Netanyahu Under Fire for 2014 Gaza War

Local Editor

24-01-2017 | 13:51

A report that could be damaging to “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu given how he managed the 2014 war in Gaza is likely to be published in the coming days, after regime members of a Knesset subcommittee said they would vote on Tuesday to make the report public.

"Israeli" PM Benjamin Netanyahu

After “Kulanu” MK Merav Ben-Ari, one of the three regime members of the subcommittee, said on Sunday that she would vote in favor of publishing the document, coalition chairman MK David Bitan said on Monday that he and the prime minister were in favor of publishing the report as well.

One of the critical sections of the report drafted by the comptroller deals with concerns that the security cabinet was not warned by the prime minister, the war minister or the “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF] chief of staff of the threat posed to the “Israeli” entity by Hamas’ tunnel network ahead of the 55-day “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

It is also believed that the report criticizes the same trio for failing to warn the security cabinet that the chance of war with Hamas was high, and for not providing sufficient information during the operation.

A public letter issued earlier this week by families of 55 soldiers who were killed during the war put pressure on the government to publish the document.

According to “Israeli” website The Jerusalem Post, Ben-Ari said she had not received any direct pressure against publishing the document.

However, she acknowledged, “the way things were going [it looked like] publication would be prevented, but when we got to the moment of truth, however, everyone understood that the professional issues were more important than the political ones”.

The “Israeli” MK stressed on the importance to publish the document because it will have an impact on all “Israelis”, saying that “At the end of the day, the security cabinet needs to know what’s happening ahead of time and [to be able] to prepare for the next operation.”

Ben-Ari said it was “the right of the public to know how the senior leadership of the state acts in such an important time,” and that the report would be crucial in guiding the IOF and the security cabinet in conducting any future wars and operations in Gaza.

She also noted that the report is critical of the prime minister, the war minister and then-IOF chief of staff Benny Gantz, but would not be withheld based on the potential political impact the report might have.

Ben-Ari, together with Bitan and Shas MK Ya’acov Margi, are the coalition members on the subcommittee of the Knesset State Comptroller’s committee, together with subcommittee chairwoman MK Karin Elharar [Yesh Atid] and MK Eyal Ben Reuven [Zionist Union].

It is not yet clear if the section on the security cabinet will be published immediately, or if publication will on the decisions made on whether to publicize two other sections of the report, which will be passed to the subcommittee later this week.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, MKs from the entire political spectrum called on the committee members to vote in favor of exposing it to the public.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who was the “Israeli” entity’s so-called finance minister and a cabinet member during the operation, said in the party faction meeting on Monday that political considerations should not guide the panel members.

“There are already attempts to prevent the publication of the report,” Lapid said. “As someone who knows the details of it and testified in the comptroller’s office more than once – this report should be revealed.”

Lapid also addressed Netanyahu’s concerns in opening the report to the public. “The Prime Minister’s Office is afraid of the report because it shows severe failures.”

Bennett also expressed his support of exposing the details of the report, but added that it should be taken as constructive criticism.

“We should not ignore the ‘Protective Edge’ report but also [should] not make it a reason for [political] beheading,” Bennett said on Monday. “We should learn from it in order to change our security world view from inclusive to defeating; from dragging it over 50 days to winning in five.

“Only exposing the details will provide us a way to move forward,” Bennett added.

Zionist Union co-chairwoman Tzipi Livni, who served as so-called “justice” minister in the cabinet during “Operation Protective Edge”, echoed the notion that the report should be revealed according to the wishes of the bereaved settler families.

“I was in the cabinet during the operation,” she said. “But I wasn’t among those who leaked [details of meetings] to the media, and I will not do so now from the opposition. But the families and the public have the right to know exactly what happened, in order to create a constructive discussion about it.”

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

 

Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against the State of Palestine

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (01 – 07 December 2016)

Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

(01 – 07 December 2016)

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  • Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt
  • A Palestinian civilian was wounded in the east of Gaza City, while another was wounded in the east of Bethlehem.

 

  • Israeli forces conducted 49 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 ones in occupied Jerusalem.
  • 51 civilians, including 4 children, were arrested.
  • Sixteen of them, including 2 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.

 

  • Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea.
  • 6 fishermen were arrested in the northern Gaza Strip and a fishing boat was confiscated.

 

  • Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Israeli forces forced two brothers to self-demolish their houses in Silwan

 

  • Settlement activities continued in the West Bank.
  • Israeli forces demolished 3 dwellings in Fasayel village, north of Jericho, rendering 21 individuals homeless, including 12 children.
  • Israeli forces stopped paving an agricultural road in Jaloud village, southeast of Nablus.
  • Settlers levelled 40 dunums, southeast of Nablus, to expand the borders of “Yesh Kodish” outpost.

 

  • 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.
  • 5 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were arrested at military checkpoints.
  • A trader was arrested at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

 

 

Summary

 

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (01 – 07 December 2016).

 

Shooting:

 

Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 2 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

 

In the West Bank, Israeli forces stationed at Mazmouriyah checkpoint, east of Bethlehem, opened fire at worker Mousa Dababsah (28) from Yata, south of Hebron when he was on his way to his workplace in occupied Jerusalem.  as a result, he was wounded with a bullet to the left foot.

 

In the Gaza Strip, in the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, on 01 December 2016, Israeli gunboats stationed off Khan Younis Shore in the southern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire in the vicinity of Palestinian fishing boats within the allowed fishing area.

