Wednesday, August 21, 2019 Last Update: 12:23 AM GMT

Israeli Forces Injure 67 Palestinians in Gaza (VIDEO)

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

At least 34 Palestinians were injured today by live bullets and many others by rubber-coated rounds as Israeli forces attacked thousands of protesters taking part in the weekly Great March of Return at the fence separating besieged Gaza Strip from Israel, according to medical sources.

Soldiers manning the separation fence fired live bullets and rubber-coated steel rounds at the protesters who gathered at many encampments along the border, injuring 34 protesters by live bullets and 33 others by rubber-coated rounds.

Dozens of protesters sustained inhalation from teargas fired by the Israeli forces.

Some of the wounded were moved to the hospital and many others were treated in the field hospitals.

Over 300 Palestinians have been killed and about 17,500 others injured by Israeli forces since the outbreak of the Great March of Return protests on March 30, 2018.

The weekly protests call for lifting the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes in pre-1948 Palestine.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

Tlaib Won’t Visit West Bank under ‘Oppressive’ Israeli Conditions (VIDEOS)

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. (Photo: via Twitter)

US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has said she will no longer visit the occupied West Bank under the “oppressive conditions” required by the Israeli government, who hours earlier said they would allow her entry on “humanitarian” grounds.

Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, tweeted her decision on Friday, a day after the Israeli government barred her and her fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar from entering over their support of a boycott movement seeking to pressure Israel to end its rights abuses against Palestinians.

Under a controversial Israeli law, backers of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement can be denied entry to Israel.

Following the move to bar the two Muslim congresswomen, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he had decided to allow Tlaib to make a “humanitarian visit to her grandmother” in the West Bank, but only after the legislator had sent him a written pledge “to respect conditions imposed by Israel”.

Tlaib had “promised not to promote the cause of the boycott of Israel during her stay”, in the letter to Deri sent overnight, the ministry said in a statement. 

But in the tweet on Friday, Tlaib said her grandmother would not want her to visit under those conditions. 

She said:

“Silencing me and treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in – fighting against racism, oppression and injustice.” 

She also tweeted:

“When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me and use my love for my sity [grandma] to bow down to their oppressive and racist policies.”

The US-born Tlaib, 43, has roots in the Palestinian village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa in the occupied West Bank. Her grandmother and extended family still live in the village.

Israel’s widely condemned decision to bar the legislators’ trip came after US President Donald Trump, a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attacked Tlaib and Omar, alleging that they “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds”.

“It would show great weakness” for Israel to allow them in, he wrote on Twitter.

Tlaib and Omar have repeatedly said their criticisms of Israel’s government are based on policy differences and are not directed at Jewish people.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel to Sign Free Trade Deal that Excludes West Bank Settlements

South Korea-Israel Free Trade Agreement. (Photo: File)

In what is being described as a first of its kind, Israel is set to sign a free trade deal with South Korea that excludes settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and Syrian Golan Heights.

According to Ynet, the free trade deal is not only the first such deal to be signed between Israel and a “major Asian state”, but it is also “the first time Israeli government has agreed to sign a free trade deal, the benefits of which wouldn’t extend to the Jewish state’s disputed [i.e. occupied] territories”.

Reports say that the multi-billion-dollar deal will exclude Israeli settlements in occupied territory – all of which have been condemned as illegal under international law – from custom fees exemptions.

The Ynet article says that the deal – “which has been in negotiations for years” – is expected to be signed next week, during an official visit to Israel by South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

Ynet added:

“The deal with Seoul includes a provision where the goods originating from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights would not be exempt from customs fees.”

Excluding settlements is seen as a price worth paying, since officials “believe the deal with South Korea has immense strategic importance” as the “first free trade agreement signed with a major Asian country and is expected to pave the way for similar deals with other states in the region”.

According to Ynet, “the financial benefits of the agreement are estimated to be in the billions of dollars,” and it is also “expected to significantly contribute to reducing the cost of living for the Israeli public by lowering the price of exports.”

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

PLO Warns of ‘Religious War’ over Al-Aqsa’s Status (VIDEO)

Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshippers in Al-Aqsa during Eid prayer (Photo: via Twitter)

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned Thursday that calls by an Israeli government minister to change the status quo at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque would lead to a “religious war” Anadolu reports.

In a written statement released after a meeting in Ramallah, the PLO’s Executive Committee said the recent calls are “an attempt to drag the region into a religious war” and “propaganda” for the division of the mosque.

On Tuesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called for changing the status of the mosque so that Jews can pray there individually or collectively in an open or closed area.

