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Ministry: Seven new coronavirus cases detected in Gaza

Palestine Information Center – March 26, 2020

GAZA – The ministry of health has announced that seven new coronavirus cases were detected in Gaza Strip.

The ministry said in a terse statement late Wednesday that the new persons affected with the virus had mingled with the first two cases in Gaza detected last Sunday.

It pointed out that the seven new cases were all security personnel who were at the quarantine and still are there and did not leave or mix with anyone else.

The statement noted that no corona victims were reported in the besieged enclave.

The number of corona-infected cases in Gaza has thus reached nine.

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

Maiming Palestinians for Sport is a War Crime

By Marion Kawas | Palestine Chronicle | March 10, 2020

The new Haaretz report entitled “42 Knees in One Day” is a difficult and painful read, and many people of conscience have responded with disgust and rage.

For those few who have not seen the report, it details in chilling fashion the accounts of 6 Israeli snipers who were stationed at the border with Gaza during the Great Return March protests. The report is long and gruesome; I had to put it down and then return to it several times. The “42 knees” reference is the “high count” for how many Palestinians were maimed by a single sniper team in one day.

The overall message is one of devastating impunity and disregard for the sanctity of Palestinian life. Palestinians and their long-time supporters have always known this was the mentality at play, but to see it all compiled in one place, in black and white, in the soldiers’ own words, was damning. Especially here in Canada, where barely a week earlier, it was revealed that the Trudeau government had called on the International Criminal Court not to investigate war crimes accusations against Israel.

“Canada’s longstanding position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state… In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction in this matter under international law,” Canada’s Foreign Ministry reportedly told various media outlets.

This is the same Canadian government that is busy traveling the world trying to get (or buy) votes for a UN Security Council seat. That has sent Joe Clark, a former Prime Minister, to visit multiple Arab countries looking for support; the Joe Clark that pioneered the idea of moving Canada’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem back in 1979, an election promise that he was later forced to abandon.

The same government whose Deputy PM and former foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, informed an Israeli audience in late 2018 that Canada would be an “asset for Israel” at the UN Security Council if it got one of the non-permanent member seats.

Canada, and other governments, must understand that there is a direct trajectory from their unconditional support for Israel to the continuation of Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Hampering the ICC investigation, refusing to accept your own court’s decision on labeling of Israeli settlement wines, smearing pro-Palestinian advocates as “anti-semitic” as happened at York University last year, all of this enables the Israeli government and military to feel they are immune to any sort of accountability.

This new report on Israeli sniper violence against Palestinians is most profound in what lies in the shadows: the Israeli military’s crude but effective approach. Promoting the concept that maiming these Palestinian youth is somehow “more humane” than killing them outright. But permanently disabling them in a poor society with few resources for the healthy let alone the injured, is an equally cruel fate. And a poignant and daily reminder to the rest of that society of the price to be paid for rebellion.

Most of the sniper accounts demonstrated a total lack of appreciation of the consequences or severity of their actions. One said, when talking about the other soldiers and their initial reaction to maiming their victims:

“He has fulfilled himself just now, it’s a rare moment. Actually, the more he does it, the more indifferent he’ll become. He will no longer be especially happy, or sad. He’ll just be.”

The snipers work in a team with a locator and the “42 in one day” soldier, related how he suggested to his locator to take over the shooting when they were getting close to the end of their shift because “he didn’t have knees”.

And “you want to leave with the feeling that you did something”. (Note its just “knees”, not Palestinian lives or limbs.) The parallel here with how sports teams allow rookie players to be involved at the end of a game that they know they are winning, is unmistakable. And it also highlights that these snipers didn’t seem to feel threatened and had few concerns about their own safety.

I realize that the Israeli snipers are themselves indoctrinated kids. But I hate the system and ideology that brought them to this, that placed them on those dirt embankments overlooking the people of Gaza, that made them think this was all “sport” or a video game where the player with the most points wins.

And if I feel such rage thousands of miles away, I can only imagine (and will never judge) how the youth of Gaza and their families must feel.

– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine.

March 10, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hamas condemns continued detention of Palestinian officials in Saudi Arabia

Press TV – March 9, 2020

A Hamas spokesman has condemned the continued detention and prosecution of Palestinian figures in Saudi Arabia over their support for the Palestinian resistance movement, urging Riyadh to immediately release them.

“The national and pan-Arabism duty requires honoring those people and not trying them in this way,” Hazim Qassim told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television on Sunday.

He added that Arab countries should reinforce the Palestinian cause and “not weaken its resistance with such trials”.

The spokesman said Hamas has contacted various parties to secure the release of Palestinian detainees in the kingdom, expressing hope that Saudi authorities would respond to those efforts and release the detainees.

His remarks came as a Saudi court on Sunday held the first hearing in the case of 68 Palestinian and Jordanian detainees.

According to al-Mayadeen, the detainees are charged with “supporting terrorism and financing it” and belonging to “a criminal terrorist entity”.

Senior Hamas official Muhammad al-Khudari and his son Hani, who were arrested last April, were among those who stood trial on Sunday.

Al-Khudari represented Hamas in Saudi Arabia between the mid-1990s and 2003. He has held other important positions in the Palestinian resistance movement as well.

Saudi Arabia’s repressive measures against the Palestinian resistance movement as well as those seeking to collect donations for people living in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip come as the kingdom and Israel are believed to be planning to publicize their secret ties.

Gaza has been blockaded by the Israeli regime since 2007.

Last month, Saudi authorities launched a new campaign of “arbitrary” arrests against Palestinian expatriates on charges of supporting Hamas.

The Prisoners of Conscience, a non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced on February 12 that the kingdom had detained a number of Palestinians, including the relatives or children of those imprisoned last April for the same reason.

Over the past two years, Saudi authorities have deported more than 100 Palestinians from the kingdom, mostly on charges of supporting Hamas financially, politically, or through social networking sites.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 6 Comments

US-Palestinian intelligence talks focus on Abbas’ successor

By Dr Adnan Abu Amer | MEMO | February 24, 2020

Just two days after the announcement of the “deal of the century” in late January, Gina Haspel, director of the CIA, secretly arrived in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, and met with Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian Intelligence Service, and a number of senior Palestinian officials. They assured her that Palestinian-American security coordination would not be affected after the announcement of the deal.

This visit took place after Israel revealed it had thwarted an assassination attempt on Majed Faraj, at the order of Tawfik Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and former head of the General Intelligence Service.

The CIA director’s visit came as a surprise, she could have sent one of her aides or summoned Majed Fatah to Washington. There are some who believe that the visit aimed to persuade the Palestinians to accept the deal of the century.

Perhaps the American security visit is related to the preparation for the succession of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, especially since the visit coincided with the revelation of the assassination attempt on Faraj.

Haspel’s visit came despite Abbas’ announcement that security relations with the Israelis and Americans were being cut, which raised big questions about his credibility.

The information received regarding Haspel’s meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian intelligence leaders indicates that the meetings lasted three days, with 16 officers from both sides participating to discuss in depth scenarios and plans to eliminate the Palestinian resistance system, in the Gaza Strip in particular. They also drew plans to ensure that no chaos occurs in the West Bank that causes the situation to explode in the face of Israel.

On the first day, the meetings discussed all the scenarios to deal with the Palestinian resistance, and the general objectives of each scenario. The second day was dedicated to discussing Palestinian intelligence preparations to implement these scenarios, and on the third day a general American-Palestinian debate was opened to discuss what was described as “creative ideas” to emerge from the crises.

In the end, the meetings concluded with several points, the most important of which is the necessity of progressing from containing Hamas to attacking it, by using the conflicts between the leaders inside Palestine and abroad, and inciting against its leader, Ismail Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran and his participation in Qassem Soleimani’s funeral. This constituted clear proof of the political failure to contain the movement, either by Israel or Egypt. Moreover, Hamas’ attempts to strengthen its relationship with Hezbollah and its failure to comply with the Egyptian conditions of not visiting Iran both serve the interest of the same conviction.

At the end of their meetings in Ramallah, the Palestinian and American security sides concluded that it is not possible to eradicate Hamas, because it has a wide popular base, and therefore a strategy must be worked on to weaken it. In this regard, a proposal was made by the Palestinian general intelligence calling for containing the movement and pushing it to be part of the political system in the context of the PLO, along with draining their sources of funding, in agreement with the US Treasury.

This conclusion, reached by Faraj’s men in the Palestinian intelligence services with their American counterparts, or rather their handlers, is related to what Hamas revealed in April 2019 about the details of a long-term plan prepared by the PA’s intelligence services to ignite an internal conflict in the Gaza Strip, in preparation for changing the political reality in Gaza. It is a plan directly supervised by Majed Faraj, which aims to create chaos and disrupt the masses in the Gaza Strip, as well as affect the harmony and coordination between Hamas, which manages the affairs in Gaza, and the rest of the Palestinian factions.

The American visit may also relate to asking Faraj and his security apparatus, which controls the West Bank, to maintain a state of security in it, and not to allow popular demonstrations and mass activities to take place that may spiral out of control to become confrontations with the Israeli army.

Faraj, 58, has been at the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service since 2009, and holds the rank of major general. He was born in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, in the south of the West Bank. He is considered the highest figure among the heads of the Palestinian security services, the only one who practices political activity, and the closest to Abbas. He is directly responsible for contact with the Israelis, participating actively in the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians in 2014. He is well known to all international players, and is the main partner in the reconciliation talks with Hamas.

In coincidence with Haspel’s visit to Ramallah, the Israeli media revealed it had thwarted an attempt to assassinate Majed Faraj. This was met with official Palestinian silence, which may suggest the authenticity of the Israeli narrative, because it reveals the secret struggle over the succession of Abbas, who is turning 85.

The Palestinian Preventive Security Service arrested a cell of Fatah members who intended to target Faraj and his family. Some of its members were former Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons with links to Major General Tawfik Tirawi, a member of the Central Fatah Committee, and the former head of the Palestinian Intelligence Agency.