 

On 04 December 2016, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  They surrounded a fishing boat manned by two brother namely Shafiq (27) and Sa’adi al-Sultan.  The Israeli soldiers ordered them to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat.  They were then arrested and taken to an unknown destination.  Meanwhile, the boat and fishing net were confiscated.  On 06 December 2016, in a similar attack, Israeli forces arrested 4 fishermen and confiscated their boat.  The four fishermen were identified as Majed Baker (55); his son ‘Omran (32); Mohammed Baker (31) and Khalil (26).

 

On 05 December 2016, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore in the southern Gaza Strip opened fire at fishing boats sailing in the sea in the morning and afternoon.  However, no casualties were reported.

 

Incursions:

 

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 49 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 others in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 51 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. Sixteen of them, including 2 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.

 

Creating Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem:

 

In the context of house demolitions, on 03 December 2016, Israeli forces forced two brothers namely Sa’id and Naser al-‘Abbasi to self-demolish their houses in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, upon a decision by the Israeli Municipality Court under the pretext of building on a “Greenland”.  The two aforementioned civilians built their houses two and a half years ago on an area of 300 square meters and intended to live in them with their families, comprised of 12 members; half of them are children.

 

Settlement activities and settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:

 

On 04 December 2016, Israeli forces prevented paving a 500-meter agircutural road in the eastern side of Jaloud village, southeast of Nablus.  The rehabilitation is part of a rehabilitation of agricultural roads project in the areas near settlements.  The project is funded by the Italian Civil Volunteer Group (GVC) in cooperation with the international French Relief.

 

On 06 December 2016, Israeli forces demolished 3 dwellings in Central Fasayel village, north of Jericho, rendering 21 individuals homeless, including 12 children.

 

In the same context, on 06 December 2016, settlers from “Yesh Kodish” outpost established oon Palestinian lands, southeast of Nablus, levelled an agricultural land belonging to heirs of late Ahmed Naser Haj Mohammed to expand the borders of the aforementioned outpost.  The 40-dunum land is located in the eastern side of Jaloud village,

 

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.

 

 

Details

 

  1. Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

 

Thursday, 01 December 2016

 

  • At approximately 02:40, Israeli forces moved into Azoun ‘Etmah village, southeast of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched 4 houses after which they arrested 5 civilians and took them to an unknown destination. The arrested civilians were identified as Fahed Ali Saleh Fawzi al-Sheikh (30), Mahdi Saleh Fawzi al-Sheikh (34), Alaa’ Ismail al-Sheikh (28) and the two brothers Anas (23) and Abed Jaser Othman Essa (23). Israeli forces claimed that the abovementioned civilians were arrested on grounds of smuggling Palestinian workers to work in Israel via their personal cars.

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Bassam Badawi Ekhleil (52) after locking the 10-member family in one room. Later, Israeli forces withdrew from the village, but no arrests were reported.

 

  • At approximately 07:00, Israeli forces stationed at “Mazmuria” checkpoint adjacent to al-Khas and al-Nu’man villages, east of Bethlehem, opened fire at Mousa Mohammed Dababsah (28) from Yatta, south of Hebron, while going to his work in Jerusalem. As a result, he sustained a live bullet wound to the left foot. Mohammed Awad, Director of Emergency Medical Services in PRCS, said that Mousa was hit with a live bullet to the left foot. He added that the Israeli forces handed him to the PRCS ambulance at the checkpoint, where he received first aid and then transferred to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital to receive medical treatment. His medical condition was classified as stable.

 

  • At approximately 19:30, Israeli gunboats stationed off Khan Yunis Shore, south of the Gaza strip, heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within the allowed fishing area. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee for fear of being arrested or wounded, so no casualties were reported.

 

  • Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Surif, Sa’ir an al-Thaheriyah villages in Hebron.

 

Friday, 02 December 2016

 

  • In the early morning, Israeli forces moved into Silwad village, northeast of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses. They arrested Malek Maher Hamed (18), Taher Akram Hamed (18) and Muhanad Abdul Halim Shabrawi (17) and later withdrew taking them to an unknown destination.
  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched 2 houses and then handed summonses to 2 civilians in order to refer to the Israeli Intelligence in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem. The abovementioned civilians were identified as Omer Ahmed Ayad Awad (32) and Mohammed Muhsem al-Za’aqiq (40). They also raided and searched a house belonging to Ibrahim Ali Aqel Ekhleil. They later withdrew from the village, and no arrests were reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Rumanah village, west of Jenin; Ethna and Deir al-‘Asal villages and al-Aroub refugee camp in Hebron.

 

Saturday, 03 December 2016

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Jaber Abdul Karim (55). They handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence services in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.

 

  • Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Sa’ir and Kurmah villages in Hebron and Hawarah village, south of Nablus.

 

Sunday, 04 December 2016

 

  • In the early morning, Israeli forces moved into al-Mazra’ah al-Qebliyah village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses. They arrested Mo’men Mohammed Shraiteh (18) and Ali Sufian Buyoud (18) and later withdrew taking them to an unknown destination.

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Fathi Zuhdi Muhfouz (19) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 11:00, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of al-Wahah shore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. Three Israeli large gunboats surrounded a fishing boat belonging to Tawfiq Mustafa Ahmed al-Sultan (41). The boat was manned by the aforementioned civilian’s brothers; Shafiq (27) and Sa’di (31), form al-Salatin neighbourhood. They were sailing within 800 meters offshore. The navy soldiers ordered the fishermen to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the Israeli gunboat. They arrested the fishermen and confiscated their boat and 10 pieces of fishing net.
  • Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Eskaka village, east of Salfit, al-Samou’ and Bani Na’im villages in Hebron and Azoun village, east of Qalqiliyah .

 

Monday, 05 December 2016

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Saher Nafeth Thawabtah (24) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Jales Mount area, east of Hebron. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Atiyah al- Zaru al-Tamimi (42) and his son Kefah (20).

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Qabatiya village, south of Jenin. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Loa’y Zayan Zakarnah (18), Mousa Abdul Salam Kamil (21) and Mahmud Abu Ein Abu al-Rub (20). At approximately 05:30, they withdrew taking them to an unknown destination

 

  • At approximately 09:00, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore, in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats and chased them. At approximately 17:00, the shooting recurred. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee for fear of being arrested or wounded, so no casualties were reported.

 

  • At approximately 12:30, Israeli forces moved into Deir Netham village, northwest of Ramallah. The soldiers fired live bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at school students and other civilians. As a result, a number of them suffered tear gas inhalation. It should be noted that the Israeli forces have imposed a closure for two weeks at the entrances to the village and used cement cubes to close them. This was due to the fire broke out in “Halamish” settlement established on the lands of Deir Netham and al-Nabi Saleh villages.

 

  • Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Rummanah village, west of Jenin; Sa’ir village and al-Aroub refugee camp in Hebron and Azoun village, east of Qalqiliyah.

 

Tuesday, 06 December 2016

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Nablus. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested 4 civilians. The arrested civilians were identified as Sai’d Nabil Dweikat (30), Mohammed Mazen Duiekat (22), ‘Ahed Surhan Duilekat (25) and Muntaser Talal Duiekat (23).

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Abdullah Emad Raqban (24) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Jeet village, northeast of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Ahmed Abu Baker (26) and then handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Services. At approximately 02:30, they withdrew from the village and no arrests were reported.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Dura, south of Hebron, and stationed in Karisah neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Rezeq Jubran al-Rajoub (60) and arrested him. It should be noted that the abovementioned civilian was released only a week ago after serving a 23-month administrative detention.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces move into Aydah refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Saleh al-Kurdi (18) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Hebron and stationed in al-Jeldah neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Basel Ali Sukafi (30) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Fawar refugee camp, south of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Rajeh Mahmud Abu ‘Ajamiyah (45) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Surrah village, south of Dura, southwest of Hebron, and then stationed at the village entrance leading to al-Thaheriyah village. They raided and searched a house belonging to Sa’id Saqer al-Sha’rawi (43), a Palestinian police officer. They then arrested the aforementioned civilian and his son Ramadan (23) and later withdrew taking them to an unknown destination.

 

  • At approximately 17:30, Israeli forces move into al-Shurfah area in Taqou’a village, southeast of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Khader Sabbah (12) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 06:00, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. The gunboats surrounded a fishing boat sailing within 4 nautical miles. It was manned by Majed Fadel Hasan Baker (55); his son ‘Omran (32); Mohammed Ziyad Hasan Baker (31) and Khalil Jawhar Khalil Baker (26), all of them are from al-Shati’ refugee camp. The soldiers ordered the fishermen to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the Israeli gunboat. The soldiers arrested them and confiscated their boat and fishing nets.

 

  • Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Sa’ir, Beit Ummer and Karza villages in Hebron.

 

Wednesday, 07 December 2016

 

  • At approximately 00:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Jala. They raided and searched a house belonging to Amir Khalil ‘Afanah (19) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Sebastia village, northwest of Nablus. They raided and searched houses belonging to Mo’men Nadi ‘Azem (25), Ahmed Jamal ‘Azem (25) and Luqman Ahmed Mohammed al-Sha’er (23). They handed them summonses to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Services.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into ‘Azoun village, east of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed ‘Ali Rashed Redwan (24) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Marah Rabah village, west of Bethlehem. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested Mohammed Maher al-Sheikh (20), Mahmud Ahmed al-Sheikh (22) and Mohammed Ahmed al-Sheikh (21).

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Bethlehem and stationed on al-Saf Street in the central city. They raided and searched a house belonging to former prisoner Saleh Walid al-Harimi (20). They then handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Services in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of the city.

 

  • Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Ethna and al-Shyoukh villages in Hebron and Tal village in Nablus.

 

  • Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall

 

West Bank:

 

  • Following the Friday prayer on Friday, 02 December 2016, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstrations in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages, west of Ramallah; al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the city and Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, 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 houses.  As a result, many of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up. At approximately 15:15 on Saturday, 03 December 2016, a similar demonstration was organized in Kafer Qadoum village, but no arrests were reported.

 

Gaza Strip:

 

  • At approximately 15:00 on Friday, 02 December 2016, Israeli forces stationed at the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Shuja’iya, east of Gaza City, fired live bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets at Palestinian young men, who were on their way to Nahal ‘Oz area, east of al-Shuja’iya, participating in activities held in solidarity with Jerusalem. As a result, Talal Nabil Ali Abu Namous (19) sustained a live bullet wound to the head. Moreover, due to the continuous shooting, civilians, who were in the area, were not able to transfer the wounded civilian and he was left bleeding. After half an hour, a PRCS ambulance transferred him to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza to receive medical treatment. Medical sources classified his condition as moderate.

 

  1. 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.

 

Gaza Strip

 

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

Israeli escalation in Gaza seeks to ‘change equation’ – but at what cost?

Posted on August 23, 2016

isralitshirt

By Ben White

Late on Sunday night, the Israeli Air Force launched dozens of airstrikes against targetIsraeli military fighter jets in the Gaza Strip – as many as 50, according to an official source – after a single rocket had struck Sderot earlier in the day, causing no damage or injuries.

The airstrikes, which primarily struck sites used by Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades (AQB), constituted, in the words of one analyst, a “deliberate escalation” by Israeli authorities.

