Nineteen Palestinians have been martyred in the Gaza Strip since U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
In a statement on Sunday, the ministry said three children were among the fatalities.
A total of 1,083 Gazans were injured in protests against Trump’s decision, including 238 children, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, Israeli forces have directly tageted 15 ambulances during protests against the U.S. recognition.
On Dec. 6, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, triggering world outcry and protests across the Palestinian territories.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the perennial Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
University in US demands academic to disavow anti-Israel group
Last year, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a contract for Texas government’s disaster aid that linked the assistance to support for Israel caused widespread controversy as residents were recovering from one the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit Texas.Less than two months after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city of Dickinson, southeast of Houston, the local authority insisted that anyone who received relief supplies should confirm that they were not in any way engaged in the boycott of Israel. Amid the devastation, the city’s imposition of anti-boycott certification angered those campaigning for a boycott of Israeli goods over its occupation of Palestinian lands.After passing a bill to prohibit any type of boycott against Israel, Arizona State, a prominent Texas university, followed through with its plan and put the bill into effect even though this was a violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech.Hatem Bazian, a Muslim academic invited by the Muslim Student Association of Arizona State to speak at an event in April, was required by the university to sign a contract that would prevent him from criticizing Israel."I was invited to speak at Arizona State University and they sent me a contract to sign with various items," Dr. Bazian, a professor of Near Eastern and Asian American Studies and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.He said one of the articles clearly meant a prohibition on boycotting Israel and assurance that the undersigned was currently not engaged in a boycott of Israel."I said that I cannot sign this in full conscious, being one of the key BDS (The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement which promotes various forms of boycott against Israel) organizers, an academic who writes on BDS, and an activist on Palestine that holds BDS to be a non-violent human rights movement focused on addressing Israel's continued violations of international law," he added.Last year in May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state's anti-BDS bill, saying "Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas", thereby setting the stage for a greater controversy to unfold. A bill in Congress to criminalize BDS support with likely legal consequences such as 20 years in prison and up to $1 million in penalties has sputtered amid widespread backlash. The Senate sponsors of the bill are seeking to amend it.Israeli lobby defends the indefensibleBazian, who is also a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, said AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) and its regional affiliates "worked overtime" to push for legislation across the U.S. to restrict free speech on BDS and even to criminalize advocacy for Palestinian human rights.Slamming the legislation for attempting to "defend the indefensible" by restricting freedom of speech and academic freedom, Bazian said the purpose of the effort was to rescue and protect Israel and its continued occupation through “the use of legislation, targeting individuals, structured and systematic defamation as well as working to recruit voices that normalize Zionism among segments of Arab and Muslim communities through the Shalom Hartman Institute Muslim Leadership Initiative and fictitious interfaith projects that are focused on silencing Palestine.”Lawsuit against Arizona State UniversityA leading Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has sued the university for demanding professors to disavow BDS before allowing them to speak on its premises.Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Gadir Abbas, an attorney of CAIR, said the contract presented to Hatem Bazian was against the U.S. constitution and the university illegally blocked him from speaking on campus because of his political beliefs.Abbas said the U.S. was considered one of the biggest champions of freedom of expression, but the contract that Arizona State University had imposed was not in line with that spirit, adding that that was the reason why the advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the university. The lawsuit has been filed in the name of Dr. Bazian and a verdict is expected in April.In addition to the Bazian case, there are at least three known cases regarding the University of Houston, which also reportedly required such a disavowal from its own members, as well as visiting speakers.The state of Kansas also attempted to adopt a similar law last month in order to prohibit boycotts against Israel. A federal judge in Kansas, however, blocked the proposal.
Palestine plans mass border rallies for Gaza, Jerusalem
Palestinian political factions on Wednesday announced plans to stage mass demonstrations along the Gaza Strip's fraught border with Israel.The planned demonstrations are meant to protest the decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the strip and the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "We have drawn up a national committee tasked with breaking the siege imposed on Gaza and reversing U.S. President Donald Trump's decision on Jerusalem," Khaled al-Butsh, a leader of the Islamic Jihad group, said at a press conference in Gaza City. Preparations for the rallies, he said, would include the erection of large camps along the border to accommodate demonstrators. The planned protests, al-Butsh added, "will stress the invalidity of Trump's so-called 'Deal of the Century' [between the Palestinians and Israel] and U.S. attempts to nullify the Palestinians' right to return to their ancestral homeland". The term "Deal of the Century" refers to a back-channel plan by the Trump administration aimed at reaching a final settlement of the Mideast conflict. Last month, Anadolu Agency revealed details of the plan, which would reportedly allow Israel to annex all of Jerusalem -- along with major West Bank settlement blocs -- in return for a demilitarized Palestinian state.According to al-Butsh, the recently-formed national committee includes representatives of several prominent Palestinian political factions -- including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- along with those of human rights NGOs, social institutions, youth groups and Arab tribes. Simultaneous marches are rallies will also be held in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in coordination with Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon and in the diaspora, al-Butsh said. In an earlier interview with Anadolu Agency, Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawood Shihab did not rule out the possibility of some of these rallies breaching the border. Israeli forces deployed near the border prohibit Palestinians from approaching the area, often shooting at -- or arresting -- anyone who does so. Since last December, Palestinians have staged regular demonstrations near the Gaza-Israel border to protest Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- a move that drew widespread condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world.
After 22 yrs, Palestine Nat'l Council to meet in April
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee on Wednesday announced plans to hold a meeting of the Palestinian National Council after a 22-year hiatus.Notably, the meeting -- slated for April 30 -- will see the election of new Executive Committee members, according to Palestine’s official Wafa news agency.A legislative body that theoretically represents Palestinians at home and in the diaspora, the National Council last convened in 1996.Originally founded in 1948, the council includes representatives from all major Palestinian political movements except resistance factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad.