CPJ concerned by rising pressure on journalists in Israel

PRESS RELEASE
The Committee to Protect Journalists

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The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports indicating rising pressure from the Israeli government on the foreign press. Last week, the head of the Government Press Office threatened to revoke the credentials of reporters for inaccurate headlines.

“As a democracy that upholds freedom of expression Israel should not threaten to revoke press credentials of reporters who publish stories or headlines the government may not like,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said in New York. “It is virtually impossible to work as a reporter in Israel and the occupied territories without a press card. The threat of withdrawing accreditation is a heavy handed approach at stifling unwelcome coverage.” Read more »

Israel’s Security Establishment Makes Public Plea for a Two State Solution

by Richard Falk
Global Justice in the 21st Century

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Rarely, if ever, has a newspaper ad mobilized such influential backing for a position of prominent Israelis at odds with the elected leadership of the Israeli state. A full page add appeared in the New York Times on February 4, 2016. It was sponsored by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. Considering the main readership of the NYT it is clear that the message was aimed at the American public, and likely, particularly at Jewish Americans and the advisors of the next American president who is to take office a year from now. Its message was proclaimed in large bold type: “Israel’s Security Chiefs Agree: Separation into two States is in Israel’s vital security interest.” Read more »

Will 2016 bring respite for Hamas and Gaza?

By Tom Charles
Source: Hamas

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It is a decade since Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian legislative elections. Western and Israeli attempts to eliminate the movement have so far failed, but a status quo that Hamas long sought to avoid has emerged nonetheless, and with it has come a raft of challenges.

The major obstacles that existed in 2006, nationally, regionally and internationally, remain. So what are the chances of Hamas and Gaza improving their lot in 2016?

Hamas, with its 2006 mandate, presented the West with a problem. Hamas had won convincingly, but recognition of Israel and acceptance of the Oslo Accords were non-negotiable requirements if the West was to approve any Palestinian government.

And Hamas was never going to agree to these conditions. Read more »

Hypocrisy, land news and action

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Column

Budding roses at Palestinian Museum of Natural History

Budding roses at Palestinian Museum of Natural History

The Israeli Knesset rejected a bill that calls for equality (after all this must remain a state by and for Jews). And a video emerged of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu praising Israeli Fascist Group Im Tirtzu which believes in “Jewishness” of Palestine and acts and supports to effect ethnic cleansing of native Palestinians in favor of European and other Jewish colonization.

The Zionist leaders attacked Ban Ki Moon for mildly speaking about the need to end the occupation and let Palestinians live free.

The heads of the EU missions in Jerusalem issued a report saying that Israel must respect human rights. They explained that 660 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial. They also mention Mohammad AlQeeq, a Palestinian Journalist on hunger strike for 70 days since his illegal detention.

The tragedies around us continue and we sympathize with suffering people seeking freedom from tyranny and from terrorism (much of it emanating from the USA through its “protectorates” like Israel and Saudi Arabia). Read more »

OCHA Press Briefing on Palestinian journalist, hunger striker Mohammed Al-Qiq

PRESS BRIEFING
OCHA

5 February 2016
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Subject: Israel

We are extremely concerned at the rapidly deteriorating health of Mohammed Al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist who is on hunger strike in Israel to protest against his administrative detention and the ill-treatment he alleges since his arrest on 21 November 2015.

Mr Al-Qiq has been on hunger strike for over 70 days and is reportedly in a very dangerous condition. His doctors have informed him of the possibility of irreversible damage to his health.

Yesterday, the Israeli High Court decided to suspend his administrative detention until he regains his health and is able to leave hospital, at which point the order could be applied again on the basis that he becomes a security threat.

We reiterate our concerns at the situation of Palestinian administrative detainees who are held without charge or trial by the Israeli authorities, often on the basis of secret evidence, for periods of up to six months which are extendable indefinitely.

We call, once again, upon the Israeli authorities to end their practice of administrative detention and to either release immediately or promptly charge and prosecute all administrative detainees, with all the judicial guarantees required by international human rights law and standards.

We also urge the Israeli authorities to investigate all allegations of ill-treatment in an independent, prompt and thorough manner.

UNRWA Launches 2016 Syria Appeal “Critical Palestinians not Forgotten”

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

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2 February 2016
Amman

UNRWA today appealed to donors for US$ 414 million to meet the critical humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria, which is now entering its sixth year. The Agency’s 2016 Emergency Appeal for the Syria Regional Crisis aims to support 450,000 Palestine refugees inside Syria, as well as the 60,000 who have fled to Lebanon and Jordan.

“In the midst of the broader Syrian tragedy, and with just two days to go before the London donors’ conference, it is critical that the plight of the Palestine refugee community is not underestimated or forgotten,” urged UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl.

Palestine refugees have been dramatically affected by the crisis due to their proximity to conflict areas inside Syria, high rates of poverty and the tenuous legal status of those forced to flee to Lebanon and Jordan.

Over 60 per cent of those remaining inside Syria (280,000 people) are internally displaced, and an estimated 95 per cent (430,000) are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance. This includes tens of thousands who are trapped in areas of active conflict, with extremely constrained access to humanitarian assistance. Around 42,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) have fled to Lebanon and 18,000 to Jordan where they face a marginalized and precarious existence. Read more »

‘Don’t shoot the messenger,’ Ban fires back at Israeli criticism

EUROPAL Forum

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli criticism of attacks on its settlement policy unsustainable in an opinion piece published Sunday by The New York Times, doubling down on comments earlier in the week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said encouraged terrorism.

In the piece entitled, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel,” Ban reiterates many of his earlier comments to Security Council Tuesday, calling Israeli settlement activity “an affront to the Palestinian people,” adding that “it is human nature to resist occupation.”

He also called for a freeze on settlement activity, which most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal or illegitimate.

“Criticism of the United Nations — or attacks against me — comes with the territory. But when heartfelt concerns about shortsighted or morally damaging policies emanate from so many sources, including Israel’s closest friends, it cannot be sustainable to keep lashing out at every well-intentioned critic,” Ban wrote. Read more »

Rights group raises alarm bells over al-Qeiq’s health condition

Palestinian Information Centre

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The Assembly of Palestinian Doctors in Europe has sent letters to a number of European MPs and international human rights institutions raising alarm bells over the Palestinian journalist Mohamed al-Qeiq’s health condition as he enters his 69th day of hunger strike.

The letters were sent to MEP Martina Anderson, Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, and Gilbert Roger, Senator of the Socialist Party of France and President of the France-Palestine Friendship Group.

In its letters, the Assembly called on human rights institutions and the free world to urgently intervene to save al-Qeiq’s life before it is too late. The Assembly declared its full readiness to send a medical delegation to check on al-Qeiq’s health situation and provide him with the appropriate treatment.

“Al-Qeiq has been detained over the past three months without charge or trial in total provocation to the basic human rights. This pushed him to declare an open hunger strike.”

The Assembly pointed to the Red Cross reports which raise alarm bells over al-Qeiq’s serious health deterioration.

“Al-Qeiq’s life is threatened,” the Assembly warned, attributing his condition to the Israeli violations against Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

Leila Khaled: Palestinian people have struggled 100 years for liberation

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

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Renowned Palestinian struggler and member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Comrade Leila Khaled, urged the prosecution of Zionist war criminals and support for the Palestinian resistance, calling these the duty of all progressive movements, in a speech at the closing of the New World Summit in Utrecht, the Netherlands on January 31.

“The Palestinian people have been struggling for 100 years against occupation and colonization and will continue until the return of all Palestinian refugees, and until we achieve justice and equality on the land of Palestine,” said Khaled. She noted that the Israeli state is an illegitimate project built on the ruins of the Palestinian people and society and based on the erasure of Palestinian existence. “68 years ago, the Israeli state was constructed on the ruins of our people, our land, our homes, and until this moment our people are prevented from exercising their right to return,” said Khaled.

