and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Attacking minority cultures
Knesset debates bill to abolish the status of Arabic as an official language in Israel
MEMO 24 Feb — Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is looking at a draft bill which proposes the abolition of Arabic as an official language in the Zionist state… The proposed law is one of a number of initiatives designed to undermine the status of Arabic, which is the mother-tongue of more than 1.25 million Palestinian citizens of the state, one-fifth of the population. A draft constitution, for example, supported by a number of Israeli institutions, also proposes the removal of Arabic’s official status.
Israel destroys hundreds of West Bank olive trees to lay settlement water line / Circarre Parrhesia
23 Feb — …Abu Taha’s struggle with the so-called Civilian Administration, i.e. the Israeli military that occupies and controls the West Bank, began when the Israeli water company applied to the Israeli military to build a water pipe on his land. Without consulting Abu Taha, permission was granted, resulting in the destruction of 60 of his trees, and the paving of part of his field . This water pipe supplies Israeli settlements with water that is, of course, not allowed to be used by the Palestinian population in the area.
Israel destroys agricultural lands near Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Israeli bulldozers tore up recently cultivated agricultural lands north of Salfit on Thursday morning, mayor of the nearby Deir Istiya village told Ma‘an. Starting a few hours after sunrise, Mayor Nathmi Suleiman said, the bulldozers entered the village, accompanied by Israeli forces, and began destroying a stone fence separating fields in the Qattan Al-Jame area west of the village. During its work, the bulldozer ripped out several olive trees, and obliterated the half-meter high hand-crafted stone wall.
Vanishing East Jerusalem: EU must use association council to ensure Israel respects international law
AIC 24 Feb — In view of the upcoming EU-Israel Association Council scheduled for 21 February 2011 we, the undersigned Palestinian human rights organisations committed to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), would like to express our grave concerns about the continuous deterioration of the human rights situation. In particular, we are alarmed by Israel’s protracted policies aimed at entrenching the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem … The centre-of-life policy requires Palestinian residents of East-Jerusalem (whom Israel considers as “permanent residents” rather than citizens) to consistently prove that their “centre of life” is in East Jerusalem or else they risk losing their residency rights. Since this policy was adopted, in 1995, Israel has revoked the status of over 10,000 Palestinian residents of the city.
Thursday of rage in Negev to protest Israeli demolitions
NEGEV, (PIC) 24 Feb — The Arab higher follow up committee has called on the Palestinian masses in 1948 occupied Palestine to participate in the day of rage against the Israeli demolition of Arab homes and villages on Thursday. It said in a press release on Wednesday that a demonstration would start at noon Thursday from a popular Bedouin market toward Israeli government buildings in Beer Sheba.
Violence / Clashes
Israeli strikes hit Gaza overnight
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on multiple locations in the Gaza Strip overnight, injuring two in the first round of bombings near Gaza City shortly after 11 p.m. Injuries were reported in the first strike, which hit the Az-Zaytoun neighborhood east of Gaza City, while the Abu Jarad neighborhood to the south was pummeled with four strikes. Local officials called the series of strikes an “escalation,” saying that Israeli forces have operated with increased aggression since an attack on a patrol which entered Gaza Wednesday morning, in the same area the second strike hit.
Fighter killed by army fire in Gaza
IMEMC 24 Feb — The al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, reported that one of its fighters died of wounds suffered during clashes with Israeli forces invading Gaza City on Wednesday morning. The Brigades stated that the fighter, Adel Jundiyya, 25 years old, was seriously injured when the army bombarded an area east of Gaza City, and died of his wounds during evening hours
Dozens treated for breathing problems in Shufat night clashes
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 24 Feb — Dozens of Palestinian young men were treated for breathing difficulty in Shufat refugee camp, occupied Jerusalem, on Wednesday night after Israeli forces used teargas in abundance against them. Local sources said that the Israeli troops closed down the camp’s entrance for a few hours before traffic and movement of citizens going in and out of it. They added that large numbers of army troops were still positioned at the outskirts of the camp by Thursday morning, spreading fears of a possible large scale incursion.
In the West Bank, Jewish settlers threw stones and empty bottles on Wednesday at Palestinian vehicles passing along the road leading to northern Ramallah villages and to Salfit. Witnesses reported that a number of cars were damaged but no casualties were suffered.
Ashraf / Vera Macht
(graphic) (GAZA) 24 Feb – Ashraf Abdellatif Iqtifan was born in Gaza City in 1980. He grew up surrounded by five brothers, two sisters, and everyday violence. When Ashraf was eleven years old, his 14-year-old brother Rami, who on his slightly yellowed photo smiles cheekily and brightly into the camera, threw a stone at an Israeli soldier, Gaza was occupied by Israel. A soldier standing next to them saw this, he took his gun and shot Rami between the eyes … The soldier who had shot Rami, was sentenced for manslaughter of a child to 15 days of prison. Yes, days. He was also demoted two ranks. But in spite of everything, Ashraf dreamed of a better life in Israel. When he was 19 years old and Gaza was not yet a jail, he managed to escape. He went to Tel Aviv and began to work as a dishwasher .But five months ago, the horror from which he had escaped all those years came back to him…
Grad rockets fired at Be’er Sheva for first time since Gaza war
Haaretz 23 Feb — One missile hit building in residential area, causing damage; no casualties reported; Palestinians report Israeli air strike retaliation, wounding two Islamic Jihad militants — Grad rockets were fired at the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva on Wednesday, several hours after the Israel Defense Forces fired at a group of militants on the Gaza border, wounding 11. Palestinian sources reported that the Israel Air Force retaliated late Wednesday with an airstrike in eastern Gaza City, wounding three Islamic Jihad militants. The IDF confirmed the airstrike.
Netanyahu: Israel will not suffer the bombardment of its citizens
Haaretz 24 Feb — Referring to the IDF reprisal of the first long-range missile attack against the southern city of Be’er Sheva since the Gaza war, Prime Minister warns Hamas-ruled Gaza against testing Israel’s ‘determination.’
Detention / Deportation
Evangelist Church bishop faces deportation out of Jerusalem
24 Feb — Maysa Abu Ghazala – PNN Exclusive – The Israeli ministry of Interior still refuses to renew the Jerusalem residency permission of Evangelist Church Bishop, Suhail Doany. The story began last year when the ministry of Interior accused Bishop Doany of faking papers that transfer land in Jerusalem from Jewish owners to Palestinian ones
Israeli troops arrest 13 Palestinians during West Bank invasions
Hebron (PNN) 24 Feb — Israeli troops arrested on Thursday 13 Palestinian men during morning invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities. Palestinian sources reported invasions in the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron, southern West Bank inb addition to central West Bank city of Ramallah and Jenin in the north.
Israeli internal security officers accused of ‘attempted rape’ of a child prisoner
MEMO 24 Feb — Lawyers from the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs, have claimed that Israeli internal security officers from Shin Bet tried to rape a child prisoner at Etzion Prison, south of Bethlehem. The prisoner involved, a boy, gave his testimony to this effect, under oath, to the lawyers. The Shin Bet officers are accused of stripping the boy and threatening him with rape in order to extract a confession.
Gaza man released from Israeli prison after 7 years
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — The Detainees Center in Gaza City reported Thursday the expected release of a Strip resident from the Ash-Shati refugee camp after serving a seven-year prison term. Ismail Jad Allah, 25, is expected to cross into Gaza on Thursday morning via the Erez terminal in the northern Strip. The young man was detained in 2004 and found guilty of affiliation with Fatah and resisting the occupation, the prisoners center said.
Report: PA arrests 200 Hamas men in January, 3,000 in 2010
GAZA, (PIC) 23 Feb — …The report, released by Gaza’s Ministry of Planning on Tuesday, says the Fatah-controlled PA continues to hold hundreds of supporters of Hamas, the resistance movement and other opposition. Out of those 3,000 politically motivated arrests, 1404 targeted individuals previously detained in Israeli occupation jails, the report details, also referring to 49 imams in mosques, 23 university professors, 36 journalists, 32 local councilmen, 417 university students and nine teachers.
Israel’s Mossad is accused of kidnapping a Palestinian engineer in Ukraine
MEMO 24 Feb — The wife of a Palestinian engineer has accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of abducting her husband. Derar Abu Sisi went missing five days ago while visiting his Ukrainian wife in her home country. The Ukraine-based Al Raed Press said that Mr. Abu Sisi is the head of operations at the only power station in the Gaza Strip and was on a visit to Ukraine when he disappeared during a train journey on 18 February.
Activism / Solidarity
Adalah-NY: New Yorkers protest Israel Philharmonic for whitewashing apartheid, protests planned in other US cities
23 Feb — Seventy New Yorkers protested the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) performance at Carnegie Hall Tuesday evening, using chants, songs and street theater to highlight the IPO’s role in whitewashing Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people. The orchestra’s performances are being met with protests in six of the seven cities on its US tour
Warsaw palm tree sculpture wears kuffiyeh in protest of Jerusalem annexation / Philip Weiss
24 Feb – From the press release: Today, Palestinian and Polish activists tied a giant traditional Palestinian scarf (Kuffeyah) around the iconic Palm sculpture in Jerusalem Avenue, central Warsaw. … The action is a response to the top-level meeting between Israel and Poland, taking place not in Israel’s diplomatic capital Tel-Aviv but Jerusalem – the Eastern part of which is recognised by the EU and United Nations as occupied territory.
Two Gaza crossings open for goods transfer
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb …Imports on Wednesday were again short of Israeli promises, with the total entering at Kerem Shalom coming in at 197 loads, below the 220 estimated in the morning … At the bulk goods crossing, which opened three times during the week, only 42 truckloads of wheat and animal feed were transported in, short of the 120 loads expected, as Gaza remains in a wheat supply shortage.
Palestinians and Mideast revolts
Israel to let 300 Palestinians return to West Bank from Libya
Haaretz 23 Feb — Netanyahu makes humanitarian gesture to Palestinians as foreigners from all over the world flee Libya; More than 12 countries send planes to help their citizens escape an increasingly unstable situation.
Egypt: Palestinian prisoners enter 5th day of strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Family members of 24 Palestinian men detained in Egyptian prisons said relatives entered their fifth day of a hunger strike initiated when their promised release was delayed. A statement released by the families said that detainees were political prisoners, and had been promised release under the new Egyptian leadership.
Hundreds of Gazans stranded at many int’l airports due to Egyptian restrictions
GAZA, (PIC) 24 Feb — Hundreds of Palestinian passengers are stranded outside Egypt and their suffering is exacerbating because of the Egyptian authorities’ refusal to allow them to fly back to Cairo airport in order to return from there to the Gaza Strip.
Breaking the siege of Gaza is high priority for Egypt’s young revolutionaries
MEMO 23 Feb — With regards to lifting the siege of Gaza, Maher said that the issue cannot be ignored. It is, he stressed, one of the demands of the revolution: “Pressure exerted by the revolutionaries as well as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s call to end the siege has obliged the army to fulfill this demand.” It is time to end the suffering of the people of Gaza, he said. This, ended Maher, has made the government in Israel “fearful” of Egyptian youth.
Islamic Jihad slams ‘criminal’ Gaddafi regime
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Muammar Gaddafi’s crimes against his people are “no less than what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and America is doing to Iraq and Afghanistan,” a senior Islamic Jihad member said Wednesday.
Thousands in Nablus rally against US veto
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated Thursday in Nablus, in the second West Bank protest in as many days against a US veto of a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Protesters backed President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to censure the US
2,000 rally in Bethlehem to end rivalry – clashes erupt at checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Clashes broke out at the 300 Checkpoint on Wednesday afternoon, following a rally in the city of Bethlehem that saw an estimated 2,000 gather and call for an end to Palestinian political division. Witnesses said protesters passing through the checkpoint clashed with Israeli forces there.
PLO leader: Hamas loyal to other countries
(UPI) 24 Feb — …Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Riyad al-Malki … said Hamas allowed countries like Iran and others to intervene and influence internal Palestinian affairs and decisions … He said Hamas must be convinced to become a Palestinian political party concerned with Palestinian affairs. “When this happens, then the reconciliation becomes a possibility,” al-Maliki said.
Gaza govt may postpone cabinet reshuffle
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Yousef Rizqa, political advisor to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, announced Tuesday that his government has not set up a deadline to declare the ministerial reshuffle.
MKs chide PM in stormy Knesset debate
Ynet 23 Feb — Both left-wing, right-wing MKs slam Netanyahu, blame government for stalled peace negotiations, racist legislation. ‘You must think you are popular because there are no mass protests here, but you are wrong. People aren’t out on streets because they’re too busy surviving,’ says Kadima faction chairwoman
Only four MKs vote to annex West Bank
JPost 24 Feb — The Knesset voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to reject a bill sponsored by National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz that would have extended full Israeli civil authority to the West Bank.
Israel bars AIC, independent journalists from Jerusalem press conference with Chilean miners
AIC 23 Feb — Representatives of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, the official host of the eight day visit by the Chilean miners who survived a record 69 days underground following an August 2010 cave-in at the San Jose copper-gold mine, refused entry to to Connie Hackbarth, Executive Director of the Alternative Information Center (AIC). Officials told her that only journalists formally recognized by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) were permitted to attend the press conference, and then only if they had received invitations via the GPO and confirmed their attendance. Hackbarth’s comments about the crucial importance of independent journalists, as clearly seen recently in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, were ignored and she was told not to be “ideological” and “to stop wasting (our) time”.
Israeli intelligence blackmails Palestinian workers
NAZARETH, (PIC) 23 Feb — Israeli intelligence is blackmailing Palestinians wishing to work in 1948 occupied land, one of those workers said. Mahmoud Al-Masri, from Nablus, said that Israeli intelligence agents at Qalqilia crossing told him he should cooperate with them or else his work permit would be revoked. Masri said that he refused to cooperate with them which made them confiscate his permit
Fisherman from Gaza shot to death at Jaffa port
A fish merchant from Gaza who was living in Israel was shot to death by a motorcyclist in Jaffa on Thursday.
Thailand scrape narrow win
24 Feb — Thailand could face a tough task in the return leg in the West Bank after they managed only a 1-0 win against Palestine in a preliminary round tie of the Olympic qualifying at Supachalasai stadium last night.
Analysis / Opinion
In Gaza: Jeans, hookah, a bike, my rights? / Fidaa Abu Assi
Pal Telegraph 23 Feb — If you are a Gazan woman and you have desperately sought to garner some media attentions and international support, you’d better start by adopting then declaring one of these statements: “I’m secular”; “I’m liberal”; “I’m oppressed with no rights”; or you could simply say “sorry, Hamas, I’m wearing Jeans”; I bet you’d be pleased with the outcomes. Some did and they are now well-known respectable ladies. The more defiant against the society’s norms a Gazan woman becomes, the more media attentions she will get.
In Israel, the revolution has already begun / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 23 Feb — This new revolution aims not only at the end of occupation, but at the beginning of a new Israel. Not for settlers, this time, but for Israelis — People often ask why, at a time when revolutionary fervor has seized nation after nation here in the Middle East, no revolt has yet begun in my country. Actually, it has. Right under the government’s nose … Here, now, on this side of the recognized border, a potent opposition is emerging, young, largely unknown, social network-savvy.
People get ready — there’s a train a-comin’ / Larry Derfner
JPost 23 Feb — It’s become pretty clear to me how Israeli rule in the West Bank is going to end – through Palestinian people power … Masses of Palestinians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, marching to IDF checkpoints and outposts, marching to Israeli-only roads, to settlements, to the security fence – to the nearest Israeli presence and screaming, “Out! Out!” And refusing to leave. WHAT THE hell is the IDF going to do then? Shoot them? Arrest them? With the whole world not only watching but, for the first time, already won over by other unarmed Arab masses facing down their oppressors?
An irresponsible rabbinate / Yedidia Stern
Haaretz 24 Feb — Rabbis are influential in Israeli society. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 54 percent of Israel’s Jewish citizens believe that rabbis should be consulted when the country makes diplomatic decisions. So it’s important to examine how rabbis use their influence. The following was the harvest of recent weeks, a source of pride: Religious Zionist rabbis issued the “rabbis letter” that seeks to exclude Arabs from Israeli cities, the book “The King’s Torah” permitted killing them, Rabbi Dov Lior refused to obey the rule of law, and dozens of rabbis supported this refusal.
Wednesday: 3 Iraqis killed, 55 wounded
Anti-government demonstrations continued across the country leaving scores wounded. The extent of the demonstrations is unknown as reports of them are not thorough even with extensive amounts of casualties. At least three Iraqis were killed and 55 more were wounded in the protests and other incidents. Although Iraqi officials are publicly supporting further demonstrations, journalists are claiming intimidation ahead of mass demonstrations scheduled for Friday. Not only were their offices raided and laptops stolen, but they also say officials are trying to scare the public away from the protests.
Iraqis rally through social media in ‘day of rage’
BAGHDAD, Feb 24 (Reuters) – A wave of uprisings across the Arab world have inspired Iraqi youth to plug into social media and organise their own “day of rage” on Friday against poor basic services in Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis are expected to take part in the demonstration, organised mainly through social networking site Facebook, after weeks of scattered protests around the country calling for an end to shortages of jobs, food, power and water.
Iraq oil exports highest since Saddam: ministry
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq’s oil exports and revenues from crude sales in January hit their highest levels since the 2003 US-led invasion which ousted Saddam Hussein, the oil ministry announced on Wednesday. Iraq exported a total of 67 million barrels of oil last month, generating $6.082 billion in income at an average price of $90.78 a barrel, according to figures published by the ministry.
As war ebbs Baghdad blast walls start coming down
(AP) 23 Feb — BAGHDAD – At a time when other parts of the Arab world are in turmoil, Iraq is feeling stable enough to begin removing some of the tall concrete blast walls that went up as protection against bombings and insurgents during the height of the war. Iraqis have seen it before. In 2009 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki started taking down walls, only to restore them when a series of government buildings were bombed.
Syria and Israel
US lawmaker, Syria’s Assad working to renew peace talks with Israel
Haaretz 24 Feb — Netanyahu refrains from attacking an initiative by U.S. Senator Kerry and Syria’s Assad, but is openly skeptical of the Syrian President’s sincerity.
4 nuclear sites found in Syria
Ynet 24 Feb — Satellite images show Damascus established four facilities to accompany reactor bombed in 2007 … The facility’s current use is unknown, but the ISIS suspects that after the latter was bombed Syria attempted to disguise its operations.
US judge dismisses defamation lawsuit by former AIPAC official
Haaretz 24 Feb — Steve Rosen sued his former employers for publicly criticizing him after he was charged with passing sensitive information to Israeli diplomats.