Western Media Perpetuate Gaza’s Brutal Blockade

Western Media Perpetuate Gaza’s Brutal Blockade

Tue May 07, 2019 7:59

TEHRAN (FNA)- Human rights groups continue to slam corporate media outlets in the West for perpetuating anti-Palestinian sentiments in their reporting on the recent Israeli violence against Gaza.

As always, major news sources gave little in-depth information or a timeline regarding the Israeli military’s killing of Palestinians at a protest on Friday, may 3 – one of the weekly demonstrations Palestinians have held for more than a year to call for an end to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, blockades which have led to food and medicine shortages, and ongoing attacks by the Israeli forces.

Instead, they reported mainly on more than 200 rockets which Hamas and the Islamic Jihad launched into illegal Israeli settlements, writing that Israel retaliated for those attacks and ignoring what led up to the rocket strikes.

This is while even the United Nations had said earlier this year that Israeli soldiers who attack Palestinians at the peaceful protests along the Gaza border could be found liable for war crimes. So those who come up with headlines to frame the recent violence on Palestinians are complicit in Israeli war crimes as well.

Unsurprisingly, the United States and other Western governments that arm Israel also backed Israeli forces as they bombed the besieged city of Gaza yet again. It’s a sign of utter criminality between Tel Aviv, the West and mainstream media outlets in colonizing Palestine and projecting militarism upon Palestinians, whether through direct force, clandestine subversion, or blockade, illegal settlement construction and false news reporting.

It’s also an expression of complicity on the part of the US and certain European powers. They are assisting through their corps of engineers and companies with the construction of underground steel impenetrable walls and illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian lands.

No doubt the ongoing Palestinian protests are an expression of the desperation created in Gaza as a result of the Western-backed blockade that’s been going on for years in a severe and continuing form. Gaza’s suffering is unacceptable and must end. Israel must lift the blockade and end its collective punishment of the civilian population. The relentless air assault has seen Israeli forces flagrantly disregard civilian life and property, which must be protected under international humanitarian law.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders are pretty much aware that what they are doing to Gaza is a war crime. Deliberately attacking civilian homes is a war crime, and the overwhelming scale of destruction of civilian objects points to a distressing pattern of repeated violations of the laws of war. Netanyahu must bear responsibility for his war crimes – identified by the UN Human Rights Council in its investigation into Israel’s last year assault on Gaza.

With Tel Aviv still refusing to respond to the language of diplomacy and peaceful protest, the international civil society should call for greater diplomatic pressure to force the paranoid, exclusivist, and imperious regime to lift the illegal blockade and allow international supporters to help.

It is time for leading international organizations not to admit Israel as a member. The blockade has been presented as punishment for the democratic election of Hamas; punishment for its subsequent takeover of Gaza; and punishment for justified resistance through attacks on illegal settlements. True, the UN has criticized Israel over its blockade. But, criticism alone is not enough. The international body needs to do more than just lip service.

Meantime, to help bring change and peace to the Middle East, business companies, universities, organizations and individuals, especially those that advocate human rights and democracy in the West, should support the international campaign to boycott Israeli goods and the companies that support the regime financially in illegal settlements.

Israel has expanded its illegal settlement construction in the occupied territories in the past few years in defiance of international calls to end its expansionist policies. Over half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

Too many years have gone by with no change in the brutal isolation of Gaza. Since the siege is being backed by the West, mainstream media and military violence, only armed resistance on the part of Palestinians and international pressure on Egypt and Israel can help reopen Gaza’s border to the outside world permanently.

 

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‘They have punished the victims’: Hebron struggles 25 years after Ibrahimi mosque massacre

zzat Karaki, centre, demonstrating with Youth Against Settlements for the reopening of Shuhada Street on 22 February 2019 (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)

The repercussions of the attack are still felt keenly by Palestinians in Hebron, who have seen their rights eroded and their formerly bustling city centre turn into a ghost town

By 

in

Hebron, occupied West Bank

“Since the massacre, everything changed.”

Jamal Fakhoury, 40, struggles to find the right words to describe his hometown.

With a furrowed brow and damp eyes, he utters: “Every day it’s a difficult life for Hebron.”

Fakhoury is reflecting on the Ibrahimi mosque massacre – the 25th anniversary is on Monday – and its impact on the southern occupied West Bank city.

