Hundreds of Palestinian farmers and fishermen protested on Monday at al-Saraya Square in Gaza City demanding an end to the siege and the Palestinian division of the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. The protest march set off from al-Saraya Square towards the Unknown Soldier’s Square.
Protesters shouted slogans demanding Palestinian unity and held signs condemning the division and the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Head of the Palestinian Fishermen’s Union in Gaza, Zakariya Bakr, said that fishermen came to raise their voices against injustice and against the siege.
Fishermen are calling on the international community to end the siege on Gaza, but first, the Palestinian division must end, he added. Coordinator of the Agricultural and Fishermen Committees, Saad Ziyadeh, said the protest is demanding the international community ends its silence on Palestinian rights and holds Israel responsible for the crimes it commits against the Gaza Strip.
He added that the second aim of the protest is to address decision-makers in the West Bank and Gaza, and demand they end the state of division. Ziyadeh pointed out the humanitarian consequences of the Israeli siege and Palestinian division, which include the increased cases of extreme poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and hunger.
Fatah, the leading party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Hamas have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas’ election victory in legislative elections in 2006, sparking a violent conflict between the two movements, with Hamas consolidating its control over the territory a year later.
After 2007, Hamas started to issue its own legislation for the Gaza Strip and ruled through the caretaker government. A National Consensus Government formed in June 2014, tasked with preparing for the legislative and presidential elections that never materialised as both Fatah and Hamas blamed each other for numerous political failures.
Gaza has been suffering from a nearly 12-year Israeli-imposed land, sea and air siege. As part of Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, the Israeli army, citing security concerns, requires Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip to work within a limited ‘designated fishing zone,’ the exact limits of which are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated.
Many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public’s attention to and break the on-going siege of the Gaza Strip whether via ships attempting to sail into Gaza or ships attempting to sail out from Gaza.
A total of 24 Palestinians have died and 232 others were injured in the month of November from Israeli army-related attacks, according to a report, on Monday. The International Relations Department in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) reported that 21 Palestinians have died in the besieged Gaza Strip and three in the occupied West Bank.
It said Israeli forces shot and killed seven Palestinians during an army operation in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, while another eight were killed during Israeli airstrikes that lasted for three days over the Strip. The rest succumbed to injuries sustained during protests along the Gaza border with Israel, where most of the injuries were sustained either from live ammunition or tear-gas inhalation.
The report continued, in the West Bank, three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in alleged stabbing or car-ramming attacks. The report also said that the Israeli army detained more than 260 Palestinians in November, mostly minors.
It also mentioned that among those detained were the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, and many Fatah movement activists in Jerusalem, who were later released after being placed under house arrest for several days, posting bail and being banned entry to the West Bank.
Israeli authorities also demolished dozens of Palestinian buildings, including 16 shops and a four-storey building with 12 apartments in Shufat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, in addition to several other buildings and Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods and in Area C of the West Bank.
In addition, Israeli settlers uprooted and cut down a number of trees in the West Bank, mainly olive trees, a main source of livelihood for Palestinians, in November as the Israeli army ordered farmers to uproot 260 olive trees in the village of Bardala, in the northern Jordan Valley, and seized 500 palm trees in Jericho.
Israeli authorities issued a military order on Monday to extend the period of the closure of roads, leading to the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem district in the central occupied West Bank. The Israelis first attempted to hand the villagers the military orders but they refused to take them. The troops then left them scattered over the streets.
According to the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, the Israeli military order seeks to seize Palestinian-owned lands for military purposes. The closure will continue until January 15th 2019. The military order also included seizing lands, which measure about 1.4 dunums (0.34 acres), in nearby Anata village, located in the same area.
The committee mentioned that the 1.4 dunums of land would be controlled by the Israeli authorities for ‘urgent security purposes.’ Following the Israeli High Court’s approval for the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, the village has been in danger of being demolished by Israeli forces at any moment, which would displace 181 people, half of whom are children.
Critics and human rights organisations argue that the demolition is part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, which would make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.
Israel has been constantly trying to uproot Bedouin communities from the east of Jerusalem area to allow settlement expansion there, which would later turn the entire eastern part of the West Bank into a settlement zone.
Although international humanitarian law prohibits the demolition of the village and illegal confiscation of private property, Israeli forces continue their planned expansion by forcing evictions and violating basic human rights of the people.
Israeli forces demolished two houses in the al-Fasayil village north of Jericho City in the northern occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley area, on Monday morning. Head of the al-Fasayil village council, Ibrahim Abu Awad, condemned the demolition carried out by the Israeli authorities and identified the owners of the wrecked houses as Ayman Youssef Qureinat and Hassan al-Zayid, pointing out that both families consist of ten members, who are now homeless.
Abu Awad called for immediate protection for Palestinians of the Jordan Valley region. Forming a third of the occupied West Bank and with 88 per cent of its land classified as Area C, the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel’s occupation in 1967.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.
Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C – the more than 60 per cent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control – are denied by the Israeli authorities, thus forcing communities to build illegally.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians, including minors, across the occupied West Bank, in pre-dawn raids on Monday. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has confirmed that Israeli forces detained two minors in the al-Arroub refugee camp, south of the southern West Bank district of Hebron, seven in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, three in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and four in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem.
In the northern West Bank district of Jenin, another two Palestinians were detained and one in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are 5,554 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons, of whom 230 are child prisoners and 41 are under the age of 16 years.