Over 1m Palestinians under poverty line in besieged Gaza: UN

The UN report calls for a stop to 13-year-long Israeli siege that has crippled economic activities in the coastal enclave

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SWITZERLAND, PALESTINOW.COM – The Israel-led blockade of the Gaza Strip cost the Palestinian enclave more than $16bn and pushed more than one million people below the poverty line in just more than 10 years, according to a new United Nations report.

The document issued on Wednesday by the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to the General Assembly covered the years between 2007 and 2018.

It called for an immediate stop to the continuing siege that has caused a near-collapse of economic activities in Gaza and a poverty rate of 56 percent.

“The situation is going to get worse if the blockade continues,” said Mahmoud Elkhafif, coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People of UNCTAD.

“This unfair blockade in which two million Palestinians are kept inside Gaza should be lifted immediately. They should be allowed to move freely, do business, trade with the outside world and reconnect with their families outside of the Strip,” Elkhafif added.

Since June 2007, people of Gaza have been confined to the 365 square kilometres enclave of the Strip and subject to a land, air and sea embargo. The entry of goods has been reduced to a minimum, while external trade and exports have been stopped. Meanwhile, the population has very limited access to safe water and lack regular electricity supply or even a proper sewage system.

“Unless Palestinians in the Strip get access to the outside world, it is difficult to see anything but underdevelopment being the fate of the Gaza Palestinian society,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. “It is really shocking that in the 21st century, two million people can be left in that kind of condition.”

In addition to the prolonged blockade and restrictions by neighbouring Egypt, the Hamas-run enclave endured three Israeli military operations in 2007, 2012 and 2014 that severely damaged civilian infrastructure and caused heavy casualties.

At least 3,793 Palestinians were killed, some 18,000 were wounded and more than half of Gaza’s population was displaced, according to the UNCTAD’s report.

More than 1,500 commercial and industrial enterprises were damaged, along with some 150,000 household units and public infrastructure including energy, water, sanitation, health and educational facilities and government buildings.

As a result of the siege and the wars on Gaza, the poverty rate jumped from 40 in 2007 to 56 percent in 2017, meaning that more than 1 million Palestinians have no survival means. The report estimates that bringing these segment of the population above the poverty line would require an injection of funds amounting to $838m, four times the amount needed in 2007.

Between 2007 and 2018, tge economy in Gaza grew by less than 5 percent, and its share in the Palestinian economy decreased from 31 percent to 18 percent in 2018. As a result, GDP per capita shrank by 27 percent.

Meanwhile, the isolation of the Strip has not prevented the coronavirus pandemic from reaching Gaza, worsening an already critical situation. As of Monday, 14,768 people had contracted COVID-19, with 65 deaths.

On Monday, health authorities in Gaza warned of an imminent catastrophe if Israel continued to block humanitarian access as well as the entry of necessary health equipment and medical supplies. Hospitals and healthcare staff are in need of protective clothing, ventilators and beds.

“The health crisis is exposing the underlying conditions that have been worsening over a decade,” said Kozul-Wright.

Addressing UN reporters in Geneva, the UNCTAD official said he was hopeful there would be a change in Israeli-Palestinian relations under the new US administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew its funding of UNRWA, the UN agency that supports five million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

“The $200m cut was a huge hit to the Palestinian economy. It will be interesting to see if the new administration will go back to its decision towards UNRWA,” said Kozul-Wright. “However, even before 2016, the human rights of Palestinians and the international law as codified in the UN resolution were ignored and political tensions were high.”

The report called for the end of the blockade in the context of Security Council resolution 1860 (January 8, 2009) to allow Gaza’s economy to reintegrate with the rest of the world and the reconstruction of all essential infrastructure.

It also called for the restoration of the basic human rights of people in Gaza, their right to free movement, healthcare, study and work, and recommended that the state of Palestine be enabled to develop offshore natural gasfields discovered in the 1990s in the Palestinian territorial waters off the Gaza coast.

These revenues would allow some financial respite and funding for the reconstruction of essential infrastructure.

(Source / 26.11.2020)

Arab authors call for boycott of UAE book awards after Israel deal

JAKARTA, PALESTINOW.COM – Some of the Arab world’s most well-knownauthors have demanded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction cut ties with the UAE, to maintain the prize’s independence, and in protest against Abu Dhabi’s decision to normalise ties with Israel.

Palestinian academic and author Khaled Hroub was a founding member of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, but says he can no longer be affiliated with the award as long as it is funded by the United Arab Emirates. Mr Hroub resigned in protest at the UAE’s agreement to normalise relations with Israel, calling it a “shocking and sad trade-off” for the rights of Palestinians.

READ MORE: UAE dictatorship sells out Palestinian rights through agreement with Israel

“I used to have great cultural contacts in the UAE over the years, had many Emirati friends and took part in many activities, book fairs and festivals in the country. These activities have certainly contributed to the Arab cultural scene. But all this has now been thrown into uncertainty and replaced by Israel,” he says.

The author is one of a growing list of Arab authors and intellectuals calling for boycotts of UAE-funded cultural events and awards after the country abandoned a 2002 offer by Arab states to restore relations with Israel once it agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian-American comedian Amer Zahr, who was one of the signatories, says he will not perform in the UAE again. “It’s sad because the UAE has been a place where there has been a lot of great artistic events for all the diverse people that are there. But nothing is more important than our principles and normalisation with Israel is a red line. I cannot legitimise my oppressor.”

(Source / 23.11.2020)

UNRWA decide to partially postpone payment of employees’ salaries

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Hamas movement is extremely concerned about UNRWA’s announcement by the aganecy’e Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini that the UN body has decided to partially postpone the payment of salaries of almost 28 thousand employees in five operation fields, with a possibility that the decision may be effective in December.

We believe that such a decision has dangerous repercussions on thousands of Palestinian families and may affect the quality of life of the Palestinian refugees living in the custody of UNRWA, especially amid the urgent circumstances linked to the outbreak of coronavirus. Moreover, the Gaza Strip suffers from a humanitarian crisis for 14 years due to the crippling Israeli siege imposed on the enclave.

Hamas thinks that this man-made financial crisis that has political grounds is intended to abolish the refugees’ issue and dismantle the UN agency. This crisis must not be solved at the expense of the refugees and the humanitarian services offered by the UN body.

The international community, represented by the UN, should shoulder its responsibility towards the mandate given to UNRWA, until the issue of the Palestinian refugees is fully settled after return and compensation.

We confirm that the issue of the Palestinian refugees is the essence of the freedom struggle against the Israeli occupation and any attempt to leave this issue unsolved will affect the security and stability inside and outside of Palestine.

Therefore, the UN should not bow to the pressure piled on it. Rather, it should work to enhance the lives of the refugees in line with international resolutions that guaranteed a decent life for the refugees until return to the hometowns and villages from which they were forced out in 1948.

(Source / 12.11.2020)

IOF killed Palestinian young man in cold blood

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NABLUS, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Wednesday afternoon shot dead a Palestinian young man after he allegedly fired a gun at them near the Huwara checkpoint in southern Nablus.

The victim was identified as 29-year-old Bilal Rawajba, who worked as a legal consultant at the Palestinian Authority’s preventive security service in the Tubas district. He lived with his wife and newborn daughter in the village of Iraq al-Tayeh, east of Nablus.

Israeli soldiers appeared in video footage, which was taken by another Palestinian, firing multiple bullets point-blank at the young man who was aboard his car.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said the Israeli army prevented them from giving medical assistance to Rawajba, who bled to death, and detained his body.

Many Palestinians have been injured or killed in similar incidents under the pretext of alleged attacks.

