Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Last Update: 1:28 PM GMT

Japan Donates $4.3mn to UNRWA for Food Assistance

UNRWA has been the main provider of aid for Palestine refugees. (Photo via Social Media)

Japan has donated $4.3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) to reduce the impact of poverty under the current coronavirus pandemic.

This new contribution will ensure the health and safety of Palestinian refugees, as well as the safe provision of food assistance to 99,000 Palestinians in Gaza, reported Wafa news agency.

In a statement issued yesterday, the UN agency said the contribution represents the country’s commitment and solidarity with the Palestinian refugees experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis.

Spokesperson for UNRWA Sami Mshasha, said, “On behalf of UNRWA, I would like to thank the Government of Japan for its generous contribution for supporting Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.”

“The Government of Japan has been exemplary in its support to the agency. We deeply appreciate this very generous support during an exceptionally challenging period of its existence to assist the vulnerable community.”

UNRWA was created in 1949 to provide assistance and protection for the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes prior to the creation of the state of Israel on the ruins of their homes.

The organization is currently offering its services to about 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

However, it has been suffering a severe financial crisis since 2018 due to the halt of US contributions.

Palestinians believe the move is part of US efforts to liquidate their just cause and their rights.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Jewish Settlers Flood Palestinian Farmland with Sewage, Disrupt Olive Harvest

Jewish settlers flood sewage into Palestinian farming lands (Photo: via Twitter)

Jewish settlers today flooded Palestinian-owned land with sewage and wastewater in the town of Sebastia, north of Nablus, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Mayor of Sebastia Mohammad Azzam confirmed that settlers from the illegal colonial settlement of Shavei Shomron were responsible for flooding Palestinian-owned land in the western section of the town with sewage and wastewater, disrupting the olive harvest.

Azzam explained that the land is planted with olive and apricot trees, which means that farmers are incurred with heavy material losses.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

“Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely,” wrote Palestinian author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.

“Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation,” according to the Human Rights Group B’tselem. “Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinian casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks”.

Over 800,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Human Rights Organizations Demand Immediate Release of Maher al-Akhras (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)

Palestinian activists show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Maher al-Akhras in Gaza’s Ministry of Prisoners on Tuesday, October 20. (Photos: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

Maher al-Akhras, in his 86th day of hunger strike, is at great risk of death, today said four Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, demanding his immediate release.

A Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) volunteer doctor visited al-Akhras on Friday, and noted that although he is generally lucid, he is also periodically confused, very dizzy, cannot move his legs, stand, or change position in bed. His vision and hearing are rapidly deteriorating and he complains of severe chest pains. According to an international medical consensus on hunger strikes, al-Akhras may die any day, said the four organizations.

Al-Akhras has been on a hunger strike since July 27, 2020, following his administrative detention. He has appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding to be released, but the court decided not to cancel his administrative detention – leaving that decision to the security apparatus.

Instead, the court only suspended his administrative detention, despite his deteriorating situation, which may result in his death. Al-Akhras is simultaneously prevented from leaving Kaplan hospital in Israel, where he is currently held and is therefore under de-facto arrest. These court decisions were, interalia, made on incorrect translations of a video of al-Akhras.

Al-Akhras has expressed distrust towards the Kaplan medical team, as occurs often in hunger strikes. He refuses any treatment or medical tests and monitoring from the medical team. He has confirmed that should he lose consciousness, he does not want to receive any medical intervention. It is worth mentioning that current legislation in Israel allows medical staff to feed a person on hunger strike by force, a position which is both unacceptable according to medical ethics and, according to international law, may amount to torture.

Israel currently holds over 300 Palestinians in administrative detention, contrary to the Geneva Convention, which demands that this practice be used only in exceptional circumstances and subject to strict procedural safeguards.

“Administrative detention is Israel’s go-to legal proceeding when it simply wants to mute the voices of Palestinian political activists, but lacks any concrete evidence that can be presented in an open, military court,” wrote Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.

“Not that Israel’s military courts are an example of fairness and transparency. Indeed, when it comes to Palestinians, the entire Israeli judicial system is skewed. But administrative detention is a whole new level of injustice,” Baroud added.

(All Photos: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Arab Support for PA Budget Falls by 82% in 2020

Arab League meeting. (Photo: via MEMO)

Arab support for the Palestinian Authority’s budget has fallen by 82 percent during the first eight months of this year, Shehab news agency reported on Sunday.

According to data issued by the PA Ministry of Finance, the Arab countries have paid the PA $38.1 million in 2020 so far, compared to $198.33 million during the same period last year.

Over the past few months, US President Donald Trump revealed that he had asked the wealthy Arab states to stop paying money to the Palestinians. In July, the PA’s Minister of Finance Shukri Bsharah reported that a number of Arab states had suspended their financial aid for the authority.

The decline in Arab support coincides with a budget deficit in the normally supportive states due to the sharp decline in oil prices and reduced demand for crude oil.

Saudi assistance, Shehab reported, declined by 77.2 percent, down from $130m in the same period in 2019 to just $30.8m this year. Algerian support fell to zero whereas it paid $26.1 million during the first eight months of 2019.

The PA said last week that Arab support for its budget has fallen by 55 percent over the past five years from a high of around $1.1 billion. The authority is in the middle of its worst-ever financial crisis since refusing to accept the tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf since July. That is when PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced the suspension of all agreements with the occupation state.

The country of Bahrain became the latest Arab nation to normalize ties with Israel, less than a month following a similar decision by the United Arab Emirates.

The Bahraini decision, which was announced by US President Donald Trump on Friday was made despite repeated assurances that Manama will not extend diplomatic ties with Israel until Palestinians obtain their rights in accordance with international law.

The Bahrain-Israel agreement came as another shock to Palestinians who still didn’t recover from the news of the UAE-Israel normalization.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

Israeli Authorities to Demolish 13 Palestinians Houses in East Jerusalem

Israeli forces surround 3 houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, in preparation for demolition. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Israeli municipality in West Jerusalem has issued demolition notices against 13 inhabited Palestinian houses in Silwan, a neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported today.

Fakhri Abu Diab, a member of the Silwan Defense Committee, told WAFA that the municipality ordered the demolition of the houses under the pretext they were built without a permit, noting that there are also unauthorized houses taken over and illegally inhabited by Israeli settlers in the same area but did not receive demolition orders.

Abu Diab said that the Palestinian houses were built over 10 years ago and are inhabited by 76 people, mostly children and women.

Israel considers Silwan as the City of David and is in a rush to turn it into an Israeli Jewish neighborhood after expelling its Palestinian residents.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, the”destruction of the neighborhood denies its residents the right to housing, which is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living as it is defined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“In addition, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the occupying state to destroy the property of residents of occupied territory, who benefit from the status of protected persons,” B’tselem added.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Top Palestinian Official Erekat on Ventilator, in ‘Critical’ Condition with COVID-19

PLO Senior official Saeb Erekat. (Photo: File)

Longtime chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is suffering from pneumonia after he contracted the novel COVID-19, Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said today.

Alkaila said in a press statement that the President’s Office, the government, and the Ministry were closely monitoring the developments related to the health condition of Erekat, who was placed on a ventilator today and was is in critical condition at the Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in West Jerusalem.

She added that 65-year-old Erekat was required specialized medical care at the Israeli hospital given his history of respiratory illness as he underwent a lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia, US, in October 2017.

Alkaila also pointed out that her Ministry was in contact with medics treating Erekat at the hospital to remain abreast of his health condition as she wished him a speedy and full recovery.

“Mr Erekat had a quiet night but this morning his condition deteriorated, and it is now defined as critical,” a statement from the Israeli hospital said today.

“Due to respiratory distress, he was put on a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma.”

Erekat “arrived in serious condition” and was receiving oxygen, the hospital said on Sunday, adding that his condition was “serious” but “stable.”

Hadassah said it was “in contact with international medical authorities regarding the treatment policy of this complex patient.”

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Israel Sends Delegation to Bahrain to Begin Formal Diplomatic, Commercial Relations

Palestinians rally against the signing of normalization agreements with Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. (Photo: via Social Media)

An Israeli delegation accompanied by the US treasury secretary flew to Bahrain on Sunday to formalize nascent relations and broaden Gulf cooperation that Washington has promoted as an anti-Iran bulwark and potential economic bonanza, Reuters reports.

Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in agreeing last month to normalize ties with Israel, stunning Palestinians who had demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.

The breakthrough, overseen by US President Donald Trump, is a foreign policy flourish ahead of his reelection bid next month. For the US allies, it is a chance to close ranks on Iran more overtly.

The Israeli delegation, which boarded an El Al Israel Airlines charter flight to Manama, was accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. His office said the mission seeks “expanded economic cooperation” among Israel, Bahrain and the UAE.

At a ceremony with Mnuchin at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz said that Israel and Bahrain would sign a joint communique “bringing forward tourism and banking and diplomatic relations”.

Also speaking at the airport ceremony, the head of the Israeli delegation, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, said talks would also focus on sectors such as finance and aviation.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

PLO Secretary-General Erekat Transferred to Hospital Due to Respiratory Health Issues

PLO Senior official Saeb Erekat. (Photo: File)

The PLO Negotiations Affairs Department announced today that the Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, was moved to a hospital in Israel.

The department said Erekat, who last week tested positive for coronavirus, was moved to a hospital in Israel due to chronic respiratory health issues he had been suffering, which requires special medical care.

Minister of Health Mai Alkaila confirmed today that six people died of coronavirus, 389 new cases were recorded and 336 patients recovered across Palestine during the last 24 hours.

She pointed out that five of the deaths were in the West Bank, while the sixth was in the Gaza Strip.

Alkaila said 47 of the new infections in the West Bank were in Hebron district, 53 in Nablus district, 16 in Bethlehem district, 36 in Tulkarm, 16 in Qalqilya, 31 in Jenin, 29 in Ramallah, 22 in Jericho, 7 in Salfit, 6 in Tubas, and 7 others in the West Bank side of the Jerusalem district. Meanwhile, 119 new cases were registered in the Gaza Strip.

Alkaila said 40 coronavirus patients remain in intensive care, six of them are on respirators.

No details of the number of cases in occupied East Jerusalem were available.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Dahlan Incites Egypt to Oppose Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

Mohammed Dahlan. (Photo: via MEMO)

Dismissed Fatah leader and Palestinian MP Mohammed Dahlan, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, has incited Egypt to oppose Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, The New Khalij news website revealed on Friday.

Reporting senior Palestinian sources, the news website disclosed that Dahlan contacted senior Egyptian officials and incited them to damage the ongoing reconciliation understandings between Fatah and Hamas reached in Istanbul two weeks ago.

The sources claim that Dahlan told the Egyptian officials that the two Palestinian factions are working to override Cairo’s role in the Palestinian cause.

According to the sources, Dahlan tried to persuade them that Fatah and Hamas are turning to Turkey and Qatar to supersede the Egyptian role. Dahlan sees the latest rapprochement among the Palestinian factions as a threat to his party, the Democratic Reform Current.

In addition, he feels that the path to reconciliation could place him outside the Palestinian political arena as he is planning to become the head of Palestinian politics instead of Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Navy Boats Attack Gaza Fishermen

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

An Israeli navy boat today opened fire and its water hose at Gaza fishermen sailing off the northern shores of the Gaza Strip and forced them to cut short their work at sea, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The Israeli navy, as in previous times, attacked the fishermen while they were three nautical miles into the sea.

The fishermen, fearing for their life and damage that could be caused to their boats, their only source of making a living, quickly returned to the port.

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the fence separating the besieged Gaza Strip from Israel, if they approach the unilaterally declared buffer zone.

Talking to Gaza Fishermen

Our editor Ramzy Baroud and our correspondent Wafaa Aludaini talk with Palestinian fishermen in Gaza.

Posted by The Palestine Chronicle on Sunday, August 23, 2020

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.

Gaza, with a population of 2 million, has been under a hermetic Israeli siege since 2006, when the Palestinian group Hamas won the democratic legislative elections in occupied Palestine. Since then, Israel has carried out numerous bombing campaigns and several major wars, that resulted in the death of thousands of people. 

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)