On the 39th Friday

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

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

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

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

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

On 21 December 2018, the incidents were as follows:

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

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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.

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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.

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Israeli Incursions into Gaza Are the Rule, Not the Exception

Israeli troops have crossed into Gaza over 70 times this year alone, according to the UN. And those are only the incursions we know about.

File photo of Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
File photo of Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Henriette Chacar, +972 Magazine, November 14, 2018

[Editor’s note: In accordance with our legal obligation, this article was sent to the IDF Censor for review prior to publication. We are not allowed to indicate if and where the article was censored.]

Since Israeli special forces troops got into a deadly firefight with Hamas commandos deep inside the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Israel has dropped dozens of bombs and missiles into Gaza and Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The New York Times described the special forces raid as “the first known Israeli ground incursion into Gaza since Operation Protective Edge, in July 2014.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Since the start of 2015 through the end of October 2018, the Israeli army made 262 known ground incursions and operations to level land inside the Gaza Strip, including over 70 this year alone. This does not include the unknown number of covert operations like the one that went awry on Sunday.

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Gaza: Fears of further bloodshed as Israel adopts ‘zero tolerance’ policy

Amnesty International, 19 October 2018

Fears of escalating bloodshed are rising ahead of planned protests in Gaza later today after Israeli authorities announced a “zero tolerance” policy towards demonstrations along the Israel/Gaza fence, said Amnesty International.

The organization is calling on the Israeli government to rein in its armed forces, which have routinely used unnecessary or excessive force during Gaza’s weekly “Great March of Return” demonstrations.

“Given Israeli forces’ horrific track record of using deadly force against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, as well as journalists, medics and others, the announcement of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy is deeply alarming,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The exact details of what “zero tolerance” means have not been disclosed, but there are fears it will lead to more Palestinian deaths along the Gaza/Israel border.

“There are serious fears that this policy will further sanction the use of deadly force against unarmed protesters during today’s demonstrations, and that Israeli forces will be given carte blanche authorization to carry out large-scale, unlawful killings escalating the bloodshed. Israel has repeatedly used lethal force unnecessarily and excessively against unarmed protesters in shameless violation of international law,” said Saleh Higazi.

There are serious fears that this policy will further sanction the use of deadly force against unarmed protesters during today’s demonstrations, and that Israeli forces will be given carte blanche authorization to carry out large-scale, unlawful killings escalating the bloodshed.

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Serious Escalation of Lethal Force in Eastern Gaza Strip

Israeli Forces Kill 7 Civilians, Including a Child

224 Others, Including 42 Children, 3 Women, 3 Journalists and a Paramedic, Are Wounded

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Ref: 111/2018, October 12, 2018

On Friday afternoon, 12 October 2018, using excessive force against the peaceful protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip for the 29th Friday in a row, Israeli forces Killed 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and and wounded 224 others, including 42 children, 3 women, 3 journalists, and a paramedic with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Ten of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Sixteen of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets, increasing the number of causalities.

According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets, increasing the number of causalities .

The Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators who posed no threat or danger to the life of Israeli soldiers in the areas of demonstrations.

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Gaza’s economy is not ‘falling.’ It was pushed.


Palestinian laborers protest against the continued Israeli siege and the spread of unemployment in Gaza City on May 1, 2018. (Photo: Ashram Amra/APA Images)

Marilyn Garson, Mondoweiss, September 27, 2018

The economic and social situation in Gaza that has been declining for over a decade, has deteriorated exponentially in recent months. . . The situation has reached a critical point.
— Economic Monitoring Report to the World Bank Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, Sept 27, 2018 (PDF)

The latest Economic Monitoring Report to the World Bank Ad Hoc Liaison Committee [AHLC] quantifies the collective punishment and mounting hardship of the Gaza Strip:

  • – 6% growth in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same months of 2017.
  • 53.7% unemployment, over 70% for youth and 78% for women in Q1, 2018. The first figures from Q2 suggest that unemployment has risen a further 5%.
  • 53% of Gazans – every second person – lives below the poverty line.
  • 2% of Gazans receive an uninterrupted supply of water. 98% do not.

The cause is not in doubt: the government of Israel imposes “restrictions that are the main impediment” to normal economic activity. “The blockade has caused Gaza’s economy to deindustrialize”. As proportions of GDP, manufacturing and agriculture have declined by more than half since 1994. The blockade and repeated wars have caused Gaza’s economy to grow more slowly than all of its comparator economies (including the West Bank).

And try doing business in an economy this volatile: