|The News Line: Feature
Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Israeli jeeps and bulldozers attack Gaza
A FLEET of Israeli bulldozers and military vehicles crossed the border fence into the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday and flattened private Palestinian lands, as the Tel Aviv regime’s illegal construction activities continue in the occupied Palestinian territories.
At least four Israeli armoured Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, accompanied by a number of tanks, entered eastern part of the town of Fukhari in Gaza’s southern governorate of Khan Yunis during the early hours of Sunday. According to local sources, the invading convoy, dispatched from Israel’s Sofa military post, advanced scores of metres into the Palestinian territory along the separation fence, relying on potential support from the artillery unit being on alert inside the base.
A number of Israeli surveillance aircraft were also reported to have flown at low altitude over the area while the bulldozers were busy levelling the lands. No gunfire or shelling was reported. The Israeli regime has long been conducting daily incursions into Gaza and in the vicinity of the so-called buffer zone, which lies on both land and sea sides of the strip.
Israeli forces often fire at those Palestinians, who work in the vicinity of the zone. Tel Aviv has not yet made clear the exact demarcation of the designated zone. The practice has in effect devastated much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the besieged coastal enclave.
Gaza has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty. Tel Aviv launched its latest war on Gaza in early July 2014. The 50-day military aggression, which ended on August 26, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including over 570 children. More than 11,100 others were also wounded in the war. Israel continues to carry out attacks on the Palestinian enclave from time to time.
Israel has also been constructing settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds since occupying the Palestinian territories in 1967. The settlements have been widely condemned as an insidious push toward facilitating the annexation of the Palestinian lands.
• Israeli forces detained 420 Palestinians during the month of February, including 70 minors and 22 women and girls, according to a statement released on Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Centre for Studies. The centre said in its monthly report that 12 of the detentions were carried out in the besieged Gaza Strip, including five fishermen whose boats were destroyed by Israeli forces before their detention, two who were detained at the Beit Hanoun crossing, and five who were detained after Israel alleged they attempted to cross the border fence between the besieged enclave and Israel.
A journalist was also among the detainees, identified by the centre as Humam Muhammad Hantash from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. He was sentenced to Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.
The centre added that 88 administrative detention orders were issued by Israeli courts in the same period, 23 of which were issued for the first time, while 65 were renewed orders. Meanwhile, 32 administrative detention orders were issued against Palestinians from Hebron.
While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Rights groups say that Israel’s administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists. According to Addameer, as of January, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 536 of whom were being held under administrative detention.
• Activists marched from the Qalandiya refugee camp to al-Manara square in the centre of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Sunday to express solidarity with resident of the refugee camp Jamal Abu al-Leil, who has been on hunger strike for 17 days in protest of being held by Israel without charge or trial for more than a year.
The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Thursday that Abu al-Leil was being held in a tight cell in Israel’s Ashkelon prison, ‘lacking the simplest necessities of life, emptied of electrical appliances, covers, and extra clothes leaving Abu al-Leil with nothing but the clothes he is wearing.’
Abu al-Leil has been suffering from severe head and stomachaches, dizziness and difficulties walking, as he continues only to consume water, refusing all vitamins and supplements. Saturday’s action started with a vehicle convoy on the main street that connects Jerusalem to Ramallah and the southern West Bank. After that, hundreds of activists marched from a tent outside Abu al-Leil’s house to Ramallah, with demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and flags of the Fatah movement.
After the march, activists returned to Qalandiya refugee camp and marched from there to the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to the camp, where they clashed with Israeli soldiers.
Witnesses said Israeli soldiers attacked activists with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades, with demonstrators responding by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
No injuries were reported. An Israeli army spokesperson said that they were ‘not familiar’ with the incident.
The rally, attended by leaders of the Fatah movement and other Palestinian factions, came after members of Fatah urged Palestinians to partake in a series of activities in support of Abu al-Leil. Abu al-Leil declared a hunger strike on Feb. 16 along with fellow resident of Qalandiya refugee camp Raed Mteir, after being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial under administrative detention. Israeli authorities issued six-month administrative detention orders for the two prisoners three times since they were detained more than a year ago.
Abu al-Leil is a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, while Mteir is head of the Qalandiya refugee camp youth centre. Both had been previously detained by Israel several times.
Mteir has since ended his hunger strike after going 12 days without food, after reaching an agreement to be released in April 2017 without his administrative detention being renewed.
The two joined journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 27 days in protest of his administrative detention. Al-Qiq was last released from Israeli prison in May last year after he refused food for a gruelling 94 days – also in protest at his administrative detention at the time. However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January, and Israeli authorities have continued to hold al-Qiq without presenting any evidence or charges against him.
A group of protesters staged a sit-in on Thursday in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, while activists closed the Jerusalem-Ramallah road for four days in a row in protest at the Palestinian Authority’s perceived inaction in the cases of Abu al-Leil and Mteir.
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