Since the August 2014 ceasefire that ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’, Hamas has not fired a single rocket out of the Gaza Strip into Israel. In May, AQB fired mortar rounds in response to Israeli forces’ efforts to locate cross-border tunnels – but that’s it.

Smaller groups, however, have fired some 40 rockets over the last two years, according to Israelisources, including 14 in 2016. None have resulted in casualties. This latest rocket launch was reportedly claimed by ISIS-affiliated group Ahfad al-Sahaba.

Israel has typically responded to each rocket with limited strikes on AQB facilities, claiming that Hamas is responsible for all attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip. A deadly such airstrike in March, which killed two Palestinian children, highlighted the – at best – irresponsibility of Israel’s approach, which apart from the human cost, has always risked “paving the way towards a new escalation.”

So what is behind the new developments? Some Israeli commentators have suggested that Israel seized an opportunity presented by the rocket launch to “deprive Hamas of operational assets.” There has also been speculation that the influence of hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is behind the intensification in response.

One key question is whether this will now become the standard Israeli response to isolated projectile fire. Hamas spokesperson Ismail Ridwan said that the movement will not allow Israel to “impose new equations and change the rules of engagement” in the Gaza Strip, placing full responsibility for the “escalation and its repercussions” on the occupation.

Ridwan also called for Egypt to “rein in the Israeli occupation”, in Cairo’s capacity as the sponsor of the ceasefire agreement that ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’. Other Palestinian factions slammed the airstrikes, which they admit took them by surprise.

Israel’s unprecedentedly intensive series of airstrikes came a few days after Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank arrested Hamas’s representative on the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, the body charged with organising October’s municipal elections.

Israeli officials are worried that the Palestinian local elections scheduled for October will see breakthroughs for Hamas in West Bank municipalities, and have warned their Palestinian Authority “counterparts” of the risks in allowing the elections to go ahead.

It is clear why Israel has an interest in thwarting or undermining elections in which Hamas is a participant, not least because successful polls with Hamas’s involvement are deemed a necessary prerequisite to progress on the stuttering national unity front.

Hamas, for its part, decided to head to elections partly as a result of the challenges the movement is facing – and Israel seems determined to heighten the pressure. Numbers released in the last fortnight confirmed that Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip actually tightened during July, data that Palestinians in Gaza say “refutes Israel’s claims that it has eased the closure of the Gaza Strip.”

The blockade persists in spite of warnings by Israeli military officials that Gaza’s economic recovery is essential from the point of view of maintaining ‘calm’. On Sunday, AQB spokesperson Abu Obeida told a rally in Rafah that “the enemy’s [Israel] leadership keeps committing mistakes and repeats the same stupidities by maintaining the siege imposed on our people.”

Today, meanwhile, following the recent indictments of Gaza-based World Vision and UNDP employees, Lieberman has sought to revive the idea of linking reconstruction to disarmament.

For Hamas, an unrelenting blockade, intensified periodic airstrikes, and an inability to meaningfully participate in local elections, may mean that the pressure on the movement proves too great.

Veteran Israeli defense analyst Yossi Melman, writing in The Jerusalem Post on what he called the “massive Israeli attack”, acknowledged that “Hamas’s argument that Israel intends to ‘change the equation’ is correct.” His conclusion was stark: “The seeds for another war were sowed this week.”

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المهمّ… ماذا سيقول أولئك الذين راهنوا وطبّلوا وزمّروا لبطولات أردوغان… حتى قبل أن تبدأ!


قبل ست سنوات أمسك أردوغان «بشنبه» وأقسم أنه لن يتصالح مع «إسرائيل» إلا إذا اعتذرت ورفعت الحصار عن غزة…!

اتفاق «المصالحة»، أو في الحقيقة اتفاق التنازلات التركية بالجملة لصالح «إسرائيل» مدعاة للسخرية والغيظ… فقد قدّم أردوغان لنتنياهو ما لم يكن يحلم به حتى بدون حكاية مرمرة… صفقات غاز… بواخر تركية إلى موانئ «إسرائيل»… التعهّد بالعمل للإفراج عن «الأسرى الإسرائيليين» عند المقاومة… علاقات اقتصادية مميّزة… أن تلتزم تركيا بمنع أية «نشاطات إرهابية» ضدّ «إسرائيل» من أراضيها… والأهمّ أن تقف تركيا إلى جانب «إسرائيل» في المحافل الدولية في حال تمّ تقديم جنودها الذين ارتكبوا مجزرة «مرمرة» لأيّ ملاحقة قانونية هذا وفق الرسالة المكتوبة التي بعث بها «الشجاع» أردوغان إلى نتنياهو وفق ما نقلته الصحف الإسرائيلية .

يعني بعد خمس سنوات من العنتريات كانت النتيجة:

المزيد من التطبيع بين تركيا و«إسرائيل»، التنازل عن شرط رفع الحصار الذي طالما أكد وأصرّ وأقسم أردوغان وهو ممسك بشنبه بأنه سيكون أحد الثوابت في أيّ اتفاق مع «إسرائيل»، وتمّت الاستعاضة عن ذلك بمنح غزة بعض المساعدات الإنسانية كإنشاء محطة تحلية للمياه وبناء مستشفى.

وماذا بعد…؟ لا شيء، لا قبل ولا بعد، هو الانحطاط الذي تعيشه الدول حين تضع مصيرها في يد حفنة من اللصوص، وهنا لا أتجنّى مطلقاً بوصف أردوغان باللصّ، فهذا ليس من باب الشتيمة… بل لأنه لص فعلاً… ولمن ينسى أذكره فقط بصورة الشاحنات التي حملت مصانع حلب الشهباء التي فككتها «عصابات ثورة أردوغان» وقامت بشحنها إلى تركيا جهاراً نهاراً.. وأيضاً قوافل صهاريج النفط السوري المسروق وهي تعمل ليلاً نهاراً بالتنسيق مع القتلة في داعش وعصابات زنكي ومراد وغيرهم… وتفرغها في تركيا.

