Thursday, February 21, 2019 Last Update: 11:50 AM GMT

Israel Seals Off Al-Aqsa Gate, Palestinians Call for Protests (VIDEO)

Protesters waving a Palestinian flag in front of Al-Aqsa. (Photo: via MEMO)

A group of Palestinian activists from Jerusalem City called upon people, on Monday, to gather and protest at the al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy) one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque gates after Israeli police forces had sealed off the gate with locks and iron chains a day earlier.

Activists used social media platforms to call for protests that take place Monday noon.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Endowment Department and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Ma’an that calls were made between the Jordanian government and the Israeli authorities to demand to remove the lock and chains.

Head of the department’s public relation and media office, Firas al-Dibs, said that Israeli police officers had installed the locks and chains at the gate in response to members of the department performing prayers at the gate last Thursday.

The al-Rahma Gate is a big building that lays to the east of the Al-Aqsa, the Israeli authorities sealed the building in 2003 as it was the headquarters of the Islamic Heritage Committee; Israel had said at the time that the building was being used for political activities. In 2017, an Israeli court ordered that the building be closed until further notice.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

Israel to Withhold $138 Millions from Palestinian Taxes over Prisoner Stipends (VIDEO)

Protest to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

Tel Aviv has decided to deduct some $138 million from the amount of taxes it collected on behalf of Palestine. It comes in retaliation to stipends the Palestinian Authority pays to families of Palestinian prisoners.

The move was announced by the Security Cabinet of Israel on Sunday, as it decided to put into effect a law, passed by the country’s parliament last July.

The legislation allows Israel to freeze and deduct funds from Palestinian tax revenues, equal to stipends the Palestinian authorities pay to families of those jailed by Tel Aviv and former prisoners.

Despite the Israeli move, the Palestinian authorities seem to be adamant to continue the payments, condemning Tel Aviv’s decision as “piracy” and “theft.”

Wasel Abu Youssef, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Reuters:

“It is an attempt to pressure us and blackmail us. Even if left with just one dollar, we will pay it to the families of the martyrs, of the prisoners and of the wounded.”

(RT, PC, Social Media)

Israel Evicts Palestinian Family from Jerusalem Home (VIDEO)

Israeli police evicting a Palestinian family from their home in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli police on Sunday evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City after the Israeli supreme court ruled Jewish settlers were the rightful owners.

An AFP photographer said residents of the neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem scuffled with police, who stood guard as about a dozen Israeli settlers took possession of the large building.

Rania Abu Assab, who lived in the house with her husband, their children, and his aunt, stood weeping outside as the settlers raised the Israeli flag on the roof.

She said:

“We live there, it’s my house, it’s my whole life. They took everything.”

She said the family was compelled to leave behind all their furniture and belongings. Her husband Hatem and son Mehdi were arrested by Israeli forces after they were physically assaulted, witnesses said.

An Israeli police spokesperson told AFP but could not say if they were subsequently released:

“They disturbed police activities.”

Ir Amim, an Israeli watchdog group which monitors settlement activity in Jerusalem, reported on February 3 that the Abu Assab family had been served an eviction notice ordering them to vacate the property by February 28.

It said family members had lived there since the 1960s but Palestinian sources said the Abu Assab family had lived in the home for three generations since 1952.

East Jerusalem was occupied during that conflict by Jordan until the 1967 Six Day War, when it was seized by Israel and subsequently annexed, moves never recognized by the international community.

There is an estimated population of around 200,000 Jewish settlers living in occupied East Jerusalem, alongside about 250,000 original Palestinian residents.

(AJE, PC, Social Media)

Israel Airstrikes Hit Gaza

Israeli air raid on Gaza. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Israeli army yesterday shelled two separate sites in the Gaza Strip, with the number of casualties unknown.

The army claimed that the two sites were surveillance towers belonging to Hamas, which governs the besieged enclave. The first strike took place in Beit Hanoun, on the northeast edge of the Strip, while the second hit Jabalia, also in the north, Anadolu reported.

The Gaza Health Ministry has not made a statement about possible casualties.

The Israeli army claimed in a written statement early today that the shelling had come after one Israeli soldier was injured by shrapnel during the Great March of Return, which took place on Friday for the 47th week in a row.

The marches have been ongoing since March 30 and to draw attention to Palestinians’ right of return to the homes from which they were forcibly displaced in the Nakba of 1948. The rallies have also aimed to break the 12-year-long Israel-Egyptian siege of the Gaza Strip, which has seen the enclave blockaded by land, air and sea.

Since the Gaza rallies began on 30 March, more than 230 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by Israeli army gunfire.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Naval Forces Open Fire at Fishermen in Gaza

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on Palestinian fishermen in Gaza. (Photo: ActiveStills)

Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats, on Sunday morning, off the coast of Khan Younis, in the southern the besieged Gaza Strip.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli naval forces repeatedly opened heavy fire towards several fishing boats, as they were working within the permitted fishing zone, forcing them to sail back to shore.

No injuries were reported.

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the border areas if they approach the unilaterally declared buffer zone.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem recently concluded that Israel’s Gaza closure and “harassment of fishermen” have been “destroying Gaza’s fishing sector,” with 95% of fishermen living below the poverty line.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

US to Unveil ‘Deal of the Century’ after Israeli Elections (VIDEO)

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump blessed in Jerusalem by Israeli Rabbi who compared Black People to monkeys. (Photo: via Twitter)

The United States administration will reportedly unveil its so-called “Deal of the Century” after Israeli legislative elections are held on April 9th, according to Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and son-in-law of the United States President Donald Trump.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Kushner briefed participants at the Warsaw Conference about the highly anticipated peace plan, however, would not go into details for fear of it leaking.

