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New Report: Israel Aims to Change Jerusalem Identity by Shutting Down Institutions and Confiscating Land

Geneva – The Israeli authorities have continued their human rights violations in Jerusalem in Novemb..

Geneva – The Israeli authorities have continued their human rights violations in Jerusalem in November 2019, as they escalated their attempts to end Palestinian presence and change the city’s identity by closing institutions, confiscating land, and displacing residents, according to a monthly report published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

The US Administration’s attitude towards the Palestinian issue encouraged the Israeli authorities to commit more violations in the Palestinian Territories, especially after the recent US decision to consider settlements in the West Bank legitimate and dont violate international law.

Anas Jirjawi, Euro-Med Monitors Director of the Middle East and North Africa


Euro-Med Monitor said in its monthly report, which monitors Israeli violations in Jerusalem that the Israeli forces committed 400 violations in Jerusalem which fall under 18 types of human rights violations. The majority of these violations were raids, with a total of 25.8%, followed by arrests, with a total of 20.3%, and checkpoints and freedom of movement, with a total of 16.5%.

The report documented 25 shootings and direct assaults carried out by Israeli forces in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of Fares Abu Nab, 23. This incident constitutes a use of excessive force without him posing any danger or threat to the lives of Israeli forces. In addition, 17 Palestinian civilians, including two women, were wounded with rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters, and dozens were suffocated by tear gas while 14 Palestinians were beaten by Israeli forces.

This month, Israeli authorities closed four Palestinian establishments, including the official Palestine Television headquarters, which suggests that Israel is proceeding with its policy that aims to end the existence and operation of official Palestinian institutions, restricting work of official Palestinian figures in the city, and preventing any manifestations of Palestinian sovereignty.

The report documented 103 raids into the towns and neighborhoods of Jerusalem by Israeli forces. The raids included the arrest of 78 Palestinian citizens, including 12 children, a woman, the Palestinian Minister and Governor of Jerusalem, and the Director of the Directorate of Education. The report said that Israeli forces summoned 11 Palestinians and imposed house arrests on at least eight citizens, including children, following imposing fines on them.

The report documented 20 demolitions of Palestinian homes and properties in occupied Jerusalem. Nine homes were demolished, one of which was destroyed by its owner to avoid paying huge fines. In addition, six barns and warehouses were demolished in the city while ten other facilities were notified of demolitions.

These demolitions are carried out by Israeli army forces as part of a systematic policy of forced displacement of Palestinians, in order to change the demographic character of the city, nothing that such actions amount to a war crime.

The report documented four confiscation orders issued by Israeli forces, which seized 790 dunums in Jerusalem for the purpose of building the separation wall as well as roads while 6,850 dunums in the West Bank were affected.

The report documented two Israeli decisions regarding the approval of the Jerusalem train plan and the establishment of 11,000 housing units in a new neighborhood in the abandoned Qalandia Airport to expand the settlement of Atarot north of Jerusalem. The Geneva-based group noted that an Israeli decision to ban the work of UNRWA in Jerusalem was also issued.

Anas Aljirjawi, Euro-Med Monitors Director of the Middle East and North Africa, said that the US Administration’s attitude towards the Palestinian issue encouraged the Israeli authorities to commit more violations in the Palestinian Territories, especially after the recent US decision to consider settlements in the West Bank legitimate and dont violate international law.

Aljirjawi added that by monitoring the actions of Israeli authorities in Jerusalem on a regular basis, it is clear that they are taking steps to end the Palestinian presence in the city by removing communities on different pretexts, arresting, and deporting personalities, and closing official institutions. He warned that silence over these measures gives Israel a green light to implement its policies rapidly.

The report documented eight direct attacks by settlers throughout Jerusalem during November, including damaging car tires, writing racist slogans as part of a strategic activity that Israel permits, based on discriminatory racial grounds, which aims, in the long run, to displace Palestinians and confiscate their homes and lands for settlement projects.

Israeli forces continue to impose restrictions on the access of West Bank residents to Jerusalem, as well as Gazans, most of whom are denied access to the city.


This month, 2009 settlers carried out incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque throughout 20 days of the month, in addition to thousands of settlers who participated in the incursions under the pretext of foreign tourism and with a full coordination with Israeli authorities.

In contrast, Israeli forces continue to impose restrictions on the access of West Bank residents to Jerusalem, as well as Gazans, most of whom are denied access to the city. Israeli forces scrutinize the cards of Palestinians arriving at Al-Aqsa Mosque and hold their IDs, and it prevents large numbers of Jerusalemites from reaching the Mosque under security pretexts.

During November, Israeli authorities issued seven removal decisions from Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as from towns and places in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities are pursuing this policy to exclude influential Palestinian figures, whether at Al-Aqsa Mosque or the occupied city, as part of its fight against Palestinian presence.

Euro-Med Monitor reiterated its call to the United Nations to shoulder its responsibilities in stopping Israel’s violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions that address Israeli violations in the Palestinian Territories and to establish operational mechanisms to address Israel’s deliberate violations of international law.

Full English Report will be available soon.

Arabic Report, here.

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Brutal cold intensifies desperation for rising numbers of displaced in north-west Syria

Geneva – Sub-zero temperatures and increased snowfall are further exacerbating the humanitarian cris..

Geneva – Sub-zero temperatures and increased snowfall are further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria where more than a quarter of a million people have been displaced in the past four days. Over 830,000 people have been displaced in the region in the last two months and more than 1.2 million since April 2019, according to the United Nations.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is extremely concerned about this rapid and ongoing rise in displacement which continues to rise in the tens of thousands every day, particularly as conflict spreads northward to highly populated urban areas.

“Over 80,000 people forced to flee violence in the last few months are sleeping under trees or in open areas in the snow,” said Joseph Ashmore, IOMs Global Shelter Coordinator.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and many more may die as extreme winter conditions take hold, provoking one of the most severe shelter crises the humanitarian system has faced in the last decade,” he added.

The majority of the uprooted are staying with host families, in camps or unfinished buildings. As displacement rises, there are less places to house people seeking refuge.

IOM has been assisting partners on the ground to reach nearly 300,000 people with humanitarian aid since mid-December 2019. In the past weeks, IOMs partners have delivered emergency items – including blankets, hygiene kits and other goods – as well as shelter materials to 129,000 people in need.

However, insecurity has impeded access of some partners – compromising the ability for affected populations to receive the most basic services.

Health centres, schools, markets and camps have been targeted by violence with increased civilian casualties reported every day.

The Organization is seeking increased funding from the international community to adequately respond to rapidly rising needs. IOM also reiterates the UN Secretary Generals call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The Syrian conflict, approaching its tenth year, has displaced more than six million people within the country and provoked more than 5.5 million people to flee to neighbouring countries in the region.

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UNHCR to suspend operations at GDF in Tripoli amid safety concerns

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced today, Thursday, 30 January, that it is suspending its opera..

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced today, Thursday, 30 January, that it is suspending its operational work at the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF), fearing for the safety and protection of people at the facility, its staff and partners amid worsening conflict in Tripoli, Libya.

“Unfortunately UNHCR was left with no choice but to suspend work at the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli after learning that training exercises, involving police and military personnel, are taking place just a few meters away from units housing asylum seekers and refugees,” said Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCRs Chief of Mission in Libya.

“We fear that the entire area could become a military target, further endangering the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, and other civilians,” he added.

UNHCR has started moving dozens of highly vulnerable refugees, who have already been identified for resettlement or evacuation to third countries, from the facility to safer locations.

UNHCR will also facilitate the evacuation of hundreds of other people to urban areas. This includes around 400 asylum seekers who had left the Tajoura detention centre after it was hit by air strikes last July as well as some 300 asylum-seekers from the Abu Salim detention centre who entered the GDF last November after being spontaneously released from detention by the authorities. All will be provided with cash assistance, relief items and medical assistance at UNHCRs Community Day Centre in Tripoli.

