UN: Settler violence against Palestinians has increased during COVID-19
JPost 4 Apr by Tovah Lazaroff — Settler and Jewish extremist violence against West Bank Palestinians has spiked by 78% during the last two weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to the rest of this year, the United Nations has reported.
Between March 17 and 30, “at least 16 attacks by Israeli settlers resulted in five Palestinian injuries and extensive property damage,” the UN reported. “This represents a 78% increase compared to the bi-weekly average of incidents since the start of 2020,” it said. Its data is based on information from its field reporters. The UN spoke of two incidents in which Palestinians were assaulted in the village of Umm Safa and Ein Samiya near Ramallah. In one of the assaults, an ax was used and in another one a hammer, the international body said. “Another two herders were physically assaulted and injured (in one case by a dog unleashed by settlers), while grazing sheep near Ein al Hilweh (Tubas) and At Tuwani (Hebron),” the UN said. There were five separate incidents in Burqa village near Nablus. There were also attacks in Al Mughayyir near Ramallah and the villages of Khashem and Dara near Hebron. The attacks included the stoning of vehicles, vandalizing structures and physical assault, the UN added. In the Gush Etzion region, some 100 Palestinian-owned olive trees were uprooted and in Hebron, surveillance cameras were damaged or stolen from a home and a school, the UN said …
The report also noted a decrease in injuries during clashes with Palestinians and soldiers, as well as a decrease in IDF activity against Palestinians. Some 40 Palestinians, including 70 children, were injured by Israeli security forces. “This represents a sharp decline compared to previous weeks,” the UN said. It attributed this to access restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
Israeli forces’ incursions and soldiers’ behavior jeopardize measures to prevent outbreak of COVID-19
Euro-Med Monitor 30 Mar — Palestinian Territories- In the midst of global preoccupation with combating the outbreak of the Coronavirus COVID19, the Israeli forces continue to storm Palestinian cities, assaulting the civilian population, without taking any preventive measures, and completely ignoring the dangers this behavior might cause in light of the spread of the infection in Israel. The Euro-Med Monitor followed with great concern reports of suspicious behaviors of Israeli soldiers and settlers, during the storming of Palestinian houses, as some of them spat at parked cars, ATMs and shop locks, which raises fears of deliberate attempts to spread the virus and cause panic in the Palestinian society. Since the Palestinian government has declared a state of emergency in the Palestinian Territories on March 6, 2020, as a preventive measure to control the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has documented carrying out 207 Israeli incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These incursions included the arrest of 191 Palestinians, attacks on dozens of others, and demolishing Palestinian houses. The majority of these operations took place without any preventive measures and without soldiers wearing appropriate masks to prevent the spread of the virus. During the same period, Israeli settlers carried out 19 infiltrations into Palestinian neighborhoods in the West Bank, along with carrying out attacks on the Palestinian population and their property. The Euro-Med Monitor considers that Israeli practices hinder Palestinian preventive measures to counter the spread of the virus, and a threat of the quarantine measures and social distancing adopted by the Palestinian Authority, in line with instructions issued by the World Health Organization (WHO)….
Palestinian young man dies of wounds inflicted by Israeli forces last month
1 Apr by Rami Almeghari — Palestinian medical sources in the West Bank city of Nablus pronounced dead a young Palestinian man, after he had sustained wounds caused by Israeli troops last month. The sources identified the young man as Islam Dwaikat, 22, and said he was wounded by Israeli troops that opened fire at Palestinian protestors during an Israeli invasion of Beita town, south of Nablus city, in northern West Bank. Mayor of Beita town, Fo’ad Ma’ali, told local media outlets that on March 11, the youth was struck with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head and has remained in a deep coma at a local hospital. Massive protests took place last month between Israeli troops and local residents in the al-‘Arma Mountain when locals intercepted colonial Israeli settlers en-route to the Palestinian-populated area. Israeli forces reacted by firing tear-gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at Palestinians protecting their land. The Israeli crackdown on the protests claimed the life of a teen boy, Mohammad Hamayel, 15, and caused the injury of 112 other protesters, mainly by rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas inhalation injuries. Israeli colonists, illegally squatting on Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, have been constantly storming the mountain and attempting to control an archaeological historical site above its summit.
Settlers flood Palestinian farmlands near Hebron with sewage
6 Apr by Ali Salam — Illegal Israeli settlers, on Sunday, flooded Palestinian-owned farms planted with grapes, near the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, a local source reported. Local activist, Mohammad Awad, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that extremist colonial settlers from Gush Etzion settlement bloc, built on Palestinian lands near Beit Ummar town, flooded sewage onto the grape orchards, with the aim of damaging crops. Awad said that today’s flooding of Palestinian farm land with sewage is only one episode in a series of assaults by illegal colonial settlers.
Military forces, settlers deny Palestinian farmers access to their lands
6 Apr by Ali Salam — Israeli occupation forces and extremist Israeli settlers on Sunday prevented Palestinian farmers from accessing their lands in the village of Tuqu‘, southeast of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to sources. Tayseer Abu Mfarreh, mayor of the village, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that a large unit of Israeli military forces as well as a group of illegal colonial settlers intercepted the farmers and banned their entrance onto their agricultural lands.
Israel arrests Palestinian official in east Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) 3 Apr — Israeli police arrested the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs early Friday for allegedly violating an Israeli ban on Palestinian political activities in east Jerusalem. Fadi al-Hidmi was arrested at his home near the Mount of Olives. His office circulated surveillance camera footage showing police searching his home with dogs. It said they confiscated 10,000 shekels (around $2,750). It was the fourth time he has been arrested. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Israel views the entire city as its capital. Israel bars the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the occupied West Bank, from operating in east Jerusalem or carrying out any political activities there. Palestinian officials said al-Hidmi was working to assist residents as part of their response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Israel targets (those) who work for Jerusalem, even at such critical moments as we work to save our people’s lives from COVID19,” Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh tweeted, referring to the illness caused by the virus. “We demand his immediate release.” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said al-Hidmi was arrested “on suspicions of Palestinian activities in Jerusalem.”….
Palestinian governor of East Jerusalem issues a Passover warning
4 Apr by Rami Almeghari — The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Governorate for the internationally recognized occupied East Jerusalem, issued a warning, Saturday, for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, against buying Jewish-owned property during the Passover holidays. The governorate’s statement, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, came in the context of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, in many Israeli areas. The governorate warned Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem against buying Jewish-owned property. Passover’s rituals include selling old property and replacing the old with the new, according to the statement. In his statement, PA’s governor of East Jerusalem, Mr. Adnan Gheith, said that all Palestinian inhabitants are strongly advised not to purchase property such as furniture or clothes from Israelis for the time being. The statement explained that buying such property could bring health risks, as the spread of Coronavirus, which has so far left around 5,000 Israelis affected and caused the death of dozens of others.
Israeli soldiers abduct Jerusalem governor
IMEMC 5 Apr — Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, the Palestinian Governor of occupied East Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, after storming and ransacking his home in Silwan town, south of Jerusalem. Media sources said the soldiers violently searched the property after breaking into it, causing damage, and abducted the governor. It is worth mentioning that this is the seventeenth time the soldiers have abducted and detained Gheith since he became the governor of occupied Jerusalem in August 2018. Gheith is also banned from entering the rest of the West Bank, in addition to not being allowed to have any contact with the Palestinian Authority, or with any of the Palestinian political leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Friday, the soldiers abducted the Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Fadi al-Hadmi, from his home in the Suwwana neighborhood in Jerusalem, for the fourth time in less than one year, and released him after an extended interrogation. Shortly after his release from the al-Maskobiyya interrogation facility in Jerusalem, al-Hadmi said that the soldiers violently searched his home, and used dogs to inflict maximum damage, in addition to forcing him to wear a dirty mask that had signs of dried blood on it.
Armed Israeli settlers storm Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem
4 Apr by Rami Almeghari — Israeli colonial settlers, on Saturday, stormed the Palestinian neighborhood of Wadi Alrababa in Silwan village in the internationally-recognized occupied city of East Jerusalem, southern West Bank. Local media outlets and witnesses said that about 25 armed colonial settlers stormed the neighborhood and embarked on provocative actions towards local unarmed Palestinian civilians. It is worth mentioning, the that residents of Silwan’s Wadi Alrababa neighborhood have recently been able to extract an Israeli court verdict that their neighborhood is not part of Israeli authorities’ areas of operation, mainly those of the Israeli environmental authority. Colonial Israeli settlers’ attacks on the occupied East Jerusalem’s neighborhoods have been frequently reported over the past few years, with the Israeli government having approved a series of colonial settlement plans in the internationally recognized Arab-Palestinian part of East Jerusalem.
Israeli troops abduct 3 Palestinians, seize 100 sheep
2 Apr by Rami Almeghari — Israeli forces, overnight Wednesday, invaded Palestinian homes and abducted three residents in East Jerusalem, southern occupied West Bank, local sources reported. Sources told media outlets that Israeli troops stormed the Silwan neighborhood on Thursday at dawn, broke into several homes and abducted two Palestinian civilians, identified as Bahaa Abu Tayeh and Naserallah Alawar. Earlier on Wednesday night, the soldiers abducted local resident, Saed Obeid from the Arab-Palestinian neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities in the internationally recognized occupied East Jerusalem reportedly seized dozens of sheep over night on Wednesday, south of the city, according to local sources. Hamada Hamada, head of the Wadi Alhums neighborhood’s committee, confirmed that Israeli authorities seized dozens of sheep from the Sur Baher neighborhood, on the southeastern outskirts of East Jerusalem, without giving any reasons. Hamada estimated the number of the sheep confiscated at 100.
Jerusalem’s Palm Sunday march scaled back due to coronavirus
JERUSALEM (AP) 5 Apr — A small group of Franciscan monks and Roman Catholic faithful took to the streets of Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter in the Old City Sunday to distribute olive branches after the traditional Palm Sunday procession was canceled due to restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus … Palm Sunday celebrations start the Holy Week leading up to Easter. Worshipers traditionally carry palm fronds and olive branches and march from the top of the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem’s Old City. While thousands of pilgrims usually participate in the march, this year it was limited to a handful of participants. Clerics and faithful went door to door often throwing the branches to Christians looking on from their balconies. This year because of the new situation we are trying to come to all the Christians in our Christian Quarter to bring these branches of olives, the sign of new hope,” said the Rev. Sandro Tomasevic, a Catholic clergyman at the Latin Parish of Jerusalem….
Photos: Palestinian man reads Qur’an inside empty mosque during Friday prayer in West Bank city of Hebron
Xinhua 3 Apr — A Palestinian man reads Quran inside an empty mosque during Friday prayer after it was shut down as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, in the West Bank City of Hebron, April 3, 2020. (Photo by Mamoun Wazwaz/Xinhua)
Israel links coronavirus aid for Gaza to recovering soldiers
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 1 Apr by Dan Williams & Nidal al-Mughrabi — Israel on Wednesday linked any assistance it might offer for the Gaza Strip’s efforts against coronavirus to progress in its attempt to recover two Israeli soldiers lost during the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave. Blockaded and impoverished, Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza has reported 12 coronavirus cases and authorities worry that local health facilities – with just 96 ventilators for a population of 2 million – are insufficient to contain a contagion. Both Israel and Hamas have closed the Gaza border to non-essential traffic as a precaution against the spread of the infection. But with Gaza authorities appealing for foreign humanitarian assistance, Israel has been weighing its role. “The moment there is talk of the humanitarian world in Gaza – Israel also has humanitarian needs, which are mainly the recovery of the fallen,” Defence Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters, referring to an infantry officer and conscript who were killed in the 2014 war and their remains kept by Hamas … Hamas has never stated whether the two Israeli troopers are dead or alive, but neither has it provided a sign of life, something it did in a previous similar case. Hamas said returning the two soldiers – as well as two Israeli civilians who crossed into the territory – would require negotiating a prisoner swap and would not be done in exchange for humanitarian aid. “Israel bears responsibility for any consequences should the disease spread in Gaza because it has been blockading it for 13 years,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. “A prisoner swap deal is a separate track,” he said … Bennett has made clear he would not agree to any further releases of Palestinian militants in the future.
Israeli navy shoots, injures Palestinian fisherman off Gaza coast
29 Mar by Ali Salem — One Palestinian fisherman was wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday, while fishing off the coast of the northern besieged Gaza Strip, according to local sources. Sources told Quds News Network (QNN) that the fisherman was in his boat fishing, when Israeli soldiers opened fire at him, wounding him with a rubber-coated metal round. The man was transferred to the Shifa’ hospital where his condition was described as moderate. Palestinian fishermen have been subjected to repeated assaults by the Israeli occupation, by restricting Gaza’s fishing zone and targeting fishermen by shooting them, arresting them or confiscating their boats and other fishing equipment.
Israeli army tanks invade parts of Gaza, raze Palestinian farmlands
1 Apr by Rami Almeghari — Armored vehicles of the Israeli army invaded early on Wednesday, the northern besieged Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, according to local sources. Sources and witnesses said that a number of armored vehicles, including combat tanks, rolled about tens of meters deep into farmlands owned by local Palestinian farmers in the Beit Hanoun town, northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses added that the Israeli invasion included opening fire and bulldozing of some farmlands, east of the town, inching closer to a local memorial site in the town itself. Along the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip, according to witnesses, Israeli army tanks rolled a few meters inside Palestinian farmlands.
Gaza factories pivot to masks in homemade corona response
Gaza City (AFP) 1 Apr — Queen Tex factory in Gaza used to specialise in manufacturing shirts and jeans, but with the novel coronavirus epidemic sweeping the globe it has pivoted into medicalwear. Now lines of men are using old sewing machines to stitch together masks while also wearing them, as the blockaded Palestinian enclave develops a homegrown response to the crisis. “We were intending to import masks and suits from China but there were difficulties importing, so we decided to make them ourselves,” manager Hassan Alwan said. His factory says it works to international standards but only has enough material to make around 1,000 hazmat suits. The Gaza Strip has only had a handful of confirmed COVID-19 cases so far.
The suits, masks and gloves are being made initially for the local market, with the potential to later export to Israel which is fighting a far larger outbreak … Hamas has stipulated no masks or suits can be exported until the local market’s needs have been met. But Hassan Shehata, co-director of another factory, Hasanco, is optimistic he can sell to the Israeli market. “Israeli companies sent us the cloth to produce medical masks for them. They need millions of masks,” he said. “We want to produce three million masks.” Dozens of employees work 10-hour days but there are not enough machines to hit their targets, he said …
Gaza has far maintained a semblance of normality, with barbers and other stores still open, though staff are required to wear protective gear. Apart from scissors and hair gel, barber Rami Azzam has boxes of gloves and masks and sanitiser spray at the ready as he snips. “Health ministry employees come daily to sterilise the barbers, they have imposed tough measures,” he said.
Gaza factory manufactures Israel’s coronavirus protective gear
JPost 2 Apr by Leon Sverdlov — Gaza’s Unipal factory was transformed to produce around 20,000 surgical masks per day, all of which are delivered to Israel, Ynet reported on Wednesday. The factory, which usually manufactures clothes for Israel’s fashion industry, was heavily impacted by the lockdown measures taken by the cabinet in order to stop the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, according to Ynet. The new regulations, which have shut down the fashion industry completely, stopped all orders from the Strip, forcing the factory’s owner, Nabil Bawab, to seek ways to save his business. “I have 850 workers at the factory,” Bawab told Ynet.
“Instead of shutting down the factory, we decided to transform it, reaching two goals: continuing to provide for hundreds of families in Gaza, and assisting the public by expanding the supply of masks and protective gear amid rising demand,” he said. The factory manufactures around 20,000 face masks and some 2,000 protective suits daily, with all of its medical production delivered to Israel. Bawab told Ynet that, although the amount of Israeli importers he has signed contracts with is rising, the product is not provided to Israeli hospitals directly. “The economy collapsed at once because of the crisis and people are looking for sources of income,” Bawab explained. “Many of them took this direction and are ordering the masks through us.” According to Bawab, the factory works in accordance with the official restrictions. “We work in shifts with 200 workers per shift so as not to cause excessive density in the factory,” he told Ynet. “We have a professional team that sprays and sanitizes the factory once every two hours,” he continued, saying that “our workers change their gloves and protective gear several times every shift.” Despite rising demand, Bawab said that he has yet to receive orders from the Palestinian market in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank….
VIDEO: Two engineers in Gaza produce respirators to fight coronavirus
MEMO 2 Apr — A breath of life in Gaza as two engineers, Ismail Abu Sakhaila and Issam Khalafallah, produce respirators
Turkish hospital to operate in Gaza to curb coronavirus
RAMALLAH (Anadolu Agency) 31 Mar by Qais Abu Samra — The Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital in Gaza will start operation as part of efforts to curb the novel coronavirus, a spokesman for the Palestinian government said Tuesday. Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Ibrahim Melhim said President Mahmoud Abbas and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed during a phone call to start the operation of the hospital in Gaza. The spokesman thanked the Turkish government and people “for their continuing support for Palestine” Funded by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the construction of the 180-bed hospital was completed in 2017.
UN begins home food drops for Gaza’s needy to stem virus
GAZA CITY (AP) 31 Mar by Fares Akram — A U.N. aid agency [UNRWA] Tuesday began delivering food to the homes of impoverished Palestinians instead of making them pick up such parcels at crowded distribution centers — part of an attempt to prevent a mass outbreak of the new coronavirus in the densely populated Gaza Strip … Late Tuesday, Gaza’s Health Ministry said two more cases have been confirmed among travelers who returned from Egypt, bringing the number to 12 … In Gaza, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees has for decades provided staples like flour, rice, oil and canned foods to roughly half of the territory’s 2 million people. Under the old system, those eligible lined up at crowded distribution centers four times a year to pick up their aid parcels. Starting on Tuesday, the agency began making home deliveries. “We assessed that tens of thousands of people will pour into the food distribution centers and this is very dangerous,” said Adnan Abu Hasna, the agency’s spokesman in Gaza. Some 4,000 deliveries were made Tuesday, with an estimated 70,000 others to be made over the next three weeks, he said. Drivers on three-wheel motorcycles dropped off the food, calling people out of their homes, confirming their identities and leaving the bags outside. The agency instructed people to stay 2 meters ( about 6 feet) from the delivery men to minimize the risk of infection.
