and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property, and resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Israeli forces demolish Shepherd Hotel
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli bulldozers began demolishing the Shepherd Hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday under the protection of a huge force of Israeli police and border guards. Israeli authorities leveled the hotel to make way for a new settlement. The initial plan is to build 20 Jewish-only residential units, Ma’an’s Jerusalem correspondent reported. Secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi described the demolition as further evidence of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing, which he said exposed the real plots against Jerusalem.
Israel demolishes East Jerusalem hotel wing to clear way for new homes
Bulldozers arrive in Sheikh Jarrah early Sunday to raze wing of Shepherd Hotel compound, where 20 new Jewish housing units will be built despite U.S. and British condemnation … The hotel was declared “absentee property” by Israel after it captured and annexed East Jerusalem. The title was transferred to an Israeli firm, which sold it in 1985 to Irving Moskowitz, a Florida bingo king and patron of Jewish settlers.
East Jerusalem: Construction of Jewish neighborhood begins
Shepherd Hotel leveled to make room for 20 housing units designated for Jews. Peace Now: Extreme right taking over east Jerusalem like thieves in the night
Israel demolishing chance for peace: Palestinians
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Palestinian officials on Sunday slammed Israel’s demolition of an east Jerusalem hotel to make way for settler homes, accusing the Jewish state of destroying any chance of peace … “By doing this, Israel has destroyed all the US efforts and ended any possibility of a return to negotiations,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said in a statement.”Israel has no right to build in any part of east Jerusalem, or any part of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967,” Abu Rudeina said, calling on the United States to “stop Israeli tampering.”
Netanyahu is warned against using private guards at East Jerusalem settler compound / Akiva Eldar
Housing Minister Atias asked to transfer security in the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to the Israel Police following fatal shooting of a Silwan resident by a privately employed guard … The housing minister says that since March 2010, some 15 security guards were removed from their position because they were found to be unsuitable to work in the unit. He said that in May alone there were 246 incidents registered by the security guards in their log book, including three in which they had to use firearms because they considered their lives to be in danger.
Palestinians and police trade accusations over violent clashes in Silwan on Friday night
According to Palestinian sources, the incident began when a number of Border Police officers trying to enter a home in the village to reach the defensive position on its roof assaulted an elderly woman who resisted their entry … Police confirmed that nine arrests were made and said more are anticipated. For months Palestinian neighborhood activists, aided by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and attorney Leah Tsemel, have been fighting against what they say is an unlawful police position on the roof of a village home.
Persecution of Adnan Ghaith continues, despite release
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 9 Jan — Al-Bustan Popular Committee member Adnan Ghaith received a summons from Israeli police for investigation today. Renewed police attempts to investigate Ghaith for his political activity in Silwan come hot on the heels of his release on bail by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court on 6 January. Ghaith has been fighting a lengthy legal battle against Israeli authorities’ attempts to enforce a temporary ban on Ghaith from the Jerusalem area. The ban, originally an order issued by an Israeli military commander of the central region, is expected to come in to effect on 12 January, for a period of four months.
Israeli police call director of Wadi Hilweh Information Center again
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 9 Jan — The Israeli Police called Jawad Siyam, director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center and member of the Neighborhood Committee, for an interrogation again this morning. Siyam was released by the Magistrate Court on January 7, when evidence for the assault charges laid against him proved insufficient.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Video: Israel engulfs an entire West Bank village in tear gas / Joseph Dana
Amid controversy over Israel’s use of tear gas against unarmed demonstrations in the West Bank and the media attention placed on Bil’in’s protest after the killing of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, Israel attacked the village of Nabi Saleh with poisonous gas. As soldiers were leaving the village, marking the end of the demonstration, the army covered the entire place with tear gas. Houses, shops and mosques engulfed in the tear gas which killed Jawaher Abu Rahmah. The army was able to do this with a special device called ‘the ringo’ which fires 60 rounds of tear gas in about 7 seconds. The footage speaks for itself especially from minute 7:00.
In the West Bank, everyone knows there’s a culture of no-accountability / Lisa Goldman
The death last week of Bil’in resident Jawaher Abu Rhamah, after she inhaled tear gas at a demonstration, has received a great deal of publicity, making her into a symbol of the violent means the Israeli army uses to maintain its control over the West Bank. Many commentators are parsing the incident as if it were an isolated one, but the truth is that violence and brutality are the norm. And while there is plenty of documentation to support that statement, most Israelis would prefer not to know.
A few months ago, at a Friday demonstration in Nabi Saleh, a border police officer threw a percussion grenade on my foot … He was grinning a little bit.
Family, friends and volunteers renovate Hajja Sara’s kitchen tent
The image below was taken during our visit to Hajja Sara of Palestinian Susiya on Thursday January 6. Her tent kitchen was torched before dawn on December 28, apparently by neighboring settlers – part of a wave of escalation in the area.Following news of the incident, family and friends in Palestine and Israel, as well as Israeli and international groups, have enlisted to help in donation and work on the ground. Hajja Sara’s kitchen now stands again. We too have received donations in money and in kind (cooking equipment), and will deliver them shortly to Hajja Sara and her family.
Israel Prize laureates join academic boycott of settlement university
155 academics sign petition calling Ariel, where the education center is located, an illegal settlement whose existence contravenes international law and the Geneva Convention … Among the signatories are three Israel Prize laureates … Yigal Cohen-Orgad, chairman of the Ariel college’s executive committee, said: “A tiny and bizarre minority of some 150 lecturers is behind the petition, out of 7,000 faculty members…”
Iranian activists back home from Gaza
Iranian activists accompanying Asia’s first humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza have returned home after successfully completing their mission. The Iranian activists arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, after delivering medical supplies and electricity generators donated to the people of Gaza.
Meet the first ever Indian activists to enter Gaza (Palestine)
Press Invitation – You are cordially invited to meet the delegates at the press conference and share their experience through personal testimonies, as well as their rich collection of videos and photographs that documented the historic journey. Venue: Press Club of India, Raisina Road, New Delhi (Near Metro Station Central Secretariat) Time: 2.45 pm Date: Monday, January 10, 2011
Peaceful views of Palestine
Amesbury [Massachusetts. USA] — The Amesbury Peace Center will host another program in its continuing exploration of issues related to peace in the Middle East, titled “Gaza Steadfast, a Photographic Presentation and Talk,” by Skip Schiel. [every little bit helps]
Violence / Reprisals / Rumblings of war
Hamas urges Gaza militant groups to stop attacks on Israel
(Reuters) Hamas official says organization began talks with other militant factions in order to ‘control the situation on the ground’, signaling Hamas hopes to avert any large-scale IDF operation in Gaza.
Man hurt in Qassam strike
At least three Qassam rockets were fired at southern Israel Saturday evening, wounding a truck driver lightly … The wounded truck driver, Yitzhak Zaafrani, was hurt by glass shreds after driving near the rocket landing site. He told Ynet that he suddenly heard a loud explosion while driving, as the windshield shattered. “I drove to the entrance of one of the kibbutzim and called the police,” he said. “I was hit by a little shrapnel, but all is well…the IDF will respond, because if it doesn’t respond things will get worse.”
Israeli right demands ‘heavy price’ for Gaza rockets
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Right wingers in the Israeli government called on Sunday for tough military action against Gaza militants after a violent weekend on Israel’s border with the Palestinian coastal enclave. “The government must consider afresh a policy of zero tolerance, exert a heavy price, not let this situation deteriorate,” National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told journalists at the weekly cabinet meeting … The Israeli military said two rockets slammed into southern Israel on Sunday, one shortly after midnight and a second later in the morning, bringing the number of rockets and mortar shells fired across the border to 20 since January 1.
IDF mulls deploying anti-mortar system along Gaza border
The defense establishment may erect a deterrence system along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip in light of increased mortar attacks on western Negev communities, Army Radio reported on Sunday. Leaders of communities in the Gaza envelope told defense officials this week that residents have begun to fear mortar shells more than rockets because there is no protection system in place as of yet.
‘Good hit. Alpha.’ / Amira Hass
Rare testimony from the flight navigator in the 2002 bombing of Hamas military commander Salah Shehadeh that killed 14 civilians, including eight children … Last month Maj. T. spoke about the moments before and during the bombing and about his discovery that civilians had also been killed. Haaretz has obtained a recording of his remarks. They appear below in translation
Zahhar: We are close to historic victory
The Palestinians will achieve a historic triumph in any future confrontation with Israel, but the toll will be heavy on the Palestinian side, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar said Saturday … The Hamas official made the comments at a ceremony held to commemorate the second anniversary of a massacre at the UN-controlled Al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. The school was bombarded by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead … Abdullah Baroud, a child who was injured in the attack on Al-Fakhoura school, delivered a speech describing how he and his friends had suffered.
The murders of Jawaher Abu Rahmah and Omar Al Qawasmi
Family of Israeli soldiers’ victim to sue
Ramallah: The family of Omar Al Qawasmi who was mistakenly killed on Friday morning by Israeli soldiers say they will sue the Israeli Army once their mourning period is over … “We will study the circumstances and see the best possible court to file the case, and the Israeli Higher Court of Justice is an option. Any other court in the world is a possibility.”
Palestinian mother tells of a family tragedy during protest against separation barrier
Daughter becomes third casualty in a West Bank family dedicated to ‘non-violent resistance’ against Israeli barrier … “How do you think I feel?” says Abu Rahme softly, a white scarf covering her head and an almost absent look in her eyes. She can hardly comprehend what has happened to her family or the repeated horrors that have been inflicted on it. The family has come to symbolise the Palestinian struggle against the occupation of the West Bank.
The IDF uses propaganda like an authoritarian regime / Gideon Levy
Instead of working toward revealing the truth behind the recent death of an anti-fence demonstrator the IDF is reaching into its bag of lies.
Racism / Discrimination / Suppression of dissent
Survey: Employers don’t want Arabs, haredim, disabled
Israeli employers shy away from hiring ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arabs and the disabled, according to a survey by the Ono Academic College. The study is based on questionnaires sent to 41 major companies in high-tech, health care and ministries. This is considered a significant sample of employers.
Minister Herzog: PM responsible for racism wave
Welfare minister slams planned investigation into activity of leftist groups; urges Netanyahu to ‘stop groveling before Lieberman’
Israeli intellectuals decry Knesset plan to investigate leftist groups
In letter sent to all Knesset members, signatories say investigation of citizens by elected officials signals the end of democracy.
Israel’s very own Revolutionary Guards / Zvi Bar’el
The Knesset does not want to look like the parliaments in the Arab countries, but it does not want to give up the authority to act like them. It wants to act as if there is a law against receiving contributions from foreigners without actually having to legislate it and make a mockery of itself. All it wants to do is “investigate,” that is, to brand as suspect all those associations without having to air the issue in a court of law.
Siege / Restrictions on movement
West Bank: UN warns of new Israeli controls
The United Nations says it is increasingly concerned that Israel is about to tighten access restrictions to the occupied West Bank. It has been briefing aid agencies that Israel could soon increase restrictions and strengthen its checkpoints.
Egyptian authorities uncover four Egypt-Gaza tunnels
The Egyptian authorities declared Saturday that four tunnels connecting Egypt to Gaza and though which goods, diesel fuel, gasoline and building materials were being smuggled, have been uncovered. No smugglers were arrested, but police are currently guarding the tunnels, which will eventually be destroyed, sources say.
Gaza: One crossing open for limited goods
Israeli authorities informed Palestinian liaison officials that one Gaza crossing would be partially opened Sunday for the limited transfer of goods, Palestinian crossings official Raed Fattouh told Ma’an.
More about Hani Amer from Mas’ha / Dorothy Naor
I have a few comments about the details concerning Hani Amer from Mas’ha, about whom I have written several times in the past. The article below [by Joseph Dana] rightfully depicts the Nakba as continuing, but does not sufficiently depict the hardships that Hani and his family have to deal with … Hani’s well, mentioned below, is used to provide water to other farmers in the village. 3 years ago Hani paid several thousand shekel to the Israeli electric company so that he would have electricity to run his water pumps. But the army will not allow him to have electricity, and the electric company won’t return the money. Also, one of the water pipes is broken and needs repair, but the army does not allow the equipment in to repair it, so the water goes to waste.
PFLP: Israel responsible for detained leader’s life
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Sunday held Israeli authorities responsible for the life of party leader Ahmad Sa’adat. The PFLP Secretary-General and Jamal Abu Al-Haija entered their third week of hunger strike in protest over their treatment by Israeli prison authorities. Israel has kept both men in solitary confinement for almost two years. PFLP appealed to the International Red Cross to visit Sa’adat urgently, and urged human rights organizations to intervene in Israeli violations of international law. [End]
Rights group rejects criticism by Gaza ministry
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian rights group on Saturday rejected claims by Gaza’s Interior Ministry that it is not legally competent. The ministry released a statement Saturday slamming the Independent Commission for Human Rights. The statement came in response to a report by the commission claiming the Gaza government mistreated detainees and refused to allow rights groups to visit prisons in the Strip. Director of the commission Mamduh Al-A’ker said the organization was established under a presidential decree issued in October 1993 by late President Yasser Arafat.
Israel envoy to discuss reviving peace talks in US
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Washington next week to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a statement from Netanyahu’s office said on Saturday.
Report: Erekat denies direct talks with Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Sunday denied rumors that direct talks with Israel have resumed, the Kuwaiti News Agency reported. Erakat said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were holding separate meetings with the US administration but no Israeli-Palestinian meetings were being held, according to the report.
Haniyeh discusses unity with Al-Masri
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met with businessman Munib Al-Masri and a delegation of independent figures on Thursday to discuss national unity … Al-Masri, head of the independent movement to end Palestinian division, has shuttled between Gaza and the West Bank in an attempt to draw rival Hamas and Fatah factions closer to reconciliation. Informed sources told Ma’an that the Nablus billionaire would open projects to create job opportunities in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israeli diplomats ordered to cut off contact with host governments
Foreign Ministry employees committee issues request as part of broadening of strike with goal of receiving salary increases … Foreign Ministry employees will also stop issuing entry visas to Israel, meaning that tourists – with the exception of those from the United States, Canada, Russia and western European nations – won’t be able to enter Israel until further notice.
Russia Today video: Down Fatah Avenue, on to Hamas Square: Ramallah praises its heroes through street names
The West Bank city of Ramallah is naming its streets to mark its 100th anniversary but some of the choices are causing controversy [from a comment: First.. sure, controversy.. but when israel names it's streets after people like Ben Gurion, Golda Meier, or Ariel Sharon.. it's ok]
Minister slams Islamic scholar’s criticism of PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – The recent comments by leading Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi criticizing the Palestinian Authority has provoked mixed reactions in Palestine and across the world. Qaradawi, head of the international union of Muslim scholars, said the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization were leading the Palestinian people to great danger … PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash on Saturday told Ma’an Radio that Qaradawi’s comments were disappointing and unacceptable.
New scanners could end preflight questioning at airport
The Israel Airports Authority is scheduled to start testing an automatic baggage screening method today, which will replace the current policy of questioning passengers in order to determine the degree of risk they pose.
Israeli activist says cleared by Shin Bet to visit Gaza PM
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli activist who plans to ask Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit said Sunday he has Israeli security approval for his mission … Israel’s Channel 10 reported Sunday that Marshak planned to enter Gaza with a delegation of Palestinians from inside Israel.
Doctor: Comatose ex-Israeli PM respond to pinches
(AP) JERUSALEM – The personal doctor of Ariel Sharon says the comatose former Israeli prime minister responds to pinches and opens his eyes when spoken to … Former Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin told The AP there has been no change in Sharon’s condition.
beautiful, peaceful photos – relief from news
Images from a weekend in the Negev / Hagai El-Ad
Some of these were taken in Timna Valley’s Sasgon Basin where Adam Teva V’Din , and other environmental justice NGOs, are fighting destructive resort development.
Iraq, other Mideast, Arab world
Saturday: 4 Iraqis killed, 10 wounded
Meanwhile, at least four Iraqis were killed and 10 more were wounded in light violence. No reports escaped Baghdad today even though “bombings and shooting remain a daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital.” Eight people were wounded when a bomb exploded in Abu Ghraib. A bomb blast in a Hashimiya chicken coop killed two children. In a second version of the news item, the dead were a woman and her four-year old nephew.
Arab summit plan in Iraq faces challenges
BAGHDAD (AP) – Insurgent threats and a lack of hotel space for delegations pose stiff challenges to Iraq’s plans to host for the first time in 20 years the annual Arab League meeting, despite assurances from the body’s leader Sunday.
Exiled Iran opposition claims attack on Iraq camp
PARIS (AFP) – The head of Iran’s main exiled opposition coalition on Saturday accused forces in Iraq of carrying out an attack on a camp housing Iranians that left dozens injured.
Palestinian plight in southern Lebanon refugee camps / Wyre Davies
It is sometimes controversially said that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in worse conditions than those during the Israeli occupation in Gaza. There is no better place to witness and document the plight of Lebanon’s refugees than Nahr al-Bared.
Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty: the record / As`ad AbuKhalil
Lebanese Foreign Minister, `Ali Ash-Shami, states that Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty in the last year alone was 4000: averaging 11 violations a day. The violations were 7000 from 2006 and 2009. This should suffice for Lebanon to reject in principle any role for the UN or for international treaties in dealing with the Israeli threat. The only choice for Lebanon vis-a-vis Israel is armed resistance against Israeli occupation and aggression. All other measures merely give Israeli the cover for its war crimes.
Mussa rejects intervention over Christian attacks
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa rejects the potential “exploitation” of attacks on Christians in the Arab world as a pretext for intervention by outside powers, he said in Iraq on Saturday.
Clinton meets Lebanon PM, back tribunal probing his father’s assassination
(Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State confers with current Lebanese premier Saad Hariri after meeting with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah in New York.
Clinton seeks stronger ties with Arab allies
U.S. secretary of state set to depart on trip to United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s trip to the Persian Gulf is intended to strengthen ties with Arab allies, rally support for penalties against Iran, and promote democracy and security across the Middle East.
Protesters killed in Tunisia riots
(Video) At least 20 people have been killed in clashes with police in a two cities in Tunisia. Six people were killed and another six wounded in the city of Tala, 200km southwest of the capital Tunis, on Saturday, after security forces opened fire on protesters. Another 14 people were killed in similar clashes in the Kasserine region, union sources told Al Jazeera.
Algeria unrest turns deadly
(Video) Three people have been killed and hundreds injured in continuing protests in Algeria, as the government meets to discuss ways of halting the rising food costs and unemployment that have sparked the unrest.
Yemen separatists kill soldiers
Southern secessionists in Lahaj kill at least three in an attack on army checkpoint, the latest in a wave of violence … In a separate incident on Saturday, eight soldiers were injured in the city of Lawdar when their vehicle came under attack. The city was the site of a suspected al-Qaeda ambush that killed nine soldiers on Friday.
U.S., other world news
*Video: Keith Olbermann – Violence and threats have no place in democracy
One of the USA’s most eloquent commentators connects the violent rhetoric and imagery coming from American politicians and media with the attack on a congresswoman in Arizona, and demands change.
WikiLeaks demands Google, Facebook unseal subpoenas
Call comes after revelation that US has tried to force Twitter to release WikiLeaks members’ private details
Icelandic MP fights US demand for her Twitter account details
Birgitta Jonsdottir brands efforts by US justice department to access her private information ‘completely unacceptable’
WikiLeaks: Twitter deserves credit for defending its users’ rights
The US department of justice has ordered Twitter to hand over the messages and account details of several users who are, or have been, associated with Wikileaks. Initially the order was sealed, that is it was to be kept secret from the targets. It’s to Twitter’s credit that it asked for the order to be unsealed and then informed the users concerned.