Erdan told Israeli Radio on Tuesday:

“I think there is an injustice in the status quo that has existed since 1967 .. We need to work to change [the status quo] so in the future, Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”

Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas meanwhile called for national unity in a written statement after holding an emergency meeting on the latest developments concerning al-Aqsa Mosque that occurred on the eve and first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex Sunday, injuring at least 37.

Terming Jerusalem a “red line”, Hamas said, “any attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque is an attack on the Palestinian people in particular and all the ummah.”

It also said:

“The only way to resist this plot is real national unity based on a real partnership.”

The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of Palestine in a written statement also warned against a “religious war” in the region.

Calling the recent Israeli actions a “provocative step” aimed at dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque, the ministry called on the international community to intervene.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

French Jewish Settlers March through Hebron, Claiming All West Bank Belongs to Israel (VIDEO)

Yishai Fleisher, the so-called international spokesperson for Jewish settlers in Hebron. (Photo: Video Grab)

French Jewish settlers marched through Hebron (Al-Khalil), in the occupied West Bank yesterday waving Israeli flags and claiming that the entire region belongs to Israel.

Pro-settler news outlet Arutz Sheva reported that more than 1,200 French Jews participated in the march, saying:

“There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel.”

Palestinian sources in the city, meanwhile, described how “French-Israeli settlers stormed Shuhada Street and the surrounding areas in occupied Hebron…for an annual march claiming that God has promised them all the land in Hebron either side of the Ibrahimi Mosque.”

The sources added that,

“Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers harassed local Palestinians and international activists, filming them and telling them to ‘go home’ whilst the soldiers tried (and failed) to break down the doors of a Palestinian owned building to occupy the roof.”

On social media, Yishai Fleisher, the so-called international spokesperson for Israeli settlers in Hebron, boasted about the event, declaring that the marchers were “celebrating…the rights of Jews to live in Judea – the ancestral homeland”.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Jewish Settlers Spray Racist Graffiti on Palestinian Property in West Bank

Racist graffiti on the walls of a Palestinian property in the West Bank. (Photo: via Social Media)

Jewish settlers on Thursday spray-painted racist graffiti on Palestinian cars and walls of homes in az-Zawiya town in Salfit province, north of the occupied West Bank, Palestinian Information Center reports.

Eyewitnesses said that a gang of settlers infiltrated az-Zawiya town and sprayed racist slogans in Hebrew all over walls and cars.

Incidents of sabotage and violence by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians and their property are a daily occurrence throughout the West Bank.

Israeli authorities tend to exhibit extreme incompetence in addressing such widespread settlers’ crimes.

The vast majority of investigation files regarding harm to Palestinians and their property are closed due to police failure to investigate properly.

The deficiencies and flaws in the work of the Israeli police are clearly noticed at every stage of an investigation when the victim is a Palestinian citizen.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

US Congresswomen Slam Israel’s Move to Deny Entry (VIDEO)

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

United States congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have called Israel’s decision to bar them from entering the country ahead of a planned visit to the occupied West Bank “a sign of weakness” and “an insult to democratic values”.

Tlaib, a 43-year-old Democrat of Palestinian heritage, reacted to the decision by posting a picture on Twitter of her grandmother who lives in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, accompanied with the message: 

“I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a US Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”

For her part, Omar called Israel’s decision “chilling”, adding, however, that it came as no surprise given the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of US President Donald Trump who earlier on Thursday had called Israel to not let his two compatriots and congresswomen in.

“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the US government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,” Omar said, referring to the president’s efforts to prevent people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

“Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”

Earlier on Thursday, Trump had attacked the congresswomen, alleging that they “hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds”.

“It would show great weakness” for Israel to allow them in, he wrote on Twitter, renewing his attacks against the two Democrat politicians. 

Last month, the Republican president had again targeted Omar, Tlaib and two other Democratic congresswomen of color with racist attacks, saying the four politicians should “go back” to where they came from.

In response, a defiant Omar said she believed Trump was “fascist”.

In justifying the Israeli government’s decision, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said the decision to not allow Tlaib and Omar to enter was taken because of “their boycott activities against Israel”. 

Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to use non-violent means to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, dismantle the separation wall, ensure equality for its Palestinian citizens and implement the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the move in a statement, saying she was “deeply saddened”.

“Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel. The President’s statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”

Echoing Pelosi, US Senator Bernie Sanders said in a tweet:

“Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy.”

“The Israeli government should reverse this decision and allow them in,” he added.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman supported Tel Aviv’s decision in a statement, saying that the “Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists … [and that it] has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons,” he said, adding that the planned visit “is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine.”

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

Right-Wing Israeli Politicians: Two-State Solution More Dangerous than BDS

US and Israeli flags. (Photo: File)

A number of right-wing Israeli politicians wrote to members of the US Congress on Monday telling them their support for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine was “far more dangerous” than BDS.

The Congress last month voted overwhelmingly in favor of a non-binding resolution to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The nonviolent BDS movement seeks to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and push Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel.

Just 17 lawmakers voted against the bipartisan bill, which also offered support for a “negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states – a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state”.

A group of 21 Israeli lawmakers from right-wing parties, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, thanked the members of Congress for their condemnation of BDS in a letter sent on Monday.

But the Knesset members (MKs) also urged the US politicians to drop their support for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, calling the issue “far more dangerous” than BDS, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The MKs argued that, while many world politicians consider a two-state solution to be pro-Israel, the state of Israel and its population do not.

They claimed in the letter:

“The establishment of an additional Arab (so-called Palestinian) state in the region would severely damage the national security of both Israel and the United States.”

They added:

“Such a state would undoubtedly be a dysfunctional terrorist state, which would distance peace and undermine stability in the Middle East.”

The letter, backed by Likud’s nationalist group, the Land of Israel Caucus in the Knesset, and Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, a leading organization for illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The MKs also criticized AIPAC, a prominent pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, for its advocacy for a two-state solution.

Among the other Israeli politicians to sign the letter were Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter.

(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Army Admits Blindfolding Palestinians Is against Protocol (VIDEO)

Israeli soldiers blindfolding and arresting a young Palestinian man. (Photo: via

A petition to Israel’s Supreme Court has forced the Israeli army to admit that its soldiers break protocol by blindfolding Palestinians in their custody.

At the end of May, a petition was filed to Israel’s Supreme Court by a group of left-wing activists who had compiled two and a half years’ worth of evidence from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley who were routinely detained by Israeli army soldiers.

During their detention, the Palestinians were handcuffed and often blindfolded for several hours, a practice the Israeli army has now been forced to admit breaks the institution’s own protocol, Haaretz reported yesterday.

The petition argued that a large number of cases of detention and blindfolding points to “an obscene habit of the Jordan Valley Brigade [of the Israeli army], aimed at punishing the Palestinian shepherds and/or simply abusing them.” It also stated that in some cases, Israeli activists accompanying the shepherds were also detained, but unlike the Palestinians they were not blindfolded, indicating a clear policy of discrimination, the Israeli daily added.

On Sunday, the state prosecution submitted its response to the May petition, seeking dismissal of the case on the grounds that “military orders and regulations forbid the blindfolding of detainees, and action to clarify the rules to the troops acting in the region has been taken and will continue to be taken on a continuous basis.”

Itay Mack, the attorney for the activists, therefore agreed to withdraw the petition since the goal of forcing the Israeli army to admit its soldiers had broken protocol by blindfolding the detained Palestinians had been achieved.

The incidents described in the Supreme Court petition are commonplace.

In March, a video emerged of Israeli soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion of the Kfir Brigade — which is stationed in the northern West Bank city of Jenin – beating a Palestinian father and son in the back of their army vehicle.

The video showed an unnamed 50-year-old Palestinian lying on the floor of the truck, clearly blindfolded using a white rag. Though their faces are pixelated, the soldiers could be seen hitting the Palestinian on the head while laughing and joking for the camera. “It’s your party, say hello,” the soldiers told the man while forcing him to say hello to the camera.

Three soldiers who took part in the incident were subsequently convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated battery, being handed 190-day jail terms after they “expressed remorse” for their actions and reached a plea bargain.

During the first six months of 2019 alone Israeli forces detained 2,759 Palestinians, including 446 minors and 76 women. A joint statement issued by Palestinian rights groups the Prisoners Affairs Commission, the Palestinian Prisoner Society and Addameer added that some 5,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of 30 June, including 43 women and 220 minors.

Approximately 500 of these prisoners were held in administrative detention, under which detention can be extended indefinitely without charge or trial.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel’s FM Sends Bahrain Counterpart and ‘Friend’ Eid Greetings

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifah (R) meets with his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz in the US. (Photo: via Social Media)

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa yesterday received salutations for the Muslim celebration of Eid from his Israeli counterpart and “friend” Yisrael Katz.

Katz wrote on Twitter:

“My friend Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, I would like to wish you and the people of Bahrain a blessed Eid Al-Adha holiday.”

He added:

“I hope that the heritage of the sons of Abraham, which we share with you, will lead to peace and brotherhood between the two peoples and to cooperation between the two countries. I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

Al Khalifa and Katz held their first open and public meeting in the US on the sidelines of the Advance Religious Freedom conference in mid-July.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)