Egypt ‘indefinitely’ opens Rafah border crossing with Gaza Strip

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agree to ‘respect and accept’ upcoming polls at Cairo talks


A girl looks on through the window of a vehicle while waiting at the Rafah border crossing’s departure area to travel from the Gaza Strip into Egypt [Said Khatib/AFP]

Al Jazeera, 10 Feb 2021

For the first time in years, Egypt has “indefinitely” opened its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, the only passage to the outside world for the residents of the coastal enclave that is not controlled by Israel.

The move on Tuesday came as Palestinian factions concluded a two-day meeting in Egypt’s capital in which they agreed to “respect and accept” the results of long-delayed legislative and presidential elections – set for May 22 and July 31, respectively.

The Palestinian embassy in Cairo said Egypt had decided to open the crossing as a result of “intensive and bilateral talks between the Palestinian and Egyptian leaderships to facilitate the passage of Palestinians to and from the Gaza Strip”.

Palestinian sources attending the talks said they had been told by Egyptian intelligence officials that the move was designed to create a better atmosphere at the negotiations.

Reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said some were linking it to the Cairo summit and suspected it was “a gesture from the Egyptians”.

“Thousands have already been registering their names with the interior ministry in Gaza, hoping they can make their way into Egypt – it’s their only lifeline to the outside world,” Ibrahim said.

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Israeli Strikes on Gaza: 3 Civilians wounded and Buildings Damaged

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, December 27, 2020

Three Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded and many civilian buildings were damaged due to IOF air strikes in a densely populated area in Tuffah neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 00:40 on Saturday, 26 December 2020, Israeli warplanes fired 5 missiles at an empty land near a residential compound on Salah al-Din Street, east of Tuffah neighborhood, east of Gaza City. As a result, 3 civilians, including a child, sustained wounds as the windows shattered. The wounded were: Yasmeen Mohammed Yehia al-Ashqar (6), Hani Mahdi Rasheed Hajjaj (55) and ‘Emad Khamis ‘Ali al-Haddad (32).

The IOF air strikes caused varying damage to many facilities and civilian objects -mostly shattered windows and displaced doors. The damaged establishments include al-Durra Children’s Hospital, a Ministry of Social Development rehabilitation center for persons with disabilities, Shuhada Gaza Elementary School, eastern Gaza Directorate of Education training center, al-Wedad Mosque, Al-Tuffah Club Stadium, and al-Yaziji Group Company for Soft Drinks. It should be noted that the eastern facade of Yaziji Group Company was destroyed, windows were broken, and its tin-plate roof collapsed.

Furthermore, Ramlawi Plastic Company, al-Sawaferi carpentry, Omar al-Shendi’s spare parts shop, the electricity network and many houses sustained severe damage due to the intensive aerial strikes.

The IOF air strikes not only caused material damage, but also caused fear and panic among the civilian residents, especially women and children.

PCHR emphasizes that the continued Israeli attacks on populated residential areas and the use of weapons on the basis of collective reprisals constitute grave violations of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, amounting to war crimes.

PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop Israel’s crimes and 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.

Biden needs to reverse Pompeo on Israel/Palestine


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make a joint statement after meeting in Jerusalem, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, Pool)

Tsela Barr and Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, The Cap Times, Dec 4, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in another lame-duck effort to tie the hands of the incoming administration and give a parting gift to the far right in Israel and to right-wing Christian Evangelicals at home, has just poured kerosene on the fire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The most senior U.S. official ever to publicly visit an Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, Pompeo proclaimed that settlement-produced goods imported to the U.S. will no longer be labeled as they had previously been, “made in West Bank/Gaza.” Instead, they can now be labeled “made in Israel,” despite the fact that neither U.S. law, nor the United Nations, recognizes Israel’s de facto annexation of large swaths of Palestinian territory.

Trump and Pompeo hope to drive one more nail in the coffin of long-standing official U.S. policy, which, while not sufficiently supportive of the aspirations of the Palestinians for legitimate self-governance on their own land, at least until now has held the settlement enterprise to be illegal, illegitimate, counterproductive to the cause of regional peace and stability, and even damaging to Israel’s own interests.

But there is an even more dangerous part of Pompeo’s pronouncements: that henceforth, the U.S. will officially label the international grassroots movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as anti-Semitic and will create what amounts to a blacklist of organizations that support it.

The BDS movement is an international effort by millions of people to try to pressure the Israeli government to respect the human, political and economic rights of Palestinians. It is inspired by a similar movement that targeted and helped overthrow apartheid rule in South Africa.

While, as American Jews, we have serious concerns about rising anti-Semitism, which is traditionally defined as hostility to, prejudice toward, or discrimination against Jews, we are united in opposition to labeling BDS (or other criticism of Israeli policies), as anti-Semitic and even worse, to using the power of governments at all levels to outlaw or punish the BDS movement.

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Update: December 3, 2020 Rep. Mark Pocan Virtual Town Hall on Palestine

Please thank Rep. Pocan for participating in the town hall and for being a champion for Palestinian rights. His DC office line is (202) 225-2906.

The town hall was an amazing event that you don’t want to miss. The situation for Palestinians is so dire in so many ways, and hearing their stories directly should spur us all to action.

It’s not easy for Members of Congress to take a principled position on Palestinian rights, but Congressman Pocan has been on the frontlines despite the risks and pushback. In his town hall speech, he lists some of the amazing initiatives he’s led or participated in on Capitol Hill related to Palestinian rights just this year, and the list is admirable. Please take a minute to call his office and show appreciation for all he’s done.

Thanks for your activism,

Raed Jarrar
Advocacy Director, American Muslims for Palestine

Rep. Mark Pocan will be holding a virtual town hall this Thursday, December 3 at 9:30 am CT on Palestine, covering the impact of COVID-19 in Gaza and demolitions in the West Bank.

Co-organized by American Muslims for Palestine and the Rebuilding Alliance, the town hall features these on-the-ground speakers:

  • Eid Abu Khamis Jahalin, a community leader for his village of Khan Al Ahmar.
  • Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect and urban planner who leads Bimkom’s activities in the West Bank.
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UNRWA USA’S Virtual Gaza 5K & Art Auction


Announcing the First-Ever
Nationwide Virtual Gaza 5K

+
Digital Festival Art Auction!

Everyone’s mental health is being tested as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we won’t all suffer the same.

From the United States to Palestine, no person should have to suffer constant distress.

And while the global pandemic has caused events, travel, and even people to be canceled, you can join UNRWA USA for an interactive Gaza 5K + Digital Festival on Saturday, September 12, 2020, bringing together community, running, music, and entertainment for a good cause — providing mental health for refugee kids in the Gaza Strip. And now, due to the crisis in Lebanon, a portion of the proceeds from the Gaza 5K will be dedicated to our urgent relief fund for Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

More on the Gaza 5k!


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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

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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.

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