Friday, August 23, 2019 Last Update: 10:37 PM GMT

NGO: Israeli Police Raids of Issawiya ‘Disrupt Daily Life’ for Palestinians (VIDEOS)

An Israeli police raid in Issawiya, Jerusalem. (Photo: File)

Raids by Israeli occupation forces in Issawiya, a Palestinian neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, are continuing to “disrupt daily life” for residents, reported Israeli NGO Ir Amim.

Ir Amim said:

“Sustained hostile police incursions (into Issawiya) have continued now for two and half months, severely disrupting daily life and creating intolerable conditions for area residents”.

The organization noted that while Israeli police “expressed intent to halt the raids particularly over last week’s holiday of Eid Al-Adha”, the raids and harassment “on the ground only intensified, precluding the residents from celebrating their holiday in peace”.

Ir Amim warned that “the recurring hostilities [provoked by raids] are liable to claim more lives.”

Ir Amim stated:

“Over the course of the past two and half months, the police have effectively imposed a perpetual state of collective punishment on the entire neighborhood, marked by nightly police raids, severe limitations on movement, and clashes with residents.”

“Hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained, while an estimated 250 have been injured as a result of the police’s use of excessive force, which already claimed the life of one young man” – a reference to the killing by Israeli forces of 20-year-old Mohammed Obeid.

Ir Amim urged Israeli authorities to “immediately” end “the concerted punitive measures arbitrarily directed at the entire community” of Issawiya “and allow the residents to live free from the threat of constant harassment and inexplicable police targeting”.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

FIFA Turns Blind Eye to Israel’s Ban on Palestinian Football

FIFA President Gianni Infantino. (Photo: File)

FIFA is turning a blind eye to Israel’s ban on allowing Palestinians to hold matches as part of the Palestine Cup, Euro-Mediterranean Human Right Monitor said yesterday.

In a statement, the rights group said that the Israeli authorities continue to ban 30 players from the Rafah Team in Gaza to play the final match of the Palestine Cup against the Balata Youth Team in occupied West Bank city of Nablus. This, it continued, is a violation of international law and of the FIFA principles which stress “the right to play”.

The two teams played the home leg on June 30 in Rafah and the return leg was planned to take place in July.

According to the Euro-Med, the Israeli occupation prevents footballers from Gaza traveling to the West Bank over security claims, stressing that this is “merely a political cover for the [Israeli] collective punishment practiced against the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinians hold a series of matches every year and teams from Gaza and West Bank play against each other in both areas of the occupied Palestinian territories until they reach the final of the Palestine Cup, which is recognized by FIFA.

Euro-Med reported that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian athletes “have been increasing”, with occupation forces stopping the bodybuilding and volleyball teams from taking part in international tournaments.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel to Keep Body of Palestinian Boy Executed by Israeli Forces

Nassim Abu Roumi, 14, was shot and killed by Israeli police near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo: via Twitter)

Palestinian NGOs and families on Tuesday called for international pressure to be placed on Israel to release the body of a Palestinian teen executed by occupation forces, Wattan reported.

In a statement, the NGOs and families replied to reports about Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri’s decision to withhold the body of 14-year-old Nassim Abu Roumi from Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Ezareyah to exchange it with the body of an Israeli soldier held in Gaza.

Israel’s plan to keep the body of the minor, the statement continued, added to its crime of executing him and his 15-year-old friend Hamoudah Khader Al Shaikh.

Abu Romi was shot more than seven times on August 15 from a distance of less than four meters, including bullets which were fired as he lay motionless on the floor.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel Actively Pushing Palestinians to Leave Gaza Strip

Gaza is on the verge of collapse due to the worsening crisis. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Israel is actively pushing Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip, asking a number of European and Middle Eastern countries to absorb them and offering to arrange their flights if they agree to emigrate.

The policy was disclosed by a senior official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a diplomatic visit to Ukraine this week.

The unnamed official told reporters yesterday that Israel is in contact with third countries to see if they would be willing to absorb Palestinians from the besieged enclave, adding that:

“Israel is even willing to arrange transportation for them, at least to one of the airports in the Negev and arrange for them to travel out of the country”.

Israel’s National Security Council has been spearheading the initiative, with Netanyahu’s blessing, for about a year, the Times of Israel reported, citing the official.

The Israeli daily added that the program has also been discussed several times in Israel’s security cabinet.

The official conceded that, thus far, Israel has been unable to find any country willing to cooperate with its initiative, despite speaking to a number of Middle Eastern and European states.

He also claimed that thousands of Gazans are leaving of their own volition, pointing to 35,000 Palestinians who left the Strip in 2018. “That’s a pretty high number,” the official stated, even claiming that those who remain “are being held hostage in Gaza”.

The official, however, failed to mention Israel’s now 12-year-old siege of the Strip – which has devastated its infrastructure, economy, health sector and Palestinians’ livelihoods – or its three assaults on Gaza in the past decade. The UN has predicted that the Strip will be “unliveable” by 2020, calling the fate of Gaza’s some 1.9 million Palestinians into question.

Commentators have slammed the revelation, with Joint List Knesset Member (MK) Yousef Jabareen writing on Twitter: “The country that should welcome Palestinians from Gaza is Israel which, along with its obligation to remove the blockade on Gaza, should respect UN resolutions regarding Palestinian refugees as a part of a just and peaceful solution to the conflict.”

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Tlaib: As Americans We Should All Be Disturbed that Israel Banned Our Visit (VIDEOS)

US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (R) and Ilhan Omar. (Photo: via Twitter)

Israel’s ban on Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country is an effort to stop them doing their jobs, the officials said in a press conference yesterday.

Speaking to a member of the media, the pair explained that they had planned a trip to meet with members of Israel’s Knesset, former soldiers, Palestinians groups, UN officials and international organizations in the occupied territories.

Omar said:

“The decision to ban me and my colleague, the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress, is nothing less than an attempt by an ally to the United States to suppress our abilities to do our jobs as elected officials.”

She went on to describe Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to issue the ban as “unprecedented” because it was against US congresswomen, adding that such bans are regularly issued against Palestinians.

She added:

“It is the policy of his government when it comes to Palestinians .. This is the policy of his government when it comes to anyone who holds views that threaten the occupation.”

We must be asking, as Israel’s ally, that Netanyahu stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land and ensure full rights for Palestinians if we are to give them aid.

Omar said, describing her Palestinian-American colleague Tlaib as “brave and resilient”.

Tlaib said:

“What is not common occurrence is members of Congress being barred from entering a country on fact-finding missions unless they agree to a strict set of rules curtailing their rights or being required to submit their itinerary for stop by stop pre-approval.”

She recalled an incident when former congressman Charles C. Diggs Junior was denied entry into Apartheid South Africa in 1972, saying:

“History does have a habit of repeating itself.”

Tearfully discussing the conversation with her family, she said:

“I think my grandmother said it beautifully when she said I’m her asfour. Asfour in Arabic means her bird. She said I’m her dream manifested. I am her free bird. So why would I come back and be caged and bow down when my election rose her head up high?”

She added:

“We all decided as a family that I could not go until I was a free, American, United States congresswoman.”

The two congresswomen were barred from entering Israel to join a fact-finding mission to the occupied West Bank last week.

Tlaib was offered entry on ‘humanitarian grounds’ to visit her grandmother but rejected the offer on the grounds they had imposed harsh conditions which meant she would not be able to speak about politics.

The Israeli government has faced serious backlash from prominent figures and organizations, including Bernie Sanders and other Democratic candidates, Amnesty International, Palestinian Member of the Knesset Yousef Jabareen, and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Ilhan Omar: Go to Israel, See ‘Cruel Reality of the Occupation’ (VIDEOS)

US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (R) and Ilhan Omar. (Photo: via Twitter)

Democratic US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib sharply criticized Israel on Monday for denying them entry to the country and called on fellow members of Congress to visit while they cannot.

Omar, of Minnesota, suggested President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were suppressing the congresswomen’s ability to carry out their oversight role.

Omar said at a news conference:

“I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear. We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us.”

At Trump’s urging, Israel denied entry to Congress’s first two Muslim women over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement. Tlaib and Omar, who had planned to visit Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a tour organized by a Palestinian group, are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Tlaib, of Michigan, and Omar were joined Monday by Minnesota residents who said they had been directly affected by travel restrictions in the past.

Before Israel’s decision, Trump tweeted it would be a “show of weakness” to allow the two representatives in. Israel controls entry and exit to the occupied West Bank.

Tlaib and Omar support “boycott, divestment and sanctions”, or BDS, a Palestinian-led global movement. Supporters say the movement is a nonviolent way of protesting Israel’s military rule over the occupied territories, but Israel says it aims to delegitimize the state and eventually wipe it off the map.

Last week, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Tlaib had requested and been granted permission to enter the occupied West Bank to see her aging grandmother. Deri’s office released a letter that it said was from Tlaib, which promised to respect travel restrictions during her visit. But after the announcement, Tlaib tweeted she would not allow Israel to use her love for her grandmother to force her to “bow down to their oppressive & racist policies”.

The announcement prompted #MyPalestinianSitty to trend online, with Palestinians and others sharing stories of their grandmothers’ resilience. 

The two congresswomen are part of the “squad” of liberal newcomers – all women of color – whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for re-election.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

EU Using Israeli Drones to Track Migrant Boats in the Mediterranean Sea

The European Union (EU) invested over $115 million in Israeli-made unmanned drones to police the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo: File)

The European Union (EU) invested over $115 million in Israeli-made unmanned drones to police the Mediterranean Sea.

