Children Die in Home Fire During Power Outage

Ref: 85/2020, 02 September 2020

Three siblings from al-Nuseirat refugee camp, Central Gaza Strip, died after fire broke out in their house caused by a lit candle used for light during power outage on Tuesday, 01 September 2020; a manifestation of Gaza’s chronic electricity crisis. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its deep grieve and sorrow for the death of the three children and reiterates its warning that the electricity crisis will lead to more catastrophic repercussions on the lives of the Gaza Strip residents, including their right to life, security and personal safety, unless urgent and permanent solutions are founded for this prolonged crisis.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 21:15 on Tuesday, 01 September 2020, a fire broke out in Omar Mahmoud al-Hazin’s house in al-Nuseirat refugee camp, Central Gaza Strip, caused by a candle lit for light during the power outage in his children’s bedroom. As a result, Yusuf (6), Mahmoud (5), and Mohammed (3) burned to death. The three children were transferred via an ambulance to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah and were pronounced dead upon arrival, according to medical sources. The competent authorities opened an investigation into the incident. The death of the three children increases the number of victims who lost their lives in fires that could have been avoided were it not for the power crisis to more than 30, the majority of which are children.

The Gaza Strip suffers a chronic power crisis since 2007, wherein the best case scenario available power reaches 180 Megawatts (120 MW from Israel, and 60 MW from the Gaza Power Plant), a far cry from its 500 MW minimum need. The power crisis exacerbated due to the shutdown of Gaza’s only power plant since 18 August 2020, after the Israeli authorities banned the entry of fuel needed for its operation. As a result, the power deficit reached 75%, forcing citizens to use alternative means to light their homes due to the power outrage for more than 20 hours a day.

Although the Israeli authorities allowed the re-entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, 01 September 2020, after a Qatar-brokered understanding was reached between Israel and Hamas Movement, and despite that the Gaza Power Plant resumed its operations and power supply hours witnessed an improvement; the power crisis continues with a 64% power deficit.

PCHR expresses its deep sorrow and mourns the death of 3 children, and calls upon:

    • The international community to force the Israeli authorities to abandon the policy of collective punishment imposed on the population of the Gaza Strip, and to abide by its responsibilities, as the occupying power of the Gaza Strip to its population, under the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL); and to pressure Israel to allow the entry of all the Gaza strip population’s basic needs, including fuel required to operate the Gaza Power Plant;

    • All competent authorities to launch awareness campaigns on alternative power options during power outages to reduce the catastrophic impact of their misuse; and

    • Parents and families to adhere to public safety standards and keep children away from the risks of alternative lighting methods.

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DNC Delegates Demand Apology from the Biden Campaign

Attacks on Palestinian-American Delegate Linda Sarsour

After DNC delegate and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour spoke at an official DNC event of the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly on August 18th, 2020, Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Joe Biden campaign, issued a statement saying,

“Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform. She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”

As Palestinian-American delegates and allies, we stand by our fellow Palestinian-American delegate Linda Sarsour and condemn any effort to exclude elected national DNC delegates from official DNC events. We reject efforts to marginalize and demonize the Palestinian narrative. We also call upon the Democratic National Committee to renew its commitment to its own core principles of equality and justice for all.

The DNC seeks to represent an inclusive and diverse population and should not discriminate against any segment on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political dissent. The vast majority of Democratic voters are calling for accountability, including BDS as a nonviolent form of curbing Israeli violations and challenging Israel’s impunity. The statement by the Biden campaign has willfully dropped the reference to freedom of speech from its platform language quote in the rush to malign, condemn and exclude Sarsour. Such an attack goes against the principles of the Democratic Party and the 2020 Democratic Party Platform to end systemic racism and to build a coalition.

While we recognize the prevalence of anti-Semitism, criticism of Israel must not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Israel has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law and human rights as well as American international aid conditionality. Moreover, Jake Tapper of CNN has a history of singling out Palestinian-Americans, Muslim-Americans and anyone who stands behind Palestinian human rights or criticizes the Israeli occupation.

