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Media Watch February 1, 2021

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 contact.alicerothchild@gmail.com.


MONTHLY HUMAN RIGHTS HERO AND VIOLATION


Human Rights Heroes of the Month: the 60 Israeli high school students refusing their compulsory enlistment in the Israeli military

Israeli Forces prepare to demolish Palestinian houses near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on December 29, 2020. (photo: Mosab Shawer/APA Images)

https://mondoweiss.net/2021/01/israeli-high-school-students-refuse-to-join-the-israeli-military-citing-the-continuing-nakba/

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-60-high-school-seniors-refuse-to-serve-in-the-israeli-army-because-of-the-occupation-1.9426393


On January 5, a group of 60 Israeli high school students published a letter in which they refused their compulsory enlistment in the Israeli military to protest "the Zionist policy of brutal violence towards and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands began in 1948 and has not stopped since." They add "The occupation is also poisoning Israeli society–it is violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic. It is our duty to oppose this destructive reality by uniting our struggles and refusing to serve these violent systems–chief among them the military. Our refusal to enlist ...is an act of taking responsibility over our actions and their repercussions....We are ordered to put on the bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and of occupation. Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more." They may face imprisonment for up to two years for their act of resistance.


Human Rights Violation of the Month: Israeli court convicts Palestinian peace activist Issa Amro


Issa Amro

https://mondoweiss.net/2021/01/its-an-injustice-israeli-court-convicts-palestinian-peace-activist-issa-amro/

An Israeli military court convicted Issa Amro, a co-founder of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements (YAS) group, on January 6, charging him with protesting without a permit, “obstructing” an Israeli soldier, and assaulting an Israeli settler. YAS organizes nonviolent activities, demonstrations, and protests in the Old City of Hebron, where a few hundred ultra-nationalist settlers and thousands of Israeli soldiers control every aspect of life. Amnesty International has described the case against Amro as “politically motivated” and “baseless,” expressing concerns that convicting Amro could pave the way for further suppression of Palestinian activists and human rights defenders. In a statement following the hearing, Amro states “today Israel announced that Palestinians are not allowed to peacefully protest the Israeli occupation without a permit from the occupier...This conviction is the military system against the Palestinian nonviolent resistance. It aims to suppress my voice and end all activism against the Israeli occupation.” He faces significant prison time, though his legal team plans to file an appeal.


Please note retraction:

On January 1, 2021 JVP Health Advisory Council published its monthly feature listing heroes and villains in the ongoing movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We listed Pakistan as the hero for refusing to recognize Israel until there was resolution with Palestine. This was a controversial decision. This was an impressive statement on the part of Pakistan but after publishing this and reconsidering with the help of many clear thinkers on this issue we have decided to withdraw this recognition from Pakistan due to Pakistan’s dismal human rights record in many areas, including:

· Intensified crackdown on the right to freedom of expression

· Enforced disappearances remain pervasive, with no one held accountable for them

· The government failed to uphold its commitments to legislate against torture and enforced disappearances

· Violence against women and girls remained widespread. Parliament blocked attempts to restrict child marriage

· Religious minorities continued to be prosecuted under blasphemy laws and attacked by non-state actors

· The fight for climate justice took to the streets, with popular mobilizations in major cities calling on the government to show leadership both at home and abroad for one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. Air pollution reached hazardous levels in major cities, posing risks to people’s rights to health, life and, in the case of children, education

This retraction was informed in part by information provided by Glen Hauer, longtime JVP member, and we thank him for that.


***Indicates paywall


GAZA

· For the first time, there is a women’s and girl’s boxing program in Gaza. Such a team has the capacity to build the reserves of hope and in addition smash gender norms as well as knockout the very idea of passivity. As many as 45 female boxers are on the squad, ranging from ages 7 to 21. Despite a lack of supplies, the ragtag team will be competing in Kuwait this February under the banner of the Palestinian National Boxing Team. The Nation


· The Gaza Ministry of Health (MOH) declared it is out of stock of testing materials necessary for newborns testing for Phenylketonuria (PKU). If left untreated, newborns are are risk for brain damage, seizures, growth problems, and intellectual disability.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights


· In its annual report on the repercussions of the Gaza blockade, entitled “suffocation and isolation”, Euro-Med Monitor examined the Israeli blockade effects on the lives of Gazans. The report compares Gazans’ living conditions before the blockade on one hand, and the current situation (15 years after) on the other. The report indicated that unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip is still among the highest in the world. After it reached 23.6% in 2005, in 2020, it reached 49%, while the per capita share of the GDP shrank by 27%. Poverty rates also jumped from 40% in 2005 to 56% in 2020. Poverty gap increased as well from 14% to 20%, and the cost of lifting the Gaza population out of poverty quadrupled, from $209 million to $838 million.

Relief Web

Days of Palestine


· On December 26 Israel carried out a series of airstrikes targeting multiple areas east of Gaza City, injuring three Palestinians (including a six-year-old girl) and damaging public and private properties, which included the al-Durrah Children's Hospital, a primary school, and the Pedagogical Training Center. Soon after Israeli forces fired artillery shells at a Palestinian security outpost in the Middle Gaza district, followed by an attack by drone missile. Al Mezan has called upon the international community to exert pressure on Israel to prevent any further military escalation and to lift the closure and blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Al Mezan


WEST BANK

· 787 West Bank Palestinians, including 155 minors, were wounded last year by either sponge-tipped or live bullets fired by Israeli soldiers and the Border Police. And that’s on top of the 1,513 who were suffocated by tear gas and needed treatment on the spot or at a clinic, among them 195 minors. Haaretz ***

Btselem


· The impunity enjoyed by Israeli soldiers has fostered an increasingly trigger-prone policy against Palestinian children. At a minimum, Democratic members of the US Congress must support applying human rights conditions on all foreign military financing — without exceptions — to ensure U.S. weapons and funds are not used to kill and maim children, or to attack schools, hospitals, and other civilian infrastructure.

+972


· Settlers are taking their anger out on Palestinians, as Israeli troops watch. Since the death of a settler teen in an accident a month ago, there have been some 44 attacks by settlers on Palestinians but not one arrest.

Haaretz ***


· Israeli settlers have called for the murder of Palestinian bus drivers in the occupied West Bank, the Times of Israel has reported. Racist graffiti reading "Kill Arab drivers" was sprayed in Modi'in Illit, the largest illegal settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories. The word "revenge" was also sprayed on the back of a bus. The Israeli army claims to have launched an investigation into the graffiti.

Middle East Monitor


· As the New Year began, Israeli settlers launched a wave of attacks on Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank, with cars, homes, and farmland vandalized. Groups of settlers threw rocks, slashed tires, and uprooted farmland with bulldozers in the northern Jordan Valley. Overnight on January 3, Israeli forces attacked a Palestinian hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem by storming the center and firing concussion grenades into the hospital. Hospital director Haitham Shadeed said the raid spread fear and panic among medical staff and patients, especially children and the elderly.

Alarabyalestinian bus driver wears a protective mask amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus, in the West Bank on 7 March 2020

· An Israeli security officer shot a Palestinian he alleged threw a knife towards him in the occupied West Bank, Israel's military said, and Palestinian officials said the man had been killed. The incident occurred at a road junction situated near a cluster of Israeli settlements southwest of Bethlehem. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the man's death, identifying him as 24-year-old Ahed Quqas from the town of Beit Ummar, near Hebron. According to Palestinian media, Israeli army forces raided Quqas' town after the incident.

Haaretz ***

Electronic Intifada


· A Palestinian was shot by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank on January 1. According to the Health Ministry in Ramallah, he was shot in the neck and evacuated in critical condition to a hospital in the city of Yatta. Video from the incident shows soldiers confiscating a generator from a group of Palestinians, who are trying to take it back. A shot is heard at one point, after which one of the Palestinians is seen lying on the ground.

The Israeli army arrested 41 Palestinians during one week in mid-January in 17 raids carried out across the West Bank in one night. Of those detained, 24 were from Mughayir and Kafr Malik, two adjacent villages northeast of Ramallah whose residents demonstrate every week against their lands being taken over by Israeli outposts.

Haaretz ***


· Gideon Levy and Alex Levac write A Palestinian Tried to Resist When Israeli Cops Razed His Home. So They Took Revenge; Jaber Dababsi stood up to Israeli forces as they demolished his South Hebron Hills home for the third time. Two weeks later, Border Police officers caught up with him, and taught him a lesson, beating him up.

Haaretz


· Israel demolished and confiscated more than 850 Palestinian structures in 2020, displacing 1,000 people. More than half of those displaced were children. Israel targeted almost any kind of structure Palestinians need for sustainable life, including homes, agricultural buildings, infrastructure and water sanitation facilities.

Electronic Intifada


· OCHA Report - West Bank Demolitions and Displacement: An Overview. December 2020. Data on demolition and displacement in the West Bank since 2009, updated 17/1/2021, 7,284 structures and 10,976.

OCHAOPT


· Since early on during the Covid-19 pandemic, human rights organizations have observed a significant increase in home demolitions across "Area C" at the hands of Israeli authorities, despite the fact that adequate housing is seen as "the front line" in the fight against coronavirus disease. The Palestinian Human Rights Organization Council has therefore urged the UN's "Special Procedures" unit to uphold the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (OPT): in particular, by calling upon Israel to cease all policies aimed at transferring Palestinians, including policies that promote home demolition; by calling on the European Union to restrict the import of products, goods, and services originating from illegal Israel settlements in the OPT; and by calling for international accountability for Israel's long-established human rights violations against the Palestinian people

Al Mezan


· Israel’s Civil Administration, the bureaucratic arm of its military occupation, ordered the demolition of Ahmad Amarneh’s small home under construction in the 200-person village of Farasin in Area C of the occupied West Bank. Amarneh then moved to one of the village’s historic caves, “because it does not require an Israeli permit, or so I thought.” In July, Israeli occupation forces ordered Amarneh to leave the cave within 96 hours. Electronic Intifada


· Expansion of settler bypass roads in the West Bank has been central to turning Israel’s ‘temporary occupation’ into a permanent one-state reality. Projects include installing a new section of the separation wall, building bypass bridges for Israeli settlers, digging tunnels, and approving Palestinian-only separation roads in various locations east and southeast of Jerusalem.

+972


· Industrial zones that are built nearby Palestinian towns and villages have grave effects on their lives and on the environment. The chemical waste and emissions of the factories located in these zones have led to the ruining of the agricultural lands around them, ground water and air pollution. This has increased disease rates, including respiratory diseases, eye infections and cancer.


New Unions

· The United Nations urged Israel to “halt, reverse” new settlements in the West Bank. UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned settlement construction as a “major obstacle to just and comprehensive peace.”

Aljazeera


· Prominent Jewish Israeli activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman crashed his car in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday after two of the vehicle’s wheels had been unbolted, suspected to have been carried out by Israeli settlers. The incident comes at the height of an escalation of settler attacks on Palestinians and solidarity activists in the occupied territories in recent weeks.

+972


· Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine has signed a student exchange agreement with Ariel University, located in the settlement of Ariel in the occupied West Bank, allowing medical students from Ariel University to be placed in hospitals affiliated with Tel Aviv University for clinical practice. According to a source involved in the discussions, Ariel University is paying Tel Aviv University a “high fee” for teaching their students. There is opposition from some faculty members at Tel Aviv University, who believe the “cooperation forces faculty to support the occupation.”

+972


· Trust in the Palestinian judiciary declined considerably over the past 10 years, with less than half of Palestinians trusting the Palestinian judicial system. A recent Palestine Transparency poll showed that two-thirds of Palestinians believe there is corruption in the courts and public prosecution. The alternative to dealing with Israeli courts seen as being set up by an occupying force or with Palestinian courts which people are trusting less and less is tribal justice. This is seen as the alternative by many – but it comes at a price. Human rights groups say it compromises justice for stability, does not provide for fair trials, discriminates against women, and imposes collective punishment. "Jalweh" is the eviction of the family of the perpetrator of a crime from their homes and exiling them from outside the victim's area, a traditional practice often imposed by tribal leaders in murder cases under the pretext of stopping the bloodshed and maintaining civil peace.

Aljazeera


· "1for3" has announced its latest community-based (virtual) "Walk for Water" fundraiser, to be held on May 22, 2021. 1for 3 is a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts (USA), of nearly ten years standing, that focuses on the intersection of water, food, health, and education in the lives of Palestinian refugees, which remain under threat in the long-standing conditions of refugee camps.

1for3


EAST JERUSALEM

· Israel ordered a wave of new house demolitions in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem. Residents fear the municipality is preparing to raze many Palestinian homes over the coming weeks.

Aljazeera


EAST JERUSALEM & WEST BANK

· More than 500 settler units were approved for construction in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, just days after the Israeli prime minister ordered the construction of 800 new settler homes in the West Bank. One of the sites is the same one that angered Washington when settlement expansion plans were unveiled during a visit by then-US Vice President Joe Biden.

Middle East Eye


OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

· On January 4, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association issued the final report of its activities in 2019, analyzing and evaluating the goals and outcomes established for each unit for the year.

Addameer


· B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, summarizes the year 2020 in the occupied territories: a record of heinous killings, settler violence, and a spike in home demolitions.

Btselem


· On December 28, WHO released a report for November on Health Access: Barriers for patients in the occupied Palestinian territory. Of 1321 referrals from Gaza to access outside care, 72% of patients were approved, 42% of companions. A Gaza leukemia patient was denied and delayed access to a Ramallah Hospital for treatment nine times.

World Health Organization


· Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Israeli forces committed grave violations against Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip throughout 2020 at rates comparable to previous years. In an end-of-year review, DCI-P details four aspects of Israeli’s unremitting assaults on the lives, rights, and well-being of Palestinian children:

Military detention, demolition of homes, targeted with excessive force, no electricity and reduced education in Gaza.


Defense of Children International Palestine

· On 28 December 2020, Al-Haq sent letters to the High Representative of the European Commission, the Executive Vice President and European Union (EU) Commissioner for Trade, and EU Member States with diplomatic representatives in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), welcoming and calling on them to support the principled initiative of the 46 MEPs, representing most of the European Parliament’s political groups, to ban trade with, and support for, illegal settlements established in occupied territories.

Al Haq


· On January 7, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Al Dameer called on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into international crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.


Al Haq

· Three Palestinian hospitals have come under attack by Israeli forces in under two weeks--only the latest incidents in a continuing pattern of violations against Palestinian healthcare, compounding heavy services and personnel burdens from the pandemic.

The Gaza Strip’s Al-Durra Children’s Hospital housed 16 children, including three in intensive care, their caregivers and around 40 hospital staff when it was damaged from an airstrike.

In Ramallah at the Palestine Medical Complex, Israeli forces shot Fida’ Mahmoud Abd al-Qader, a patient in her seventh month of pregnancy, in her left shoulder. A health worker was also shot in his shoulder.

Inside Tulkarem’s Thabet Thabet Hospital, Israeli forces fired four sound bombs,

causing extreme distress for the 81 patients, including five children, seven patients in intensive care, and 13 women in the maternity ward, their companions, and around 39 hospital staff.

Al Haq

Medical Aid for Palestinians


· The United Arab Emirates may be backing an Israeli plan to close UNRWA, the UN agency that meets the health, education and other basic needs of millions of Palestinian refugees. Emirati officials are considering “a plan of action aimed at making UNRWA progressively disappear, without conditioning this on any resolution of the problem of the refugees,” according to France’s Le Monde newspaper.

Electronic Intifada

Middle East Eye

Middle East Eye


· At the end of 2020, the Qatar Fund for Development contributed US$1 million for cash assistance to Palestine refugees in Syria, and the government of Spain reaffirmed its strong support to Palestine refugees with an additional contribution of EUR 5 million.

UNRWA

UNRWA


· More than 160 people in the UK, Palestine and around the world have so far taken part in MAP’s campaign, sharing selfies and solidarity messages with Palestinian health heroes. We place these selfies on billboards in the Gaza Strip (near Shifa Hospital) and the West Bank (Ramallah https://twitter.com/hashtag/WestBank?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw and Nablus https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nablus?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw ) to share directly with those who have spent many exhausting months giving their all to save lives. The billboards also share essential community health messages –masks, hand washing, social distancing. Post an #IsolatedButTogether selfie

Medical Aid for Palestinians


ISRAEL & OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

· The Institute for Middle East Understanding published a factsheet reviewing important statistics and notable events from 2020. This includes Palestinians injured or killed by Israeli forces, homes destroyed, Palestinians displace, growth of Israeli settlements, Palestinian political prisoners, settler violence, and the pandemic.

Institute for Middle East Understanding


ISRAEL

· Two years after the launch of a program to expunge the criminal records of Israelis who came from Ethiopia, only 23 have been pardoned, out of 115 applications that were submitted to the Ministry of Justice. The plan, which sought to address systemic racism in policing, was dubbed a failure.

Haaretz ***


· A number of articles reported on Israel’s Education Ministry ban on Btselem teaching in the schools because of its characterization of Israel as an apartheid regime and disrespect for Israeli soldiers. “The Israeli government will have to contend with us until the apartheid regime ends.” B’Tselem’s director Hagai El-Ad tweeted after defying the ban. An Israeli high school principal faced disciplinary action over B’Tselem director’s talk to students and Adalah challenged the ruling

Mondoweiss

Haaretz ***

Btselem

The Guardian

+972

Middle East Eye

AP News

Mondoweiss

Israel Palestine News

Adalah

Haaretz


· Aljazeera reports on Btselem’s statement, "This is a single geopolitical area ruled by one government. This is not democracy plus occupation. This is apartheid between the river and the sea." Norman Finkelstein argues a more appropriate description is a Jewish supremacist state from the river to the sea. Rafeef Ziahad writes this is not news to Palestinians. Lana Tatour points to the oppressive settler-colonialism. Hatim Kanaaneh argues that apartheid is too mild a description for the brutal reality. The New York Times and Washington Post have not published the story, though NPR and CNN did.

