US: Bernie Sanders calls Netanyahu ‘reactionary racist’

Vermont senator says if he is elected US president, he would consider moving US embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reactionary racist” at the Democratic presidential debate.

Sanders said if he is elected, he would “take into consideration” moving the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, adding that Middle East policy should be about protecting Israel, “but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

“I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months. But what I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country,” he said.

Sanders said the US has to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and brings nations together.

In late 2017, US President Donald Trump unilaterally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering a world outcry. The following May, Washington relocated its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the third holiest city for all Muslims around the world.

Apart from Sanders, six other candidates vying to take on Trump were on the stage at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina.

(Source / 27.02.2020) 

The world condemns Israel

Netanyahu vows action against PA over ICC bid – Cartoon

By Jihad Al-Khazen

My opinion of the terrorist Benjamin Netanyahu is well known and I have expressed it several times in my articles. Today I will refer back to the UN and six resolutions against Israel that were supported by the international organisation’s member states.

The most important resolution is related to Jerusalem and it rejects Israel’s sovereignty over the Holy City by 148 votes to 11, with 14 abstentions.

Judaisation of Jerusalem - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

There was another resolution on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It was supported by 156 countries and opposed by eight with 12 abstentions. The resolution speaks of the Haram Al-Sharif and does not refer to the Temple Mount, as Israel calls it.

Israel dug under the Haram Al-Sharif and found neither a first, second or third temple. All of these are myths that are baseless in history and geography.

There was also a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which was backed by 99 countries with ten countries against and 66 abstentions.

The United States, Canada and Australia opposed these six resolutions, which are a part of about 20 resolutions against Israel adopted by the United Nations each year.

An Israeli UN representative attacked support for the resolutions against Israel and talked about the relationship of the Jews and Christians to the alleged Temple Mount. There is absolutely nothing related to the Jews in the Haram Al-Sharif, but the Christian presence is known and there is cooperation between the Christian churches in Jerusalem and the House of Fatwas against Israel’s lies.

The European Union voted in favour of the two main resolutions on Jerusalem but requested a change of wording regarding the holy sites.

OPINION: A year after his Jerusalem bombshell, Trump continues to strangle the Palestinians

I reiterate, perhaps for the thousandth time, that Christian and Islamic connections were written about within less than ten years of the miracles of Jesus Christ and the revelation that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), while the apparent Jewish links were written a thousand years later.

The six resolutions endorsed by the United Nations refer to uncontested Palestinian rights. This year, the UN hosted Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN commentator, and he said that the resistance is a right exercised by the Palestinians and supported the BDS movement against Israel. He was fired last week due to his political positions.

I say that Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu neo-Nazis, and perhaps it is the only remaining neo-Nazi state in the world.

The Israeli police recommended Netanyahu be tried on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust and the police accused him of supporting a telecommunications group in exchange for supporting the terrorist government against the Palestinians in their country.

Netanyahu's corruption scandal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

This case and two others against Netanyahu await Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to go to court. If the cases reach the courts, this will be the first time a serving Israeli prime minister has been tried.

I believe bribery is a simple charge in exchange for killing Palestinians including hundreds of children. If there is justice in the world, the terrorist prime minister would be tried before the ICC in The Hague, as he deserves. Every time Netanyahu denies he committed the crimes, he further proves that the charges against him are true.

READ: ICC ‘significantly progressed’ in preliminary examination of alleged war crimes in Palestine

(Source / 07.12.2018) 

‘Life Is All About Trying’: Disabled Palestinians Defy Challenges

Despite the obstacles, Palestinians in Gaza show a strong will to defeat their disabilities and achieve their dreams.

By Mersiha Gadzo

Some laughed at him, others told him that he wouldn’t succeed. But with a strong will and positive attitude, Abdulrahman Abu Rawaa proved them wrong.

With just one arm and a leg each, he can easily ride his bike along Gaza’s sandy streets.

He took off the pedal and chains to adjust the bike to his needs, allowing himself to easily balance on the bike and push himself forward.

It’s the easiest way for him to get around his neighbourhood in the “Bedouin Village” in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Learning how to ride a bike has been my greatest accomplishment. It might not look so, but it really is,” Abu Rawaa said.

“Everyone told me it’s dangerous; some people criticised me [for trying] and even made fun of me at first. But I challenged all of that. I’ve proven to myself and to others that my disability isn’t really going to ‘disable’ me.”

For the 23-year-old, life has always been about trying.

Having been born without an arm and then losing his leg after two surgeries, he hasn’t allowed his physical disability to prevent him from trying to live life to the fullest.

Monday marks the International Day of Disabled Persons. Despite the immense obstacles, Palestinians in Gaza have shown a strong will to defeat their disabilities and achieve their dreams.

For the two million Palestinians living in Gaza under an Israeli-Egyptian siege, life is already difficult enough.

But for those with physical disabilities, they face additional challenges – something as simple as moving from one neighbourhood to the other in one of the world’s most densely populated areas is an immense challenge.

Most buildings are not accessible for the disabled people. There are no braille signs for the visually-impaired. With a dire economic situation, there are little to no resources to assist them.

Artificial limbs made in Gaza are typically of poor quality since the blockade has disrupted imports of prosthetic limbs and raw materials used to make them.

The limbs are made out of hundreds of different parts, but even if a single part is missing, it’s difficult for the limb to function.

Consequently, for many in Gaza, the prosthetic limbs that they use are for aesthetic purposes – to be able to put on a prosthetic leg or arm while taking photos for special occasions, for instance.

Rawaa had tried wearing an artificial limb, but it was terribly uncomfortable, despite costing $2,000 – an exorbitant amount for the average family in Gaza.

It was impossible for Rawaa to walk with it, as it pulled and scratched his skin.

