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Life under occupation

Palestinians worry for livelihoods as COVID-19 cripples blockaded GazaFidaa Shurrab - +972 "The coronavirus has threatened the socioeconomic welfare of Gaza’s Palestinians as much as their health. An April 2020 economic update by the World Bank reported that 46 percent of people in the strip live below the poverty line. Measures to curb the spread of the virus have disrupted the Palestinian economy, it added, and the repercussions will be even more severe if the outbreak is not controlled. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Gaza’s unemployment rate reached 52 percent in 2018, and was even higher for young people at 69 percent; those figures have likely risen since March." ca30/5/2020
Israel puts the entire Palestinian banking system on noticeSAM BAHOUR - Mondoweiss "The next fault line in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes from an unassuming corner, the banking system. With the Trump Administration having its back, Israel legislated to commit crimes in broad daylight. The latest effort comes in the form of a military order, one of the thousands issued throughout Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Today, as far as the Israeli books are concerned, any Israeli soldier has the right to enter any Palestinian bank and confiscate funds that are claimed to be associated with particular bank accounts.Anywhere else in the world this would be called “bank robbery” but in Palestine it is just another day under Israeli military occupation...The political motivation behind this “legal” hogwash is the Israeli desire to punish the Palestinian leadership for refusing to stop making welfare payments to those Palestinians who were, or continue to be, detained in Israeli prisons—political prisoners,—in addition to welfare payments made to families of martyrs. It is important to note that nearly one million Palestinians have gone through the Israeli prison system since the start of Israeli military occupation in 1967. These arrests are greatly arbitrary and the courts hearing the cases are military courts with a 99.74% conviction rate." ca29/5/2020
Abbas declares end to agreements with Israel, USYUMNA PATEL - Mondoweiss - n an emergency meeting with Palestinian leadership, Abbas said: “the Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.” He went on to say that as an occupying power, Israel should “shoulder all the responsibilities and obligations” of “protecting the civilian population and their property” in accordance with international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. (rh)26/5/2020
Palestinians demand sanctions on Israel to stop illegal annexationMONDOWEISS EDITORS - Mondoweiss - The following statement was published today by broad coalition of over 70 Palestinian civil society organizations calling for sanctions against Israel for its plans to illegally annex parts of the West Bank. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues. Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Effective Measures by all States to Stop Israel’s Illegal Annexation of the Occupied West Bank and Grave Violations of Human Rights. (rh)26/5/2020
Peace process was never intended to give Palestinians a state — true confessions from Council on Foreign RelationsPhillip Weiss - Mondoweiss - Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations has an article at Foreign Policy saying that the U.S. should phase out aid to Israel and “end the special relationship” because the peace process has attained its real objective: Israel is established as a secure country with a standard of living rivaling the UK and France, and no real military threat. The piece is shocking because it strips the mask from the peace process, saying just what Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah said decades ago, it was intended to fail, never producing Palestinian sovereignty. (rh)26/5/2020
Church of the Nativity reopens as Palestinians ease coronavirus curbsReuters - The church in Bethlehem, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, is capping access to 50 people at a time and requires that they be free of fever and wear protective masks; it had been closed since March 5.(rh)26/5/2020
Netanyahu said to tell Likud MKs: West Bank annexation on for JulyTOI STAFF - Times of Israel - At the opening of his Likud faction’s weekly meeting at the Knesset, Netanyahu said there has never been a better time in the country’s history to apply sovereignty, which is tantamount to annexation, to these areas. “We have an opportunity that hasn’t existed since 1948 to apply sovereignty in a wise way and as a diplomatic step in Judea and Samaria, and we will not let this opportunity pass,” Netanyahu said, referring to the year the State of Israel was established and using the biblical names for the West Bank territory.(rh) 26/5/2020
Intel: Senate Democrats warn Netanyahu against West Bank annexation Read more: Harris - Al-Monitor - Nineteen Senate Democrats warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner Benny Gantz against Israeli plans to annex settlements in the West Bank and the entire Jordan Valley in a letter Thursday. The letter — spearheaded by Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — warns Netanyahu and Gantz that “unilateral annexation will be met with deep concern from our mutual allies and partners, including Jordan and Egypt, and nearly universally viewed as a violation of international law.” (rh) 26/5/2020
Israeli Troops Abduct A Palestinian Mother And Her Teenage Daughter Near JeninIMEMC - Fifteen Israeli vehicles carried out a massive invasion of the town of Ya’bad, south of Jenin. Dozens of soldiers alighted, surrounded a house and stormed it. The single aim of this entire massive operation - to arrest two women, a mother and her 16-year old daughter, and carry them off to interrogation after ransacking their home. This is the fourth recent detention for the mother and the second for the daughter. This family`s The husband and father was already carried off by the army a few days earlier. As usual, no reason was given by the army except the laconic "suspicion of a threat to security". The invasion led to protests between many local youngsters, who hurled stones at the army jeeps, while the soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs.[ak] 26/5/2020