The Observer discovered three contracts with Frontex, the EU’s border and coastguard agency, and the European Maritime Safety Agency, totaling at $115 million with Israeli arms companies Elbit Systems, and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

The money is being spent to purchase drones from the Israeli companies to be used to provide intelligence to Frontex. The drones in question; models Hermes and Heron have been used in combat missions in Gaza.

Frontex has previously been accused by Sea-Watch, an organization that rescues refugees, of using surveillance drones to supply information to the Libyan coastguard.

Sea-Watch captain Tamino Böhm said:

“They never leave port unless there is a boat to head to for a pullback. This means the information they have comes from the surveillance flights of Italy, Frontex, and the EU.”

Frontex has previously posting drone footage on Twitter.

It claims it still uses rescue boats, despite the fact that EU maritime vessels have not carried out a single rescue since last year.

The Guardian reported:

“This spending has come as the EU pulls back its naval missions in the Mediterranean and harasses almost all search-and-rescue charity boats out of the water.”

The death-rate of refugees at sea has increased from a two percent average to 14 percent this month, with over 500 deaths recorded.

In March, “Operation Sophia” – a scheme to combat people smuggling – saw the EU scaling back maritime operations.

The EU has previously been accused of crimes against humanity as it further relies on the Libyan coastguard to drag refugees to EU-funded Libyan detention camps where many have been abused.

This comes as the Italian government imposed a law which would see migrant rescuers slapped with a $1.12 million fine and a prison sentence.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu: Israeli Election Won’t Stop Gaza War

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to strike the already-besieged Gaza Strip regardless of the country’s upcoming general election.

Speaking yesterday as he embarked on a two-day visit to Ukraine, Netanyahu said:

“I heard comments that I am refraining from a large campaign [in Gaza] because of the elections. This is not correct. Everyone who knows me knows that my considerations are matter-of fact and real, that I act [in] full cooperation with the security forces, with assertiveness and responsibility.”

“If it is required, we will embark on a large campaign […] with elections or without elections,” Netanyahu stressed.

This comes after Israel this weekend killed three Palestinians near the Gaza fence, firing at them with an Israeli army helicopter and tank. There were also reports of an Israeli attack on an observation post used by Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Fazi Barhoum said on Saturday that “the Israeli strike is a message of escalation and aggression against the Gaza Strip”, claiming the strike is an attempt to divert attention from the occupied West Bank, where an Israeli settler was killed last week.  “Resistance forces in Gaza will not let the Strip become an Israeli target for settling accounts,” Barhoum added.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

‘Last Chapter’ TV Program Discusses Baroud’s ‘Last Earth’ (VIDEO)

(L-R) Derek Conway, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub and Nasim Ahmed discuss ‘The Last Earth’. (Photo: Video Grab)

Ramzy Baroud’s latest volume, ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ is the subject of a lively discussion in this Press TV program, ‘Last Chapter’, involving former British MP, Derek Conway, Human Rights barrister, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub and political analyst and writer, Nasim Ahmed.

The Last Earth recounts the experiences of ordinary people who have lost their homes, their land, their businesses and yet their response has been resolution, determination, and even optimism.

What a fantastic discussion on Palestinian history centered around my book THE LAST EARTH: A PALESTINIAN STORY. The Press TV program involves former British MP, Derek Conway, Human Rights Barrister, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub and political analyst and writer, Nasim Ahmed.CLICK TO WATCH.

Posted by Ramzy Baroud on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ramzy Baroud’s collection of true-life stories gives voice to Palestinians to whom global super-powers appear indifferent.

This book enables Palestinians to tell their stories, spanning decades and encompassing war, mass exodus, epic migrations and the fight for national identity.

Ramona Wadi from Middle East Monitor puts, The Last Earth… is poignant on many levels. Based upon in-depth interviews with Palestinians, it paints the history which is regularly concealed. There is not one single page which does not elicit profound questions about Palestine and one’’s relationship to Palestine, through ancestral ties to the land, or affinity.

(PressTV, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Forces Kill 3 Palestinians in Gaza

Scenes from the funeral of one of three Palestinians killed in an Israeli artillery strike on Gaza. (Photo: Mohammed Asad, via MEMO)

Israeli forces opened fire at a group of Palestinians as they tried to cross the Gaza fence, the military said on Sunday and Palestinian health officials said three of the men were killed, reports Reuters.

The military said in a statement:

“A short while ago, IDF (Israel Defence Forces) troops spotted a number of armed suspects adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. An IDF attack helicopter and a tank fired towards them.”

Palestinian medics said they retrieved three bodies from the site and Gaza hospital officials said a fourth man was injured.

The incident happened overnight between Saturday and Sunday, shortly after three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, one of them landing in a town near the border, according to the Israeli military and police.

There was no immediate comment from any of the major armed groups in Gaza. No Israelis were hurt.

Gaza is ruled by Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel over the past decade. Israel pulled its troops and settlers from the territory in 2005 but keeps the enclave under a blockade, citing security concerns. Tensions along the border are high with frequent fatalities.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)