We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole.
As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.
It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.
My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Ilan Malka was recently appointed deputy chief commissioner of the Israel Prison Service and then promoted to commissioner (a rank parallel to major general in the Israel Defense Forces). As someone who has been exonerated for the killing of Palestinian civilians, both beforehand and retroactively, no one is more worthy to move to the top of the pyramid of the Israeli jailers corps.
Malka, a former commander of the Givati Brigade, is one of many who symbolize Israel’s great talent: to be above and beyond the law. That’s also the reason Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now firing in every direction. It’s not because of the UN Security Council resolution, which is too little, too late, but to frighten and deter anyone who dares question our comfortable position of being exempt from punishment, both beforehand and retroactively, both in Israel and around the world.
Malka’s appointment should be highlighted this week, which marks eight years since the winter onslaught against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Operation Cast Lead began on that black Saturday, December 27, 2008.
In the international community, Israel was exonerated from blame and exempt from punishment for killing some 760 besieged Palestinian civilians without shelters and anywhere to flee, and another 260 ordinary city policemen, who were attacked in their police station.
In Israel, Malka was exonerated for the killing of 21 members of the Samouni family from the Zeitoun neighborhood. As usual, the IDF investigated itself and found itself free of any problem.
The Samouni family’s disaster turned it into a symbol of the 2008-09 assault. One order from Malka to press the button on the morning of January 5 sent a few missiles toward the structure in which about a hundred family members had been gathered. His soldiers from the Givati Brigade had conquered the neighborhood 24 hours before, killed a boy and three unarmed adults in or near their home, and took the frightened civilians out of the houses, some of which had been turned into IDF positions.
The soldiers closely supervised the line of old men and old women, the men and the children and the women with babies, who walked in the cold and thought that together, in one building, they would be safe. What’s more, the IDF position was only a few dozen meters away. The soldiers could see that a few men had gone out to get boards to start a fire and make a little bread for the children, who were crying in fear and shivering from cold.
But the high-tech forward command post interpreted the long boards they were carrying as rocket-propelled grenades, and Malka ordered a bombardment. The men carrying the boards were sentenced to death, along with the rest of the civilians in the building, who Malka’s soldiers knew full well were there.
Let’s remember the Samounis’ 10 babies and children that Malka’s order killed that morning: Mohammed, less than 1 year old; Muatasam, 1 year old; Aza, a 2-year-old girl; Nassar, 5; Fares, 12; Ishak, 13; Rizka, a 14-year-old girl; Ismail, 15; Walid, 16; and Huda, a 16-year-old girl. May their memory be blessed.
Now, exempt from blame and punishment, Malka can stand at the head of the institution a third of whose prisoners (about 6,200 according to information provided this month to the Center for the Defense of the Individual) are Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Of only a few may it be said that they have the blood of 21 civilians on their hands.
Meanwhile, there are 572 administrative detainees. Like Malka and other senior Israeli commanders, they have never been brought to court. Only they haven’t killed 21 people, 10 of whom were children, and unlike Malka, they are being punished by a long, indefinite incarceration based on suspicions they are not allowed to know.
Forgetting and causing us to forget the Samouni family’s dead, and the thousands of other Palestinian civilians killed, is an integral part of Israel’s philosophy of existence. We are allowed everything, and anyone who opposes our tyranny is a criminal.
Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)
(22 – 28 December 2016)
A Palestinian civilian was killed and child succumbed to his wounds in the West Bank.
14 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a journalist, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported.
Israeli forces continued collective punishment measures against the Palestinian civilians.
Demolishing the walls of a house belonging to Abu Sbaih family in Kufor Aqeb village, north of occupied Jerusalem, and closing it.
Israeli forces conducted 60 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip.
52 civilians, including 16 children and a woman, were arrested.
16 of them, including 10 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.
Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
5 agricultural and commercial facilities in Silwan village were demolished.
A new tunnel was opened in Silwan village. The tunnel resulted in cracks in dozens of houses.
Settlement activities continued in the West Bank.
A well and an agricultural room were demolished. In addition, new demolition notices in Hebron were issued.
Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 9th
Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.
4 Palestinian civilians were arrested at military checkpoints.
Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (22 – 28 December 2016).
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian while a child succumbed to his wounds in the West Bank. Moreover, they wounded 14 civilian, including 3 children and a journalist. Thirteen of them were in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, on Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 3 others when the soldiers used force to disperse dozens of youngsters gathering around Qalandia refugee camp and Kufor Aqeb village, north of occupied Jerusalem, and attempting to prevent the demolition of Abu Sbaih house in the said village.
On the same day, Palestinian medical source pronounced Fares al-Bayed (15), from al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, dead because of wounds he sustained on 15 October 2016. The aforementioned child sustained a bullet wound to the forehead causing laceration and coma.
During the reporting period also, 10 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a journalist, were wounded during peaceful protests or Israeli incursions.
In the Gaza Strip, on 25 December 2016, a Palestinian civilian was wounded during a peaceful protest near the border fence, east of al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City. His wound was classified as moderate.
In the context of targeting the border areas, on 24 December 2016, Israeli forces stationed at the border fence opened fire at farmers digging a well, east of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.
On 26 December 2016, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in the east of al-Salqa valley, east of Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported as well.
Collective punishment measures:
On 22 December 2016, Israeli forces demolished the walls of a house belonging to the family of Mosbah Abu Sbaih in Kufor Aqeb village, north of occupied Jerusalem, and closed it upon a decision from the Israeli High Court. The house is an apartment on the 7th floor of a building owned by Abu Sbaih’s father. It should be noted that Mosbah was killed on 12 October 2016 after he carried out a shooting attack in Shaikh Jarrah neighbourhood, north of East Jerusalem.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 60 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 others in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 52 Palestinian civilians, including 16 children and a woman. Sixteen of them, including 10 children and the woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, on 27 December 2016, Israeli forces moved about 50 meters around Sofa military site in al-Shouka village, east of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip. They levelled and combed lands and then withdrew.
Efforts to create Jewish majority
On 28 December 2016, the Israeli municipality demolished 5 agricultural and commercial facilities in Ein al-Louza neighbourhood in Silwan village, south of East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. Jamal Siyam said that Israeli forces demolished 3 agricultural containers and a barrack he own in addition to parts of a commercial store belonging to Abu Hawdan family.
In the same context, on 27 December 2016, the Israeli authorities opened a new tunnel in Wadi Helwa neighbourhood, south of East Jerusalem’s Old City that resulted in cracks in the houses and streets.
On 27 December 2016, Israeli forces demolished a well and an agricultural room in al-Bus area, west of Ethna village, west of Hebron. They issued also final demolition orders against 4 houses in Beit Awwa village, southwest of Hebron, and 18 notices to halt construction works in Masafer Yatta, south of the city.
Restrictions on movement:
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons. Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.
Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Thursday, 22 December 2016
At approximately 00:10, Israeli forces raided and searched a house belonging to Saber Mohammed ‘Ali Abdul Fattah Dawoud (40), owner of Asayel Yafa Printing House, and then arrested him. They locked his brothers and their children in a house belonging to their brother Samer Dawoud. Around the same time, another Israeli force raided the abovementioned printing house. They confiscated 13 printers and 6 hard disks and then closed the printing house until 21 January 2017, due to the charge of printing incitement materials. It should be noted that Israeli forces raided the printing house on 23 November 2016, and confiscated PCs, hard desks and 3 passports.
At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Hebron and stationed in Ezone neighborhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Zaid Majed Mohammed al-Jo’bah (23) and then arrested him.
At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Khaled Khdaish (19) and then arrested him.
Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Beit Jala. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mustafa Haitham al-Masalmah (34) and then arrested him.
At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested 3 civilians namely Yazan Nabih Deriyah (16), Mohammed Ayman Taqatqa (16) and Ibrahim Jebril Taqatqa (16).
Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Einabus village, east of Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to lawyer Mohammed Naser Eden Mufdi ‘Elan (32) and then arrested him. At approximately 13:00, he was released. They questioned him in Hawarah Detention Center about his posts on “Facebook” and threatened him if he continued writing incitement posts, they will arrest him.
At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Bita village, southeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to Asid Mohammed Ma’la (20), an economics student at the Palestine Technical University “Khadoorie”, and arrested him.
At approximately 03:30, Israeli forces moved into Tulkarm. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested Sanad Riyad Zuhdi Abu Shanab (18) and beat him in front of his parents. At approximately 04:30, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
At approximately 16:30, Israeli forces moved into ‘Anin village, west of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Khalid Ma’moun Hammad (16). At approximately 18:00, they withdrew taking him to an unknown destination.
At approximately 22:25, Israeli forces moved into Deir Ballut village, west of Salfit. They raided and searched a house belonging to Jamil Abdul Wahhab Abdullah. At approximately 23:00, they withdrew from the village, but no arrests were reported.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: al-Thaheriyah and Taffouh villages in Hebron and Salfit.
Friday, 23 December 2016
At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. A number of civilians gathered and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired live bullets at them in response. As a result, a 24-year-old civilian sustained a live bullet wound in the chest and was taken to Rafidia Surgical Hospital to receive medical treatment. Due to his serious wound, he was transferred to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. In the meantime, the Israeli soldiers raided and searched a house belonging to Jaber Ahmed Jaber Abu Hamadah (28) and then arrested him.
At approximately 11:00, Palestinian medical sources announced the death of Fares Zeyad ‘Ata al-Bayed (15) from al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, succumbed to his serious wounds. According to investigations conducted by PCHR’s fieldworker, at approximately 18:00 on Thursday, 15 October 2016, a number of young men protested at the entrance to al-Jalazoun refugee camp to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Ahmed Sharakah, who was killed on 11 October 2016 by the Israeli forces. When the young men arrived at the abovementioned entrance, about 10 soldiers directly opened fire at them. One of the Israeli soldiers directly opened fire at al-Bayed from a distance of 15 meters. As a result, he was wounded with a metal bullet to the head. He was then transferred by an ambulance to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive medical treatment. His wounds were classified as serious due to brain laceration and severe bleeding. He underwent a surgery and then went into coma until his death was announced.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Beit Dajan, east of Nablus; Beit Awa, Sa’ir and al-Mareq villages in Hebron.
Saturday, 24 December 2016
At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Zawiyah village, west of Salfit. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ehsan Ahmed Mawqedi (22) and then arrested him.
At approximately 13:20, hundreds of civilians from Beit Ummer village and the adjacent villages in the northern side of Hebron gathered to participate in the funeral procession of Khalid ‘Elian Bahar (22), who was killed by the Israeli forces after claiming that he carried out a run-over attack against Israeli soldiers on 30 November 2016 and his body is under the Israeli custody since then. The civilians headed to the entrance to the village where the Islamic Cemetery adjacent to Bypass Road “60”. Before their arrival to the entrance, a large Israeli force of the border guards closed the village entrance via their jeeps while another force deployed between houses adjacent to the entrance of the village. After that, a number of angry young men threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas canisters at them in response. After finishing the funeral procession of Khalid, dozens of young men headed to the entrance and threw stones and Molotov Cocktails at the Israeli soldiers. The military jeeps then moved toward the village while a number of them stationed between residential houses. The soldiers randomly fired live bullets at the civilians, who were on the street. As a result, Ra’ed Mohammed Mahmud Abu ‘Ayash sustained a live bullet wound in the right side of the pelvis. He was taken to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron where he underwent a surgery. He suffered from a broken pelvic bone.
At approximately 13:40, Israeli forces stationed inside the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel opened fire at a number of Palestinian farmers while they were digging a water well in Karm Abu Mo’amer neighbourhood, east of al-Shawkah, east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. However, no casualties were reported
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Dura, Beit Ummer, al-Shyoukh and al-Burj villages in Hebron.
Sunday, 25 December 2016
In the early morning, Israeli forces moved into al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched houses belonging to Ma’rouf Bajes Nakhla (27) and ‘Alaa Khaled ‘Ali Qasem (28) and then arrested them.
At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested 4 civilians, including 2 children. The arrested civilians were identified as Anas Ahmed Rasmi Taqtqa (17), Mahdi Majed Taqtqa (21), Yazan Ahmed Thawabtah (17) and Fadi Fayez Taqatqa (20).
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Kafer al-Deek and al-Zawiyah villages, west of Salfit and Beta village, southeast of Nablus.
Monday, 26 December 2016
At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into the eastern side of Nablus to protect hundreds of settlers, who moved into Joseph’s Tomb area to perform Talmudic and religious rituals. A number of young men gathered and threw stones at the military jeeps and settlers’ buses. The Israeli soldiers fired live bullets and sound bombs to disperse them. As a result, Mahdi Bilal Dueikat (19) from Balata village sustained a live bullet wound in the foot and then was arrested. Following that, a number of Israeli soldiers raided and searched a house belonging to Hatem Feras al-Zaghah (21), a student in Najah National University, and then arrested him.
At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron, and stationed in the center of the village. They raided and searched a house belonging to Zaid Mohammed ‘Essa ‘Awad (35), who suffers a difficulty in speaking, hearing and visual impairment. The soldiers beat him and used a sniffer dog to search his house, causing fear among Zaid’s children and pregnant wife under the pretext of looking for his brother. The soldiers destroyed the house contents and then withdrew, but no arrests were reported. Following that, Israeli forces raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed ‘Essa ‘Awad (65), who suffers from several diseases and blood clots. The soldiers smashed several doors on the second floor and locked the family members namely Sali (21), Ahmed (26), ‘Essa (28), Rashid (22) and their mother Zuleikha (58) in a room on the first floor. After an hour of searching the second floor using dogs and metal detectors, the soldiers moved the family members to the second floor where they damaged the house contents. They then handed Rashid a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem. Rashid said to PCHR’s fieldworker that at approximately 09:00, he went to the Intelligence Service’s office where the officers questioned him about his personal life, friends, family and the funeral of Khalid Bahar. He was released after an hour and half.
Zaid Mohammed ‘Essa Awad (35) said in his statement to PCHR:
“My wife and I woke up hearing violent knocking on the door. As soon as I opened the door, a soldier kicked me harshly on my chest, so I fell to the ground and my head hit a wooden chair. When I tried to stand up, the soldier held my neck strongly and punched me on the face breaking my eyeglasses. He then hit me with his gun butt on my back. After that, the soldiers searched the house, damaged it contents and withdrew an hour later”.
Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belong to Majed Teiseer al-Titi (22) and then arrested him.
At approximately 02:00, large Israeli forces moved into Tammun village, southeast of Tubas. They then raided and searched a house belonging to Ayman Rabah Bani ‘Oudah (31) and handed his family a summons for him to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Services.
At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Samou’ village, south of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ismail Ahmed Mahmud al-Hawamdah (33) and then arrested him.
At approximately 16:30, Israeli forces stationed at the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel opened fire at Palestinian farmers, into the east of al-Salqa Valley village, east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. The farmers were forced to leave their lands fear for their lives, but no casualties were reported.
In the evening, Israeli forces arrested Nayef Yusuf Ibrahim Gheithan (37) from Qibya village, west of Ramallah, after referring to the Israeli Intelligence Service upon a summons.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (10) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Burin and ‘Iraq Burin villages, south of Nablus; Beit Awla, Nuba, Kharas, Tarqumiya, Bani Na’im and al-Thaheriyah villages in Hebron; Jenin and Bedia village, west of Salfit.
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Qabatiya village, south of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses from which they arrested 4 civilians namely Ahmed Najeh Kamil (20), Khali Walid al-Sahou (20), Anas Mousa Kamil (21) and Bilal Walid Kamil (22).
Around the same time, Israeli forces move into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed ‘Essa Rashid Awad (66). They locked the 6 family members in a room as the search continued for 3 hours. Later, Israeli forces withdrew from the house, but no arrests were reported. It should be noted that they raided an searched the abovementioned house in the previous day as they damaged the house contents. In the meantime, an infantry unit raided and searched a house belonging to Yusuf Mohammed al-‘Alami (20), but no arrests were reported.
At approximately 08:00, Israeli forces accompanied with a number of military jeeps and bulldozers moved from the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel about 50 meters around Sufa military site in al-Shawkah village, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The bulldozers levelled the area and then withdrew behind the abovementioned border fence at approximately 13:00.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Deir al-Hatab village, east of Nablus; Qaryout village, southeast of the city and al-Samou’i, Beit Oula and Tarqumiya villages in Hebron.
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Nablus and ‘Asker refugee camp, northeast of the city, Balata refugee camp, east of the city, and ‘Ein Beit al-Maa’ refugee camp, west of the city. A number of young men from ‘Asker and Balata refugee camps gathered and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, who immediately fired live bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets at them in response. As a result, 4 young men, including 2 children, were wounded. A 23-year-old civilian sustained a metal bullet wound to the right foot; a 17-year-old child sustained a metal bullet wound to the left thigh; an 18-year-old civilian sustained a live bullet wound to the left thigh while another 17-year-old civilian was hit with a metal bullet to the left hand.
During the incursion, Israeli soldiers raided and searched a number of houses from which they arrested Mohammed Amin Abdul Hakim Mahmud al-Thaher (25) from al-Makhfiyah neighbourhood, west of the city, and Mohanned ‘Anbusi (26) from the Old City. They also handed a summons to the family of Mazen Hasan al-Dambak (38) to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service. Israeli forces also raided and searched al-Aghbar workshop belonging to ‘Awni Hamdi al-Aghbar in al-Dahiyah neighbourhood. ‘Awni said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the Israeli forces did not confiscate anything from the workshop in contrary of the Israeli saying that they confiscated ammunition and arms.
Israeli forces raided and searched a workshop belonging to Osama Mohammed Saleh Ragheb ‘Aj’aj (33) in the street of al-Hesbah Market, east of the city. They confiscated 3 lathes and then arrested Osama. They claimed that they found ammunition and arms inside the workshop. It should be noted that ‘Aj’aj is a mechanical engineer from Najah National University.
At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Jabaa’ village, south of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested Murad walid Malaishah (26) and ‘Emarah ‘Awni Fashafshah (25). At approximately 04:30, they withdrew from the village taking the arrested civilians to an unknown destination.
At approximately 03:30, Israeli forces moved into Jenin and its camp. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Mohammed ‘Eid ‘Amer (18) and Muntaser ‘Arafat al-Sa’di (20). At approximately 05:00, they withdrew taking them to an unknown destination.
Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Hebron, al-Samou’I, Bani Na’im and al-Tabaqah villages in Hebron.
Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall
Following the Friday prayer on Friday, 23 December 2016, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstration from Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, towards the eastern entrance to the village protesting against closing it with an iron gate since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada. As soon as they arrived at the abovementioned entrance, Israeli forces fired live bullets and sound bombs at the protesters. As a result, two civilians, including a child, were injured. A 45-year-old civilian sustained 2 live bullet wounds to the left foot and chest while a 15-year-old child sustained a live bullet wound to the right hand. The Israeli forces then detained Momen Murad Eshtiwi (7) on the spot for half an hour due to which he panicked. They also attacked Abdul Rahman Mousa Abdul Latif ‘Ali (40) with a stone to the head and then arrested him.
In the afternoon of the same day, dozens of Palestinian and International activists organized a demonstration called for by national and popular figures in Bethlehem at the military checkpoint “300” between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, demanding the freedom of movement and access to the holy places in coincidence with the Christmas holiday. A number of activists dressed like Santa Claus. The march began in front of the Caritas Hospital in the central Bethlehem where the activists raised Palestinian flags and a poster demanding the entry to occupied East. As soon as they arrived at the abovementioned checkpoint, the Israeli soldiers fired live rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at them. As a result, Mohammed Shushah, journalist at Roya TV Channel, was hit with sound bomb shrapnel to the right foot and was then taken to a hospital in Bethlehem to receive medical treatment. Eyad Nemer Hamad (58), a journalist at Associated Press (AP) News Agency, suffered from tear gas inhalation as well.
Following the Friday prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstrations in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages, west of Ramallah, and al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the city, protesting against the annexation wall and settlement activities. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protests, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased the protesters into olive fields and between houses. As a result, many of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up.
On Friday afternoon, 25 December 2016, dozens of young men made their way to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood, east of Gaza. They threw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed behind the abovementioned fence. The Israeli soldiers sporadically fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at the young men in response. At approximately 17:00, Mohammed Hesham Fouad Abu Jarad (22) sustained a live bullet wound to the right foot and was taken to al-Shifaa’ Hospital in Gaza to receive medical treatment. His wounds were classified as moderate.
On Thursday morning, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with hundreds of soldiers and dozens of military jeeps moved into Qalaniyah refugee camp and Kafer ‘Aqab village, north of Jerusalem, in implementation of the Israeli High Court’s decision to demolish and close a house belonging to Mesbah Abu Sbaih (see shooting incidents – Efforts to Create Jewish Majority below).
Jaber Abu Sbaih, Mesbah’s brother, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that at approximately 01:00, the Israeli forces raided the house, demolished the walls and then closed the main door of the house. Last Monday, 19 December 2016, the Israeli High Court approved the demolition decision of Abu Sabaih’s house in Kafer ‘Aqab village. The decision was issued by the Israeli military commander of the area on 17 November 2016, based on the 1945 British Mandate Emergency Regulations. The High Court decided to demolish the walls of the house and sealed it with red wax after submitting an engineering report confirming that the demolition of the exterior walls would cause damage to the whole building and neighboring apartments as Abu Sbaih’s apartment is on the seventh floor in a building. Abu Sbaih mentioned that the Israeli High Court approved the house demolition though the apartment does not belong to his brother Mesbah, but for their father Sbaih Abu Sbaih. It should be noted that Mesbah Abu Sbaih (39) was killed on 12 October 2016, after carrying out a shooting attack near the head office of the Israeli police leadership in al-Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of East Jerusalem.
Continued closure of the oPt
Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.
Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.
Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices. However, they lately allowed the exportation of some vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes, furniture and fish.
Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also continued applying the policy of making certain civilian traveling via the crossing interviewed by the Israeli intelligence service to be questioned, blackmailed or arrested.
Movement at Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah, is designated for the movement of goods
(11-17 December 2016)
Diesel & Diesel for UNRWA
Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip, is designated for the movement of individuals, and links the Gaza Strip with the West Bank.
Movement at Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing
(21 – 26 December 2016)
Israel has imposed a tightened closure on the West Bank. During the reporting period, Israeli forces imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians:
Hebron: Israeli forces established (17) checkpoints all over the city.
On Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to Tarama village and the northern entrance to Halhoul village.
On Friday, 23 December 2016, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints on the road of Beit ‘Aynoun village and at the entrances of Beit Ummer village and al-Fawar refugee camp.
On Saturday, 24 December 2016, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the eastern entrance to Dura village; and at the entrances to Sa’ir village and al-Fawar refugee camp.
On Monday, 26 December 2016, Israeli forces established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to Samou’a, al-Jalajil and Beit ‘Awaa villages and on the road of Wad al-Jouz area.
On Tuesday, 27 December 2016, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the entrances to Beit ‘Awaa, Beit Ummer and Halhoul villages.
On Wednesday, 28 December 2016, Israeli forces established similar checkpoints at the entrances to Beit ‘Aynoun and Ethna villages.
Ramallah and al-Bireh: Israeli forces established (12) checkpoints all over the city.
On Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints near the bridge of ‘Atara village; near the intersection of ‘Ain Sinaa village, north of Ramallah; at the intersection of al-Tayiba village (on al-Mo’arajat road between Ramallah and Jericho).
At approximately 15:00 on Friday, 23 December 2016, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the intersection of al-Taiba village, east of Ramallah.
On Saturday, 24 December 2016, Israeli forces established 4 checkpoints at the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah; ‘Atara bridge, north of the city; between Ras Karkar and Kafur Ne’mah villages; and at the entrance to Senjel village, north of the city.
On Sunday, 25 December 2016, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the entrances to ‘Aboud, al-Nabi Saleh and Yabroud villages. In the evening, Israeli forces closed a road leading to al-Jalazoun refugee camp and closed a road between Ras Karkar and Deir Bziegh villages, west of Ramallah.
At approximately 18:00 on Monday, 26 December 2016, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the entrance to ‘Aboud village, west of Ramallah.
Salfit: Israeli forces established (4) checkpoints all over the city.
At approximately 17:30 on Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the southern entrance to al-Zawiyia village, west of Salfit. At approximately 17:55, they established a similar checkpoint at the entrance to Deir Balout village, west of the city.
At approximately 20:00 on Wednesday, 23 December 2016, Israeli forces established a checkpoint under the bridge of Sakaka village, east of Salfit. At approximately 21:25, they established a similar checkpoint at the entrance to Kaful Hares village, north of the city.
Arrests at military checkpoints:
At approximately 17:00 on Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces stationed at Hawarah checkpoint, south of Nablus, arrested Zahir Mohamed Wahdan (24), from Tamoun village, southeast of Tubas village. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces stopped a vehicle carrying the abovementioned civilian and checked his ID. They then ordered him at gunpoint to step out of the vehicle.
At approximately 20:00 on Saturday, 24 December 2016, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Salfit. They checked the civilians’ IDs and searched the vehicles. They then arrested Rida Taysir Madi (26) and Nidal Ra’fat Ali al-Rimal (25). Both of them are from Salfit.
At approximately 19:00 on Monday, 26 December 2016, Israeli forces arrested Thiraa Mohamed al-Barghouthi (20), from Beit Rima village, northwest of Ramallah. Thiraa was arrested while crossing a checkpoint established by Israeli forces near the entrance to ‘Aboud village.
Maltreatment at Military Checkpoints:
At approximately 16:00 on Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces stationed at al-Karama crossing severely beat Hamza Abed al-Hakeem Hamdi Abu Zahra (22), from Nablus. Hamza was beaten when he put his suitcase for searching and then headed to the crossing hall to deliver his passport. Hamza was returning from Jordan. He said to PCHR’s fieldworker that he did not do anything and when he entered the waiting hall, a number of Israeli soldiers stationed in the hall hit him until he fainted. He woke up and found himself at Jericho Governmental Hospital. After he underwent medical examination, medical sources clarified that he sustained bruises to the face, head and chest.
Efforts to Create Jewish majority
Israeli forces escalated their attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property. They have also continued their raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and denied the Palestinians access to it:
On Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 3 others while dispersing dozens of protesters, who gathered in the vicinity of Qalandia refugee camp and Kafur ‘Aqoub village, north of occupied Jerusalem. The protesters were attempting to prevent the demolition of Mosbah Abu Subeih’s house in the abovementioned village. According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses, at approximately 01:00 on Thursday, hundreds of Israeli soldiers accompanied with 37 military vehicles moved into Qalandia refugee camp and Kafur ‘Aqoub village, north of occupied Jerusalem, to implement a decision issued by the Israeli High Court to close and demolish the house of Mosbah Abu Subeih. Israeli forces imposed a tight cordon on the area and deployed on the main street extending from Qalandia refugee camp to the intersection of Kafur ‘Aqoub village. Moreover, Israeli snipers topped the houses’ roofs adjacent to the targeted house. At approximately 01:40, Israeli forces demolished the house walls and then closed the main door. In the meantime, the entrance of Qalandia refugee camp and the intersection of Kafur ‘Aqoub village witnessed violent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian young men. Israeli soldiers fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at Palestinian civilians, who threw home-made hand grenades and Molotov cocktails at them. The clashes continued until 04:30 and resulted in killing Ahmed Nashat Othman al-Kharobi (19). Ahmed was hit with 2 live bullets to the heart and left shoulder by an Israeli sniper. It should be noted that Ahmed is from al-Beirh city and he succumbed to his wounds after he was admitted to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. Furthermore, 3 other civilians were wounded. After that, Ovijaa Adraei, the spokesman of Israeli forces, published a statement reading the following, “In an implementation of political instructions, Israeli forces in cooperation with Israeli Border Guard officers and Civil administration, demolished Musbah Abu Subeih house in Kafur ‘Aqoub village. The demolition against Musbah’s house came as a result of Musbah committing an attack in Talet al-Thakhirah area in Jerusalem on 09 October 2016, which led to the killing of a female civilian and a policeman while other civilians were wounded. During the demolition, Israeli forces were exposed to gunfire, due to which they opened fire in response targeting a Palestinian civilian, who threw an explosive device at them, and killed him.“
Arrests and Incursions:
At approximately 01:00 on Thursday, 22 December 2016, Israeli forces moved into al-Tour neighbourhood, east of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Mohamed Nasir Abu Jum’aa (15); ‘Odai Fadi Abu Jum’a (13); and Abed al-Hadi Basem Abu Ghazalah (13).
At approximately 04:00 on Thursday, Israeli forces moved into Sho’fat refugee camp, north of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Yazan Mohamed Harafsha (14) and his brother Ayham (13); Mohamed Nasir Jamjoum (16); and Malek ‘Asaliya (15).
At approximately 18:00 on Friday, 23 December 2016, Israeli forces moved into Hezmah village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Laith Ashraf al-Khatib (16) and arrested him.
At approximately 13:30 on Saturday, 24 December 2016, Israeli forces arrested ‘Aisha Yousef al-Afghani (35) while walking on al-Wad Street in occupied Jerusalem’s Old City. They claimed that she had a knife in her bag.
At approximately 01:00 on Monday, 26 December 2016, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Aisawiya village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Ahmed Darwish (21), Anas Darwish (19), Yazan Mohamed Abu ‘Asab (15), and Mohanad Ma’moun Abu ‘Asab (13).
At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Qatanna village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched a house belonging to ‘Imad Raied Shamasnah (23) and arrested him.
At approximately 04:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Sawanah neighbourhood, east of occupied Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Abdullah Mohamed al-‘Alami (21) and Ahmed al-‘Alami (23).
House demolitions and demolition notices:
On Wednesday, 28 December 2016, Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished agricultural and commercial facilities in Selwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of non- Jamal Siyam stated that Israeli forces accompanied with the Israeli municipality’s crews moved into ‘Ain al-Louza neighbourhood. They demolished 3 agricultural containers belonging to Jamal Siyam without warning. Jamal said that Israeli forces also demolished an 80-square-meter barrack, in addition to the above-mentioned containers (20 square meters each). Moreover, Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished parts of a 10-square-meter commercial facility belonging to Abu Wahdan family.
Opening a new tunnel in Selwan village
On Tuesday, 27 December 2016, Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regevopened a new tunnel in Wady Helwa neighborhood, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, in coincidence with the appearance of cracks in the buildings and streets. Israeli media reported that the abovementioned Minister along with the Israeli Municipality Mayor, Nir Barakat; director of ‘Ad settlement association, David Biri; and other rabbis opened a tunnel in Wady Helwa neighborhood, and organized a celebration. It should be noted that Israel Antiquities Authority and ‘Ad settlement association started working in the tunnel 2 years ago. Additionally, the tunnel is located in the center of Wady Helwa neighborhood, towards Bab al-Magharba yard. The opening of the tunnel in Wady Helwa neighborhood came in a time when new cracks appeared in many houses and old cracks in 40 other houses became clearer. This coincides with the Israeli digging works in the neighborhood, which may lead to the collapse of some buildings.
Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property
At approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 25 December 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with a Civil Administration vehicle moved into Beit ‘Awwa, southwest of Dura, southwest of Hebron. They stationed in Um Hezwah area to the east of the village, where the Civil Administration officer delivered 4 final demolition notices for four houses belonging to al-Masalmah family under the pretext of building without a license. It should be mentioned that on 21 September 2016, the Israeli authorities issued notices to stop construction works in those houses under the pretext of building without a license. As a result, the owners resorted to a law firm, which will apply for a license and challenge the demolition notices. The noticed houses were as follows:
Number of children
Number of floors
Area of building (sqm)
Ahmed Yaser Masalmah
‘Abdel Fattah Yasser Masalmah
Mohammed ‘Abdel Majeed Masalmah
Tal’at Nayef Masalmah
At approximately 11:00 on the same day, Israeli forces accompanied with a vehicle belonging to the Construction and Organization Department moved into al-Taban and al-Majaz areas to the east of Yata, south of Hebron. The Civil Administration officer handed 17 civilians from the families of No’man, Khalil, Abu ‘Aram, Hammad, ‘Abeid, Hamamdah and residents of Tabban Kherbah notices to stop construction works under the pretext of building without a license.
At approximately 10:00 on Tuesday, 27 December 2016, Israeli forces accompanied with a vehicle belonging to the Construction and Organization Department in the Civil Administration and a digger moved into al-Bus area, west of Ethna village, west of Hebron. The soldiers deployed in the area while the digger started demolishing a water-collection well and 10-squar-meter agricultural room belonging to Mousa Ahmed Farajallah. It should be mentioned that the Israeli authorities handed the aforementioned civilian a notice to stop construction work in the well and room back in 2011.
At approximately 13:30 on Thursday, 22 December 2016, a security officers, who guards “Gosh Etzion” settlement, south of Bethlehem, attacked Ahmed Saber Zamel Abu Mariya (12) and his sister Ritaj (7) while returning from Beit Ummer primary school to their house in Beit Za’tah neighbourhood, northeast of Beit Ummer, north of Hebron. The security officer stopped his car in front of the abovementioned children and pointed his firearm at them, due to which they panicked. The children fled to one of the nearby houses to hide. Ahmed Abu Mariya said to PCHR’s fieldworker that, “I was returning along with my sister Ritaj from school, 2 kilometres away from our house. When we approached our house, a vehicle with an Israeli registration plate suddenly swerved toward us, so we moved away. An Israeli officer stepped out of the vehicle and then pulled his firearm and pointed it at us. As a result, my sister and I fled to the house belonging to Sa’di Mohamed Abu ‘Ayiash and told him about what happened. He called our father, who came 20 minutes later. My father told us that the security officer was still out on the road leading to Abu ‘Ayisha house. We waited for some time until the arrival of an Israeli patrol. After that, we got out of the house along with our father and Sa’di ‘Ayiash. The officer hid his firearm when he saw us. My sister and I hid behind my father and the officer was shouting at us and attempting to catch me. Few minutes later, the officer left with Israeli soldiers after taking photos of me with his mobile phone.”
Recommendations to the International Community
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
PCHR calls on States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute;
PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
PCHR calls upon the international community, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;
For further information please visit our website www.pchrgaza.org or contact PCHR’s office in Gaza City, Gaza Strip by email email@example.com or telephone +972 08 282 4776 – 282 5893.
Despite claim that Western sanctions were supposed to target just parts of Russia’s economy and not its general population, they were specifically designed to trigger the collapse of its banking system, food production, civil construction, and to trigger massive unemployment, widespread hunger and civil unrests. In essence, in 2016 Russia was supposed to have a return of the 90s catastrophe period known as “perestroika.”
As for Russia’s involvement in Syria, it was supposed to become a ‘quagmire’ that would destroy what precious little military power the country had.
For those who ever relied on Western analytics, it should already be clear that the think tankers’ jobs have been to transmit the desires of their politicians for the future, while Russia and its allies work to change the reality now.
“The Russian reinforcement has changed the calculus completely.” From this Senate testimony made by Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, we had learned in February 2016 that the US intelligence had some sort of a calculus.
If we go back through official statements and the political forecasts on Russia, will we find a calculus at work?
The Western sanctions against Russia that began in March 2014 were designed to undermine financing and investments in Russia’s resource-based economy over a five-year period.
Russia will blink under sanction pressure in 2016.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov: Russia’s $80 billion National Reserve Fund, set up to sustain the nation after the EU and U.S. began punitive sanctions, has already spent $40.85 billion on economic subsidies this year and will be wiped out in 2016.
The combination of challenges accelerated the damage to Russia’s economy, and will foment internal unrest.
Russia is “getting to the point where financing delays in key projects, along with financing constraints on Russian companies and Western firms doing business in Russia, could cause irreparable harm to the economy in the not-too-distant future,” according to Stratfor Global Intelligence.
With ExxonMobil leaving Russia, deep off-shore energy exploration evaporated. Russia will never be able to develop its off-shore oil and gas deposit.
Russia has had very little ability to effectively respond to Western sanctions.
The Russian economy contracted by 4.30 percent in the third quarter of 2015, versus about 1 percent growth for the same period last year.
Russia’s economy minister (Ulukaev that was arrested a month ago) suggested that possibly 60 of 83 Russia’s regions are in crisis mode, and 20 may have already been defaulting on their debt.
Russia faces food shortages, and per Stratfor Kremlin is “stepping up its security apparatuses” to suppress the starving population.
Per Stratfor, Russia is involved in Syria as a strategy to force engagement with the West.
Moscow’s key objective for 2016 is winning relief from the sanctions, per Stratfor
Stratfor believes Russia will “use whatever it can–Ukraine and Syria included–to present itself as a willing partner.”
Obama predicted that Russia’s involvement in Syria will become a ‘quagmire.’ In 2015, the U.S. officials called a Russian air campaign in Syria to be a ‘predetermined failure.’
Facts and numbers
This prediction had failed. Partially due to the Western sanctions, Russian economy is positioned to have five best years ever.
This prediction had failed also. Not only Russian government and large businesses didn’t ‘blink’ and didn’t give in to the Western pressure, they used the sanctions as a tool to curb the capital flight and to boost production. In 2015, Russia saw a net capital outflow of $58.9 billion, almost three times less than in 2014. The Russia’s Net Capital Outflow Totals $9.6Bln in Jan.-Sept. 2016
As a reminder, a part of what’s called ‘capital outflow’ is the government debt payments. In 2016, Russia still was paying back debt incurred by the Soviet government. Russia has accepted the Soviet Union debt, relieving all the other former Soviet republics from its burden.
Volume of the Reserve fund – $31,30 billion as of December 2016, down from $49,95 billion. It’s not wiped out as predicted.
Also, Gold Reserves in Russia increased to over 1600 tons in fourth quarter of 2016, up from from 1415 for January 1st, 2016. .
Only in November the Bank of Russia purchased 1 million troy ounces of gold, or 31 tons.
This might explain relatively modest holding of US dollars.
This prediction has failed. “Internal unrest in Russia” being a wet dream of the Western politicians and military is not going to happen. Instead, the society is united and consolidated as never before. Large segments of population have become actively involved into monitoring social and professional media for any attempts to disturb peace and tranquility in the country. It’s even come to ridiculous complains by the Western pundits that the last elections of the members of Duma was “boring” and “uneventful.” Considering, that two weeks prior the elections, an arrest of a Police colonel yielded $200 million in cash fresh from the US Mint press, still wrapped in federal mint packaging. Considering, also, that another $300 million were found on his father’s bank accounts. It’s a general idea that this cash was intended for organization of a “Maidan” like event in Russia. That didn’t pan out, because an “opposition” doesn’t exist without foreign money, just like mold doesn’t exist without dampness.
By the way, this half a billion dollars went to the federal budget.
Failed. Predicting “an irreparable harm” to Russia’s economy, Stratfor only achieved an irreparable harm to itself.
6. The US and EU sanctions included prohibiting the export of goods, services and technology in support of E&P for Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore and shale projects to Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas and Rosneft, including Yuzhno-Kirinskoye Field. Sanctions were aimed at crippling the country’s energy and finance sectors.
“The intent was to be surgical,” said Thane Gustafson, senior director and advisor of Russian and Caspian energy for IHS. But “The actual results have been dramatically different. … The sector that was supposed to have been targeted is the one that has been least affected.”
Matthew Sagers, managing director of Russian and Caspian energy for IHS, said Russia has “managed to fly in the face of gravity,” being the only area to his knowledge to increase capex in 2015 and see more development drilling.
Russian production rose to 10.7 million barrels a day (MMbbl/d) in December 2015 and inched up to about 10.8 MMbbl/d in January 2016. [source]
NB: EPMAG is lying to its readers by stating that “oil and gas revenues account for more than 50% of the federal budget revenues in Russia.” In reality, Oil and gas revenue. Oil and Gas Revenue Accounts for 21% of Russia’s Budget Not 50%
For the next 2017, country expects GDP growth of 1.6%, budget deficit of 1.7% of GDP and the dollar’s average exchange rate of 63.5 rubles for 2017 with the average price of Brent crude oil of $50 per barrel. If the average oil price is closer to $60 per barrel in 2017 GDP growth may exceed 2%, budget deficit will be within 1% and the dollar’s exchange rate may be below 60 rubles mark.
The Austrian Institute of Economic Research, the strong fall in exports from the EU to Russia was due, at least partially, to the imposition of sanctions and counter sanctions. The potential trade loss in terms of value added (€34 billion in the short run and €92 billion in the long-run) and employment were attributable to deterioration in trade relations that extended sanctions can exacerbate. That study (inter others) thus concludes that the sanctions have had serious consequences on employment in the EU with cost to the EU over €100 billion in business and up to 2.5 million in jobs.
Christensen, O. Fritz and G. Streicher , “Effects of the EU-Russia Economic Sanctions on Value Added and Employment in the European Union and Switzerland”, WIFO Study, Austrian Institute of Economic Research, Vienna, July, 2015.
Russia’s economy grew in 2016. Stock market is up over 40% year-to-date. In December the Russian Ministry of Economic Development revised its outlook for industrial production growth in 2016 to +1% compared to the previous +0.4%. In November, national statistics firm Rosstat said industrial production in the first 11 months of 2016 rose +0.8% from 2015 and +2.7% compared to the same month a year ago. IP also rose around +1% from October levels.
Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov [see #3]“The economy may surprise to the upside next year,” Siluanov said. “If so, growth will have an impact on the dynamics of wages and incomes, which have already shown a steady growth pattern in real terms thanks to falling inflation.”
Suddenly… FSB arrests just one liberal minister, and economy starts growing.
His prediction has failed. Russia’s economy minister Ulukaev was arrested a month ago, officially for bribery and corruption, unofficially for treason. The IMF data of debt-to-GDP ratio by country shows that that Russia’s share in a world debt is lowest in Europe and equal only to 0,49 percent of the world debt, while the European continent, excluding Russia, holds over 26 percent of total world debt. In September 2016, Fitch Affirms Russia’s Penza Region at ‘BB’; Outlook Stable. Penza’s economy is historically weaker than the average Russian region with a GRP per capita at 76% of the national median in 2014. Other Russia’s region were also affirmed as “stable.”
No to predicted hunger revolts. Per Bloomberg’s October report: Russia becomes a grain superpower as wheat exports explode with the grain harvest is amounting to 117 million tons in 2016, which is the highest ever in history. In 2016, US lost out to Russian wheat exports. Russia’s poultry producers found new markets to sell due to significant increase the domestic production due to import cuts.
RosStat: In 2016 an average Russian consumed 98.5 kg of fresh vegetables and 72.6 kg of fresh fruit and berries.
Russia records increase in greenhouse vegetable production per fruit-inform.com
Based on data from regional agro-business management bodies: the gross yield of greenhouse vegetable crops in the whole country amounted, as of 29 November 2016 to 607.1 thousand tons; which is 31% more than in 2015, when the total volume stood at 462.4 thousand tons. The volume of cucumbers increased by 23% and amounted to 409.4 thousand tons, compared to 333.1 thousand tons in 2015. The tomato production amounted to 182.5 thousand tons, which is 53% more than in 2015, when it amounted to 119.4 thousand tons. 15.2 thousand tons of other vegetable crops were also harvested. For comparison, in the same period of 2015 the yield was 9.9 tonnes, i.e. it was 1.5 times smaller.
This prediction has also failed. The agreements between Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey to end the war in Syria took place, and the Western countries were excluded from the deal.
This prediction has failed. Russia’s counter sanctions are already in place until December 2017, with an indefinite renewal option.
This prediction had also failed. The Western sanctions actually gave a boost to the economy.
Another failed prediction. One year on, Russia’s war in Syria is hardly the predicted ‘quagmire.’ Even the Dark side itself admits that “the United States made a mistake by waving off this intervention as a doomed adventure. Failing to take it seriously has ramifications for the region beyond the Syrian war.”
As the warontherocks author also admits, “the quagmire is less visible in Russia’s military operations, and more in U.S. thinking on how to deal with Moscow.”
Boeing and the world leader in the production of titanium forgings for the aviation industry VSMPO-AVISMA agreed to process titanium forgings for all programs of the Boeing civil aircrafts, including 787 family and new 737 MAX and 777X families in Titanium Valley. The opening of the plant is scheduled for the 1st quarter of 2018. [source]
A collective failure of the Western “analytics” is so obvious that anyone should start looking for answers someplace else, rather than wasting money to feed a greedy bottomless pit, populated with ‘stink’ tankers.
Consider that the thesaker.is predictions and analytic have been always accurate.
Thank you for your time,
A featured image: MOSCOW – AUGUST 21, 2016: Aerial view of Moscow-City over Moskva River. Moscow-City (Moscow International Business Center) is a modern commercial district in central Moscow.
[ Ed. note – The writer of the piece below is Elie Fares, who maintains the blog A Separate State of Mind. The language he uses is a bit “colorful” in places, but he makes some good points about a bogus claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made yesterday. In a diatribe against Secretary of State John Kerry–and given in response to a speech Kerry made earlier in the day–Netanyahu claimed, falsely, that Israel is the “only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas.”
I put up a post about the Israeli leader’s rant yesterday entitled Spitting Vitriol. ]
No Netanyahu, Israel Isn’t the Only Middle Eastern Place Where Christians Can Celebrate Christmas
In his increasingly childish bitchfit against the international political establishment that saw his country’s transgressions through settlements on Palestinian land finally made illegal with a UN resolution banning Israel – yeah, right – from building more of them, the Israeli PM is lashing out at his country’s closest ally and the reason Israel has been off the hook in everything it’s done for years, the United States.
As part of a rant aimed at US Secretary of State John Kerry whose tone was very moderate towards the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with him recognizing the plight of Palestinians and their refugees, the land grab they’ve been victim of, among other things, Netanyahu figured it best to remind Kerry, and by extension of his buzz words that you know will circle Fox News for months to come, other Americans and Westerners who see Israel as the only worthy beacon of civilization in the Middle East that – and I quote:
Thousands of People rallied in Diraz area in rejection of the regime’s steps to normalize relations with the Israeli entity after a Zionist delegation visited the capital Manama.
The protesters held the photos of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Issa Qassem and chanted slogans which reject normalizing Bahrain’s ties with the Zionist entity, burning the Israeli flag and highlighting their support to the Palestinian cause.
A number of Bahraini figures condemned the regime’s act of facilitating the entrance of the Israeli delegation to the Bahraini territories, denouncing the attempts to establish a closer relations with the Zionists.
A circulated video showed a group of Zionist extremists chanting and dancing with Bahraini businessmen during their visit to Manama.
The slogans they chanted asserted their intention to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque to build the alleged Solomon’s Temple, according to the video.