On 25 February 1994, a Jewish-American settler named Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Palestinian worshippers inside the Ibrahimi mosque – also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs – in the centre of the Old City of Hebron.

We are not humans at all. We are numbers

– Izzat Karaki, activist with Youth Against Settlements

Goldstein killed 29 men in an instant, and injured well over 100 more. Six other Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in the ensuing chaos.

Although it is the biggest city in the West Bank, Hebron’s residents are interconnected in almost every way through its cultural and family structures. Nearly every citizen has ties to the Ibrahimi mosque massacre through some relative, friend or neighbour.

“A settler from the US came and killed Palestinians,” Izzat Karaki, a 29-year-old activist with the Palestinian-led group Youth Against Settlements (YAS), said exasperatedly. “And after that they punish us, the victims.”

Beyond mourning for the lives lost, the attack has also affected the people of Hebron – and its generations to come – in a profound and structural way.

Full of life

“Before the massacre, I felt something like peace in the old city,” Fakhoury recalls.

He is from the Old City and still resides there, just around the corner from Shuhada Street and the mosque.

Along some two kilometres, Shuhada Street is tightly packed with shops sitting below several-storey high homes. The road leads directly to the Ibrahimi mosque and once stood as the heart of the Old City.

Munir, 65, owns a shop directly across from the mosque that remains open to this day. He likes to show laminated pictures to passing tourists of the bustling Shuhada Street back in its heyday, brimming with cars and people.

Munir shows a photo of Shuhada Street in the days before the massacre, back when the road was the bustling centre of Hebron (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)
Munir shows a photo of Shuhada Street in the days before the massacre, back when the road was the bustling centre of Hebron (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)

He does point out that the First Intifada, which started in 1988, only ended in 1993, five months before the massacre. “The six years of the Intifada were really not a normal time,” he said, pointing out that the area around the mosque “was part of the ‘playground’ where the Intifada took place”.

But, he explains, “before, this area was full of life”.

“We used to have four people working in this place,” Munir continues, showing the shop where he is standing. “Today, it is me alone and I am also taking care of two stores which belong to my neighbours.”

Collective punishment

“After the massacre, the mosque was closed for six months, and they [Israeli forces] closed Shuhada Street,” Karaki tells MEE.

For nearly three months, Karaki said, Palestinian residents of Hebron lived under an Israeli-imposed curfew while military checkpoints were built in the Old City – checkpoints that are still present today.

The aftermath of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre Hebron on 25 February 1994 (AFP)
The aftermath of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre Hebron on 25 February 1994 (AFP)

When the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the surrounding area was reopened to the public, the religious site had now been divided into two – a synagogue on one side, a mosque on the other.

Palestinians were no longer allowed to drive cars in the area, Munir says, and the number of Israeli soldiers and cameras around the Ibrahimi mosque dramatically increased.

The post-massacre changes made to the city were in a lot of ways a preface to the dramatic transformation that the Hebron Protocol was to create three years later.

The 1997 agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation divided the city into two areas: Palestinian Authority-controlled H1 and Israeli military-controlled H2.

In H2, making up nearly 20 percent of Hebron, some 40,000 Palestinians currently live under Israeli military law, while the 800 Israeli settlers in H2 are ruled by Israeli civil law.

“Animals here have rights more than us,” Karaki exclaims. “Any cat, any dog can go to Shuhada Street. But me? I cannot.”

“Why? What did I do? We are not human at all.”

In the wake of the Hebron Protocol, shops were permanently closed in H2, and many Palestinians were driven out of their homes, many of whom “by military order”, Karaki explains.

The harsh living conditions and restricted freedom of living and movement in H2 drove many Palestinians out – turning the bustling city centre into a ghost town.

“We are talking about 1,827 shops closed and 140 apartments empty,” Karaki adds.

There are currently 20 permanent checkpoints inside the city of Hebron, dominating Palestinians’ lives with curfews and indiscriminate closures.

It is now necessary to go through two separate checkpoints just to enter the Ibrahimi mosque.

“When I go to my home every day they check my ID,” Fakhoury says, “I wait 20 minutes behind the checkpoint near the mosque.”

