SYRIANS in the occupied Golan Heights have demonstrated and burned Israeli election ballots in a symbolic dismissal of local council elections and ‘a policy of judaisation’ administered by the Zionist regime.
The demonstrators, who described the elections as an Israeli effort to legitimise its occupation, raised Syrian flags on Friday while gathering in a central town square in Majdal Shams, the most populated of four Syrian communities in Golan, and vowed to spread demonstrations to the other communities in ongoing protests until the end of this month.
Political activist and former prisoner Bashar al-Maqt addressed the crowd, asserting that the election along with any other Israeli measure is legally void due to the illegal occupation. Maqt further called for international organisations to put an end to the racist judaisation policy maintained by Tel Aviv. Other protesters chanted in support for the integrity of the Syrian state, rejecting any compromise of their national identity. ‘The Golan will remain Syrian and Arab land in the face of the occupation and its supporters,’ said a young protester named Emille Masoud.
Some local media outlets have brought up the symbolic significance of the burned ballots, claiming that the move is reminiscent of when Syrians in the occupied land burned Israeli identification cards handed out by occupation forces in 1982.
The protests come two weeks after Golan’s Druze community organised a similar act of defiance against Israeli authority, waving large Syrian flags and portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad towards Syrian soldiers on the other side of the border. The Syrian communities in the Golan fell under Israeli occupation as a result of the 1967 Third Arab-Israeli War. The territory was officially annexed in 1981 by Tel Aviv in a move that was never recognised by the international community.
• A Belgian official’s remarks that Israel steals the organs of Palestinian children, whom it kills, have made headlines again after the news website which published them decided to stick to the story. Robrecht Vanderbeeken, the cultural secretary of Belgium’s ACOD trade union and a philosophy of science scholar, had made the comments back in August in a column published by Belgian website De Wereld Morgen.
The population of the Gaza Strip is being ‘starved to death, poisoned, and children are kidnapped and murdered for their organs,’ he wrote then. The website recently received a complaint by Belgian watchdog, the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities, over the story. De Wereld Morgen, however, stuck to the assertion that Israel ‘kidnapped’ and ‘murdered’ Palestinian children and used organs belonging to the Palestinians its forces killed.
In November 2015, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said Israel harvested the organs of the Palestinians it killed. In a letter to the UN secretary general, Riyad Mansour said the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces ‘were returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power.’
The Palestinian ambassador to the UN says Israel is ‘harvesting’ the organs of Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces. The New York Times also said in an August 2014 report that transplant brokers in Israel had pocketed enormous sums of money. Based on the newspaper’s analysis of major organ trafficking cases since 2000, Israelis had played a ‘disproportionate role’ in organ trafficking.
The issue of organ theft by Israel was first brought to the fore in a report published by Sweden’s most highly-circulated daily Aftonbladet in 2009. Back in 2000, Dr. Yehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel’s forensic institute, divulged that Israeli pathologists at the institute would harvest skin, corneas, heart valves, and bones from the bodies of Palestinians and others often without permission from relatives.
The interview was, however, released no later than 2009 by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, who had conducted it as part of her investigation into the institute, in response to a row created between Israel and Sweden over Aftonbladet’s report.
• Media reports said some 60 tanks and armoured personnel carriers were being deployed along the Gaza fence in anticipation of new demonstrations on Friday.
Witnesses said that the reinforcements were clearly visible from main Israeli roads near the Gaza Strip.
The latest deployment is considered as the largest seen there since the 2014 Israeli offensive on the coastal sliver of land, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.
The decision was taken after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened his cabinet meeting earlier Wednesday and pledged to take ‘very strong action’ if Palestinian ‘attacks’ continued.
The remarks came after the Israeli army said that a rocket fired from Gaza had hit the city of Beersheba in the Negev Desert and a second had landed in the sea. A medical official told Israel Radio that three people were taken to hospital with injuries after the alleged rocket attacks.
Palestinian resistance groups, however, denied any involvement in the alleged rocket fire in a joint statement. The groups also vowed to continue Gaza protests until the Israeli siege on the Palestinian region is terminated. They also expressed their full preparedness to confront any Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Mujahid told al-Mayadeen TV channel that Israel is looking for pretexts to attack, and that resistance groups reserve the right to respond to new assaults. In Gaza, a Palestinian official told Reuters that resistance groups were not seeking war with Israel.
‘The situation is delicate. No one wants a war,’ the official said, adding, ‘Palestinian factions are demanding an end to the Israeli blockade that strangled life and business in Gaza.’ The Tel Aviv regime carries out regular attacks on the blockaded coastal enclave under the pretext of hitting positions belonging to Hamas, the movement which runs the Palestinian territory.
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008. It has also witnessed a fresh wave of tensions since March 30, which marked the start of ‘The Great March of Return’ protests. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed and some 21,500 others wounded in renewed Gaza clashes, according to the latest figures released by the Gaza Health Ministry. The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says she is ‘alarmed’ by the violence in Gaza.
Tensions continue in the occupied Palestinian territories in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the Security Council in June that he was ‘shocked’ by Israeli troops’ use of live fire against Gazans. The escalation of violence in Gaza is ‘a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is,’ Guterres pointed out at the time.