On the 39th Friday

The Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege
Israeli Forces Kill 3 and Wound 115 Other Civilians

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Ref: 138/2018, 21 December 2018

On Friday evening, 21 December 2018, Israeli forces Killed 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a person with a mobility impairment, and wounded 115 other civilians, including 21 children, 2 women, 2 journalists and 3 paramedics, in the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there for the eighth week consecutively and absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 8 months ago.

According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, for the eighth week since the beginning of the Return March on 30 March 2018, burning tires and stone-throwing decreased while the attempts to cross the border fence and throw incendiary balloons were completely absent.

Though the demonstrators were around tens of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them, without the later posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.

On 21 December 2018, the incidents were as follows:

At approximately 14:30, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the five encampments established by the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege adjacent to the border fence with Israel in eastern Gaza Strip cities. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel in front of each encampment and gathered tens of meters away from the main border fence, attempting to throw stones at the Israeli forces. Although the demonstrators gathered in areas open to the Israeli snipers stationed on the top of the sand berms and military watchtowers and inside and behind the military jeeps, the Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets in addition to a barrage of teargas canisters. The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 17:00, resulted in the killing of 3 civilians, including a child and a person with a mobility impairment.

Those Killed were identified as:

    1. Mohammed Mo’in Khalil Jahjouh (16), from Shati’ Refugee camp, west of Gaza City, after being hit with a bullet to the neck in eastern Gaza.

    2. ‘Abdel ‘Aziz Ibrahim ‘Abdel ‘Aziz Abu Sharia (28), from Gaza City, who was hit with a bullet to the abdomen in eastern Gaza and succumbed to his wounds hours later.

    3. Maher ‘Atiyah Mohammed Yasin (40), from al-Nussairat refugee camp, who succumbed to wounds he sustained after being hit with a bullet to the head in eastern al-Bureij refugee camp, noting that he had suffered a mobility impairment since childhood.

Moreover, 115 civilians, including 21 child, 2 women, 2 journalists and 3 paramedics, were wounded. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.

The following table shows the number of civilian victims due to the Israeli forces’ suppression of the Great March of Return since its beginning on 30 March:

Casualties Medical Crews Journalists Women Children Total
Killed 3 2 1 35 178 Note 1
Wounded 152 131 291 1819 10,021 Note 2
    [Note 1] Among those killed, there were 6 Persons with Disabilities and a girl.

    [Note 2] Among those wounded, 512 are in serious condition and 101 had their lower or upper limbs amputated; 89 lower-limb amputations, 2 upper-limb amputations, 10 finger amputations and 17 children had their limbs amputated according to the Ministry of Health. The number of those wounded only include those wounded with live bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters as there have been thousand others who suffered tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises.

PCHR emphasizes that continuously targeting civilians, who exercise their right to peaceful assembly or while carrying out their humanitarian duty, is a serious violation of the rules of international law, international humanitarian law, the ICC Rome Statute and Fourth Geneva Convention. Thus, PCHR calls upon the ICC Prosecutor to open an official investigation in these crimes and to prosecute and hold accountable all those applying or involved in issuing orders within the Israeli Forces at the security and political echelons.

PCHR hereby condemns the excessive use of force and commission of crimes by the Israeli forces despite the prevailed calmness, believing it is as a result of Israel’s enjoying impunity thanks to the U.S. and so encouraging the Israeli forces to commit further crimes upon an official decision by the highest military and political echelons.

PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PCHR calls upon Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depository State for the Convention, to demand the High Contracting Parties to convene a meeting and ensure Israel’s respect for this Convention, noting that these grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied territories.


Israeli military edited video of fatal strike

‘Warning strike’ killed two Palestinian teenagers

B’Tselem, 19 December 2018

The case

On 14 July 2018, around 6 P.M., the partially constructed al-Katibah Building in Gaza City was the target of an Israeli airstrike, consisting of four initial missiles, followed by four larger strikes. The first missile killed two Palestinian teenagers, Amir a-Nimrah and Luai Kahil, as they sat on the roof of the building. Twenty-three others were injured in the following strikes, which also damaged two neighboring buildings—a cultural center and a mosque.

The four initial missiles launched were part of what the Israeli military calls ‘roof knocking’, a policy by which ‘low-explosive munitions’ are used, supposedly to warn civilians of a larger impending strike and to allow time for them to evacuate the area. Israel claims that these warnings are legal and are meant to protect civilians. However, quite to the contrary, missiles launched as ‘roof knocking’ form part of an attack, for all intents and purposes. As such, they must follow the relevant rules under International Law. In this case a-Nimrah and Kahil were killed as a result of an attack that disregarded these rules completely.

The investigation

Following the attack, the Israeli military published footage of the strikes via its Twitter account, @idfspokesperson, supposedly showing four different strikes.

The attack was documented by a number of different sources. In addition to the Israeli military’s aerial footage, the attack was captured by nearby CCTV cameras. B’Tselem’s field researchers gathered further video material on the ground, as well as from social media and other open sources.

Forensic Architecture (FA) used this material to establish a definitive timeline of the sequence of strikes.

Conclusions

  • Our investigation found that the sequence of videos published through the @idfspokesperson Twitter account edited out the first, fatal strike. The published footage did show four strikes in sequence, but that sequence did not reflect reality: the first strike featured in the published sequence was in fact the third warning strike, from a different angle.
  • FA and B’Tselem also consulted multiple weapons experts, each of whom independently concluded that the fragmentation pattern caused by the fatal strike indicates the presence of shrapnel—indicating that the munitions used was specifically designed as an anti-personnel weapon. This contradicts the military’s claims.
  • It is unknown if the two teenagers were visible to the military before the first strike. If they were, they should not have been targeted. But if not, it follows that the Israeli military cannot justifiably rely on its aerial surveillance technologies to avoid civilian casualties.

Quotes

Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem, said: ‘Airstrikes in Gaza are marketed to the public by the Israeli military as surgical actions, designed to protect civilians, based on precision intelligence, accurate munitions, state-of-the-art surveillance, and close attention to international law.

‘In reality, that is often nothing more than propaganda. The truth, instead, is devastating civilian casualties, surveillance that is incapable of distinguishing combatants from teenagers, inept intelligence, and the reduction of legal principles that are intended to protect civilians into a perfunctory checklist, which is later used to whitewash human rights violations, and to establish impunity.’

Nicholas Masterton, a researcher with FA and coordinator for this project, said: ‘This investigation demonstrates how a deep reading of the imagery provided by the IDF, which was ostensibly intended to legitimise the “warning strikes” on the al-Katibah building, can be unravelled to reveal a different story.

‘The wealth of images and videos in this case allowed us to conduct a rigorous independent investigation, and to challenge the Israeli military’s claims. We could not only show that Kahil and a-Nimrah were killed by a deadly missile, but also expose the underhanded way in which the Israeli military presented details of such strikes to the public.’

Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture’s Director, said: ‘We decided to spend time investigating this case because warning strikes are an essential part of the Israeli military’s claims to high ethical standards. But such warnings are sometimes delivered with the same missiles that are used elsewhere to kill.

‘As a result, it’s no surprise that these warning strikes can kill the very civilians they are purportedly meant to warn, or that the message they are meant to deliver is often misunderstood.

‘Further, these so-called ‘warnings’ give the IDF a licence, as they perceive it, to subsequently commence heavy bombardment of buildings in dense urban areas. They can as such have the result of causing more civilian casualties, rather than preventing them.’

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A Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath

So She Lost Her Texas Elementary School Job

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Map: Palestine Legal

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, December 17 2018

A children’s speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

The child language specialist, Bahia Amawi, is a U.S. citizen who received a master’s degree in speech pathology in 1999 and, since then, has specialized in evaluations for young children with language difficulties (see video below). Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years, fluently speaks three languages (English, German, and Arabic), and has four U.S.-born American children of her own.

Amawi began working in 2009 on a contract basis with the Pflugerville Independent School District, which includes Austin, to provide assessments and support for school children from the county’s growing Arabic-speaking immigrant community. The children with whom she has worked span the ages of 3 to 11. Ever since her work for the school district began in 2009, her contract was renewed each year with no controversy or problem.

But this year, all of that changed. On August 13, the school district once again offered to extend her contract for another year by sending her essentially the same contract and set of certifications she has received and signed at the end of each year since 2009.

She was prepared to sign her contract renewal until she noticed one new, and extremely significant, addition: a certification she was required to sign pledging that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that she shall refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”

The language of the affirmation Amawi was told she must sign reads like Orwellian — or McCarthyite — self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder upon reading:

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That language would bar Amawi not only from refraining from buying goods from companies located within Israel, but also from any Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank (“an Israeli-controlled territory”). The oath given to Amawi would also likely prohibit her even from advocating such a boycott given that such speech could be seen as “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.”

Whatever one’s own views are, boycotting Israel to stop its occupation is a global political movement modeled on the 1980s boycott aimed at South Africa that helped end that country’s system of racial apartheid. It has become so mainstream that two newly elected members of the U.S. Congress explicitly support it, while boycotting Israeli companies in the occupied territories has long been advocated in mainstream venues by Jewish Zionist groups such as Peace Now and the Jewish-American Zionist writer Peter Beinart.

This required certification about Israel was the only one in the contract sent to Amawi that pertained to political opinions and activism. There were no similar clauses relating to children (such as a vow not to advocate for pedophiles or child abusers), nor were there any required political oaths that pertained to the country of which she is a citizen and where she lives and works: the United States.

In order to obtain contracts in Texas, then, a citizen is free to denounce and work against the United States, to advocate for causes that directly harm American children, and even to support a boycott of particular U.S. states, such as was done in 2017 to North Carolina in protest of its anti-LGBT law. In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the U.S., or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.

That’s one extraordinary aspect of this story: The sole political affirmation Texans like Amawi are required to sign in order to work with the school district’s children is one designed to protect not the United States or the children of Texas, but the economic interests of Israel. As Amawi put it to The Intercept: “It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights.”

Amawi concluded that she could not truthfully or in good faith sign the oath because, in conjunction with her family, she has made the household decision to refrain from purchasing goods from Israeli companies in support of the global boycott to end Israel’s decadeslong occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Amawi, as the mother of four young children and a professional speech pathologist, is not a leader of any political movements: She has simply made the consumer choice to support the boycott by avoiding the purchase of products from Israeli companies in Israel or the occupied West Bank. She also occasionally participates in peaceful activism in defense of Palestinian self-determination that includes advocacy of the global boycott to end the Israeli occupation.

Watch The Intercept’s three-minute video of Amawi, as she tells her story, here:

Video by Kelly West

When asked if she considered signing the pledge to preserve her ability to work, Amawi told The Intercept: “Absolutely not. I couldn’t in good conscience do that. If I did, I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus, become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.”

As a result, Amawi informed her school district supervisor that she could not sign the oath. As her complaint against the school district explains, she “ask[ed] why her personal political stances [about Israel and Palestine] impacted her work as a speech language pathologist.”

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Lawmakers Consider Adding Measure Protecting Israel

Senator Richard C. Shelby, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has objected to unrelated bills clinging to his panel’s work. (Erin Schaff for The New York Times)

Emily Cochrane, New York Times, December 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — Just days away from a partial government shutdown, lawmakers are weighing adding a contentious measure to a stymied spending package that would keep American companies from participating in boycotts — primarily against Israel — that are being carried out by international organizations.

Critics of the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of Palestinian rights organizations, say the bill infringes on First Amendment rights and is part of a broader effort on the state and federal levels to suppress support for efforts to boycott, divest investments from and place sanctions on Israel, a movement known as B.D.S.

“The crux of it is silencing one side of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” said Manar Waheed, the senior legislative and advocacy counsel for the A.C.L.U. “Anything that creates a penalty for any First Amendment-related activities is an infringement of the First Amendment.”

The bill, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, is one of several pieces of pet legislation that lawmakers are advocating in the final days of the session, hoping to add to a package of seven spending bills that need to pass to keep the government fully funded past Friday. President Trump has said repeatedly that he will not sign any spending bills unless they contain at least $5 billion to begin building a wall on the border with Mexico.

As the package languishes, lawmakers see an opportunity to give their bills life before the current Congress ends this month. Other pieces of legislation that could be added include the so-called Blue Water Bill, which would allow Vietnam-era sailors who say they were exposed to Agent Orange as they served offshore to receive the same health benefits as those who were exposed on land. Other lawmakers are seeking to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which was extended with a brief stopgap spending bill two weeks ago.

But so far, neither the White House nor congressional Democrats have signaled that they are willing to negotiate on wall funding, so none of the bills have a moving vehicle to latch onto.

Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters that a decision from Mr. Trump over how to handle the shutdown was imminent. But by Monday evening, nothing had emerged.

Mr. Shelby has objected to unrelated bills clinging to his committee’s work, arguing that their inclusion could be another hindrance to final passage. But among lawmakers eager to notch one more legislative victory in a historically unproductive session of Congress, there is still hope that a few more bills could slip through.

“People are looking for whatever vehicle is available that is moving out the door — there isn’t much left,” said Sue Walitsky, a spokeswoman for Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and a sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. “We’re counting down days and hours.”

The act would expand amendments first added to the Export Administration Act in 1977, initially to protect American companies from the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Supporters of the measure dispute critics who say it would stifle pro-Palestinian activism.

“These kinds of First Amendment issues were not raised in ’77,” said Stuart E. Eizenstat, the chief White House domestic policy adviser during the Carter administration when the amendments were negotiated. “Since it’s come up here, in many ways, this legislation is stronger in protecting First Amendment rights because it explicitly indicates that political views are protected.”

The bill sponsored by Mr. Cardin and Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, was conceived after the United Nations Human Rights Council announced that it would create a database of companies that have business in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, whose governance and status have been in dispute since the Six Day War in 1967.

“From our perspective, we have to protect U.S. companies from being put in a position that could harm them,” Ms. Walitsky said.

The bill, which would impose penalties on boycott participants, has already been modified after complaints from the A.C.L.U., which does not publicly take a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about the infringement on First Amendment rights. Supporters of the legislation say that the language does not prevent companies and individuals, independent of direction from foreign countries or international agencies, from announcing their intent to boycott Israel.

“Our bipartisan legislation is a direct response to highly selective and discriminatory efforts to isolate Israel, such as those by the U.N. Human Rights Council,” Mr. Portman said in a statement.

But the changes, which most notably reduce the most significant penalty for participation to a fine of up to $1 million, were not seen as sufficient by critics, who scorned efforts to wrap a final version into a spending package without public debate.

If the legislation fails to pass in the final days of this Congress, it will have to be introduced with a Democratic House majority that includes a number of new members who have publicly endorsed efforts to boycott Israel.

“It’s why we live in a democracy,” said Samer Khalaf, the president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “This sort of sneaky inclusion of it into the omnibus bill, that’s what gives a better chance of it succeeding.”

For Palestinian rights activists, it is also seen as part of a broader national effort to counter their opposition to Israeli policies. More than 20 laws have been passed in states that curb the breadth of efforts to boycott and place sanctions on Israel.

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Curbing Speech in the Name of Helping Israel

A Senate bill aims to punish those who boycott Israel over its settlement policy. There are better solutions.

Senator Ben Cardin speaking at the J Street National Conference in April. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa, via Associated Press)

The New York Times Editorial Board, December 18, 2018

One of the more contentious issues involving Israel in recent years is now before Congress, testing America’s bedrock principles of freedom of speech and political dissent.

It is a legislative proposal that would impose civil and criminal penalties on American companies and organizations that participate in boycotts supporting Palestinian rights and opposing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The aim is to cripple the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as B.D.S., which has gathered steam in recent years despite bitter opposition from the Israeli government and its supporters around the world.

The proposal’s chief sponsors, Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, want to attach it to the package of spending bills that Congress needs to pass before midnight Friday to keep the government fully funded.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a leading pro-Israel lobby group, strongly favors the measure.

J Street, a progressive American pro-Israel group that is often at odds with Aipac and that supports a two-state peace solution, fears that the legislation could have a harmful effect, in part by implicitly treating the settlements and Israel the same, instead of as distinct entities. Much of the world considers the settlements, built on land that Israel captured in the 1967 war, to be a violation of international law.

Although the Senate sponsors vigorously disagree, the legislation, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, is clearly part of a widening attempt to silence one side of the debate. That is not in the interests of Israel, the United States or their shared democratic traditions.

Critics of the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union and several Palestinian rights organizations, say the bill would violate the First Amendment and penalize political speech.

The hard-line policies of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, including expanding settlements and an obvious unwillingness to seriously pursue a peace solution that would allow Palestinians their own state, have provoked a backlash and are fueling the boycott movement.

It’s not just Israel’s adversaries who find the movement appealing. Many devoted supporters of Israel, including many American Jews, oppose the occupation of the West Bank and refuse to buy products of the settlements in occupied territories. Their right to protest in this way must be vigorously defended.

The same is true of Palestinians. They are criticized when they resort to violence, and rightly so. Should they be deprived of nonviolent economic protest as well? The United States frequently employs sanctions as a political tool, including against North Korea, Iran and Russia.

Mr. Cardin and Mr. Portman say their legislation merely builds on an existing law, the Export Control Reform Act, which bars participation in the Arab League boycott of Israel, and is needed to protect American companies from “unsanctioned foreign boycotts.”

They are especially concerned that the United Nations Human Rights Council is compiling a database of companies doing business in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem, a tactic Senate aides say parallels the Arab League boycott.

But there are problems with their arguments, critics say. The existing law aimed to protect American companies from the Arab League boycott because it was coercive, requiring companies to boycott Israel as a condition of doing business with Arab League member states. A company’s motivation for engaging in that boycott was economic — continued trade relations — not exercising free speech rights.

By contrast, the Cardin-Portman legislation would extend the existing prohibition to cover boycotts against Israel and other countries friendly to the United States when the boycotts are called for by an international government organization, like the United Nations or the European Union.

Neither of those organizations has called for a boycott, but supporters of Israel apparently fear that the Human Rights Council database is a step in that direction.

Civil rights advocates, on the other hand, say that anyone who joins a boycott would be acting voluntarily — neither the United Nations nor the European Union has the authority to compel such action — and the decision would be an exercise of political expression in opposition to Israeli policies.

Responding to criticism, the senators amended their original proposal to explicitly state that none of the provisions shall infringe upon any First Amendment right and to penalize violators with fines rather than jail time.

But the American Civil Liberties Union says the First Amendment wording is nonbinding and “leaves intact key provisions which would impose civil and criminal penalties on companies, small business owners, nonprofits and even people acting on their behalf who engage in or otherwise support certain political boycotts.”

While the sponsors say their bill is narrowly targeted at commercial activity, “such assurances ring hollow in light of the bill’s intended purpose, which is to suppress voluntary participation in disfavored political boycotts,” the A.C.L.U. said in a letter to lawmakers.

Even the Anti-Defamation League, which has lobbied for the proposal, seems to agree. A 2016 internal ADL memo, disclosed by The Forward last week, calls anti-B.D.S. laws “ineffective, unworkable, unconstitutional and bad for the Jewish community.”

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Collective Punishment Against Families

Israeli Forces Blow up Building Belonging to Abu Hmeid Family for the Third Time

Ref:135-2018, December 15, 2018

As part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers or/and settlers, on Tuesday early morning, 15 December 2018, the Israeli forces blew up a building belonging to the family of prisoner Islam Abu Hmeid in al-Am’ari refugee camp in central al-Bireh. Blowing up the building came two days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netenyahu’s decision to expedite the demolitions of the houses belonging to Palestinians carrying out attacks. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) accordingly condemns this new crime, which is added to the series of Israeli crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). PCHR also emphasizes that the crime is part of the Israeli forces’ collective punishment policy against innocent Palestinians in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits collective penalties and reprisals against protected persons and their property. PCHR calls upon the international community to offer protection to the civilians in the oPt and ensure the application of the aforementioned convention.

According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ accounts, at approximately 01:30 on the abovementioned day, Israeli forces backed by military vehicles and around 150 soldiers moved into al-Am’ari refugee camp in central al-Bireh. The soldiers stepped out of their military vehicles and deployed between houses while around 30 of them topped the roofs of many houses. A large number of the Israeli soldiers raided a residential building belonging to the family of prisoner Islam Abu Hmeid to apply the demolition decision which the family was informed of previously under the pretext that a marble stone was thrown on the head of an Israeli soldier during an incursion into the camp on 06 June 2018 and led to his death. Dozens of the camp’s residents and Palestinian activists along with International human rights defenders and Chairman of the Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission, Minister Waleed ‘Assaf, stood in front of the building attempting to prevent the demolition. However, The Israeli soldiers forced them, including the 60-year-old mother of Islam, who was alone living in the building, to evacuate the building by firing sound bombs and teargas canisters directly at them while they were inside. The Israeli soldiers also beat up and pushed them, including photojournalist Mohammed Hamdan after breaking his cell phone, with the firearms’ muzzles.

Following that, a large number of Israeli soldiers raided and searched the residential houses in the vicinity of the building. They forced the residents to evacuate them immediately and forcibly, causing fear among them. The residents were forced to leave towards al-Bireh School, in the center of the camp, where they were detained for 3 consecutive hours before the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) crews were allowed to transfer them to the PRCS office adjacent to the camp. They were more than 500 civilians, including children, women and elderlies, detained in a very cold place. In the meantime, dozens of young men and boys gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers who deployed throughout the camp. The soldiers fired heavily rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them, wounding 6 young men with rubber bullets in addition to other civilians and journalists suffering tear gas inhalation and fainting. Meanwhile, an Israeli military force was demolishing the internal walls of the building with special equipment and planting a large quantity of explosives inside it in preparation for blowing it up. At approximately 06:50, the 150-square-meter building comprised of 4 floors was blown up and completely destroyed. It is noteworthy that the Israeli forces demolished the house of the Abu Humaid family for the third time as the first time was in 1994 and the second in 2003. Moreover, the family of Abu Hamid had a son who was killed previously by the Israeli forces and has 6 prisoners serving their sentences in the Israeli prisons, the last one was Islam who was arrested on 13 June 2018.

PCHR again condemns the crime of blowing up the abovementioned building and maltreatment of Palestinian civilians as both are part of the collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians. PCHR again emphasizes that this policy is internationally prohibited according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.” Therefore, PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to the Israeli crimes. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.

Green Riding Hood . . . Pain Dwells within Her Ribs

A Non-violent Woman is Eventually Targeted by the Israel Defense Forces

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), December 4, 2018

Around a month and a half after being injured by the Israeli forces, pain so far dwells in the body of Palestinian woman Malinah al-Hendi (34) and hinders her responsibility of taking care of her family.

Malinah, mother of six children, was shot by an Israeli sniper with a bullet that penetrated the right side of her abdomen while its shrapnel settled in her back to remain a source of suffering and concern, a reminder of difficult moments when she almost lost her life; and a witness to the most prominent form of violence the Palestinian women suffer from on the World Day To End Violence against Women.

The details of the incident seem to be present in the memory of the wounded woman as if it was today, and how not to be when her body pulses with pain every moment.

Malinah said to PCHR’s fieldworker that: “On Friday, 26 October 2018, as every Friday, I was participating in the Return demonstration, east of Khuza’ah village, but this time, the demonstration moved from its ususal location in the northern side of the Return encampment to its southeastern side, precisely in front of the Israeli diggers.”

On that day afternoon, events rapidly escalated as the relocation of the demonstration enraged the Israeli snipers, who redeployed in a hurry in front of the demonstration and started heavily firing live bullets at the protestors.

Demonstrators started falling one by one, and there were news about civilians killed. Ambulances’ sirens did not stop as they were constantly moving between the demonstration location and the field hospital. Malina was stepping to the eastern side raising the Palestinian flag and approaching the border fence with Israel.

Malinah was silent for a while as she seemed to be affected and then said: “I was raising the Palestinian flag and approaching the border fence with a number of protestors. The Israeli snipers stationed on sand berms along the border fence were clearly seeing me as neither the other protestors nor I were posing any threat to their lives.”

Malinah saw the Israeli forces firing a barrage of teargas canisters at the area, so she turned to warn a group of protestors, who were around her. Suddenly, she felt a strong hit to the right side of her abdomen. Malinah said: “I did not know what happened, but the pain was very severe. I then started running to move away from the area and with each move, the pain got worse.”

Malinah was touching the right side of her body as she felt pain. She added: “I was able to reach a sand berm behind which a group of protestors were. I noticed a swelling and blood in the right side of my body and felt so much pain. Immediately, a group of paramedics approached and carried me on a litter to an ambulance.”

In that moment, the pictures of Malinah’s children were flashing one by one. While she was mid-conscious, she said to her friend who got with her into the ambulance: “take care of my children please.”

She turned her face in an attempt not to hear the news about her death. She added: “my eldest son is in the 10th grade and the youngest is in the 5th grade.” I felt that my end is near, so I feared for my children and who would take care of them if anything happened to me, so my will for my friend was to take care of them.”

In the medical point, which was stuffed full with injuries (the toll of victims on that day was 3 persons killed and 52 others wounded, according to PCHR’s documentation), it was found out that Malinah was hit with a live bullet that settled in her abdomen. Malinah’s condition was serious, so she was immediately taken to the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Yunis.

It turned out that the live bullet settled in her back and one of its shrapnel settled near her kidney. Her health condition was classified serious, but Allah’s will was merciful.

She stayed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for two days and her family was waiting for assurances until her health condition began to plateau. Doctors told her that there was a risk of removing the bullet and shrapnel for fear of occurrence of bleeding in this stage. After that, she was transferred to Nasser Hospital for few days to be closer to her house, which is in the buildings adjacent to the Austrian neighborhood behind the hospital.

Few days after receiving treatment, she returned home carrying pain, a bullet, and shrapnel with her. The house’s outer walls are full of holes due to being constantly subject to the Israeli fire 13 years ago from their sites in the so-known “Neve Dekalim” settlement, which was evacuated in 2005.

Um Hitham “Malina” was trying to endure her pain when she was talking about her 3rd injury during the Return March. She continued, “Pain gets worse, I feel a strange object in my body, I barely hold my own to do the household chores and have to rest from time to time.”

At night and in the cold weather, the pain increases and Malina feels that her wound is open. She looks at her children and husband and say: “Doctors told me that I need a surgery but has not scheduled it yet. I cannot stop worrying about them as they completely depend on me.”

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