Alaturka Gazetesi

For 32 years on, Palestinian man commemorates his death memory

By Nisma Khaled

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – For the past 32 years, Mohammed Said Abu Samra has been commemorating his death memory, putting his hand at his heart where the bullet is still lodging until this very day.

"This is a normal incident to the Palestinian people," Abu Samra, 51, told Anadolu Agency.

"Due to the lack of medical treatment and shortage of hospital supplies, many people were mistaken to be dead in the first Intifada and ended up living to this day."

On Dec. 9, 1987, the first Palestinian Intifada broke out after an Israeli truck driver ran over a group of Palestinian workers near the Erez checkpoint, which has disconnected the Gaza Strip away from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories since 1948.

The next day, angry Palestinians filled the streets to demonstrate against the Israeli terror attack. Soon the situation escalated and turned into a massive civil uprising.

The wave of demonstrations and clashes rapidly spread throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and lasted for six years, leaving a death toll of 1,550 Palestinians, over 70,000 injuries and up to 200,000 detainees by the Israeli military forces.

During the Intifada, Palestinians maintained specific practices such as refusal to pay taxes, strikes and street demonstrations.

One of the most widespread methods to defend themselves was throwing stones down on Israeli soldiers, who were heavily armed with powerful weaponry and live ammunition. This has earned the protests the name "The Uprising of Stones".

Death date

On March 25, 1989, Abu Samra and his friend were among the mourners of a Palestinian shot by Israeli forces.

The near-camping Israeli soldiers grew suspicious when the crowd changed their destination after noticing that the martyr was alive.

As the mourners changed their route, Abu Samra and his friend ended up on the top of an open hill in Al-Hawooz neighborhood to the east of Khan Younis camp. An Israeli soldier fired two bullets towards them. His friend was shot at the thigh, but Abu Samra was not sure if he got shot at too.

Until one minute passed after the shot, Abu Samra had not felt anything yet. Then the pain started to intensify to unbearable.

"It felt like a knife was twisted in my heart," Abu Samra recalled.

As first images of friends whom he lost started to flow before his eyes, shortly he blacked out.

"There is no pulse. He is not breathing!" These were the last words Abu Samra could ever hear before his death.

"I was floating in an immense space and I completely lost any sense of time, place or dimension," he recalled.

News went viral that Abu Samra had died and even his family dug a grave in preparation of his burial after a doctor at the hospital spotted a bullet in his heart, stating: "He is definitely dead".

Without any prior coordination, his body was rushed to Tal Hashomeer Hospital in Tel Aviv for emergency operation.

For almost one month, Abu Samra stayed in the intensive care unit there hanging between life and death given his complicated conditions.

Doctors said the shot hit very close to the heart but he was lucky to live. His health was desperately affected even after he was allowed home. His coughing was accompanied with blood and his movement was restricted for at least one year.

Abu Samra's injury came three months before his final exams for a sports education diploma. However, he was determined to pass his tests. He also obtained his Masters and PhD in sports training – handball — and now he is working as a professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.

"Ever since the incident, I've felt that day is a unique one," Abu Samra said.

"I lost my father the same day nine years later and my mother 31 years later. I do believe it will be my death date as well – the real death."

Alaturka Gazetesi

Israel heads to 3rd round of polls in less than a year

By Mustafa Deveci

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israelis will head to the polls for the third time in less than a year after lawmakers failed to meet a Wednesday deadline.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White alliance, failed to form a government in elections on April 9 and Sept. 17.

President Reuven Rivlin offered Israeli legislators the opportunity to form a majority bloc in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, with a deadline of midnight Wednesday. But the approach failed.

The Knesset then voted to dissolve itself and hold an election in March, as new elections must be held in 90 days according to Israeli law.

After the day of the election clashed with Israel’s Purim holiday, lawmakers agreed to move the date to Monday, March 2, changing the tradition of holding elections on Tuesdays.

Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which generally falls in late winter or early spring.

*Writing by Sibel Morrow


Trump signs contentious order to fight BDS on campuses

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order steeped in controversy that seeks to thwart the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and what he and others say is rampant anti-Semitism on college campuses.

The order will change enforcement of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to apply to anti-Semitic discrimination by defining Judaism as a nationality, not a religion. The law currently prohibits "discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance."

It does not explicitly address religion, and Trump said his executive order seeks to allow the federal government to withhold funds to colleges, universities and educational institutions it deems to be hotbeds of anti-Semitism. The full text of Trump's order was not immediately available, however.

"We have also taken a firm stance against the so-called Divestment and Sanctions Movement, or BDS," Trump said during a Hanukkah reception at the White House. “If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism. It’s very simple.”

The Palestinian-led BDS movement, formed in 2005, calls for a boycott of Israeli companies involved in the Palestinian occupation or violating Palestinian human rights and for other institutions to divest their interests in those companies.

Opponents of the movement, Trump included, view it as a front for anti-Semitism.

In announcing his order, Trump said he is condemning the "anti-Semitic campaign against the state of Israel and its citizens."

But critics have called the measure into question, describing it as a thinly-veiled attempt to curb free speech on campuses.

Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish-American group, challenged the president's stated rationale, saying "Trump isn’t defending Jews. He’s using us as a weapon to attack student activists, Muslims, & people of color."

"Kushner is the one tolerating anti-Semitism. He’s a shanda," the group said on Twitter, referring to the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who played a leading role in advancing the order. In Yiddish, "shanda" means a disgrace.

J Street, a left-leaning pro-Israel lobbying group, said in a statement that Trump's order "appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel."

"It is particularly outrageous and absurd for President Trump to pretend to care about anti-Semitism during the same week in which he once again publicly spouted anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group's president.

"The same right-wing groups who turn a blind eye to the president’s hateful rhetoric have promoted this executive order as part of a cynical push to turn the issue of anti-Semitism into a partisan political weapon, instead of seriously combating it in all its forms,” he added.


Israel's Knesset set to be dissolved

By Abdelraouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – A parliamentary committee finalized a bill on Wednesday to dissolve the Knesset (Israel's parliament) and hold early election, according to local media.

The bill will be put to vote by lawmakers on Wednesday.

Lawmakers still have until midnight before a three-week deadline for the Knesset to form a government expires.

If passed, early election will be held on March 2, 2020, the third in one year amid an unprecedented political deadlock in Israel's history.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White alliance, failed to form a government after the September polls.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Alaturka Gazetesi

Israeli violations against journalists rise in 2019

By Nour Abu Eisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists have escalated in 2019, the government media office in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference in Gaza City, Salama Marouf, the head of the media office, said 87 journalists were injured by Israeli gunfire during their coverage of anti-occupation protests along Gaza's buffer zone.

A total of 67 journalists were also injured while covering Palestinian demonstrations in the occupied West Bank, he said.

"Year 2019 was the second worst year for Palestinian journalists and media institutions," he said.

Maisara Shaban of the media office, for her part, said 100 journalists were arrested and tried by Israeli authorities in 2019 over their writings and coverage of Palestinian events.

"Around 18 Palestinian journalists are still held in Israeli prisons," she said, adding that the media office has documented 30 cases of torturing journalists and forcing them to pay hefty fines.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Alaturka Gazetesi

Israel denies Turkish singer entry to Jerusalem

By Abdelraouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli authorities have denied Turkish singer Gizem Coskun entry into the occupied city of East Jerusalem, Turkey's Yunus Emre Institute said Tuesday.

The female singer was planned to attend a Palestinian cultural ceremony in the city later Tuesday.

"We apologize for cancelling the show due to circumstances out of our hands," the cultural institute said on Twitter.

There was no comment from Israeli authorities on the report.

