5 things you may have missed this week in Palestine
Irish media continues to frequently ignore important stories emerging from Palestine-Israel, stories that are vital to context setting and framing during those times when the issue actually does hit international headlines.
By ignoring such stories, which expose the true nature of Palestinian life under military occupation and apartheid, the media can only be considered to be complicit via their silence.
Therefore the IPSC continues with our new weekly round up of the most important stories that you may have missed if your only source of information is the Irish mainstream media.
At least two Palestinian refugees were named as being among the dead when a boat full of migrants capsized off the coast of Italy on March 4th. Some 50 other Palestinians on board were rescued by coast guards and survived. The dead were named as Mahmoud Hmeid, 23, and Ahmad Khaled Hasan, 17, both from Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon where Palestinians face severe discrimination from the Lebanese state. The ship, which left Libya with around 200 people from the Middle East and Africa looking for a better, safer life in Europe, was carrying Palestinians refugees from Lebanon who had made their way to Libya to secure passage. The oldest on board was a 51-years old man, Hasan Suleiman, while the youngest was a 5-year-old girl, Mira ‘Ezzat.
Under international law Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and their descendants are guaranteed the right of return to the homes they were forcibly displaced from and dispossessed of. Israel has consistently refused to allow them to exercise this right.
#2. Israeli occupation forces again violated the Gaza ceasefire, firing on fishers, farmers and coastal areas
The Israeli navy shelled the shores of Gaza City in the al-Zahra district on Tuesday March 10th, although no injuries were reported. On the same day Israeli ground forces opened fire on farmers in the eastern Gaza Strip who were working on their land near. On Saturday 14th Israeli warships opened fire at a group of Palestinians fishing in boats four miles off the Gaza coast. The attack resulted in one of the vessels suffering damage, though no injuries were reported.
The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reports that Israeli forces have opened fire at the Gazan border 29 times since the August 26 ceasefire agreement, killing at least two Palestinians and injuring 35, including nine children. A Palestinian fisher was killed at sea by Israeli fire the previous week.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club reports that since 1st March 2015, Israel has issued or renewed 42 Administrative Detention orders. Administrative Detention is a form of internment without trial used by Israel to imprison Palestinians on detention orders that range from one to six months, renewable indefinitely. Detention orders are based on secret information that neither the detainee nor their lawyer have access to.
Administrative Detention violates international laws including the Geneva Convention and Amnesty International has said that the policy “violates the right to a fair trial”, has been used “to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades”, and is used to “suppress the legitimate and peaceful activities of activists”. Amnesty also says many prisoners “have suffered torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation, as well as during their detention, sometimes as punishment for hunger strikes or other protests”.
According to Addameer Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation, since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli military. This figure represents approximately 40% of the total male population in occupied Palestinian territory. As of 1st February 2015 there were 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel – 454 of them Administrative Detainees – including 163 chidlren, 22 women, and 17 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said on Sunday 15 March that 2014 saw at least 465 violations of media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories, a record number. MADA chairman Dr. Ghazi Hanania said:
“[2014 was] the worst, the deadliest, and the hardest year ever for journalists and media freedoms in Palestine, in terms of the nature and degree of the violence suffered by journalists and media freedoms, and in terms of the number of crimes and violations committed, which rose at a record pace and unprecedented.”
According to the report Israeli forces committed a total of 351 violations of press freedoms, 112 of which were recorded in Gaza and 239 in the West Bank – and increase of 132% compared to 2013 – while violations by Palestinian security forces in both Gaza and the West Bank increased by 46%, their highest level since 2008.
MADA’s General director, Mousa Rimawi, said Israeli violations of press freedoms included killings, injuries and assaults of journalists, destruction of media institutions, the arrest of journalists and using the press as human shields. He condemned all violations of media freedoms in the Occupied Palestinian Territories no matter who committed them, especially the killing of 17 journalists during the 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza last summer.
In related news, on Monday 9th March Israeli police on raided and ransacked the offices of a newly established media center in the Palestinian city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, journalists said. Q-Press Media staff members Hikmat Naamnah, Sahir Ghazzawi, Anas Ghanayim, Badir Mahajnah, and Budar Ighbariyya were detained and interrogated following the raid and all all computers in the office were confiscated.
The Electronic Intifada is reporting that Palestinian activists have welcomed the cancellation of a lucrative deal in which the Palestinian Authority would have purchased at least $1.2 billion worth of natural gas from an Israeli consortium over the next twenty years. According to the report:
Mahmoud Nawajaah, general coordinator of the BNC [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee], the largest civil society coalition in Palestine and the steering group for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, said: “The import of Israeli gas would contribute to entrenching our economic dependency on Israel and strengthen the Israeli economy at a time when Israel’s international isolation is growing.
In its statement, the BNC also noted that “ending the Palestinian gas deal with Israel pulls the rug from under the feet of any Jordanian official supporting the purchase of ‘Israeli gas’ under the pretext of ‘we shall not be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.’”
As The Electronic Intifada reported recently, there is near unanimous and growing opposition in Jordan to a deal signed by that country’s government to purchase $15 billion worth of natural gas from Israeli-controlled parts of the Mediterranean Sea over a fifteen-year period.
“Israel is facing growing boycotts and divestments in the academic, cultural and even economic spheres with the steady and impressive mainstream spread of the global BDS movement,” the BNC’s Nawajaah added. “We appeal to our brethren in Egypt and Jordan to stop the Israeli gas import negotiations to deprive the Israeli regime of occupation and apartheid of this strategic windfall.”