Rights Group: Bahrain Has Highest Number of Political Prisoners among Arab States

September 14, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Bahrain has the biggest number of political prisoners among Arab states, an independent human rights organization said.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights [BCHR] censured the Gulf kingdom over its repressive measures and heavy-handed crackdown against political opponents and democracy advocates.

It said in a report that Bahrain, under the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty, has the largest number of imprisoned rights activists, and it is estimated that there are some 4,500 campaigners being held behind bars across the country.

The organization went on to note that a lot of reports published over the past decade have shed light on the deplorable conditions of prisoners at Bahraini jails, prompting the international community and human rights organizations to compel the Al Khalifa regime to relatively improve prison conditions.

BCHR highlighted that Bahraini authorities have arrested about 15,000 people for their political beliefs over the last decade, thus turning the country into the first Arab nation with the highest number of prisoners in recent years.

Political prisoners in Bahrain are subjected to various forms of torture, ill-treatment and persecution, and the Al Khalifa regime silences any opposing voice through detention, torture and execution, it pointed out.

Lately, Jalal Feroz, a former member of the Bahraini parliament, said more than 2,500 political opponents are incarcerated in Bahraini prisons, and that they are subjected to the most vicious forms of torture.

BCHR, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights [GCHR] and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain [ADHRB] recently in a joint report entitled “Prison Conditions in Bahrain” pointed to the serious structural deficiencies in Bahrain’s criminal justice system, and lack of fair trials for defendants.

They emphasized that human rights are being violated on a large scale at detention centers across the Gulf kingdom, and inmates are exposed to various forms of torture and ill-treatment.

Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis since the popular uprising began in the Arab country in mid-February 2011.

People demand that the Al Khalifa regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any form of dissent.

The normalization of Bahrain With “Israel” is the great betrayal

Saudi authorities brutally attack girls in Asir orphanage

August 31, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

KSA is the site of a brutal attack by Saudi authorities on young girls protesting forf their rights at an orphanage in the Asir province, which sparked outrage on social media.

Part of the leaked video from the orphanage (Tasnim News)

Saudi security authorities aggressively committed violence toward young girls in an orphanage in the Asir province, which came after the girls had demanded to get their rights in the orphanage. 

According to Saudi activists, the security authorities entered the orphanage with permission from the facility’s administration, and a leaked video shows the authorities chasing the girls inside and beating them. 

Saudi news outlets have reported that Asir’s Prince, Turki bin Talal bin Abdel-Aziz, has ordered the formation of a committee to convene on the incident, which the Asir Emirate has not released any information about, with the hashtag “Khamees Mushayt Orphans” going viral on social media platforms. 

Sentence after sentence, woman after woman 

A mere two weeks ago, Salma Al-Shehab, a dental hygiene student at Leeds University and a mother of two, who had returned home for a vacation was sentenced to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists on her personal Twitter account – for the “crime” of using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security.” On Twitter, she regularly shared pictures of her young children and tweets about Covid burnout.

Court records reviewed by a human rights organization show that another Saudi Arabian woman, Nourah bint Saeed Al-Qahtani, has been sentenced to decades in jail (45 years) for using social media to “violate the public order” by the country’s terrorism court. 

Abdullah Alaoudh, the director for the Gulf region at Dawn, said Saudi authorities appear to have imprisoned Al-Qahtani for “simply tweeting her opinions,” adding that “it is impossible not to connect the dots between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s meeting with [US] President Biden last month in Jeddah and the uptick in the repressive attacks against anyone who dares criticize the crown prince or the Saudi government for well-documented abuses.”

Saudi prisons, regardless of whether for females or males, are notorious for techniques of torture and abuse that go beyond human rights violations and that suspiciously resemble brutal methods used at US Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons. Methods of abuse range from electric shocks, to psychological torture and sexual abuse. 

MBS concealing the truth with top-dollar parties 

Since Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) became the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia in 2017, the country has jailed hundreds of activists, bloggers, academics, and others for political activism, demonstrating almost zero tolerance for dissent despite international condemnation of the crackdown. Muslim academics have been executed and women’s rights activists have been imprisoned and tortured, while the Kingdom’s authorities continue to deny freedom of expression, association, and belief. 

The case poses evidence of how MBS has targeted Twitter users in his repression campaign, while also controlling a significant indirect stake in the US social media company through Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Most recently, the Kingdom has been using the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and its corresponding entertainment performances by renowned artists like Justin Bieber and A$AP Rocky and actresses like Elite’s Maria Pedraza to polish its image in the international arena, diverting its controversial reputation to a more moderate one as planned by MBS himself. 

Non-Saudi women residing in the Kingdom, such as domestic workers under the Kafala sponsorship, are among those dramatically affected by the abuse of women’s rights, as not only are their passports taken away, but their freedom of communication and movement is limited and sexual harassment and abuse are unfortunately a daily occurrence in the household. 

Saudi Police Brutally Attack Girls’ Orphanage in Asir [Video]

August 31, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

In a disturbing footage, the Saudi regime’s lies about the empowerment of women have been documented.

The baseless claims of empowering females in the kingdom have been proved the other way after the video that shows ‘security’ forces brutally attacking girls in an orphanage in Khamis Mushait in Asir region went viral.

The secretly recorded footage and photos captured the moment Saudi police stormed the girls’ orphanage to punish striking female workers who had previously demanded their workers’ and social rights.

Social media activists shared the videos and images from the incident that took place inside an orphanage southwestern Saudi Arabia, sparking widespread condemnation.

One of the videos showed a number of masked individuals and several security personnel entering the Social Education House in the Asir region in the widely circulated video clip, which was later republished by a Saudi newspaper.

The so-called Emirate of Asir region, for its part, provided the following explanation in a statement made public by the Saudi Press Agency: “In reference to what was shared on social media, videos and photos showing an incident inside the Social Education House in the Khamis Mushait Governorate in the Asir region, a directive was issued by His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, governor of the Asir region, formed a committee to find out the incident, investigate all parties involved , and refer the case to the competent authority.”

On Wednesday morning, Arab social media users spent most of their time talking about the “Khamis Mushait orphans” hashtag on Twitter. However, the Emirate of Asir made no further statements regarding the incident.

Related Stories

Price: US to study Iran response, sanctions were not helpful

August 16, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Salma Al-Shehab, a student at Leeds University and a mother of two, is charged with following and retweeting dissidents and activists on Twitter by Riyadh’s so-called “special terrorist court”.

Salma al-Shehab, a student at Leeds University and a mother of 2

A Saudi university student who had returned home for a vacation was sentenced to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists on her personal Twitter account. 

The sentence was handed down by Saudi Arabia’s so-called “special terrorist court” just weeks after US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Kingdom, which human rights activists warned could give Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) a green light to intensify his crackdown on dissidents and other pro-democracy activists.

See more: Biden claims human rights on agenda during Saudi Arabia visit

The case poses evidence of how MBS has targeted Twitter users in his repression campaign, while also controlling a significant indirect stake in the US social media company through Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

In MBS’ playbook, Tweeting is a crime

Salma Al-Shehab, a 34-year-old mother of two, aged four and six, was initially sentenced to three years in prison for the “crime” of using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security.” 

However, an appeals court handed down the new sentence on Monday – 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban – after a public prosecutor requested that the court consider other alleged crimes.

Shehab was not a prominent or particularly vocal Saudi activist, neither in Saudi Arabia nor in the United Kingdom. 

On Instagram, where she had only 159 followers, she described herself as a dental hygienist, medical educator, PhD student at Leeds University, lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, wife, and mother to her sons, Noah and Adam.

Her Twitter profile listed 2,597 followers. She regularly shared pictures of her young children and tweets about Covid burnout.

Shehab rarely retweeted posts from Saudi dissidents in exile calling for the release of political prisoners in the Kingdom.

The PhD student appeared to support the case of Loujain Al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi feminist activist who was previously imprisoned and tortured for advocating for women’s driving rights, and is now subject to a travel ban.

Someone who knew Shehab said she couldn’t stand injustice. She was described as well-educated and a voracious reader who had moved to the UK in 2018 or 2019 to pursue her PhD at the University of Leeds. 

She had returned to Saudi Arabia for a vacation in December 2020, intending to bring her two children and husband with her. Saudi authorities then summoned her for questioning, and she was eventually arrested and tried for her tweets.

Of secret torture and oppressed revelations  

In further detail, a person who followed her case revealed that Shehab had been held in solitary confinement at times and had sought to privately tell the judge details about how she had been treated that she did not want to reveal in front of her father during the trial.

She was not permitted to communicate the message to the judge, as per the source. Three judges signed the appeals verdict, but their signatures were illegible.

See more: Human Rights Watch Report Reveals New Details About Torture in Saudi Prisons

On its account, Twitter declined to comment on the case and did not respond to specific questions about Saudi Arabia’s influence over the company, according to the Guardian.

It is worth noting that Twitter previously did not respond to questions about why a senior aide to MBS, Bader Al-Asaker, was allowed to keep a verified Twitter account with more than 2 million followers, despite US government allegations that he orchestrated an illegal infiltration of the company, leading to the identification and imprisonment of anonymous Twitter users by the Saudi government. A former Twitter employee has been convicted in the case by a US court.

The Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns more than 5% of Twitter through his investment company, Kingdom Holdings, is one of Twitter’s most significant investors. 

While bin Talal remains the company’s chairman, his authority over the company was called into question by the US media, including the Wall Street Journal, after it was revealed that the Saudi royal – a cousin of the crown prince – had been held captive at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh for 83 days. 

See more: MBS after Saudi royals, again

The incident was part of a larger purge led by MBS against other members of the royal family and businessmen, which involved allegations of torture, coercion, and the expropriation of billions of dollars from Saudi Arabian coffers.

In May, Kingdom Holding announced that it had sold approximately 17% of its company to the PIF, of which bin Salman is chairman, for $1.5 billion. As a result, the Saudi government is a significant indirect investor in Twitter. According to Twitter, investors have no influence over the company’s day-to-day operations.

“MBS’s ruthless repression machine”

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights condemned Shehab’s sentence, which it said was the longest ever imposed on an activist. It was noted that many female activists had been subjected to unfair trials that resulted in arbitrary sentences, as well as “severe torture,” including sexual harassment.

Khalid Aljabri, a Saudi living in exile whose sister and brother are detained in Saudi Arabia, said the Shehab case demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s view that dissent equals terrorism.

“Salman’s draconian sentencing in a terrorism court over peaceful tweets is the latest manifestation of MBS’s ruthless repression machine,” he said.

“Just like [journalist Jamal] Khashoggi’s assassination, her sentencing is intended to send shock waves inside and outside the kingdom – dare to criticize MBS and you will end up dismembered or in Saudi dungeons.”

While the case has received little attention, the Washington Post published a sarcastic editorial about Saudi Arabia’s treatment of the Leeds student on Tuesday, stressing that her case demonstrated that the “commitments” the US President received on  reforms were “a farce.”

“At the very least, Mr. Biden must now speak out forcefully and demand that Ms. Shehab be released and allowed to return to her sons, 4 and 6 years old, in the United Kingdom, and to resume her studies there,” it read.

Read more: Former Saudi Spymaster: MBS Is a “Psychopath” Who Planned to Kill King Abdullah

Related Stories

Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela cancel controversial ‘Tel Aviv’ concert

August 12, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

In a series of concert cancellations, Rodrigo y Gabriela has become one of many artists to terminate their show in “Tel Aviv” following an uproar from human rights activists.

Rodrigo y Gabriela (Guitar.com)

Various artists and musicians have been joining hands in canceling shows in apartheid “Israel”, especially in light of the 2021 and 2022 Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip and after a massive global uproar from fans and human rights defenders. 

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the BDS movement, welcomed the decision of the Mexican band, Rodrigo y Gabriela, who announced the termination of their upcoming show hours before it was due to take place in the Tel Aviv Culture Center, just a short drive from where the Israeli occupation killed 48 Palestinians including 19 children and injured 360 more.

Chain of cancellations by global musicians 

Even before the attacks on Gaza, Rodrigo y Gabriela had privately told the Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran that they had ditched the Tel Aviv concert. Le Trio Joubran, renowned oud marvels, had appealed last month to the Mexican band to cancel their appearance by urging on social media: “Please Rod and Gabi, take the right decision”.

During the band’s show at the Esperanzah festival in Belgium, fans waved the Palestinian flags and keffiyehs and urged Rodrigo y Gabriela to cancel the concert in the occupied territories. 

Irish actor Steve Wall also appealed to the band, joined by Mexican and Irish human rights defenders. Rodrigo y Gabriela spent eight years living and working in Dublin, after originating in Mexico and becoming known for heavy metal, nuevo flamenco, and rock. 

While the duo did not publicly address their cancellation of the concert in apartheid “Israel”, they posted a tweet two days before it had been due to take place that their tour was now over – now the third apartheid “Tel Aviv” concert to be canceled this summer. 

Another was US band Big Thief who apologized to their fans in June for their announcement of two shows in apartheid “Israel”, and voiced their opposition to “the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people”. That did not sit well with the venue Barby in which they were supposed to play, calling the band a “bunch of miserable, spineless musicians”.

Read more: South Africans call to cancel Justin Bieber’s concert in “Israel”

Canadian group BADBADNOTGOOD followed suit and announced the cancellation of their concert at Barby as well, as a result of appeals from fans and activists which were privately verified. 

The PACBI urged all artists to reject offers from “Israel’s” cultural sector that is complicit in apartheid and to refuse to “art-wash” “Israel’s” massacres. 

Israeli Human Rights Violations in Palestine (Weekly Update 28 July- 03 August 2022)

04. 08. 2022

Violation of right to life and bodily integrity

Two Palestinians were killed; one was a child killed by an Israeli settler’s fire and the other was a person with disability succumbed to his injury by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)’s fire. Also, 16 Palestinians, including a child, were injured, while dozens of others suffocated in in the West Bank. Details are as follows:

On 29 July 2022, Amjad Nashat Abu ‘Alia (15) was killed with a live bullet that penetrated his back and exited his chest after an Israeli  settler opened fire at him from a distance of less than 60 meters during IOF’s suppression of a peaceful protest against settlement activity near the eastern entrance to Al-Mughayyir village. According to eyewitnesses’ statement, a group of Israeli settlers, under IOF’s protection, spread in the area, where the peaceful protest was organized, and assaulted the protestors along with IOF.

On the same day, Hussain Hasan Qawareeq (59), a person with disability (mental disorder), from Nablus, died in an Israeli hospital after succumbing to wounds he sustained on 26 July 2022 when he was shot by IOF at Huwara checkpoint that is established at Nablus’s southeastern entrance. IOF claimed that Qawareeq did not obey their orders at the time, and they took him to an Israeli hospital to receive treatment.

Meanwhile, those injured were victims of excessive use of force that accompanied IOF incursions into Palestinian cities and villages and suppression of peaceful protests and gatherings organized by Palestinian civilians, and they were as follows:

On 28 July 2022, three Palestinians were injured and one of them, a police officer, was arrested after IOF stationed at Huwara checkpoint that is established at Nablus’s southeastern entrance opened fire at a vehicle travelled by them near the checkpoint. Two of the injured Palestinians managed to flee while the third one was arrested and taken to an Israeli hospital.  Later, IOF claimed that they thwarted a shooting attempt at the checkpoint. 

On 29 July 2022, 11 Palestinians were shot with rubber bullets; 2 of them were shot in the head, in clashes after IOF’s suppression of Kafr Qaddoum weekly protest in northern Qalqilya.

On 31 July 2022, a Palestinian sustained a bullet wound in his leg after IOF opened fire at him and other workers near the annexation wall adjacent to Zeita village in northern Tulkarm while the workers were trying to infiltrate through the wall to work in Israel.

On 01 August 2022, a child was wounded after being hit with a teargas canister in his head, while dozens of other Palestinians suffocated in clashes that accompanied IOF’s demolition of a house in Kafr ad-Dik village, west of Salfit. On the same day, a woman sustained bruises after being assaulted by IOF, who raided her house in Jenin refugee camp and arrested her husband Bassam Ragheb al-Sa’di, a leader in the Islamic Jihad Movement, and his son-in-law. During IOF’s incursion, clashes broke out with members of armed groups; as a result, one of them (a boy) was killed.

In the Gaza Strip, 9 IOF shootings were reported on fishing boats off the Gaza western shores, and 6 other shootings were reported on agricultural lands in eastern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.

So far in 2022, IOF attacks killed 71 Palestinians, including 53 civilians: 16 children, 5 women (one was journalist Shireen Abu ‘Aqlah), a Palestinian with disability, 2 Palestinians killed by Israeli settler and the rest were activists; 6 of them were assassinated. Also, 998 others were wounded in these attacks, including 115 children, 5 women, and 20 journalists: all in the West Bank, except 15 fishermen in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, a male and female prisoners died in the Israeli jails.

Land razing, demolitions, and notices

IOF demolished 2 houses, rendering a family of 8 persons, including 6 children, homeless. Also, IOF demolished 3 facilities and notified to demolish and cease construction works in 3 other facilities in the West Bank. Details are as follows:

On 01 August 2022, IOF demolished a 160-sqaure-meter house in Kafr ad-Dik village, west of Salfit. It should be noted that the house was ready to live in it.

On 02 August 2022, IOF demolished a 1-story house built on an area of 140 square meters in Sebastia village in Nablus, under the pretext of illegal construction, rendering a family of 8 persons, including 6 children, homeless. Also, IOF demolished two commercial facilities (a cafeteria and a carwash) at the eastern entrance to Bizzariya village, northwest of Nablus. On the same day, IOF demolished a tinplate barrack used for agricultural purposes in southern Hebron, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

On 03 August 2022, IOF notified to stop construction works in a tinplate barrack, to remove an electricity network and to demolish a classroom in Khelet al-Dabi’ school in al-Tawana and Sha’b al-Baten villages in Hebron.

Since the beginning of 2022, Israeli occupation forces made 83 families homeless, a total of 479 persons, including 96 women and 239 children. This was the outcome of IOF demolition of 88 houses and 40 residential tents. IOF also demolished 64 other civilian objects, leveled vacant areas of land and delivered dozens of notices of demolition, cease-construction, and evacuation.

IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians:

 IOF carried out 104 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids and searches of civilian houses and facilities and establishment of checkpoints. During those incursions, 63 Palestinians were arrested, including a child. Also, on 01 August 2022, IOF conducted widescale arrest campaigns, as at least 32 Palestinians were arrested; most of them were from Hebron. In the Gaza Strip, IOF arrested 2 Palestinians ( a worker and a businessman) from Maghazi refugee camp, while traveling to Israel  via Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing although both had travel permits. The worker was arrested on 27 July 2022, while the businessman was arrested on 31 July 2022.

So far in 2022, IOF conducted 5029 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, during which 3050 Palestinians were arrested, including 297 children and 26 women. IOF also conducted 24 limited incursions into eastern Gaza Strip and arrested 74 Palestinians, including 41 fishermen, 28 infiltrators, and 5 travelers via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing.

Israeli collective punishment and closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement:

Under collective punishment policy, on 02 August 2022, IOF closed Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the travel of persons in northern Gaza Strip and the Karm Abu Salem commercial crossing for goods until further notice.  Meanwhile, Israeli occupation maintains its illegal and inhuman 15-year closure on the Gaza Strip. Details available in PCHR’s monthly update in the Gaza crossings.

In the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, IOF continues to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement. On top of its 108 permanent checkpoints, IOF established 63 temporary military checkpoints in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem arrested 5 Palestinians at those checkpoints.

So far in 2022, IOF established 2626 temporary military checkpoints and arrested 119 Palestinians at those checkpoints

بايدن في جولته الشرق أوسطية.. النفط مقابل حقوق الإنسان

تموز 16 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

فاطمة فتوني 

استعراض ود بين “تل أبيب” والرياض. حقوق أفراد وشعوب في مهبّ المصالح الدولية، كيف سارت زيارة الرئيس الأميركي بايدن للمنطقة معاكسةً لاتجاه الخطاب الأميركي المعلَن بشأن حقوق الإنسان والحريات ؟

“المملكة العربية السعودية منبوذة، وستدفع ثمن مقتل الصحافي السعودي، جمال خاشقجي”. ( المتحدثة باسم البيت الأبيض كارين جان بيير ، بتاريخ 2 حزيران/يونيو 2022).

لا يزال صدى تصريح الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن، حاضراً، عندما تعهَّد أن يجعل السعودية “منبوذة”، ربطاً بجريمة  قتل الصحافي جمال خاشقجي، عندما كان على عتبة دخول البيت الأبيض.

تصل المواجهة بين الأطلسي وروسيا إلى حدّ لم يعد بايدن يرى في السعودية إلّا النفط. أمّا جمال خاشقجي، فليس إلّا ملفّاً أُغلِق وطُوِي. وأكثر التصريحات انتقاداً، بحقّ من أثبتت الـcia تورّطه في قتل الصّحافيّ السعودي، طبعتها المجاملة والمناورات الكلامية.

من “تل أبيب” إلى الرياض لم يرَ بايدن أيَّ انتهاكاتٍ لأيّ حقوقٍ، وتجاهلَ كل القضايا التي كانت في سلَّم أولوياته، عندما فاز بالرئاسة. ومن منبوذة أميركياً، بأدلة إدانة جنائية، الى شريكة تجلس إلى الطاولة. هكذا نسف الرئيس الاميركي كل تعهداته أمام حاجته إلى النفط السعودي، وسعيه لحماية “إسرائيل” وأمنها.

عندما قام الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب بأول زيارة رئاسية له للسعودية، تمّ الترحيب به شخصياً من جانب الملك سلمان. أمّا بايدن فكان في استقباله، في مدرج المطار، حاكم مكة والسفيرة السعودية لدى الولايات المتحدة. 

دخل بايدن القصر الملكي يتقدّمه ابن سلمان من دون حديث أو كلام، كما كانت العادة، عند استقبال أي رئيس أو مسؤول عربي أو أجنبي. مشهد عكس برودة العلاقات، التي اضطر الأميركي إلى أن يضعها على نار أزمات المنطقة من جديد. لغة الجسد قد تكون أبلغ من أي كلام. البداية كانت بمصافحة “مترددة”، حفظاً لماء الوجه، بضرب قبضتَي اليدين، بذريعة فيروس “كورونا”، علماً بأن بايدن صافح قادة “إسرائيل”، وعانق مَن قابله بقبضة اليد.

هذا اللقاء كان بايدن قال إنّه لن يحدث. لكن، من الواضح أنه لا بد منه للولايات المتحدة مع مملكة غنية بالنفط، في لحظة تغيّرات جيوسياسية، لم تحقّق من خلالها حتى الآن أي إنجاز في المواجهة مع روسيا في أوكرانيا.

يُشار إلى أنّه، حين سُئل بايدن بشأن خاشقجي، كان جوابه أن ولي العهد السعودي، محمد بن سلمان، وعد بأنه “إذا حدث أي شيء كهذا مرة أخرى، فسيكون هناك رد، وربما أكثر من ذلك كثيراً”؛ أي أن القضية أُقفلت، مع اعتراف ضمني بمسؤولية ابن سلمان عنها.

وتحدّث الرئيس الأميركي في زيارته عن إنجازات في السعودية. لكن، تبقى الملفات الكبرى متعثّرة، ولاسيما مع تأكيد حكومة صنعاء رفضَها سلاماً مُجْتَزَأً. وعلى الصعيد الاقتصادي، يشير موقع “بوليتيكو” إلى أنّ السعودية تواجه صعوبات في تحقيق أهداف إنتاج النفط.

وبين الاستقبال والإنجازات المزعومة، من جهة، وادعاء دفاع الولايات المتحدة عن حقوق الإنسان، من جهة أخرى، يبرز ملف جمال خاشقجي الذي تنكَّر بايدن لكل التعهدات التي رفعها خلال حملته الانتخابية، والقاضية بمحاسبة قتلته، كما تبرز أيضاً “تبرئة” القضاء الأميركي لـ”إسرائيل من جريمة اغتيال الصحافية الشهيدة، شيرين أبو عاقلة. وهذا الأمر يكشف زيف ازدواجية معايير حقوق الإنسان لدى الولايات المتحدة.

تبدو المحاولات الأميركية لإخفاء المبرِّر الحقيقي للزيارة متعثرة للغاية، إذ صرّح بايدن، في مؤتمر صحافي، عقده عقب لقائه قادة دول “الناتو” في قمة مدريد، بأنّ الغرض من زيارته السعودية “ليس الضغط عليها من أجل زيادة إنتاج النفط“. لكنّه أوضح، لدى سؤاله عما إذا كان سيطلب من القادة السعوديين زيادة إنتاج النفط، أنّه “يتعيّن على جميع دول الخليج زيادة إنتاج النفط، بصورة عامة، وليس السعودية على وجه الخصوص”، مشيراً إلى أنّه “يأمل أن تستنتج الدول أنّ ذلك في مصلحتها”.

ونقلت وسائل إعلام إسرائيلية، عن مصادر أميركية، قالت إنها “موثوقة”، أنّ ما يجري الحديث عنه مع زيارة الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، للشرق الأوسط، “لا يتعلق بناتو شرق أوسطي، أو بحلف إسرائيلي عربي”، بل إنّ ما يهم بايدن هو موضوع النفط، و”حاجته إلى السعودية في هذا الأمر”.

ووفقاً لما ورد، فإنّ الغاية من تجاهل قضية خاشقجي، هي تعزيز إنتاج النفط وتقوية النفوذ في المنطقة خوفاً من الدور الروسي الصيني فيها، للحؤول دون نسجهما علاقات بحلفاء أميركا في الشرق الأوسط، وخصوصاً دول الخليج، التي شعرت بالخوف من تراجع اهتمام أميركا بالشرق الأوسط، بعد انسحابها من العراق وأفغانستان.

تسعى الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لاستعادة سيطرتها على موارد الطاقة في الشرق الأوسط، بعد أن أجبرتها الحرب الأوكرانية الروسية على البحث عن مصادر تمويل للطاقة لحلفائها الأوروبيين، الأمر الذي أعاد إلى النفط الخليجي وغاز البحر المتوسط أهميتيهما، بالإضافة إلى العمل على زيادة إنتاج النفط الخليجي مع خفض أسعاره، من أجل خلق استقرار في سوق الطاقة، حتى لا يتأثر الاقتصاد الأميركي، الذي يعاني حالة غير مسبوقة من التضخم المالي.

تداعيات داخلية أميركية

تعيد الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ترميم علاقتها بحلفائها، وخصوصاً السعودية، تحت شعار “المصالح الأميركية فوق المبادئ الإنسانية”. وتبرز تداعيات داخلية أميركية لمشهد زيارة بايدن للسعودية على موضوع التضخم وأسعار الطاقة، بسبب الرغبة الأميركية في زيادة إيرادات الطاقة للسوق العالمية، في ظل العقوبات على الطاقة الروسية. وبحسب المعلومات المتخصصة، فإنّ الطاقة، التي تستطيع السعودية إنتاجها وضخها، لن تكون قادرة على تعديل ميزان القوة، أو تغيير ميزان السوق.