Qatar panel distributes food parcels to needy Gaza families
Gulf Times 5 Apr — HE the Chairman of the Qatar Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza ambassador Mohamed al-Emadi announced Saturday the distribution of food parcels to hundreds of needy families in the Gaza Strip, in co-ordination with Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). Al-Emadi explained that the process of distributing food parcels was done through the General Administration of Zakat Committees of the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs in Gaza, for the benefit of hundreds of families classified within the ministry’s data as the poorest and in need of urgent assistance. The Qatari committee provides daily meals and basic necessities for those in the quarantine centres in Gaza, in addition to recently providing food parcels to hundreds of families of the quarantined, in co-operation with the ministries and relevant government agencies, especially the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Qatar funds employment of 100 medics in Gaza
(MENAFN – Gulf Times) 2 Apr — HE the Chairman of the Qatar Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, ambassador Mohamed al-Emadi announced that the committee, in co-operation and co-ordination with Qatar Fund for Development, will finance the employment of 100 medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, in the Gaza Strip as temporary employment for six months, to cover the shortfall experienced by hospitals and health centres in the Strip to address the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Ambassador al-Emadi said that the process of employing medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, in the Strip will be carried out in co-operation with the relevant government agencies, headed by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Fearing Gaza virus spread, Hamas preps for mass quarantines
GAZA CITY (AP) 30 Mar by Fares Akram — When Nima Amraa returned to the Gaza Strip from neighboring Egypt earlier this month, she was surprised to learn she was being placed in a makeshift quarantine center set up by the ruling Hamas group. But her initial jitters turned to fear when two fellow travelers in another facility tested positive for the coronavirus — the first cases to be confirmed in Gaza. “Once there were cases of the virus spreading, we started to feel afraid and disappointed,” Amraa, a 30-year-old journalist, said by phone from quarantine, where she has spent a week and a half sleeping in a room with five other women and sharing a bathroom. The virus found a way into Gaza, even though the Mediterranean enclave has been largely cut off from the world by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas militants seized it 13 years ago. On Monday, the Health Ministry said a new case was confirmed among the quarantined, bringing the total to 10. It added all of them were in good condition and receiving care at a special field hospital … Hamas is racing to build two massive quarantine facilities — hoping to prevent the disease from spreading and overwhelming Gaza’s already shattered health system. The construction was ordered after photos surfaced from makeshift centers — mostly schools — showing people celebrating birthday parties with visiting relatives, food being delivered by volunteers and groups of people smoking water pipes together … Although movement in and out of Gaza has been heavily restricted since 2007, it is not cut off altogether. The first two virus cases were men who had returned from a religious conference in Pakistan, part of a wave of hundreds of returnees who were placed into quarantine … Gaza’s people live mainly in densely populated cities and refugee camps. The health care system is in shambles — a result of the blockade, three wars between Hamas and Israel and chronic under-funding due to infighting between Hamas and the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Gaza has only 60 breathing machines — and all but 15 are already in use, according to the WHO.
Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies due to coronavirus
Al Jazeera 28 Mar — Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday. The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called “Great March of Return” which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus, in 1947-48. They also mark Palestinian Land Day which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of land.
“We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group. Instead, al-Batsh called on Palestinians in Gaza to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones. Traffic will also be stopped for an hour and sirens will sound across the territory to mark the occasion, the statement said, adding that a news conference would also be held for a limited number of attendees. According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller. One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations.
Never flinch until justice is served
EI 26 Mar by Ola Mousa — Huda Ali Ghalia is a young woman on a mission. On 26 January, the 25-year-old earned her law diploma, the equivalent of taking the bar. She is now able to practice law in Gaza where she is from and where, a year ago, she was similarly qualified in sharia law. Now she intends to secure a scholarship to study abroad for a degree in public law in order to familiarize herself with international humanitarian law. But Huda is, even by Gaza’s standards, no ordinary ambitious young person.
Fourteen years ago, on 9 June 2006, Huda’s was the face of Gaza’s pain. Days shy of her 12th birthday, it was her anguished expression – as she threw herself in the sand crying out for her father, dead on a Gaza beach along with six other family members after an Israeli shelling – that became the symbol of everything that is wrong in Palestine and with a world that simply doesn’t care. The footage was as heartbreaking as the aftermath was tawdry. Israel disputed accounts of the massacre that laid the blame on its military, insisting instead that Hamas mines had been the real cause of the fatal explosion. It also refused an international investigation. Israel’s version of events has been widely dismissed. Human Rights Watch called it the least likely of three possible scenarios. But no justice has been granted the surviving members of the Ghalia family, nor has anyone been held accountable.
This is partly what motivates Huda today. “I want to reactivate my family’s case,” Huda told The Electronic Intifada. “There must be justice.” But it’s not just personal. The more she studied law, she said, the more she has found it remarkable how Israel has never been held accountable for its crimes. She wants, she said, to represent all Palestinians who have suffered from Israel’s oppression….
Amid coronavirus fears, Gaza couples downsize, delay weddings
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 31 Mar — When the Hamas authorities reported the first two cases of coronavirus in the besieged Gaza Strip earlier this month, it was accompanied by an announcement that a slew of businesses would be shuttered indefinitely, including restaurants, cafes and wedding halls … But the timing of the announcement posed an immediate dilemma for Nabil al-Hajeen, coming just two days before he was due to be married to Fatma. “It was a shock for me and my bride,” Nabil told Al Jazeera. “I had spent five months planning for my wedding, and it was difficult to either cancel or delay it”. With the wedding halls closed, the pair considered postponing. However, they eventually decided to get married on the planned date in Nabil’s family home in Gaza City, although it meant drastically reducing the number of guests at the ceremony from some 400 to around 25 female family members of the bride and groom. “We didn’t know when this ban would end, so we decided to have the party at home,” Fatma said. In recent years, weddings in Gaza have typically seen dozens or hundreds of relatives, neighbours and friends of the bride and groom attend the ceremonies at the wedding halls, which are decked out in colourful, elaborate decorations and bright lights … But for Nabil and Fatma’s home wedding, Nabil’s sisters prepared the traditional Palestinian Somaqia dish for the party and decorated the lounge with plastic flowers and balloons, while they also set up disco lights to recreate the atmosphere of the typical wedding hall … Amid fears of infection or potentially spreading the virus, some relatives decided not to attend, while those who did took some precautionary measures. “Although it was only a small number of guests, we were scared, so there were no kisses and hugs to congratulate us as normal”, said Nabil’s sister Huda….
Gaza family holds Friday prayers at home
[with photo] Gaza City (AFP) 3 Apr — With mosque closures across the world because of the coronavirus pandemic, one Palestinian imam and his family in the Gaza Strip held their weekly prayers at home on Friday. Saleh Shtaiwi, 24, normally leads the weekly prayers in a mosque close to his Gaza City home. But with mosques closed, the congregation this week comprised his parents, son and other family members gathered in the living room. After prayers, food was brought out and served in the same place. “Friday prayers is obligatory in the mosque. With mosques closed, we must perform them in our homes,” Shtaiwi said. Like much of the globe, authorities in Hamas-run Gaza have imposed strict social distancing measures. All large gatherings have been banned and mosques and schools closed for the immediate future, with residents urged to stay home. The male and female members of Shtaiwi’s family prayed together, something which is not permitted in Gaza mosques. “There is no problem praying with children and families, it is so they can learn,” Shtaiwi said. “We are abiding by the home quarantine regulations, we didn’t invite anyone from the neighbours or relatives to join us.” His 58-year-old father Ali said they prayed that “God protect people from the corona epidemic among us and throughout the world.”
