Palestine Update 469
Israel taken by surprise, in a conflict it failed to see coming
On one of the most shattering nights in recent Israeli history — with hundreds of Hamas rockets battering the country, and a violent minority of Israel’s own Arab populace targeting its Jews — the most disconcerting moments were those that showed the nation how profoundly Israel’s political leaders and security chiefs were taken by surprise. Hours after Hamas launched what appears to have been its most concentrated rocket assault on central Israel, with a reported 130 rockets fired from Gaza, the prime minister, defense minister, army chief and Shin Bet head convened a joint press conference late Tuesday whose goals were plainly to reassure a nation under attack and to urge the population to heed life-saving security precautions.
Do you think peace will ever arrive to the region?
(Excerpts from an article by Sara Abdallah*)
“Imagine waking up one day to a knock on your door, being told that you must leave your home, one that your grandparents had built with their blood, sweat and tears. Should you choose to not listen, then you will be forcibly removed through military power”
While the rest of the world is urged to stay at home and stay safe from a vicious virus, Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem have been fighting against being illegally and forcibly removed from their homes, homes they have been living in for generations. Under international law, East Jerusalem legally belongs to the Palestinian territories. However, Israel has been illegally occupying it for many years now. One of the many ways it does so is by helping illegal Israeli settlers take the homes of Palestinians in Palestinian neighborhoods, leaving Palestinians homeless.
An Israeli court ruled that six families in Sheikh Jarrah are to leave their homes by force, for illegal Jewish settlers to live in instead. This situation is accompanied by Israeli forces attacking worshippers inside Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest place of worship for Muslims. Israeli forces have continuously attacked men, women, and children while they pray, by breaking the mosque’s windows, shooting rubberised steel bullets, and throwing stun grenades at worshippers inside the mosque, leaving hundreds injured and denying them medical help. In addition to the attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque, there have also been continuous attacks against the Romanian Church Monastery in Jerusalem.
The situation in Palestine now is not a matter of religion. It is a matter of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, oppression and violence against the Palestinians, be they Muslims, Christians, or any other group. It is a matter of human rights. The right to live freely. The right to live in a house you built. A house you worked hard to turn into a home. A home that is stolen from you within a day and night.
Palestinians do not have any military power or financial aid the way Israel does. But what they do have is a voice. What people can do is bring enough awareness that itself creates change. That is what Palestinians and their allies have been doing worldwide, by sharing images, videos, information on all social media platforms, using hashtags such as #savesheikhjarrah, and #redforpalestine.
This situation is perhaps one of the most frustrating things I have ever had to experience. We must start changing the rhetoric and start calling it what it is. It is not an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because a conflict implies that both sides have somewhat equal amounts of power. The reality is far from it. This is the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, their oppression. This is apartheid.
Sarah Abdalla is a 25-year-old Maltese-Palestinian who graduated in English Bachelors and read for a Masters degree in Humanitarian Action. She lives in Malta.
Al Mezan warns of unprecedented deterioration in humanitarian conditions in Gaza as Israel continues hostilities
Israeli authorities shut down the only two functioning crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip (Erez and Kerem Shalom) and prohibited access to Palestinian waters for all naval activity, including fishing. The restrictions come in concert with an intense series of airstrikes launched by Israeli air forces that have impacted civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza in particular.
The closing of Erez crossing has particular implications on the lives of medical patients—in particular cancer and other critically ill patients—who, due to the protracted de-development of Gaza’s healthcare sector, are forced to seek adequate care in hospitals in the West Bank and Israel. In practical terms, the closing of Erez means that these patients now face an imminent risk of losing their lives.
Al Mezan expresses its serious concern at Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza that entails breaches of the international humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality, and humanity. This enhanced form of collective punishment will further deprive over two million Palestinians of access to sufficient electricity, as it coincides with the shutdown of a generator at Gaza’s sole power plant due to lack of fuel. Al Mezan calls on the international community to take swift and concrete action to bring to an end Israel’s increased restrictions on Gaza’s civilian population.
Nine children killed in Gaza Strip as violence escalates
In the first incident, an Israeli drone-fired missile killed a 15-year-old shortly after 6 p.m. while he and his father were on their agricultural land outside the city of Jabalia. Father and son were both killed instantly. In a second incident around 6:05 p.m., initial investigations suggest a homemade rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group fell short and killed eight Palestinians, including two children. In a third incident, six Palestinian children and two adults were killed in a blast that occurred around 6 p.m. in Beit Hanoun about 800 meters west of the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. DCIP has not yet confirmed the cause of these deaths. At the time of the incident, Israeli drones and warplanes were reportedly overhead and Palestinian armed groups were firing homemade rockets towards Israel. DCIP continues to investigate these incidents to determine and identify the responsible parties.
Israeli forces must not carry out indiscriminate airstrikes in densely populated areas that fail to distinguish between military targets, civilians, and civilian objects. Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups must take all steps necessary to conduct any hostilities in accordance with international law and protect civilians, especially children. These latest incidents follow weeks of mounting tension as Israeli settlers, with Israeli government support, seek to expel hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.