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A ‘moment of moral clarity’ in Israel/Palestine

20 Jan
Israeli soldiers monitor a demonstration by Palestinian and foreign activists against the construction of the Israeli separation barrier in the village of Maasarah near the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem [File: Abed Hashlamoun/EPA]

A “moment of moral clarity” in Israel – The Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa calls for Government action:


From PSNA newsletter 19 January 2021

The New Year began with a political bang when the largest and most respected Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, released a report on 12 January which clearly and unambiguously labels the situation in Israel/Palestine as apartheid.

The landmark report entitled “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid” lays bare the reality of life across the entire area of historic Palestine – all of which is occupied and/or controlled by Israel.

You can read the short eight-page report at the link above and the opinion piece from B’Tselem Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad, here.
B’Tselem calls this a “moment of moral clarity”Hagai Al-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem

In five minutes: how can you help amplify the impact of this critically important report?

  1. Read the eight-page report at the link above.
  2. Put links to the report on social media and encourage friends and family to read it and
  3. Send a note to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs drawing their attention to this report and insisting New Zealand get off the fence, publicly condemn Israel’s apartheid policies and take action to bring effective pressure on Israel just as New Zealand did against South African apartheid.

Here is a draft note you could email to j.ardern@ministers.govt.nz and n.mahuta@ministers.govt.nz – or you can write your own note – and copy in your local MP.

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We are Israel’s largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid

13 Jan

The systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another is deeply immoral and must end

Hagai El-Ad

Protesters in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, June 23, 2020 [Photo: Tomer Appelbaum.]

By Hagal El-Ad, The Guardian, 12 January 2021

Hagai El-Ad is an Israeli human rights activist and executive director of B’Tselem

One cannot live a single day in Israel-Palestine without the sense that this place is constantly being engineered to privilege one people, and one people only: the Jewish people. Yet half of those living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are Palestinian. The chasm between these lived realities fills the air, bleeds, is everywhere on this land.

I am not simply referring to official statements spelling this out – and there are plenty, such as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion in 2019 that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”, or the “nation state” basic law enshrining “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value”. What I am trying to get at is a deeper sense of people as desirable or undesirable, and an understanding about my country that I have been gradually exposed to since the day I was born in Haifa. Now, it is a realisation that can no longer be avoided.

Although there is demographic parity between the two peoples living here, life is managed so that only one half enjoy the vast majority of political power, land resources, rights, freedoms and protections. It is quite a feat to maintain such disfranchisement. Even more so, to successfully market it as a democracy (inside the “green line” – the 1949 armistice line), one to which a temporary occupation is attached. In fact, one government rules everyone and everything between the river and the sea, following the same organising principle everywhere under its control, working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people – Jews – over another – Palestinians. This is apartheid.

There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself, and we enjoy this status both inside the 1967 lines and beyond them, in the West Bank. Separated by the different personal statuses allotted to them, and by the many variations of inferiority Israel subjects them to, Palestinians living under Israel’s rule are united by all being unequal.

Unlike South African apartheid, the application of our version of it – apartheid 2.0, if you will – avoids certain kinds of ugliness. You won’t find “whites only” signs on benches. Here, “protecting the Jewish character” of a community – or of the state itself – is one of the thinly veiled euphemisms deployed to try to obscure the truth. Yet the essence is the same. That Israel’s definitions do not depend on skin colour make no material difference: it is the supremacist reality which is the heart of the matter – and which must be defeated.

Until the passage of the nation state law, the key lesson Israel seemed to have learned from how South Africa’s apartheid ended was to avoid too-explicit statements and laws. These can risk bringing about moral judgments – and eventually, heaven forbid, real consequences. Instead, the patient, quiet, and gradual accumulation of discriminatory practices tends to prevent repercussions from the international community, especially if one is willing to provide lip service to its norms and expectations.

This is how Jewish supremacy on both sides of the green line is accomplished and applied.

Palestinian labourers lining up at the Mitar military checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron. AFP (photo inserted)

We demographically engineer the composition of the population by working to increase the number of Jews and limit the number of Palestinians. We allow for Jewish migration – with automatic citizenship – to anywhere Israel controls. For Palestinians, the opposite is true: they cannot acquire personal status anywhere Israel controls – even if their family is from here.

We engineer power through the allocation – or denial – of political rights. All Jewish citizens get to vote (and all Jews can become citizens), but less than a quarter of the Palestinians under Israel’s rule have citizenship and can thus vote. On 23 March, when Israelis go and vote for the fourth time in two years, it will not be a “celebration of democracy” – as elections are often referred to. Rather, it will be yet another day in which disfranchised Palestinians watch as their future is determined by others.

We engineer land control by expropriating huge swaths of Palestinian land, keeping it off-limits for their development – or using it to build Jewish towns, neighbourhoods, and settlements. Inside the green line, we have been doing this since the state was established in 1948. In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, we have been doing this since the occupation began in 1967. The result is that Palestinian communities – anywhere between the river and the sea – face a reality of demolitions, displacement, impoverishment and overcrowding, while the same land resources are allocated for new Jewish development.

Recurring night raids into Palestinian homes. (photo inserted)

And we engineer – or rather, restrict – Palestinians’ movement. The majority, who are neither citizens nor residents, depend on Israeli permits and checkpoints to travel in and between one area and another, as well as to travel internationally. For the two million in the Gaza Strip travel restrictions are the most severe – this is not just a Bantustan, as Israel has made it one of the largest open-air prisons on Earth.

