and other news from today in Palestine:
Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Settlers attack Zatari family in Al Buwayre, wounding father
ISM 19 Mar — Tonight at 6pm a mob of 20 settlers from the Kiryat Arba settlement near Al Buwayra, Hebron, attacked the Palestinian family of Mozbah Zatari while they were in their car. According to the family and witnesses, they had just parked their car when the settlers swarmed around the car and broke windows with stones. Mozbah Zatari, his mother, and his two sons (ages 4 and 6) were in the car and all were hurt by stones thrown into the car. Mozbah Zatari was injured on his leg by a stone and taken to the hospital. This is not the first time the Zatari family has been attacked and hurt: they’ve been attacked many times as their house is the closest in al Buwayre to the illegal settler outpost.
Jewish settlers raze vast tracts of Palestinian agricultural land east of Yatta
AL-KHALIL, (PIC) 20 Mar — Dozens of Jewish settlers destroyed Saturday morning 50 dunums of agricultural lands belonging to Nawaj‘a family near Susya settlement, east of Yatta town. A spokesman for the Palestinian family of Nawaj‘a said the settlers under military protection sabotaged the lands, uprooted crops and blocked shepherds from getting to their grazing land.
In a separate incident, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked villagers from Khirbet Atwana, east of Yatta town, and foreign activists during a march held there in protest at the violations committed by Israeli troops and settlers against the Palestinians. The IOF fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the villagers and foreign activists, which led to the injury of one Palestinian citizen called Fadel Al-Rabaee. The troops also kidnapped the son of Rabaee during the march and took him to an unknown destination.
Settlers and extremists assault Palestinians
HEBRON, Mar 20 (WAFA) – Settlers attacked two children on Sunday, in Tal Al Ramaydah, a village in Hebron. The children’s mother told WAFA that the settlers beat her seven years old daughter, and stole her brother’s purchases. Meanwhile, in Galili, north of the 1948 Palestinian land (which is under Israeli control), settlers from Ramat Yishai, attacked a Palestinian in Al Zaitoun Park, in Safad, stabbing one in the abdomen. Knesset member, Afu Agbaria, described these acts as racist, and holds the mayor of Safad, Ilan Shohat, responsible for the constant attacks of Israelis on Arabs living in the 1948 Palestinian land.
Settlers raid town in Salfit to perform religious rituals
SALFIT, Mar 20 (WAFA) — Thousands of settlers accompanied by Israeli soldiers Sunday raided Kifl Hares town, west of Salfit in the West Bank, to perform religious rituals at the tombs of Joshua, Caleb and Nun, according to local sources. Settlers stormed the town at dawn today along with military forces. Israeli soldiers spread throughout the town and closed all entrances to provide protection to settlers during their religious ritual. The settlers and forces withdrew from the town at 7 am this morning.
Greek Orthodox church sells Jerusalem land to Jewish investors
Haaretz 18 Mar — The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate sold most of its leasing rights to large swaths of Jerusalem to a group of Jewish investors last week … In the deal, signed March 10, the Patriarchate sold most of its rights to lease the land it has held in Jerusalem to a group of Jewish investors from Israel and abroad. The sale includes 85 parcels on hundreds of dunams of the capital’s most expensive properties … The agreement has long-term political significance though it may not make economic sense for the buyers, said property assessor Koby Bir … Bir said the deal was high risk. “No one promises that tomorrow morning, or in a few years, the JNF will start making deals to renew the leases,” he said. “But now the land is being managed by a group of Jewish investors and the Palestinian threat has been removed…”
Jerusalem conference focuses on uniting the city — for Jewish residents only
AIC 20 Mar — Right wing Israeli activists accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “dividing Jerusalem” at the 8th annual Jerusalem Conference, held last week from 15-16 March.”Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] has already divided Jerusalem! Not with words, but with actions… There are seven neighborhoods – and now another one has just been added, Isawiya, very close to here – where Jews are not permitted to enter!” said Arieh King, director and founder of the Israel Land Fund, an organization aimed at “acquiring all the land of Israel for the Jewish people.”
New Israeli legislation to limit rights of non-Jews, foreign workers
AIC 20 Mar — The first bill proposes that Israel establish a tribunal in the Justice Ministry for foreigners that would decide on matters of “immigration, entering Israel and leaving it, and matters of citizenship,” reported the Israeli news daily Haaretz. This category would include children born in Israel, including the children of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who are limited to residency status and not full citizenship. If the proposed bill passes, judges deciding on these cases would do so in private, without either a public or oral hearing, and based exclusively on written arguments, reported Haaretz. This will certainly place greater pressure and strain on residents of East Jerusalem and any plans to study or marry abroad.
Army violence / Incursions
Village of Awarta faced mass arrest, violence, and massive destruction during five days of curfew
ISM 19 Mar — Hundreds of soldiers entered the village in military vehicles early on the morning of the 12th of March, following the murder of five members of a settler family in the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar. According to the soldiers, they were searching for the murderer and would continue until they found one. One soldier told ISM activists, “we will search this village until we find someone.” In the process of ‘searching’ the houses the soldiers damaged framed pictures, furniture, TV sets, gas heaters, smashed holes in floors and walls, stole money and jewellery, and poured liquids over computers. The Israeli forces occupied around 30 houses to sleep in during the four nights they remained in Awarta. In some of the houses they evicted the families who had to seek shelter outdoors or in neighbours’ homes during the night; in others they forced the families to stay in one room as the soldiers occupied the rest of the house. In occupied houses the soldiers defecated in the rooms and used the families’ bed sheets as toilet paper … It has been reported that children were bitten by the Israeli military dogs that the soldiers had with them. A young physically disabled man was bitten by a dog which resulted in his hospitalisation. Loay Medjet Abdet is now scared to go inside his own home because he believes the dogs will attack him again.
Escalation in Gaza
Army kills 2 teenagers in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar 9:44 — Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinian teenagers in Juhor Addik north of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza strip on Saturday evening. Palestinian medics told Ma‘an that the two bodies were found after Israeli forces allowed ambulances to access the area late Sunday morning. The bodies were taken to the Ash-Shifa Hospital where they were identified as Imad Farajallah, 17, and Qasim Salah Iteiwa, 17, both from the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
1 injured as Israel tanks shell central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar 10:42 — A Palestinian man sustained wounds as Israeli tanks launched fresh attacks against targets in the central Gaza Strip, medics said. Palestinian medics said a man was hit by shrapnel across his body. Witnesses said Israel’s military fired three artillery shells at Juhr Addik, an area east of Al-Bureij refugee camp.
IDF tank-shield intercepts missile
Ynet 20 Mar 12:32 –Exchanges of fire between IDF soldiers and Palestinians were reported at around noon Sunday near the Al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza. During the fighting, Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at a Merkava 4 tank, which is equipped with the ‘Windbreaker’ defense system. The system intercepted the missile, and IDF forces responded with artillery fire.
PFLP group targets army post
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar 01:29 — The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Saturday that its fighters fired mortar shells toward Israel forces in eastern Gaza. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said militants fired two shells toward Israel tanks near Kissufim military post.
IDF officials say assassination of Hamas leaders an option
Ynet 19 Mar — The latest escalation in Gaza rocket attacks on southern Israel may lead to assassinations of Hamas military wing leaders, the IDF says. Military officials made it clear that Saturday’s barrage of some 50 mortar shells at the western Negev will not be ignored, adding that the army’s aerial attacks Saturday afternoon were merely “the first bullets” of Israel’s response.
Israel detains Gaza merchant at Erez crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli authorities detained a Palestinian merchant on Thursday as he tried to leave the Gaza Strip via Erez crossing on the border with Israel. Rajih Mahmoud Kahlout, 57, had been granted a permit to enter the West Bank from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Commerce, his son Rajaee told Ma‘an.
Silwan committee: Detained children gone through behavioral changes
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 19 Mar — According to a study by the Silwan defense committee, children from Jerusalem’s Silwan district have undergone marked behavioral changes after being detained in Israeli prisons. The restrictions placed on them could have negative long-term effects, Silwan committee member Fakhri Abu Diab said in a press statement Friday. He said dozens of children have been dealt with harshly in Israeli prisons and during investigations. He pointed out several cases of hysteria, mental disorders, nightmares, fear of darkness, speech impediments and aggressive chills, illnesses not present prior to their detention.
Israel arrests five Palestinians in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM, Mar 20 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers arrest Sunday Palestinians from different and villages in Bethlehem. Security sources in Husan, a village west of Bethlehem, told WAFA that Israeli forces raided several homes, searched through their contents, and arrested five Palestinians. Forces also raided the nearby village of Rashayda east of the city.
Siege / Humanitarian
Israeli shelling destroys Gaza power lines
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli shelling on Saturday destroyed power lines providing electricity to the Gaza Strip, said Electricity Company spokesman Jamal Ad-Dardasawi. Ad-Dardawasi said Israeli shells struck main lines cutting off the power supply to areas east of Gaza City and in northern Gaza.
Gaza’s sole border crossing opens for limited deliveries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli authorities will partially open Gaza’s sole operating border crossing, Kerem Shalom, for the delivery of limited quantities of goods, humanitarian aid, and fuel, Palestinian liaison officials said … The deliveries are the first since Thursday
UN OCHA: The Monthly Humanitarian Monitor – February 2011
February’s events illustrate how policies implemented in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) undermine the resilience and coping mechanisms of Palestinians, further weakening vulnerable communities. This is particularly evident in the case of the northern West Bank village of Khirbet Tana (Nablus), where Israeli authorities carried out extensive demolitions this month, leaving 55 people displaced. Stop-construction orders were also given to the community’s school. This was the sixth demolition that the village has endured, and the third in just over a year. Demolitions also occurred in other parts of the West Bank, including the demolition of six cisterns, which are used to harvest rainwater for both human and animal consumption in rural areas.
Arab victim ‘stabbed 10 times by haredim’
Ynet 20 Mar — Christian Arab assaulted near Safed says ‘Jews’ racism against us has reached point of real violence’ — Alber Halul, who was stabbed Saturday night by a group of masked men he claims are haredim, recounted the attack Sunday. “They threatened to shoot us if we resisted and stabbed me 10 times – in my head, my leg, and my neck,” he told Ynet … Halul says he knows the men were ultra-Orthodox Jews although they wore masks. “While they were attacking us one of the said that if we dared to resist they’ll shoot us and we knew from their accent and their clothes that they were ultra-Orthodox,” he said.
Activism / Solidarity
Palestinian anti-wall activist tortured, threatened with rape and execution by Shin Bet because of BDS activities
19 Mar — While the anti-boycott bill is aimed at shutting up internal Israeli calls for BDS, much more punitive measures continue to be inflicted on Palestinian activists. Jesse Rosenfeld, reporting for Alternet, has an exclusive report on the alleged torture of Mohammad Othman, a key organizer in the non-violent resistance campaign against the West Bank separation barrier. After returning from Norway in 2009, where he met with “Norwegian socialist movements and BDS activists, as well as members of the national Parliament, including the Norwegian finance minister,” Othman was arrested at the West Bank-Jordan border. The interview with Rosenfeld marks the first time Othman has spoken out about his conditions in prison.
Rachel Corrie trial to resume in April
AIC 20 Mar — The trial for Rachel Corrie, the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) activist killed in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, continues in the Israeli city of Haifa, on 3 and 6 April. Six state witnesses remain to testify, including commanders on the ground in 2003 … The bulldozer driver who struck and killed Rachel in Rafah, Gaza, testified for the first time in court hearings in October 2010 in the civil lawsuit filed by the Corrie family against the state of Israel. Prior to the start of the hearings. the Haifa District Court granted a government request to allow soldiers, including the driver of the bulldozer, to testify behind a screen during the court hearings.
Quest for Palestinian unity
Hamas calls for end to pro-unity rallies
GAZA CITY (Ma‘n) 20 Mar — Hamas on Saturday called on protesters to end pro-unity rallies in the Gaza Strip … The March 15 movement, a coalition of Palestinian youth groups, organized the protests, also held across the West Bank since Tuesday. Protesters say they will continue to rally until the division ends … In a press conference Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Fatah security men and affiliates of organizing the protests. He said the rallies were “an attempt by groups of the former security departments affiliated with Fatah and those allied with it to create chaos in the street, taking advantage of and hiding behind calls to end the division.”
Palestinian presidency urges calm in Gaza
20 Mar — The Palestinian presidency on Saturday called on militant groups in Gaza to maintain calmness and ceasefire with Israel … Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, said that keeping the calm is important to make President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative to visit Gaza successful. Abu Rdineh hinted that Israel, which criticized Abbas’ initiative, and some Hamas extremists, who also opposed it, might have agreed to escalate the situation in Gaza.
Hamas urged to cease attacks on demonstrators
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Hamas authorities in Gaza should punish those responsible for attacks on peaceful demonstrators calling for Palestinian political reconciliation, Human Rights Watch said Saturday. “It is a dismal reflection on Hamas that it is violently cracking down on peaceful demonstrators calling for political reconciliation,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement
Abbas asks Egypt to support unity initiative
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said Saturday that he was mandated by President Mahmoud Abbas to submit an initiative for national Palestinian unity to Egypt.
Bethlehem’s Unity Tent refuses to welcome US consulate delegation
Monjed Jado — PNN Exclusive 19 Mar — Palestinian youth protesting at the Manger square in Bethlehem refused to welcome an official delegation from the US Consulate of Jerusalem … Youth welcomed the delegation as individuals just as they welcomed all people from all over the world who support the Palestinian people. However, they refused to welcome the delegates of the Consulate as officials due to the American veto of UN resolution against Israeli settlements. The young men and women also criticized the Sheikh of the Manger Square mosque, who said during his sermon on Friday that young men and women protesting together are against the values of Islam.
Gaza rally draws a diverse crowd calling for unity / Rami Almeghari
EI 19 Mar — [detailed description of the rallies held in Gaza on Tuesday, 15 March, quoting participants on their reasons for being there] …The protest had a festive atmosphere and people from different social categories participated. A group of women sat on the floor and chanted slogans, a number of medical staff dressed in white uniforms were gathered near them, another group of youth changed “No Fatah, no Hamas, Palestine is the essence,” while a circle of other youth sang “Palestinians, Palestinians and we should protect our lands.”
Other political news
Palestinians eye UN recognition of state
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 20 Mar — The Palestinians are planning to ask the United Nations to recognise a Palestinian state and grant them membership of the world body, a top official said on Sunday … Erakat said no date had been set for the move, which would request the world body recognise a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with east Jerusalem as its capital, saying only that it would happen “as soon as possible.”
Press / Other media
Gaza government ‘committed to press freedom’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said Saturday that the Hamas-led government was committed to press freedom, as journalists reported unprecedented harassment in the Gaza Strip. Hammad met a delegation of reporters and government media officials to discuss complaints after journalists covering pro-unity youth protests were beaten, interrogated and threatened by security forces.
Armed men attack Reuters Gaza bureau
Reuters 19 Mar 20:37 — Gunmen claiming to belong to Hamas raid news agency’s office; CNN, NHK also targeted … Several armed men entered Reuters’ office in Gaza on Saturday, threatened employees with guns and took away a video camera, apparently after they spotted a reporter filming a demonstration from the building. The men struck one Reuters journalist on the arm with a metal bar and threatened to throw another out of the window of the high-rise block. The group, which numbered about 10 men, smashed a television set and other equipment before leaving … A senior official of Hamas condemned the violence and denied that the group was involved in the attack
WAFA monitors incitement and racism in Israeli media
RAMALLAH, Mar 20 (WAFA) – Palestine News and Information Agency WAFA monitored incitement and racism against the Palestinians and Arabs published by the Israeli media between March 6 and 11. Under the title: “Palestinians are the ones who shoots at the army and not settlers,” broadcaster Yaron Dekel hosted in his ’All Talk’ show on Israel Radio Reserve Major Barak Okavi, to discuss a new Israeli army training ; where soldiers are trained to confront settlers
EJC: European attitudes ‘deeply disturbing’
Ynet 20 Mar — Poll conducted by German think-tank finds 72% of Poles, 68% of Hungarians and 50% of Germans believe ‘Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era’ … Perhaps the most remarkable finding in the survey was when asked to respond to the statement that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” 63% of the study’s participants in Poland agreed with the statement, while in Germany 47.7% expressed agreement.
Secular neighborhoods unite to counter ultra-Orthodox takeover
Haaretz 20 Mar — Secular activists fighting the influx of ultra-Orthodox families into their neighborhoods across the country have begun meeting and exchanging advice, Haaretz has learned. The secular residents say they fear their communities will become overwhelmingly Haredi over the years, though some also said their concern was financial, fearing the value of real estate in their community would drop if large ultra-Orthodox families moved in.
Analysis / Opinion
Israeli taxes are funding an anti-Arab worldview / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 20 Mar — When Palestinians ‘incite’ against Israel, this is a matter for international protest, but when Safed’s chief rabbi incites against Arabs, Israeli Jews merely roll their eyes … Eliyahu and his comrades are confidently drawing the new borders of the Jewish state according to the racist principles and fascist values being fleshed out in the Knesset. The map’s general outlines can be easily seen already: They twist and turn around every neighborhood, home, village or city populated by Arabs, and they hug and embrace every settlement and outpost until a blood-chilling map of two colors is produced: One color for territories that should be Arab-free, another for territories currently free of Jews. Each person knows exactly where he should live, and where he doesn’t belong. The map is being etched by torching Arab student’s cars, terrorism euphemistically labeled “price tag,” preventing the renting of apartments to Arabs, and taking over Arab land in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem. It’s a map aimed at purifying the Jewish camp and preventing Israel from becoming a binational state. This isn’t incitement. It’s an activity subcontracted to Eliyahu and his followers by the Israeli government.
Hamas attacked Israel fearing Palestinian reconciliation / Avi Issacharoff & Amos Harel
Haaretz 20 Mar — Despite the escalation, it seems for now that neither Israel nor Hamas is seeking a broad confrontation … Yesterday, Hamas publicly announced that its people were behind the latest incident. They said the reason was the Israel Air Force’s attack Wednesday on the Hamas training camp in the ruins of the settlement of Netzarim in which two people were killed. That attack had been precipitated by a Qassam strike a few hours earlier near Sdero. Hamas said – and to a certain extent justifiably – that Israel had exceeded the unwritten rules of the game. The Qassam had been fired by a marginal Palestinian group, and the accepted response would have been a bombing of empty Hamas offices or an escape tunnel without casualties. As in the previous rounds of violence, the two sides apparently have more in common than they are willing to admit. Hamas coldly calculated the escalation of fire on Israel yesterday, as Israel did in attacking the Netzarim camp.
Japan and Israel: Two ways of dealing with disaster / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 20 Mar — …Last week, I saw a noble nation in Japan. For Israelis, it would have been inconceivable. Anyone coming from the land of fears, real and imagined, excessive and inflamed – a national disaster every day, catastrophe every hour – is overwhelmed by the Japanese composure and restraint in the face of terrifying calamity … The media did not cynically inflame emotions and fears … Nobody complains, nobody lays blame. A stranger, especially an Israeli, is unable to grasp it. From distant Tel Aviv, I write with an aching heart: Fukushima, my love, may the sun rise on you.
Iraq, other Mideast
Saturday: 13 Iraqis killed, 28 wounded
As anti-war activists in the United States publicly mark the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi demonstrators continue to protest against Bahrain‘s crackdown. Meanwhile, at least 13 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in the latest attacks.
Latest developments in Arab world’s unrest
AP 20 Mar — EGYPT: Partial results from a third of Egypt’s provinces show massive turnout and a vote overwhelmingly in favor of constitutional changes that eliminate restrictions on political rights and civil liberties. YEMEN: Tens of thousands of people join a funeral procession for protesters killed by government gunmen and the Yemeni president’s own tribe calls on him to step down, robbing the embattled U.S.-backed leader of vital support….