“I was born in Haifa. All of you here are able to go to Haifa at any time, but I – and seven million Palestinians scattered throughout the world – are the indigenous people, deprived of that right,” said Khaled. She said that Palestinians will continue to resist occupation until they achieve their full rights, especially the right of return and the liberation of Palestine.

Khaled highlighted the responsibility of the United Nations for the crimes in Palestine, saying that the international organization was built on a framework of protecting human rights, but instead gave the Zionist movement the right to colonize parts of Palestine and build a racist state, saying that the UN is a partner in the daily crimes being committed against the Palestinian people. Read more »

IOF escalates arrest campaigns in January to quell intifada

Hamas

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The Palestine Center for Prisoners Studies (PCPS) published its monthly report on the status of Palestinian detainees in January.

The center said that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have escalated their arrest campaigns against Palestinians over the last month in a bid to quell the ongoing intifada.

According to the report, IOF detained over 490 Palestinians in January, of which 140 were minors, some of whom were injured, and 13 women and young girls, including wives and mothers of prisoners.

IOF also detained two MPs of the Legislative Council and a former minister, raising the number of detained MPs in Israeli prisons to seven. Read more »

The Complex Problematics of Palestinian Representation

Richard Falk
Global Justice in the 21st Century

[Prefatory Note: This post is a much modified and enlarged version of an article published on January 1, 2016 in Middle East Eye. It attempts to address the current quandary that arises from the collapse of Oslo diplomacy and the seeming continuing encroachment of Israel on the territories long believed to provide the Palestinian people with a sovereign state of their own. Such a prospect, now unattainable for both practical and political reasons, contemplated a Palestinian state that would enclose a territory that was 22% of historic Palestine, or less than half of what the 1947 UN partition plan envisioned. For this forthcoming compromise to have become non-negotiable is clear evidence that Israel is in the process of adopting a unilateral solution that is based on the priority of its biblical claims and ethnic origin narrative to the whole of historic Palestine, referred to as Judea and Samaria plus Jerusalem in internal Israeli discourse. In effect, the Palestine right of self-determination is being unconditionally denied, and the Palestinian people given several unpalatable choices with respect to their future.]

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While serving as UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, especially in my early years between 2008 and 2010, I fully expected to encounter defamatory opposition from Israel and ultra-Zionist, but what surprised me at the time were various efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to undermine my role at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Its representatives exerted various pressures to encourage my resignation, and made unexpected moves to challenge my reports, especially if they described the actuality of Hamas exercising governing authority in Gaza. At the time I had the impression that the PA was far more concerned with this struggle internal to the Palestinian movement than mounting serious criticism of the abusive features of the occupation. As I was trying my best on behalf of the UN to report honestly on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights under international humanitarian law and human rights treaties, I was puzzled at first, and then began to wonder whether the Palestinian people were being adequately represented on the global stage. Read more »

An icon two years on begs some unsettling questions

Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

Iconic Yarmouk image (Photo: UNRWA)

Iconic Yarmouk image (Photo: UNRWA)

It is now two years since the iconic photo of thousands of bewildered, besieged civilians in the Palestine refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus was taken. Traumatized and drained of all emotion, children, women, the sick, the elderly, the dying waited in the besieged camp for food from UNRWA, the UN agency mandated to bring them aid. It was an image whose graphic power seared itself into the collective memory of our age, as the word “Yarmouk” was added to the appalling lexicon of man’s inhumanity to man. The photo went viral and thus became an icon of Syria’s pitiless conflict.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon was later to describe Yarmouk as akin to the lower regions of hell; a refugee camp that had become a death camp. Yarmouk was once home to some 150,000 Palestinians. Each has a humanity, an individual dignity that must be recognized, respected and nurtured.

Yet two years on, as peace talks begin in Geneva and just days before the London conference on Syria, this haunting image begs some discomfiting questions. Where are the individuals now, whose faces stare compelling out at us? Are they alive or dead? Did they become part of a lost generation? Were they left behind? The majority are Palestinians yet is the plight of this marginalized community being overlooked, dwarfed by the sheer enormity of the Syrian tragedy?

We owe it to each and every individual in that photo, to ourselves and to future generations to find answers to these questions. Without them, the stain that is Yarmouk will forever be on the conscience of humanity.

PM Hamdallah holds Israel responsible for the safety of al-Qiq

PNN

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The Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah on Thursday said that he holds the Israeli government responsible for the safety of journalist Mohamed al-Qiq.

Hamdallah asked the international community to help secure his release, and reiterated the need for an international force to protect Palestinians against a brutal Israeli occupation.

Israeli authorities sentenced al-Qiq to six months administrative detention on the 17 of December without charge or trial, with his detention subject to indefinite renewal.

Al-Qiq has been on a hunger strike for 65 days; his health is deteriorating fast. According to health experts, the risk of death grows tremendously after 50 days of a hunger strike; few individuals are able to survive beyond 70 days on water alone. Read more »

Hamas’ surprise electoral victory, 10 years on

By Ola Atallah
Source: Alray

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In January 2006, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas swept Palestinian legislative elections, taking most political observers by surprise.

Although the Islamist group won 76 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, the U.S., the EU and Israel – along with the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – all refused to recognize the results of the elections.

Following Hamas’ electoral victories, Israel began imposing a strict embargo on the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave in which the group is based.

Over the course of the last 10 years, the embargo – which, with Egypt’s help, remains in place to this day – has largely destroyed Gaza’s economy and made life miserable for the strip’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants. Read more »

Qassam members martyred in tunnel collapse

Al Qassam

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Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas movement, announced that seven members were martyred in tunnel collapse on Thursday east of Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the Brigades identified its members as Ghazwan Ash-Shubaki, Waseem Hassouna, Nidal Oda, Kamal Basal, Jaafar Hamada, Thabet Ar-Rifi, Ezzedeen Qasem, all of them are from Gaza City.

Earlier, the Brigades announced that it has lost contact with an elite unit of its members inside a tunnel after its collapse in the Gaza Strip.

In a brief press released yesterday, the Brigades stated that the incident happened on Wednesday night as a result of the bad weather conditions.

A number of Freedom fighters in Gaza have been martyred by accidents during military training exercises in recent years, and the tunnel networks, which are largely used for resisting the Israeli forces during Israeli Offensives against Gaza Strip.

How the PA is Complicit in Israel’s Occupation

Visualizing Palestine

It was reported in the past week that Palestinian Authority (PA) paramilitary police have acted in coordination with Israeli authorities to arrest around 100 Palestinians since October. This won’t come as a surprise to seasoned Palestinian commentators, many of whom have long criticised “security coordination” as a means of securing Israel’s occupation at the expense of Palestinian human rights.

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The PA is the West Bank’s largest employer, and around one third of its annual budget is allocated to ‘security and public order’ – more than health and education combined. All new recruits are vetted by Israeli and US officials, and have been widely deployed to crack down on non-violent Palestinian civil society activities, while doing nothing to protect Palestinians from attacks by Israeli settlers or soldiers.

2b Read more »

Conflict and Sustainable Development

Column
Mazin Qumsiyeh

One of the dozens of workshops held in 2015 at the Palestine Museum of Natural History

One of the dozens of workshops held in 2015 at the Palestine Museum of Natural History

I published a book called “Sharing the Land of Canaan” in 2004. The text was written a bit earlier (2002 and 2003). Much has happened in Palestine since I wrote these things and my own emphasis has gone towards environmental justice and environmental conservation. I wanted to share this one chapter (chapter 10) with you on the Conflict and Sustainable Development and seek your thoughts because this is an area we are currently focusing on.

The situation on the ground has gone from bad to worse but there are occasional lights of hope in the grim picture (e.g. I mentioned we even started an environmental biology master program and we at the museum are working with ministry of health and the Environmental Quality Authority to improve environmental health). In the past 12 years we have published a number of research papers on environmental issues in Palestinian areas.

While this earlier book discussed both diagnosis and the only available solution (one democratic secular state), in my later book on “Popular Resistance in Palestine” [2012] I discussed how we Palestinians have resisted Israeli colonial onslaught and painted an optimistic outlook for our future which we are now realizing despite the horrific political elites “leading” our societies (I should say destroying our societies). Read more »

Haniya demands release of Palestinian hunger-striker Al Qeiq

Hamas

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Deputy Chairman of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniya has demanded the immediate release of the Palestinian hunger-striker Mohammed Al Qeiq.

In a phone call with Al Qeiq’s family, Haniya confirmed that his Movement stands with the Palestinian hunger-striker in his battle against administrative detention.

He called on all Palestinian and international rights groups to assume their responsibilities towards Al Qeiq and his cause.

Earlier, Hamas has warned the Israeli occupation of jeopardizing the life of Palestinian captive Mohammad Al Qeiq.

The 33-year-old Palestinian journalist Mohammed Adeeb Al Qeiq has been on hunger strike in Israeli jails for 63 days in protest at his detention without trial or charges since last November.

Prisoner Al Qeiq enters third month of hunger strike

Press Release
Hamas

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As of today, the 33-year-old Palestinian journalist Mohammed Adeeb Al Qeiq enters his 61st day of hunger strike against his detention in Israeli prisons without trial or charge.

Having begun his hunger strike on Wednesday, 25 November 2015, Al Qeiq was detained 4 days earlier, on Saturday 21st November 2015, when Israeli forces kidnapped him from his house in Ramallah.

Following his kidnapping, he was taken to Beit El settlement and held there for 20 hours. He was then taken to Al Maskoubiya interrogation center in Jerusalem, and then to Al Jalama interrogation center.

According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Al Qeiq was subject to various forms of torture, including mistreatment, humiliation, and the use of stress positions, which entailed sitting in uncomfortable and stressful positions for several hours.

On Wednesday, 25 November 2015, Al Qeiq began a hunger strike. Subjected to interrogation for 25 days, Al Qeiq was then transferred to solitary confinement in Megiddo prison and sentenced to administrative detention for 6 months.

After his health condition deteriorated, he was referred to Al Afoula Hospital. On Tuesday, 12 January 2016, as he had entered his 48th day of hunger strike, Israeli authorities implemented the notorious force-feeding law against Al Qeiq.

Force-feeding has for decades been labeled by the International Red Cross and the United Nations as violation of international law, and as a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, while the World Medical Association has maintained its view that the forced feeding of hunger strikers is a form of torture and abuse, and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and internationally accepted standards of medical ethics that is never justified.

As he entered his 3rd month on hunger strike, Al Qeiq declared that he is determined to continue his hunger strike until his freedom or martyrdom.

Hamas, factions slam Faraj’s statements

PRESS STATEMENT
Hamas

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The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, al-Jihad Movement, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have on Thursday evening issued a joint statement condemning the remarks made by Palestinian Authority “PA” intelligence chief Majed Faraj.

In a recent interview conducted by the US magazine Defense News, Faraj stated that the PA security forces had aborted 200 resistance operations against the Israeli occupation during the current intifada.

In the joint statement, the factions said that Faraj’s remarks constitute an insult to the struggle and sacrifices of Palestinians, serving only to deepen the Palestinian rift and prolong internal division.

The statement added that Faraj’s remarks reflect the state of monopoly exerted by the PA over the Palestinian national decision, noting that they disregard the national consensus that rejects all relations between PA and the Israeli occupation.

The factions rejected the use of the security portfolio to gain Israeli endorsement, noting that Faraj’s remarks come in the context of an ongoing competition over who is going to lead the PA in the future.