Briefing Paper September 2017

Gaza Humanitarian Disaster

Gush Shalom Press Release  12 June 2017

The Gaza Strip is in the throes of a humanitarian disaster. It is a crisis with severe, sometimes even fatal, consequences for the two million or so people living there. Without a regular power supply, all aspects of life are harmed; even the water and sewage systems are paralyzed, and untreated sewage flows straight into the Mediterranean. This reality is part of an Israeli policy, of the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza for the past ten years, consigning its residents to living in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world.

Stop abusing Gaza

Ha’aretz 16/6/17

Despite Abbas’ desire, it is up to Israel, and only Israel, to decide if some two million people — including the elderly and the sick — will go on trying to survive with four hours of electricity a day — The days go by, the Palestinian Authority quarrels with Hamas, Israel quarrels with both of them and it’s all at the expense of two million people who have been under siege for about 10 years, and now, in addition, have almost no electricity. About an hour’s drive from central Israel a widespread humanitarian disaster is taking place and Israel, which is largely, even if not solely, responsible for it, is dragging its feet. Instead of renewing the full power supply to the Gaza Strip, Israel plays along with the Palestinian Authority’s political considerations, using them as an excuse to continue the abuse. But no excuse will diminish Israel’s role in the approaching catastrophe.

Suffice it to read the report of Mohammed Yousif Azaizeh, the Gaza field coordinator of Gisha, the Legal Center of Freedom of Movement (Haaretz June 5), to understand the disaster’s dimensions. Azaizeh visited the RantisiChildren’s Hospital this month and described the situation there, with only four hours of electricity service a day. “The situation is catastrophic,” hospital director Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salmia told him. In the hospital’s intensive care unit, children are on respirators powered by a generator that can break down at any moment. “And then we’re really lost,” Abu-Salmia said. The situation is clear-cut. Beyond the indescribable daily suffering of Gazans as a result of the power cuts, the lives of patients, newborns, premature infants, the old and people with disabilities, which depend on a regular power supply, are in danger. Israel must not continue to wait until infants and patients die before putting an end to this maltreatment.

It is difficult to understand how a country that hastens to send humanitarian aid to almost every disaster site in the world, is the first to dispatch military rescue teams and to set up field hospitals, closes its heart and eyes to a humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in its backyard, and is largely its own doing….

Gazans being held hostage by Israeli, PA gamesmanship

Orly Noy +972mag 12/06/17

The Israeli cabinet decided to accept Mahmoud Abbas’ request that the electricity supply to Gaza be cut. The    army has warned against doing so, but it seems that for Israel, Abbas’ interests are more important than people’s lives — …Since mid-April, Gaza’s sole power station has been out of commission, after a deal by Turkey and Qatar to supply the it with fuel came to an end. The situation has created an energy crisis in the Strip — and the consequences are dire. Hospitals, for example, have ceased providing necessary treatments and are relying exclusively on ramshackle generators. This means that water purification systems aren’t functioning, while untreated sewage finds its way to the sea in enormous quantities. Water filters cannot be used, and it is nearly impossible to rely on pumps to clear the sewage from the neighborhoods. All these create real life-threatening situations. The humanitarian disaster we keep hearing about has already taken its toll on Gaza. Even the Israeli army understands this.

Under these circumstances, it is even possible to imagine the repercussions of additional drastic cuts in the electricity supply to Gaza at the height of summer? Gisha emphasizes that Gaza’s energy ministry has no way to ration out resources to, say, hospitals at the expense of other places. In other words, the cuts will certainly have an impact on everything and everyone in the Strip. In an urgent letter sent to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday, Gisha said that “cutting electricity is a red line that must not be crossed. Does Israel not understand the significance of the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza? Or perhaps it understands but does not care? Or maybe it understands it well, and has no qualms about it? On the one hand Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that “we must learn lessons from Gaza 2014. The humanitarian situation there is worsening. We must work to prevent another round of fighting,” just hours after he sat at a cabinet meeting, where it was decided to cut electricity to Gaza, thus rendering another round of fighting inevitable. On the other hand, Intelligence Affairs Minister said on Monday that “Israel has no policy for Gaza, only decisions.” It is possible that Israel has no clear policy vis-a-vis Gaza, but it seems that when it comes to Abbas, there is certainly no lack of policy. As long as he is suppressing the political rivals of the man who is often called “the subcontractor of the occupation,” Israel is happy to help….

Life in a septic tank

Sarah Algherbawi Electronic Intifada 20/06/17

Hiba al-Ashi has to keep the windows of her apartment closed. It is the only way to avoid the foul odors from the polluted sea. “Life has become unbearable,” said the 36-year-old mother, whose Gaza City home overlooks the Mediterranean. Every day, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are discharged into the sea around Gaza. The Gaza Strip’s environmental problems have worsened in recent years … Gaza’s power plant shut down entirely in April this year, and Israel further reduced electricity supply to Gaza this week – a violation of international humanitarian law, according to human rights groups. Electricity is currently available fewer than three hours per day.

One of the results – among others profoundly affecting daily life in Gaza – is that there is not enough power to run sewage treatment facilities in the territory. Desalination plants, which provide most of Gaza’s drinking water, are also operating at significantly reduced capacity. Visiting the beach used to be one of the only possibilities for enjoyment and relaxations for Palestinians living under siege in Gaza. Pollution has narrowed such possibilities. Around 50 percent of Gaza’s beaches are unfit for swimming, according to the local Environment Quality Authority. A number of beaches have been closed to the public. “The pollution rate of the sea water and beaches this year is unprecedented,” said Ahmad Helles, a representative of that authority. “This indicates that there is a real environmental disaster.” According to Helles, both the sand and water are contaminated. The sand, he said, “carries a lot of microbes which may be harmful and cause illnesses in humans.” …

Taysir Abu Saada has lived in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City, for 18 years. He is trying to save money so that he can rent an apartment elsewhere. He wants to “take my family away from this unhealthy atmosphere,” he said. “I feel like we are living in a septic tank, not a real house,” said his 19-year-old daughter Shaima. Wisam Lubad, a 22-year-old student, used to enjoy walking on the beach. Now she has to hold her nose when she ventures towards the shore. “Nothing is well in Gaza,” she said. “That includes the sea – our only escape

‘It we lose power, they’ll be dead in three days.” Gaza’s hospitals on the brink as Palestinian factions feud over electricity

Raf Sanchez The Telegraph 30/06/17

Yasmin Abu Kashaf was wrapped in a blanket and watching her own blood pump in and out of the dialysis machine when the hospitals lights flickered and went out. The 20-year-old, who looks like a teenager and wore a white polka-dot hijab, looked on as the machine she was strapped to stopped working. Nearly half a pint of her own blood was inside it. Other patients in the dialysis ward of Gaza’s Shifa hospital became to scream in fear but Yasmin’s father, a burly construction worker, leapt to his feet and began manually pumping his daughter’s blood. The hospital’s back-up generator eventually rumbled to life and the dialysis machines began to work again. But for Dr Muhammad Shatat, the head of the dialysis centre, the increasingly frequent power cuts in Gaza are an ominous sign of things to come. “When a patient needs dialysis, the machine is their soul,” he said. “If we lose power, they’ll be dead in three days.” ….

Israel ‘turns a blind eye’ to Gaza’s drug influx

Fedaa al-Qedra  Al Jazeera 31/05/17

For a decade, Belal, 45, has been receiving a monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority on one condition: that he stay home and not work under the administration of the rival Hamas movement. With enough money, plenty of time and few options for entertainment in Gaza under the crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Belal began using Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is illegal unless prescribed by a doctor. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been taking the drug as a way to escape the pressures of daily life in the besieged coastal enclave, doctors estimate. “It starts just for fun, but then you cannot do without [the drug] until you ruin your life,” Belal told Al Jazeera from a room in Gaza’s only drug rehabilitation centre, where he has been seeking treatment.

Narcotics, including cannabis, have flooded Gaza in unprecedented quantities in recent months, according to Ahmed Kidra, the head of the local police anti-drug unit. The amounts seized in January alone equaled the total seized in all of 2016, he said, citing nearly $2m in seized hashish bars, Tramadol and ecstasy pills. Kidra accused Israel of plotting to “flood” Gaza with drugs, alleging that it “turns a blind eye” to narcotics when they enter into Gaza hidden inside commercial goods. Israeli authorities did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment in time for publication. Local health professionals have cited near-epidemic levels of Tramadol use throughout Gaza, with growing numbers of addicts….

How long can Gaza survive with no water

Rasha Abou Jalal Al-Monitor 6/08/17

The water crisis caused by ongoing power outages of more than 20 hours a day has pushed Gaza Strip residents to dig unlicensed wells, disregarding the ensuing serious threats to the already scarce aquifer water stock.  At the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel reduced its power supply to Gaza on June 19 from 120 megawatts to 48 megawatts, causing the current water crises. Omar Hamid, the head of a family of nine, told Al-Monitor, “The municipality is delivering water to the citizens’ homes for only two hours every two or three days. This is not sufficient to meet a household’s minimum basic water needs.” He said, “There’s no electricity to operate the water pumps and fill our water tanks. Gaza has been living with barely four hours of power supply a day. This scarce supply of electricity often does not coincide with the supply hours of water pumped from the various municipality wells to the citizens’ homes.”

Like other citizens, Hamid is forced to buy water at a very high price from private local stations to fill his house tank … In order to have access to water, citizens, especially owners of residential buildings, started digging unlicensed wells to pump out water from the already stressed aquifer, Mazen al-Banna, the vice president of the Palestinian Water Authority in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor. “Gaza’s aquifer is overpumped by about 150 million cubic meters [122,000 acre feet] a year, Banna said. Around 220 million cubic meters are drawn each year, but the annual replenishment from rainwater is only 70 million cubic meters, he said. Banna said there are around 10,000 wells across the Gaza Strip, including 300 municipal wells, 2,700 agricultural wells and 7,000 unlicensed wells….

Gaza’s children suffer as Hamas, PA continue conflict

Shlomi Eldar Al-Monitor 29/06/17

Dr. Ra’ad Haj Yehia, a member of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) organization, returned June 26 from the Gaza Strip. He says he still hasn’t recovered from the scenes he saw in the hospitals there. Yehia was summoned to Gaza by medical teams in the Strip who asked the PHRI organization “to come and save lives.” In an interview with Al-Monitor, Yehia says he has not been able to get back into his routine since his return from Gaza after four intensive days of treating patients. “I simply could not bear it; I’m going [home] sick. I saw innocent children who died for no reason, through no fault of their own. The situation is unbearable.” Yehia lives in Neve Shalom, a collective village near Latrun in which Jewish and Arab families live together.Yehia says that although the trip to Gaza from his house takes only 45 minutes, as soon as he stepped foot in the Strip he felt that he was in a different world. “It is worse than harsh places I had seen in Africa. From the moment you enter [Gaza], your senses are hit with a terrible stench of sewage. Death is in the air,” he says. Yehia, who ordinarily works as a pediatrician in Israel’s Meuchedet HMO, could barely face the mothers of children and infants who begged him to take them to Israel for treatment. “They think that we can take them out,” he says, adding, “There are parents who are so desperate that they told us, ‘Better that our children die — we can’t do anything for them anymore.’” Yehia says that when he wrote prescriptions for sick children, there were parents who told him not to bother because they have no money to buy the medications. “They don’t even have money to buy milk,” he noted. The patients who broke his heart more than anything else were those children with cancer. “They are not being treated; they are not diagnosed. All are sick with all kinds of complications,” he says. “The depressing thing is that the parents themselves have given up; they have lost all hope to save their children. It’s terrible.”

Die, suffer, you kahba  Gideon Levy

Ha’aretz 4/05/17

This is the lesson learnt by soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces from the Azaria trial: Instead of shooting a ‘terrorist,’ let the person bleed to death while cursing themA horrific incident took place in the occupied territories last Thursday. It was no less despicable than the shooting of an incapacitated terrorist by Elor Azaria. Watching the video clip that documented the event turns one’s stomach. It’s revolting and infuriating, yet no media outlet in Israel paid any attention to it, reflecting the depths of apathy to which we have sunk. On that day, a group of soldiers stood around a dying Palestinian girl [16-year-old Nouf Iqab Enfe‘at from Ya‘bad] who was writhing in pain, lying bleeding on the road. The soldiers competed with each other to see who could curse her using more vile language. These are your soldiers, Israel, this is their language, these are their values and standards. No one even thought of offering her medical aid, no one thought of silencing the outburst of detestable obscenities flying around the girl who was bleeding to death. This was an apt gift for the jubilee celebrations – from the good-looking paratroopers at the Western Wall to this beastly act at the Mevo Dotan checkpoint. Fifty years of occupation have brought us to this.

Israel to push 140,000 Palestinians out of Jerusalem boundaries

Nasouh Nazzal Gulf News 28/5/17

The Palestinian Shu‘afat Refugee Camp, in Occupied East Jerusalem, and the town of Kofr ‘Aqab, in the north of the city, will no longer be considered as falling within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, Israeli security sources told Jewish Channel 10 on Sunday. The announcement confirms long-held Palestinian suspicions of a systematic Israeli plan to ensure a Jewish majority in the holy city. The move has been finalised by the Israeli National Security Council and will be implemented to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Jewish occupation of the holy city. According to Fakhri Abu Diyab, who heads the local committee in defense of occupied Jerusalem, taking Shu‘afat camp and Kofr ‘Aqab out of the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem will mean the Palestinians’ blue Jerusalem identity cards will be replaced with green West Bank cards. He said Israel planned to set up a local council outside Jerusalem boundaries to run the two areas while reserving sole security control there.A total of 140,000 Palestinians live in the two areas — 75,000 at Shu‘afat and 65,000 in Kofr ‘Aqab….

For Jerusalem Palestinians, a dilemma to seek Israeli citizenship

Shatha Yaish AFP 31/05/17

It’s a dilemma many Palestinians from Jerusalem confront: Resign yourself to becoming an Israeli citizen or press ahead as a person without a state. “I don’t really want to do it, but there is no other solution,” said a 28-year-old Palestinian lawyer from east Jerusalem who has applied for Israeli citizenship. She applied in the summer of 2014 but is still waiting for a final answer. The lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid potentially damaging her case, was given her first interview a year after applying. She said it was “very difficult” to bring herself to apply, but concluded that having the passport “will definitely make my life far easier for travel and work.” Fifty years after Israel seized east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, the more than 300,000 Palestinians in the city are in a unique situation. They hold neither full Palestinian nor Israeli citizenships, instead having permanent residence granted to them by Israel and access to services. They pay taxes for work and on property, but can’t vote in general elections, though they can participate in municipal elections.