والآن بعد أن ذاب الثلج وبان المرج.. وبعد أن تمخض الجبل فولد فأراً… ماذا سيقول لنا يا ترى عباقرة «الإسلام» السياسي وخاصة الفلسطينيين منهم الذين رفعوا أردوغان إلى مصاف أمير المؤمنين… حتى أصبحوا يحجون إليه ليتعلموا من مهاراته وحكمته… أيّ خيال سياسي وفكري فقير هذا؟


طيب يا سيد أردوغان ما دمت «براغماتياً وعقلانياً» لهذه الدرجة ونجحت في حلّ خلافاتك مع «إسرائيل»، لماذا لا تمارس سطوتك لتساعد في حلّ المشكلة بين فتح وحماس… أليسوا أوْلى بالمصالحة…؟


المضحك أنّ البعض لا يزال يبرّر لأردوغان فهلويته وتذاكيه… ويعترف بدوره الهامّ في مساعدة الشعب الفلسطيني…

بل وذهب أحمد يوسف القيادي في حركة حماس في مقابلته مع الميادين 26 حزيران 2016 إلى التساؤل الاستنكاري:

كيف سنطلب من أردوغان شيئاً في ظلّ تخاذل العرب…! يا سلام!

ولكن ماذا عن السؤال الحقيقي الحارق

من الذي طعن قلب العروبة دمشق في ظهرها حتى وصل نصل الخنجر إلى قلبها؟ من الذي خذل من يا سيد أحمد يوسف؟ من الذي حمل راية فلسطين وجعلها في مواجهة سورية… من الذي كان حصان طروادة في تدمير مخيم اليرموك… وجعله حاضنة لكل قاتل من داعش والنصرة وجيش الرحمن وجيش الإسلام وجيش السعدان!

يعني سورية لم تقدّم شيئاً للمقاومة أليس كذلك..! بينما «العصملي» أردوغان حرث البحر وفجر الصحراء غضباً… بل وها هو يجبر «إسرائيل» على دفع 21 مليون دولارا…!

بكلمة واحدة كفى إسفافاً… فهذا الأردوغان.. يلوب منذ أشهر وهو يتمنّى على «إسرائيل» المصالحة… ونتنياهو يتمنّع ويتشدّد ويذلّ أردوغان…

هذا هو أردوغان المتغطرس الذي يبرق ويرعد ويهدّد ويتوعّد على مدار ست سنوات بأنه سيقتحم سورية.. وسيقيم أحزمة آمنة في شمالها… وسيصلي في المسجد الأموي… ثم ما يلبث أن يلوذ بالصمت حين لا يستجيب الناتو لعنترياته…

وهو ذاته أردوغان الذي دفعته خفته ورعونته وغباؤه السياسي لإسقاط طائرة السو 24 الروسية… وبعدها راح يتبجّح بأنه لن يعتذر عن هذا العمل.. لكنه اليوم يرجو ويعتذر من بوتين أن يسامحه… ويبدو أنّ هذه الرسالة فاتحة رسائل كثيرة بذات المضمون من الاعتذارات في محاولة لترميم نتائج السياسات الرعناء التي تبنتها تركيا منذ بداية ما يسمّى «الربيع العربي»… لننتظر.


يعني خلصت الكذبة التي اسمها أردوغان حامي حمى الجماعات الإسلامية وزعيم «الأمة الإسلامية»… فهو لا يتعدّى كونه رئيساً لدولة في حلف الناتو.. يعني الحلف الذي يدعم ويحمي «إسرائيل»… وهو الذي يلعب دور رأس الحربة في تدمير سورية وفتح حدود تركيا للقتلة واللصوص ليدمّر أجمل حواضر العرب…

إنه الآن حائر ومرتبك ويبحث عن بصيص مخرج من ورطته في سورية… فقد وصلته رسالة الرئيس بشار الأسد بأوضح ما يكون: حلب ستكون مقبرة لأحلام العثمانيين الجدد… ومن يعِشْ يرَ!

Gaza Despair, israel’s Culpability, Unfit to Print in The Jew York Times (NYT)

Gaza Despair, Israeli Culpability, Unfit to Print in The NY Times

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | May 23, 2016

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By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | May 23, 2016

Gaza made the front page of The New York Times recently, with an article highlighting the fears of residents who suspect Hamas of building tunnels under and near their homes. The topic was ready-made for the newspaper, fitting perfectly into the Israeli (and Times) spin on the besieged enclave.

According to the accepted narrative, the problems in Gaza are due to Hamas, and Israel is free from blame. Thus we find the tunnel story played prominently on the front page under the headline “As Hamas Tunnels Back Into Israel, Palestinians Are Afraid, Too.”

There is much cause for despair in Gaza—fishermen and farmers come under attack, drinking water is ever more scarce, patients are desperate for adequate medical care—but the Times has failed to highlight any of these issues, which are so clearly due to Israeli actions and policies.

The official Israeli line is that Hamas oppresses the residents under its control, and Israeli political leaders use this charge to help justify their airstrikes on Hamas sites and other actions, such as restrictions on the delivery of building materials to Gaza. The Times has been a willing partner in this effort.

So it is no surprise when the newspaper informs us that Hamas has rebuilt many of the tunnels it used during the assaults on Gaza in the summer of 2014, and this is causing anxiety for some Gaza residents who live near signs of underground construction work. They fear that Israel will bomb their neighborhoods to destroy the tunnels.