Netanyahu told reporters that he looked forward to “seeing the plan once it is presented.”

Palestinians have preemptively rejected the peace plan and marked the US Trump administration as unfit to be a mediator between Israel and Palestine.

In November 2018, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed “East Jerusalem, with all of its people, institutions and Christian and Islamic holy places, is the capital of our state,” referring to the “Deal of the Century” and the belief that the Palestinians will fall far short of their longstanding goal of establishing an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

Israeli TV Channel: Saudi Supported Israel against Hezbollah during 2006 War

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid (L) and former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki Al-Faisal. (Photo: Courtesy Israel Channel)

Saudi Arabia supported Israel in its war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, an Israeli TV channel has claimed.

In the third part of a series of reports entitled “Secrets of the Gulf” Israeli news channel Channel 13 reported on the secret relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia and quoted senior Israeli officials as saying that Tel Aviv had received letters from Riyadh urging it to strike Hezbollah with all its might.

However, the results of the war “caused great disappointment in Riyadh,” according to the channel correspondent, Barak Ravid.

The channel broadcast an interview with the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki Al-Faisal in London, during which he stressed that Israel must agree to the Arab peace initiative put forward by the Kingdom in 2002.

Al-Faisal criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for wanting to establish relations with Saudi Arabia before resolving the Palestinian issue, stressing that Saudi Arabia rejects this approach.

Ravid concluded his report referring to Bin Salman’s increased wariness of rushing towards Tel Aviv due to Palestinian protests and the repercussions following the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

However, Israeli officials hope that MBS will withstand this crisis, “because any Israeli Prime Minister who will win the election [on 9 April] would wish to see bin Salman as king of Saudi Arabia”.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Hamas Chief Haniyeh to Conduct International Tour

Hamas Leader, Ismail Haniyeh. (Photo: via Twitter)

Senior Hamas leader Mohammad Nazzal has revealed that his movement is preparing for an international tour for its chief Ismail Haniyeh.

Nazzal pointed to arrangements with Egypt to facilitate this, Al-Ray News Agency reported yesterday, reiterating that Egypt has pledged not to close the Rafah Crossing – the only civilian exit point from the besieged Gaza Strip – because Egypt is keen not to punish the Palestinian people.

He also confirmed previous reports that Hamas is following up on the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Egyptian jails, stating that the issue of four Palestinians kidnapped after while traveling through Rafah Crossing a couple of years ago is on top of Hamas’ agenda.

He said:

“There are important promises to release Palestinian prisoners from Egyptian jails and Hamas is following up the issue of all Palestinian prisoners in Egypt, not only those affiliated with Hamas.”

Regarding the truce with Israel, Nazzal said that there have been clear understandings but Israel continues to violate them “due to the internal Israeli conflict”. He noted that Hamas’ efforts to stabilize the truce would not stop until an agreement was reached and enforced.

Nazzal added: “The protests of the Great March of Return and the use of different methods by protesters is linked to the progress of the truce understanding,” noting that Hamas had pressured the UN’s Middle East Envoy Nicolay Mladenov to uphold its responsibility in this regard, given that the UN had promised to lift the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Nazzal stated that his movement is cooperating with several parties, including the UN, Qatar and Egypt in order to lift the suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people in Gaza. He revealed there are certain sides which do not want the siege to be lifted, but rather want Gaza to surrender to the Israeli occupation, though he did not elaborate on which sides thought as such.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Gaza: 8 Palestinians Wounded by Israeli Forces (VIDEO)

Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return. (Photo: Abdallah Aljamal, Palestine Chronicle)

Israel yesterday attacked participants in the Friday protests taking place in the Gaza Strip.

Taking place under the title “Gaza is unbreakable,” yesterday’s marches formed the 47th Friday of the Great March of Return, which has been taking place on the eastern border of the besieged Gaza Strip since March.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that eight Palestinians were wounded, noting that numerous cases of suffocation were also treated in the field.

Israel has repeatedly targeted Great March of Return protesters, shooting live ammunition across the Gaza fence in an attempt to shut down the marches.

Last week, 16-year-old Hassan Nabil Ahmad Nofal was killed by the Israeli army while standing some 150 meters from the perimeter fence. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters directly at Nofal and a group of his friends; Hassan was struck on the right side of his head, fracturing his skull. Although the teen was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery, he died a few days later.

The higher committee for the Great March of Return called on Palestinians to participate in marking the 48th Friday of these marches next week, which will take place under the title “the return marches and breaking the siege is our choice”.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israel Detained Over 500 Palestinians in January, Including 89 Children

Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian child from his house during an attack on Kafr Qaddum village. (Photo: via Twitter)

Israel detained 509 Palestinians in January from occupied Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip, including 89 children and eight women, according to Palestinian prisoners rights groups.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), the Palestinian Prisoners and Former Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, and Addameer said in a joint statement that the Israeli authorities detained 102 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, 88 from Ramallah, 80 from Hebron, 55 from Jenin, 62 from Bethlehem, 30 from Nablus, 30 from Tulkarm, 25 from Qalqilya, 8 from Toubas, 6 from Salfit, 10 from Jericho, and 10 from the Gaza Strip.

The joint statement said this brings the number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons to around 5,700 by January 31, 2019. They include 48 women and 230 children under 18 years of age.

About 95 Palestinians are held in administrative detention without charge or trial for various periods of time in January, 50 of them were newly detained, to bring the total number of administrative detainees to 500.

The three rights groups said Israel is holding 18 journalists, including three women, three held in administrative detention, two serving life sentences and two long prison terms.

The statement added that Israel has intensified its collective punishment policy against families of Palestinian alleged to have attacked Israelis, including the detention of several members of the immediate and distant relatives for various periods of time.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)