52 Years Since Arafat Launched First Operation Against Israeli Occupation

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YASSER ARAFAT in southern Lebanon with Fatah youth
YASSER ARAFAT in southern Lebanon with Fatah youth

PALESTINIANS yesterday marked 52 years since the launch of the revolution against the Israeli occupation and the first military operation.

Fatah, which launched the first military operation on January 1st, 1965, marked this anniversary with the lighting on Saturday evening of a torch near the Ramallah grave of Yasser Arafat, who launched the first attack.

The lighting took place in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leadership made three consecutive and significant national achievements, which at the same time indicated total failure of Israeli policy, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Saturday.

He said the three achievements were the Security Council resolution that delegitimised settlements, the speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry, which considered settlements the real reason for ending the peace process and an obstruction to the two-state solution, and the upcoming and important Paris international peace conference, which Israel is trying to derail.

‘There is no doubt that these achievements carried a clear message, not only to Israel, but also to the next US administration that says the entire world is unanimous in rejecting the occupation, settlements and mutiny against international decisions,’ he said.

‘These achievements were reached while the region and its states are facing historical changes because these states did not take seriously the threats that created instability and chaos and made the world more susceptible to violence and terrorism,’ added Abu Rudeineh.

He expressed hope that ‘the world, which is getting tired of Israeli government policies and violation of international law while holding on to occupation, will assist our people in its just struggle that will not stop before snatching our right to freedom and national independence.’

Hundreds of people on Saturday attended the funerals of two Palestinians whose corpses were held by Israel for several weeks and released to their families on Friday for burial, according to witnesses. Funerals were held for Maen Abu Qaraa, 23, and Hamad al-Sheikh, 21, after Israel released their corpses on Friday after being held for 57 and 17 days respectively.

Abu Qaraa’s body was taken from Ramallah hospital to his home village of al-Mazraa al-Qibliya in the Ramallah area where he was buried and al-Sheikh was taken to his Jerusalem district village of Beit Surik where he was also buried.

Abu Qaraa was shot dead by Israeli forces after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack near the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Ofra on November 3rd. Sheikh was killed after he allegedly carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on December 14th.

The return of the two corpses came a week after Israel turned over corpses of nine other Palestinians it was holding for months for burial in their hometowns. Around 10 more corpses are still held by Israel, including those of three minors from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli forces have killed 35 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016 compared to 26 children killed in 2015, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) said on Saturday. This makes it the deadliest year of the past decade for West Bank children, it said.

The increase in the number of children killed in 2016 compared to the previous year is an indication that targeting children by Israeli soldiers is on the rise, it added. DCIP said 30 of the children were killed by live bullets, 14 of whom were in the Hebron area.

It also said the Israeli authorities were still holding corpses of three Palestinian children. They are for Nasser Tarayreh, 16, from Bani Naim in the Hebron area, Muhammad Thalji Rajabi, 15, from Hebron’s old city, and Nabil Jawdat Salam, 14, from Shufat refugee camp in Jerusalem.

‘Israeli forces have increasingly used excessive force to squash demonstrations since 2014,’ said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. ‘Intentional lethal force now appears to be routinely used by Israeli forces, even in unjustified situations, with no accountability, putting more and more children at risk,’ he was quote earlier as saying.

Israeli forces shot and killed 134 Palestinians, including 34 minors, most at military checkpoints in the West Bank, since the start of the year, a Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) centre said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA) said in its bi-weekly report on Protection of Civilians that Israeli forces shot dead two 19-year-old Palestinians during two separate clashes in the last two weeks of December.

One of the clashes erupted on 17th December in the Qalandiya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, after a punitive demolition and the other during a search and arrest operation on 22nd December in Beit Rima village near Ramallah, said OCHA. According to its annual report on Israeli violations in the occupied territories, the PLO’s Abdullah Hourani centre for Documentation said most the 134 Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces were killed at military checkpoints, which numbered over 472 in 2016. It said 34 of the dead were minors.

OCHA, on the other hand, said that in 2016, 101 West Bank Palestinians were killed in ‘conflict-related incidents’, including 80 in attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis, down from 145 in 2015. The PLO centre said the Israeli authorities announced or gave tenders or permits for the construction of 27,335 new housing units in settlements in the occupied land.

It said the Israeli forces detained 6,970 Palestinians from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, including 140 minors and 151 women. Israel also demolished 1,023 homes and structures throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, said the PLO centre.

OCHA said Israeli forces conducted nearly 180 search operations and arrested more than 240 Palestinians in the West Bank in the last two weeks of December, including a search operation inside Birzeit University in Ramallah and a media association in Hebron where several computers were reportedly confiscated in the two locations.

The Jerusalem governorate accounted for the highest portion of operations (46) and of arrests (100), said OCHA. Three Palestinian merchants were also arrested at Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing while returning to Gaza.

The Israeli authorities, said the UN report, demolished or seized 11 structures in Area C and East Jerusalem in the last two weeks of December on the grounds of the lack of building permits, displacing one Palestinian and affecting more than 250 others.

One of the seized structures was a caravan provided by a humanitarian Organisation to the community of Al Mirkez in Masafer Yatta, to be used as a primary health centre. The community is located in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a ‘firing zone’ for military training. Such areas constitute nearly 30 per cent of Area C and are inhabited by more than 5,000 Palestinians.

Israeli forces temporarily displaced around 90 people, including 40 children, from the Ibziq herding community in the northern Jordan Valley for several hours on two different days, during a military training exercise. This is the fourth displacement for the community  during the past two months.

A similar training during this period resulted in damage to a water connection to the herding community of Khirbet Yarza, which had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance, affecting 65 Palestinians. These exercises further exacerbate a coercive environment, which is putting pressure on affected communities to leave their areas of residence.

Israeli forces on Friday removed a stone memorial dedicated to slain Palestinian Mazin Hasan Ureiba set up by the family in the town of Abu Dis in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, claiming that the monument was a form of ‘incitement’.

Ureiba, an officer in the Palestinian Authority general intelligence service and a father of four, was shot dead by Israeli forces on December 3rd, 2015 after opening fire on Israeli soldiers stationed at the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

Bassam Bahr, head of the Abu Dis Committee for Defending Lands and Resisting Settlements, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided Abu Dis and removed the monument, which had been installed to memorialise Ureiba and his mother, and also served as Sadaqah (charity) by providing running water to passers-by.

Bahr added that Israeli soldiers used hand tools to remove and break apart the memorial stone, before hanging up a paper which stated that the memorial was removed for ‘incitement and immortalising the martyr’, and also stated that the decision to remove the memorial was made by an Israeli military leader in the area. Israeli authorities had issued an order several days ago demanding the removal of the memorial stone.