Israeli Troops Shoot Palestinian Family Harvesting Wheat, Wounding TwoIMEMC - Israeli forces attacked a family of Palestinians who were harvesting wheat on their farmland near al-Mughayyir village east of Jerusalem. The army was apparently called in by Israeli settlers who had earlier tried to harass the Palestinian family. Initially, the army issued a statement that two Palestinians tried to attack them with sickles). But eyewitness accounts paint a far different picture of what happened – and draw into question other statements by the Israeli military in which they claim they shot Palestinians ‘in self-defense’. [ak]26/5/2020
Leading British Jewish group’s claim it is neutral on West Bank annexation should fool nobodyROBERT COHEN - Mondoweiss - After all, Israeli governments of the centre left and the centre right have spent the last 53 years actively enabling half a million Jewish Israelis to build towns on occupied Palestinian land. That’s meant massive government-funded infrastructure, government financial incentives and army protection. Awkward, because all of this is in violation of the Geneva Convention of which Israel is a signatory. Awkward, because the ‘facts on the ground’ created by the settlements have also required the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population. That’s meant other awkward facts: land confiscation, house demolitions, property laws, water control, checkpoints, and a parallel but unequal judicial system. It you check out the legal textbooks you’ll find it’s collectively known as ‘apartheid’. That’s definitely awkward, especially for any Jewish organisation, attempting to nurture positive attitudes towards Israel both within and beyond the Jewish community.(rh) 19/5/2020
Ahead of Jerusalem Day, report of Israeli landgrab, abuse and violence in the neighborhood of al-‘EsawiyahAmit Gilutz - B`Tselem - As Jerusalem Day nears, B`Tselem is publishing a new report about the Israeli policy that has shaped the lives of al-’Esawiyah’s 22,000 Palestinian residents, making it one of the city’s poorest and most overcrowded neighborhoods. The report, This is Jerusalem: Violence and Dispossession in al- ‘Esawiyah, reviews the key features of this policy – systemic landgrab and deliberate lack of planning: Since 1967, Israel has overtaken about 90% of al-’Esawiyah’s land, which once spanned almost 2,500 acres. The landgrab is a key reason for the neighborhood’s poverty, as residents are denied the opportunity to benefit from their land. The stolen land serves the Jewish public. Al-’Esawiyah residents now have less than 250 acres, which are mostly built up and hemmed in by Israeli institutions (primarily the Hebrew University and Hadassah Mt. Scopus Medical Center) and Jewish neighborhoods. The Jerusalem Municipality has yet to draw up a proper outline plan that allows legal residential construction and reflects residents’ needs, including infrastructure development and public buildings. Instead, the only plan approved for the neighborhood, in 1991, was mostly designed to limit construction.[ak]19/5/2020
Israeli Troops Throw Fire Bombs, Burn Palestinian Homes, Farm Land in HebroIMEMC - Palestinian sources in Yatta village, south of Hebron, said that Israeli troops fired some torch bombs in the sky over Hebron, which burned half an acre of Palestinian farm land of barley and wheat to blaze. Coordinator for the steadfastness and protection committee in the city, Foad Alemour, told local media outlets that the fire bombs, launched by Israeli troops, also set on fire two homes owned by the Rashid family. (rh)19/5/2020
Palestinians to Mark Nakba Anniversary Digitally for First Time in HistoryIMEMC - On the eve of the Palestinian people’s catastrophe or Nakba anniversary, the Ramallah-based higher national committee for marking the Nakba, called on all Palestinian masses to commemorate the Nakba anniversary digitally and not on the ground. “As we are marking such a historic significant moment of our Palestinian history, the entire world, including our Palestinian territories, is facing the threat of Coronavirus, that has so far impacted lives of many world nations. Therefore, we would urge our people, everywhere, to mark the Nakba anniversary by digital means such as social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others”, a statement by the higher committee read.(rh)19/5/2020
Israel put itself in a cornerSam Bahour - Responsible Statecraft - The European Union, that underwrote most of the past 25 years of U.S. failures in the Middle East Peace Process, is also up in arms about Israel’s possible annexation moves. Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote “West Bank annexation will bring an end to the EU’s cherished two-state solution. International norms and the EU’s own laws will now need to underpin post-annexation relations with Israel.” He goes on noting that, “Annexation — whether it starts with one settlement block or most of Area C — will cross a threshold which will be almost impossible to reverse back on. The full repercussions that such a move will trigger may be slow in coming, but they are real. This will challenge EU credibility and relevance. It will also undermine the fundamentals of the international rules-based order — in particular, the prohibition on the acquisition of territory through force.” He speculates that post-annexation, “Palestinians [will] live under an increasingly explicit system of apartheid.” It is no wonder that the EU, for the first time, is speaking about possible economic sanctions on Israel if they proceed with any form of annexation.(rh)19/5/2020
West Bank annexation will be the end of Israeli-Jordanian peaceMarwan al-Muasher - Ynetnews - By annexing parts of the West Bank, Israel would put the Hashemite Kingdom at risk of an influx of Palestinians and it should protest such unilateral move at all costs. (rh)19/5/2020
Israel: Discriminatory Land Policies Hem in PalestiniansHuman Rights Watch - Human Rights Watch - Decades of land confiscations and discriminatory planning policies have confined many Palestinian citizens to densely populated towns and villages that have little room to expand. Meanwhile, the Israeli government nurtures the growth and expansion of neighboring predominantly Jewish communities, many built on the ruins of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. Many small Jewish towns also have admissions committees that effectively bar Palestinians from living there. “Israeli policy on both sides of the Green Line restricts Palestinians to dense population centers while maximizing the land available for Jewish communities,” said Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East executive director at Human Rights Watch. “These practices are well-known when it comes to the occupied West Bank, but Israeli authorities are also enforcing discriminatory land practices inside Israel.”12/5/2020
