Friday, January 22, 2021 Last Update: 7:19 PM GMT

Israeli Occupation Forces Demolish Al-Araqeeb Village for 182nd Time

A woman stands in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Al-Araqeeb. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli occupation forces demolished the village of Al-Araqeeb, in the Negev Desert, on Tuesday, for the 182nd time, Anadolu and other agencies have reported.

Local sources said that the Israeli forces entered the village with a number of bulldozers and demolished homes and tents. The residents were displaced. One of them, Aziz Al-Touri, explained that the demolition went ahead despite the awful weather.

“It was raining and cold,” he said, “but the Israeli forces still demolished our homes.” He pointed out that this is the seventh time that Israel has destroyed their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people of Al-Araqeeb affirmed their steadfastness and determination to stay on their land and rebuild their homes and tents yet again. They stressed their rejection of Israel’s plans to destroy dozens of villages in the Negev with the aim of displacing their people and seizing their land. Israel plans to build Jewish towns in their place.

Al-Araqeeb was demolished for the first time in 2010. Israel does not “recognize” the village, but its residents point out that they own the land and have done since the Ottoman period, decades before Israel was created in occupied Palestine. They intend to remain there despite the repeated demolitions.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Leaders Condemn Blinken’s Remarks about US Embassy in Jerusalem

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Photo: File)

Palestinian leaders condemned the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday for his remarks reiterating Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the move of the US Embassy to the occupied city.

“Blinken’s remarks confirm the firmness of the US strategy to support Israel,” said Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, an Imam at Al-Aqsa Mosque and former Grand Mufti of Palestine. The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem was an old decision, he pointed out, even though it was ex-President Donald Trump who carried it out.

“The difference between Trump and the new president is no more than some tactics. Both have the same established foreign policy towards Israel and the Arabs.” The position of the US will be more or less the same under President Joe Biden, he believes. “It will be a mistake to bet on any new or former American president. Changing people at the top doesn’t necessarily mean changing strategies. It’s the same with Israeli leaders.”

Biden, insisted Sheikh Sabri, should know that the Palestinians have a godly connection with Jerusalem. “Our existence in Jerusalem was ordered by God, not by the UN or the UN Security Council… Our Jerusalem will not change; it is the US which has to change its policies.”

As far as Hamas is concerned, Blinken’s comments are a denial of the Palestinian people’s long-established right to their land and holy sites. “Such comments reaffirm the failure of relying on US administrations to support Palestinian rights,” said spokesman Hazem Qasem. “We must rely only on the ability of our people to take their legitimate rights through a unified resistance strategy. To do that we have to put the Palestinian house in order.”

According to a senior official of Islamic Jihad, Blinken has delivered a slap on the face of those who bet on Washington as an honest broker. “His words reveal that the US plans to maintain its policies,” added Daud Shehab.

Fatah official Abdullah Abdullah, meanwhile, pointed out that the relocation of the US Embassy was a decision by Congress and no president can cancel it. “Trump carried it out, but Biden can have the embassy in West Jerusalem and open a US Consulate in East Jerusalem.” He called for Biden to recognize East Jerusalem as occupied territory and the capital of Palestine.

(MEMO, PC,  Social Media)

82-Year-Old Palestinian Prisoner Contracts Coronavirus

Fo’ad Al-Shobaki, 82, is the eldest Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli jails. (Photo: File)

82-year-old Fo’ad Al-Shobaki, the eldest Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli jails, has contracted coronavirus, the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission reported today.

According to the Commission, Shobaki contracted the virus after he came into contact with an Israeli prison guard who was accompanying him to a hospital for surgery.

The Commission held the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for Shobaki’s life, especially that he already has a medical history of prostate cancer and heart, stomach, and eye-related diseases.

The Commission called on human rights and legal institutions to pressure the Israeli occupation’s government to release all the sick prisoners, foremost of whom are the elderly.

It also called for the dispatch of an international medical committee to monitor the health conditions of the prisoners in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the Israeli prisons.

Shobaki, who comes from the Gaza Strip, has been in jail since 2006 and is serving a 17-year sentence.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Prisoner Dies in Israeli Prison under Unclear Circumstances

Maher Deed Saasa, 45, has died in prison under unclear circumstances. (Photo: File)

A Palestinian prisoner held in an Israeli prison died Wednesday under yet unclear circumstances, according to two Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy groups.

The Prisoners Commission and the Prisoners Society said that Maher Deed Saasa, 45, from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya and a father of six children, has died in prison.

Saasa, who has been arrested in 2006 and is serving a 25-year prison sentence, received yesterday a coronavirus shot. He was suffering from several chronic illnesses.

According to the two groups, Israel holds full responsibility for his death, just as for the life and well being of all Palestinian prisoners in its prisons. However, Saasa’s issue will be followed on to find out the reason for his death.

Around 5,000 Palestinians, including numerous women and children, are currently detained in Israeli prisons.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Israel Issues Tenders for 2,500 New Settlement Units in West Bank, East Jerusalem

Israel is accelerating settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: File)

Israel has issued tenders for 2,500 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, a watchdog said Wednesday, on the eve of Joe Biden’s swearing-in as US president.

On Sunday, Israel approved 780 new settler homes in the West Bank ahead of a March poll where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to face a fierce challenge from right-wing and pro-settler candidate Gideon Sa’ar.

Peace Now said the government had now published tenders for a further 2,112 units in the West Bank and 460 in East Jerusalem, the eastern part of the city annexed by Israel but which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of a future state.

It accused the government of a “mad scramble to promote as much settlement activity as possible until the last minutes before the change of the administration in Washington.”

“By doing so, Netanyahu is signaling to the incoming president that he has no intention of giving the new chapter in US-Israel relations even one day of grace, nor serious thought to how to plausibly resolve our conflict with the Palestinians,” it said in a statement.

All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are regarded as illegal by much of the international community.

But Trump’s administration, breaking with decades of US policy, declared in late 2019 that Washington no longer considered settlements as being in breach of international law.

Biden has indicated that his administration will restore Washington’s pre-Trump policy of opposing settlement expansion.

However, on Tuesday, his nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the incoming administration will not reverse Trump’s landmark recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)

Settler Leader Attacks Netanyahu, Leaves Likud for New Hope Party

Head of settlements council, David Elhayani. (Photo: File)

The head of the Jewish settlement ‘Yesha Council and Jordan Valley Regional Council, David Elhayani, yesterday announced he was withdrawing from the leading Likud Party.

Elhayani told Ynet News that he had joined the New Hope Party led by the Israeli politician Gideon Sa’ar, accusing the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of “destroying Likud and abandoning the principles of the right-wing constituents.”

“Netanyahu is deceiving the Jordan Valley residents and is not fulfilling his pledges to annex it,” the Israeli official added.

Elhayani’s withdrawal from Likud was said to represent a serious division within the party, which may lead to a decline in Netanyahu’s chances of forming the next government.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Army Shell Strikes Gaza Home, Injures Palestinian Man (PHOTOS)

The Israeli strike on Gaza injured one person and caused damages. (Photo: The Palestine Chronicle)

A Palestinian man was injured last tonight by shrapnel from an artillery shell fired by Israeli occupation forces at a site in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

An artillery shell fired by an Israeli tank stationed behind the common borders with Gaza hit a house in Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip injuring one resident who was transferred to a hospital in Deir Al-Balah.

A medical source told WAFA that the shrapnel hit the man in the leg and he was reported in stable condition.

Israeli tanks also targeted locations east of Gaza City, as well as east of Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip, and a site east of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli artillery also fired at least one shell towards a site northwest of the town of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, destroying it and setting it on fire.

The strike caused damage to some homes near the targeted sites.

Israeli warplanes yesterday attacked several sites in the Rafah and Khan Younis governorates in the south of the Gaza Strip without causing any casualties.

(Photos below were supplied to The Palestine Chronicle by our Gaza reporter)

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

PA Hopes Biden Will Stop Israel’s Settlement Activities in Occupied West Bank

Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh . (Photo: via Facebook)

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh expressed on Monday his hope that the new US administration will stop illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, Wafa News Agency reported.

Speaking at the beginning of the meeting that his cabinet held in Ramallah, Shtayyeh conveyed his hope that US President-elect Joe Biden would exert every possible effort to stop the “unprecedented settlement onslaught” by Israel.

The PA prime minister also said that Israel is in a race against time by approving the construction of 760 new units in the illegal settlements before the departure of the current administration, and wants to greet Biden with this package of settlement projects.

He added:

“The world should take a serious stance regarding Israeli settlements and shoulder its responsibility to protect the two-state solution, which has the backing of the international community.”

Shtayyeh warned that Jewish settlers are terrorizing the Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories, citing the attack on Madama village in the north of the West Bank on Sunday and the attempt to kidnap 11-year-old Hala Al-Qat before she was rescued by her family.

The Palestinian girl, Hala, was left with injuries to her face and head after a group of Israeli settlers had thrown a rock at her while standing in front of her home.

“The settlers’ attacks are not directed only against the children,” according to Shtayyeh, “but against all Palestinians everywhere.”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israel to Ban Human Rights Groups from School Visits over Use of ‘Apartheid State’

Israel’s Education Minister Yoav Galant. (Photo: File)

Israel’s education minister is banning groups that call the country an “apartheid state” from making school visits to present information to students, CBS News has reported.

Yoav Galant tweeted yesterday that he had instructed the ministry’s director-general to “prevent the entry of organizations calling Israel ‘an apartheid state’ or demeaning Israeli soldiers from lecturing at schools.”

The move follows the publication of a report last week by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. The organization branded Israel an “apartheid” state that “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”

Echoing the UN’s 2017 report which concluded that Israel was practicing apartheid, B’Tselem dismissed the popular misconception that it is a democracy within the Green (1949 Armistice) Line.

It argued that after more than half a century of occupation, the state should be treated as a single entity guided by the core racist organizing principle of “advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.”

B’Tselem said that it will not be deterred by the minister’s announcement. Director-General Hagai El-Ad spoke at a school in Haifa earlier today.

“For many years we’ve exposed our students to a broad variety of opinions from across Israel’s political spectrum,” said the Hebrew Reali School. “We respect the students’ right to express their opinion and are proud of their involvement in issues at the heart of Israeli society. We hold respectful dialogues and intend to continue this tradition.”

Established in 1989 during the first intifada, B’Tselem documents human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.” B’Tselem is determined to keep with its mission of documenting reality, analyzing it, and making our findings known to the Israeli public and worldwide,” it insisted.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Forces Detain Five Palestinians, Including Brothers, Minor

The Israeli occupation army wage a massive arrest campaign in occupied West Bank. (Photo: via Twitter)

Israeli occupation forces today detained five Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank, including brothers and a minor, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).

A 16-year-old minor was detained in Fawwar refugee camp in the south of the West Bank in an army raid at his family home.

In the northern West Bank, Israeli soldiers detained two brothers from the village of Salim, east of Nablus, after raiding and searching their family home, and two other brothers from Kufr Rai village, south of Jenin.

The Kufr Rai detainees, who were detained at their home, were former prisoners and have a brother who has been in Israeli prisons since 2001 serving a life sentence.

Israeli forces on a regular basis storm Palestinian cities and villages in the occupied West Bank to arrest Palestinian popular activists. 

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)