Israel can withdraw their permanent residence if it can prove they live in the occupied West Bank or elsewhere outside Jerusalem, meaning many feel their presence in the city and country of their birth is under threat. As a result, recent years have seen increased numbers seeking to become full Israeli citizens, lawyers and non-governmental groups say. Figures from the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre show 6,497 east Jerusalemites applied for citizenship between 2009 and 2016, of whom 3,349 have been granted it … For Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, taking Israeli citizenship is a sensitive issue. The Palestinian government sees east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel sees the whole city it captured in 1967 as its undivided capital. For many Palestinians of east Jerusalem, taking Israeli citizenship is tantamount to accepting the Jewish state’s sovereignty in the city. “We need to raise awareness of our Palestinian identity in Jerusalem and we should not try to legitimise the occupation,” anti-settlement activist Fakhri Abu Diab told AFP….

Palestinian family left in the dark after teen’s horrific death at checkpoint

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz  15/06/17

Israeli agents told the family their 15-year-old son was wounded after waving a knife at border police; four days later, they returned his bullet-riddled body — This boy’s killing passed almost unnoticed in Israel. Raed Radeideh was shot to death by the Border Police on May 22, the day U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Israel, and public attention was focused far away from him. Very few also knew about the circumstances of the teen’s killing. No one bothered to update his family, apart from the Shin Bet security service agents who interrogated the boy’s father, and told him his son had been wounded. Four days later, the family received the body at a checkpoint. When did he die? How? Did he die at the scene of the incident or in the hospital? The family doesn’t even know that.

According to Raed’s father, the boy’s body was riddled with bullet holes: There were some 15 bullet wounds – in the head, shoulders, hands and legs. Raed’s right leg was almost completely shattered from the shooting. Why was he shot to death? And why was such massive firepower used on a teenager? He was 15 years old, a 10th-grader “who didn’t even have an ID card yet,” says his father, Ahmed Radeideh, a 54-year-old handyman who’s worked for years in Jerusalem and has many Israeli friends … Raed wanted to be a doctor. In the meantime, he had been preoccupied with his appearance. He got his hair cut four times a month, his father relates. “That’s something I can’t get a handle on. It’s not the money – 10 shekels ($2.85) for a haircut – but why go to the barber every week?” Raed’s father says uncomprehendingly. “He wanted to be handsome. He was blond and had blue eyes. ‘Yo, I’m a hunk,’ he would say. If he were with us now, he would speak to you in fluent English. If he’d met you, he would talk to you as an equal. He was an excellent student.” Raed’s hair is well groomed in the photos that now cover the living room windows. He liked clothes and sunglasses. His closet looks like that of an adolescent Israeli: numberless T-shirts and Adam deodorant….

Palestinians face humiliation in Bethlehem’s 300 checkpoint

Ma’an 16/04/17

“All we wanted to do was pray,” Baraa Jawabreh, a 14-year-old Palestinian told Ma‘an at Israel’s infamous 300 military checkpoint in northern Bethlehem, after Israeli forces denied the teenager entry as he was attempting to enter occupied East Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa for the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Israeli authorities permit men above the age of 40, women of all ages, and children younger than 12 years of age from the occupied West Bank to enter Jerusalem without a permit on Fridays, while all others are only allowed to enter with Israeli-issued permits. Palestinians must endure long waits at the 300 checkpoint, the only access point Palestinians from the southern occupied West Bank have to Jerusalem … For cousins Hussein and Baraa Jawabre, both aged 14, the process was futile. They were sent back by Israeli soldiers at the permit check, due to Israel’s age restrictions. The cousins were among thousands of other Palestinian children prevented entry into Jerusalem for prayers on Friday.  “I have attempted to reach Jerusalem three times, but each time the soldiers have banned my cousin and I from entering,” Hussein told Ma’an at the checkpoint. “We woke up very early and we were happy to pray at Al-Aqsa.” But, “the occupation prevented us,” Hussein added

This ruling allows councils to boycott Israel. It’s a crucial victory

Ben Jamal The Guardian 26/0717

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s judicial review is a win for the rule of law, meaning action can be taken against Israel for its violations of international law — Two weeks ago I found myself in a sweaty room in the Royal Courts of Justice, packed with fellow Palestine activists, listening to detailed and sometimes arcane legal arguments about pension law. The journey that ended in that courtroom began in September last year when the government announced new guidance intended to prohibit local government pension schemes from pursuing “divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries … other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government”. The key target of these new rules was made clear in the government press release about the decision. This was the government acting to place a ban on boycotting Israel. The regulations were introduced in November 2016 despite a public consultation indicating that 98% of respondents thought this was the wrong thing to do, and a wider public outcry. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which I’m the director, decided to take the government on. We launched a judicial review supported with witness statements from War on Want, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers. Finally, on 22 June, we got the verdict – we won!….

Testimonies from the censored massacre at Deir Yassin: ‘They ran like cats’

Ofer Aderet Ha’aretz 15/06/17

A young fellow tied to a tree and set on fire. A woman and an old man shot in back. Girls lined up against a wall and shot with a submachine gun. The testimonies collected by filmmaker Neta Shoshani about the massacre in Deir Yassin are difficult to process even 70 years after the fact — For two years now a document that makes for difficult reading has been lying in the archives of the association to commemorate the heritage of Lehi – the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel pre-state underground militia. It was written by a member of the underground about 70 years ago. Reading it could reopen a bleeding wound from the days of the War of Independence that to this day stirs a great deal of emotion in Israeli society. “Last Friday together with Etzel” – the acronym for the National Military Organization, also known as the Irgun, another pre-state underground militia, led by Menachem Begin – “our movement carried out a tremendous operation to occupy the Arab village on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road – Deir Yassin. I participated in this operation in the most active way,” wrote Yehuda Feder, whose nom de guerre in Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) was “Giora.” Further along in the letter, he describes in detail his part in the massacre that took place there. “This was the first time in my life that at my hands and before my eyes Arabs fell. In the village I killed an armed Arab man and two Arab girls of 16 or 17 who were helping the Arab who was shooting. I stood them against a wall and blasted them with two rounds from the Tommy gun,” he wrote, describing how he carried out the execution of the girls with a submachine gun

This letter is one of the historical documents revealed in a new documentary film entitled “Born in Deir Yassin” by director Neta Shoshani, who devoted the past several years to comprehensive historical research on the Deir Yassin massacre, one of the constitutive incidents of the War of Independence, which has remained a blot on Israel to this day.  In advance of the premiere screening of the film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Shoshani showed Haaretz the testimonies she has gathered about the incident, the result of extensive digging in archives along with in-depth interviews with the last living participants in the action. Some of them broke a silence of decades when they spoke to her, often for the first time in front of a camera….

Israeli police turn East Jerusalem hospital into battlefield amid hunt for dying Palestinian

Gideon Levy & Alex Levac Ha’aretz 27/07/17

A ‘barbaric’ Israeli police raid on Makassed Hospital could have ended in a massacre, director says — Through the window of his office, Dr. Rafiq Husseini has a view of the courtyard of the hospital he directs, the stone wall that surrounds it and the pine grove on the other side. The wall is still speckled with bloodstains, now turned brown. This is the blood of Mohammed Abu Ghannam, 22, who was shot and killed by Israeli security forces during the rioting over the Temple Mount last Friday. Why is his blood smeared on the wall? Because friends of the dead young man rushed to smuggle his body out of the hospital, just minutes after he died in the corridor, to elude the unbelievable hunt for the cadaver conducted by the Border Police and the Jerusalem District’s men in blue.

The body, wrapped in a bloodstained sheet, swayed from side to side as the group ran with it and passed it over the wall, which is several meters high. For a moment it seemed that the body was about to slide out from under the sheet, but in the end it reached the other side safely. From there it was carried to a nearby monastery and then, swiftly, was transported in a private car to the cemetery of the A-Tur neighborhood – “our village,” as residents call it – on the Mount of Olives. On the way, the car carrying the body was stopped by police at an intersection, but it was permitted to proceed on condition that no more than seven people be present at the burial. In the end, hundreds defied the police to accompany Abu Ghannam on his final journey, though the funeral was conducted hastily and not in accordance with the tradition of first going to the home of the deceased and then to the mosque – all because of the policy of pandering in human bodies that’s being pursued by Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, hero of the Temple Mount disturbances…

Husseini arrived at his office, on what should have been his day of rest, at about 3:30 P.M., when it was clear that dozens had already been wounded. Upon his arrival he was told that Border Police troops were present and making their way to the operating rooms. Three were in the one Husseini entered – their very presence a violation of the rules of operating-theater hygiene. They were looking for Mohammed Abu Ghannam. He wasn’t there, so the police ordered Husseini to take them to the morgue – without saying whom they were after, Husseini says now … As he left the operating suite, Husseini saw dozens more Border Police personnel in the corridors. He estimates their number at about 50, though the hospital security guards we spoke with later think there were even more. In any event, the force moved in the direction of the morgue. On the way they passed the blood bank, where they told the dozens of people who were waiting to give blood to leave the premises immediately. The video footage shows one donor departing with a needle still stuck on his arm. “It turned into a madhouse,” Hussein recalls….

Even in death, Palestinians have to fight for their freedom

Rami Younis  +972 mag 25/07/17

What should really keep Israelis up at night, possibly more than anything else, is the question of why Palestinian youths had to smuggle out of an East Jerusalem hospital the corpse of their friend who was shot dead by Israeli police hours earlier. Police raided Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem last Friday to seize the corpses of youths who were shot during confrontations over Al-Aqsa. Over the past few years Israel has turned Palestinian corpses into morbid negotiation cards. Since the raid was not really covered by the Israeli media, authorities didn’t even bother to invent some story about there being contraband or ISIS weapons of mass destruction in the hospital. Nobody even bothered to ask for an explanation. The heroic officers besieged the hospital using stun grenades. Stun grenades. In a hospital. Take a moment to digest that. They wrested control from the fierce enemy, nurses and doctors, and even managed to obstruct their work, as attested to by MK Ayman Odeh, who was there. And all for one purpose: to abduct the corpses of two children.

The photos of friends and family of Muhammad Sharf (17) and Muhammad Abu Ghannam (20) passing the bleeding corpses of their loved ones over the hospital walls to bury them quickly, even if that meant preventing mothers from having one final farewell to their children, should tear into pieces the heart of anyone with a conscience. Seeing these pictures, of family and friends willing to do anything to prevent continued humiliation and indignity even after death, should touch everyone’s heart. This is what the occupation does to Palestinians, and perhaps through this scene, is it possible to show Israelis and the world what that means on the most human level. There are very few things more sacrilegious than attacking a hospital, obstructing a medical staff buckling under the weight of hundreds of wounded patients, and all for the purpose of taking corpses for use as negotiation cards, tormenting the families of the slain in the process. When Palestinians, all Palestinians, see these pictures, they understand exactly what type of adversary they are up against….

Israeli forces install iron gate at an entrance of Bethlehem-area town

Ma‘an 27/07/17

Israeli forces installed an iron gate at an entrance of the village of Janata on Thursday, southeast of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces installed a large iron gate at the eastern entrance of Janata, without providing any reason for the measure. Local activists said that the installation of the gate “aims to restrict the life of Palestinians by closing the gate at any time Israel wants to.”

As temperatures soar, desperate Gazans try any means to beat heat

Nidal al-Mughrabi Reuters 27/07/17

As Middle East summer temperatures soar above 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), Gazans are struggling to stay cool amid a power crisis, with less than four hours of electricity a day and little chance to run fans and air-conditioners. The power crisis is affecting health and sanitation – because sewage treatment plants can’t run, raw sewage is pouring into the Mediterranean – and now the elderly and sick are desperately trying to handle the heat. Plastic trays and scraps of cardboard are doubling as hand-held fans. Precious piped water is hosed over children and work animals. Those trying to sleep have abandoned clammy mattresses, preferring the relative cool of bare tiled floors … A family excursion to the beach that might elsewhere have been a delight was, for Sabah Joudah, a forced decision, especially when having to put up with the sewage problems. “We came here to entertain the children, even though the sea is polluted,” she told Reuters as the dirty surf lapped close by. “It is summer and there is no electricity; no water and no fans are working in our homes. It is very tough, very tough.” Environment officials say disruptions at sewage treatment facilities have meant more than 100,000 liters of untreated wastewater is discharged along the coast daily. Around 75 percent of the seawater is polluted. Swimming there frequently leaves children with skin inflammations and abdominal complaints, parents say….

The mantra of ‘united’ Jerusalem is a macabre joke

 Amira Hass Ha’aretz 2/08/17

If Beit Hanina and Sur Baher interest Jews, it’s because they have unused land that can still be stolen from the Palestinians to build a Zionist fortress — The Jewish brain has invented another novel idea: How to change the address of 140,000 people without their having to leaving home. This is peanuts for us. In our unbridled chutzpah we have imposed the Entry into Israel laws on the Palestinians of Jerusalem, as though they chose to live in Israel of their own free will. We have sentenced them to conditional residency, with the dangling sword of isolation, impoverishment and expulsion hanging over them. So why shouldn’t we be able to change the definition?

We can always find the researcher, the planner and the legal scholar who will think up and pen the latest trick to make another group of human beings disappear from our eyes and our responsibility.  It’s almost certain that our Knesset will accept the change in the Basic Law on Jerusalem, thereby removing two Palestinian neighborhoods, Kafr ‘Aqab and the Sho‘afat refugee camp, from the municipal boundaries of the capital and declaring them an Arab local council. Nobody is asking their residents. The two don’t have territorial contiguity. They are separated by military checkpoints, a long wait, barbed wire fences, a winding wall, settlements and hostile police and army patrols. They have no additional land to enable development and expansion because the planners left most of it for the Jews. So what? That’s how you establish a new Arab local council in the Jewish state. It’s disingenuous to say that the budget that wasn’t found for them as neighborhoods of Jerusalem will be found for them as a separate council.

In Israel, every administrative decision related to land and Palestinians encompasses a great deal of long-range vision and planning skills and not an iota of benign intention. It contains only a desire to harm, to create a new absurd situation with a new solution that was considered entirely unacceptable just a short time before….

The cluster-bomb nation

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 10/08/17

The cluster bombs are aimed mainly at densely populated areas. There they can kill most effectively. That’s why the Israeli army wants them — Israel wants to kill as many innocent people as possible. Under no circumstances does it want to belong to the community of enlightened nations. There is no other way to understand Gili Cohen’s chilling report (Monday’s Haaretz) that the defense establishment decided to prefer an Israeli-made cannon that has yet to be completed to a German one, merely to sidestep the international ban on cluster bombs.

More than 100 states signed the international treaty banning the use of cluster bombs; Israel, as usual, isn’t one of them. What has Israel to do with international treaties, international law, international organizations – it’s all one big unnecessary nuisance. Israel’s fellow rejectionists are, as usual, Russia, Pakistan, China, India and of course the United States, the world’s greatest spiller of blood since World War II. This is the company Israel wants to keep, the club it belongs to. Cluster bombs are an especially barbarous weapon, a bomb that turns into countless bomblets, spreading over a wide area, killing and wounding indiscriminately. They sometimes explode years after were fired. The world was appalled and disgusted by such a weapon of mass destruction, and for good reason. The world – but not Israel. We’re a special case, as is commonly known. We’re allowed to do anything. Why? Because we can. This has been proved. We used cluster bombs in the Second Lebanon War and the world was silent. We also use flechettes, unmercifully. In 2002 I saw a soccer field in Gaza hit by IDF flechette shells, which spray thousands of potentially lethal metal darts. All the children playing on it had been hit….

Israeli soldier begins manslaughter prison term

Joe Dyke AFP 9/08/17

An Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant in a trial that deeply divided the country arrived alongside motorcycle-riding supporters Wednesday to begin his 18-month prison term. Elor Azaria, 21, entered the Tserifin military base near the city of Rishon LeZion to begin serving his sentence, his car driven by his father festooned with photographs of him and Israeli flags. A few dozen supporters waved Israeli flags and chanted Azaria’s name as the car pulled up. Journalists surrounded him and his arrival was broadcast live on television. Along the route from his home in nearby Ramla, several supporters on motorcycles rode alongside his car, including some wearing leather vests with “God Bless Israel” on the back, A smiling Azaria briefly exited the car outside the base but did not speak. His father spoke briefly, saying: “Thank you to the Israeli people,” before driving inside the base’s gates….

Israeli forces blow up homes of alleged assailants near Ramallah

WAFA  19/08/17

In a measure seen as punitive and collective punishment, the Israeli army Thursday blew up three homes and sealed shut a fourth in two West Bank villages belonging to the families of Palestinians who were allegedly engaged in deadly attacks against Israelis this year.  Israeli forces broke into the village of Deir Abu Meshal, to the northwest of Ramallah, and demolished the family homes of Bara Saleh and Osama Ata, who were shot dead by Israeli police after carrying out an attack against Israeli police in Jerusalem at the end of June, killing one officer. The forces also blocked with cement the home of Adel Ankoush in Deir Abu Meshal, who was also shot dead after being engaged in the same Jerusalem attack, after they were unable to blow it up for being too close to other homes and residential buildings.

Clashes erupted in the village between the forces and local residents during which two Palestinians were injured. Others also suffocated from teargas inhalation after they were attacked by teargas canisters fired by the Israeli forces. Family members of the alleged assailants had also their Israeli work permits revoked, including 50 who were dependent on work inside Israel. Some 250,000 Palestinians who had received family visitation permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan also saw their permits revoked following the attack. Meanwhile, an army force stormed the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah, and blew up the home of Malek Hamed, currently in Israeli jail, who allegedly carried out an attack on Israeli soldiers near Ofra settlement last April killing a soldier. Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis – including punitive home demolitions affecting the relatives of slain Palestinians – which rights groups have said amounts to collective punishment and represents a clear violation of international law.

Palestinian Authority slashes financial support for Gazans seeking medical care

WHO AFP 9/08/17

The Palestinian Authority has dramatically reduced financial support for Gazans seeking medical care outside the blockaded Gaza Strip, WHO figures showed today, as president Mahmud Abbas seeks to squeeze the Hamas-run enclave. The number of financial approvals from June, the most recent number available, was 80 percent lower than the monthly average for 2016, the World Health Organization said in a statement. Just 477 Gazans were given financial approval to travel for treatment during the month, down from 1,883 in June the previous year. The Palestinian Authority has officially denied any change in policy, but Abbas has been seeking to squeeze Gaza’s rulers Hamas through a series of measures including reducing electricity payments. “We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation,” he said at the weekend. In a statement to AFP, health ministry official in Gaza Medhat Muhesan condemned the “punitive measures”. “We need international organisations to pressure Abbas’s government to stop the punitive measures against Gaza,” he said….

How long can Gaza survive with no water?

Rasha Abou Jalal Al-Monitor 6/08/17

The water crisis caused by ongoing power outages of more than 20 hours a day has pushed Gaza Strip residents to dig unlicensed wells, disregarding the ensuing serious threats to the already scarce aquifer water stock.  At the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel reduced its power supply to Gaza on June 19 from 120 megawatts to 48 megawatts, causing the current water crises. Omar Hamid, the head of a family of nine, told Al-Monitor, “The municipality is delivering water to the citizens’ homes for only two hours every two or three days. This is not sufficient to meet a household’s minimum basic water needs.” He said, “There’s no electricity to operate the water pumps and fill our water tanks. Gaza has been living with barely four hours of power supply a day. This scarce supply of electricity often does not coincide with the supply hours of water pumped from the various municipality wells to the citizens’ homes.”

Like other citizens, Hamid is forced to buy water at a very high price from private local stations to fill his house tank … In order to have access to water, citizens, especially owners of residential buildings, started digging unlicensed wells to pump out water from the already stressed aquifer, Mazen al-Banna, the vice president of the Palestinian Water Authority in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor. “Gaza’s aquifer is overpumped by about 150 million cubic meters  [122,000 acre feet] a year, Banna said. Around 220 million cubic meters are drawn each year, but the annual replenishment from rainwater is only 70 million cubic meers, he said. Banna said there are around 10,000 wells across the Gaza Strip, including 300 municipal wells, 2,700 agricultural wells and 7,000 unlicensed wells….

Israel seizes solar panels powering Bedouin school in West Bank

Yotam Berger Ha’aretz 10/08/17

The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank seized solar panels that powered a Bedouin school and a preschool outside Jerusalem on Wednesday, even though it knew a petition against the seizure was being filed to the High Court of Justice. Indeed, the court issued a restraining order against the confiscation – an hour after the panels were carted off. By taking the panels, the military authorities violated the established procedure of waiting until the High Court makes an interim decision on a petition before acting.

The panels stood in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, located in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Local resident Daoud Basimat sent a letter to the prosecution through attorney Alaa Mahagna, stressing that there was going to be a petition filed against the seizure of the solar panels. The prosecution acknowledged the notice and said it was being passed to the relevant officials. Nevertheless, the state hastened to take action and confiscated the solar panels on Wednesday at about 2:30 P.M. An hour later, unaware that the panels had already been hauled away, Justice Neal Hendel issued a temporary order against any enforcement action, “Including forbidding their use, demolishing or confiscating the solar panels that are the subject of this petition unless there is a pressing security need requiring this.”….

Israel demolishes kindergarten in Bedouin community near Jerusalem

Ma’an  21/10/17

Israeli forces have reportedly demolished a kindergarten in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba in the outskirts of al-‘Eizariya in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem …  According to a report from Jerusalem-based al-Quds News and corroborated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the kindergarten in Jabal al-Baba was dismantled early Monday morning. Large numbers of Israeli soldiers and forces from the Israeli Civil Administration raided the community as Israeli bulldozers began to raze the school to the ground. According to al-Quds, Israeli forces confiscated property from inside the kindergarten before the demolition and ripped apart European Union flags that were posted in the building — an indication that the structure had been built with EU funds.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for COGAT, the larger Israeli entity of which the Civil Administration is part, told Ma‘an: “Today an illegal tin and wood shed was caught in Eizaria, that was established over the past two weeks without receiving the required permits. The shed was confiscated by virtue of the procedure to confiscate caravans and in accordance to the law. We would like to emphasize that the construction was not in use.”  In addition to reports from al-Quds and OCHA, Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency also cited witnesses as saying the structure demolished was a kindergarten. Due to being continuously targeted with demolitions and suffering from high poverty rates, most shelter in Bedouin communities are makeshift, informal structures.

Press release (B’Tselem)

23 August 2017 

On the evening of Tuesday, 22 August 2017, at around 7:00 P.M. Israeli Civil Administration officials and security forces arrived at the village of Jub a-Dib, southeast of Bethlehem. The forces demolished the community’s recently constructed school building. The demolition, which ended around midnight, took place the night before the start of the Palestinian school year, and left eighty pupils without an educational facility. In previous years, the children of Jub a-Dib had to walk to school in the Dar Salah and Beit Ta’mir areas, outside the village.

The demolition of a school building the night before the start of the year epitomizes the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land. In late June, the Civil Administration confiscated solar panels installed in Jub a-Dib by Israeli-Palestinian nonprofit Comet-ME and financed by the Dutch government, after Israel consistently shirked its obligation to connect the village to the electric grid.

The school consisted of six pre-fabs donated by the European Union, that the security forces dismantled and confiscated. The area was declared a closed military zone, and security forces used stun grenades to keep residents away.

Recently, Israeli authorities damaged two other educational facilities in Palestinian communities: in Abu a-Nuwar, on 9 August 2017, the Civil Administration confiscated solar panels donated by the international community, that provided electricity to the school and kindergarten.


Hugh Humphries   


Scottish Friends of Palestine     0141 637 8046           


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