Israel kills Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza

Israeli forces have killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip this week.

Soldiers shot and killed a man identified as Muhammad Fawzi Adwi, 36, at Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus in the northern West Bank on Monday.

The Israeli military claimed that the man had attempted to stab a soldier before he was shot dead. No Israeli soldiers were injured during the incident, as in many such past cases in which an alleged Palestinian attacker was killed.

The human rights group B’Tselem recently reiterated its condemnation of Israel’s “reckless open-fire policy” which “includes, among other things, shooting to kill incidents defined as ‘attacks.’”

Last year, Israeli forces and armed civilians killed 15 Palestinian perpetrators or alleged perpetrators of attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

Adwi is the first Palestinian fatality at the hands of the Israeli military in the West Bank so far this year.

Mahmoud al-Abed al-Nabahin, 24, killed by artillery fire on Tuesday, is the third fatality so far this year in Gaza.

A photo of al-Nabahin was published by Palestinian media after his death:

Al-Nabahin died when Israeli forces targeted an observation post operated by Hamas’ military wing. Four others were injured, one critically.

Video emerged on Tuesday that was said to show the deadly strike on the observation post, with Israelis, presumably soldiers, laughing after it is obliterated:

Israel said it fired on the post in response to Palestinian fire at soldiers near the Gaza-Israel boundary. A soldier was reported to have been lightly injured.

The army also fired at a Hamas position in northern Gaza in response to shots towards soldiers earlier in the day, the military told media.

Gaza hospitals face shut-down

Meanwhile, hospitals in Gaza are rationing services and have suspended basic operations such as “sterilization, diagnostic imaging, cleaning, laundry and catering” as emergency fuel reserves to power backup generators during power cuts are set to run out in a few days, the World Health Organization warned on Monday.

Surgery, lab testing and diagnostic imaging were suspended at Beit Hanoun hospital in northern Gaza this weekend after it ran out of fuel.

The United Nations transferred $1.5 million to fund fuel for generators for essential services such as health, water and sanitation in September last year. That fuel was anticipated to last until November, but was able to stretch out longer after Qatar donated $60 million to fuel Gaza’s sole power plant in October.

The Qatari funding for the power plant greatly increased the number of hours of electricity delivered to Gaza households from only a few hours to up to 16 hours per day, but winter weather has increased demand and reduced availability of electricity to 10-12 hours per day.

Gaza’s health ministry says that 2,000 liters of fuel are needed every hour to power backup generators at medical facilities during electricity cuts, amounting to 300,000 liters per month.

The ministry’s spokesperson said on Tuesday that the fuel crisis has reached “a dangerous juncture.”

A Gaza-based human rights group warned last week that disruption of medical care due to fuel shortages will have “dangerous repercussions” for patients, particularly for 800 kidney patients treated with dialysis machines.

Qatar is due to transfer $15 million to pay the salaries of civil servants in Gaza this week after Israel delayed it.

Mohammed Al-Emadi, the Gulf emirate’s envoy to Gaza, confirmed to Reuters news agency that the payment had been approved by Israel on Friday.

“Emadi said Qatar would next push for a roughly $80 million electricity project that would have it effectively manage the strip’s power supply, buying Israeli electricity in bulk and distributing it across Gaza while collecting payment from Palestinians in return,” Reuters added.

Donor-funded emergency fuel has become a lifeline in Gaza after 11 years of Israeli blockade that has deflated the territory’s economy and sharply increased residents’ dependence on humanitarian aid.

But that aid has slowed to a trickle after Trump administration cuts to bilateral aid to the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the UN agency for Palestine refugees, amounting to half a billion dollars.

It is the latest blow to the post-Oslo accords order in the West Bank and Gaza, 25 years after the peace agreement was signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“One-state reality of perpetual occupation”

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, delivered something of a eulogy to the post-Oslo order in his report to the Security Council on Tuesday.

He decried fading hope for “a genuine intra-Palestinian reconciliation” mediated by Egypt and the UN after Hamas authorities summoned dozens of Fatah supporters in Gaza earlier this month. The Palestinian Authority withdrew its personnel from the Rafah crossing with Egypt in response, effectively shutting down the sole point of exit and entry for the Strip’s two million residents.

Mladenov also noted “an increasing number of Israeli military operations in Areas A and B of the West Bank,” where the Palestinian Authority is meant to have limited autonomy under the Oslo accords.

“In Ramallah, for example, and elsewhere, the almost daily confrontations with Israeli security forces fuel anger and have raised questions among Palestinians as to the viability and relevance of the structures created under the Oslo accords,” the peace process envoy added.

With rampant settlement building, and attempts to apply Israeli law to the West Bank, “raising fears of future annexation,” the prospect for credible final status negotiations towards a two-state solution has dimmed, “only to be replaced by the lack of hope and the growing risk of a one-state reality of perpetual occupation.”

Mladenov warned that “those who believe that the conflict can be managed in perpetuity are wrong,” adding that further deterioration “can only lead to endless conflict and the steady rise of radicalization on all sides.”

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People with long memories will recall that some of the first signs of the impending First Intifada were hunger strikes by prisoners and their sympathisers in April 1987.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.