This disavowal of Linda Sarsour reeks of misogyny, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry. It provides a false shield for Israel’s human rights abuses. The Biden campaign must not follow the lead of the Trump administration and should rise above these attacks and make a concerted effort to be inclusive and represent the collective vision for a truly democratic Party.

Palestinian-American delegates and allies demand an immediate retraction and apology from the Biden campaign that smeared a prominent Palestinian-American activist, undermined her constitutional right to free speech, and weaponized anti-Semitism to silence the just critique of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Sincerely,

Palestinian American Delegates
Huwaida Arraf, MI Delegate (CD-10)
Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison, VA Delegate (CD-10)
Samia Assed, NM At-Large Alternate (CD-1)
Summer Awad, TN Delegate (CD-2)
Sam Hindi, CA Delegate (CD-14)
Hatem Natsheh, TX Delegate (SD-25)
Emad Salem, TX Delegate (SD-10)
Murad Sarama, CA Delegate (CD-6)
Ibraheem Samirah, VA At-Large Delegate (CD-11)
Endorsed by the following delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention:
Abdul-Khabir, Kareema – CA Delegate, CD-8
Ahmad, Nadia – FL Delegate, CD-7
Alexander, Cory – ID Delegate, CD-1
Ali, Faiza – NY Delegate, CD-10
Alvarez, Roberto – CA Delegate, CD-38
Aszterbaum, Joey – CA Delegate, At-Large
Bagheri, Aaron – CA Delegate, CD-24
Baker, Dana – CA Delegate, CD-4
Beall, Elise – CO At-Large Delegate
Beichler, Amber – VA Delegate, At Large
Bellanca, Jay – NY At-Large Delegate
Bernal, Karen – CA PLEO Delegate, CD-6
Beyer, Timothy – CA Delegate, CD-43
Bignell, Mark – MI Delegate, CD-4
Bishop, Heather – OR Delegate, CD-4
Blochowiak, Patricia – OH Delegate, CD-11
Bonge, Sam – AZ Delegate, CD-8
Britto, Lisa – FL Delegate, CD-10
Brown, Michele – FL Delegate, CD-18
Caballero, Josie – CA Delegate, CD-53
Cea, Sergio – PA PLEO Delegate
Choudhury, Leila – VA Delegate, CD-5
Chrisliquori@gmail.com
Chu de León, Chris – TX Delegate, SD-13
Corley, Troy – CA Delegate, CD-26
Cramer, Gina – TX Delegate, SD-26
Culver, Jon – WA Delegate, CD-1
Davis, Mina – TX Delegate, SD 5
De Delva, Namcy – NY Delegate, CD-5
Dean, Amy – VA Delegate, CD-7
Derton, Robin – TX Delegate, PLEO Delegate, SD-5
Dinkin, Leah – CO Delegate, CD-2
Dlugosz, Anne – Delegate, Democrats Abroad
Dominguez, Silvia – MA Delegate, CD-05
Dunbar, Melissa – WA Delegate, CD-6
Dupont, Aimee – MA Delegate, CD-2
East, Shana – IL Delegate,