“If you don’t have your ID you are not allowed to get in or to pass through the checkpoint,” Karaki concurs. “We are not humans at all. We are numbers.”

Monitoring group expelled

The massacre led to the creation of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an international organisation meant to monitor the situation in the city and document violations of international law and human rights.

In its 22-year-long presence, TIPH filed more than 40,000 incident reports – many of which Karaki says the Palestinians Authority can take to the International Criminal Court.

Jamal Fakhoury waits in line at one of 20 Israeli army checkpoints in H2 (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)
Jamal Fakhoury waits in line at one of 20 Israeli army checkpoints in H2 (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)

But last month, the Israeli administration refused to renew TIPH’s mandate, forcing it out of the city.

Fakhoury, like many Palestinians in the Old City, enjoyed TIPH and felt safe with its monitors’ presence.

“I think it will be difficult now with no one watching the problems,” Fakhoury says. He fears things “will get worse, because the Israeli government doesn’t like to tell people what is happening here”.

There are currently four Israeli settlements inside the city of Hebron – Avraham Avino, Beit Romano, Tel Rumeida, Beit Hadassah – all established well before the 1994 massacre.

But since the expulsion of Palestinian from H2, it has become easier for Israelis to occupy Palestinians homes.

“Usually settlers focus on the empty houses,” Karaki explains. “Where there is an empty house, they occupy it and change it from a Palestinian (home) to a settlement.”

With TIPH gone, Palestinians fear that they will witness an increase in both settlement expansion and settler violence.

“When I go to my home I need to protect myself, protect my home,” Karaki says.

Citing the Fourth Geneva Convention as an example, he says: “On paper, soldiers are here to protect me like they protect settlers. But unfortunately, we see something different.”

Hope for the future?

YAS has stepped in recently to fill in the void left by TIPH. Its activists walk around the Old City most mornings, monitoring settler activity and protecting Palestinian children on their walk to school.

On Friday, YAS organised its 10th annual “Open Shuhada Street” demonstration to denounce the ongoing situation in Hebron – just like every year in the past quarter century. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators, injuring at least two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy.

“Here, nothing changes,” Munir says. “It’s the same year after year after year.”

But despite the grim circumstances, Karaki says it is important for him as an activist to keep fighting with a purpose.

“Often people are shocked when I say if there is a tomorrow, there is hope,” he says.

But his optimism is dampened by what he and all Palestinians in Hebron have witnessed for years.

“Usually when tomorrow comes, it only gets worse.”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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Occupied Palestine in 2018: Record Deaths and Injuries, Food Insecurity, Demolitions, Record Low Humanitarian Funding

Global Research, December 30, 2018
ReliefWeb 27 December 2018

Trends affecting humanitarian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory

Today, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) released a summary of data collected during 2018. Further breakdowns and statistics from previous years are available through the links below.

Record numbers of Palestinian deaths and injuries

A total of 295 Palestinians were killed and over 29,000 were injured in 2018 by Israeli forces. This is the highest death toll in a single year since the Gaza conflict of 2014 and the highest number of injuries recorded since OCHA began documenting casualties in the oPt in 2005.

About 61 per cent of the fatalities (180 people) and 79 per cent of the injuries (over 23,000) were in the context of Gaza’s ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations by the fence. Across the oPt, 57 of the Palestinian fatalities and about 7,000 of the injuries were under 18 years of age. At least 28 of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2018 were members of armed groups in Gaza and another 15 were perpetrators or alleged perpetrators of attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

A total of 14 Israelis were killed during the year by Palestinians and at least 137 others were injured. While the number of fatalities is nearly the same as in 2017 (15 people), the proportion of civilians among these fatalities (50 per cent) increased compared to the previous year (27 per cent).

Uptrend in attacks by settlers

In 2018, OCHA recorded 265 incidents where Israeli settlers killed or injured Palestinians or damaged Palestinian property, marking a 69 per cent increase compared with 2017; as a result, one Palestinian woman was killed, and another 115 Palestinians were injured (another two Palestinian suspected perpetrators of attacks were killed by Israeli settlers). Palestinian property vandalized by settlers includes some 7,900 trees and about 540 vehicles.

There were at least 181 incidents where Palestinians killed or injured settlers and other Israeli civilians in the West Bank or damaged Israeli property, a 28 per cent decline compared with the previous year. However, the number of Israelis killed in these incidents in 2018 (seven), increased compared to 2017 (four).

West Bank demolitions continue, but fewer Palestinians are displaced

In 2018, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 459 Palestinian structures across the West Bank, mostly in Area C and East Jerusalem, overwhelmingly on the grounds of a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain, slightly more than in 2017. Such incidents displaced 472 Palestinians, including 216 children and 127 women, the lowest such figure since OCHA began systematically recording demolitions in 2009. In Area C alone, there are over 13,000 pending demolition orders, including 40 issued against schools.

The blockade on Gaza still extremely restrictive

The land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip, imposed by Israel citing security concerns, continued, with people being able to exit on an exceptional basis only. On a monthly average, in 2018 (Jan-Nov) there were some 9,200 exits from Gaza by permit holders through the Israeli-controlled Erezcrossing, a 33 per cent increase compared to 2017, but 35 per cent less than the 2015-2016 average. The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing has opened on a regular basis since May, recording about 56,800 exits in all of 2018, up from a yearly average of less than 19,000 in 2015-2017.

The rate of approval of permit applications for UN national staff to leave Gaza stood at 59 per cent during 2018, up from 47 per cent in 2017. However, the total number of applications submitted in 2018 dropped by 24 per cent, primarily due to the larger number of staff that were denied for security reasons and banned for reapplying for 12 months, currently 131 compared to 41 staff by the end of 2017.

Kerem Shalom, controlled by Israel, remained the almost exclusive crossing for the movement of commodities to and from Gaza, with limited imports also allowed via the Salah Ad Din Gate on the border with Egypt. On a monthly average, about 8,300 truckloads of goods entered Gaza via both crossings in 2018, 17 per cent below the equivalent average in the previous two years, while 209 trucks exited Gaza on average, mostly to West Bank markets, nearly the same as in 2016-2017. Access to fishing areas and to farming lands near the fence inside Gaza remained restricted.

More people in Gaza food insecure

About 1.3 million people in Gaza, or 68 per cent of the population, were identified as food insecure in 2018, primarily due to poverty, up from 59 per cent in 2014, when a similar survey was conducted. The unemployment rate in Gaza reached an average of almost 53 per cent in the first three quarters of 2018, an all-time record, with youth unemployment at 69 per cent. By contrast, in the West Bank, 12 per cent of the Palestinians are food insecure, down from 15 per cent in 2014, while unemployment stood at an average of 18 per cent.

Record-low in humanitarian funding

While humanitarian needs across the oPt rose during 2018, funding levels for humanitarian interventions declined significantly: only US$221 million had been received, against the $540 million requested in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan

Note: Data on casualties and demolitions is as of 26 December 2018 and is subject to caveats and definitions available in these links. Israeli fatalities exclude a baby delivered prematurely after the injury of his mother. Data on exits via Erez crossing is up to 30 November 2018, and data on imports and exports, as well as on the Rafah crossing are as of 15 December 2018.

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Trump is willing to starve Palestinians into compliance with his Deal of the Century

Source / If Americans Knew Blog

The Trump administration has permanently cut $250 million in aid for the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, saying the appropriated funds will be “redirected” elsewhere.

Palestinians have always had just 3 wishes: a capital someday in Jerusalem, a return to the 1967 borders, and the Right of Return. Between Trump and Israel, there’s nothing left to even dream of: the barest minimum is disappearing – food, medicine, the title of “refugee.”

by Kathryn Shihadah, Palestine Home

President Trump seems to think he’s the perfect blend of Santa Claus and Scrooge. On Tuesday, he revealed that since Israel got its present last May – the embassy (what a glorious day) – the Palestinians will now “get something very good” because “it’s their turn next.”

What could it be? A pony? What could the Palestinians possibly wish for?

Ever since the 1948 Nakba, Palestinians have had only 3 modest longings.

  • Each generation has dreamed of worshiping unimpeded in Jerusalem, the city that PLO executive Hanan Ashrawi has called “the core of Palestinian existence, history and culture” and “beyond price,” the capital of their future state
  • Palestinians have imagined a return to the 1967 borders (no doubt many have fantasized about reclaiming the whole land, but 22% would be a windfall)
  • Palestinian refugees have visualized returning home to Palestine – the “Right of Return”

A capital? Nope.