Tirawi is said to have good relations with Muhammad Dahlan, the dismissed Fatah official and the personal archenemy of Abbas and Faraj.

The Preventive Security Services located the weapons and explosives in possession of the members of the cell who planned to bomb Faraj’s private vehicles after following his family members.

Faraj is considered one of the people with a very high chance of his succeeding Abbas as president. The man in command of the intelligence definitely has American-Israeli acceptance, as well as acceptance from countries that are influential inside the Palestinian territories, particularly Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, because everyone in Palestine is aware that any future president must be the result of regional and international understandings.

He has a strong network of relationships with senior CIA officers making him the main and likely favourite of Israel and the US due to his ability to provide adequate security in the West Bank, after his ability to eradicate Hamas, confiscate its weapons and limit its military influence. The group has already taken a hit in the West Bank due to Faraj’s efforts.

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Land in eastern Gaza declared a disaster zone due to Israel use of herbicides

MEMO | February 4, 2020

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture declared arable lands in eastern Gaza to be a disaster zone on Monday, after the Israeli army repeatedly sprayed the area with chemical herbicides.

Despite a year-long break from such practices, the Israeli authorities confirmed on 22 January that they have resumed unannounced the spraying of herbicides along the fence along the nominal border of the Gaza Strip, Haaretz has reported. It was said by the Ministry of Defence to be necessary “based on security needs… but solely [takes place] within Israel territory.”

However, an investigative report by Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, found that “aerial spraying by commercial crop-dusters flying on the Israeli side of the border mobilised the wind to carry chemicals into the Gaza Strip, at damaging concentrations.”

Analysis of first-hand videos from fields close to the border fence revealed Israeli armed forces using smoke from a burning tyre to confirm the westerly direction of the wind, ensuring that the chemicals landed in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said it has acted under the country’s “Plant Protection Law”, which enforces regulations on plant protection and the monitoring and prevention of diseases. Officials thus claim that spraying practices at the Gazan border are identical to those used across the country.

However, such use of chemicals between 2014 and 2018 damaged 14,000 acres of land in Gaza, destroying all the crops grown there. The latest spraying has damaged an estimated 2,000 acres of land so far, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture reported.

According to the Guardian, no Palestinians have ever received compensation for the damage caused by the spraying of chemicals by the Israelis, despite a petition from human rights groups in Haifa and Gaza. In contrast, farmers in the Israeli agricultural town Nahal Oz allegedly received compensation in 2015 after suing the authorities for the loss of crops.

Forensic Architecture reported that herbicide spraying predominantly takes place during key harvest periods, targeting spring and summer crops, with Glyphosate the most commonly used chemical. However, Glyphosate was declared “carcinogenic in humans” by the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Research Agency in March 2015. The chemical has since been ruled safe for use by various US and European safety agencies, although several environmental groups have opposed this ruling.

The UN Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) noted concerns over the ability to predict where, and in what concentration, toxic chemicals will land. In a report to the General Assembly in September 2019, it was said that as “damage cannot be reasonably predicted by the army… such herbicides should not be used in such close proximity to the fence.”

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Israel continues to flood Gaza farmland

February 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel is systematically poisoning one million Palestinian children

By Robert Inlakesh | Press TV | January 2, 2019

We have now entered 2020, the year in which experts at the United Nations (UN) once predicted Gaza would become unlivable. But the sad reality is not only that those same experts said that Gaza was already unlivable in 2017, but that now the population of 2 million residing in Gaza are under the real threat of genocide.

Sara Roy of Harvard University’s Centre for Middle Eastern studies, who is considered the leading scholar on Gaza’s economy, has written that “innocent human beings, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned in Gaza by the water that they drink and likely by the soil in which they plant.” So let us break down that statement, based upon the data available to us.

The population of the Gaza Strip is over 2 million strong, more than 50% of which are children (18 and under). Ninety-seven percent of Gaza’s water is undrinkable with only the upper 10% of Gaza’s population having access to clean water according to the UN. If we take these statistics and we look at them critically that would mean that according to conservative estimates only 40% of Gaza’s children are consuming water that is fit for human consumption. This means that parents in the Gaza Strip are forced to make the decision to allow their children to drink contaminated water in order for them to survive.

Israel which has enforced its illegal blockade of Gaza since 2006 – although Zionist propagandists claim it started in June of 2007, which is incorrect – is under international law required to provide Gaza with the ability to sustain itself. Gaza is not a State; it is not a sovereign territory in of itself. According to the UN Gaza constitutes part of what is called the Palestinian occupied territories, with the focus here being on the word “occupied.”

According to the 4th Geneva Convention, Israel is required under International Law to provide the ability for Gaza and the West Bank to sustain an environment of livability. Israel will argue, however, that Gaza specifically is not occupied; that it withdrew in 2005. However it still controls the population registry, the entries and exits, all imports and exports, the electromagnetic sphere, the armistice lines (what Israel calls the border), the territorial waters, airspace as well as having a monopoly on the electricity in Gaza. Israel controls Gaza through and through; meaning that if Israel does not declare an occupation, it is a de facto annexation of the territory.

In excess of 108,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage water flows into the Mediterranean Sea from Gaza. This is due to a lack of power for Gaza’s desalination plant and the lack of building material required to expand, both of which are due to Israel’s policies towards the besieged coastal enclave. The situation is so bad that not only is Gaza’s sea water heavily contaminated, leading to deaths as recently as last year, but also Israel’s Askalan (Ashkelon) based desalination plant periodically halts operations due to the pollution, showing that Israel is willing to put the purification of 20% of its own water at jeopardy in order to punish the Gaza Strip.

Rising from the problem of water contamination is also disease. Gidon Grumberg, the founder and director of Israel’s ‘Ecopeace’, told the Jerusalem post in 2016 that Gaza is a ticking time bomb for cholera and typhoid epidemics. Since then there have been repeated calls for a change to be made to Gaza’s lack of clean water by various experts. If a change is not made in 2020 then Gaza could become a hotbed for disease the way that Yemen has, again due to an illegally imposed blockade.

Beyond the water problem are also numerous other issues plaguing Gaza, all of which are again due to Israel’s illegally imposed – for nearly 15 years now – siege. Upwards of 80% of Gaza’s population are reliant upon international food aid in order to survive, with Israel enforcing a policy of “putting the people of Gaza on a diet,” entailing that Israel counts the minimum caloric intake for the Gazan population to stay alive. Israel of course controls the food aid coming into the Gaza Strip and even makes a profit off of it. The restrictions Israel applies to food coming into Gaza is also used as a political tool in order to punish the Palestinians for their acts of resistance against Israel.

The conservative estimates, according to the United Nations, also indicate that Gaza’s youth unemployment rate is close to hitting 70% with an overall unemployment rate recorded to be at around 50%. Israel also has repeatedly blocked Palestinian cancer patients from entering Israel in order to receive life-saving treatment. Not only this, but due to the lack of power in Gaza, cardiac monitors and X-ray machines become unreliable. In the first half of 2019, the Gaza Health Ministry, which has a regular budget of $40 million a year, had only 10 million dollars worth of supplies available to them and in July (2019) declared a warning of an unprecedented shortage of medicine and medical supplies. According to the World Health Organization 39% of Gaza applications for cancer patients to exit the blockaded Strip were “unsuccessful” in 2018.

Gaza’s population is subjected to sewage regularly flooding, after rainfall, into the streets and causing sickness, especially amongst the poorer population. Even the more well-off, financially, of Gaza’s population, whom of which reside in areas such as Gaza City (North East Gaza), are losing their wealth. Specifically the residents of the al-Rimal area, who are viewed by many as living in an area of prestige are having to flee to places like Istanbul, or become refugees abroad and are losing their families’ assets due to an absence of income.

Gaza currently survives on a few hours of electricity per day, this is due to the fact that Israel put a cap on the amount of electricity it allows into Gaza, as well as the fact that Israel has bombarded and destroyed Gaza’s electrical grid and power plants, on various occasions. The sole, partially destroyed by bombardment, power plant in Gaza is also in a semi-operational state due to the cutting of diesel fuel from the Strip in early 2018, after the Palestinian Authority stopped paying for the fuel.

As of February 2018, the Gaza Strip has been in a “state of emergency.” Enduring, since the beginning of the siege, eight large-scale military offensive massacres by Israel, with hundreds of smaller bombardments coming in between.

A 17 year old in Gaza would have experienced Israeli internal occupation, a 15 year long ever tightening siege, 8 large scale massacres, hundreds of other attacks, three wars, the constant buzzing of drones, the deaths of friends and family, temporary or permanent displacement and the list goes on and on.

To top this all off, when the people of Gaza rose up in their hundreds of thousands non-violently, beginning on the 30th March (2018), they were ignored by the world which has done nothing to stop Israel for its murder of 330+ unarmed demonstrators and the injuring of approximately 40,000. Until now, the demonstrations are still ongoing on a weekly basis and no Israeli soldiers have been killed or sustained any serious injuries.

According to International Law, the people of Gaza have every right to use armed force in order to struggle for self determination and to end the siege. Israel has no claim to a “right of self defence”, just as a rapist would have no claim to a right of self defence against their rape victim, and the next time we hear of Israel’s “right” in anyway to use force, we must know that whoever repeats this is contradicting the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Aviv Kochavi said recently in a speech pertaining to a future war against Gaza, that Israel will target electrical, agricultural and other structural components, which according to Israel contribute to keeping Hamas – Gaza’s governing Party – afloat. This means that if Israel does begin a new massacre (war) against Gaza – or Hamas as they will claim – then it will mean that all the statistics listed off above will accelerate to unprecedented numbers and that Gaza will become even more uninhabitable.

The only questions now left to be answered are, what will stop Israel from completely genociding the people of Gaza? and how will the worlds future generations look at us today for allowing this holocaust to occur against the people of Palestine. One million Palestinian children are being systematically poisoned by Israel and there is nothing but deafening silence.

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO, and various other outlets. He specializes in analysis of the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel. He also works for Press TV as a European correspondent.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 19 Comments

Gaza’s Local Industries in Ruins as 500 Factories are about to Close

Palestine Chronicle – December 29, 2019

2019 was one of the worst years for local Gaza economy that is struggling to stay afloat despite the hermetic Israeli blockade.

Palestinian sources told Quds News Network that over 500 factories, which have provided much of Gazans’ domestic needs, will shut down by the end of this year, due to the increasingly dire economic situation in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Successive Israeli wars and a prolonged, suffocating siege imposed on the heavily-populated enclave for over twelve years, are the main reasons for Gaza’s economic misfortunes, where, as of September 2019, unemployment has soared to 46.7%.

According to the General Union of Palestinian Industries, “2019 was even worse than the year before as 520 factories have been (or about to) shut down this year while other factories moved outside the Strip to Jordan or Egypt, leading to layoffs and increased unemployment among other social and humanitarian problems,” Quds News reported.

A World Bank report issued in September 2018 had already warned that Gaza’s economy was experiencing “free fall”.

“A combination of war, isolation, and internal rivalries has left Gaza in a crippling economic state and exacerbated the human distress,” said Marina Wes, the World Bank’s director for the region, at the time.

“The occupation state has targeted all kinds of economic installations during its wars on the besieged enclave,” Quds News reported.

“It also prevents Gaza’s importation of much essential material and equipment”.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli forces attack final round of weekly protests in Gaza

Press TV – December 27, 2019

Israeli forces have attacked Palestinians taking part in the final round of protests held on a weekly basis near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the occupied territories, leaving a number of protesters injured.

Palestinian media outlets reported that the Israeli forces shot and injured protesters in the east of Jabalia and the east of Khan Yunis on Friday.

Tens of Palestinians also suffered from suffocation due to inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli troops in the eastern part of Gaza.

The “Great March of Return” rallies have been held every week since March 30 last year. The Palestinians want the return of those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.

Israeli troops have killed at least 307 Palestinians since the beginning of the rallies and wounded more than 18,000 others, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.

In March, a United Nations fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

The protest organizers announced on Thursday that the rallies would be suspended until March 2020, after which it would be held on a monthly basis.

Yousri Darwish, a member of the Supreme National Committee of the Marches of Return, said the decision to suspend the rallies was made in the best interest of the Palestinian people.

He said preparations for the commemoration of the Land Day would be done in the upcoming few months in which the protests would stop. The annual event is held on March 30 to mark the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces during mass protests against Israel’s seizure of their land in 1976.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 3 Comments

Israel allows only 55 Palestinian Christians from Gaza to enter West Bank for Christmas

MEMO | December 24, 2019

Israeli authorities have only allowed 55 Christians in the Gaza Strip to enter the West Bank and Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas, according to local news agency Ma’an.

The Orthodox Church in Gaza said among the 600 official requests that were submitted to Israel, occupation authorities agreed to grant travel permits to just three children and 52 Palestinian elders mostly over the age of 60.

This came after the Israeli Defence Ministry said in a statement on Sunday it would allow Palestinian Christians in Gaza to visit Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank “in accordance with security assessments and without regard to age”, reversing an earlier decision not to issue them permits, a move that was met with immediate backlash by Christian Palestinian leaders as well as Gisha, an Israeli rights group.

A spokesperson from the liaison office, known as Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), had told Reuters that Christians in the Gaza Strip were barred from visiting holy cities through the Erez crossing this Christmas season.

Gaza, which suffers from high unemployment and faces electricity blackouts and drinking water shortages, has only around 1,000 Christians, most of them Greek Orthodox, in a population of two million in the narrow coastal strip.

Israel claims that a number who have been granted travel permits in recent years have remained in the West Bank and have not returned to Gaza.

Israel tightly restricts movements out of the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s Christians who plan to travel to the West Bank for Christmas or Easter have to apply to Israel in advance to obtain a temporary single-use travel permit from Israel’s COGAT.

The main attractions in Bethlehem are the 4th-century Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, and the 16-metre (52-foot) Christmas tree in Manger Square.

Last year, Israel granted permits for close to 700 Gaza Christians to travel to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and other holy cities that draw thousands of pilgrims each holiday season.

At Easter this year, similar restrictions were imposed by Israel, 300 Christian Palestinians from Gaza were allowed to visit the West Bank and Jerusalem for Easter “only after public pressure on Israel to change its initial decision to bar them from entering”.

 

December 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 4 Comments

Israeli media campaign targets Palestinian journalist as well as Jeremy Corbyn

Palestinian journalist Walid Mahoumd (Photo from Twitter)
By Robert Inlakesh | Press TV | December 18, 2019

On Sunday, in the wake of the UK election, the Israeli media released a fabricated story, accusing a well-known Palestinian journalist in Gaza of being part of Hamas and an administrator on the ‘We Support Jeremy Corbyn’ Facebook page.

The story was first published on Tazpit (TPS) News, an Israeli media agency, and was later picked up by Right Wing press in the United States. The information was then repeated throughout Israeli media in both English and Hebrew. By Monday, the Jeremy Corbyn supporting group, that has over 70,000 members, was labeled as an “influential” group linked to Hamas by The Times of Israel.

But the story in of itself was built on erroneous claims. The Gazan journalist Walid Mahoumd – referred to by another alias, Walid Abu Rouk, by the Israeli media – is to the best of his own knowledge, not a Hamas member. There is also no information that has been provided to corroborate this claim and when I questioned him on the issue he had the following to say.

“I am not a member of Hamas. I cannot recall when I was made an administrator on the page. I have never posted anything on the page about Jeremy Corbyn. This is not the first time they have attacked me like this. They just want anything to attack Corbyn.” Needless to say, this was not what the original article on the matter from TPS quoted him saying.

TPS News claim that they spoke to Walid over the phone and that he confirmed to them that he had maintained a role as a manager of the page until recently and still has connections to pro-Corbyn activists. But when I reached out to Walid Mahmoud, he told me that he was called by an Israeli journalist about a month ago, who “bragged about being in the army and now being a journalist.” He told me that he declined to comment for the Israeli news outlet as he boycotts Israel. Walid said that the Israeli spoke to him in Arabic and bragged about his role in COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), which participates directly in enforcing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and besiegement of Gaza.

In a Facebook post, Walid Mahmoud has written that he now fears for his life, due to being labeled a Hamas member and that Israel could now justify targeting him in an attack, such as an airstrike against his home. He also stresses that the man, who called him to ask for information had threatened him if he did not cooperate.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, has over the course of his election campaign endured a relentless campaign from pro-Israeli groups and beyond, accusing his Party of anti-Semitism. One of the smears used against Corbyn is that he referred to Hamas as his friends. It would be perceived that those who created this story, did so believing that tying a Facebook page, which disseminates information about Corbyn, to Hamas, would hurt Corbyn in the elections.

The problem with the numerous articles written by the likes of The Jerusalem Post about Walid’s alleged links to Hamas, is that they have no verifiable information which could possibly prove the well-known journalist’s connection to the governing force in Gaza, nor his position on the Facebook page itself. This leaves many to the assumption that the claim being made is based upon the racist notion that all Gazans are somehow linked to Hamas, a theme which Israel used repeatedly when justifying its recent murder of over 300 protesters in Gaza’s Great Return March.

Walid Mahmoud is a journalist, photojournalist, and peace activist who resides in Khan Yunis (southern Gaza Strip). He is someone that I have personally known for around four years now. He has written in English for the likes of Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye and his work on the ground in Gaza has been shared by progressive Jewish groups in the United States such as Jewish Voice For Peace.

Walid has quite literally put his life on the line to bring the world information from the Gaza Strip, witnessing his colleagues die in front of his eyes from Israeli fire in the Great Return March. On the 30th of March this year, he was even shot at by an Israeli sniper and barely escaped death, with his camera blocking the bullet from hitting his head.

During Israel’s 2014 bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which it dubbed ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ Walid’s home was bombed by Israeli missile fire. Walid Mahoumd has endured living through Israeli occupation when he was younger, followed by eight large-scale military operation by Israel against Gaza after the enforcement of the illegal siege.

Now, he is being punished for merely talking about what he sees around himself. If for instance, he is to travel now, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine this process being made more difficult for him and his family. Hamas is considered by most Western countries to be “a terrorist organization” and despite not being a member, he could be perceived as such due to the numerous articles online claiming this.

Walid told me that he would like to take legal action against TPS for their smears and urges all those who published this disinformation to take it down. However, because he lives in Gaza this suing an Israeli news outlet will be an extremely difficult process. All of this trouble coming Walid’s way because of an article, which reads like a conspiracy theorist blog post claiming proof of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur being alive and well in Cuba.

The TPS article claims to have sources inside of Gaza, which they say told them about a supposed Hamas connection to Abu Rouk, yet they fail to provide the names of any such sources. It claims to have intelligence about London-based activists making Walid Mahmoud an administrator of the ‘We Support Jeremy Corbyn’ page, yet they provide no names of those who supposedly made him an administrator. TPS News then claim that Walid, under the supervision of Hamas, still communicates with London Labour activists.

Instead of providing any material evidence of such libelous claims, the article then goes on to claim that because Walid Mahmoud writes for MEMO, Al Jazeera, and the Middle East Eye, that he is therefore connected directly to the Muslim Brotherhood.

What made matters worse was that prominent Islamaphobe Robert Spencer then decided to post this information on his blog site ‘Jihad Watch,’ making Walid a potential target for online Islamaphobic hate mail.

Walid in a Facebook post on the whole matter writes the following points to clear up the situation from his own perspective:

“1- At no point in time was I ever associated with Hamas. I have even been arrested and interrogated by Hamas before in regard to my humanitarian work in Gaza. I’m entirely politically unaffiliated and only represent myself.

2- I was invited to be a co-admin on a pro-Corbyn fan page because I was asked to post occasional updates about daily life in Gaza under blockade. I used my own name for every post I made, without ever hiding.

3- There’s no way I would ever interfere with the UK election — I never posted a single post on the Corbyn Fan page supporting Mr. Jeremy Corbyn or even discussing the Labour Party.

4- I’ve only learned about (and became very fond of) Mr. Corbyn through his crucial support and recognition of our basic humanity, something that usually is ignored by other British politicians. I was never asked to run any activities supportive of him by any party whatsoever.

5- The Israeli journalist, Baruch Yedid, who fabricated this report about me relies only on one anonymous source falsely claiming that my ‘excellent command of English’ is why I was chosen by Hamas. This is total nonsense.”

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, MEMO, and various other outlets. He specializes in analysis of the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel. He also works for Press TV as a European correspondent.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Western Media Bias Allows Israel to Get away with Murder in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | November 16, 2019

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well.

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organizations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western monopoly media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught — that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American corporate counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians — making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, — who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a right-wing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (right-wing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.


Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. He is athor of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle and his latest My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Gaza Israel Escalation Explained: Who Started It, Where Is It Going And Why?

Palestinian medical workers tend to wounded children of a family six of whose members were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in the central Gaza Strip’s Deir al-Balah, November 14, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
By Robert Inlakesh | American Herald Tribune | November 14, 2019

Earlier this Tuesday morning, Israel initiated airstrikes against Northern Gaza Strip killing the senior commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Baha Abu al-Ata (43 years old),  Asma Mohammed (39 years old) and twenty-year-old Mohammed Atiyah.

This ‘targeted assassination’ of a PIJ leader in Gaza was not the end of the Israeli mission, however. Another round of Israeli airstrikes was then launched targeting Western Mezzeh in Damascus, Syria, targeting Akram Ajjouri, a deputy leader in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement. The strike took place at roughly 4:20 A.M in the morning and hit the residence of the PIJ commander, killing his son, injuring his daughter and murdering a bodyguard named Abdallah Hassan. The strike also injured 10 others, missing the Akram Ajjouri who escaped the blast.

In response to these ‘targeted assassinations’, as Israel calls them, both Islamic Jihad and Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at Israeli towns and cities.

Over 450 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, striking Tel Aviv, Sderot, and Ashekolon and even triggering alarms as far away as Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the al-Quds brigades, have vowed to continue their responses.

Israel has also fired hundreds of Missiles into Gaza, destroying 190 homes, injuring over 111 (mostly civilians) and killing over 34. Included in the dead have been at least 8 children and 3 women in Gaza. Israel has also damaged 15 schools with their airstrikes and attacked a power facility, shutting off the electricity supply in Eastern Gaza.

The rocket fire into Israel has proven to have successfully overwhelmed Israel’s air defense systems, specifically its Iron Dome air defense systems. Considering the fact that most of the rockets fired are nothing more than enhanced fireworks, this is extremely embarrassing to Israel and proves that its systems are a failure. Reports have also surfaced indicating that one of Gaza’s armed factions scored a direct hit, using an RPG, on an Israeli Merkava Tank. Despite the rocket fire destroying homes, vehicles, and roads, no Israeli civilians have been killed.

Israel clearly started the recent round of hostilities in Gaza, it has killed and injured overwhelming non-combatants and has somehow received, yet again, favorable coverage in the Western Press.

The BBC, FOX NEWS, SKY, MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the alphabet soup of corporate media outlets, have joined in on the anti-Palestinian hasbara narrative once again. Despite the fact that Israel committed a flagrant violation of the Syrian Arab Republics’ sovereignty, it killed a Palestinian leader without any due legal process and has been the all-out aggressor and only side to inflict civilian casualties.

The mainstream Western media, in fact, deals such a detriment to the journalistic field of work – when it comes to Palestine/Israel – that it is probably better to receive your news straight from the IDF twitter page than it is from them. At least with the Israeli military propaganda, you are getting the clear propagandistic perspective of Israel. Instead of listening to a loosely put together, poorly packaged, piece of romantic action drama, just listen to the Israeli foreign ministry. You will then have one side of the story and not just hasbara constructed to present specifically to an assumed ignorant Western audience, in order to garner support for Israel.

The Return Of Targeted Assassinations?

A widely repeated claim that is being spread throughout Western media, is that Israel has just resumed its policy of ‘targeted assassinations’ and that it hasn’t been involved in such activities in years. This is incorrect.

Israel has consistently carried out targeted assassinations inside of Syria, this year, targeting Iranian military personnel, Hezbollah and others. In fact, just back in September there was nearly a war sparked between Lebanon and Israel due to a campaign of ‘targeted assassinations’ of Hezbollah members.

The only thing that has changed this week, is that Israel has resumed its assassination campaign against Palestinian leaders. A particularly dangerous development as the last war on Gaza in 2014 was started, in part, as a result of ‘targeted assassinations’.

Another problem with the reporting on this issue has been the way the term “targeted assassinations” itself is being used, implying that the target is, in fact, a single person when this is clearly not the case. Entire families of those targeted from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership, have also been injured and killed in the attacks.

This policy is a cowardly one, one not rooted in international law, and seeks to kill members of groups with their entire families whilst they are defenseless and without any legal process.

Why Is Israel Attacking Gaza Now?

In order to understand Israel’s decision to target the Islamic Jihad leadership, we have to keep in mind two key factors, both Israeli and Palestinian politics.

The first reason for Israel’s recent acts of aggression is that the Israelis are likely concerned about the recent developments on the Palestinian political scene. All of the Palestinian factions have come together and decided that it is time to hold new elections in the occupied territories.

There have been numerous failed proposals for new elections and unity before, yet it has failed time and time again, but this time it seems to really be a possibility. This, of course, scares the Israelis, because they know that if any other factions, other than Fatah, win in the West Bank, Israel will have to deal with a new type of resistance from West Bankers.

More important though, is that there will also likely be an end to the ‘security coordination’ between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation army, which allows Israel to operate its cost-free occupation of the territory.

If these strikes escalate into war, then the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas’s Fatah Party, will likely abandon the idea of elections and condemn Gaza’s aggression. We can assume this as in 2014, unity government talks were ongoing and the prospects for it to go further were completely destroyed upon the war’s initiation. In 2014, the war was also started after targeted assassinations of Hamas officials.

The second reason for Israel wanting to initiate a war or even just launch these, so-called ‘targeted assassination’ strikes is the current election deadlock Israel finds itself in. After Israel’s snap elections on the 17th of September, the Israeli regime has been in shambles, with a possible third election on the horizon within the space of one year.

Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given the first chance at forming a coalition in the Israeli Knesset, despite winning one less seat than his rival Benny Gantz. Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s Right-Wing Likud Party was then unable to form a coalition and passed the torch onto his rival Benny Gantz, heading the Blue and White Party. Gantz is still unable to form a coalition.

If a third snap election happens, Netanyahu who is still the reigning PM will have to deal with the “Gaza problem” which has led to him losing many votes in the past, especially in the South of Israel. So executions of the leadership in Gaza, are a great PR move for Netanyahu and a war, or even more, targeted assassinations could help him win the next election.

Netanyahu’s Revenge On Gaza

In order to understand the origins of the current Israeli rage influenced actions, we have to look back to November of 2018, when Israel failed a special forces operation in Gaza, ultimately resulting in the death of an Israeli commander, the death of a Hamas commander and a fight that would ensue in the following hours and days. Israel sought to kidnap a Hamas Al-Qassam brigades commander, Nur Barakah, perhaps wanting to achieve a ‘prisoner swap’ type deal, exchanging him for the bodies of Israelis killed in combat, currently held by Hamas. Israel failed badly and the Israeli press shed light on their failure.

Hamas also successfully used an anti-tank missile, in an attack that destroyed an Israeli bus. Hamas waited for Israel to claim that the bus was full of civilians, before releasing a video that revealed the bus was filled with military personnel. Hamas waited and fired the anti-tank missile, following the departure of all but one soldier, from the bus. This was used, to threaten Israel. The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, claimed that Hezbollah had smuggled the anti-tank missiles into Gaza.

The Salahaldeen Brigades then leaked a video to ‘Al-Mayadeen TV’, revealing an operation from back in February of 2018. The video showed several soldiers being killed, by an explosive laced flag pole. The operation was at the time covered up by an embarrassed Israeli military.

Avigdor Lieberman then resigned as Israel’s ‘Defence Minister’ after Netanyahu refused to go to war. He has been the kingmaker in Israeli politics ever since and his opposition to Netanyahu stems from this escalation in Gaza last November.

This year there has been a number of ‘flare-ups’ all of which Israel has not come out of looking militarily good, they have consistently killed civilians and have been fought off by Gazan armed factions. This is despite the fact that Hamas and the other armed factions in Gaza have much less in terms of weapons technology.

If Netanyahu is to impress the Israeli population with his military campaign against Gaza and can bring Avigdor Lieberman around, he will be able to successfully form a coalition government in the third round of snap elections.

Why Is Violence The Only Option For Gaza?

The response of Palestinian Islamic Jihad is quite literally all that they could have done. The peaceful resistance has been shunned by the world’s media, NGO’s, governments and the United Nations.

Since the 30th of March, 2018, over 330 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by Israeli sniper and tear gas fire, 44,000+ have also been injured since that time. The ‘Great Return March’ demonstrations continue until this day, yet the protesters have been ignored and smeared in the West. This was the last desperate cry from Gaza for a peaceful solution and the West has killed it.

Nothing was done to stop Israel’s massacre and the media described the protests as “clashes”. Hilarious that is that these so-called clashes, have gone on for over a year and a half and yet no Israeli has even sustained so much as a significant wound.

Gaza only has two options at this point, to resist the Israeli aggression with whatever weapons they have, or to lay down and die. The West and Israel will only accept the latter.

What happens next?

The ceasefire which was announced to have taken place at 5:30 A.M this Wednesday has already failed due to Israel not respecting the demands of Islamic Jihad and then later PIJ rocket fire into Israel. The two sides are now firing back and forth again.

Currently, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has stayed out of the fight. If Hamas joins the fight it will likely be an all-out war between Israel and Gaza. Hamas has only stayed out of the fight this long because they seek to allow for Palestinian elections to take place and a war would prevent this from happening.

There will likely be more massacres in the Gaza Strip in the coming days.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments