Media Watch October 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
A Palestinian worker sanitizes a classroom in a UN-run school in Gaza City in August. COVID-19 restrictions have contributed to Palestinians being unable to travel outside Gaza for medical treatment. (Mohammed Salem/REUTERS)
World Health Organization for a temporary arrangement that will facilitate travel permits for Palestinians to get medical care in Israel or occupied East Jerusalem, and for Gazans to get to the West Bank. The Palestinian medical infrastructure is poor, especially in Gaza, so patients who need specialized care must go elsewhere. Permits to do so have always been difficult to get under the Israeli blockade, but it’s been increasingly difficult during the pandemic. Some are calling it a band aid but a very needed one.
Palestinians protest against Arab nations normalising ties with Israel in Nablus in the Israeli occupied West Bank [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]
Arab League for agreeing not to condemn UAE-Israel deal. Palestinian leaders failed to persuade Arab League leaders to condemn last month’s normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The Palestinian foreign minister called on Arab countries to reject the normalization deal but did not prevail in getting the Arab League to do so.
And now to Media Watch….
***indicates Haaretz paywall
· It Takes Time to Unravel the Ecology of War in Gaza, Palestine: Long-Term Changes in Maternal, Newborn and Toddlers’ Heavy Metal Loads, and Infant and Toddler Developmental Milestones in the Aftermath of the 2014 Military Attacks. The current study analyzes, first, the persistence of heavy metal contamination in newborn hair in four cohorts across time in Gaza Palestine; second, the change in mothers’ and infants’ heavy metal contamination from birth to toddlerhood; and third, the impact of heavy metal contamination on infants’ and toddlers’ growth and development. Underweight and stunting, both in infants and toddlers were higher than reported for previous years, as well as being progressive within the cohort. Severe environmental factors, metal contamination and food insecurity put Gaza’s infant health at risk.
· This is a report on the psychosocial work of the UK-based Palestine Trauma Center, which includes background on conditions in Gaza and a synopsis of available mental health services in the Gaza Strip.
· On Sept. 1 three sibling children (ages of 2, 4, and 5) died in a fire that broke out in their house in the Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the Middle Gaza district. The fire apparently stemmed from use of a candle made necessary by the electric power blockout caused by Israeli restrictions on the import of fuel to Gaza. Some 35 Palestinians (including 28 children) have lost their lives in similar incidents since 2010 -- and for similar underlying causes of fuel shortage to supply electricity for local needs.
· On Sept. 14 Israeli authorities arrested at Erez crossing a 36-year-old cancer patient, Mohammed Tayseer Sawali, even though he had been granted a travel permit to reach a Jerusalem hospital. The reason for detention remained unclear as of mid-September. Israel continues to use Erez crossing as a means of entrapment and coercion of Palestinians residing in Gaza, especially those in urgent need of medical care, who are often denied medical exit permits except in extreme cases. The Mezan Center for Human Rights has condemned the arrest and Israeli policy that continues to threaten the physical and psychological health of Palestinian residents of Gaza.
· The Palestinian human rights organization Al Mezan has alerted the UN that access to water and sanitation in Gaza is under ever more severe threat from the Occupation. Israeli punitive measures in the second half of August included a ban on fuel shipments, so that reduced electricity led to water pumps being limited to only 3-4 hours functioning per day. By mid-September conditions were only slightly ameliorated, so that basis public health measures -- as basic as hand hygiene -- are increasingly under thread amid the rapidly expanding threat from the coronavirus pandemic.
· In August, Gaza City was plunged into darkness after Israel banned fuel deliveries. Following two weeks of electricity cuts, Israel lifted the ban in early September. The cuts took place against the backdrop of what was widely known as an “escalation” between Israel and Palestinian resistance fighters. According to the Gaza health ministry, the power cuts threatened the lives of newborn babies. Incubators and some other hospital equipment require an uninterrupted supply of electricity yet that could not be guaranteed after the power station closed. Generators and solar panels were not sufficiently reliable, the ministry stated. Fears were also voiced for patients needing intensive care, emergency surgery or dialysis, as well as for women who required C-sections while giving birth. The Gaza authorities introduced a lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, people had to stay inside for long periods – without electricity. Electronic Intifada
· Israel, through the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison Office, is now demanding that Gazan breast cancer patients submit the results of biopsies and diagnostic imaging with requests to enter Israel for life-saving treatment. Previously, the Office relied on the approval of Gazan doctors. Requests have often gone unanswered or resulted in delays of months.
· Gaza residents describe the terror and disruption of daily life by drones used to instill fear, to destroy civilian targets, and to maintain constant surveillance. Israel has dropped bombs from drones during the three major offensives it has waged on Gaza since December 2008. The Israeli weapons industry has tried to take advantage of those operations by marketing its drones and other weapons as “battle proven.” According to data published in 2019, Israel has become the world’s largest exporter of drones. Israel’s drone exports were worth more than $4.6 billion over an eight-year period, according to the data, which was gathered by the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
· Palestinian activists, members of the Gaza Youth Committee, were charged in military court with “weakening revolutionary spirit” and “normalization activity” after organizing a virtual discussion as a part of a bridge-building initiative focused on peace and empowering young people. The decision to press charges defied the calls of several human rights organizations, which have repeatedly demanded that the activists be released after being detained in April by Hamas.
· Amidst a sharp rise in suicides in Gaza, Hamza Abu Al-Tarabeesh reflects on the loss of a cherished friend. Suleiman al-Ajoury, 23, was an unemployed carpenter with no job on the horizon; the youth unemployment rate (up to age 24) in Gaza is 65%. In July he killed himself, leaving a message describing humiliation and a sense of hopelessness.
· PCHR is deeply concerned over the increasing social violence phenomenon lately, including the use of weapons in family and personal disputes, which jeopardize Palestinian civil peace and the rule of law. PCHR also calls upon the competent authorities to take necessary measures to put an end to this phenomenon.
· Malnutrition is a serious problem in Gaza, a recent study by the World Food Program stated. It found that 86 percent of children under the age of 5 living near Gaza’s boundary with Israel did not have a minimal accepted diet and 28 percent of lactating women in Gaza have depleted levels of iron. More than 68 percent of Gaza’s two million people are considered food insecure by the United Nations. The blockade and now the pandemic have led to high unemployment and more severe poverty. At least 50 factories have closed as a result of the pandemic and approximately 4,000 jobs have been lost in Gaza, according to the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. International assistance is badly needed, as Palestinians must often buy both medicines and food supplies on credit. UNRWA distributes packets every 3-4 months containing enough flour, rice, and cooking oil to last a family for about a month.
· Abdel Rahman Salih al-Shanti is an 11-year-old rapper from the Gaza Strip, who found his calling when he was only nine years old. Shanti raps songs in English, addressing the dire situation in Gaza and the suffering of Gazans – and especially the children – under the Israeli blockade that has been in place for 14 years. Shanti’s talent has gone beyond the borders of Palestine, reaching millions of viewers and listeners around the world through social media.
· The United Nations has launched a special temporary service to arrange for patients from the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment in Israel, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, the organization’s Middle East envoy announced on Monday. This is the first time the United Nations has gotten involved in the issue. It did so because many Gazans have not been able to arrange urgent treatments in the months since the Palestinian Authority ceased all cooperation with Israel. The PA had previously served as the liaison between patients and the Israeli authorities.
· Ran Goldstein, director of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, said that the UN’s temporary mechanism for transferring patients would not meet the needs of patients in Gaza. “Every day, hundreds of patients do not leave for medical treatment because they didn’t get a permit, or even a reply to the requests they submitted, and have consequently missed vital treatments…Every patient should be allowed to leave Gaza for treatment with no delays and no bureaucratic hurdles.” Yet Palestinians’ basic rights, such as the right to access medical treatment, continue to be treated as subject to negotiation rather than protection. This approach has only contributed to the longevity of the blockade, for which Israel has paid little consequence. When Palestinians do resist, they are condemned by the same officials who meanwhile fail to call for an immediate end to the suffocating siege.
· For a third consecutive year, China has provided support for the UNRWA Food Assistance Program in Gaza to mitigate the effects of food insecurity on Palestinian refugee families. Responding to an emergency appeal for 2020, China has contributed US$ 1 million for health and safety measures, including special risk mitigation measures to avoid overcrowding at distribution centers, sanitation of distribution centers to ensure the safe provision of food assistance, and PPE for frontline staff.
· During Operation Protective Edge, between July 8 and August 26, 2014, Israeli forces killed at least 2,220 Palestinians in Gaza, of whom at least 1,492 were civilians, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). In this interview, Zahra Shaikha, now 23, recalls the nights she and her family spent sleeping in their living room in al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza with the radio on, steeling themselves against the relentless bombing. But nowhere in the Gaza Strip was safe as Israeli forces indiscriminately targeted densely populated residential areas. Defense for Child International – Palestine found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations of international humanitarian law, some of which amounted to war crimes, such as direct targeting of children by drone-fired missiles.
· Israel’s colonial infrastructure “controls the sky above us and the land and sea around us, and is even capable of penetrating into our most intimate spaces to show us its power. In Gaza, wherever you look, you see tools of oppression, occupation and urban warfare - border fences, separation walls, armoured trucks, warplanes and checkpoints shape the landscape we live in. Even when you are at home, the whirring sound of military drones remind you that you are imprisoned, and you can be attacked at any moment. The UN said that it expects Gaza to become "unlivable" by 2020. Israel not only refused to take action to reverse Gaza's rapid deterioration into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but intensified its attacks on the Strip, hindering efforts by activists, NGOs and locals to keep this open prison habitable for a little longer. With the novel coronavirus now spreading throughout refugee camps and communities across Gaza, we cannot afford to wait any longer for the world to acknowledge our suffering and take action. … This is why we call for the international community to sanction and isolate Israel for its repeated crimes against humanity in colonised Palestine. If the world continues to treat our situation as "normal" and fails to take action, it may soon be just too late to save my homeland and my people.”
· The special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, cautioned that true peace, and the badly-needed reconstruction of Gaza, will only come with full respect of the fundamental rights of the two million Palestinians living there. “Gaza has been reduced to a humanitarian whisper.”
· Palestinian citizens of Israel donated two hospital beds, baby formula and diapers to people in the Gaza Strip, which PHR-I delivered September 1st, along with 20,000 Corona virus test kits and the test processing device. The imimminent, life-threatening danger to 650 kidney transplant patients from exhaustion of stocks of the critical immunosuppressant medication Cellsept (mycophenolate) in the Gaza Strip drove “record speed” fundraising of $26,000 for medication purchase and donation into the Strip, PHR-I announced August 31st. Disastrous health consequences from lack of fuel--through hampering adequate hospital functioning and sewage and water infrastructure--were underlined by PHR-I as it joined on August 31 a petition which demanded Israel retreat from its decision to limit/restrict fuel entry into the Gaza Strip.
· 1for3 is the Massachusetts-based non-profit aiming to promote access for Palestinians refugees to water, food, health care, and education. Their summer 2020 projects included a two-week camp in July for youth of the Aida Camp's Lajee Center, aimed at hands-on activities focused on recycling, agriculture, water testing, and environmental care; workshops for hypertensive and diabetic patients; and "phase I" progress on construction of a preschool in Aida Camp.
· Israeli authorities at the Ofer prison near Ramallah removed fans and other necessary electrical appliances from the inmates’ wards. This was done reportedly to punish the inmates for protesting the death of Daoud Talaat al-Khatib who died suddenly under mysterious circumstances after serving more than 18 years in prison, just months away from his release. Israeli forces stormed the prison cells of the approximately 850 prisoners who were part of the protest and confiscated their property and injuring 26 prisoners. The lack of ventilation in Israeli prisons along with cells that are specifically built to prevent access to sunshine and the circulation of fresh air make the living conditions of inmates deplorable. Due to the heightened risk of COVID-19, the prisons have become even more dangerous. Several Palestinian prisoners have already contracted the novel coronavirus infection. Human rights organizations, activists and others have repeatedly urged Israel to unconditionally release all Palestinian prisoners amid the threat of COVID-19 spread inside the heavily crowded, substandard and unhygienic Israeli prisons.
· A Palestinian prisoner died of a heart attack in Israeli custody on Wednesday night, only a few months before the end of his 18-year sentence. Daoud Talaat al-Khatib, 45, died in Ofer prison. He had undergone open-heart surgery in 2017 following a heart attack, but the difficult living conditions in prison, combined with the grief of losing both his parents while behind bars, had an adverse effect on his health. According to Palestinian prisoners' rights organization Addameer, 4,500 Palestinians were imprisoned by Israel as of July.
· The body of Ahmed Erekat, a Palestinian man, was held by Israeli authorities for almost three months in violation of international humanitarian law after he was killed at a checkpoint. Video footage shows Erekat’s car crashing into a checkpoint in the West Bank, knocking over an Israeli officer, and then Israeli forces shooting him after he emerged from his car when he appeared not to pose an imminent threat to life. Israeli authorities have held Erekat’s body ever since and said that they would not return it to his family. Their policy is in keeping with their decision to continue withholding the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. “Preventing Erekat’s family from burying their son in a dignified manner is cruel and without legal justification.” Israel’s security cabinet ruled on September 2 that it would not be returning the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces to their family for burial so they can be used as bargaining chips.
· Haaretz published this opinion piece on Israel’s cynical exploitation of Palestinian dead bodies, citing the case of Abu al-Kiyan. First, the prime minister, public security minister (at the time) and the police commissioner (at the time) proclaimed that the dead Abu al-Kiyan was a terrorist. In so doing, they justified not only the violent, pseudo-military operation in January 2017 in which hundreds of police raided his village, Umm al-Hiran, to demolish it and build a community for Jews there, but with one quick lie they were able to whitewash everything: the gunfire directed at Abu al-Kiyan when he was slowly driving his car, leaving him to bleed to death, the demolition of his home and his village, and the wild incitement against Arab lawmakers.
· Palestinian patients were injured as a result of tear gas fired by Israeli occupation forces into Princess Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron city. The director of the Hebron governmental hospital said that the Israeli soldiers fired tear gas towards one of the internal medicine department’s rooms, which has many patients infected with the coronavirus. He added that the tear gas was widespread inside the hospital departments, affecting medical staff and dozens of patients. According to Wafa news agency, almost 25 patients and doctors required treatment due to the smoke.
· A pregnant woman and three other Palestinians were injured after Israeli settlers attacked the car they were traveling in with stones and rocks near Turmus Ayya village north of Ramallah. Around 60 Israeli settlers had gathered near Route 60 and began throwing stones at Palestinian cars on the highway that crosses the West Bank. When the family tried to flee, the stoning continued. The woman, who was nine months pregnant, was seriously wounded and taken to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
· Another Israeli atrocity in the occupied West Bank is drawing international outcry: the beating of an unarmed 65-year-old protester who is trying to stop Israel from building an industrial park on Palestinian village lands. Khairy Hanoun was thrown to the ground on Tuesday by an Israeli soldier and restrained with an armored knee to the neck in video and images widely circulated on social media.
· In the dead of night, Israeli Border Police stopped a car carrying three young Palestinians and without a word shot one of them in the head, point blank. Now he may lose his eyesight.
· With an Israeli soldier’s knee on his neck, 61-year-old Palestinian Khairi Hanoun remembered George Floyd. “You want to breathe and you can’t. For a few seconds I couldn’t breathe at all, said Hanoun, a veteran anti-occupation protester who was beaten and choked by an Israeli soldier at a demonstration.
· Israeli soldiers arrested Hamada (Mohammed) Tamimi in the early hours of August 23, in his home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. They confiscated phones and a camera, beat up his family, and dragged him from one Israeli prison to another. He was released on August 26, in the evening: Nobody interrogated him, nobody told him why he had been detained, nobody apologized for the false arrest. The army said his arrest was due to operational considerations.
· A Palestinian was hurt after a seven-year-old child in the West Bank found a box containing stun grenades, which the Israeli military said its troops left at a site where ‘violent riots have regularly occurred.’ Israeli soldiers planted at least three explosive devices along a road in a Palestinian village that runs near a residential area. The Nahal Brigade soldiers entered the village of Qaddum shortly before midnight on August 19 to plant the devices, hidden with stones, cloth, and weapons crates, which were armed and ready to explode when touched.
· On September 2nd Dr. Imad Barghouthi, Professor of Physics at Al-Quds University, Palestine, was placed under administrative detention until November 15th by an order of an Israeli military commander in the West Bank which came only hours before his scheduled release on bail. Mondoweiss published a letter of protest from Scientists for Palestine. Mondoweiss
· From science to classical music, Israel clamps down on Palestinian culture, +972mag writes. The last months have seen Israel crack down on cultural figures and intellectuals in the occupied territories. Critics say the attacks are part of a larger strategy of suppressing Palestinian civil society.
· In the battle over Area C, where Israel maintains full security and civilian authority, it’s chalking up successes against the Palestinians and the European Union and has significantly reduced the number of internationally (mainly European) financed Palestinian projects, calling Palestinian construction a cancer. When it turned out that Israel was not approving master plans submitted by Palestinian villages in Area C, and continues to refuse to connect them to the electricity and water grids, the EU, or individual countries, supported projects they described as humanitarian: rehabilitating cisterns, installing solar energy technology, building schools or adding classrooms, financing clinics, and distributing trailer homes instead of the tin shacks and huts of shepherd communities, which were eroded by the weather, mobile toilets and the rehabilitation of agricultural land and roads. This is the nature of projects that so alarm the Knesset committee.
· The autistic Palestinian man who was shot dead by a Border Police officer in East Jerusalem in May did not pose a danger to anyone and there was no need to fire at him, said the commander of the force that pursued Eyad Hallaq and cornered him in a trash room in the Old City. The commander told investigators from the Justice Ministry department that probes allegations of police misconduct that he ordered his partner multiple times during the incident to hold his fire. His junior partner, whose name is also barred for publication, ignored him, firing two bullets from his assault rifle at Hallaq’s torso. The killing of Eyad Hallaq, was an example of serious human rights violations from the occupation which impact persons with disabilities on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. MAP organized presentation of examples to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ahead of its review of Israel’s progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Haaretz ***
· Amira Hass details how Israel Is Using a Legal Trick to Expel a Jerusalem Native, pointing out that, “In 2005, Salah Hamouri was given a choice: To leave Israel for 15 years or serve seven years in prison. He chose prison over exile. Now he's facing expulsion again.”
· A Jerusalem court ordered the eviction of dozens of Palestinian residents from their homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan last week, deciding the case in favor of settler associations, who claimed the land belonged to Jews prior to 1948. According to Israeli law, property from before 1948 can only be returned to Jews, and Palestinians are ineligible to reclaim any property abandoned before 1948.
WEST BANK AND GAZA
· An interview with Shatha Odeh of the Palestinian Health Work Committees. She discusses the difficulties faced by Palestinians and health care professionals due to the rules and restrictions imposed by Israeli occupation.
· DCIP has collected data for 2020 of the following: Child Fatalities; Number of Young (12-15) Palestinians in Israeli Military Detention; Distribution of child fatalities by circumstances of death; Number of children affected by settler violence.
· At the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies – NGOs in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, delivered an oral intervention on the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. Since Israel controls the three main sources of natural water supply in the occupied Palestinian territory, illegal Israeli settlers in Area C consume 3-8 times more water than the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem. Only 4 % of Gaza’s water is fit for human use and consumption, and sanitation services are limited. Given the prevailing culture of impunity that Israel unlawfully enjoys, the NGOs urged all States to take positive measures to recognise this situation, and to ensure accountability.
· Another window into the many human rights violations is provided by PCHR’s weekly report. They note in brutal detail that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to commit crimes and multi-layered violations against Palestinian civilians and their properties, including raids into Palestinian cities that are characterized with excessive use of force, assault, abuse and attacks on civilians.
· On August 30, International Day for the Forcibly Disappeared Persons, the Task Group for Palestinians in Syria issued a report on more than 1,800 Palestinians enduring torture and suffering inside Syrian prisons and 620 victims who have died as a result of torture. The Task Group called on the Syrian regime to release these people or release information about them. Middle East Monitor
· The Israeli State Prosecutor’s Office closed the cases against two Israeli soccer players who were accused of statutory rape of two 15-year-old girls. A source involved in the investigation said the girls had concealed the fact that they were under 16, the age of consent. Haaretz ***
· An Israeli convicted of murder in the 2015 killing of three members of a Palestinian family, including an infant, with a firebomb, was sentenced on Monday to three consecutive life sentences. An Israeli minor was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison. The Dawabsheh family’s home in the West Bank village of Duma, south of Nablus, was torched in the night of July 30, 2015. Sa'ad and Reham Dawabsheh and their 18-months-old child Ali all died in the fire or following injuries; only Ali's older brother, Ahmad, who was four at the time, survived, despite sustaining severe burns. Haaretz *** Haaretz
· Police obstructed a Justice Ministry unit’s inquiry into the killing of Bedouin teacher Yakub Abu al-Kiyan in Umm al-Hiran in 2017, a senior law enforcement official said this week. Police delayed passing materials about the incident in Umm al-Hiran to the ministry’s unit that investigates police misconduct, showed the officers involved in the incident footage of the shooting, and took their testimonies at the site and at the station, while the Justice Ministry unit was investigating the incident. The Public Security Minister called for a re-examination of the case.
· Israeli prosecutors have indicted an Israeli resident of the settlement of Dolev for shooting and wounding a Palestinian man two months ago. Eitan Zeev was charged on Sunday with causing serious injury under aggravated circumstances in a shooting which occurred over a dispute about farmland with residents of the West Bank village of Bidiya.
· Five Israeli Border Police officers have been charged in a case of violence against Palestinian workers that included beatings, humiliation, and robbery. One of the victims testified, “I waited for the bullet that would end this nightmare.”
· Military prosecutors have proposed a sentence of three months’ community service in lieu of prison for an Israeli soldier accused of negligently shooting an innocent Palestinian to death. Supreme Court Justice Noam Sohlberg has ruled that three judges of the High Court of Justice will hear an appeal against a plea bargain reached with the soldier who fatally shot 23-year-old Ahmad Manasra, who was helping another Palestinian shot and wounded by the same soldier.
· Gideon Levy describes inhuman apathy to Israeli border police’s brutal assault of Palestinians. “They entered the hotel room one at a time and committed their despicable act, and the country roiled with shock. They ordered them to strip and beat them, one after the other, with a bamboo stick and brass knuckles, as they lay helpless and bleeding on the ground. Fourteen cases of such cruel abuse – and Israel yawned with disinterest.”
· Israeli state-owned defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the shareholders of Anyvision, a high-tech startup focused on facial recognition, are setting up a jointly-owned security company. The company will focus on developing machine vision and artificial intelligence for defense purposes. Past investigation revealed the tech firm Rafael monitors West Bank crossings for the Israeli military.
· Israel claims incarcerated Palestinian children pose a threat to national security just like adults, and therefore can’t contact their families. The Israeli prison ban on phone calls risks ‘breaking spirits’ of Palestinian minors. Palestinian security prisoners in Israel, and minors in particular, are suffering from deteriorating conditions and isolation as a result of the coronavirus crisis. As of August, there were 140 Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons. A coalition of Israeli human rights groups filed a Supreme Court petition in April to allow Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons to remain in contact with their families. Following the petition, the IPS permitted minors to call their families once every two weeks, for about 10 minutes. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the petition in November.
· The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, voted down a proposed basic law introduced by the Joint List. It aimed at altering the constitutional basis of the Israeli state, requiring democratic principles, cultural pluralism, and complete equality for all citizen on both civil and national levels.
· Five Israel-based human rights organizations, Gisha, Adalah, HaMoked, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, petitioned the High Court of Justice on to demand the Israeli government open the Kerem Shalom crossing to fuel and other goods. The groups further criticized the Israeli government for choosing to take “additional steps aimed at directly harming the civilian population while knowing full well the significance of their decision and the ramifications on the residents of Gaza,” a clear example of collective punishment.
· AOC withdrew from a commemoration of Yitzhak Rabin after it was pointed out to her (by our own Alex Kane) that Rabin is remembered by Palestinians for his brutal rule suppressing Palestinian protest during the first Intifada, and who reportedly ordered the breaking of Palestinian bones.
· At the annual Palestine Advocacy Days, held virtually this year by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum was presented with a Champion of Palestinian Rights Award for her legislative work. Mondoweiss reprinted Rep. McCollum’s acceptance speech.
· The European Union renewed its commitment to support Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon through a EUR 30.6 million contribution from the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the EU Madad Fund. The contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will support Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon and coming from Syria. This comes as part of a larger EUR 43.2 million contribution covering support to Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
· The European Union (EU) renewed its commitment to supporting the work carried out by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), with a EUR 12.6 million contribution targeting Palestinian refugees from Syria in Jordan. It comes as part of a larger EUR 43.2 million contribution to the Agency’s emergency operations aimed at “Strengthening the Resilience of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon”, in 2020 through 2021, and tailored also to support Palestinian refugees coping with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU increased the initial allocation for 2020-21 with additional EUR 7.2 million in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
· On 17 September, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed contribution agreements totaling EUR 53 million from the Federal Republic of Germany through the KfW Development Bank. The agreements will strengthen education and health services in Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza; support the Agency’s cash-for-work program in Lebanon; and improve the living conditions in Palestine refugee camps in Jordan and the Gaza Strip.