PA Cabinet schedules ‘supplementary’ elections in Gaza despite Hamas boycott
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — The Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet has decided to hold supplementary municipal elections in the Gaza Strip as well as in 66 West Bank councils where elections were not held on the regular election day earlier this month.
The May 13 elections only took place in the West Bank, as Hamas, the de facto rulers of the besieged Gaza Strip, rejected the legitimacy of the election, saying that elections should only be held after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah comes to an end and reconciliation is achieved. Meanwhile, as Palestinians cast their votes in 145 West Bank councils, 66 localities failed to present lists as required by law to run for the elections and therefore did not have elections. If these councils also fail to agree on lists, then the cabinet may appoint the council members, state-run Wafa news agency reported. Following the cabinet’s weekly meeting on Tuesday, Wafa quoted statements from the cabinet as saying that the supplementary elections would be held in the occupied West Bank on July 29, while supplementary elections in the besieged Gaza Strip would take place on October 10 … It remained unclear how the PA expected to carry out the elections in the Gaza Strip, as Hamas has not publicly reversed their boycott of the elections, though the party did encourage voters to turn out to the polls in the West Bank on election day.
Palestinian students demonstrate across West Bank to ‘send message to the world’
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — The Palestinian Ministry of Education launched a “Carnival of Freedom” on Tuesday across the occupied West Bank, when Palestinian students held national sit-ins to commemorate historical moments of Israel’s colonization and occupation of Palestine and to “send a message to the world.” Thousands of students across the West Bank took part in the demonstrations, and held signs demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and the recognition of Palestinian human rights, while Palestinian cultural and heritage events were also held at the sit-ins. Head of student activities at the ministry Sadeq al-Khadour said that the events, which were organized in cooperation with the Higher Council of Youth and Sports, were focused on commemorating the 100th year since the signing of the Balfour Declaration, the 69th anniversary of Nakba, the 50 year anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (referred to as ‘Naksa’), and 30 years since the First Intifada. Al-Khadour added that the sit-ins were also aimed at “sending a message to the world that it is time to end the occupation and for Palestine to gain its freedom,” adding that the demonstrations were also centered on pressuring the international community to uphold its responsibilities towards the Palestinians….
Israeli rule ‘key cause’ of Palestinian hardship: UN
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 May — Fifty years after Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, its policies in the West Bank and Gaza are at the root of Palestinian hardship, the United Nations said Wednesday. “Occupation policies and practices remain the key cause of humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report. West Bank and Gaza residents suffer from a lack of basic security, it said, adding that the split between president Mahmud Abbas’s West Bank-based administration and the rival Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza also restricts humanitarian work. “At its heart, the crisis is one of a lack of protection for Palestinian civilians –- from violence, from displacement, from restrictions on access to services and livelihoods, and from other rights violations.”
Palestinian women’s center to keep name despite pressure from UN, Norway
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — Days after Norway pulled its sponsorship from an occupied West Bank women’s community center and demanded a refund for construction costs from the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the United Nations (UN) promptly pulling its backing as well, the center has reportedly said it will not change its name, which the UN said “glorifies terrorism.”
The Dalal al-Mughrabi Women’s Community Center — named after a fighter in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who played a role in a 1978 attack that left over 30 Israelis and 12 Palestinian fighters dead, including al-Mughrabi herself — was built in the Nablus-area village of Burqa in the northern West Bank. The center was sponsored by both the UN and the Norwegian government, who provided partial financial support for the construction of the center, which had remained nameless until it was officially inaugurated earlier this month. Official PA-owned Wafa news agency reported Tuesday that the head of the Burqa village council, Sami Daghlas, said “the center has no intention of caving in to the pressure and changing its name.” Daghlas told Wafa that the center was built “to serve and empower young women in the village and to help them develop them to become active members in society.” According to Daghlas, the name Dalal al-Mughrabi was chosen by the villagers “to commemorate a Palestinian hero who sacrificed herself for her country and therefore they have no intention to change its name, regardless of the price.”“Instead of fighting a community center that does not exceed 50 square meters in area and works on serving young women in the community, they should be objecting to regular attacks by (Israeli) settlers against the village and its people and to allow farmers to reach their land that was taken away from them,” Daghlas said, as he expressed his surprise at the actions of the UN and Norway, which he said were done “to satisfy Israel.”….
Palestinian man arrested for eating publicly during Ramadan
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 31 May — Palestinian police arrested a man in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas on Wednesday for “violating the sacredness of Ramadan,” by eating in public during the holy month. Police said in the statement that a police patrol had seen a man “breaking the fast” publicly and arrested him, and that the man would face legal consequences for the act.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is observed by Muslims through fasting from food and drink from dawn until sunset. On Monday, head of the Ramallah general prosecution office Alaa Tamimi said that those who are caught breaking fast during the holy month would be jailed for one month. The prosecution, he added, would question the suspects, and pending their indictment would refer them to Palestine’s magistrate court, according to Palestinian law. In the Hebron district of the southern West Bank, Palestinian police arrested three men on Monday after they were also caught eating in a public place. A police statement noted that the three were arrested for “paying no respect to the feelings of those fasting.” The three were referred to the general prosecution to face legal proceedings….
For Jerusalem Palestinians, a dilemma to seek Israeli citizenship
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 May by Shatha Yaish — It’s a dilemma many Palestinians from Jerusalem confront: Resign yourself to becoming an Israeli citizen or press ahead as a person without a state. “I don’t really want to do it, but there is no other solution,” said a 28-year-old Palestinian lawyer from east Jerusalem who has applied for Israeli citizenship. She applied in the summer of 2014 but is still waiting for a final answer. The lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid potentially damaging her case, was given her first interview a year after applying. She said it was “very difficult” to bring herself to apply, but concluded that having the passport “will definitely make my life far easier for travel and work.” Fifty years after Israel seized east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, the more than 300,000 Palestinians in the city are in a unique situation. They hold neither full Palestinian nor Israeli citizenships, instead having permanent residence granted to them by Israel and access to services. They pay taxes for work and on property, but can’t vote in general elections, though they can participate in municipal elections. Israel can withdraw their permanent residence if it can prove they live in the occupied West Bank or elsewhere outside Jerusalem, meaning many feel their presence in the city and country of their birth is under threat. As a result, recent years have seen increased numbers seeking to become full Israeli citizens, lawyers and non-governmental groups say. Figures from the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre show 6,497 east Jerusalemites applied for citizenship between 2009 and 2016, of whom 3,349 have been granted it … For Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, taking Israeli citizenship is a sensitive issue. The Palestinian government sees east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel sees the whole city it captured in 1967 as its undivided capital. For many Palestinians of east Jerusalem, taking Israeli citizenship is tantamount to accepting the Jewish state’s sovereignty in the city. “We need to raise awareness of our Palestinian identity in Jerusalem and we should not try to legitimise the occupation,” anti-settlement activist Fakhri Abu Diab told AFP….
Netanyahu says Israel must keep military control over W. Bank in any peace deal
i24NEWS 30 May — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel must maintain its military control over the West Bank in order to ensure its continued existence in the event of a peace deal with the Palestinians. “The idea that we can give up territory and achieve peace is not right,” Netanyahu told Army Radio. “In order to assure our existence we need to have military and security control over all of the territory west of the Jordan [River].” The Palestinians have demanded a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank as part of any future peace agreement. Netanyahu asserted that Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories are not a barrier to peace, saying that the root of the intractable conflict lies in the Palestinians’ refusal to acknowledge Jewish rights to the land. “The root of this problem was and still is that continued refusal by the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a the homeland of the Jewish people in any borders,” Netanyahu said.
Hamas thanks Lebanon Education Minister for restoring Palestinian cause in curriculum
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — The Hamas movement expressed its gratitude to Lebanese Education Minister Marwan Hamada on Tuesday, a day after the minister reportedly called for reintroducing the Palestinian cause in Lebanon’s school curriculum.
Hamas representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka presented a letter of gratitude to Hamada, according to a statement in English on Hamas’ official website, which said that the “current reality” required that the Palestinian cause to remain in the schools’ curriculum, “since it is a core issue for all Muslims and Arabs,” and plays an important role in “preparing a vigilant Palestinian generation, and further promotes Palestinian national principles.” The Hamas representative also said that the Lebanese education minister’s decision “will certainly strengthen the mutual Palestinian and Lebanese relationship.” The minister’s decision came after an article published by Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar criticized Lebanon’s Education Ministry for removing the subject of the Palestinian struggle from history books. The article reportedly claimed that “these are not isolated incidents, but rather an ongoing process to conceal the efforts of normalization with Israel,” adding that this can be “deduced from the views and comments of a number of educators on the deletion of the Palestinian cause from the curriculum,” in the years 2016-2017, upon a decision by former Education Minister Elias Abu Saab. Hamas’ letter of gratitude to the Lebanese education ministry also came a day after Hamas harshly criticized UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, for alleged flaws in the schools that UNRWA administers in Lebanon….
Danish FM mulls cutting funding to pro-BDS NGOs in Palestinian territory
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — The Danish Foreign Ministry has begun to re-examine its funding to Palestinian nonprofits in the occupied territory following pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged Danish leaders to cut donations to Palestinian organizations supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and those “inciting” against Israel, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. Israeli daily Haaretz quoted a statement from Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen as saying that a “comprehensive evaluation” was being done on Palestinian organizations following a visit to Jerusalem on May 17, when the Danish leader met with Netanyahu….
PLO slams joint US-Israel event celebrating 50th year of Israeli occupation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — After reports emerged that the US Congress and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, would celebrate the 50 years of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory during a joint video event on June 6, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement on Wednesday that the event represented the deepening of American “complicity in Israel’s criminality.” Israeli media reported that the event would be broadcast live between Congress and the Knesset next week, when Israel celebrates the “reunification of Jerusalem,” referring to the 1967 Israeli military annexation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Either US President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the event on Capitol Hill.
Rights groups brief court in case of US citizen killed by Israelis
SAN FRANCISCO (WAFA) 31 May – The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice (RCF) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Tuesday filed a “friend of the court” brief to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case brought by the parents of an American teenager killed by Israeli soldiers, a press statement said. Eighteen-year-old human rights defender Furkan Doğan was shot five times, including in the face at point-blank range, when Israeli soldiers raided the Mavi Marmara in international waters in 2010. The ship was part of a six-boat flotilla that attempted to break the siege of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians suffering under Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip. In the lawsuit, Doğan’s parents are seeking accountability for the extrajudicial killing and torture of their son. “The first responsibility of our government is to protect its citizens,” said Craig Corrie of the Rachel Corrie Foundation. “It is outrageous that our government chooses instead to protect a foreign government when it kills our citizens. It is outrageous foreign policy, domestic policy, and outrageous as a matter of law.” Attorneys say international and US law clearly provide accountability and redress for extrajudicial killing and torture by former foreign government officials.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian shot after stabbing soldier outside West Bank settlement
Haaretz 1 June by Gili Cohen & Yotam Berger — A Palestinian woman stabbed a soldier at a West Bank settlement and was shot on Thursday, the Israeli army said. The attack took place at the entrance gate to the Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank. The soldier was lightly wounded in the attack and evacuated to hospital and the assailant was being treated at the scene, the army said. The assailant was in critical condition after being shot in the stomach. According to preliminary details, the Palestinian woman arrived at the Mevo Dotan guard post, where she approached a soldier and stabbed him. She was then shot. Local settlers said that the woman approached the gate to the settlement, and carried on in its direction after a soldier at the post demanded that she stay away. She approached a group of soldiers near the gate and stabbed one of them, they said….
Extremist Israelis march through Silwan on Jewish holiday, smashing car windows
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Tens of extremist Israelis stormed the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem early Wednesday morning, shouting insults at local Palestinians and vandalizing vehicles. Photos published by local watchdog the Wadi Hilweh Information Center showed Israeli police officers and vehicles standing by as the crowd marched through the streets in the early predawn hours, to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which began on Tuesday and ends on Thursday. Majd Gaith of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that dozens of “Israeli settlers” were shouting insults at Palestinian residents, throwing rocks at houses, and smashing the windows of cars parked on the streets, as locals attempted to stop them….