Haifa, my birth city, was a binational reality of demographic parity until 1948. Of some 70,000 Palestinians living in Haifa before the Nakba, less than a 10th were left afterwards. Almost 73 years have passed since then, and now Israel-Palestine is a binational reality of demographic parity. I was born here. I want – I intend – to stay. But I want – I demand – to live in a very different future.

The past is one of traumas and injustices. In the present, yet more injustices are constantly reproduced. The future must be radically different – a rejection of supremacy, built on a commitment to justice and our shared humanity. Calling things by their proper name – apartheid – is not a moment of despair: rather, it is a moment of moral clarity, a step on a long walk inspired by hope. See the reality for what it is, name it without flinching – and help bring about the realisation of a just future.

  • Hagai El-Ad is an Israeli human rights activist, and executive director of B’Tselem

We are Israel’s largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid | Hagai El-Ad | Opinion | The Guardian

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Israel forces raid, fire tear gas into West Bank hospital

6 Jan
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - NOVEMBER 11: Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians with tear gas during a demonstration to mark the 16th death anniversary of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, West Bank on November 11, 2020. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians during a demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank on November 11, 2020. [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 6 January 5, 2021

Israeli occupation forces raided a Palestinian hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarm and fired tear gas into it in the early hours of yesterday morning, the Wafa news agency reported.

Director of Thabet Thabet Government Hospital, Haitham Shadeed, told Wafaa that he and the medical staff were shocked when Israeli occupation forces raided the hospital’s courtyards and the Outpatient Clinics Section’s waiting room at 3:30am and fired tear gas inside.

The raid spread fear and panic among medical staff and patients, especially children and the elderly, Wafa said. No casualties were reported.

The Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila denounced the raid as “a new Israeli crime that violates all international treaties and the Geneva Conventions.”

She called on the international community to intervene to protect the Palestinian people and put an end to the unabated Israeli violations.

The minister pointed out that this was the third attack by Israeli forces against Palestinian hospitals in less than a month.Israeli forces attacked Al-Durra Hospital in the Gaza Strip, the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah and Thabet Thabet Hospital in Tulkarm.

“Medical Apartheid”: Israeli Vaccine Drive Excludes Millions of Palestinians

6 Jan

No COVID vaccines in Gaza or West Bank- where the infection rate is 36%!

Contact the Prime Minister to demand urgent action: Email j.ardern@ministers.govt.nz

Palestinian physician and activist Dr. Mustafa Barghouti spoke about the COVID crisis in Gaza and West Bank on Democracy Now this morning.


https://www.democracynow.org/2021/1/5/israel_vaccines_palestinian_territories_mustafa_barghouti

Dr. Barghouti said the rate of Covid infection today in the West Bank and Gaza is 36%, while in Israel it’s 4.5%. Israelis are getting the vaccines, and Palestinians are getting nothing.
No healthcare professionals in Gaza or West Bank have been vaccinated and Israel refuses to allow import of vaccines and refuses to give Palestinians any vaccines, especially the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in crowded Israeli prisons.!! Yet all the illegal Israeli settlers living on Palestinian land are getting the vaccine, of course! Vaccine apartheid!
Please call the Israeli Embassy in your country (in the US call 202-364-5500 and ask for the political section) ..and if you are from the US, call the State Department- 202-647-4000 and ask for the Israel desk.

Kiwis should contact the Prime Minister to demand urgent action. Email j.ardern@ministers.govt.nz


Transcript of the Programme:

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Israel has become the first country in the world to administer COVID-19 vaccines to more than 10% of its population. As of Monday, 14% of Israelis had received a vaccine — far higher than any other country. Despite the fast rollout, Israel’s health minister says a total lockdown is needed to combat the surging number of new infections.

This comes as human rights groups are expressing alarm over Israel’s decision not to vaccinate Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, where about 1,500 people have died during the pandemic. Physicians for Human Rights recently said, quote, “Israel bears moral and humanitarian responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian population under its control,” unquote. Israel is, however, offering vaccines to Jewish settlers living in the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Israel has defended its actions, citing the Oslo Peace Accords, which put Palestinian authorities in charge of healthcare in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian officials are facing a number of hurdles in launching its own vaccine campaign, including a shortage of money, lack of access to vaccines, lack of infrastructure to distribute a vaccine. Israel has so far been relying on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be stored at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing such a vaccine is impossible in Gaza, where residents often go 12 or more hours a day without electricity. In 2014, Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant in what Amnesty International described as “collective punishment” of Palestinians.

We go now to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where we’re joined by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, physician, member of the Palestinian Parliament, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, has been leading efforts to manage the pandemic in the West Bank and Gaza. He was infected with COVID-19 in December. He’s secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party. And he was a presidential candidate in the 2005 elections.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Dr. Barghouti. Can you explain what is happening? How has Israel become the country that has vaccinated more of its population than any country in the world, and yet Palestinians are not getting vaccinated? Who’s in charge of this program? Who should be?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, thank you, Amy. I’m glad to be with you.

Israel actually is violating international law, because it is denying its responsibility as an occupying power. Israel managed to get 14 million vaccines for the Israelis and those who hold Israeli IDs, but gave nothing to Palestinians. So, practically, they are vaccinating 8 million Israelis and not vaccinating 5.3, 5.2 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.

More than that, this system of racial discrimination, which can only be compared, in my opinion, to apartheid system, is doing something horrible in the West Bank. Seven hundred fifty thousand illegal settlers, as you said, are getting the vaccines now; 3.1 million Palestinians in the West Bank are getting nothing. More than that, in the Israeli prisons, Israel ordered the guards in the prisons to get the vaccine, and probably the Israeli criminal prisoners, but the Palestinian prisoners, 5,000 of them, are getting nothing. What can be more clear here than that this confirms that this is really a system of racial discrimination?

And when they speak that the Palestinian Authority is responsible, this is totally misleading. First of all, the Palestinian Authority approached them, asking at least for vaccines for us, the healthcare providers, who are being infected around the clock. And Israel refused. The Palestinian Authority is in charge only of 38% of the West Bank, only. Sixty-two percent of the West Bank is Area C, under full Israeli military control, and Israel is doing nothing for Palestinians there. More than that, if the Palestinian Authority tries to import a vaccine from outside, they will need Israeli permit. And Israel did not allow any permit yet for Palestinians. Israel controls the borders, controls the imports, controls the exports.

And the biggest disaster is in Gaza, because in Gaza you have 2.1 million besieged by Israel, lacking health facilities, lacking equipment, and there, they are not getting any vaccines. And more than that, 70% of them are refugees displaced from their land in 1948. When you tell them, “Go and quarantine,” I don’t know how they can do that, if you have 10 people living in two rooms. It’s impossible.

The problem is that the rate of infection today in the West Bank and Gaza is 36%, while in Israel it’s 4.5%. Israelis are getting the vaccines, and Palestinians are getting nothing.

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Untold story of US aid to Israel

30 Dec

By RAMZY BAROUD Arab News, 29 December 2020

On Dec. 21, the US Congress passed the COVID-19 relief package as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill intended to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated a vast sum of money to Israel.

While unemployment and poverty levels in the US are skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, Washington found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in “security assistance” and $500 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation.

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Israeli Warplanes Bomb Pediatric Hospital in Gaza, Injure Child

27 Dec

Palestine Chronicle 27 December 2020

The Al-Durrah Pediatric Hospital in Gaza was damaged by Israeli airstrikes. (Photo: Supplied)

Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks damaged a pediatric hospital, a center for disability services and several homes in the besieged Gaza Strip early Saturday morning, Palestine Chronicle correspondent Wafa Aludaini reported.

Israeli warplanes fired five missiles east of the neighborhood of Tuffah in Gaza City injuring a six-year-old girl and a young man, according to our reporter and eyewitness’ accounts in the targeted area.

Israeli media, citing official sources, claimed that the latest round of Israeli bombings targeted sites that belong to the Palestinian movement Hamas, which currently governs the Gaza Strip.

A fire broke out at the location of the airstrike as the firefighters worked all night to put off the fire in the attack that took place an hour after midnight. Electric power was also cut off to several areas east of Gaza as a result of the strikes.

Israel claimed the attacks came after two missiles were fired from Gaza and fell in open areas in southern Israel without causing damages or injury.

“It was a horrible night for the children at the Al-Durrah Hospital, due to the missiles fired by the Israeli occupation warplanes, which caused serious damage to the hospital, spreading fear and panic among children and their families,” Dr. Majed Hamadah, manager of the hospital, told our correspondent.

“This is not the first time that the Al-Durrah Hospital has been bombed by the Israeli occupation, despite the fact that it is a pediatric hospital,” Dr. Hamadah added.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Slightly abridged

Besieged Gaza under COVID lockdown

13 Dec

PressTV video report by Ashraf Shannon, Gaza, 13 December 2020.

Calls for UN to investigate Israel’s killing of Palestinian journalists

10 Dec

Palestinian journalists light candles to commemorate Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was killed by Israeli soldiers on 7 April 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 10 December 2020

Complaints submitted to the United Nations (UN) accuse Israel of intentionally targeting journalists in Palestine and failing to thoroughly investigate its killings of media workers.

The complaints, submitted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) ask the special rapporteurs to secure justice and accountability for the killings and harm that has been inflicted on journalists.

This includes the 2018 killings of Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja and the maiming of Muath Amarneh in 2019 and Nedal Eshtayeh in 2015, both photographers were shot by snipers in the eye.

They also urge Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, and Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to investigate endemic, systematic discrimination that curtails the work of Palestinian journalists.

“For years the world has documented and deplored the killing and maiming of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces and the daily discrimination they face – denied rights, denied accreditation, denied freedom of movement and, as a result of a blanket impunity, denied justice,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.

“Words can no longer be enough. The UN must take action and show it will not stand idly by and allow impunity and injustice to continue unchallenged.”

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New Zealand MPs Take a Pledge for Palestine

8 Dec

By Neil Ballantyne, Wellington Palestine, Palestine Chronicle, 8 December 2020

At an event to mark International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people three New Zealand MPs took a pledge to form a new parliamentary Palestine friendship group and to “…raise the voices of Palestinian people in New Zealand’s parliament”.

The event, organized by Wellington Palestine, was attended by over 100 New Zealanders including Golriz Ghahraman, MP (Green Party), Teanau Tuiono, MP (Green Party), and Ibrahim Omer, MP (Labour Party). In a speech to open the event Ghahraman – an Iranian-born refugee and former human rights lawyer – insisted that New Zealand must divest from companies that were complicit in crimes against international law.

“We do have to divest from investing in the occupied territories. We do have to stop trade with any company – not just Israel – any multinational corporation that’s profiting from the occupation of Palestine. Because crimes are being committed there. Because it isn’t just about land. We know – the United Nations tells us constantly – that forcible movement of people means that a whole range of international crimes are being committed. It is mass killings. It is mass maimings. It is the deprivation of Palestinians from all of their other inalienable rights.” said Ghahraman.

All three of the MPs attending the event have credentials as champions of human rights. Tuiono and Omer are both new MPs, voted into power at New Zealand’s recent election. Tuiono has a history of campaigning for indigenous rights and Omer is an Eritrean refugee who spent many years working in UN refugee camps.

Ghahraman reminded the audience of New Zealand’s proud history of taking a stand for social justice. She said, “I know that we all ask ourselves – when we look at history and mass crimes in history – where would we be at that moment? What side would we stand for? Would we raise our voices? And New Zealand has before. We’ve stood against apartheid. We’ve stood for a nuclear-free Pacific. And today, on world solidarity with Palestine day, we know, all of us in this room, that we would be on the right side of history. So I want us all to pledge to keep standing on that right side. To keep seeking justice for Palestine. Not just kindness, not just words, but substantive justice and to keep demanding it from our politicians.”

To loud applause, Ghahraman concluded with her pledge for Palestine.

“So, I want to acknowledge that there are two other politicians in this room and to pledge our support. We will, this term, form a Parliamentary Palestine Friendship Group. That’s the only way, right? This is something that our country needs to regulate. There are mass crimes being committed in our name if we continue that trade and we, we three, and those who join, will continue to raise the voices of Palestinian people in New Zealand’s parliament with your support. So thank you and Kia Ora.”

Neil Ballantyne is the Co-Convenor at Wellington Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Video by Wellington Palestine.

It is time for the ICC to finally open the investigation on Israel/Palestine!

7 Dec
Part of the Freedom Flotilla contingent, including a Kia Ora Gaza delegation, at a big demonstration at the ICC, The Hague in November 2019

By Raji Sourani, Principal Counsel and Legal Representative of Victims before the ICC, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza, Palestine. Posted 5 December 2020, Freedom Flotilla website: freedomflotilla.org

It took the ICC Prosecutor five years to conclude her preliminary examination on the Situation in Palestine, which found “a reasonable basis” to believe that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip” and thus to initiate an investigation.

Her statement on 20th December 2019 was met with widespread enthusiasm by victims and human rights organizations – but the sighs of relief came too soon.
The Prosecutor found that the standard of proof for the commission of war crimes was met, and that opening the investigation was appropriate and in the interest of justice; nevertheless, instead of proceeding, she sought a confirmation on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction from the Pre-Trial Chamber. She asked the Chamber to take a decision within 120 days. Nearly a year later, victims are still waiting for that decision, and remain in limbo.

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Israel’s War on Palestinian Children

7 Dec
Ali Abu Alia

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Israeli daily newspaper, 6 December 2020

Last week, we were in the Al-Arroub refugee camp, searching for an open area in which to sit, for fear of the coronavirus. There wasn’t one. In a camp in which house touches house, whose alleys are the width of a man and strewn with garbage, there’s nowhere to sit outside. One can only dream of a garden or a bench; there isn’t even a sidewalk. This is where Basel al-Badawi lives. A year ago, soldiers shot his brother dead, before his eyes, for no reason. Two weeks ago, Basel was snatched from his bed on a cold night and taken, barefoot, for questioning. We sat in his family’s cramped home and realized there was no “out” to go to. While we were there, Israeli soldiers blocked the entrance to the camp, as they occasionally do, arbitrarily, and the sense of suffocation only grew. 

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian teenager Ali Abu Alia during his funeral in the village of Mughayir near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on December 5, 2020. [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP]

This is Basel’s world and this is his reality. He is 16, a bereaved brother, who was abducted from his bed in the dark of night by soldiers. He has nowhere to go to except for school, which is closed for part of the week due to COVID-19. Basel is free now, more fortunate than certain other children and teenagers. Around 170 of them are currently detained in Israel. Other children are shot by soldiers, wounded and sometimes killed, with no distinction made between children and adults – a Palestinian is a Palestinian – or between a life-threatening situation and a “public disturbance.”

On Friday they killed Ali Abu Alia, a 13-year-old boy. It was a lethal shot to the abdomen. No one could remain indifferent to the sight of his innocent face in photographs, and his last picture – in a shroud, his face exposed, his eyes closed, as he was carried to burial in his village. Ali, as he did every week, went with his friends to demonstrate against the wild and violent outposts that sprouted out of the settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, taking over the remaining land of his village, al-Mughayir. There is nothing more just than the struggle of this village, there is nothing more heinous than the use of lethal force against protesters and there is no possibility that shooting Ali in the abdomen could have been justifiable. In Israel, of course, no one showed any interest over the weekend in the death of a child, one more child. 

Up until the current school year, around 50 children from the shepherding community of Ras a-Tin studied at the school in al-Mughayir, the village of the deceased boy. They had to walk about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) each day, round trip, to attend. This year their parents, with the help of a European Commission aidorganization based in Italy, built them a modest, charming school in the village. Israel’s Civil Administration is threatening to demolish it, and in the meantime it is harassing the pupils and teachers with surprise visits to check whether the toilets had been, God forbid, connected to a water pipe – in a village that was never connected to the power grid or the water supply. The children of Ras a-Tin must have known Ali, their former classmate, now dead. 

