Palestinian teen killed by Israeli fire in Gaza

The Israeli army said it detected three people near the security fence and fired at them. A cousin said the 18-year-old was on the farming land that his family owns.

Al Jazeera, 22 March 2017

A Palestinian teen has been killed and two other men wounded by Israeli fire in southern Gaza, according to health officials.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said 18-year-old Yousef Abu Athira was killed before dawn on Wednesday by Israeli artillery fire east of Rafah.

He said two others sustained shrapnel wounds and were taken to Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.

The Israeli army, which had been carrying out training exercises near the border overnight, said it detected three people near the security fence separating Gaza and Israel and fired at them, according to a military spokeswoman.

But Yasser Abu Athira, the killed teen’s cousin, said the 18-year-old was on the farming land that his family owns.

“We heard the noise of about 15 shells that came down. After a while, we found out that it was Yousef. The Israeli army said he was trying to get into Israel, but we completely deny that claim,” he told Al Jazeera.

“We are very angry and we blame this on the occupation and the Israeli army. He was not armed and he is not part of any faction.”


READ MORE: Gaza’s healthcare crumbling under Israeli siege


Gaza has been under a decade-long siege imposed by Israel following Hamas’ election victory and subsequent takeover of the enclave in 2007.

Israel’s military said that some 2,000 reserve soldiers had since Sunday been performing military exercises around Gaza Strip.

Tareq Rishmawi, spokesperson for the Palestinian government, denounced the Israeli army’s large-scale exercises over the past few days and called on the international community to end the systematic “Israeli assaults”.

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Free Issa Amro

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, call on you to strongly oppose David Friedman’s nomination as US Ambassador to Israel.

    Dear United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,

    Palestinian activist Issa Amro, who has been recognized as a Human Rights Defender by the European Union and the United Nations, is undergoing Israeli military trial1 on 18 charges dating all the way back to 2010.

    Mr. Amro’s case is an example of widespread targeting of human rights activists using old and exaggerated charges in a military court system whose conviction rate for Palestinians is over 99%2.

    As civil and human rights advocates and faith groups, we ask that you call on the Israeli government to drop the politically-motivated charges against Issa Amro and allow him to continue his important work of protecting human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Sign the petition here.

1 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/whos-afraid-of-nonviolence.html

2 https://972mag.com/conviction-rate-for-palestinians-in-israels-military-courts-99-74-percent/28579/

Sponsors

  • Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Center for Jewish Nonviolence
  • CODEPINK Women for Peace
  • Interfaith Peace Builders
  • National Lawyers Guild – International Committee
  • US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
  • US Palestinian Community Network
  • Youth Against Settlements

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UN official resigns after pressure to withdraw Israel apartheid report

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2017

Rima Khalaf (via Facebook)

A senior United Nations official has resigned, following pressure from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw the landmark report published earlier this week finding Israel guilty of apartheid.

Rima Khalaf, the head of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) which published the report, announced her resignation at a press conference in Beirut on Friday.

Reuters reports that Khalaf took the step “after what she described as pressure from the secretary-general to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an ‘apartheid regime’ on Palestinians.”

“I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report,” Khalaf stated.

As of Friday, a press release announcing the report remained visible on the ESCWA website, but the link to the report itself from the press release no longer works.

A full copy of the report is available below.

It concludes that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

It finds “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid” as defined in international law.

It urges national governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives.”

Palestinians warmly welcomed the report, but Israel angrily denounced it as akin to Nazi propaganda. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN demanded that the report be withdrawn.

That demand came just as the Trump administration announced a budget plan that includes sweeping cuts in US contributions to the UN.

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A message from Cindy & Craig Corrie


Painting by Malak Mattar; read more about
her painting at We Are Not Numbers.

March 16th, marks the 14th anniversary of the day our daughter Rachel stood in Gaza with other international activists and challenged the Israeli military’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Rachel’s life was stolen that day, but her spirit was not. As these anniversaries approach, there are sometimes tensions as we struggle to find the best way to remember, and to explain why we do so. But in a moment of illumination, we are reminded that each March 16th is for us another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Gaza. It is a place that overflows with suffering, yet is filled with so much more. Rachel wrote to us about the people. “…I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances…I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.”

During the past fourteen years, we have been blessed with our connections to Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank, and elsewhere in the world. We have built relationships with them and with Palestinian and Jewish Israelis who reflect the strength and dignity Rachel recognized, and with open hearts and minds steadfastly pursue justice.

Here in the U.S., it is easy to be distracted by our new political challenges. But with colleagues in our hometown of Olympia and beyond, we are articulating our vision for a “great” country and world. In the words of the song from the Civil Rights Movement, we are keeping “our eyes on the prize.” We know you are doing the same. One part of that vision is freedom for Gaza.

At the Rachel Corrie Foundation, commitment is a core value. Today, as we remember and recommit, we are counting on you to join us in building community with Gaza. You, your organization, and your community can make so much difference for people there.

