Palestine Update 503
Israeli policies strike torment and swell Palestinian insecurity
It is pertinent to ask racist media sources who the real terrorists in the West Bank are – The resistance fighters or the settlers? In a report by the media outlet ‘Ahlul Bayat News Agency’, we read that a group of Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), stormed Nabi Yusuf tomb in the occupied Palestinian city of Nablus earlier this week. The settlers arrived to the area in dozens of buses since the early morning hours and started performing Talmudic rituals in total provocation to the local residents. Meanwhile, IOF troops were intensively deployed throughout the neighboring streets to secure the settlers’ break-in. The escalation of violence by settlers is serious enough to warrant international scrutiny. The alleged sense of insecurity that Jews supposedly feel in Israel is nullified by the real facts on-the-ground in the West Bank. Settlers roam free armed and unchecked as if licensed to unleash violence without rhyme or reason except for the hate they feel towards Palestinians added to their avarice for more land and resources that they have no right to. Will the UN act in response to the call from Palestinians that radical settler groups be monitored and reined in?
In another barefaced action, Israel has virtually shut down Bethlehem to tourists. The Mayor of Bethlehem calls on the international community to stop Israel’s decision to prevent tourists from staying in Bethlehem. The Mayor stated he was “astonished to have been made aware of the instructions given by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism to tour operators preventing those groups from sleeping over in Bethlehem”. Tourism is the mainstay of the Bethlehem economy and this closure is a severe battering on the livelihoods of almost every inhabitant of the city.
As if such punitive measures were not sufficient, the Knesset has approved a bill that allows Israeli police to search homes of violent crime suspects without a prior court order. This is an invasive measure that strikes at the very dignity and essential rights of Palestinian families who have the right to live in peace in their own homes. The Israeli measure does not even require a warrant. It takes advantage of a poor law and order situation (Israeli failure) to justify such action. And in Qalansuwa in central Israel, dozens of shop owners have been evicted under the flimsy pretext of improper licensing.
In a blow to global democracy, the UNHRC which, last year, had approved the institution of “an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Israel and Palestine” must now face opposition by the USA.
Finally, a faint rainbow! Face book will allow an independent investigation into moderation of Arabic/Hebrew posts after being accused of removing and suppressing pro-Palestine content.
UN urged to dispatch teams to monitor Israeli settlers’ actions
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh today called on the United Nations to dispatch teams to the occupied Palestinian territories to monitor actions by Israeli settlers against the Palestinian civilian population, particularly during the current olive harvest season. Terrorism by Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers in the occupied West Bank who are harvesting their olive crops will not frighten them because they are the true owners of the land. Shtayyeh called on the United Nations to establish a database of settlers involved in these acts of terrorism in order to prosecute them, stressing that terrorizing farmers and preventing them from harvesting their olive crops will not deter them from reaching their land and proceeding in the harvest. He said that the building of a bus station for settlers south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on a large area of Palestinian land is only another step to annex these lands in violation of international law.
Mayor of Bethlehem calls on the international community to stop Israel’s decision to prevent tourists from staying in Bethlehem
The Mayor Bethlehem Anton Salman sent letters of protest to the embassies and diplomatic missions accredited in Palestine against the decision of the Israeli Minister of Tourism to prevent tourists from sleeping in Bethlehem.
The letters said: “It is with deep outrage and concern that we are addressing you with regard to the situation of tourism in the city of Bethlehem and the rest of the occupied State of Palestine.
Bethlehem has suffered over the past two years from the absence of tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, when a few groups of pilgrims and tourists have been allowed into the country, the Mayor expressed he was “astonished to have been made aware of the instructions given by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism to tour operators preventing those groups from sleeping over in Bethlehem”. The letters added that the information available with Bethlehem’s municipality is that certain tour operators are allowed to request special permits for the entry of groups through the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. That list of tour operators already excludes those based in Bethlehem or any other place under the limited control of the Palestinian government. The approval for groups has to include the tour operator delivering a scheduled agenda for the group, which cannot include sleeping overnight in Bethlehem. Rather they allow limited visits that avoid interaction with our people and local businesses, disregarding all the preparations that we have conducted in order to welcome foreign tourists.
Bethlehem municipality reminded diplomatic missions that Israel, the occupying power, continues to prevent Palestine from operating its own airport or having any control over border crossings, making it almost impossible for our touristic sector to settle its own policies with regards to welcoming foreign tourists. Bethlehem governorate is hugely affected by Israel’s illegal schemes-settlement policies, the annexation wall and the artificial separation from Jerusalem. They have limited control over only around 13% of our own land.
Israeli Government Approves Bill Allowing Police to Search Homes without Warrant
The Israeli government approved Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s proposal to allow Israeli police to search homes of violent crime suspects without a prior court order, Israeli media reported. The law authorizes Israeli police to search for suspects or for weapons in cases deemed “serious crimes”. While explaining the reasons behind such a move, Sa’ar said that this is just one of the laws he is going to propose to fight crime, especially “in the Arab sector”, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“We are at war,” Sa’ar was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying, “so we need to give the police and local authorities’ better tools to help them succeed in their mission.” Last week, Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai pushed for a measure that would allow the so-called ‘Administrative Detention’ to be used against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Palestinian citizens, who make up 20 percent of the population in Israel, believe that Israeli occupation authorities are purposely ignoring rising crime rates in their community and that they are taking advantage of the situation to adopt ‘anti-democratic’ measures.
Israel to Forcefully Evict Palestinian Citizens from Their Stores
Israel intends to forcefully evict dozens of Palestinian store owners from their stores in the Palestinian city of Qalansuwa in central Israel, the official Palestinian news agency. Israeli officers of the Northern Planning and Building Committee handed notices to 30 Palestinian citizens, ordering them to evict their stores. Israeli authorities claim that the stores are built on lands zoned as industrial.
The Israeli committee granted the store owners 30 days to comply with the orders. Otherwise, each one will be fined 600,000 shekels (around USD $190,000). The Palestinian store owners described the eviction orders as a “catastrophe” that would befall hundreds of Palestinian families who depend on the stores for livelihood and result in economic losses and uncertainty.
US to Oppose UN Human Rights Council’s ‘Disproportionate’
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday that the United States has concerns with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and will oppose its “disproportionate” attention on Israel, Reuters news agency reported. The remarks came as the US reinstated its membership in the UNHRC, reversing former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal in June 2018. “We have concerns with the council,” Price said according to Reuters, adding that the US “will vigorously oppose the council’s disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the council’s only standing agenda item targeting a single country.” Last May, the UNHRC issued a statement announcing the establishment of “an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Israel and Palestine.
Facebook to allow independent investigation into suppressing pro-Palestinian content
Facebook will allow an independent investigation into content moderation of Arabic and Hebrew posts after the social media giant has been accused of removing and suppressing pro-Palestine content. “We have partnered with a non-profit to conduct human rights due diligence of Facebook’s impacts during May-June’s intensified violence in Israel and Palestine.” The tech company will publicly communicate the results of the investigation in 2022.
Activists and rights groups have accused the social media giant, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, of censoring Palestinians and supporters following the removal of pro-Palestinian posts “The company’s acknowledgment of errors and attempts to correct some of them are insufficient and do not address the scale and scope of reported content restrictions, or adequately explain why they occurred in the first place,” said the report. “Facebook has suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine. Facebook censorship threatens to restrict a critical platform for learning and engaging on these issues.” Human Rights Watch documented that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, removed posts, including reposts of content from mainstream news organizations.