Palestinian children in Gaza. (Lucy Duncan/AFSC)
Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee, Nov 13, 2019
On Nov. 12, 2019 the Israeli military assassinated Baha Abu al-Ata, a leading member of Islamic Jehad in Gaza, and his wife—sparking more violence in Gaza. Shortly after the killing, Islamic Jehad fired rockets into Israel. In response, Israel has launched extensive bombing attacks on Gaza, killing at least 34 Palestinians and injuring many others. One Israeli has been injured as a result of Palestinian rockets fire. So far, Hamas has refrained from engaging in violence during this latest attack. A ceasefire was announced on Nov. 14, but bombing continued on the night of Nov. 14. If the ceasefire does not hold and Israel continues its disproportionate and deadly attacks on Gaza, there is significant risk of continued escalation.
Political action is needed now in the U.S. to protect this ceasefire and to ensure a halt to attacks on Gaza. But simply ending violence is not enough—there must be an end to the 12-year blockade of Gaza, the systematic inequality and human rights abuses faced by Palestinians, and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Here’s what you need to know about the recent bombings:
Israel’s assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata was the start of the latest violence.
Israel has accused Abu al-Ata for a number of rocket attacks on Israel over the last several months, justifying his assassination as retaliation for those attacks. However, those attacks were carried out in the context of daily Israeli attacks on Gaza, including shooting across the boundary fence, shooting at protesters, ground incursions, shooting at fishermen, and shelling/bombing.
The Israeli government has noted that it expected a response from Gaza to the assassination, making clear that this particular escalation was purposefully started by the Israeli military.
The bombings follow more than a year of violence against Palestinians in Gaza.
Between January and September 2019, the Israeli military killed a total of 70 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 11,000 more. No Israelis were killed by Palestinians from Gaza during the same period.
Overall this year, the Israeli military has invaded Gaza on at least 54 occasions and carried out numerous airstrikes during the same period.
According to the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs, between Oct. 15 and 28, the Israeli military opened fire toward Palestinians in the areas adjacent to Gaza’s perimeter fence and off the coast of Gaza on 28 different occasions, injuring at least two Palestinian laborers. During the same period, Israeli forces carried out four military incursions into Gaza.
In early 2018, Palestinians in Gaza began protesting in what is now known as the Great March of Return. Since the start of those largely peaceful protests, Israel has killed more than 320 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded over 36,000 more as they protested for their rights and against Israel’s occupation.
This violence is largely absent from the narratives that are already developing about this latest attack on Gaza, but it is critical that this context—and Israel’s ongoing blockade on Gaza and occupation of the Palestinian territory—be placed front and center when considering developments over the coming days or weeks.
Israel has indicated that new military actions in Gaza could last days or event weeks.
Palestinian Youth Under Siege and Occupation
with Yousef Aljamal, Gaza Writer and Activist
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Christ Presbyterian Church,
944 E Gorham St, Madison, WI
Meet Yousef Aljamal, a young writer who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza and lived through the three devastating Israeli military assaults between 2008 and 2014. He will share his experiences and insights about the lives of youth there and elsewhere in Palestine, including tens of thousands imprisoned by Israel’s military regime in the West Bank since 1967.
A contributor to the anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza Palestine, Aljamal has recently translated into English the book Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak.
Both books will be available for purchase at the event. Yousef’s talk will be preceded by brief remarks from Rep. Mark Pocan.
Refreshments including baklawa will be served, and Fair Trade Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap and crafts will be sold. This event is free and open to the public, but donations will be gratefully accepted to fund another clean water project for Gaza kids.
Local Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison, UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. This is a national tour sponsored by Just World Educational.
Welcomed by WORT Radio. More information here and on Facebook. Listen to Yousef on WORT’s A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff:
Yousef Aljamal to speak on Gaza, detention of Palestinian kids, in USA, October
Just World Ed is delighted that October 13-29 we will be hosting Palestinian rights activist Yousef Aljamal on a speaking tour that will take him to the Greater NYC area, the Washington DC area, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Madison (WI), and Portland (OR). From Portland he’ll travel to Honolulu where he has another whole program arranged.
This is Yousef’s second time touring the United States. In 2014, he was part of a team that toured the country under the auspices of Just World Books and the American Friends Service Committee. They were launching the anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza Palestine, to which Yousef contributed a very moving story.
Original artwork and signed prints that were hand-carried out of Gaza. This auction offers over 100 pieces by seven artists who are struggling to share their vision and their stories with the outside world.
