Abandoning US, Paraguay To Move Embassy in Israel Back to Tel Aviv

Israel responded to Paraguay’s decision by recalling its ambassador to Paraguay and closing its embassy in the Latin American country’s capital, Asuncion.

Paraguay will move its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv, reversing a May decision by former President Horacio Cartes to move the diplomatic site to Jerusalem, the South American country's foreign minister told reporters on Wednesday.

RELATED: Eurovision Warns Host Israel Against Denying Entry for Competition Fans

"Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East," Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said.

Cartes had traveled to Israel to inaugurate the new embassy in May. His successor Mario Abdo, also a member of the conservative Colorado party, took office last month.

Israel responded to Paraguay’s decision by recalling its ambassador to Paraguay and closing its embassy in the Latin American country’s capital, Asuncion.

The news comes just days after Colombian right-wing President Ivan Duque said that his predecessor's decision to recognize Palestine as a state was "irreversible" considering constitutional powers granted to the country's president, and affirmed that his government would show full support for the two-state solution based on the Oslo Accords and United Nations resolution

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Italian artist who painted mural of Palestinian heroine Ahed Tamimi arrested in Israel

Israeli police have arrested the Italian graffiti artist who depicted Ahed Tamimi on a West Bank separation wall mural in Bethlehem, to coincide with the Palestinian teenage heroine’s release from prison.

Agostino Chirwin, also known as 'Jorit Agoch,' wrote on his Instagram account “We are in prison from Israeli army.  Who can help us please do it” on Saturday. He was detained with another Italian artist and a Palestinian, whose identities were not released, according to Reuters.

Earlier this week Chirwin, known for hyperrealistic murals of activists, painted a portrait of 17-year-old Tamimi on the wall that separates the West Bank and is regarded as a segregation barrier by Palestinians. The artist usually hides his identity with the help of a black cloth wrapped around his head but posts his murals on an Instagram account.

Border police say that painting on the wall is illegal, confirming the arrest to The Times of Israel. Their spokesman said the suspects tried to get away in their vehicle.

The mural had been created in time forTamimi’s release on Sunday. She was arrested last December for slapping an Israeli soldier in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh. Footage of the confrontation went viral and the teenager’s subsequent arrest and detention garnered international attention, with many seeing her as the poster-child for Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. She was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Since Tamimi’s arrest, a number of her family members, including her recently-shot cousin, her mother and her father have been arrested. Her mother is also expected to be released on Sunday.

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Cuba Reiterates Solidarity with Palestine's Cause

Cuba's Alternate Permanent Representative to the UN, Ana Silvia Rodriguez, reiterated today the solidarity of her country with Palestine and expressed serious concern about the dangerous deterioration of the situation in the Middle East.

Speaking at an open debate of the UN Security Council, she stressed that it is very regrettable that this organization, after the repeated obstruction of one of its members, could not even condemn the escalation of violence and the tragic events that took place in Gaza.

In addition, the ambassador condemned -once again- the illegal construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the demolition or seizure of property and lands of that population.

These cruel and destructive measures, together with the criminal and illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, seriously violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, removing the possibility of a two-State solution and infringe the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people, she pointed out.

Likewise, Cuba reiterates its deep concern and rejection for the unilateral statement of the U.S. President, Donald Trump, of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which constitutes a serious and flagrant violation of the UN Charter, International Law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, she expressed.

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Gaza teenager killed, dozens injured as Great March of Return marks over 100 days

A 15yo Palestinian has been killed by live IDF fire and over 220 people have been injured during the Great March of Return protest on the Gazan-Israeli border. The clashes marked over 100 days since the deadly weekly revolt began.

Othman Rami Hellas, 15, was killed on Friday evening after being shot by an IDF sniper during yet another tense standoff along the border demarcation fence, Wafa News reported. Another 220 Palestinians suffered injuries from the live bullets and tear gas that were used to repel the protesters.

The IDF said it was forced to respond to the Palestinian “violence” after a soldier received “moderate injuries” from a grenade that was thrown at him by the rioters.

 
© IDFSpokesperson

“Throughout the day there were violent riots involving thousands of Palestinians along the security fence between Gaza and Israel,” the IDF said, in a statement. “Rioters threw grenades, explosive devices and fire bombs, burned tires, and threw stones at the security fence and at IDF troops.”

Israel urged Hamas to stop inciting weekly protests, accusing it of using Gazan civilians as "human shields” to cover their “terror activity.” In the face of Hamas operatives using “grenades, fire bombs, explosives, stones, burning tires, arson kites, and incendiary balloons,” the IDF has once again warned that it will use all means necessary to protect its sovereignty.

Following the Friday clashes, overnight the IDF targeted Hamas sites in Gaza. The militant organization retaliated by launching at least 17 rockets across the border into Israel, five of which were intercepted by Iron Dome.

READ MORE: ‘We want to play for our country’: Gaza amputee footballers aspire to reach the top (VIDEO)

In the 100 days since the weekly rallies began on March 30 at least 138 Palestinians, including 19 minors were killed. Over 15,000 rioters were injured.

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Ahed Tamimi jailed for 8 months after slapping Israeli soldier

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi will serve eight months in prison for slapping an Israeli Defence Force soldier. The 17 year old reached a plea bargain Wednesday after serving three months in detention.

Tamimi was arrested on December 19 for assaulting an Israeli soldier after troops shot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammad Tamimi in the head at close range with a rubber bullet. Footage of the confrontation went viral and the teenager’s subsequent arrest and detention has garnered international attention, with many seeing her as the poster child for Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation.

READ MORE: ‘No fair trial’: Teen Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi denied public hearing in Israel

Tamimi’s trial in military court began on February 13. The Military Court of Appeal rejected a request to have the hearing in public, which Tamimi’s attorney said would deprive her of a fair trial.

@RT_com soldier who ‘executed’ wounded Palestinian attacker has sentence reduced for 2nd time https://on.rt.com/91fb

As part of the plea bargain, Tamimi will plead guilty to four counts of assault, Haaretz reports. She faced 12 charges, including assault and incitement, and could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Tamimi family have long been prominent Palestinian activists. They live in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, and take part in weekly demonstrations against the expansion of the nearby Israeli settlement, Halamish. Israel has gradually taken more land and water resources for the settlement, which is deemed illegal by the international community.

Since Tamimi’s arrest, a number of her family members, including her recently-shot cousin, her mother and her father have been arrested.

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Over 1,000 Palestinians Died in Gaza Due to Israeli Blockade

Some 80 percent of the nearly two million residents of Gaza depend on humanitarian aid, with around 60 percent suffering food insecurity. 

Over 1,000 Palestinians have died in the Gaza strip as a result of Israel's military blockade, which has been ongoing for more than a decade, the strip's collective of charitable organizations has warned.

RELATED: Israel Fires at Gaza, Kills 2 Palestinian Teenagers

"Out of the 1,000 or so victims of the blockade, 450 died as a result of the collapse of the health situation in Gaza, such as the lack of medical supplies and the crisis of medical referrals for outside treatment," Ahmad Kurd, the coordinator of the collective, told Al-Jazeera Sunday.

Just in the past few days five premature babies died due to lack of medical treatments available in the region, Kurd said. Meanwhile nearly 100 people died while trying to use alternate electricity. The number of workers who were killed in the fields of agriculture, fishing, and commercial tunnels has reached 350, according to the collective.

Ever since the 2007 Israel-imposed blockade on Gaza, the territory has been in crisis and has been facing food, water, and power shortages. "Gaza is a disaster area in all areas - health, environmental, social, and energy," he warned, adding that power cuts last between 18-20 hours a day.

The Palestinian government "must provide the needs of the Gaza Strip regarding medical supplies, social assistance, pay the salaries of government employees, and exert pressure to open the border crossings," Kurd said. "The use of candles, firewood or generators has resulted in house fires that claimed the lives of children and adults alike."

RELATED: Blockade-Induced Power Outages Force Gaza Hospital to Close

According to the Israeli Information for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gaza's economy is collapsing due to the blockade. Between May and August 2017, Gaza's unemployment rate stood at 44 percent, whereas during pre-blockade, in 2000, the region's unemployment rate was 18.9 percent.

Some 80 percent of the nearly 2 million residents of Gaza depend on humanitarian aid, with around 60 percent suffering food insecurity. 

According to Haaretz, a Palestinian fisherman was killed Sunday by the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, after he sailed past the authorized fishing zone off the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF spokesman said the fishermen didn't respond to their call, after which they opened fire. The boat was carrying three people and the other two fishermen were detained by the IDF for interrogation.

"We are sure that the wounded are fishermen who went out to sea to make a living – and nothing else," the head of the Gaza Fisherman's Union told Haaretz. "The [Israeli] army is always inventing stories about crossing [out of] the fishing zone."

The union has identified the three men as Mahmoud Adel Abu Riala, 18, Ismail Salah Abu Riala, 18, and Ahed Hassan Abu Ali, 26. 

In January, the Palestinian ministry of health reported that a hospital in northern Gaza, Beit Hanoun hospital which serves nearly 60,000 people, had to shut down owing to power shortages.

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'A Real Wonder Woman': Artist Behind Che Guevara’s Iconic Poster Paints Ahed Tamimi

The Irish artist said he is trying to save the life of the jailed Palestinian teen who “signifies nobility in the face of oppression.”

“There is a real Wonder Woman” is the title of a new painting from Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, who is famous for drawing the iconic 1968 poster of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, depicting Palestinian imprisoned teen Ahed Tamimi as a superhero.

RELATED: Israel Probed If Ahed Tamimi Family Were ‘Light-Skinned’ Actors

Fitzpatrick said he was amazed by Tamimi’s bravery when he first learned of her two years ago. “Ahed Tamimi, to me, signifies nobility in the face of oppression. This is a kid, a child,” Fitzpatrick told Newsweek magazine in an interview earlier this week.

“When I was 15, I think I would have been petrified. Wherever she’s getting her courage from, there’s a resonance of it echoing across the world. I’m just a part of it. There are organizations doing more than I could do, but I do think the pen—in my case, the brush—is mightier than the sword.”

He also said the title of his latest painting is directed at Gal Gadot, the former Israeli soldier-turned hollywood star who was the star of the latest “Wonder Woman” movie and has publically come out against Palestinian rights. “That’s deliberate … I think: Hold on, there is a Wonder Woman, and it’s this kid,” the renowned artist further told the magazine.

RELATED: Ahed Tamimi's Relative 1st Palestinian killed by Israel in 2018

“I’ve been collecting comic books all my life. I’ve been a guest at San Diego Comic Con. I would not say anybody in that [comic book] community has an idea that she was an IDF soldier and supports the persecution of Palestinians as young as Ahed Tamimi. I think they’d be shocked if they knew that.”

In December Ahed was arrested and indicted on 12 charges including assaulting an Israeli soldier and throwing stones after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier in her home’s yard went viral. It was revealed later that the Palestinian girl was upset after soldiers had shot her 14-year-old cousin in the face a day earlier.

The teen, who turned 17 behind bars last month, has received large international attention and solidarity since her arrest as many prominent actors, artists and academics in the United States and other countries signed letters and petitions calling for her release.

RELATED: Young US Jews Write 700 Letters of Solidarity to Ahed Tamimi

Fitzpatrick said that he fears for her life as many in Israel are calling for sentencing her to life in prison or even executing her over “insulting” the Israeli occupation. “I’m afraid they’re going to kill her. And that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing,” he said in an attempt to echo the international campaign he kicked off against injustice with his Viva Che painting.

Ahed is being tried in an Israeli military court and the judge has denied her bail. Her first hearing Tuesday was held behind closed doors as media and the public were kicked out of the courtroom. Israeli military courts have a conviction rate of more than 99 percent.

Over the years Ahed gained international attention for her brave actions against Israeli occupation forces during protests and clashes in and around her village. In 2015 a video of her, along with female members of her family, went viral showing her fighting an Israeli occupation soldier who was pinning down her 12-year old male cousin.

 

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Trump-Linked Extremist Settlers Try to Kidnap Palestinian Kids

The Yitzhar settlers, who received money from a foundation directed by Trump’s son-in-law, are considered extreme by Israel itself.

Extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank attempted to kidnap two Palestinian children aged 10 and 14 from a West Bank village during the presence of Israeli occupation forces, local news outlets reported Thursday.

RELATED: Jared Kushner Omitted Leading a Foundation Funding Illegal Israeli Settlements

Locals at the village of Madma south of Nablus managed to thwart the attempt as the Yitzhar settlers tried to kidnap the two kids while they were attending to sheep on the outskirts of the village, Quds Press reported. The extremist settlers then retreated to their illegal settlement before Israeli forces began to throw tear gas at the local Palestinians.

Yitzhar settlement by the Palestinian city Nablus is home to the radical “Od Yosef Chai” group, which has received funds from the Kushner foundation directed by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior advisor of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Those Jewish settlers are even seen as radicals by the Israeli government itself. Yitzhar is seen as the birthplace of the settler movement "price tag," which calls for attacks against Palestinians in retaliation for actions of the Israeli government against West Bank settlements that are not sanctioned by Israeli authorities.

“This particular yeshiva has served as a base for launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinians villages and Israeli security forces, as well; as a result, it no longer receives funding from the Israeli government,” Israeli left-leaning newspaper Haaretz said in a report about their activities.

RELATED: Israel Kills 4th 16-Year-Old Palestinian Teen So Far This Year

Extremist settlers believe that the West Bank must be part of a greater biblical Israel that was promised to the Jewish people that stretches between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. They reject the fact that the Israeli state entertains the mere rhetorical possibility of a Palestinian state.

Yitzhar settlers are notorious for their fanaticism and violent acts against Palestinians as they routinely destroy Palestinian olive groves and vandalize Palestinian property.

The news comes as the West Bank and Gaza have been rocked with unrest over the past two months over the Dec. 6 decision of the U.S. administration to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, breaking with international accords stating that the fate of the city should be decided as part of a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

Trump’s move has been welcomed by far-right pro-settlements figures within the Israeli government who have also publicly expressed their opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state, arguing that Palestinian people do not exist and are just simply Arabs from other countries who have no roots in Palestine.

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