(Source / 05.11.2020)

Seven Palestinian children killed by IOF since January

Youssef Shaaban Abu Athra, 18, was killed in Israeli shooting in Rafah

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) stated on Monday that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continue their policy of torture, unlawful and extrajudicial killings against Palestinian children as long as impunity is the rule and as long as the international community is silent about their crimes.

The DCI-P reported in a press release, that IOF had killed 7 Palestinian children since the beginning of this year 2020 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The last of whom was Amer Abdel Rahim Sanouber, 16 years, from Yatma village, south of Nablus. Sanouber was killed on the night of October 24, from a severe beating inflicted by the IOF soldiers (Al-Yasam).

Sanouber was trying to help a 17-year-old friend, whose vehicle had broken down near Turmus Aya town, northeast of Ramallah, according to the movement.

It emphasized that under international law, deliberate lethal force is justified only in circumstances where there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury.

Nevertheless, investigations and evidence regularly collected by DCI-P indicate that the occupation forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that do not appear to be justifiable and may amount to extrajudicial killing or intentional killing.

In this context, the DCI-P movement referred to the death of the 16-year-old, Muhammad Matar, from Deir Abu Masha’al village, northwest of Ramallah, on August 19, 2020. The IOF soldiers opened fire on Matar and his two friends as they approached a street used by Jewish settlers near the village. This led to his death and the injury of his two friends, noting that the child’s body is still being held by IOF until this day.

(Source / 05.11.2020)

Head of prisoners affairs: Maher Al-Akhras life is in danger

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Maher Al-Akhras is visited by his wife, Taghreed, at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — Qadri Abu Bakr, the head of the Prisoners and Ex-prisoners Affairs Authority, warned on Sunday of the seriousness of Akhras’s health condition.

He pointed out that Akhras began to gradually lose his vision and hearing abilities and became unable to speak, other than dangers threatening his vital organs.

Bakr said that Akhras is approaching the 100th day of his hunger strike, and the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) are still refusing and procrastinating his release and insist that Akhras must complete his current administrative detention.

He added that Akhras refused to end the strike unless IOA immediately canceled his administrative detention, or transferred him to a Palestinian hospital in West Bank. “He knows that IOA is stalling and can extend his detention again”, Baker commented.

The leader clarified that the European Union and human rights organizations began to take action and demand IOA to end the suffering of Akhras. Although the demands came late, they are important at this time, he added.

He said, “Palestinian efforts have not stopped in supporting Akhras in this heroic battle by following his condition at the highest levels.”

Bakr charged that the occupation courts stage mock trials, and are nothing but a tool in the hands of the Israeli Shin Bet, which is intransigent in releasing Akhras even though his life is at stake.

(Source / 02.11.2020)

Twitter censors Palestine by suspending media and activist accounts

PALESTINOW.COM — Within its campaign against the Palestinian narrative, Twitter suspended the accounts of four major Palestinian news institutions.

The targeted accounts this time were those belonging to Shehab Agency, The Palestinian Information Center, Silwan Information Center, and +Pal, denying over a million followers their right to know about the recent news in Palestine.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Shehab Agency stated that its English account was suspended, stressing that the suspension was without any explanation or prion warning.

“In the face of this dangerous practice, we are deeply dismayed at Twitter’s bias and compliance with the Zionist dictates, which aim at fighting and removing the Palestinian content from an international platform that claims to be inclusive and respecting to everyone’s freedom of speech and expression.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Information Center stressed that the suspension of its account comes as part of the social media giant’s racist policy against Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Last Friday, thousands of pro-Palestine activists around the world took part in a campaign using the hashtag #TwitterCensorsPalestine, demanding the social media platform to stop its biased policy that favors the Zionist narrative and completely ignores the Palestinian people and their rights.

Last year Twitter suspended all blue-checked accounts of Quds News Network (QNN) without explaining the reasons and without any prior warning.

The Israeli minister of strategic affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen had stated that “thanks to Israeli pressure, Twitter suspended 30 accounts that slammed the West Bank annexation.”

Hacohen claimed that that suspended accounts also called for an international investigation against Israel’s crimes.

(Source / 02.11.2020)

Hunger striker Al-Akhras won’t end the strike until gain freedom

AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — Prisoner Maher Al-Akhras affirmed on Sunday evening his determination to continue his battle despite his deteriorating health until gaining his freedom and his return to his family in Silat al-Dhahr town, south of Jenin.

Akhras, who has been on strike for 91 days, saluted from his place of detention in the Israeli Kaplan hospital all those who declared solidarity with him in the homeland and the world at large.

His mother and family were allowed to visit him on Sunday for the first time since his arrest and the announcement of his open hunger strike. He told Al-Quds newspaper, “My health condition is dangerous but my morals are high. I will not break my strike under the occupation decisions and threats … either my freedom or martyrdom.”

Akhras expressed his happiness that his mother, wife and children entered his room and hugged him after being held for two days before allowing them entry into his room.

He said, “I derive my will from our Palestinian people, and from the families of prisoners and martyrs because we forcibly take our freedom from the occupation and it will not break or defeat us. The stances of our people everywhere with me are the best proof of that.”

“At all stages, our people gave me morale. Thanks to all of our people for standing with me because this issue is not my case but rather the issue of every Palestinian who rejects humiliation, insult and occupation”, Akhras added.

Akhras, who was speaking with high spirits and his voice showed the extent of his pain and fatigue, concluded his talk by thanking and greeting the Palestinian people, the media and everyone who supported him. He also lauded all the free people of the world who confirmed their standing on the side of truth, justice and freedom.

(Source / 27.10.2020)

PA calls for international investigation into Israeli killing of teen in Ramallah

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — The Palestinian Authority (PA) has called for opening an international investigation into Israeli soldiers’ cold-blooded murder of 18-year-old Amer Sanoubar in Ramallah on Sunday.

In a press release on Sunday, the PA foreign ministry asked the international community, human rights groups and UN organizations to condemn the crime and form an international investigation committee to find out its details and hold its perpetrators accountable.

“Such crime reflects the enormity of the brutality that governs the mindset of the occupation, which allows itself to desecrate the Palestinians’ lives, their land and property,” the foreign ministry said.

The ministry also called on the International Criminal Court to assume its legal and moral responsibilities towards the crimes which Israel commits against the Palestinian people.

“What happened to young Sanoubar underscores the urgent need to provide international protection for the Palestinians,” it emphasized.

18-year-old Amer Sanoubar, a resident of Yatma town in southern Nablus, died of serious wounds he sustained on Sunday when Israeli soldiers physically assaulted him near Turmus Ayya town in Ramallah.

Local eyewitnesses explained that Israeli forces chased and intercepted a car the young victim was driving at dawn on a road near Turmus Ayya town, hauled him out of the car and embarked on severely beating him with their gunstocks.

(Source / 27.10.2020)

Al-Akhras family joins hunger strike

Israeli police attacked al-Akhras ‘in a brutal manner’ Friday, says daughter

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM – The family of Palestinian detainee Maher al-Akhras said Saturday they have joined him on a hunger strike until he is released.

“We announced starting a hunger strike until my father is free,” according to al-Akhras daughter, Tazkeer.

“We were in front of the hospital’s room … and we are not allowed to see him. There were security guards inside and outside the room,” she said, referring to members of the Israeli Prison Authority.

She added that Israeli police attacked her father Friday “in a brutal manner” and “now they do not allow us to reach him.”

The Israeli Supreme Court froze al-Akhras’s detention Sept. 23, prompting his announcement that he would continue his strike until his release.

Al-Akhras, who has been on a hunger strike for 90 days, was detained July 27 and held under Israel’s administrative detention policy which allows it to hold Palestinians without charge.

About 4,400 Palestinian political detainees are languishing in Israeli jails — including 39 women and 155 children – while 350 are under administrative detention.

(Source / 25.10.2020)