Palestine Update 414
Endless warnings of Gaza’s collapse we are failing to prevent
“For years, well-intentioned reports have cautioned about the strip’s “impending” collapse. But this endless forecasting has only given cover to the public health crises that exist right now, stalling our impetus for action until it was too late. These crises are unacceptable in the current pandemic, but they were just as unacceptable at any point in the last 20 years. Whether it is a future war, the outcomes of climate crisis, or another pandemic, we can be sure that Gaza will face more threats to public health in the coming years. A fundamental shift in how we balance the national security of one population with the human security of another is essential. Ultimately, Gaza is an inherently livable place, as evidenced by the 2 million Palestinians residing there – but we need to make it so.”
Incursion of Israeli bulldozers into the Gaza Strip destroys crops
October 18, 2020. In the morning hours of Tuesday, October 13, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered Gaza, reaching up to 300 meters into the Strip. The incursion took place in the Khan Yunis District, near Khuzaa and Abasan Al Kabireh, damaging wide swaths of farmland. According to Gaza-based human rights organization Al Mezan, the last time an incursion resulted in such serious damage to crops in Gaza was in 2014. The Israeli army regularly conducts incursions into the “buffer zone” area in Gaza, including entering with bulldozers and heavy equipment in order to raze vegetation, flatten roads and expose the terrain. Israel has claimed this activity is necessary for “security reasons.” Figures released by Al Mezan indicate that between January and August 2020 Israel invaded Palestinian farmland near Gaza’s parameter fence on 34 occasions.
Hassan Shahin, one of the farmers who witnessed the incursion, told Gisha that he and his peers saw the tanks and bulldozers entering the Strip, but could not have foreseen the scale of the destruction they would cause. Shahin has an eight-dunam plot (almost two acres) near Jakar Road, which runs parallel to the fence at a distance of about 300 meters from it, where he grows eggplants with his uncle, Yousef. They chose to grow eggplants because they are relatively inexpensive and because theplants are not tall; they believed that this would dissuade Israel from flattening their land. Shahin says his uncle stood in front of the bulldozers, holding up his eggplants and waving at them to stop, but to no avail.
Gaza unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2020: 49.1%
September 21, 2020. According to figures (Arabic) by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Gaza increased by 3.6% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter, and by 2.4% compared to the second quarter of 2019, now standing at 49.1%. The figures released cover April through June 2020, meaning they do not reflect the additional impact of measures imposed by local authorities since the outbreak of community transmission of coronavirus in Gaza during August 2020, which have further reduced employment.
The rate of participation in the workforce in Gaza during the second quarter of 2020 was 34.5%, a drop of roughly 11% compared to the previous quarter. According to the figures, some 42,900 people in Gaza lost their source of income since the end of March 2020; 15,201 of them in the service and hotel industry.
The root problem of poverty in Palestine is not Covid-19, but Israel’s colonialism
The UN’s non-binding and generalized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have provided a diversion in current EU and Palestinian politics. On the brink of experiencing additional dispossession and forced displacement as the normalization agreements between Israel and Gulf states open the door to more anti-Palestine diplomacy in the region, Palestinians have been swept to the periphery as officials debate ambiguities instead of seeking ways to counter Israel’s next expansionist phase.
Decades since the international community transformed Palestine into a humanitarian agenda against the will of the Palestinian people, poverty has not abated in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. There is a huge discrepancy between what Israel receives in military aid from the US and grants from the EU, as well as its income from arms and technology sales, and the Palestinian Authority’s budget scraped together from what amounts to compensation for retaining its role as a recipient of humanitarian aid instead of political and diplomatic assistance. This has ensured a perpetual imbalance in the conflict that can only be corrected if the international community adopts a position in favour of decolonization as the first step for the Palestinian people to reclaim what they rightfully own.
Palestinian woman appointed ‘Save our Future’ Global Ambassador to defend right of children to education
The global movement “Save our Future” for education – which defends the right of children to education – appointed the Palestinian young woman, Mai al-Qaisi as a global ambassador to defend the rights of refugee children to education, today said a press release by ActionAid Palestine. Mai exerted tireless efforts in implementing musical and educational initiatives seeking to develop the education and well-being of Palestinian refugee children in the south of West Bank. She also leads the youth program implemented by ActionAid Palestine, said the press release.
Mai is a Palestinian young woman and daughter of refugee parents. She was raised in Jibreen refugee camp near Bethlehem in the south of West Bank after her grandparents were displaced from their original village, Beit Jibreen, during the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948. She gained her secondary education in UWC Atlantic College and her university education in the University of Exeter in the field of international relations and political science. During her childhood, Mai joined many cultural and community organizations, initiatives and activities seeking to promote the rights and wellbeing of Palestinian children in general and refugee children in particular. She has also participated in many international and local activities and conferences since she was a little child using means of culture, art and dialogue to convey the suffering of Palestinian children to the world.
EU’s hypocritical approach to Israeli occupation
In theory, Europe and the US stand on opposite sides when it comes to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the US government has fully embraced the tragic status quo created by 53 years of Israeli military occupation, the EU continues to advocate a negotiated settlement that is predicated on respect for international law.
In practice, however, despite the apparent rift between Washington and Brussels, the outcome is essentially the same. The US and Europe are Israel’s largest trading partners, weapons suppliers and political advocates.
One of the reasons the illusion of an even-handed Europe has been maintained for so long lies in the Palestinian leadership. Politically and financially abandoned by Washington, the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the EU as its only possible savior. “Europe believes in the two-state solution,” PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said during a video discussion with the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs last week. Europe’s continued advocacy of the defunct two-state solution qualifies it to fill the massive gap created by Washington’s absence.
Netanyahu shops in Washington with perilous military shopping list
The recent deals spearheaded by US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to normalize relations between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel offered something for everyone. The two Gulf States formalized secret relations going back years, in their mutual fight against arch-rival Iran. After signing the Abraham Accords, Israel, one of the largest arms exporters in the world, may now sell billions in weapons and cyber-surveillance technology openly in the Gulf. No longer will Israeli firms have to create foreign shell companies to conceal their dealings with the Arab world.
The US has committed to maintaining Israel’s military superiority in the region … at the expense of the peace and security of Arab nations who lack these advanced weapons. Israel, in turn, will earn the legitimacy it has craved for generations. Instead of a decades-long boycott and Israel being a dirty word in the Arab world, it has broken through previously impenetrable barriers. Instead of the “three no’s”, Israel now basks in the glow of Arab recognition. It finds itself an indispensable ally of nations that once hated it.
Israel and its new allies now offer a formidable front against their joint enemy, Iran. They can plot to undermine the Islamic Republic’s presence throughout the region, notably in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. These countries are riven with rivalries and conflict; now, hostilities will be further intensified.