Thursday, September 23, 2021 Last Update: 8:27 AM GMT

Israel Reopens West Bank Crossing near Gilboa Prison

Gilboa prison. (Photo: Padres Hana, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel on Wednesday reopened a crossing with the occupied West Bank for the first time since a daring escape by six Palestinian political prisoners two weeks ago, The New Arab website reported.

COGAT, the Israeli military body that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank, declared that the Jalameh crossing, into the northern West Bank, would be open for the first time since September 6, when the prisoners broke free, The New Arab added.

Six Palestinian political prisoners tunneled out through a shaft in the floor of their bathroom in the biggest jailbreak of its kind in decades. They later split up into groups of two, and the final pair were recaptured in the predawn hours of Sunday in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin.

The incident marked a humiliating security breach for Israel and sparked a massive manhunt in northern Israel and the occupied West Bank. Lawyers for several of the escapees have reported beatings and, in some cases, even torture since they were caught, according to The New Arab.

Palestinians laud prisoners held by Israel as heroes of their national cause, and many celebrated the escape from Gilboa Prison on social media and in the streets.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

New Poll: 80% of Palestinians Call for PA President Abbas to Resign

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: Kremlin, via Wikimedia Commons)

A recent poll found that about 80 percent of Palestinians want Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, Quds Press reported on Tuesday.

The poll was conducted by Khalil Shikaki, who runs the Palestinian Center for Survey and Policy Research in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

According to Shikaki, 1,270 Palestinian adults were interviewed for the survey across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip between September 15-18.

“This is the highest number we have seen calling for Abbas’ resignation since Abbas’ election in 2005,” Shikaki told the media.

“If presidential and parliamentary elections were held today,” Shikaki said, “Hamas will win against Fatah if Abbas was Fatah’s choice, but if Fatah nominated Marwan Barghouti, it will win.”

A large majority of the Palestinians, the poll found, believe that Hamas deserves to represent the Palestinians, while Fatah, the PA, and PA security services have lost people’s confidence.

The poll found that the Palestinians have confidence in Hamas’ pledges to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, but they do not believe Fatah and the PA’s promises to do so.

Two-thirds of the Palestinians saw that Hamas fought the last war with Israel in defense of the residents of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

WATCH: Palestinian Youth Injured by Israeli Forces in East Jerusalem

Bassam Abu Sbeitan was injured by Israeli forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Tur. (Photo: video grab)

A Palestinian youth was shot and injured on Wednesday by a rubber-coated steel bullet during confrontations that broke out with Israeli forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Local sources told WAFA that Israeli forces clashed with residents and students near the al-Tur Secondary Boys’ School in occupied Jerusalem, shooting and injuring a Palestinian young man, Bassam Abu Sbeitan, in the foot, with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

Abu Sbeitan was taken to an interrogation and detention center in the city of Jerusalem, WAFA reported, adding that Israeli forces further beat up a number of Palestinian students during the clashes.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

US Lawmakers Remove $1bn Military Aid to Israel from Funding Bill

US Senator Lindsey Graham visits the Iron Dome in Southern Israel. (Photo: Lindsey Graham Twitter Page)

Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday removed $1 billion in military funding for Israel from the US funding bill, after objections from liberals in the House of Representatives, Reuters reports.

Some House Democrats objected to a provision in a stopgap spending bill to provide the additional funding so Israel can replenish its Iron Dome missile-defense system, Reuters added. The House is debating legislation to fund the federal government through December 3 and raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., an advocate of the aid, said he’d put the funding in a separate bill and bring it to the floor later this week, according to Reuters.

The United States has already provided more than $1.6 billion for Israel to develop and build the Iron Dome system, according to a US Congressional Research Service report last year.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement that the removal of the funding was “a technical postponement” and he had been assured by US Democratic leaders that funds for Iron Dome would be transferred soon.

However, an August 2021 Chicago Council Survey showed that 50% of Americans favor restricting military aid to Israel in operations that target Palestinians and that Democrats overwhelmingly support it at 62%, the Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka recently reported.

Some liberal Democrats objected to US-Israel policy this year, citing the many Palestinian casualties after Israel struck the besieged Gaza Strip in May.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Seeks to Suspend US Arms Sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia

Progressive US Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Photo: via Twitter)

The United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has reportedly presented an amendment to the US defense budget bill. If agreed, the amendment will block the transfer of $735 million worth of Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) to Israel.

The Biden administration approved the controversial sale less than a week before Israel launched its recent bombing campaign against Gaza, which killed more than 250 people including women and children.

The amendment related to Israel was, tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, linked to the “bombing of Palestinian civilians and media centers” in May. This was a reference to the bombing of a building in Gaza City that housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera as well as residential units.

The proposal was introduced alongside six other amendments, including one to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, blamed for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, and another concerning the US relationship with Colombia.

Along with other progressive representatives, including Rashida Tlaib and Marc Pocan, Ocasio-Cortez introduced a similar resolution opposing the sale of arms to Israel earlier this year.

“For decades, the US has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring it to respect basic Palestinian rights. In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement, and disenfranchisement of millions,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez at the time.

“At a time when so many, including our President, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to [the then Israel] Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence.”

The member of the House of Representatives insisted that it is long past time to end the US policy of unconditional military arms sales, particularly to governments that have violated human rights.

Despite claims by the Biden administration that it is committed to working behind the scenes to de-escalate violence against Palestine, the US has blocked several attempts by the UN Security Council to call for a ceasefire.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Diabetic Palestinian Prisoner Refuses Insulin to Protest Administrative Detention

Administrative Detention allows Israel to hold Palestinian prisoners without charge. (Photo: ActiveStills.org, file)

A Palestinian detainee held in an Israeli prison is refusing insulin therapy for his diabetes in response to Israel’s extension of his administrative detention order, one day before he was due to be released, the Palestinian news agency Al-Qastal reported.

Amin Shuwaiki, 61, was detained last May by Israeli forces as part of a campaign targeting dozens of political activists in Jerusalem, during Palestinian protests against the seizure of homes in the Sheikh Jarrah area, according to Al-Qastal.

Shuwaiki was placed in “administrative detention” for a period of four months. However, Israeli authorities extended the detention order just one day before it was due to expire. Shuwaiki, a father of seven, needs insulin injections three times a day in order to treat his diabetes.

His wife Hanaa told Al-Qastal that news of the extension of the administrative detention order was “very difficult” for Shuwaiki. “He was not expecting this, so he decided to take action,” she said.

Hanaa added that Shuwaiki was arrested in a “very savage way” in May, with Israeli forces beating him and breaking his arm and some of his ribs.

He had been arrested nine times previously by Israeli forces, with the last arrest being in 2007.

“During his detention, [Israeli] occupation authorities could not bring any charge against Amin, and didn’t prove that he was affiliated with any political faction. His last detention in 2007 was on a really laughable charge – handing out presents to children in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Hanaa added that Shuwaiki was a well-known trader in Jerusalem but had recently spent most of his time at home, delegating trading responsibilities to his children because of his advanced age.

Israel currently holds hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention without charge or trial. Other Palestinian prisoners have gone on extended hunger strikes to protest their prolonged administrative detention.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

Hamas Presents ‘Clear Roadmap’ for Prisoner Exchange Deal with Israel

Palestinians in the West Bank protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. (Photo: via Social Media)

Hamas has presented a “clear roadmap” for a prisoner exchange deal with the Israeli occupation authorities, the movement’s Political Bureau member Zaher Jabareen said on Monday, stressing that the “ball is now in the Israeli court.”

The Hamas leadership and the movement’s military wing, said Jabareen, pay special attention to the prisoners’ issue, especially those who are serving long sentences. He noted that Israel has been trying to link the reconstruction of Gaza with the Israeli soldiers held in the besieged enclave.

“Hamas and the resistance leadership reject such a link. The movement has told all of the mediators that it is impossible to link the two issues. Moreover, the intentions of the Israeli occupation authorities are not clear.”

The release of prisoners re-arrested and imprisoned after being released in the 2011 prisoner swap is a precondition for any new deal, said Jabareen.

Jabareen also told the New Arab website that the conditions for a swap “get more difficult through time”. He said that Hamas has added to the ‘freedom list’ the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison only to be recaptured recently.

According to Arab48.com, Egyptian sources have revealed that the issue of the prisoner exchange deal was highlighted during the recent meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

On ‘Flag Day’: Palestinian Flag Flies outside Denmark Parliament Building

In first, the Palestinian flag was raised at the Danish Parliament to celebrate Flag Day. (Photo: WAFA news agency)

The Palestinian flag was raised outside the Danish Parliament building in the capital Copenhagen yesterday, in the first such event to mark Palestinian Flag Day, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Organized by the Forum of the Palestinian Community in Denmark and House 48, the event was held in the presence of the Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Denmark, Manuel Hassassian, and Danish Parliament Member, Sikander Siddik.

Speakers stressed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of their own independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, WAFA reported.

They called on the Danish government to recognize the State of Palestine and act to stop the criminal practices of the Israeli occupation, WAFA added. They also stressed the right of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons to freedom.

Palestinians around the world celebrate Flag Day on September 30, marking the day Palestinian flag was raised outside the United Nations headquarters in New York for the first time in 2015.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Palestinians Urge Red Cross to Provide Protection to Palestinian Prisoners

Palestinians take part in sit-ins held in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). (Photo: via QNN)

Hundreds of Palestinians today took part in sit-ins held in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) premises across multiple West Bank cities, in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Participants in the sit-ins – which were organized by Palestinian national and Islamic factions and various institutions involved in prisoners’ affairs – called on ICRC to promptly intervene and provide protection to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, particularly the six prisoner escapees, who were subjected to severe torture after they were recaptured by Israel.

Protesters called on international institutions to pressure Israel to end its policy of administrative detention, and to work attentively to save the lives of sick and hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails, according to WAFA.

The Israel Prison Services IPS waged a war against all the prisoners following news of the escape of the six prisoners, raiding and attacking them in their cells, moving them to other prisons, separating them, isolating some, and denying them certain rights, including family visits and buying from the canteen.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Sharett: ‘Israel and Zionist Enterprise were Born in Sin’

Palestinian refugees were forced by Zionist militias to flee their homes during the ‘Nakba’ – The Catastrophe – of 1948 . (Photo: via UNRWA)

In a remarkable political conversion, Yaakov Sharett, the heir to an iconic Zionist family and son of Israel’s second Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett, has turned his back on the founding ideology of the occupation state.

“The State of Israel and the Zionist enterprise were born in sin,” said Sharett in an interview with Haaretz. The 95-year-old spoke at length about his journey from a faithful servant of Zionism in the state of Israel to one of its harshest critics.

Sharett was born in 1927. His father was Israel’s first foreign minister and one of the country’s leaders who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1948. Sharett also served Israel as a member of the Shin Bet, the country’s security agency.

Ending his days in Tel Aviv as an anti-Zionist, Sharett predicts dark days for the country he spent nearly his entire life serving. “This original sin pursues and will pursue us and hang over us,” said Sharett referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine prior to Israel’s creation in 1948.

Sharett recollected the history of Zionism and its rise within Jewish communities. He argued that the moment Zionism called for the Jews to immigrate to Israel, in order to establish an ethnic-nationalist state, a conflict was created. “I see in this whole transformation of the majority [Arab] to a minority and the minority [Jewish] into a majority as immoral,” explained Sharett.

“Have you seen anywhere in the world where the majority would agree to give in to a foreign invader, who says, ‘our forefathers were here,’ and demands to enter the land and take control?” Sharett rhetorically asked.

“The conflict was inherent and Zionism denied this, ignored it… as the proportion of Jews to Arabs changed in favor of the Jews, the Arabs realized that they were losing the majority. Who would agree to such a thing?”

Lamenting his continued presence in Israel he said that he sees himself as “a collaborator” against his will.

“I’m a forced collaborator with a criminal country. I’m here, I have nowhere to go. Because of my age, I can’t go anywhere. And that bothers me. Every day. This recognition won’t leave me. The recognition that in the end, Israel is a country occupying and abusing another people.”

Sharett also railed against Israel’s turn towards religious fundamentalism and ultra-nationalism. “When I see the prime minister with a kipah on his head, I don’t feel good,” he added. “This is not the Israel I want to see. How did it happen that this new place, that was to have brought innovations, became the blackest place, controlled by the nationalist ultra-Orthodox? How is it that here of all places, there’s reactionism and zealotry, messianism, the desire to expand and control another people?”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)