“Other important aspects of our work in Libya continue at full pace and we hope to be able to resume our work at the GDF once safe to do so,” Cavalieri said.

On 2 January, UNHCR expressed serious concerns after three mortar shells fell close to the GDF and fragments landed near a warehouse inside the complex.

The GDF, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior, was established as a transit site to host refugees who had been identified for a solution outside of Libya, pending their evacuation. Since December 2018, nearly 1,700 formerly detained refugees have been evacuated out of Libya to safety, through the GDF. With close to 900 individuals entering the GDF spontaneously since July, it became severely overcrowded and is no longer functioning as a transit centre.

UNHCR continues to urge all sides to the conflict in Libya to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

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Guatemala’s children bear brunt of prolonged drought and rising heat

by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 17:14 ..

by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 17:14 GMT Image Caption and Rights Information

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA, Jan 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rising numbers of children in Guatemala are going hungry as drought linked to climate change reduces food harvests, fueling child malnutrition rates in the Central American nation, the United Nations and charities said.

Guatemala, which has one of the world’s high rates of child malnutrition, recorded more than 15,300 cases of acute malnutrition in children under 5 last year, up nearly 24% from 2018, according to government figures.

The number of children acutely malnourished was the highest since 2015, when a severe drought hit Central America.

Guatemala’s farmers are reeling from a series of prolonged droughts in recent years and from a lengthy heat wave last year as climate change brings drier conditions and erratic rainfall, U.N. officials said.

Children living in poor highland farming communities and along the “Dry Corridor” – running through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – are bearing the brunt, they said.

“There is an increase in cases of acute malnutrition that are related to climate change and the long periods of drought from June to October (last year),” said Maria Claudia Santizo, a nutrition specialist at the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF.

Drought is also adding to the area of Guatemala suffering problems, she said.

“With climate change, the dry corridor has expanded,” Santizo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Poor harvests of staple crops such as beans and maize mean rural families are forced to eat fewer meals a day, and have less food to sell, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Families also are unable to store food to see them through the lean period before the next harvest, the U.N. agency said.

“We are seeing a high rate of child malnutrition that’s rising for two reasons – high temperatures which affect the crops and resulting crop losses, and rains that are more erratic and unpredictable,” said Amy English, a technical advisor at international aid agency Mercy Corps, which works in Guatemala.

She said worsening hunger in the region was a contributor to the caravans of migrants moving north toward Mexico and the United States.

To combat crop losses, rural development programs must include efforts to help farmers adapt to climate change, including planting more drought-resistant crops and better conserving water, she said.

Jose Aquino, a rural development manager in Guatemala for Mercy Corps, said more rivers in the region are running dry at least part of the year.

“2019 was one of the driest years in Guatemala. Rivers that didn’t used to dry up are now doing so,” Aquino said.

“All this basically affects the availability of food,” he said.

STRUGGLING TO COPE

Marc-Andre Prost, a WFP regional nutrition advisor, said three in every five people in Guatemala already live in poverty and rural communities are struggling to cope with the additional burden of extreme weather.

According to WFP, about one million people in Guatemala – 15% of the population – “cannot meet their food needs on a daily basis”, and hundreds and thousands rely on food aid.

“Climate change is not responsible for this situation but climate change and what we’ve seen in the last two years, these climate events, are definitely exacerbating a situation where people don’t have the capacity to cope,” Prost said.

Guatemala’s small-scale farmers are heavily dependent on rainfall and most lack alternative sources of water for their crops.

“As soon as there is a problem with the rainfall, we see the immediate consequences on households” as they try to earn an income and feed themselves, Prost said.

Climate change means it is likely extreme weather – from hurricanes to torrential rains and prolonged droughts – will become more frequent in the future, he said.

Like previous leaders, the new president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, has pledged to make combating stubbornly high rates of child malnutrition a national priority.

(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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