The story is just what the Israeli army press office ordered, and the Times willingly promotes this propaganda effort even as it shows little interest in even more urgent concerns that plague the residents of the strip. It had nothing to say, for instance, when Israel arrested 20 Gaza fishermen over less than a week this month and confiscated seven of their boats (here and here) even though they were fishing within the approved limit set by Israel.

Israeli harassment of the beleaguered fishermen has been a constant over the years: According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats in 2015, firing on fishing boats at least 139 times, wounding 24 fishermen and damaging 16 boats. The attacks have continued without letup this year.

The Times, however, has almost totally ignored the subject. The paper took notice briefly last month, when Israel announced new rules allowing Gaza boats to sail farther out to sea, and the story most certainly made the grade because it was a chance to show Israel in a benevolent light. The Times has been silent on the issue ever since.

Farmers with land near the border fence also face frequent attacks by Israeli soldiers who fire live ammunition at workers tending their fields, and Israel has destroyed crops and farm buildings, spraying fields of spinach and peas with herbicides and leveling land with bulldozers.

The Times has failed to report these incursions as well, although the United Nations documents them in weekly reports, and other news sources routinely tell of the assaults.

According to the UN, as of May 16, the Israeli military had made 30 incursions into Gaza this year. Its forces entered the enclave at least 56 times during 2015. These mini invasions—which include tanks, bulldozers and live fire—are breaches of the truce agreement made to end hostilities in 2014, but the Times has not seen fit to report them.

Instead, the newspaper prefers to raise the alarm about possible attacks from Gaza via the tunnels, ignoring the relevant context: the frequent shootings and other assaults by Israeli forces and the nine-year blockade, which finds not a single mention in the tunnel article.

Israel blocks the entry of needed medical supplies into Gaza, denies doctors the right to upgrade their skills in foreign countries and prevents many patients from leaving the enclave to receive the treatment they need. It has destroyed electrical equipment, wells and water treatment plants, and the lack of potable water has reached such a critical stage that only some 5 percent of the water in Gaza is safe to drink.

The Times, however, has shown no interest in exploring these crucial issues. It follows a prescribed narrative in deflecting blame from Israel and demonizing Hamas. The tunnel story fit this bill and thus merited a prime placement on page 1 above the fold.

Hamas does not call for war, but won’t tolerate israel’s incursions into Gaza

Hamas does not call for war, but won’t tolerate Israeli incursions into Gaza 

GAZA (Ma’an) — Deputy head of Hamas’ politburo Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday that while the movement is not calling for a new war in the Gaza Strip, it will not tolerate incursions by Israel or accept a buffer zone.

Haniyeh said during Friday prayers at the Abu Salim mosque in the central Gaza Strip district of Deir al-Balah that Israel’s recent incursions into the border areas in search of tunnels are responsible for the latest escalation of violence in the besieged coastal enclave.
“We do not call for a new war, but we will not allow these incursions or for new realities to be imposed on our people in Gaza. We call for lifting the siege. Enough of this historical injustice suffered by 2 million of our people.”
Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone” have long been a near-daily occurrence, marked by Israeli bulldozers leveling lands inside Gaza territory while accompanied by Israeli military vehicles. Haniyeh said incursions inside Gaza territory are a grave violation of the Egypt-sponsored ceasefire reached in the summer of 2014.
Haniyah highlighted that the efforts underway by Egypt, Qatar, UN envoy Nikolay Mladenov, and Turkey to curb the aggression in the Gaza Strip.
“I hope that statements by the PA (Palestinian Authority) regarding limiting relations with the (Israeli) occupation are implemented on the ground, and that security coordination with occupation must be stopped,” Haniyeh added.
The PA has repeatedly threatened to put an end to the security coordination with Israel over the years. However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his commitment to security coordination with Israel in an interview in March, arguing that it was a major factor in curbing Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) military wing also released a statement Friday regarding the recent Israeli hostilities, saying it “will not stand idly by while Israel continues its crimes against Palestinian people.”“We affirm that this escalation by the (Israeli) occupation in Gaza is an attempt to test the patience of resistance. […] They have two choices: either to die or leave our lands.”
Israeli airstrikes continued Friday morning for third consecutive day, in response to alleged mortar rounds being fired by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups on Israeli army targets.
Israeli shelling east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip reportedly killed a Palestinian woman on Wednesday.
The Israeli army accused Palestinian resistance groups of launching mortar attacks in an attempt to disrupt the army’s “operational activity” in search for Hamas-built tunnels leading into Israel.
Israeli outlet Haaretz quoted Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon as saying: “We will not be deterred by these threats by Hamas and will continue operations in light of the violation of our sovereignty, until we find and expose every last tunnel.”
One such tunnel was allegedly discovered Thursday, the second of its kind to be uncovered since Israel’s devastating 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel for decade. The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Gaze Strip and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.

Time for the civilised world to step in and save Gaza from israel’s illegal “Collective punishment”

Collective punishment of Gaza

Arab Digest Summary: Gaza still shattered following the last war in 2014. Pledges of aid not honoured. Another war? A cry for help from behind the blockade.

The situation in Gaza remains dire. The population is 1.8 million living in an area of 141 square miles (365 square kilometres), 25 miles long and 3.5 to 7.5 miles deep, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. According to a World Bank fact sheet (apparently dated from just after the war in 2014) unemployment is 45%; economic activity is almost entirely dependent on aid and remittances, and a dynamic private sector is impeded by restrictions imposed by Israel. War damage is put at roughly $3 billion, with severe consequences for water, sanitation, energy, housing, health, education and food.

According to a World Bank report of 18 April the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized power in 2007, “continues to weigh on the economy” and Egypt’s closure of its border crossing with Gaza, the main gateway for people moving in and out of the territory, has “further exacerbated the situation.”

Only 40% of aid pledged after the war has been disbursed. “20 months after the war, only 9 percent of totally damaged houses and 45 percent of partially damaged houses have been repaired. Over 14,800 families continue to be displaced. For these people in Gaza, there is no escape.”

Arab donors have proved particularly bad payers: Qatar pledged $1 billion and has delivered 15%, Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million and has delivered 10%, the UAE pledged $200 million and has delivered 15%, Kuwait pledged $200 million and has delivered nothing (but Palestinian sources reported on 18 April that the Palestinian authority had received funding from Kuwait to build three hundred homes in Gaza, and 12,000 other Gazans whose homes were damaged in the war would receive cash compensation). The USA, the EU, individual European nations and Turkey have delivered all or most of their pledges.

The Palestinian Authority is losing about $285 million each year due from taxes collected by Israel on their behalf under various agreements dating from the nineteen nineties, and Israel is also holding about $669 million, mostly pension contributions collected from Palestinians working in Israel and their employers.

A UN report of 11 April describes the “fraught conditions” of life in Gaza and concludes that without a lifting of the blockade and progress towards Palestinian reconciliation “coping capacities of exhausted and vulnerable households risk being depleted altogether.” According to another report of 4 April Israel has suspended cement deliveries following allegations that cement had been diverted “from its intended legitimate beneficiaries”.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that the Palestinian authority is considering holding a Cabinet meeting in Gaza. Earlier this month senior delegations from Fatah and Hamas met in Gaza “in the most high-ranking gathering to convene since a new round of reconciliation talks began in Qatar earlier this year.”

The newly issued annual report by the US State Department on “Human Rights Practices for 2015” includes a long section on the occupied territories; Gaza is included, concentrating almost exclusively on abuse by Hamas including disappearances and torture. According to the executive summary “The most significant human rights abuses were restrictions on civil liberties, particularly by Hamas in Gaza; excessive use of force by Israeli Security Forces (ISF) in a number of their interactions with Palestinian civilians, and arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity by multiple actors in the region… The IDF and the Egyptian government maintained severe restrictions on movement into and out of the Gaza Strip and largely limited the travel of Palestinians out of Gaza to humanitarian cases and some business travelers.”

The IDF announced on 18 April the discovery of a tunnel from Gaza into Israel, the first found since the 2014 war, 100 feet underground and several hundreds of yards long. According to Reuters Israel has, with US help, stepped up work on technologies for spotting the secret passages. Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was investing considerable capital in countering tunnels and would respond strongly to any attempt to attack it.

Hamas reportedly said

What the enemy has discovered is only a drop in the sea from what the resistance has prepared to defend its people, to liberate the holy places, its prisoners and land.

The IDF said the tunnel was new, but Hamas said it was old. The Times of Israel comments that “the public mood veers between ‘we need a war’ to ‘we must avoid war at all cost’ (depending on whom you ask) in the pressure cooker known as the Gaza Strip.”

Not all is gloom; two separate Reuters reports yesterday 19 April cover a graffiti artist  who uses Arabic calligraphic design which “adds a certain beauty” and a semi-professional circus school which trains in a garage and performs in schools, hospitals and the streets.

The article below is published on the Consortium News website, “the first investigative news magazine on the Internet”. It is an emotional appeal for help addressed to President Obama by a journalist resident in Gaza.

To subscribe to Arab Digest, find out here



Gaza city in 2015. Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

 Obama’s Failed ‘Hope’ in Gaza

Eight years ago, President Obama offered “hope” for change in the world, but politics and pressures won out, with his failure nowhere more obvious than in Gaza, as Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer explains in this open letter.

By Mohammed Omer, Consortium News 
April 17, 2016

To President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

As president of the most powerful country on the planet; the loving and protective father of two children; and a man fully aware of the human struggles of so many in the down-trodden communities of many lands, including your own, your eyes must have been opened during the last three — of many — Israeli assaults on besieged Gaza, where I live with my wife and young son.

I recall being in the Netherlands when you were first elected president. Like so many millions around the world, I cheered loudly for you, believing that a fresh wind was blowing through the narrow halls of U.S. politics. I dared to hope that a brave man — a champion of good people who were neglected and abused — had arrived to stand up and ease the pain and injustice inflicted on so many, including my people in Palestine, long tormented and driven from their ancient land, deprived of their human dignity.


Children play on the ruins of demolished homes in Shejayeh, an area which was heavily hit by Israeli cannon shells and F-16 missiles during Israel’s 51-day war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, when more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed and around 100,000 became homeless. Photo by M. Omer

Sadly, however, I perhaps dared to believe too much. As I look around Gaza today and see only the aftermath of more Israeli cruelty and evidence of ever more bloodshed, pain, sadness and destruction, the words “Yes, we can” now drift away with the dust, carried by the winds of despair.

This despair has hung over our heads for at least the past 10 years, the result of Israel’s harsh collective punishment of the 1.9 million human beings who struggle to survive in Gaza. Half of them are children younger than your Sasha and Malia; many are babies, like mine, held in their parents’ arms.

Perhaps, being so far removed from it, you cannot empathize with the effects of collective punishment. Having studied law and worked closely in community projects, however, you surely have an intellectual and historical understanding. I think you know that Israel’s intentions extend beyond removing Hamas — or any other group that would resist an occupier’s expansion and invasion of their homes and leaders.

The U.S. Constitution does not call for the punishment of an entire population simply for voting for the “wrong party.” It and the Bill of Rights guarantee Americans the freedom to express themselves freely and the right to struggle and defend their inalienable rights. The American Revolution was an act of rebellion against oppression and the denial of “self-evident” rights and freedoms.

In Gaza, we are struggling against similar oppression. Israel increasingly confines and punishes us for our struggle, as we use whatever meager means we have to attain the same freedom and human dignity your forbearers fought for.

“Do Americans like us? Does Obama like us?”

What is the bond that binds U.S. politics and power to Israel’s ongoing cruel oppression? How can the U.S. justify its unconditional patronage of Israel escalating infliction of pain upon innocent others? What satisfaction and reward does Israel gain for punishing every aspect of human life for nearly two million good Palestinian people in Gaza, who just want their freedom again?

Three recent wars have whipped, beaten and left homeless many families who are still waiting for short- and long-term protection from cruelty. I met with Ahmed Al Kafarneh, an elderly man of dignity, living with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Before the 51-day war in 2014, he, like 100,000 other Palestinians, had built a beautiful home after 20 years of working in Israel — no easy task indeed. Now everything is gone, and he lives with his extended family in a rusty metal shipping container.

Mr. President, it is a cold and wet winter here — the coldest in years. Try to imagine yourself, Michelle, Sasha and Malia sitting on cold metal floors with rain dripping in from more holes in the container roof than you can count.

Are you not the same president who, when proclaiming Israel’s right to defend itself, vowed that you would do everything to protect your children? Does that same determination to protect not apply to our Palestinian children?

It seems you have forgotten our right — not only as Palestinians, but as human beings — to exist in freedom and safety from oppression and disproportionately heavy attacks from the Israeli military. In Gaza, our youngest generation knows only war, displacement, loss, trauma and pain. It faces even more obstacles in the path of “Yes we can” in the form of massive unemployment, repression and isolation caused by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned economic blockade, denying an entire people free movement and a normal life of choices.

Does that not sound like slavery, Mr. President?

We are locked behind walls, contained like cattle, spied on by armed drones, with Israeli-army snipers patrolling barbed-wire fences, and placed on a “diet” meted out by occupiers and thieves. Is that not extremism? Would you not resist it?

A few days ago, I met with 13 brave and dedicated U.S. doctors who came here to assist the local hospitals — a rare occasion when American doctors get to meet face to face with our own courageous doctors and Hippocratic Oath colleagues. A 24-year-old Palestinian fine arts student paused when she heard of the delegation and asked, “Do Americans like us? Does Obama like us?”

This is why I am writing this open letter to you, Mr. President.

Human beings, of all generations, live here in Gaza, waiting for your replies to these questions. “Change we can believe in,” Mr.President — but it must include our freedom of choice.

Gaza is the size of Manhattan Island. We are human beings like you and your fellow Americans — but we are trapped behind walls and fences we have never lived behind before and don’t want to wake up to tomorrow. Our southern borders are now fenced off by Egypt, locking down Rafah crossing. To the west, our beaches — frequented by children, families and fishermen — are threatened by Israeli naval vessels armed with missiles and water cannons. They confine our fishing boats to 6 nautical miles offshore instead of the designated 20 nautical miles.

Are you aware that 73 Palestinian fishermen were fired upon and arrested in 2015? Or that 55 percent of Gazans suffer from clinical depression, that 43 percent are unemployed, 40 percent fall below the poverty line, and 60 percent are food insecure? Do you know how few hours of electricity we are allowed in 24 hours, with no power for 12 to 16 hours?

The same shortage applies to water, cooking gas and many other basic essentials. As you are served your meal this evening, remember we have half a million gas cylinders waiting to be filled before we can cook or boil water for washing and drinking (a human right).

This is all the more tragic because Gaza could be the perfect neighbor for Israel, living in peace and harmony and sharing mutually beneficial economic and trade relationships. We have many skilled workers and a well-educated young generation. Palestine has always been progressive. The only thing we need is a chance to grow, develop and contribute with dignity and equality.

We want to build bridges of understanding, instead of separation walls of bigotry and hatred. We don’t want Israel experimenting with its new hi-tech weapons on the children of Gaza. Your American-made missiles have been used to attack U.N. schools and shelters — the very schools which offer quality education and steer our children away from extremism. This is usually something to be applauded, not targeted.

You have not seen Khuza’a and the massive destruction that Israel’s war machine left behind. Its children’s feet are cold this frigid winter because water continues to drip from their shell-pocked ceilings onto their beds. You are welcome to visit us at any time, should you choose to place humanitarian considerations over political ones.

It is time for you, Mr. President, to provide the children and youth of Gaza with hope they can believe in. You can do it before you leave office, and all your promises, behind. You can reignite the enthusiasm we felt when you stepped up to address the world, and strengthen your legacy for promoting peace after you leave the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, you are among the very few people on earth who could influence Israel and Egypt to open borders and end the collective blockade. Is not a decade enough? Especially when we know that the ones who suffer from the siege are ordinary people, not political groups such as Hamas. If the aim is for people to look beyond Hamas, they must be given options for the future.

The children and parents of Gaza are waiting for a solution, and you can revitalize the positive energy that came with you and your speeches early in your presidency. Make all people proud — including Americans — of your long-lasting achievements.

Stand up for Gaza, as you always do for Israel, regardless of how badly they treat their fellow man (including yourself). We don’t want or need extremism in any form. We want stability, peace and to live in our homes without drones and tanks threatening us day and night. The young people of Gaza are seeking a better future.

Can we do this? Yes, we can! Step up Mr. President—please.

 

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