Enriquez, Ivan – CA Delegate, At-Large CD-46
Espinosa, Giancarlo – FL Delegate, At Large
Ester, Lesley – CA Delegate, CD-2
Evans, Stevevonna – CA Delegate, CD-33
Farokhia, Sudi – CA Delegate, CD-45
Farokhnia, Sudi – CA Delegate, CD-45
Fleming, Joanne – WA Delegate, CD-5
Foley, Linda – TX Delegate, SD-12
Garcia Centeno, Krystal – IL Delegate, CD-11
Garcia, Brandon – TX PLEO Delegate, SD-19
Giardinelli, Bryan – CA Delegate, CD-42
Gibson, Emily – OR Delegate, CD-2
Gloria, Ernesto – TX Delegate, SD-9
Gonzalez, Ana – CA Delegate, CD-35
Gonzalez, Elizabeth – CA Delegate, CD-46
Gordon, Patrick – IL Delegate, CD-8
Hassan, Syed – TX Delegate, SD-22
Hastings, Erika – TN Delegate, CD-8
Hernandez, Thomas – WA Delegate, CD-3
Hicks, Jared – MA Delegate, CD-7
Hill, Lauren – NC At-Large Delegate
Hoyt, Margie – CA Delegate, CD-43
Huntley, Paul – CA Delegate, CD-19
Huynh, Katherine – CA Delegate, CD-43
Ibarra, Antonio – IL Delegate, CD-11
Isak, Barbara “Babs” – UT Delegate, CD-3
Jiang, Zhenzhen – CA Delegate, CD-14
Johnson, Cavla – FL Delegate, CD-15
Johnson, Heather – CA Delegate, CD-31
Johnson, Valerie – TX Delegate, SD-9
Hanieh Jodat Barnes – CA Delegate, CD-45
Joyce, Rommy – CA Delegate, CD-19
Jun Nawabi, Aleena – CA Delegate, SD-52
Kain, Matthew – MI Delegate, CD-14
Kang, Mani – CA Delegate, CD-46
Kaur, Gurdeep – CA Delegate, CD-40
Kessel, Michelle – TX Delegate, SD-25
Khan, Varisha – WA Delegate, CD-1
Khoury, Kari – CA Delegate, CD-9
Klemmer, Isabel – WI Delegate, CD-6
Knight, Mary Ann – TX Delegate, SD-10
Langford, James – FL Delegate, CD-7
Larranaga, Chris – NM Delegate, CD-1
Lee, Briana – MN Delegate, CD-5
Lefebvre, Lyndsey – CA Delegate, CD-39
Lim, Cheng-Sim – CA Delegate, CD-28
Liu, Melanie – CA Delegate, CD-18
Ly, Ricky – FL Delegate, At Large
Lynch, Nita – CO Delegate, CD-1
MacLeod, Duncan – MI Delegate, CD-3
Manos, Michelle – CA Delegate, CD-29
Mansoor, Nabila – TX Delegate, SD-18
Maro, Anthony – CO Delegate, CO-5
Martin, Beth – WA Delegate, CD-9
Martin, Grayson – CA Delegate, CD-52
Martinez, Eduardo – CA Delegate, CD-11
McClain, Christopher – CA Delegate, CD-31
McCord, Kathleen – NM Delegate, CD-1
McGrath, Bob – CO Delegate, CD-7
McLain, Brian – IA Delegate, CD-3
Merritt, Madeline – CA At-Large Delegate
Meyer, Katie – CA Delegate, CD-53
Moffa, Jamie – MO Delegate, CD-1
Mohammed, Sabina – TX At Large Delegate, SD-22
Moran, Kate – WA Delegate, CD-46
Moreno, Gabriel – MD Active Alternate Delegate, CD-2
Moxley, Kyle – MI Delegate, CD-8
Nasrullah, Mohammed – TX Delegate, SD-11
