MEMO | February 11, 2016
A delegation from the European Parliament was blocked by the Israeli authorities from entering Gaza on Tuesday, the EU said in a statement.
The lawmakers, who are part of the working group of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Palestine, arrived in Jerusalem on Monday and was due to visit Gaza to assess the destruction caused in the 2014 conflict and the reconstruction efforts funded by the European Union.
According to the statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO’s reporter in Gaza, no justification was given to explain the refusal.
Delegation Chair Irish MEP Martina Anderson stated: “The systematic denial by Israel of access to Gaza to European Parliament delegations is unacceptable. The European Parliament has not been able to access Gaza since 2011.”
Anderson added: “This raises questions: what does the Israeli government aim to hide? We shall not give up on the Gazan people.”
The Delegation was led by Anderson and included six other lawmakers: Margrete Auken (Vice-Chair of Delegation, Greens), Roza Thun (EPP), Eugen Freund (S&D), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD) and Konstantinos Papadakis (NI).
Around 90,000 Palestinians remain displaced in the Gaza Strip, almost 18 months after the ceasefire that ended Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ offensive in 2014. Furthermore, the reconstruction or repair of homes of 74 percent of displaced families is yet to even start.
According to UN OCHA, living conditions for the more than 16,000 displaced families are characterised by “overcrowding, limited access to basic services, lack of privacy, tensions with host communities, risks due to unexploded ordnance and exposure to adverse weather.”
By the end of January 2016, only 15 percent of displaced families had been able to return to repaired or reconstructed homes. The repair and reconstruction of an additional 2,000 homes is ongoing, with many of these homes nearing completion.
Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 destroyed 11,000 homes and severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable an additional 6,800 homes.
The newspaper had plenty to say about Israeli Jewish life, however: two lengthy stories about prayer space at the Western Wall and one discussing Zionism. Each of these stories ran over a thousand words.
Two shorter news articles reported that the murderers of a Palestinian teen had been sentenced to prison and that a knife attack left one Israeli police officer dead, but nothing in either of these provided the context crucial to understanding events in the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, as the Times obsesses over Israeli identity and attitudes, the occupation grinds on, producing news that appears elsewhere. At the top of the list were two major stories: A Palestinian prisoner was near death after passing his 75th day on hunger strike, and Israeli forces carried out a massive demolition of over 20 homes, rendering more than 100 Palestinians homeless in the dead of winter.
The ordeal of Mohammed al-Qeeq, a journalist held without trial since Nov. 21 of last year, drew the attention of Israeli and international media outlets, which recounted his legal appeals, protests on his behalf and an Israeli Supreme Court decision which “froze” his detention but confined him to a hospital. (Al-Qeeq refused the offer and continued his fast.)
Al-Qeeq’s hunger strike was deemed unfit to print in the Times, perhaps because it would touch on Israel’s use of administrative detention, which holds prisoners without trial. Readers are not to know that as of last December 660 Palestinians were held in this limbo, nor were they to be informed that a number of human rights groups have protested Israel’s unsavory use of the practice.
And then there is the matter of two impoverished villages in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, Khirbet Jenbah and Khirbet Al-Halawah, which were made even more destitute after Israeli army crews arrived last Tuesday and demolished 22 structures, displacing 110 people, including dozens of minors. The army also confiscated solar panels, which, like many of the homes, had been donated by aid organizations.
The military claimed that it destroyed Jenbah and Al-Halawah because they were located in a declared firing zone. The Israeli publication 972 Magazine, however, noted that “Jewish settlements within [the zone] have not been served with eviction orders.”
This was the largest mass demolition in a decade, and the plan to destroy villages within the firing zone has drawn international attention and a petition from world-renowned authors to spare the communities. None of this, however, was enough to draw the interest of the Times.
Instead, the Times considered it more urgent to examine the effects of a new prayer space at the Western Wall—not once, but twice—and to take a look at Zionism today. Villagers thrown out in the cold of winter and a prisoner on the brink of death took a back seat to these concerns.
The Times claims that it gives readers “the complete, unvarnished truth as best as we can learn it,” and it insists that the newspaper’s overriding goal is to “cover the news as impartially as possible.” Readers who never stray to other sources of information may actually believe this.
Has anyone seen Gaza lately? A Palestinian I met the other day told he was from Gaza, he told me about his eighty year old mother living in horrid conditions there, so I decided to look through the newspapers, surf the news online and run through TV channels, local, international and I even looked at news from the Middle East, but all was in vain. I can’t find Gaza, not a single word, not a bit of news anywhere. I know it was there at one time, so I desperately decided to look through old notes, vintage news clips old videos and clearly there are signs that it was there at one time, but now I can find no sign of its existence. Once again, in a magic trick of epic proportions Israel made Gaza disappear.
As I write these words, I sit in front of my computer screen scratching my head. How did it disappear? Where did Gaza go? Almost two million people vanished into thin air. Now I suppose there is no need to worry about the tens of thousands of people injured in Israeli attacks and then forsaken with no care. We can all conveniently forget about the countless children traumatized by the constant humming of drones and the terror of missiles destroying homes and killing family members. We can stop worrying whether or not there are sufficient supplies of medicine reaching the besieged people or if there is any electricity to keep people warm and maintain hospitals. We can rest assured that there are no more babies born prematurely who are likely to die due to lack of proper postnatal care.
When Gaza was there it was really quite terrible. There were people there with no access to clean water, there was food insecurity and thousands were homeless because Israel destroyed their homes. What made it even worse is that five minutes from where Gaza used to be, Israelis were living perfectly secure, with plenty of food and water, no shortage of electricity, warmth in the winter and cooling in the hot summers. Hospitals were functioning and medicine was available for anyone who required help. But the people in Gaza had no access to any of this because Israel did not allow them out of what used to be a huge concentration camp. With few exceptions, Israel also didn’t permit people who wanted to go to Gaza to help, to do so, Israel didn’t allow food, water or medicine in and when the people in Gaza dug tunnels in order to smuggle food and other necessities, these tunnels were destroyed by Israel’s great ally, President/Generalisimo Abdel Fatah Sisi of Egypt.
Before Gaza disappeared there would be occasional rocket fire from Gaza and attempts by Palestinians to fight off the Israeli military. The rockets were called “Qassam” rockets and the fighters were called terrorists. Even though there were cases in other parts of the world where people who fought for their freedom were called heroes, this never happened in Gaza. Young fighters in Gaza who sacrificed everything and died attempting to fight the Israeli war machine were never called heroes, because, and one can only guess because Gaza is no longer there to verify, but one assumes it is because in this world in which we live, Palestinians are not permitted to be heroes. No, Palestinians are only accepted as victims or as terrorists. Heroism is not permitted for the people who used to exist in what used to be Gaza.
The gentleman I met the other day who said he was from Gaza described a story that was heart wrenching, but since it cannot be verified I have to doubt its validity. It cannot be possible that such horror, such suffering exists only minutes from Israeli towns and cities, and barely an hour drive from Tel-Aviv and no one would report it, not a single news outlet would pick it up. It is inconceivable that almost two million people would be caged in like animals, living in conditions that can only be described as inhumane – and the world would be completely silent. After all the enlightened Western civilization, the developed world, the major countries of the world wouldn’t just sit there and say nothing, do nothing and allow this to continue. After all, we are not talking about some remote hilltop in Afghanistan or some unheard of village in Kurdistan or Iran we are talking about Israel. Yes, Israel, an ally of the US, a country hailed by the UK, France, Germany as the only democracy in the Middle East.
Had Gaza and the nearly two million people who used to live in it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared, someone would have demanded that Israel, the recipient of billions of dollars in foreign aid would use that money to provide relief to the people in Gaza. That it would use these billions of dollars to build homes for the homeless, provide food for the hungry, medicine and medical care for the sick and injured and provide comfort for the hundreds of thousands of traumatized children who have been emotionally scarred because of the brutality of Israeli terrorism. The world would demand that those within Israel who were responsible for the terrible crimes committed by the Israeli army in Gaza be brought to justice, pay for their crimes agains innocents.
Israel had used magic tricks to fool the world before, but this time it really outdid itself. Does anyone remember the Iran smoke screen? The nuclear threat that never was? The existential threat that never existed? Yes, these were all quite amazing and very effective. They fooled millions of people the world over. But to make Gaza disappear is an even grater achievement. Its more complex than the “self-defense” trick where Israel bombed Gaza and murdered thousands of people who never hurt a soul, and then convinced the world that murdering people in Gaza was an act of self-defense.
I think of this gentleman from Gaza, Mohammad is his name, I’m amazed. He is a highly educated, successful man, he has seven children and he works hard to provide them with an education. One of his daughters is a heart surgeon. He came up to me after a recent lecture in Huntsville, Alabama and I was moved by his story. He even bought a copy of my book, and as he leafed through it and saw the photo of the Palestinian hero Abu Ali Shahin he told me that Abu Ali was his uncle from his mother’s side. His mother’s family came from the village of Besshit, the same village, now destroyed by Israel, from where Abu Ali Shahin told me that he came. So I am puzzled. Mohammad told me a story that was real, painful. He told me he can’t visit his mother, nor can he send her the medicine she needs but cannot find in Gaza. So is it possible that Gaza didn’t disappear? Could it be that it is still there and no one talks about it?
Israeli Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz has said that Egypt’s new policy of flooding the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula with seawater had come at Israel’s request.
“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is flooding the tunnels on his country’s border with the Gaza Strip with water based on a request by Israel,” Steinitz said at a seminar held Saturday in the southern city of Beer Sheva, according to Israel Radio.
“Security coordination between the two countries [Israel and Egypt] is better than ever,” the minister said at the seminar, at which participants discussed the relationship between the two neighbors.
In recent months, the Egyptian army has begun flooding the network of cross-border tunnels linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip with seawater.
Subject to a years-long blockade by Israel and Egypt, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip had come to depend on the tunnel network to import desperately-needed commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
Steinitz is particularly close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is a member of the latter’s influential security cabinet.
The tunnels are a lifeline for those who live in the beseiged Gaza Strip as they are used to smuggle vital supplies
Director of Political-Military Affairs at Israel’s Defence Ministry Amos Gilad revealed today that the United States has contributed over $100 million to an Israeli-US technology research project aimed at identifying and locating tunnels on the Gaza Strip border.
In an interview with Army Radio this morning, Gilad stated that intelligence information suggests that there are no such tunnels leading into Israeli territory at the moment.
Defence Ministry official Shalom Gantzer dispelled the fears of Israelis living around the Gaza Strip who have claimed to hear digging noises under their houses, saying that these noises are coming from an electric generator.
Israel’s Channel 10 showed interviews on Saturday with those living near the Gaza border area who had recorded the noises with their mobile phones. They claimed that these noises were the sounds of tunnels being dug from Gaza.
Throughout the whole of 2015 the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was open for just 21 days. On 31 December, the Egyptian authorities opened the border to deliver the corpse of a 28 year-old mentally-ill Palestinian, Ishaq Khalil Hassan, who was shot in full view of the cameras after he had strayed into Egyptian waters while swimming in the Mediterranean. As the Israeli-led — and Egyptian-backed — blockade of Gaza enters its tenth year, there is little hope that the Rafah Crossing will be opened for any meaningful number of days in 2016.
In fact, a combination of domestic and external factors are likely to continue to prevent an early end to the siege. The cold-blooded killing of Hassan by the Egyptian army in late December was indicative of a hardening of Cairo’s attitudes toward the Palestinians in Gaza. As a result, many more will pay with their lives, either through being denied unrestricted passage through Rafah to get essential medical treatment, or by attempting to smuggle basic needs through the tunnels once described as Gaza’s “lifeline”; or by falling victim to Israeli or Egyptian state violence.
For now, there is no shortage of excuses for keeping the Rafah Crossing closed; the usual excuse given to the Palestinians is that the security situation in north Sinai necessitates the closure. While it is true that there is a deadly insurgency in the Sinai which is taxing the resources of the Egyptian security forces and needs a massive political effort to resolve, that does not justify the demonisation and extrajudicial killing of Palestinians.
It has not gone unnoticed that on every occasion that the crossing was open last year there was a major security incident on the Egyptian side of the border. Coincidence? Perhaps, or maybe such incidents were planned in order to provide the Egyptian authorities with an excuse to keep Rafah closed. We will probably never know.
Israel’s role in prolonging Gaza’s humanitarian ordeal, however, is far more clear-cut. Soon after Hamas was elected to run the Palestinian Authority in January 2006 the Israelis imposed economic sanctions against the enclave. At the time, Dov Weisglass, an advisor to the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
The following year, Israel declared Gaza to be a “hostile entity” and tightened further its sanctions regime. By adopting this designation, the Israeli cabinet had in effect voted to keep Gaza under a permanent state of siege.
Repeated calls by world leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon, to end the blockade have all fallen on deaf ears. In 2010, Mr Ban condemned the blockade, saying that it caused “unacceptable sufferings.” Today, international aid agencies have confirmed that 80 per cent of Gaza’s inhabitants are aid dependent because of unemployment and poverty created by the Israeli siege.
It has now become abundantly clear that the aims of the blockade have gone well beyond the near-starvation proposed by Weisglass; it has been extended to ensure that young Palestinians in Gaza are even denied the basic right to an education. According to the Palestinian ministry of education, the blockade is currently impeding the building of 55 schools in the territory.
Internally, political analysts and observers in Gaza don’t expect 2016 to be any better than last year. There is a general sense among most that without a resolution of the differences between the two main factions, Fatah and Hamas, things will not improve. Perhaps the most intractable factor in this dossier is who controls the Rafah Crossing.
This week, a new formula has been proposed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Islamic Jihad and other factions to resolve the issue. It suggests the appointment of an independent body of technocrats to oversee the border with the reappointment of those Fatah officials who were removed when Hamas took over the territory in 2007. At the same time, it stipulates that those officials employed by Hamas should retain their positions. An agreement on this formula between Fatah and Hamas could pull the rug from under the feet of the Egyptian government and nudge it to reopen the crossing.
Another ray of hope comes from the ongoing talks between Turkey and Israel, both of whom have now decided to normalise relations. While Israel has agreed to some of the Turkish conditions —notably an apology for the Freedom Flotilla attack in 2010 and compensation for the victims’ families — one condition remains hanging in the balance: Ankara’s demand for an end to the blockade of Gaza. As it has done so many times in the past, Israel has agreed to an “easing” of the restrictions but, as before, it has not actually defined what that means. If past experience is anything to go by, it means very little.
Sources close to the talks, though, have told MEMO that Turkey has proposed the construction of a sea port in Gaza and offered to administer it. So far Benjamin Netanyahu and his government remain implacably opposed to this. Nevertheless, although it will be a bitter pill to swallow it may actually be the best face-saving device for the Israelis to accept. After all, Israeli commentators and intelligence officials alike have realised that instead of weakening Hamas the blockade has strengthened the movement.
While it is hard to imagine a year worse than 2015, Gaza is caught in a downward spiral from which it will be difficult to escape. However, this Turkish proposal provides a chink of light that, with goodwill, could lead to 2016 not being as bad as last year after all. Some courageous steps are needed to make it work, but it is possible. to 2016 not being as bad as last year after all. Some courageous steps are needed to make it work, but it is possible.
May 2003 – A report by Sandra Jordan for Channel 4’s Dispatches and Unreported World
Palestinian civilians live under the threat of Israeli Defence Force attacks that do not discriminate between militants and children. Israeli settlers live in fear of suicide attacks. But it is not only Palestinians and Israelis who are dying. Since the Gulf war, three Westerners have come under Israeli army attack.
An American peace activist was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer; a British peace protester was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper and remains in a coma; and a British cameraman was shot dead by the Israelis.
Within hours of arriving Sandra and Rodrigo are shot at and tear-gassed by Israeli troops breaking up a memorial service for Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist crushed by an Israeli Army bulldozer two days before.
That sets the tone for a five-week stay in which they document the shooting by Israeli troops of the British peace campaigner Tom Hurndall, the death of James Miller, the award-winning cameraman who worked extensively for Channel 4, killed as he filmed Israeli troops bulldozing Palestinian homes, and the deaths and mutilation of many innocent Palestinians and Israelis.
As the American Historical Association (AHA) prepares to vote this week on a symbolic resolution that affirms support for the right to education in the occupied Palestinian territories, apologists for the Israeli regime’s policies against Palestinians are putting forward nonsensical rationalizations for their opposition to the measure. Writing in History News Network, University of Maryland History Professor Jeffrey Herf essentially argues that his profession has no practical value: “as historians we have neither the knowledge nor expertise to evaluate conflicting factual assertions about events in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”
If historians should not evaluate the veracity of factual assertions about an issue then what exactly is the use of historical studies? To merely compile and organize documents? Surely a historian’s job involves analytical — in addition to technical — skills. And surely their methods include empirical analysis – no different than a scientist testing a theory. If someone says the earth is round but another person says the earth is flat, that doesn’t mean the scientist should throw his hands up in the air and say “as scientists we have neither the knowledge nor expertise to evaluate conflicting factual assertions.”
Historians analyzing political questions use the same principles as scientists testing a theory. Take, for example, conflicting accounts of the actions of the Belgians under King Leopold in the Congo near the end of the 19th century. Leopold claimed he treated the Congolese people benevolently as part of his “Christian duty” to help the poor. Others claimed Leopold’s forces were engaged in the systematic plunder of resources carried out through massive violence. They described women held hostage by Belgian forces to force Congolese men to engage in involuntary labor, with the hands of those who did not produce enough rubber for the colonists cut off and kept as trophies.
According to Herf’s axiom, historians would not have the ability to distinguish between these competing claims. It would be outside the scope of the historical vocation to evaluate the available evidence and reach a conclusion about the truth.
In the Congo, the African American historian George Washington Williams worked tirelessly to document the true condition of the local population under Belgian rule. As Adam Hochschild explains in his book King Leopold’s Ghost, Williams’s insistence on questioning the official narrative enabled him to uncover and expose the brazen lies meant to cover up the genocidal destruction of an entire society for the material enrichment of a tyrant.
“Williams was a pioneer among American historians in the use of nontraditional sources. He sensed what most academics only began to acknowledge nearly a hundred years later: that in writing the history of powerless people, drawing on conventional, published sources is far from enough,” Hochschild writes.
Much like the Belgian regime in the Congo more than a century ago, the state of Israel today covers up its crimes against Palestinians by denial, deflection and counter-accusations. They rely on the support of apologists in media, government, civil society, and academia to side with authority by accepting their justifications at face value.
Herf writes that “(i)t is fair to insist that where there is an indictment, we must pay attention to the case for the defense.” Absolutely true. But we must pay attention to the evidence for the case itself, not merely conclude that the existence of a defense means there is no way to draw a conclusion about the facts.
Herf requested a response from the Israeli Embassy on accusations presented in the AHA resolution. Among their claims are that the movement of faculty, staff and visitors in the West Bank are not limited except occasionally because “Palestinian universities periodically serve as sites of violence and incitement.”
The evidence is overwhelming that movement in the West Bank is severely limited and adversely impacts education. A UN report found that checkpoints, settler violence, and long commutes present risks to West Bank students. Another UN report documented 542 obstacles to movement in the West Bank. Students from Gaza are denied permission to study in the West Bank, a policy that has been criticized by Amnesty International. The policy has been endorsed by Israel’s High Court. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have raided West Bank universities. Visiting academics are denied entry to the West Bank. After arbitrarily being denied entry to deliver several lectures there, world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky compared his treatment by Israeli authorities to that of Stalinist regimes.
There is no evidence presented, however, to support the claim that Palestinian universities serve as sites of violence and incitement.
Herf also quotes the Israeli Embassy defending their bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza (IUG) in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge “not because it was a university but because it was used by the terrorist organization Hamas to manufacture and fire rockets at Israeli civilians.”
First, it should be noted that Hamas is not recognized as a terrorist organization by the United Nations. The description carries exactly as much weight as Hamas calling the Israeli regime a terrorist organization. But that is beside the point. The accusation is that Hamas used the university to make and fire rockets.
The source provided for this claim is “Israeli military intelligence officials.” After the bombing, the IDF claimed to target a “weapons development center” within the university. This is a predictable accusation. The IDF made similar accusations after bombing the same university in 2008. A UN report on that conflict “did not find any information about their use as a military facility or their contribution to a military effort that might have made them a legitimate target.”
Rami Almeghari, who teaches journalism at IUG, noted in the Electronic Intifada that the university is not run by Hamas or any other political party. Students and faculty, like those at any higher educational institutional, have varied political affiliations. Many others, like himself, belong to no party.
“Contrary to what Israel claims,” Almeghari writes, “Gaza universities do not have departments dedicated to military research or training. This is in contrast to Israeli universities which play an integral role in the military occupation and weapons development and have actively promoted the onslaught in Gaza.”
None of the Israeli government’s accusations are substantiated by anything other than its own word – which should be treated with the same skepticism as any criminal defendant pleading his innocence. On the other hand, a mountain of evidence from independent sources (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UNESCO, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Institute for Middle East Understanding, B’Tselem, etc.) supports the accusations in the AHA resolution.
The idea that evaluating contrasting factual assertions and reaching a judgment is outside the scope of a historian’s profession is asinine. This notion is beneficial for the propagation of state propaganda, but devastating for the advancement of human rights, including the right to education.
As scores of Palestinians have died at the hands of Israeli forces over the past three months, The New York Times has endeavored to hide the full story of this bloodbath, emphasizing Israeli losses, ignoring the majority of Palestinian deaths, and promoting a narrative that shields trigger-happy troops and obscures facts to the point of deceit.
Thus, a recent story about deadly attacks in Tel Aviv tells us that “at least 20” Israelis have been killed since Oct. 1 and about 130 Palestinians, “up to two-thirds of them while carrying out attacks, or attempting to attack Israelis, according to the police. Others have been killed in clashes with the Israeli security forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and along Israel’s border with Gaza.”
In other words, the Times is saying that Israeli troops were justified in these killings because they were trying to repel deadly attacks or responding to “clashes” with the army or police. This is the message we are to hear, and readers are unlikely to notice that its source is none other than those responsible for a significant number of Palestinian deaths—the Israeli police.
The Times betrays its claim of neutrality by ignoring other sources. Nothing is said of reports by alternative media and human rights groups that accuse Israeli forces of carrying out extrajudicial executions and killing Palestinians who pose no possible threat to security forces or civilians. Likewise, nothing is said of those victims who were taking no part in demonstrations but were merely bystanders or passers-by when they were killed.
The Times, omitting contrary evidence, thus leaves readers with the impression that all of the Palestinian dead were killed as they participated in acts of violence.
At the same time the Times has been quick to name Israeli casualties but has provided identities for only a fraction of the Palestinians. Virtually every Israeli victim has been identified in stories by Times reporters, while only some 34 Palestinians out of more than 130 were mentioned by name. (Some, however, may have been identified in wire services reports that appear briefly online.)
This tally was based on a search of Times stories out of its Jerusalem bureau, using a published list of those killed since Oct. 1. It shows a grossly lopsided preference for Israeli victims over Palestinians, with the names of more than 100 victims omitted from news reports.
Moreover, in the single instance when an Israeli victim was unnamed, the Times apologized, saying the man “was not immediately identified” but was said to be 45 years old and the father of seven.
By contrast, the Times often failed to report Palestinian deaths or it mentioned them almost as afterthoughts, as in this paragraph tucked into a story about dampened Christmas celebrations in the West Bank: “On Thursday, Israeli forces killed three young Palestinian men who they said were trying to carry out attacks. In one episode, a Palestinian tried to ram his vehicle into soldiers near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, lightly wounding a man before he was shot dead.”
The man who was said to have “tried to ram his vehicle into soldiers” had a name. It was Wisam Abu Ghweila; he was from Qalandiya refugee camp, and according to the International Middle East Media Center, there is much more to his story than appeared in the Times.
Abu Ghweila drove his car “too close to a roadblock,” IMEMC reported, and lightly struck a soldier in the process. “Instead of addressing the situation as if it were an accident,” the story continues, “Israeli troops immediately began to empty their guns at the suspect, wounding him severely.”
Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that soldiers shot more than 30 rounds at Abu Ghweila’s car and allowed the injured soldier to receive medical care but left Abu Ghweila unattended as he lay dying in his car.
B’Tselem, an Israeli monitoring group, has reported on other cases in which troops have denied medical care to wounded Palestinians, and alternative media often give accounts of ambulances and medics being denied access to injured victims. The Times, however, makes no mention of these charges, even though some are backed by video evidence.
Israeli media have also reported killings that never appear in the Times. One of these involved a teenage girl who was shot as she sat in the back seat of her family car. The story in Haaretz was titled “The Face of Collateral Damage” and carried this subhead: “Samah Abdallah, 18, from a little-known Palestinian village in the West Bank, was shot dead, either on purpose or by accident—but most assuredly without legitimate reason.”