  • Support Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who is in Israeli court this month seeking accountability for the deaths of his three daughters and niece during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009. Dr. Abuelaish’s civil lawsuit, pending since 2010, seeks an apology and compensation that will benefit the Daughters for Life Foundation, which awards scholarships to women throughout the Middle East. Dr. Abuelaish has asked legal analysts, journalists, scholars, and activists to attend the trial and to raise public awareness. Watch for reports, and voice your support through social media. For information, press inquiries, or to attend the trial, contact izzeldin.abuelaish@utoronto.ca +1 (416) 567-6604. To learn more about the family’s story, see the March/April 2016 Washington Report.
  • Explore compelling stories from young Gazan writers and artists who, through mentorships, have seen their work published. Visit our colleague’s project We Are Not Numbers and empower these Gaza young people by sharing their voices.
  • During Women’s History Month and through Rachel’s birthday April 10th, please DONATE to build community with Gaza and to sustain the Rachel Corrie Foundation’s growing number of Gaza projects. Lend your support to grassroots activism, shared resistance and empowerment across borders – from Olympia to Gaza – through arts, sport, and education!

Thank you for remembering with us today and for keeping Rachel’s spirit and commitment alive through your actions for Gaza.

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U.N. Report: Israel Imposes ‘Apartheid Regime’ on Palestinians

Reuters, Newsweek, 3/15/17

A U.N. agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report, which was published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), to Der Sturmer—a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic.

The report concluded “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” The accusation – often directed at Israel by its critics – is fiercely rejected by Israel.

U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N. body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.

ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and aims to support economic and social development in member states, according to its website. The report was prepared at the request of member states, Khalaf said.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the U.N. secretariat.

01_14_israeli_01Israeli Arab boys stand on the rubble of houses demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the northern Israeli city of Qalansuwa January 11. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

“The report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres),” said Dujarric, adding that the report itself notes that it reflects the views of the authors.

The United States, an ally of Israel, said it was outraged by the report.

“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in a statement.

The Israeli ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon‏, commenting on Twitter, also noted the report had not been endorsed by the U.N. secretary-general.

“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.

The report said it had established on the “basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.”

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Israel lashes out at Palestine activists

“This is what happens to Palestinians every day. You can’t be a democracy while you keep millions of people under siege and military occupation.”

Charlotte Silver, The Electronic Intifada, 15 March 2017

Hugh Lanning, chair of the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was denied entry by Israel. (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

Less than a week after Israel’s parliament passed a law barring entry to supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, Israel has sought to make an example of a prominent UK activist.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told The Electronic Intifada that he was planning a four-day visit in occupied East Jerusalem.

But he was denied entry when he flew into Israel’s main airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday.

A few days earlier, Israeli police detained anti-occupation activist Jeff Halper, on suspicion of “incitement.” Police said they had been informed that Halper, co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was distributing “materials related to BDS.” They released him after concluding he had committed no violations.

A 2011 Israeli law allows advocates of boycott to be sued for damages.

Israel’s crackdown on critics is escalating just as a landmark UN report has found that Israel is guilty of the international crime of apartheid. The report calls on governments around the world to support BDS.

Israel is also showing its anger against the government of South Africa. It is reportedly planning to summon Pretoria’s ambassador for a dressing down over comments made by South African officials likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid.

“Hostile to Israel”

After being held for over seven hours, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Lanning was told he would be denied entry because his activities were “hostile to Israel.”

No further explanation was provided to Lanning at the time he was expelled, but before he returned to London the following morning, Israel’s immigration authority and the ministry of strategic affairs had released a statement saying Lanning was deported because of his efforts to advance the boycott of Israel.

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Amira Hass: Introduction to #Obliterated Families

Gaza: A gaping wound

#ObliteratedFamilies

Behind every erased Gazan family is an Israeli pilot. Behind every orphaned child who has lost his brothers and sisters in the bombing is an Israeli commander who gave the order and a soldier who pulled the trigger. Behind every demolished house are the Israeli physicist and hi-tech specialist who calculated the optimal angles for maximal impact. And there is the army spokesperson (backed by legal experts) who always evaded the journalist’s question: how proportional is it to shell an entire building with all its inhabitants? What – in your laws – justifies killing 23 family members, babies, children and the elderly among them, in one fell swoop of a missile?

There is one very present absentee in the “stories” below: Israeli society. Whether those members of society directly responsible, from government ministers and general military staff down through the ranks, or those who are indirectly responsible in their support and refusal to know. Have the direct accomplices – most of whom preserve their armed anonymity – ever shown any interest in knowing who was targeted by their sophisticated smart bombs? Or how many unarmed civilians they killed, their names, how many girls and boys, how many members of a single family, how many entire families have been erased? Disastrously, the safe guess is that physical distance and the fact that both soldiers and commanders did not have to soil their hands with blood nor see the mangled bodies with their own eyes helped them greatly to bury any information, knowledge, and thought.

Before and between the major onslaughts of 2008-9, 2012 and 2014 “smaller-scale” Israeli assaults were carried out, and they too wiped out lives, or erased the toil of many years and added traumas onto past disasters. Another link in such a long chain of injustices that one’s head is dizzy with disbelief, or the need to forget. At times, Gazans themselves help one forget: with their humor, their warmth, the continuity of life and vitality their creativity which breaks through all barriers and limitations of the siege and the pain, their silences – for they are sick of telling, or because what’s the point. But more than ever, more than any previous large-scale or smaller-scale assault, after 2014, the quenched eyes of Gazans have recounted how that was the most horrific of attacks.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) calculated that 142 families lost three or more members, each of these families in a single Israeli shelling or bombing. The total was 742 persons, more than 25% of all Palestinian casualties of that summer. There is nothing more difficult than gathering testimonies from people whose families have been nearly wiped out, to try and describe the horrendous vacuum which has been created and cannot be filled. The choice of “only” ten families, is a statement: testimony gathering and reading must not become automatic. It mustn’t, lest feelings be dulled. Therefore, the silences and the spaces between the spoken and the unspoken, between the written and the unwritten, speak for all the rest.

The erasure of entire families was one of the appalling characteristics of the 2014 assault. These were no errors or mistaken personal choices on the part of a pilot or a navigator or a brigade commander. This was policy. There are no anonymous players here: the identity of the policy makers is well known, as are their names and positions. Between July 7 and August 26, Israel carried out about 6,000 air raids on the Gaza Strip and fired 14,500 tank shells and about 35,000 artillery shells. 2,251 Palestinians were killed, among them 1,462 civilians, 551 of whom were children, and 299 women. Some of the non-civilians killed – namely combatant members of the armed organizations – were not killed in battle but under the same civilian circumstances where their relatives were also killed: in their beds, in their own homes, during the fast-breaking meal, in their residential quarters.

As stated in B’Tselem’s report “Black Flag”, which investigated 70 of the 142 incidents, with the exception of a few cases Israel never gave any explanation for bombing or shelling those houses with their inhabitants inside. In other words, Israel never disclosed what and who were its targets: perhaps one of the family members, perhaps a weapons stash in the house or fire opened from a neighboring house? But the systematic action and the silence both show that Israel finds it ‘legitimate’ and ‘proportional’ to kill entire families: if one of their members is a Hamas fighter, if a weapons stash is held nearby or in their home, or for any other similar reason. What does it mean? That it is legitimate to shell nearly every home in Israel, for nearly every Israeli family has an armed soldier, and many homes are inhabited by senior army officials, and important military and security installations are situated in the heart of Israeli civilian population. This is an absurd and criminal criterion of warfare, opposed to international law and basic principles of justice. But the majority in Israeli society embraces it as right and justified.

According to OCHA, Hamas and other Palestinian armed organizations launched 4,881 rockets and fired 1,753 mortar shells against Israel. 94% of these reached the maximum range of 50 kilometers, mentions B’Tselem. This fire targeted mostly Israeli civilian communities. Because of the limited technology of Hamas’ weapons, and thanks to Israel’s state-of-the-art defense capacities and the evacuation of numerous Israeli residents, the number of Israeli civilian casualties was minimal: six Israeli civilians were killed, among them one 5-year old child. The 67 Israeli soldiers killed during the onslaught were casualties in battle. The Palestinian combatants who killed them were defending their own population from the invader.

The Gaza Strip is not a sovereign state, even if the Hamas regime sometimes behaves like a sovereign government of a liberated territory. According to international agreements, the Strip is an inseparable part of the Palestinian state which the world is still committed to creating, at least by declaration. It is still under Israeli occupation – even though the parameters of control differ from those in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. For example, the population registry of Gaza, as that of the West Bank, is subordinate to the Israeli Ministry of Interior and its policies. Only upon Israeli approval is the Palestinian Authority able to issue new ID cards to 16-year-olds in the Gaza Strip every year, as in the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinians, among them refugees from Syria, live in the Gaza Strip without Palestinian IDs: Israel will not have it. As an occupying force, Israel is supposedly responsible for the population – while it shirks this responsibility with increasingly brutal measures of domination and revenge. Its military assaults were and still are the continuation of Israel’s consistent policy of separating the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinians in its attempt to crush the people and turn it into a collection of separate, disconnected groups and individuals.

As the occupied, Palestinians have the right to fight the occupier. But this right is also subject to international law, to common sense, to international circumstances, to the leadership’s responsibility towards its public. Hamas has had its own internal political considerations in choosing the military path in spite of all the previous rounds of warfare that failed to achieve its declared national objectives. True, over the years Hamas has developed its own means and skills of warfare. But, as the 2014 war showed, it has been – and remains – inferior to Israel’s military might. Military confrontations are Israel’s home field, where it excels. It is precisely the field that should be avoided.

Amira Hass
6 July 2016

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