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Media Watch January 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 jvphealth@gmail.com.


MONTHLY HUMAN RIGHTS HERO AND VIOLATION


HERO

Pakistan! Pakistan has told the UAE that Islamabad will not recognize Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. From Aljazeera.

Pakistan will not recognize Israel


VIOLATION

Israel’s refusal to take responsibility for supplying vaccine to the oPt.


Israel has a deal with Pfizer to supply vaccine as well as one with Moderna. But that does not include vaccine for the occupied territories. AlJazeera

Palestine left waiting for vaccine


Back to Palestine/Israel....


GAZA

· Gaza’s Great Return March: 234 killed, 17 investigations, one indictment. Two years after Israeli soldiers killed more than 200 Palestinians during Gaza's Great Return March, the IDF has little more than whitewash its own violence. According to the UN, more than 33,000 people were wounded in these protests, some so seriously they were forced to have their limbs amputated. The victims included men, women, children, medical crews, people with disabilities, journalists, and others. Two years after the Great Return March began, around 80% of the incidents forwarded to the fact-finding authority for assessment are still under review or investigation. It is also important to note that the mechanism failed to look into even a single case among the thousands of injuries, many of them severe — including ones that have left victims permanently paralyzed or forced to undergo amputations.

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Electronic Intifada


· Dec. 16 Israeli military bulldozers crossed up to 200 meters into the Gaza Strip east of Khan Younis, razing Palestinian crops and leaving placards demanding that the farmers uproot their crops, with the threat that otherwise the military would remove them. On Dec. 17 farmers in the Rafah district reported similar placards on their own farmlands, just 100 meters from the perimeter fence. Both actions were part of Israel's continuing policy of "closure," which presents a continuing threat against the livelihoods and very lives of thousands of Palestinian farmers. The human rights organization Al Mezan has strongly condemned such Israeli targeting of Palestinian farmers, and calls upon the international community to uphold its moral and legal obligations towards the Palestinian people by exerting appropriate pressure on Israel.

Al Mezan


· Surgeries, exams, mental health trainings, and medical equipment delivery by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s mobile clinic to the Gaza Strip resumed in December, after a 10 month hiatus.

twitter


· On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Human Rights Watch reported that Israeli restrictions harm people with disabilities in Gaza, with further hardship caused by armed conflict and neglect by Hamas authorities. “More than a decade of Israeli restrictions have robbed people with disabilities in Gaza of their freedom of movement, and often access to the devices, electricity, and technology they need to communicate or leave their homes.”

Human Rights Watch

Middle East Eye

Aljazeera

Palestine News Network


· Houriya Muslih, 85, is an iconic figure in Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. She has assisted in the births of hundreds of children all over the Gaza Strip. In this short video, she tells the story of her life and becoming a midwife at 25, when she was taught by a Malaysian doctor working with UNRWA.

Electronic Intifada


· Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks damaged Al-Durrah Pediatric Hospital, a center for disability services, and several homes in the besieged Gaza Strip early on the morning of December 26. A six-year-old girl and a young man were injured near the neighborhood of Tuffah in Gaza City. “It was a horrible night for the children at the Al-Durrah Hospital, due to the missiles fired by the Israeli occupation warplanes, which caused serious damage to the hospital, spreading fear and panic among children and their families,” said Dr. Majed Hamadah.

Palestine Chronicle


· Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip has pushed more than one million people below the poverty line in just over 10 years and cost the enclave over $16bn, a UN report has warned.

In the 11 years since Israel imposed its blockade on the strip, its economic situation deteriorated dramatically, the UN Conference on Trade and Development found in a new report. Given the "near-collapse of Gaza's regional economy and its isolation", UNCTAD stressed the "urgent need to end the closure of Gaza so that its people can freely trade with the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and the world".

Aljazeera

Middle East Eye

· Raji Sourani writes The Palestinian case at the ICC is legal, not political: “As a Palestinian lawyer in Gaza, I have spent 30 years representing victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity across the occupied Palestinian territory. Since 2009, I have represented the Palestinian victims of Israeli crimes in Gaza before the ICC, our last resort to ensure the most serious crimes of concern to the international community do not go unpunished.”

Aljazeera


WEST BANK

· Oct. 21 the Democratic Progressive Student Pole (DFSP), the leftist bloc at Birzeit Univ., was declared as "terrorist" and as "unlawful association" by the Israel Occupying Force. That declaration is an attack by Israel on the right of Palestinian youth to freedom of association and of expression, and to the right to form student unions. This move by the IOF continues Israel's long-standing policy of raids against Birzeit's students, and of their harassment and arrest, in violation of Israel's obligation as an Occupying Power to protect educational institutions.

Al Mezan


· Mays Abu Ghosh, a 22-year-old Palestinian journalism student at Birzeit University, was released by Israeli forces on November 30, 15 months after she was arrested. She was arrested in August 2019 and charged with being a member of the Democratic Progressive Student Pole, a student bloc banned by Israeli military orders, and taking part in student activities against Israeli occupation. She says she faced psychological and physical torture under interrogation by Israeli forces. . “I want to tell everyone what happened with me during the interrogation and torture period,” Abu Ghosh said after she was released. “Not as something that has happened to me, but for any Palestinian to know what to expect when Israel arrests them.”

Aljazeera


· Palestinian teams and Scottish MAP volunteers working to transform West Bank breast cancer treatment were recognized at the Global Citizenship Awards Dec. 9.

Local health workers develop skills alongside Scottish-based radiologists, oncologists, cancer nurses, surgeons and palliative care specialists, including new ‘sentinel node biopsy’ techniques. Construction work has now begun on the new specialist breast unit which MAP is funding in Rafedia Hospital to serve the north of the West Bank.

Medical Aid for Palestinians


· Palestinian medical sources reported that a deaf and mute man, who was shot by Israeli soldiers on August 17th, 2020, died from complications related to his wounds on December 11. The sources said the Palestinian, Nasser Halawa, 47, from Nablus in northern West Bank, was shot by Israeli soldiers at the Qalandia Terminal, north of occupied Jerusalem.

Israel Palestine News


· A decision by an Israeli military court in the West Bank on paying compensation for a false arrest has revealed what a lost day in the life of a Palestinian is worth, in the eyes of the military justice system: 75 shekels ($23), a fraction of what Jews would receive.

Haaretz ***


· Through a freedom of information request, it was learned that Israel has caused destruction worth more than $2 million to EU aid projects in the occupied West Bank over the past five years. A note drawn up by the European Commission states that Israel has “demolished or seized” almost 560 “structures” within aid projects since 2015. The projects were financed by the EU collectively and by its governments individually. More than 70 of those structures were destroyed or confiscated between January and October this year, according to the note.

Electronic Intifada


· Al-Haq issued a report titled “Deprived a Voice: An Investigation into Shrinking Space in Area C” documenting the shrinking space for civil society and human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Al Haq


· A Palestinian teenager has been killed in clashes with the Israeli army on the sidelines of a protest in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said. Thirteen-year-old Ali Ayman Nasr Abou Aliya “succumbed to his wounds after he was shot with live rounds in the stomach” during clashes on December 4 north of Ramallah, the ministry said in a statement. After EU called for an investigation, the Israeli military said it would open a probe into the death. Israel claimed the Ruger gun that killed the Palestinian child is not “live fire,” since it has “low muzzle speed.”

Aljazeera Middle East Eye Haaretz *** Mondoweiss Mondoweiss Electronic Intifada Middle East Eye Haaretz +972


· Israeli army soldiers attempted to forcibly pull out and arrest an injured Palestinian from an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent in the occupied West Bank, footage of the incident shows. Israeli soldiers opened the vehicle’s door and tried to take a Palestinian man who appears injured following protests against Israel’s policy of home demolitions in the Jordan Valley.

Aljazeera


EAST JERUSALEM

· A Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces after he was accused of firing at soldiers in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem December 21. According to Israeli police, the teen, identified by local media as 17-year-old Mahmoud Omar Kameel, approached a police post near the Lion’s Gate entrance to the Old City and shot at them. Witnesses said Israeli forces shot Kameel multiple times after chasing him and surrounding him in the area.

Aljazeera


· For at least a dozen Palestinian families living in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the threat of eviction from their homes looms over their heads, paralyzing any thoughts of the future. In October, the Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem ruled to evict 12 of the 24 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and to give their homes to Israeli Jewish settlers. The court also ruled that each family must pay 70,000 shekels ($20,000) in fees to cover the settlers’ legal expenses.

Aljazeera


OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

· The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) renewed on December 10 the administrative detention of the youngest Palestinian administrative prisoner, Suleiman Qatash, 17, from Ein Yabroud village, east of Ramallah, for 4 months. On 12/16/19, the IOA arrested Qatash from his home and ordered his administrative detention. The number of Palestinians who were arrested from 1967 until the end of June 2020 reached about one million Palestinians including more than fifty thousand Palestinian children.

The Palestinian Information Center


· On International Human Rights Day, December 10, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) urged the international community to stand up for the human rights of Palestine refugees as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and turn their commitment into action to support them as per the Agency’s mandate.

UNRWA


· The humanitarian community in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has developed a strategic plan for the oPt every year since 2003. The current Humanitarian Response Plan covers 2021 and focuses on addressing needs identified in the Humanitarian Needs Overview, in Area C, Hebron H2 and East Jerusalem in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

UN OCHA


· Military home invasions are the subject of a new report released by human rights organizations Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. The report focuses on the mental health effects that such raids have on Palestinians, and how these invasions have themselves become a goal. As far as Israel’s military is concerned, any Palestinian home at any given time is a legitimate target. : “There is shouting. Broken Arabic and rapid Hebrew, and vice versa. ‘Quickly, quickly, your papers!’ Items are moved, sometimes breaking. One of us photographs the rooms or sketches in a notebook. Hours pass, sometimes days. Then we leave, on our way to the next house.”

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Haaretz

· Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard is featured on NPR’s debate Do Palestinians In Israeli-Occupied West Bank Live Under Apartheid? “The policy of separation, the multilayered practices and policies which deny Palestinians development, the drive to forcibly remove small hamlets of Palestinians from their locations - all of these have nothing to do with security.”

NPR


· The Palestine Centre for Human Rights publishes a weekly report on violations in the oPt. For the week of 12/17-23, they noted six Palestinian civilians wounded by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, six shootings reported at Palestinians and agricultural lands and two at Gaza fishing boats, 68 military incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem with 45 civilians arrested, four house demolitions, an escalation of settler-attacks in the West Bank: 330 trees uprooted, Palestinian ran over and others assaulted, vehicles assaulted as well, and the establishment of 79 temporary military checkpoints in the West Bank.

Palestine Centre for Human Rights


ISRAEL

· Hundreds of Palestinian teenagers are arrested by the Israeli military every year in nightly raids, violating the military’s own regulations with regards to issuing summons for interrogation prior to detention, according to a report issued by the Israeli human rights group HaMoked. The report’s findings are based on 81 testimonies from boys aged 14-17 who were arrested in 2018 and 2019. To mark International Children’s Day, Israeli human rights groups including Breaking the Silence and Parents Against Child Detention gathered to read testimonies of soldiers as well as Palestinian children and families suffering ‘cumulative trauma’ from the raids. Many children are held in solitary confinement during interrogation.

Middle East Eye Haaretz +972 Haaretz Defense of Children International Electronic Intifada


· December 8th, a 16 year old Palestinian boy was transferred after surgery from a hospital to an Israeli prison. When Mohammad was already in custody, an Israeli soldier broke his jaw. He was detained when hiding from Israeli soldiers who were tear gassing his neighborhood. He sustained attacks from other soldiers as well. He says “They also broke two of my teeth.”

Israeli soldiers consistently use excessive force on Palestinian children and are hardly ever held accountable. In fact, Israel is the only country in the world that “automatically

and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections.”

Mohammad was not provided with any medical treatment or a lawyer during his forced interrogation sessions, which included blindfolds and bindings.

Mohammad has since been seen by a doctor. He is awaiting a hearing and remains in pretrial detention as of the 6th. He was bound to his hospital bed and left guarded.

Defense of Children International


· The Israeli military court of appeal confirmed the release of child detainee Amal Nakhleh, 16 years old, after 40 days in incarceration. The decision was taken based on Amal’s age and physical and psychological health, as he suffers from a rare disease called myasthenia gravis, which requires regular medication and special care. The military prosecutor appealed Ofer military court’s previous decision to release him and requested more time to allow for an order of administration detention, but the court of appeal released the boy on bail.

Addameer

Haaretz ***


· Israeli authorities routinely detain Palestinian children in isolation solely for interrogation purposes, a practice that amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, Defense for Children International – Palestine said in a report released December 4.

Defense of Children International


· There are 157 Palestinian children detained as security detainees by Israeli authorities, of whom 95 have not been sentenced and two more held in administrative detention or arrest without charge. Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Israel needs to be held accountable for its human rights violations against Palestinian children.

Mondoweiss


· So far in 2020, 18 more bodies have been added to those being held by the authorities and not returned for burial to their families. Among the bodies are those of seven men who died of illness during incarceration over the past four years, including one detainee who had not even been tried. The total number of bodies held by Israel is unknown but estimates are as high as a few hundred.

Haaretz ***


· Palestinian prisoner Maher Al-Akhras was released from an Israeli prison last week after his 103-day hunger strike in protest of being held without charge in administrative detention.

Middle East Eye


· A position paper released by human rights group Yesh Din, which relies on figures received from the military, reveals that the main function of this authority is — as always — to whitewash Israeli violence. Israeli soldiers killed 234 in Gaza’s Great Return March; only 17 cases were investigated, resulting in one indictment.

+972 Electronic Intifada


· A damning report by three Israeli human rights groups condemned the Israeli military’s widespread practice of forced entry into Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, often in the middle of the night, garnering widespread coverage. Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din and Physicians for Human Rights Israel reported that Israeli troops entered Palestinian homes on average more than 250 times every month to conduct arrests but also for other purposes including “mapping” houses, to use roofs for observation posts or to search for money, weapons or for intelligence purposes..

The Guardian


· Hundreds including lawmakers and public figures joined a convoy from northern Israel to Jerusalem on December 21, vowing to keep protesting “until the government responds to the most legitimate and humane issue in Arab society – personal safety.” A triple murder over the weekend brought the number of Arab homicide victims to a 20-year high. Haaretz ***


· Rather than addressing the roots of crime and violence among Palestinian citizens, Israel is advancing plans to depoliticize the community. The only “novel” suggestion the new government plan introduces is to use home demolitions as a means of deterring crime organizations.

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· After claiming that school integration “was a failure,” Tel Aviv sends children of asylum seekers and migrant workers to schools renowned for their poor education standards. A municipal official defends the policy by saying: 'color encourages racism.'

Haaretz ***


· An Israeli hospital sent a Palestinian security prisoner back to jail early to spare him the pain and humiliation of shackles. The ‘indescribable suffering’ caused by having his hands chained to his legs was greater than pain from the operation, and unnecessary, doctors said.

Haaretz


· When Munir Moqbel secretly snapped photos of his son, 16-year-old Mohammad, handcuffed to a hospital bed in Jerusalem, the images sparked renewed outrage on social media over the treatment of injured and sick detained Palestinians by Israeli forces. In June, the Israeli prison administration amended its internal regulations on shackling sick or injured Palestinian prisoners. Naji Abbas, case manager in the prisoners department at NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), explained that there are currently no regulations on this issue. “This means that every prisoner who is transferred for treatment is shackled, regardless of their health condition,” he explained.

Middle East Eye

Haaretz ***


· Dozens of Israeli activists demonstrated on December 10, Human Rights Day, outside the Shin Bet’s offices in Tel Aviv, demanding the internal security agency cease using administrative detention and torture, particularly against Palestinian minors.

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· Human rights are understood to include civil, constitutional, individual, and collective rights. Palestinian citizens are deprived of all of these rights in the State of Israel. Ever since the establishment of the state, the Israeli government has worked relentlessly to diminish the legal status of its Palestinian Arab citizens. Such continuous discrimination is reflected in the daily treatment of the Palestinian Arab citizen in Israel, with police brutality and violence against the Palestinian Arab community continuing to this day. In addition, the Palestinian Arab community in Israel faces economic discrimination. Only about 5% of the state budget is allocated to Palestinian Arab localities, while Palestinians make up 21% of Israeli citizens.

Mondoweiss


· An Israeli settler opened fire at a group of Palestinian and Israeli protesters on December 18 during a demonstration against an unauthorized outpost near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. The soldiers that arrived at the scene did not detain the settler, but rather demanded the protesters leave the area. No one was injured.

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· Adalah took legal action resulting in Israeli police’s removal of roadblocks and reopening of access to Arab homes in Lod.

Adalah


· An Israeli court has used Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law to justify a municipal policy essentially blocking access to schools for Arab children in the northern city of Karmiel. The court implied that facilitating this access would incentivize Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel to move into the city, thus damaging its “Jewish character”.

Adalah

Middle East Eye


· The Israeli High Court is hearing a challenge to the Nation State Law. The 15 petitions filed by Arab rights groups and other civil society organizations seek to have the country’s Supreme Court strike down the law. The petitions pose a major challenge to the 2018 law and are being heard by a panel of 11 justices, the court’s largest possible configuration.

Washington Post

Haaretz

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· A new app has been developed by the Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems in conjunction with the Israeli military. The app would allow a commander to type details about a target on a small electronic device and then troops would open fire on that target swiftly. Ordering an attack will be “like ordering a book on Amazon or a pizza in a pizzeria using your smartphone,” said Oren Matzliach, an army colonel who is overseeing the use of the new app said.

Electronic Intifada

· Israel’s tech and surveillance industry is under greater scrutiny. Israeli municipalities and other bodies have installed thousands of closed circuit cameras in public places without any legislative oversight or regulations, and without the obligation to consult public bodies or the police, according to a recent report prepared by the Knesset Information and Research Center.

The Israeli private intelligence company Rayzone Group appears to have had access to a global telecommunications network in the first half of 2018, potentially enabling its clients at that time to track the locations of mobile phones across the world. Journalists and human rights activists are not at risk of their phones being hacked while using Signal, despite Israeli intelligence company Cellebrite claiming it can crack the app.

Haaretz

The Guardian

Middle East Eye

· Israeli theft of Palestinian land continues. Israel’s High Court authorized the seizure of Palestinian land lying between occupied East Jerusalem and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, declaring it “state land” and the property of Israel, following a petition against the Israeli settlement outpost of Kokhav Yaakov in the Palestinian village of Kafr Aqab. While all settlements on occupied lands are deemed illegal under international law, outposts are unauthorized by the Israeli government, although many have been retroactively legalized over the years.

Though Israel does not need a court decision to plan, build and expand settlements in the West Bank, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the government had been waiting for the High Court decision to move ahead with its settlement plans.

Middle East Eye

Haaretz


· In a report investigating human rights violations in jewelry supply chains Human Rights Watch (HRW) cites diamonds from Zimbabwe and Angola but fails to mention diamonds from Israel. Israel’s diamond exports dwarf those of a Zimbabwe and Angola combined and the industry is a major source of funding for a regime that HRW and many other credible organizations have accused of war crimes. Although none of the jewelry companies “scrutinized” by HRW sell rough diamonds, “Sparkling Jewels, Opaque Supply Chains” is heavily focused on rough diamonds in the mining sector and airbrushes war crimes and crimes against humanity occurring further along the diamond supply chain.

Mondoweiss



LEBANON

· “We are dying at the doors of the hospitals…When America stops funding, they are killing a population of refugees...Biden? Let's see.” (Palestinian refugee Wafa El Hajj). The overloaded medical clinic in Beirut’s Burj Al Barajneh camp (23,000 refugees; 2 doctors, with 75 patients each/day) was highlighted in an unusually well-placed, 8 minute US national news segment on Palestine (PBS Newshour). Included was Kamala Harris’s promise: “We will…oppose annexation and settlement expansion. And we will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people”.

PBS News Hour


MIDDLE EAST

· The number of Palestine refugees registered by UNRWA recently grew to 5.7 million (from 5.5 million in 2019) in all its five field of operations in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank. Among them are Palestinian refugees with disabilities, who have long-term impairments, which interact with attitudinal, institutional, and environmental barriers preventing their full and effective participation on an equal basis with others in society.

UNRWA


· Canada has pledged 90 million Canadian dollars ($70m) in aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, which has been reeling from two years of funding cuts from the United States and other donors. Karina Gould, the Canadian minister of international development, said that responding to the needs of Palestinian refugees was “part of the path towards peace and prosperity in the Middle East.” US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to resume funding to UNRWA, at least partially, counteracting Trumps attempts to cripple the agency.

Aljazeera

Electronic Intifada


UNITED STATES

· When Israeli bulldozers stormed the West Bank community of Humsa al-Fuqa (Khirbet Humsa) and demolished 76 structures on Nov. 3, leaving 11 Palestinian families homeless, some Democrats in Washington, D.C. took notice. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and 39 of his Congressional colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing Israel’s actions as “a serious violation of international law” and an example of “creeping annexation.” Then the lobby group Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) tried to undermine the letter, claiming that signators were “misinformed,” and blaming villagers for “knowingly put[ting] themselves in danger.”

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