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June 27, 2008
WAWA Blog June 27, 2008: Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in Occupied Palestinian Territory and an email from Zababdeh UPDATE:Leading by repeating July 25, 2007


I first visited the impoverished West Bank Christian village of Zababdeh in June 2005, with Dr. Khaled Diab, the founder of the Olive Trees Foundation for Peace. The first-and so far only- Olive Trees Foundation for Peace’s Keep Hope Alive Olive Grove and Playground is in Zababdeh. In June 2005, the grounds around the Melkite/Greek Catholic Church were rocky and barren.

Nine months later I returned with a SABEEL group and found the grounds had been transformed by the Melkite priest, Firas Khoury Diab-no relation to Dr. K. Diab, an American Palestinian Muslim.

Firas Diab built the decorative stone wall that embraces the area where one hundred trees, thick green ground cover, benches, a swing set and a slide now occupy the once desolate area.


 
He told my Sabeel group, “We need your love, we need your presence. We need your eyes and voices to share with the world the suffering of our people. We need you to come and see how we carry the Cross of Christ for we are the Living Stones; the forgotten one’s whose destiny is to love everyone, be they Jew, Muslim, Druze. We practice the love of our Lord and we ask you to tell your government we are people of peace!”


I last saw Fr. Frias Diab in July 2007, which is the UPDATE lead to the email I received from him on June 26, 2008.


ON July 25, 2007, I wrote:

The Long Winding Way to My Interview with Members of the Underground Fatah Resistance Movement


[Jenin, West Bank, 23 July 2007] My driver with VIP plates and I left Jerusalem at 9:45 AM and what had once been an hour and a half's drive took us nearly three, but the Palestinians we passed along the way stuck at the checkpoints might possibly still be waiting there...



Once we cleared Beirzeit, I took my first deep breath of fresh air and rested my eyes upon miles of mountain vistas of thousands of olive trees and a few Bedouins whose only shelter was a ripped plastic tent, and who were out grazing a small herd of sheep. There were scattered Arab homes, some quite palatial and then the familiar clumps of red roofed settlements built on the mountain tops and one mount occupied by a half dozen caravans/trailers: the first sign of a new colony.


When we got to the checkpoints, and only because we had the ‘right’ license plate, we were allowed to bypass the queue of scores of Palestinian cars and hundreds of individuals who waited underneath a metal enclosure like sardines in a tin can who are denied the freedom of movement.  I wondered why there weren’t at the least explosions of temper, for if such a scene happened in America, there would be an incredible outrage.


Racism is visible on the front of every motor vehicle, for Palestinian plates are green with white numbers; Israelis are yellow with black and VIP cars white with black. The latter two get waved on through, but green and white means you wait, wait, and wait.


When we approached the checkpoint at Wad Elbedar Valley, my driver confessed his anxiety, “I am very afraid of the Israeli’s but also this is dangerous territory; Nablus, Jenin and Qalquiylia.”

I smile and tell him, “Relax, we are doing nothing wrong and I am on a mission from God.”

The soldier who looked about twelve took my passport as I smiled my biggest smile at him.

“Where are you from?”

“America, I help pay your salary. Where are you from?”

“Israel.”

“You were born here?”

“Yes, Haifa.”

“Nice place.”

“Yes, very nice and what are you doing here?”

“I am visiting a priest in Zababdeh.”

“Okay, enjoy.”

“Thanks, bye bye.”


My driver then tells me, “The original plan was to take you only part way and then pass you onto a Palestinian driver, but you would be sitting in the line for hours, just like every Palestinian.”


In the West Bank there are no road signs, so at every fork in the road, my driver repeatedly flagged down taxi’s who all willingly stopped and graciously directed us the way we should go.


Ten minutes from Zababdeh, the priest I was to meet, pulls out in front of us and leads us the rest of the way to his home and church grounds, where the very first and only Olive Trees Foundation Olive Grove and Children Park took root in 2005. I have been to the property three times now, and my first time was as the Christian delegate for the non-profit Olive Trees Foundation for Peace, dedicated to raising awareness about the trees destroyed by The Wall and raising funds to help replant them.


After we greeted each other, I asked, “How did you just so happen to be on the road when we were passing through?”

“The Holy Spirit directed me,” he replied with a smile.


My second visit to the priest’s home and church was on March 14, 2006, as a member of a Sabeel [Arabic for The Way] reality tour through the West Bank. That was the very same day that the Israeli Defense Forces/IDF stormed the Jericho prison and the Al Aqsa Brigade issued a warning and demanded that all USA and British citizens immediately vacate the West Bank or they would be abducted.