In the first grade, he tried to use a wheelchair, which was also futile. He would fall to the ground and would have to push his chest against the wheelchair seat to push forward and move.

“But in fourth grade, I once saw my brother Tareq riding his bike and I asked him to let me try. It was a good try, although I fell. My father was impressed that I can balance myself on the bike, and I asked him for a bike. He bought me one. Step by step, I did just fine. And in the sixth grade, I totally depended on it to go to school, though my school was around two kilometres away from home.”

Stigmatisation and a lack of knowledge about disabilities persist in Gaza, Rawaa explained. Some ask him how he can cook or fix his bike on his own. For Rawaa, these are strange questions since he is entirely self-reliant.

“When my bike is broken, I’m the one who fixes it,” Rawaa said. “Some people say ‘You can’t!’ Immediately, to them I say, why don’t you try? It could work and it could not, but at least try. If you’re willing to try, you’ll succeed in one way or another. Everyone should have the will to try. Life is all about trying.”

‘They’ve amputated my leg, not my dream’

While misconceptions about disabled persons persist, Rawaa believes it has decreased over the years due to the three Israeli military assaults on Gaza and the Israeli attacks on the Great Return March demonstrations, which has left dozens of unarmed demonstrators disabled.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, at least 5,300 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli bullets since the start of demonstrations on March 30. AT least 68 Palestinians have had their legs amputated.

It has become a common sight today on the streets to see Palestinians with missing limbs. Unlike Rawaa, who was born with a disability, they face a harsh learning curve in adapting to their new life.

Alaa Aldali, 21, has been trying to persuade himself that he was born without a leg to adjust more easily. Israeli forces shot his leg with an expanding “butterfly” bullet on March 30, the first day of the Great Return March demonstrations.

He says he was standing with his friends more than 300 metres away from the Israeli fence when he was suddenly hit in the leg. He found himself on the ground, with smoke coming out of his wound.

“It was scary… It wasn’t like a bullet; it looked like a grenade exploded in my leg,” Aldali said.

After undergoing eight surgeries in the hopes of saving his leg, it was amputated due to serious damage to his arteries and nerves.

“It’s quite hard, but that’s all I can do now. You know, just on the way home, while I was getting out of the taxi, I thought my right leg was still there and I almost fell,” Aldali said from his bedroom in Rafah, in southern Gaza.

Trophies, medals and plaques decorate his table. For the past four years, he has spent practically every waking moment on the move, cycling, and would mostly come home just to sleep.

Ranked third in the occupied Palestinian territories, Aldali’s dream of representing Palestine internationally presented itself with an invitation to compete in the international cycling competition that took place in Indonesia in late August.

But his dream was crushed that fateful afternoon. Since then it’s been an uphill battle – mentally and physically.

Aldali says he’s determined to keep fighting for his dream of competing for Palestine as a cyclist, even if it’s just with one leg.

“They’ve amputated my leg, but not my dream. I’m coming back to do my favourite sport. We’ll also return to our home. Those sacrifices are not going to no avail,” Aldali said.

Heavy unemployment rate

For others, such as 27-year-old Abeer Elhorokly, the Israeli occupation affects them before they’re born.

During the First Intifada in 1992, her then-pregnant mother was subjected to gas inhalation by Israeli forces. Consequently, Elhorokly was born with deformed nervous cells, which left her in a wheelchair.

Like Aldali, Elhorokly found her passion in playing competitive sports – basketball and tennis. Her team has achieved first place in the Gaza Basketball League for the third time in a row and she aspires to compete internationally in tennis for disabled athletes.

However, with the siege on Gaza now in its 12th year, many Palestinians – disabled or not – are deprived of such opportunities.

Gaza’s job market remains stagnant with an unemployment rate of 44 percent, but for the disabled population, it’s at 90 percent.

Elhorokly graduated two years ago with a BA in Public Relations and Media, and is determined to find work. Palestinian labour law stipulates that five percent of its workforce must include disabled people. However, this isn’t applied on the ground, Elhorokly said.

“I want to be a big journalist and prove that we’re capable. To be a journalist and have a disability at the same time is a real challenge and I love challenges,” Elhorokly said.

Rawaa has been raising chickens in his backyard for a living. He would like to eventually afford a new home as his family’s house becomes flooded in winter.

He has been approaching various institutions with his proposal, trying to find funding to expand his chicken-raising project. Rawaa has yet to find support, but he says he will keep trying.

“Never let anyone or anything stay in your way. If you think you can’t take the stairs by yourself, ask yourself – did I try? You can always find ways. Create your own solution,” Rawaa said.

“One should always have the hope and courage to jump over life’s challenges – to try at least.”

(Source / 05.12.2018)

Israel’s crimes are mounting

Crimes mounting

Today, November 29, marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the day in which the United Nations passed the Partition Resolution in 1947.

The Partition Resolution is the biggest stab to the Palestinian people, because it robbed them of a large part of their land, taking it from its original owners and giving it to alien Jewish settlers who came from various parts of the world. In response to this United Nations resolution, governments and civil society conduct various activities annually to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

On this day in 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181, later known as the Partition Plan, which stipulated that a Jewish and a Palestinian Arab State would be established in Palestine. Only a Jewish State, Israel, was established, while the Palestinian state remained ink on paper for up till now.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an opportunity to remind the world and its forces of the reality of the Palestinian tragedy and the injustice inflicted upon the people of Palestine as a result of the Partition Resolution.

This is also an occasion to remind the international community of the fact that the question of Palestine has not yet been resolved despite all the efforts, endeavors, initiatives, negotiations, visits and exploratory tours of the Middle East undertaken by hundreds of officials and delegations from foreign countries.

It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian people, whose number had surpassed twelve million, have not yet attained their inalienable rights as established by the General Assembly, namely the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property, from which they have been forcibly removed.

Israel’s Greed
Israel’s greed was not limited to the articles of Resolution 181. In 1948, when the war broke out between Israel and the neighboring Arab states, the Jewish state expanded and captured 77 percent of the territory of Palestine, including a large part of Jerusalem.

There have been many Arab-Israeli negotiations in Madrid, Geneva, Oslo, Washington, Camp David and many others, but they have shown one fact that Israel does not want a real peace, and that all it wants is negotiations for the sake of negotiations.

Unjust and void resolution
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) asserted in a statement on the anniversary that the Partition Resolution 181 is unjust and void because it establishes and legitimizes the occupation of the lands of others by force in a flagrant violation of the most basic principles of justice, the rules of international law, and the legal and moral foundations on which the United Nations was established.

The Movement called the resolution “a crime and a great injustice to our people and our homeland, Palestine, as an Israeli entity was internationally recognized by the resolution 181 on the land of Palestine and at the expense of its people.”

Hamas noted that this painful anniversary reaffirms our attachment to our land and our full rights. Hamas added: “We recall the blood of the martyrs and the wounded, the suffering of our heroic families and that of millions of our people who live in forced exile as a result of that unjust resolution.”

(Source / 02.12.2018)

Information War Between Palestinian Resistance And Israel Heats Up After Botched Raid

‘Israel received a hurting slap in its botched operation in Gaza,’ former Israeli commander told Israeli TV Channel 2

By Motasem a Dalloul

The war between Hamas (which leads the Palestinian resistance) and Israel is now also being fought online. Israel’s recently failed attack on Gaza was an important victory for Hamas.

“Palestinians everywhere have provided very valuable and important information which serves the resistance regarding the consequences of the Operation Sword Edge,” Abu-Obeida, the spokesman of the Al Qassam Brigades – the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas – said on last week.

He refers to the failed Israeli attempt to carry out a secret operation against the Palestinian resistance somewhere in the Gaza Strip on November 11.

This announcement by Abu-Obeida came one week after pictures were published of the members of the secret Israeli commando unit, which was involved in the failed operation in Gaza, including pictures of the Palestinian collaborators who helped them.

Israel was stunned by the success of Al Qassam Brigades in tracing the members of the secret Israeli unit, the Israeli Military Censor issued a statement warning both the Israelis and the Palestinians of trusting Al Qassam Brigades and of circulating the pictures on social media.

“We ask you to avoid circulating the pictures and any notable information on social media, including WhatsApp or any other medium. You must act responsibly,” the statement said.

Following this statement, the Israeli TV Channel 14 deleted reports and news stories from its website, however, it included only blurred pictures.

The Israeli TV Channel 13 did not report or publish the pictures because, it said, this might harm the people involved in the failed operation and might harm the national security of Israel.

Alon Ben-David, the military correspondent and analyst at the Israeli TV Channel 10, said, “Publishing the pictures of the people involved in the operation by Hamas causes a strategic harm to Israel, not only in Gaza, but across the Middle East. This is a very dangerous issue … and the Israelis have to know that if they republished them, they would serve Hamas.”

New online battleground

Meanwhile, the Israeli news website 0404 said that Hamas’ military wing had moved the battle with the Israeli forces to the psychological field. Maybe the danger of publishing the pictures would hurt the corporeal spirit for the Israeli soldiers, who are tasked to carry out daily secret operations in Gaza.

Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, reported the Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant saying that the Israeli army carries out almost daily operations in Gaza similar to the failed one.

Galant is a former commander of the Southern Command of the Israeli occupation forces. The Israeli TV Channel 2 said, “Thirteen years after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the secret Israeli security operations have not stopped.”

Israeli military and security experts described the success of exposing information about members of one of the most secretive Israeli military units as a “big achievement.”

Israeli Channel 10 Arab Affairs Analyst Tsvika Yehezkeli said, “Publishing the pictures of the [Israeli] cell is considered an important achievement for Hamas thanks to its smart technological abilities. It was a shocking work mainly as Hamas claims it also has the names and it might publish them in the future.”

Military Censor blunders

The Israeli occupying army worked hard to undermine the information battle initiated by Al Qassam Brigades but failed.

Ronen Bergman, the Israeli investigative journalist and author who is a senior political and military analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, said the military censor failed due to shock and lack of expertise in this field.

“The measures of the Israeli Military Censor gave Hamas an important victory in this memory battle related to the disaster that took place in Gaza,” he said, “but the Military Censor does not recognise this.”

This came as a shock because as Israeli military reporters and analysts and former Israeli commanders told Israeli TV Channel 2, the Israeli forces tasked to carry out such operations are trained to succeed 100 percent.

They stressed, according to Channel 2, that “Israel received a hurting slap in this operation as the Israeli forces were uncovered and one of the Israeli commanders was killed.”

Specialist in Israeli Affairs, Dr Saleh al Naami, said, “The Palestinian resistance inflicted a harmful attack on the Israeli military and intelligence efforts … This means that such Israeli units, which carry out secret operations in other countries will be dangerous as it could be revealed like what happened in Gaza.”

Naami added, “Israel has been looking for an answer for the question, which is worth a billion dollars: Where and how did Al Qassam Brigades get some of these pictures, which are considered part of the most confidential information about the most secret units of the Israeli Army?”

Speaking to TRT World, Hamas Spokesman Hazim Qasim said, “Again, the Palestinian resistance proves that it is able to challenge the Israeli occupation, and it is able to embarrass its calculations and plans in its way to regain the freedom of the Palestinian people and their rights.”

Abu-Obeida said, “We still have much sensitive information about the Operation Sword Edge [the failed Israeli operation in Gaza]. We will reveal each piece of information about it when we feel it is needed.”

The military correspondent of the Israeli Radio Iyal Alima said, “Hamas has been achieving continuous military intelligence and information superiority over Israel throughout this operation.”

(Source / 02.12.2018)

‘I thought I knew about Palestine, until I saw the occupation first hand’

Maher dances in Al-Manara Square, Ramallah in the occupied West Bank

Maher dances in Al-Manara Square, Ramallah in the occupied West Bank

By Rebecca Stead

Film director Toomas Järvet discusses Rough Stage ahead of its screening at the London Palestine Film Festival on 27 November.

Al-Manara Square, central Ramallah. Children eat candy floss greedily as their parents tug at their hands, hurrying them along. Street vendors peer cautiously into the camera. Taxis fight their way through the gridlock that clogs the roundabout.

Amid the chaos, Maher stands barefoot on the concrete, his movements soft and graceful against the cityscape. In the fading light he dances, paying no heed to the bewildered onlookers who, after a few moments of curiosity, carry on with their lives.

“Maher told me when we first met to discuss the film that he has always had this idea that he wants to dance in Al-Manara Square,” explains Toomas Järvet. “It was meant to symbolise his connection to the people of Palestine. As you can see from their reactions, he has a long way to go to really be connected to the people.”

Maher dances near an ancient olive tree, symbolising his connection to the land

This was the first dance scene that the director filmed when he began working with Maher to create Rough Stage. Set in the occupied West Bank, the film traces one man’s struggle to build a career as a contemporary dancer and put on a production at Ramallah’s Cultural Palace.

“It all started when I first read a Facebook post by a friend,” Järvet explains. “They had reposted an advert from an NGO looking for volunteers to go and teach classical dance in Palestine. Right away it caught my eye; I thought it could be interesting to follow how ballet could relate to the cultural and religious background of Palestine.”

Järvet travelled to the occupied West Bank with the teacher selected for the programme, but quickly found himself more interested in Maher, the head of the dance school in Ramallah. “I wanted to know who he was, why he was doing this, what this meant for him and how he was capable of doing all this, despite all the frustrations and difficulties that one has to face in Palestine. These restrictions and constraints aren’t just set by Israel but also by the Palestinian authorities and the community itself, his family and friends; this was really the most interesting point.”

READ: Israel bans Palestinian writer from Jerusalem festival

Maher’s attempts to continue in the face of these restrictions lie at the heart of Rough Stage. From early on in the film, it is clear that Maher’s family is far from enamoured with his decision to pursue a career in dance. “There are not many demands, son,” his father tells him. “But you’re getting older, this is it! Look for a good girl; you must turn your life around.”

Candid moments such as these are woven throughout the film. Maher goes to visit his mother a few days ahead of the performance, for example. Just like his father, she wants Maher to get married. “I don’t like your way of life, I’m often criticised for it,” she berates him, adding that people speculate if he is “not in fit shape to marry.”

“I’m happy,” Maher tells her, as he laughs at his mother’s no-nonsense talk.

As far as director Järvet is concerned, the essence of the film is very simple; how to stay true to what you believe in and what you want to achieve no matter what the obstacles are in life. “The ideas and problems the film talks about are very common and universal,” he insists.

Graffiti covers Israel’s Separation Wall, which cuts deep into occupied Palestinian territory

Yet while, true to Järvet’s intention, Rough Stage deals with relatable, universal challenges, it also cleverly explores some of the deep-seated problems facing Palestinian society as a whole. During the film’s opening sequence, Maher stands at his kitchen sink speaking to the camera. “We have a lot of water in Palestine,” he explains, “but there is a limit to how much Israel gives us. You put a fish inside a bottle and throw it into the sea. They see food and they have a lot of water, but they cannot swim.” This captures perfectly the impact of the overbearing restrictions that characterise life in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

According to Järvet, the analogy was completely Maher’s. “During my first trip I really wanted to know his opinion on everything. He was just constantly talking and I managed to capture the scene you see on camera. It’s one of the very few things from our first meeting that actually made it into the final cut.”

Throughout the making of the film — four years’ worth of trips to meet Maher in Ramallah — one thing that struck its director the most was the extent of these restrictions. “I thought I was socially and politically sensitive and that I knew all the stories and background, because my first degree was in cultural theory and I had studied the Middle East, but of course when you enter it all becomes alive and real.

“When you have to go through the likes of Qalandia checkpoint [situated between Ramallah and Jerusalem] and you see people waiting in long lines like cattle waiting to be executed, it really affects you. If it affects us Westerners, who know that this is something we have to go through once and that’s all, how must it affect Palestinians who go through this on a daily basis? I thought I knew about Palestine until I saw the occupation first hand.”

READ: Israel military court jails Palestinian activist for bike protest in his village

One of the subtle themes running through Rough Stage is the question of what it means to resist. Although not mentioned explicitly, before becoming a dancer Maher was active in the Second Intifada which started in 2000 and lasted until February 2005. He was arrested, spent three years in an Israeli prison and was banned from entering Israel for a further ten years. Yet now, almost two decades later, his interpretation of resistance has altered.

“At a certain point,” explains Järvet, “he said ‘no’, my way of resistance has to be different: ‘I don’t want to throw stones or use a gun or communicate that violence is the solution’. He knew that he wanted to express himself in a different way and that’s how he found dancing.”

Maher touches upon this himself. In one scene, as he drives to Ramallah to deal with yet another pre-performance obstacle, he laments, “It’s like jihad the things we are doing in this country. I’m not doing this for myself. I feel this need for change. I don’t know what it is, but we have to change something during our lifetime. If not, what’s the meaning of one’s existence?”

Later, as Maher discusses his dancing with his brother, the latter says: “When our mum does embroidery, it’s a form of resistance. When I see you dancing, competing with an Israeli and receiving awards, this is also resistance of the occupation, but I want you to explain this, because our people don’t understand modern dance and what your movements symbolise.”

