250 Palestinian students leave their universities citing Israeli incursions in West Bank

Israeli security forces fire tear gas canisters during clashes with students from Palestinian universities outside the compound of the Israeli Ofer Military prison, near the West Bank town of Betunia. (AFP)
Israeli security forces fire tear gas canisters during clashes with students from Palestinian universities outside the compound of the Israeli Ofer Military prison, near the West Bank town of Betunia. (AFP)
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Updated 19 March 2023

250 Palestinian students leave their universities citing Israeli incursions in West Bank

250 Palestinian students leave their universities citing Israeli incursions in West Bank
  • Sources told Arab News that one of the reasons behind the Israeli harassment of the students is the $8 million the Palestinian universities receive annually from these students

RAMALLAH: About 10,000 Palestinian students living in Israel and studying in Palestinian universities in the West Bank have faced challenges recently due to the escalation of Israeli army incursions into Palestinian cities, arrests and killings.

At least 250 of them have left universities and returned to their places of residence inside Israel, sources confirmed to Arab News.

Their studies were greatly affected by general strikes, mourning for victims of Israel's violence, and increasing Israeli military checkpoints at the entrances of Palestinian cities, resulting in universities suspending classes.

BACKGROUND

• About 5,000 students are studying at the Arab American University in Jenin, 3,000 at the An-Najah University, 1,100 at Jerusalem University in Abu Dis, and another 1,000 at Hebron University. 

• One of the reasons behind the Israeli harassment is the $8 million Palestinian universities receive annually from the students. If students quit Palestinian universities, these institutions will lose and Israeli universities will gain. 

• Palestinian students from inside Israel constitute a good source of income for Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Students also rent accommodation near the universities, providing a boost to the local economy. 

Some 5,000 students are studying at the Arab-American university in Jenin, 3,000 at the An-Najah University, 1,100 at Jerusalem University in Abu Dis, and another 1,000 at Hebron university.

Sources told Arab News that one of the reasons behind the Israeli harassment of the students is the $8 million the Palestinian universities receive annually from these students. If they quit Palestinian universities, these institutions will lose the amount and Israeli universities will gain.

The number of Palestinian students from inside Israel studying in Palestinian universities in the West Bank constitutes a good source of income for these universities. This helps revive the Palestinian economy, as these students rent places to live near these universities.

Students decided to withdraw from studying at these universities because of Israel's harassment, inquiries, and interrogations, in addition to the deteriorating security conditions in those cities. Also, Israeli security agency Shin Bet has established a special unit to monitor Palestinian students.

Commenting on the issue, political analyst Jalal Banna said: "These students are studying in a geographical area that poses a major security challenge to Israel, so it is natural to look at them suspiciously."

Meanwhile, the Israeli minister of education rejected the bid by Palestinian university students to contract Arab colleges inside Israel to complete their studies.

Amir Assi, a Palestinian university lecturer living in Israel, told Arab News that Israeli behavior in this regard is a disgrace to the occupying forces, as Israeli authorities are unwilling to remove the obstacles that the Palestinian students face.

Youssef Jabarin, a university lecturer, said:  "Israel refuses to establish an Arab university for Palestinians in Israel that teaches in Arabic, and at the same time it does not want them to study in Palestinian universities under flimsy security pretexts.”

In another development, Jenin’s Gov. Major General Akram Rajoub, told Arab News that the Israeli army's invasion of Jenin and its camp had caused catastrophic effects on people there.

Commenting on growing poverty in Jenin and its camp, he said that before Ramadan, he used to distribute 200 coupons to low-income families to help them buy daily goods, but now some 700 coupons are required.

He said that the Israeli army turned Jenin and its camp into “a practical training camp for its forces" through various units and the use of technology such as drones and others.  

 

 


Quake-hit Syrians get electric wheelchairs from Emirates Red Crescent

Quake-hit Syrians get electric wheelchairs from Emirates Red Crescent
Updated 14 sec ago

Quake-hit Syrians get electric wheelchairs from Emirates Red Crescent

Quake-hit Syrians get electric wheelchairs from Emirates Red Crescent
  • ERC also distributed medicines and provided psychological support

DUBAI: The Emirates Red Crescent is distributing medical aid including electric wheelchairs to people affected by the February earthquakes in Syria.

The Emirates News Agency said aid included medicines and nutritional supplements for people in homes for the elderly, and “psychological and material assistance” to a number of families. 

All programs were conducted in coordination with the ERC’s Syrian counterparts.

The wheelchairs were distributed in the Latakia Governorate. Beneficiaries expressed their gratitude for the UAE’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian people.

“This wheelchair is like two new feet to me,” Zain Al-Abidin said. “It helps me go wherever I want and move faster. Thank you to the United Arab Emirates and to the Emirates Red Crescent.”

 


Israel’s Netanyahu fires defense minister Yoav Gallant

Israel’s Netanyahu fires defense minister Yoav Gallant
Updated 22 min 18 sec ago

Israel’s Netanyahu fires defense minister Yoav Gallant

Israel’s Netanyahu fires defense minister Yoav Gallant
  • Netanyahu’s office did not provide further details over the firing
  • Netanyahu’s government pushing ahead for parliamentary vote on centerpiece of judicial overhaul

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister on Sunday, a day after the former army general called for a halt to the planned overhaul of Israel’s judiciary that has fiercely divided the country.
The move signals the prime minister will move ahead this week with plans for the overhaul, which has sparked widespread opposition. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, military and business leaders have spoken out against it and leading allies of Israel have voiced concerns.
Outgoing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a former army general, is a senior member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party. On Saturday, he called for a pause in the controversial legislation until after next month’s Independence Day holidays, citing the rift’s threat to Israel’s national security.
Netanyahu’s office did not provide further details over the firing. Galit Distal Atbaryan, Netanyahu’s public diplomacy minister, said that the prime minister summoned Gallant to his office and told him “that he doesn’t have any faith in him anymore and therefore he is fired.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said that Gallant’s dismissal was a “new low for the anti-Zionist government that harms national security and ignores warnings of all defense officials.”
“The prime minister of Israel is a threat to the security of the state of Israel,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.
Gallant was the first to break ranks in Netanyahu’s coalition late Saturday by calling for the legislation to be frozen. Gallant cited the turmoil in the ranks of the military over the plan. But it was unclear whether others would follow him.
Netanyahu’s government is pushing ahead for a parliamentary vote this week on a centerpiece of the overhaul — a law that would give the governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments. The government also plans to push for parliamentary authority to override Supreme Court decisions with a basic majority and limit judicial review of laws.
Critics say the constellation of laws will remove the checks and balances in Israel’s democratic system and concentrate power in the hands of the governing coalition. Netanyahu and his allies say the plan will restore a balance between the judicial and executive branches and rein in what they see as an interventionist court with liberal sympathies.
Meanwhile, an Israeli good governance group on Sunday asked the country’s Supreme Court to punish Netanyahu for allegedly violating a conflict of interest agreement meant to prevent him from dealing with the country’s judiciary while he is on trial for corruption.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, a fierce opponent of the overhaul, asked the court to force Netanyahu to obey the law and sanction him either with a fine or prison time for not doing so. It said he was not above the law.
“A prime minister who doesn’t obey the court and the provisions of the law is privileged and an anarchist,” said Eliad Shraga, the head of the group, echoing language used by Netanyahu and his allies against protesters opposed to the overhaul. “The prime minister will be forced to bow his head before the law and comply with the provisions of the law.”
The prime minister responded saying the appeal should be dismissed and said that the Supreme Court didn’t have grounds to intervene.
Netanyahu is barred by the country’s attorney general from directly dealing with his government’s plan to transform the judiciary, based on a conflict of interest agreement he is bound to, and which the Supreme Court acknowledged in a ruling over Netanyahu’s fitness to serve while on trial for corruption. Instead, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a close confidant of Netanyahu, is spearheading the overhaul.
But on Thursday, after parliament passed a law making it harder to remove a sitting prime minister, Netanyahu said he was unshackled from the attorney general’s decision and vowed to wade into the crisis and “mend the rift” in the nation. That declaration prompted the attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, to warn that Netanyahu was breaking his conflict of interest agreement by entering the fray.
The fast-paced legal and political developments have catapulted Israel into uncharted territory and toward a burgeoning constitutional crisis, said Guy Lurie, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank.
“We are at the start of a constitutional crisis in the sense that there is a disagreement over the source of authority and legitimacy of different governing bodies,” he said.
If Netanyahu continues to intervene in the overhaul, Baharav-Miara could launch an investigation into whether he violated the conflict of interest agreement, which could lead to additional charges against him, Lurie said. He added that the uncertainty of the events made him unsure of how they were likely to unfold.
It is also unclear how the court, which is at the center of the divide surrounding the overhaul, will treat the request to sanction Netanyahu. The Movement for Quality Government said the court had given Netanyahu and the attorney general a week to respond.
Netanyahu is on trial for charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate affairs involving wealthy associates and powerful media moguls. He denies wrongdoing and dismisses critics who say he will try to seek an escape route from the charges through the legal overhaul.


Tense Ramadan ahead for Palestinians as Israeli excesses continue

Tense Ramadan ahead for Palestinians as Israeli excesses continue
Updated 26 March 2023

Tense Ramadan ahead for Palestinians as Israeli excesses continue

Tense Ramadan ahead for Palestinians as Israeli excesses continue
  • On Sunday, four Israeli settlers threw flammable material at the house of Ahmed Awashreh in Sinjil north of Ramallah

RAMALLAH: Palestinian sources have warned that Israel has no intention of de-escalating during Ramadan, following a weekend of attacks in the West Bank and incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

On Sunday, four Israeli settlers threw flammable material at the house of Ahmed Awashreh in Sinjil north of Ramallah, a village repeatedly targeted by settlers from Givat Harel, Shilo and Ma’ale Libouna.

It comes weeks after fierce settler attacks on Huwara, Burin, and Qaryut, south of Nablus, where dozens of homes and vehicles were burned.

Awashra, 35, said he and his family of six had to flee for their lives and it was a miracle no one was killed.

Palestinian leaders have warned of a repeat of the 2015 attack in Duma, south of Nablus, when settlers burned the house of the Dawabsha family. 

Ali Dawabsha, who was 18 months old, was killed in the fire while his parents, Saad and Riham, died of their injuries days later. Their four-year-old son, Ahmed, suffered severe burns but survived.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Israeli Settlements Council in the northern West Bank, on Sunday opened an office near Huwara to protest against the lack of security for settlers passing through the area.

The move is reminiscent of Itamar Ben-Gvir, minister for internal security, who set up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem last year when Palestinians resisted the attempted seizure of their homes by settlers.

Meanwhile early on Sunday, the Israeli army arrested five Palestinians from Tulkarem and Huwara and closed off Nablus hours after two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a drive-by shooting in Huwara.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that it had carried out the attack. 

Dozens of settlers gathered in Huwara and attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones near the Deir Sharaf roundabout in northern Nablus, leaving some cars damaged.

Elsewhere, dozens of heavily armed settlers stormed the Old City of Hebron on Saturday night, chanting racist slogans amid a heavy deployment of the Israeli forces.

Israeli police officers and border guards meanwhile stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Saturday, forced all worshipers to leave, seized phones and arrested two people, Palestinian sources said.

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa, told Arab News that Israel was prosecuting a fierce campaign against the mosque that violated the freedom to worship.

“We did not see any facilities from the Israeli authorities during this Ramadan. Rather, we saw thousands of people gather at the Qalandia and Bethlehem checkpoints after the occupation prevented them from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform Friday prayers,” Sabri said.

Sabri added that the influx of worshippers to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, whose numbers have exceeded those of previous years, is a response to Israel.

He said that a further tension and escalation depended on the actions of Israel.

