Israeli drones fire on kite fliers


ISRAELI drones carried out an airstrike targeting a group of Palestinian kite-flyers in eastern Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli drones launched a rocket at a group of Palestinians near the Sufa crossing in northeastern Rafah.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said that several fires erupted alongside the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian youths had launched many incendiary kites towards Israeli areas surrounding the Gaza Strip borders since Wednesday morning.

Earlier this week, 33 fires had erupted in forests and agricultural areas in Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip borders, by incendiary kites and balloons. Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, Israeli forces sealed off the entrances to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, on Wednesday.

Walid Assaf, head of the National Committee to Resist the Wall and Settlements, said that several consuls managed to reach the sit-in tent in Khan al-Ahmar, but others were prevented from reaching the village. He added that Israeli forces prevented many demonstrators from reaching the sit-in tent inside Khan al-Ahmar. Assaf confirmed that Israeli forces held and prevented dozens of doctors and consuls from reaching the village.

Israeli forces also prevented a mobile clinic belonging to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society from entering the area to provide medical care for patients, especially women and children, at Khan al-Ahmar. For years now, Palestinian medical relief teams have been providing medical treatment to the residents of Khan al-Ahmar, including caring for children, and people suffering from chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Sources added that Israeli forces stormed the village and surrounded demonstrators and activists; many were held and banned from movement.

Israeli forces also surrounded a school in Khan al-Ahmar, which was built and funded by the EU, and has been under threat of being demolished; Israeli forces blocked the entrances and exits of the school and held several more demonstrators. Israel has faced increasing international condemnation as the world watched Israeli forces prepare for the demolishing of Khan al-Ahmar and attempting to forcibly displace its 181 residents, half of whom are children.

Palestinian activists and officials said that the plan to displace Palestinian residents in the area aims to expand the illegal Israeli settlement of Kefar Adumim, in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem. 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.

The Palestinian cabinet approved on Wednesday a recommendation by the Minister of Local Government to turn Khan al-Ahmar community into a village council. The cabinet said in a statement after its weekly meeting held in Ramallah that a local authority will be established and will be called Khan al-Ahmar village, which will have appointed council members that will run its daily affairs and demarcate its boundaries. The decision was made to support efforts by the community to remain on its land in light of Israeli threats to demolish the community and displace its residents.

• The Israeli authorities demolished 197 Palestinian structures in the occupied territories during the first half of 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said on Wednesday.

It said in its monthly report on West Bank demolitions and displacement for the month of June that demolitions and seizures resumed in mid-June, following the end of the Muslim holy fasting  month of Ramadan, with a total of 22 Palestinian-owned structures targeted, displacing 10 Palestinians and otherwise affecting more than 120.

These incidents bring the total number of structures demolished or seized in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities in the first half of 2018 to 197, a 22 per cent decline compared to the equivalent period in 2017, a decline by 42 per cent in the West Bank’s Area C demolitions, alongside an increase of 12 per cent in East Jerusalem.

All but two of the structures demolished or seized during June were in East Jerusalem, including eight homes, 10 livelihood-related structures and four retaining walls or fences. Of note, due to a series of amendments to the 1965 Planning and Building Law, applied in Israel and East Jerusalem, approved by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in October 2017, fines imposed on individuals charged with building without a permit can reach up to 400,000 Israeli shekels as opposed to tens of thousands of shekels previously.

In Area C, which remained under full Israeli military and administrative control, one structure was demolished during the month in a herding community located in an area in southern Hebron (Masafer Yatta) designated by Israel as a ‘firing zone’ for military training. This is one of the 12 communities in this area (total 1,300 people), which are at heightened risk of forcible transfer due to the coercive environment imposed on them.

Also in June, the Israeli authorities announced that they will suspend the implementation of a new military order, which would have allowed the demolition of unlicensed structures that are deemed ‘new’, within 96 hours of the issuance of a removal order.

The suspension announcement followed the filing of a petition with the Israeli High Court against this human rights organisation, and will remain in place until a ruling is issued on the case.

No donor-funded structure was demolished or seized during June, said OCHA, but construction materials for finishing the building of a new school provided by the European Union were confiscated.

A total of 27 donor-funded structures, worth around 60,960 euros, were targeted in the first half of 2018, one-third of the number of structures targeted in the same period of 2017 (81 structures).

A residential apartment was demolished in June on punitive grounds in Barta’a al-Sharqiya town in the Jenin district, in Area B, displacing a family of three.

The home belonged to the family of a Palestinian who, in March 2018, hit with his car in what the individual involved insisted was a road accident two Israeli soldiers, killing them, and was subsequently arrested.