Nguyen, Lisa – OH Delegate, At Large
Nygard, Dorothy – CA Delegate, CD-10
O’Hea, Justin – NJ Delegate, CD-12
Ocampo, Christina – CA Delegate, CD-8
Okuzumi, Margaret – CA Delegate, CD-17
Omeish, Abrar – VA PLEO Delegate, CD-11
Orgel-Olson, Shawn – CA Delegate, CD-20
Palma, Dayja – TX Delegate, SD-22
Parr, Andrew – VA Delegate, CD-8
Patterson, Kevin – TX Delegate, SD-30
Perkel, Leah – WA Delegate, CD-3
Pfeiffer, Mindy – CA Delegate, CD-27
Phillips, Gregory – FL At-Large Delegate
Pierce, Eric – CA Delegate, CD-28
Ramos Rios, Virginia – NY Delegate, CD-7
Ramos, Stacey – CA Delegate, CD-35
Rawson, Katherine – UT Alternate Delegate
Recendez, Denis P. – CA Delegate, CD-32
Rehmani, Tasneem – CA Delegate,
Reynolds, Samantha – CO Delegate, CD-2
Rizvi, Maha – CA Delegate, CD-42
Rodriguez, Maya – CA Delegate, CD-41
Rodriguez, Tisa – CA Delegate, CD-41
Roemer, Katy – CA Delegate, CD-13
Saines, Koran T. – VA PLEO Delegate, CD-10
Scoville, Carrie – CA PLEO Delegate, CD-44
Shaughnessy, Christian – CA Delegate, At-Large
Shepherd, Jeri – CO Delegate,
Shergill, Amar – CA Delegate, CD-7
Shimizu, Christine – CA Delegate, CD-30
Siddiqui, Aftab – TX Delegate, CD-6
Siddiqui, Zahid – CA Delegate,
Smith, Benjamin – TN Delegate, CD-02
Smith, Megan – ME Delegate, CD-2
Solomon, Norman – CA Delegate, CD2
Sondahl, Birrion – CO Delegate, CD-2
Stevens, Karen – CA Delegate, CD-26
Sukaton, Samuel – CA Delegate, At-Large
Sullivan, Maureen – IL Delegate, CD-3
Summervillle, William Moses – CA Delegate, CD-48
Talevski, Susie – IN Delegate, CD-1
Tatlock, Nina – FL PLEO Delegate,
Taylor, Tarah – TX Delegate, SD-15
Terpening, Stephanie – MI Delegate, CD-4
Terrazas, Stephanie – CA Delegate, CD-39
Thompson, Victoria – CA Delegate, CD-7
Torres, Nelly – PA Delegate, CD-11
Touati, Khalid – TX Delegate, SD-16
Toy, Shirley – CA Delegate, CD-6
Ty, Yaddi – WA Delegate, CD-2
Uddin, Nazim – NC Delegate, At-Large
Usman, Sameena – CA Delegate, CD-17
Valladares, Victor – CA Delegate, CD-48
Vazquez, Juan – CA Delegate, CD-10
Verhey, Molly – WA Delegate, CD-08
Wang, Anlin – PA Delegate, CD-3
Ward, Kenneth – ID Delegate, CD-2
Weekley, Dakin – FL Delegate, CD-26
Wells, Marley – FL Delegate, CD-1
Williams, Susana – CA Delegate, CD-9
Winograd, Marcy – CA Delegate, CD-24
Wong, Audrey – CA Delegate, CD-33
Woodhall, Adam- FL Delegate, At Large
Wright, Lissette – Delegate, Democrats Abroad
Wunderly, Maggie – IL Delegate, At Large
Youngblood, Brandon – CA Delegate, CD-9
Zaman, Rubina – TX Delegate, SD-11
Zeisel, Jodi – OR Delegate, CD-3

