3,800 Palestinians detained since start of 2017

23 Aug

Israeli forces detain Palestinian. [File photo]

By The Palestinian Information Centre (english.palinfo.com), Ramallah, 21 August 2017

Nearly 3,800 Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli occupation forces since the beginning of 2017, according to official Palestinian statistics on Monday.

Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Commission said in a statement that the arrests this year included families of detainees as part of an Israeli collective punishment policy pursued against the Palestinian people.

Head of the Commission, Isa Qaraqe, described these “retaliatory practices” as war crimes and flagrant violations of the international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Qaraqe pointed out that the sanctions imposed recently on the family of the Palestinian detainee Omar al-Abed constitute a “blatant example of the arbitrary collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli occupation authorities”.

Around 6,400 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails including 62 females, 10 of whom are minors, 300 children, 450 administrative detainees and 12 MPs.

A family of fishermen – minus one

23 Aug

Majed Bakr and his granddaughter [photo by Ezz Al Zanoon]

By We are not numbers [wearenotnumbers.org] posted 16 August 2017

On May 15, 2017, Israeli naval forces shot dead a young fisherman from Gaza while he was in his boat. Below is an interview with Majed Bakr, the father of the victim—also a fisherman from Gaza and a member of the family of the four little Bakr boys killed by an Israeli missile while playing on the beach in 2014.

Could you introduce yourself to my readers?
Majed: My name is Majed Bakr. My four sons and I have suffered due to Israel’s [restrictions on our livelihood] since 2012 [when the first of the attacks on our boat occurred] until the 15th of May of this year. As our ability to fish becomes more complicated, each day becomes another day of suffering for us. [Note: For so-called “security” reasons, the Israeli military prohibits boats from Gaza from sailing out more than three to 9 nautical miles, depending on their whim. However, the best fish are found 11 or more miles out.]

What happened on the 15th of May?
Majed: As usual, my sons Omran, Fadi, Saddam and Mohammed sailed out to sea to fish. This is how we make a living. They were 400 meters away from the Israeli-imposed nine-nautical-mile limit. Suddenly, an Israeli patrol boat started shooting live bullets at their  boat. One of them hit my son, Mohammed, in his heart. Obviously, the others who were with him are not doctors and couldn’t save his life. They shouted to get urgent help. He was already vomiting blood and his heart had swelled like a balloon by the time the  Israeli navy came to take him to a hospital in Majdal, a city in occupied Palestine.

If they wanted to save him, then why did they shoot at him in the first place?
Majed: This is their policy: to ruin with the right hand, then to fix with the left. Therefore, their position looks as if it’s legal and humanitarian internationally. (Majed heaves a deep sigh.) And he died.
I’m sorry.
(Long silence.)

Mohammed Bakr

How old was he?
Majed: He was born on the 19th of February in 1992, and he died on the 15th of May. He was 25 years old. He has two daughters: Joud, 3 years old, and Majeda 10 months. On the day of the funeral, Joud saw his father’s dead body and said, “Dad is asleep. He went to the sea. He is not back yet.”

Do you still sail now?
Majed: I sail every day with my sons. I am a 57-year-old man and this is my life. But then one day, I said to Omran, “Son, you all are young men now. You can depend on yourselves.” Four days later, they went fishing without me and the accident happened. The Israeli navy boat was so fast; it was as if my sons’ boat was not moving. My son told me how Mohammed hugged the motor of the boat so the Israelis would stop shooting, but to no avail. We had taken out the boat as a loan in Mohammed’s name from the FATEN (Palestinian Credit and Development) Association, planning to buy it. But it was shot with seven bullets, and Mohammed died. I wish the boat was gone instead!

Why did they shoot him? Did he exceed the sailing limit?
Majed: A fisherman never intends to exceed the limit, but it happens very easily. The sea is naturally unstable. While a fisherman sails, the current pulls the boat as much as 300 meters in any direction. When we see an Israeli boat, we try to escape quickly. But the Israeli boats are free to shoot at us; sometimes they do, other times they leave us alone. This time, I was not with my sons, but the other times—since 2012—I was.

What else happened during that time?
Majed: Israel has destroyed five of my boats, in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and, now, the fifth one this year. We paid only two months of the loan on the boat. We do not know how we can afford the rest now. It is a loan tied to Mohammed’s soul. (Note: In Islam, the soul is tied by any debts it has in life. When the dead person’s siblings pay his debt, his soul is liberated and becomes free from punishment.)

