 Palestinians, Including A Medic, Near Nablus

On Friday, Israeli soldiers injured eighty-two Palestinians, including a medic, in Beit Dajan, Beita, Qaryout, and Burin, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Ahmad Jibril, the head of the Emergency Department at the Nablus office of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), said the soldiers shot a medic of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society with a gas bomb in the face in Beit Dajan.

He added that fourteen Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, and one sustained cuts and bruises.

In Sbeih Mountain in Beita town, the soldiers caused at least four Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

The medics also provided treatment to an international peace activist after the army attacked nonviolent protesters in Burin town.

In addition, at least sixty-one Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation in Qaryout village.

Updated From:
Soldiers Injure Many Palestinians, Including A Medics, Near Nablus
Jun 24, 2022 at 15:35 

On Friday, Israeli soldiers injured many Palestinians in Qaryout and Beit Dajan, south and east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after the army attacked the weekly procession against the ongoing occupation and the illegal colonialist activities.

In Qaryout, the soldiers attacked the nonviolent protesters with gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Illegal Israeli colonizers also attacked the Palestinians in the village, especially when the colonizers invaded the water springs area, while the army fired gas bombs at the residents who intercepted the attack.

The colonizers have constantly been invading Qaryout’s lands, especially the area of its two historic water springs, to occupy them and prevent the Palestinians from using them.

In related news, the colonizers and many soldiers invaded the water springs area in the al-Bathan village, northeast of Nablus.

(Source / 24.06.2022)

Israel Reneges On Agreement To Release Administrative Detainee

Just two days after suspending his hunger strike that lasted for 111 days, Israeli reneged on an agreement to release a Palestinian Administrative Detainee, held without charges or trial, and renewed his detention for four more months.

The Palestinian Prisoner’ Society (PPS) said the new four-month detention order was issued two days after the detainee Khalil Awawda, 40, suspended his strike and just three days before his current order expires.

The PPS said the detainee held a hunger strike for 111 days and suffered serious health complications, and only ended the strike after an understanding for his release was reached; however, the Israeli Prison Authority decided to impose a new four-month order.

The PPS added that Awawda, a married father of four children from the Ethna town, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, only suspended his strike after the understating was reached and he was assured he wouldn’t be facing new detention orders; however, Israel reneged on the agreement.

(Source / 24.06.2022)

Soldiers Shoot A Palestinian In Jenin

On Friday dawn, Israeli soldiers shot one Palestinian and caused several others to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation in Qabatia town and Mothallath ash-Shuhada village, south of Jenin, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Media sources said several army jeeps invaded Qabatia and Mothallath ash-Shuhada, leading to protests before the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs.

They added that the soldiers shot a young man with a live round in the abdomen, causing a moderate injury before the medics rushed him to a hospital in Jenin.

The medics also treated many Palestinians who suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

(Source / 24.06.2022)

WAFA: “Israeli Colonizers Hoist Israel Flag Atop Mosque In Bethlehem”

BETHLEHEM, Friday, June 24, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli colonizers Friday dawn hoisted the flag of Israel atop a mosque in Kisan village, east of Bethlehem city, according to local sources.

Ahmad Ghazal said that a group of colonizers sneaked their way into the southern West Bank village, vandalized the main entrance of a local mosque, and attempted to break inside, but could not do so.

The vandals, Ghazal added, ascended to the mosque roof, and hoisted a flag of Israel.

Located 11 kilometers to the south of Bethlehem city, Kisan has a population of some 600 and occupies a total area of 133,330 dunams.

Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement made 25 years ago that was supposed to last just five years toward a self-governing country alongside Israel, the Palestinian Authority was given limited control over a tiny pocket of land occupying 112 dunams, accounting for less than 1 percent of the village’s total area.  Israel maintains control over 108,952, classified as Area C, accounting for 81.7 percent. The remaining part of 24,266 dunams, accounting for 18 percent, is classified as a nature reserve.

