Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Ofer Military Courts – A hidden portrait of the physical and psychological occupation of Palestinian youths

From MEMO - On the ground of the big dusty square in front of the Ofer military base lie the relics of exploded rubber bullets and discharged live ammunition. These are the remnants of demonstrations for the release of political prisoners, which are often violently repressed by Israeli forces. Last year, Israeli forces unlawfully killed two youths who were participating in a demonstration close to the base. Ofer military base was established on the outskirts of Ramallah, has housed the military courts since 1968. Ofer military courts are one of the judicial arms of the Israeli prolonged occupation of Palestine.

Inside the courtrooms – which are small, metal, prefabricated buildings – the everyday business is focused on the prosecution of young Palestinian prisoners. The proceedings violate of international law.

On 22 July, 2015, a Palestinian child was tried for his involvement in an incident that began in the streets of Hebron. The child flicked a lighter. Israeli soldiers, located approximately 100 meters away, spotted the flame in the dark and shot three times at the boy's leg. The soldiers said they shot him because they thought that he was about to light a Molotov cocktail. Other soldiers, who immediately gathered, testified that they found the remnants of a Molotov cocktail, approximately 30 metres away from the boy. However, the Israeli soldiers destroyed the Molotov cocktail on site, thus it could not be presented in court. Despite the lack of material evidence, the judge convicted the boy who was shot by Israeli soldiers, notwithstanding.

In another military courtroom, four shackled young Palestinians were sitting on a bench to the left of the military prosecutor's desk. The mother of one of the boys came in from the door and showed a two finger sign of victory to her son. She then moved to the second row of seats in the back of the courtroom, where parents are only allowed to sit. She gave her son a reassuring smile and whispered gentle words to him. His eyes became watery. The judge extended the four youths' period of detention after having identified them by reading out loud their names, without further examination of each individual case. more

Qatari fuel enters Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom crossing

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Qatari fuel entered the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing on Tuesday, a Palestinian official said, as the besieged territory continues to face an energy crisis.

Deputy Head of the Energy Authority, Abed al-Karim Abdeen, told Ma'an that 180,000 liters of fuel entered the coastal territory while another 180,000 liters are due to enter on Wednesday.

There will likely be more shipments next Sunday or Monday, he added.

The Gaza Strip, which receives its electricity from Israel, Egypt, and its one power plant, has been struggling to produce enough power for months.

Earlier this year, the Gaza Strip was reduced to eight hours of electricity per day after its sole power plant shut down because it was unable to afford PA-imposed taxes.

In 2012, Egypt stopped pumping Qatari-funded fuel to the Gaza Strip after 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed in an attack in the bordering Sinai Peninsula. more

Heat wave brings added suffering to displaced Gazans

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A heat wave sweeping across the occupied Palestinian territories has brought further suffering to Gazan residents whose homes were destroyed during last summer's deadly Gaza war.

"All the citizens who live in caravans are in very dire and disastrous living conditions," said 60-year-old Abu Ahmad, who lives in a mobile home in the Khuzaa neighborhood of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. "Death is better than our life."

Abu Ahmad said that since the war ended a year ago, his children had left him to live with their grandfather as conditions inside the mobile homes were too poor.

"We are humans, not animals, and we can't live in these caravans," he said.

The 60-year-old urged the Palestinian authorities to help improve living conditions for displaced Gazans, saying: "We are not asking for the unattainable, and we don't want them to put us in paradise."

"All we are asking for is to speed up reconstruction of our houses so we can get rid of this suffering."

Gazans have sought to house their families in whatever way they can following last year's devastating war, in which Israeli forces destroyed or severely damaged some 18,000 homes.

At the height of the conflict, the third in six years, the United Nations had transformed 91 of its schools in the Gaza Strip into shelters to house some 300,000 displaced. Short of money, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees recently closed the last shelter.

Some of the displaced have been able to return home, but more than 100,000 remain homeless -- more than five percent of the Strip's 1.8 million population. more