Two Palestinian children killed in blaze after Israel blocks fire brigade

The children were burned to death at their home

Middle East Monitor, March 6, 2019

Two Palestinian children have been killed in a blaze at their home in occupied Hebron after the Israeli authorities prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time.

The two children – one of whom is believed to have been just 18-months old – were burned to death in a fire at their home in the Al-Salaymeh neighbourhood of Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank. One was reported dead late last night, while the second succumbed to the burns received this morning after receiving emergency treatment at the nearby Hebron government hospital. A third child, thought to be the dead children’s brother, also suffered severe burns in the incident and remains in intensive care, according to hospital Director Dr Walid Zalloum.

The names of the three children have not been released formally, but Palestinian news site Palestine Today named the two who were killed as four-year-old Wael Al-Rajabi and his 18-month-old sister Malik. The local police spokesman, Colonel Loai Arziqat, confirmed in a press statement that two children had died, but did not offer further information.

Though the emergency services were called, the fire brigade was prevented from reaching the scene by Israeli soldiers. In a video filmed last night at 21:50 local time (19:50 GMT), the fire engine can be seen trying to drive down a narrow street. The truck comes to a stop at a road block obstructing the way, while local residents implore the Israeli soldiers stationed there to “open the gate quickly, for the children.”

The Israeli soldiers, however, did not yield to the onlookers’ pleas, delaying the emergency services’ response and preventing them from reaching the property. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

READ: Hebron shooter Azaria backs Israel soldiers who beat Palestinians in custody

Israel is no stranger to restricting emergency services’ access to Palestinians in need. According to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), citing the Palestine Red Crescent Society, since 2015 Israel has prevented ambulances from crossing checkpoints on 123 occasions. In addition, there were 386 attacks against Red Crescent teams across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) during the same period, as well as 105 ambulances damaged.

In December, Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian child then prevented him from receiving potentially life-saving medical treatment; he died soon thereafter. Seventeen-year-old Mahmoud Nakhle was shot as Israeli forces suppressed protests around Al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. A few minutes later, the soldiers chased off a Palestinian ambulance, threatening the driver with their rifles and not giving Nakhle first aid themselves. Only after a quarter of an hour did the soldiers allow an ambulance to be summoned, but Nakhle died en route to hospital.

Palestinian children killed in a blaze at their home in Hebron, West Bank, after Israeli forces prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time

Under international law, as the occupying power Israel is forbidden from preventing access to medical care and emergency services to the people living under its occupation. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, “The occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.” In addition, “Personnel of the International Red Crescent Movement must be allowed to carry out their humanitarian activities.” Israel, however, continues to breach this and other articles of international laws and conventions with impunity.

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March 7, 2019
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood


Goodman Public Library
2222 S Park St, Madison
6:30 pm

Peace and Justice Book Club discusses Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat.

In this memoir set in Ramallah following the 1967 Six-Day War, Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war – fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life in the Middle East as a Palestinian refugee; and her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.

Hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – Madison Chapter. Note: You don’t have to have read or finished the book to attend. Info? #608-609-7961

Hello from Palestine

Operation Dove, 2/13/19


Facebook video: Israel Destroys South Hebron Hills Water Piping

Today Israeli forces destroyed and confiscated underground pipes in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Khallet Athaba, Ar Rakeez and Al-Mufaqarah. Soldiers detained the mayor of the Palestinian village of Tuwani and the head of the council of Masaffer Yatta. The confiscation has disrupted the water supply to villages and schools throughout Masafer Yatta.

The eight villages in Masafer Yatta lie within an area of Palestinian land claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918, and used by the Israeli military as a practice area. Many of the villages within the zone have received Israeli demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings and schools.

Caves in the south Hebron Hills bring villages back to life

Ahmad Al-Bazz and Anne Paq, Mondoweiss, February 11, 2019

Anne Paq presented Intimate Portraits of Gaza’s Lost at the 2017 Madison-Rafah Rachel Corrie Commemoration. Based on the #ObliteratedFamilies project by Paq and Palestinian-Polish journalist Ala Qandil, the project profiled the annihilation of Gaza families during the Israeli bombardment in 2014.


Mahmoud Abu Arram, 72 (left) and his family stand in front of a renovated cave in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez in the South Hebron Hills. (Photo: Activestills.org)

For weeks under the cloak of night Palestinians secretly renovated four caves and built a tin-roofed house in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez where only a handful of residents live. Last week they opened the homes in a “bringing life back” ceremony.

The event was not announced in advance as to avoid any potential disruption by the Israeli army, locals said.

The caves were refurbished by Palestinians from the southern West Bank villages of Susiya, Masafer Yatta and At-Tuwani who are part of the Protection and Sumud Committee, a local group that seeks to prevent home demolitions, and with support from the Palestinian Authority.

Because of rigid Israeli planning restrictions and frequent settler harassment, most of Ar-Rakeez’s villagers moved to the nearby city of Yatta over the last 20 years. Four families said they will move into the fixed up caves, joining the three families who already live there.

Palestinian youth take shifts maintaining a presence in a cave they renovated. “We want to create life and encourage people to come back,” explains Sami, 21, one of the activists of the “Youth of Sumud” group, Sarura. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Screening of a short documentary about activism in the South Hebron Hills from inside a caves that was inaugurated last week, Ar-Rakeez. (Photo: Activestills.org)

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