Israel has established three colonial settlements, namely Ma‘ale Amos and Mizpe Shalem besides to the settlement outpost of Ibei Hanahal on lands confiscated from the village. It has confiscated further land for the construction of settler-only by-pass road no. 901 and road no. 3698, which extends for 16.1 kilometers on the village land.

Israel has constructed a section of the apartheid wall, confiscating, and isolating some 87,344 dunams of fertile land, accounting for 65.5 percent of the village total area, for colonial settlement activities and pushing the villagers into a crowded enclave, a ghetto, surrounded by walls, colonies, and military installations.

(Source / 24.06.2022)

Israel convicts World Vision official despite evidence he’s innocent

Israel found Mohammed El Halabi guilty of diverting $50 million from World Vision charity, ignoring compelling facts: the total budget for 10 years was under $23 million; El Halabi’s alleged ‘confession’ was directed by Israeli authorities; independent audits showed Israeli charges were unfounded; and both the Australian government (a major donor to World Vision) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) conducted special reviews and found no wrongdoing.

In violation of international law, Israel kept Mohammed El Halabi in prison for weeks before he was allowed access to an attorney, and before informing his family of his whereabouts. He reported that his Israeli interrogators beat him – the UN says his treatment “may amount to torture.” 
Israel’s reliance on highly questionable “secret evidence” to convict El Halabi (and thousands of other Palestinians) indicates a deeply flawed judicial system.

By Kathryn Shihadah

An Israeli court last week declared a Gaza man guilty of diverting charitable donations away from needy children to fund a “terror group.”

Even a brief examination of this case reveals a clear miscarriage of justice on the part of Israel – and exemplifies the oppression that has plagued the Palestinian people for years.

6 years of chasing clearly bogus accusations

Mohammed El Halabi, United Nations Humanitarian Hero and head of the US-based World Vision (WV) office in Gaza, has been in prison since 2016 – until last week unconvicted. He was charged with funneling $50 million in donations away from the charity.

Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision, called the charge “profoundly incomprehensible,” given that “our total budget in Gaza for 10 years was only $22.5 million.”

El Halabi had been managing Gaza operations for less than two years before his arrest.

In addition to embezzlement, he was also accused of redirecting thousands of tons of iron to Hamas – iron which World Vision had allegedly imported through the Kerem Shalom crossing for construction projects.

Once again, the organization explained that it neither uses the Kerem Shalom crossing nor imports iron into Gaza.

In fact, according to his attorney, El Halabi actively rejected WV requests to import items that could fall into Hamas’ hands. (The designation of Hamas as a “terror organization” is a matter of opinion.)

Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision's area development programme manager, 8 August 2016
Mohammed El Halabi, World Vision’s area development program manager, 8 August 2016

Favoring a 3rd party “confession” over the defendant’s testimony

Israeli authorities allege that Mohammed El Halabi made a confession which, according to the Guardian, “was based on notes made by an investigator, who talked to another prisoner who heard it.”

The Times of Israel adds that El Halabi’s “confession was coerced by an informant who “faked and distorted key details.”

When El Halabi explained the circumstances of the “confession” and disavowed it, judges rejected his testimony as not credible.

The subsequent verdict was based heavily on the sham confession, which Justice Natan Zlotchover described as “detailed, coherent, with signs of truthfulness.”

Believing nonexistent “evidence” rather than trustworthy sources

Regarding World Vision’s argument that the alleged amount of the embezzled funds is outside the scope of reality, the Israeli justices claimed that the exact figures were irrelevant: “There is no need to make accurate calculations…Evidence for the transfer of significant sums suffices” – evidence that is “secret.”

In addition to regular audits by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Australian government, World Vision ordered a major law firm to conduct an investigation into the charges against El Halabi. The Washington Post recently reported,

A team of around a dozen lawyers, including several former assistant U.S. attorneys, reviewed nearly 300,000 emails and conducted over 180 interviews. Forensic auditors scoured nearly every financial transaction at World Vision from 2010 until 2016.

In July 2017, they submitted an over 400-page report of their findings to World Vision…the report found no evidence that El Halabi was affiliated with Hamas or had diverted any funds.

