news from Palestine

I spoke with Saber last week and he summed up what I know Palestinians in Gaza are feeling:

It’s hard to breathe, we are so suffocated by life. But we must be patient. Every day there are problems, but we must be patient. The Israeli navy is still shooting at fishers, the Israeli army is still shooting at farmers. There is a cooking gas shortage. It’s as bad as it was in 2007, all over again.  

If there is a war on Syria (US/NATO intervention a.k.a “humanitarian bombing”), Israel will definitely attack Gaza.”

He’s usually a lot more upbeat than this, so if Saber is saying these things, I know life has gotten impossibly difficult in Gaza, impossibli-er than ‘normal’ impossibleness. 

Some news in the headlines now:

Unrest in Egypt Squeezes Gaza

“…crisis still going in the Rafah border and the Rafah crossing. We have thousands of people stuck in Gaza, and they need to leave through this crossing, because it’s the only crossing we have in Gaza Strip. We don’t have airport. We don’t have seaport. So we still ask and demand to reopen this Rafah border and Rafah crossing 24 hours, seven days a week, ’cause the few hundreds going and coming through this Rafah border is not enough, and if still this going, we will have bigger crisis in Gaza, especially after the end of the vacations, starting of the schools next month. Gaza once had an airport, a gate to the world, located in the eastern part of Rafah in the southern Gaza strip near the Israeli-Egyptian border. Inaugurated in 1998, Gaza International Airport had a short lifespan. Once able to handle 700,000 passengers per year, most of the airport was destroyed by Israel in early 2001 during the Second Intifada and now lies in ruins.”

Egypt army destroys 2 smuggling tunnels near Rafah
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Egypt’s army on Friday destroyed two smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza, security officials said. The tunnels were used to smuggle cars and other goods. Egyptian army engineers demolished the tunnels using explosives. The Egyptian army said that the five tunnels were found in Salah Ed-Deen Gate area, east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Local sources said that loud explosions were heard in the area. The Egyptian army has been acting on detonating all located tunnels in Gaza, and previous flooded tunnels with waste-water, and even gassed them in some incidents. Most of the tunnels are now either destroyed, or partially destroyed but cannot be used due to serious risks of collapse

Stocks of vital medicines hit zero as Egypt, Israel tighten Gaza siege

Electronic Intifada 1 Sept by Ali Abunimah — …Since the coup in Egypt, OCHA reports, “the Ministry of Health in Gaza began restricting X-rays and limiting certain drugs to emergency use only, due to low supplies and the unreliable flow of medical supplies via the Rafah Crossing.” At the end of July, “27 per cent (128 items) of essential medicines were at zero stock in the Central Drug Store in Gaza and 16 per cent (78 items) were at low stock (between 1-3 months’ supply).” OCHA adds: “Twenty-five per cent of [Gaza’s] drug supplies are normally received from, or through, Egypt via this crossing. Two principal Egyptian donors, the Arab Physicians Union and the Physicians Syndicate, are expected to halt donations to Gaza in view of current urgent needs in Egypt. These groups have played a crucial role as a source for rapid supply of critical items, such as dialysis solutions, common chemotherapy drugs, Factor VIII for haemophilia, immunosuppressants for kidney transplant patients and treatments for other chronic blood disease conditions. Any sustained gap in the supply of these items would have immediate negative impact on patients. The Human Appeal International (United Arab Emirates) and Qatar Red Crescent also provide donations to the MoH in Gaza via Rafah, but according to the MoH, only one drug shipment has been received via that route since 30 June, from an Italian NGO.”

Egypt army plans buffer zone along Gaza border
Medics: Israeli forces shoot farmer in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — A Palestinian farmer was shot and injured on Friday East of Jabalia north of the Gaza Strip, medics said. Israeli forces opened fire at Yousef Saad, 20, injuring him in the thigh. He was taken to Kamal Edwan hospital in Jabalia.
They confiscated my only source of livelihood
PCHR/Narratives 27 Aug — Khader Merwan Al Seidi (26) is one of Gaza’s fishermen and a victim of the repeated military attacks carried out by Israeli forces against fishermen in the Gaza Sea. Khader is the breadwinner for a family of 14 members. He is married with a one-year-old child, and resides with his extended family in a house in Shati refugee camp. The camp, located along the Gaza shore, is home to most of Gaza’s fishermen, for whom the sea is their main source of livelihood. On 13 August 2013, Khader left his home early in the morning, and made his way to Gaza seaport. From there, he sailed west, remaining within the Israeli-imposed limit of 6 nautical miles offshore, to fish for the day. However, Khader was attacked by Israeli naval forces, arrested, and interrogated, and his boat and fishing tools were confiscated. Khader was released 15 hours later. Khader describes the incident…

Is there a hierarchy of human suffering that demands action in some places but not in others? / Samira Shackle
MEMO 30 Aug — The last week has seen a major push for military action in Syria from the UK and US governments. The impetus for western involvement in the two-year civil war came from the alleged chemical attack on 21 August, for which the regime is presumed to be responsible. US secretary of state John Kerry described this use of chemical weapons as a “moral obscenity” that “defies any code of morality” and that has “shocked the conscience of the world.” … There are certainly grounds, then, for outrage at the actions of the Syrian regime. However, as the political rhetoric reached its peak this week, several individuals on social media began to ask the question: why is it sometimes acceptable to use chemical weapons? Many pointed out that the condemnation from western leaders on Syria is a striking contrast to their silence about Israel’s actions in Gaza in 2008. In 2009, Human Rights Watch alleged that Israel’s use of white phosphorous shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was evidence of war crimes. Like the napalm in those distressing images of Syria, white phosphorous causes severe chemical burns. They can extend down to the bone and can reignite when exposed to oxygen.

Egypt forces shoot Palestinian fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot two Palestinian fishermen near the Egypt-Gaza border and detained five others, Palestinian sources in Gaza said. Egyptian forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, injuring 19-year-old Ibrahim Abdullah al-Najjar and 21-year-old Wael al-Bardawil. They were taken to the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in the Palestinian side of Rafah. Egyptian forces detained Khalid Basla, Mahmud Basla, Maher Basla, Jamal Khaled Abu Shlouf, and Ismael Basla. The fishermen are from the the al-Mawasi area of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

IOA extends the arrest of a disabled Palestinian
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 31 Aug — The Israeli Magistrate’s Court has extended the arrest of a disabled Palestinian for 15 additional days despite his difficult health status. Ahmed Dawoud Obaid’s arrest was extended for 15 days although his father has provided the court with medical reports proving his mental disability. The Israeli prosecutor presented an indictment against Obaid accusing him of throwing stones at Israeli cars. Obaid was arrested after being beaten severely by Israeli forces despite being [deaf and] dumb and mentally ill.
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Since September 2000, the Israeli military courts have convicted just six soldiers for offenses involving the death of Palestinians
Yesh Din 27 Aug — Ziv Stahl, director of Yesh Din’s Research Department, commented on the findings: “In practice, the updated statistics show that the likelihood that a soldier who unjustifiably killed a Palestinian civilian will be investigated, let alone penalized, is slight to non-existent. This reality encourages the unlawful use of weapons by soldiers, even in clearly civilian situations such as demonstrations.” The human rights organization Yesh Din today published updated statistics regarding investigations by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Department (MPCID) into the circumstances surrounding the death of Palestinians since September 2000, as well as figures for convictions and penalization relating to these incidents. According to B’Tselem figures, some 5,000 Palestinians have been killed to date by the Israeli security forces in the Occupied Territories since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000. Figures forwarded to Yesh Din by the IDF Spokesperson show that the MPCID opened over 179 criminal investigations in the period 2003-2013 concerning the suspected killing of Palestinian civilians by IDF soldiers, but only 16 of these files led to indictments.
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Illegal extremist settlement of Yitzhar expands during ‘peace talks’
‘Asira, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 28 Aug by Nablus Team — Around 80 settlers and soldiers brought diggers and steam rollers near the ‘Asira water project and started to flatten ground on private Palestinian land. Residents fear this is the first stage in an expansion of the illegal extremist settlement of Yitzhar that daily attacks ‘Asira and the unfinished water project that will provide the village with the much needed resource. Asira water project and started to flatten ground on private Palestinian land. Residents fear this is the first stage in an expansion of the illegal extremist settlement of Yitzhar that daily attacks ‘Asira and the unfinished water project that will provide the village with the much needed resource. Early in the morning on Wednesday 28th August in Asira al Qibliya around 50 soldiers and 30 settlers set up a tent on the mountain in land between the illegal settlement of Yitzhar and the Asira Water project. Machines were then brought to start work on the land including a digger and a steam roller. The land was flattened in preparation for new illegal structures that will most likely be an expansion of Yitzhar, which is of major concern to the villagers.

PCHR weekly report: Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinian civilians and wound 18, including 5 children
30 Aug — … Israeli attacks in the West Bank: During the reporting period, Israeli forces escalated their attacks against the Palestinian civilians, especially in the West Bank. Israeli forces killed 3 civilians and wounded 23 others, including 5 children. 3 civilians were killed and 18 others, including 5 children, were wounded during an Israeli incursion into Qalandya refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem … Israeli forces conducted 49 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which at least 29 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were abducted … Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip: Israeli navy forces continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea … In the Gaza Strip, on 22 and 23 August 2013, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats that approached the border about 2 nautical miles off the shore. The fishermen were frightened and fled back to the shore fearing of being abducted or injured. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported in both incidents.Full Report

WATCH: Bil‘in activists protest rising military oppression
972mag 30 Aug by Haggai Matar — About 250 people joined the weekly popular demonstration in Bil‘in against the wall and settlements, which was dedicated to resisting army oppression towards political activists. In the past few weeks soldiers have been crossing over the wall and chasing Bil‘in demonstrators with more violence than has been witnessed there in the last couple of years. [Video by Haitham al-Khatib.]

IOF storms areas in Nablus, al-Khalil
NABLUS/AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the town of‘Assira, north of Nablus, in the late hours of Wednesday night and raided several neighborhoods. Other IOF units tightened the military restrictions at the Israeli checkpoints deployed west and south of Nablus city where they searched the passing Palestinian vehicles. No arrests were reported in either raid.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers stormed Wednesday different areas in al-Khalil southern West Bank and arrested a Palestinian citizen. The occupation forces raidedTaffuh area west of al-Khalil and broke into a number of houses where they summoned three Palestinian liberated prisoners. In ‘Aroub refugee camp, Israeli forces violently stormed the citizen Rabhi Jawabreh’s house and destroyed furniture and other possessions. Israeli patrols also stormed Halhul and Beit Ummar, northern al-Khalil, where temporary military checkpoints were set up.
Furthermore, Israeli forces had been extensively deployed in the area near Gush Etzion settlement, built on Palestinian lands, following firing at an Israeli bus in the same area.

Israel extends administrative detention of Atabish and Prof. Shannar
RAMALLAH (PIC) 29 Aug — The Israeli military prosecutor’s office issued a four-month extension of the administrative detention of prisoner Ayman Atabish, who has been on hunger strike since May 23. Palestinian human rights sources said the Israeli prosecutor ignored the difficult health condition of prisoner Atabish and extended his detention with no reason. Prisoner Atabish is detained in Kaplan hospital along with his fellow hunger striker Adel Hureibat
For its part, the Israeli military commandership in the West Bank on Wednesday extended for four months the administrative detention of social science professor Mustafa Shannar, who works as a lecturer at Al-Najah university in Nablus, according to Tadamun foundation for human rights. The foundation said that professor Shannar suffers from a serious heart condition and was transferred to Afula hospital two months ago after suffering two heart attacks.

Likud solution is to annex West Bank and establish Palestinian state in Gaza
MEMO 28 Aug — Likud Party MK and Israeli Deputy Transport Minister Tzipi Hotovely has suggested that the solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is the annexation of the West Bank and creation of a Palestinian State in the Gaza Strip. Arab citizens of Israel, would she claims, be granted equal rights in the extended state. The Knesset member was speaking at the Professors’ Forum for Political and Economic Immunity when she made the suggestion. The programme covered several proposals to resolve the conflict. According to Maariv newspaper, the forum also touched on the idea of turning the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan into a Palestinian state. The problem with that, said the MK, is that Jordan is not under Israeli control.

Funeral held for three Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops
Guardian 26 Aug — Three Palestinians shot dead by Israeli security forces in a West Bank refugee camp were buried in a tempestuous funeral on Monday as Palestinian negotiators cancelled talks in a sign of the fragility of the embryonic peace process … Thousands of people flocked to the camp for the funeral following noon prayers. Masked militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade fired AK47s into the air as an imam told the crowd through loudspeakers at the cemetery: “Israel does not want peace; they want to shed our blood.” Shops in the area remained shuttered as youths set fire to car tyres and threw stones and molotov cocktails at the nearby Qalandiya checkpoint, the main gateway in the imposing concrete wall between the West Bank and Jerusalem … The Israeli military said the guards were acting in self-defence … But witnesses claimed that at least two of the three victims were bystanders. Robin al-Abed, 32, was shot in the chest as he tried to get from his home to his workplace, and Jihad Asslan, 20, was pronounced brain dead after being shot on the roof of his house where he had gone to watch the clashes, said a neighbour of the men, Abu Omar Hammad. The third dead man was Younis Jahjouh, 22, who was also shot in the chest. Hammad, 46, who sells sweets in the camp, said he had been woken by his children at 6am to find “soldiers smothering the neighbourhood”. He said he saw al-Rabed shot as he tried to get to his job with the UN Palestinian refugee agency, Unrwa.

A daily routine || West Bank raids: Operational routine or a powder keg about to explode?
Haaretz 27 Aug by Amira Hass — The outcome of Monday’s raid in Qalandiyah – three dead and six seriously wounded – is the worst this year in the West Bank. But such raids are carried out on a daily basis: 6,193 times in 2012 — The vast majority of the hordes of participants in the funeral of the three dead men in Qalandiyah Tuesday marched silently from the mosque on the refugee camp’s main street to the cemetery on its eastern edge. A few shouted “revenge” and “Allahu Akhbar” (“God is great”). Only men marched down the alleyways to the burial site. The women and children crowded into the corners of the alleys, and some even climbed onto rooftops and watched the marchers from there. One of the women, whose origin, like that of the dead man Rubin Al-Abed Zayed, 34, is from the ruined village of Barfiliyah (today in the Modi’in area), told Haaretz angrily: “If only the soldiers had entered the camp at night, as they usually do, and not in the morning when people are going out to work and children are preparing to go to school, the three victims would not have fallen. From the morning, immediately after the shooting stopped, we ran around among the families of the dead and the seriously wounded, we came to console the mothers, the children or the young siblings. How hard it is. The army came deliberately in the morning and not at night — it came to kill.” Similar raids, for various reasons, are a routine matter in the West Bank. Up until Sunday there were 297 raids all over the West Bank in August … What for the Israel Defense Forces and the Border Police is “routine operations,” for Palestinians is a nightly average of 10 to 20 aggressive Israeli reminders of who is boss: a routine that never stops arousing anger, even if it isn’t reflected in confrontations.
1-minute video: Qalandiya refugee camp clashes 26/08/2013 Photo Maysa Ayad
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