What if al-Aqsa Mosque caught fire?

It is doubtful in today’s US-dominated world that anyone would rally to its cause, as they did for Notre Dame
Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)

On 15 April, a devastating fire broke out at France’s famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

In the course of the conflagration, the church’s distinctive 93-metre medieval spire and two thirds of its roof were destroyed. Had it not been for the tireless efforts of French firefighters, who fought day and night to extinguish the blaze, the damage would have been far more extensive.

For days, the story was front-page news in Western countries, and media outlets were saturated with expert analyses of the cathedral’s history, architecture and significance.

Symbol of national identity

There is no doubt that Notre Dame, dating from 1163, is a Gothic masterpiece and a Parisian landmark. It is a symbol of France and of Roman Catholicism, even though France is an officially secular state that prides itself on what it calls laicité. Church and state were formally separated in 1905.

But that did not stop crowds of people from singing hymns in a vigil near the stricken cathedral and marching in its honour. Paris’s deputy mayor of tourism and sports joined others in creating a human chain to save the ancient relics held inside the cathedral.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is their very own possession – a symbol of Arab historical continuity in a city claimed by non-Arabs

Notre Dame is today not just a religious monument, but a symbol of French national identity. For that reason, the French president quickly took on the responsibility of rebuilding the cathedral, and French billionaires and businesses have already pledged more than €700 million ($787m) towards that goal.

In recognition of that nationalist bond, many western states, from Australia to Europe, hastened to send their condolences to President Emmanuel Macron. Japan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan did the same.

In the United States, the One World Trade Centre and the Empire State Building were lit up in the tricolour of the French flag, and the governor of New York pledged his city’s solidarity with the people of France.

Sacred character

What if a similar fate overtook al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem? This building is older than Notre Dame, built by the Umayyad caliphs in the eighth century, and has a long, rich history. The mosque was hit by earthquakes in 746 and 1033 and rebuilt each time; taken over by crusaders in 1099 and reclaimed by Saladin in 1187; then remained under Muslim rule until the war of 1967, when it came under Israel’s control.

Muslims everywhere revere this mosque. It is the third holiest place after the mosques of Mecca and Medina. Many associations bind al-Aqsa to Muslim religious sentiment.

Palestinians pray at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in May 2018 (AFP)
Palestinians pray at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in May 2018 (AFP)

Interpreted as the place referenced in the Isra verse in the Quran, al-Aqsa has taken on a sacred character, and is traditionally associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous night journey to Jerusalem. Its spiritual significance for Muslims is hard to overstate. Jerusalem was Islam’s first qibla, or direction of prayer, and it has been an important place of pilgrimage ever since.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is their very own possession – a symbol of Arab historical continuity in a city claimed by non-Arabs, and an affirmation of Arab identity in an anti-Arab environment. Though it stands beside what is claimed to be the site of the now-vanished Jewish Second Temple, it is the only concrete historical building in that place.

No assaults by religious Jewish groups claiming rights to the mosque can alter this reality, nor have Israel’s constant excavations to detect a trace of Jewish history at the site since 1967 produced that evidence.

The case of the 1969 fire

What if this unique building, so meaningful for the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, succumbed to fire, or collapsed after Israel’s archaeological digs weakened its ancient foundations?

Would the Arab and Islamic world rise up as one? Would Israel, the de facto custodian of Jerusalem’s holy places, be made accountable? Would world leaders rush to rebuild the mosque or to help the Palestinian people?

The struggle for al-Aqsa: Palestinians have ‘no one but God to help them’

Read More »

We have a preliminary answer in the case of the fire that burned Saladin’s minbar inside al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Denis Michael Rohan, an evangelical Christian Australian, started a fire in the mosque to try to destroy it, aiming to clear the way for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt in its place, thus hastening Christ’s second coming. The incident led to the establishment of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Jordan’s representative to the UN presented letters of protest over the fire at al-Aqsa. These came from just 17 states, and a further 58 letters came from NGOs, Muslim religious bodies, other Muslim groups and Muslim individuals around the world. They called on the UN to intervene to protect the holy site from Israel’s occupation.

An orphan without allies

The Western response to the fire at al-Aqsa was muted. None displayed solidarity with Palestinians or Muslims, and no effective action was taken by the UN.

In the 50 years since the fire at al-Aqsa, Israel has only increased its hold on Jerusalem’s holy places. In 2017, it illegally installed turnstiles and metal detectors at the entrances to al-Haram al-Sharif, although they were subsequently removed. Religious settlers are now regularly allowed to march through al-Aqsa compound, threaten Muslim worshippers, and perform Jewish religious ceremonies.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is no less a religious and nationalist symbol for Arabs and Muslims than Notre Dame is for the French

Al-Aqsa Mosque is no less a religious and nationalist symbol for Arabs and Muslims than Notre Dame is for the French. But if it burned down, it is doubtful in today’s US-dominated world – and given Arab and Islamic weakness – that anyone would rally to its cause. Only the Palestinians who live there would go on fighting to defend it.

Like them, this wonderful Islamic icon is an orphan in a world without allies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Ghada Karmi
Ghada Karmi is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. She was born in Jerusalem and was forced to leave her home with her family as a result of Israel’s creation in 1948. The family moved to England in 1949, where she grew up and was educated. Karmi practised as a doctor for many years working as a specialist in the health of migrants and refugees. From 1999 to 2001 Karmi was an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, where she led a major project on Israel-Palestinian reconciliation. In 2009, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
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I am on trial in Germany for peacefully protesting Israeli apartheid

BDS activist Majed Abusalama shares a court statement he delivered after being tried for protesting an Israeli MK’s talk in Berlin
'It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community' (AFP)

‘It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community’ (AFP)

I am in the midst of a nightmare because I dared to call for equality, justice, freedom and dignity for Palestinians. My activism in Germany as part of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has landed me before the court.

Last month, charges were levied against me and my two Jewish comrades, Ronnie Barkan and Stavit Sinai. Together, we are known as the #humboldt3, because we peacefully protested a talk at Humboldt University in Berlin by Knesset member Aliza Lavie, who supported Israel’s 2014 war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

I have been deeply touched by the international support we have received throughout this ordeal. However, we still need all human rights defenders and friends of Palestine to stand with us, since we are going through a re-trial following Israeli pressure to convict us.

Many have told me that I will overcome – but what they might not know is that as a three-decade survivor of the Israeli occupation, the experience of violence, oppression and collective punishment has taught me to keep fighting for life.

In the courtroom, sitting as a criminal, I gave the following statement.

Shared humanity

I am standing here on trial as a criminal defendant, along with my comrades, as a result of us daring to speak up publicly against Israel’s crimes against humanity in my beloved Palestine. It came out of my responsibility as a humanist, and as a Palestinian, to respond to Aliza Lavie, who was in the coalition that decided to slaughter, displace, bombard, torture, imprison and obliterate my beloved people in 2014.

It was my moral duty to call her out for her crimes against humanity. Throughout the event, I was silent, only listening in pain as Lavie spoke. I saw her speaking with joy about her so-called democratic country – but in reality, she was rejoicing at the blood of my people, without any shame.

There was one image that I saw in my mind and felt in my heart: that of my friends who lost their limbs while protesting peacefully

There was one image that I saw in my mind and felt in my heart: that of my friends who lost their limbs while protesting peacefully for justice and freedom inside the Gaza ghetto.

I thought of all my family and friends living a brutal, horrific life under Israeli apartheid, imprisoned and illegally collectively punished.

I saw tens of thousands of homes destroyed in Israeli massacres. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been rendered homeless as a result of the 2014 Gaza massacre and other Israeli onslaughts.

Your honour, if you were in my place – and you will not be, because you will never understand the feeling of waiting for a bomb to fall on your family’s or your neighbour’s home – you would understand how hard it is to live in this continuous horror.

Collective duty

I was shot in the leg with a live bullet while protesting peacefully – planting olive trees – at the Gaza fence in 2014. Lavie, who has been in the Knesset since 2013, is among those who bear responsibility for the bullet that disabled me for months, and damaged me for a lifetime.

Our actions at Humboldt University should be honoured, as it is the moral duty of every humanist to speak up against criminals, especially those complicit in crimes against humanity. As activists for human rights, this is our collective duty – not only in Israel, but also in Europe and specifically Germany, where we live.

We, human rights advocates, think it is our duty collectively to confront any criminal, not only in Israel, but also in Europe.

Gaza’s Great Return March: How Palestinians are reclaiming their land

Read More »

We, the Palestinians and Jews who escaped apartheid in Israel, are here in Germany to fulfill our civil and moral duty to fight for transnational solidarity, equality and justice – to rally all communities together around our shared humanity.

I came to live in Germany as a citizen of this world, hoping that I would no longer suffer under the confinement of Israeli apartheid. But I have discovered that Israeli apartheid is spreading to Germany.

Fear of speaking out

The thousands of Muslims and Palestinians in Germany do not feel safe to speak up. They feel they could be persecuted at any time, simply for shouting “Free Palestine” or dreaming to return freely to their homes, in accordance with the UN-mandated right of return. They fear persecution for calling for equality, dignity, freedom and justice in Gaza.

It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community

Your honour, for days, I was unable to sleep after encountering the fabrication of us being criminals for speaking up against Israeli apartheid. Yet I realise it is my duty as a future citizen of this country to change the discourse in Germany around Israel’s crimes.

It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community and for the implementation of international law in our land – and for our freedom to express ourselves and to protest in Germany.

I am standing in front of you today to demand justice, not only for myself and my comrades, but for all those pursuing justice and equality in Germany and Palestine.

The above statement has been edited for length and clarity.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Majed Abusalama
Majed Abusalama is a human rights defender, scholar and independent journalist who hails from Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza. He has been worked with International and Palestinian non-profit organisations on the intersections of sustainability, reforming aid, entrepreneurship, and organic conflict transformation. He tweets@MajedAbusalama.

O Canada! The True North Strong and Free – Not

O Canada! The True North Strong and Free – Not

O Canada! The True North Strong and Free – Not

Canadian visitors to Washington sometimes wonder why their embassy stands at the foot of Capitol Hill.

The answer? To be close to where Canada’s laws are made.

A main showcase of Ottawa’s craven servility to Washington is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s complicity in the US-led regime change operation being conducted against Venezuela. Not content with ruining his own country with multiculturalism, polysexualism, and the like, Li’l Justin has acted in lockstep with Big Brother to the south inslapping sanctions on Venezuelan officials and serving as a US agent of influence, especially with other countries in the western hemisphere:

‘A Canadian Press report published at the end of January revealed that Canadian diplomats worked systematically over several months with their Latin American counterparts in Caracas to prepare the current regime-change operation, pressing [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro’s right-wing opponents to set aside their differences and mount a joint challenge to the government. “The turning point,” said the Canadian Press [Global News], “came Jan. 4, when the Lima Group … rejected the legitimacy of Maduro’s May 2018 election victory and his looming January 10 inauguration, while recognizing the ‘legitimately elected’ National Assembly.” The report cited an unnamed Canadian official as saying the opposition “were really looking for international support of some kind, to be able to hold onto a reason as to why they should unite, and push somebody like Juan Guaidó.”

‘One day prior to Maduro’s inauguration, [Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia] Freeland spoke to Guaidó, the newly-elected National Assembly speaker, by telephone to urge him to challenge the elected Venezuelan president.’

But that’s not all. Canada is out front and center in the “Five Eyes” intelligence agencies’ war on China’s Huawei – with direct prompting from US legislators and intelligence.  As explained by Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Gen. Colin Powell, it’s not that Huawei violated any law when circumventing US sanctions but it is the US that is acting illegally by unilaterally imposing sanctions that were never agreed to internationally. But that’s OK – when it comes to Washington’s claims of jurisdiction over every human being on the planet, Justin and Chrystia are happy to oblige!

Also, let’s not forget Chrystia’s role in keeping the pot boiling in Ukraine. It would of course be cynical (and probably racist) to attribute anything relating to Ukraine to her own interesting family background …

To be fair, the lickspittle attitude of Canadian officials towards their masters south of the 49th parallel is hardly unique in the world. Also to be fair, it’s natural and would be generally beneficial for Canada to have a positive relationship with a powerful, kindred neighbor rather than a negative one. Think of Austria’s ties to Germany, or the Trans-Tasman relationship of Australia and New Zealand, or the links that still exist between Russia and Ukraine despite efforts by the west to set them against each other (as, for example, Spain and Portugal were at loggerheads for several centuries, when the latter was a loyal ally of Spain’s foe, Great Britain, to such an extent that Portugal was sometimes shown on maps and globes in the same pink as British possessions; a similar situation existed between Argentina and British ally Chile).

A close and mutually advantageous relationship is one thing, but Canada’s de facto loss of independence is another. Not only does the US control Canada’s diplomacy, military, and intelligence but also her financial system (with, among other levers, the notorious FATCA law, which places Canadian institutions under the supervision of the IRS, with Canada’s revenue service acting, care of the Canadian taxpayer, as a cat’s paw for not only the IRS but the NSA and other snooping agencies). As explained by one Canadian nationalist (yes, they do exist!), the redoubtable David Orchard, trade is also a critical issue:

‘Canada …, after almost three decades of “free trade” with the U.S., has more than $1.2 trillion in federal and provincial debt, large deficits at every level, no national child or dental care, high university tuition, miserly old age pensions, years of massive budget cuts, and giveaway prices for its exports of oil, gas, timber and minerals.