Of course, Jerusalem is now just a memory to Palestinians: Trump essentially gave it as a Hanukkah gift to Israel last December.

(My Jewish acquaintances responded in the days following, “well, Jerusalem was ours all along, so this just makes it official. It’s no big deal. Nothing has changed.” Does this indicate ignorance or privilege, or perhaps a combination? Because for every Palestinian in the world, a part of their soul died that day.)

President Trump explained that his idea was brilliant (not stupid and reckless, like we thought): he had “taken Jerusalem off the table,” so now it’s no longer a point of contention. So simple, yet so elegant. This should streamline the peace process. Definitely.

African refugees in Israel face deportation.

1967 borders? Fat chance.

As for the 1967 borders, Palestinians recognize that’s a pipe dream. Settlements are growing, unimpeded – in spite of the United Nations’ frequent reminders that settlements are illegal. Israel is apparently the exception to every rule – breaking international laws, shooting unarmed people, imprisoning children, ethnically cleansing villages, dropping bombs on civilians.

Yep, that’s the country with which we share an “unbreakable bond based on common values.” These inspiring words have been uttered countless times by our Congress people, in spite of the above atrocities.

As of 21 August, 500 undocumented children in the US are still separated from their parents as they await deportation.

(Our legislators have a point: the United States and Israel have both treated indigenous peoples somewhat unreasonably; both have behaved rather shamefully toward minorities; each believes itself to be “a nation of immigrants” with total disregard for the natives of the land, and selectivity about which immigrants are desirable. We do have much in common.)

But to return to the issue of the settlements: there are now over 600,000 Israelis living on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Although there was plenty of available land within Israel, they took Palestinian land to build homes, schools, settler-only roads (does that sound like apartheid?); they created roadblocks so that Palestinians couldn’t drive or walk near settlements; they built a 25-foot-high concrete wall that blocks many Palestinians from their own families, farmland, schools, and businesses.

(Don’t bother with the argument that “the wall keeps the terrorists away,” because it doesn’t fly. It took 15 years to complete the wall – that means for 15 years, people could go around it. As recently as 2017, tens of thousands of Palestinians were illegally slipping into Israel every day – mostly through gaps where the wall had not yet been completed. Also, 1.5 million Palestinians live in Israel. One more thing: take a look at any detailed map of the wall, and you will see that – heavens to Betsy –  some settlements are on the same side of the wall as the Palestinians. So really, it is only the good will of Palestinians that will keep Israelis safe.)

So, in order for Palestinians to see their dream fulfilled, to return to the 1967 borders, 600,000 settlers would have to be relocated. Back in 2005, when only 8,000 settlers were evacuated from Gaza, they were given a generous compensation package and all kinds of incentives, totaling – in 2005 dollars, mind you, for just 8,000 settlers, mind you – about $2.5 billion. Israel “asked” the US to pay at least $2 billion of that, which is only fair since the US also paid for the building of the Gaza settlements to begin with. Someone (I’m guessing not Israel) would have to cough up a rather large sum today to relocate 600,000+ settlers.

An Israeli Jewish settler shoots in the air as Palestinians protest against the forced relocation of Israel’s Palestinian Bedouin minority from their villages in the Negev Desert.

But not to worry. According to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli settlers “aren’t going anywhere.” More and more settlers today – and the IDF soldiers who would enforce an evacuation – believe that the land in question was not snatched away from Palestinian farmers, but “given to them by God.” Resistance against any relocation program would be fierce, so it’s out of the question. Sorry, Palestinians. You’ll have to make do.

Golly, it’s a shame that the Israeli government actually encouraged ideological settlement, and that the Israeli Supreme Court approved settlement building time and time again (although the UN has declared settlements illegal), because now Palestinians are stuck with the burden of Israel’s failure to think ahead.

Right of Return? No can do.

A Jewish, Zionist acquaintance of mine explained why the Right of Return can never happen: Israel needs to have a Jewish majority. If a bunch of non-Jewish “Arabs” (um, they’re Palestinians) came swarming in, the Jewish State would no longer be Jewish.

Never mind that the United Nations guaranteed the Right of Return to the Palestinians in 1948. It’s just not really convenient.

Gee, maybe the founding fathers of the Jewish State should have thought about that 70 years ago. Their neglect to plan ahead is now the burden of several million Palestinian refugees.

But again, not to worry! President Trump will take care of it. When he’s not busy figuring out how not to get impeached, he’s working on a scheme to strip the refugee status from all but 20,000 Palestinians – rendering the Right of Return practically meaningless. (Not exactly the fix that Palestinians were hoping for.)

Which would also kill the last of the Palestinians’ dreams.

“For Hanukkah this year, Israel, Uncle Donald is giving you something you think is already yours: Jerusalem. Mazel tov!”

When Trump announced the embassy move, Palestinians suspended contact with him and his Dream Team. Clearly he is too partisan to be trusted. He went on to cut $65 million in funding to UNRWA; week after week he has ignored Gazan deaths during the Great March of Return; he wants to disappear millions of refugees.Thanks but no thanks

Now suddenly he says “it’s your turn,” and he expects Palestinians to come running back, ready to accept whatever crumbs he wants to drop on them? Is he surprised that they aren’t interested in his trinkets?

Spurned and insulted by this indifference, now Trump has also cut $251 million in economic aid to Palestinians. If there was any food or medicine left after the cuts to UNRWA, Palestinians can now count on starving until they get on the Trump Train.

What kind of “deal” is so bad that you have to be forced to take it?

And have you met Palestinians, Mr. Trump? They don’t cave.

Hanan Ashrawi

In the words of Hanan Ashrawi,

The US administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool. The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion. The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale.

There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation. The US administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation.

No, President Ebenezer Scrooge, you won’t get Palestinians to sign on any dotted lines by persecuting them – they have mastered the fine art of survival in the face of oppression. They will settle for nothing less than justice.

Source / If Americans Knew Blog

Ariyana Love

Ariyana Love is Founder of Occupy Palestine TV, TLB Director of Middle East Rising and Goodwill Ambassador to Palestine (ICSPR, Gaza). Ariyana is Chairwoman of Meta Nutrients Trust, a Human Rights Defender and Activist.

Netanyahu Uncensored – must watch!

June 11, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Guaranteeing ’Israel’s’ ’Ethnic Purity’

Darko Lazar

07-04-2018 | 09:14

Palestinian officials say “Israeli” forces are guilty of indiscriminant murder. “Israel’s” Avigdor Lieberman says his soldiers deserve a commendation.

Nakba Day

Shockingly, both are talking about the same event, when tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in the besieged Gaza Strip to mark Land Day – the anniversary of the expropriation of Palestinian lands in 1976.

The protests also kicked off a six-week rally, dubbed the Great March of Return. The demonstrations will carry on until the Nakba anniversary on May 15, marking 70 years since 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their villages and towns by Zionist militias.

But in just one week, the “Israelis” have already martyred 30 Palestinians and wounded thousands of others.

According to “Israeli” officials like Lieberman, the Palestinian protesters are guilty of ‘charging’ the fence that separates Gaza from the remainder of occupied Palestine.

“”Israeli” soldiers did what was necessary. I think all our soldiers deserve a medal,” Lieberman said last week.

The “necessary” appears to include a combination of live rounds, rubber-coated steel pellets, unmanned drones used to unleash tear-gas, and artillery fire.

On the receiving end of this massive firepower are unarmed Palestinian youths like Abdel Fattah Abd al-Nabi. Footage posted online shows this 18-year-old running with a car tire in his hand, before being shot in the back by an “Israeli” sniper.

“These gatherings are peaceful marches,” an activist with the anti-wall and settlements movement, Jamal Juma, explains. “The side resorting to violence and force is the “Israeli” military. They don’t care about Palestinian lives.”

The 11-year-long deadly blockade of Gaza and three massive, genocidal attacks in just over five years certainly reinforce the argument that the “Israelis” are not too concerned with taking Palestinian lives.

However, massacring dozens of protesters in broad daylight also suggests that Tel Aviv is by no means indifferent when it comes to peaceful methods of resistance and remains highly sensitive to the Gandhian approach.

Gandhian tactics of unarmed protest have been widely used in the West Bank for decades. Now the strategy has been adopted en masse by Palestinian resistance groups and residents in Gaza – a place often demonized by Tel Aviv and its allies as a hotbed of terrorism.

