Media Watch December 1, 2020
Welcome to the Health and Human Rights Media Watch. During the Coronavirus pandemic, we are curating a weekly timeline/update on the impact of the virus on Israel/Palestine and all related submissions to Media Watch will be folded into that report. Please follow at https://www.jvphealth.com/covid-19. Health and human rights news unrelated to the pandemic is included here. If you want to be involved in this JVP Health Advisory Council Media Watch project, please contact me at email@example.com.
MONTHLY HUMAN RIGHTS HERO AND VIOLATION
HERO: Joaquin Castro
Joaquin Castro, House Representative from the state of Texas, is vying to take Eliot Engel's place as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress. He has spoken out for Palestinian rights and for ending US support for Israel's human rights injustices. This will open a window for a more progressive platform that insists on justice.
VIOLATION: The 'master plan' for 'Jewish construction' in the West Bank.
HAR HOMA, JEWISH SETTLEMENT, BLUE IN CENTER OF MAP, BLOCKS PALESTINIAN NEIGHBORHOODS IN EAST JERUSALEM, AT LEFT IN RED, FROM BETHLEHEM, LARGE MASS OF RED TO THE RIGHT, SOUTH OF PURPLE JERUSALEM BOUNDARY. MAP FROM ISRAEL POLICY FORUM.
The construction of new Jewish settlements and expansion of settlements presently built within
the West Bank is evicting Palestinians from their homes. It has been sanctioned by the present
US administration, in part to make it more difficult for the Biden administration and to side with
Israeli annexation plans. It would cut off Jerusalem from Palestine with a wide strip of settlements going from Nablus down to Hebron.
And now to Media Watch….
***indicates Haaretz paywall
· Since the beginning of the Great March, more than 8,000 people have been shot with live ammunition, predominantly to their limbs, including 1,200 with particularly severe limb gunshot wounds. Most limb injuries have extensive damage to the bones and the surrounding soft tissue and neurovascular bundles. This makes it much more susceptible to a wound’s worst enemy: infection. Recovery requires a multidisciplinary team made up of orthopedic and plastic surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists along with psychosocial support professionals. It also involves countless check-ups, complicated surgeries, heavy metal frames, frequent dressings and bloods, strong medicines, pain, insomnia, a sense of helplessness and disability… and much more.
· Between January and October 2020, Israeli forces carried out 42 incursions inside Gaza. Al Mezan, along with human rights groups Gisha and Adalah, have demanded that the Israeli military end incursions into Gaza farmlands and compensate farmers for damage. One such incursion on October 13 severely damaged dozens of dunams of farmland, destroying crops and irrigation systems, the most such severe damage to Gaza's agricultural land since 2014. The three human rights groups have utterly rejected the Israeli military's claim that the incursions were required for "operational needs whose purpose is to protect security" -- pointing out the dangers to farmers' lives, bodily integrity, and property: dangers which constitute grievous violation of their fundamental rights to dignity, private property, and livelihood.
· On November 9 four Palestinian and other regional human rights organizations in sending an urgent appeal to the UN office of "Special Procedures," to draw attention to the escalating water and sanitation crisis in the Gaza Strip. The crisis stems from the increased punitive measures imposed by Israel against the civilian population in August 2020, which included a ban on fuel shipments that led to a spike in the already acute power shortage. Even before the August crisis, there were reports that 97 percent of water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption, and that 95 % of Gaza's two million residents do not have access to drinkable water.
· In Silent wounds: The mental toll of war and siege on Gaza’s youth, Middle East Eye’s video reportage features children in Gaza, 80% of whom struggle academically due to conflict-related stress, and 50% of whom have no hope in a brighter future.
· A personal narrative that begins, “My life, like many of us who live in Gaza, is marked by separation, loss and endurance. It is a story that has repeated itself over generations.”
· Israel’s National Insurance stripped Farouk Jubran, a Palestinian resident of occupied East Jerusalem currently fighting cancer, of his insurance, claiming he actually lives in the occupied West Bank. The accusation is based on his low water and electricity bills, which multiple courts agreed indicate that he had moved to the West Bank and therefore is not entitled to state-funded health insurance. Farouk lives in East Jerusalem and has done so his entire life.
· “I, Salah Hammouri, am currently at risk of deportation by Israel from my home city, Jerusalem, where I was born to a Palestinian Jerusalemite father and a French mother and have lived all my life. For four years, I have been separated from my wife and son. Our lives have been completely upended as a result of Israel’s policies and the continued false accusations and defamation intended to discredit my reputation and work as a human rights defender. On 3 September, I was notified that Israel’s interior minister intends to revoke my permanent Jerusalem residency status, claiming that I allegedly “breached loyalty” to the State of Israel. Israel is throwing the weight of the occupation against me, as it has countless other Palestinians.”
· Saeb Erekat died at 65 after contracting Covid-19. He was one of the best-known Palestinian political figures during the last three decades. Once the face of the Oslo Accords, Erekat held the title of chief Palestinian negotiator since the early 1990s, when he became involved in the early rounds of talks. As one of the most vocal members of the Palestinian leadership, he leaves behind a controversial political legacy, with his goal of achieving an independent, sovereign Palestinian state through political negotiations unfulfilled. Hundreds attended his funeral.
· Palestinians with disabilities are in the third week of a sit-in protest inside the offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah, demanding the right to comprehensive health insurance. Under the slogan, "A movement for a decent life for people with disabilities", activists are stressing the need for a just health insurance system, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic revealed large gaps in the healthcare provided to individuals with disabilities.
· PHROC (the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council) has condemned the continuing "administrative detention" of Mr. Maher Al-Akhras, now in the fourth month of an open hunger strike. Since 1989 he has been subjected to many Israeli arrests and detentions stretching from months to years in duration. On Oct. 23, 2020 UN Special Rapporteur issued a statement urging Israel to release Maher immediately, especially in view of his dire health situation and in light of Israel's continuing refusal to afford him the fair trial guaranteed for him under international humanitarian law. A video circulated recently by local media showed Israeli settlers harassing al-Akhras’ family inside the hospital and threatening to kill him. Israeli security personnel reportedly did not intervene. On November 6 he ended a 103-day hunger strike after Israel agreed not to extend detention. Israel did not change the Shin Bet’s rules regarding administrative detention and acts of protest against those rules. Mezan
· In the largest West Bank demolition operation in a decade, Israeli military authorities razed around 70 structures in the Jordan Valley’s Humsa al-Fuqa community in the occupied West Bank, Area C. Six bulldozers, accompanied by around 100 Israeli soldiers, carried out the demolitions, leaving 11 Palestinian families homeless. Among the demolished structures were those seemingly funded by the European Union and other European governmental and non-governmental institutions. Israel claims the residents do not have property rights and that evacuation orders are for residents’ safety due to the area being a firing zone — which Israel designated it in 1972. The military has declared around 18% of the West Bank a firing zone. +972
· Rights group B'tselem released a new report titled The Annexation That Was and Still Is, pointing out that the Israeli government has continued to expand control over the occupied West Bank with little or no consequences from the international community, despite claims that Israel’s annexation plans were “suspended.” More than 400,000 Israelis now live in nearly 250 settlements; the construction of roads and infrastructure to service these settlements - which cut across Palestinian territory - make the "fact that settlers live on occupied land not formally annexed to Israel practically meaningless.”
· Israeli army soldiers attempted to forcibly pull out and arrest an injured Palestinian man from an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent in the occupied West Bank following protests against home demolition in the Jordan Valley. Footage of the incident shows an aid worker managing to close the ambulance door just before it left the scene on November 24. The footage can be found on the Anadolu Agency website.
· The Israeli military claimed it was not responsible for the death of Amer Snobar, 16, in the central West Bank on the night of October 24. The teen was helping a friend move a broken-down car near the village of Turmusayya, north of Ramallah, when Israeli soldiers arrived. The friend managed to flee and became an eyewitness, reporting that “Snobar was surrounded by Israeli forces and placed in a chokehold before being beaten and killed by Israeli forces.” Doctors said the teenager likely died from asphyxiation, and the initital autopsy also reported substantial bruising and wounds.
· Israeli occupation forces shot a Palestinian man on Sunday at the entry of al-Fawwar refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron. The Israeli army alleged that Ali Suleiman Amro, 40, was attempting a stabbing attack when they opened fire. In a separate incident, Israeli forces shot and killed Bilal Adnan Rawajba, 29, near the Huwwara military checkpoint. He was a legal adviser with the rank of captain in the Palestinian Authority security forces. The Israeli army claimed Rawajba had opened fire on Israeli forces; his family said he was heading to work in the northern West Bank town of Tubas.
· In the first days of November, the Israeli Occupation Forces arrested Khitam Sa’afin, activist and head of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Muhannad Al-Azzah, Palestinian human rights defender, in addition to several other Palestinians during early dawn raiding operations around various areas in the West Bank.
· An Israeli employer of a Palestinian man who died after his truck overturned in the West Bank notified the police about the work accident only hours later and neglected to tell them the employee had died. The family of Majdi Majed Hamad, 37, said there was a delay in taking him to a hospital. The case highlights the problem of employees of Israeli companies in the West Bank who lack Israeli worker safety oversight.
· The Palestinian olive harvest is a sacred ritual cherished by Palestinians from all walks of life. But every year, the beauty of the olive harvest is inevitably marred by violence and bloodshed as Israeli settlers wage vicious attacks against Palestinian farmers across the occupied West Bank. Israeli settlers in the Nablus district are notoriously violent and are routinely recorded as attacking Palestinians and their property year round. During the olive harvest, the settlers typically focus their attacks onto Palestinian farmers and their olive trees.
· For decades, the PLO, then the PA, and now again, the PLO, have offered financial support to the families of those imprisoned, wounded, or killed by Israel. According to advocacy groups, the PA made promises of such support in 2014, at around $400 a month for every family. Some 1,850 families should have been eligible for assistance, but none has been delivered. Electronic Intifada
· A young Palestinian woman who was born in Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza, the daughter of a former political prisoner who spent 18 years in an Israeli prison, reflects on the politics of Palestinian mental health.An analysis of more than 300 studies on Palestinians and mental health in medical journals found that close to one-third of Palestinians are in need of mental health support and close to one-quarter of Palestinians have PTSD, making “mental ill-health one of the largest but least acknowledged of all health problems.”
· Alaa Tartir and Jeremy Wildeman write It's time to rethink the structure of Palestinian aid: “More money can lead to more harm when spent in an improper intervention, and technical solutions alone will always fall short of addressing the real problems Palestinians face if they avoid challenging the central political realities of ‘the conflict’.”
· Palestinian rights advocates condemned a visit by Israeli settlers to the United Arab Emirates, which they said confirmed concerns that Abu Dhabi’s normalization deal with the Israeli government strengthens the occupation and dispossession of Palestinian land. The trip was led by annexation advocate Yossi Dagan, who heads a council for illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank; he posted on Facebook that direct trade between settlements and the UAE will start soon.
WEST BANK & ISRAEL
· Israel Police detained eight One Climate activists after direct action aimed at disrupting ongoing construction work in ecologically and politically sensitive area. Some 50 climate activists chained themselves to one another and blocked the access road to the Nahal Raba quarry in the West Bank on Sunday morning, protesting against the advancement of large construction plans in an area home to a unique sustainable ecological system that sits on either side of the border between Israel and the West Bank. Haaretz
· The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees announced that it has run out of money to pay the salaries of its staff across the Middle East, after two years of funding cuts by the United States and some other donors. It needs $70 million by the end of the month to pay 28,000 staff in full for November and December. It also issued an emergency call for donations to avoid the suspension of essential services. Biden has promised relief.
· On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 essential UNRWA assistance to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) was at risk due to a severe financial shortfall. Despite the difficulty of continuing their work during lockdowns, UNRWA staff pivoted to offer remote assistance, WhatsApp check-ins and adapted referral pathways. Health clinics are using all precautions while delivering remote mental health and psychological support to address GBV.