What does each boat cost?
Majed: It costs at least $10,000. We repaired one of the boats, which was brought back destroyed. That cost us 8,000 NIS [about $2,200].

Does fishing deserve all this sacrifice?
Majed: I adore the sea. Fishing is the profession of my ancestors. If I fish five hours a day, I earn just 30 NIS [$8]. But it’s better than working 12 hours a day as a construction worker and making the same amount. It is enough to live ok in Gaza. Here, even the employer whose daily salary is 400 NIS [$110] is in debt. Each son can never marry and have a family if they live in separate houses. So, with each one of them making 30 NIS, the total allows us to live in one house comfortably and to eat together. Only Allah blesses our days. But our lives are controlled by Israel’s mood.

Why does the fishing limit differ from one time to another?
Majed: The Israelis are not idiots. They know that the area in the sea where there are the most fish is found 11 miles or more from shore. We know this because we fished up to 14 miles before the siege on Gaza began. And not all of Gaza’s sea is open even up to 9 miles. They also prevent us from fishing in the entire sea during the reproduction season.

The fish usually stay in calm waters. So, we see the fish but we can’t fish. The Israeli navy officers say loudly in Hebrew, “The fish are ours, not yours.” But we never see any Israeli fishermen! Sometimes the Israeli navy uses water cannons to turn the boats of Gaza fishermen upside down, making the motors wet and obstructing the fishing process.

When will these attacks stop?
Majed: They will never stop. We are attacked daily. Since the beginning of the siege until now, I’ve lost six of my friends, and now my son. Mohammed is not the first martyr to the sea, nor will he be the last. Fishermen in Gaza have started losing hope. Some are selling their boats for one-third of their real cost. But we can’t stop fishing. We must go back to the sea to feed the family. To try to live is much better than to die without trying.

How is your family now?
Majed: We are all depressed. My wife wakes up crying and falls asleep crying. Mohammed’s wife can no longer live among us. I, as a man, look strong but my heart is broken. When I used to shout at Mohammed, as his father, his mother would stop me by saying, “When I gave birth to him, I lost my vision [fainted] for two hours.” And now, she loses her vision as she cries for him.

How will you live after this?
Majed: I don’t know exactly. Life is hard. One time, the wives of my sons gave me their wedding jewelry to sell so I could use the money to buy a new boat.

How do you feel now toward the sea?
Majed: I cannot look at it. I want to go to the Gaza port, but when I arrive, I turn around and go back home right away.
I have one last wish: I wish that no one has to bury his son or daughter while he is alive. No one, neither a friend nor an enemy.

NOTE: Kia Ora Gaza reported on the killing of Mohammed on 16 May 2017, and also the deaths of the four Bakr boys on the beach of Gaza City on 17 July 2014 at kiaoragaza.net

You can help the Bakr family and others by supporting the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers campaign, a project of the Freedom Flotilla.- See more at: https://wearenotnumbers.org/home/Story/A_man_and_his_boat

Solidarity with Gaza Fishers is a campaign of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition which aims to link the struggle of Palestinian fishers in Gaza, under blockade and under constant attacks by Israel, with their counterparts in countries all over the world, and to build international civil society support for the end of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. Website: Solidarity with Gaza Fishers

Kia Ora Gaza is part of this international coalition – facilitating New Zealand involvement in the last two Freedom Flotillas to Gaza.

Egypt prevents Algerian aid convoy from entering Gaza

21 Aug

Some of the 14 Algerian convoy vehicles that are currently stranded at the Egypt/Gaza border [Photo supplied]

Report based on posts by Middle East Monitor and Daily Sabah (20 August 2017) and Kia Ora Gaza correspondents

Egypt prevents 14 truck Algerian aid convoy from entering Gaza. Convoyers refuse to turn back, and are staging a hunger strike at Rafah border

Egyptian authorities have prevented an Algerian humanitarian aid convoy from entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing.

The 14-truck convoy carrying huge containers of mainly medical aid worth over $US3 million, has been organised by the Algerian Scholars Association.

“Egypt’s decision to block the entry of the aid convoy is very unfortunate and does not reflect the positive spirit that has recently characterized Gaza-Egypt relations,” the National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza said in a press statement.

According to Palestinian and Algerian sources, the convoy was denied entry despite having all the required credentials and documents.

Both sources said that the convoy was carrying medicines, medical disposals, electricity generators and other equipment urgently needed for Gaza’s hospitals.

Last Tuesday, Sheikh Yahya Sari, head of the relief department of the Algerian Scholars Association, announced the launch of the convoy. He noted that it included 14 truckloads of aid and five members from the association’s relief department.

Sari said that they obtained all the documents and Egypt’s agreement to deliver the aid to the Gaza Strip.

Algerian reports say that the convoyers have refused to move the trucks from the Rafah border and have been staging a protest hunger strike.

The Algerian Scholars Association has called on the President of the Republic to mediate with the Egyptian authorities in order to allow the convoy to pass through the Rafah crossing to deliver their aid to Gaza. The convoyers are concerned that some of the medicines will deteriorate in the heat.

The row of Algerian convoy trucks parked up at the Rafah border gates [Photo supplied].

The convoy truckers’ message to Egypt: “We enter Gaza or we go on hunger strike”

The Egyptian authorities opened the crossing from Monday to Thursday last week on both sides for the exit of the pilgrims and patients seeking treatment abroad.

The Rafah Crossing, which is the main Gaza opening to the world, has been completely closed since July 2013. On a few rare occasions it was opened for a couple of days to allow hundreds of stranded Gazans travel in and out. Prior to last week’s opening for pilgrims, the last time it briefly opened was five months ago.

Egyptian security forces stand guard at the border as Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, on August 14, 2017. [Photo: AFP]

Caterpillar equipment used in Israel’s revenge demolition

18 Aug

The ruins of the Hamed family house in the occupied West Bank village of Silwad, one of several Palestinian homes destroyed by Israeli forces in recent days as collective punishment. [Iyad Hadad B’Tselem]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 16 August 2017

Israel uses Caterpillar equipment in revenge demolition

Israel carried out the revenge demolition of the family home of Omar al-Abed, 19, who is accused of killing three Israelis in the occupied West Bank settlement of Halamish last month.

Wednesday’s was the latest in a spate of such demolitions – collective punishments that are illegal under international law.

In keeping with the apartheid character of Israeli rule, Israel exclusively uses this method of punishment against Palestinians and never against Jews.

Al-Abed, who was shot and injured, is in Israeli custody, but has not been convicted or sentenced in any kind of legal process. Yet members of his family are already paying a steep price.

Local residents told the Ma’an News Agency that a large Israeli force stormed the West Bank village of al-Kobar early on Wednesday and surrounded the al-Abed family home while construction equipment was used to destroy most of the house.

Al-Kobar has been sealed by Israeli occupation forces, another form of collective punishment, since the 21 July stabbing attack in Halamish.

Palestinian youths confronted Israeli forces during the assault Wednesday morning. Twelve Palestinians, including a journalist, were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, according to medical services.

Israel has also been taking direct revenge on members of al-Abed’s family: occupation forces have already detained his mother, father, two of his brothers and an uncle.

Illegal and morally repugnant

Israel’s B’Tselem human rights group said that punitive demolitions are “morally repugnant and prohibited under international law.” But Israel’s high court has “repeatedly allowed the state to use this extreme measure.”

Continue reading

What does it take to be a Palestinian supermum?

18 Aug


VIDEO: Al Jazeera English, 17 August 2017

How to be a Palestinian supermum

It’s not easy being a Palestinian mother. You must be ready to protest, get arrested, be injured and have difficult conversations with your children. Al Jazeera followed Manal Tamimi from Nabi Saleh to learn what it takes.

[Archive footage: Bilal Tamimi. Music: “Melt” by Broke for Free.]



There are no “both sides” to “Israel/Palestine conflict”

17 Aug
Jewish Voice for Peace 17 August 2017.
There are no “both sides” to “Israel/Palestinian Conflict” – There’s settler domination, land theft, ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid.

Abby Martin talks about her visit to Israel/Palestine

16 Aug


VIDEO: Documentary maker Abby Martin (‘Empire Files’) exposes Zionism & Israel on Joe Rogan podcast (strong language). 7 August 2017

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