Palestinians Slam ‘Provocative’ Brazil Embassy Move To Jerusalem

A picture taken on October 28, 2018, shows the Israeli and Brazilian flags hanging outside the building housing the offices of the Brazilian Embassy, in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro declared that he will move the embassy to Jerusalem if he is elected. JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

A senior Palestinian official on Friday condemned Brazilian far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that he would move his country’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

“These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilise security and stability in the region,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told AFP.

The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, sparking fury among Palestinians, who consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state.

“It is very unfortunate that Brazil has joined this negative alliance against international law,” Ashrawi said.

On Thursday Bolsonaro tweeted that “as previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

“Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as “historic”.

Only the United States and Guatemala currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, while other countries have theirs in Tel Aviv.

Israel occupied Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its capital.

For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.

AFP

Palestinians Protest Against Israel’s Jewish Nation Law

People chant slogans during a protest in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.
ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

 

Palestinians held a general strike on Monday to protest Israel’s controversial Jewish nation-state law while also commemorating the deaths of 13 people killed in clashes with police in October 2000.

In annexed east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, schools and many businesses were closed, AFP journalists reported.

Demonstrations were planned later in the day in the West Bank city of Ramallah as well as in the Arab Israeli community of Jatt in northern Israel.

Jerusalem’s historic Old City, located in the city’s mainly Palestinian eastern sector, was especially quiet.

The strike is “against the policy pursued by Israel in order to erase Palestinian nationalism and the displacement of citizens from their land”, Ramallah resident Khaled Abu Ayoush said.

Mahmud Hamed however kept his bakery outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City open.

“We are a bakery,” he said. “In wars, in strikes, people usually need a break.”

On October 1, Arab Israelis and Palestinians commemorate the deaths of those killed in a series of clashes with police in 2000 during protests in support of the second Palestinian intifada.

Twelve Israeli Arabs and a Palestinian were killed in the clashes in October 2000.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said the strike was also against Israel’s Jewish nation-state law and to show solidarity with the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar.

Israel plans to demolish the Bedouin village, which it says was built illegally, despite international calls for it not to do so.

The nation-state law was passed in July and forms part of Israel’s basic laws — a de facto constitution.

It speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and says they have a “unique” right to self-determination there.

Because it omits any reference to equality or the country’s democratic nature, Israeli Arabs charge that it will legalise discrimination.

Arabs account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s nearly nine million population.

Monday was also a holiday for Israelis marking the end of the weeklong festival of Sukkot.

AFP

Workers At UN Agency For Palestinians Protest Over Job Cuts

 

Closed gate of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a strike of all UNRWA institutions in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 24, 2018. 
SAID KHATIB / AFP

 

Staff at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees went on strike in the Gaza Strip on Monday to protest against job losses and US funding cuts.

The one-day strike closed more than 250 UNRWA schools in Gaza, as well as medical centers and food aid distribution points.

The United States has traditionally been UNRWA’s largest funder, providing around $350 million (300 million euros) a year.

But President Donald Trump has cut all support, sparking a funding crisis.

More than 250 jobs have been cut in Gaza and the West Bank so far, while hundreds of full-time roles have become part-time.

The refugee agency’s labor union is demanding the job cuts be reversed and its leaders say the strike could be the first of a number of measures.

A small protest took place outside of the agency’s Gaza headquarters.

“The strike comes in light of the (UNRWA) administration’s lack of responsiveness to the demands of the employees’ union and their insistence on not solving their problems,” Amal al-Batsh, deputy head of the union, said in a statement.

UNRWA says the funding deficit caused by the Trump administration’s withdrawal of support is so severe cuts are unavoidable.

Around 13,000 people work for the agency in Gaza, where more than two-thirds of the roughly two million residents are eligible for aid.

UNRWA says more than 200,000 Palestinians attend its schools in the strip.

AFP

Israel Admits To Shooting Palestinian At Gaza Border

Israeli troops take position as they clash with Palestinian youth in the Amari refugee camp near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank after they stormed the camp on May 28, 2018. 
ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

 

The Israeli army said Sunday that it shot and fatally wounded a Palestinian man who sought to damage the fence on the flashpoint Israel-Gaza border.

“Troops recognised a suspect who approached the security fence and attempted to sabotage it,” an English-language army statement said, adding that they opened fire at the man.

He was given medical treatment but “later on, the suspect succumbed to his wounds,” it added.

Palestinian security officials said that the dead man was Atef Mohammed Saleh, 32, from Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, near the border with Israel.

They said they did not know the circumstances of the shooting.

There have been regular protests along the border since March 30 as Palestinians demand the right to return to homes their families fled or were expelled from during the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.

At least 176 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since then.

Over the same period, one Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

Israel accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of manipulating the protests and of seeking to use them as cover to carry out attacks.

This week, Israel closed its only people crossing with Gaza after violent protests damaged the infrastructure.

Israel said it would reopen the passage next Thursday providing the situation is calm.

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

AFP

Israel Rules Out Negotiations With Palestine

Israeli defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (C) speaks to reporters ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 15, 2018. RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP

 

Israel’s defence minister said Monday that negotiations with Palestinians on the situation in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank were pointless and that the country should act unilaterally.

Avigdor Lieberman’s remarks came as Egypt and the United Nations were working to forge a lasting ceasefire between Gaza rulers Hamas and Israel after months of tensions and violence.

“I’m aware of all the negotiations and all the mediators and everything going on there,” he said at a Jerusalem conference, in remarks relayed by his office.

“The negotiations, regardless of whether they’re on Ramallah or Gaza, won’t lead us anywhere,” he said.

“All the negotiations have led us to a dead end, therefore we need to act on the Palestinian issue — regarding Ramallah and Gaza — unilaterally, and define the reality unilaterally, according to our understanding,” Lieberman said.

The outspoken minister reiterated the strategy of enabling more commerce and travel in and from the blockaded Gaza Strip in return for a decrease in militant activity from the Palestinian enclave and clashes along the border.

“The average Gazan concerned about his livelihood and how to feed his family must understand that whoever participates in terror activity harms his livelihood,” he said.

“Security quiet brings economic benefits.”

There have been months of tension along the border and several military-flare ups, but recent weeks have seen relative calm.

Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

AFP

Palestinians Kick As US Ends Funding For UN Agency

Abbas Calls For Mideast Peace Conference In Rare UN Speech
President of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a United Nations Security Council concerning meeting concerning issues in the Middle East, at UN headquarters, February 20, 2018 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Palestinians reacted angrily Saturday to a US decision to end all funding for the UN agency that assists three million needy refugees, seeing it as a new policy shift aimed at undermining their cause.

Washington, which until last year was by far the biggest contributor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees, announced on Friday that it would no longer make any contributions to the “irredeemably flawed operation.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has backed Israel in accusing the nearly 70-year-old agency of perpetuating the Middle East conflict by maintaining the idea that many Palestinians are refugees with a right to return to homes in what is now Israel, something they both oppose.

But to Palestinians, the right of return for the hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation is a central plank of their cause.

Its calling into question by Trump follows his December recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and axing of more than $200 million in bilateral aid for Gaza and the West Bank.

The new policy on Jerusalem overturned decades of precedent and prompted the Palestinian leadership to break off relations with the White House.

 ‘Cruel and irresponsible’ 

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashwrawi described the latest US move as “cruel and irresponsible”.

“The Palestinian refugees are already the victims who have lost their homes, livelihoods and security as a result of the creation of the state of Israel,” she said.

“Once again, they are being victimised by the US administration in support of Israel’s decades-long military occupation and impunity.”

UNRWA was already facing a financial crisis after Trump announced a $300 million funding freeze in January but now faces the threat of major closures to its network of schools and health centres.

In the impoverished Gaza Strip, where most children learn in UNRWA schools, the US decision has raised fears for their future education.

“If they stop the aid completely it would have a major effect on our children,” said Abu Mohammed Huweila, 40, from the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza.

Huweila, whose nine children have all attended UNRWA, called the move “an unjust decision” that went against their right to education.

‘Just cause’ 

Another Gaza resident, Hisham Saqallah, 55, said the US move was “political blackmail” that would merely increase unrest.

“If they stop aid to schools, this means destroying the futures of a large number of students and throwing them into the street,” he said.

“I do not think that it can eliminate our Palestinian cause. It is a just cause. If the aid is stopped, the Palestinian struggle will continue.”

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness called the US decision “highly regrettable,” saying the organisation would “try to make up the $217 million shortfalls”.

“If not some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people on the planet may well suffer,” he told AFP.

“People are going to become more desperate and marginalised,” he said, warning of “dramatic, widespread, profound and unpredictable” consequences.

‘New approaches’ 

Jordan, which is one of just two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, already announced plans to organise an emergency fund-raising conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the September 27 event aimed to secure alternative funding and “reaffirm that UNRWA is an organisation created by the UN General Assembly, with a clear and particular role, and this role must continue”.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US would “intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments and international stakeholders about new models and new approaches” for assisting needy Palestinians.

But Hugh Lovatt, Israel Palestine analyst at the European Council for Foreign Relations, said Washington would find scant support for its push for an alternative aid conduit.

He said it was an attempt to “unilaterally take the Palestinian right of return off the table”.

“But US actions are misguided, dangerous, and won’t work,” he said, since “neither Lebanon or Jordan can be expected to play along.”

And even if the US succeeds in eliminating UNRWA and changing the definition of the world’s 5.3 million registered Palestinian refugees, “Palestinian refugees will remain, and will keep demanding their right of return.”

AFP

Palestinians Killed In Gaza Fireworks Blast

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Palestinian Osama Abu Khater, who died of wounds he sustained after he was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip June 24, 2018. SAID KHATIB / AFP

 

Two Palestinians died and six others were injured in Gaza on Saturday when a blast went off in a fireworks factory, causing a fire, health and security officials said. 

Police in the Hamas-ruled territory have opened an investigation into the incident in the Shujaiya neighbourhood east of Gaza City.

Of the six injured, three were in critical condition and three others had moderate injuries, Gaza’s health ministry said.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

AFP

Two Gazans Shot Dead In Israel Border Clashes

The aunt of Yasser Abu al-Naja, a Palestinian youth in his early teens who was killed in border clashes near Khan Yunis, reacts at a hospital morgue in the Gaza Strip on June 29, 2018.
SAID KHATIB / AFP

 

Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians, one in his early teens, in border clashes Friday in the southern Gaza Strip, the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP a Palestinian youth aged about 13 was shot in the head near the town of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, without giving his name or exact age.

He added that 24-year-old Mohammed al-Hamayda was fatally wounded in the stomach by Israeli fire in a separate incident east of Rafah.

The Israeli army said that throughout the afternoon, “thousands of Palestinians participated in extremely violent riots and committed various acts of terror in several locations along the Gaza Strip security fence.”

An English-language statement said a hand-grenade and rocks were thrown at soldiers.

Israeli forces responded with “large amounts of riot dispersal means and in specific cases where these means did not succeed in negating the threat, resorted to live fire in accordance with the standard operating procedures,” it said.

The army said the reported death of the boy would be examined.

Since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30, at least 137 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The majority were involved in protests but others were seeking to breach or damage the border fence.

No Israelis have been killed.

On Thursday, Abdel Fattah Abu Azoum, 17, was hit in the head by fire from an Israeli tank near Rafah in southern Gaza.

The Israeli army said he and a companion were trying to break through the border fence.

Angry Palestinians Reject U.S. Peace Efforts

People chant slogans during a protest calling on President Mahmoud Abbas to end financial sanctions on Palestinians in Gaza, in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank on June 14, 2018.
ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

 

US efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are “doomed to fail”, the Palestinian Authority, which has frozen contacts with Washington because of its perceived bias, said Saturday.

PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told reporters that a regional tour next week by White House adviser Jared Kushner and US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, would produce “no results”.

According to Israeli media, they will visit Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“Without respect for Arab summit resolutions and those of the UN Security Council… and especially without the accord of the Palestinian people… (US peace efforts) will be doomed to fail and will destabilise the region,” Abu Rudeina said.

The Palestinians reacted furiously to Trump’s announcement in December recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving his country’s embassy there from Tel Aviv.

They consider east Jerusalem their future capital, insisting the future of the disputed city is an issue to be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The US embassy was opened on May 14, one day before the Palestinians commemorate their mass displacement in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.

AFP

Palestinians Wounded In Gaza Protests Die

South Africa Recalls Ambassador To Israel Over Gaza Deaths
Tear gas is fired at protestors during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018, following the controversial move to Jerusalem of the United States embassy. THOMAS COEX / AFP

 

Two Palestinians have died from their wounds after being shot Monday by Israeli troops during protests in the Gaza Strip, the territory’s health ministry said Saturday.

The two men killed were 20-year-old Mohammed Mazen Alyan and 58-year-old Moein Abdel-Hamid Al-Saai, the Hamas-run ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said Alyan was wounded east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, while other medical sources reported Al-Saai was wounded to the east of Gaza City.

The deaths bring to 61 the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire on Monday when thousands of Palestinians protested as the US officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Since March 30, Palestinian marchers have been demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.

A total of 118 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire on the border between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish State since then, according to authorities in Gaza, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas.

Israel says it has done everything it can to limit civilian casualties and has used lived ammunition only as a last resort.

The Israeli army accuses Hamas of using the cover of the demonstrations to approach and damage the border fence, including laying explosive devices and attacking soldiers, and insists its actions are necessary to defend the border and prevent mass infiltrations.

AFP

Gaza Death Toll Rises To 59 With More Protests Against Israel Planned

Palestinian demonstrators burn tyres near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, as Palestinians readied for protests over the inauguration of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. PHOTO: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

 

Fresh protests were expected Tuesday a day after Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians during clashes and protests along the Gaza border against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem in the conflict’s bloodiest day in years.

Palestinians on Tuesday mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

It comes a day after the United States transferred its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem in a move that infuriated the Palestinians and was widely condemned.

Most of the 59 Gazans who died Monday were shot by Israeli snipers, Gaza’s health ministry said.

The toll included a baby who died from tear gas inhalation along with eight children under the age of 16, the ministry said.

At least 2,400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya vowed protests in Gaza would continue on Tuesday.

Hamas’s armed wing and other militant groups “will not prolong their silence over the crimes of the occupation”, he said.

In the West Bank, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared a general strike on Tuesday after accusing Israel of “massacres”.

On Monday, tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

Protests and clashes

The death toll led to strong condemnation from rights groups and concern from a range of countries.

But the United States blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence, diplomats at the United Nations said.

Despite the violence, the embassy inauguration went on as planned in Jerusalem, attended by a Washington delegation that included US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides.

Trump addressed the gathering by video.

“Our greatest hope is for peace,” he said, despite the Palestinian anger the move has provoked.

Israel’s military said 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in the protests and clashes.

It said its aircraft had targeted 11 Hamas sites and tanks fired at “two terror posts belonging to Hamas”, accusing the Palestinian Islamist movement of opening fire towards Israeli forces.

Israel says its action is necessary to stop infiltrations of the border fence and claims that Hamas, which runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, uses the protests as cover to carry out violence.

The White House also blamed Hamas for the violence.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “violence of the Israeli armed forces against the protesters” as several countries urged restraint.

Britain’s minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt acknowledged “Israel’s right to defend its borders” but also said “the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning”.

“We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint,” he said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said “we expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “state terror” and “genocide.”

Turkey also said it was recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Israel “for consultations,” while South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel “until further notice”.

 ‘Terrorist squads’

At least 113 Palestinians have been killed in a campaign of protests along the Gaza border since March 30, the vast majority  by Israeli snipers during clashes.

Only one Israeli soldier has been reported wounded during that time.

On Monday, the army said “many rioters” tried to breach the border fence and “approximately 10 explosive devices and several firebombs were used to target the security fence and (Israeli) troops”. It said shots were also fired at the soldiers.

The embassy inauguration followed Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

International consensus has been that the city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides, but Trump broke with that to global outrage.

He has argued that it helps make peace possible by taking Jerusalem “off the table”, but many have noted he has not announced any concessions in return from Israel.

Beyond the disputed nature of Jerusalem, the date of the embassy move was also key. May 14 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

AFP

52 Palestinians Killed In Gaza Border Clashes

Palestinian demonstrators burn tyres near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, as Palestinians readied for protests over the inauguration of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. PHOTO: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

 

Fifty-two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during violent clashes Monday on the Gaza-Israel border coinciding with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the health ministry in the strip announced.

Tens of thousands took part in protests throughout the Gaza Strip, with some confronting Israeli soldiers along the border in the bloodiest day in the conflict since a 2014 war. More than 2,400 were wounded, the ministry said.

The protests ended for the day before sunset but fresh demonstrations are expected Tuesday.

AFP