As the death toll in Gaza climbs since the start of Israel's current military operation and fears of an Israeli ground invasion loom, we speak to Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the PLO’s Central Council, about the Palestinian national strategy, the impact of the current violence on the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas, and where we go from here vis-a-vis Palestinian-Israeli relations.
We also hear from Brad Parker of Defence for Children International (DCI) about the latest humanitarian developments in Gaza, as well as in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where Palestinian children have been swept up in rising levels of Israeli violence.
During the briefing we also discuss the beating of 15-year-old American citizen Tariq Khdeir, as well as the murder of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir.
The call is moderated by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center in Washington, DC.
MINUTES OF PRESS BRIEFING
1.30 – Yousef Munayyer, Jerusalem Fund (YM) to Brad Parker, DCI-Palestine (BP)
Can you give us information on events of violence that preceded most recent violence on the people of Gaza with the abduction and murder of Mohammad Abu Khdeir? What happened there? Have there been any developments on the case since then?
3.54 – YM to BP
We also have the case of Tariq Abu Khdeir. He is a U.S. citizen and we saw a reaction from the State Department in the United States to his case. With Tariq, Mohammad, and the two boys shot on Nakba Day in May, we have three really different cases with Palestinians who each hold different status. One was a U.S. citizen in Jerusalem, another was a resident of Jerusalem, and the two Palestinian boys shot on Nakba Day were residents of the West Bank, and not residents of Jerusalem, or with citizenship otherwise. Can you give us an idea of how – based on the different statuses these children have and the different legal systems which apply to them – the rights they have and what sort of avenues for redress they can take advantage of, if at all?
7.20 – YM to BP
Half the population of the Gaza Strip is children. Many of the casualties have been civilian casualties, with many children among them. What can you tell us about what has happened in the Gaza Strip in the last several days and the particular challenges facing the rights of children in the Gaza Strip?
11:00 – Journalist question
What are the latest living conditions like in Gaza vis-a-vis water, power, and food?
14.10 – Journalist question
In light of recent events, is there a way forward and what would that way forward be?
15.19 – YM to Dr. Barghouthi
Please give us your [Dr. Barghouthi] reaction to the events in Gaza now, and respond to the previous question.
25.27 – Journalist question
In most war situations, people can flee. How is the situation in Gaza different? Is there anywhere for them to go?
27.56 – Journalist question
How can rocket fire from Gaza be stopped?
28.40 – YM
We've seen multiple ceasefires in the past – in June of 2008, and then in 2012. Both times, in my perspective, these were shattered by unilateral Israeli actions. I agree that there needs to be a ceasefire immediately, but what lessons can be learned about a ceasefire moving forward to ensure that one is actually held up and maintained, particularly by the Israelis?
30.43 – YM to Dr. Barghouthi
The last ceasefire agreement in the end of November 2012 was brokered in large part by the government of Egypt at that time, which was led by Mohamed Morsi... At the time, the government of Egypt was supposed to act as a gaurantor of that agreement. Is your feeling that the changes there will make acheiving a ceasefire more difficult than in the absence of Egyptian officials playing that role? Is that going to make getting a ceasefire more difficult at this point?
32.24 – Listener question
With the reports of rocketfire and retaliation, there's a lot of numbers given, but it's not numbers of firepower. When they say '150 Gaza rockets compared to so many Israeli airstrikes,' what's the firepower differential we're talking about?
35.37 – YM to Dr. Barghouthi
You were part of the delegation that went to Gaza and that consummated an agreement between PLO and Hamas for national reconciliation... What you said earlier was that yesterday you were in a meeting with President Abbas who said that they had asked the Americans for a ceasefire and that the Israeli refused. Can you clarify exactly what the sequence of events there were and confirm that?
37.16 – YM to BP
One of the biggest issues that Palestinian children deal with when it comes to the Israeli military legal system is the issue of administrative detention. Could you tell us how many children are held indefinitely, what sort of processes they go through, and what sort of rights they have or don't have when this occurs?
40.31 – YM to Dr. Barghouthi
In the aftermath of the killings on Nakba Day, the mass collective punishment that we saw as Israel was searching for the three missing settlers, and then with the death of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, there have been increased calls for the Palestinian Authority to end its security collaboration with Israel. There have also been increased calls not only from Palestinians, but from many segments of international civil society and human rights organizations, for Palestine to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). Can you give us an idea about the question of security collaboration with Israel, if that at all is willing to change, and whether or not Mahmoud Abbas will move towards the ICC as so many people are calling upon him to do?
45.30 YM to Dr. Barghouthi
There's also an effort now at the Security Council to try to get a statement or some sort of action from the UN Security Council on the most recent events. What you can hope to be the outcome of that and what do you think will actually transpire?