Israel to demolish 15 Palestinian homes in West Bank

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Israeli army demolishing Palestinian homes – 15 more are to be demolished south of Nablus

ISRAEL yesterday notified Palestinians in the town of Yatma, south of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, of its intention to demolish their homes, according to a local activist.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors colonial settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told WAFA Israeli forces handed 15 Palestinian residents demolition notices against their houses, under the pretext they were built without a permit.
Israel uses many pretexts to justify its demolition policy, including the pretext of building having been constructed without a building permit.
However, as the Occupying Power, Israel is prohibited from demolishing the property of the protected Palestinian people unless strictly justified by military necessity.
The extensive destruction of property carried out by Israel without military necessity constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and may constitute a war crime, said the human rights organisation, Al-Haq.
Moreover, this policy of unlawfully demolishing Palestinian buildings and structures, taken alongside many other similarly unlawful policies and actions, reveal Israel’s intention to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities from their homes, it said.
‘Having their properties demolished and destroyed, the Palestinian people are deprived of their right to develop their resources and are ultimately denied from exercising their right to self-determination,’ added the centre.

  • Despite Israel’s lifting of its third nationwide lockdown last week, Israeli occupation forces continue to bar some Palestinian shop owners in the old city of Jerusalem from reopening their shops to customers, according to Hijazi Rishiq, chairman of the Jerusalem Merchants Committee.

Rishiq told WAFA that Israeli police have since been patrolling the markets of the old city of Jerusalem more than usual, in an attempt to foil any initiatives aimed at boosting the economic life of the old city and helping merchants recover from the state of recession caused by the lockdown.
He said only a slight improvement was witnessed in the commercial activity in Jerusalem’s old city following the reopening of the economy, embattled by the 42-day lockdown which was imposed in early January following a surge in coronavirus infections in Israel.
Hijzai pointed out that Israeli occupation authorities are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to stifle the Palestinian economy in Jerusalem, under the pretext that Palestinian-owned commercial stores were attracting more customers than in other areas, despite the lifting of lockdown.
Last week, Israeli police forced some shop owners to close their shops and threatened some of them with a fine of 10,000 shekels (approximately $3000) in the event that they reopened, despite the lifting of the lockdown.
He slammed such pretexts as flimsy excuses used by the Israeli authorities to strangle the Palestinian economy in the city.

  • Over the past few years, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of airstrikes on Syria, which Tel Aviv says are aimed at countering the alleged Iranian military presence in the Arab republic.

Damascus condemns such attacks as violations of Syria’s national sovereignty.
Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior aide to the Iranian Foreign Minister, has warned Israel against crossing ‘red lines’ in Syria, in an apparent reference to the Jewish state’s alleged ongoing air raids on Syrian soil.
The diplomat described ‘the nature of the Zionist entity’ as ‘aggressive and hostile towards the region, the Palestinians, and neighbouring countries’.
‘While the Syrian government is fighting terrorists, Israel supports them. Our presence in Syria is aimed at combating ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorist groups, but if Israel wants to cross the “red lines”, it will face the toughest response, which will make them regret their actions’, Khaji argued.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Israel that Syria should not be turned into a battlefield between Tel Aviv and Tehran, and asked the Israeli government to give Moscow any information on any perceived threats instead of using the military option.
‘Our dear Israeli colleagues, if you have facts that your state is facing threats from Syrian territory, report them urgently and we will take every measure to neutralise the threat’, Lavrov stressed.

  • 25 local radio stations in the West Bank embarked on a campaign today urging citizens to register their data with the Central Elections Commission (CEC) to ensure the greatest possible turnout in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections, scheduled for May and July respectively.

Fareed Taamallah, a spokesman for the CEC, said the one-hour campaign of joint coverage from 11am to 12pm urges citizens to ensure their registration with the Commission before the deadline on the 16th of this month, as a prerequisite to voting and candidacy in the upcoming elections.
He called on all the print, audio and visual media to contribute to raising public awareness about the elections by disseminating the information issued by the Central Elections Commission through its official platforms.

  • Minister of Health Mai Alkaila announced on Sunday that 804 new coronavirus infections, three deaths and 522 recoveries were registered in Palestine during the past 24 hours.

In her daily report on the coronavirus pandemic, she said two deaths were registered in the West Bank districts of Ramallah and Hebron, and one death in the Gaza Strip. She said no updates were available regarding the situation in occupied Jerusalem.
Of the total infections registered, 730 were in the West Bank, including 188 in the central district of Ramallah alone. Meanwhile, a noticeable decline in the daily infections was witnessed in the Gaza Strip, which registered 74 cases.
No updates were available regarding new infections Jerusalem, which reports once every two or three days.
Meanwhile, the West Bank had 322 recoveries, while the Gaza Strip recorded 200 cases.
The health minister said 60 patients of coronavirus remain under intensive care, while 21 are on ventilators.
Alkaila pointed out that the recovery rate in Palestine has so far stood at 93.3 per cent, while active cases scored 5.6 per cent. Deaths stood at 1.1 per cent of total infections.

  • Israel’s major centre-right party, Likud, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has seen its lead drop to a single-digit level for the first time since the New Hope party was formed in early December by former Netanyahu ally Gideon Saar, a fresh poll showed, indicating that the opposition is getting close to Likud.

As of now, Israel is steadily heading toward having its fourth election in two years after the collapse of Netanyahu’s centre-right coalition. The snap parliamentary elections will take place on 23 March.
A poll conducted for The Jerusalem Post and its sister publication, Maariv, found that, alongside the competition with Saar’s faction, Likud’s lead over the centrist Yesh Atid party, run by opposition chief Yair Lapid, has fallen to just nine seats.
Remaining at one time only five seats behind Likud, New Hope now lags behind the prime minister’s party by 15 mandates, while another political alliance led by former Defence Minister Naftali Bennett – Yamina – threatened to pass New Hope into third place, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Saar shared his expectations that his faction would start rising and reach its peak on election day, according to media reports.
The poll conducted by Panels Research pollster Menachem Lazar made predictions that Likud would gain 28 seats, while Yesh Atid – 19, New Hope – 13, Yamina – 12, and the Arab-majority Joint List would receive eight mandates.
According to other recent polls, it was found that when respondents were asked who was most fit for the prime minister post, that Saar performed best against Netanyahu, with the latter’s lead over the New Hope leader being 4 per cent.
The survey, with over 500 interviewees representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population, has a 4.2 per cent margin of error.
Former Likud member Gideon Saar announced his exit from the party on 8 December, as he was due to establish a new faction ahead of the March election campaign.