The children did not know Malek Issa, of Isawiyah, in East JerusalemThe 9-year-old boy lost an eye after it was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet fired by an Israeli police officer. On Thursday the Justice Ministry department that examines allegations of police misconduct announced that no one would be charged in the shooting, after 10 months of intensive investigation. It was enough for the policemen involved to claim that stones had been thrown at them, perhaps one of them hit the boy. But no video shows stones being thrown, nor is there any other evidence of this. Ali’s killers can also sleep in peace: No one will prosecute them. All they did was to kill a Palestinian child. 

The 9-year-old Palestinian boy who was wounded in Isawiyah at Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, on February 18, 2020 [Ohad Ziegenberg]

These and many other incidents are taking place during a period that is among the quietest in the West Bank. This is the terror taking place, committed by the state. When we hear of such incidents in vicious dictatorships – children who are snatched from their beds in the middle of the night, one boy who was shot in the eye, another who was shot and killed – it sends shivers down our spine. Shooting at demonstrators? At children? Where do such things happen? Not in some faraway land, but rather just an hour’s drive from your home; not in some dark regime, but in the only democracy. 

What would you think of a regime that allows the shooting of children, that abducts them in their sleep and razes their schools? That’s exactly what you must think of the regime here in our country. 

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-s-war-on-palestinian-children-1.9350708

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Palestinian Teen Beaten by Israeli Forces during Detention Undergoes Surgery

4 Dec
Mohammad Muqbel, 16, is handcuffed to his bed, suffering from severe pains, and denied contact with his father. [Photo: via Social Media]

Palestine Chronicle, 4 December 2020

An imprisoned Palestinian teen today underwent surgery in Jerusalem to treat fractures sustained from a brutal beating at the hands of Israeli forces.

Munir Muqbel confirmed that his son, Mohammad, underwent surgery at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem after being brutally beaten by Israeli forces during his detention five days ago.

He added that the 16-year-old teen from the al-Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron (Al-Khalil), had platinum implanted in his left lower jawbone to treat the fracture he sustained from the brutal beating during detention.

Mohammad was detained by Israeli forces as he was heading to his school on the morning of November 29.

An Israeli military court extended the detention of the Palestinian teen until Sunday, December 6, as he remains held in the Israeli hospital, handcuffed to his bed, suffering from severe pains, and denied contact with his father.

Israeli forces on a regular basis storm Palestinian cities and villages in the occupied West Bank to arrest Palestinian popular activists. 

According to the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Samidoun, “every year, around 700 Palestinian children are brought before Israeli military courts after being arrested, detained and interrogated. The vast majority report some form of torture and abuse, including kicking and beating in military jeeps as well as psychological torture during interrogation, including threats to arrest family members.”

170 children are currently held in Israeli prisons, according to Addameer.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

What if the story of Palestine was retold, this time by Palestinian prisoners? Ramzy Baroud’s latest book, “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” attempts to answer that question.

‘Lively’ Palestine solidarity celebration in Auckland

1 Dec

Over 200 people celebrated the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at a lively event in Auckland on Sunday.

Jointly organised jointly by the local Palestinian community and the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa, and chaired by TV presenter, Moana Maniapoto, the gathering heard short presentations from a wide range of speakers along with videos and songs, and enjoyed a spirited impromptu Dabke dance performance.

Kia Ora Gaza chair Roger Fowler and event MC, Moana Maniapoto. [Photo: Tawera Ormsby]

Kia Ora Gaza spokesperson Roger Fowler paid a tribute to those who had died in the struggle for Free Palestine, before outlining a brief summary of Kia Ora Gaza activities:

Kia Ora Gaza was set up 10 years ago from huge public meetings in response to the Israeli commando raid on the six-ship international flotilla intent on breaking the illegal siege of Gaza. The attack on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, in international waters, resulted in the murder of 10 civilians and 50 others injured.

Kia Ora Gaza raised funds to send six Kiwis to join the 2010 international land convoy from London to Gaza. We bought three ambulances, packed them with vital medical equipment, and joined 140 other ambulances and trucks, with people from over 30 other countries, to deliver 7 million dollars of medical aid to Gaza.

Since then we have sponsored many projects, including donating two more ambulances [in partnership with Viva Palestina Malaysia]. We have facilitated many other Kiwis to join other land convoys and flotillas to challenge Israel’s cruel and illegal blockade of Gaza.

We have also co-hosted many speaking tours, events and protests alongside the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa and the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, and maintained our Facebook pages and website: kiaoragaza.net

Kia Ora Gaza supports the ‘Football for Freedom’ soccer tournaments in South Auckland, involving about 18 teams supporting a football club in Gaza – whose clubrooms have been bombed twice by Israeli jets.

It’s important to work together to build a strong solidarity movement here and around the world, to support the Palestinian struggle for human rights, peace and justice.

Our Prime Minister was right when she said ‘Climate change is our nuclear issue’. The global movement for Free Palestine is our key human rights, anti-Apartheid and peace issue. For, due largely to it’s location and history, until there is peace and justice in Palestine, there can be no peace in the Middle East. And until there is peace in the Middle East, there can be no peace in the world. It’s that important.

So what can we do? This is a multi-faceted, interconnected, interactive and broad people’s movement. The struggle for justice is indivisible. It is important to combine our talents, skills, networks and knowledge the best ways we can.

Building an effective global boycott movement, in response to the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Apartheid Israel, is of vital importance. Support boycott campaigns such as against PUMA, and for the Superfund to divest from Israel.

Support speaking tours and other events, petitions and protests. Support NZ participation in the next Freedom Flotilla to Gaza – currently postponed due to COVID. We already have an excellent boat ready to go.

Engage with social media – especially PSNA, Kia Ora Gaza and Palestinian websites and Facebook. Share posts. Do your own research and reading.

Listen and learn from Palestinian voices, especially those at the forefront of the struggle – our main focus.

Get involved and do whatever you can, where ever you are – but do it!

Warning of humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza due to scarce medical resources

30 Nov

Al Mezan Centre, Gaza, 30 November 2020

Daily hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to rise in the Gaza Strip, bringing the average of serious and critical cases to 20 percent of confirmed cases. Two million Palestinians in Gaza are at an increasing risk of contracting the virus amid a severely depleted healthcare system, which is largely attributable to Israel’s ongoing 14-year closure. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) is particularly concerned over emerging reports of shortages in intensive care unit beds, ventilators, medical oxygen, and testing kits, which calls for an urgent intervention to support the medical sector.

In its latest update on Saturday, 28 November 2020, the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza noted that the last round of COVID-19 testing brought the total to 19,160 confirmed cases, including 90 deaths. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations rose to 334 cases, occupying 78 percent of the hospital beds designated for COVID-19 in-patients.

Al Mezan calls on the international community to exert pressure on Israel, the occupying power, to lift the blockade and closure

Alarmingly, medical oxygen levels in hospitals are dangerously low due to the heavy demand. For instance, oxygen consumption in European Gaza Hospital is estimated at 1,500-1,800 liters per minute, while the hospital can currently produce a maximum of 2,200 liters of oxygen per minute. Hospitals in Gaza equipped to deal with COVID-19 cases urgently need to increase the number of medical oxygen generators to ramp up oxygen supplies. Additional supplemental oxygen and ventilation devices are also needed to administer assisted ventilation therapies.

As the number of COVID-19 patients in need of hospital admittance rises steadily, health facilities struggle to maintain adequate surplus of fully-equipped ICU beds for patients and additional PPE for staff. Additionally, the MoH testing capacity is capped at around 3,000 daily tests due to the limited number of PCR machines at its disposal.[1]

The unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases in Gaza will soon overwhelm the underequipped health sector. Al Mezan warns of a looming catastrophe facing the population in Gaza, and highlights the role of Israel’s closure and punitive measures in disrupting the health sector’s development. Al Mezan calls on the international community to exert pressure on Israel, the occupying power, to lift the blockade and closure, and to urgently mobilize support for residents of the Gaza Strip, including by ramping up supply of medical equipment necessary to fight the pandemic.

[1] Dr. Abdulsalam Sabbah, Director General of the MoH hospitals in Gaza, interviewed by Al Mezan on 25 November 2020.

Image: Gaza mural, DW news

Moving Past Apartheid: One-State is not Ideal Justice, but It is Just and Possible

30 Nov

Art on the Israeli Apartheid Wall in the Occupied West Bank. (Photo: File)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 29 November 2020

Once again, Europe’s top diplomats expressed their ‘deep concern’ regarding Israel’s ongoing illegal settlement expansion, again evoking the maxim that Israeli actions “threaten the viability of the two-state solution”.

This position was communicated by EU Foreign Affairs Chief, Josep Borrell, on November 19, during a video-conference with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and should be rejected in words and action, regardless of whether they pose a threat to the defunct two-state solution or not.

Aside from the fact that Europe’s ‘deep concern’ is almost never followed with any substantive action, articulating a legal and moral stance in the context of imaginary solutions is particularly meaningless.

The question, then, is: “Why does the West continue to use the two-state solution as its political parameter for a resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine while, at the same time, failing to take any meaningful measure to ensure its implementation?”

Continue reading

Israeli soldiers assault medics

26 Nov

VIDEO by Middle East Eye, 26 November 2020

Special events on Sunday

26 Nov

This Sunday, November 29th is the United Nations Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.

AUCKLAND EVENT:

The Palestinian Community of New Zealand along with the Palestinian Solidarity Network Aotearoa are holding a special event to mark this day:

  • 29th of November
  • 7:00 pm
  • Western Springs Garden Community Hall – 956 Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland.
  • MC – Moana Maniapoto – Entertainer and TV Host
  • Speakers include:
  • Dr Abdallah Gouda – Palestine Community of New Zealand
  • John Minto – Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa
  • Reihana Robinson – Poet
  • Golriz Ghahraman – Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Green Party
  • Gia Ngatai-Smith and Rahman Bashir – For the People
  • Janfrie Wakim – Palestine Human Rights Campaign
  • Roger Fowler – Spokesperson Kia Ora Gaza
  • Mike Treen – National Director Unite Union
  • Suraya Esau – Human right activist with experience from apartheid South Africa
  • Tayyaba Khan – Human Rights Activist (Women in leadership 2019)
  • Diego Lewin – Jewish human rights activist
  • Margalit Toledano – J Link international Jewish network
  • Nicholas Rowe – UNESCO Co-chair in Dance and Social Inclusion
  • Paula Jones and Shirley Allan – Film makers linking Maori/Palestinian cultures
  • Tigilau Ness – Unity Pacific
  • – ALL WELCOME
  • Online:
  • https://vimeo.com/event/360535

The event link is https://www.facebook.com/events/653345142021209

For all those people outside Auckland, we will be streaming the event live from 7:00 pm – https://vimeo.com/event/360535

Subsequently, we will post the video of the event on our You Tube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS4qv3hXdc8-CiutvHPI1Ag

We hope to see our Auckland supporters there. https://www.facebook.com/events/653345142021209

WELLINGTON EVENT:

Silent wounds: The mental toll of war and siege on Gaza’s youth

17 Nov

Video by Huthifa Fayyad , Rakan Abed El Rahman, Middle East Eye, Gaza, 14 November 2020

“Teenager Montaser Bakr survived Israeli air strikes in 2014 that killed four boys from his family while they were playing on the beach.

Six years later, the trauma from that day still haunts him.

More than 80% of Gaza’s children struggle academically due to conflict-related stress, and 50% of them have no hope in a brighter future.”

11 Nov

Escalating the Demographic War: The Strategic Goal of Israeli Racism in Palestine

Racist graffiti on the walls of a Palestinian property in the West Bank. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 5 November 2020

The discussion on institutional Israeli racism against its own Palestinian Arab population has all but ceased following the final approval of the discriminatory Nation-State Law in July 2018. Indeed, the latest addition to Israel’s Basic Law is a mere start of a new government-espoused agenda that is designed to further marginalize over a fifth of Israel’s population.

On Wednesday, October 28, eighteen members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) conjured up yet another ploy to target Israeli Arab citizens. They proposed a bill that would revoke Israeli citizenship for any Palestinian Arab prisoner in Israel who, directly or indirectly, receives any financial aid from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Worthy of mention is that these MKs not only represent right-wing, ultra-right and religious parties, but also the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) ‘centrist’ party. Namely, the proposed bill already has the support of Israel’s parliamentary majority.

But is this really about financial aid for prisoners? Particularly since the PA is nearly bankrupt, and its financial contributions to the families of Palestinian prisoners, even within the Occupied Territories – West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza – is symbolic?

Here is an alternative context. On Thursday, October 29, the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, revealed that the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, plans to expand the jurisdiction of the Jewish town of Harish in northern Israel by 50 percent. The aim is to prevent Palestinians from becoming the majority in that area.

The contingency plan was formulated by Israel’s Housing Ministry as a swift response to an internal document, which projects that, by the year 2050, Palestinian Arabs will constitute 51 percent of that region’s population of 700,000 residents.

These are just two examples of recent actions taken within two days, damning evidence that, indeed, the Nation-State law was the mere preface of a long period of institutional racism, which ultimately aims at winning a one-sided demographic war that was launched by Israel against the Palestinian people many years ago.

Since outright ethnic cleansing – which Israel practiced during and after the wars of 1948 and 1967 – is not an option, at least not for now, Israel is finding other ways to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel itself, in Jerusalem, in Area C within the occupied West Bank and, by extension, everywhere else in Palestine.

Israeli dissident historian, Professor Ilan Pappe, refers to this as ‘incremental genocide’. This slow-paced ethnic cleansing includes the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the proposed annexation of nearly a third of the Occupied Territories.

The besieged Gaza Strip is a different story. Winning a demographic war in a densely populated but small region of two million inhabitants living within 365 sq. km, was never feasible. The so-called ‘redeployment’ out of Gaza by late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in 2005 was a strategic decision, which aimed at cutting Israel’s losses in Gaza in favor of expediting the colonization process in the West Bank and the Naqab Desert. Indeed, most of Gaza’s illegal Jewish settlers were eventually relocated to these demographically-contested regions.

But how is Israel to deal with its own Palestinian Arab population, which now constitutes a sizeable demographic minority and an influential, often united, political bloc?

In the Israeli general elections of March 2020, united Arab Palestinian political parties contesting under the umbrella group, The Joint List, achievedtheir greatest electoral success yet, as they emerged as Israel’s third-largest political party. This success rang alarm bells among Israel’s Jewish ruling elites, leading to the formation of Israel’s current ‘unity government’. Israel’s two major political parties, Likud and Kahol Lavan, made it clear that no Arab parties would be included in any government coalition.

A strong Arab political constituency represents a nightmare scenario for Israel’s government planners, who are obsessed with demographics and the marginalization of Palestinian Arabs in every possible arena. Hence, the very representatives of the Palestinian Arab community in Israel become a target for political repression.

In a report published in September 2019, the rights group, Amnesty International, revealed that “Palestinian members of the Knesset in Israel are increasingly facing discriminatory attacks.”

“Despite being democratically elected like their Jewish Israeli counterparts, Palestinian MKs are the target of deep-rooted discrimination and undue restrictions that hamstring their ability to speak out in defense of the rights of the Palestinian people,” Amnesty stated.

These revelations were communicated by Amnesty just prior to the September 27 elections. The targeting of Palestinian citizens of Israel is reminiscent of similar harassment and targeting of Palestinian officials and parties in the Occupied Territories, especially prior to local or general elections. Namely, Israel views its own Palestinian Arab population through the same prism that it views its militarily occupied Palestinians.

Since its establishment on the ruins of historic Palestine, and until 1979, Israel governed its Palestinian population through the Defense (Emergency) Regulations. The arbitrary legal system imposed numerous restrictions on those Palestinians who were allowed to remain in Israel following the 1948 Nakba, or ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

In practice, however, the emergency rule was lifted in name only. It was merely redefined, and replaced – according to the Israel-based Adalah rights group – by over 65 laws that directly targetthe Palestinian Arab minority of Israel. The Nation-State Law, which denies Israel’s Arab minority their legal status, therefore, protection under international law, further accentuates Israel’s relentless war on its Arab minority.

Moreover, “the definition of Israel as ‘the Jewish State’ or ‘the State of the Jewish People’ makes inequality a practical, political and ideological reality for Palestinian citizens of Israel,” according to Adalah.

Israeli racism is not random and cannot be simply classified as yet another human rights violation. It is the core of a sophisticated plan that aims at the political marginalization and economic strangulation of Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority within a constitutional, thus ‘legal’, framework.

Without fully appreciating the end goal of this Israeli strategy, Palestinians and their allies will not have the chance to properly combat it, as they certainly should.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Joe Biden’s love affair with Israel will pick up where it left off

11 Nov
Two men smile and embrace
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has every reason to expect Joe Biden will deliver for Israel, just as the Obama administration did. (US Embassy Jerusalem)

With Donald Trump still disputing his loss of the US presidential election, there has been a lot of attention to which foreign leaders congratulated the winners after the race was called on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his time, waiting until well after other world leaders had recognized Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the victors.

But finally, on Sunday, Netanyahu joined the club.

“Joe, we’ve had a long and warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote in a tweet addressing President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.

“I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the US and Israel.”

It was undoubtedly another awkward momentfor Netanyahu, whose close identificationwith Trump’s ultra-nationalist, white supremacist populism has been a hallmark of the last few years.

But Netanyahu is right about Biden’s unconditional, career-long commitment to Israel.

Back in 1986, Biden told the Senate that Israel is “the best $3 billion investment we make.”

“Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect our interests in the region,” Biden asserted.

It’s a theme he returns to time and again.

“Israel is the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East,” Biden told an interviewer in 2007.

“When I was a young senator, I’d say, ‘If I were a Jew I’d be a Zionist,’” Biden added. “I am a Zionist, you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.”

Lovers’ quarrel

Biden’s love for Israel has survived everything that has been thrown at it. This includes the public humiliation Netanyahu’s government inflicted on Biden in 2010, when he was vice president.

Israel apparently timed the announcement of a new colony in occupied East Jerusalem specifically to embarrass Biden, who was visiting Israel in an effort to advance the Obama administration’s “peace” efforts.

Obama had been urging Israel to pause settlement construction to give the initiative a chance.

Yet the lovers’ quarrel was quickly forgotten.

Israel went on to build almost as many settlement homes on occupied Palestinian land during the Obama years as it did during the George W. Bush administration.

Not only that, but as Israel killed an average of 11 children per day during its summer 2014 assault on Gaza, the Obama-Biden administration resupplied Israel with munitions.

True friends don’t let friends run out of missiles when they are bombing an impoverished, defenseless refugee population caged in a ghetto.

During its 51-day assault, Israel killed more than 2,200 Palestinians.

The Obama-Biden administration sprung into action to thwart Palestinians from seeking justice for Israeli war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

Anyone hoping for something different this time around should prepare for quick disappointment.

Biden adopts Trump policies

Biden has already endorsed some of Trump’s signature pro-Israel policies.

He has welcomed the normalization deals the Trump administration brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Biden has pledged not to move the US embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv.

Harris also has her own long history of support for Israel.

Yet there is a slight shift in tone.

In a pre-election interview, Kamala Harris pledged that the Biden administration would restore humanitarian aid for Palestinians cut by Trump, and re-open the US consulate in East Jerusalem.

Restoring aid to East Jerusalem’s hospitals or the refugee agency UNRWA would be welcome – to the extent that it actually helps Palestinians in need.

But at best it would mark a return to a status quo where Palestinians are kept on life support while Israel continues to aggressively steal their land and violate their rights with impunity.

“Joe and I also believe in the worth and value of every Palestinian and every Israeli, and we will work to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy,” Harris said.

“We are committed to a two-state solution, and we will oppose any unilateral steps that undermine that goal. We will also oppose annexation and settlement expansion,” she added.

Leaving aside that the two-state solution is dead and buried, there’s no reason to take even these minimal commitments at face value.

Democrats always say they oppose settlements and want to see a two-state solution, but as eight years of the Obama-Biden administration demonstrated, that never translates into action.

In his 2018 memoir, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser under the Obama-Biden administration, staunchly defends his boss against accusations that he was too supportive of Palestinians.

Rhodes writes that the critics who accused Obama of being not sufficiently pro-Israel “ignored the fact that he [Obama] wasn’t doing anything tangible for the Palestinians.”

Record aid package

Indeed, one of the Obama-Biden administration’s final acts was to reward Israel’s settlement spree and massacres with the biggest military aid package in history – a minimum of $38 billion over 10 years.

Now, according to The Jerusalem Post, “Israel plans to reach out to US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration in the coming months to begin discussing the formulation of a new long-term military aid plan.”

“We will want to talk about a new package and program,” a senior Israeli official told the newspaper. “The new plan will need to take into account the changing threats and challenges we face in the Middle East.”

In other words, Israel plans to increase its demands on US taxpayers.

Whenever a new administration comes in, there is a flurry of speculation and misplaced optimism about who it will appoint and what it will do to revive the “peace process.”

No one should be distracted by these parlor games.

Netanyahu’s words of welcome for Biden are sincere, because he knows the incoming American president will do all he can to deliver for Israel, just like every Democrat and every Republican before him.

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