‘Corona cake’ spreading fast in Gaza
KHAN YUNIS, Palestine (AFP) 3 Apr — As he watched the world trying to raise awareness about the new coronavirus and convince people to stay at home, Palestinian baker Eyad Abu Rezqa cooked up an idea. The head of the Al-Nada bakery in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza has created a ‘corona cake’ depicting a woman wearing a blue face mask, aiming to remind people of the importance of social distancing. He first posted the design on social media and now dozens of people are ordering them each day in the impoverished Palestinian enclave, he said. “Straight away it got great interest, customers starting saying ‘I want that cake’,” Abu Rezqa told AFP. “Every day our clients’ demand for the mask cake is increasing.” He stressed he was not belittling the risk of the deadly disease which has killed more than 50,000 people but trying to keep spirits up while promoting awareness … The staff making the cakes are wearing protective clothing, Abu Rezqa pointed out.
Palestinian prisoner contracts coronavirus in Israeli jail
1 Apr by Rami Almeghari — The Ramallah-based Palestinian Committee for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners confirmed on Wednesday, that a newly released Palestinian prisoner tested positive for the coronavirus. The announcement came after the prisoner, Noureddin Sarsour, a resident of Betunia town, west of Ramallah city, who was incarcerated for 2 weeks at Ofer Israeli prison, upon his release from prison on Tuesday, received his results, showing he had contracted the Coronavirus. In a statement, issued Wednesday, the Palestinian Committee for Detainees and Ex-Detainees, held Israeli Prisons Authority (IPA), responsible for the newly discovered Coronavirus case, calling for the protection of all 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in more than 20 Israeli jails. The statement read that a team of attorneys, belonging to the committee, informed the Israeli authorities in the Ofer prison about the results of the test, and inquired about Sarsour’s recent contact with other prisoners, fearing the spread of the infectious COVID-19 virus. “The name of Sarsour has been revealed, only after Sarsour himself had permitted the lawyers to do so. Sarsour has asked the committee’s lawyers to inform his fellow prisoners about his newly-discovered case of Coronavirus”, the statement further noted. Last week, the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners, inside Israeli jails, demanded all relevant international bodies to pressure the Israeli government to apply precautionary measures to protect the 5,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, including those with chronic diseases, women and minors.
PPS calls for immediate release of over 1000 Palestinian prisoners
2 Apr by Ali Salam — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS), on Tuesday, released a statement regarding fears for the fate of 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails, after the declaration of jailers and investigators being infected with the coronavirus, COVID-19. The Prisoners’s Society added that they have experienced great difficulty in obtaining prisoner health information, due to the isolation measures imposed by the prison authorities, including suspending family and lawyer visits. The Prisoner’s Society renewed its request to international organizations including the Red Cross, to play a more effective role through increasing the number of people in Palestine to fulfill the current needs of the population. The statement asked for a neutral international medical committee to participate in testing the prisoners. The prisoners relayed, through several messages, that the prison authorities never provided any of the precautionary measures in the crowded, closed sections of the prisons. Instead of making an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, authorities persecuted the prisoners, accordingly, the prisoners returned their meals and closed the sections as a protest. It is indicated that there are 700 sick prisoners, 200 who suffer chronic medical issues, in addition to 180 children and 41 females. According to Palestinian WAFA News Agency, the PPS and several other institutions co-launched a petition requesting the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including ill, elderly, female and minor prisoners, over fears of coronavirus spread in the absence of Israeli Prison Service (IPS) health measures to protect them from the coronavirus pandemic….
Israel’s Shin Bet slaps PLC member with administrative detention
30 Mar by Ali Salam — The Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence agency, on Sunday, decided to renew the detention of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and Hamas leader, Hasan Yousuf, for four months, under administrative detention. Sheikh Hasan Yousuf, 65, was scheduled for release on March 31, 2020, and just two days before his release, according to his family, the Shin Bet placed him under administrative detention. After having served 1 year in Israeli prison, Sheikh Hasan Yousef will have served a total of 20 years. Administrative detention is used by the Israeli occupation to keep Palestinian prisoners incarcerated without charge or trial, renewed for up to four months at a time, indefinitely.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel settlements turn Palestinian house into cage
MEMO 3 Apr — “If you give me all of Israel’s money, I would never concede an inch of my land.” — Palestinian Saadat Sabri Gharib, 38, had never imagined that his house, which was built by his father in 1979, would be turned into a very narrow cage surrounded by barbed wire and surveillance cameras. Gharib’s house is located in the Beit Ijza neighbourhood, west of occupied Jerusalem. It was surrounded by about 100 dunams of land owned by Gharib’s father. However, the Israeli settlers stole all of this land and kept the house, which is only 500-metres square. Gharib told Anadolu Agency that since 2008, his house has been turned into a very small cage surrounded with concrete walls and located in the middle of an Israeli settlement. It has only a very narrow passage with 12 cameras monitoring it. Gharib, his mother, his wife and three children live in this house. “Our house is a real prison,” he explains, adding: “We are subjected to stone throwing, live bullet shooting, insulting and burning,” Gharib, who owns all the documents that prove the ownership of the land, revealed. “However, we had seven demolition orders, but I fought in the Israeli courts and stopped them,” stating that 40 dunams were stolen by the Israeli occupation authorities in 1979 and 60 dunams were isolated from his house by the apartheid wall in 2007. “We do not access them except once a year with permission from the Israeli occupation,” Gharib explains, noting that his house is monitored 24/7… Putting pressure on Gharib in order to leave his house, the Israeli occupation prevents him from planting any trees near his house, from carrying out any renovation works or from making any repairs….
PLO official says that Israel will ‘stop demolition of Palestinian homes’
6 Apr by Ali Salam — Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a tweet last week, that Israel is apparently going to stop demolishing homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported. “I was informed by top United Nations (UN) officials that the Israeli occupation authorities informed them that they will stop demolitions of Palestinian homes,” wrote Erekat, with no further information provided. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), just in Area C, the Israeli occupation demolished 5,107 structures, from 2009 to the present, displacing 7,368 people. Area C, makes up 61% of the occupied Palestinian Territories, and is under full Israeli civil, and military control. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 17 that: Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Israeli army demolishes 3 Palestinian homes under construction near Jenin
2 Apr by Ali Salam — The Israeli army demolished, on Wednesday morning, three under-construction buildings in the northern West Bank village of Rummaneh, west of the city of Jenin, reported WAFA correspondent. The source said that a large Israeli force invaded the village and proceeded to destroy the three buildings that were being built near the apartheid separation barrier, and were owned by three Palestinian residents of Rummaneh village. Confrontations erupted between the soldiers and local youths, resulting in the soldiers firing tear-gas at the youths, causing inhalation injuries. Rummaneh residents were informed of the occupation authorities’ intent to demolish their homes, near the apartheid wall, under the pretext that they were building without Israeli permits, nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain in the occupied West Bank.
Several agricultural roads closed by Israeli forces near Tulkarem
2 Apr by Ali Salam — Palestinian farmers said on Tuesday, that Israeli forces stormed the greenhouses they were working in, and forced them to leave, while a bulldozer started to close nearby agricultural roads with dirt mounds. The roads, utilized by local Palestinian farmers, were connecting the Palestinian villages of Kafa and Shufa with a number of neighboring villages, southeast of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Head of Shufa village council, Fuzat Droubi, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that the closed roads, located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Avni Haifetz, built on Palestinian lands. He added that the goal is to seize more Palestinian lands, for illegal colonial settlements.
Israeli troops seize a Palestinian-owned caravan in Jordan Valley
1 Apr by Rami Almeghari — Israeli troops reportedly seized on Wednesday a Palestinian-owned caravan, located in the Israel-occupied area of Al-Aghwar, in the eastern occupied West Bank. Witnesses told media outlets, earlier today, that the confiscated caravan is owned by a local Palestinian resident in the Jordan Valley. Local legal activist, Aref Daraghma, told local media outlets that Israeli troops stormed the Jeftlek village of Al-Aghwar and began dismantling the housing caravan of local resident, Anwar Abu Jouda, without explaining the reason for their actions. Al-Aghwar area in the West Bank is considered to be a rich agriculture Palestinian zone, which Israeli officials, including Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have recently signaled plans to annex to Israel.
Israeli army orders Palestinian to stop work on animal barn in south of West Bank
HEBRON, Tuesday, March 31, 2020 (WAFA) – Israeli forces today ordered a Palestinian resident of al-Tibban village in Masafer Yatta in the south of the West Bank, to stop work on an animal barn he was building, said a local activist. Fouad Ummour, from the steadfastness committee in Masafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, told WAFA that soldiers raided several villages in that area and ordered one man in al-Tibban to stop work on his 110-square meter animal barn. Residents of Masafer Yatta earn a living from raising and herding livestock, mainly sheep.
Palestinian refugees — Lebanon, Palestine
Palestinian, Syrian refugees in Lebanon camps brace for virus
BEIRUT (AFP) 5 Apr — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees living in overcrowded and rundown camps in Lebanon are bracing for the novel coronavirus as aid groups mobilise to help. Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians in camps that over the decades have become bustling neighbourhoods, and at least 1.5 million Syrians who have fled the war next door. So far just one Palestinian, who lives outside a camp, and three Syrians have tested positive for COVID-19 compared to 520 infections and 17 deaths across Lebanon, according to officials. But Palestinian and Syrian refugees who live in cramped quarters, including tent camps where basic services like water are poor, are particularly vulnerable to the illness. “The main concern remains… the spread of coronavirus in the overcrowded Palestine refugee camps where there are very limited possibilities for home isolation,” said Huda Samra, a spokeswoman for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA. The agency, she said, is looking to set up “isolation centres” inside the camps to quarantine anybody who needs it. Similar structures are being set up for Syrians living in close quarters in seas of canvas tents in the east of the country, the UN refugee agency UNHCR says. But deteriorating cases will have to be evacuated to Lebanese intensive care units, where aid workers fear there may not be enough beds.
Aid organisations have also been ramping up efforts to raise awareness about basic hygiene among both the Syrian and Palestinian communities. The Norwegian Refugee Council says it has increased water deliveries and supplied soap and bleach to both. Cars mounted with loudspeakers have been making the rounds of Palestinian camps, blaring messages about hand washing and not touching one’s face. An AFP photographer recently saw volunteers in sky blue protective suits spray disinfectant in the gloomy narrow streets of the Shatila camp in Beirut. More than 174,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon, according to official figures, with most residing in camps ruled by Palestinian factions beyond the reach of Lebanese security forces. But unofficial estimates say the Palestinians, whose forefathers fled the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, could number as many as 500,000. In both communities, the United Nations has promised to pay for tests or hospitalisation if the need arises. And because any serious surge in cases among refugees would further burden the Lebanese healthcare system, efforts are being made to strengthen existing hospitals to face the pandemic … Despite all these preparations, non-governmental organisations fear discrimination against refugees will be an added challenge … “Some media reports have made associations between refugees living in unhygienic circumstances and the coronavirus,” said NRC’s advocacy and information adviser in Lebanon, Elena Dikomitis….
Packed with refugees, Palestinian camps face grave threat if coronavirus spreads
BETHLEHEM, West Bank/AMMAN (Reuters) 2 Apr by Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh, Bushra Shakhshir — Malka Abu Aker has seen her crowded refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank swell year upon year since fleeing there over 70 years ago, with the arrival of new generations and those escaping successive Mideast conflicts. But with the coronavirus spreading locally, the 73-year-old worries that her congested Palestinian camp is primed for contagion, and blames the U.N.’s cash-strapped Palestinian aid agency for not doing enough to help. “(UNRWA) is not sanitising the camp, and they are not cleaning the camp in efforts against this epidemic,” Abu Aker said in Bethlehem’s Deheisheh camp, referring to the U.N. agency which provides services to 5.6 million Palestinian refugees … “I have lived through many troubles … but these days are the toughest I have ever seen,” said Abu Aker, who fled a village in West Jerusalem to escape fighting during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. From the packed beachfront camps of Gaza to the urban sprawl in south Beirut, Palestinian refugees fear that the already dwindling aid they receive from UNRWA could fall further as the health crisis persists, and donors shift priorities … In the sunless alleys of Gaza’s Beach refugee camp, home to nearly 90,000 Palestinians, medical workers dressed in head-to-toe protective gear sprayed disinfectant on U.N. vehicles last week and loaded wooden carts with aid for distribution. One refugee, Mohammad Al-Taramsi, said deliveries to people’s homes would help stave off contagion but worried that aid to more than a million refugees in the Gaza Strip might be reduced. “Donor countries are busy with the pandemic, and resolving their own economic situations,” Taramsi, 57, said. In the Jaramana refugee camp southeast of Damascus, some Palestinians reported little by way of protection against the virus in the camp that has ballooned since the start of Syria’s civil war. “We didn’t receive any aid at all,” said Talal Abou Ghnemeh, 42. “All we have are initiatives by local political factions, who sanitise the camp. We see nothing from UNRWA.”….
Tulkarm refugee camp under lockdown as 2 cases of Covid19 are confirmed
TULKARM, Saturday, April 4, 2020 (WAFA) – Governor of the northern West Bank district of Tulkarm, Issam Abu Bakr, ordered today a full lockdown on Tulkarm refugee camp after the first two cases of novel Covid19 (coronavirus) were confirmed in the camp. The two cases were for two Palestinian men who had just returned to their homes from their workplace in Israel, where over 7400 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far and more than 40 deaths. Abu Bakr ordered the camp residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the pandemic, saying those who do not abide by the home quarantine will be held to account and placed under mandatory quarantine. The governor called on residents to encourage their family members returning from Israel to report themselves to the health authorities in order to get tested for Covid19. Several other villages and towns in the occupied West Bank where corona cases were confirmed have also been locked down as well over the past week.
Palestine in Pictures: March 2020
The Electronic Intifada 1 April 2020
PA announces 22 new virus cases, raising total of confirmed infections to 193
Times of Israel 3 Apr by Adam Rasgon — PM Shtayyeh says Israeli Health Ministry apologized to PA for ‘unofficial statements,’ in apparent reference to report about Israel needing to ‘medically annex’ West Bank — The Palestinian Authority health ministry announced 22 new cases of coronavirus in the West Bank on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 193 [237 as of 6 April, with Israel at 8,611 cases and 51 deaths]. The total includes both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One person has died so far and 21 have recovered … Palestinian officials have recently cautioned that the number of cases in the West Bank could rise dramatically if Palestinians returning from jobs in Israel do not properly quarantine themselves. “If the workers do not isolate [themselves], we will be moving toward a disaster on the level of all of Palestine,” Kamal al-Shakhra, the director-general of primary care at the PA Health Ministry, told reporters on Thursday. On Friday, PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said 45,000 workers would return to the West Bank when Passover begins. The holiday is scheduled to start on April 8. Shtayyeh has instructed all Palestinian workers to quarantine themselves in their homes upon their return to the West Bank and said violators will be held legally accountable. In the past month, the PA has taken a number of drastic measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the West Bank, including heavily restricting freedom of movement….
PA extends state of emergency amid fears of rising coronavirus cases
MEMO 3 Apr — Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced he has issued a decree extending the state of emergency for another month in the occupied territories, Wafa news agency reported. The move comes in an effort to enable the health and security services to bring the spread of the coronavirus under control amid fears of a rise in the number of cases. “We have decided to extend the state of emergency for 30 days throughout the occupied Palestinian territories to confront the coronavirus outbreak,” read Article (1) of the presidential decree … As part of the new measures, a curfew will be put in place from 5pm to 10am with shops ordered to close in line with the new rules. Pharmacies are exempt.
With 205 respirators, PA fears collapse amid coronavirus outbreak
Haaretz 30 Mar by Jack Khoury — In an ironic twist, Palestinians have wired the West Bank with roadblocks in a desperate bid to keep the pandemic from spreading beyond 106 current cases and one woman who has died — … Palestinian sources told Haaretz that most of the patients diagnosed in recent days are workers returning from jobs in Israel or in settlements. They expressed concern about seeing a possible outbreak in villages in zones B and C where PA operations are limited. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has ordered stricter enforcement measures to prevent Palestinian civilians from moving among the cities or between villages and cities, and for further testing that focuses on Palestinians returning from Israel or abroad, and people falling in the risky categories were placed in isolation. “The laborers are the focus of the problem,” a member of the security forces said. “The outbreak started with tourists in Bethlehem but for the moment that has been handled and the city has been closed off and the focus has moved to the laborers in Israel and the settlements. There are checkpoints but some people know how to bypass them, and this puts others at risk. They are in a very difficult situation torn between wanting to make a living and the danger they pose to themselves and those with whom they are in contact.”… A Fatah activist from the Nablus area told Haaretz that in areas where there is no security presence local committees have been set up to monitor who enters each community. He said the West Bank is wired with Palestinian checkpoints and police ad local committee heads permit only humanitarian cases, or merchants and suppliers of food and medicine to get through.
West Bank and Gaza: US$5.8 million from the World Bank to help Palestinians fight coronavirus outbreak
World Bank press release — WASHINGTON, April 2, 2020: A new US$5 million emergency operation was approved today by the World Bank to help the West Bank and Gaza address urgent health needs from the COVID-19 pandemic. The operation will support efforts to slow down and limit the transmission of COVID-19 and improve the clinical care and case management of those affected by the disease. The project will be implemented through fast track procedures to help in early detection and proper recording of infected cases as inputs for risk assessment and mitigation. It will support the procurement of essential equipment and consumables for laboratory and diagnostic systems, such as ventilators, Polymerase Chain Reaction (amplification technique for specific part of DNA) machines, and test kits. The project will not only support the epidemiological surveillance systems, it will also strengthen the overall Palestinian public health system in response to the virus, including establishing and equipping quarantine and treatment centers and hiring short-term health personnel. This new funding follows a previous reallocation of US$800,000 which the World Bank approved on March 6, 2020 as an immediate support to the Palestinian Ministry of Health under the ongoing Health System Resiliency Strengthening Project to help address urgent health needs and prevent further spread of the virus. This funding will cover top priorities, including equipment and materials for infection and prevention control, laboratory diagnostics, isolation and case management … Both operations are funded through a dedicated Trust Fund for Gaza and the West Bank.
Israel now occupies 85% of historic Palestine
MEMO 1 Apr — Israel now occupies at least 85 per cent of the total area of historic Palestine, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) has confirmed. The Palestinians control less than 15 per cent under strict Israeli restrictions. The PCBS issued the details in a report to mark Palestine Land Day on 30 March. It pointed out that Jewish migrants from overseas now account for a third of the population of the colonial-settler state. According to the report, there were 13 million Palestinians by the end of 2019. Of these, 5 million are in the occupied Palestinian territories while 1,597,000 live in the land occupied since 1948 and are citizens of Israel. Around 6 million Palestinians live in other Arab countries, with 727,000 in the wider diaspora around the world. The report explained that the Israeli occupation authorities have used the Oslo division of the Palestinian West Bank into areas A, B and C in order to strengthen their control over the territory. Area C, which makes up 76 per cent of the occupied land, is under Israel’s security and administrative control … The 600 military checkpoints and barricades at the entrances of Palestinian cities, towns and villages are turning the West Bank into a series of barely connected cantons, it added….
Israeli Arabs mark Land Day protests from home
Jerusalem (AFP) 30 Mar — Most Israeli Arabs and Palestinians commemorated the so-called Land Day from inside their homes for the first time Monday, in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The annual event usually sees thousands of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians take to the streets in demonstrations against Israeli policies. But this year with Israel and the Palestinian territories locked down to limit the spread of COVID-19, organisers gave speeches online instead. Protests had been scheduled along the border with Gaza, but were cancelled due to fears of coronavirus. The West Bank too was largely quiet, with Palestinians asked to mark the day in their homes. In northern Israel, Arab citizens went to their windows and rooftops to sing, wave Palestinian flags and read poetry. Land Day commemorates the killing of six Israeli Arabs by security forces during a 1976 march against Israeli plans to seize large sections of land in the north of the country. Arab Israelis make up around 20 percent of the country’s population and are descended from Palestinianswho remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.
Ill man seeks return to US amid West Bank virus restrictions
AP 30 Mar by Randall Chase, Josef Federman — Ismail “Sam” Mousa is very worried. The 48-year-old Uber driver and Subway worker from Delaware has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which means contracting the coronavirus could be deadly for him. He is in self-quarantine at his sister’s house in the West Bank, but his medication is running out — with no way to get more — and travel restrictions have blocked him from returning to the U.S. With the help of U.S. diplomatic officials, Mousa and his 12-year-old daughter, Anisa, have been granted permission to fly home later this week from Tel Aviv, Israel — if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t lock down the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus. “If I get the virus, I will be gone,” Mousa said in a telephone interview from the small West Bank village of Qaryout. Mousa, a U.S. citizen and West Bank native who has lived in the United States for the past 22 years, traveled with Anisa to Jordan on Feb. 25, and then crossed into the West Bank several days later. They were supposed to stay until March 31. When the coronavirus crisis began to worsen mid-month, Mousa was able to secure earlier plane tickets back to Delaware. But he wasn’t able to use them.…
Norway pleads for more aid to help Palestinians tackle coronavirus
OSLO (Reuters) 3 Apr by Gwladys Fouche — Norway called on Friday for more money to help the Palestinian Territories get through the COVID-19 pandemic.vAlthough there has only been one death and 161 reported cases of the coronavirus in the Palestinian Territories, the outbreak is expected to worsen there … “We need to work together to prevent this from being a bigger humanitarian and health disaster than we think it can be, especially in Gaza, but also in the West Bank,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Reuters. “We are urging donors to step up their efforts both through the World Bank and also directly to the Palestinians,” she said. Norway chairs the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which is the donor group to the Palestinians … Soereide said there had been positive Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. However, she did not expect that the United States would resume funding to the United Nations’ Palestinian aid agency, or to the Palestinian Authority, which it suspended in 2018.
Johns Hopkins COVID-19 map faulted for erasing Palestinians
EI 27 Mar by Ali Abunimah — The constantly updated world map and dashboard published by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering has become a vital resource for everyone to track the COVID-19 pandemic. However, health and human rights experts are faulting it for erasing Palestinians. Johns Hopkins appears to have heard that criticism and reversed a decision to merge data about COVID-19 cases among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with cases from Israel. But the experts say that does not go far enough. In a letter published by the medical journal The Lancet this week, Dr. Rita Giacaman and Rania Muhareb noted that the Johns Hopkins dashboard was “initially listing data recorded by the Palestinian health ministry in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under its entry for Palestine.” Data for Israel was listed separately. However, on 10 March, Johns Hopkins “replaced the entry for Palestine with oPt” – which stands for “occupied Palestinian territories.” Giacaman and Muhareb observed that the next day, “the oPt entry was removed and its figures merged with the entry for Israel.” As a result, “Palestinians were unable to use the dashboard to track the spread of COVID-19 in the occupied Palestinian territory,” Muhareb told The Electronic Intifada on Friday. “With cases rapidly increasing, it was also no longer possible to know whether the cases listed under Israel included those recorded in the occupied Palestinian territory, or whether Palestinians had been faded out with time.”
Given Johns Hopkins’ historic ties to the slave trade, and its recent acknowledgment that it is built on land traditionally owned by the Piscataway people, Giacaman and Muhareb urged the university not to further “contribute to the erasure of Indigenous peoples across the globe.” They contacted the Center for Systems Science and Engineering twice since 15 March, but had heard no reply by 25 March. However, as of 26 March there is now a separate entry for “West Bank and Gaza” on the Johns Hopkins dashboard … Muhareb said that she and Giacaman have again written to Johns Hopkins to say that the new “West Bank and Gaza” entry “fails to adequately address the situation while it further entrenches the erasure of Palestine and Palestinians from the world map.”….
FBI opened terrorism investigations into nonviolent Palestinian solidarity group, documents reveal
The Intercept 5 Apr by Chip Gibbons — In 2006, St. Louis-based activist and academic Mark Chmiel received a message on his answering machine from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI wanted to talk to Chmiel about trip three years ago that he and other St. Louis activists took with the International Solidarity Movement to the West Bank, in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. When Chmiel’s attorney reached out to the FBI, they did not respond. Chmiel later wrote that he was motivated to travel to the West Bank by Palestinians’ calls for volunteers, international organizations’ inability to deal with the occupation, and his own country’s complicity in Israel’s actions. The International Solidarity Movement, or ISM, which would be Chmiel’s vehicle, encourages international volunteers to come to the occupied territories and engage in nonviolent direct action against the occupation. During the delegation Chmiel was on, Israel soldiers opened fire on a Palestinian protest and injured one of the St. Louis activists. An aging Holocaust survivor who was also part of the delegation was subjected to a humiliating and invasive search when departing from Israel. These deprivations of rights experienced by Americans at the hands of Israeli authorities, however, were not what interested the FBI. Instead, the FBI was conducting an international terrorism investigation into Chmiel and another activist from the delegation (The Intercept reached out to the second activist, who asked that their name be withheld). Neither Chmiel nor the general public ever learned of the official terrorism investigation until now. Its existence was revealed by hundreds of pages of FBI files about the International Solidarity Movement obtained by The Intercept through a public records request. The documents make references to other investigations from FBI field offices around the country involving ISM or its members, but many of the files are so heavily redacted that it is impossible to tell what they refer to….
Prince Harry faces backlash over plans to invite injured Israeli soldiers to Invictus Games
DailyMail 28 Mar — Prince Harry faces a backlash over controversial plans to invite injured Israeli soldiers to compete at his Invictus Games. Israel is under investigation for alleged war crimes in the Palestinian Territories and has never previously been involved in the tournament, but The Mail on Sunday understands that its inclusion in the 2022 Games was agreed in principle earlier this month. Last night, an Arab commentator said the move would be seen as ‘provocative’… A high-ranking US politician is said to have lobbied on Israel’s behalf….