“Israeli Soldier Killed by Stone While Invading West Bank TownIMEMC - During a pre-dawn invasion of Ya`bed in the northern West Bank, a 21-year old Israeli soldier identified as Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal was killed by Palestinians who dropped a large stone from a rooftop on his head. The soldiers were there in search of two Palestinian ``terrorism suspects`’, and another two who were suspected of having thrown stones at soldiers during previous incursions. Many villagers were awake at the time, to eat their pre- dawn meal and prepare for the day of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. So the soldiers, who often engage in pre-dawn raids but usually do so while residents are sleeping, instead were met by angry youth who demanded that they leave their town. Following the death of the soldier, large new Israeli forces with armored vehicles stormed the town, initiated very violent and extensive searches of homes and buildings, and took off to interrogation at least eighteen Palestinians, including a father and his three children. With the town`s streets full of soldiers, the army now also occupies the rooftops of many homes, especially in the as-Salma neighborhood. [ak] 12/5/2020
Army launches large-scale manhunt after killers of soldierYoav Zitun - Security forces embarked on a large-scale manhunt in the West Bank town of Ya`bad on Tuesday after the killers of IDF soldier Amit Ben Yigal. As reported, the 21-year-old Staff Sergeant and his fellows were carrying out the "routine" arrests of four "terrorist suspects" in Ya`bad - a normal practice carried out every night by the army at various towns and villages and usually getting little attention. As the troops were set to leave the village, a large stone was lobbed off a rooftop. The assailant seems to have lain in wait for Ben Yigal to look up and then dropped the rock directly on his face. The helmet which soldiers habitually wear on such raids was of no avail. The soldier sustained critical injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Rambam Hospital. [As chance would have it, on the previous evening Israeli TV broadcast an extensive feature on soldiers raiding in another village. Soldiers told the TV reported of being wary and apprehensive of precisely this eventuality, i.e. Palestinians dropping heavy stones from the rooftops. [ak]12/5/2020
Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was sacrificed by the State of Israel on the altar of occupationAdam Keller - Gush Shalom - Gush Shalom mourns the unnecessary death of Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal who fell in battle at the village of Ya’bad, where the State of Israel sent him to enforce occupation rule. Amit Ben Yigal joins a very long and painful line of young victims who were sacrificed by the State of Israel on the altar of a 53 years old occupation, on the altar of settlement expansion, on the altar of the annexation plans of the government which is to be inaugurated his week.[ak]12/5/2020
What will happen to Palestinian land the day after annexation?Ziv Stahl - +972 - The exact shape annexation will take — how much territory will be annexed, how many Palestinians will live on that territory, and what their status will be — is still unknown. One thing is certain: Palestinian human rights will be severely violated. This is true for Palestinians who find themselves living under Israeli sovereignty inside the annexed areas or remain in parts of the West Bank that will stay un-annexed. While many rights will likely be violated after annexation, the right to property will be among the hardest hit. Once territory is annexed, Israel will likely expropriate the land en masse and transfer it from its Palestinian ownership to state hands. One of the tools Israel might employ is the Absentees’ Property Law, which was used to nationalize property owned by Palestinians who became refugees during the 1948 war. According to the law, Israel is able to expropriate land and property of Palestinians who were expelled or fled during the war.(rh)12/5/2020
Israeli Authorities Extend Detention of Palestinian TeenIMEMC & Agencies - "For the fifth time in row, Israeli authorities reportedly extended, on Sunday, the imprisonment of [...] Qassem Abu Bakr, 17, [...] for five more days, without charges" [ry] 11/5/2020
PA: Israeli seizure of Hebron municipal powers for elevator is a crimeKHALED ABU TOAMEH and TOVAH LAZAROFF - Jerusalem Post - Every person, irrespective of whether or not they are disabled, should have the opportunity to visit the tomb, which is an important Jewish heritage site,” Bennett said. But he acknowledged that the move was also about asserting Israeli rights to the site, where the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs are buried. He authorized the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council to seize all the necessary administrative planning powers necessary from the Hebron Municipality so the project could be completed. [bz]5/5/2020
Jewish terrorists killed his wife. Now he has a message for the worldOrly Noy - +972 - Rabi is one of four Palestinians and Israelis who will tell their story on Monday night during the 15th annual alternative Israel-Palestinian Memorial Ceremony, which commemorates the deaths of both Israelis as well as Palestinians who have been killed over the years. Israeli leaders and right-wing figures routinely criticize the ceremony, organized by Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle-Families Forum, and often try to prevent it from taking place for what they say is the commemoration of Palestinian terrorists. (rh) 5/5/2020
Israeli Forces Arrested 40 Palestinians during First 6 days of RamadanIMEMC & Agencies - The Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Prisoners’ Studies, said on Wednesday, that Israeli troops abducted 40 Palestinian residents, since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, last Friday. Spokesperson for the center, Riyad Alashqar, was quoted as saying that the Israeli occupation forces have exposed lives of Palestinian prisoners to danger, by continuing to abduct them under the spread of the coronavirus, across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. (rh)5/5/2020
Army To Demolish The Home Of A Palestinian Suspected Of Carrying Out A Stabbing AttackIMEMC News - Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, Tulkarem refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and stormed the home of a wounded Palestinian, who is suspected of carrying out a stabbing, Tuesday, and handed the family a demolition order for their home. Media sources said several army jeeps invaded the refugee camp, before the soldiers stormed the family home of Mohammad Reesha, 19, and interrogated them for a few hours.They added that the soldiers then handed the father a demolition order targeting his home. Protests erupted during the invasion, and the soldiers fired gas bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets, and concussion grenades at Palestinian youngsters, causing several injuries. (rh) 5/5/2020
PLO official: Annexation of West Bank territory destroys possibility of a peace agreementWafa - Israeli government`s annexation of occupied Palestinian territories, in part or in whole, means destroying any possibility of reaching a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, said Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Speaking via ZOOM technology to Forward Thinking in London and to Harvard University in the United States, Erekat said that that he conveyed messages from President Mahmoud Abbas to a large number of countries in the world in which he called on them not to allow the Israeli government to implement the "apartheid" and annexation scheme, and the necessity of convening an international peace conference on the basis of international law and United Nations resolutions with the aim of ending the Israeli occupation, establishing the independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital to live in security and peace alongside the State of Israel on the 1967 borders, and resolving all final status issues, particularly the issue of refugees and prisoners in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.(rh)5/5/2020
COVID-19 in Palestine: a mathematical analysisAHMED ABBES&INES ABDELJAOUED-TEJ - Mondoweiss "The COVID-19 morbidity rate in Palestine, that is, the ratio of the number of people infected to the total Palestinian population, is around 0.009%. The death rate representing the number of people who died from COVID-19 in Palestine is 0.6 per million people. The real indicator of the danger of the epidemic is the fatality rate, which represents the proportion of deaths compared to the total number of infected cases. The fatality rate for COVID-19 in Palestine is 6.7 per thousand people. It is much lower than the rates in neighboring countries. The number of infected cases (incidence) is 88.4 per million, which is also lower than most neighboring countries. It should be noted that these figures are temporary and incomplete. They were obtained on the basis of the tests carried out; note that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has a sensitivity of 70%. [2] The number of deaths is recorded in hospitals and does not include deaths at home (therefore of cases not reported). But these figures remain an indicator in order to contain the outbreak and prepare for targeted deconfinement." ca1/5/2020
No letup in Israeli attacks on Gaza fishersTamara Nassar - Electronic Intifada - The coronavirus pandemic has derailed a lot of activities, but not Israel’s attacks on Palestinian fishers. Combined now also with Ramadan, this is a particularly important and difficult time for Gaza’s fishers. (...) “Sardines historically make up 60 percent of the total fish catch and form the bulk of the income of Gazan fishermen,” OCHA, the United Nations humanitarian coordination agency, has previously reported. Sardines are not typically found near Gaza’s coast, but because of Israel’s naval blockade on the territory, fishers miss out on catches that are further out. [bz] 28/4/2020
High Court halts Shin Bet tracking of virus patientsYael Freidson - YnetNews - The High Court orders a freeze on tracking of coronavirus patients by the Shin Bet domestic security service, with judges saying such a move requires legislation. The court ruling said, however, that if the legislative process was begun, it would be possible to extend for a limited period the use of the security service in efforts to stem the spread of the virus. (rh) 28/4/2020
The olive trees that tell the story of Palestinian dispossessionMeron Rapoport - +972 - Last week, my colleague Edo Konrad published an article revealing that, in honor of Israel’s Memorial Day, the Defense Ministry had decided to give bereaved Israeli families bottles of olive oil produced in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.The olive oil is produced by Meshek Achiya, a factory located in the heart of the occupied territories about 45 kilometers north of Jerusalem, which was established in 1997 in the settlement outpost of Achiya. As Dror Etkes, an expert on settlement activity, explained to Konrad, Meshek Achiya was one of six outposts established west of the settlement of Shiloh in order to take over privately-owned Palestinian land. Following the article’s publication, a number of bereaved families launched a petition demanding the Defense Ministry take back its gifts. (rh) 28/4/2020
Palestinians are facing coronavirus inside a lion’s denMariam Barghouti - +972 - The importance of having control over our fate — or in simpler terms, to have our freedom — is so we can have a fighting chance. Freedom on its own is not enough to overcome the pandemic, but at least it would give us the power to try without being consistently beaten down, and without suffering the consequences of choices that are not of our making. This is the meaning of oppression: violently and forcefully designing a reality whose brutal outcomes fall on the oppressed. If decades of occupation, mass imprisonment, killings, land theft, and resource theft are not enough, perhaps the tragic flames of a pandemic will more vividly expose the injustices that are tailored to impair and immobilize Palestinians. Just as we take measures to confront COVID- 19, we must also confront the forces that strip us bare and throw us into the lion’s den. (rh)28/4/2020
Israeli court rules PA must pay $150 million in damages to terror victimsAP and TOI staff - Times of Israel - The decision comes following a lawsuit brought by Shurat Hadin, an Israeli legal advocacy group, on behalf of relatives of victims from a number of attacks, mostly carried out during the Second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s. A previous court ruling from last year found the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization to be liable for those attacks, along with other actors. In its decision Friday, the Jerusalem court ruled that the funds would come from tax money that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians. [bz]28/4/2020
Settlers continuing to take advantage of the absence of Israeli activists (week report April 12-18) Michal Hai - Ta`ayush - (...) Saturday April 18, an activist from Tawane accompanied a shepherd grazing around Haruba for fear of the settler-colonists. Shortly thereafter, settler-colonists from Havat Maon came out to them, followed by an army Humbee. The soldiers chased the activist, pushed him down to the ground, beat him up and grabbed the camera he was using to document the incident. Later it was returned to him without its memory card. (...) [bz] 23/4/2020
Israeli settlers exploit coronavirus to take over West Bank land with military backing: Violent attacks spike in April B`tselem - April 23 press release - A particularly serious incident took place on 16 April, when brothers `Issa and Musa Qatash from al-Jalazun Refugee Camp were attacked by settlers while out for a walk in their family plots near the village of Jibya. The brothers were beaten so severely that they required medical attention. The assault on `Issa Qatash was prolonged and resulted in a fractured bone in his leg and two broken front teeth. The settlers also spat at him, which forced him to enter isolation in a Palestinian Authority facility for fear of corona infection, keeping him away from his family for several days after the traumatic event (...) [bz]23/4/2020
Video: How is Gaza facing the Coronavirus pandemic?Palestinian Center for Human Rights - Video: How is Gaza facing the Coronavirus pandemic? [ak]21/4/2020
East Jerusalem worries of healthcare collapse over coronavirus : With Israeli neglect and PA banned from operating, Palestinians in East Jerusalem battle coronavirus on their own.Mersiha Gadzo - Aljazeera - As the highly contagious coronavirus continues to spread, Palestinian health officials in occupied East Jerusalem are warning the medical system will "collapse" if an outbreak occurs because of a shortage of resources and a lack of qualified staff. Citing Israeli neglect of Palestinians living in the holy city and with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) banned from operating in the area, Palestinians in East Jerusalem say they have been left to fend for themselves.(rh) 21/4/2020
Palestinian doctor on the coronavirus front lines: ‘We don’t touch, I don’t even shake the hands of my family’ALLISON DEGER - Mondoweiss - At 6:00 p.m. Safwan Fayyad took a break half-way through his 24-hour shift. By sunrise tomorrow he will enter the foyer of his home, a two-hour drive from the Ramallah Medical Complex, a hulking gated hospital compound in the West Bank’s de facto capital and the main triage zone for COVID-19 patients in the region. Once inside the doorway, he implements a rigorous disinfecting regime. The 30-year-old senior resident and internist will slip off his shoes and sterilize them with bleach, and remove all of his clothing and drop the soft fabrics directly into the washing machine. Then, take a hot shower. (rh)21/4/2020
Unity deal allows PM to begin advancing West Bank annexation from July 1JACOB MAGID -Times of Israel - Getting out two legislative paths to enact annexation, the deal appears to provide Netanyahu with an alternative route if he fails to gain a majority for annexation in the cabinet, where some half of the ministers will be Blue and White members. It is more likely to pass in the Knesset given that the right-wing Likud, Yamina, Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism and Shas parties, which all have voiced support for annexation, hold a majority there. (rh) 21/4/2020
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi: Annexation is a declaration of permanent aggression. The Palestinian people will confront this lawless and dangerous agenda resolutely and with unwavering determinationDr. Hanan Ashrawi - PLO Dept. of Public Diplomacy - The Israeli political establishment has united on the agenda of permanent colonization and annexation. It is now very clear that Israeli political parties are unequivocally committed to the entrenchment and permanence of the conflict as well as the perpetual oppression of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian leadership is very clear on where we stand. Annexation is a declaration of permanent aggression on inalienable Palestinian rights and the standing of international law. The Palestinian people will confront this lawless and dangerous agenda resolutely and with unwavering determination. [ak]21/4/2020
Israel Shuts Palestinian Coronavirus Testing Clinic in East JerusalemNir Hasson - Haaretz - Until very recently, Israel neglected to act against the virus in East Jerusalem. Only after the PA filled the vacuum did Israel get a little bit started. But of course, clamping down on what Palestinians arranged for themselves could not even wait until the end of the Pesach Holiday. When doctors found out 40 confirmed cases in Silwan where overcrowded living conditions could lead to a rapid spread of the virus, a clinic was opened in a hall at one of the local mosques. The coronavirus tests were meant to be processed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. But police arrived, questioned neighbors and arrested four activists who were involved in setting up the clinic. [bz] The clinic was opened in a hall at one of the local mosques. It was closed on Tuesday night because to the end-of-Passover curfew, but police officers nonetheless arrived, questioned neighbors and arrested four activists who were involved in setting up the clinic. [bz]16/4/2020
Palestinian village chooses self-isolation during coronavirus pandemicY-Net - The West Bank community of Sinjul restricts access to non- residents, forming committees tasked with enforcing closure, supplying food and essentials to families and monitoring workers returning from Israel. [ak]16/4/2020
2nd Appeal in COVID-19 Crisis: PCHR Calls for Immediate Release of Minors, Women, Patients and Elderlies among Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli JailsIMEMC - Israeli authorities have neglected the continued and urgent requests for the immediate release of those among the 5000 Palestinian prisoners who are considered at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, the elderly and the chronically ill in particular. Making matters worse, Physicians for Human Rights received a shocking decision by the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejecting its petition to the Court demanding it order the Israel Prison Service (IPS) and the Ministry of Health to ensure proper medical services are provided for Palestinian prisoners, and take necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus within the prison system. The Court had determined that the petition did not include any legal demands that warrants its intervention... [bz] 16/4/2020
Coronavirus ‘extremely dangerous’ for Palestinian areas, UN envoy warnsRAPHAEL AHREN - The Times of Israel - e United Nations’ Middle East peace envoy on Sunday expressed grave concern over the situation in the Palestinian territories, urging Israel to do more to help contain the coronavirus pandemic in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. “The current situation is extremely dangerous and calls for bold action by all stakeholders,” Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement. “I am concerned about the socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis on the Palestinian people, particularly vulnerable communities in Gaza.” (rh)14/4/2020
`Barrier of love`: Palestinian civilians set up virus checkpointsHossam Ezzedine - AFP - Israeli restrictions, and chronic cash shortages faced by the Palestinian government, have hindered efforts to contain the virus. So the Palestinian police have called on volunteers to help do the job. The Palestinian interior ministry has approved the scheme, calling it key to containment efforts. [bz]14/4/2020
Pandemic Journal 6-12 April, New York Review of BooksDalia Hatuqa - NYbooks - How on earth would this novel virus reach the West Bank, I thought. We were already living under Israeli military rule: under lock and key, surely we didn’t need to worry. And we didn’t, at first. (...) Even at the height of the second Intifada, in 2002, Ramallah managed to keep some of its restaurants and cafés open. But today, Ramallah is a ghost town. The Palestinian Authority, which manages the West Bank, announced a month-long state of emergency, closing schools, nurseries, and universities. Public gatherings and protests were banned. Gyms and wedding halls were closed. Banks were instructed to operate for shorter hours; cemeteries even can operate only under new restrictions. (...) At the best of times, the West Bank is notorious for its creaking health infrastructure. As a result, the ratio of providers and hospital beds to patients is inadequate. [bz]14/4/2020
Hamas said demanding release of 250 prisoners for info on missing IsraelisTimes of Israel - The Coronavirus outbreak seems to have acted as a catalyst to renewing and accelerating the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner exchange. Hamas holds the bodies of two killed Israeli soldiers and two living Israeli civilians. Hitherto, Hamas made the providing of any information on prisoners and bodies conditional upon Israel setting free Palestinians who were released in the previous exchange (the 2011 Shalit Deal) but later re-arrested by Israel. Now, Hamas seems ready to accept instead the release of imprisoned "women, children and elderly Palestinians". Musa Dudin, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said Israel had a “window of opportunity” that it could take advantage of. According to the Al-Akhbar daily, Hamas officials in Israeli prisons have drawn up the list of 250 prisoners it seeks freed in the first stage of the deal. The daily said that a German mediator who was involved in the 2011 Shalit deal, which saw Israel release over 1,000 prisoners for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, was again mediating between the sides.[ak]14/4/2020
Viral OccupationWho Profits - Monitoring developments in Palestine is crucial not because Palestine is an exceptional case, but precisely because it is not. As one political economist put it, Gaza (and Palestine more broadly) may be “the proverbial canary in the COVID-19 coal mine.” There is no doubt that for Palestinians living under occupation, the acute shortage of testing kits, protective gear and ICU capacity is only the tip of the iceberg. A host of structural issues inevitably compound the virus’ devastating impact. [bz]14/4/2020
While on Coronavirus quarantine, settler youths assault Palestinians, torch cars The Jerusalem Post - A week ago, some twenty of the "Hilltop Youths" - the most violent, unruly element among Israeli settlers on the West Bank - were found to have been exposed to a Coronavirus carrier, which required them to go into quarantine. Accordingly, the army set up for them a Quarantine Tent Camp at Metsoke Dragot near the Dead Sea. However, being under quarantine did not change their normal proclivities. They are now reported to have started assaulting Palestinians passing on a nearby road - throwing stones on them, spraying them with pepper spray and then proceeding to torch cars. [ak] 14/4/2020
Palestinian Ingenuity: Al-Quds University Produces Innovative Prototype for Inexpensive VentilatorsThe Palestine Chronicle - On April 1, Al Quds University President, Professor Imad Abu Kishek announced that his university has “succeeded in producing a fully computerized ventilator capable of saving lives and providing a viable alternative to the shortage in Palestine and beyond in the standard commercial ventilators and other respiratory support machines”, the Palestinian official news agency WAFA reported. The breakthrough came at a critical time for Palestinians, who are struggling with the spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 disease, and growing restrictions imposed by the Israeli military. (rh)14/4/2020
