Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

Blogging From Gaza, Palestine

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PLO: Israel’s New Government Is Just Another One Of Extremism And War

PNN/ Ramallah/

Chief Palestinian negotiator and PLO member Dr. Saeb Erekat said, in his first official comment on the new Israeli government formed by Netanyahu, said that it was just another one of war and extremism.

In an interview with AFP, Erekat said that the new Israeli government represents a coalition of extremists, and that it was based on the idea of fighting and eliminating the peace process.

Erekat described the new Israeli government as a government of the war which threatens the stability of the entire region.

He pointed the irony of appointing Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party, justice minister, while she was the one who called for the murder and genocide of the Palestinian people the past summer, including women and children.”

“This is clear evidence that this government is aimed at more killing and settlement expansion,” Erekat said, before calling on the international community to stop supporting Israel and hold it accountable.

Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who won the election on MArch 17, finalized the formation of a right-wing coalition government, just 90 minutes before the midnight deadline yesterday.

The coalition, consisting of Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Kulanu and the Jewish Home parties, will be sworn in next week. The agreement itself will be signed in the coming days as several details are yet to be agreed upon.

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Hundreds Attend Funeral Of Palestinian Teen Murdered At Checkpoint

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the Jerusalem funeral of teenagerMuhammad Abu Ghannam, 17, on Monday, defying restrictions imposed by Israel authorities.

Israel had previously said they would only allow 70 people to attend his burial at a cemetery close to his home in al-Tur, but hundreds turned out waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in support of protecting Jerusalem.
Israel had delayed delivering the body of the slain teenager until 2 a.m. on Monday in a bid to impose size restrictions on the funeral.
Clashes broke out at the burial between mourners and Israeli forces and spread to al-Tur’s main streets, where soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Abu Ghannam was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalemafter allegedly attempting to stab checkpoint officers just before midnight on Friday.

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PLO, UNRWA Pledge To Continue To Aid Refugees

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi met with UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl on Thursday to discuss the ongoing crisis for refugees in Gaza and Yarmouk.

Meeting in the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah, Ashrawi praised UNRWA for its continued efforts in assisting Palestinian refugees living in Gaza and the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, where the situation is deteriorating, a statement said.
The officials also discussed challenges facing UNRWA in providing humanitarian assistance, relief and protection to Palestinians, specifically the siege on Gaza and the need for international donors to deliver long promised aid.Ashrawi and Krahenbuhl pledged during the meeting to continue working together towards easing conditions for Palestinian refugees.While Gaza received an outpouring of support from the international community following last summer’s war, donors have given less than 27 percent of the total amount pledged, according to the World Bank.The Palestinian government has long relied on UNRWA to support the more than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number nearly 5 million with their descendants — pushed into exile or driven out of their homes following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.Both Palestinian authorities and refugees living within the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip retain dependence on UNRWA to provide basic needs to refugees; receiving services from the Palestinian government would indicate submission to the on-the-ground reality the state of Israel has created, forcing refugees to give up on ever returning to their homes.
A total of 56 Palestinian refugee camps are run by UNRWA in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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Israeli Occupation Releases Fatah’s Secretary General And Brother Who Were Held Captive Without Charge

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli Prison Service released two Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem on Wednesday after spending five months in administrative detention in the Negev jail.Head of the Jerusalem Prisoners Families Committee Amjad Abu Asab said that Israeli authorities released the secretary-general of Fatah in Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, and Islam al-Natsheh after they spent five months in administrative detention.Abu Asab added that Ghaith is a former prisoner who has been detained several times and has been banned from entering Jerusalem for a year.Ghaith was elected secretary-general of Fatah in Jerusalem six months ago.Ghaith’s brother Sadeq was detained on the same day.Islam al-Natsheh has also been detained several times, and was transferred to administrative detention for posting on Facebook that he wished to  “die a martyr in the al-Aqsa mosque.”

He was interrogated about alleged “terrorist intentions.”

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PLO Welcomes EU Labeling of Settlement Goods And Products

PNN/ Bethlehem/ 

On April 13, 2015, foreign ministers representing 16 out of 28 European Union (EU) Member States sent a letter to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini requesting that she take “the lead” and complete the “important work on labeling of settlement produce/products.”

The letter was signed by foreign ministers from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The PLO Executive Committee on Tuesday welcomed the letter, and called on the European Commission to move forward with adopting binding policy decisions and concrete measures concerning illegal Israeli settlements and the correct and proper labeling of their goods and products.

The PLO executive committe in a statement said that “It is irrefutable that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have been established in flagrant breach of international law. Israeli settlement activity violates article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans an occupying power from transferring its population into the occupied territory.”

The EU has repeatedly articulated that all settlements are illegal under international law. More recently, in a statement published on November 5, 2014 in response to the approval of the construction of 500 new units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, High Representative Mogherini called on Israel to “put an end to its settlement policy in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank.”

Previously, EU legislation has not been obligatory or binding. However, in the case of illegal settlement products and goods, the PLO Executive Committee requests that all EU Member States implement Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000.

Under Article 3(1)(8) of the Directive, it is required to label foodstuffs with the proper “place of origin or provenance where failure to give such particulars might mislead the consumer to a material degree as to the true origin or provenance of the foodstuff.” In addition, the Directive has established that the “prime consideration for any rules on the labelling [sic] of foodstuffs should be the need to inform and protect the consumer.” Misinforming the consumer of the place of origin undermines and violates food safety, consumer access to information and consumer choice, and promotes unfair commercial practices.

In reference to the two main categories used in settlement product labeling, the PLO Executive Committee believes that the terms “Made in Israel” and “Made in the West Bank” are illegal and deceptive and misleading to consumers. Both categories have been utilized by Israel and the illegal settlement enterprise as a way out of legal accountability and moral responsibility. Clear distinctions should also be made between Israeli settlements and Palestinian exports.

The PLO Executive Committee considered the correct and proper labeling of settlement products as the first in a series of steps that should lead to a complete ban of all settlement products.

“We appreciate the EU’s anti-settlement guidelines of July 19, 2013 and legislation in this regard, which should be respected and implemented as a way of holding Israel to account, but also in the service of a just peace and an effective political role for Europe in that context,” statement concluded.

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PLO: Israeli Occupation Must End Captivity Of Palestinian People

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Friday marked Palestinian Prisoner’s Day by demanding that Israel end its “captivity” of the Palestinian people under occupation.”Today, we honor and express our solidarity with all Palestinians who have been and continue to be imprisoned in Israeli jails,” she said in a statement.

“We commend their steadfastness, courage and determination in defiance of Israel’s military occupation and system of enslavement and apartheid.”

Since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel’s military, while over 60 Palestinians have died in Israeli jails, the PLO says.

Over 70 percent of Palestinian families have had at least one relative detained at some point, according to the UN.

Fourteen Palestinian MPs and 20 journalists are currently imprisoned by Israel, with over 450 Palestinians held without trial for indeterminate periods under administrative detention.

“We call on all members of the international community to act on the basis of justice and human rights and bring Israel to compliance for its willful breach of the rights and lives of Palestinian political prisoners,” Ashrawi added.

Late Thursday, President Mahmoud Abbas marked Palestinian Prisoner’s Day by saying that any future peace agreement must free all Palestinian prisoners.

During a televised speech, Abbas emphasized that continued Israeli policy regarding frequent detention of Palestinians is not conducive for creating a plausible environment for future peace.

“It is time for decision holders in Israel to realize that jails, settlement, confiscating lands and withholding holding PA tax funds will only lead to more extremism and keep us from reaching what we seek, which is a just peace based on ending occupation.”

Calling on the international community to support Palestinian prisoners with legal and humanitarian protection not afforded by the Israeli government, Abbas added that Israeli violations against prisoners have been well documented by UN human rights organizations, and have been prepared to be presented at the International Criminal Court.

According to both international law and Israeli courts an individual cannot be detained for their political opinions.

Palestinian political leaders are routinely arrested and detained as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress Palestinian political processes, according to prisoners’ rights group Addammeer.

Events to commemorate Palestinian Prisoners’ day are scheduled to be held throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as internationally.

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PLO: Islamic State Using Heavy Arms In Yarmouk Camp

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Islamic State militant group in Syria is using heavy weaponry and artillery in ongoing fighting in the beleaguered Yarmouk refugee camp, a PLO official said Sunday.

Ahmad al-Majdalani, the PLO envoy to Syria, told Ma’an that despite heavy fighting with the Syrian army IS have maintained their positions in the camp and have redeployed to arrange future attacks.

“Political solutions regarding the Yarmouk crisis are over as IS has closed all doors on any political solution and is currently gathering its forces in the Yalda area in Syria in preparation to attack the camp,” the official said.

Al-Majdalani, who returned from Syria at the weekend, will meet with President Abbas upon his return from Moscow to discuss the crisis.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, who heads the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, on Monday called on all sides to respect the beleaguered civilians trapped inside Yarmouk.

“The Syria conflict has a human face. These are individuals with a dignity and destiny that must be at the center of our responses as we grapple with the complexities of protecting civilians, in Yarmouk and beyond.”

Yarmouk, which is Syria’s largest refugee camp lying seven kilometers south of Damascus, was initially attacked by IS on April 1, and the group subsequently took over the majority of the camp.

Although hundreds of residents have been evacuated, up to 18,000 residents remain trapped inside the camp, which has been besieged by the Syrian army for more than a year.

The camp was once home to 160,000 people, Syrians as well as Palestinians, but its population has dwindled since the uprising erupted in March 2011.

Although the PLO has publicly rejected Palestinian involvement in a military campaign, citing a longstanding policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab nations, on Saturday Majdalani said the situation was out of the hands of the Palestinian leadership.

He told Ma’an that the resort to military action had been imposed on Palestinian groups inside the camp.

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PLO: Israeli War Crimes And Settlement Files Go To The ICC In Two Months

PNN/ Ramallah/

Nabil Shaath, PLO central committee member and the International commissioner for the organization, on Sunday said that the Palestinian committees working on Israeli war crimes case will file lawsuit against Israeli occupation authorities in the ICC in Lahai within the next two months.

Shaath, in a statement to Al Khalij Online said that all the sub-committees following the basic committee on Israeli war crimes, are working day and night to collect evidence and documents to submit to the ICC. Documents include evidence regarding the Israeli settlement expansion, and the last offensive on Gaza which killed more than 2,200 people according to UN statistics.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas back in February announced that he formed a committee tasked with following up on the Palestinian complaints against Israel at the ICC.

Palestine officially became a member in the ICC on April 1st, after its statehood bid fell through at the United Nations in January, drawing fresh opposition from Washington, a close ally of the Zionist state.

The committee, headed by Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, consists of 31 Palestinian politicians of all stripes, academics and human rights activists, as well as representatives of Palestinian institutions such as the ministries of justice and foreign affairs.

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Palestinian National Council Head Calls For Quicker Response To Yarmouk Crisis

AMMAN (Ma’an) — The head of the Palestinian National Council, Salim Zanoun, has called on the Palestinian leadership to speed up efforts to resolve the ongoing Yarmouk crisis.

Zanoun said that residents of the beleaguered refugee camp don’t need discussion, but political and material support.

His comments were directed at the PNC’s executive committee, the highest executive body of the PLO, which is composed of 18 members. The executive committee is elected by the much larger PNC, which has nearly 700 members.

Zanoun made his comment as he met with PNC members in Amman to discuss the crisis in Syria, among other issues.

He called on PNC members across the occupied Palestinian Territories to donate to residents of Yarmouk camp, saying it was “a national duty.”

A one-week period has been set in which to raise donations, and Zanoun added that the council had so far raised 13,150 Jordanian Dinars ($18,600).

On Saturday, two senior UN officials were headed Saturday for Syria on an “urgent mission” to aid the thousands of civilians that remain trapped in Yarmouk.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, who heads the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, is meeting Syrian officials to discuss the delivery of aid to the camp which has been stormed by Islamic State group militants.

He is also due to meet displaced refugees on Sunday at a school near the camp.

Also in Damascus, the UNRWA chief is to meet deputy special envoy Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, sent on Friday by UN chief Ban Ki-moon who has warned of a “massacre” in the camp.

The visit is “prompted by UNRWA’s deepening concerns for the safety and protection of some 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children” still in the camp, the agency said in a statement.

Refuge in schools

According to Palestinian sources, some 2,500 of the remaining civilians have now taken refuge in Damascus schools.

“I don’t have the strength to walk any more,” said Umm Mohammed, a woman in her 70s, in a video distributed to media organisations by an activist, Rami el-Sayyed.

“I haven’t left my house for fear of it being looted. But if they open the road, I don’t want to stay any more,” she said.

“We left Palestine and we’re still suffering. What did the Palestinians do to deserve all this?”

Yarmouk, which is Syria’s largest refugee camp lying seven kilometers south of Damascus, was initially attacked by IS on April 1, and the group subsequently took over up to 90 percent of the camp.

Armed Palestinian factions have fought back and Syria’s air force has struck IS positions in the camp.

Although the PLO has publicly rejected involvement in a military campaign, citing a longstanding policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab nations, on Saturday PLO envoy to Syria Ahmed Majdalani said the situation was out of the hands of the Palestinian leadership.

Majdalani told Ma’an that the resort to military action had been imposed on Palestinian groups by IS, and that negotiations would not be workable.

Fighting south of Damascus

In fighting south of Damascus, meanwhile, 35 people were killed as pro-government forces repelled an attack on a key military airport by IS-affiliated militants, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack targeted the outskirts of Khalkhalah military airport in Sweida province on Friday.

Syria’s official news agency SANA said the army had “blocked attempts from IS terrorists to infiltrate” areas near the airport.

Khalkhalah lies along a major highway between Damascus and the regime-held city of Sweida, a stronghold of the Druze minority that has largely avoided the bloodshed of Syria’s war.

The attack on Khalkhalah was the first by IS, but the airport has been previously targeted by rebels and Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.

In the northern city of Aleppo, at least 10 civilians were killed in rebel shelling of a Christian district and 10 others in regime bombardment of an area under rebel control, according to the Observatory.

More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria’s four-year war, which is increasingly dominated by extremist groups.

AFP contributed to this report.

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PLO’s Dr. Ashrawi On Israeli Massacres Of Palestinians : From Deir Yassin to Shuja’iyya

deiryassinbader pppa

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi stated:

“On April 9, sixty-seven years ago, armed members of the Zionist terrorist organizations, the Irgun and the Stern gangs, attacked the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin and brutally murdered more than one hundred innocent men, women and children.  Mostly all under the age of nine, fifty-five young children were orphaned and literally dumped in the Old City of Jerusalem to fend for themselves; Hind al-Husseini rescued the children and founded Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi (Arab Children’s House), an orphanage for the young survivors, two weeks later.

The Deir Yassin massacre was a turning point in the history of the people of Palestine, and it continues to serve as a necessary reminder of Israel’s ongoing policies of displacement, dispossession and dehumanization, and its willful erasure of the Palestinian narrative and human presence in historical Palestine.

One of the most recent examples of Israel’s continued campaign of deliberate massacres occurred last summer when it waged a brutal and ruthless assault on the Palestinians of Gaza.  On July 20, at least sixty Palestinians were murdered in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood, and between July 7 and August 21, one hundred and forty-two families in Gaza were partially or completely obliterated by Israel.

Since its creation, Israel’s systematic policies of destruction and massacres have persisted.  Deir Yassin, Nasir al-Din, Haifa, Yazur, Bayt Daras, al-Tantura, al-Lydd, al-Dawayima, Saliha, Qibya, Kafr Qasim, and Shuja’iyya, among other names, will remain forever engraved in our hearts and minds and always serve as symbols of Palestinian steadfastness and perseverance.

Today, we honor all Palestinian victims of Israel’s flagrant measures of military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.  On behalf of Palestinians everywhere, we will remain undeterred in our efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and war crimes.   Peace and justice for Palestine is long overdue, and it is time for the international community to join us as we strive for freedom, dignity and self-determination.”