The Times made no mention of this incident, which took place near Nablus, nor did it report on the death of a mother of four, an inexperienced driver, who was killed in a hail of bullets when she drove slowly through a checkpoint and failed to stop in time. Haaretz, however, told her story under this headline: “A Palestinian Mother of Four, Shot 17 Times for Being a Bad Driver.”
This unfortunate woman, Mahdia Hammad, appears in the Times merely as one of the “about 130” Palestinian killed in the past three months. As in dozens of other cases, the fact of her death at the hands of Israeli security forces received no notice at all, not even a brief paragraph citing officials’ claims that they had “neutralized” a would-be attacker.
These incidents expose the deception inherent in the Times’ claim that Palestinian casualties have occurred only during attacks on Israelis or during “clashes” with security forces.
This self-serving narrative, however, is what Israeli officials want us to believe, and the Times is a willing co-conspirator, showing an appalling indifference to the mounting death toll among Palestinians. It gives credence only to the official reports of police and army spokespersons, the groups most responsible for the bloodshed, turning its back on respected sources and betraying its readers and its own stated values of journalistic ethics.
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The United Nations expert on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories has resigned, complaining that the Tel Aviv regime continues to deny him access to the areas he is tasked with monitoring.
In a Monday statement, the UN said Makarim Wibisono submitted his resignation to President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Rucker earlier in the day.
It said Wibisono, who will effectively quit his job as of March 31, had “expressed deep regret that, throughout his mandate, Israel failed to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Wibisono has been in charge of monitoring rights violations in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli regime has time and again prevented the UN official from visiting the areas.
In June 2015, Israel denied Wibisono access to the Gaza Strip, where he was to investigate the aftermath of Tel Aviv’s 2014 war that killed over 2,200 Palestinians in the blockaded coastal enclave. The regime said at the time that the mandate handed to the UN official’s team was “anti-Israel,” and that it was exclusively focused on cases of Israeli rights violations.
Last November, Wibisono, and the expert on summary executions, Christof Heyns, slammed Israel for using excessive force and carrying out summary executions against Palestinians amid a surge in tensions in the occupied territories, where Palestinians have held almost daily anti-Israel protests since early October.
The latest wave of tensions was triggered by Israel’s imposition in August of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.
The restrictions have enraged Palestinians, who are also angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers frequently storming the al-Aqsa Mosque, a place highly revered by the Muslims across the world.
The Palestinian protesters also say Israel has a covert plan for changing the status quo of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
At least 144 Palestinians have been killed since the violence erupted in various towns of West Bank and Gaza. Some of 25 Israelis have also died during the same period.
Over 65 violations of journalists’ rights
GAZA – Union of Islamic Radio Stations and Televisions-Palestine reported that Israeli forces committed 65 violations against the rights of journalists and pressmen in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip in the month of December.
The union underlined that Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists led to the martyrdom of the photographer Ahmad Jahajha, 23, who was called “photographer of martyrs”.
The violations included direct attacks in the field and shooting at journalists while covering the events of Jerusalem Intifada and weekly popular marches. The union pointed out that 25 injuries among Palestinians who work in journalism were the result of direct attacks. Three among the wounded were female journalists. Ten cases of injuries were due to indirect attacks.
The union’s report also revealed that nine cases of repeated detentions, extension of detention, and summoning of journalists were documented in December including the case of a foreign journalist.
Detained Palestinian journalist Mohammad al-Qik was exposed to repeated assaults eight times. He was tortured and maltreated during investigation rounds and banned from seeing his lawyer or family. He was held under administrative detention which was extended to six more months despite being on hunger strike.
The report revealed that Israeli occupation forces banned Palestinian journalists and pressmen from doing their jobs and covering events. Israeli troops withdrew press cards from five journalists and banned two others from travel in Gaza.
The Israeli violations also included search and storming campaigns as well as confiscation of press equipment and closure of institutions and offices. Piracy of over five electronic websites was another form of Israeli violations. The webpage of al-Aqsa TV Channel was stopped and permanently deleted.
At the interior level, the union documented ten violations by the Palestinian Authority’s forces including ban orders against al-Aqsa satellite channel and tightening the noose on the team of Palestine Today satellite channel as well as summoning and detaining four journalists and assaulting four others.