But perhaps the biggest threat to the “Israeli” occupation of Palestinian lands is the size of the demonstrations.

The high death toll indicates that Tel Aviv is extremely alarmed by the number of Palestinians that remain attached to the ‘right of return’ – the notion that Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants should be allowed to return to the homes their families were ethnically cleansed from to ensure “Israel’s” “ethnic purity.”

The demographic threat

Although much of the western coverage of the Middle East loves to label “Israel” as the region’s ‘only liberal democracy’, Tel Aviv’s actual policies expose a drastic dissonance between such descriptions and the reality on the ground.

In no other category is this more evident than in Tel Aviv’s pursuit of ethnic purity.

In an effort to preserve their racial makeup, the “Israelis” have gone as far as injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control, often without their knowledge or consent, while introducing an effective ban on marriages between “Israelis” and Palestinians.

More importantly, in 2015, the “Israeli” Supreme Court provided legal cover for the demolition of Palestinian communities, making it that much easier to simply shove Palestinians off their own land.

Meanwhile, in 1950, the “Israeli” Knesset passed the so-called Law of Return that allows Jews from anywhere in the world to claim citizenship in “Israel”, while barring Palestinians expelled after various wars from returning home.

As such, the ethnic purity of “Israel” is contingent upon the 1.8 million Palestinians – 80 per cent of whom are refugees – remaining in an open-air prison in the Gaza Strip.

The consequences of these policies often manifest themselves in the form of “Israeli” soldiers killing unarmed protesters – a practice involving heavily armed troops doing little more than ‘defending’ “Israel” from a population regarded as a demographic threat.

Decades of “Israeli” impunity

The Palestinian Authority described the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, as the ‘ambassador of hatred’ after she blocked any condemnation of Tel Aviv for the latest slaughter of Palestinians.

Last April, Haley famously stood up during a UN Security Council meeting and displayed images of Syrian children allegedly killed by the Damascus government in a gas attack.

However, last weekend, Haley failed to show any such compassion for Palestinian children, killed in full view of the world’s media, with no disputes over who perpetrated the killings.

Instead, the US diplomat first blocked a draft statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation into the killings, and then rose to greet her “Israeli” counterpart Danny Danon with hugs and kisses.

According to Jamal Juma, the “Israelis” “are getting away with every crime because they are immune by this international system, particularly [with the help] of the US and European countries that are silent.”

In many respects, Land Day is also a reminder of the decades of “Israeli” impunity against Palestine and the western-backed Zionist expansion, which is defined by colonialism, racism and the obliteration of Palestinian heritage.

Source: Al-Ahed

Israel Takes Steps to Bar Gaza Christians for Easter Holiday

Posted on 

[ Ed. note – Israel’s supporters and its legions of hasbara apparatchiks are quite fond of telling us how wonderfully Christians are treated in the Jewish state. But an article published today in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz gives us a slightly different perspective. Palestinian Christians in Gaza are required to obtain permits to travel to Jerusalem for Easter observances, and according to the Haaretz report, Israeli authorities are refusing to issue permits to Christians aged 55 and under.

One other thing you’ll note about the article below: it makes mention of an Israeli government agency known as “COGAT.” COGAT stands for “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.” It is a part of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and generally speaking is responsible for implementing government policies in the occupied territories. Back in February it was none other than a COGAT official who made the ludicrous assertion that Muhammed Tamimi, the young cousin of Ahed Tamimi who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet, had actually injured himself by falling off his bicycle.

Immediately below the Haaretz report, you’ll also find a Press TV program from Easter of two years ago. One of the guests on the program discusses travel restrictions on Palestinian Christians from visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem–so in other words, while the age restrictions discussed in the Haaretz article below may be new, the travel restrictions in general are not. And also, in the same video, you’ll hear about hate crimes against Christians, including vandalism of churches and spitting upon Christians.

One final thing I’ll mention–I have not reported it so far because I’ve been busy on other things lately, but the case of Ahed Tamimi was finally adjudicated by the Israeli military court. The girl was sentenced to eight months in jail following a plea bargain deal reached with prosecutors. She will also pay a fine of nearly $1,500. The arrangement was announced on Wednesday of last week.