Mondoweiss

Independent

+972

Middle East Eye

Mondoweiss

Aljazeera


· Nathan Thrall, in the London Review of Books, writes The Separate Regimes Delusion: “Millions of Palestinians continue to be deprived of basic civil rights and subjected to military rule. This has been the reality for the majority of Palestinians living under Israeli control for the entire history of the state. South Africa’s apartheid lasted 46 years. Israel’s is at 72, and counting.”

London Review of Books

· The Israeli Health Ministry plans to add over 2,000 hospital beds in the Jerusalem region over the next few decades, but very few are planned for East Jerusalem, were a third of the region’s residents live. Haaretz ***


· Thousands of Arab teachers who sought jobs in the Israeli education system were turned away this year, according to Education Ministry figures. Out of approximately 9,400 qualified teachers, only 2,400 were hired, mainly because of a lack of teaching positions in the Arab school system. Attempts to employ Arab teachers in the Jewish school system failed because the areas of Arab teachers’ expertise were not those needed. Asylum seekers cleaning Tel Aviv’s streets will be fired for Israelis who don’t even want the job. A decade-old cabinet decision has forced the city to ban its sanitation contractors from employing asylum seekers as of January 1, potentially leaving them without work or access to unemployment benefits.

Haaretz

Haaretz ***


· The Israeli military cleared itself of wrongdoing in the shooting and grave injury of a Palestinian man in the southern West Bank, claiming soldiers acted in self-defense. Abu Aram, 24, was shot while he and others were trying to take back a generator that soldiers had confiscated from a family living in an area declared a military firing zone by Israel. The military claimed that Aram was “hit by a stray bullet fired when a Palestinian tried to seize a commander’s weapon.” He is now paralyzed from the neck down as a result of his injury.

Electronic Intifada


· The popular Israeli TV series ‘Fauda’ bases itself on the reality of Israeli occupation, specifically featuring the practice of ‘Mistarvim,’ Israeli soldiers who pose as Palestinians in order to infiltrate, assassinate, and kidnap Palestinians. The International Committee of the Red Cross took to social media to point out all the ways the show portrays Israeli human rights violations. Israeli media outlets, government officials, and assorted apologists were not happy.

Mondoweiss


· Two-and-a-half years after the Knesset passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, which constitutionally enshrined second-class status for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, the High Court of Justice held its first hearing on the law. During the hearing, the High Court justices saw no problem with demoting the status of Arabic and claimed that 'equality' is something best left for the future.

+972


· In wake of Israeli police violence at Nazareth protest, Adalah pushes for probe and clear guidelines for cops. During protest in Nazareth against visit of Israeli PM Netanyahu, Israeli police forces arrested 19 Palestinian citizens of Israel; officers hindered evacuation of two wounded who required urgent medical attention – including a young man now slated for head surgery and another who suffered a severe leg wound.

Adalah


· Israeli police severely beat Palestinian workers after bogus terror attack tip-off last week. To justify the broken bones, the police falsely claimed that Palestinians tried to flee. The wounded victims remain in detention and were not allowed to testify in person because the police claimed they are a COVID risk – but without medical proof.

Haaretz


· Palestinian prisoners finally won the right to Hepatitis C screening, diagnosis and treatment, after the Israeli state refused for years. PHR-I reported on this campaign to support the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to eliminate the condition by 2030.

World Hepatitis Alliance


· Haaretz investigates How Israel Tried to Dump African Refugees in Blood-drenched Dictatorships, revealing the guerrilla diplomacy used to expel people seeking a safe haven in Israel. Documents reveal that Israel tried to send asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan to countries whose unstable regimes were not likely to guarantee their wellbeing, through bribes and the attempt to create a refugee militia.

Haaretz


· Israel bans screening of "Jenin, Jenin" after a soldier's lawsuit

The documentary depicts stories from the 2002 deadly confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The film was banned after a few screenings in 2002 but the Supreme court overturned the ban. Lod district court banned the film Monday concluding a libel suit against Palestinian Israeli Mohammed Bakri, the film's director.

Aljazeera


CANADA

· The story of Canadian psychotherapist Hammam Farah is the latest example of how Canary Mission’s relentless attacks on free speech threaten the future of professionals who speak out in defense of the rights of Palestinians.

Mondoweiss

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