Israeli forces detain Palestinian teen during overnight raid in Jenin district
JENIN (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian teenage boy from the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin during predawn raids on Tuesday, according to locals. Locals in the village of Bartaa in southwestern Jenin told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed the village in the predawn hours of Tuesday and detained 17-year-old Ali Abd al-Rahim Qabaha after ransacking his home. An Israeli army spokesperson said that no Palestinians were detained in overnight raids in the West Bank.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian girl in Hebron for allegedly possessing knife
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli border police detained a 17-year-old Palestinian girl on Tuesday at a checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron for allegedly possessing a knife. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, Israeli forces were “suspicious” of the girl, and decided to approach her and search her bag when they found a “big kitchen knife.” Al-Samri added that the girl “resisted” the detention by ignoring orders given by Israeli forces. However, Israeli forces were able to “control and detain her.” Israeli forces suspected that the girl was attempting to carry out a stabbing attack against Israeli forces and visitors in the area, al-Samri said. She added that the teenager was from the Hebron-area village of Taffuh, but did not provide her name. [IMEMC: Nour Erzeiqat, 17]
Israeli man attempts to enter mosque in Al-Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — An Israeli man attempted to enter the al-Qibli mosque — the main mosque where Muslim worshipers perform prayers [and the one usually called ‘the Al-Aqsa Mosque’ by outsiders]– located inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, but was prevented by a group of worshipers. Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Jerusalem chapter director Nasser Qaws told Ma‘an that a group of Al-Aqsa security guards and Muslim worshipers at the gate of al-Qibli mosque noticed a person “who aroused their suspicions” while attempting to enter the mosque. One of the security guards headed towards the man and attempted to start a conversation, at which point the guard realized that the man was an “Israeli settler dressed as a civilian” and was attempting to enter the mosque for unknown reasons, Qaws said. The guard, along with a group of worshipers, prevented the man from entering the mosque and alerted Israeli police, who arrived at the scene and checked the identity card of the man and then escorted him out of the compound. According to Qaws, the Israeli man, whose identity remained unknown, was a retired colonel of the Israeli army.
Israeli navy shoots and injures a Palestinian fisherman in Gaza
IMEMC 30 May — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Tuesday at dawn, on several fishing boats in Palestinian territorial waters, close to the shore in the Sudaniyya area, northwest of Gaza city, and injured a fisherman. Medical sources said the wounded fisherman, 24 years of age, was shot in the leg, and suffered a moderate injury, before the medics moved him to the Shifa Medical Center, in Gaza city. Following the attack, the fishermen had to sail back, without being able to fish, in fear of further Israeli escalation.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian man in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man in the northern besieged Gaza Strip on Monday night. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stationed across from the northern border between Gaza and Israel opened fire towards a 25-year-old Palestinian man as he was walking near the beach, injuring him in the leg. They added that he was taken to the al-Shifa hospital for treatment. While local sources made no mention of other individuals being present during the shooting incident, a spokesperson for the Israeli army told Ma‘an that “several suspects” entered the Israeli-designated buffer zone overnight, adding only that Israeli forces “fired warning shots into the air.” Gaza fisherman union spokesman Nizar Ayyash confirmed to Ma‘an that the injured Palestinian man was not a fisherman, unlike many of the Palestinians who are shot at along the Gaza coast.
Palestinian teenager shot in Gaza last week remains in critical condition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — A week after Israeli forces shot a Palestinian teenager in the stomach with a live bullet during a protest in the besieged Gaza Strip, rights group Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) reported that the teen remained in a critical condition and denounced Israel for its “disregard for Palestinian lives.” The teen was among dozens of youth to march along the border line near al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, as protesters turned out across the occupied Palestinian territory in solidarity with a mass hunger strike launched by Palestinians in Israeli prisons, which culminated on its 40th day on Saturday. A statement published Monday on DCIP’s website identified the youth as Khalid Ghamri, saying he turned 17 while unconscious in the hospital. DCIP quoted doctors at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, who described Ghamri’s injury as serious and his overall health condition as “very critical,” and said the boy remained unconscious and under intensive care….
Surgeries cut by one-third in Gaza’s main hospital
EI 29 May by Ahmad Kabariti — Fayez Ahmed’s operation was supposed to last six hours. With Gaza beset by power cuts, his medical team could not guarantee an uninterrupted electricity supply for that length of time. After weeks of delays, Ahmed decided to discharge himself from the hospital without having the surgery he needed to remove an abscess from his lung. “That’s it,” he said. “I cannot wait any longer.” Ahmed has been seeing doctors in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Gaza’s largest hospital. Many others with lung and respiratory complaints have struggled to cope with regular power cuts. Anwar Jundia, now aged 56, had one kidney fail in 2015. He was also diagnosed with asthma around that time. Jundia is being treated at the chest department in al-Shifa. The equipment needed to help him breathe is often not functioning because of power cuts. The equipment “switches on and off tens of times every day,” he said. Walid Daoud, a doctor at al-Shifa, described the operations required by some patients with respiratory complaints as “sensitive and extremely dangerous.” “We have to ensure that there is a continuous flow of oxygen into the patient’s lungs,” he said. “It’s not like a procedure for toothache or something else that can be done without electricity.” Fayez Ahmed is among the patients who have been treated by Daoud. “If Fayez does not have this critical operation, he will need an oxygen concentrator at his home,” said Daoud. “That would cost $5,000 and I do not think Fayez can afford that.” Daoud said that on one recent occasion procedures were abruptly halted because of a blackout. It took some time to reactivate the generator on which the hospital now relies….
‘It we lose power, they’ll be dead in three days.” Gaza’s hospitals on the brink as Palestinian factions feud over electricity
GAZA CITY (The Telegraph) 30 May by Raf Sanchez — Yasmin Abu Kashaf was wrapped in a blanket and watching her own blood pump in and out of the dialysis machine when the hospitals lights flickered and went out. The 20-year-old, who looks like a teenager and wore a white polka-dot hijab, looked on as the machine she was strapped to stopped working. Nearly half a pint of her own blood was inside it. Other patients in the dialysis ward of Gaza’s Shifa hospital became to scream in fear but Yasmin’s father, a burly construction worker, leapt to his feet and began manually pumping his daughter’s blood. The hospital’s back-up generator eventually rumbled to life and the dialysis machines began to work again. But for Dr Muhammad Shatat, the head of the dialysis centre, the increasingly frequent power cuts in Gaza are an ominous sign of things to come. “When a patient needs dialysis, the machine is their soul,” he said. “If we lose power, they’ll be dead in three days.” ….
Powerless in Gaza
EI 30 May by Rami Almeghari — Today when I woke up, there was no water. All I wanted was to wash my face. I went downstairs to my parents’ apartment. They too had no water. “There is no electricity, son,” my mother said. “No water has been pumped into the tank.” I had stored some bottles filled with water in the kitchen. I washed my face with that. First mission of the day accomplished. I made some coffee on the gas stove and sat myself down. We only get four hours of power in our area, the Maghazi camp in Deir al-Balah. The problem has been getting worse over the past months. I had just come back to Gaza from Cairo where my wife had been receiving medical treatment. I had spent six months there at her side. Now I had to get back to work. I use a little rechargeable battery that keeps me connected to the Internet. My laptop was charged. I could read the news and check my email. To my relief, after an hour and a half, the power came back. Happily, I plugged in my laptop and began listening to clips of interviews I had done earlier. But I only got through two out of five when the power went again. I put aside my work and picked up the phone. -Annoyed- I had not seen Abu Walla for six months, but I knew he would be taking a break now. Abu Walla is a tailor who fixes shirts and trousers and he works from a shop in my neighborhood. His sewing machine needs power so this seemed like an opportune time to say hello. I bought some coffee from a nearby vendor which we drank in the shop. Talk, as it always does, turned to politics: the hated division among Palestinians and a siege that is holding nearly two million people in Gaza hostage. When the power came back, Abu Walla and I shook hands and went about our business. I had been working up a draft and listening to more interviews when my daughter, Nadine, 13, came back. “Mom,” I heard her ask my wife, “can I take a shower?” I had to put my work away again. I was getting annoyed, annoyed at myself for not being able to ensure that my children have running water in their home….
Israel ‘turns a blind eye’ to Gaza’s drug influx
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 31 May by Fedaa al-Qedra — For a decade, Belal, 45, has been receiving a monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority on one condition: that he stay home and not work under the administration of the rival Hamas movement. With enough money, plenty of time and few options for entertainment in Gaza under the crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Belal began using Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is illegal unless prescribed by a doctor. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been taking the drug as a way to escape the pressures of daily life in the besieged coastal enclave, doctors estimate. “It starts just for fun, but then you cannot do without [the drug] until you ruin your life,” Belal told Al Jazeera from a room in Gaza’s only drug rehabilitation centre, where he has been seeking treatment. Narcotics, including cannabis, have flooded Gaza in unprecedented quantities in recent months, according to Ahmed Kidra, the head of the local police anti-drug unit. The amounts seized in January alone equaled the total seized in all of 2016, he said, citing nearly $2m in seized hashish bars, Tramadol and ecstasy pills. Kidra accused Israel of plotting to “flood” Gaza with drugs, alleging that it “turns a blind eye” to narcotics when they enter into Gaza hidden inside commercial goods. Israeli authorities did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment in time for publication. The ongoing blockade of Gaza has imprisoned most of the territory’s two million residents in a place with frequent blackouts, stalled post-war reconstruction and skyrocketing unemployment. Local health professionals have cited near-epidemic levels of Tramadol use throughout Gaza, with growing numbers of addicts….
Critics object to location of new Qatari committee headquarters in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — After Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the head of a Qatari committee tasked with Gaza reconstruction, Muhammad al-Ammadi, laid the cornerstone for the committee’s new headquarters, Palestinian activists and politicians have complained that the new construction was being built on the remains of a helipad used by late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat — claims that Hamas has denied. The Gaza City building will also serve as a residence for al-Ammadi in his capacity as Qatari ambassador to Gaza. Former Palestinian Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein, who served under Arafat, urged the Emir of Qatar in a letter to move the construction to another location. “Your Highness, as I write to you, I know and appreciate the size of aid your country has provided, but as a resident of Gaza Strip, I frankly tell you that the site chosen for the headquarters and ambassador’s residence is of special importance to every Gazan citizen, because it is the landing field of martyr Yasser Arafat’s plane, whose ruins remain there until this day after Israel destroyed that iconic site.” He highlighted that there were several other appropriate locations to build the headquarters … The landing field remained unchanged and is being used as training ground for security forces,” the [Hamas] media office added, affirming that Gaza authorities “would continue to respect and be proud of the nationalistic heritage of Abu Ammar,” using the teknonym for Yasser Arafat, “whose house and belongings are still preserved despite all wars and dire conditions the Gaza Strip witnessed.”
Gaza to see forced military retirement
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 31 May by Moath al-Amoudi — The Palestinian Authority will begin forcing about half of its military staff in the Gaza Strip to retire in a move it hopes will ease its financial crisis and put pressure on Hamas, despite fears that the move is likely to make both situations worse — The Palestinian Authority (PA) is set to enact in June a controversial law that will force about half of Gaza’s security personnel to retire, while leaving the West Bank’s force intact. Officials in the security services have started contacting staff members to inform them of the change. Some economic experts say the austerity measures — in part meant to solve the struggling PA’s financial crisis — remain unviable in light of a weak economy that relies on donors and tax funds, without creating new development projects. Such measures merely reflect a political dispute rather than addressing the economic problem, they say. Until June, every member of the Palestinian security forces is entitled to optional early retirement, provided that he is at least 45 years old if he is an officer and at least 35 if a noncommissioned officer or staff member, with a monthly pension of at least 70% of his salary. However, under the move being imposed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, all military staff in Gaza born as of June 31, 1966, must retire, while those born after that date will have the option of voluntary retirement. Abbas approved the law directly, without a vote by the suspended Palestinian Legislative Council. As a result, the Advisory and Legislation Bureau in Gaza deems the law unconstitutional, but the bureau’s opposition isn’t expected to have any impact. Aref Abu Jarad, head of the PA employees’ union in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “The law will apply to 50% of the PA’s military staff in Gaza and will be mandatory for those above the determined age. … It is, however, optional for military staff in the West Bank, regardless of their age.” He added, “The decision will soon be binding to all military staff in Gaza. Retirees will receive a pension equivalent to 70% of their salaries. This will not be enough to ensure them a decent life. Most military staff members in Gaza have to pay bank loans and financial obligations; the remaining amount of their pension will not be enough to make ends meet.”….
Fleeing Hamas’ harsh rule in Gaza, thousands of Palestinians seek refuge in Athens
ATHENS (Haaretz) 30 May by Zvi Bar’el — Ayman was imprisoned by Hamas for his cartoons, Naji was tortured and Osama became an expert on escape. Now they find that in Greece it’s easier to be Syrian than Palestinian — “I’m asking you to leave this place right now,” bellows the woman unloading boxes from a white van. The three men helping her stop and glare. “Are there Syrian refugees living here?” I ask. “Who lives here and who doesn’t live here is none of your business. Just leave. If you’re looking for Syrian refugees you can Google it – all of them are there.” The woman and her two assistants are a kind of house committee, or more precisely – a neighborhood committee – that helps Syrian refugees who have found shelter in an abandoned building also occupied by Greeks in the colorful and dicey Exarcheia neighborhood. This is a neighborhood of anarchists who in their spare time decorate the walls of shabby buildings with stunning graffiti and help refugees … Meanwhile, a notice on a bulletin board outside mentions the City Plaza Hotel, about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the classrooms … At the hotel’s entrance, Osama (a pseudonym like all the names in this article), is in the middle of a hurried and unpleasant conversation. “Are there Syrian refugees living here?” I ask. “Why are you only interested in Syrian refugees and not in us, the Palestinian refugees?” answers Osama in a markedly Palestinian dialect. “Palestinians?” I wonder. “As many as you want. There are thousands here,” he says. “I myself arrived here from Gaza a month ago and there are more friends from there living here. Come and meet them.” … Osama fled Gaza via the tunnels that connect Gaza and Egypt. “Yes, there are tunnels that haven’t been destroyed and they’re used by civilians who want to leave. Some people go through the Rafah crossing, but that’s a very expensive story.” … Osama estimates that about 6,000 Palestinian refugees live in Athens alone, most of them from Gaza. It’s hard to verify this number because many of the Palestinians have bought forged Syrian passports to accelerate the asylum process … Additional figures are provided by a European asylum support agency whose latest publication says there are more than 45,000 Palestinian refugees in Greece, though most of them were residents of Syria….
Global aid organization helps Gaza women become breadwinners
GAZA (Xinhua) 29 May by Saud Abu Ramadan — Amira Mahmoud, 34, was once unable to find a financial source to reopen her little supermarket in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, which was looted during the 50-day military offensive Israel waged on Gaza in 2014. The supermarket, the only grocery shop that can be seen for miles in this part of the southern Gaza Strip, was the only source of living for Mahmoud, a mother of three children, and her unemployed husband. She has been the sole breadwinner of her family and the caretaker of her sick mother. “My kids are disturbed and are experiencing traumatic distress since the last war on the Gaza Strip,” Mahmoud, who wore a red scarf covering her head and a long-sleeve dark dress, told Xinhua. “I was taking my four-year-old son to a therapist because he physically harmed himself.” However, with the assistance of Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization which takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger and ensures families have access to clean water, food, training and health care, Mahmoud was able to reopen her store and upgraded it in 2016 …”I no longer have to reduce my meals to keep my children fed and I can even buy healthy things like fruits, vegetables and fish,” said Mahmoud, who is also an environmental activist….
Gaza authorities prevent PLO official from leaving Gaza for Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — State-run Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Tuesday that authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip prevented senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Zakariya al-Agha from leaving the besieged coastal enclave to attend a PLO meeting in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah “for the second time in a row.”Al-Agha, from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee since 1994, and a member of the PLO Executive Committee since 1996. He formerly served as the head of the PLO Department for Refugee Affairs and began serving as Fatah’s General Commissioner of Mobilization and Organization in the Gaza Strip in 2015….
Video: From Gaza to Paris to be reunited after three years
ICRC blog 29 May — A few weeks ago, Laila, a 7-year-old girl, began a trip that she will remember for her entire life – the one that took her from Gaza to Paris to be reunited with her family. Her journey involved a whirlwind of emotions: from the sadness of leaving behind her grandmother, uncles and extended family in Gaza, the fatigue of traveling more than 24 hours crossing several countries, to the sheer joy of hugging her parents and two sisters again in Paris after three years apart.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli military court upholds administrative detention of 17 Palestinians
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 May – An Israeli military court convening at Ofer prison near Ramallah Wednesday upheld administrative detention orders against 17 Palestinians from across the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. It said eight Palestinians, mostly from the Ramallah area, received six months administrative detention, seven received a four months sentence and two three months. Administrative detention is illegal under international law where people are held without charge or trial for long periods of time.
Palestinian lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tair released by Israel after 17 months in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — Palestinian Jerusalemite lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tair was released from Israel’s Ktziot prison in the Negev desert Tuesday morning after serving out a 17-month sentence. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported on its website that following Abu Tair’s release, the number of “abducted Palestinian legislators” dropped to 11, which includes Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat. Abu Tair, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the Change and Reform Bloc of the Hamas movement representing Jerusalem, was detained on Jan. 28, 2016 from his home in the occupied West Bank town of Kafr ‘Aqab — where he has resided since Israel deported him from occupied East Jerusalem in 2010. An Israeli army spokesperson, without identifying Abu Tair by name, had said that he and another Palestinian detained in Kafr ‘Aqab the same night were “Hamas terror operatives.”
Israeli authorities release former hunger striker after 12 years in prison
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli authorities released Palestinian prisoner Ali Ahmad Brijieh, 41, on Tuesday after he had spent 12 years in Israeli prisons, and just days after he and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ended a 40-day mass hunger strike.
Brijieh, from the village of al-Ma‘sara in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, was released from Israel’s Negev prison and transferred to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital for medical checkups following his involvement in a mass hunger strike carried out among hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli custody. Brijieh told the Palestinian-run news agency Wafa that he has continued to suffer from shortness of breath and severe pains in his stomach and loins owing to his hunger strike.
The 1967 ‘Six-Day’ war and the resulting occupation
Opinion — Fifty years, fifty lies / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 1 June — It began with the question of what to call the West Bank and Gaza. On Israel Radio it was decided to use the term ‘temporarily-held territories.’ This was lie No. 1 — Let’s assume the occupation is justified. Let’s also say that Israel has no choice. Let’s not even call it an occupation. Let’s say it was recognized by international law and that the world has applauded it. Let’s assume that the Palestinians are grateful for its presence. Nevertheless, a small problem still hovers over it: the whole thing is based entirely on lies. From beginning to ever-receding end, it’s all a pack of lies. There is not one word of truth associated with it. Were it not for these lies it would have imploded in its rottenness a long time ago. Were it not for these lies, it’s doubtful if it would have ever come into being. These lies, some of which the right takes pride in (“for the sake of the Land of Israel it’s permissible to lie”), are enough to make any decent person recoil in revulsion. One doesn’t need its other horrors to be convinced of this.
The second major lie was the argument that the occupation serves the security interests of Israel, that it’s a self-defense measure by a helpless nation beset by enemies.
The third lie was the “peace process,” which never really took place, and which in any case was only meant to buy the occupation more time. This lie had many legs. The world was an accomplice, continuously lying to itself. There were arguments, presentations of maps (all of them alike), peace conferences were held with numerous rounds of talks and summits, with envoys rushing back and forth, and mainly empty patter. These were all based on a lie, which was the assumption that Israel even contemplated ending the occupation.
The fourth lie, obviously, is the settlement enterprise. This project was born and raised in a lie. Not one settlement was established honestly, starting with the overnight stay at the Park Hotel in Hebron, through the “labor camps,” “protective camps,” “archaeological digs,” “nature reserves,” “green spaces,” “fire zones,” “survey lands,” outposts and expansions – all those fabrications committed with a wink and a nod, culminating in the biggest lie in this context, that of “state lands,” a lie that can only be likened to that of Israel’s Palestinian “present absentees.” … It’s also convenient to issue the endless daily lies that cover up the crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces, the Border Police, the Shin Bet, the Prison Service and the Civil Administration – the entire apparatus of occupation….
Israeli documents from days after war have familiar ring 50 years on
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 31 May by Luke Baker — Within days of capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel was examining options about their future ranging from Jewish settlement-building to the creation of a Palestinian state. Within days of capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel was examining options about their future ranging from Jewish settlement-building to the creation of a Palestinian state. As the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the war nears on June 5, recently unearthed documents detailing the post-war legal and diplomatic debate have a familiar ring, and underline how little progress has been made towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Akevot, an Israeli NGO researching the conflict, has spent thousands of hours over two years gaining access to declassified, often dog-eared, documents and building a digital record of them. The group’s aim in obtaining the files, at a time when the Israel State Archives has restricted access to its resources as it conducts its own digitization project, is to ensure that primary sources of conflict decision-making remain accessible to researchers, diplomats, journalists and the wider public. “One of the things we realized early on was that so many of the policies related to current day Israeli government activities in the occupied territories have roots going back to the very first year of occupation,” said Lior Yavne, founder and director of Akevot. “Policies that were envisaged very early on, 1967 or 1968, serve government policies to this day.”….
Palestinian refugees’ dreams of returning home fade
AL-WIHDAT REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan (AFP) 31 May by Mussa Hattar with Sarah Benhaida — Fifty years ago, Sobhi Awwad left the ancient West Bank city of Jericho with his parents, running to dodge the crossfire from battling Jordanian and Israeli soldiers. Today, living in a refugee camp in Amman, his seven children and 15 grandchildren know his Palestinian homeland only through his stories and those of others who fled. “The past will never come back. I wish I had died in Jericho and not come here so I wouldn’t have to carry what I carry in my memory today,” he said. “Our life was simple, but very happy. There were good things in Jericho.” Awwad is among the some 300,000 refugees from the 1967 Six-Day War and its immediate aftermath. Over the past five decades, the tent that the family pitched about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Jericho has been replaced by a house, and the Al-Wihdat camp in which it stands looks much like any other neighbourhood in the Jordanian capital. One difference is the graffiti proclaiming that the refugee camps are just a way station, a “waiting room before the return” — a message seen on posters throughout the camps of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territories. The Palestinians claim a “right of return” to homes their families fled or were driven from both in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel and again in 1967. For the Palestinian leadership, it is a right that must be negotiated painstakingly if stalled peace negotiations ever resume….
Keeping memories alive in years since Six-Day War
AFP 31 May — Some use photographs, others seek global solidarity or throw themselves into campaigning for peace. Fifty years after the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has left scores of families bereaved and searching for ways to keep loved ones’ memories alive. Israeli Tamar Paikes, 49, feels she lost her father twice. In 1967, a few months before she was born, her father was killed in Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, which saw Israeli forces defeat Jordanian, Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian militaries in less than a week and claim large swathes of territory. Six years later her brother, who had become the head of the family, was killed fighting in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. She preserves the memory of her father Michael, a lieutenant colonel, through a particular picture. In it he is pointing at a map, planning the takeover of Jerusalem with others, days before he was later stabbed to death by a cornered Jordanian soldier. The picture was in her mother’s family home for years and now hangs on Paikes’s wall. She says the family was encouraged to lionise him, but not really to grieve. “(My family) wanted to remember him as a hero,” she told AFP. “We knew he was a brave man but we were victims of that heroism.” “We used to camp with other families (of the bereaved) but there was nothing like psychological support.”
Ali Ishtiwi’s father Salah died on the opposite side of the same war — fighting against the Israelis in Gaza. For decades he carried a faded passport-sized picture of his moustached father in traditional Palestinian headdress in his wallet. Now his son does. Like Paikes, he says he was taught to see his father as a hero, but not to talk about him much. The religious family explained his death as part of God’s plan, but rarely discussed sadness. “I was always certain he died as a hero,” he told AFP. Daniel Bar-Tal from Tel Aviv University says victims of violence are often venerated in Israeli and Palestinian societies. “When people are killed by the other side you can show you are the victim,” he told AFP. “Each society persists as the exclusive victim of the conflict.” Around 9,000 Israelis have died in conflict-related violence since 1967, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. Reliable figures for Palestinians are difficult to find, but since the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in 1987 more than 10,000 have died, according to rights group B’Tselem. The rate of deaths spiked during the two intifadas, which spanned from 1987 to 1993 and 2000 to 2005….
The forgotten Syrian secrets of the Golan Heights
[with photos] Haaretz 31 May by Moshe Gilad — From old minefields to pools for Syrian officers, the vestiges of the former sovereigns of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights are everywhere, if you know where to look — Fifty years have passed since the Golan Heights was seized from the Syrians, and 36 years since it was annexed and made officially part of Israel. But a visit there reveals that contrary to what one might think, there is still a wealth of testimony to Syria’s past presence. The Golan was not empty of Syrians when it was occupied, as is commonly thought. In an article published in Cathedra, a quarterly published by the Yad Ben Zvi Institute for Research on Eretz Israel, historian Dr. Yigal Kipnis, a resident of Ma’aleh Gamla on the Golan, outlined the map of communities on the Heights on the eve of the Six-Day War. His research showed that throughout the Heights (including the part retained by Syria), there were some 150,000 Syrians living in 273 communities there. Most of them, 70 percent, were Sunni Muslims. A few months after the war, a census taken of the area Israel had occupied found only 6,396 residents in eight towns and villages, nearly all of them Druze. Kipnis thus estimates that some 120,000 residents fled the area during the war and never returned. He says you can still find remnants of 220 small villages that either deteriorated naturally or were destroyed….
How a small group of Israelis made the Western Wall Jewish again
Haaretz 31 May by Nir Hasson — Fifteen contractors were called for an urgent mission at the end of the Six-Day War: Demolish the Mughrabi neighborhood to provide access to the Kotel. Fifty years later, their stories have come to light — …Schwartz was one of 15 older contractors from the Jeruslaem contractors association who were called on by then Mayor Teddy Kollek that night [June 10, 1967] to come to the Western Wall, which had just been captured. The task was to demolish the houses in the Mughrabi (Moroccan) Quarter that was built right next to the Kotel and create the Western Wall Plaza ... Kollek enlisted the contractors for the work, but to this day it is still not clear who made the decision about the demolition. It is clear Kollek was involved, as well as Shlomo Lahat, who was the new military governor of East Jerusalem (and later mayor of Tel Aviv), and the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Uzi Narkiss. It is clear they intentionally made the decision without asking for – or receiving permission. No written documents remain concerning the decision, except for a hand-drawn map on a piece of paper that marked the boundaries of the area to be demolished … Levy does not remember the residents of the houses or whether anyone was evacuated from them. Fuchs says that when she asked her father about them, “he said they went with a megaphone and asked the people to gather, and they went out through the Zion Gate, because through this gate they took out the refugees of the Jewish Quarter [in 1948].” … Benziman tells how in one case the residents refused to leave the house and left only after the bulldozer rammed the wall. In one house, an elderly woman named Haja Ali Taba’aki was found dead in her bed. In one of the pictures a bulldozer can be seen demolishing a house with furniture, curtains and a vase with flowers inside….
Opinion — Punched, dismantled, unbowed: How diaspora Jews are unsettling the Occupation / Ilana Sumka
Haaretz 29 May — I grew up as a young Jewish girl in 1970s America, certain that the Israeli army was nothing less than a band of superheroes who would protect me from any harm that might come my way. Last week, the Israeli army was the harm that came my way. While the rest of the world was preparing for the new American president’s first visit to Israel, in a small village called Sarura deep in the West Bank, 130 American, Canadian, European and Australian Jews were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Palestinians, taking blows from Israeli soldiers. If you’ve never heard of Sarura, it’s probably because the Israeli government has been trying for decades to wipe it off the map. In the 1970s, the Israeli government declared 30,000 dunams of the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank, including Sarura, a military firing zone. By 1999 they had evicted some 700 Palestinian villagers living in the area, sealing their water cisterns shut and barring them from their caves. In 2001 a handful of extremist settlers moved to a hilltop across from the spot Sarura used to stand and established an illegal outpost they named Havat Ma’on. The Israeli authorities responded to this unauthorized construction by connecting the settlers to water and electrical infrastructure. Last week, a coalition of Palestinians, Israelis and Diaspora Jews came together to reclaim Sarura. We called the project “Sumud: Freedom Camp”.
Like many Jews around the world, it took time for me to realize I couldn’t reconcile this reality of Israel’s occupation with the Israel I thought I knew. For me, it took living in Israel for seven years, studying and eventually traveling in the West Bank every day to witness first-hand the rise of settlements and the on-going displacement of Palestinians to reach a conclusion that terrified me, and that I had not been able previously to accept. Israeli policy in the West Bank is based on racial and ethnic discrimination in which Jewish rights and Jewish access to land are privileged over and at the expense of Palestinian rights and Palestinian access to land….
PHOTOS: A week of joint struggle in Sumud Freedom Camp
Activestills 28 May by Ahmad Al-Bazz — For over a week, Jewish activists from across the globe have joined Palestinians in an effort to rebuild a depopulated village in the West Bank — It has been over a week since 250 Palestinians, Israelis, and diaspora Jews came together to establish the “Sumud Freedom Camp” on the site of Sarura, a former Palestinian village in the West Bank, whose residents were expelled by Israeli forces between 1980 and 1998 (“sumud” is Arabic for steadfastness). Organizers announced that the “camp will stand until the families can return to the homes.” In the daytime, activists worked together to reclaim land that had been taken, rebuild ancestral homes, rehabilitate historic wells, and advance the livelihood of the villagers. So far the camp has twice been raided by the Israeli army. Soldiers arrived to demolish tents that had been erected by the activists and confiscate equipment. Currently, activists are focusing on rehabilitating the caves in the area in which Palestinians can live, instead of building new living quarters, which are easily dismantled by the Israeli army. Sumud Freedom Camp is located in the south Hebron Hills, part of Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control. Area C covers over 60 percent of the West Bank and is home to an estimated 180,000-300,000 Palestinians, who suffer from discrimination in access to water and infrastructure, as well as building permits….
Israeli forces raid Palestinian-Jewish protest camp for third time in 10 days
972 mag 30 May by Natasha Roth — Israeli soldiers and Border Police raided the Sumud Freedom Camp in the south Hebron hills for the third time on Monday morning, destroying and confiscating property and detaining three Palestinian activists. The anti-occupation encampment, built and inhabited by Palestinians, Israelis and diaspora Jews, had already been torn down twice in the past 10 days … Settlers descended from the nearby radical Havat Ma’on outpost to observe the proceedings, and representatives from Regavim — a pro-settler organization that seeks to obstruct Palestinian building in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank — were also at the scene. The raid coincided with the third day of Ramadan. Sami Hureini, a local activist from a-Tuwaneh, told +972 Magazine that activists have been marking the holiday by sitting down together for an iftar each evening, and that Palestinian members of the camp who are fasting have been staying up for the night shift to keep watch, going to sleep at 4 a.m. Monday’s raid occurred shortly after they had gone to bed.
Prisoners’ hunger strike
Barghouthi: Hunger strike marks ‘turning point’ for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 May — Marwan Barghouthi, the imprisoned Fatah leader who led a mass 40-day hunger strike across Israeli prisons, released a statement on Tuesday for the first time since the end of the hunger strike several days ago, calling the strike a “turning point” in the Palestinian prisoners’ relationship with Israeli prison officials and warned Israeli authorities that prisoners would resume their strike if their commitments were not fulfilled. His statement, which was released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), underscored the treatment of Palestinian prisoners during the hunger strike, which including the transferring of Palestinians between Israeli prisons and into solitary confinement in “harsh and brutal conditions.”Barghouthi added that Israeli authorities had confiscated “all personal belongings, including underwear. The prisoners were deprived of all sanitary and hygiene materials, turning their lives into hell and releasing shameful rumors and lies.” “Yet, the record of the prisoners has been one of unprecedented steadfastness in the record of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and the Israeli repression failed to break their will,” he added….
As prisoners recover from grueling strike, IPS maintains no demands were met
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 May — Days after hundreds of Palestinian prisoners suspended their 40-day mass hunger strike, Israel Prison Service (IPS) lifted punitive measures imposed on the former hunger strikers, as Palestinian prisoners have struggled to regain their health. Meanwhile, IPS has continued to maintain that none of the prisoners’ demands were accepted in the agreement with Palestinian leaders that ended the strike. Throughout the strike, which was launched on April 17 under the leadership of imprisoned Fatah official Marwan Barghouthi, IPS conducted a series of punitive punishments against striking prisoners, which included frequent transfers within and between prisons, as well as transfers to solitary confinement. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement Tuesday that all prisoners who were transferred to different prisons during the hunger strike were returned to the prisons in which they had initially been held in before the start of the strike. “All punitive procedures imposed in the beginning of the strike were also lifted,” the committee reported, referring to the limitation on lawyer visits, assaults of prisoners, frequent and violent cell searches, among other measures.
The committee noted that the health conditions of prisoners at the Ashkelon prison were “still difficult,” following the strike, pointing out that the prisoners were currently consuming fluids and vitamins “to regain their physical power.”
The hunger strike: where food is more than nourishment
Al Jazeera 31 May by Stanley L. Cohen — What do Bobby Sands, Nelson Mandela and Palestinian hunger strikers have in common? — In prisons all across the world, in as many languages as there are cruel despots ruthlessly hanging on to power, political prisoners are called out from the isolation of their cells to stand and assure their jailers that they’ve not magically escaped overnight. For them, prison is a choice, their principles are not. Often faceless to most but themselves, each collective that struggled to maintain personal dignity while seeking shared justice has become a torch bearer; they are elements of an age-old arch of liberty bound by resistance, sacrifice and little else. The march from Bobby Sands to Nelson Mandela to Palestinian hunger strikers is steady and unbroken. It derives its strength from resistance as ancient as tyranny itself. Who today remembers the names of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst? In early 20th-century England, these pioneering suffragettes and their many sisters were imprisoned time and time again for little more than rejecting systemic patriarchy. Once there, many said no to food while their jailers said yes to torture. In a powerful account of the effects of forced feeding, suffragette Mary Leigh recounted her experience: “I was then surrounded and forced back onto the chair, which was tilted backward. There were about ten persons around me. The doctor then forced my mouth so as to form a pouch, and held me while one of the wardresses poured some liquid from a spoon; it was milk and brandy. After giving me what he thought was sufficient, he sprinkled me with eau de cologne, and wardresses then escorted me to another cell on the first floor. The wardresses forced me onto a bed (in the cell) and two doctors came in with them. While I was held down a nasal tube was inserted. It was two yards long, with a funnel at the end; there was a glass junction in the middle to see if the liquid was passing. The end was put up left and right nostrils on alternate days. Great pain was experienced during the process, both mental and physical … Often, hunger strikes do not end with a joyful break of the fast but rather loss of life. Nowhere is that ultimate sacrifice more dramatically spoken than in the not-too-distant history of [Irish] Republican resistance to British tyranny … Although Bobby Sands, who died less than a month after being elected a Member of Parliament, has become synonymous with the hunger strike, ten other political prisoners sacrificed their lives in the Maze and another 61 people lost their lives to related street violence that raged outside its walls during the strikes …. Although the latest Palestinian hunger strike has ended, the conditions that triggered it remain unchanged, guaranteeing future strikes will once again confront an Israeli justice system that sees indefinite detention and torture as mainstays of its brutal brand of apartheid and occupation. The march to freedom can be long and difficult. It is costly and demands of occupied people creative and determined resistance in the streets and in the prisons. For Palestinians, there is no choice.