Israel Bans Fuel Entry to Gaza

Warning of Gaza Power Plant Shutdown

Ref: 75/2020, 17 August 2020

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its deep concern over the repercussions of the Gaza Power Plant scheduled shutdown on Tuesday, 18 August 2020, on all basic services for the Gaza Strip population, especially health and sanitation services, industrial, commercial and agricultural facilities and other services. PCHR reiterates that the Israeli systematic policy of tightening the closure on the Gaza Strip as declared on 10 August 2020, is a form of collective punishment and inhuman and illegal reprisals against Palestinian civilians since 2007.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, the Palestinian Energy And Natural Resources Authority and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) declared on Sunday, 16 August 2020, its decision to suspend the power plant at full capacity on Tuesday morning, 18 August 2020, as the fuel required to operate the Plant ran out due to the Israeli authorities’ suspension of fuel entry for the seventh consecutive day. The Israeli authorities alleges that their decision to tighten the closure and ban entry of fuel was in response to the launch of incendiary balloons at Israeli outposts adjacent to the Gaza Strip. This will increase the shortage of electric supply by more than 75%.

The shutdown of the power plant will have implications for basic services received by the Gaza Strip residents and will increase the hours of power outage at civilians’ homes to 16 – 20 per day. The power outage will most significantly impact the quality of health and sanitation services, including drinking water supply, sanitation and other services, such as reduction in diagnostic and treatment services at both governmental and private health facilities. Additionally, drinking water supply will be interrupted for long periods, and the power shortage will result in untreated sewage water being pumped into sea. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip’s economy will suffer huge losses as work is suspended in industrial, commercial and agricultural facilities that depend on electricity in their production mechanism, putting them at risk of being shut down and collapse.

PCHR expresses its grave concern over the catastrophic consequences that may result from the disruption of public utilities if power outages continue, which will affect all basic services provided to the public, especially hospitals, water and sanitation facilities; Thus, PCHR:
• Calls upon the international community to force the Israeli occupation authorities to stop using collective punishment policy against the Gaza Strip population and urgently intervene to guarantee import of fuel and all other needs for the Gaza Strip population; and
• Reminds Israel of its obligations and responsibilities as an occupying power of the Gaza Strip under the rules of the international humanitarian law.

8-month-old baby with heart problems needed to exit Gaza

 

Celine Jaber, Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), August 16, 2020

Dear friends,

A month ago, I checked my inbox, and my stomach sank. An older woman from Gaza wrote to me: “Please, I have an urgent appointment at a hospital in the West Bank – radiation therapy for uterine cancer.  Civilian coordination has stopped. I don’t know how I’m going to get out of here. The disease is eating away at my body. I grow weaker every day. I feel death is coming, that it’ll be here any minute. Please help.”

The Palestinian Authority cut off ties with Israel in response to the annexation plan. They’ve disbanded the Civilian Affairs Committee – a Palestinian Authority agency that was responsible for coordinating Palestinians’ exit permit applications with the Israeli military.

Since then, Haneen, my Gaza permit intake colleague, and I have been coordinating exit and ambulance transportation for patients. These are things the Civilian Affairs Committee  used to do. This situation is impossible. There are only two of us. The phone starts ringing at 8:00 A.M. and doesn’t stop until nighttime – dozens of patients in critical condition from Gaza – cancer, brain and heart disease, people who have to get out, who need coordination.

In our conversations, the patients keep saying: “The treatment isn’t available in Gaza.” They send me medical documents, and I reassure them and say, “I understand.” It’s very difficult for me when they try to prove they are sick, that they’re getting worse, that they have a right to exit, because it’s their most basic right, the right any patient has to get proper treatment.

A father called me. His son is eight months old, a cute boy. He has heart problems. His name is Omar, and he needed to exit for a surgical procedure that isn’t available in the Gaza Strip. He had an appointment for June. I sent a request to the military’s Civil Liaison Administration (CLA) to arrange for his exit, but I received no response. It went on for two weeks. I sent the request again and again and still no answer. In other requests I made, the CLA wrote back: “The Civilian Affairs Committee has to coordinate exits.” I said: “But there is no committee anymore. The Palestinian Authority disbanded it.” They said: “No committee, no exit.” 

The child had already missed his May appointment because there was no coordination. He missed his June appointment because the CLA did not respond to his request.  Three days before the appointment, he died.

Since his death, I’ve been in a very hard place. My stomach keeps hurting from the stress. When I take a break and don’t answer the phone, I feel guilty. For some reason, I think a lot about his father, who called me after and thanked me. I didn’t understand him. How did he find time to thank me? And for what? His baby died.

It gets worse every day. Two weeks ago, I got a call from parents of three different children, less than a month old, also with heart conditions. They needed an ambulance to get to Erez Crossing. In the past, the Civilian Affairs Committee would arrange for ambulances, but now there’s no committee, so there’s no one to coordinate.

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Artists condemn Israeli raids on Palestinian cultural centres

Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (Ahdaf Soueif for PalFest)

Massive Attack, Steve Coogan, Peter Gabriel, Maxine Peake, Philip Pullman and Benjamin Zephaniah are among 60+ cultural figures to put their names to an open letter condemning attacks on key Palestinian cultural centres.

The letter says the attacks are ‘part of a well-documented campaign of harassment and intimidation, arrests, home demolitions and forced evictions’ by the Israeli government.

Brian Eno says: ‘These raids … seem designed to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture’

The artists call for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’ against Israel.

Signatories to the letter include:

  • Musicians Massive Attack, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Matthew Herbert, Jonathan Ofir, Jocelyn Pook, Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Filmmakers, actors David Calder, Julie Christie, Steve Coogan, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake, Leila Sansour, Harriet Walter
  • Writers Carmen Callil, William Dalrymple, Inua Ellams, A.L. Kennedy, Sabrina Mahfouz, Ruth Padel, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Rose, Thomas Sleigh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif
  • 2019 Turner Prize winning artists Lawrence Abu Hamdam and Tai Shani

In an open letter published today (copied below) more than sixty musicians, artists, writers and filmmakers say that the ransacking of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM), the Yabous Cultural Centre and the Shafaq Cultural Network in occupied East Jerusalem, and the arrest of their respective directors, ‘threaten to extinguish cultural life for thousands of artists, students and people in wider society’. (1)

The British Consulate in Jerusalem expressed its concern over the raids, via Twitter. (2) However, the artists say that expressions of concern are not enough. 

The letter says that the raids are linked to Israel’s ongoing annexation of Palestinian land. It calls on the British government to take action to halt Israel’s latest round of aggression towards Palestinians . The signatories say: ‘Palestinian civil society organisations are calling for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’, that relate to trade, arms sales and security co-operation. Britain should support them.’ 

Composer Jocelyn Pook, best known for scores for films such as Eyes Wide Shut, The Merchant of Venice and The Wife, said: ‘These raids strike a blow against music and a blow against education. No government which cared about culture would inflict them. No person who cares about culture should tolerate them.’

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IOF Tightens Gaza Strip Closure

Fuel Entry Suspended and Fishing Area Reduced

Ref: 72/2020, 13 August 2020

On Wednesday, 12 August 2020, Israeli authorities announced new restrictions on the movement of goods entering the Gaza Strip and reduced the fishing area, in alleged response to the launch of incendiary balloons towards Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Kamil Abu Rukun, stated that pursuing to security consultations, it was decided to immediately stop the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip and reduce the permitted fishing area from 15 to 8 nautical miles until further notice. Abu Rukun added that “These decisions were made in light of the ongoing violence and launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory.”

This decision followed the Israeli authorities’ former decision to close Karm Abu Salem crossing issued two days ago (starting from Tuesday, 11 August 2020) except for the transportation of goods for vital humanitarian cases and fuel.

The decision suspending the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip deepens its electricity crisis and increases its 64% power deficit (pre-suspension decision). In the best case scenario, the Gaza Strip available power reaches 180 Megawatts (120 MW from Israel, and 60 MW from the Gaza power plant), a far cry from its 500 MW minimum need.

In light of the Israeli decision, it is expected that the power deficit would reach 76% after the power plant shuts, raising the hours of power outages to 16 – 20 hours per day.

This development bears warning to the impact on the lives of the 2 million Gaza residents, as their homes and workplaces will turn into hell, preventing them from leading normal lives due to the high heat and humidity. Most significantly, as the electricity crisis intensifies, basic services are expected to rapidly deteriorate, particularly health and sanitation services, including drinking water sources and sanitation services.

Furthermore, reducing the fishing area negatively affects and undermines the livelihoods of 4,160 fishermen and 700 workers in professions associated with the fishing sector i.e. the main providers for their families (a total of 27,700 persons). Even before this decision, Gazan fishermen already suffered an inability to fish and sail freely in the allowed fishing area due to the recurrent Israeli attacks at sea, the entry ban of equipment and necessary supplies for fishermen. Consequently, hundreds of fishermen are effectively unable to provide their families’ basic needs, such as food, medicine, clothing, and education.

The impact of the new Israeli decisions would deepen the humanitarian and living crises in the Gaza Strip, especially raising unemployment, poverty and food insecurity. Statistics pre-recent restrictions indicate a dangerous unemployment rate at 46%, i.e. 211,300 unemployed workers; this rate is highest among youth at 63%. Also, more than half of the Gaza Strip population suffers poverty, as data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicate that the prevalence of poverty among the Gaza Strip population exceeds 53%, and more than 62.2% of the Gaza population is classified as food insecure according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

These decisions fall under the framework of the complete, illegal and unhumanitarian closure policy imposed by the Israeli authorities on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, as the Gaza Strip crossings have witnessed tightened restrictions on the movement of goods and persons.

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What Comes First, an Israeli Army Firing Zone or Palestinian Villages?


Palestinians in the southern Hebron mountains Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Amira Hass, Haaretz, 03/08/2020

Next Monday the justices of the High Court of Justice will discuss the State of Israel’s demand to destroy eight Palestinian hamlets in the southern West Bank. I should say: will once again discuss, because the government’s demand is not new.

For about 40 years the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration did everything in their power to make these communities disappear, while they, in their heroic and prolonged battle against the order to become extinct, also turned to legal channels and to petitions. In military Hebrew, the area designated for demolition and the eviction of its Palestinian residents is known as Firing Zone 918. In ordinary Arabic and Hebrew it is Masafer Yatta.

Now the High Court justices are being asked to decide once and for all what comes first: an area for military training exercises, or an ancient fabric of life and relations between a city and the villages that grew up around it.

The “what comes first” is a question of chronology, principle and ethics. Israel claims that the firing zone was declared as such in 1980 and the residents are “illegal squatters” who settled there afterwards. The geo-historical facts, which are not subject to dates, maps and the overt and covert intentions of the occupying power, indicate otherwise.

The rural roots of the city of Yatta, already in the Ottoman period, are not in doubt. Sheep herding and agriculture were the basis of its existence and the cultural heritage of its families. Its expansion and the urbanization process it has undergone are natural phenomena. In the second half of the 19th century there were about 2,000 residents. Today there are almost 70,000. The overall area of its land, which was recognized and determined long before 1967, is 170,000 dunams.

The constant increase in the number of residents and the size of the flocks led to the creation of rural offshoots, by people searching for more available land for grazing and planting, and additional sources of water or a place to dig a new cistern to collect rainwater.

In Yatta, like everywhere in the country, they remained in the distant location for several days and weeks, depending on the season, the calving and the sheep shearing. Natural caves were sometimes adapted for residential purposes. Gradually the seasonal offshoot became permanent.

The familial, economic and social links to the village of origin – now town – have been maintained. But over time every community also develops its own characteristics independently. How much beauty is contained in this geo-human continuum, and in the universal nature of the process, which can be identified all over the globe.

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Israel issues demolition notice for Palestinian cave home

‘I didn’t make the cave. It has existed since antiquity,’ says Ahmed Amarneh from West Bank village of Farasin

Ahmed Amarneh and a neighbor chat outside his home, built in a cave in the village of Farasin, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank on August 4, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)Ahmed Amarneh and a neighbor chat outside his home, built in a cave in the village of Farasin, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank on August 4, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Times of Israel, 10 August 2020

Ahmed Amarneh’s home, with a wooden door opening onto cushion-lined rooms, is not the first Palestinian residence in the West Bank to receive a demolition notice from Israel.

But it may be the first built inside a cave that the Jewish state threatened to destroy.

Amarneh, a 30-year-old civil engineer, lives with his family in the northern West Bank village of Farasin, where Israel requires permits for any new residential construction and can tear down homes built without approval.

“I tried twice to build (a house), but the occupation authorities told me it was forbidden to build in the area,” Amarneh told AFP, using a term for Israel used by some Palestinians.

The Oslo peace accords of the 1990s gave the Palestinians self-rule in parts of the West Bank. Continue reading