Friday, 12 September 2014

Palestinian Authority obstructs new Gaza war crimes probe

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority last month blocked efforts to bring Israeli war crimes in Gaza before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Al Jazeera’s investigative unit has discovered.

The TV channel revealed yesterday the existence of a letter from the office of top ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (published in full by The Electronic Intifada below) in which she recounted a private 5 August meeting with Riad Malki, the PA foreign minister.

It is difficult to read her account of the meeting as anything other than Malki obstructing the process of investigating Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Israel’s blood-thirsty onslaught against the Gaza Strip was then still raging, and, in public pronouncements before the assembled press in The Hague, Malki made a show of wanting to sign the supposed “State of Palestine” (actually the Palestinian Authority) up to the ICC by acceding to the Rome statute.

“Israel has left us with no other option,” he told reporters.

But that very same day, he was apparently singing a very different song in his meeting behind closed doors with Bensouda (an experienced Gambian lawyer, elected to head the ICC prosecutor’s office in 2011). more

Elite Israeli soldiers refuse to spy on Palestinians

Some 43 reserve soldiers serving in Israel's top electronic surveillance unit have refused to wiretap Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency.

In a letter addressed to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and army chiefs, some 43 reserve soldiers of Unit 8200 said that they now refuse to perform any military tasks which would consolidate Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands, Israeli radio reported.

The soldiers assert that the information collected by their unit is being used to pile pressure on Palestinian civilians to recruit them to spy for Israel.

Established in 1952, Unit 8200 is the largest army unit responsible for intelligence gathering, according to Al Ray.

This move comes two weeks on the tail of a devestating seven-week Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, in which over 2,000 Palestinians -- mostly civilians -- were killed and nearly 11,000 others injured. more

Palestinian tortured to death in Israel jail buried

Palestinian detainee Raed al-Jabari, 35, who allegedly died after being tortured while in Israeli prison custody, was laid to rest on Friday in Hebron.

Palestinian mourners marched from al-Hussein Bin Ali mosque in central Hebron voicing their demands that Israeli leaders be held accountable in the International Criminal Court.

Al-Jabari was detained by Israeli forces on July 26 when he turned himself in after running into several Israeli settlers with his car in Gush Etzion.

He told Israeli forces that it was an accident, and a court decided to release him on bail.

However, he later died in custody after what Palestinian officials described as torture. more

42 NGOs urge world leaders to stop Israeli plans for West Bank ethnic cleansing

42 Palestinian, Israeli, and international organizations have issued an urgent call to the international community to stop Israeli plans to "forcibly transfer" thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank from their communities into "a designated township".

The joint statement is a response to Israeli government plans to "move Palestinian Bedouins out of their communities around Jericho, Ramallah, and Jerusalem", including in so-called "E1", an area that is a long-standing target for illegal settlement expansion.

The NGOs note that Israeli authorities have, in recent months, "used coercive tactics to heighten the pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities, issuing eviction orders and demolishing homes and livelihood structures", as well as "obstruct[ing] aid agencies from delivering assistance".

Palestinian groups like Al Haq, Badil and PNGO are joined by the likes of Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision. They stress "that the international community must take all possible measures to ensure that individual and mass forcible transfer, which is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, does not take place". more

Autopsy reveals slain Palestinian detainee died after extreme torture

Issa Qaraqe’, head of the Detainees’ Committee at the Palestinian Authority, stated that detainee Raed Abdul-Salaam al-Ja’bari, 37, died after being severely and repeatedly tortured by Israeli interrogators.

Qaraqe’ accused Israel of committing two main crimes against al-Ja’bari by alleging he hanged himself in his cell, and by trying to falsify and hide the leading cause of death, which is extreme and brutal torture.

Talking at a press conference from the mourning house of al-Ja’bari in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Qaraqe’ said the autopsy, conducted at the forensic center in Abu Dis, near occupied Jerusalem, concluded that al-Ja’bari was tortured to death.

He said the autopsy proved that al-Ja’bari suffered brain hemorrhage, and that his body showed clear signs of torture, adding that Israeli claims which allege that the slain detainee “committed suicide by hanging himself” are false and evident fabrications, especially since his neck does not show any signs of hanging.

“The autopsy was supposed to be carried out Wednesday, but it was conducted today at the Abu Kabeer Forensic Center, while Dr. Saber al-‘Aloul, head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, attended the autopsy but Israel prevented him from making any statements," Qaraqe’ said.

“After we received the body of al-Ja’bari, we moved him to the Forensic Center in Abu Dis. All reports clearly show al-Ja’bari was tortured to death; he was brutally and savagely tortured by the Israeli interrogators," he added. more

UN official: Gaza looks like it was hit by a 'tsunami'

A UN official visiting the Gaza Strip to assess the humanitarian crisis more than two weeks after the end of a more than 50-day Israeli offensive on Thursday compared the scale of the damage to a "tsunami."

Hania Dakkak, a technical adviser of the United Nations Population Fund, said in a statement that in many areas across the tiny coastal enclave, "it looks like a tsunami has hit" due to the extent of the destruction.

Dakkak said that Gaza will need fifteen years of reconstruction before life will be able to return to normal, especially with regard to the psychological trauma experienced by the Strip's 1.8 million inhabitants.

"In any area of conflict, a minimum of 10 percent of the population ends up with psychological problems that require long term treatment and follow up," Dakkak added.

In addition to rehabilitating a number of health centers that were destroyed during the latest Israeli offensive, the UNFPA has already implemented a number of projects that provide reproductive health services, psychosocial support to women and children, and distributed humanitarian assistance to families in shelters. more

Israeli navy breaks ceasefire - opens fire on Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen in Gaza early Friday, witnesses said, in the third incident off Gaza's coast this week.

Naval boats opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, with no injuries reported.

Fishermen fled the area immediately.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that "several vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone" and turned back after Israeli forces fired warning shots.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces opened fire at a fishing boat which had allegedly gone beyond an Israeli-restricted fishing zone.

A day earlier, Israeli gunboats intercepted a Palestinian fishing boat near Beit Lahiya and detained four fishermen from the al-Sultan family. more