وأثارت زيارة الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، للسعودية، حالة من الانقسام في الولايات المتحدة، محورها ملفات حقوق الإنسان في المملكة، وفق تحليل لمجلة “فورين أفيرز”. وبعد الزيارة، ظهرت في الداخل الأميركي “انتقادات وسخرية” لأداء بايدن خلال الزيارة. ووفقاً للمعطيات، فإن ترجمة هذه الزيارة، عبر تحسين الوضع الاقتصادي داخل أميركا، مسألة “مشكوك فيها”.

ويرى مؤيدو زيارة بايدن للسعودية أن مصلحة الولايات المتحدة وميزان القوى في الشرق الأوسط يتطلبان علاقات أميركية سعودية استراتيجية، بعيداً عن حقوق الإنسان. والأولوية للمصالح الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط، والتي تتطلب “علاقة استراتيجية بالسعوديين”، في حين يصر المعارضون، وبينهم ديمقراطيون وأيضاً جمهوريون، على ضرورة أن تحسن الرياض سجلها فيما يتعلق بحقوق الإنسان في البلاد.

وعلى الرغم من الاختلاف الداخلي، فإن بايدن حاول تسويق الزيارة على أنها زيارة المصالح، وليست تنازلاً عن تعهداته، أو تفريطاً بحقوق الإنسان، حين سأله أحد الصحافيين في جدة عن رسالته لخطيبة خاشقجي، قال: “لم أحضر إلى هنا كي أقابل ولي العهد. جئت لأقابل مجلس التعاون الخليجي”. وعلى الرغم من ذلك، فإن مسؤولين أميركيين قالوا إنه “ليس من المتوقع صدور أي إعلان رئيس بشأن زيادة إمدادات النفط خلال هذه الزيارة”.

بايدن، القادم من فلسطين المحتلة، كان كتب في افتتاحية “واشنطن بوست” أن الحريات الأساسية هي دائماً في أجندته، خلال سفراته الخارجية، كما ستكون خلال هذه الجولة وفي “إسرائيل” والضفة الغربية. وفي كلامه هذا تبرئة للإسرائيليين عن كل انتهاكات حقوق الفلسطينيين وجرائم القتل والأسر والتمييز العنصري وسرقة الأراضي والاستيطان.

وبحسب مصادر فلسطينية، فإن بايدن لم ينجز أي شيء من زيارته لبيت لحم، ولم يحقق أي أهداف له، وخصوصاً أن الرفض الشعبي الفلسطيني الداخلي لزيارته كان واضحاً من خلال التظاهرات التي نددت بمجيئه.

الصحافيون، خلال مؤتمر بايدن الصحافي في بيت لحم، ارتدوا قمصاناً عليها صورة الشهيدة شيرين أبو عاقلة، بحيث إن سلوك القضاء الأميركي تجاه الجريمة أضاف رصيداً آخر لمسار التجاهل للقضايا الحقوقية الكبرى.

هكذا باتت حقوق الإنسان ثمناً لملء النقص في النفط وتعزيز النفوذ ومحاولة تسجيل النقاط في الصراعات الدولية، من أجل المصلحة الكبرى للولايات المتحدة، ومن أجل حسابات خاصة ببايدن في الداخل الأميركي.

فيديوات متعلقة

اقرأ أيضاً

Embarrassed Biden: I Brought Khashoggi Murder With MBS

June 16, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies 

US President Joe Biden claimed that he confronted Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, insisting the royal was personally responsible for the killing.

Speaking to reporters following a sit-down with bin Salman on Friday, Biden said he raised the issue “at the top of the meeting” and made his stance “crystal clear.”

“I said very straightforwardly: For an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights, is this consistent with – inconsistent with who we are and who I am? I’ll always stand up for our values,” he said. 

While, according to Biden, the prince denied any direct part in Khashoggi’s murder – which took place in a Saudi diplomatic building in Turkey in October 2018 – the US president went on to say he “indicated that [bin Salman] probably was” involved after all.

Asked about recent comments from Khashoggi’s widow, who said “the blood of MBS’s next victim is on [Biden’s] hands,” he simply replied: “I’m sorry she feels that way,” going on to say he does not regret dubbing the prince a “pariah” during the 2020 presidential race.

“Do I regret it? I don’t regret anything that I said. What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous,” he added.

The president has come under fire for continuing the close US-Saudi relationship despite repeated claims of rights abuses within the Gulf monarchy, chief among them Khashoggi’s assassination, which the CIA concluded was ordered by Mohammed bin Salman himself. 

Upon his arrival at Al Salman Palace, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, Biden was photographed giving a friendly fist-bump to the prince, a gesture harshly condemned by Khashoggi’s former fiancée. 

“Hey POTUS, is this the accountability you promised for my murder?” she wrote, apparently speaking from the perspective of her late spouse, while also sharing a photo of the fist-bump.

However, Biden insisted the purpose of his trip to Saudi Arabia was not to see with the prince, but rather “to meet with the [Gulf Cooperation Council] and nine nations to deal with the security… and the needs of the free world.”

He made a similar argument in a recent Washington Post op-ed ahead of his travels, where he outlined a variety of reasons to visit the kingdom, including regional security, rising gas prices, Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine and competition with China.

Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

July 12 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

“The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

“I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

“I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

“[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

“There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

“Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

Virtue-signalling human rights

Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

“His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

The grander geopolitical picture 

Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

“There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

“Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

‘Israeli’ Occupation Committed 148 Violations against Palestinian Journalists in May

June 2, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

As many as 148 rights violations by the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime against Palestinian journalists were recorded in the occupied Palestinian territories last month, an Arab NGO documented the violations, as cited by Anadolu Agency.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Journalists Support Committee said the month of May witnessed a surge in attacks on Palestinian journalists by ‘Israeli’ occupation forces and settlers.

It termed the attacks as “an attempt to prevent Palestinian journalists from covering ‘Israeli’ assaults against Palestinians and their holy sites.”

According to the NGO, the ‘Israeli’ violations varied from kidnapping, intimidation, shooting, verbal and physical assaults to car-ramming incidents.

It said 11 journalists were kidnapped by ‘Israeli’ occupation forces in the occupied West Bank during May, while the custody of five others was extended without trial.

“‘Israeli’ forces, in collaboration with settlers, disrupted the work of 61 journalists and media institutions while covering ‘Israeli’ violations in the cities of al-Quds, al-Khalil, and Jenin,” it added.

The NGO also noted that the social media accounts of 11 Palestinian journalists were suspended for alleged violations of publication rules.

Last month, Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead while covering an ‘Israeli’ military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Palestinian officials and her employer, Al Jazeera, said she was killed by ‘Israeli’ forces.

Related Videos

The assassination of journalist Ghufran and Rasna by the occupation bullets

Neom: MBS’ personal dystopia

June 1, 2022 

Source: The Wall Street Journal

By Al Mayadeen English 

“I drive everybody like a slave…When they drop down dead, I celebrate. That’s how I do my projects” – Neom CEO, Nadhmi al-Nasr.

Nadhmi A-Nasr, the Neom project’s CEO, who was handpicked by Mohammad bin Salman (Bloomberg)

“If you don’t tell me who’s responsible, I’m going to take a gun from under my desk and shoot you.”

This is how Neom’s Chief Executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr conducted an emergency meeting, asking his communications team why they didn’t warn him that some companies may cut their ties with the project following complaints against Saudi Arabia’s human rights records.

Most of the people involved with the meeting later left the project, forming a small sample of an exodus of foreign staff from Neom, who are leaving the project due to the abuse they suffer.

Neom is the most ambitious project sought out by the country’s Crown Prince and de facto ruler, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). According to WSJ, the project is “a group of futuristic technology-driven communities with its own laws across an area the size of Massachusetts that the 36-year-old leader hopes will one day feature flying cars, robot dinosaurs and a giant artificial moon.”

However, what bin Salman thinks is his utopia is proving to be closer to a dystopia, where employees and executives are made to feel that they’re worthless because they are not able to meet the unrealistic expectations and demands being imposed on them by the project’s CEO. Some even left $500,000 a year jobs in Neom rather than work under Nasr, according to former employees.

In a resignation letter, one chief executive who resigned in the summer of 2020 at a planned mountain resort at Neom said that Nasr’s leadership was “consistently inclusive of disparagement and inappropriately dismissive and demeaning outburst.”

“When they drop down dead, I celebrate”

Current and former employees say that the staff turnover has slowed the $500 billion project down, as Neom has only now begun breaking ground after more than “five years of planning and multiple master plans.”

Moreover, there is a certain culture of fear among some of the executives delivering the projects, brought on by the jailing of Saudi businessmen and royals on trumped-up corruption charges as part of bin Salman’s power grab. MBS also makes unrealistic demands for Neom, and often changes his mind, which further slows down the work pace.

“Nadhmi takes his cue from his boss and everyone else at Neom takes their cue from Nadhmi,” said Anthony Harris, former director of innovation in Neom’s education team, who said that as part of the project.

“You are made to feel like you’re absolutely worthless, notwithstanding the large amount of money they are paying.”

In one meeting, Mr. Nasr told one executive to “walk into the desert to die, so he could urinate on his grave,” WSJ reported.

Neom’s CEO also said in a recording “I drive everybody like a slave…When they drop down dead, I celebrate. That’s how I do my projects.”

A satellite photo shows palaces near Neom (AP)

Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun

One senior Saudi official said that bin Salman and the royal court know Nasr’s management style, and are also aware of the high employee turnover at Neom, but apparently, they are under the impression that this style works.

After the Covid pandemic hit and lockdowns began in 2020, the CEO told employees stuck abroad that they were replaceable if they didn’t come back to Saudi Arabia. Some never made it back.

Furthermore, employees were criticized at a town-hall meeting with Neom staff that took place in the summer of 2020 for allowing Neom to fall behind schedule. Staff were also ordered to tattle on employees’ slowing progress.

Nasr, during a conference in Las Vegas in 2019 (Bloomberg)

One running joke in the project involved executives sharing images of a book they joked Nasr must have read “Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun”, the successful business management book inspired by the exploits of the feared 5th-century leader.

Sexual misconduct

Neom, according to WSJ, aims to create a more liberal society than the rest of Saudi Arabia, following MBS’ Vision 2030. However, current and former employees are saying that sexual harassment was frequent.

One female expatriate left Neom after complaining of inappropriate behavior by her boss, a Western executive who is close to Nasr and remains in his position.

Another British-American former employee told Nasr in an e-mail that she believed she was fired by her boss because she refused to continue a sexual relationship with him. Human resources haven’t taken any action against the said boss.

“Misogyny, racism and abusive behaviors aren’t just tolerated by leadership, these abhorrent behaviors are in fact consistently demonstrated by leadership,” Andrew Wirth, the former chief executive of Neom’s mountain resort, said in a written statement.

Interestingly, instead of attempting to tackle these issues, Neom has opted to create a paranoid ambiance within its perimeters by installing cameras where employees live. Former IT employee who was part of the monitoring with the camp Joseph Wright revealed that the cameras watch “everything you do,” frightening the many residents.

Son of Lebanon’s central bank governor moved millions of dollars abroad, despite restrictions

In 2019, a financial crisis led Lebanese banks to block the withdrawals or transfer in US dollars by Lebanese depositors

May 13 2022

ByNews Desk

While banking restrictions blocked ordinary citizens from accessing their savings, the son of Riad Salameh, Lebanon’s central bank governor, was able to transfer over $6.5 million out of Lebanon.

The details were released through leaked documents on 13 May by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a global network of investigative journalists.

Most bank customers in Lebanon were prevented from withdrawing or transferring their money in US dollars in late 2019, But the restrictions were never made official, meaning that well-connected people, including Nady Salameh, the son of Lebanon’s long-serving central bank governor, could still access and move their deposits.

The documents reveal that “four transfers, worth between $1 million and $2 million each, left Nady Salameh’s accounts at Lebanon’s AM Bank between 1 October and 2 December, 2019.” The statements show that the transfers were moved overseas, but not to which bank or country.

Nady Salameh was also able to convert billions of Lebanese pounds to US dollars at the official exchange rate, even as the street value of the currency collapsed, saving him hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the documents.

Meanwhile, central bank chief Riad Salameh is facing judicial investigations in Lebanon and in five European countries over the alleged embezzlement of at least $330 million in public funds by him and his younger brother, Raja.

The central bank’s special investigation commission handed over information on Raja Salameh’s nine Lebanese bank accounts to Lebanon’s top prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat, the two judicial sources said.

The delivery of the full information would mark a significant breakthrough in the investigations after months of delay.

Riad Salameh had earlier stated that the bank commission, which he heads, had agreed to hand over the information and that he had stepped aside from chairing the body as far as his case was concerned, “so that there is no conflict of interest.”

The UN has accused Lebanon’s government and central bank of “human rights violations” for creating the conditions for an acute economic crisis that has plunged over 80 percent of the population below the poverty line.

“The Lebanese State, including its Central Bank, is responsible for human rights violations, including the unnecessary immiseration of the population, that have resulted from this man-made crisis,” the UN report, released on 11 May, reads.

Lebanon’s economic implosion has also seen the local currency lose more than 90 percent of its value and food prices increase elevenfold. The economic situation has exacerbated a crippling energy crisis, with blackouts that can last for up to 23 hours a day.