Israeli-blockaded Gaza runs out of coronavirus testsReuters - Daily Sabah - The Gaza Strip has no more coronavirus test kits, Palestinian health officials said Wednesday, amid fears of disaster if the illness spreads in the blockaded, densely populated enclave. "Testing at our central laboratory has stopped, after coronavirus test kits completely ran out," Gaza health ministry spokespersonAshraf al-Qidra, said. The impoverished coastal strip has for years been blockaded by neighboring Israel, which it says is needed to stop weapons and money reaching its enemy, Hamas. Gaza has reported 13 cases of coronavirus infection, all of whom are at quarantine facilities. But officials have voiced concerns that a shortage of critical equipment and medical supplies could set off a rapid spread among the enclave`s 2 million people. (rh) 14/4/2020
Israeli press review: Minister silent on accusations that Mossad stole Covid-19 kits : Meanwhile, the army asks to be put in charge of pandemic management, and Israeli roads are empty ahead of the Jewish holiday of PassoverMEE staff - Middle East Eye - Israeli army chief of staff Aviv Kochavi has filed a request with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence Naftali Bennett to hand over responsibility for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic to the army. Israel`s military turns on its people as coronavirus panic sets Kochavi emitted his request in a secret letter last week, which was revealed by newspaper Yisrael Hayom. (rh) 14/4/2020
Israeli-Bedouin students left behind over coronavirusDanny Zaken - Al-Monitor - The coronavirus pandemic is hurting everyone in Israel — rich and poor, Jews and Arabs — but poorer communities face much greater difficulties in dealing with its ramifications, including in education. When the whole education system in Israel — from preschool to high school to higher education — moved to remote learning by means of the internet, the gap between rich and poor grew wider because of the latter`s lack of access to technology. This phenomenon is especially notable among the Arab Bedouin population in Israel.(rh) 14/4/2020
Updates during Corona from MachsomWatch Shuli Bar - Newsletter spring 2020 - M., an old acquaintance, is a farmer from A’anin. He called this evening to hear how I was doing and to tell me about himself. He reported that “the entire community is isolated in their homes. The streets are empty. We have oil, flour, olives and vegetables – we’ll manage. But how will the olive trees manage? This is the season when we have to clear the weeds that can overtake the vineyard. But who in the District Command Office will permit us to cross the separation fence? Maybe you can talk to them and get permission for the farmers and their tractors to cross? There is no one to talk to...” I promised to try, and I reminded both of us that we Israelis are also closed off and everyone is afraid. “Be well, you and your entire family. That’s why I called…” (rh)14/4/2020
Coronavirus? Police, army and settlers continue with harassing Palestinians Michal Hai - This week in the Occupied Territories: March 29 - April 4, 2020. Israeli Police, Border Police and army persisted in their systemic harassment of the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem this week, in the midst of the worsening Corona-virus crisis: placing checkpoints, firing sponge rounds and teargas, arresting locals and fining them; Hooligans from Havat Maon outpost were busy this week stealing from their Palestinian neighbors; Israeli soldiers violently arrested a Palestinian youth picking Ka`ub (globe thistle) near Palestinian Susya, even though it is no longer prohibited; settlers from the West Bank hill-range outposts are widening a path they have cleared around Rashash, inside a nature reserve and firing zones, as well as founding a new outpost – Israeli police and army called to the site responded by chasing away Palestinian shepherds, and fining activists and NGO workers who are permitted (by of the Israeli Ministry of Health regulations) on the ground in order to document illegal works. [ak] 9/4/2020
Over 30,000 people tuned into a virtual rally calling for an end to the Gaza blockadeMichael Arria - Mondoweiss - On March 30, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), MPower Change, and other Palestinian solidarity groups held a virtual rally to call for an end to the blockade on Gaza. Over 500 people attended the online event, and over 30,000 have viewed it over Facebook. Speakers included Linda Sarsour (MPower Change), Dr. Mona Qasim El-Farr (Middle East Children’s Alliance), and Salem Barameh (Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy) (rh)7/4/2020
In the midst of global pandemic, Israeli occupation thrivesYumna Patel - Mondoweiss - When the Palestinian Authority (PA) first announced a state of emergency over the coronavirus in early March, an initial panic swept over the occupied territory, as checkpoints and borders with Israel were closed, and entire cities were shut down.,In the early days of the outbreak, which was initially contained to the city of Bethlehem, there was a joke going around between Palestinians that, perhaps, a global pandemic could offer a temporary respite from the terrors of the Israeli occupation. But even as most aspects of everyday life have been turned upside down in Israel, Palestine, and the rest of the world, the one thing that has remained steady in the lives of Palestinians, is the presence of the occupation.(rh) 7/4/2020
Two years on, no accountability for Palestinian child protestors killed by Israeli forcesDefence for Children International Palestine - After two years, there has been no justice and accountability for the unlawful killing and maiming Palestinian children during weekly demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, despite well-documented evidence of war crimes committed by Israeli forces. Since March 30, 2018, Israeli forces have killed at least 49 Palestinian children in the context of demonstrations near the Gaza perimeter fence, according to evidence collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. During the same period, Israeli forces killed an additional 32 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. In the overwhelming majority of these 81 cases, the children did not pose a direct, mortal threat at the time of their death. (rh)7/4/2020
Plagued by failure: ‘The Yom Kippur War of the Israeli health system’HAIM SHADMI - The Times of Israel - The summer of 2006 was a wake-up call for the home front. Israeli civilians, it became apparent during the Second Lebanon War, were inadequately protected, both against a large-scale military conflict and, as the Health Ministry later put it, “an incident of plague.”The following year the State Comptroller issued a report. It slammed the Health Ministry’s emergency readiness and called for sweeping change. Nearly 13 years later, amidst the worst health crisis the state has ever faced, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site Zman Yisrael — in collaboration with Shomrim, the center for media and democracy — has investigated years of neglect and austerity within the health sector at large. Exposed is a Health Ministry that — many current and former officials who spoke on condition of anonymity contend — tragically fumbled its opportunity to close the gaps in readiness during the early months of the current coronavirus pandemic, before it arrived on Israel’s shores. (rh) 7/4/2020
Palestinian prisoners left in the dark by Israel’s coronavirus restrictions : With family and lawyer visits canceled due to coronavirus, Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including minors, are now completely cut off from the world.Oren Ziv - +972 - New emergency regulations issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to combat the novel coronavirus prohibit Palestinian political prisoners from meeting their lawyers or receiving family visitations. The decision, announced on March 15, determines that political prisoners, who are usually denied the right to use phones in prison, can only consult with their attorneys over the phone in the event of an upcoming court hearing. The order is in effect for a month, but can be renewed as required for month-long intervals at a time. In effect, this decision prevents thousands of inmates, including child prisoners, from receiving legal counsel or filing petitions and complaints against their terms of imprisonment. With family visits also canceled, prisoners are now completely cut off from the outside world. As of February, around 5,000 Palestinians are locked up in Israeli prisons, including 430 in administrative detention. (rh) 7/4/2020
A Palestinian guide to surviving a quarantine: On faith, humour and `Dutch Candy`Ramzy Baroud - Middle East Monitor - Lesson number one: Always think ahead and prepare for a longer lockdown than the initial one declared by your city or state. (...) Lesson number two: Take control of the situation – do not panic – and assign specific responsibilities to every family member. This strengthens the family unit and sets the stage for collective solidarity desperately required under these circumstances. (...) Lesson number three: Cautiously use your water supplies during a quarantine, and never, under any circumstance, drink rainwater or, at least, keep diarrhea pills handy. (...) Lesson number six: Be funny, don’t take life too seriously, share a laugh with others, and let humor inject hope in every hour and every day of your quarantine. [bz] 7/4/2020
For Us in the West, the Lockdown Is Meant to Save Lives. In Gaza It Will Kill ManyNeve Gordon - Haaretz - Not only have Gaza`s health services been starved for decades - but also social conditions determine the health level of a population. While for example the Israeli government stresses the importance of washing yours hands several times a day, Gaza residents are worried about the lack of drinking water (...) and how can the 113,990 refugees living in the Jabalya refugee camp, which sits on 1.39 square kilometers of land, stay physically distant from one another? [bz]7/4/2020
Settler violence escalating behind the Coronavirus smokescreenMichal Hai - Ta`ayush - Steep escalation throughout: Jewish settlers from outposts and colonies in the South Hebron Hills, Palestinian Jordan Valley and the West Bank hill ranges have been attacking Palestinian shepherds, farmers and whole communities, fully backed up by the Israeli army, taking advantage of the closure in Israel and the resulting absence of Israeli activists on the ground; a retarded youth from Tuba who was picking Akoub herbs was arrested, restrained and taken to a distant Israeli army camp, and released from there no phone nor any contact with his family; settler-colonists from Havat Maon are coming day after day to attack and throw stones at the Palestinian village of Tawane, and among other means have released a dog that bit and wounded a Palestinian in the belly,while his friends were wounded by beating and teargas fired by violent Israeli soldiers – who attacked them instead of chasing away their assailants; incursions from the outposts on the hill range into Palestinians’ fields and attacks against shepherds this week have caused several communities to dismantle their tents and leave; in the northern and southern Palestinian Jordan Valley the occupation forces are on a rampage of demolitions in the midst of this Corona virus crisis, destroying dwellings and a mosque, and sequestering materials that were meant to construct two clinics. [ak]2/4/2020
Israelis, Palestinians and COVID-19 - March 2020 assesment from the Geneva InitiativeGeneva Initiative - The Two-State Index - Israeli-Palestinian cooperation rises to meet threat of COVID-19: Effect of the global pandemic on Israeli and Palestinian societies leads both sides to work together against a common enemy, and enables an unprecedented Israeli decision to allow PA security forces to enter East Jerusalem and Area C. COVID-19 crisis freezes push for West Bank annexation: The Israeli government’s fight against the spread of the virus, along with the political stalemate, curtail efforts to annex parts of the West Bank in the near term. Gaza and the West Bank see dramatic drop in violence as PA initiates assistance measures: COVID-19 crisis pushes Israel and Palestinian factions to almost entirely halt all attacks, while Hamas and the Palestinian Authority take new steps to combat the virus. However: New evidence and activity related to settlement expansion: Among other findings, a new report shows that settlement approvals soared in 2019, and more action is taken by Israel to allow for building in E1. [ak]2/4/2020
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