· Article documents a new Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs policy of denying entry visas to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) staff, a move that has been described as "designed to silence criticism over grave and widespread human rights violations in [Occupied Palestine]. This policy makes it impossible for the OHCHR to monitor abuses of civil and human rights in the Occupied Territories.
· 92 % of rape investigations in Israel are closed without charges. The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel reports a steady increase in cases filed that do not result in indictments, reaching 92% in 2019. The pandemic has also seen a 24% spike in reports of domestic violence.
· A sexual assault is not a medical emergency, the Health Ministry asserted this week in response to a request that hospitals grant victims emergency medical treatment by phone, without first requiring a consultation with a social worker. Activists fumed, arguing that conditioning medical treatment on an initial consultation with a social worker denies victims immediate access to essential care.
· Zipline, a US drone delivery company, hopes to begin a pilot program dropping blood and medicine to remote hospitals in the north and south of Israel early next year. While the company has drawn up detailed plans for entering the local market, there's no guarantee that the pilot will develop into a commercial launch of the service. Haaretz ***
· Israeli conscientious objector, Hallel Rabin, 19, was released from military prison on November 23 after 56 days when an army board accepted that her pacifism was sincere and not driven by “political considerations.” Rabin faced a severe backlash, including accusations of “treason” and death threats on social media. “I decided not to let it touch me,” she said.
· Israel is the only country in the world to prosecute children routinely in military courts that lack basic safeguards for a fair trial. Moreover, Palestinian children detained by Israel face abuse and systematic torture, which has been legitimized by the judiciary and government. The scale of the problem has been captured by NGO Save the Children in a new report. There are currently at least 200 Palestinian children held in Israel’s Ofer, Damon and Megiddo Prisons. They include children with disabilities and mental health problems. Damon and Megiddo are seriously overcrowded, and child prisoners are kept in close proximity to each other in squalid and unsanitary conditions. There is little healthcare provision.
· Gaza’s Great Return March resulted in 234 killed, 17 investigations, but only one indictment. Two years after Israeli soldiers killed over 200 Palestinians, the IDF has done little more than whitewash its own violence.
· Israel’s High Court of Justice will hear a petition challenging a plea deal that lightens the sentence for an Israeli soldier who killed an innocent Palestinian man and wounded another. The case involves the 2019 killing of Ahmad Manasra, 23, and the wounding of Alaa Raida, 38, by the same soldier. Haaretz reported in August that the military prosecutors would seek a penalty of three months community service for the soldier.
· Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs launched a new campaign targeting online expressions of support for Palestinian rights via Twitter. On Tuesday, 4IL – a propaganda outlet of the ministry – tweeted the handles of dozens of accounts it claimed were “anti-Israel bots and trolls.” Palestinians have been reporting that accounts are being shut down by Twitter.
· At least 6,000 Sudanese asylum-seekers in Israel fear deportation to Sudan after Israel and Sudan announced their intentions to normalize relations. The asylum-seekers fear for their lives should they be forced to return to Sudan. In Israel they are not always allowed to work and cannot take up Israeli citizenship.
· On November 12, U.S. Representative Betty McCollum gave a speech to the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Her remarks included the following: “I am…one of a small group of Members of Congress who vocally support Palestinian rights. Palestinians deserve peace, security, human rights, and the right to self-determination. They also deserve a future filled with hope, opportunity, and prosperity. The people of Israel also deserve peace and security. And, as you know, the U.S. government subsidizes Israel’s security with billions of dollars in military assistance, a policy strongly supported by Congress. … Until recently, my government also provided the Palestinian people with economic and humanitarian assistance intended to foster conditions for a just and final negotiated peace. … Healing the damage and betrayal inflicted on the Palestinian people by President Trump will be difficult. If it is possible, it will require the new U.S. administration to prioritize respectful, substantive diplomatic re-engagement with the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian civil society. Actions and time will determine whether trust can be restored.” Mondoweiss
· The U.S. and Israel are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights, stated Israeli and U.S. officials. This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements. The agreements will be signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the Ariel University in the West Bank. They concern three joint U.S.-Israeli foundations for scientific cooperation, which invest government money into research and development projects. An Israeli official told me this move is a signal of U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. Axios