7 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 will be presenting a 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.
1. Amnesty International released its Annual Report 2014/15 in which it says that “Israeli forces committed war crimes and human rights violations” during the attack on Gaza last summer. The report also noted that
“Israel maintained its air, sea and land blockade of Gaza, imposing collective punishment on its approximately 1.8 million inhabitants and stoking the humanitarian crisis. In the West Bank, Israeli forces carried out unlawful killings of Palestinian protesters, including children, and maintained an array of oppressive restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement while continuing to promote illegal settlements and allow Israeli settlers to attack Palestinians and destroy their property with near total impunity. Israeli forces detained thousands of Palestinians, some of whom reported being tortured, and held around 500 administrative detainees without trial. Within Israel, the authorities continued to demolish homes of Palestinian Bedouin in “unrecognized villages” in the Negev/Naqab region and commit forcible evictions. They also detained and summarily expelled thousands of foreign migrants, including asylum-seekers, and imprisoned Israeli conscientious objectors.”
2. A joint statement was issued by a coalition of 30 international aid agencies entitled “We must not fail in Gaza.” In it they highlight the ongoing man-made crisis in Gaza, which totters on the edge of outright chaos. Extracts of the statement are below.
“The Israeli-imposed blockade continues, the political process, along with the economy, are paralyzed, and living conditions have worsened. Reconstruction and repairs to the tens of thousands of homes, hospitals, and schools damaged or destroyed in the fighting has been woefully slow.”
“Since July, the situation has deteriorated dramatically. Approximately 100,000 Palestinians remain disp laced this winter, living in dire conditions in schools and makeshift shelters not designed for long-term stay. Scheduled power cuts persist for up to 18 hours a day.”
“With severe restrictions on movement, most of the 1.8 million residents are trapped in the coastal enclave, with no hope for the future. Bearing the brunt of this suffering are the most vulnerable, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, women and nearly one million children, who have experienced unimaginable suffering in three major conflicts in six short years. Children lack access to quality education, with over 400,000 of them in need of immediate psychosocial support.”
“Israel, as the occupying power, is the main duty bearer and must comply with its obligations under international law. In particular, it must fully lift the blockade.”
While the statement is a welcome highlighting of the terrible, inhuman, ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza, Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada correctly points out that it “falls short of pinning blame for the catastrophe where it lies” and aside from a
“minimal acknowledgment of Israel’s responsibility, the statement avoids laying blame where it also belongs: the home governments of many of the international civil society organizations have been complicit in Israel’s military attacks and siege on Gaza.”
3. UNICEF released its latest “Children in Israeli Military Detention” bulletin, which noted that between March 2013 and November 2014 “on average 198 children were held in [Israeli] military detention per month”. The report notes that “reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014”. In 208 sworn affidavits provided to the UNICEF Working Group on Grave Violations against Children, “children report being subjected to multiple violations throughout the arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention phases,” including:
162 reported being blindfolded during transfer from the place of arrest to the police station, while 89 reported being transferred on the floor of the vehicle. 189 reported being painfully hand-tied upon arrest.
171 reported being subjected to physical violence during arrest, interrogation and/or detention, while 144 reported being subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation.
163 reported not being adequately notified of their legal rights, in particular the right to counsel and the right to remain silent, while 63 reported having had to sign a confession in Hebrew during the interrogation process.
148 reported being strip-searched at the police station and 76 children reported being strip-searched upon arrival and transfer to Israeli Prison Service detention facilities.
28 reported being held in solitary confinement at the Al Jalame and Petah Tikva detention sites inside Israel, while under interrogation by the ISA.
4. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights released a report entitled ‘Gaza Strip: Attacks in the border areas and their consequences’, which states that since 2005 Israel has “unilaterally and illegally established a so-called ‘buffer zone’, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as a “buffer zone” is not clear and this Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire. The establishment of the ‘buffer zone’ is illegal under both Israeli and international law.”
On Land: The report notes that on land despite a putative ‘buffer zone’ of 300m, in reality Israeli “attacks against civilians take place anywhere up to approximately 1.5km inside the border fence. This constitutes approximately 17% of the total territory of the Gaza Strip,“ and contains “35% of the Gaza Strip’s agricultural land.” Israeli attacks in January 2015 have included 7 shooting incidents, resulting in 4 injuries. 8 people have been detained, including 2 minors.
At Sea: The report notes that “Palestinians are completely prevented from accessing 85% of the Palestinian maritime areas recognised in the 1994 Gaza Jericho Agreement,” that “ 3,700 fishermen work under high personal risk every day at sea” and the “area near the coast is markedly over-fished”. Approx “8,200 persons work in the fishing industry, while “65,000 persons, including individuals who work in the fishing industry and their dependents, are affected” by the restrictions at sea. Israeli attacks at seas in January 2015 have included 12 shooting incidents, resulting in 4 injuries, and damage to 4 boats. 8 people have been detained, including 2 minors, and one boat has been confiscated.
5. The Arab League and the PLO condemned a number of anti-Christian and anti-Muslim attacks on religious sites in Palestine carried out by rightwing Jewish extremists. On Thursday 26th March part of a Greek-Orthodox Christian seminary in the Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem’s Old City was set on fire, and graffiti saying “Jesus is a son of a whore” and “Redemption of Zion” was left on the walls. A day earlier, the al-Huda mosque in the West Bank town of al-Jaba was torched and racist slogans in Hebrew calling for killing Arabs and Muslims were sprayed on the walls. Meanwhile racist anti-Palestinian graffiti, including the phrase ‘Death to the Arabs’ were sprayed on the walls of a Palestinian school in the village of Urif south of Nablus.
Muhammad Sbeih, the Arab League secretary-general for Palestinian affairs called for the UN to hold Israel responsible for recent attacks on Palestinian holy sites because they were a result of the environment of “extremism and racism” due to the Israeli elections and would will likely increase as the elections get closer. Ghassan Daghlas, an illegal settler-activity monitor, said the Israeli government was “giving free rein to extremist settlers to carry out attacks against Palestinians in an attempt to win settler votes in the upcoming Knesset elections.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there were at least 329 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in 2014.
6. In the early hours of Tuesday 24 February, Israeli occupation forces shot and killed 19-year-old Jihad al-Ja’fari during a dawn raid of Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. In order to prevent the raid and the inevitable ensuing arrests of Palestinians,PCHR says “a number of Palestinian youngsters gathered and threw stones, empty bottles and fireworks at Israeli soldiers, who opened fire at the youngsters and houses”. al-Ja’fari, a cookery student at Talitha Kumi Community College in nearby Beit Jala, sustained a bullet wound to the lefty shoulder and was pronounced dead on arrival to hospital. Thousands of mourners attended his funeral.
According to Ma’an News, coroner Sabri al-Aloul said that the autopsy results show that al-Jaafari bled to death after being hit with an M16 bullet that penetrated his body through the left shoulder and struck his lungs before exiting and causing severe bleeding in his arteries and around his spine. The killing was “similar to an execution” because he was shot from very close range, al-Aloul said. PCHR said it was a “crime” that “further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians, in disregard for the civilians’ lives”. He is the second Palestinian to be killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2015.
7. B’Tselem reported ongoing vandalism to Paletsine olive trees, as 200 seedlings planted in Wadi Suwed, near Susiya in the occupied West Bank, were discovered uprooted and broken, to prevent their replanting. Since the beginning of the year there have been numerous attacks on Palestinian olive groves by illegal Israeli settlers, resulting in the destruction of around 5,600 trees in seven incidents across the West Bank according to UN OCHA.