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.

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Winning Essay “Dear Blockade”

Gaza Essay contest winner Tarneem Hammad
Gaza writer Tarneem Hammad receives award at the Gaza AFSC office.

Gaza Unlocked Blog Team, American Friends Service Committee, December 3, 2018

Tarneem Hammad, 24, was born in Saudi Arabia, but now lives in Gaza and is an English literature graduate from Al-Azhar University. For part-time work, she is an English language trainer. Tarneem loves languages and in addition to English and Arabic, knows a little French. Writing and reading are both hobbies. Tarneem wishes to help develop a public library in Gaza that looks like it came from Harry Potter stories. She also wishes to deliver the voice of voiceless people through her writing. She says, “I write because I can.”

“Dear Blockade”

Dear Blockade,

I was 14 when I first met you. You never asked me to be friends, you just took over my life. You grew as I grew. I’m writing to you because you’re a part of my life. Blockade, you’re wrong and I want you to know that you’re wrong. You make things difficult, more difficult than I can imagine. Some days I can’t get out of bed; other days I can’t stop crying.

You’re wrong because you forced me to adapt my life to the humiliating shrinking electricity schedule that could be cut for three days in a row. You’re wrong because when I made it to high school, I had to study using candlelight while mum was awake, worried at some point this candle would fall down and burn us sleeping.

My brother Ali walks around wearing a half-ironed T-shirt, knowing that people will excuse him because they know the power went off in the middle. I know that some people can afford the cost of a back-up power generator but not all.

You’re wrong because water is an essential right for all living beings, including animals and plants, but you made it polluted for us or even cut off our supply completely. You’re wrong because for some families, running water is just a far off dream.

You’re wrong because when I made it to university, I had to work 10 times harder than students all over the world using charged lanterns. I graduated thinking my hard work will pay off and I’m special enough to get a decent job. This time I was wrong, I turned out to be special just like everyone else, a graduate and jobless. I had to volunteer for two years and be exploited by managers. Then, you rewarded me with a job that wasn’t enough to cover expenses for a week. When I thought that I got a decent job, I shared my happiness with my foreigner friend to find out that she gets paid three times more salary than I, doing the same work just because she’s not living under blockade.

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Winning Essay “30 Minutes . . . A Thousand Times Over”

Gaza Essay contest winner Nadya SiyamNadya Siyam receives award at AFSC office in Gaza.

Gaza Unlocked Blog Team, American Friends Service Committee, December 3, 2018

Nadya Siyam lives in Gaza city and studies English Language and Literature at the Islamic University. She is a writer for the “We are Not Numbers” project where she writes in a narrative style about inspiring daily experiences in Gaza. Nadya also participates in community service activities at local institutions in Gaza. She loves to read, and her favorite genres are historical fiction and thrillers. “I’m highly interested in human rights, and I aspire to get a scholarship and pursue my master’s degree in this area,” said Nadya.

“30 Minutes… A Thousand Times Over”

At times of war you become extra alarmed. You become a navigator as you try to predict how far each bombing is from your house and who of your beloved lives near the area you’ve predicted. And when you’re done with your calculations, you pray you were wrong.

My dad works as an orthopedic surgeon at Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa Hospital. Whenever there is an attack on Gaza, dad, along with other doctors, stays at Al-Shifa for days to deal with the huge number of injured they must treat. Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 assault on Gaza, was no different.

My four little siblings, mum and I stayed alone without dad throughout the 50-day assault. Dad used to call us once every day and insisted to speak to each of us separately, even if it was for 10 seconds. Yousef, our youngest, was a year-and-a-half old then. He would hold the phone with his two tiny hands and say the very few words he was able to pronounce “Baba, yella ta’al” (come on dad, come home). Being the eldest, I had to wait until they were all done talking to hear dad’s voice at last.

– Be safe. Take care of your mum and siblings. Distract our little ones. Make sure the door is locked and the windows are open.

– Okay, Dad.

Dad…please come home, at least at night. We worry about you.

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Winning Essay “The Party”

Rahf Hallaq essay winnerRahf Hallaq receives her award at the Gaza AFSC office.

Gaza Unlocked Blog Team, American Friends Service Committee, December 3, 2018

Rahf Hallaq is a 19-year-old sophomore student at the Islamic university of Gaza studying English Literature. She aspires to complete her higher education in Literature and become a professor. Reading is her favourite hobby that started with her love for bedtime stories as a child, and with time developed into an appreciation of literature. Rahf lived and went to school in the U.S. for three years (2005 to 2008) where she began reading and writing in English at a very early stage in her life. Rahf says, “Books changed the way I think immensely; I could feel writers speaking to me through every book I read, trying to form my ideas, make me a better well-informed person. That made me love writing because it made me believe in the power of words. I write because I want to share what I know with the world. I want them to see how people here suffer, feel and think. I want them to see that we are not merely an occupied nation that wants its basic rights but that we have amazing, educated, creative and brilliant people here in Gaza that can achieve great things and make this world a better place if given the opportunity.”

“The Party”

“There’s going to be a party tonight!

It’s 12 a.m. The entire house had gone to sleep and I’m sitting lazily on my desk studying, trying my best to ignore the infuriating buzz of the drones roaming above my head. I read the message my friend sent me, smile and reply with a “yeah!” I have to finish as much as possible before the electricity goes out. So, although I feel extremely tired, I keep working.

There were four killings on the border today and our side threw some rockets at the Israeli soldier camps near the borders as a response. So, as usual, I was expecting a night full of action. But, you see, Israelis never respond to the results of what they started early. They always wait until it’s past midnight so that their mission’s results can be more successfully terrifying.

It is said that waiting for a bad experience to happen is harder than living the experience itself. I can’t say that I’m sitting on pins and needles or that I’m actually scared, however. Situations such as these happen every now and then in Gaza.

I haven’t reached the level of complete indifference as some people here have, but neither do I feel any great fear as some others still do. We always fear the airstrikes might cause casualties near the targeted places. And there’s always the fear of things escalating and possibly developing into a serious war. But, there have been enough similar nights or – as people here in Gaza have come to ironically call them – “parties” to convince us that the possibility is weak. Usually, everything ends with the rising sun of the following day. It’s a strategy they use to scare us and remind us: “we are here.”

So, I sit and wait.

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U.S.-Mexico Border: An Israeli Tech Laboratory


Migrants running from tear gas fired by American border agents near the fence at Tijuana. (Credit: Hannah Mckay/Reuters)

Brittany Dawson, PALESTINE SQUARE, December 6, 2018

When hundreds of Central American migrants arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, in late November, planning to claim asylum in the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed the San Ysidro border crossing in anticipation of their arrival. In protest of the closure, asylum seekers rushed the fence separating Mexico and the United States, and border patrol agents fired tear gas at them through the fence. Images of children and their families running through clouds of CS gas went viral on social media. Palestine solidarity activists speculated that the agents used the same U.S.-manufactured tear gas as is used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against Palestinians and has been used against activists in the United States from Standing Rock to Ferguson, MO.

Such collaboration between U.S. and Israeli defense establishments is not new. In 2004, Hermes drones manufactured by Israel’s Elbit Systems were the first unmanned aerial vehicles deployed at the U.S. southern border. A decade later, Customs and Border Protection awarded the company’s subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, a $145 million contract to construct its integrated fixed towers system in Nogales, Arizona. And in October 2017, when camera crews gathered in San Diego, California, for the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s border wall prototypes, the only foreign contractor on display was ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries.

In an interview published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, excerpted below, I spoke with journalist and author Gabriel Schivone about the use of Israeli technology at the U.S.-Mexico border and beyond. Schivone has published widely on issues of human rights and homeland security technology along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as on the Israeli arms trade in Central America, the Mexican drug wars, and other topics. His book Making the New “Illegal”: How Decades of U.S. Involvement in Central America Triggered the Modern Wave of Immigration (forthcoming from Prometheus Books) includes a chapter on Israel’s military role as a proxy for the United States in Guatemala’s “Dirty War.”

Subscribe to the Journal of Palestine Studies to read the complete interview on the Journal’s website.

[From the Journal of Palestine Studies | The Great March of Return: An Organizer’s Perspective]

One issue on which the United States and Israel have been cooperating for a while is the U.S.- Mexico border. When Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he promised to build a “great wall” and to make Mexico pay for it, which ignored the fact that the wall already existed, both physically and virtually through all kinds of security technology. How did this come about?

I’m glad you point that out, because nobody else will—the media, both major political parties, and even, detrimentally, some activists, as well as others, all act as if the wall hasn’t existed for most of our lifetimes, yours and mine. […] Yet this wall and all these barriers have been here for twenty-five years. In 2006, they were greatly expanded when the Israeli giant Elbit was brought in as a subcontractor through Boeing’s $1 billion award to provide the “virtual wall” system under the Secure Fence Act of 2006 signed by [President George W.] Bush. After five years and a billion dollars spent, the Obama administration scrapped the sluggish and expensive project in 2011. But then in early 2014, they gave Elbit’s U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, a new $145 million contract to build the integrated fixed towers project, a similar “virtual wall” concept, to provide fifty-two Israeli surveillance towers all across southern Arizona along the border with Mexico.

Other examples of Israeli technology and expertise on the border include Israel’s NICE Systems, which provided CCTV surveillance technology to notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio (who was found guilty of racially profiling Latinos in 2013) for one of his jails in 2000; the Golan Group, a huge Israeli conglomerate, which did a training program for a select group of ICE agents in 2007; and a squad of Israeli Hermes drones, which were the first drones used to patrol the southern border skies, in 2004. These are just a few of the examples.

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December 6, 2018
Film: 5 Broken Cameras

The Marquee Cinema, Union South
1308 West Dayton Street , Madison
7:00 pm

Join UW Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the UW Middle East Studies Program, and the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film and Society & Politics Committees for a screening of the documentary Five Broken Cameras.

The documentary will be followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A with Professor Nevine El Nossery. Five Broken Cameras follows the resistance of one Palestinian farmer and his village against encroachments by the Israeli army.

Solidarity Shields Human Rights Workers from Bombs

, Grassroots International, November 20, 2018

al-Amal Hotel, destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)

On Tuesday November 13, Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed two Palestinian civilians and wounded 20 others. The airstrikes destroyed a number of buildings and followed a botched raid by Israeli special forces. Some are calling it a preview to an even greater assault.

The devastation is shocking and horrible. But it hits even closer to home for us at Grassroots International. One of the struck buildings had housed Grassroots’ partner, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), until just a few months ago.

Back in April, Grassroots received an emergency grant request for $55,000. PCHR needed to move their former headquarters in Gaza City to a new, more secure location. In their words, they needed to “lower their exposure to possible bomb attacks by Israel.”

Tuesday’s airstrikes confirmed the concern. Israel launched 57 missiles in Gaza City, obliterating residences, an office complex, a TV station and a hotel. Among the bombed-out rubble stood PCHR’s former headquarters, severely damaged.

PCHR’s former headquarters, in Gaza City, after the building was severely damaged on November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)

Since 1995, PCHR has documented abuses, provided legal aid to victims, and advocated for human rights. Since 1996, PCHR has been a Grassroots International partner.

In every section of the blockaded strip, PCHR provides reporting from the ground. Take its report from Northern Gaza last week:

Israeli warplanes carried out 15 airstrikes, launching 25 missiles to target a residential house that was completely destroyed, border control checkpoints belonging to the Palestinian armed groups and agricultural lands. As a result, a Palestinian civilian namely Khaled Ahmed al-Sultan (26), a farmer, was killed and his body turned into pieces in an agricultural land, while a Palestinian child was moderately wounded.

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