The Australian government, a major donor to World Vision, also conducted a special review and found no wrongdoing; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reached the same conclusion.

In spite of these consistently exemplary reports, the Israeli court remained unconvinced.

Israeli torture & other failures of due process

In violation of international law, Israel kept Mohammed El Halabi in prison for weeks before he was allowed access to an attorney, and before informing his family of his whereabouts. He reported that his Israeli interrogators beat him – the UN says his treatment “may amount to torture.”

When his attorney was brought in, his access to Israel’s supposed evidence was severely restricted.

As the judicial process dragged on for 6 years, El Halabi’s wife and 5 young children only rarely got to visit him in prison (read more about Administrative Detention here). He attended over 160 court sessions.

According to his attorney, the Israeli court system has refused to provide El Halabi with qualified translators, impairing his ability to respond effectively to questioning.

Representatives from the UN, World Vision, and other groups, concerned about the legitimacy of his trial, have tried to observe court proceedings or view trial documents, but were routinely blocked by Israel.

Speaking to DAWN, Democracy for the Arab World Now (co-founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi), Mohammed El Halabi’s attorney revealed how uncooperative Israeli officials were about witnesses for the defense:

They said, “If you bring witnesses from Gaza, we will arrest them.” We said, okay, no problem.

The witnesses agreed to be arrested because they said the allegations are nonsense, so we brought them, they testified, and they contradicted every allegation in the charge sheet.

They couldn’t address the evidence because the state doesn’t have any evidence; they could only dispute the allegations in the charge sheet.

In an interview for Mondoweiss, El Halabi described the court evidence as “fabricated” by the collaborator, who is a convicted criminal and forgery specialist.

A number of human rights organizations have called for El Halabi’s release, citing Israel’s improper handling of the case. Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch stated,

It makes a mockery of due process and the most basic fair trial notions to hold someone for nearly six years in pretrial detention based largely on secret evidence.

A left-wing activist holds a placard outside an Israeli court during the trial of Palestinian Mohammed Halabi, the Gaza director of World Vision, a major US-based Christian NGO, in Beersheva on June 15, 2022.
An activist holds a placard outside an Israeli court during the trial of Palestinian Mohammed Halabi, the Gaza director of World Vision, a major US-based Christian NGO, in Beersheva on June 15, 2022

Israel claims to “care about Gaza’s children” while keeping WV funding on hold for 6 years

When Mohammed El Halabi was arrested in 2016, World Vision suspended its Gaza operations, halting the distribution of medical supplies, food aid, and psychosocial support for 40,000 children. The charity remains shuttered in Gaza today.

According to Save the Children, 4 out of 5 children in Gaza struggle with depression, grief, and fear.

In 2016, when El Halabi was arrested, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked,

Let that sink in. [Through El Halabi] Hamas stole critical support for Palestinian children so that they could kill our [Jewish] children. So I ask you – who cares more about Palestinians?”

The same Israel that “cares” about Palestinian children, has killed over 2,300 of them since 2000; Palestinians have killed 137 Israeli children in the same time period. Israel has kept Gaza under a brutal blockade for 15 years, bombed children’s hospitals and schools, prevented children with cancer from getting the help they needed, poisons their water, and more.

Israel claims to support the work of aid organizations like World Vision – but the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a direct result of Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Israel recently outlawed 6 excellent Palestinian human rights orgs, claiming they have ties to terrorism – a move that – like the El Halabi case – was baseless and drew swift condemnation from around the globe.

So many secrets

Much of the evidence on which Mohammed El Halabi was indicted is “classified”; much of the proceedings were closed.

When a colleague of El Halabi was called to testify, Israel denied him permission to cross the border from Gaza to appear in court.

Even the text of the verdict – 254 pages long – is classified.

Yumna Patel writes that this is a favorite strategy in Israel:

It’s a classic move in the Israeli toolbox: in the face of lack of any real evidence of a crime, Israel pulls out the “secret evidence” card.

Is a Palestinian politically active in their community, and could pose a potential ‘threat’ to the state? Imprison them under secret evidence.

Is a human rights advocate working to bring attention to Israel’s apartheid? Ban them from traveling under secret evidence.

Are Palestinian civil society organizations threatening to hold Israel accountable for its crimes at the International Criminal Court? Criminalize the organizations and outlaw their work under secret evidence.

Sentencing for El Halabi is expected in the next few weeks. World Vision supports his appeal against the ruling will and calls for “a fair and transparent appeal process based on the facts of the case.”

Israel’s justice system is broken

In the US or any other country with a developed legal system, courtroom practices such as those described above are illegal. “Due process” – the idea that legal matters must be resolved according to established rules, and that individuals must be treated fairly – is enshrined in the laws of many countries, including Israel.

Yet, Israel routinely defers in its dealings with Palestinians to so-called secret evidence, coerced confessions, and other highly problematic practices.

Israel is hyper-prosecutorial against Palestinians – trying “crimes” in its military court as minor as alleged stone-throwing, punishable with up to 20 years in prison; locking up Palestinians by the thousands each year; over-using administrative detention; employing “enhanced interrogation” methods (i.e. torture); coercing confessions and plea bargains, resulting in a 99.7% conviction rate.

On the other side of the coin, the Israeli justice system goes easy on Israelis – illegal Israeli settlers enjoy impunity when they attack Palestinians; Israeli soldiers who participate in gratuitous violence may get a slap on the wrist; there are many examples of Israelis’ freedom to deprive Palestinians of lifeliberty, and property without consequences.

US government believes Israeli fantasy, ignores facts

The US government has since the birth of Israel overlooked documented, fact-checked reports of Israel’s blatant misconduct, instead standing by Israel’s side – in essence, blessing its crimes.

In spite of Israel’s reputation for human rights abuses against Palestinians, its well-documented collaboration with authoritarian regimes (including arms sales and spyware), and even its attack on a US Navy ship – the United States government consistently calls Israel an ally.

A number of major human rights organizations have published detailed, documented reports characterizing Israel as an apartheid regime – the United States has condemned each report out of hand.

On over 50 occasions in the last half century, following egregious violations of international law by Israel, the UN Security Council has tried to pass resolutions censuring Israel – only to have the United States use its veto power to block them.

Mohammed El Halabi is just one of 800,000 Palestinians who have been arrested by Israel since 1967; at this moment, about 5,300 Palestinians are political prisoners of Israel or locked up in administrative detention. The United States government is aware of these practices, yet continues to subsidize Israel’s military to the tune of $10 million a day.

While US leaders, heavily influenced and represented by Israel partisans, choose to believe myths about Israel, it turns a blind eye to truths about Palestine – and is currently pressuring the International Criminal Court to drop its war crimes case against Israel.

Israeli criminality runs deep; so does US governmental complicity.

(Source / 24.06.2022)

Israeli Navy Attacks Fishing Boats In Southern Gaza

On Thursday evening, Israeli navy ships attacked Palestinian fishing boats near the shore, in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip.

The navy ships attacked the boats with live fire near the shores of Khan Younis and Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

The attacks did not lead to casualties but forced the Palestinian to leave the sea with being able to fish to provide for their families.

Also Thursday, Israeli navy ships fired many live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats near the shore of Gaza city.

On Wednesday, the soldiers burnt Palestinian agricultural lands near the perimeter fence, east of the Tuffah neighborhood, east of Gaza city.

Earlier Wednesday, the soldiers invaded and bulldozed agricultural lands, and fired live rounds at farmers and shepherds east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The attacks are part of constant Israeli violations against the Palestinians, especially the fishermenfarmersshepherds, and workers in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip, and resulted in dozens of casualties, including fatalities, in addition to severe property damage and the confiscation of many boats after abducting the fishermen.

In March of last year, 2021, the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza said Israeli mines were responsible for an explosion that led to the death of three fishermen.

(Source / 24.06.2022)