“Peace Process,” cont’d

Life continues in the Territories while Secretary Kerry extends America’s “leadership” in another decade of negotiations.

From Ma’an:

Two young Palestinian football players shot by Israeli forces last month have learned that they will never be able to play sports again due to their injuries, according to doctors.

Doctors at Ramallah governmental hospital said the pair will need six months of treatment before they can evaluate if the two will even be able to ever walk again, at best.

Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot by Israeli soldiers as they were walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram in the central West Bank on Jan. 31.

Israeli forces opened fire in their direction without warning as they were walking near a checkpoint.

Police dogs were subsequently unleashed on them before Israeli soldiers dragged them across the ground and beat them.

The pair was subsequently were taken to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, where they underwent a number of operations to remove the bullets.

Medical reports said that Jawhar was shot with 11 bullets, seven in his left foot, three in his right, and one in his left hand. Halabiya was shot once in each foot.

This is part of a pattern of targeting Palestinian soccer players. From Dave Zirin, at The Nation:

Palestinian national soccer team member Mahmoud Sarsak. Sarsak, who hails from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, was seized at a checkpoint on his way to a national team contest in the West Bank. This was July 2009. Since that date, the 25-year-old has been held without trial and without charges. His family and friends haven’t been permitted to see him. In the eyes of the Israeli government, Sarsak can be imprisoned indefinitely because they deem him to be an “illegal combatant” although no one—neither family, nor friends, nor coaches—has the foggiest idea why. Now Sarsak is one of more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike to protest their conditions and lack of civil liberties….

Sarsak is only the latest Palestinian player to be singled out for harassment or even death by the Israeli government. In 2009, three national team players, Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshtahe, were killed during the bombing of Gaza. The National Stadium as well as the offices of the Palestinian Football Association were also targeted and destroyed in the Gaza bombing. In addition, their goalie, Omar Abu Rwayyis, was arrested by Israeli police in 2012 on “terrorism charges.”

The IDF is apparently shooting fish in a barrel. B’Tselem reports a spike in IDF shootings at the perimeter fence.

Since mid-December 2013, the number of live-fire casualties near the fence has been on the rise. In the ten weeks from 20 December 2013 to date, B’Tselem field researcher Muhammad Sabah has documented the injury of 55 individuals near the fence: 43 were injured by live fire; 10 by rubber-coated metal bullets; and two were hit in the head by a teargas canister. Figures published by OCHA also indicate that since mid-December there has been a sharp increase in the number of incidents in which civilian were injured by live gunfire near the Gaza perimeter fence.

Here is one example (B’Tselem):

Amneh Qdeih, 57, a resident of the town of Khuza’ah, was killed on Friday, 28 February 2014. She died of a gunshot wound to her abdomen fired at her when she approached Gaza’s perimeter fence. Her relatives told B’Tselem field researcher Khaled al-‘Azayzeh that Qdeih, who was mentally ill, had been at a family wedding in the town of Khuza’ah, not far from the perimeter fence in the southeastern Gaza Strip. She did not return home with the rest her family, and when they realized she was missing, they began searching for her. At around 10:00 PM, her family heard gunshots, saw the light flares in the sky and noticed an ICRC jeep near the fence. At around 6:00 AM, they found Qdeih’s body close to the perimeter fence, directly across from an Israeli military watchtower. Qdeih had sustained a gunshot wound to her abdomen. It is not clear whether she was killed instantaneously or bled to death for hours. The IDF Spokesperson told Israeli daily Haaretz that an IDF force fired at a person who was approaching the perimeter fence in the southern Gaza Strip and did not heed their calls to halt. The unit reported it had a confirmed hit on the target. The IDF Spokesperson did not explain why Qdeih was not given medical treatment that might have saved her life.

Palestinians face a severe water crisis (B’Tselem):

Even those people in the West Bank who are hooked up to the water grid do not have the pleasure of running water year-round; most residents place large water-storage containers on their roofs. In addition, 113,000 people are not hooked up to the water grid at all, so they are forced to spend much money on the high-priced water carried by water trucks. The situation in the Gaza Strip has more to do with quality than with quantity. Over 90% of the water in Gaza is unfit for drinking.

On the same subject, an open letter from a villager in the West Bank (Ha’aretz):

We live from day to day, never knowing when the next expulsion will come. But even in the midst of this uncertain life, one of the major difficulties we have is the same thing that angered you so much when Mr. Schulz spoke about it: water.

For generations, my family and community have lived mainly on the natural water reservoirs on our land. These are wells that my ancestors dug in the hard ground, and on rainy days we collect our year’s supply of water in them. The State of Israel, which has complete control over Area C, treats us differently from our settler neighbors and refuses to connect us to the water infrastructure. We have two options: buying water or pumping it from our wells. Does that sound simple?

Access to 70 percent of our water wells is currently blocked. Demolition orders hang over our heads. To reach the wells, we need a special permit from the Israeli army. When we are lucky enough to obtain a permit, we must deal with violent attacks by settlers, who keep us from the water by force. Dozens of attacks have taught us to be careful. My children know not to go near the area by themselves lest the settlers come. When the army arrives, it disperses us and the settlers, and sometimes arrests a few of us, but in any case we cannot draw water that day. The water pipe that belongs to the settlement of Susya passes through our private land, beneath our homes, but we have no access to the water.

We can buy water in tanks, but we pay 35 shekels (about $10) per cubic liter for water from the nearby city of Yatta. (You certainly know that you, like every Israeli, like every settler, pay less than 9 shekels for the same amount). One-third of my family’s monthly expenses go for water, but unlike the Palestinians in the southern Hebron Hills, we are lucky because we live near a road. The inhabitants of the more distant villages pay more than NIS 50 per cubic liter of water.

Merely asking about these matters in front of the Israeli government provokes a scandal (Ha’aretz):

In a speech delivered in his native German to Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday, [European Parliament President Martin] Schulz said, “A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17. I haven’t checked the data. I’m asking you if this is correct.”

After the walkout, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett demanded an apology from Schulz for his “lies.”

Amira Hass offers further reflections (Ha’aretz):

Water discrimination is another governmental tool being used to wear down the Palestinians socially and politically.

In the West Bank, tens of thousands of families expend huge amounts of time, money and emotional and physical energy just to take care of basic things like showers, laundry, and washing floors and dishes. When there’s no water in the toilet cistern, even family visits become rare.

… The time, money and energy that go into obtaining water come at the expense of other things on both the personal and community level: enrichment classes for the children, a computer, family outings, industrial development projects, tourism development, organic agriculture, political and social activity.

And:

* The Palestinians would not have been forced to buy water from Israel if it were not an occupying power which controls their natural resource, and if it were not for the Oslo II Accords, which limit the volume of water they can produce, as well as the development and maintenance of their water infrastructure.

B’Tselem offers further statistics and analysis on the Water Crisis.

Children are being arbitrarily arrested and detained, in violation of human rights law (Ma’an):

Israeli forces detained 31 children in the Palestinian territories throughout the second half of February, according to a report by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information.

Figures from the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ affairs show that there are 187 Palestinians under the age of 18 currently held in Israeli jails.

Some 5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of October 2013, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.

Settlement construction volume doubles (Agence France Presse):

Starts on new settlement building in the occupied West Bank increased by 123.7 percent last year, Israeli government data showed on Monday.

The release by the Central Bureau of Statistics came hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet at the White House with President Barack Obama, who has strongly criticised settlement construction.

“We have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time,” Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg published on Sunday.

… Monday’s data showed work began on 2,534 settlement housing units in 2013 compared with 1,133 the year before.

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