Palestinians killed, wounded and gassed by Israeli forces

Funeral of a Palestinian youth killed in the occupied West Bank to the south of Nablus
Funeral of a Palestinian youth killed in the occupied West Bank to the south of Nablus

NEWS about the killing of a Palestinian youth by Israeli forces during clashes in the village of Urif, to the south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, hit the front page headlines of the three Arabic Palestinian dailies on Sunday. Al-Hayat al-Jadida, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said that a Palestinian young man identified as Omayr Shehadah, 19, was shot dead and another one identified as Hammam Sobhi, 16, was injured with a gunshot in his foot during clashes with the Israeli army in the village of Urif, to the south of Nablus in the West Bank.

They said Shehadah died of his wounds after he was critically injured in the chest by Israeli soldiers and settlers who were raiding the village. The newspapers reported that dozens of Palestinians suffocated on Saturday after inhaling tear gas fired at them by Israeli forces during a raid on the village of Azzoun, to the east of Qalqilia.

Israeli Jewish settlers Saturday attacked the village of al-Tuwaneh, in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, according to the dailies. Al-Quds said that the council of Jewish settlements, known as the Yesha Council, intends to propose a settlement construction bill in E1 area, east of occupied Jerusalem.

The three dailies reported a statement by Ahmad Majdalani, member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee. He said that the Palestinian leadership rejected an invitation by the United States to attend a donors meeting on the humanitarian situation in Gaza planned for March 13th at the White House. Al-Ayyam reported a statement by Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. He said that peace must guarantee Palestinians’ right to freedom and to an independent state. Al-Hayat al-Jadida said according to sources in the Israeli Likud party, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not want to go to early elections.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership has rejected an invitation by the United States to attend a donors meeting on the humanitarian situation in Gaza planned for March 13 at the White House, a Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official said on Saturday. Ahmad Majdalani, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, told Voice of Palestine radio that the issue of Gaza is a political one, not just a humanitarian or relief issue.

‘The US knows very well that the tragic humanitarian situation in Gaza is due to the unjust Israeli siege and therefore what is needed is to find a political solution to this crisis,’ he said. ‘The meeting in Washington called for by US envoy Jason Greenblatt did not come from nothing and was neither for humanitarian reasons, but rather as part of efforts to liquidate our national cause,’ he added, warning of a plot to separate Gaza from the West Bank as part of a long term plan for the region.

Majdalani said reports about US efforts to re-settle the Palestinian refugees in the countries they are found in are part of ‘suspicious American moves to dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) by drying up its financial resources and then advocating re-settling the refugees in order to remove major issues such as refugee and Jerusalem from the negotiating table.’

He said the US has failed to sell its ‘deal of the century’ idea to the Arab countries since Washington did not find a single Arab country willing to cooperate with it in this undisclosed and ambiguous deal.

The Arabs have already clearly expressed their views on this matter in many occasions, he said. Meanwhile, Israeli state forces and settlers continued their attacks.

Israeli troops shut down the northern entrance to al-Bireh city in the central West Bank on Saturday evening, according to witnesses. Soldiers shut down the DCO checkpoint on the northern entrance to the city, banning entry and exit of vehicles through the checkpoint.

The Israeli military did not give a reason for the unexpected closure of the checkpoint.

Dozens of Israeli Jewish settlers on Saturday attacked the village of al-Tuwwaneh, in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, according to local officials. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the anti-settlements popular committee in southern Hebron, said that a group of settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements of Ma’on and Havat Ma’on attacked the village under Israeli army protection and threw stones at the defenceless Palestinians.

He said residents got into a brawl with the settlers and Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the village residents causing several cases of suffocation due to inhaling gas. Jabour said the settlers uprooted 18 olive trees in the village and broke the glass of two vehicles as well as causing damage to the car body.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the Israeli army forced a Palestinian farmer on Saturday to leave his land in the town of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, claiming he did not have permission to be on his land, according to a local activist.

Ahmad Salah, member of the anti-settlement committee in al-Khader, said that the army held Mousa Issa, 60, for a while and then ordered him to leave his land because he did not coordinate being on his land with the security at the illegal settlement of Efrat. Issa was told that he needs to get permission from the settlement guards first if he wants to be on his land.

• A Washington State court ended on Friday a seven-year litigation battle against former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op over their decision to boycott Israeli goods, according to a press release. The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 by five co-op members seeking to block the co-op’s boycott and to collect monetary damages against the board members. Two of the five members pulled out of the case, and none of the defendants originally named in the case remains a board member of the co-op.

The court granted the motion for summary judgment from the former board members, who were represented by Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel, finding the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a case because they failed to show the co-op was injured.

‘We are pleased that the court has dismissed this meritless lawsuit. It is a relief and a vindication for our clients, and a victory for everyone who supports the right to boycott,’ said Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood. Earlier last week, CCR filed with the court a recently produced document in which plaintiffs celebrated the lawsuit’s success in discouraging other co-ops from boycotting Israeli goods.

‘We’re delighted that the judge has decided to dismiss this retaliatory lawsuit and protect our clients’ First Amendment freedoms,’ said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

In 2017, the co-op board of directors passed a resolution affirming that the litigation-which was purportedly brought on behalf of the co-op-was not approved by the co-op, is not in the co-op’s interest, and should be dismissed.

Lawyers say the lawsuit is part of a broad and growing pattern of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights, a phenomenon that CCR and Palestine Legal have documented and called the ‘Palestine Exception’ to free speech. CCR and Palestine Legal report the widespread use of administrative disciplinary actions, harassment, firings, legislative attacks, false accusations of terrorism and anti-semitism, and baseless legal complaints.

Between 2014 and 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 such incidents of suppression targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights. ‘We are thrilled to be found in favour of for a second time on this frivolous lawsuit. We are proud of our attorney team, and proud of our community for supporting us, and we are grateful for the outpouring of solidarity we’ve received from around the world,’ said defendant Grace Cox. ‘Taking a stand for economic and social justice is at the heart of the co-op’s mission. Given Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights, we would have failed in this mission had we not approved a boycott.’

The case was initially dismissed, in 2011, under a Washington State statute that protected against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). The Washington Supreme Court later struck down the SLAPP law in 2015, sending the case back to the lower courts. After engaging in discovery, plaintiffs essentially abandoned the litigation until reviving it recently.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organisation committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.