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Palestinian village pays high price in defence of its land | Israel-Palestine conflict News



Beita, Occupied West Bank – This picturesque little town with its narrow winding roads and steep hills dotted with olive trees and stone houses turned into a bloody battleground as Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces over the building of an illegal settlement on their land.

Beita activists called on residents to fight the continuing takeover of their land on Mount Sabih by Israeli settlers, who are currently building an illegal settlement and threatening the livelihoods of at least 17 Palestinian families – more than 100 people – who depend on harvesting their olives on land they have owned for generations.

“Today we had 50 injuries by rubber bullets, 26 wounded by live bullets, 190 cases of tear gas inhalation and 27 other injuries, including beatings,” said Fawas Beitar, a Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) paramedic and coordinator, on Friday.

“Two of the injuries are serious and involve a live bullet shot into the neck and another live bullet shot into the abdomen,” Beitar told Al Jazeera.

“Several ambulances were targeted by rubber bullets, two paramedics suffered injuries by tear gas inhalation and rubber bullets, respectively.”

Following a call to action by the Palestinian activists, trouble was already brewing early Friday afternoon before the communal prayers had ended.

In an effort to prevent people from reaching the protest site, Israeli soldiers stopped taxis on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus and forced them to take alternative routes.

This necessitated a circuitous journey on foot and private car through the hills in the direction of a towering, billowing plume of smoke on the horizon where clashes had broken out.

Medics tend to a wounded Palestinian man during a protest against Israeli settlements in Beita [File: Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

Throughout the day, groups of young men, observed by journalists on a hilltop, played a game of cat and mouse as they attempted to move down the valley, across a dirt road where Israeli vehicles and soldiers were stationed, and up Mount Sabih towards the settlement to protest.

Two young men with blackened hands, who declined to be photographed for security reasons, told Al Jazeera the settlers made regular raids into Beita – chopping down olive trees, vandalising property and provoking the locals – and had already wounded many young men.

“They will not take our land before they have killed all of us,” Ahmed said.

Israeli drones armed with tear gas canisters flew overhead periodically before hovering above the young men and dispensing their loads.

Through binoculars, Al Jazeera observed Israeli soldiers firing towards the young men with live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas.

Ambulances raced past to pick up the wounded, confirming the injuries to waiting journalists before evacuating the patients to a field hospital.

The ambulances, sometimes travelling in convoys, raced backwards and forwards until the early evening when the sound of screaming sirens eventually died down.

So numerous were the injuries that the PRCS turned a local school into a field hospital for emergency treatment including triage, X-rays, and intravenous drips before patients were either released to go home or rushed to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus for further treatment.

Palestinian demonstrators react to tear gas fired by Israeli forces on Friday [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

Muhammad Khabeisa – whose family has lived in Beita for more than five generations and has lost land to settlers – told Al Jazeera the Israelis had already taken two hectares (five acres) of village land and moved in about 45 prefabricated homes since the beginning of May.

He said villagers asked Israeli authorities for documentation proving their land ownership, which was provided. However, the documents are only valid for 45 days, Khabeisa noted.

“Each time we apply it costs 80 Israeli shekels [$25] and the documents are only valid for 45 days. So we went again about a week ago to apply for new documentation, but we’ve received no response yet,” Khabeisa said as he showed Al Jazeera the “expired” documentation.

“We then went to the Israeli police to say we wanted to open a case against the theft of our land, but were told the policemen responsible were not there and told to come back again. But every time we return, there is another excuse as to why they can’t help us.

“Furthermore, our lawyers told us that without new Israeli documentation showing land ownership they can’t fight the case in court,” said Khabeisa.

“The takeover of the land had previously had been gradual with Israeli soldiers using the land in the late 1980s as a temporary military base saying they would only use the land for short periods. However, afterwards they started laying concrete for construction but a senior military official still assured us that the land belonged to us.”

Israeli soldiers help build an illegal settlement on Mount Sabih [Al Jazeera]

Previous cases filed by Palestinians asking for the return of land expropriated for illegal settlement building have taken years to be processed by Israeli courts, and only a fraction of the land has been returned.

“We believe the Israelis are delaying providing us renewed proof of our ownership because they want to establish facts on the ground by taking more land and building more homes so that even if we win in the end it will be impossible to reverse the established settlement,” said Khabeisa.

Musa Abu Muti, who has also lost land to the settlements, told Al Jazeera that Palestinians were not allowed to approach their olive orchards as the area had now been declared a closed military zone.

The settlers tried several weeks ago to take over another hilltop belonging to Beita, but strong protests by the locals – during which a doctor and a teacher were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in addition to dozens of other injuries – temporarily prevented that takeover with Palestinians defiantly mounting a flag at its summit.

Beita town’s unity in the face of the land expropriation was evident in the organisation of the protests on Friday with young boys ferrying boxes of water and food cooked by Beita women to the young men on the front line as they took shifts during the confrontations.

As the sun set later that evening, a wary quiet settled on the town.

But later, closer to midnight, groups of men known as the erbak al-layli – or “night confusion units” – took up positions at various points in the valley, lighting fires in preparation for confronting settlers if they attempted to enter the town.

“So far there have been no deaths during the last few weeks, but the real test will be in September when olive-picking season begins and we are prevented again from approaching our orchards,” Khabeisa said.

Reports are now circulating the Israelis may call for construction on Mount Sabih to be stopped, but Khabeisa said the villagers will wait and see before they get their hopes up.

Palestinian demonstrators perform Friday prayers in Beita in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

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Kanungu DHO Dr Sebudde Dies of Covid19




Dr Stephen Ssebudde the Kanungu District Health Officer has succumbed to COVID-19.

Dr Ssebudde passed away on Sunday evening at Entebbe hospital where he has been receiving treatment for Covid19 after he started feeling unwell early this week.

News of his death was confirmed by a family who told this reporter that Ssebudde died at around 6Pm after three days of admission in Entebbe Hospital.

“Kanungu District Health Officer Dr Ssebudde died at around 6pm today after 3 days of admission in Entebbe Hospital. As per family, RIP” message from a family member reads.

Hajji Shaffiq Ssekandi the Kanungu Resident District Commissioner who also heads the District COVID-19 taskforce described Ssebudde’s death as a big blow to the district health department since he has been working selflessly to ensure that all people in the community are equally served when it comes to health.

His death comes at a time when the country has already registered cumulative confirmed covid19 cases of 61,977 representing a test positivity rate of 18.7%.

The country has 884 Active cases on admission, 48,160 Cumulative recoveries, and 428 total deaths.

According to Ministerial statistics, 777,895 Persons have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The post Kanungu DHO Dr Sebudde Dies of Covid19 first appeared on ChimpReports.

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Iran says it has broad agreement with the US on lifting sanctions | Boycott Divest and Sanctions News




The landmark accord has been delayed because there are some sticking points, but not an impasse, Iran said.

By Bloomberg

Iran said it has reached a broad agreement with the U.S. over the lifting of sanctions on its industrial sectors, including energy, but warned there was “very little time left” for world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, didn’t give more detail on the potential easing of trade restrictions, which have all but prevented the Islamic Republic from exporting oil and battered its economy. The landmark accord was being delayed because there are still sticking points, he told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

Oil markets are closely watching the negotiations, which are taking place in Vienna, for any clues as to when the OPEC member will be able to resume crude sales and how quickly Washington will allow it to ramp up production.

“Some minute technical, political, legal and practical issues remain,” Khatibzadeh said. “No task was impossible for negotiators” and there’s no impasse, he said.

Brent crude rose 1% to $73.43 a barrel at 8:50 a.m. in London, extending its gain this year to 42%. Traders have pushed back their estimates for Iran’s oil comeback as the talks drag on.

World powers are trying to revive the 2015 agreement that the U.S. abandoned three years ago. It restricted Tehran’s atomic activities in return for sanctions relief.

On Saturday, Iran’s lead envoy in Vienna, Abbas Araghchi, said a deal was unlikely before presidential elections in his country this Friday.

President Hassan Rouhani — who negotiated the original deal in 2015 — is due to leave office in August after serving two terms. He is widely expected to be replaced by Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric generally seen as hostile to engaging with the U.S.

Still, a government spokesman said last week that the decision to try to resuscitate the accord was made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and won’t be affected by Rouhani’s departure.

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Who’s who in Israel’s new patchwork coalition government | Middle East News




Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Israeli prime minister came to an end as the country’s parliament on Sunday approved a new coalition government led by right-wing nationalist leader Naftali Bennett.

The new government, a hodgepodge of political parties, has little in common other than a desire to unseat now-former Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The coalition spans from the far-left to the far-right and includes for the first time a small party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for 21 percent of the country’s population.

Analysts say it is expected to focus mostly on economic and social issues rather than risk exposing internal rifts by trying to address major diplomatic issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian leaders have dismissed the change in government, saying new the Israeli prime minister will likely pursue the same right-wing agenda as his predecessor.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued said it was “inaccurate” to call Bennett’s coalition government a “government of change” unless there was a significant shift in its position on the Palestinian right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Here are the leaders who will be leading the new government:

Naftali Bennett – prime minister

Naftali Bennett will serve as Israel’s prime minister for two years until he is replaced by Yair Lapid [Fiel: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Bennett leads the ultranationalist Yamina (Rightwards) party that champions illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A former Netanyahu ally, Bennett has defended his decision to join the new coalition to save the country from a period of political turmoil that could otherwise see a fifth election in just over two years. He served in previous Netanyahu-led governments, most recently as defence minister.

He is opposed to Palestinian independence and strongly supports illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and much of the international community see as a major obstacle to peace. Settlements are illegal under international law.

The Israeli leader has in the past called for the annexation of the occupied West Bank but analysts believe that plan seems unfeasible, given his new centrist and leftist partners.

Bennett, who made a fortune in Israeli high-tech before entering politics in 2013, is known to be ultra-liberal on the economy.

The new prime minister has expressed opposition to reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. And in his speech in the Knesset after winning the vote, he vowed to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy towards Iran.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Under the coalition deal, Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years and until he is replaced by Yair Lapid. He will be the country’s first leader to wear a kippah, a skullcap worn by Orthodox Jews.

Yair Lapid – foreign minister

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid heads the Yesh Atid party [File: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP]

Yair Lapid heads the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party and was the architect behind the new government. His party is the biggest in the coalition but he agreed to share power with Bennett to secure a parliamentary majority.

He quit his job as a TV anchor in 2012 and formed his own party, running on the promise to ease financial pressures on the middle class. He also seeks to end many of the state-funded privileges enjoyed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, a long-running source of anger for many secular Israelis.

He initially served as finance minister before moving to the opposition, which he led until Sunday.

Lapid will serve as foreign minister for two years and then take over as prime minister until the end of the government, provided it lasts that long.

Benny Gantz – defence minister

Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz is also the leader of the Blue and White party [File: Jalaa Marey/AFP]

Just two years ago Gantz, a former military chief heading the centrist Blue and White party, was the opposition’s best hope to unseat Netanyahu.

He came closer than other contenders to toppling Netanyahu in an unprecedented three elections between April 2019 to March 2020, preventing the former prime minister from forming a governing bloc of right-wing and religious parties.

But he agreed to join Netanyahu in a “unity” government last April, a decision that angered many of his supporters.

He will be a part of the new coalition, remaining in the post of defence minister that he held under Netanyahu.

Avigdor Lieberman – finance minister

Israel’s Minister of Finance Avigdor Lieberman leads the Yisrael Beitenu party [File: Ammar Awad/Reuters]

A far-right immigrant from Moldova who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, Lieberman has been a political wildcard over the past decade. He has joined Netanyahu governments, including as defence minister, but also quit.

As finance minister, he will have to rein in a budget deficit that ballooned during the coronavirus crisis.

He has also said he will try to change the status quo between the government and Israel’s politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority, which is a mainstay of Netanyahu’s outgoing government.

The ultra-Orthodox community has low participation rates in the workforce and relies heavily on government handouts while focusing on religious studies. Lieberman has said he will work to integrate them more into the economy.

Gideon Sa’ar – justice minister

Likud party member Gidon Saar was the main rival of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu [File: Abir Sultan/EPA]

Gideon Sa’ar was Netanyahu’s main rival within Likud, but the former prime minister did his best to keep him out of the spotlight and away from the highest-level portfolios. Frustrated, Sa’ar launched a failed leadership bid then spun off his own party.

As head of the New Hope party, Saar will be bumped up to justice minister, where he will oversee the legal system and become a member of the security cabinet.

Mansour Abbas – deputy prime minister

Mansour Abbas is the leader of the United Arab list [File: Abir Sultan/AFP]

Abbas’s small United Arab List will be the first party in an Israeli government to be drawn from Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

He split with other Palestinian politicians who prefer to remain outside government and cast aside differences with Bennett and other right-wingers to tip the scales against Netanyahu.

Abbas is expected to serve as a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office. He aims to negotiate a big increase in government spending in Palestinian towns and villages.

But his presence is a potentially destabilising factor. He has been criticised by Palestinians for agreeing to support an Israeli government while Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories.

Addressing these tensions, Abbas told the Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday: “There will be difficult decisions to be made, including security decisions. We have to juggle our identity as Palestinian Arabs and citizens of the State of Israel, between civil and nationalistic aspects.”


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