Palestinians Have Been Banned From Any Kind Of Political Expression

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FOR FIFTY years, ever since the start of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians have been banned from any kind of political expression, even peaceful ones, Amnesty International (AI) said on Saturday.

rom any kind of political expression, even peaceful ones, Amnesty International (AI) said on Saturday. Marking 50 years since Israel issued Military Order 101, a law that punishes Palestinians for peaceful political expression, anyone breaching the order faces imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a hefty fine, said Amnesty.

It said that since 1967, Israel has arrested and detained hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, under military orders. Many were detained under Military Order 101 solely for attending peaceful protests that were deemed to be political.

In addition, the display of flags or emblems, and the publication of any document or image with politically significant content, without a permit from an Israeli military commander are banned. Over the last 50 years, Palestinians have been arrested and detained for displaying a poster in a room if it was deemed purely political.

Such acts continue to be criminalised despite the fact that in 1993 Palestinians signed a peace accord with Israel that was meant to recognise their political rights, and United Nations recognition of Palestine as a non-member state in 2012 as well as 135 UN member states recognising Palestine as a state.

‘And yet, raising the Palestinian flag in the West Bank or displaying the “wrong” poster in a room is still a criminal act under Israeli military orders, unless an Israeli army commander authorises it,’ said Amnesty. The law also applies to verbal or other expressions of support or sympathy for the activities and aims of any organisation deemed illegal under military orders.

‘Virtually all cases of Palestinians brought before Israeli military courts end in convictions. Most convictions are the result of plea bargains. This is because Palestinian defendants know the entire system is so unfair that if they go on trial, they will be convicted and given a longer sentence,’ according to the Amnesty International report. AI called on Israel to rescind Military Order 101 now.

Meanwhile, an 8-year-old Palestinian girl was killed on Saturday after being struck by an Israeli vehicle in the Nablus district of the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli police and Palestinian medics reported. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, the child was hit around noon on Route 90 in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank.

Palestinian medics said that the girl was run over by an Israeli settler’s vehicle near the Furush Beit Dajan village in the Nablus district. A crew from Israel’s Magen David Adom national emergency service arrived at the scene and evacuated the girl to the hospital, according to al-Samri. However, the girl was pronounced dead on arrival.

Palestinian medics later identified the child as Asil Tariq Abu Oun from the village of Jaba in the northern West Bank Jenin district. It remained unknown whether the driver had fled or remained at the scene. Incidents involving Israeli settlers hitting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are a relatively regular occurrence, and are usually treated by Israeli security forces as accidents, even in cases when witnesses claim the car rammings were deliberate.

Israeli municipal authorities delivered summons to several Palestinian homeowners in the Silwan neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, requesting that the families pick up demolition notices issued on their properties from Israeli authorities.

According to locals, the families were summoned to pick up the demolition notices from Israeli authorities, who have said that their homes were built without Israeli-issued building permits. Locals identified one of the families as the al-Abbasi family in Ein al-Luza area of Silwan. However, the other families were not identified.

The plan by the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem to demolish dozens of homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan was highlighted on the front page of the Saturday issue of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies. The papers said the municipality summoned a number of Palestinian residents of Silwan to inform them that their homes are going to be demolished under the pretext of construction without permit.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Quds newspapers said the Palestinian government condemned the participation of Israeli officials in ceremonies to open a Jewish synagogue in Silwan. The three papers said that dozens of Palestinians held the Friday prayer in Jerusalem at the Shamasneh home in Sheikh Jarrah.

The family is going to be evicted from its home, which an Israeli court has ruled should be turned over to Jewish settlers. Al-Ayyam also said in another story that Israel has fired a number of Palestinian teachers from Jerusalem and inside Israel on the ground of ‘incitement’.

The Israeli Ministry of Interior has also withdrawn citizenship rights from thousands of Palestinian residents of al-Naqab desert in southern Israel and made them instead residents, according to al-Ayyam. The paper quoted PLO Executive Committee member, Wasel Abu Yousef, saying he is optimistic that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are going to participate in the next Palestinian National Council meeting.

Al-Quds said hundreds of people held the Friday prayer outside Qalqilya hospital in the northern West Bank to protest plans by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), which is in charge of the hospital, to shut it down. It said heads of Christian churches met in Jerusalem to discuss the situation of church property in the city, which is under threat of being taken over by Jewish settlers particularly those in Jaffa Gate area of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The paper said Qatar has stopped work on the construction of a residence for its ambassador Muhammad al-Amadi near the helipad of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza.

• Israeli forces deployed near the borderlines of the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon opened live ammunition and shot tear gas canisters at Palestinians protesting near Israel’s border fence in several areas of Gaza, causing scores of Palestinians to suffer tear gas inhalation, while another was injured after being struck by tear gas canisters.

Locals said that Israeli forces shot live ammunition and tear gas canisters at Palestinian protesters who had approached the border fence between Gaza and Israel in the northern Gaza Strip, east of the town of Jabaliya. Israeli forces were deployed at nearby military towers and in army tanks near the border.

According to locals, a Palestinian ‘youth’, they did not specify the exact age, was injured during the clashes after he was hit with a tear gas canister in the chest and leg. He was transferred to the Indonesian Hospital for treatment in Beit Lahiya, where his injuries were reported as light. Many other Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation during the clashes, locals said.

Clashes also erupted near Israel’s Nahal Oz military site in eastern Shujaaiya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City and east of al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. Locals said that the soldiers opened live ammunition fire and shot tear gas at the Palestinians, causing scores to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

Clashes typically erupt in the ‘buffer zone’ along the Israeli-Gaza border on Fridays, between Palestinian youth who throw stones and Israeli forces who fire live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas, often resulting in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries.

The United Nations and numerous human rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians during clashes, in incidents that did not warrant a violent response. At least four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year during clashes near the border fence in Gaza, including a 16-year-old Palestinian who was killed last month.