Despite the ongoing eleven year-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and the violence and human rights tragedies that surround them, artists in Gaza are using creativity to translate their hope and a stark reality into art.
The Gaza artists directly benefit from the sale of their work, which include originals and signed, limited edition prints. Funds will also support the work of Rebuilding Alliance. We hand-carried many of these pieces out of Gaza, and we’re so proud to be working with the artists to bring this to you!
Since registering as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2003, Rebuilding Alliance has been working with coalitions around the world who are dedicated to helping war-torn neighborhoods rebuild and promoting citizen and diplomatic engagement, worldwide, to make them safe.
Activists, who had arranged a joint event along the two sides of the border with Gazans, were confronted by employees of a firm building a security barrier on the Israeli side
A construction worker tries to grab a demonstrator’s Palestinian flag along the Gaza border, Oct. 16, 2019.
Almog Ben Zikri, Haaretz, Oct 17, 2019
Several employees of the Israeli construction firm building a security barrier along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip attacked a group of left-wing activists in the area on Wednesday.
The employees of Danya Cebus’ Geo Danya subsidiary pushed the activists, cursed at them and grabbed and burned Palestinian flags that they were carrying. The activists had arrived in the area for a joint event with a group of Gazans on the other side of the border, in which they planned to speak to each other by phone.
The confrontation took place a few hundred meters from the border in an area designated as a closed military zone, which civilian workers are not authorized to enforce. After the incident, soldiers arrived at the scene. Two of them pushed one of the activists to the ground. A video of the incident shows the responsible officer stopping them and ordering the activists to leave the area.
According to Yossi Makaitan, organizer of the joint event, when activists came to the area near the Danya Cebus operating site, several workers came out and started to yell at them, curse and grab their flags. Some of the activists filmed the attack on video. Activists said a few soldiers looked on from a distance and did not intervene, and that another group of soldiers came and removed them from the site.
On Thursday morning, Haaretz identified two of the workers in the video at one of the offices at the site. They refused to discuss the incident and referred questions to the construction company spokesman’s office.
Octogenarian Israeli activist and four foreigners injured when assailants arrived with crowbars and went on to burn hundreds of trees
Rabbis for Human Rights activist Moshe Yehudai, who the NGO says was assaulted by a group of masked settlers in the northern West Bank on October 16, 2019. (Rabbis for Human Rights)
JACOB MAGID, The Times of Israel, 16 October 2019
An 80-year-old Israeli activist said he “feared for his life” on Wednesday when a group of masked settler youth armed with crowbars charged at him and a group of largely foreign volunteers assisting Palestinian farmers with the annual olive harvest in the northern West Bank.
Rabbi Moshe Yehudai made the comments to Army Radio hours after he and fellow volunteers endured a brutal assault documented by rights groups at the scene.
Of the five volunteers who were injured, four were visiting from the US, UK and other European countries, said a field worker for the Yesh Din NGO. Yehudai, an Israeli activist from Rabbis for Human Rights, was the fifth person targeted, suffering blows to the arm and head. He was evacuated to the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba with a broken arm.
Rabbis for Human Rights recruits Israeli and foreign volunteers to accompany Palestinians, who say they face regular intimidation and violence while tending to crops located near settlements throughout the West Bank.
On Wednesday morning, roughly ten volunteers were assisting Palestinian farmers from the villages of Burin and Haware when a group of over 30 masked settlers descended from Yitzhar, a settlement identified by the Israeli security establishment as a hotbed for extremism, according to a Yesh Din field worker.
הבוקר בסביבות השעה 11:30, בזמן המסיק, חקלאים פלסטינים ומתנדבים ישראלים ומחו"ל של @rhreng הותקפו ע"י כ-30 מתנחלים רעולי פנים שהגיעו מיצהר. 5 פצועים פונו מהשטח, בין היתר, הרב משה יהודאי, 80, שפונה בסיוע אמבולנס פלסטיני.
— Lior Amihai (@lioramihai) October 16, 2019
The Yesh Din field worker who spoke to The Times of Israel said that he arrived at the scene shortly after the assault began. After an IDF jeep was seen from a distance making its way to the field, the settler youth ignited a brushfire and retreated toward Yitzhar. At which point, the army vehicle turned around, the NGO staffer said.
Firefighter planes were dispatched to the scene to put out the fire which burned down hundreds of olive trees, some decades old, according to Yesh Din.
An IDF spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident, but was unable to provide any additional information.