“It depends entirely on the actions and procedures of the occupation. If the situation escalates, there will be tension, and if it does not, calm will prevail,” Sabri. “Whoever calls for calm must not take any action that provokes the feelings of Muslims."

The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the incursions into Al-Aqsa and the ongoing incitement by settlers. It said the eviction of worshippers was a crime and an offense against the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Ramadan.


Houthis attack Yemeni forces in Shabwa amid militia’s escalating operations

Houthis attack Yemeni forces in Shabwa amid militia’s escalating operations
Updated 26 March 2023

Houthis attack Yemeni forces in Shabwa amid militia’s escalating operations

Houthis attack Yemeni forces in Shabwa amid militia’s escalating operations
  • Houthis attacked Shabwa Defense Forces on Saturday in a range of mountains
  • Government troops said that the Houthis were forced to suspend the assault and withdraw

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government troops in the southern province of Shabwa announced on Sunday that they had repelled a Houthi assault on their positions in the face of the militia’s continuing expansion of military operations.

Houthis attacked Shabwa Defense Forces on Saturday in a range of mountains which connect the Merkhah Al Ulya district with the adjacent Bayda province, resulting in a fierce battle that reportedly killed and wounded many soldiers on both sides.

Government troops said that the Houthis were forced to suspend the assault and withdraw after failing to capture control of the highlands, and that military reinforcements were sent to the front line to repel any future action.

Unofficial Houthi media sources said that its troops had moved 8 km into government-held territory in Merkhah Al Ulya.

A Yemeni official in Shabwa told Arab News that the Houthi attacks had been intended to distract government soldiers rather than occupy the province.

The official, who requested anonymity, said: “Rather than a full-scale military action in the area, the purpose of the strike is to stir up sluggish waters.”

The Houthi military buildup in Shabwa comes only days after heavy combat erupted in the central province of Marib when government soldiers were attacked in rural areas of Hareb.

The fighting subsided on Sunday amid reports that government forces had regained villages held by the Houthis.

Meanwhile, Taiz Gov. Nabil Shamsan said on Twitter that Houthis had attacked his convoy for 90 minutes on Saturday with a guided missile, mortars, and artillery bombs as he was returning to Taiz from the city of Mocha on the Red Sea.

One of his bodyguards was killed and two others were injured in the incident.

Houthi assaults and the militia’s military escalation have sparked outrage and warnings of the impending failure of UN-led diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

Separately, Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights said on Sunday that Houthis had encircled ancient areas in the city of Ibb and had detained scores of people, including two social media activists who took part in a rally against the militia last week.

The burial of a social media influencer turned into a protest against the Houthis on Thursday.

Protesters accused the militia of kidnapping, torturing, and executing Hamdi Abdel-Razzaq, also known as Al-Mukahal, an influencer abducted by the Houthis in October for criticizing corruption.

The Yemeni government said that armed Houthi forces in military vehicles surrounded Ibb, where the influencer had lived, and conducted raids on homes, detaining many people.

The government’s statement added: “The ministry has monitored the savage Houthi terrorist militia’s campaign of arbitrary arrests against Ibb residents, looting and destruction of their property, and terrorization of children and women.”


UAE slams Israeli decision to permit new settlements in Occupied Territories

UAE slams Israeli decision to permit new settlements in Occupied Territories
Updated 26 March 2023

UAE slams Israeli decision to permit new settlements in Occupied Territories

UAE slams Israeli decision to permit new settlements in Occupied Territories
  • Gulf state reaffirms rejection of violations of international law, threats to regional stability

DUBAI: The UAE has strongly condemned Israel’s decision to allow resettlement in northern West Bank areas, and to permit new settlement units in the Occupied Territories, the Emirates News Agency reported on Sunday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation reaffirmed the UAE’s rejection of all practices that violate international law and threaten to aggravate regional escalation and instability. 

The ministry also emphasized the importance of supporting all regional and international efforts to advance the Middle East peace process, as well as ending illegal practices that jeopardize the two-state solution, and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.