Ironically, in the same week, an Israeli military parole board ruled that Israeli soldier Elor Azarya should be released after serving only nine months for shooting a wounded Palestinian in the head and killing him back in March of 2016. But wait, there’s more. Also last week (a rather stunning week for irony, even perhaps by Israeli standards), yet another Israeli, David Muial, is reported to have been sentenced to community service for participating in a lynching of an Eritrean assylum seeker that occurred back in October of 2015.

So let’s see. Azarya, when he is released in May, will end up having served just nine months for carrying out what in reality was a cold-blooded murder of a Palestinian…while Ahed, for the horrible crime of slapping a soldier at the front entrance to her home, will remain behind bars for eight months–a mere 30 days less than Ararya got for an act of murder. And Muial’s appallingly brutal sentence of community service I guess speaks for itself.

So…imposing draconian discipline upon “chosen people” for petty crimes like murder and lynching–what in the heck is that all about? It looks like Jews really do have it tough in Israel after all!

Of course, we do know of one Jew who paid the ultimate price–for the “crime” of preaching peace, love and compassion. ]

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Haaretz

Only Christians over the age of 55 will be allowed to enter Israel from the Gaza Strip to pray at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre during Easter, according to a document issued by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Five hundred permits have been issued for the holiday, as compared to 700 for Christmas, but sources in Gaza say that the age restriction means that only about 10 percent of the quota will be filled.

According to Christian clergy in Gaza, who say the limitations are unjustified, only about 120 Christians meet the age criteria and many will not be able to travel without relatives who are under the age limit. George Anton, a Christian community activist from Gaza, said that no permits for Easter have been issued so far.

Easter, also known as the “great feast,” is the most important holiday on the Christian liturgical calendar in the Middle East, as opposed the West, where Christmas takes precedence. Catholics and Protestants will celebrate Easter on Sunday, while the Orthodox churches will mark the holiday two weeks later.

Anton told Haaretz that there are about 1,200 Christians living in Gaza (as opposed to 1,313 documented by a Vatican delegation in 2014). Similar age restrictions were imposed in the past, he said. For the Easter holiday in 2015, following the war in the Gaza Strip the previous year, entry to Israel was barred for people age 16 to 35. However, after church leaders in Israel and abroad intervened, the restriction was lifted and 850 permits were issued.

According to COGAT, restrictions are eased during Muslim and Christian holidays as part of the policy to encourage religious activities of all faiths. But in Gaza, news of the relaxed restrictions are usually made public late, and responses to permit applications are often given too late or are turned down with no reason given.

In a video posted on COGAT’s Facebook about three weeks ago, the day the quota was made public, an Israeli army officer named Alaa Halabi asked Gaza residents who had received permits for Christmas and had not yet returned to do so immediately. Halabi warned that their failure to return would “impact the ability” of COGAT “to take steps ahead of Easter.”

Sources in Gaza believed that a few dozen people did not return after leaving the Strip for Christmas.

The COGAT document did not reveal the reason for the age restrictions but the office confirmed the age restriction and did not deny that it was a punitive measure. “The State of Israel is a sovereign state that has the right to decide who enters it,” the response stated. “Foreigners have no inherent right to enter Israel, including Palestinian residents of Gaza.” It was decided to issue permits only to those over 55 “In light of the recurring phenomenon of Palestinians who took advantage of the permit to remain in Israel illegally” and “as part of the actions to limit illegal presence in Israel,” COGAT said.

Lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List asked Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan to change the entry conditions so that all Christians would “be able to exercise their basic right to freedom of religion.” Touma-Sliman said she has not yet received an answer. “Israel boasts to the whole world that it is a safe place for all religions. But in fact it continues to harm the Palestinian Christian population,” the lawmaker said. She added that the age restriction “constitutes more proof that Israel has never left Gaza and continues to control everything that happens there.”

Following requests for action from Gaza, the nonprofit organizationGisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement demanded in a letter to COGAT that the age restriction be lifted and that the number of permits for the holiday be increased. “There is no justification for arbitrary impairment of freedom of movement and religion,” Gisha wrote, “certainly not a dialogue of threats. This is another example of collective punishment of the residents, and generally the punitive and arbitrary nature of Israel’s permit regime with regard to Gazans.”

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