That scene, says Toomas Järvet, is both intense and interesting. “It explains the problem in Palestine. Palestinian people, and possibly people in general, expect more explicit ways of making art that is more easily understandable.”

Perhaps the same is expected of resistance. Yet, as Rough Stage shows, maybe simple acts like dancing, planting trees or crafting cultural products can, in their own way, act as powerful statements of resistance in the face of Israel’s all-encompassing occupation.

READ: Banksy brings Separation Wall to London

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Gaza Will Always Remain A Fortress Of Dignity

Hamas leader

Israeli occupation elite forces attempted to carry out a secret military operation in the depth of Gaza, but the vigilance of its resistance foiled it and pushed Israel to beg a ceasefire.

While the whole world is busy dealing with the case of assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and after the announcement of an internationally-mediated cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a surprise security operation was carried out by a group of elite forces in the Zionist enemy army under the cover of darkness in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza.

The operation aimed to abduct two prominent leaders of Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades from the heart of the besieged Gaza Strip. As is common in such operations – which they carry out with extreme professionalism – the Zionist elite forces had used a civilian bus as camouflage and some of the soldiers had worn women’s clothing, under which they had hidden lethal attack weapons.

Nevertheless, the vigilance of the strong resistance men – who figured them out from the very beginning and followed their movements – thwarted their plan and caught them in the trap the resistance forces had prepared with extreme cleverness and high professionalism. The elite forces thus became surrounded, prompting the Zionist army to intervene to contain the situation and rescue the special group from the hands of the resistance combatants.

Aircraft intensified their attacks to provide cover for the fleeing force, leading to the martyrdom of six resistance combatants. Field leader Noureddine Baraka – said to have been one of the combatants targeted to be kidnapped in the operation – was also killed, having arrived at the location to assess the situation. Meanwhile, the courageous heroes of the resistance managed to inflict heavy losses among the ranks of the attacking unit, killing a senior officer and injuring others, who fled like rats under the protection of Israeli aircraft.

In order to cover up its catastrophic failure, save its reputation and confirm the famous saying that it is “invincible,” the Zionist army resorted to a new round of escalation in Gaza.  It launched continuous raids and heavy attacks on the already-besieged Strip, entering into military confrontation with the resistance. As it used to do, it resorted to the most cowardly and villainous methods – targeting civilian sites. It also wanted to silence the voice of the media for exposing its failures, so bombed Al Aqsa TV. The battle was on the verge of spiralling out of control and turning into a comprehensive war, which neither side wants to go through.

During two days of intense escalation by the Zionist enemy, the resistance confronted it with all its factions through a joint operations room. Its strong men fought with great courage and the resistance it proved its readiness for any unexpected attack. It also proved the illusion of the Iron Dome, since neither the dome nor the iron protected the enemy from the missiles fired on them like rain. The Iron Dome repelled only 100 out of 400 missiles. How, then, will they be able to sell this dome in the arms market after the uncovering of its failure before the world?

It can be argued that the resistance was easily able to change the rules of the game and that it now has a strategy of deterrence. It has managed the situation with great restraint, especially in the messages it sent to the Zionist leadership warning them that, if the army continued to bomb civilian targets, this would lead to a large Palestinian counterattack. The resistance has also compelled the Zionists to stay in their shelters. The most dangerous warning message came when the resistance targeted a bus transporting army soldiers with a guided missile after the bus offloaded the soldiers. This avoided casualties, which would have turned the military confrontation into the all-out war both sides tried so desperately to avoid.

However, those who are driven by their innate hostility to the Zionist entity occupying the land of Palestine criticised the resistance because it did not bomb the bus when the forty soldiers were inside. Some have even whined over the Granit missile the resistance lost with no material results. This is short-sighted and those of this opinion have not yet understood the strategy of deterrence and what it actually means.

We are not in a decisive war that will resolve the conflict. Rather, we are in one of its rounds. Whether we like it or not the conflict will be ended by a truce – or, let us say, a stabilisation of the truce – between the belligerent parties. Each party wants to improve its conditions and even impose its conditions on the other. This is what has happened with Hamas. Zionists were quick to ask for a truce. The only reason behind this request was that the Zionist foe realised the balance of power was not in its favour and that the Palestinian resistance now has the same deterrent power the Zionists used to consider a source of pride. A microscope caption of the Zionist Defence Minister from a sniper’s rifle can forward a straight message with unequivocal clarity: “we are able to reach you wherever you are, if we want to, or if you decide to assassinate one of our leaders”.  Hamas has succeeded in imposing its word and the Zionist enemy is in a state of confusion and agitation, faced with the extent of power and resilience managed by the resistance.

The Zionist enemy sought a truce when it felt its massive losses and cracked internal front, which was followed by the resignation of the Zionist Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Meanwhile the masses in Gaza, even those whose houses were bombarded and their children martyred, went out cheering and rejoicing for the crushing victory. This is the difference between the original offspring of the land and the son of those who came from all over the world to take over others’ homeland.

It also wanted to prove its superiority and ability to penetrate Hamas, yet the movement’s response proved that it has a great deal of strength, stability and organisation in the face of any possible escalation. Hamas does not feel pressure to rush into a truce agreement as was hoped.

The Zionist enemy was surprised by the reaction of the resistance, which has shaken the occupation entity. The former Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, admitted that Hamas had imposed its conditions and that Israel had become submissive to Hamas’ decisions, not only because of the number of sudden rockets dropped on occupied lands, but because of the Kornet missiles that broke the rules of the game and disrupted Israel’s preventive strategy. Barak’s stance was supported by Ehud Yaari, the Zionist expert on Middle Eastern affairs. Yaari saw the demand made by Hamas’ political bureau member Hossam Badran to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – “to isolate Lieberman” if the latter wanted to end the confrontation – as a call that reflected the confidence of the Palestinian resistance in the impact of such strife.

Thanks to Allah’s generosity, Gaza won and defeated the Zionist Arabs before vanquishing the Zionist aggressor. Gaza overpowered the Arab conspirators and traitors.

Gaza is the only place in the Arab region facing the Zionist enemy with all its might and pride. Gaza terrifies and humiliates the Zionist entity, despite the siege and desperate attempts to starve Gazans, in addition to the conspiracies of Zionist Arabs who seem more eager to destroy Gaza than the Israeli Zionists themselves. Yet Gaza is proud to embrace the Palestinian resistance and the protection provided by Hamas to its population. Instead, Hamas knocked down and humiliated the Zionists with its legendary steadfastness throughout these long years. It also exposed the shameless Zionist Arab rulers, who are terrified of the resistance missiles fired at the Zionist enemy, under whose custody they submissively hide and with whom they disgracefully race to normalise.

The sympathy of all the Arabs with Gaza and their support for the victory of the resistance is a significant emotional participation that sends an important message that Palestine is still at the heart of every Arab person, running like blood in his veins. This did not however go beyond posts on social media platforms, since oppressive regimes have banned such demonstrations that used to take place in the past.  Yet it is a unique and unending love. The Arab regimes’ previous attempts to reduce Arab awareness of the Palestinian cause and twist facts – making Hamas the foe and the Zionist entity the friend – have indeed failed.  Palestine is still the essential cause for the Arab citizen and the Zionist entity is still the eternal enemy of the nation.

Gaza is defending the dignity of an entire nation; a nation that was the best nation brought to the world and still pays the costs of its resilience with its children’s blood. Today, Gaza is the last stronghold of resistance in the nation and tomorrow will be the core symbol of victory and the liberation of Palestine, by God’s will and by Gaza’s brave and righteous men. They will conquer their enemy, ignoring the ones who failed Palestine.

In conclusion, there is nothing more beautiful than the words of the late poet Mahmoud Darwish about Gaza: “Gaza has no horses, no planes, no magic sticks, and no offices in capitals. Gaza liberates itself from our traits, our language and its invaders all at the same time, and when we meet with Gaza in the same dream, perhaps it will not recognize us; because Gaza was born with fire inside and we were born waiting and crying over wrecked homes.”

(Source / 20.11.2018)

Gaza’s Fatal Ritual: Relentless Protests, Mounting Casualties

In this Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 photo, a Palestinian who was injured during a protest stands after sunset near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Gaza City

Atalla Fayoumi hobbles on crutches across the flat, sunbaked plain near Gaza border fence, gazing toward plumes of smoke rising from a clutch of burning tires in the distance.

The 18-year-old Palestinian’s right leg was amputated after Israeli soldiers shot him in April at one of the mass demonstrations held weekly for the past eight months against Israel’s long blockade of Gaza. Yet, like other desperate young men in Gaza who feel they have nothing left to lose, he has kept returning to the protests.

The Gaza Strip has been on the front line of confrontations between Palestinians and Israel for generations. But the territory has been brought to its knees over the last decade by three punishing wars with Israel and an air, sea and land blockade.

The 11-year blockade, imposed by Israel, is aimed at weakening Hamas, the militant group that seized power in Gaza from the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007. But its impact is felt by all. Raw sewage flows directly onto once-scenic Mediterranean beaches, tap water is undrinkable, and electricity is available just a few hours a day. Over half the Gaza Strip’s 2 million people are unemployed, and most residents cannot leave.

While most Gazans see the protests as the inevitable reaction to Israel’s siege, Israel views them as coordinated attacks and says it must defend itself.

Since they began on March 30, Israeli troops have killed more than 170 people and shot nearly 6,000 others. Thousands more have been wounded by tear gas or rubber-coated bullets. On the Israeli side, one soldier was killed by a sniper and six others wounded.

Every Friday, there are more.

When Fayoumi arrived at one of five protest sites along the border just after 2:30 p.m., the area was largely empty. A few days earlier, he swore he would keep participating despite his wounds. But why?

“Because I want to die,” he said.

Yes, he hopes the blockade gets lifted so he can leave Gaza to get a new, prosthetic leg. But if that doesn’t happen, “what’s the point of living?”

By 5 p.m., at least 13,000 people are gathered along the border, throwing rocks and burning tires. Ambulance sirens begin to howl soon after, signaling the start of the day’s violence. At a medical triage tent about a kilometer from the frontier, they bring the wounded: a 22-year-old shot in the left leg, an 18-year-old struck by shrapnel, a 31-year-old shot in the chest.

“Every Friday we wait for the injuries, and every Friday it’s always the same,” says one of the staff, Dr. Khalil Siam. “They always come.”

A few dozen meters away, five men in checkered, black and white headscarves are performing a traditional folk dance with their arms crossed for a captivated crowd under a massive tent. Behind them, in the distance, the border fence looks like a war zone; the sky is completely black, burning tires are shooting flames into the air, and gunfire is ringing out every few minutes.

At the border, all hell is breaking loose. Protesters are swarming the 12-foot-high fence. One man is hanging from the top, shaking it back and forth. The noise is constant, like a waterfall. Men are blowing whistles. Others are screaming at the top of their lungs.

Most are throwing rocks over the fence, thrusting their fists in the air, taking selfies, waving Palestinian flags. Every time a gunshot rings out, they duck like a school of fish darting in unison. Sometimes a man falls, and within seconds he is surrounded by medics in orange uniforms, who bandage him on the spot and rush him on a stretcher to the ambulances waiting in the rear.

After the sun sets, the crowds dissipate rapidly as two black drones circle overhead. A pair of nearby explosions sends shards of concrete and debris hurling into the air. The Israeli army will say that aircraft and a tank struck two Hamas watchtowers after a soldier was wounded by a pipe bomb.

The last casualty arrives at the medical tent at 7:24 p.m. Siam says his team treated 25 people, mostly for gunshot wounds. Half were shot in the leg.

Almost every Friday protest is followed by at least one funeral on Saturday. This week, there are three, including one for an 11-year-old boy.

On Sunday, Fayoumi is sitting on the small bed in his small room, showing off pictures of himself at Friday’s protest.

He is proud that he went. Proud that he stood up for the Palestinian cause. But when asked if having a job would have changed anything, his answer is clear: “I would never have gone.”

After his injury, Fayoumi received a payment of $200 from Hamas. It was spent long ago, he says, on medical bills.

Now he has nothing. No work. No hope. And little else to lose.

Next Friday, he says, he will return to the protests again.

(Source / 20.11.2018)

The missing element from GCC normalisation with Israel: The Palestinians

The lack of a unified, representative Palestinian leadership, pursuing a path of strategic resistance to Israeli occupation, is part of what makes such increasingly public steps toward normalisation possible

By Ben White

Late October and early November saw a number of well-publicised visits by Israeli ministers to Gulf states, including a surprising trip by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman, where he was hosted in Muscat by Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

That trip was followed by Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev’s attendance at a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-hosted international judo tournament, where she found time in her itinerary to become the first Israeli minister to visit the world’s third largest mosque, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Regev’s ministerial colleague, Ayoob Kara, also went to the Emirates, for a telecommunications conference, while Transport and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz followed Netanyahu to Oman for the International Road Transport Union’s annual meeting.

What’s going on?

These visits – to countries with whom Israel does not have official ties – have prompted a rush of speculation about to what extent Israel’s relations with certain regional actors are being normalised, irrespective of the lack of progress towards realising the Palestinian people’s basic rights.

Netanyahu, for his part, is clearly encouraging such an interpretation: the Likud leader claimedhis visit to Oman came “against the background of diplomatic efforts that I have been promoting in recent years vis-a-vis the Arab countries”. He added: “There will be more.”

These visits – to countries with whom Israel does not have official ties – have prompted a rush of speculation about to what extent Israel’s relations with certain regional actors are being normalised

So, what is going on? As the Wall Street Journal put it, Netanyahu views Gulf states “as crucial potential allies in a Middle East that is realigned around opposition to Iran and is less concerned about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land without a signed peace deal”.

From Israel’s point of view then, Netanyahu’s visit to Oman helped advance a number of related goals, including, as summarised by Ronen Bergman, “the hope…that other countries would take courage from this visit and also expose their own covert ties with Israel”.

Promoting the anti-Iran alliance

For the Trump administration, the confrontation with Iran dominates the US approach to the region, including the promotion of an anti-Iran alliance between Israel on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf states, on the other.

Part of that strategy, however, also depends on making progress – or being seen to have made some progress – on the Palestinian question: the hope, therefore, is that Gulf states, like Saudi and the UAE, can pressure the Palestinians to accept a bad deal.

Moshe Ponte (L), president of the Israel Judo Association, attends the Judo Grand Slam 2018 in Abu Dhabi, on 29 October

Jason Greenblatt – who, along with Jared Kushner, has been charged with producing a “peace plan” for Israel and the Palestinians – hailed the recent “statements and/or gestures” from “our regional partners” Oman, Bahrain and the UAE, “signalling warmer ties with Israel”. “A more stable region leads to a stronger and more prosperous region. It is good for all,” Greenblatt added.

In the region, meanwhile, the Gulf states themselves have their own interests at play. For Oman, Netanyahu’s visit was about positioning itself as an important player in the region, one who maintains open lines of communication with a diversity of actors – a valuable “go-between”.

For Saudi Arabia and the UAE, closer – and more public – relations with Israel serve a number of purposes, including the anti-Iran alliance, ingratiation with the Trump administration, the use of Israeli technology in the suppression of internal dissent

For Saudi Arabia and the UAE, closer – and more public – relations with Israel serve a number of purposes, including the anti-Iran alliance, ingratiation with the Trump administration, the use of Israeli technology in the suppression of internal dissent, and economic cooperation more generally.

“Israel is a big economy compared to their size,” bin Salman told The Atlantic in April, “and it’s a growing economy, and of course, there are a lot of interests we share with Israel, and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and countries like Egypt and Jordan”.

No exaggeration

How far can these developments go – and what might stop them?

It is important not to exaggerate the scale of recent events. As one commentator noted in Israeli paper Haaretz, “some of what is being touted as progress with the Arab states has little to do with the Arabs themselves”, with Katz, Kara, and Regev’s trips all occurring in the context of conferences or events organised by international “multilateral institutions, not their host governments”.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it has been suggested that the Saudi crown prince – his credibility seriously damaged – may no longer be able to deliver the goods.

That was certainly the message of a 5 November report published by The Washington Post, where a number of US and Israeli officials “expressed concern” that the crown prince may now “have less leeway to pursue the gradual warming of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours”.

Egyptian protesters burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration against the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on 7 December, 2017

A foreign diplomat told the paper that while Mohammed bin Salman was supposed to be a key figure in the Trump administration’s regional approach – no less than “the pivot point for a new, transactional Arab relationship with Israel that would undergird the Trump peace programme” – he “is not going to do the heavy lifting expected before now, and they [US officials] are deciding what to do next”.

However, in Netanyahu’s forthright defence of Saudi Arabia’s “stability” – and by linking the importance of that stability to a tempered response to the killing of Khashoggi – there was a sign that Israel’s premier saw “an opportunity to score points with bin Salman in case he stays in power”, a public display of support that could have “significant potential gains down the line”.

