Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon revealed that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), whose employee Wahid Abdullah Borsch, 38, has confessed to working for Hamas, using the international agency’s budget to promote terrorism against Israel, on Wednesday sought Borsch’s release on the grounds that he had diplomatic immunity. Nachshon said the claim had been examined by jurists who determined it is “unsubstantiated.”
Borsch, a resident of Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, was arrested in July on suspicion of using his employment by the UNDP to carry out missions for Hamas. UNDP is engaged in housing and development projects for the Gaza population, including renovating homes damaged in the military conflicts with Israel. In his interrogation Borsch revealed that he diverted UNDP resources to building a clandestine marina in the northern Gaza Strip in 2015, to be used by the Hamas military arm. Borsch also confessed to influencing his superiors at UNDP to prioritize the rehabilitation in areas where Hamas seniors lived — following instructions he had received from Hamas.
Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon was contacted by the UN legal office which claimed that UN employees are entitled to diplomatic immunity from prosecution by local authorities and that Borsch should receive UNDP visitors until he is released.
Danon, for his part, contacted the international aid organizations in Gaza with the message that “any dollar spent, and any local hire by an international organization, must be monitored [to] ensure they fulfill the purpose of aiding the residents of Gaza and not funding terror activities.”
The 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, and 1947 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies, contain privileges and immunities for three categories of persons crucial for the work of the Organization: 1) representatives of Member States; 2) United Nations officials; and 3) experts on missions for the United Nations.
While Member State representatives enjoy modified diplomatic privileges and immunities, United Nations officials, i.e. permanently employed staff members, enjoy “functional” immunity which is defined as immunity “from legal process in respect of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity.”Article V, section 20, stresses that “…privileges and immunities are granted to officials in the interests of the United Nations and not for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves” and that the Secretary-General has to waive the immunity of United Nations officials where it would “impede the course of justice and can be waived without prejudice to the interests of the United Nations.”
The UNDP demand in Borsch’s behalf might be a case of providing immunity post facinus, literally: after the crime has been committed, because, as opposed to United Nations officials, experts on missions for the United Nations, or members of United Nations peacekeeping operations, serve under a temporary and specific mandate and enjoy only certain functionally limited privileges and immunities pursuant to article VI of the General Convention. They are most likely not immune from criminal prosecution.JNi.Media
An IDF boat patrolling the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning was shot at by local Arabs. No one was hurt. The incident began when Arab fishing boats had strayed outside the permitted fishing zone. The Israeli Navy boat called on the suspects to get back and followed the suspect apprehension protocol. During the operation one of the suspects was shot and lightly injured and taken for medical treatment in Ashdod. The other suspects drove their fishing boat back to the permitted zone.
The head of the local Fishermen Union, Nizar Ayyash, told Ma’an that the Israeli Navy detained Abed al-Aziz Saadallah off the coast of Beit Lahiya after opening “heavy fire” at fishing boats.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office responded that the fisherman was detained after deviating from the “designated fishing zone,” and was also reportedly wounded by Israeli fire. According to the IDF, the Naval force told the fishermen to stop, and shot warning shots into the air. When the boats failed to stop, the Naval force shot towards the vessels, wounding one Arab. The IDF Spokesperson added that shots were fired from the northern shore of the Gaza Strip at the Israeli naval force.David Israel
In a complex operation, a group of animals was transferred on Wednesday morning from the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing, in order to receive better living conditions and improved care, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Spokesperson’s Office reported. As on previous occasions, the move was made possible due to cooperation between the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Office, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Defense Ministry Crossings Authority and the local Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza.
At the initiative of international animal welfare charity Four Paws, a tiger, five monkeys, two ostriches, two gazelles, two tortoises, a swan and a porcupine left Gaza Wednesday morning. These animals, which will be transferred to zoos in South Africa and Jordan, the Ben Shemen, Israel monkey park and the Safari zoo in Ramat Gan, Israel, are the last from the Khan Yunis zoo in the southern Gaza Strip. Their transfer constitutes the closing of Khan Yunis zoo, the operation of which had become very difficult in recent years.
Special cages, veterinary equipment and medicines were brought into the Gaza Strip to facilitate optimal veterinary treatment of the animals before the actual transfer.
Uri Madar from the Agriculture Ministry Gaza Coordination and Liaison Office said in a statement: “Given the less than satisfactory conditions and in the absence of the ability to continue caring for the animals at the Khan Yunis zoo, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry assisted and coordinated the transfer of the animals to zoos in Israel and around the world. Over the last two years, the ministry transferred lions, a horse and other animals. Our veterinary services have been continually active and are devoted to the welfare and health of the animals. We are delighted and moved every time we are able to be of assistance in saving the lives of animals.”David Israel
IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) on Wednesday issued a press release regarding a number of alleged “exceptional incidents” that took place during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Many of these claims originated in complaints that were transmitted to the MAG Corps on behalf of Arab residents of the Gaza Strip, as well as by several NGOs. Other allegations were made in media reports, as well as by internal IDF operational reports.
To date, the MAG Corps has received some 500 complaints about 360 incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation. Some alleged incidents received more than one complaint.
Each complaint suggesting misconduct by IDF forces, undergoes an initial examination. If the allegation is deemed credible, prima facie, and is sufficiently concrete, it is referred to the MAG for a decision as to whether an immediate criminal investigation is warranted without further examination, or whether the incident should be referred to the General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments (FFA Mechanism), for a prior factual examination before making a decision on whether to open a criminal investigation.
To date, in the wake of allegations that indicated prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, the MAG has ordered the opening of criminal investigations without the need for prior factual examination with regard to 24 exceptional incidents. Of these criminal investigations, the MAG decided to issue indictments against three IDF soldiers, accused of looting and of aiding and abetting looting. The legal proceedings regarding these charges are underway at the present time.
Regarding 13 other criminal investigations, the MAG has closed the cases without undertaking any criminal or disciplinary proceedings. The remainder of the investigations are still ongoing – some are still underway, and some have been completed with their findings having been submitted to the MAG for review.
Other allegations, which did not indicate prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, were referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination. This mechanism, which was initiated while the operation was still underway, collates information and relevant materials and undertakes inquiries, in order to assess the facts of exceptional incidents. These efforts are intended to provide the MAG with as much factual information as possible in order to reach decisions regarding whether or not to open a criminal investigation, as well as for the purpose of a “lessons-learned” process and the issuance of operational recommendations that will assist in mitigating the risk of exceptional incidents occurring in the future.
All in all, to date, around 360 complaints and reports relating to around 220 exceptional incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation have been transmitted to the FFA Mechanism for examination, after undergoing an initial examination by the MAG Corps.
To date, after reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG has referred seven incidents for criminal investigation. One of these investigations has already been the subject of a decision by the MAG. Other investigations have been completed and are awaiting review of their findings by the MAG, or are currently ongoing.
With regard to around 80 additional incidents that were examined by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG decided to close the case without opening a criminal investigation, where the actions of the IDF forces involved did not give rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal behavior. However, in relation to some of these incidents, the MAG recommended reviewing operational methods in order to assess whether any changes should be made. In certain cases that were closed, the MAG found that no involvement of IDF forces could be identified in regard to the incident.David Israel
Marking two years since Operation Protective Edge, President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday toured the region bordering the Gaza Strip, accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, and Gaza Division Commander Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fox.
The President received a situation update and heard about the IDF daily operations in the area, in particular following the recent terrorist rocket attack on Sderot. During his visit, President Rivlin was shown a terror tunnel discovered by the IDF, and discussed the initiatives the IDF was taking to tackle the tunnels problem.
The President later met with dozens of soldiers from the Bedouin Tracker Unit, combat engineers, and members of the Givati Brigade who are serving in the region. He told them, “Two years after Operation Protective Edge, the south has returned to its daily routine. The IDF guards the front in the very best way, and the front in return shows its appreciation. Just as we saw yesterday, we will not tolerate any disturbance of the quiet, and in the face of any such disturbance we will respond swiftly and firmly. On both sides of the border there are civilians who want to live in quiet and we will be sure that the citizens of Israel will continue to live in harmony. We do not seek war, yet, after having sat with our wonderful commanders I know that if war is forced upon us, we have an army as ready and professional as could be asked. The plan that was presented to me reflects operational strength.”
President Rivlin pointed that “two of our sons remained behind after the war which took place two years ago. The State of Israel has a moral responsibility to bring back Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.”
The President added, “On my own behalf, and on behalf of all the Israeli people, I want to say thank you to the commanders, and to the service men and women. The calm here is not taken for granted, the children and the families who are now enjoying the summer holiday do so thanks to you.”
The President told reporters who accompanied his visit, “We are not interested in an escalation. Just as the other side wants to live in peace and live comfortable lives, so do we. At the same time, we are ready to face any hostility toward us. I am impressed by the readiness of the IDF to face any challenge in order to safeguard Israel’s security. I can say to the citizens of Israel, the IDF is prepared and ready to face any threat above or below ground in order to prevent any trouble not just around Gaza, but across the country.”
The President later met with council heads from the Negev and the southern region.David Israel
According to Israeli security apparatus estimates, there’s a significant chance that Hamas will win the municipal elections in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza by a landslide, severely weakening the PLO dominated Palestinian Authority and compromising Israeli security. The municipal elections are set to take place on October 8, in close proximity to the international peace conference in Europe, which means Israel is less likely to step in to block the vote, even if it wanted to. Also, doing so would thwart the only back to back democratic event to have ever existed in the territories Israel conceded in the Oslo Accord — that the 2012 municipal elections be followed in an orderly and legal fashion by the 2016 municipal elections.
However, according to Israeli media, many in the PLO leadership are leaning on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to postpone or cancel the municipal elections, fearing a repeat of the 2006 parliamentary elections in which Hamas defeated the PLO and a year later forcibly exiled Abbas and his PA from Gaza.
It should be noted that the Oslo Accords forbid the participation of terror organizations in PA elections, but Hamas has already set a precedence in 2006, and today’s PA is even weaker and less popular than it was ten years ago. Abbas may not be able to push the date, much less cancel the vote, because such a move could result in riots across the PA.
The city of Shechem is a clear example of the PA Chairman’s loss of control over the security situation in much of the area under his authority. According to Israeli media, the PA no longer rules in Shechem, which is mired in anarchy that could spread to other cities, most likely to Hebron, already considered a bastion of Hamas. Shechem today is being ruled by about 100 armed gangsters, belonging to both political and criminal groups. This month there have been bloody confrontations between PA security forces and the armed locals, resulting in four dead, two of them police.
Senior PLO sources have told Israeli media that Mahmoud Abbas has lost interest in local security issues under his care, and the man in charge is his chief aide, Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, who also controls the intelligence reports reaching Abbas’ desk.
Hamas has recently published a propaganda video showing the Gaza Strip as a kind of Paradise, with large parks, luxury buildings, a sassy nightlife, and shopping areas. It also features Gaza residents holding up signs saying, “Thank you, Hamas.” Will PA voters fall for this propaganda? Probably not. They will not vote for Hamas because they are unaware of the poverty and destruction that permeate the Gaza Strip, they’ll vote for Hamas because they perceive it as more anti-Israel and less corrupt than the PLO.
Israeli pundits believe the big winners from a Hamas win in the PA would be Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who would benefit from the decisions of alarmed Israeli voters. Which is why Prime Minister Netanyahu should be invested in making it harder for Hamas candidates to win in the PA. Mass arrests of Hamas activists could be the way to go — risking international condemnation, naturally, but too much might be at stake for the Israeli PM to care.JNi.Media