and other news from Today in Palestine:
5 dead, others injured as Israel shells Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 17:43 — A child, teenager and three adults were killed and others injured by Israeli artillery fire which hit a home east of Gaza City on Tuesday afternoon, the second shelling and third hit of the day … Adham Abu Salmiya, spokesman of the higher committee of ambulance and emergency services, said members of the Al-Hilu family were playing football outside of their home when the shell hit. Eyewitnesses said ambulances took the injured to Ash-Shifa hospital in Gaza city. Medics identified the dead as: Muhammad Jihad Al-Hilu, 11; Yasser Ahed Al-Hilu, 16; Muhammad Saber Harara, 20; Yasser Hamer Al-Hilu, 50. A fifth remains unidentified.
Qassam rocket explodes in Ashkelon
Ynet 22 Mar 17:49 — A Qassam rocket exploded in an open field near Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported.
4 rockets hit Negev; no injuries
Ynet 22 Mar 16:16 — Four Qassam rockets fired from Gaza landed in an open area within the limits of Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. There were no reports of injury or damage.
Israeli artillery, strike injure 2 east of Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 15:09 — Israeli artillery fire and a drone strike injured two Palestinians Tuesday in separate incidents east of Gaza City, after a night of heavy shelling on the Strip that injured 18. Shortly before 10 a.m. artillery fire injured one man in the Ash-Shuja‘iyya neighborhood, just after witnesses reported Israeli vehicles penetrating the Gaza Strip in the area … In a second incident that took place before noon, a man was critically injured by a drone strike in the same area.
Brigades claim attack on military post
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 15:19 — The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades said Tuesday that their fighters launched a home-made projectile at the Sufa military post shortly after midnight. The brigades, part of the militant wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said a single projectile was fired at 12:30 a.m. toward the Israeli army post.
Jets strike Gaza after Hamas offers truce
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 01:59 — Israeli warplanes targeted sites across the Gaza Strip late Monday injuring at least 17 people including seven children, witnesses and medics said … An airstrike in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City caused considerable damage but no injuries, residents said, and at least two other nearby areas came under fire, a Ma‘an correspondent said … Among the targets were a police post and a training facility of Hamas’ military wing, said the Al-Qassam Brigades which earlier offered to stop cross-border fire into Israel if the Israelis halted attacks on Gaza. The Al-Qassam Brigades, which lobbed about 50 mortar rounds into Israel on Saturday, made the offer in a statement released after Israeli aircraft raided the enclave earlier on Monday evening. It said Saturday’s barrage had been in response to an Israeli strike last week which killed two of its members, but that it was ready to call an end to the tit-for-tat violence if Israel also did so.
Gaza: Militant group calls for coordinated response to strikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Spokesman for the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s armed wing condemned Tuesday the recent string of Israeli air strikes targeting the Gaza Strip. Abu Khaled, speaking on behalf of the National Resistance Brigades, accused Israel of using the strikes as an attempt to block the progress of Palestinian reconciliation. “Military units should coordinate, and determine together how to respond to such attacks,” the official said in a statement.
Video: Israel bombs residential area of Gaza City / Ken O’Keefe
21 Mar — Film of aftermath of 11:30 pm bombing, showing wrecked houses where several kids were injured (video has slow start, stick with it)
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Hebron: Ground zero for Israeli settler violence / Yousef Munayyer
21 Mar — It’s Monday and, like most days ending in the letter ‘y’, this means there have been acts of settler violence against Palestinian civilians or their property in the West Bank. To state that these events happen on a daily basis is no exaggeration. In fact, a query of our settler violence database reveals that there were 629 events last year alone (an average of 1.7 attacks per day) … In our database, out of the approximately 3,000 settler violence events recorded, Hebron has been the locale of 31% of the events … For a complete analysis of our settler violence data, check out our upcoming event on settler violence on April 19th. You can attend in person here at the Palestine Center in Washington or watch the live webcast.
Clashes erupt in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Fierce clashes erupted Monday night between settlers, Israeli police and Palestinian youth in Silwan in East Jerusalem. Ma‘an’s correspondent said Israeli police protected settlers but opened fire on residents and their homes in the flashpoint neighborhood.