In the aforementioned Post report, an Israeli official credited Riyadh with “already playing a main role by allowing or encouraging small diplomatic steps over the past month”, including by sending “signals to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain condoning diplomatic overtures to Israel”. Israel, and Washington, will not want to lose this role so soon.

But there are two further potential constraining factors: Arab public opinion, and events in Palestine itself.

Constraining factors

As the 2017-2018 regional survey conducted by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies demonstrated, there is overwhelming popular opposition across the Middle East to diplomatic ties with Israel: 87 percent of the Arabs polled “would disapprove of recognition of Israel by their home countries”, with just 8 percent “accepting formal diplomatic recognition”.

While a convergence of US, Israeli and regional interests is the key to understanding why there is a drive towards normalisation, there is a missing factor in analysing how such an initiative is possible. Such developments can only take place in the context of the crisis afflicting the Palestinian political scene, a crisis that has helped create the space regionally for normalisation.

Israel has done nothing to deserve normalisation with the Arab world

Sounds counterintuitive? After all, the office of Mahmoud Abbas, PLO officials, Hamas and others have expressed open dismay regarding Israel’s burgeoning regional ties. But the fact remains that the lack of a unified, representative leadership, pursuing a path of strategic resistance to Israeli occupation, is part of what makes such increasingly public steps toward normalisation possible.

We only need to look back to the 1990s to see how steps taken by Palestinians, and events in Palestine, can directly impact on Israel’s ability to pursue regional normalisation. It was the Oslo Accords which ushered in a period where Israeli officials made numerous visits to countries lacking formal relations with Israel – and it was the Second Intifada which saw such relations regress.

Thus, the question of Israel’s regional normalisation is inextricably related to events on the ground in Palestine and to the initiatives of Palestinians – both leaders and on-the-ground activists – an unknown quantity that the Americans, Israelis, Saudis and others, will be praying does not undermine even the limited gains towards normalisation thus far.

(Source / 19.11.2018)

Will Qatar’s money ease Gaza’s crises?

Motasem Dalloul1 By Motasem Dalloul

Israeli, Fatah and Palestinian Authority officials have exchanged verbal blows over Qatar’s efforts to ease the crises in the Gaza Strip by paying $15m for the salaries of civil servants. Some Israeli officials claim that this is a boost for the “terrorist” organisation, Hamas, which is the de facto government of the coastal enclave, while Fatah and the PA claim that it reinforces the internal Palestinian division.

Almost all of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet colleagues agreed to allow the cash to be transferred to Gaza. Netanyahu defended this move, saying it was necessary to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged territory. Most senior military officials in Israel concurred even though far-right Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman apparently rejected it, Education Minister Naftali Bennet told Channel 20. According to Haaretz, Netanyahu defied those who objected to the move, saying that he knew how to bear the cost.

“I hear calls for a war from people who have never been involved in a battle,” said Yoav Galant MK in response to Lieberman’s objections to the money transfer. “Do we need to expose our soldiers to danger in order to achieve some goals? What is wrong with achieving such goals through avoiding war for a long time? All other choices must be exploited.”

“When Israel needs to go into battle in Gaza,” added Yoav Kish MK, “it would want to destroy Hamas. The question is: What will happen next? Who will control the Gaza Strip and who will take care of the civilians?” This was echoed by retired Major General Amos Gilad, the director of the Political-Military Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of Defence. “It is easy to say let’s oust Hamas,” he told Army Radio, “but who will assume responsibility for Gaza? How long will we stay there? War is not the solution.”

Kish, however, believes that another offensive against Hamas is just a matter of time. “It is clear that we are heading towards it,” he insisted. “The issue of how to deal with two million people in Gaza after toppling Hamas is the problem which postpones the confrontation.”

Commenting on this, Dr Saleh Al-Naami, a specialist in Israel Studies, told MEMO that all what has happened is just a matter of understanding. “If this reaches the stage of a deal, it would last for a long time because both Israel and Hamas are interested in tranquility regardless of the different goals behind achieving it.”

Meanwhile, Fatah and the PA accused Hamas of reinforcing the equation of “blood for money” after accepting the salaries of civil servants paid by Qatar and a $10m per month donation for essential fuel for Gaza’s sole electricity plant for six months. Israeli Environment Minister Zeev Elkin accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of causing the tension in Gaza by stopping the peace talks with Israel and cutting the civil servants’ salaries in the first place.

“This money is not going to fund Hamas activities,” he told Tel Aviv’s Radio 102 FM. “It is money that is going to the salaries of civil servants, in an orderly, organised manner.” He claimed, reported Reuters, that Abbas stopped paying the salaries in order to “inflame Gaza, because he has not been successful on other fronts… The Qataris came along and said: ‘We are willing to pay this instead of Abbas, in order to calm Gaza down’. What does it matter who pays it?”

Hamas is continuing with its efforts to have the 12-year-old Israeli-led siege lifted to ease the pressure on the Palestinians in Gaza, who have experienced three major Israeli offensives since 2008 and multiple major incursions that have claimed thousands of lives and destroyed the territory’s infrastructure. Israel, explained Al-Naami, also wants some tranquility in Gaza. “This will give it time to tackle what is happening with Iran, Syria and Lebanon, while it doesn’t want to spoil the ongoing wave of normalization with the Arab states.”

As far as the PA is concerned, the specialist in Israel Studies believes that it has no choice in the matter. “If Israel makes a decision, it imposes it on the PA and all of its institutions. The Secretary of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, was clear about this when he said that Israel had warned the PA against trying to disrupt the current lull in the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.” Abbas, noted Al-Naami, was also pressured by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi not to oppose the understandings between Hamas and Israel. “Hence, the lull will last as long as Hamas and Israel consent to it.” Other options, he concluded, would swing into play if either of these parties change their mind.

(Source / 17.11.2018)