68th Great March of Return: 71 civilians injured. Including 30 children, 3 women, and paramedic by Israeli forces
PCHR 26 July — On the 68th Great March of Return, 71 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 30 children, 3 women and a paramedic were among those injured this Friday, 26 July 2019. Thirty-nine civilians were shot with live bullets and 4 of them sustained moderate to serious wounds. Today’s protest, which lasted from 16:30 to 19:30, was titled “Palestinians Refugees of Lebanon”, and involved activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Dozens of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip, and were met with Israeli soldiers’ excessive force despite no imminent threat to the soldiers’ lives. Despite reports that the Israeli military changed their open-fire strategy against the Great March of Return protesters and ordered soldiers to aim at their ankles; PCHR’s fieldworkers documented the injury of many protesters in their upper extremities, including 4 that sustained moderate to serious wounds. As such, this asserts Israel’s relentless insistence on the unjustified policy of using excessive force.
In this context, the Israeli news site Ynet revealed on Tuesday, 23 July 2019, that over the past months, the Israeli forces have been trained along the Gaza Strip borders on a new sniper weapon. This means that the Israeli military uses the protests of the Great March of Return as firing ranges to test its weapons, in clear disregard for the value of human life and in violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
To this date, PCHR has documented 207 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 44 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics, and 2 journalists. Additionally, 13,323 were wounded, including 2,742 children, 409 women, 221 paramedics and 207 journalists. Among those wounded, PCHR documented cases where 196 persons have become with disabilities, including 28 children and 5 women, and were as follows: 149 amputees; 21 paralyzed, 26 blind or deaf and 9 sexually disabled.
The following is a summary of today’s incidents along the Gaza Strip border:….
Palestinian dies from serious wounds suffered Friday
IMEMC 27 July — The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has confirmed that a young man died, on Friday at night, from serious wounds he suffered in the evening after Israeli soldiers shot him during the Great Return March processions. The Health Ministry said the young man, identified as Ahmad Mohammad al-Qarra, 22, was shot with a live round in his abdomen, suffering serious wounds, and died at a hospital in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza Strip. It added that the Palestinian was shot east of Khan Younis and was treated by the medics who rushed him to the hospital but succumbed to his serious wounds.
A life redefined by a tear gas canister
RAMALLAH (Defense for Children International-Palestine) 22 July — Samer S., 13, suffered a complex injury after being directly struck on the right arm by an Israeli-fired tear gas canister in January of 2019, in the northern Gaza Strip — On the afternoon of January 11, 2019, Samer S. set out for the bus stop with his cousin. It was a Friday, meaning that the “Great March of Return” demonstrations would be starting soon. For a 13-year-old boy from the impoverished Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza, where nearly 114,000 residents share a half square mile, the promise of dance and martial art performances was inviting. Reaching the area near the perimeter fence east of Jabalia around 2:30 p.m., Samer sat for a while to take in the free show. “There were performances of dance, karate, and kung fu,” said Samer. “There were many people at the tent camp. Some young men and boys were close to the perimeter fence, throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers, who were firing bullets and tear gas canisters at them.” “Military jeeps were also firing a large number of tear gas canisters, which would fall randomly, whereas the canisters fired by the soldiers hit the demonstrators directly,” the boy later told DCIP.
After watching the performances for a while, Samer headed to Jakkar street. He had just reached the street, some 300 meters (984 feet) from the perimeter fence, according to his sworn affidavit, when something struck his right shoulder. A canister landed near his feet and began spewing a thick, white smoke. Choking and bleeding, Samer ran. Seeing how badly he was injured, others came alongside Samer and carried him to an ambulance, where a paramedic cut open his shirt. “I saw a circular hole with a diameter of about four centimeters [1.6 inches] in my shoulder, and it was bleeding profusely,” Samer said. Samer was transferred to Al-Awda hospital and admitted him to the operating room. Doctors told him there were two fractures in his right shoulder. Due to the severity of the fractures, surgeons implanted platinum rods to hold the bones together. On January 14, Samer underwent a second surgery to adjust the platinum rods. Before he was discharged, doctors stressed that treatment was not over … The bad news only continued for Samer as a neurologist confirmed that a nerve in his right arm had been severed. In February, he endured a third surgery to remove the platinum rods and several bouts of complications involving infections. By the middle of March, Samer still could not move his arm. “I still feel pain, especially at night, it burns,” Samer said to DCIP….
Medics need miracles to stay alive in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 21 July — Nobody in Gaza is exempt from being an Israeli target. Luck is the only thing that saves anyone here from being killed. The medic Muhammad al-Judaili ran out of luck. On 3 May, he was working at the Great March of Return – weekly protests to demand that the rights of Palestine’s refugees be fully respected. He was next to an ambulance parked approximately 100 meters from the fence separating Gaza and Israel when he saw that a child had been shot in the arm. Muhammad rushed toward the child, with the intention of administering first aid. Before he could do so, Muhammad had himself fallen to the ground. An Israeli sniper had shot him in the nose with a rubber-coated steel bullet. He was taken to al-Quds hospital in southern Gaza, where he had previously worked. After three weeks, he was discharged so that he could celebrate Eid with his family in al-Bureij refugee camp. While he was in his apartment, Muhammad lost consciousness. He was brought back to the hospital, where his heart stopped for minutes. Although doctors succeeded in reviving his heart, he remained in a coma. His medical team was concerned that his brain would be damaged as a result of his injury. On 4 June, Muhammad was transferred to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank. Six days later, he died. He was 36 years old. “I never expected to be a widow and have the burden of raising four children alone,” said his wife Muna Shurrab. “Muhammad had a big heart that loved us all.”….
The ongoing dread in Gaza: so many names, so many lives
Counterpunch 26 July by Kathy Kelly — Jehad Abusalim, a Palestinian now living in the United States, grew up Gaza. In Chicago last week, addressing activists committed to breaking the siege of Gaza, he held up a stack of 31 papers. On each page were names of 1,254 Palestinians living in Gaza who had been killed in just one month of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” attacks five years ago. “I felt shaky and uneasy all day preparing for this talk,” he told the group. He described his dismay when, looking through the list of names, he recognized one of a young man from his small town. “He was always friendly to me,” Abusalim said. “I remember how he would greet me on the way to the mosque. His family and friends loved him, respected him.” Abusalim recalled the intensity of losing loved ones and homes; of seeing livelihoods and infrastructure destroyed by aerial attacks; of being unable to protect the most vulnerable. He said it often takes ten years or more before Palestinian families traumatized by Israeli attacks can begin talking about what happened. Noting Israel’s major aerial attacks in 2009, 2013, and 2014, along with more recent attacks killing participants in the “Great March of Return,” he spoke of ongoing dread about what might befall Gaza’s children the next time an attack happens.
Israeli army knew it was unnecessarily killing Gaza protesters in real time
+972 mag 24 July by Edo Konrad — The Israeli army admits that it secretly changed its policy once it realized that shooting unarmed protesters in the leg was lethal. Rights group says the revelation is an admission that Israel was killing protesters without any justification– . The Israeli military reportedly changed open-fire regulations for its snipers deployed along the Israel-Gaza fence after it became clear that they were unnecessarily killing unarmed Palestinian protesters, something human rights groups and others had been warning all along. Israeli snipers and sharpshooters killed 206 Palestinian demonstrators and wounded thousands of others — including children, medics, and journalists — during the Great March of Return in Gaza. The ongoing weekly protests, which began in March of 2018, called for an end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Israeli journalist Carmela Menashe, the military reporter for Israel’s public radio station, tweeted earlier this week that the IDF made the change when it understood that “firing at the lower half of the body above the knee led to death in many cases, despite this not being the objective.” According to Menashe, the soldiers were instructed to “shoot below the knee, and later, at their ankles.” …
A statement published by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem on Wednesday accused Israeli officials of openly admitting that they knew their soldiers were killing people that, “even in the eyes of the state, had no reason to be gunned down.” “No one bothered to change the orders, and the army continued to operate in a manner of trial and error, as if these were not real people who might be killed or wounded… People whose lives and the lives of their families have been destroyed forever,” said B’Tselem….
Gaza’s universities: severe financial crisis threatens continuity of work
MEMO 26 July — Palestinian universities in the Gaza Strip are suffering from a severe financial crisis that threatens the continuity of their work next year, academics and university administrators said on Thursday. On the sidelines of a meeting of officials of three universities (Islamic University, Al-Azhar University – Gaza, University College of Applied Sciences) with journalists, the academics and university administrators attributed the financial crisis to the decrease in students’ enrolment rate, by up to 30% at present. Yahya Al-Sarraj, a member of the joint committee of solving the universities’ crisis in Gaza, said that the universities are suffering from a significant financial crisis. “This crisis has resulted in the universities’ inability to pay the salaries of teachers, as the dues of university workers reach between $ 28-35 million,” Al-Sarraj added. He explained that the debts that students owe to the universities reached this year between 28 and 35 million dollars. Al-Sarraj expressed fears that universities will not be able to accept students next year because of the financial crisis. Also, the students’ reluctance to enrol in universities threatens society with new social crises, which may lead to unexpected disasters, as he put it … The number of students enrolled in the three universities has dropped from 45,000 to less than 35,000 students, according to Hamada.
Qatar to fund Gaza’s new industrial zone
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 July by Ahmad Abu Amer — An industrial zone funded by Qatar is set to be established east of Gaza City, by the Karni crossing. The zone is projected to provide jobs to 5,000 Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Walla News reported July 4. The project was discussed and approved during a security Cabinet meeting led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several high-ranking security officials in May. The industrial zone is based on the terms of the truce talks between Hamas and Israel, which have been mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations since October 2018. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Israeli and Qatari approval of the project was delayed because of respective bureaucracies. Now that the zone has been approved by Israel and guaranteed financing by Qatar, it is expected to start operation at any moment. Israel wants to absorb Hamas’ anger after the Israeli army killed one of its members in Gaza on July 12, with Hamas threatening retaliation….
Gazan banks start paying out latest installment of Qatar grants to poor families
Times of Israel 21 July by Adam Rasgon — Postal banks in the Gaza Strip started to distribute the latest installment of small grants of money from Qatar on Sunday morning to impoverished Palestinian families, according to Palestinian news sites. In the past year, the banks have distributed $100 Qatari grants several times to tens of thousands of needy families in the coastal enclave. Doha has agreed to provide the grants to poor families in Gaza as a part of recent ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in the Strip….
Gaza’s seawater desalination plant project completed, says official
GAZA, Tuesday, July 23, 2019 (WAFA) – The head of the Water Authority, Mazen Ghoneim, announced today the completion of the sea water desalination plant project in Gaza City. Ghoneim said in a press release that the experimental operation of the station, which has a capacity of producing 10,000 cubic meters per day, will serve more than 200,000 citizens living in Gaza and northern Gaza districts. He said the water from this station will be mixed with the water reservoirs constructed by the Water Authority. He pointed out that work is underway to connect the station to the electricity network to ensure continuity and stability of its work in order to move to permanent operation expected to be in less than three months. He thanked the sponsors of this project, which cost $15 million funded by the Kuwaiti Fund through the Islamic Development Bank in cooperation with the Coastal Municipality Water Utility. Ghoneim stressed that the project was completed after three years during which the Water Authority was able to overcome all the challenges, especially Israel’s refusal to allow the entry of materials necessary for electromechanical equipment.
PCHR calls for investigation into death circumstances of prisoner in Gaza
Press Release 25 July — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the Attorney General to open an investigation into death circumstances of Mohammed Mahmoud Sa’ed Baker (43), from Gaza City. Baker died in al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, at dawn today, 25 July 2019, after being transferred to the hospital from Taiba Rehabilitation Center, south of Gaza City, due to deterioration of his health condition the day before. PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to publish the results to the public, as primary investigations indicate that the deceased suffered from a heart attack and high blood pressure. According to Baker family’s statement to PCHR, at approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 24 July 2019, Baker, who was sentenced to 3 years in prison in a criminal case, was transferred from Taiba Rehabilitation Center to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah after his health condition deteriorated due to a heart attack. At approximately 03:30 on Thursday, 25 July 2019, doctors declared him dead … According to the statement of the Forensic Medicine Department at al-Shifa’ Hospital to PCHR’s fieldworker, Baker suffered from a heart attack and pneumonia that caused his death. PCHR emphasized that the Attorney General and the Palestinian Prison Service are both responsible for the life and integrity of the prisoners. Thus, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to open a serious investigation into the incident and publish the results to the public. PCHR also stresses the importance of holding the Public Prosecution Office accountable for their negligence, as this is not the first incident concerning a prisoner’s death while in their custody; yet, no precautionary measures whatsoever were taken.
Chile doctors carry out surgeries in Gaza
MEMO 24 July — A Chilean team of orthopaedic surgeons is carrying out urgent operations in the European Hospital in southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, Al-Resalah newspaper reported yesterday. Doctor Lautaro Campos headed the team which arrived in the Strip on Friday and is expected to leave tomorrow evening. In a statement, the Palestinian orthopaedic surgeon Jamal Abu-Hilal said that the three-member team carried out 16 surgeries and they are expected to carry out 30 more. The team is visiting Gaza for the second time in coordination with Palestine Children Relief Society. The first visit took place a year ago.
Gaza revived: How an Irishman is giving hope to Palestinian amputees
IMEMC/Agencies 23 July by Muhammad Hussein — Gaza. The very name evokes images of Israeli bombardment, crumbling infrastructure, keffiyeh-clad protestors standing defiantly with Palestinian flags and slingshots, and screaming children shot by snipers in a fog of tear gas and smoke from burning tyres. All of these images are the unfortunate reality of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but there remains an untapped sporting potential within the population, and one man has dared to dig it out from among the most unlikely of people: the growing number of amputees. Over the past few years, the number of amputees in the Gaza Strip has risen exponentially, particularly since the beginning of the Great March of Return protests at the nominal border between Gaza and Israel since 30 March last year …
Speaking exclusively to Middle East Monitor from his office in Dublin where he works full-time as an accounts manager for a housing company, Simon Baker stressed his status as a football coach rather than someone who is trying to change the politics in occupied Palestine. “I was there to try and create a good image,” he told me, “and the one thing I said to the players is ‘I’m not telling you to forgive, I’m not telling you to forget, but if you don’t start focusing on tomorrow and you only focus on yesterday, you’re never going to move forward’.” His mission in Gaza began with losing his own leg after an accident at a building site in 2004. The incident left him depressed and traumatised. He overcame this by getting back into sports, football in particular, where he discovered that being an amputee was no real barrier to his value as an active member of society….
Israel stops spraying herbicides along Gaza border for first time in 5 years
JPost 23 July by Anna Ahronheim — For the first time in five years, Israel has not sprayed herbicides along the Gaza border, which was previously done by the Defense Ministry to ensure that troops have a clear line of sight into the Gaza Strip. The halt follows a four-year legal campaign by human rights organizations Gisha–Legal Center for Freedom of Movement; Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. Israel has admitted to carrying out aerial spraying some 30 times between 2014 and 2018, which according to Haaretz destroyed 1,400 hectares (3,560 acres) of crops and fields over the five years. According to the human rights groups, the last time herbicides were sprayed was in December, damaging numerous crops deep inside Gaza and harming the livelihood of farmers and herders in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave … According to the left-wing webzine +972, the three groups stated that the chemical being sprayed had been determined by the World Health Organization to be a carcinogen, which is not meant to be used in aerial spraying due to health risks and also the risk posed to nearby crops…
Gaza takes a stand against the siege
[photos] MEMO 22 July — Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip held a protest today against the closures imposed by Israeli occupation. Organised by the Supreme National Authority of the March of Return and Breaking the Siege, the demonstration saw trucks line up in northern Gaza all the way to the Great March of Return camp in East Gaza. Entitled “Returnees … We will Break the Siege”, the protest waved banners and chanted slogans rejecting the blockade and its effects on the national economy, transport and trade. “Gaza stands today with all our people to thwart the deal of the century. Desperate attempts to implement this deal will not succeed,” the National Authority said during a press conference at Al-Awda refugee camp in eastern Gaza.
Gaza’s clothing sector sizesup thanks to Hamas-Israel truce
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 23 July by Entsar Abu Jahal — Owners of sewing and textile factories in the Gaza Strip are hoping to see a steady increase in their exports to the West Bank and Israel. They credit a slight improvement to the truce understandings reached between Hamas and Israel in March and called on the governments in Gaza and Ramallah to offer incentives to the textile sector. The truce provided for economic incentives in the Gaza Strip and an increase in exportation at the border crossings. Abdel Fattah Abu Moussa, spokesman for the Ministry of National Economy in Gaza, told Al-Monitor that there has been a noticeable improvement in the performance of sewing and textile factories, with sales reaching $3 million during the first half of 2019 for the first time since the Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2007. Abu Moussa attributed the improvement to Israel’s approval to export limited quantities of Gaza-made clothing to the West Bank and Israel, as well as the policy of the Ministry of National Economy to protect local products and encourage production through tax and fee exemption on raw materials in coordination with the Gaza-based Ministry of Finance, in addition to a discount for electricity…
Youths in Gaza can have a future
Newsbook 22 July by Mario Schiavone — A number of youths in Gaza who participated in a nine month apprenticeship programme now have a brighter future as they are ready to find a good and secure job. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in cooperation of the Holy Family Parish, launched the job creation and capacity building program in the Gaza Strip, in October 2018. According to Fides News Agency, nine months later, the 20 Christian youth benefiting from the program are reaping the fruits of their work and seeing the new career prospects of this project.
20 apprentices — The program has now completed the first phase of training and apprenticeship – which lasted 9 months. The work start-up program was able to accommodate only a third out of 60 applicants that submitted their candidacy for the program, and fill in positions in religious, educational, social, medical and development institutions, such as those carried out by the Aisha Association for the protection of women and minors. The program was made possible with the generous donation of the German Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, which aims to enrich the work experience of young Christians in the economically and socially depressed context of the Gaza Strip….
Gaza crossings’ operations status: monthly update – June 2019
UN OCHA 17 July – BACKGROUND: Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip have undermined the living conditions of about two million Palestinians. Many of the restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a blockade. These restrictions limit access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. In recent months, OCHA has witnessed some easing of restrictions such as opening Kerem Shalom crossing on Friday for the entry of Qatari-funded fuel for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) and an increase in the number of permits issued to merchants….
Israeli navy arrests 2 fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Anadolu Agency) 22 July by Hacer Baser — Israeli naval forces on Sunday arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to a local union. Fishermen were identified as Isam Nabil Al-Akra, 24, and his brother Riad Al-Akra, 20, Gaza’s fishermen union said in a written statement. Israeli forces also seized the fishermen’s boats, the statement added. The Israeli military has yet to issue an official statement on the arrests.
First batch of Gaza pilgrims leave for Mecca
GAZA, Friday, July 26, 2019 (WAFA) – The first group of Palestinian pilgrims from the Gaza Strip left the Cairo International Airport today en route to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Diab al-Louh, Palestine’s ambassador to Egypt, said 795 pilgrims who left Gaza yesterday are the first in nine groups comprising 2,900 pilgrims in total heading to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Hajj. He said 11 international flights from Cairo during the coming four days are allocated for the next batches of Gaza pilgrims leaving for Saudi Arabia.
West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinians and British ISMers hospitalized in sadistic and brutal display of violence by Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem demolition
International Solidarity Movement 23 July — Two Palestinian families lost their homes yesterday in unprecedented mass demolitions in East Jerusalem carried out by 900 Israeli soldiers who hospitalized Palestinians and ISMers in a sadistic and brutal eviction operation. During the invasion of the two occupied buildings Israeli border police shot Palestinians at close range with rubber-coated steel bullets and kicked them down flights of stairs. ISMers were stamped on, dragged across the floor by the hair, strangled with a scarf and pepper sprayed by Israeli border police. The International Solidarity Movement activists, Bethany Rielly, 25, Beatrice-Lily Richardson, 27, Chris Lorigan, 30, and Gabriella Jones, 20, were carrying out a non-violent action by sitting in the house of Palestinian Ismail Obeide with 30 locals in the Wadi al-Hummus neighbourhood of Sur Baher, in an attempt to delay the demolition. 12 Palestinians were also hospitalized after being kicked in the back down flights of stairs and two were illegally shot at close range with rubber-coated steel bullets….
Israeli soldiers abduct and injure many Palestinians near Jericho
IMEMC 26 July — Israeli soldiers abducted and injured, overnight until dawn hours Friday, many Palestinians during extensive and violent invasions and searches of homes and property in Fasayel village, north of Jericho in the occupied West Bank. Media sources said dozens of soldiers in armored jeeps and [other] vehicles invaded the village from several directions, and stormed all its neighborhoods, before violently searching homes and interrogating the families. They added that the soldiers fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at Palestinians protesting the invasion, causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. During the invasions and searches of homes, the soldiers abducted many Palestinians; four of them have been identified as Ahmad Mousa Nawawra, Fathi Ahmad Nawawra, Zakariya Khaled Nawawra and Fahmi Mohammad Sourka.
Palestinians perform Friday prayer in Wadi al-Hummus area in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 26 July – Dozens of Palestinians performed the weekly Friday prayer outdoors today in Abu al-Hummus area, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, in protest of Israel’s demolition last week of several homes in the area for their proximity to the Israeli segregation barrier. Clashes erupted with Israeli soldiers following the prayer as the latter attacked the worshipers by teargas to disperse them, causing many cases of suffocation from gas inhalation. Last Monday, Israel demolished 10 Palestinian-owned buildings in Sur Baher’s Wadi al-Hummus area and displaced 24 individuals in the process, many of them children. The demolition received wide scale condemnation.
Israeli probes into deaths of Palestinians yield few results
JALAZON REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) 22 July by Isabel Debre & Mohammed Daraghmeh — Hamedo Fakhouri clearly remembers the moment when the young Palestinian who worked at his neighborhood coffee shop was shot dead. Israeli troops were lingering after an overnight arrest raid in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem when he noticed the mentally disabled Mohammed Habali limp up the street with his wooden walking stick. Seconds later, he heard gunshots and spun around to see Habali collapse. “I cannot forget and will not forget how this poor man was killed,” said Fakhouri. Surveillance videos of the shooting drew outrage from Palestinians and human rights groups. Soon after, the Israeli military launched an investigation. Witnesses say Habali was killed by Israeli troops. The military has acknowledged its forces opened fire and has not disputed the cause of his death. But seven months later, the investigation into whether soldiers were criminally at fault shows no signs of progress, illustrating what critics say is a disturbing pattern. The Israeli military has opened investigations into 24 potentially criminal shootings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past year, The Associated Press has found. Yet none of the cases have yielded convictions or even indictments. In most instances, the army hasn’t interviewed key witnesses or retrieved evidence from the field….
Lawmaker among 19 Palestinians detained from West Bank
JENIN, Thursday, July 25, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Thursday overnight detained 19 Palestinians, including a lawmaker, from various parts of the West Bank, said the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS confirmed in a press release that Israeli forces detained six Palestinians, including four former prisoners, from the northern West Bank district of Jenin. WAFA correspondent identified two of the six detainees as residents of Jenin city, another as a resident of al-Yamun town, another as a resident of Burqin Valley, and another as a resident of Anza town. During the confrontations that unfolded in Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces opened fire towards young men who protested the raid, causing dozens to suffer tear gas inhalation and hitting a young man with a tear gas canister in the face. All suffocation cases were treated on the scene, while the casualty was rushed to a hospital, where medics described his condition as moderate.
Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, PPS confirmed that three Palestinians were detained from Nablus district and another from Qalqiliya district. In Jerusalem district, Israeli police rounded up seven Palestinians, including a father along his two sons, from the Jerusalem neighborhood of al- Issawiyeh.
In Hebron district, an Israeli military force rounded up Azzam Salhab, a [Hamas] member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, after ransacking his house in Hebron city. Another Israeli military raid was conducted in Surif town, west of Hebron, resulting in the detention of a Palestinian. Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents. These raids, which take place also in areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, are conducted with no need for a search warrant, whenever and wherever the military chooses in keeping with its sweeping arbitrary powers.
Most popular university for Arab Israelis is in the West Bank
[behind paywall] Haaretz 23 July by Lior Dattel — The institution of higher education with the largest number of Israeli Arab students is no longer one in Israel. Rather, it is the West Bank city of Jenin, part of the Palestinian Authority. Arab American University in Jenin, a private institution operated in collaboration with California State University in Stanislaus and Utah State University, has 6,215 Israeli Arab students — far more than the 5,444 studying at the University of Haifa, which traditionally attracted more Israeli Arabs than any other institution in Israel. The numbers come from a joint study conducted by the Aaron Institute for Economic Policy at the Herzilya Interdisciplinary Center and the Israeli Finance Ministry’s economic research unit. The massive enrollment at Arab American University is a relatively new phenomenon. The school, founded in 2000, is the first and only private Palestinian university in the PA. In 2007, it enrolled just 35 Israeli Arabs, but the number doubled the following year and has continued to multiply. Today, Israeli Arabs make up more than half of the university’s student body, with an additional 5% coming from abroad….
Israel gives green light for civilian aircraft to overfly West Bank
MEMO 23 July — The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has opened a new flight path to Ben Gurion International Airport which sees civilian aircraft flying at low altitude over the outskirts of Ramallah and other West Bank cities, reports Haaretz. This new route could expose aircraft to ground fire as they pass over the West Bank and poses a “security risk”, but despite this, the new route was approved by the Israeli army. A former high-ranking official at Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority acknowledged the risk but said that in the event of a plane being fired on while using this flight path, the “gates of hell” would be opened against the Palestinians in the occupied territory. A few weeks ago, Israel accused Russia of interfering with GPS systems in its airspace. Russia has rejected the allegations and called them “fake news”. Nevertheless, following reports of aircraft losing signals to their GPS near Ben Gurion Airport, the IAA was forced to stress that “measures are in place to allow safe landings and take offs” at the airport despite the disruption. Israeli officials also had to stop flights using the former route that avoided overflying the West Bank. They installed a new system that enables aircraft to land when pilots have no visual contact with the runway. Relations between Israel and Russia are strained….
Prisoners / Sentencing
Hufaiza Bader fighting for justice, fighting for his life
ABU DIS (ISM) 25 July — On the morning of the 25th of July Huzaifa Bader, 27, was rushed to Ramleh Prison Hospital in the occupied West Bank after he had been on hunger strike for 25 days. With his health deteriorating and with no sign of progress in his legal battle, his family don’t know how much longer he can cope. It may be a matter of hours. Huzaifa began his hunger strike at the start of July having spent just over 13 months in administrative detention. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have held him without charge, extended his detention arbitrarily and held him in solitary confinement. Huzaifa, who became a father while in prison is still waiting to see his daughter, Majdal, who is now 6 months old. His family told us that with every extension of his detention he has become more and more desperate to hold her for the first time. The situation has only been made all the more unbearable for Huzaifa because of his medical condition. A childhood accident left him with burns on almost 90% of his body and he has required specialist medical treatment ever since. During the period of his detention, Israel has not only denied him any kind of justice (or even anything resembling due process) but has gone as far as to deny him the medical treatment he needs….
Ezzedine, Zahran, al-Zaghari suspend strikes; 9 Palestinian prisoners on strike against administrative detention/
On 24 July, Palestinian prisoners Jafar Ezzedine and Ahmad Zahran suspended their hunger strikes after receiving a commitment from the Israeli occupation forces to end their administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Ezzedine had gone without food for 39 days and Zahran for 32 days. Both have spent years in Israeli prison in the past. Hassan al-Zaghari also suspended his hunger strike on 26 July after an agreement to end his administration and not renew his detention again, securing his release in six months. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Jafar Ezzedine, Ahmad Zahran and Hassan al-Zaghari on their victories over injustice and arbitrary imprisonment and looks forward to their liberation.
One day later, reports noted that four more Palestinian prisoners had joined the five remaining striking prisoners; there are currently 8 Palestinians on hunger strike against imprisonment without charge or trial. Israeli administrative detention orders are issued for one to six months at a time on the basis of so-called “secret evidence” and are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians have spent years jailed with no charge and no trial under repeatedly renewed detention orders….
Palestinian who killed Israeli soldier during West Bank raid gets life in prison
[behind paywall] Haaretz 22 July by Yotam Berger — An Israeli military court sentenced on Monday a 32-year-old Palestinian to life in prison for deliberately killing an Israeli soldier during an army raid in the West Bank in 2018. Islam Mohammed Yousef Naji, resident of a refugee camp near Ramallah, was also ordered to pay 258,000 shekels ($73,000) in compensation for Ronen Lubarsky’s family over two years. Naji was arrested in July after intelligence suggested he threw a marble slab that led to the death of 20-year-old Staff Sergeant Lubarsky from the elite Duvdevan unit … On the night following the attack, Naji returned to the site with his face concealed, donning gloves in the hope of wiping his fingerprints off the marble. According to the court, he scattered bottles and bags on the roof to create the impression that the marble couldn’t have been thrown off that roof without causing noise. Naji was convicted of first degree murder, and obstruction of justice at his own confession. In 2005 Naji had been convicted of membership in the Hamas military wing and firing seven bullets toward a military jeep….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Wadi Hummus: Another Israeli celebration of ethnic cleansing
Al Jazeera 23 July by Yara Hawari —The demolitions are part of a grand and continuous plan to rid Jerusalem of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants.– In the early hours of Monday morning, Israeli armed forces began their biggest demolition push since 1967 in Wadi Hummus, in the Palestinian Sur Baher neighbourhood southeast of Jerusalem. Palestinians and international activists attempted to resist the demolitions, for which they were greeted with brute force, with dozens reporting injuries from tear-gassing and beatings from Israeli forces. Since the demolitions began, videos have emerged on social media showing Israeli soldiers and police reveling in the demolitions.
One particular video shows a masked soldier counting down from 10 before pressing a demolition button and blowing up a Palestinian building in the background. An Israeli border policeman standing next to him pats him on the back, smiling and laughing, before the two turn around and pose for a picture in front of the smoke and rubble. The masked soldier turns to the border policeman and says “kol hakavod“, literally meaning all the respect in Hebrew but in this case translating to “good job”. In the background, you can hear the jeers and adulation from other soldiers…
The claim is that the buildings present a security risk to Israel’s so-called “security barrier”, also known as the apartheid wall, 85 percent of which runs through the Palestinian occupied territories cutting and dividing Palestinian land and communities. The pretext of this demolition places other Palestinian villages and towns – such as Al-Ram, Tulkarem and Qalqiliya that are in the vicinity of the apartheid wall – at risk. This demolition, however, also sets a precedent for the destruction of property under supposed Palestinian Authority (PA) control. Sur Baher is unusual as its lands were divided across Areas A, B and C after the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, yet the wall, built a decade later in the early 2000s, was erected around the village so that it fell on the Jerusalem side. While Areas A and B are supposed to be under PA control, because the wall was built around the village, it has no presence in the area and offers no services to the residences there. Yet many residents are still obliged to apply for building permits from the PA if their property falls within Area A or B, meaning that they fall under PA jurisdiction. Indeed, the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, has confirmed that they would be compensating all families who lost homes in this demolition spree. The cruel irony is that the Israeli authorities will be billing the residents for the demolition costs, making this an entirely profitable endeavour for Israel….
Wadi al-Humos demolitions: the excuse –security; the strategy –a Jewish demographic majority
B’Tselem 22 July– On the morning of Monday, 22 July 2019, the Israeli authorities began demolishing buildings in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Humos, the eastern extension of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem. The move came after Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the residents’ appeal, and ruled there was no legal barrier to prevent the demolitions. Israel is planning to demolish a total of 13 buildings, including at least 44 housing units, which are in various stages of construction. Two families were already living in the buildings demolished today. Their 17 members, including 11 minors, are now homeless. Some of the structures slated for demolition were built in Area A, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for planning and building, and had issued the required permits. Wadi al-Humos is located in an enclave outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, which were unilaterally determined by Israel in 1967 as part of the ambition to illegally annex to Israel as much West Bank land as possible with the fewest number of Palestinians. The neighborhood holds most of the land reserve for future development of Zur Baher….
Hundreds lose shelter as Israeli forces destroy dozens of housing units in Sur Baher in occupied East Jerusalem
PCHR 22 July — On Monday morning, 22 July 2019, Israeli military forces launched a large-scale destruction operation against civilian property in Wadi al-Humus neighborhood, in Sur Baher, south of occupied East Jerusalem. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and machinery carried out the destructions that resulted in hundreds of civilians losing their shelter. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this crime against civilians and considers it on par for ethnic cleansing, and holds the Israeli government accountable for escalating the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). PCHR calls upon the international community to hold its legal and moral responsibility and intervene effectively to stop Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians and to provide necessary protection.
According to PCHR’s documentation, at approximately 2:00 on Monday, 22 July 2019, hundreds of Israeli soldiers moved into Sour Baher village with dozens of construction vehicles. They stationed in Wadi al-Humus neighborhood, closed its entrances and cut all power supplies. Israeli soldiers then forcefully vacated buildings in the neighborhood, used physical violence against them and banned them from taking any of their belongings with them. At approximately 06:00, destruction machinery took to work and preliminary numbers assert that at least 8 houses and buildings were destroyed, and explosives were planted in a 10-story building in order to destroy it …
Wadi al-Humus neighborhood (area: 3,000 dunums; population: 6000) is located on the edge of Sur Baher, south of occupied East Jerusalem. The neighbourhood is not within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and most of its lands are classified in Area A that is under full control of the Palestinian Authority according to the Oslo Accords; thus, the buildings’ owners obtained construction licences from the Palestinian Ministry of Local Governance. Following the construction of the annexation wall in 2003, the neighbourhood was split as some houses ended up in the Israeli side but not under jurisdiction of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem….
Return of the outpost method
Peace Now 22 July – Summary: Quietly, far from public attention, facts on the ground are being created that are changing Israel’s political position in the West Bank, without official decisions and in defiance of the law. Settlement organizations are establishing new outposts, or unauthorized settlements, with the direct assistance of the authorities and often financed by public funds. The government, for its part, encourages such construction by promising support and working to legalize these outposts, while refraining from enforcing the law against them. Since 2012, 32 new outposts have been established, the majority of which after President Trump was elected. All of the new outposts (except one) are located deep inside the West Bank, in areas that Israel will likely have to evacuate within the framework of a permanent agreement. 21 of the outposts are agricultural farms, which take over large areas for pasturing and cultivation, while their settlers work to remove Palestinian shepherds and farmers from the vicinity. Around some of the new outposts there is an increase in violence and attacks against Palestinians. The outposts are established in an organized fashion with the involvement of the local settlement authorities, Amana and the Settlement Division. At the same time, the government is working to retroactively legalize existing outposts.
Breaking the Silence testimonial: around every such settlement there’s a circle, a radius of one kilometer
IMEMC/Agencies 26 July — [[Breaking The Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada, and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Their work aims to bring an end to the occupation.]]
Number: 4323 Rank: First Sergeant Unit: Nahal, 50th Battalion Area: Nablus area
Can you expand on the issue of ‘red lines?’ What is the guideline? When you see the map of the red lines, your whole concept changes, because the area looks as if it’s [full of] 99% Palestinians, with something like three small settlements. But when you suddenly look at it, even zooming out, at the whole Samaria area, you understand that Palestinians are actually banned from entering a huge chunk of it, they can’t hang around there. Around every such settlement there’s a circle, a radius of one kilometer, a huge area you’re not allowed to enter if you’re Palestinian. Now this area is really uncultivated, but I don’t know what it would be, if Palestinians were allowed to enter it. And can the settlers enter? Yes, yes. You take the settlement as the center, draw a radius, a circle around it, and that’s the area, that, like, Palestinians aren’t allowed to approach settlements, they’re forbidden to arrive at the settlement fence, they have to stop further away.
Israeli forces destroy water wells in south Hebron village
By Celine Hagbard 25 July — Israeli forces invaded Khirbet Umm al-Khair in Masafer Yatta, near Hebron in the southern West Bank Thursday, and destroyed dozens of olive trees, water irrigation systems and four water wells used by Palestinian Bedouin farmers. This comes two weeks after Israeli forces invaded the same village and destroyed a children’s park, nine water wells and uprooted a forest of trees in Umm al-Khair’s nature reserve area under the pretext that the area is now an Israeli military training zone. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the national and popular committees in the south of the West Bank, told the Palestinian Wafa News Agency that the residents of Umm al-Khair and area villages, who are mainly herders, depend on the water for irrigating their land and for their cattle. Jabour stressed that Israel is trying to displace these residents as a precursor to taking over their land. The village of Umm al-Khair is located on land that Israeli authorities are attempting to annex into the settlement of Carmel, which was constructed on stolen village land.
Al-Araqib demolished for 148th time
IMEMC/Agencies 26 July — Israeli authorities demolished the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqib for the 148th time, today, the second time this week, while abducting village leader Sheikh Sayyah Al-Turi, Arab48 reported. According to local residents, in the morning, occupation authorities bulldozed and destroyed homes and tents under the protection of occupation police forces. Eyewitnesses also confirmed that police arrested Sheikh Sayyah Al-Turi, who had only been released from Ramla prison on Tuesday morning after being detained for seven months. Al-Turi’s sentence was extended for 60 days after prison services conditioned his release on his forcible transfer and deportation from Al-Araqib to the city of Rahat. Israeli authorities demolished Al-Araqib for the 147th time the day before Al-Turi’s release. The Bedouin village is one of 51 “unrecognized” Arab villages in the Negev and is constantly targeted for demolition ahead of plans to Judaize the Negev by building homes for new Jewish communities. Israeli bulldozers, which Bedouins are charged for, have demolished everything, from the trees to the water tanks, but Bedouin residents have tried to rebuild it every time….
Amnesty singles out TripAdvisor to stop its travel listings in Israel’s West Bank settlements
124NEWS 22 July —TripAdvisor has yet to respond to Amnesty’s plea — Amnesty International sent an open letter to the staff of TripAdvisor in an appeal to put an end towards “driving human rights violations” by removing its tourist listings in Israel’s West Bank settlements. The international human rights activist organization called on the “hugely influential” tourism site to lead the way for other companies to follow suit in taking a stand against Israel’s violations of international law. “By cutting business ties with illegal settlements, TripAdvisor would be leading the way in the travel sector and demonstrating a true commitment to ending human rights abuses.” We urge you to do the right thing: stand up for human rights and help us and your company put an end to decades of war crimes and other grave violations,” the letter concludes. In its letter, Amnesty cites its campaign that purportedly persuaded Google to drop its censored search engine in China. Amnesty first raised the issue back in January, when it named TripAdvisor along with Booking.com, Expedia and Airbnb as “profiting from war crimes by listing tourist attractions and properties in illegal Israeli settlements.”
Updated: Artists abandon Whitney biennial over board member’s alleged ties to IDF violence in Gazat
The Forward Update 22 July by PJ Grisar — This version of the story includes news of additional withdrawals and new research suggesting one of Kanders’s businesses may have provided bullets used by the IDF during the 2018 Gaza protests.
Eight artists have requested the removal of their work from the Whitney Biennial – a historic and often career-making exhibition of contemporary art – citing their objection to military and police hardware entrepreneur Warren B. Kanders’s position as one of the five vice chairs of the Whitney Museum’s board. In their announcements, the artists noted Kanders’s company’s production of ammunition and tear gas believed to be connected to violence on the southern border of the United States and at the Israel-Gaza border … “We respectfully ask you to withdraw our work from the Whitney Biennial for the remainder of the show,” artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, Nicole Eisenman and Nicholas Galanin wrote in a letter published on Artforum’s website on July 19. “This request is intended as condemnation of Warren Kanders’ continued presence as Vice Chair of the Board….
Palestinian president suspends agreements with Israel following demolition of 70 Palestinian homes/
IMEMC 26 July — The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, announced Thursday evening the suspension of all agreements and accords signed with Israel, citing the demolition this week of 70 Palestinian homes in Sur Baher, an area that is supposed to be under full Palestinian control according to the signed agreements. Abbas also cited the pressure put on him to accede to the Kushner Plan, called by Kushner and Trump a so-called ‘deal of the century’, which would force the Palestinians to give up their right to self-determination on their own land. In his statement, Abbas also called for reconciliation between the Palestinian political factions to form a united front against the Israeli military occupation. He said the suspension will take effect by Friday. “We will not succumb to the dictates and the imposing of a fait accompli on the ground with brute force, specifically in Jerusalem. All that the (Israeli) occupation state is doing is illegal….
Premier: division of West Bank areas as per Oslo accords no longer exists
RAMALLAH, Thursday, July 25, 2019 (WAFA) – Prime minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh said the divisions of the West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B and C as per the Oslo accords no longer exists; because Israel no longer respects them and has clearly and openly violated these agreements. He said the Palestinian leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, will hold an important meeting this evening to take concrete steps in response to the Israeli occupation forces’ demolition of homes belonging to Palestinians in the Al-Hummus area in occupied East Jerusalem, which is classified as Area A; under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. This came during a meeting with ambassadors, consuls and representatives of the European Union at the premier’s office in Ramallah, where they discussed the latest political and economic developments and escalating Israeli measures against the Palestinian people….
Alaa Basheer detained by Israeli intelligence
IMEMC/Agencies 25 July — Two days after her release from a Palestinian Authority (PA) jail, the Israeli intelligence apparatus detained Palestinian teacher Alaa Basheer, after summoning her for interrogation, on Thursday. Her detention was seen as part of the security cooperation between the PA and Israel. The PA preventive security apparatus, last Sunday, released Basheer on bail after illegally detaining her for 40 days. The PA preventive security rearrested Alaa al-Basheer, a Quranic teacher from Qalqilia, two days after releasing her, on June 13. She had spent over one month in her first detention. The PA’s preventive security has fabricated accusations against Basheer in order to justify her detention. She was accused of inciting sectarian strife, one of the claims usually used by PA security agencies against political detainees.
Palestinian president undermines judiciary independence
PCHR Press Release 22 July — The Palestinian President issued two laws by decree on 15 July 2019. The first one is dissolved the High Judicial Council (HJC) and assigned a transitional one while the other amended the Palestinian Judicial Authority Law No.1/2002 and reduced judges’ retirement age to 60 years. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the dissolution of the HJC by the Palestinian President and considers it a blatant interference in the judicial affairs and independence, in form and substance. It is also considered a violation of the principle of separation of powers, codified in Article 98 of the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law: “Judges shall be independent and shall not be subject to any authority other than the authority of the law while exercising their duties. No other authority may interfere in the judiciary or in judicial affairs.” In response to the dissolution decision, PCHR’s Director, Raji Sourani, said that “This decision is not only an attack on the independence of the judiciary; it would also prejudice the judges’ personal and career interests and their reputation. It also reveals the absence of political will for real judicial reform.”….
La Ahlan wala Sahlan: On Palestine’s unwelcoming reception to Arab normalizers
Mondoweiss 23 July by Haidar Eid — “La Ahlan wala Sahlan.” Such words are rarely uttered in Palestine. Ask foreign supporters of Palestinians about the kind of generosity with which Palestinians welcome them in their empty houses. Read Rachel Corrie’s messages to her parents, Richard Gere’s impressions, South African activists’ reports —to mention but a few. The consensus amongst all visitors to Palestine is that Palestinian courtesy is unlimited.
However, saying ‘La Ahlan wala Sahlan’ (You are not welcome) to the normalizing media delegation, comprising Saudi, Emirati, Egyptian and Iraqi journalists, on its visit to Al Aqsa mosque and the old city of Jerusalem should not raise eyebrows since the team was never invited by an independent Palestinian state to visit one of the most important Islamic sites. The journalists did not apply at any of the Palestinian embassies in their countries to visit Palestine. Rather, the visit is organized in coordination with the Israeli authorities, i.e. occupation forces. The delegation would not have been able to pay a visit to Yad Vashem—among other sites that do not include the eastern fence of Gaza– in Jerusalem, had it not been given the permission by the occupation forces.
International and other news
US blocks attempt to condemn demolition of Palestinian houses at UN
NEW YORK, Thursday, July 25, 2019 (WAFA) – The US blocked an attempt to get the United Nations Security Council to issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes Sur Baher neighborhood, southeast of Jerusalem, earlier this week. The draft statement, circulated by Kuwait, Indonesia and South Africa to the 15-member council, expressed “grave concern” and warned that the demolition “undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for just and lasting peace,” as quoted in a Reuters report. According to Reuters, diplomats said that the US told its counterparts in the UNSC that it could not support the draft text. A revised three paragraph draft statement was circulated, but rejected again by the US….
US spars with key allies at UN over Mideast peace approach
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 23 July by Alexandra Olson — The U.S. derided the viability of reaching “international consensus” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Tuesday, further distancing itself from the two-state solution preferred by most of the world and drawing rebukes from its European allies. President Donald Trump’s Mideast negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, delivered the harsh assessment during a U.N. Security Council debate as the White House says it is preparing to unveil the political portion of its Mideast peace plan. Greenblatt dismissed the prospect of reaching global consensus on sensitive issues, including the fate of Palestinian refugees and the final status of contested Jerusalem. He suggested that numerous “ambiguously worded” Security Council resolutions should not serve as guiding principles for resolving the conflict. “Let’s stop kidding ourselves. If a so-called international consensus had been able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would have done so decades ago. It didn’t,” Greenblatt said….
Opinion: Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special troll to the Middle East / Rogel Alpher
[behind paywall] Haaretz 20 July — Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, a crafter of the failing deal cooked up by the administration to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is simply a provocateur. In an interview Wednesday with “PBS NewsHour,” he said that in the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel isn’t responsible for the situation that has been created – it’s the victim. This amazing statement is a sweeping denial of reality – of well-based facts and of precise and extensive documentation of the occupation’s injustices. Greenblatt is an occupation denier. The occupation is less serious than the Holocaust, so denying the occupation is less serious than denying the Holocaust, but still, it’s quite serious. To claim that Israel is the victim of the Palestinians isn’t just to ignore the occupation, it’s to justify its practices entirely. And since the occupation is a proven and ongoing act carried out by Israel, justifying it is just a cheap provocation. Greenblatt said the West Bank isn’t “occupied” but rather is “disputed.” And not that he’s blind to the Israeli army’s violent control in the territories, the theft of Palestinian land, the crushing of human rights, the exclusion, expulsion, institutionalized racism, apartheid system, privileges of the Jews enshrined in law and all the rest of the obvious signs of occupation. He sees, but he feels the need to provoke the Palestinians and call the territories “disputed.” Greenblatt’s provocation is even more extreme: He declares that Israel has made no mistakes all through the years of the conflict….
Former Israeli PM apologizes for killing of Arab protesters
JERUSALEM (AP) 23 July by Shahar Golan — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak apologized Tuesday for the killing of 13 Arab protesters by Israeli police in 2000. Ehud Barak’s statements on Israeli public radio addressed a point of friction between him and Israel’s Arab minority. The comments were made as Barak tries to make a political comeback that appears to largely hinge on uniting liberal parties, some of whom depend on Arab voters. “There is no place for protesters to be killed by their country’s security forces,” said Barak, the leader of the newly formed Democratic Israel party. In early October 2000, Arab citizens of Israel staged a series of protests over several days in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the outset of the second Palestinian uprising. The protesters blocked roads and hurled firebombs and stones at police, who responded with live fire. Barak was prime minister at the time. A total of 13 Arab protesters were killed, along with a Jewish Israeli civilian who was killed by stones thrown at his car. Barak was responding to an op-ed written by Esawi Frej, an Arab parliament member from the left-wing Meretz party, who called on him to apologize for the October 2000 killings….
Ehud Olmert cancels visit to Switzerland after country vows to arrest him
JPost 25 July — Former prime minister Ehud Olmert canceled a planned visit to Switzerland after he was notified that he is liable to be arrested in the Alpine country for alleged war crimes, Channel 12 reported on Wednesday. According to the report, Olmert was planning to visit on Monday, but canceled his trip when the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry received a statement from the Swiss authorities saying that he will be taken in for questioning on suspicion of war crimes during the IDF operation in Gaza while he was prime minister … Olmert served as prime minister during the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in which 1,166 Palestinians were killed during three weeks of fighting. Of that number, 709 were identified as “Hamas terrorist operatives,” the IDF said at the time. Olmert is the only prime minister to be found guilty in court of a criminal offense, having been convicted of corruption in 2016. He was in prison from February 2016 to July 2017.
World Food Programme Palestine country brief, June 2019
Reliefweb 30 June — In Numbers: 270,901 people assisted in June 2019 US$ 2.47 m cash-based transfers made 386 mt of food distributed US$ 20.9 m six months (July-December 2019) net funding requirements
Operational Updates — In June, WFP assisted 220,250 and 50,651 poor food-insecure people in Gaza and the West Bank respectively, with a combination of food and cash transfers. WFP’s food assistance is a fundamental safety net that enables poor households to meet a share of their daily food needs and prevents them from falling into deeper poverty and food-insecurity. Read here how WFP is making a difference in the lives of Azza, a Gazan single woman head of household who ventured into an income-generating activity to supplement her and her children’s diet.
WFP launched its fifth digital fundraising campaign for Palestine. Through ‘Share the Meal’, an award-winning fundraising smartphone application, individuals can donate and provide meals to feed 4,500 children for three months in both Gaza and the West Bank. Since August 2018, more than USD 1 million has been mobilised thanks to the generosity of individuals around the world. Download the app and join us!….
Tel Aviv billboards demand victory against Hamas
Israel National News 22 July — The Middle East Forum’s (MEF) Israel Victory Project has launched a dramatic billboard campaign. The goal is to raise the issue of achieving victory, and to pressure Israel’s security establishment – former and current military, intelligence, and law enforcement officers – to end its policy of appeasement. Each billboard carries the slogan: “Enough being scared. Demand victory for Israel.” Days after the visit by to Iran by leaders of Hamas’s military wing, and in the run-up to more funds being transferred by Qatar to Hamas in Gaza – the billboards depict Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh standing on the beach in a bathing suit, with suitcases of cash behind him, thanking Israel for its weak stand against Hamas in Gaza. They are displayed at major intersections in Tel Aviv, including across from the Defense Ministry. The billboards mark the beginning of a wider campaign to take place over the next two months that includes commissioned research, polls, events and rallies, raising awareness of the need for Israel to achieve victory in order for there to be an end to the conflict….
Palestinian soccer head loses appeal over Messi incitement
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) 18 July — The Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed an appeal by the head of Palestinian soccer against his ban by FIFA for “inciting hatred and violence” toward Lionel Messi. CAS says its judging panel decided that FIFA’s sanctions against Palestinian soccer federation president Jibril Rajoub — a one-year ban from attending games and a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,250) — “were not disproportionate.” Rajoub’s ban expires next month, before the national team’s first 2022 World Cup qualifying game at home to Uzbekistan on Sept. 5. Rajoub’s comments were made when Argentina was due to play a warm-up game in Israel for the 2018 World Cup. He urged fans to burn Argentina shirts with Messi’s name and pictures of the Barcelona star. Israel’s soccer federation filed a complaint to FIFA, and canceled its Argentina game.
Oman opens embassy in West Bank
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 23 July by Entsar Abu Jahal — The Palestinian Foreign Ministry is welcoming Oman’s decision to open an embassy in the Palestinian territories, considering this a natural step following the sultanate’s approach and stances toward the Palestinian people, their issues, cause and rights. However, a number of Palestinians are questioning Oman’s motives in the matter … Some Palestinians worried that there could be ulterior motives behind the decision to open the embassy. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper June 27, “If opening the embassy is even remotely related to recognizing Israel, we will totally refuse it. The Arab Peace Initiative [launched during the 2002 Arab League summit] is based on not recognizing Israel or normalizing with it until it withdraws from the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Israel won’t deny entry to Omar, Tlaib
The Hill 19 July by Rachel Frazin — Israel will not deny entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the country’s ambassador to the U.S. said Friday. “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” said Ambassador Ron Dermer, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The paper reported that the two lawmakers’ support for boycotts of Israel and its West Bank settlements could have been used under Israeli law to deny them entry. Dermer’s remarks follow uncertainty as to whether Omar and Tlaib would be permitted to enter the country during their planned trip to Israel and the West Bank….
House overwhelmingly passes bill condemning Israel boycott movement despite AOC and her ‘Squad’ voting against it
DM 24 July by Chauncey Alcorn — Three of the four Democratic freshman congresswomen known collectively as ‘The Squad’ were among the few House lawmakers to vote against a pro-Israel bill Tuesday night. The measure known as H.R. 246 passed easily and received bipartisan support with 398 members voting in favor of it and just 17 voting against it. Among the bill’s dissenters were Squad members and U.S. Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), an American of Palestinian descent who has said opposing B.D.S. undermines her and other Americans’ right to freedom of speech. ‘I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government in the state of Israel,’ Tlaib said during her speech on the House floor. ‘[This resolution] attempts to delegitimize a certain people’s political speech and to send a message that our government can and will take action against speech it doesn’t like.’ The bill states Congress’ opposition to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement, which punishes the Jewish nation for human rights abuses committed against Palestinians that have been documented by the United Nations.
B.D.S. proponents push to boycott companies and institutions that support Israel while encouraging banks not to invest there and pressing governments to sanction the nation for alleged international crimes. Supporters of H.R. 246, including bill sponsor Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), say the B.D.S. movement is inherently anti-Semitic and its goal is to convince the world Israel isn’t a legitimate nation….
Palestinian American running for a US Congress seat
CHICAGO (WAFA) 23 July — Rashad “Rush” Darwish, a Palestinian American originally from the West Bank village of Bittin, near Ramallah, who announced in May his candidacy for a Democratic Party seat in the US Congress in the 2020 elections, was endorsed yesterday by the Palestinian-American Council in Chicago. The Council said it will support Darwish in his bid and called on members to vote for him in the November 2020 elections. Darwish, who owns Rush Productions, a small multimedia production company based in Chicago, will challenge veteran US Representative Dan Lipinski for his seat to represent the Illinois 3rd Congressional District. Campaigning in Chicago, Darwish posted the following on his Facebook page. “My name is Rush Darwish. I am the son of immigrant parents. I am running for Congress because with all my heart and soul I stand strong with immigrants and want to protect the diversity of this country. I am standing in solidarity with the people at today’s Rally at Daley Plaza and every decent human being who stands against Donald Trump’s ideology of hate. ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has no place in Illinois and had no place in this country. As your next Congressman, I will join other leaders to make sure ICE is abolished and destroy any entity that separates kids from their families.”
Rashida Tlaib, a lawyer and also originally from the West Bank, was the first Palestinian American to win a seat, serving as the US Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district since January of this year after winning the midterm elections in 2018.
Rashida Tlaib to receive warm welcome in family’s West Bank village
JPost 25 July by Khaled Abu Toameh — Preparations are under way in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, 14 km. west of Ramallah, to welcome Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib when she visits her hometown next month. Tlaib’s mother, Fatmeh, and grandmother, Um Issa, traveled to Jordan earlier this week to attend a wedding of a relative. The two women are expected to return to their village in the coming days to participate in preparations for the congresswoman’s visit. The Tlaib clan is one of three clans in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, home to some 1,000 people. The two other clans in the village are Samara and Zahran. Residents boasted that the village has one of the highest percentage of educated people. More than 20 village residents hold high positions in Palestinian Authority ministries and other Palestinian institutions in Ramallah, including banks. Members of the three clans told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that “everyone in the village” will come out to greet Rep. Tlaib during her visit. “We’re all proud of her,” said Ahmed Abdullah Tlaib, one of her uncles. “Of course, everyone here is excited that she’s coming to visit her village.”