Foundation: Israeli forces enter Al-Aqsa compound
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Tuesday morning and detained five worshipers, a statement by the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said. The statement said “25 extremist settlers toured and desecrated the Al-Haram Ash-Sharif compound.” After that forces raided the compound at 8:30 a.m … All the detainees were students learning Islamic teachings.
Person of the Book / Bernard Avishai
21 Mar — Munther M. Fahmi, better known as Munzer to every visitor to the American Colony Hotel’s bookshop, is a Jerusalem institution … Munzer was born in Jerusalem in 1954. When Israelis conquered Jerusalem in 1967, he was given (like the rest of the Arab population in East Jerusalem) an Israeli resident ID card — not citizenship, but the right to live in the city of his birth. In 1975, Munzer left Jerusalem to continue his university education in the US, where he graduated, started a business, married, and fathered a child. In the mid-nineties, “intoxicated with prospects of peace after the signing of the Oslo agreement,” Munzer flew home and was told at the airport in Tel-Aviv that his Jerusalem ID had been revoked … [The Interior Ministry] invoked a law that strips any “resident of Jerusalem” who holds a foreign passport and has left for seven years of the right of residency. Note well: this law applies only to native born Arabs … If the Interior Ministry rejects [his appeal], which it almost certainly will, Munzer will be deported on April 3rd. If Israel were halfway serious about peace, the government would be inviting a thousand people like Munzer to build businesses, not deporting them.
Israel conducts maneuvers inside Shebaa Farms
DS 22 Mar — BEIRUT: Israel conducted intensive military drills in the region of the occupied Sheb‘aa Farms Monday, according to reports from the south. Elnashra news website reported that a series of explosions could be heard emanating from the area, as Israeli helicopters hovered overhead. Security sources told the site that the blasts were the result of military maneuvers, which also stretched over the occupied Golan Heights. The drills were the latest in a string of heightened activities from northern Israeli military positions. Sunday saw Israeli patrols erecting 200 meters of barbed wire fencing along the perimeter of occupied Ghajar village, plus three observation posts fitted with imaging systems and machine guns.
‘Religious troops must refuse evacuation’
Ynet 22 Mar — A majority of the national-religious public believes that religious Israel Defense Forces soldiers must not obey an order to evacuate Jewish communities in the West Bank, according to a survey conducted ahead of the Jerusalem Conference held in the capital last week. Nonetheless, less than one-fifth of this public says the Land of Israel and settlement issue should be the top priority of a united Zionist-religious party.
Incursions / Curfews
Israeli forces re-enter Awarta
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 17:05 — Israeli forces re-entered the northern West Bank village of Awarta at sunrise Tuesday, announcing via loudspeaker that the community was under curfew for a second time this month … A military spokeswoman confirmed that there was a curfew in place, but said she could not disclose how long it would remain on the village. She said the search was in relation on the ongoing investigation into the Itamar murders, and that troops were trying not to disrupt normal life in the village … Villagers were told they were prohibited to leave their homes and enter the streets … The last closure of the village prevented patients in need of medical treatment from getting to hospital. Villagers reported that at least two children suffered bites from sniffer dogs.
Perpetual collective punishment in West Bank town of Awarta
AIC 20 Mar — The Israeli military finally left the village of Awarta after days of lockdown and curfew. The West Bank town has long been home to settler attacks and violence. Where is their justice? [See also this photoessay about Awarta and ‘Iraq Burin from a year ago: Four cousins and their funerals ]
Siege / Restriction of movement
Jerusalem: Orthodox [Christians] demand halt of oppressive measures during Easter
JERUSALEM, 21 Mar (WAFA) …The petition demanded lifting restrictions and closures of the entrances to the Old City and around the Church of Resurrection during Easter holidays, especially on the celebration of the Holy Saturday on April 23. A number of the Orthodox parishioners took that step before heading to the Israeli High Court to confirm their right to freedom of access to holy places and practice their religious rituals without any harassment or closure. In the recent years, the Israeli police have been impeding the celebrations of the Easter Holiday and the practice of religious rites.
Imagining an alternative spatial future in Israel/Palestine / Adam Horowitz
22 Mar — The above image shows how freedom of movement in Israel/Palestine is determined by the form of identification a person holds (or doesn’t hold). It was produced by a new website called Arena of Speculation. arenaofspeculation.org was established by an international group of architects, planners and spatial thinkers as a collective platform for exposing, confronting and subverting the dominant structures of spatial power in Israel-Palestine.
Gaza’s cherry tomatoes selling in Europe
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Cherry tomatoes grown by farmers in Gaza can now compete with settlement produce on European supermarket shelves … An-Naja told Ma‘an that 10 farmers took the risk this year of growing flowers and vegetables on around 25 dunums in the Gaza Strip, in the hope that Israel would allow them to export the harvest. Much of the produce rotted as farmers waited for permits from Israeli authorities to transport the goods across the border and into Europe … Yousef Sha‘ath, from the Agricultural Relief Society in Gaza, said Israel has allowed two or three truckloads of cherry tomatoes to be exported to Europe this year. The 2005 Movement and Access agreement, signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, set a target of 400 truckloads of exports to leave the Gaza Strip every day.
Single Gaza crossing opens for limited deliveries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Mae 22:01 — Israeli authorities decided on Monday to partially open the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow goods into Gaza, officials said … On Sunday, Israel allowed 217 truckloads of goods and 207,530 of domestic-use gas into the besieged enclave, while two truckloads of flowers grown in Gaza were exported to Europe via Kerem Shalom.
VIDEO: UNICEF helps make safe reliable water possible in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
(UNICEF) RAFAH, Gaza Strip, 21 Mar — For the first time in her life, Nagham, 7, no longer fears drinking contaminated water. “Now I enjoy drinking water,” she says. “It does not have strange tastes.” Nagham, who lives with her grandparents in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, eagerly drinks from UNICEF’s newly-established water filling points … In the Gaza Strip, an estimated 97 per cent of people are connected to water networks. But the supply of water is often intermittent. It is estimated that 90 to 95 per cent of water sources in Gaza is not fit for human consumption due to high chloride and nitrate levels. This puts children at risk of water-borne diseases and forces households to purchase drinking water. Families here pay an average of more than $7 for a cubic meter of tankered water … Just 40 km away in the West Bank, children also face water problems, but of a different nature.
Detention / International kidnapping
Israeli court extends Gazan engineer’s remand
Ynet 22 Mar — Dirar Abu Sisi, who was seized by Israeli security forces in Ukraine, will be detained for two more days despite defense’s claim that he is in poor health … According to the defense attorneys, Abu Sisi (42) is a civil engineer who has been working as the deputy manager of the only power plant in the Gaza Strip since 2000. They claim he does not have any direct ties with Hamas, which rose to power in Gaza in 2006.The attorneys said Abu Sisi was abducted while he was applying for citizenship in Ukraine.
Israeli forces detain journalist in Awarta
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 17:04 — Sources at Voice of Palestine Radio told Ma’an that the station’s director of programming was detained by Israeli forces in the village of Awarta, after the village was locked down under a military curfew. Kamal Sharab’s home was searched during a raid, and soldiers detained him and two of his sons – Fadi, 17, and Ra’fat, 16 … The Palestinian Journalist Syndicate condemned the detention of journalists and called for his immediate release.
Police visit mothers of detainees on Mother’s Day
SALFIT (Ma‘an) – Police in Salfit visited the mothers of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails on Monday to mark Mothers’ Day. Police said they greeted mothers in their homes in the northern West Bank city to let them know they have sons outside prison, even if their own sons are detained. Police also visited the mothers of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
European poll reveals changing perceptions of conflict in Palestine
MEMO 13 Mar — This report presents the findings of a research study conducted by the polling institution ICM Government & Social Research Unit on behalf of Al Jazeera, MEMO and the EMRC. ICM interviewed 7,045 adults across six major European countries: Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. A few of the most salient points drawn out from our study include the following. Of the adults surveyed: 50% believe that being critical of Israel does NOT make a person anti-Semitic; 70% believe that the pro-Israel lobby influences the media;67% believe that the pro-Israel lobby influences the political agenda; … See here for detailed analysis
Turkey group plans new Gaza flotilla with at least 15 ships
Haaretz 22 Mar — Israel will launch a public campaign on Tuesday against a plan by the Turkish organization IHH and several left-wing European groups to send a flotilla to the Gaza Strip this May, a year after another IHH flotilla resulted in bloodshed that prompted widespread international condemnation of Israel.
Musician-activist Bob Geldorf to receive award from Israeli university
AIC 21 Mar — Musician and human rights activist Bob Geldof will accept an honorary degree from Israel’s Ben Gurion University later this year, thus ignoring the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli institutions. Ben Gurion University itself is particularly active in supporting the Israeli army and arms industry. The award is meant to honor Geldof’s anti-poverty activism, including organizing the Live Aid and Live 8 concerts, and his work with a range of charitable causes.
EU: Time for refugees to return home
WALAJA, Bethlehem (Ma‘an) – The EU Representative to the Palestinian territories said Monday he hoped for “all the refugees to go home” as soon as possible, during a visit to West Bank village Al-Walaja … Representative Christian Berger announced a €40 million European Union contribution to the organization. The donation to UNRWA’s core activities will help reduce threats to refugees’ livelihoods and loss of land, he explained, stressing that these vulnerabilities “require the help of the international community.” “We want UNRWA to go away as soon as possible,” Berger said … Established as a temporary body [in1948], as the lack of resolution to the situation of Palestinian refugees continues, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate.
Gaza protests stretch into a seventh day
RAMALLAH, West Bank 21 Mar — Inspired by the “Arab Spring” revolutions across the Arab World, Palestinians protested for a seventh straight day Monday in both the West Bank and Gaza in an effort to force their divided leaders into reconciling with one another … It’s still unclear what a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation would mean to the billions in aid money that European and U.S. aid organizations now give the Palestinian Authority government each year. Such aid might be reconsidered should Hamas be incorporated into the Palestinian Authority.
Gaza Strip residents seek to join the ‘Arab spring’ / Jon Donnison
BBC 22 Mar — Gazans will often tell you they are a rare breed. Tough and resilient are two qualities sometimes attributed. A friend of mine’s cat recently leapt from the tenth floor of a tower block in Gaza City, yet emerged with just a few grazes and a bit of a limp. It was a Gazan cat, I was told. On Saturday afternoon, I witnessed toughness and resilience shown by two young Gazan women who had been trying to demonstrate in one of the main squares in Gaza city … As they were surrounded by Hamas security officers wielding thick wooden batons and hurling abuse, the two slight young women remained firm, refusing to move.
Abbas: I’ll go straight to Gaza
BUDAPEST, Hungary (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he would break engagements in Europe and head to Gaza immediately for unity talks with Hamas, if the Islamist movement agrees.
Politics / Diplomacy
Israel UN envoy slams Falk over accusation of ethnic cleansing
Haaretz 22 Mar — Richard Falk is an ‘embarrassment to the UN,’ Israeli envoy Aharon Leshno Yaar said in response to Falk’s claim that Israeli settlement building and eviction of Palestinians from homes amounted to ‘ethnic cleansing.’
Germany backs Israel after Gaza fighting flares
BERLIN (dpa) 22 Mar — Germany voiced support Tuesday for Israel after a flare-up of fighting with Hamas radicals the previous day … ”Israel has the right to protect its citizens against terrorist activities like this. A new spiral of violence must be prevented at all costs.”
Israel vacates Sergei Courtyard ahead of Netanyahu’s Moscow visit this week
Haaretz 22 Mar — By this evening, the Sergei courtyard in the heart of Jerusalem is to be transferred to the Russian government … By yesterday, the last of the clerks from the Agriculture Ministry, which had offices at Sergei courtyard, had left and Russian diplomats had already arrived to inspect the premises. The courtyard and the buildings surrounding it are known as one of the most beautiful historic and architectural sites in Jerusalem … Over the past decade, the Russian government, which reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, has pressured Israel to return control of the complex to Russia.
Hamas protests UN plans to teach Gazans about the Holocaust
Recognizing the Holocaust is often seen by some Palestinians as tantamount to acknowledging Jewish land claims. (AP) 22 Mar — The United Nations has launched a new plan to teach the Holocaust in Gaza schools, drawing fierce condemnation from Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, school teachers – and even the body tasked with peace negotiations with Israel. If implemented, it would be the first time most Palestinian children learn about Jewish suffering. But the outcry underscores how sensitive the issue is to Palestinians … the need to find a sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors contributed to Israel’s creation after World War II. In Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. The Palestinians call this dispersal their Nakba, or catastrophe, and many see the events linked. [and when will Israel start teaching Jewish students about the Nakba?]
IDF arrested 2 Lebanese men crossing northern border
Ynet 22 Mar — IDF soldiers in northern Israel noticed two Lebanese shepherds who crossed the Blue Line, a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel, and entered into Israel. The two were unarmed and investigated.
Golan Druze believe Assad will hang on
Ynet 21 Mar – Members of Israel’s Druze community are following the anti-government protests in the southern Syrian city of Der‘aa with concern, but most of them do not believe President Bashar Assad will be ousted. Some 500 Druze women gathered in the northern Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams on Monday to greet their children who are studying in Syria. The students traveled to Israel for Mother’s Day. [this is surprising – cf. the film The Syrian Bride]
Egypt should honor Israel natural gas deal, says EMG
DS 22 Mar — OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which supplies Egyptian natural gas to Israel and other Middle East countries, does not see any justification for amending the terms of its contract with the Egyptian government to negotiate a higher price, an EMG stakeholder said Monday … The Egyptian press have accused the EMG consortium, which supplies 45 percent of the gas needs of Israel’s electric utility, of selling its gas to Israel at below market prices.
Israel, Jordan hold joint quake drill
EILAT, Israel, March 21 (UPI) — Israel and Jordan conducted joint exercises to test preparedness for an earthquake in the region, officials said. About 200 people participated in the drills last week at Timna in southern Israel and organized by Israel’s Magen David Adom and the Jordanian Red Crescent, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday … The two countries have mutual concern about the threat of an earthquake in the Syrian-African Rift, the paper said.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
Video: ‘As our South African comrades did, we must go to international civil society’ / Yusuf Munayyer
Comment is free interviews: Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign on the pressure he feels is needed to make Israel respect international law
Interview: Rula Jebreal on the struggle to make ‘Miral’ a film
EI 22 Mar — Miral, Julian Schnabel’s feature film set in Palestine and based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by author and journalist Rula Jebreal, will open in cinemas in ten major US cities starting with New York and Los Angeles on 25 March … Jebreal spoke to The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah about her book, the struggle to make and show the film and the tumultuous real-life experiences behind the story.
Rebuilding Gaza in Haiti
UNRWA March – At 33 years old Huda has seen and done more than many in Gaza can dream of, despite the immense challenges she faces both as a woman and as a refugee. As an ambitious and talented young engineer, Huda has worked relentlessly to forge her own future and has refused to be dissuaded by the barriers she has encountered along the way. Some time back, Huda applied to be a field engineer in a United Nations peacekeeping mission … With UNRWA’s support, in September 2010, Huda traveled from Gaza to Haiti … Huda has since returned to Gaza and is playing an important role in UNRWA’s reconstruction efforts there. Back in Gaza, memories of her time in Haiti – working alongside men and women of all nationalities to reconstruct a country in need – continue to inspire her each day.
Monday: 11 Iraqis, 1 US soldier killed; 15 Iraqis wounded
On the eve of World Water Day, UNICEF reported that Iraq loses about half its water to seepage, leakage, and wastage. Not only is there an obvious human cost to the loss, but the lack of an adequate water supply increases tensions with neighboring countries. Meanwhile, at least 11 Iraqis were killed and 15 others were wounded in violence across the country. A roadside bomb attack also left one American soldier dead in southern Iraq. Massoud Barzani, who is the president of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, responded to growing demonstrations and petitions by calling for new elections.
US appeals court reinstates wiretap abuse lawsuit
WASHINGTON (AFP) 21 Mar — An appeals court Monday reinstated a lawsuit challenging a law giving the US government broad authority in electronic wiretapping and monitoring of overseas calls and emails in probing suspected terrorism. The US Court of Appeals in New York said the suit by civil liberties activists can proceed, reversing a lower court decision dismissing the case.
Sarah Palin aborts visit to Bethlehem
Telegraph 21 Mar — Sarah Palin has emerged at the centre of a potentially embarrassing mystery when she abruptly aborted a visit to Bethlehem just yards from an Israeli checkpoint guarding the entrance to the city of Christ’s birth…. It is unclear whether Mrs Palin and her team failed to realise that Bethlehem lay on Palestinian territory rather than in Israel, a mistake often made by foreign tourists, though not so often by visiting politicians.