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What’s so special about UNRWA?  Less, and more, than you would think.

Marilyn Garson on

Donald Trump has fully, finally, abandoned America’s commitments to UNRWA. Marilyn Garson worked for UNRWA from 2013-2015, and writes that although UNRWA is no one’s ideal she advocates for the agency because it is vital, and because it is vastly preferable to the alternatives at hand. Garson writes, “UNRWA’s skills are not unique, but not one of them can be quickly replicated or scaled by others – particularly not in Gaza, Syria, or the West Bank. That is UNRWA’s real, underlying strength:  it is there. That’s what has made it a straw man target for Donald Trump’s hatred.”

Jerusalem mayor vows to kick out UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Allison Deger on

Today Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat promised to kick out the UN agency responsible for refugee services, saying the move will support Israeli “sovereignty and unity of Jerusalem,” and called to “increase the Israelization” of East Jerusalem.

Video: Gaza health officials forced to stop cancer treatments due to Israeli siege

Yumna Patel and Nidal Wuheid on

Earlier this month, health officials in Gaza announced that they would be stopping chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients due to a shortage of medicine. As a result, the lives of thousands of cancer patients were thrown into uncertainty. Doctors, rights groups, and the patients themselves have pointed chiefly to the more than decade-long Israeli blockade of Gaza as a reason for the shortages.

If there are no refugees, there will be no one to return: Understanding Trump’s war on UNRWA and Palestinian refugees

Marilyn Garson on

According to multiple reports, in early September the Trump administration will issue a report recognizing no more than half a million Palestinian refugees, will reject any right of return, and ominously will ask Israel to ‘reconsider’ UNRWA’s mandate to operate in the West Bank. Marilyn Garson writes, “Trump and those around him have spent the year trying to obviate – rather than solve – Palestinian claims. Now they wish to deny the refugee status of 90% of Palestinians. If Trump has his way, only a few elderly refugees will remain.  The Right of Return will be moot. It would not exist now, he says, if UNRWA didn’t keep it alive. He will make the right disappear by de-funding UNRWA and de-registering its five million phantom refugees.  The realization of Palestinian rights may be a marathon, but right now, it is also a sprint.  The race is on, to be made to vanish or to be seen and heard.”

Israeli court rules govt policy of denying Gaza patients access to medical treatment as leverage over Hamas ‘ineffective and illegal’

Yumna Patel on

Israel’s High Court overturned on Sunday evening the security cabinet’s previous decision to prevent five Palestinian women, mostly cancer patients, from Gaza from receiving life-saving treatment in occupied East Jerusalem on the basis that the women had relatives that were active in the Hamas movement. The court ruled that “the decision to deny Gaza patients access to medical treatment as means of leverage over Hamas was ineffective and illegal.”

Israeli activists demonstrate on the Eastern side of the Gaza fence in solidarity with the weekly Great March of Return

Return on

On Friday, 24th of August, Return demonstrated from the Eastern side of the Gaza fence in solidarity with the weekly Great March of Return in Gaza, which took place for the 22nd Friday in a row. Yossi, a Return activist, explains, “We arrived to demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinian demonstration on the other side of the fence. We got stopped by the soldiers and we couldn’t get close, but we could get to this sort of hill here from which they can see us waving the Palestinian flag. All of us here, Jews and internationals are here to support the right of return.”

‘Casualties don’t matter’ — Gazans vow to continue protests, amid truce talks

Ahmad Kabariti on

Gazans held their 22nd Friday of protests as Egypt sought to gain a truce between Israel and the Strip. Etaf Wadi said she would not stop demonstrating: “There will be no truce, nor ceasefire. We see how this weekly non-violent protest harms those invincible soldiers and their state. We want a normal life without feeling surrounded.”

Israeli forces fire on Gaza protest, injuring 89

Kate on

On 24 August, using excessive force against peaceful protesters in Gaza for the 22nd Friday in a row, Israeli forces wounded 89 civilians, including 17 children, 2 women and 3 paramedics. Five sustained serious wounds.

Video: Gaza mourns cultural center destroyed by Israel

Akram Al-Wa'ra on

Earlier this month, Israeli forces bombed the Said Mish’al Center for Culture and Science in Gaza to the ground, claiming it was being used by Hamas for military operations. The center was beloved among Gazans and thousands of Palestinians mourned the destruction of the center, which had survived three Israeli offensives over the past decade. As Center Director Sameer Mish’al told Mondoweiss, “The occupation has always tried to stifle the voice of the Palestinian people. This place was like a beam of light. Through our work, we protected our culture.”

Israel approves over 1,000 new illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank

Yumna Patel on

Israeli authorities have approved over 1,000 new illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank, sparking condemnation from both Palestinian and international officials. According to Peace Now, since the election of US President Donald Trump, the Israeli government has promoted plans for 10,536 units and tenders for 5,679 units in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli attorney files FOIA request to determine govt role in anti-Corbyn campaign

Yumna Patel on

On August 19, Israeli Advocate Eitay Mack filed a freedom of information request to shed light on the government’s role in the ongoing smear campaign against UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In an interview with Mondoweiss, Mack spoke about his motivations behind filing such a request, the significance of Israel’s possible interference in UK politics, and the Netanyahu government’s failure to challenge real threats of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world.

In photos: Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Eid

Mondoweiss Editors on

Palestinians in Gaza are celebrating Eid al-Adha, a four day festival for Muslims observed across the world that coincides with the seasonal pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, known as the Hajj. Palestinians often seek travel outside of Gaza during the Eid holiday, however, this year Israel partially sealed the Erez Crossing on Sunday limiting travel to humanitarian cases.

Palestinian MK blasts Jewish Nation State law in NY synagogue

Robert Herbst on

In her first address in an American synagogue since becoming a Member of the Knesset, Aida Touma-Sliman ripped into the new Jewish Nation State Law, which she said normalized discrimination and Jewish supremacy, and finally dispensed with equality as a normative value of Israel. “I meet a lot of Jews back home who say we need a Jewish State as an insurance policy, in case something goes wrong,” she told the audience at Temple Israel of New Rochelle. “But why should I pay the price of your insurance policy?”

Israeli settlers celebrate 40 years of living in the West Bank

Kate on

The illegal West Bank settlement of Ariel is marking is marking its 40th birthday. In the span of a few decades it has grown into one of the largest Israeli communities in the West Bank with a theater, a university and plans to increase its population to the size of a formidable city of 100,000.

It took me three decades to drive one hour from Gaza to Jerusalem

Abier Almasri on

Earlier this year Abier Almasri left Gaza and journeyed to Jerusalem for the first time. The cities are only about about 50 miles apart, yet it took Abier three decades to get there. “I just hope to have the chance to pray in al-Aqsa Mosque before I die,” she had told a friend. And she finally got that chance.