‘For 150 years, great Canadian leaders have warned that without an economic border with the United States, we would soon no longer have a political border.

‘We once owned the world’s largest farm machinery maker, Massey Harris, headquartered in Toronto; built the world’s largest and most respected marketer of wheat and barley, the Canadian Wheat Board, based in Winnipeg; created a great transcontinental railway system, beginning in Montreal, which tied our country together; and saw Vancouver’s shipyards produce the beautiful Fast Cat ferry.

‘Instead of spending hundreds of billions on foreign-made machinery, electronics, automobiles, ships, fighter jets and passenger aircraft (even payroll systems for federal employees!), we can build our own, both for the domestic and export market.

‘We once designed and built the world’s most advanced jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow, so we know it can be done. [Emphasis added] With Canada’s resources and ingenuity, it could create a prosperous, domestically controlled economy that would give Canadians multiple benefits, security and pride of ownership. All that is required is some of the will that drove our ancestors to create an alternate power in North America. As George-Étienne Cartier, the great Québécois Father of Confederation, put it, “Now everything depends on our patriotism.”’ [Note: Orchard is the author of the must-read book The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. To begin at the beginning, in the late 1680s, as part of English-French rivalry in North America, Massachusetts Puritans sought to root out the nest of popish deviltry known as Quebec. Following their disastrous 1690 defeat, they decided to fight Satan closer to home by hanging witches. The rest, as they say, is history…]

Scratch a Canadian patriot and you’ll hear about the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow. As a watershed moment in Canada’s downward slide into subservience, the cancellation of what by all accounts was a magnificent aircraft – and a snapshot of what Canada’s international competitiveness (including in advanced aerospace) could have looked like had it been able to develop independently – might have been the point of being sucked into the American vortex. As noted by one response to my suggestion that Ottawa’s stance on Venezuela amounted to Canada’s annexation by the US: “Canadian here…unfortunately, the above is true (not literally of course, but in practice). It goes back even before the time of Diefenbaker, who canceled our Avro Arrow program on demand from the US – thus destroying our aerospace industry and causing brain drain to the US/Europe.”

To this day, the decision of then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to kill the Arrow project (and “put 14,528 Avro employees, as well as nearly 15,000 other employees in the Avro supply chain of outside suppliers, out of work”) on what came to be known as “Black Friday,” February 20, 1959, remains controversial and shrouded in mystery. A mix of budgetary, political, technological, and personality factors has been cited, none of them conclusive. Pressure from the US side, including unwillingness of Washington to purchase a Canadian aircraft when the US could pressure them to buy American planes and missiles, no doubt played a key role: “Instead of the CF-105, the RCAF invested in a variety of Century Series fighters from the United States. These included the F-104 Starfighter (46 percent of which were lost in Canadian service), and (more controversial, given the cancellation of the Arrow) the CF-101 Voodoo. The Voodoo served as an interceptor, but at a level of performance generally below that expected of the Arrow.”

While we may never know reliably why Diefenbaker cancelled the Arrow or how Canada or Canadian industry might have followed a different path, there’s no question of the superior capabilities of the Arrow. As it happens, one of the few pilots who had a chance to test the Arrow in an impromptu friendly dogfight is now-retired USAF fighter pilot Col. George Jatras, later US Air Attaché in Moscow (also, this analyst’s father). As he related in 2017:

‘I’ve received a number of messages in the last couple days about this bird, including some that say it may be revived. I don’t know how The Arrow would compare to today’s aircraft, but I had a first-hand lesson on how it faired against the F-102.

‘In 1959, I was stationed at Suffolk County AFB on Long Island with the 2nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. We had an informal exchange program with a Canadian fighter squadron stationed near Montreal. From time to time, two or four aircraft from one of the squadrons would fly to the other’s base on a weekend cross country.

‘On one such exchange, I was #3 in a four ship formation led by [former Tuskegee airmanErnie Craigwell (I don’t recall who the other pilots were). As we entered Canadian airspace, cruising at about 40,000 ft., we spotted a contrail well above our altitude (probably at 50,000ft.) and closing very fast.  As the other aircraft appeared to be passing by, we could clearly see the delta shaped wing and knew it was the Avro Arrow that the Canadian pilots had told us about. Then, instead of just passing by, he rolled in on us! Ernie called for a break and we split into elements. When we talked about the encounter afterwards we all agreed that our first thought was, “This guy is in for a surprise; he doesn’t know that he’s taking on the F-102.”  Well, we were the ones in for a surprise. Even with two elements covering each other, not one of us could get on his tail. His power and maneuverability were awesome.  After he had played with us for a few minutes, like a cat with four mice, he zoomed back up to about 50K and went on his way. What an aircraft! What a shame that it never went into production.’

What is perhaps most curious about the Arrow’s demise is that “everything was ordered brutally destroyed; plans, tools, parts, and the completed planes themselves were to be cut up, destroyed, scrapped and everything made to disappear.”  Why? Well, security of course! Don’t engage in conspiracy theories …

The Canadian national anthem finishes with a pledge: “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” It should be noted that understandably resentful Loyalists fleeing the US following the American Revolution were a major contribution to the growth of Canada’s English-speaking population. American troops – back when we were the plucky underdog fighting the mighty British Empire – invaded Canada in 1775 and during the War of 1812 but were defeated. Relations got testy during the American Civil War as well, and even afterwards the US was wary of a proposed united “Kingdom of Canada,” hence the choice of the name “Dominion” in 1967. If today’s Canadians think we-all down here don’t know whom they’ve mostly had in mind to “stand on guard” against all this time, they’d better think again.

Maybe it’s past time for Canadians to get serious again about their independence – eh?

Weekly report on israel’s terrorism on Palestinians (11 April – 17 April 2019)

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations (11 – 17 April 2019)

Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes, in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), for the week of 11 – 17 April, 2019.

Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protestors in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian child was killed and another succumbed to his wounds. 98 civilians, including 26 children, 6 women, 3 paramedics and a journalist, were wounded. The injury of 1 of them was reported serious. 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded in the West Bank.

Shooting:

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces continued to use lethal force against the participants in the peaceful protests organized within the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege along the Gaza Strip borders, which witnessed the peaceful protests for the 54th week along the eastern and northern border area of the Gaza Strip. They also continued to use force against Palestinians protesting against the incursions into the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, During the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege protests, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 98 civilians, including 26 children, 6 women, 1 journalist and 3 paramedics. The injury of 1 of those wounded was reported serious.  Another child succumbed to his wounds in the Israeli hospitals as he was previously wounded when attempting to sneak into Israel to work there.  Moreover, a fisherman was wounded. In the West Bank, Israeli forces wounded 3 Palestinian civilians while another a child was wounded after Israeli settlers opened fire at the child.

In the Gaza Strip, on 12 April 2019, Israeli forces killed Maysarah Abu Shallouf (15) from ‘Ezbet Beit Hanoun after being wounded with a bullet to the left waist while participating in the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege.  At approximately 17:00, Maysarah was few meters away from the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip. He was left bleeding for 20 minutes as the Israeli forces denied the medical personnel’s access to him. At approximately 17:40, he was then referred to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in the Emergency Department, where his death was declared at approximately 17:55.

In the same context, on 13 April 2019, the Palestinian liaison declared the death of Ishaq Ishteiwi (16) from al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City, after succumbing to wounds he sustained on 03 April 2019 while sneaking into Israel and arresting him along with 2 of his friends, east of the village.  His father said that one of his relatives received a call from the Palestinian Liaison at approximately 17:30 on the abovementioned Sunday and informed him of Ishaq’s death.

Collective Punishment Measures:

As part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers, on Wednesday early morning, 17 April 2019, the Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to the family of Saleh ‘Omer al-Barghouthi from Cooper village, north of Ramallah. The one-story house was built on an area of 280 square meters and sheltered his wife and 3-year-old son.  In a crime of extra-judicial execution, Saleh al-Barghouthi was killed by the Israeli forces on 12 December 2018 when he was accused of carrying out a shooting attack on 09 December 2018 at a bus stop near “‘Ofra” settlement in northeaster Ramallah and wounding 7 settlers.

Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 71 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 other incursions into Jerusalem and its suburbs. During those incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 58 Palestinians, including 4 children, from the West Bank, while 14 other civilians, including 5 children, were arrested from Jerusalem and its suburbs.  Among those arrested was ‘Adnan Ghaith, Jerusalem’s Governor, who was arrested from his family house in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

Israeli authorities continued to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.

As part of the Israeli house demolitions and notices, 13 April 2019, Shadi and Fadi al-‘Ajlouni self-demolished their houses in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.  Shadi al-‘Ajlouni said that the Israeli municipality issued a decision to demolish the 40-square-meter residential apartment where he lived with his brother.  The Muncipality gave the family till the end of the monst to apply the demolition decision or its staff will do so and the family has to pay the demolition costs in addition to a financial fine.  The house was built 2 years ago of “reinforced gypsum, tin plates, and bricks” on the family house roof as a third floor comprised of 2 rooms and a joint kitchen, sheltering 8 members; half of them are children.

On 15 April 2019, ‘Awad al-‘Abbasi self-demolished his house in al-Sweih neighborhood in Silwan, south of East Jerusalem’s Old City.  He said that he demolished his under-construction house after the Israeli municipality issued a decision to demolish the house under the pretext of unlicensed building.  He added that in the last days, he went to a lawyer and an engineer attempting to obtain a license for the house but in vain.  Thus, he was forced to self-demolish his house to avoid paying the fine and the demolition expenses for the municipal staffs.  al-‘Abbasi said that the Israeli muncipality demolished his house in 2007 and rebuilt it last year to shelter his family.

On 17 April 2019, Israeli forces demolished a residential room and storehouses belonging to ‘Ezz al-Deen Burqan and a horse farm belonging to Mohammed al-Qaq in Yasoul Valley neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.  They also demolished a house belonging to ‘Omran al-Masri in al-Ashqariyah neighborhood in Beit Hanina, north of occupied East Jerusalem.

In the same context, on 14 April 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court dismissed a challenge filed by Palestinian families living in Yasoul Valley neighbourhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City to stop the demolition of their houses that are partially built on a land where “Elad” Settlement Organization tries to build Jewish tourism projects.

Israeli Forces continued their settlement activities, and the settlers continued their attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property

  • As part of house demolitions and notices, on 16 April 2019, the Israeli forces dismantled and confiscated a residential tent in Susiya village, south of Yatta, south of Hebron, in addition to leveling where it was set. The Israeli authorities claimed that the 30-square-meter tent belonging to Hussein Nawaj’ah (40) was confiscated and leveled under the pretext of non- licensing.
  • On the same day, the Israeli authorities issued a military order to ban Palestinian farmers from entering their lands in al-Nabi Noun Mount, east of Yanoun village, southeast of Nablus and transfer them to a natural reserve in preamble to confiscate them. Rashed Marar, Head of the Village Council, said to PCHR’s fieldworker, said that the mountain which is of hundreds dunums is planted with olive trees and some dunums are used for agricultural purposes and for grazing sheep.
  • On 17 April 2019, Israeli forces demolished an under-construction house built on an area of 200 square meters belonging to Shehadah ‘Azem from Tibah in Israel. This house is one of 5 houses that were threatened to be demolished upon notices distributed to their owners earlier this year to halt construction works.
  • As part of Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property, PCHR’s fieldworkers during the reporting period 4 incidents carried out by settlers Most prominent incidents were as follows:
  • On 12 April 2019, under the protection of the Israeli forces, a group of settlers attacked the northeastern outskirts of the Burin village, south of Nablus. a settler opened fire from his gun and wounded ‘Obadah al-Najjarah (17) with a bullet to his buttock.
  • On 13 April 2019, a group of settlers attacked the eastern outskirts of ‘Orif village, south of Nablus, and broke the windows of 2 vehicles parked in front of a house. In the afternoon, the settlers came back again to attack the abovementioned village, wounding Naji Sabbah (17) with a stone to the right shoulder.
  • On the same day, a group of settlers attacked a Palestinian car with stones on Ramallah-Nablus Road and caused damage to it.

A Palestinian Child Succumbed to his Wounds in Israeli Hospitals

  • On Sunday evening, 13 April 2019, the Palestinian Liaison declared the death of Ishaq ‘Abdul M’oti Sweilem Eshteiwi (16), from al-Shawka village, east of Rafah, in Israel’s hospitals. Is’haq was wounded when two of his friends and he sneaked into Israel and were arrested, east of al-Shawka. Is’haq’s father said that one of his relatives received a phone call from the Palestinian Liaison at approximately 17:30, on Sunday, 13 April 2019, telling him that Is’haq died. According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 21:00 on Wednesday, 03 April 2019, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of al-Shawka village, east of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at three Palestinian children, during their attempt to sneak into Israel to work there. As a result, they were hit with live bullets. The wounded children were identified as Mohammad Mousa Ramadan al-Bahabsa (16), Manssour Fawwaz Moussa al-Shawi (16) and Is’haq ‘Abdul M’oti Sweilem Eshteiwi (16). Mohammad al-Bahabsa, who was released via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing on the next day, north of the Gaza Strip, said that the Israeli forces opened fire at them after they crossed the border fence. As a result, Manssour al-Shawi was hit with a live bullet to the left leg and Is’haq Eshteiwi was hit with several live bullets to the abdomen and upper limbs and then fainted. Both of them were then taken to Israeli hospitals to receive treatment. On Monday, 08 April 2019, Manssour al-Shawi was released via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing after he received treatment in Israeli hospitals, while Is’haq Eshteiwi stayed for treatment until his death was announced.

