Palestinian Plight: Updates & Discussions | Page 12 | World Defense

Palestinian Plight: Updates & Discussions

Scorpion

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We can make deductions about the political side from this. For example, lots of specific projects mentioned for Gaza and Lebanon etc but no mention at all of East Jerusalem. Also lots of investment in neighbouring countries (Egypt, Lebanon) for the specific purpose of absorbing Palestinian refugees, aka no right of return.


This isn't a conflict about money, it's about land and recognition of sovereignty and other symbolic rights.

That is your opinion. But this purpose of this meeting is in black and white. Hamas doesn’t like that because its going to be cut off of funds. The US and Saudi Arabia being the largest donors to Palestine would want to implement some restrictions on cash flowing to Palestine that ends up in Hamas’ hands. This won’t be the case anymore. No cash period. All contribution will be in form of materials, goods...etc. Saudi Arabia rebuilt Gaza 6 times, twice in case of Lebanon. Hamas grew because of Arab/US funds that went to Hamas instead of going to the Palestinians. Hamas on the other hand, has built no hospitals, no schools, no housing. All done by Saudi Arabia. The Palestinian budget is paid by Arab countries. This conference is purely economic and has nothing to do with politics whatsoever. Saudi Arabia 3 last summits held in Makkah back in Ramadan along with all Islamic and Arab countries reaffirmed Palestinians right to establish their own country based on 67 border agreement with East Jerusalem as its capital. Hamas can now continue sucking the money of the Iranian people paid by Khamenei. There is only one internationally recognized legitimate government of Palestine and that is the Palestinian National Authority.
 

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That is your opinion. But this purpose of this meeting is in black and white. This conference is purely economic and has nothing to do with politics whatsoever. Saudi Arabia 3 last summits held in Makkah back in Ramadan along with all Islamic and Arab countries reaffirmed Palestinians right to establish their own country based on 67 border agreement with East Jerusalem as its capital. There is only one internationally recognized legitimate government of Palestine and that is the Palestinian National Authority.
I respect your opinion. We will wait until the end of this year for the political part of the deal to see.
 

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Killing of Palestinian triggers protests in Issawiya
Updated 9 sec ago
Daoud Kuttab
June 29, 2019
View attachment 8676
Masked Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli security forces amidst clashes following Friday prayers in the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Issawiya on June 28, 2019, after a Palestinian demonstrator died from injuries sustained the previous day. (AFP)

  • Israeli officials admitted that Obeid was shot by Israeli soldiers
  • An Israeli court refused to immediately return the body
JERUSALEM: Palestinians in Issawiya, East Jerusalem have continued protests for the third day running after Israeli soldiers killed 20-year-old Mohammad Obeid on Thursday.

Witnesses said that the soldiers killed Obeid even though their lives were not in danger. Israeli officials admitted that Obeid was shot by Israeli soldiers but claimed that they were at risk after fireworks were launched at them at close range. Israeli forces later retrieved Obeid’s body from a car heading to the nearby Maqassed hospital.

An Israeli court refused to immediately return the body but said that police must do so within 24 hours.

Ahmad Budeiri, a reporter following the events, told Arab News that the court ordered the body be given back on condition the family agreed that only four people would attend the funeral or they would be fined 20,000 shekels ($5,000). The family has refused.

“If the issue of the return of the body is not reached this could quickly escalate,” Buderi said.

Talal Abu Afifeh, head of the Jerusalem Intellectual Forum, told Arab News that the protests that led to Obeid’s killing were in opposition to the US-led “Peace to Prosperity” plan.

“Protests in Issawiya were against the Bahrain economic workshop and have escalated since,” he said. Abu Afifeh, who lives in the nearby Shufat refugee camp, said: “People in the Shufat refugee camp, Sur Baher and Qalandia have protested continuously since Thursday,” he said.

Obeid’s mother said that her son had been arrested a number of times by Israeli police.

Residents of Issawiya have been subjected to regular raids and arrests by the Israeli army and police for years, with homes in the town often demolished.

The main entrance to the town was historically near the HebrewUniversity, but it was shut by Israeli authorities during the Second Intifada of 2000-2005. Now, only pedestrians can enter through the route.

Residents of Issawiya complain that they are discriminated against in favor of the nearby Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, which is expanding.

 

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Israel Refuses to Transfer Salaries of Hamas Employees
Sunday, 30 June, 2019
1.jpg

Palestinian Hamas-hired employees receive salaries in the southern Gaza Strip on November 9, 2018. (Reuters)

Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat

Israel has rejected a demand by Hamas to allocate $5 million of the Qatari money to employees’ salaries, Kan 11 News Agency reported. It also sent a firm message to Hamas that if it does not stop the firing of incendiary balloons, the fighting will resume.

This took place before the two parties agreed on resuming the truce in Gaza Strip.

The report noted that Hamas is insisting on renewing the salaries to its employees due to the organization’s difficult economic situation and criticism it could get.

Hamas had received, end of 2018, salaries from Qatar but was then forced to ask that the money be channeled to other projects. Later, the flow of money was halted which caused tensions in Gaza.

A new crisis erupted Mid-June over the Qatari money when envoy Mohammed al-Emadi entered the Gaza Strip with $10 million to distribute to 100,000 needy families, Hamas demanded money for its employees’ salaries and refused to allow the distribution of money to the needy.

It was the demands of Hamas that resulted in a delay in the distribution of funds.

A few days later, Hamas agreed to accept part of the money and only $6 million were distributed over 60,000 needy families in Gaza. The remaining $4 million were deposited by the Qatari envoy in a bank in Gaza until Israel allows it to be transferred to salaries for Hamas officials.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar himself approved the decision that was reached on Thursday night to return to the ceasefire and stop the firing of the incendiary balloons, after Israel sent a strong message through the mediators that "if the firing of balloons does not stop, Gaza risks a war."

According to sources, the efforts to prevent the deterioration continued until midnight on Thursday and were on the verge of failure. Only at the last moment, the "green light" was given from Sinwar, allowing the agreement to be reached.

Further, an Egyptian security delegation is expected in Gaza next week to fixate the truce and try to move to the next phase. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem stated that the delegation would discuss the truce, the understanding with the occupation and breaking the siege over Gaza.
 

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Trump is 'very fond' of Palestinian President Abbas, willing to engage on peace plan: Kushner
July 3, 2019
Steve Holland, Dan Williams


View attachment 9014
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Arab media in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 3, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the United States is willing to engage with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas but hinted a new peace plan might call on Palestinian refugees to settle where they are and not return to lands now in Israel.

At a workshop in Bahrain last week, Kushner unveiled a $50 billion economic plan for the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. On Wednesday, he said he would have more to say about the way forward on the economic plan “probably next week.”

Sometime later this year, he is to outline a 50- to 60-page page plan that will offer proposals on resolving the thorny political issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Palestinians have harshly criticized the economic plan.

In a conference call with reporters, Kushner said U.S. President Donald Trump is “very fond” of Abbas and willing to engage with him at the right time.

“Our door is always open to the Palestinian leadership,” Kushner said.

He said he believes Abbas wants peace but “certain people around him are very uncomfortable with the way we’ve approached this, and their natural reaction is to attack and say crazy things” that are not constructive.

But Kushner’s comments on Palestinian refugees are likely to raise concerns among Palestinians.

Whether the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, which with their descendants now number around 5 million, will exercise a right of return has been among the thorniest issues in decades of difficult diplomacy.

Israel has long ruled out any such influx as destabilizing, arguing that refugees should stay where they are or in a future Palestinian state. But prospects of such a state arising in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are themselves in doubt.

Asked by a Lebanese reporter whether the United States hoped Arab countries hosting Palestinian refugees would accept them permanently in exchange for funding, Kushner declined to answer directly, saying the matter would be addressed later.

But he suggested a comparison between Jews displaced from Middle Eastern countries in 1948, many of whom Israel took in.

“Look, you have a situation when this whole thing started where you had 800,000 Jewish refugees that came out of all the different Middle Eastern countries and you had 800,000, roughly, Palestinian refugees,” he said .

“And what’s happened to the Israeli - to the Jewish - refugees, is they have been absorbed by different places whereas the Arab world has not absorbed a lot of these refugees over time,” he said.

“I think that the people of Lebanon would love to see a resolution to this issue, one that is fair,” he said.

“And I also think that the refugees, the Palestinian refugees who are in Lebanon, who are denied a lot of rights and who, you know, don’t have the best conditions right now would also like to see a situation where there is a pathway for them to have more rights and to live a better life.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long suggested a demographic tradeoff between Jewish and Palestinian refugees.

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said during a Jerusalem visit last week that Washington has its own figure for Palestinian refugees.

“The number of actual Palestinian refugees is classified,” she told a conference hosted by the conservative Israel Hayom newspaper. “There are multiple people working to get it unclassified.”

Reporting By Steve Holland and Dan Williams; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis

 

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Japan offers to be ‘honest broker’ for Palestinian-Israeli peace
Updated 19 sec ago
Faisal J. Abbas | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
July 03, 2019

View attachment 9031
Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono is actively advocating a bigger political role for his country in the Arab world. (AN Photo)


  • Kushner economic plan is good start and Tokyo keen to get involved, foreign minister tells Arab News
  • Japan also wants to expand ties with Saudi Arabia beyond existing agreements on industry and energy
TOKYO: While most world powers either intervene reluctantly in Middle Eastern affairs or avoid the region altogether, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono is actively advocating a bigger political role for his country in the Arab world.

“We can play an honest broker in the Middle East, as we have no colonial history or negative footprint in the region,” he told Arab News in a wide-ranging interview at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo.

Indeed, regional stability is actually in his country’s national interest, Kono said. “Our energy depends on imports, mostly from the Gulf region. Forty percent of the crude oil we import comes from Saudi Arabia, 80 percent of the crude oil and 20 percent of the gas we import goes through the Strait of Hormuz. So, stability and peace in the Middle East is directly connected to our economy.”

However, Japanese diplomacy recently experienced at first hand the hazards of dealing with some of the region’s rogue players. A Japanese tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman last month during a mediation visit to Tehran by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first visit to Iran by a Japanese leader in over 40 years.

While the US blamed Iran for the attack, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as an “insult to Japan,” Tokyo’s official stance has been calm and reserved, distancing itself from the American accusations for the time being.

“Japan strongly condemns any attack on ships going through the Strait of Hormuz and we strongly condemn Houthi attacks with missiles and drones on Saudi people and Saudi facilities,” Kono said.

When further probed on what Japan’s reaction would be if such an incident were to occur again, he told Arab News he hoped there would be no further attacks on ships belonging to any countries.

As for the outcome of the prime minister’s mediation visit, which aimed to persuade Tehran to negotiate a new nuclear deal with the US, Kono said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani had both asserted that Tehran had “no intention” to develop nuclear weapons, and that “nuclear weapons are against the teachings of Islam.”

“So, if that is true, we have nothing to worry about,” the minister said.

Japan also seems interested in trying to resolve another Middle Eastern issue — the lengthy and complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Referring to the US-organized Peace to Prosperity workshop in Bahrain just before the G20 summit in Osaka, Kono praised senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s
efforts and said Tokyo was waiting to see what the political side of his plan entailed.

“We have been communicating with Mr. Kushner and we are now reviewing his economic plan,” he said. “It looks nice, and we need to see what the political side might look like. If the political side is good, I think we should all play some role to get the peace process rolling forward, and we would be very happy to be involved in this process.”

Of course, the Palestinians declined to attend the Manama workshop, citing mistrust in the US agenda. When asked whether Japan, if invited, would be ready to play the role of a political mediator, Kono replied: “Yes, we will be glad to.”

Japan has already been investing heavily in the West Bank, he said. “We have worked with Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians to set up an industrial park near Jericho and it’s been going very well. Also, Japan set up a framework called the CEAPAD (Conference in Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development) to bring Southeast Asia to this peace process. We wanted to share how we develop the Asian economy, and we want to share our experience with Palestinians and people in the region.”

Kono also spoke of the growing relationship his country enjoys with Saudi Arabia. At the G20 summit in Osaka, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was among the few world leaders granted an exceptional audience with the Japanese prime minister.

Kono said the talks confirmed the “progress of Japan and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Japanese government and the Japanese private sector are determined to support His Royal Highness’s reform agenda in the Kingdom.”

There is great potential for bilateral ties to go deeper, he said, with a diversified relationship which focused not only on the economy, but on cultural exchange and many other aspects too.

“We should have more exchange of people, and Japanese companies investing in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “There are mega-projects that His Royal Highness is taking leadership on, and we hope many Japanese companies participate in these projects, as well as increase Saudi investment into Japan, and not limited to the economy; we hope to receive more Saudi students coming to study in Japanese universities and we’ll be happy to send Japanese students to Saudi Arabia.”

Kono has met Crown Prince Mohammed on numerous occasions, and he sees many similarities between what Vision 2030 is trying to achieve in Saudi Arabia and what Japan has already achieved.

“His Royal Highness is very much interested in keeping Saudi history and tradition but at the same time to develop the Saudi economy and society. This is similar to what Japan has been doing. We introduced Western technology and the idea of democracy, but at the same time we have kept Japanese values, traditions and the Japanese way of life.

“There is a lot in common between Arab culture and our culture, like respecting elders or putting importance on family. So we would be very happy to share our experience and work with his vision.”

 

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Kushner's economic plan ‘no substitute’ for peace: Jordan PM

Jordan's prime minister says an economic deal cannot be a substitute for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, echoing concerns by critics of the US peace summit in Bahrain last month.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said on Sunday that the "road to peace is clear" and must be based upon the creation of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. He says that "there is no compromise or project or deal that will divert us from these priorities."

His remarks came during a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Mohammad Shtayyeh.

In Bahrain, the US promoted its plan calling for $50 billion of investment in Palestinian areas and neighbouring Arab countries.

However, the main architect of the plan, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, has said that the Palestinians are not ready for a state and the US plan is expected to give Israel control of all of Jerusalem as well as large parts of the West Bank.

The Palestinians boycotted the Bahrain conference regarding the deal, accusing the US of trying to buy off their right to national self-determination.

 

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Israel says it shot down drone that crossed from Gaza
Updated 8 sec ago
AP
AFP
July 09, 2019

View attachment 9278
A Palestinian protester flees from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during protests along the Gaza border. (AFP/File)

  • The drones are typically used for reconnaissance along the Israeli-Gaza border
JERUSALEM: Israel’s military said it had shot down a drone that crossed into its territory from the Gaza Strip.

The military says it recovered the downed drone and took it in for examination Monday.

There was no comment from Gaza. Its Hamas leaders are known to have developed a drone program with Iranian help.

The drones are typically used for reconnaissance along the Israeli-Gaza border and it was unclear if they have potential to carry out attacks. The incident comes amid low-level tensions along the border as Israel and Gaza are still trying to maintain an informal long-term truce between them.

Recent protests have included Palestinian youths launching incendiary balloons toward Israeli farmland.

Others have approached the heavily guarded fence at several locations and clashed with Israeli troops.

In another development, an Israeli court has ruled that the Palestinian Authority should be held responsible for 17 anti-Israeli attacks committed by Palestinians between 1996 and 2002.

The ruling came in response to a complaint filed on behalf of victims demanding 1 billion shekels (€250 million, $280 million) in compensation, according to a Justice Ministry statement.

The amount is to be decided by the court at a later date, it said.

The Palestinian Authority refused to participate in the case at Israel’s Jerusalem district court and it is unclear how the judgment would be enforced.

Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for allegedly organizing a series of killings of Israelis, were also held responsible by the court.

“It is a historic victory that finds that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for attacks during the second intifada,” said lawyer Nitzana Darshan-Leitner of Israeli NGO Shourat Hadin, which represented the victims and wages legal battles worldwide against what it calls “Israel’s enemies.”

The second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, lasted from 2000 to 2005.

In November 2017, an Israeli judge ordered the Palestinian Authority and perpetrators of a deadly 2001 attack to pay $18 million in damages to relatives of those killed.

 

Falcon29

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Israel Canceled the FIFA Palestine Cup for No Apparent Reason

It’s been barely noticed, but this past week saw an incursion of politics into sports like no other. With little reason, the Israeli government made the decision to cancel the Palestinian national footballclub championship, otherwise known as the FIFA Palestine Cup. The contest between Gaza’s Khadamat Rafah club and Nablus’s FC Balata, located in the central West Bank, had to be called off when Israel denied travel permits to the Gaza team. The trip would have been just a couple of miles.

Imagine the United States invading Canada to prevent the CFL championship from taking place. That is what has happened in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

“It’s a terrible feeling after training so hard,” said Ahmad Abu Thuhair to Reuters. Thuhair is a player on the Gaza team and one of the people who had their travel visa rejected.

This is the second time the game has been canceled, having already been postponed from July, when 31 of the Gaza club’s 35 players were refused travel permits.

There has been no public reason given by the Israeli government for canceling the permits, although in previous months they have used the opaque phrase “security concerns” without specifying what “security concerns” a soccer team could possibly hold. The treatment of the team however is all too familiar to the 2 million people in Gaza who basically live in an open-air prison, with access to the West Bank on offer only if allowed by the Israeli state.

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinians’ FIFA member association, said to Al Jazeera that Israel was trying “to paralyze Palestinian players and even the [Palestinian] sport system in general.”

Israeli human rights groups, according to Al Jazeera, have also said that efforts such as this are done to drive a wedge between the West Bank and Gaza in order to thwart the aspirations to nationhood of the Palestinian people. But perhaps the reasoning is simpler than that. As Adam Serwer has written about Trump’s various policies both foreign and domestic, “The cruelty is the point.” This is a case where there is no justifiable reason to deny these visas other than cruelty; other than trying to kill the hope and spirit of a people by denying them the culminating match of a sport that’s widely adored. This is about as ruthless a political use of sports as one can imagine: no cheering, no championship, just a military clampdown on what would have been a respite of joy.

So far, there has been no comment by Gianni Infantino or any of the leadership of FIFA. This absolutely must change. After all, it’s their damn tournament that has been canceled. FIFA needs to decide if it is to abide by the International Convention Against Apartheid in Sports. And FIFA must hold Israel to account the way it held apartheid South Africa to account—after much international pressure—decades ago. This is nonnegotiable. Either there is freedom of sports for a FIFA member or there is not. If Israel decides unilaterally for FIFA that Palestinian soccer players are not to be afforded this freedom, then it must call into question whether Israel should hold FIFA membership at all.

..
..
 

Solomon2

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Why Are Palestinians 'Disappearing' in Saudi Arabia?
by Khaled Abu Toameh
October 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med), a youth-led independent organization that advocates for human rights across Europe and the Middle East, said it has collected names of about 60 Palestinians detained by the Saudi authorities in recent months
  • Euro-Med said it considers the "practices of the Saudi authorities a flagrant violation of the requirements of justice, which guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial, including knowing charges against and the right to defense and access to a lawyer... [and] affirms that the relevant authorities do not comply with the international legal rules that guarantee the simplest rights of litigation for any individual..."
  • The Saudi authorities have offered no explanation for the widespread campaign targeting Palestinians in the kingdom. It appears that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his officials in Ramallah fear that any criticism of this behavior would jeopardize the financial handouts and political support they receive from Saudi Arabia.... For Palestinian leaders, Saudi money and political backing far outweigh the fate of a few dozen Palestinians held without trial in an Arab country.
  • It is only Palestinians who are held by Israel for terrorist-related crimes who Abbas and his friends remember to mention in their endless litanies of complaints.

3570.jpg

The issue of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia seems to have missed the agenda of the discussions. For Palestinian leaders, Saudi money and political backing far outweigh the fate of a few dozen Palestinians held without trial in an Arab country. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visits Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz on December 30, 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Press Office via Getty Images)

Dozens of Palestinians have been "disappearing" in Saudi Arabia in recent months and are believed are being held in detention in the kingdom's prisons, according to Palestinian sources and international human rights organizations.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in the West Bank, which regularly condemns Israel for arresting Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorism and other anti-Israel activities, has been reluctant to speak out against the Saudi purge of Palestinians, ostensibly for security reasons, not to harm its relations with the kingdom.

The PA is not only keeping mum about the unprecedented Saudi crackdown, but it is also trying to prevent the families of the detainees from protesting in public. Last week, the PA's Preventive Security Service summoned the family of Palestinian engineer Abdullah Odeh, being held in a Saudi prison, and warned them not to protest their son's detention.

Odeh's family was planning to arrive at a football match between Saudi Arabia's national soccer team and the Palestinian national soccer team as part of the World Cup qualifier held on October 15 near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The family was warned that they would be beaten and arrested if they arrived at the Faisal al-Husseini Football Stadium to protest their son's incarceration in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the family was ordered to remove all social media posts denouncing the arrest of Odeh and calling for his release.

Odeh's brother, Baraa, wrote on his Facebook page on September 6:

"My brother, engineer Abdullah Odeh, has been held in a Saudi prison for the past month and we don't know anything about him. This is not how a prisoner should be treated in an Islamic country."
In another Facebook post on September 11, Odeh's brother wrote:
"My dear brother, engineer Abdullah. I hope you ate doing well and in good health. I wanted to let you know that we have appealed to the [Palestinian Authority] president, the government and ministries and embassies to get information about your condition... but they don't care because your life, and the lives of those with you, are too cheap for them to pay any attention. Why is an expatriate who goes to earn a living being held without trial?"
Last week, Baraa Odeh was forced by the Palestinian Authority security forces to remove another Facebook post deemed offensive to the Saudis. In that post, he commented on the warm welcome the Saudi national soccer team received upon its arrival in Ramallah ahead of the match with the Palestinians. He wrote:
"My dear brother, engineer Abdullah. I apologize to you. My people gave a warm welcome to the Saudi national soccer team. We are proud of this reception. A Palestinian family has been subjected to injustice by Saudi Arabia, which has been holding my brother in detention without trial for the past two months. My brother worked as an electrical engineer in Saudi Arabia for five years. Tomorrow I will go to the stadium to hold a peaceful protest and carry my brother's photo."
The Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med), a youth-led independent organization that advocates for human rights across Europe and the Middle East, said it has collected names of about 60 Palestinians detained by the Saudi authorities in recent months.

The organization said that it has documented testimonies from 11 Palestinian families whose sons have been detained or were forcibly "disappeared" during their stay in, or visit to, Saudi Arabia. The detainees include students, residents, academics and businessmen, Euro-Med said in a statement, adding:

"In fact, those people were isolated from the outside world without any specific indictments against them. They were not brought before the public prosecution, nor allowed to communicate with their relatives, or communicate with their lawyers."
Selin Yasar, Euro-Med's communication and media officer, said that the "campaign in Saudi Arabia of arresting Palestinians is but one in a long series of human rights violations in the country."

The family of one of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia told the organization that they were prevented from asking about his fate or the place of detention. "My biggest heartache is not knowing anything about my husband," the detainee's wife complained. "I don't know if he is alive, dead, healthy or tortured, and this made his disappearance more painful for my children, his parents, and his siblings."

Another Palestinian family whose son is being held in Saudi Arabia said they lost contact with him last July; since then, they have heard nothing about his fate or whereabouts. During the same month, the Saudi authorities also arrested a 60-year-old Palestinian businessman who has been living in Jeddah for decades. Euro-Med reported that one of the detainee's sons said that the Saudi authorities confiscated his money, threatened his family members to keep silent, and prevented them from leaving Saudi Arabia. Even Palestinians who went to Mecca for the Islamic pilgrimage (hajj) have fallen victim to the Saudi "security-motivated" detentions. According to Euro-Med, the families of the detainees remain silent on the matter "in the hope that the nightmare of enforced disappearance would come to an end, and they would return to normal life."

Euro-Med wrote in another statement:

"The Euro-Med considered the practices of the Saudi authorities a flagrant violation of the requirements of justice, which guaranteed everyone the right to a fair trial including knowing charges against them, the right to defense and access to a lawyer...
"It also affirms that the relevant authorities do not comply with the international legal rules that guarantee the simplest rights of litigation for any individual, the most important of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
While the PA leadership has been silent over the "enforced disappearances" of Palestinians in Saudi Arabia, other Palestinians, including Hamas, the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip, have been vocal in their protests and are calling on the Saudi authorities to release the detainees. Hamas says that one of its leaders, Mohammed al-Khoudari, was also arrested several months ago by the Saudi authorities. Earlier this week, the families of some of the detainees protested in the Gaza Strip against the arrest of their sons in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi authorities have offered no explanation for the widespread campaign targeting Palestinians in the kingdom. It appears that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his officials in Ramallah fear that any criticism of this behavior would jeopardize the financial handouts and political support they receive from Saudi Arabia. Abbas and the PA leadership have long tip-toed around any Arab country that mistreats Palestinians or subjects them to discriminatory laws, as in Lebanon.

Abbas was scheduled to arrive in Riyadh this week for talks with King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on ways of strengthening bilateral relations. The issue of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia seems to have missed the agenda of the discussions. For Palestinian leaders, Saudi money and political backing far outweigh the fate of a few dozen Palestinians held without trial in an Arab country.

It is only Palestinians who are held by Israel for terrorist-related crimes who Abbas and his friends remember to mention in their endless litanies of complaints. Why spoil relations with Saudi Arabia, one of the PA's prime cash cows, because of a handful of Palestinians who, together with their families, are being denied basic rights in an Arab country that continues, in public, to state its full support for the Palestinians and what they perceive as their rights?

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter
 

Scorpion

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Why Are Palestinians 'Disappearing' in Saudi Arabia?
by Khaled Abu Toameh
October 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med), a youth-led independent organization that advocates for human rights across Europe and the Middle East, said it has collected names of about 60 Palestinians detained by the Saudi authorities in recent months
  • Euro-Med said it considers the "practices of the Saudi authorities a flagrant violation of the requirements of justice, which guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial, including knowing charges against and the right to defense and access to a lawyer... [and] affirms that the relevant authorities do not comply with the international legal rules that guarantee the simplest rights of litigation for any individual..."
  • The Saudi authorities have offered no explanation for the widespread campaign targeting Palestinians in the kingdom. It appears that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his officials in Ramallah fear that any criticism of this behavior would jeopardize the financial handouts and political support they receive from Saudi Arabia.... For Palestinian leaders, Saudi money and political backing far outweigh the fate of a few dozen Palestinians held without trial in an Arab country.
  • It is only Palestinians who are held by Israel for terrorist-related crimes who Abbas and his friends remember to mention in their endless litanies of complaints.

3570.jpg

The issue of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia seems to have missed the agenda of the discussions. For Palestinian leaders, Saudi money and political backing far outweigh the fate of a few dozen Palestinians held without trial in an Arab country. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visits Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz on December 30, 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Press Office via Getty Images)
Dozens of Palestinians have been "disappearing" in Saudi Arabia in recent months and are believed are being held in detention in the kingdom's prisons, according to Palestinian sources and international human rights organizations.


The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in the West Bank, which regularly condemns Israel for arresting Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorism and other anti-Israel activities, has been reluctant to speak out against the Saudi purge of Palestinians, ostensibly for security reasons, not to harm its relations with the kingdom.

The PA is not only keeping mum about the unprecedented Saudi crackdown, but it is also trying to prevent the families of the detainees from protesting in public. Last week, the PA's Preventive Security Service summoned the family of Palestinian engineer Abdullah Odeh, being held in a Saudi prison, and warned them not to protest their son's detention.

Odeh's family was planning to arrive at a football match between Saudi Arabia's national soccer team and the Palestinian national soccer team as part of the World Cup qualifier held on October 15 near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The family was warned that they would be beaten and arrested if they arrived at the Faisal al-Husseini Football Stadium to protest their son's incarceration in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the family was ordered to remove all social media posts denouncing the arrest of Odeh and calling for his release.

Odeh's brother, Baraa, wrote on his Facebook page on September 6:

In another Facebook post on September 11, Odeh's brother wrote:

Last week, Baraa Odeh was forced by the Palestinian Authority security forces to remove another Facebook post deemed offensive to the Saudis. In that post, he commented on the warm welcome the Saudi national soccer team received upon its arrival in Ramallah ahead of the match with the Palestinians. He wrote:

The Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med), a youth-led independent organization that advocates for human rights across Europe and the Middle East, said it has collected names of about 60 Palestinians detained by the Saudi authorities in recent months.

The organization said that it has documented testimonies from 11 Palestinian families whose sons have been detained or were forcibly "disappeared" during their stay in, or visit to, Saudi Arabia. The detainees include students, residents, academics and businessmen, Euro-Med said in a statement, adding:

Selin Yasar, Euro-Med's communication and media officer, said that the "campaign in Saudi Arabia of arresting Palestinians is but one in a long series of human rights violations in the country."

The family of one of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia told the organization that they were prevented from asking about his fate or the place of detention. "My biggest heartache is not knowing anything about my husband," the detainee's wife complained. "I don't know if he is alive, dead, healthy or tortured, and this made his disappearance more painful for my children, his parents, and his siblings."

Another Palestinian family whose son is being held in Saudi Arabia said they lost contact with him last July; since then, they have heard nothing about his fate or whereabouts. During the same month, the Saudi authorities also arrested a 60-year-old Palestinian businessman who has been living in Jeddah for decades. Euro-Med reported that one of the detainee's sons said that the Saudi authorities confiscated his money, threatened his family members to keep silent, and prevented them from leaving Saudi Arabia. Even Palestinians who went to Mecca for the Islamic pilgrimage (hajj) have fallen victim to the Saudi "security-motivated" detentions. According to Euro-Med, the families of the detainees remain silent on the matter "in the hope that the nightmare of enforced disappearance would come to an end, and they would return to normal life."

Euro-Med wrote in another statement:

While the PA leadership has been silent over the "enforced disappearances" of Palestinians in Saudi Arabia, other Palestinians, including Hamas, the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip, have been vocal in their protests and are calling on the Saudi authorities to release the detainees. Hamas says that one of its leaders, Mohammed al-Khoudari, was also arrested several months ago by the Saudi authorities. Earlier this week, the families of some of the detainees protested in the Gaza Strip against the arrest of their sons in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi authorities have offered no explanation for the widespread campaign targeting Palestinians in the kingdom. It appears that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his officials in Ramallah fear that any criticism of this behavior would jeopardize the financial handouts and political support they receive from Saudi Arabia. Abbas and the PA leadership have long tip-toed around any Arab country that mistreats Palestinians or subjects them to discriminatory laws, as in Lebanon.

Abbas was scheduled to arrive in Riyadh this week for talks with King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on ways of strengthening bilateral relations. The issue of the Palestinian detainees in Saudi Arabia seems to have missed the agenda of the discussions. For Palestinian leaders, Saudi money and political backing far outweigh the fate of a few dozen Palestinians held without trial in an Arab country.

It is only Palestinians who are held by Israel for terrorist-related crimes who Abbas and his friends remember to mention in their endless litanies of complaints. Why spoil relations with Saudi Arabia, one of the PA's prime cash cows, because of a handful of Palestinians who, together with their families, are being denied basic rights in an Arab country that continues, in public, to state its full support for the Palestinians and what they perceive as their rights?


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In Jerusalem, Palestinians and Jews see a night of rage and hate

Protests were some of the most violent in years, with dozens of Palestinians and cops injured, random attacks on Jews and Palestinians across the city, and mayhem in downtown
By Aaron Boxerman
23 April 2021

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Israeli border police detain an Israeli youth as members of "Lahava", a Jewish extremist group, as they try approach to Damascus Gate to protest amid heightened tensions in the city, just outside Jerusalem's Old City, Thursday, April. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Thursday night may have been one of the darkest Israel’s divided capital, Jerusalem, has seen in a long time.

Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli police close to Damascus Gate of the Old City over what they deemed unfair restrictions during Ramadan. 21 were rushed to an East Jerusalem hospital for treatment, including one who was shot in the head by a sponge-tipped bullet by Border Police, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Hundreds of far-right Jewish activists, many affiliated with the Jewish supremacist Lehava movement, marched to the Damascus Gate, calling out “Death to Arabs.”

Police responded to both incidents with sound grenades and water cannons, arresting over 50 people. But officers were considerably quicker to act against Palestinians and used far greater force in doing so, including sponge-tipped bullets. They were also more hesitant to forcibly disperse the Jewish extremists, using riot dispersal tools far more gingerly.

While hundreds of sound grenades were deployed around Damascus Gate as roving bands of police sought to disperse every Palestinian gathering, only a few of the devices were used against the Lehava extremists.
Jewish extremists attacked a home in the Old City, seeking to set it on fire. In a video distributed on social media, Arab men can be seen beating a Jewish driver in Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood before setting his car ablaze.

The surge in violence began last week, on the first night of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was apparently sparked by a decision by Jerusalem police to prevent Palestinians from sitting on the steps of the Damascus Gate. In an unofficial — but tremendously resonant — Jerusalem tradition, thousands of Palestinians often sit in the area following nighttime prayers during Ramadan.

A spokesperson for Jerusalem Police told The Times of Israel earlier this week that the policy had been intended as a form of riot control.
“There are always riots. Now, they’re just using the barriers as an excuse. So if there weren’t barriers, what would we have then?” Jerusalem Police spokesperson Shimon Cohen said on Monday.

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Israeli police officers clash with Arabs outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on April 22, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

But whatever one thinks of the idea, it appears to have backfired. Every night of Ramadan so far has seen intense clashes between Palestinians and police close to Damascus Gate, with dozens injured.

Jerusalem has also seen a series of viral videos on the social network TikTok, which appeared to show Palestinians attacking ultra-Orthodox Jews without any provocation. It is unclear whether the attacks were related to anger over the Damascus Gate restrictions or not, but the videos fueled a growing atmosphere of anger.

In response, young far-right Jews have “searched for Arabs” by the dozens in downtown Jerusalem over the past few nights, speaking with passersby to try to identify whether or not they were Arab. If any were discovered in their midst, they hurled bottles, yelled insults, and in one video on social media sprayed mace into the eyes of an Arab bystander.

Two journalists from Israel’s Kan public broadcaster were attacked at Jerusalem’s Zion Square by Jewish extremists on Wednesday night, which also saw running street battles and random attacks.

But the scale of Thursday night’s clashes was taken to a new level when Jewish supremacist Bentzi Gopstein, who directs the Lehava organization, called for a rally to “restore Jewish control” of the Damascus Gate area.

“We cannot allow the Arabs to continue their provocations and beatings,” Gopstein told The Times of Israel on Thursday evening.

Asked whether he hoped it would be a quiet night, Gopstein replied cryptically: “I hope the police do their job, so we don’t have to do it for them.”

As soon as Gopstein called for his faction, Palestinians seeking a fight knew where to go.

By the time this reporter arrived at the scene, Gopstein’s disciples had yet to arrive, but the first sound grenades were already arcing over the Palestinian crowd. It was impossible to tell who had started the clashes, although some Palestinians claimed police fired the first shots.

As shock grenades burst among clusters of young men, the demonstrators scattered, breaking into stampedes in every direction. Witnesses at the scene put the crowd in the low hundreds.

Close to 10 p.m., Palestinians began milling about, gathering into clusters around Damascus Gate that were immediately dispersed by police, either by mounted officers or by sound grenades.

A rumor quickly spread through the crowd that the Lehava ultra-nationalists and their supporters had arrived. Dozens of Palestinians sprinted toward police roadblocks, seeking to clash with the Jewish far-right.

“With spirit and blood we’ll redeem you, O Aqsa!” the Palestinians called out as they rushed towards the barriers.

When it became clear that Lehava had not yet arrived, the Palestinian demonstrators returned to their game of cat-and-mouse with police.

“I want to bash in the face of that Haredi,” said Ashraf, a drunk, middle-aged Palestinian man snarled, gesturing at a pale-faced man silently watching from the neighboring light rail tracks. He brandished a makeshift wrench he’d brought along for the fray.
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Police officers arrest a man during clashes between Jews and Arabs at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on April 22, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A number of young Palestinians at his side — all of them, they told this reporter, from Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp — admonished him to contain himself.

One of them, Adham, told The Times of Israel that he had decided to come to the protest because of the extreme-right settler presence. Most Palestinians who spoke to this reporter declined to be identified by their last name for fear of police retribution.

“I came because they did. They provoked us,” Adham said, as sound grenades popped behind him. “And to defend the honor of Al-Aqsa [mosque], of course.”

Palestinians were remarkably unfazed by the sound grenades, water cannons and the dozens of police chasing them through the side streets around Damascus Gate.

“This is how we grow up. This is how they treat us. I’ve had five sound grenades strike my leg since I was a kid. If you lived what we did, you’d do the same thing. We go to clash the way you might go to work,” said Fathi, 17, also a resident of Shuafat refugee camp.

As he spoke to The Times of Israel, the black flags of the far-right Lehava protesters could be spotted descending a hill toward Damascus Gate.

A wall of armed, mounted police and barriers separated the extremist Jews’ rally from the Palestinians. The clash — which so many of them seemed to crave — was not going to arrive. The two sides were left to lob insults and chant at one another from behind ranks of police.
“Death to Arabs! Death to Arabs! All the people want revenge!” the Jewish extremists chanted.

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Clashes between Jews and Arabs at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on April 22, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The crowd of Jewish extremists — perhaps 500 strong — was young; the majority seemed in their teens and twenties. Black and yellow Lehava T-shirts filled the crowd, along with stickers declaring support for Meir Kahane, a notorious Jewish supremacist and one of Gopshtein’s mentors. A few off-duty soldiers strolled through the crowd, brandishing their weapons.

“The police are waiting for us to cry ‘death to Arabs’ to put an end to us. Well, we won’t let them. Whoever hits us will get what he deserves,” Gopshtein told the crowd in a speech.

Murmurs shivered throughout the crowd. “Let’s find some leftists! Let’s catch some leftists! Death to leftists!” A smattering of left-wing activists, were, in fact, in the crowd, recording the proceedings. Lehava members who spotted one of them began to grapple with one of them.
One right-wing activist approached another woman taking a video of the protest on her smartphone. He spat at her feet and began to scream at her, shoving his two middle fingers in her face.

“You’re killing our soldiers! You’re killing our soldiers!” he yelled.

Two religious teenage girls attending the protest looked on. One frowned at the right-wing activist before turning to her friend: “I mean, I agree with him, but it bums me out when he’s so rude. Even she is part of the people of Israel.”

Not everyone at the protest joined in on the cries of ‘Death to Arabs.’ Many stood silently, watching from the side or chatting amicably with friends.

“We’re just here to ask for Jewish sovereignty here, and to show Palestinians that they don’t have an excuse to blow up just because of Ramadan,” said Ephraim, who lives in Jerusalem, disassociating himself from the chants.

An Israeli eyewitness on the scene said that a middle-aged Muslim woman wearing a hijab had made the mistake of wandering past the Old City’s New Gate towards Damascus Gate, apparently unaware of the Jewish nationalist gathering.

The eyewitness said that right-wing activists pepper-sprayed her before police intervened and took the woman to safety.

Back by Damascus Gate, clashes between Palestinians and police intensified. Palestinians hurled stones towards police on the other side of the gate by Salah al-Din Street. Police responded with shock grenades. Water cannons swept up and down the area by Damascus Gate, firing gag-inducing skunk water along the streets.

The sound of shock grenades became nearly constant, thundering out over the city. A number of Palestinian demonstrators tipped over a massive garbage bin before setting it ablaze in the middle of the street.

“All we wanted to do was sit in the area of Damascus Gate and celebrate Ramadan, but even that we couldn’t do,” said Ahmad, a resident of the Old City, by way of explaining the clashes.

As this reporter ran to avoid sound grenades by Damascus Gate, Israel Police began to disperse Lehava’s rally some 100 meters away. It was unclear what prompted police to disperse the crowd, but they fired shock grenades into the crowd, sending them fleeing up the hill towards the Jerusalem Municipality.

As the Lehava activists left the scene, the water cannon began firing at them again — this time at scattered rally participants as they sought to exit the rally.

In any case, the Jewish supremacists did not remain dispersed for very long. Hundreds gathered in Tzahal Square, a five-minute walk from Damascus Gate, to make their stand against the police.

The atmosphere was festive: crowds of young men danced with one another in the streets, calling for revenge against Arabs. Clusters of yeshiva students standing on staircases, observing the fray, hurled plastic soda bottles at police.

“The people demand that the Arabs burn!” the Lehava activists cheered as they spun in circles.

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Far-right Lehava demonstrators confront a group of counter-protesters. One holds a sign declaring “Jeruaslem says no to violence” (Aaron Boxerman/The Times of Israel)

A small cluster of counter-protesters had been standing in the square for hours. One counter-demonstrator, later identified as Nir Yanovsky, held up a sign saying “Jerusalem says no to violence.” A young woman wearing a Lehava t-shirt walked up and spat at his feet.

“That’s for traitors,” she told him, before calling to tell her friends that she’d found a leftist. Police attempted to intervene — closing ranks between Yanovsky and the Jewish extremists — but were unable to prevent a group of right-wing Jews from tearing his sign apart.

A water cannon sporadically fired shots over the heads of the right-wing Jewish demonstrators. But for about 25 minutes, the police waited to disperse the crowd as it lingered in the thoroughfare; officers occasionally lept into the gathering to drag out a suspect, kicking and screaming, into a white police van.

Finally, the police moved in to disperse the incident with water cannons and sound grenades. The Lehava demonstrators continued marching down Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street, calling for death to Arabs, hundreds milling about on the light rail tracks.

Slowly, the crowd trickled away, although the violence continued across Jerusalem late into the night. But the rage and hate lingered in the air, mixed with the smell of the skunk-water fired by police cannons, seemingly far harder to disperse.
 

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36 rockets fired at Israel overnight; IDF hits Gaza terror targets in response

Rocket salvos fired after Hamas calls for attacks on Israel over Jerusalem unrest; barrages, reported in real-time by terror group, mark worst assault from Strip in many months

Iron Dome intercepts 6 rockets; buildings damaged, none hurt


By TOI staff
Today

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A police sapper inspects the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip fell near houses on a kibbutz in southern Israel on April 24, 2021 (Flash90)

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Israeli tanks are stationed along the Israel-Gaza border, on April 24, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

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Iron Dome defense missile systems are pictured in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, on April 24, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Terrorists fired 36 rockets toward Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight with six projectiles intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the Israel Defense Forces said Saturday morning.

The barrages were the worst assault from the Strip in many months and while there were no Israeli injuries, the rockets did cause damage in a number of communities.

In response, the Israeli military struck multiple Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Saturday morning, including rocket launchers and underground infrastructure, the army said, in response to several salvos of rockets fired into Israel overnight.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the Gaza strikes.
נפילה שניה הלילה באחד היישובים באשכול. נזק גדול לכלי חקלאי ולמבנה. pic.twitter.com/hjPPWNghtu
— almog boker (@bokeralmog) April 24, 2021
Sirens sounded in numerous Israeli communities near the Strip overnight, including Ashkelon and the Eshkol, Sdot Negev, Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regional councils.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted six of the projectiles. Some fell in communities while others landed in open areas.

Iron Dome is programmed to not deploy when rockets are projected to hit non-populated areas — it was unclear why it had not activated to intercept the projectiles that landed in the border towns.

Two terror groups in Gaza took responsibility for the rocket fire — Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades. Israel has stressed in the past it holds the ruling Hamas terror group responsible for all violence emanating from Gaza.

“We will burn the occupation’s settlements for you, O Jerusalem. The greatest has yet to come,” a spokesperson for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade said.
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Remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip near houses on a kibbutz in southern Israel on April 24, 2021 (Flash90)

Official Hamas media tracked the launch of rockets across the Gaza Strip, reporting their firing in real-time, leading some to speculate that Hamas was covertly involved. The terror group did not take responsibility for the rocket fire, however.

“The Palestinian resistance is ready to respond to aggression, even the score with the occupation and prevent its violations against our people,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said.

The UN special envoy for the Middle East process, Tor Wennesland, said Saturday that he was “alarmed” by the escalation in violence in Jerusalem and around the Strip.

“The provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease. The indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli population centers violates international law and must stop immediately,” Wennesland said in a statement.

The rocket attack followed days of tensions and clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank that involved Palestinian and Israeli civilians as well as Israeli security forces.

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Illustrative — An Iron Dome missile defense system fires an interceptor at a target during an exercise in early 2021. (Defense Ministry)

Before the morning strikes, the military had not responded to the rockets throughout the night, except for a single tank strike after the first volley, that targeted a Hamas post.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command initially instructed residents in areas under threat to remain close to shelters, ordered the closure of Zikim beach, banned outside gatherings and agricultural work near the security fence and limited groups to under 100 people indoors. However, it later removed the restrictions.

Additionally, the Sdot Negev Regional Council recommended residents avoided going to synagogue on Saturday morning.
ההסלמה בדרום: במועצה אזורית שדות נגב מבקשים להימנע מהגעה לבתי הכנסת@Itsik_zuarets
(צילום: ביטחון אשכול) pic.twitter.com/dEeG98mVBI
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 24, 2021
Miriam Rainan, a resident of the Nahal Oz border community, said the rockets meant residents had to stay home just as the easing of coronavirus restrictions was letting them return to normal life.

“It was a bad night and we slept in the bomb shelter. There was a lot of noise and one rocket fell on the kibbutz’s livestock. This is wrong, Iron Dome does not work properly,” she told Channel 12 news. “We were stuck at home because of the coronavirus [pandemic], and now we are stuck at home because of Hamas.”

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Israeli soldiers block a road near the Gaza border on April 24, 2021 (Flash90)

The rocket barrages came hours after Hamas held a series of protests in the Strip and called for violence against Israel in the wake of fierce clashes Thursday in Jerusalem between police, extremist Jewish activists and Palestinian protesters.

Addressing the Gazan protesters, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar condemned the decision of some Arab states to normalize relations with Israel last year and lashed out at the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for continuing its security coordination with Israel.
“After a long series of protests and demonstrations, we have reached the conclusion that without weapons, we cannot liberate our land, protect our holy sites, bringing back our people to their land or maintain our dignity,” he said.

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Palestinians shout slogans around a model of the Dome of the Rock, during a rally in Gaza city on April 23, 2021, condemning overnight clashes in Jerusalem and calling for an armed struggle. ( MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The attacks came during a general lull in violence from the Gaza Strip in recent months, amid a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and as the enclave grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

A single rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza last Friday. Another was fired the day before. Neither rocket caused injuries or damage, and the IDF hit Hamas targets in response.

Last month, a rocket was fired toward Beersheba as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a campaign stop in the southern city ahead of the March 23 elections.

The last time a rocket barrage hit Israel was in September, when Palestinian terrorists fired 13 rockets in response to Israel signing peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Two Israelis were hurt when a rocket hit Ashdod, one moderately and another lightly.

Prior to that, the last major flareup occurred in November of 2019, after Israel killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior commander in the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terror group. The assassination led to days of rocket fire in which hundreds of projectiles targeted Israeli cities.

In both cases, Israel retaliated with waves of airstrikes in the Strip.
 

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PM says to ‘prepare for any scenario’ in Gaza; IDF chief postpones US trip

After 36 rockets fired into Israel, Netanyahu convenes with security officials at Kirya base; military says Kohavi delaying visit ‘in light of the events and expected developments’
By TOI staff
Today

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FILE: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi at a press conference after a security cabinet meeting following the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, on November 12, 2019. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to “prepare for any scenario” vis-a-vis the Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon amid soaring tensions with the Hamas-run enclave following overnight barrages of rockets fired at Israel. The premier made the remark following an urgent security meeting earlier Saturday at the Israel Defense Forces’ Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana, the head of the Shin Bet internal security service, and other high-level officials.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu also called for “calm on all sides” after several nights of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the worst violence seen in years.

“First of all we want to ensure that law and order are respected… now we demand compliance with the law and I call for calm on all sides,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the meeting.

In a briefing with the heads of regional councils in areas near the Gaza Strip, Gantz said that the military was ready in the event of an escalation in the Palestinian enclave and “will do what is necessary” to restore calm, Channel 12 reported Saturday.

Earlier, the military announced that Kohavi has delayed a planned trip to the United States to discuss the threat of Iran’s nuclear program and its entrenchment throughout the region.

Kohavi had met with security chiefs to discuss the situation following the firing of 36 rockets at Israel overnight from the Gaza Strip and amid clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“In assessing the situation, the chief of staff ordered a series of possible steps, responses and assessments for escalation,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

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IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi hosts a meeting with senior military officials on April 24, 2021 amid soaring Gaza tensions. (IDF)

“In light of the events and expected developments, the chief of staff decided to postpone his trip to the United States at this stage,” the statement read.

Kohavi had been set to leave on Sunday for the trip — his first since entering his position — which was to take place amid considerable tensions between the United States and Israel over the Iran nuclear issue.

US President Joe Biden’s administration intends to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, a move that Israeli officials, including Kohavi, staunchly and publicly oppose.

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration in January, Kohavi made waves with a particularly blunt, overt speech arguing against the US rejoining the deal, saying it was a “bad thing.”

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In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line the hall damaged on Sunday, April 11, 2021, at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP, File)

Kohavi was set to meet with a number of top US defense officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, head of the US Central Command Kenneth McKenzie, and head of the US Special Operations Command Richard Clark.

In the coming weeks, a number of other top Israeli defense officials are slated to visit the United States, including National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, and IDF Military Intelligence commander Tamir Hayman.

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IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a ceremony on February 28, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel is generally concerned that the US is rushing too quickly into a return to the 2015 accord, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and is ignoring the concerns of Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, notably those in the Gulf. Israeli sources told the Axios news outlet that Americans countered that Israel was not sufficiently heeding the administration’s request for “no surprises” from either side concerning Iran policy.

Israel and the US set up a strategic group, which last convened on April 13, to coordinate their efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms. The group is led by Sullivan and Ben-Shabbat.

Earlier this week, Kan news reported that Israel was lobbying the US to push for improved international oversight of Iran’s nuclear program, having concluded there will not be significant changes to the treaty but nonetheless seeking to slightly improve the terms of the pact, which is being negotiated in Vienna, with Europeans acting as intermediaries between Washington and Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that 60-70 percent of issues had been resolved in Vienna.


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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, right, is shown new centrifuges and listens to head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, while visiting an exhibition of Iran’s new nuclear achievements in Tehran, Iran, April 10, 2021. (Iranian Presidency Office via AFP)

The Biden administration had repeatedly said that it would only return to the nuclear deal if Iran first returns to compliance.

However, on Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said at a press conference that Washington would only need to be sure that Iran intended to return to compliance.

But the US National Security Council’s Brett McGurk reportedly told American Jewish leaders Friday that no sanctions would be removed from the Islamic Republic before Washington gets clear commitments on Iran’s return to the accord.

Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have adamantly opposed the US returning to the nuclear deal, putting Jerusalem openly at odds with the new White House administration.

Critics have long denounced the deal’s so-called “sunset clauses,” aspects of the agreement barring Iran from certain nuclear activities that end after a certain number of years. Though the deal technically prohibits Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon, detractors of the agreement say these clauses will allow Iran to do so with impunity once the sanctions against the regime end.

The agreement does not address Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that can reach Israel and parts of Europe, as well as its ongoing funding and support of terror groups like Hezbollah.

Proponents of the agreement generally argue that while the deal is imperfect, it was the best possible deal that could be struck under the circumstances.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.
 
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