Ahmed Sa’adat and four other Palestinians had been detained at the Jericho Prison since 2002, despite a court decision ordering their release. They were accused of assassinating the former Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. They had been detained under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority under the supervision of guards provided by the UK and USA in accordance with an agreement reached between the British, USA, Israel and the PA.


It was immediately after the withdrawal of the American and British troops that the raid took place. The guards had announced their intention to withdraw from the prison but they made no alternative arrangements for their absence. The IDF then began their assault in the absence of any alternative safety-nets. After the American and British forces abandoned the Jericho prison and the IDF showed up demanding Saadate come out with his hands up, rumors began flying throughout the West Bank that the Third Intifada had begun.


Our group had also planned to be in Jericho the very next day, but as John Lennon sang, "life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." We did.


Our group learned the news of Jericho while we were breaking bread with the Christians in the village of Zababdeh. Our Sabeel group had been advised by the locals that although we were perfectly safe with them, we should leave the West Bank ASAP and forget about our plans to visit the Jenin Refugee Camp and our meeting with Badil: the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights.


Before we left for Nazareth instead, we learned that there are 5,000 Christians left in all of the northern West Bank. 3,500 are in Zababdeh and over one million Muslims surround them.  The priest affirmed, “We all have lived in peace together for centuries. We need your love, we need your presence. We need your eyes and voices to share with the world the suffering of our people. We need you to come and see how we carry the Cross of Christ for we are the Living Stones; the forgotten one’s whose destiny is to love everyone, be they Jew, Muslim, Druze. We practice the love of our Lord and we ask you to tell your government Palestinians are people of peace!”

On July 23, 2007 my plan was to finally see the Jenin refugee camp and within three minutes of my arrival the priest’s best friend, a Muslim drove up and invited me to go and see the facts on the ground in the 100% Muslim, Jenin refugee camp with hope to meet some of the Fatah underground.

In the car, the priest tells me, “There are 2,500 Christians now left in Zababdeh and just over 1,000 Muslims and we have always gotten along. Whenever I have a problem here, I go to Jenin and get help there.”


We traveled past the five years young American Arab University where medical and law students from Israel and Palestine study together. The priest informs me, “We are suffering now. The Israelis denied to renew the visas for the American teachers because they do not like them opening America’s eyes. The teachers tell all about the suffering, hunger and anger of the occupied.”


Jenin refugee camp is home for nearly 20,000 Palestinians who share one square kilometer of land. Within seconds of stopping the car on one of the winding narrow alleys, an elderly woman in the typical Muslim dress approaches us with a broad smile and immediately invites us all to her home for coffee and lunch.


People who actually know Palestinians are well aware of their hospitality and desire to feed one. We thankfully decline as we are on the way to meet 40 year old Krozow, number two  leader of El Katib; the underground resistance movement within the Fatah party.


In English, Krozow translates to “good fighter” and Fatah stands for Palestinian Liberation Movement. A new logo has replaced the former depicting two hands holding two guns; to two hands, with one hand holding one gun and the other hand holding an olive branch in memory of Arafat’s pledge at the UN, “Don’t let me drop this olive branch, don’t let me drop this olive branch, don’t let me drop this olive branch!”


Krozow was 16 the first time he was sent to prison for throwing rocks in 1985. He was released in ’88 and resumed his resistance to the occupation and was sent back to jail from 1990-1994, when he was released under the Oslo accords.


Krozow greets us warmly and his beautiful smiling children keep entering the room to look at me, for red blonde hair is a rarity in occupied territory. Krozow patiently and lovingly hugs them all and picks them up in a bear hug and with a broad smile, deposits them back outside the living room door. He returns with water, then after another child enters the room, he repeats the ritual but this time returns with coffee, the third time with orange soda.


He informs me, “Last week Israel and Abbas agreed that 232 persons here would hand over our weapons. We did and Israel agreed that they would not attack the camp. Yesterday the soldiers came and shot out the street lights. The children watched from the windows and saw it all. They also saw when the Israelis shot and burned up an ambulance and the man inside died. What can children think when they must see these things?


“The camp is a warm place because children dream of freedom. My son is 4 years old and he knows all about weapons. All his words are about the Israelis attacking us and Apache helicopters that drop bombs. Children all over the world get to go play outside, but here all they see are soldiers who come every day to terrorize.


“We are not violent people, but we do resist the occupation, as is our right. What if Russia came to occupy American, wouldn’t you fight? I support Abbas, but he believes in negotiations, I believe in resisting the occupation. Abbas is the political Fatah, they drive Mercedes and roll up their windows and shutout the suffering of the people. I am dedicated to the people and to protecting them from the IDF. We are people under occupation and we would all love to have our children grow up free and live like children anywhere else in the world, who can play outside, go swimming and not have to see soldiers all the time. The Israeli’s tell the world we are violent, but we are only against their occupation. What if Russia came and occupied America, wouldn’t Americans resist?


“Hamas sends people out to Israel and targets civilians. The underground Fatah movement does not do that, we defend our home ground against Israeli forces. I take care of my family, home and community. I do not target innocent people.


“Last week Abbas told us to surrender our weapons and the PA would take care of the people. I surrendered all I had except for this one hand gun, for my personal safety against the Israelis. Every night I leave my home and sleep in the Mukatar [Palestinian government building in Jenin City].


“We have every right to live like the Israelis. My dream is for a viable Palestinian state, but they have cut up the West Bank and the only way to solve the problem is to give Palestinians the right to live like human beings everywhere else in the world, the right to our land, to move with freedom, the right to a good life like the Israelis.


“I have no hope for the immediate future, but I have hope for my children that American taxes will stop going to buy Apache helicopters that bomb them. My dream is that there will be a political agreement between Israel and Palestine and so all children can live in peace. Our relationship with Christians is we are brothers. We are looking to have peace with all the sons of Abraham.”



I stand to thank him for his time and his mobile phone rings. It is Zechariah the number one commander of the underground El Katib Fatah resistance movement and he has agreed to speak with me, in the proverbial “five minutes.” In Palestine five minutes can easily take hours, but I sit back down and Krozow brings the fruit out. After a forty minute wait another phone call and the message received is to leave the camp and drive to where Zechariah is staying that day.



The priest tells me, “Zechariah is number one on the wanted list by the Israelis. He is the top man in Jenin and spends his day solving many of the social problems. His mother and brother were both murdered by the Israelis and his three brothers are in prison. Abbas has asked for his support, for Abbas is very worried about Hamas. Hamas has a very different way of thinking and we don’t hate them, but we hate the way they deal with the issues. No one is born a killer and violence only makes more violence. The stupidest thing Palestinians did was pick up weapons. The second stupidest thing they did was target innocent people.”


We arrived in the home of one of Zechariah’s assistant’s and I am informed, “My roof is higher than the roof of Oslo. Your government is controlled by the Zionist agenda. What Americans see on TV and read in the paper is controlled by the Zionist agenda and it is not the truth of what we live and what we are like and what we want. We are living an existence under occupation for 40 years now. All occupied people have been liberated, except the Palestinians. America liberated herself from Britain and we have every right to a free life. We are a resistance movement and Israel calls it terrorism, but we call it resisting occupation.


“The resistance has no strategy to fight Israel and destroy it, or end their existence. Our resistance message to the whole world is that we are people existing under occupation and we can only exist by resisting.



“The more powerful one is the one who must make peace and that is Israel, it is up to them. The weak cannot bring peace and we are not talking peace between nations but between governments. The Holy Land always had all three religions; this land is holy to all the sons of Abraham. Religions idea is suitable for one state, but the political situation doesn’t make it possible. There is no disagreement between the Christians and Muslims here, but we do disagree with the Christians in the U.S.A. who do not come here and see the truth!


“It is wrong news that Jenin is a terrible place to come and visit. What happened in Gaza with Alan Johnston [kidnapped journalist] is not the true Palestinian culture. We are hospitable and it is not our culture to kill.


“My message to the American government is that Arab people do not trust you. You asked for democratic elections and you don’t support the suffering people, you support only Israel. Palestine is a very holy place for Jews, Christians and Muslims and there is no future for the West Bank if it remains under occupation. What we want is freedom from occupation; we want our land, water and refugee rights.”


After coffee and fruit juice, but no sign of Zachariah who was busy dealing with many of the social problems of the people of Jenin, I thanked the ten men who had gathered with me and my three escorts in the living room for their time and information and my driver and I headed back to Jerusalem and some more eye opening checkpoint experiences.


At the Wad Elbedar Valley checkpoint the line of cars extended around the mountain, but my driver passed by and pulled in front of the first in line and we were almost immediately waved into the checkpoint area and after the usual questions of where I am from and why had I come, the soldier handed me back my passport with, “Welcome to Israel.”


After passing through the checkpoint we joined four lines of cars at least a mile long waiting to be funneled into one. It took 30 minutes for us to reach the road home, but the other four lanes of cars waiting to go where we had come from, never moved at all. The people passed their time visiting each other and laughing. I asked my driver to ask one of them how long they had been waiting, “They don’t pay attention to the time, this is normal procedure.”


When we reached the Nablus checkpoint the cars stretched at least a half a mile long and there was no side road for NGO’s and VIP’s, so my driver went down the rocky pitted path and reached a phalanx of rolled barb wire. Somehow, he was able to maneuver around it and turn onto the road first in line at the checkpoint. We waited ten minutes but the soldiers never waved us on, so I got out and walked over to them. They appeared stunned as I approached and announced, “Hi, I am U.S.A. and need to get back to Jerusalem. Can’t you wave us through already?”


As soon as I did, we got the wave and with my biggest smile I handed over my passport as he asked, “Why are you here?”


“To visit with a priest.”


He replied with a smile, “Have a nice day.”








DEAR EILEEN FLEMING :GOD BLESS YOU

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FR.FIRAS



Israel's Messianic Jews: Police indifferent to threats against us

By The Associated Press
June 20, 2008

Safety pins and screws are still lodged in 15-year-old Ami Ortiz's body three months after he opened a booby-trapped gift basket sent to his family. The explosion severed two toes, damaged his hearing and harmed a promising basketball career.  Police say they are still searching for the assailants. But to the Ortiz family the motive of the attackers is clear:

The Ortizes are Jews who believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

Israel's tiny community of Messianic Jews, a mixed group of 10,000 people who include the California-based Jews for Jesus, complains of threats, harassment and police indifference.  The March 20 bombing was the worst incident so far. In October, a mysterious fire damaged a Jerusalem church used by Messianic Jews, and last month ultra-Orthodox Jews torched a stack of Christian holy books distributed by missionaries.

The Foreign Ministry and two chief rabbis were quick to condemn the burning, but the Ortiz family says vigorous police action is needed.

"I believe that it will happen again, if not to us, then to other Messianic believers," said Ami's mother, Leah Ortiz, 54-year-old native of South Orange, N.J.

Proselytizing is strongly discouraged in Israel, a country whose population consists of a people that suffered centuries of persecution for not accepting Jesus and has little tolerance for missionary work.

At the same time, Israel has warm relations with U.S. evangelical groups, which strongly support its cause, but these generally refrain from proselytizing inside Israel. Even the Mormon church, which has mission work at its core worldwide, agreed when it opened a campus in Jerusalem to refrain from missionary activity.

"Historically the core of Christianity ... was 'convert or die,' so it was seen and is still seen as an assault on Jewish existence itself," said Rabbi David Rosen, who oversees interfaith affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

"When you are called to join another religion, you are being called on to betray your people."

Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish, observing the holy days and reciting many of the same prayers. The Ortiz family lights candles on the Sabbath, shuns pork and eats matzoth on Passover.

Ami Ortiz, interviewed at the Tel Aviv hospital where he is being treated, comes across as no different from any Jewish Israeli his age. He's a sabra, or native-born Israeli, who speaks English with a Hebrew accent, has an older brother in an elite Israeli army unit and was hoping to join the youth squad of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team.

But his religion also holds that one can embrace Jesus -- Ami calls him by his Hebrew name, Yeshua -- as the Messiah and remain Jewish.

Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, believe that the Messiah has yet to come, that he will do so only when he chooses, and that any attempt to pre-empt his coming is a grievous sin.

Rabbi Sholom Dov Lifschitz, head of the ultra-Orthodox Yad Leahim organization that campaigns against missionary activity in Israel, says Messianic Jews give him great pain. "They are provoking... it's a miracle that worse things don't happen," he said. Messianic activists appear to have had some success among couples with one non-Jewish spouse, as well as immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union who have loose ties to Judaism.

Or Yehuda, a town in central Israel with many immigrants as well as ultra-Orthodox Jews including a deputy mayor, Uri Aharon, was the scene of the May 15 book-burning.  Ami Dahan, a local police official, says hundreds of Christian religious books were burned on May 15 in an empty lot in town. He said Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon, has been questioned on suspicion that he instructed youths to collect the books from homes where they had been distributed and told them to burn them.  Aharon denies ordering the burning. He says the books were collected from a neighborhood of mostly Ethiopian immigrants who are easily persuaded by missionaries.  "There are three missionaries who live and work in the town, and every Saturday they take people to worship and try to brainwash them," Aharon said.

Many Messianic Jews say they recognize the sensitivities involved and do not distribute religious material or conduct high-profile campaigns. But Aharon noted a recent Jews for Jesus campaign with signs on buses that equated two similar Hebrew words - Jesus and salvation. Public outrage quickly forced the bus company to remove the signs.

Lawyer Dan Yakir of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel says the law allows missionaries to preach provided they don't offer gifts or money or go after minors.

"It is their right according to freedom of religion to maintain their religious lifestyle and disseminate their beliefs, including through literature," he said.

But the obstacles are evident, raised not just from religious activists but by the state. Calev Myers, a lawyer who represents Messianic Jews, said he has fought 200 legal cases in the past two years. Most involve authorities' attempts to close down houses of worship, revoke the citizenship of believers or refuse to register their children as Israelis. In one case, Israel has accused a German religion student of missionary activity and has tried -- so far unsuccessfully -- to deport her.  "In incidents of violence, police are reluctant to press charges," Myers said.

The book-burning caused shock among U.S. evangelicals.  Dave Parsons, spokesman of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, which represents evangelical Christian communities, said the test would be how vigorously authorities pursued the case.  "We believe there is a link to a series of incidents here in the land that involve harassment, intimidation and physical violence," he said.

The Ortiz family moved from the United States to Israel in 1985, qualifying as immigrants under Israel's Law of Return because Leah, the mother, is Jewish. In 1989 they moved into Ariel, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, and established a small Messianic group which now numbers 60, most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union, according to David Ortiz, the pastor and Ami's father.

He said that he built the community through conversations with friends and neighbors, but did not actually go door-to-door distributing religious material to strangers in the traditional sense of missionary work. David Ortiz says he has also proselytized in the Palestinian areas -- prompting Islamic leaders there to warn against contact with him. Ortiz said he had no problem if Messianic Jews discuss their religious views with others and persuade them to believe in Jesus.  When the family began holding study sessions, a rabbi warned Ortiz not to speak about Jesus outside the home.

In 2005, fliers were distributed in Ariel warning that there were believers of Jesus in the community. One day, two men wearing the black skull- caps of Orthodox Jews knocked on the door and photographed Ortiz when he answered. Recently the photo turned up on a flier with the family's address.  When the basket was left at the door Ami wasn't surprised, since it was Purim, a holiday when Jews exchange gifts.  "I opened it up and I heard it and then I was on the floor and I didn't hear anything, I didn't see anything, the lanky boy recalls." Ami was in critical condition, with severe gashes in his legs and feet and one that just missed his jugular vein. His tryout for the Maccabi team was canceled.

His family initially suspected Palestinians; Ariel is in the heart of the West Bank and surrounded by Palestinian towns and villages and, like most Jewish settlements, has been the target of Palestinian attacks. But police immediately told him the bomb was more sophisticated than those made by Palestinians since it contained plastic explosives. "Nobody ever suspected that a Jewish group would do such a thing, that they would put a bomb in somebody else's house," David Ortiz said.

Police have since told the family that Palestinians were not behind the bombing. The family has footage from a security camera of a man delivering the package, according to a person close to the family who spoke on condition of anonymity because police say disclosing details could harm the investigation. Police spokesman Danny Poleg would not discuss the case, saying only that no arrests have been made.  Meanwhile, the Messianic Jewish believers are taking no chances. These days they worship under the protection of an armed guard.


 

PCHR
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

http://www.pchrgaza.org               

No. 26/2008
19-25 June 2008

 

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

 3 Palestinians killed by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
 2 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in Nablus.
 18 Palestinians, including 5 children and 2 old men, were wounded by the IOF gunfire; 12 of them were wounded in Ne’lin village near Ramallah.

IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF demolished 2 uninhabited houses and partially demolished 3 inhabited houses, in Qalqilya.
IOF arrested 48 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children, in the West Bank.
IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.

 
An elderly Palestinian man was run down by an Israeli settler.
Israeli settlers burned large areas of agricultural land in Bourin village, south of Nablus.
Five Palestinian shepherds were injured by Israeli settlers in 2 separate attacks in Yatta village, south of Hebron.

 

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law continued in the OPT during the reporting period (19 – 25 June 2008):

Shooting: During the reporting period, IOF killed 3 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and wounded 18 others, including 5 children and 2 old men.

In the West Bank, IOF killed 2 Palestinians and wounded 13 others, including 5 children.

On 24 June 2008, IOF extra-judicially executed 2 Palestinians in Nablus; a prominent activist of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad) and a university student. This attack came after the Egypt-brokered truce between Palestinian resistance groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel entered into force on 19 June 2008, which indicates that IOF may escalate attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.

On the same day, 12 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded when IOF used force to disperse a peaceful demonstration organized in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. A Palestinian child was also wounded in similar circumstance in Far’oun village, south of Tulkarm.

In the Gaza Strip, on 19 June, IOF killed an activist of the Palestinian resistance and wounded 3 others in Gaza Valley village, nearly 500 meters away from the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. An IOF aircraft fired a missile at those activists just one hour before the truce entered into force.

On 23 June, IOF troops positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northwest of Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip fired at a number of Palestinian children who attempted to get close to the border. A number of Palestinian farmers were working on their lands nearly 400 meters away from the border.

On 24 June, an elderly Palestinian civilian was wounded by the IOF gunfire in similar circumstance in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis.

Incursions: During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 36 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, the widest of which was into Qalqilya. During these incursions, IOF arrested 48 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children. To date, 1,382 Palestinian civilians have been arrested by IOF in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008.  IOF also demolished 2 uninhabited houses and partially demolished 3 houses, in Qalqilya. 

Restrictions on Movement: IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

 

Gaza Strip

IOF have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The IOF siege of Gaza, which has tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and has violated the human, economic and social rights of the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian civilian population, particularly their rights to appropriate living conditions, health and education. The siege has also paralyzed the Gazan economy. In addition, the siege has severely impacted the flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities such as fuel, construction materials and raw materials for various economic sectors. IOF have continued to prevent the entry of raw materials into the Gaza Strip, and many factories have been forced to close. Severe restrictions have been imposed on the movement of the entire Palestinian civilian population. Regarding civilian movements, IOF permit very few Palestinian civilians to pass through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in order to travel to the West Bank or Israel. Rafah International Crossing Point in the southern Gaza Strip is the sole outlet for the Gaza Strip to the outside world via a country other than Israel. IOF have closed Rafah International Crossing Point, even though they do not directly control it. They have prevented European observers working at the crossing point from reaching it.

 

Even though the Egypt-brokered truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel entered into force, no major change has been noticed with regard to the movement of persons and goods through the Gaza Strip border crossings, excluding an approximate 20% increase in the amounts of foods and humanitarian aids allowed into the Gaza Strip during the reporting period.

The closure of border crossings deprives the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip of their right to freedom of movement, education and health. IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on fishing in the Gaza Strip. Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring and harassment by IOF, which use helicopter gunships and gunboats severely restrict their access to coastal waters.

 

West Bank

Contrary to Israeli claims of easing restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians, IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been denied access to Jerusalem. IOF have established many checkpoints around and inside the city. Restrictions of the movement of Palestinian civilians often escalate on Fridays to prevent them from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque. IOF sometimes assault Palestinian civilians who attempt to bypass checkpoints and enter the city. IOF have also tightened the siege imposed on Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians and have continued to erect checkpoints on the main roads and intersections in the West Bank.

Settlement Activities: IOF have continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers living in the OPT have, in violation of international humanitarian law, continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. On 19 June, Israeli settlers burnt large areas of Palestinian agricultural land in Bourin village, south of Nablus. On the same day, an Israeli settler ran down an elderly Palestinian civilian near Qalqilya. He was seriously injured. On 20 June, Israeli settlers attacked a number of Palestinian farmers and shepherds in Yatta village, south of Hebron. Two shepherds were injured. On 24 June, Israeli settlers attacked 3 Palestinian shepherds in Yatta village south of Hebron and injured them.

 

Israeli Violations Documented during the Reporting Period (19 – 25 June 2008)

The full report is available online at:
html format:
http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2008/26-06-2008.htm

pdf format:
http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2008/pdf/weekly%20report%2026.pdf

 

Public Document

For further information please visit our website (http://www.pchrgaza.org) or contact PCHR’s office in Gaza City, Gaza Strip by email ( ) or telephone (+972 (0)8 2824776 – 2825893).

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