SYRIA’S UN ambassador says the UN Security Council has failed the Palestinian and Syrian people by not enforcing its resolutions on the Israeli occupation and in particular the occupation of the Golan Heights.
‘The UN, due to pressure by some permanent members of the Security Council, has so far failed to enforce resolutions calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, particularly Resolutions 242, 338 and 497,’ Bashar al-Ja’afari said at a UN Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East via video link on Thursday.
Ja’afari also described the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as an integral part of his country’s territories, stating that the return of the strategic area is among the high priorities of the Syrian government.
He added the UN inaction has emboldened some countries to try to wriggle out of their legal commitment and change the facts, such as the provocative US recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the ‘capital’ of Israel in December 2017, and later recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March 2019.
Ja’afari then noted that Syria, along with the majority of other countries, condemns such unilateral moves by a party, which is devoid of any political, moral or legal capacity to seal world nations’ fate and to hand over lands which belong to Syria and Palestine.
He also criticised the Israeli regime for using Lebanon’s airspace to launch missile attacks on Syria, emphasising that such strikes are against UN resolutions and meant to boost the morale of the last remnants of foreign-backed Takfiri terrorist groups.
On March 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognising Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the White House at the time.
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.
Meanwhile, school students in Gaza are struggling to learn at home during the coronavirus lockdown as there are frequent power cuts, internet connections are poor and many do not have access to computers, laptops, or mobile phones, Electronic Intifada reported.
A special report interviews pupils in Gaza about the difficulties they are facing with schools closed trying to keep up with their studies.
Raya Nofal finds it hard to attend classes over the internet. ‘I don’t have a tablet,’ the 11-year-old said. ‘My mother gives me her phone. But sometimes she gets a call and that interrupts our lessons. At other times, I can’t focus because the internet is slow.’
Raya’s experience is shared by numerous pupils in Gaza.
Schools have been closed since March in an attempt to halt the spread of the new coronavirus. While teachers have been giving lessons online, participating in them has been difficult for children who do not have adequate equipment.
As Raya’s father has been unemployed for the past two years, her family cannot afford to buy her a computer or other electronic device suitable for e-learning.
The problems have been compounded by frequent power cuts in Gaza.
Aya and Nisreen Saad are aged 10 and 15. Most mornings they are unable to follow classes on the internet as there is no electricity available.
Furthermore, they do not have their own phones, tablets or computers. Both have to use their mother’s mobile phone.
‘At first we thought that the children might enjoy following their lessons on the internet,’ said their mother Iman. ‘Now I am upset that they are experiencing such difficulties because of poverty. E-learning might work in other countries but Gaza isn’t a suitable place for it.’
Children relying on phones, rather than computers, are at a particular disadvantage.
As part of the full blockade it has imposed for 13 years, Israel prevents Gaza from developing a third-generation mobile phone network.
Securing good quality internet access with a mobile phone is difficult in Gaza.
It is, therefore, rare for people in Gaza to have good quality internet access on their mobile phones.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a UN monitoring group, has found that the Palestinian education services were not prepared to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the occupied West Bank and Gaza did not have enough tools in place before the pandemic for pupils to be taught remotely. An additional complication, according to OCHA, was that the education ministries in the West Bank and Gaza could not agree on the content of e-learning programmes.
Almost half of Gaza’s two million inhabitants are below the age of 18 years. And growing up in Gaza was already a major challenge before the Covid-19 restrictions were imposed.
As Gaza has been subjected to three major Israeli assaults since December 2008 – as well as a number of shorter offensives – its children have experienced more trauma than their peers in almost every other country.
- A Palestinian university last Thursday unveiled a ‘homemade’ ventilator as West Bank hospitals brace for a potential wave of coronavirus patients.
The device was released by al-Quds University on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a day after being certified for use in Palestinian hospitals.
Hani Abdeen, dean of the university’s medicine faculty, said that earlier this year, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem combined had only 180-200 ventilators.
With the West Bank alone home to some 2.7 million Palestinians, far more machines will likely be needed if a major Covid-19 outbreak takes hold.
But as global demand spikes amid the pandemic, importing large numbers would have been difficult and costly – so university engineers designed their own.
Some parts were near-impossible to obtain but the designers improvised, Abdeen said.
‘Of course there was this problem ‘where are you going to find the parts needed for this ventilator in order to produce it in large numbers?’ he said. ‘But we were fortunate enough to find them in the Palestinian market.’
The pump-action ventilator is less versatile than some of the larger ones on the market, but fast to make, at a fraction of the cost of advanced models.
The engineers aim to produce 500 of the ventilators for local hospitals in the coming days.
So far the need is relatively limited – there have been only some 350 confirmed cases of the disease in the West Bank and Gaza, with two deaths.
Strict lockdown measures have been imposed by the Palestinian Authority government, which rules parts of the West Bank, and by Hamas, which rules Gaza.
Neighbouring Israel has had a much larger outbreak, with more than 14,000 cases.
Imad Abu Kishek, president of the university, said the engineers were already starting to discuss ways to export the ventilators.
‘We are now in a hurry to produce for our hospitals in Palestine, and later on we (will try) to produce more machines for the whole world,’ he said.
Abdeen said the difficult political situation for Palestinians, with Israel maintaining military control over the West Bank and controlling all its borders, had helped spur innovation.
‘This proves the perennial fact that under duress you excel,’ he said. ‘We have to rely on the knowledge, the expertise and the innovative ability of Palestinian intellectuals, scientists and medics in order to help our community.’