The event is organized annually by Palestinian artists in an effort to preserve the Palestinian cultural identity and folklore in face of Israeli measures to Judaize the city.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital — a move never recognized by the international community.

Turkey rejects Israeli measures against Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and recognizes the holy city as the capital of the Palestinian state.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Alaturka Gazetesi

Israel rounds up 11 Palestinians in West Bank raids

By Abdelrauf Arnaout

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Israeli forces have detained 11 Palestinians in overnight raids carried out across the occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli army.

In a Tuesday statement, the Israeli military said the individuals had been arrested for “suspected involvement in popular terror activities," without elaborating about the nature of these alleged activities.

The Israeli army carries out frequent arrest campaigns across the West Bank — including occupied East Jerusalem — on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians.

According to Palestinian figures, roughly 5,000 Palestinians — including numerous women and children — are currently languishing in Israeli detention facilities.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Palestinians strike over Hebron settlement building

By Qais Abu Samra

HEBRON, Palestine (AA) – Palestinians staged a general strike in the West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) on Monday in protest of Israeli plans to build a new settlement in the flashpoint city.

Shops and public and private institutions shut their doors as part of the strike, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter in the city.

"We will do everything possible to halt [Israeli] judaization measures in Hebron and all Palestinian land," Palestinian group Fatah, which called on to strike, said in a statement.

Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett approved the construction of a new settlement in Hebron.

Bennett's office said the settlement in the market area on Hebron's Old City will create Jewish "territorial continuity" between the existing Avraham Avinu neighborhood and the Ibrahimi mosque.

Revered by both Muslims and Jews, the Ibrahimi Mosque complex is believed to mark the burial sites of the prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

After the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers inside the mosque by Jewish extremist settler Baruch Goldstein, Israeli authorities divided the mosque complex between Muslim and Jewish worshippers.

The Israeli construction came a few weeks after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Israeli settlements in the West Bank will no longer be viewed as illegal "per se".

Hebron is home to roughly 160,000 Palestinians and about 500 Jewish settlers. The latter live in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians insist to regain the entire West Bank along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Alaturka Gazetesi

Hague court pushed to probe Israeli crimes in Gaza

By Senhan Bolelli

MADRID (AA) – A group seeking to end Israel’s crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip is pressing the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to probe Israel's crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A letter signed by social and civil rights activists with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) in various countries will be submitted to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Dec. 10, the International Day of Human Rights, said a written statement by Rumbo a Gaza, a division of the coalition NGO.

A request for an investigation has been stuck in a “preliminary analysis” by the court for five years, the group stressed.

Israel’s 13-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip has shattered the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its 2 million inhabitants of free movement in and out from Gaza, preventing the entry of many basic amenities.

As of the end of 2016, a total of 1.3 million Gazans were depending on international aid in order to survive, while nearly half of the families in Gaza lacked access to secure food supplies, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Every year for eight years now, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has launched a new campaign to challenge the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian seaside enclave.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists in the Mavi Marmara boat convoy in international waters. The convoy, which was part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, was headed for Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid. Another activist later succumbed to his injuries.

Last week the ICC’s prosecutor's office rejected a request to launch an investigation into the attack and closed the file for the third time.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

Alaturka Gazetesi

UK's Corbyn should lose: Israeli foreign minister

By AbdelRaouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday said he hopes Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, will emerge the loser in the Dec. 12 general election.

"I won't meddle in internal elections but I personally hope that he won't be elected, with this whole wave of anti-Semitism … I hope the other side wins," Yisrael Katz told Israeli Army Radio.

Corbyn has repeatedly denied claims of Labour anti-Semitism, both by Israel and at home, but has pledged that the U.K. will recognize Palestine as a sovereign state if he wins next Thursday.

But Katz hedged his bets in case Corbyn wins, adding: "Leaders don't dismiss or harm the interests of their own country, but, of course Israel will discuss things if they happen."

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara