West Bank family sees no hope of justice in settler killings

Mourners carry the body of a 38-year-old Palestinian, Ahmad Assi, who was killed in an Israeli settler raid, during his funeral near Salfit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 3, 2023. (REUTERS)
Mourners carry the body of a 38-year-old Palestinian, Ahmad Assi, who was killed in an Israeli settler raid, during his funeral near Salfit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 3, 2023. (REUTERS)
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Updated 06 December 2023
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West Bank family sees no hope of justice in settler killings

West Bank family sees no hope of justice in settler killings
  • Many families fleeing south to Rafah which is already overcrowded with dire conditions

AS-SAWIYAH, Palestinian Territories: Moussa is eight years old and really likes marbles. But for the past month, this Palestinian boy, living in the occupied West Bank, has a new game: “Pretend daddy isn’t dead.”
He calls his dad, imagines what he did with his day, and acts like he’s suddenly going to run into him.
But his father, Bilal Saleh, was killed on October 28.
The 40-year-old was shot in the chest while picking olives with his family near his home in the village of As-Sawiyah.
Saleh is one of more than 250 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, according to a Palestinian government tally, since Hamas’s attack on October 7 sparked a new war with Israel.




A Palestinian checks a car burned in Israeli settlers raid near Salfit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 3, 2023. (REUTERS)

“He was a simple man, attached to his land,” says his widow, Ikhlas, showing images on her phone of Saleh in the fields, reciting the Qur’an with Moussa and at a wedding.
She struggles to even look at them, let alone tell the story of what happened.

BACKGROUND

The 40-year-old was shot in the chest while picking olives with his family near his home in the village of As-Sawiyah.

The children pressed around her fill in the details.
Videos from the scene show four men wearing the knitted yarmulkes that are popular among Israeli settlers, shouting toward the family as they are harvesting.
One is armed with an automatic rifle.
The family flees, but Saleh has forgotten his phone and runs back to fetch it.
A few minutes later, a gunshot rings out.
The family rushes back to find Saleh bleeding from the chest.
He was taken to a hospital about 10 kilometers (six miles) away but declared dead soon after.
The family says Ikhlas’ brother and father saw on social media that a man had been arrested for the shooting but released a few hours later.
The police and COGAT, an Israeli Defense Ministry body overseeing civilian activities in the Palestinian territories, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from AFP.
A few days later, without knowing why, Ikhlas was called to a police station in Ariel, a neighboring Israeli settlement, where police asked her to explain what she saw.
“At the entrance, while a guard was checking my identity papers, a settler drove by. He saw that I was veiled and he rolled down his window to spit on me,” she told AFP.
“After that, I don’t see what kind of justice they could give us,” she added.
Israeli human rights group Yesh Din convinced her to file a complaint anyway, though it says a study of settler violence cases between 2005 and 2021 showed 92 percent were dismissed by the Israeli authorities.
Nearly three million Palestinians live in the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Nearly half a million Israelis also live there in settlements considered illegal by the United Nations.
“For the past 10 years, it has been getting more and more serious,” said Hazem Saleh, Bilal’s brother-in-law. “We are being attacked, our land is being taken from us, settlements are being built. They have the power, they can do what they want.”
But it has been “even worse,” he said, since Hamas militants from Gaza launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
In retaliation, Israel declared war on Hamas and launched a large-scale military offensive in Gaza, which has killed nearly 15,900 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Hamas authorities.
Israel has also relaxed laws on access to weapons, promising to arm Israeli civilians in at least 1,000 localities, including settlements.
On Saturday, settlers opened fire on a 38-year-old Palestinian in the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency.
The As-Sawiyah residents’ WhatsApp group is a litany of fear and violence.
Mouna Saleh, 56, Bilal’s mother-in-law, fears for the children, especially Moussa and Mayce “who are so small — what can we explain to them?“
“How can you kill a man in a few seconds, in front of children? What is this world?” she said.
“We’re not calling for violence or revenge. We call for peace, justice, mercy as our Prophet Muhammad did,” said Hazem.
“All we can do is tell our story, even if it pains us.”

 

 


Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
Updated 3 sec ago
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Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah said it launched a salvo of rockets at an Israeli air control base on Tuesday in retaliation for deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon.
Hamas ally Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily fire with the Israeli army since the Gaza war erupted in October, but strikes have been largely restricted to the border area.
Hezbollah said it targeted the “Meron air control base... with a large salvo of rockets from several launchers.”
It said the rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon.
Israel struck Hezbollah targets near the city of Baalbek, killing two of its fighters, security sources said. The Israeli army said it targeted Hezbollah air defenses after the group downed one of its drones.
In retaliation, Hezbollah already fired 60 rockets at an Israeli base in the annexed Golah Heights on Monday.
Cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 284 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
Updated 27 February 2024
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Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

JEDDAH: A high-level Israeli delegation arrived on Monday in Qatar, where political leaders of Hamas are based, as the combatants in the Gaza war closed in on a ceasefire and hostage deal that the US says is now within reach.
The presence of both sides suggested talks were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas proposal as “delusional.”
In public, both sides continue to blame each other. Israel says it will agree only to a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages. Hamas says it will not free them without a permanent end to the war.
After meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group had embraced mediators’ efforts to find an end to the war, and accused Israel of stalling while Gazans die under siege. “We will not allow the enemy to use negotiations as a cover for this crime,” he said.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said any ceasefire agreement would require “securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready for a deal, and it was up to Hamas to drop demands he described as “outlandish” and “from another planet.”
Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce to prevent a threatened assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says
Updated 27 February 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

CAIRO: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
At least 400 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas gunmen.


At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
Updated 56 min 3 sec ago
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At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
  • Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta

CAIRO: A ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile just outside the Egyptian capital, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board, authorities said Monday.
The five who survived were transported to a hospital and later discharged, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement. The cause of the sinking was not made immediately clear.
The ministry allocated compensation of 200,000 Egyptian pounds (around $6,466) to each family of the deceased and 20,000 ($646) to each of the five injured.
The laborers were on their way to work at a local construction firm. It took rescue teams hours to recover the bodies, according to local media which aired live-stream videos on social media platforms showing divers searching for the dead as villagers waited on the Nile banks.
The incident took place in the town of Monshat el-Kanater in Giza, which is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta. Sailing along the Nile is also a favorite pastime during holidays in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt mainly because of poor maintenance and the lack of regulations.
In 2022, two people died and eight went missing after a small truck they were riding in slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile. And in 2015, 35 people died in a collision between a passenger boat and a scow on the Nile.

 


France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
Updated 27 February 2024
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France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
  • The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora

RABAT: France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, during a trip to Morocco intended to warm strained relations, on Monday reiterated French support of Morocco’s autonomy plan for disputed Western Sahara.
The former Spanish colony is largely controlled by Morocco but claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which in 2020 declared a “self-defense war” and seeks the territory’s independence.
The United Nations considers Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory.”
“This is an existential issue for Morocco. We know it,” Sejourne said during a press conference alongside his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.
Sejourne said Morocco can count on France’s “clear and constant support” for its autonomy plan.
Rabat advocates limited autonomy for the vast desert territory which is home to abundant phosphates and fisheries.
Sejourne told journalists he wanted to support Moroccan efforts in developing the area.
“Morocco has invested a lot in development projects for the benefit of the local population and in terms of training, renewable energies, tourism,” and the use of ocean resources, he said.
The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora.
Moroccans have been particularly upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s desired rapprochement with Algeria.
Sejourne proposed on Monday a partnership with Morocco focussed over the next 30 years on renewable energies, training and industrial development.
Morocco’s Bourita said “France is a distinguished partner of Morocco on the political, economic and humanitarian levels.”
The Polisario continues to demand a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, which was agreed in a 1991 ceasefire accord after a 15-year war between the Front and Morocco. The referendum has still not taken place.
In late 2020 then-US president Donald Trump recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in return for Rabat’s normalization of ties with Israel. Morocco has since then pursued an increasingly intense diplomatic effort to win over other countries.