 

Collective Punishment:

  • As part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers, on Wednesday early morning, 17 April 2019, the Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to the family of Saleh ‘Omer al-Barghouthi from Cooper village, north of Ramallah. At approximately 03:00 on the abovementioned day, the Israeli forces backed by 20 military vehicles and armored personnel carriers in addition to a military bulldozer moved into Cooper village, north of Ramallah. The Israeli forces stepped out of their vehicles and deployed on the village streets and between houses.  They also topped some of the house roofs and closed the entrance to the family house of Saleh ‘Omer al-Barghouthi amidst Israeli firing of teargas canisters directly at the windows of the nearby houses. Large numbers raided the abovementioned house to apply the demolition decision which the family was informed of previously.  At approximately 03:30, the Israeli forces demolished the 1-storey house that was established on an area of 280 square meters and sheltered his wife and 3-year-old son.  After the house was completely demolished, the Israeli forces withdrew from the village at approximately 05:30 amidst heavily firing of teargas canisters.  As a result, Nabil Diaa’ al-Barghouthi (26) was hit with teargas canister shrapnel to the head. It should be noted that  ‘Asem is the brother of Saleh, who was assassinated by Israeli forces in an crime of extra-judcial execution on 12 December 2018 when he was accused of carrying out a shooting attack on 09 December 2018 at a bus stop near “‘Ofra” settlement in northeaster Ramallah and wounding 7 settler.

 

Use of Force against Demonstrations in Protest against the U.S. President’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel:

Israeli forces continued its excessive use of lethal force against peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and it was named as “The Great March of Return and Breaking Siege.” The demonstration was in protest against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration to move the U.S. Embassy to it. According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed large participation by Palestinian civilians as the Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators, though the demonstration were fully peaceful. The demonstration was as follows during the reporting period:

 

Gaza Strip:

In the 54th week of the March of Return and Breaking Siege activities, Israeli forces wounded 98 civilians, including 26 children, 6 women, a journalist and 3 paramedics. The incidents were as follows:

  • Gaza City: The Israeli shooting at Palestinian demonstrators resulted in the injury of 31 of them, including a child and two women. Twenty of them were hit with live bullets and shrapnel, one was hit with a rubber bullet, and ten were directly hit with tear gas canisters.
  • Northern Gaza Strip: The Israeli shooting at Palestinian demonstrators resulted in the killing of a child and the injury of 20 civilians, including 9 children, 2 women and a paramedic. Eleven of them were hit with live bullets and shrapnel, two were hit with rubber bullets and seven were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The injury of one of them was reported serious. According to PCHR’s fieldworker, at approximately 17:00, Mayssara Moussa Slaiman Abu Shalouf (15), from ‘Ezbet Beit Hanoun, was hit with a live bullet to the left waist and settled in the pelvis. Mayssara was wounded while being few meters away from the border fence with Israel. Moreover, the Israeli forces prevented the medical personnel from reaching Mayssara for around 20 minutes and then the medical personnel took him to a field medical point in the vicinity of the Return Camp, where he received first aid. At approximately 17:40, Mayssara was taken to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia, where he was admitted to the ICU and at approximately 17:55, medical resources officially declared Mayssara’s death. Meanwhile, the wounded paramedic, Belal ‘Abd al-Bari al-‘Abed Abu Foul (30), form Jabalia Camp, who works as a volunteer paramedic with PRCS, was hit wth a tear gas canister to the left hand. 
  • Central Gaza Strip: The Israeli shooting, which continued until 18:30, at Palestinian demonstrators resulted in the injury of 20 civilians, including 4 children, a woman and a journalist. Eight were hit with live bullets and shrapnel and 12 were directly hit with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. Moreover, Israeli forces targeted the vicinity of a field medical point and ambulances with tear gas canisters. As a result, a number of paramedics suffered tear gas inhalation. The wounded journalist, Ahmed Saber Mahmoud al-Zri’i (21), from Deir al-Balah, who works with Palestine al-Hadath Agency, was hit with a rubber bullet to the pelvis.
  • Khan Younis: The Israeli shooting, which continued until 19:00, at Palestinian demonstrators resulted in the injury of 10 civilians, including 7 children. Two were hit with live bullets and shrapnel; one of them had his below right knee amputated, and eight were directly hit with tear gas canisters.
  • Rafah: The Israeli shooting, which continued from 16:00 until 18:30, at Palestinian demonstrators resulted in the injury of 17 civilians, including 5 children, a woman and 2 paramedics. Three of them were hit with live bullets and shrapnel and 14 were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded paramedics were Identified as: 
  • Mahmoud Shafiq Hussain al-Khatib (28) was hit with a tear gas canister to the right leg.
  • Fadi Eyad Salman al-hamayda (22) was hit with a tear gas canister to the left keen.

It should be noted that both of the wounded paramedics work for Emergency Youth Team.

 

West Bank: 

  • At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 12 April 2019, a number of children and boys gathered in Bab al-Zawya area in the center of Hebron and threw stones at the so-called 56 Military checkpoint, established at the entrance to the closed al-Shuhada Street. Israeli forces chased demonstrators between shops and randomly fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters. As a result, a number of stone-throwers suffered tear gas inhalation. Moreover, the Israeli forces prevented journalists from performing their duty in the area and beat a journalist, Mos’ab Shawer al-Tamimi (28), and cursed him. The clashes continued until the evening and no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 16:00, a number of Palestinian children and youngsters gathered in al-Naqar neighborhood adjacent to the annexation wall, west of Qalqilia and threw stones at Israeli forces stationed in the area. The Israeli forces immediately fired sound bombs, tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at the demonstrators and chased them. Moreover, they arrested Samer Sufian Hassan Selmi (18).

Notices and House Demolitions:

  • On Saturday afternoon, 13 April 2019, Shady and Fadi al-‘Ajlouni started to self-demolish their house in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, implementing the Municipality’s decision and avoiding paying the demolition costs and a financial fine. Shadi al-‘Ajlouni said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the Israeli municipality issued a decision to demolish the 40-square-meter apartment where his brother Fadi and him lived in. the municipality gave the family a period until the end of the current month to implement the demolition decision or the municipality crews will do it and the family have to pay the demolition costs in addition to a financial fine. Shadi added that the house, which was built 2 years ago of gypsum, bricks and tin plates, is a third floor comprised of 2 rooms only and a kitchen and is inhabited by 8 individuals, half of them are children. Shadi emphasized that the municipality crews and the police raided the house after the family lived in it and ordered to demolish it. After deliberations, the municipality ordered to demolish the house and not to use it and then closed the staircase that leads to it, until the municipality issued a final demolition decision. In addition to that, the family will demolish a balcony, which was built years ago, in the second floor that was used as a bed room and laundry room under the pretext of building without a license.
  • On Monday evening, 15 April 2019, ‘Awad Mohammed al-‘Abasi started to self-demolish his house in al-Suwaih neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, implementing the Municipality’s decision under the pretext of building of without a license. Al-‘Abasi said to PCHR’s fieldworker that he self-demolished his house, which is under construction, after the Israeli municipality issued its decision to demolish  his house under the pretext of non-licensing. He said to Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan that the municipality crews raided the house in late March several times and banned al-‘Abasai from continuing the construction works. Early this month, the Israeli municipality issued the demolition decision. Al-‘Abasi also said that in the last days he went to a lawyer and an engineer in an attempt to obtain a license for the house, but both confirmed that the area had no “building line”  and the demolition decision entered into force. Al-‘Abasai emphasized that he had to self-demolish his house to avoid paying the financial fine and demolition expenses to the municipality. Al-‘Abasi mentioned the Israeli municipality demolished his house in 2007 and he rebuilt the house last year to live in it.
  • Earlier on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, Israeli forces accompanied with several military vehicles and heavy bulldozers and municipality crews moved into Yasoul Valley neighborhood in Silwan village, south of East Jerusalem’s Old City. They surrounded a residential room and stores belonging to ‘Ezz Eden Barqan and demolished them without allowing him to remove their contents. The stores and the room were designated for the fish restaurant supplies and there are fridges, equipment and special tools inside them. Following that, the Israeli forces raided and searched “al-Roqy and al-Osoul” Horse Farm belonging to Mohammed al-Qaq and then demolished it. It should be noted that the 200-square-meter farm was built of bricks 5 years ago. 
  • On the same Wednesday morning, Israeli forces accompanied with several military vehicles and heavy bulldozers and municipality crews moved into al-Ashqar neighborhood in Beit Haninah village, north of East Jerusalem. They surrounded a house belonging to ‘Omran al-Masri and then demolished it. ‘Omran said that the municipality crews and Israeli forces raided and searched his house when he was not there. When he arrived, he attempted to inform the municipality officer that he managed to freeze the demolition decision for a month, but the municipality ignored that and started to demolish the house without a prior warning. Omran added that he lived in the house for 11 years and attempted to license it several times. However, the municipality refused that claiming that it’s an area where construction is prohibited and imposed fines of about NIS 40,000 on Omran. He mentioned that the Israeli police raided and searched his house on Sunday, 14 April 2019, and informed him with the demolition decision. Omran’s lawyer was managed to delay the demolition decision for a month, but he was surprised when the municipality crews raided the house and implemented the demolition decision. It should be noted that house was inhabited with 7 individuals, including 5 children. 
  • In the same context, on Sunday afternoon, 14 April 2018, Israeli Supreme Court refused an appeal submitted by Palestinian families that live in Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, in Silwan village, south of East Jerusalem’s Old City to ban demolishing their houses. It should be noted that the houses are partially built on a land where Israeli “Elad Association” seeks to build Jewish tourism projects on it. Khalid Shuweiki, Member of the Defense Committee in Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, said that the Israeli Supreme Court, which is the highest judicial body, dismissed the appeal submitted by the houses’ owners in the abovementioned neighborhood to the Israeli District Court’s decision to demolish 4 houses in the neighborhood. That means the Supreme Court approved to demolish the houses and displace around 20 individuals. Shuweiki mentioned that the neighborhood residents submitted an appeal for the Supreme Court 3 days ago. The response was quick as the Supreme court refused the appeal and approved the District Court’s decision. He added that the refusal of the appeal means that the decisions of the 4 houses, belonging to Barqan, al-Qaq and Kashour families, entered into force and the demolition will be carried out at any time. This demolition is a preamble to completely demolish and ease Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, which is comprised of 84 houses and inhabited with 400 individuals. It should be noted that all the families are struggling in courts to license their houses, which are built years ago during which they managed to freeze the demolition decisions several times. Shuweiki emphasized that the demolition decision to demolish Jerusalemites’ houses in the area came after approval of building settlement units in a land that was seized by Elad Association. Residents of Wadi Yasoul confirmed that they had all the documents that prove their ownership of the 50-dunum land where their house are built. However, the Israeli authorities intend to implement their plan of the so-called ” Peace Forest”. Israeli daily, Haaretz Newspaper mentioned that the Israeli Court approved the demolition of houses inhabited with hundreds of Palestinians houses claiming that they are partially built on “Peace Forest” land where Elad Association seek for building Jewish tourism projects in it supported by the Israeli municipality in occupied Jerusalem.

 

Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property

Israeli forces continued to target the areas in the West Bank classified as C according to Oslo Accord signed by the Israeli government and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the areas located in the vicinity of settlements and route of the separation wall in order to expel them from the Palestinian residents for the sake of settlement expansion.

 

Israeli forces’ attacks:

  • At approximately 10:30 on Tuesday morning, 16 April 2019, an Israeli force backed by several military vehicles and accompanied with a bulldozer and a vehicle belonging to the Israeli Civil Administration moved into Susiya village, south of Yatta, south of Hebron. The civil Administration staff removed a30-square-meter residential tent belonging to Husain Radi Nawaj’ah (40). The tent is built of steel pillars, shed and rubber tires. The place of the tent was leveled after it was confiscated. The Israeli authorities claim that the tent was confiscated and leveled under the pretext of non- licensing. 
  • During this week, the Israeli authorities issued a military order to ban Palestinian farmers from entering their lands in al-Nabi Noun Mount, east of Yanoun village, southeast of Nablus and transfer them to a natural reserve in preamble to confiscate them. Rashed Marar, Head of the Village Council, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that at approximately 16:30 on Tuesday evening, 16 April 2019, he was informed by a farmer that a vehicle with Israeli registration plate belonging to the Environmental Protection Department in the Civil Administration fixes a metal banner with the following text: “No Entry… Natural Reserve” in al-Noun Mount, east of Yanoun village, southeast of Nablus. Rashed mentioned the mountain have a distance of hundreds of dunums planted with olive trees; some of them are used for agriculture and for grazing sheep. The mount top belongs to Bushnnaq family from Nablus and farmers from ‘Aqraba village serve in it. Rashed added that the military decision will deny the shepherd from grazing at the area. He also mentioned that this decision is preamble to expand settlement outposts, which are extended from “Itmar”settlement established on ‘Owerta, Beitfurik, and Yanoun lands:
  • (Hill 777) established in the eastern side of Yanoun village.
  • ( Gideon) established in the northern side of the village.
  • (Givot Olam) established in the western side of the village.

It should be noted that these outposts control over 80% of the village land.

  • At approximately 07:30 on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, large Israeli force accompanied with heavy vehicles bulldozers moved into Tulkarm, closed its entrances and prevented civilians from entering or leaving it. The bulldozers leveled an under construction house built on an area of 200 square meters at the eastern entrance to the village. The house belongs to Shehadah ‘Azem from al-Taibah City in Israel. According to statement of the Head of the Village council, this house is one of 5 houses that are threatened to be demolished in which the Israeli forces notified their owners earlier this year to halt construction works. The Israeli forces then notified them with the demolition decision. Thus, 4 other houses located in the eastern side of the village are threatened to be demolished. PCHR’s fieldworker didn’t manage to speak with the house owner because he is in Turkey. It should be noted that since the Second Intifada, Jbarah village is isolated from its vicinity by the annexation wall since early May 2013.

 

Israeli settlers’ attacks:

  • At approximately 18:00 on Friday evening, 12 April 2019, a group of Israeli settlers, protected by the Israeli forces, from “Givat Ronim” settlement outpost extended from “Bracha” settlement in the northern side of Burin village, south of Nablus, moved into the northern outskirts of the abovementioned village. A number of civilians gathered and threw stones at the settlers to keep them away from the village. The Israeli forces immediately fired tear gas canisters to disperse them. Meanwhile, a settler opened fire from his gun, causing wounds to Obadah Rashed al-Najar (17) with a superficial wounds. Obadah was taken to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus to receive medical treatment.
  • At approximately 16:00 on Saturday, 13 April 2019, a group of Israeli settlers under from “Yitzhar” settlement established in the east northern side of ‘Orif village, south of Nablus, moved into the eastern outskirts of the village. They smashed the glass of 2 cars. In one of cars, which belongs to Loai Mazen Hafeth Shehadah, the glass was fully smashed and the structure damaged. In the second car, which belongs to Ziyad Abdul ‘Aziz Shehadah, the glass and the front lights of the care were smashed. It should be noted that the 2 cars were parked in front of  Ziyad’s house as his family was getting into the car when the settlers attacked the neighborhood.
  • At approximately 19:00 on the same day, Israeli settlers from the abovementioned settlement, escorted by a number of Israeli soldiers,  moved into ‘Orif villages for the second time and stationed in the vicinity of the water tank that feeds the village in al-Safair area in the northern outskirts of the village. A number of them civilians gathered and threw stones at the Israeli settlers and soldiers. The soldiers fired live and rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protestors, who were hiding behind the water tank. As a result, Naji ‘Aref Naji Sabbah (17) was hit with a stone to the right shoulder, causing its fracture. He was taken to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus to receive medical treatment. Moreover, many civilians suffered severe tear gas inhalation and received medical treatment on the spot.
  • At approximately 18:45 on the abovementioned Saturday, a group of Israeli settlers stationed a hill between Tirms’eya village and Shilo settlement’s intersection on Ramallah-Nablus Road, attacked a car and broke the windshield caused damage to the structure. The car belongs to Bruce Lee Dakhil Abdul ‘Aziz ‘Aid from Burin village, south of Nablus, who was driving back from Ramallah as he works in the police. He was accompanied with his sons Leza (20), a student at the Faculty of Law at Birzeit University; Lenda (19), a journalism student at the Modern University College; Qusai (10), and Sema (9). Bruce Lee continued driving for around 200 meters when he saw  an Israeli vehicle. He stopped and informed the soldiers of the incident and their response was: ” What should we do to you?! Go!”

 

  • Recommendations to the International Community

PCHR warns of the escalating settlement construction in the West Bank, the attempts to legitimize settlement outposts established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the continued summary executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they pose a security threat to the Israeli forces. PCHR reminds the international community that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been rendered homeless and lived in caravans under tragic circumstances due to the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight closure for almost 11 years. PCHR welcomes the UN Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334, which states that settlements are a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and calls upon Israel to stop them and not to recognize any demographic change in the oPt since 1967.  PCHR hopes this resolution will pave the way for eliminating the settlement crime and bring to justice those responsible for it. PCHR further reiterates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation in spite of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of 2005.  PCHR emphasizes that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law.  Israel is bound to apply international human rights law and the law of war, sometimes reciprocally and other times in parallel, in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for the victims.

  1. PCHR calls upon the international community to respect the Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334 and to ensure that Israel respects it as well, in particular point 5 which obliges Israel not to deal with settlements as if they were part of Israel.
  2. PCHR calls upon the ICC this year to open an investigation into Israeli crimes committed in the oPt, particularly the settlement crimes and the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
  3. PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.
  4. PCHR calls upon the international community 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.
  5. PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations to take all necessary measures to stop Israeli policies aimed at creating a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem and at voiding Palestine from its original inhabitants through deportations and house demolitions as a collective punishment, which violates international humanitarian law, amounting to a crime against humanity.
  6. PCHR calls upon the international community to condemn summary executions carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians and to pressurize Israel to stop them.
  7. PCHR calls upon the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to work hard to hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
  8. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under article (1) of the Convention to ensure respect for the Conventions under all circumstances, and under articles (146) and (147) to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to ensure justice and remedy for Palestinian victims, especially in light of the almost complete denial of justice for them before the Israeli judiciary.
  9. PCHR calls upon the international community to speed up the reconstruction process necessary because of the destruction inflicted by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
  10. PCHR calls for a prompt intervention to compel the Israeli authorities to lift the closure that obstructs the freedom of movement of goods and 1.8 million civilians that experience unprecedented economic, social, political and cultural hardships due to collective punishment policies and retaliatory action against civilians.
  11. PCHR calls upon the European Union to apply human rights standards embedded in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to respect its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when dealing with Israel.
  12. PCHR calls upon the international community, especially states that import Israeli weapons and military services, to meet their moral and legal responsibility not to allow Israel to use the offensive in Gaza to test new weapons and not accept training services based on the field experience in Gaza in order to avoid turning Palestinian civilians in Gaza into testing objects for Israeli weapons and military tactics.
  13. PCHR calls upon the parties to international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to pressurize Israel to comply with its provisions in the oPt and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the relevant committees.
  14. PCHR calls upon the EU and international human rights bodies to pressurize the Israeli forces to stop their attacks against Palestinian fishermen and farmers, mainly in the border area.

Fully detailed document available at the official website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

How many British MPs are working for ‘israel’?

Israeli London embassy spy Shai Masot

By Jonathan Cook

Aljazeera is to be congratulated on an undercover investigation exposing something most of us could probably have guessed: that some Israeli embassy staff in the UK – let’s not pussy around, Mossad agents – are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British, interests.

One cannot really blame Israel for doing this. Most states promote their interests as best they can. But one can and should expose and shame the British politicians who are collaborating with Israel in further harming Britain’s representative democracy.

It is not as though these people cannot be easily identified. They even advertise what they are up to. They are members of the Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel (CFI and LFI respectively). They dominate both parliamentary parties, but especially the Conservatives. According to the CFI’s figures, fully 80 per cent of Tory MPs belong to the party’s Friends of Israel group.

Traitors?

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. And yet, as Aljazeera’s secretly filmed footage shows, Israeli spies like Shai Masot can readily meet and conspire with a Tory minister’s much-trusted aide to discuss how best to “take down” the deputy foreign minister, Alan Duncan, over his criticisms of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Maria Strizzolo, Education Minister Robert Halfon’s assistant, suggests engineering a “little scandal” to damage Duncan.

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. 

Masot and Israel’s intelligence services cannot influence British foreign policy through the opposition Labour party, but that doesn’t prevent them from also taking a keen interest in Labour MPs. Masot is filmed talking to Labour Friends of Israel’s chair, Joan Ryan, about “lots of money” – more than GBP 1 million – he has received from the Israeli government to send yet another batch of Labour MPs on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, where they will be wined and dined, and primed by top officials to adopt even more extreme pro-Israel positions. LFI is known for sending the largest proportion of MPs to Israel on these kinds of trips.

Labour MP Joan Ryan with Israeli spy Shai Masot

Labour MP Joan Ryan was told by the Israeli spy Shai Masot at the meeting that she could go on an expenses paid trip to Israel

Does that have an effect on British domestic politics. You bet it does! Israel isn’t a charity.

A large number of those who have been making Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s life a misery belong to Labour Friends of Israel. They are the same MPs who have been talking up an “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour party – based on zero tangible evidence – since Corbyn became party leader. Were they following the dictates of their conscience? Did they really fear an anti-Semitism plague had suddenly beset their party? Or were they playing deeply cynical politics to oust a leader who supports justice for the Palestinian people and is considered by Israel’s right wing government, which has no interest in making peace with the Palestinians, to be bad news for Israel?

Al Jazeera’s investigation has not been shown yet, so we can rely only on the snippets released so far, either by Aljazeera itself or additional leaks of the investigation provided by the Mail on Sunday.

It is worth listening to a Tory minister in the government of recently departed David Cameron, who writes anonymously in the Mail on Sunday. S/he warns of a double whammy to British politics caused by Israel and its British partisans – one that is starting to approach the damage done to the US political system by Israel.

Agents of Israel

The British government skews its foreign policy to avoid upsetting Jewish donors, s/he says. MPs, meanwhile, act like agents of a foreign power – s/he generously assumes unwittingly – rather than representatives of the British people. Forget international law, these politicians are not even promoting British interests.

Here is what the minister writes:

British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.

For years the CFI and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli government and their London embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.

Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive governments have submitted to it, taken donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.

Even now, if I were to reveal who I am, I would be subjected to a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination…

It now seems clear people in the Conservative and Labour parties have been working with the Israeli embassy, which has used them to demonise and trash MPs who criticise Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament.

This is politically corrupt, and diplomatically indefensible. The conduct of certain MPs needs to be exposed as the poisonous and deceitful infiltration of our politics by the unwitting agents of another country …

We need a full inquiry into the Israeli embassy, the links, access and funding of the CFI and LFI.

It is rare that I agree with a Tory government minister, but such an inquiry cannot come too soon.

An indictment of the UK media

Note too that it is an indictment of the UK media that Aljazeera, rather than the British fourth estate, has exposed Israel’s moves to subvert the British political system. It is not as though reporters from the BBC, the Guardian, the Timesand the Mail haven’t had ministers like the one above complaining to them for years about interference from Israel. So, why did they not long ago send in undercover teams to expose this collusion between Israel and British MPs?

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. Will we… have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

We have had weeks of stories about the supposed efforts of Russia and Putin to subvert the US election, without a hint yet of any evidence, and based on a central allegation against the Russians that they compromised the election result by releasing truthful information about wrongdoing in the Democratic Party. Russian diplomats have been expelled based on these evidence-free claims, and President Obama has vowed to take other, covert action against Russia.

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. If that isn’t interference in the British political system, I don’t know what is. Will we similarly have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

And will any action beyond the removal of Masot be demanded by the British government? It seems unlikely. The Foreign Office has already issued a statement saying that, following Masot’s dismissal, it considers the matter closed.

israel Bans Gaza Christians from Visiting Holy Sites for Easter

Israel Bans Gaza Christians from Visiting Holy Sites for Easter

Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli occupation authorities refused to issue travel permits for hundreds of Palestinian Christians from Gaza who planned to visit holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem during Passover, Safa news agency reported yesterday.

Reporting Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Safa said that Israel allowed only 200 Christians from Gaza, who are over 55 years old, to travel to Jordan only and did not issue permits for those wishing to visit the Church of Nativity in occupied Bethlehem or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in occupied Jerusalem.

 

Israeli rights group Gisha reported complaints against the Israeli occupation regarding the restrictions imposed on people who want to travel during the Jewish Passover holiday which coincides with Easter.

“This is a flagrant violation of the freedom of movement, freedom of worship and freedom of enjoying family life for the Christians in Gaza,” Gisha said, noting that Gaza is an example of a “wider Israeli racist policy”.

 

According to Haaretz, Gisha said that this measure aims to deepen the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Jewish terrorists attack farmers in Nablus

Jewish settlers attack farmers in Nablus

settlers
A horde of Jewish settlers on Wednesday attacked Palestinian farmers as they were working their land in the southeast of Nablus.

According to local sources, the settlers assaulted and brutalized several Palestinian farmers as they were cultivating their lands inside the illegal settlement of Eli, which was established on lands annexed from Qaryut village in Nablus.

Local activist Bashar al-Qaryuti said that dozens of farmers went to their lands that are located within the boundaries of Eli settlement after obtaining access permits from the Israeli occupation authority (IOA).

Qaryuti affirmed that Israeli soldiers provided protection for the settlers during their assault on the farmers and detained 25 farmers until police officers arrived and took their statements.

He pointed out that the IOA allows the local farmers to reach their lands inside the settlement twice a year, warning of Israeli intents to annex these agricultural lands to build more housing units for settlers

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