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Rafah Crossing to Be Opened for Four Days

The Rafah Crossing will open starting Wednesday. (Photo: via Twitter)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo has announced today that the Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing for four days, starting Wednesday, 29 June, 2016.

The crossing will operate on Wednesday, Thursday, shut down on Friday and re-open on Saturday and Sunday.

The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing earlier this month for four days, allowing 3142 Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip, mainly those needing medical treatment , and students.

Some 30,000 Palestinians are registered to travel. Many more students and patients hope to travel through the crossing.

(Palestine Chronicle)


Ban Ki-Moon Visits Tel Aviv and Ramallah

Ban Ki-Moon is scheduled to meet Mahmoud Abbas among Israeli dignatries. (Photo: via Twitter, file)

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, will today visit Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, and Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, reported.

According to the Israeli newspaper Israel Today, Ban Ki-Moon expected to listen to reports by senior Israeli security officials regarding the Israeli policy in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He is expected to visit Tel Aviv University.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danoun, who traveled to Israel for the visit, said: “This is an important visit in which we will make clear to the UN Secretary-General that the state of Israel is an island of stability in the Middle East.”

Academic and historian, Ramzy Baroud, has stated that this is a direct contrast with the oppressive reality of abuse and injustice which Palestinians face under the Israeli occupation.



Ramallah Visit by OIC Secretary-General Cancelled

Iyad bin Amin Madani of the IOC. (Photo: via MEMO)

A visit by Iyad bin Amin Madani, Secretary-General the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, to the West Bank city of Ramallah, has been cancelled, a senior PLO official said.

PLO Executive Committee member, Ahmed Majdalani, said the visit, which was due to take place on Sunday, has been postponed indefinitely.

Madani was scheduled to arrive in Ramallah for a two-day visit to meet Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, and inaugurate the first office in the West Bank.

OIC representative in Palestine, Ahmed Ruwaidy told WAFA news agency that the postponement was due to emergency reasons. However, an informed source in Ramallah confirmed that Madani cancelled the visit after Israel rejected his and the Palestinian Authority’s demands regarding the procedures surrounding his visit.

The source further stated that this is the second visit by a senior Arab official that was cancelled, following that of Arab League Secretary-General, Nabil Elaraby, which was scheduled earlier this month.



Quds Press Editor’s Detention Extended by Israel

Detention ofAl Quds Ahmed Al-Betawi's detention extended pending investigations. (Photo: via MEMO)

An Israeli court has extended the detention of Ahmed Al-Betawi, editor at Quds Press International News Agency, for eight days, claiming further investigations are needed, his legal team said yesterday.

Lawyer, Gamal Mohamed, added that the investigation was taking place in the Petah Tikva detention center where Al-Betawi was detained since his arrest at his house in Nablus last Monday.

Mohamed pointed out that the Israeli court has refused to allow any of Al-Betawi’s lawyers to be present to defend him during the court sessions, stating that he submitted a request to visit the detainee in the coming days.

At 3am on Monday, Israeli occupation soldiers stormed Al-Betawi’s family home, located in Al-Dahiya neighborhood, east of Nablus. He was searched, and his belongings and laptop confiscated, after which he was taken to an unknown location.

Al-Betawi, 33, was also arrested in February, but was released on bail in May and placed under house arrest during which he was allowed to leave his house for only one hour a day.



Official Stats: ‘Israel is the Only State which Legalized Torture Inside its Prisons’

israeli torture

PLO’s Prisoners and Freed Prisoners Committee stated yesterday that “all prisoners jailed by Israel were tortured,” including women, the elderly and children, Quds Press reported.

In a statement, Abdul-Naser Ferwana, Director of Studies and Documentation Department at the committee, said that Israeli torture aims to “harm prisoners physically and mentally”.

The statement, which marked the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 23, said: “Israel is the only state which legalized torture inside its prisons and protected its perpetrators from any legal measures.”

Ma’an reported: “Torture is an official Israeli policy as it is systematically practiced against the Palestinian prisoners. It is part of the daily life of the Palestinian and Arab prisoners inside Israeli jails. It is used whenever the Israelis want and it is practiced against prisoners of all ages.”

Ferwana reiterated that “100 percent of people who were imprisoned were tortured either verbally or physically”.

He also said that documented statistics show that 71 prisoners had been killed because of torture inside Israeli jails since 1967. In addition, he said, many died after a few months or years of their release from the effects of torture.

In 2015-2016, Addameer has documented continued cases of arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment during arrest as well as in Palestinian prisons, detention and intelligence centers.

These practices are in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as the Convention Against Torture, both of which the Palestinian Authority is a party.

Arrests have targeted university professors, students, journalists, teachers (teacher’s strike in February 2016) and civil society activists, reported Addameer.

Many others suffer from chronic diseases or disabilities due to the torture or mistreatment they suffered in jail.

(MEMO, PC, Addameer)


Prominent South African Professor Withdraws from Genocide Conference in Israel

Professor Adhikari withdrew his presentation from INoGS Israel Conference. (Photo: via engweb.swan)

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa) said Associate Professor Mohamed Adhikari and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) have both withdrawn from the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS) conference in Israel, which started on Sunday.

“The withdrawal follows a letter by BDS SA to Professor Adhikari requesting him to withdraw from the INoGS conference. We thank Professor Adhikari for responding to us and for the position taken,” BDS South Africa spokesman, Kwara Kekana said.

Adhikari who specializes in mixed race identity politics and genocide studies specifically related to “settler colonialism” is vice president of the INoGS.

Both decisions were apparently based on the conference taking place in Israel which they said violated the “international boycott” of Israel.

Palestinians also issued a statement welcoming the withdrawal by the South Africans, saying the move was “admirable and consistent with a pursuit for social justice”.



UN ‘Gravely Concerned’ over Imminent Home Demolitions in Qalandiya Refugee Camp

Qalandiya refugee camp has repeatedly experienced demolitions since October. (Photo: via Ma'an)

The United Nations warned against imminent home demolitions targeting Palestinian families in Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank, which will see at least six Palestinian refugees at risk of being left homeless.

UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on Saturday that it was “gravely concerned” about the Israeli High Court of Justice’s recent rejection of the families’ appeal to save their homes.

“The families are in a state of perpetual apprehension as they wait for implementation of the punitive demolition which could occur at any undefined time,” the statement read.

The families were notified on June 14 that they had five days to evacuate, after Israeli authorities stated their homes would be destroyed as punishment for stab attacks carried out by two young members of the families on December 23 at the Jaffa Gate of East Jerusalem’s Old City.

The two 21-year-old Palestinians, Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa, were shot dead by Israeli police on the scene.

According to Israeli media, the justices in the hearing argued that Assaf and Abu Habsa’s killings did not constitute adequate punishment for their actions. The media reports did not mention whether the families were linked in any way to the attacks.

The court also reportedly rejected claims that Israel’s practice of home demolitions discriminates between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who carry out attacks.

UNRWA reiterated that punitive demolitions are illegal under international law, a perspective communicated to Israeli authorities in April 2016 in the context of a court ruling regarding demolitions in Qalandiya refugee camp.

The Qalandiya refugee camp has been a focal point of violence since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October. Israeli soldiers have routinely carried out raids into the camp’s narrow streets, often leading to violent clashes.

Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, has condemned the practice as “court sanctioned revenge”, amounting to collective punishment.



Ramadan Sees Hundreds of Palestinians Detained by Israel

Detention of Palestinians in Ramadan is viewed as collective punishment. (photo: via Ma'an)

At least 330 Palestinians have been detained since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on June 6, according to a statement released Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS). The Center stated that the detentions reflected Israel’s disregard for the sanctity of this holy period.

PPCS spokesperson, Riyad al-Ashqar, said that Israeli forces detained hundreds since Ramadan began, including women, children, elderly, people suffering from various illnesses, formerly released prisoners, and fishermen in the Gaza Strip.

More than 60 children have been detained since the beginning of Ramadan. More than 21 women and girls were detained according to the center, including three mothers of prisoners.

The statement highlighted the detentions of Palestinian journalist, Adib Barakat al-Atrash, and academic, Dr. Adnan Abu Tabbaneh. Israeli forces also raided the house of Palestinian Legislative Council member, Samir al-Qadi, summoning him to meet with the Israeli intelligence for interrogation.

IDF soldiers further detained 13 Palestinian fishermen from the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the head of the Gaza office for the humanitarian organization World Vision International, Muhammad al-Halabi, was detained at the Erez crossing on Wednesday.

Israeli military courts also issued life sentences to six Palestinian prisoners over the course of the month.

Israeli authorities moved dozens of prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) from the Megiddo prison as punishment for supporting prisoner Bilal Kayid. Kayyid began a hunger strike earlier this month for being issued an administrative detention order after finishing a 14.5-year prison sentence.

This year’s month of Ramadan has been marked by widespread detention campaigns, housing demolitions, a crackdown on the right to movement, and increasing restrictions in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, where Palestinians were also the target of racist verbal abuse from thousands of Israeli extremists on the eve of Ramadan.



Israel and Turkey Agree to Normalize Diplomatic Relations

The ship Mavi Marmara which was attacked by Israeli troops on its way to deliver aid to Gaza. (Photo: File)

Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, and Israeli Prime, Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have reached an agreement to normalize ties, a senior Israeli official told reporters. This is aimed at ending the rift over the Israeli Navy’s killing of nine Turkish citizens during a Gaza flotilla raid in 2010.

The agreement, which took three years to reach, is expected to be officially announced on Monday, an official accompanying Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The restoration of full diplomatic relations that deteriorated after the Israeli navy’s killed nine Turkish and one Turkish-American pro-Palestinian activists in 2010 has been brokered with the help of Washington.

Israel conducted an operation against six civilian ships that belonged to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The ships were carrying humanitarian and construction supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The deal is likely to involve compensation (of around $20 million) to the families of the killed Turks and higher Turkish aid and development projects for Gaza, Israeli media report.

Erdogan has reportedly pledged to make efforts to release the bodies of two Israeli soldiers that are held by the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip and two other Israeli civilians, RT reported.

We asked for and received a document in which the Turkish president instructs the relevant Turkish agencies to work toward resolution of the issue of those kidnapped and missing. The document is in our hands, that’s what Turkey can do for now,” the official said, according to the Times of Israel.

The deal is to be signed on Tuesday by Foreign Ministry Director, Dore Gold, and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Two of Turkey’s conditions for normalizing diplomatic relations that involved an apology and compensation are going to be fully met, reports say. The third demand – lifting the Gaza blockade – was a matter of disagreement and called for a compromise.

Israel will reportedly allow Turkey to help with the completion of a hospital in Gaza and the construction of a new power station as well as a plant for desalination of water.

The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) has expressed its objections to the agreement on its official Twitter feed, both in English and Turkish, stressing that the agreement “should be based on the conditions of abolishing the blockade, not the embargo”, RT said.

(RT, PC)


Families of Missing Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Accuse Israeli PM of Failure

Hamas fighters march in Gaza with the faces of captured Israeli soldiers with a banner reading: 'Mother and father, I will not return to you before Palestinian prisoners return home.' (Photo: via Twitter)

Israeli Prime, Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said his government is “exerting secret and public efforts to identify the fate of missing soldiers in Gaza.”

His remarks follow a protest organized by the family of missing Israeli soldier, Avraham Mangisto, on Sunday in front of Netanyahu’s office. Protesters called for Mangisto’s release in the Israeli-Turkish reconciliation deal.

Ilan Mangisto, the brother of Avraham said he questions whether “the Israeli government forgot my brother in Gaza.”

The father of Hadar Goldin, another Israeli soldier who went missing during the 2014 offensive on Gaza accused Netanyahu of “failure to bring his son back in the first test as part of the Israeli-Turkish reconciliation deal.”

The mother of Israeli soldier, Oren Shaul, said, “I was wrong to be silent for two years. I am angry at the army who sends soldiers to battles and never brings them back.”

Hamas announced the capture of Oren Shaul during a battle in Gaza’s eastern neighborhood of Shejaiya on July 20, 2014.

On August 1, 2014, Israel announced losing contact with another army officer named Hadar Goldin in Rafah, following the exchange of fire with Hamas fighters.

Israel said that Avraham Mangisto infiltrated the Gaza Strip in September 2014, which Hamas refused to comment on, until recently when it announced the capture of the Israeli man.

Ten years ago, Hamas captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, during an attack on a military post to the east of Rafah.

Five years later, Hamas released Schalit in exchange for 1050 Palestinians; many of whom were sentenced to life in Israeli jails.

Hamas says it will not release the missing Israelis until Israel agrees to exchange them for thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails.


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