THE Government of Japan has signed a contribution agreement worth $22.4 million with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees in the Near East, aimed at reinforcing the agency’s services to Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Of the total donation, the UNRWA said, more than $4.2 million will support UNRWA in Syria for 2020, and $7.6 million are allocated to the Agency’s Emergency Response for Humanitarian Assistance in 2020 in Gaza.
Further, $2.8 million will be allocated to support Palestinian refugee families by creating more than 2,000 temporary job opportunities in Gaza as part of the Emergency Appeal for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Additional funds will be allocated towards the delivery of health services in Syria and Lebanon and basic education services in Lebanon and Jordan, including technical and educational vocational training (TVET).
‘I am glad that this contribution supports UNRWA’s important activities in all five areas of its operations.
‘This contribution demonstrates Japan’s strong commitment to support UNRWA and its essential operations to assist Palestine refugees,’ Masayuki Magoshi, Representative of Japan to Palestine, said.
Acting Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Christian Saunders, said: ‘The Government of Japan’s support to UNRWA is extremely timely and generous.
‘It’s this kind of support that is particularly useful to the Agency as it allows UNRWA to advance in several very critical areas including health, education, our emergency humanitarian response programme and sustainable development.’
In 2019, Japan was the 8th largest contributor to UNRWA, playing a critical role for the Agency’s financial stability.
- A Palestinian citizen from the occupied Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat demolished his own home after he was forced to do so by Israeli municipality to avoid paying exorbitant costs if the municipality carries out the demolition on its own.
Mohammad Abdul-Salam Bashti, 26, said he was forced to demolish his own home after the Israeli municipality issued a demolition order for the home under the pretext it was built without a permit. He added that he had no choice but to demolish the home to avoid paying some $20,000 in demolition costs to the Israeli municipality.
The home demolished was the only shelter for his family.
Palestinians in Jerusalem say they are forced to build without a permit because getting a building permit is impossible as the right-wing mayor and city council attempt to keep the city’s Palestinian population at a bare minimum while multiplying its Jewish residents by approving the construction of thousands of new housing units in Jewish settlements.
Almost 75 per cent of applications for a permit by the Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem are rejected by the municipality, according to rights groups.
- Meanwhile, Israeli military helicopters have attacked Syrian army positions in the Arab country’s south western province of Quneitra near the occupied Golan Heights as tensions soar between the Tel Aviv regime and the Damascus government over an earlier airstrike.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported the aircraft fired missiles at the positions of Syrian government troops in the city of Quneitra, located some 65 kilometres south of the capital Damascus, and the nearby towns of al-Qataniyah and al-Hurriyet.
Three soldiers were injured in the aerial attacks that were carried out late on Thursday night.
There was no immediate response from the Israeli army, which rarely acknowledges strikes conducted in Syria.
Syria’s state-run al-Ikhbariyah Syria television news network said the helicopters came from above the Golan Heights.
The bombings came hours after one person was killed in an Israeli drone attack in the same Syrian province.
‘A civilian was martyred when his car was targeted by a drone belonging to the Israeli enemy south of the town of Hader,’ SANA reported.
SANA noted that the victim was travelling in his car along a road in Hader village on Thursday, when the Israeli drone fired a missile, killing him on the spot.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the victim was a member of the ‘Syrian resistance to liberate Golan’, without elaborating.
Quneitra Governor Humam Dibyat identified the person killed as Adel Tawil and said he worked at a police station and was targeted while returning home from work.
‘He was innocent. He was an honourable nationalist,’ Dibyat was quoted as saying.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognised by the international community.
The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.
On March 25 last year, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the White House.
The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement at the time, called the US decision a ‘blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity’ of Syria. Damascus delivers a stern warning to Tel Aviv over its occupation of the Golan Heights, saying all options are on the table for liberating the strategic region.
‘The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right,’ according to the statement carried by SANA, which added, ‘The decision … makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.’
The Arab League also condemned the move, saying ‘Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.’
Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey condemned the US move as well.
The Arab League, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Iraq issue strong warnings to the US after President Trump says he will recognise Israeli ownership of the Golan Heights.
In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed ‘shock’ at Trump’s move and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said ‘this illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it (the Golan Heights) belongs to Syria.’
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also said on Twitter that the US plan ‘contravenes international law’.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was impossible for Turkey to accept the US decision on the Golan Heights.