Blatant Display of Hypocrisy

2 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Samia Nasir-Khoury 

Despite regularly calling for peace, the Israeli occupation’s actions speak otherwise. From the non-stop aggressions it continues to commit against the Palestinian people to the refusal to make the slightest concession, the occupation seems to understand only the language of force.

Ever since the partition plan of Palestine on November 29, 1947, and the immediate recognition of “Israel” by the United States of America, “Israel” has had the unwavering support of the USA

The sight of the Ukrainian refugees evoked very sad memories of our own eviction from Palestine, which ceased to exist in 1948.  Not only because of the eviction but because of the massacres and the razing of hundreds of villages and reducing leading cities into ghost towns, which took place at the time, so as to obliterate the history of our country, some of which were only made public many years later on by the Israeli new historians.  It was a  historical event known as “the Nakba” (Catastrophe), which turned out to be an ongoing Nakba to this day, as Israel, the occupying power,  continues to deprive the Palestinians of their right of return according to the UN GA  resolution 194  on December 11, 1948, and refuses to withdraw from the rest of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 according to UN Security Council resolution 242 on November 22, 1967, over and above tits daily violations of Palestinian human rights.

I am not going to dwell on the political atmosphere, and the role of the USA and NATO in provoking that war, but it had hardly started when the cry for sanctions on Russia was loud and clear.  However,  never did the international community come up with the word “sanctions” regarding “Israel”, despite its brutal measures against the Palestinians as well as its flouting of UN resolutions for the last seven decades. It is high time “Israel” realizes that it will never feel secure while it continues to kill, confiscate, and deprive the Palestinians and the prisoners of their freedom and their basic human rights.  Furthermore, it allows the settlers to terrorize the Palestinians in their towns, in their fields, vineyards, and olive groves, as well as in their holy places, all under the protection of the Israeli police force.  In fact, three renowned organizations monitoring the region, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch came to the conclusion in their reports recently,  that “Israel” is an apartheid state.  Of course, “Israel” refuted their reports and labeled them as anti-Semitic. Ironic indeed when one of them is an Israeli organization.

It is unreasonable to forget two facts.  One pertaining to the Oslo Accords, and the other pertaining to the Arab Countries  The Oslo Accords signed between the PLO and Israel on September 13, 1993, gave us the impression at the beginning that they were going to bring about a  new dawn of hope for peace and liberation, especially after seeing the Israeli army withdraw from the Palestinian towns occupied in 1967.  However, it did not take long to expose the loopholes in these accords, especially when the basic issues like al-Quds, borders, as well as refugees, and the building of illegal settlements were deferred to the last stage of negotiations, over a period of five years. This turned out to be an open-ended period of five-times-five that stopped abruptly with the incursion of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to Al-Aqsa mosque which led to the Second Intifada. That gave “Israel” the excuse to end all the negotiations. The following years gave “Israel” the opportunity to create a new reality on the ground as its settlements mushroomed all over the occupied Palestinian territories.  Over and above, the issue of security for Israel was to be coordinated with the new Palestinian Authority.  This certainly seemed to be a unique situation when the occupied had to coordinate security matters with the occupiers. The absurdity of these two items alone showed that those accords were never studied thoroughly and scrutinized by the PLO before they signed them and recognized “Israel” as a state in the region, whereas Israel never committed itself to recognizing a Palestinian state as it signed those accords with the PLO.

The second fact is the stand of the Arab countries who despite their rhetoric were never able to bring about the pressure to end the occupation. However, all the Arab countries endorsed the Saudi initiative  made by Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabic during the Arab summit meeting in Beirut in 2002 in which the prince presented his initiative calling for “full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and ‘Israel’s’ acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel.”

Had “Israel” been sincere about peace it would have jumped at the Saudi initiative, but it seems that “Israel” cannot survive in times of peace.  However, peace with the Gulf countries was offered to “Israel” on a silver platter. Those countries who signed the “Abrahamic Accords” had no war with “Israel”, nor did they share borders with “Israel”.  Once again a colonial power, the USA, during the Trump presidency, was able to drive a wedge among the Arab countries, and seduce those Gulf countries into a peace agreement with Israel claiming to have common security interests.

Ever since the partition plan of Palestine on November 29, 1947, and the immediate recognition of “Israel” by the United States of America, “Israel” has had the unwavering support of the USA. This has been a major factor in Israel’s flouting of all UN resolutions regarding Palestine without any sanctions. The most we have heard from the USA and the European countries is “concern” about the  clashes and the demolishing of Palestinian homes, and that “the settlements are not conducive to peace.” 

Unfortunately, during these times,  the vested interests of the powerful forces, and their hegemony over-rules the principle of the common good and the welfare of all people, whereby they coerce the weaker people by blackmailing them, supposedly to guarantee their survival. And of course whoever dared to defy those powers had no chance to survive.  

The brutality of the Israeli police while storming the Al-Aqsa mosque and limiting and violently blocking Palestinian Christians in particular from worshiping in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), the holiest of Christian sites is beyond imagination. “Israel” wants to turn the Palestinian struggle into a religious war whereas it is not, and it has never been so. Nonetheless, with the support of the colonial powers, they have turned the whole region into a fertile ground for religious extremism.

However desperate the situation is, we cannot afford to lose hope, and we will not lose hope because justice is on our side. Furthermore, we hope our Palestinian struggle will become an example of steadfastness, “Sumud” and a guiding force in the struggle of all oppressed people.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Why are Italian Students Protesting Israeli Ambassador’s Visit to L’Aquila University?

March 3, 2022

Italian students hold a sit-in against Israeli ambassador’s visit to L’Aquila University. (Photo: Supplied)

By Romana Rubeo

Italian students held a sit-in on Thursday to protest the decision by the University of L’Aquila to host the Israeli Ambassador to Italy, Dror Eydar. 

Eydar was invited to deliver a 30 minutes conference about the so-called Abraham Accords, titled “Diplomacy in the Middle East and the Abraham Accords paradigm shift”.

Students were urged to take part in the conference, which did not include a debate or a Q&A session.

The sit-in was organized by several groups, including political movement Potere al Popolo (Power to the People), UDU L’Aquila (Union of Students), Abruzzo Crocevia and Spazio Praxis.

The sit-in was organized by several groups, including political movement Potere al Popolo (Power to the People), UDU L’Aquila (Union of Students), Abruzzo Crocevia and Spazio Praxis.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FpapLAquila%2Fposts%2F261394812841296&show_text=true&width=500

“We were extremely disappointed when we learned that the University organized such an initiative,” Francesco Pezzuti, the representative of Potere al Popolo, said during the protest. “We believe that academic institutions should not invite official representatives of a state that has systematically oppressed the Palestinian people for decades.”

“We are also surprised by the double standards,” Pezzuti added. “While they show solidarity to the Ukrainian people, and rightly so, our institutions do not show the same kind of sensibility towards the various forms of popular resistance enacted by other oppressed people around the globe, such as in Palestine.”

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fudulaquila%2Fposts%2F2072238036290939&show_text=true&width=500

“The same initiative has been promoted in other Italian regions, with the same exact keywords, trying to promote the so-called Abraham Accords as a new paradigm,” said Luca D’Innocenzo, representative of Abruzzo Crocevia. 

“We have to be aware that this is mere propaganda. Israel’s propaganda uses the Accords to hide ongoing policies of colonialism and apartheid in the Palestinian territories,” D’Innocenzo added.

“That’s what we should talk about inside an academic institution: of the apartheid policies that are systematically implemented against the Palestinian people.”

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgiovanipalestinesi.it%2Fposts%2F4996939077035913&show_text=true&width=500

“We are not alone in this fight,” said Matteo Poletti, from UDU. “We fight along with other students that, across the globe, are boycotting similar initiatives aimed at normalizing relations with a country that despite the continued and reiterated violations of human rights, has never been held accountable by the international community.”

The students in L’Aquila received solidarity and support from the national group Giovani Palestinesi d’Italia (Young Palestinians of Italy), which shared posts on social media and sent a message that was read during the sit-in.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

Tears for Ukraine, Sanctions for Russia, Yawns for Yemen, Arms for Saudis: The West’s Grotesque Double Standard

March 02nd, 2022

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

The speed of Western retaliation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised eyebrows among Yemenis who have endured a relentless bombing campaign and deadly air, land, and sea blockade for 2,520 consecutive days.

HAJJAH, YEMEN – “We’re brutally bombed every day. So why doesn’t the Western world care like it does about Ukraine?!!… Is it because we don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes like Ukrainians?”  Ahmed Tamri, a Yemeni father of four, asked with furrowed brows about the outpouring of international support and media coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the lack of such a reaction to the war in Yemen.

Over the weekend, a member of Tamri’s family was killed and nine relatives injured when their family home was targeted in a Saudi-led Coalition airstrike in the remote al-Saqf area in Hajjah Governorate. Tamri claims that al-Saqf has been subjected to a brutal Saudi bombing campaign for the past seven years – more so, he says, than all of Ukraine has endured since it was invaded by Russia.

Despite the horrific bombing campaign against Yemeni civilians, Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations and war crimes have garnered nowhere near the level of coverage and sympathy that the mainstream Western media has rightfully given to Ukraine. “They shed tears for the Ukrainians, and ignore our tragedies… What hypocrisy and racism!” Tamri told MintPress News.

Yemenis ask the obvious

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues into the sixth day, an outpouring of support for Ukrainians continues to be seen across the Western world. Severe sanctions against Russia have been imposed by the United States, Europe, Australia, and the West in general, amid a flurry of emergency talks at the UN Security Council. The speed of Western retaliation – which includes banning Russia from the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) international banking network and calls to treat Russians as international pariahs in sports, culture, and even science – has raised eyebrows among Yemenis who have endured a relentless bombing campaign and deadly air, land, and sea blockade for 2,520 consecutive days.

Since Thursday, when Russian forces began their wide-ranging assault on Ukraine, the Saudi-led Coalition, supported by the United States, has launched more airstrikes in Yemen than Russia has in Ukraine. In Hajjah, a province surrounded by heavy Saudi artillery, Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched more than 150 airstrikes on the cities of Haradh, Heiraan, Abbs, and Mustab, killing scores of civilians, including a father of six killed over the weekend by a Saudi drone that targeted his car as it traveled between Shafar and the Khamis Al-Wahat market.

Since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine began, dozens of civilians, including a number of African migrants, have been killed and hundreds wounded by Saudi artillery and airstrikes in Yemen’s heavily populated Saada province, declared a military area by Saudi Arabia at the start of its military campaign in March 2015.

Yemen
The bodies of civilians from a Saudi airstrike that killed at least 87 people on the Yemen-Saudi border, Jan. 22, 2022. Hani Mohammed | AP

As news cameras and solidarity protests gave much-needed sympathy to Ukrainian civilians, in Sana’a, Yemen – which has effectively been turned into a large prison for the city’s more than four million residents and refugees, thanks to a crippling Saudi blockade – warplanes bombed a number of densely populated areas, including the airport. An additional 160 airstrikes were launched on the provinces of Marib, al-Jawf, al-Baydha, Taiz, Najran, and Hodeida, the main entry point for commercial goods and aid into a country facing the worst man-made famine in the 21st century.

In fact, it seems as though the Saudi regime is taking advantage of a distracted media in order to escalate attacks on a number of sensitive targets along the Yemen-Saudi border and strengthen its hold over the Al-Mahra Governorate. The UAE, the other major Western-backed oil monarchy occupying Yemen, is likewise making hay, accelerating its project to change the demographics on the prized Socotra Island by displacing locals in favor of settlers more aligned with UAE policies. And while the U.S. readies massive shipments of arms and military aid to Ukrainian “freedom fighters” defending against a Russian invasion, Yemeni “rebels” downed an American-made MQ9-1 drone flown by the UAE in al-Jawf and two American-made Boeing Insitu ScanEagles in Marib and Hajjah.

As countries that have spent the past decades building literal and figurative walls to keep out desperate brown and black refugees fleeing violence and foreign invasion in their own lands open their arms, homes, and hearts to fleeing Ukrainian refugees, Saudi Arabia unleashed a force of Yemeni mercenaries upon their homeland with a promise of a Saudi green card and safety for their families if they turn on their fellow countrymen. Ironically named the “Happy Yemen Forces,” the unit was finalized in late 2021, according to leaked military documents, with a mandate to secure Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen and ensure Saudi security in exchange for a green card and access to the Saudi social services that come with it.

If we are to compare

In terms of the sheer cost of human life, the tragedy in Yemen has been much more deadly than that in Ukraine, where 325 Ukrainians, including 14 children have tragically lost their lives according to Ukrainian officials. Granted the war in Yemen has raged on unabated for more than six years, but comparatively the numbers are astonishing. Since 2015 the death toll has reached an estimated 400,000 people, including 3,900 children.

Those deaths have included attacks on civilians so egregious that they did garner fleeting media attention but, inevitably, no sanctions, little international condemnation, not even a cessation in the military aid and support to the perpetrators. Bombed-out schools, funerals, wedding halls, refugee camps, even a school bus full of children targeted by the most advanced U.S. weaponry on offer have not been sufficient to elicit the reaction that Ukraine has garnered in less than one week.

Since 2015, Saudi-led Coalition warplanes have pounded Yemen with over 266,000 airstrikes, according to the Yemeni Army Operations Room, which records airstrikes against civilian and military targets. Seventy percent of those strikes have hit civilian targets. The rising smoke, rubble and flames now seen in Ukraine have been the status quo in Yemen for years, with Western media often deeming the images that appear on local Yemeni television stations, of parents pulling pieces of their children out from the rubble of their homes or schools, too graphic to display.

Yemen Biden Feature photo
A nurse holds a malnourished girl at the al-Sabeen hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, October 27, 2020. Khaled Abdullah | Reuters

Thousands of Yemen’s economically vital facilities like factories, food storage facilities, fishing boats, food markets and fuel tankers have been bombed by the Western-backed Saudi Coalition. Critical infrastructure – including airports, seaports, electrical stations, water tanks, roads and bridges and countless more schools, agricultural fields, and places of worship – have been destroyed or damaged. A Saudi blockade and airstrikes on hospitals have crippled Yemen’s health system, leaving it unable to deal with even the most basic public health needs and leaving the 300 facilities that remain in the entire country barely functioning as COVID-19 spreads like wildfire.

As the outpourings of condemnation of Russia’s invasion continue, Western governments have sent massive aid packages to Ukraine and social media campaigns fill in the gaps – while in Yemen the United Nations announced that by March it would likely cut aid to 8 million people in a country that it calls home to the worst humanitarian crisis on earth. Household food insecurity in Yemen hovers at over 80%. Almost one-third of the population does not have enough food to satisfy even basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight and the worst is yet to come, as the Russian invasion has led to increased fuel and food prices and as humanitarian funding dries up, according to the UN World Food Programme.

Picking and choosing which invasion to condemn

In March 2015, more than 17 countries led by the oil-rich monarchy of Saudi Arabia launched a military invasion of Yemen, a sovereign state and a member of the United Nations. Ostensibly, the war was launched to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to power after he was ousted following popular protests amid the Arab Spring.

By March 26 of that year, the Saudi-led Coalition, backed militarily and diplomatically by the United States, would begin a bombing campaign that has indiscriminately killed, maimed, and destroyed for seven years. Not only has Saudi Arabia, arguably the most repressive dictatorship on earth, forced Hadi back into power under the guise of protecting democracy, but it has also occupied huge swaths of southern Yemen from al-Mahara to the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Yemeni journalists, activists and politicians have been left to ponder why Western governments – in particular, the Biden administration – condemn Russia for invading Ukraine under the pretext of national security while defending the Saudi regime’s “legitimate right” to invade Yemen under the very same pretext.

Despite the horrific human rights violations carried out by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, Western nations, and the United States in particular, have not only provided lethal weapons, training, maintenance, intelligence, and political and diplomatic cover to the monarchy but have imposed media restrictions on coverage of the Saudi regime’s human rights abuses in Yemen, pressuring tech and social media companies to deplatform and outright ban Yemeni activists and media critical of the war.

Yemen Sanctions Feature photo
Yemenis attend a demonstration against the US over its decision to designate the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization in Sanaa, Jan. 25, 2021. Hani Mohammed | AP

As mainstream Western media gives glowing coverage to Ukrainians resisting their foreign invaders and occupiers – with Western leaders applauding the steadfastness and resistance of Ukrainians and sending aid, weapons and moral support to them – they label Yemenis taking up arms as terrorists and target them with American-made smart bombs and drone attacks. Yemenis who take up arms against invading Saudi and Emirati forces are sanctioned and dismissed as proxies of Iran by liberal media institutions that claim to stand against war.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council extended an arms embargo and travel ban on Yemeni forces. The resolution strongly condemned what it called cross-border attacks by the “Houthis,” a derogatory term used to refer to Ansar Allalh, the single largest force challenging the Saudi invasion and occupation. It went on to condemn “attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates” referring to Ansar Allah’s missile and drone attacks on Saudi-led Coalition airports and oil storage facilities.

Commenting on the resolution – which came as the UAE refused to publicly condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, hoping to gain Russian backing for its own invasion of Yemen – Ansar Allah leader Mohammed al-Houthi made one simple request: that Saudi Arabia’s deliberate targeting of civilians in Yemen lead to a Saudi weapons ban. Essentially, al-Houthi asked for a lifting of double standards, apparently an impossible request in today’s political climate.

EXPLAINER: Why does France Attack Palestine Solidarity Organizations?

February 26, 2022

France decided to ban to Palestine solidarity groups. (Photo: via Collectif Palestine Vaincra FB Page)

By Claude Zurbach

As a gift to the pro-Israeli lobby, the French government, through its Minister of the Interior Gérard Darmanin, has announced its intention to dissolve two Palestine solidarity organizations: the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and the Comité d’Action Palestine.

Long History of Harassment of the BDS Campaign

In line with the policies of most European Union countries, pressure groups and political authorities in France have never skimped on filing complaints and administrative bans. And this has been the case for more than 10 years, since the lawsuit brought against the BDS campaigners in Mulhouse, in the east of France. Since then, many collectives have been subjected to various forms of harassment, including those of Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Paris, Mulhouse, Colmar, Perpignan, and Montpellier (and the list is non-exhaustive).

 The alleged arguments developed in this defamatory campaign invoke an alleged anti-Semitism, which constitutes the main angle of the Israeli attack against the international movement of solidarity with Palestine.

Throughout the years, these initiatives, aimed at suppressing any form of organized criticism of Israel, have been met with strong reactions, from a legal point of view, but also through grassroots mobilization and were almost always defeated in court.

But these repeated attacks are financially costly, can be morally exhausting, and require a lot of energy, which is then diverted into time-consuming and complex legal procedures.

Why Does France Attack Solidarity Organizations?

The reason behind these attacks is the solidarity, or deep connivance, between all the economic and political powers throughout the world and Israel. Tel Aviv is both the advanced point of Western domination in the Middle East and a laboratory for the sophisticated repressive and lethal tools (tested on the Palestinian population), which are sold to Western powers.

In this system of international domination, Israel has a place of choice, which explains the exceptional tolerance it enjoys while it has been multiplying its international law violations throughout occupied Palestine.

On the other hand, the proximity of the presidential campaign in France explains the timing of this decision. Most potential candidates have reaffirmed their unwavering support for the Zionist project, with the notable exception of candidates considered to be part of the ‘radical left’.

One right-wing candidate, Valérie Precress, even chose an outspoken Zionist as her advisor on international issues.

Winning overt or implicit support from the Israel lobbies is becoming an important element in France’s election campaign, all against a backdrop of the rising Islamophobia

Israel is particularly worried about the discredit at an international level. In this context, Tel Aviv knows that any show of complicity with the apartheid regime imposed in Palestine is supposed to produce gains.

Reaction of the Solidarity Movement in France

The Association France-Palestine Solidarity, the main association of solidarity with Palestine, reacted with a first unambiguous statement, recalling that “solidarity is not a crime, it is a duty” and quite rightly that “support for the legitimate claims of the Palestinian people is in no way comparable to any call for hatred towards Israel or the Israelis, it is a call for justice and the application of international law”.

In addition to the two associations concerned by the decision, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and the Comité d’Action Palestine, others such as the Union Juive Française pour la Paix and Europalestine have reacted quickly. A petition is online to show their refusal of the government’s liberticidal decisions.

 It would be important for other organizations, focused on the defense of individual and collective rights, to come forward to protest against these iniquitous decisions. Indeed, any breach of solidarity will be a loophole that can be exploited by the supporters of apartheid in Palestine to impose further bans and dissolutions.

– Claude Zurbach is the editor of Chronique de Palestine, the French version of the Palestine Chronicle website. A computer engineer by profession, he has been involved for many years in solidarity with the Palestinian national movement. His Twitter account is https://twitter.com/ClaudeZurbach

South Africa’s ‘Direct Action’ Threat against Israel Raises Expectations

February 20, 2022

South African Minister of International Relations Mrs. Naledi Pandor (Photo: TWAS, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Iqbal Jassat

South Africa’s ANC-Led government has renewed its pledge of solidarity with Palestine by adding the new phrase “direct action”.

The fresh commitment by Minister of International Relations Mrs. Naledi Pandor has been welcomed by the country’s solidarity movements backing Palestine’s freedom struggle.

Though Pandor did not elaborate on the type of “direct action” being envisaged, she pitched her forthright comments by referring to recent human rights reports on Israel which she described as “well-documented apartheid practices of Israel”.

Pandor made her remarks in Parliament during the State of the Nation (SONA) debate.

Her unequivocal condemnation of apartheid Israel following a controversy generated by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent acceptance of “credence” by Israel’s new envoy to Pretoria, may be construed as an attempt to clear the air.

It also follows a stinging rebuke by the African Union chair Moussa Faki Mahamat who is seeking to justify his unilateral acceptance of Israel’s observer status, criticized countries for opposing it yet retained diplomatic relations with Israel.

Though Mahamat didn’t name any country, it was clear that he referred specifically to South Africa. Pandor has not only been vocal in expressing South Africa’s opposition to it, she has been leading efforts to revoke Israel’s observer status.

Her arguments supported by Algeria and a number of AU member states, revolve around the AU charter which rejects colonialism, racism and illegal occupation. By specifically singling-out Mahamat as the person responsible for granting Israel observer status, the stage was set for acrimony between the two.

“We have vehemently, as South African, opposed the granting of [African Union] observer status to Israel by the chair of the African Union Commission. Our objection stems from our own constitution and its values and the African Union charter that rejects colonialism, racism, and illegal occupation of the land of others,” she stated.

Despite her moves to revoke Mahamat’s decision, the AU suspended a debate on it and instead formed a committee to study the issue. Effectively by kicking the can down the road, the tension and division within the AU will continue to simmer.

Though South Africa since the end of apartheid and the dawn of democracy has been seen as a heavyweight in continental affairs, Mahamat saw fit to point out the paradox of diplomatic ties on the one hand and opposition to observer status, thus making a case of double standards.

Does it follow then that Pandor’s parliament address which talked of “direct action” was also to overcome accusations of duel standards? This can be gleaned from her remarks that diplomatic relations with Israel cannot be used by anyone as a reason for bringing Israel into the African Union.

“Our governing party resolutions directed us to downgrade our embassy in Israel. We withdrew our ambassador [from Israel] as part of this process of downgrading, and we are considering further measures to indicate our significant dismay at the continued apartheid practices of Israel against the long-suffering people of Palestine.”

So while the spat with the AU remains unresolved, what is clear is that guns have been drawn. The shoot-out is on hold until the committee appointed to probe Mahamat’s decision meets sometime in the future.

In the meantime, while Pandor’s threat of “direct action” is the subject of speculation, it is expected that just as South Africa awaits it being translated into substantial departure from current diplomatic relations, so too will Palestinians.

After all, the recent compelling findings by Amnesty International on Israel Apartheid, make it equally obligatory for countries to abide by international conventions on the crime of apartheid. Direct action?

– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com

Labor Abuses at Dubai’s Extravagant Expo 2020 Exposed in Recent Human Rights Report

Feb 4 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A new report by a London-based human rights group highlighted that migrant foreign workers who built the Dubai’s extravagant Expo 2020 site and keep it running face exploitation as well as labor abuses, and are subject to abusive conditions and treatment.

According to Equidem’s report, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] is failing to protect workers from abroad who serve in positions such as security guards, cleaners and hospitality staff at the multibillion-dollar exhibition.

The majority of workers interviewed were forced to pay recruitment fees in their own countries in order to secure their jobs in the UAE, often exceeding their monthly pay, the report said.

Even though the practice is illegal under Emirati law, many of the employers reportedly knew of those payments but did not intervene or reimburse the workers, creating a situation of debt bondage.

The Equidem report documented workers who were not provided with employment contracts or could not read them because they were not translated into their native language, as required by law.

Some of the interviewed workers also said their wages were often not fully paid or given on time each month, making them unable to send money back to their families or even pay for food.

Moreover, workers were frequently denied overtime pay, termination benefits and promised bonuses.

Employers, in some cases, slashed salaries up to 75 percent as the coronavirus pandemic battered the UAE.

“The way they treat the staff is like slaves,” one worker at the Crab Chic café overlooking Expo’s iconic dome told Equidem researchers. “It’s very tiring. I work from early in the morning till evening. Never have I received overtime payment.”

Most workers interviewed surrendered their passports to their employers and none of them could unconditionally retrieve them, despite Emirati laws that forbid companies from confiscating worker’s identity documents.

Workers also said they were targets of discrimination, describing how their race dictated their treatment and duties on site.

“Asians are given the heavy work and less pay while the Europeans and Arabs are given lighter roles with lots of income,” said one interviewee. “The Asians are the first to lose their jobs.”

The Expo 2020, which opened late in October 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and runs until March 2022, hosts 192 national pavilions representing different countries and multinational corporations.

Mustafa Qadri, an author of the Equidem report and the group’s executive director, said, “I was honestly shocked to see just how widespread the non-compliance is and how much forced labor is happening.”

“It raises questions about how effective the labor system is in the UAE, because Expo is the most high-profile project in the country,” he added.

“The entire international community is complicit in the exploitation at the Expo. It’s a scandal,” Qadri argued.

The report comes just months after prominent human rights organizations condemned the Dubai’s Expo 2020 as an attempt to gloss over rights abuses committed by the UAE.

Last year, The European Parliament also called on member states to boycott Dubai’s Expo 2020, citing rights concerns.

Israeli Special Forces Detain Birzeit University Students (VIDEO)

January 10, 2022

Israeli special forces Monday afternoon detained several students in front of the Birzeit University, north of Ramallah, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Local sources and eyewitnesses told WAFA that Israeli special forces used a white van with a Palestinian registration plate to sneak their way into the university campus and abducted two students from the gate of the campus.

Israeli soldiers opened fire to keep students away as they carried out their operation, injuring two.

Birzeit University is one the oldest and largest Palestinian universities in the West Bank, with around 14,500 registered students in 2020, according to university records.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in Palestine (30 December 2021 – 05 January 2022)

January 6 2022

Israeli Human Rights Violations in Palestinie

30 December 2021 – 5 January 2022

  • IOF shoot and Kill Palestinian with mental health issues on Haris intersection, northern Salfit
  • 16 Palestinians wounded, including 5 children and 1 in critical condition, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
  • 8 IOF shootings reported against agricultural lands, and 4 against fishing boats in the Gaza Sea
  • 103 IOF incursions in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem: 78 Palestinians arrested, including 7 children
  • Demolitions and notices in occupied East Jerusalem: 5 houses demolished, 2 of them self-demolished; 5 other establishments demolished, including a medical center; several demolition and cease-construction notices served against Palestinians in the city
  • Demolition notices served against 8 houses, a mosque, a civilian establishment in Bethlehem; and 8 tents removed in Tubas (2 residential and 6 for cattle)
  • Settler-attacks in the West Bank: damage includes cutting of trees and attacks on Palestinian vehicles and houses
  • IOF established 35 temporary military checkpoints in the West Bank and arrested 1 Palestinian

Summary  

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to commit crimes and multi-layered violations against Palestinian civilians and their properties, including raids into Palestinian cities that are characterized with excessive use of force, assault, abuse, and arrests against civilians. This week’s events witnessed an escalation in Israeli demolitions and demolition notices against Palestinian properties. Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip has entered its 15th year under occupation and closure, as Israel has continued to exercise the worst known collective punishment in human history, exacerbating humanitarian hardships across the territory.

IOF shooting and violation of right to life and bodily integrity:

During the reporting period, IOF killed a Palestinian with mental health issues and wounded 16 civilians, including 5 children, as they continue to exercise excessive use of force in the West Bank. On the 31st of December 2021, IOF killed Amir Atef Khader Rayan, a 36-year-old male with mental health issues. Rayan was killed near Haris intersection in northern Salfit, allegedly for attempting a stab attack. Filed investigations indicate that the victim was several meters away from where the Israeli soldiers stood, meaning he did not pose any form of threat to them. This crime reflects the unjustifiable leniency in IOF shooting standards and a disregard for Palestinians’ lives.

Additionally, PCHR documented the following incidents:

  • 3 Palestinians wounded, including one in critical condition in Jerusalem;
  • 2, including 1 child, wounded in Nablus;
  • 11, including 4 children, wounded in Qalqilya.

In the Gaza Strip, PCHR documented 8 instances of IOF opening fire, and 4 shootings on fishing boats.

IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 103 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings. During this week’s incursions, 78 Palestinians were arrested, including 7 children.

Demolitions:

PCHR documented 13 incidents:

  • Occupied East Jerusalem: 5 houses demolished, including 2 self-demolished, in Sur Baher, Silwan and Beit Hanina. A commercial facility was self-demolished in the old city. Wide-scale distribution of demolition notices against houses, commercial and agricultural establishments. Also, IOF disbursed summonses against Palestinians, issued a cease-construction order of a mosque, and confiscated a tin-plated greenhouse in Isawiya. A commercial barracks demolished, and a container confiscated in al-Za’im. A health center used as a Covid-19 vaccination hub was also demolished in Jabel Mukaber, as well as 2 barracks used for cattle in Anata.
  • Bethlehem: demolition notices served against 8 houses, a mosque, and a civilian facility in Nahalin.
  • Tubas: 2 residential tents removed, as well as 6 others used for cattle, along with 80 steel barriers, and 15 cattle feeders in the northern Jordan valleys.

Settler-attacks: 

PCHR documented the following attacks by settlers in the West Bank:

  • Nablus: Palestinian lands in Burin attacked; 46 olive trees cut; a vehicle struck, and its windshield shattered; civilian homes attacked in Burqa.
  • Hebron: a house attacked in Tel Rumeida.

Israeli closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement:

The Israeli occupation authorities continued its collective punishment measures against the Gaza Strip as the 15-year Israeli closure imposed on the territory deepened the population’s humanitarian and living crises. Unemployment has skyrocketed at 45% of the population, 63% of whom are youth.

More than half of the Gaza Strip’s population suffer from poverty, as the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics data shows that 53% of the Gaza Strip population is impoverished and more than 62.2% are food insecure, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Additionally, IOF continued to divide the West Bank into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada in 2000, restricting civilian movement with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian are also subjected to arrests, especially at al-Karama border crossing located alongside the Palestinian-Jordanian border.

Shooting and other Violations of the Right to Life and Bodily Integrity

Thursday, December 30th, 2021:

  • At approximately 00:00 on Thursday 30th of December 2021, IOF arrested Mohammed Rateb Sar’awi (30) and his cousin Malek ‘Issa Sar’awi (27) after they raided Adam Housing Compound in Kafr ‘Aqab village, north of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. During the incursion, tens of young men gathered near the compound and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF, who immediately fired live and rubber-coated bullets at them.  As a result, three were wounded with live bullets; one of them sustained serious wounds.  They were identified as follows: Mohammed Nafez Farhan was wounded with a bullet in his abdomen and sustained serious wounds while Eyad Mohammed al-Shahrouri and Samed Mohammed ‘Afanah were wounded in their lower limbs.  All of them were taken to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive medical treatment.
  • At approximately 07:30, IOF stationed along the border fence east of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip, opened fire at the agricultural lands. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 21:00 IOF arrested Monther al-Rowidi (21) and Ihab Abu Sneinah (19) after raiding and searching their houses during their incursion into al-‘Ain neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.  During the incursion, tens of young men gathered at the neighborhood entrance and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF and their vehicles.  They set fire to an Israeli police watchtower with surveillance cameras.  IOF immediately attacked the protesters and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas canisters at them.  The clashes continued in their neighborhood for hours and extended to Beer Ayoub neighborhood, where intense clashes broke out between dozens of young men and IOF, which drowned the neighborhood with skunk water.

Friday, December 31st December 2021:

  • On Friday morning, 31st of December 2021, IOF killed a Palestinian with a disability (a mental disorder), near Haris village intersection, north of Salfit. They claimed that he has attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. Statements collected by the victim’s family refute the Israeli allegation, and IOF have yet to release any images or videos of the incident despite the abundance of surveillance cameras at the site.
  • According to information obtained by PCHR’s fieldworker, at around 09:00, IOF stationed near Haris village intersection, north of Salfit, opened fire at a person after he stepped out of his car and headed towards a bus station, where IOF were standing.  As a result, he was wounded, fell on the ground, and was left to bleed to death.  IOF announced that they blocked an attempted stabbing attack by a Palestinian at the intersection stating that he stepped out of his car with a knife in his hand and ran toward the Israeli bus stop, and that the IOF opened fire at him, killing him. No injuries were reported among the soldiers.

Following the incident, IOF closed the intersection and roads in the area and blocked traffic.  They stopped the car that carried the Palestinian victim and arrested its driver, later identified as ‘Omar Mohammed ‘Ali Abu ‘Ali (19) and his cousin Mohammed Abu ‘Ali (25), who was also in the car at the time.  Later, the person killed was identified as Amir ‘Atef Khader Rayyan (36), a father of five. Rayyan’s body remains in Israeli custody.  According to the family, the victim had a mental disorder that was diagnosed a year ago and was in therapy.

The driver, ‘Omer Abu ‘Ali, Ameer’s brother in-law, told the victim’s father before his arrest that Amir asked him to drive him to the hospital; he asked him to stop at the intersection as he needed to vomit.  Amir got out of the car and ran towards the bus station, where the soldiers were standing. They opened fire at him, wounding him in the abdomen.

According to field investigations, there were meters between the place where IOF stationed and the place where the victim was targeted.  This means that there was no imminent threat to the soldiers’ lives and proves IOF’s unjustified lenient shooting standards in disregard with Palestinians’ lives, noting that a similar incident ocurred at the same intersection last year.

  • At approximately 10:20, IOF stationed along the border fence east of al-Bureij in central Gaza Strip, opened fire and teargas canisters at the shepherds.  No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 12:15, a peaceful protest took off Bita Park, southeast of Nablus, towards al-Houta area to the east of Mount Sabih, east of the village, where IOF established “Avatar” settlement outpost 8 months ago.  The protestors raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation and settlers.  When they arrived, they were surprised with IOF taking their positions near the Mount, so intensive clashes broke out.  The protesters fired stones at IOF, who continued to fire live and rubber-coated bullets as well as teargas canisters at the protesters. During the clashes, which continued until around 16:00, 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded bullets in their lower limbs and were taken to the Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus for treatment while others suffocated due to teargas inhalation, but were treated on the spot.
  • At approximately 12:30, IOF stationed at the southern Qalqilya checkpoint suppressed a protest organized by dozens of Palestinians.  IOF chased the protesters, and clashes broke out.  IOF fired sponge-tipped bullets, teargas canisters and sound bombs at them. As a result, 5 protesters were wounded with bullets, including a child; all of them were wounded in the limbs except one in the abdomen. 
  • At approximately 14:30, IOF suppressed a weekly protest against the occupation and settlement activity in Sheikh Jarrah, north of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, and attacked the protesters by pushing and beating them.

Dozens of Sheikh Jarrah residents and international activists gathered at the main entrance to the neighborhood as usual on Fridays and took off to the eastern side of the neighborhood.  However, IOF prevented them from moving forward and chased them into the eastern and western sides of the neighborhood.  IOF surrounded them from all sides and prevented them from approaching the land of Salem family, who is threatened with forced displacement. After IOF suppressed the protesters, dozens gathered in the western side of the neighborhood in solidarity with the Salem family and raised Palestinian flags and pictures of Salem’s family.  They chanted slogans in Arabic, English and Hebrew against the occupation, settlement and displacement of Sheikh Jarrah’s families, and others in solidarity with the people of Silwan, Bil’in, Bita, prisoners, and Jerusalem. IOF surrounded the activists, beat, and pushed them, confiscated Palestinian flags, and beat Mohammad Khader Abu al-Hummus (56), an activist, after breaking his crutch. They also arrested Ahmed al-Shweiki (12).

  • Around the same time, IOF suppressed a peaceful protest of dozens from Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, against the Israeli municipality’s ongoing house demolitions in the village.

Dozens of civilians gathered near the Mount intersection in the village and raised banners against the house demolitions in the village and forced displacement of their residents under the pretext of unlicensed construction.  They also chanted slogans against the municipality’s attacks on the village neighborhoods.  IOF surrounded the protesters and pushed and beat them.  They dispersed the protesters and chased some young men after firing teargas canisters at them.  They also arrested ‘Alaa Nayef Ja’abis (21).

  • At approximately 16:20, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of al-Na’aymah Street, east of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire at the border area adjacent to the border fence.  Neither injuries nor damage was reported.

Saturday, 1st of January 2022:

  • At approximately 08:50 on Saturday, 01 January 2022, IOF gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore, northwest of Beit Lahia and al-Soudaniyah, west of Jabalia northern Gaza Strip, chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and heavily opened fire near them.  The shooting recurred at 18:30, enticing fear among fishermen and forcing them to leave.  No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 10:00, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of Gaza Valley village “Johr al-Deek”, southeast of Gaza, opened fire at the agricultural lands.  No causalities were reported.
  • At approximately 12:30 on the same day, IOF stationed at the southern Qalqilya checkpoint suppressed a protest organized by dozens of Palestinians.  IOF chased the protesters, and clashes broke out.  IOF fired sponge-tipped bullets, teargas canisters and sound bombs at them. As a result, 6 protesters were wounded with bullets, including 3 children; all of them were wounded in the limbs except one in the back. 
  • At approximately 13:50, IOF stationed along the border fence opened fire at the agricultural lands, east of al-Qararah, east of Khan Younis.  No casualties were reported.

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022:

  • At approximately 07:30 on Sunday, 02 January 2022, IOF stationed along the border fence opened fire at the agricultural lands, east of Khuza’ah village, east of Khan Younis.  No casualties were reported.

Monday, January 3rd, 2022:

  • At approximately 06:30 on Monday, 03 January 2022, IOF’s gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore, northwest of Beit Lahia northern Gaza Strip, chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and heavily opened fire near them.  As a result, fishermen fled away out of fear.  No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 23:00, tens of young men gathered near the annexation wall next to al-Quds University in Abu Dis village, east of occupied East Jerusalem.  They set fire to tires and attempted to destroy parts of the wall in protest against the ongoing administrative detention of Hisham Abu Hawwash and in solidarity with him during his hunger strike which lasted for 140 days.  IOF attacked the protesters and heavily fired teargas canisters at them.  As a result, dozens suffocated.  During the clashes, which continued in the village for hours, IOF fired live and rubber bullets at the protesters who threw Molotov Cocktails at an IOF camp in the Mount area in the village.
  • At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, 05 January 2022, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of Deir al-Balak in the central Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands.  No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 23:05, IOF’s gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore, northwest of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and heavily opened fire near them.  IOF also fired sound bombs and flare bombs in the sky, enticing fear among fishermen and forcing them to flee away.  No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 23:40, IOF stationed along the border fence opened fire at the agricultural lands, east of al-Fokhari village, southeast of Khan Younis.  No casualties were reported.

Incursions and arrests

Thursday, December 30th, 2021 

  • At approximately 01:00, IOF moved into Hizma village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, where they stormed and searched Palestinians’ houses and arrested 25 of them. At approximately 08:00, all the arrestees were released. (PCHR keeps record of their names). It should be noted that Hizma village is subjected to IOF daily violations, including closing its entrances, storming it, arresting its villagers, and interrogating them.
  • At approximately 02:25, IOF arrested Ziyad Mohammed Yaseen Jaradat (65) and his two sons Tareq (41) and Mohammed (39) after raiding and searching their house in Silat al-Harithiya village, west of Jenin.
  • At approximately 04:00, IOF moved into Deir Sammit village inm Hebron. They raided and searched Hasan Shaher Hasan al-Sharawnah (26)’s house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 16:00, IOF summoned via a phone call 10 members and leaders of Fatah Movement in occupied East Jerusalem, to interrogate them next day evening, which marks the anniversary of Fatah Movement launch, in ‘Oz investigation center in Jabel Mukaber village, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and in Moscovia investigation center in West Jerusalem. The summoned persons were identified as: Secretery of Fatah Movement, Shadi Motwer; Fadi Motwer; Naser ‘Ajjaj, ‘Ahed al-Reshiq; Hadallah al-Goul, Eyad Basheer; Ahmed al-‘Abasi; Ayman al-Shurbati; Yaser Darwish; and ‘Amer ‘Awad.
  • Member of Fatah Movement, Eyad Bsheer, said that on Thursday evening, which marked the anniversary for the launch of Fatah movement, he received two phone calls from Israeli Intelligence Service summoning him for interrogation in ‘Oz investigation center in Jabel Mukaber village and in Moscovia investigation center in West Jerusalem, about incidents occurred in occupied East Jerusalem and demolishing Basheer family’s house and erupting clashes in Jabel Mukaber village. Basheer indicated that on Friday evening, he was interrogated in Moscovia investigation center about the restrictions on Fatah Movement to prevent its members from commemorating its launching anniversary. Also, Basheer was handed a notice to ban him from entering al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • At approximately 18:00, IOF moved into Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, where they raided and searched Mohammed Maher Zaytoun (13) and Omar Ahmed Aby Mayalah (14)’s houses and arrested them.
  • IOF carried out (5) incursions in Arraba and Ya’bad villages, southwest of Jenin governorate; in Tubas City; Tammun village, southeast of Jenin; and in Halhul city in Hebron.  No arrests were reported.

Friday, December 31st, 2021

  • At approximately 15:00, IOF moved into Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem, where they raided and searched Hisham Maher Mahmoud Taqatqh (17)’s house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 16:00, IOF arrested Anas Omar Kan’an (31), from Jab’ village, south of Jenin, while he was present in al-Aqsa Mosque yard in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.
  • IOF carried out (3) incursions in Sebastia, Burqa, and Iraq Burin villages in Nablus.  No arrests were reported.

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

  • At approximately 01:20m IOF moved into Idhna village in Hebron. They raided and searched Palestinians’ houses, from which they arrested Ahmed Islimiyia (26), Akram al-Qisi (24) and Isma’il Tamizi (25).
  • At approximately 22:00, IOF arrested ‘Ali Sabi Abu Diyab (26), from Silwan village, while he was in French Hill area, north of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022:

  • At approximately 03:00, IOF handed Khalil ‘Emad al-‘Amour (27) a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence in “Gush ‘Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem, after raiding and searching his house during their incursion into Teqoa village, east of the city.
  • At approximately 03:30, IOF arrested ‘Omar Hisham Abu Kamlah (35) and Mohammed ‘Adnan Taher Jaber (33) after raiding their houses during the incursion into ‘Anabta village, east of Tulkarm.
  • At approximately 20:30, IOF arrested Ra’fat Rasem al-Barghouthi (25), from Deir Abu Mash’al village, northwest of Ramallah, at the Military Court Checkpoint near “Beit El” settlement, north of al-Bireh.
  • IOF carried out 3 incursions into Beit Ummar village, Dura, and Bani Na’im village in Hebron. No arrests were reported.

Monday, January 3rd, 2022:

  • At approximately 01:00, IOF arrested 3 children after raiding and searching their houses during IOF’s incursion into Silwan village, south of occupied east Jerusalem’s Old City. The arrestees were identified as Nasim Zuhair Dmeiri (15) and Ahmed (13) and Mahmoud (15) ‘Ez al-Deen Shobaki.
  • At approximately 02:30, IOF arrested 3 Palestinians after raiding and searching their houses during IOF incursion into Silat al-Harithiya village, west of Jenin.  The arrestees were identified as ‘Omran Hasan Sadeq Abu al-Kheir (38), Mohammed Yasin Hasan Jaradat (39) and Khaled Mohammed Mas’oud Jaradat (30).
  • At approximately 02:30, IOF arrested Sa’ed Abu al-Bahaa’ (45), a former prisoner, after raiding and searching his house in Bitounia village, north of Ramallah.
  • Around the same time, IOF arrested Ahmed Zaid al-Nibali (47), after raiding and searching his house in al-Masayef neighborhood in central Ramallah.
  • At approximately 03:05, IOF arrested 3 Palestinians after raiding and searching their houses in Beit Liqya village, southwest of Ramallah.  The arrestees were identified as Najeeb Ahmed Najeeb Mafarjah (37), a former prisoner, Mohammed Saleh Mousa (26) and Laith Mahmoud Mafarjah (24).
  • At approximately 07:00, IOF arrested Kattab Ashraf al-Shurbati (20) and Mohammed Mahmoud ‘Atiq (20) after raiding and searching their houses in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.
  • At approximately 14:00, IOF arrested 3 Palestinians from al-‘Issawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, when they were near a building in al-Ram village, north of Jerusalem.  The arrestees were identified as Saleh Bader Abu ‘Asab (22), Mahmoud Zidan Mahmoud (43) and Ahmed Kayed Mahmoud (27).
  • At approximately 21:00, IOF arrested Hadi Derbas (18) when he was on Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem.
  • At approximately 23:30, IOF arrested Mohammed Ayman Abu al-Humus (21) after raiding and searching his house in al-‘Issawiya village, northeast of occupied east Jerusalem’s Old City.
  • IOF carried out (6) incursions in Deir Ballut village, west of Salfit, ‘Azzoun and Qalqilya City, Saffarin and Ramin villages, east of Tulkarm and Tulkarm. No arrests were reported.

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022:

  • At approximately 01:00, IOF arrested Yahia Merwan Salim Yousef (23), after raiding and searching his house in al-‘Arouj village, east of Bethlehem.
  • At around 02:00, IOF arrested 3 Palestinians after raiding and searching their houses in Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem.  The arrestees were identified as Wasim ‘Abeidat (20), Saif Halsah (18) and Mohammed Subaih (21).
  • At approximately 02:30, IOF arrested Bahaa’ Mohammed Abu Yabes (28) after raiding and searching his house in al-Dheisha refugee camp, southwest of Bethlehem.
  • At approximately 14:00, IOF arrested Mahdi Hussein al-Shahrour (35), from Turqumiya, west of Hebron, after stopping and searching his vehicle near Abu Dis village, east of occupied East Jerusalem.
  • At approximately 18:00, IOF arrested Wasim Murad al-Rajabi (13) after raiding and searching his house in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem.

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022:

  • At approximately 02:00, IOF moved into Abu Dis village, east of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched Ahmed Salah (47)’s house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:20m IOF moved into Burqa village, northwest of Nablus. They raided and searched 3 houses, from which they arrested Taleb Ghasan Taleb Saif (20), ‘Esam Ayman ‘Abed al-Latif Abu Omar (20) and Khuzam Iyad Daghlas (20).
  • At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into Beita village, east of Nablus. They raided and searched Nabil Ahmed ‘Awad Diyab (24)’s house and then arrested him.

Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem

Land razing, demolitions, and notices:

  • On Thursday morning, 31 December 2021, ‘Ali Dabash implemented the Israeli Municipality’s decision and self-demolished his house in Sur Baher village, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Bushra Dabash, ‘Alis’ wife, said that her family comprised of 11 members, including 9 children, has been living in the house for 6 years. She indicated that the 180-square-meter house included 6 rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Over the past years, Israeli authorities pursued her family and imposed a construction fine on them estimated at NIS 25,000. She added that her family several times headed to the municipality to freeze the demolition or delay it, but the municipality handed her a final demolition order 2 weeks ago. The municipality asked her if her family wants to self-demolish the house or the municipality staff do so, in exchange for taking demolition fees estimated at more than NIS 100,000. She also pointed out that self-demolition of the house was a very difficult choice, especially in the cold weather and her who children became homeless.
  • On Saturday, 01 January 2022, Rami Yunis ‘Owidah implemented the Israeli Municipality’s decision and self-demolished his house in Wadi Qaddoum neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. ‘Owidah said that he lives in a room and living room in Silwan village, along with his mother, his wife and their 5 kids.

In 2019, he built a new house to live in it with his family. He indicated that the 70-square-meter house was comprised of 2 rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. He added that he could not complete the house construction due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, but he was intending to live in it within few weeks. ‘Owidah pointed out that in last August, he received an administrative demolition notice, and he managed to delay the demolition several times, but the Israeli District Court issued a self-demolition notice against his house and gave him until 09 January 2022 to implement the decision. Also, the court ordered him to pay 25,000 NIS in order to freeze the demolition. He said that he was forced to self-demolished the house to avoid paying more than NIS 100,00 as construction fees for the municipality staff, and to stop IOF storming to his house which caused fear among his children. ‘Owidah indicated that his children lost their hopes and dreams after demolishing their house and he stressed that he attempted several times to license the house, but in vain.

  • At approximately 10:00, Jamal Abu Nijmah implemented the Israeli Municipality’s decision and self-demolished his commercial facility in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. Abu Nijmah said that in 2010, he built a small cafeteria and a 35-square-meter room above it, but the Israeli Municipality issued a demolition order against it and gave him until the end of this week to implement the demolition or he will be fined. He added that in 2000, the municipality built a road in his land and demolished a store that was built on the land, and IOF now forced him to demolish his cafeteria, his only source of income.
  • At approximately 09:00 on Monday, 03 January 2021, IOF distributed demolition notice to 8 inhabited and under-construction residential houses, a mosque, and a civilian facility in Nahalin village, west of Bethlehem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Mayor of Nahalin village’s municipality, Saleh Fanoun, said that IOF notified to demolish houses and facilities in al-Raha and Qurnet al-‘Adasa areas, southwest of the village. He indicated that the notified houses and facilities were:
  • Husam Mahmoud Najajrah’s under-construction house (one floor);
  • Bahaa Yehia Najajrah’s 1-storey-house;
  • Shadi Ahmed Zayid’s 2-stroey-house;
  • Ghanem Hasan Najajrah’s under-construction house (2 floors);
  • RaiedYousef Shakarna’s under-construction house (3 floors);
  • Mohammed Hani ‘Awad’s 2-storey-house;
  • Mohammed Yehia Najajrah’s 1-storey house;
  • Mohammed Yousef ‘Awad’s under-construction house (2 floors); an under-construction mosque, and
  • Sameh ‘Atif Najajrah’s facility.

It should be noted that Nahalin village is subjected to unprecedented settlers’ attacks, as during the past month, Israeli bulldozers demolished a residential house and 4 agricultural rooms and greenhouses, and distributed dozens of demolition notices to houses and facilities in the village. Also, IOF confiscated more than 97% of Nahalin village lands, as its area decreased since 1948, from 23,000 dunums to 7,000, of those there is 1,000 dunums taken for the structural scheme and cannot be surpassed in construction; while 3,000 other dunums remain under the threat of confiscation.

  • At approximately 11:00, Israeli Municipality distributed notices to demolish houses and commercial and agricultural facilities, and distributed summonses to citizens. They also hung a cease-construction notice on al-Taqwa Mosque in Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. Activist and Member of Isawiya follow-up committee, Mohammed Khader Abu al-Humus, said that municipality staff along with police officers moved into the southern side of Isawiya village, where they photographed residential houses, hung demolition notices, and distributed summonses to refer to the municipality. Abu al-Humus clarified that the municipality staff photographed al-Taqwa under-construction Mosque and other buildings surrounded int. They also hanged a cease-construction notice on the mosque, under the pretext of non-licensing, or the mosque will be demolished upon an administrative demolition notice. Abu al-Humus indicated that the municipality staff handed other citizens notices to demolish their agricultural facilities in the village, including two barracks belonging to Naser ‘Obaid and Ahmed ‘Abed al-Nabi.
  • At approximately 04:00 on Tuesday, 04 January 2022, Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished a commercial barrack and confiscated a container in Az-Za’ayyem village, east of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. ‘Abed al-Rahman Abu Irmilah, a commercial barrack’s owner, said that IOF raided his barrack without prior warning and demolished it. He added that the 200-square-meter barrack belongs to his factory, which was previously demolished by IOF at the entrance to al-Ram village, east of occupied East Jerusalem, 2 months ago. He said that IOF confiscated a container for goods and threatened him not to construct any building on the land.
  • At approximately 06:00 on Tuesday, 04 January 2022, Israeli military construction vehicles demolished a building belonging to ‘Abdullah al-Sheikh Medical Center in al-Qonbur neighborhood in Jabel Mukaber village, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing.

Executive Director of ‘Abdullah al-Sheikh Medical Center, Ghasan Jalajel, said that Israeli municipal bulldozers demolished a tip-plate building (85 sqm) annexed to the ‘Abdullah al-Sheikh Medical Center. The building includes an emergency room for vaccination against the Coronavirus. Jalajel clarified that the vaccination room is annexed to the medical center a year and a half ago and const at least 250,000 NIS, in order to provide services for thousands of people in the village, as more than 1200 citizens got vaccinated. Jalajel added that the medical center has received a demolition notice from the Israeli municipality 4 months ago, and the center managed to stop the demolition and obtained a decision to delay the demolition a week ago. He pointed out that the court judge requested an inquiry from the municipality until the ninth of this month, to obtain its response about the reason for demolishing the medical center. He said that he and the employees were shocked by demolishing the center without prior warning and not allowing them to get its contents out. Also, IOF pushed him and forcibly deported him from the area.

  • At approximately 10:00, Israeli military construction vehicles demolished Suhaib al-Rajbi’s house in Beit Hanina village, north of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Al-Rajbi said that he built a new floor above his house (established more than 23 years ago) in Beit Hanina village. He added that he resides there along with his wife and their 3 children. Al-Rajbi indicated that 3 years ago, the Israeli Municipality issued a demolition decision against his house and imposed construction fines on him, and he paid them monthly. He said that during the 3 years, he paid 428,000 NIS as construction fines and for the lawyer and other fees in order to delay or freeze the demolition. He pointed out that he was shocked as his house was stormed and surrounded in the morning by a large number of police officers, border guard officers and municipality staff. He immediately phoned the lawyer, who obtained a decision from the court to stop the demolition, but the municipality staff insisted on going through with the demolition and only allowed al-Rajbi to get out his family’s clothes. Al-Rajbi added that his father’s house which is home to his mother and his three brothers was affected by the demolition, as its walls cracked. It should be noted that the demolition order did not include his father’s house. Al-Rajbi clarified that over the past years, he tried to license the house several times, which cost him more than 10,000 NIS, but the municipality obstructed all his attempts to license it.
  • At approximately 10:30, IOF accompanied with Israeli Civil Administration officers and two bulldozers moved into Kherbet Ibziq in northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas City. They demolished two residential tents, 6 livestock tents, 80 steel boards, and 15 cattle feeders. Also, more than ten tons of fodder belonging to Mohammed ‘Ali Nasarallah and his son Mahmoud have been damaged. IOF also demolished two residential tents, 3 livestock tents, a water tanks, a number of steel boards, and a fodder store belonging to ‘Adel Nasrallah Hroub.
  • At approximately 11:00, IOF confiscated an agricultural room built of tin plates and iron in Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Activist and Member of Isawiya follow-up committee, Mohammed Khader Abu al-Humus, said that the municipality staff moved into the eastern side of Isawiya village, and dismantled Sa’d Mostafa’s agricultural room built of tin plates and iron on an area of 15 square meters, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • At approximately 13:00, IOF completed the demolition of Attah Ja’afrah’s house in Jabel Mukaber village, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, noting that they began to demolish the house in the mid of December 2021, under the pretext of non-licensing.

Ja’afrah said that he has built his 90-square-meter house sheltering 11 members, including 6 children, since 2010. He indicated that 10 years ago, the Israeli Municipality pursued him and issued a demolition decision against his house. He said that over the past years, he attempted to freeze the demolition decision, despite imposing heavy fines on him by the Israeli municipality and courts. Ja’afrah added that 15 months ago, the Israeli court issued a final demolition decision against his house and notified him that it will impose a large amount of money on him if he does not self-demolish the house. Ja’afrah could not self-demolish the house, so the municipality staff demolished it partially on 14 December 2021, and completed the demolition in the evening.

  • At approximately 23:00, Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished two livestock barracks in al-Fahiday neighborhood in Anata village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Majed al-Fahidat said that IOF surrounded the neighborhood in the morning and demolished his barrack and another barrack belonging to his brother Saleh without prior warning. He indicated that, the barracks, which have been established for10 years on an area of 130 square meters, shelter 50 livestock.
  • At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022, Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished Sultan Sa’ied al-Helasi’s house on Wadi al-Helwa neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. Al-Helasi said that his 65-square-meter house has built since 2015, and he has been lived in it along with his wife and their 4 kids. He indicated that 4 years ago, the Israeli Municipality pursued him and issued a demolition decision against his house, in addition to imposing a construction fine on him estimated at NIS 33,000. He added that he attempted to license the house, but in vain. Al-Helasi pointed out that the municipality notified him 2 months ago to demolish his house and threatened him to impose a fine of NIS 100,000 on him if he does not self-demolish the house. Accordingly, at the beginning of December 2021, al-Helasi was forced to evacuate his house, removed all windows and doors, and made holes on its walls, but the municipality insisted to demolish the house completely. Al-Helasi said that municipality staff moved into the neighborhood today and closed all streets leading to the house after the military construction vehicles were unable to reach the house. After that, the municipality staff started to demolish the house and destroy its walls via automatic saws.

Setters’ Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and their Property:

  • On Thursday morning, December 30th, 2021, a group of settlers from “Yitzhar” settlement, which is established in southeastern Nablus, attacked Palestinians agricultural lands in Burin village, and cut 46 olive trees belonging to Nimer Mahmoud ‘Issa and Muhaimen Mousa.
  • At approximately 20:30, a group of settlers, from “Homesh” settlement, which is established in northern West Bank, attacked the vehicle of Malek Kamal Tawfiq, from Sebastia village, northwest of Nablus, and broke its rear window while he was passing through Bizzariya village’s intersection, northwest of Nablus.
  • At approximately 21:00 on Sunday, January 2nd, 2022, a group of settlers, from “Ramati Yishai” settlement outpost, which is established on Palestinians’ confiscated lands in Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron, threw stones at Tayseer ‘Adnan Abu ‘Ishaa’ (55)’s house located near the settlement outpost, and cursed him. As a result, some of the house windows were broken. After that, the Israeli police arrived at the area and took the settlers away from the neighborhood.

Closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement of persons and goods:

The West Bank:

In addition to 108 permanent checkpoints and closed roads, this week witnessed the establishment of 35 temporary checkpoints that restrict the movement of goods and individuals, where IOF searched Palestinians’ vehicles, checked their IDs, and arrested one of them. IOF reinforced its restrictions on civilians’ freedom of movement at its permanent checkpoints in the West Bank and shut some checkpoints for several hours on multiple occasions.

Jerusalem:

  • On Thursday, December 30th 2021, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to al-‘Ein neighborhood in Silwan village.
  • On Tuesday, January 4th, 2022, IOF established a checkpoint near Abu Dis village.

Bethlehem:

  • On Thursday, December 30th, 2021, IOF established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to al-Shawawrah and al-Freidis villages as well as in ‘Aqbet Hasnah leading to western Bethlehem villages.
  • On Friday, December 31st, 2021, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Beir Fajjar village.
  • On Sunday, January 2nd, 2022, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the western entrance to Husan village near al-Nashash intersection.
  • On Monday, January 3rd, 2022, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to Jannata village and in ‘Aqbet Hasnah leading to western Bethlehem villages.
  • On Tuesday, January 4th, 2022, IOF established 3 checkpoints near al-Nashash intersection, in ‘Aqbet Hasnah area leading to western Bethlehem villages, and at the entrance to Beit Fajjar village.

Ramallah and al-Bireh:

  • On Friday, 31 December 2021, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to al-Mughayyir village, east of Ramallah.
  • On Saturday, 01 January 2022, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the intersection of “Beit El” settlement on the main road to al-Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah and at the entrance to Deir Nidham village.
  • On Sunday, 02 January 2022, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to al-Nabi Saleh and Turmus ‘Ayya villages.
  • On Monday, 03 January 2022, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Deir Nidham village, northwest of the City.

Jericho:

  • On Friday, 31 December 2021, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to southern and northern Jericho.
  • On Saturday, 01 January 2022, IOF established a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Jericho.
  • On Tuesday, 04 January 2022, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the southern and northern entrances to Jericho and the entrance to ‘Aqbet Jaber refugee camp.

Hebron:

  • On Thursday, 30 December 2021, IOF established 2 checkpoints at Idhna village and Halhoul Bridge in Hebron.
  • On Sunday, 02 January 2022, IOF established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to al-Fawwar refugee camp, al-Shyoukh village, northern Yatta and northern Hebron.

Jenin:

  • On Friday, 31 December 2021, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Romanah village, west of Jenin.

Qalqilya:

  • On Thursday, 30 December 2021, IOF established a checkpoint at the eastern entrance to Qalqilya.

Salfit:

  • On Thursday, 30 December 2021, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Qarawet Bani Hassan village, west of Salfit

Palestinian Refugees are Struggling to Survive amid Lebanon’s Deepening Crisis

December 23, 2021

– Katarzyna Rybarczyk is a Political Correspondent for Immigration Advice Service, an immigration law firm based in the UK but operating globally. Through her articles, she aims to raise awareness about security threats worldwide and the challenges facing communities living in low and middle-income countries. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

By Katarzyna Rybarczyk

As a result of the ongoing Israeli occupation, more than seven million people have fled Palestine to nearby countries. Unfortunately, leaving Palestine does not always mean that their dreams of finding peace and better quality of life are fulfilled. On the contrary, often they find themselves living in degrading conditions and being pushed to the margins of host societies that were supposed to protect them.

In Lebanon, for example, there are nearly half a million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and almost half of them live in the country’s twelve official refugee camps for Palestinians. Not only are the living conditions there very poor but refugees receive practically no support from the state.

The situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon was concerning even before the crisis but now, faced with meager savings, limited employment opportunities, and skyrocketing inflation, they are destitute and unable to meet their basic needs.

Ghetto-like Settlements

Some Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in informal tented settlements, but the twelve official camps have turned into permanent dwellings that resemble small impoverished cities with tall concrete houses.

One of the places that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon now call home is the Shatila refugee camp, located on the outskirts of southern Beirut. Shatila, established in 1949, is known primarily for the Sabra and Shatila massacre that lasted for approximately thirty-six hours from 18:00 on 16 September to 08:00 on 18 September 1982. During this time the Lebanese Christian militia, which was under the command of the Israel Defence Forces, slaughtered as many as 3,500 civilians. The exact number of victims is not and most likely will never be known, though.

Initially, Shatila was supposed to temporarily house five hundred people but since its establishment, the camp has grown tenfold. The biggest problem associated with that is that, as refugees in Lebanon are not allowed to build outside of the state assigned camp areas, the growth has mainly been vertical. To accommodate the rapidly expanding population of the camp, new stories keep being added randomly without careful planning or solid foundations being laid first.

Flags with Yasser Arafat in Shatila. (Photo: Katarzyna Rybarczyk, supplied)

Since Shatila was frequently targeted during the civil war in Lebanon, a significant proportion of the camp was destroyed. To this day, the infrastructure has not been renovated and those who reside there often live in buildings that pose a threat to their lives or that have no windows, doors, or running water.

Furthermore, the Lebanese government does not get involved in what is happening in refugee camps, so there is no garbage collection system in place, no security forces, and no education or healthcare services provided by the state.

The situation is similar in all other Palestinian camps, or even worse in the ones that house more people such as the Ein El Hilweh Camp, which has the largest concentration of Palestinian refugees in the country.

Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon Lack Fundamental Rights

The exclusion of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is apparent not only when looking at the conditions they live in but also at their legal status. They are not entitled to Lebanese citizenship and they pass on the refugee status to their children. That means that even new generations of Palestinians born and raised on the Lebanese territory are stuck in the limbo of limited employment opportunities and being stuck in refugee camps.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not have the right to own property and work in certain skilled professions. Even if they want to undertake menial jobs in agriculture or construction, they face obstacles as many of the Lebanese exercise pressure on them to return to violence-ridden Palestine rather than try to settle down in Lebanon. Consequently, Palestinian refugees work mainly in the informal sector where abuses and exploitation are common.

Moreover, to avoid closing their doors completely during Lebanon’s almost total collapse of the economy, employers often have no choice but to lay off some employees. Sadly, unskilled Palestinian workers are usually the first ones to be let go.

Not being able to obtain Lebanese citizenship, Palestinians cannot get Lebanese identity cards and therefore, they cannot access social assistance and government services. To receive medical help or any other form of humanitarian aid, they need to turn to UNRWA and charities.

But as the demand for their services is rising and the costs of preparing food baskets or distributing medicines are going up, UN agencies and aid groups are struggling to cope with helping all those who need it.

The Palestinian Issue is Not a Priority

With seventy-eight percent of the Lebanese living below the poverty line, the economic meltdown and political crisis have caused unimaginable suffering for a significant part of the country’s population, not only for refugees.

Lebanese families desperately need support to cover basic needs, including food. After all, as the Lebanese lira loses value each day, going grocery shopping often means spending one’s whole monthly wage, now equivalent to around $34.

Hence, aid organizations have been focusing primarily on reaching out to the vulnerable Lebanese. Still, more attention needs to be given to the alarming situation of Palestinian refugees as Lebanon is now their home too.

And yet, looking at the Shatila camp reveals the fact that the conditions Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in are humiliating. Walking around the narrow streets paved with garbage, one is under the impression that those living there are not just ill-treated but have been completely abandoned.

A narrow street filled with waste in the Shatila refugee camp. (Photo: Katarzyna Rybarczyk, supplied)

These people have been in Lebanon for more than seventy years, waiting for the moment when Palestine is stable enough for them to go back. Now, Lebanon is becoming unlivable so thousands fear that they might lose their newly found safety and have to once again seek protection elsewhere.

In Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Palestinian flags can be seen at every corner but instead of representing pride, it seems like they signify longing to return to their motherland. As the prospects of that happening are currently slim, however, Lebanon needs to at least give refugees a chance to live in dignity.

Related News

%d bloggers like this: