and other news from Today in Palestine:
Tuesday-Wednesday, 17-18 May 2011
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Rightist Jewish organization sues Sheikh Jarrah activists for libel
Haaretz 18 May — Elad demands NIS 500,000 in damages from leftist activists for claiming that Elad’s operations cause harm to East Jerusalem Palestinians.
1-minute video from 22 April: Blindfolded in Silwan (Kfutim)
Solidarity activists tried to give the visitors of the “City of David” site, located in Silwan and run by the radical settler organization “ELAD”, a taste of the reality that exists only yards away. Some did not like to be reminded what their entrance fees support. [very ugly language from the ELAD people]
Israeli forces break into mosque in Jerusalem, arrest two youths
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 May — Israeli forces Wednesday broke into Ebn-Qudamah mosque, in Wadi el Joz, a neighborhood in Jerusalem, tampered with its content and arrested two Palestinian youths present at the area, according to witnesses. Witnesses told WAFA that an Israeli reinforced force, including intelligence, soldiers, and police broke into the mosque, smashed its front door, seized the loudspeakers, closed the mosque and hung on the door a closing order issued by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Isaac Aheronovic, under the pretext of ‘the mosque belongs to Hamas’ as well as they arrested two youths.
Jerusalemites foil Jewish settlers’ attempt to capture Palestinian land
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-18 May — Jerusalemite youths managed to foil an attempt by a group of settlers to seize a land lot owned by a Palestinian family in Thawri suburb in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday. Rasem Abdulwahid, a specialist in Jerusalem affairs, said that the Jewish fanatics installed barbed wire round the land owned by Istanbuli family. He said that the young men managed to cut the wire around the land, 1500 square meters, and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers who came to protect the settlers forcing them to retreat after firing gas bombs and rubber bullets at the youth.
Israeli activist attacked, unprovoked, by Israeli soldiers in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 May — Pro-Palestinian Israeli activist Gil Gutglick was detained today by Israeli troops, after he and several other activists attempted to non-violently defend a tract of land in Silwan slated for settler annexation on Tuesday afternoon. Despite the act triggering no confrontation, Gutglick was attacked by Israeli troops and arrested. He was then transferred to Oz police station and moved to another, unknown station.
Settlers attempt to annex land in Wadi Rababa, resident arrested
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 May — Israeli troops arrested Silwan resident Khaled al-Zeer on Tuesday when a settler lodged a claim against him. Al-Zeer was accused by a settler to have assaulted him when settlers attempted to annex a tract of Palestinian land in the Wadi Rababa district of Silwan yesterday. Khaled was transferred to Oz police station and is set to stand trial this morning in the ‘Magistrate Court’.
Court extends detention of injured youth from Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 May — Silwan youth Muhammad Abu Sakran’s detention was extended yesterday by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, in order that he may be indicted tomorrow in the Central Court. Abu Sakran is accused by police of stone-throwing and participation in clashes that occured in the area Tuesday night. Abu Sakran’s brother Hussein Abu Sakran denounces the allegations as false, pointing to the shoulder injury suffered by his brother and the circumstances of his arrest. Hussein stated that his brother and another detainee were transferred from the neighborhood to hospital when they were the victims of a hit-and-run that also hit undercover police officers. Although Abu Sakran was suffering severe injury and discomfort, the judge refused his release on the basis of Israeli officers’ testimonies … His brother added that Abu Sakran was taken directly from hospital to Maskubiya prison.
Undercover Israeli forces also kidnapped two children from Assawiya. Walid Alayyan, 16, and Ahmad Hussein Alayyan, 16, were taken without warning from the neighborhood yesterday afternoon.
Female prisoner’s detention without charge extended for the seventh time
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 May — The Jerusalem Magistrates Court extended the detention of Silwan woman Su‘ad Shoyoukhi on Tuesday for a further 24 hours, marking the seventh time since the beginning of May that such a decision be passed. Shoyoukhi remains in detention without charge. Her mother states that “Su‘ad is blessed with high morale, but it is clear that this experience has damaged her. She is forced to undergo perpetual interrogation, and has been beaten and tortured during these days in detention.”
Tell me who your friends are
SettlementWatchEastJerusalem 15 May — The close relationship between the Jerusalem police and the settlers is proved again at the ceremony for new Jerusalem District Commander. The newly appointed Jerusalem Police Commander Niso Shaham invited some old friends, among them settlers and extremists rabbis. A local Haredic website published some interesting pictures from the event in which Shaham was seen exchanging hugs, and posing for photographs with the East Jerusalem settler leadership, among them Yonatan Yossef, the head of the Sheikh Jarrah settlers gang …. Who was not invited? The citizens of Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and other East Jerusalem neighborhoods that are suffering daily from the pressure and violence of settlers’ guards in their midst.
PLC members get their first hearing after five years
Pal. Monitor 18 May — On Tuesday, 17 May, Israel’s High Court in Jerusalem heard the case of four legislators from Jerusalem whose residency rights were revoked in 2006 when they were elected to the Hamas-led Palestinian Legislative Council. While the judge did not adjudicate on their case, after five years of waiting, the hearing is seen as progress … For Mohammad Totah, the ramifications of Israel deporting the men on charges of “disloyalty” are huge. In an interview conducted by Electronic Intifada, Totah warned that their deportation could unleash a watershed of deportations on similar grounds, “It means deporting thousands of people from East Jerusalem for disloyalty. This word does not have any dimensions or any measures, so they can claim that anybody living in East Jerusalem … is disloyal to the Israeli occupation and then deport him. We know that it is one of the main objectives of the Israeli plan to empty East Jerusalem of the Palestinian people.”
Jewish settlers storm Palestinian school in occupied Jerusalem, attack homes in Al-Khalil
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 17 May — Jewish settlers, escorted by Israeli occupation forces, stormed a school for orphans in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday and assaulted a number of students. The Palestinian ministry of education said that the occupation forces arrested the headmaster and his deputy, adding that three of the students were injured in the settlers’ attack. It said in a statement that the students’ lives were in danger after they were forced out of school and left easy prey for settlers’ attacks.
Meanwhile, Jewish settlers threw a firebomb at a Palestinian home in Al-Khalil on Tuesday during an attack on a number of suburbs in the city. Witnesses told the PIC that setters threw a firebomb at a home for El-Baradei family south of the city as other groups were seen throwing stones at Palestinian cars in downtown.
Knesset members to storm Nabi Yusuf tomb in Nablus in broad daylight
NABLUS, (PIC)– Israeli war minister Ehud Barak has agreed to allow a “visit” by 20 Knesset members, mostly affiliated with the far right parties, to Nabi Yusuf [Prophet Joseph] tomb in Nablus in broad daylight for the first time. Hebrew daily Ma’ariv said on Wednesday that the “visit” would take place within the few coming days with full escort on the part of the Israeli army to ascertain their right to visit the site during daytime and to control the road leading to the shrine. Previous “visits” by Jewish settlers to the shrine were always made at night and after coordination with the Palestinian Authority’s security.
Rampaging Israeli settlers invade Palestinian village of Tuba
AIC 16 May — Late last night (15 May), Israeli settlers invaded the village of Tuba, damaged property, and killed and stole several sheep belonging to the Ali Awad family.
Palestinians of Tuba reported that they counted seven masked settlers, who entered and left the village on foot, and saw two cars at the outskirts of Tuba, near the chicken barns of Ma’on settlement. The rampaging settlers stole seven sheep, killed two, and injured others, including one which lost an eye. In addition, the settlers upended three water tanks, which held a total of 4.5 cubic meters of water. They destroyed fences, punctured a storage tent and three large sacks of yogurt, damaged a goat pen and destroyed the ventilation pipe of an outhouse. They also set loose a donkey, which later returned.
Settler attacks with Molotov cocktails in Nakba Day in Hebron
ISM 17 May — Jamal Abu Saifan told the International Solidarity Movement that around 6.30 pm on Sunday, four masked settlers appeared and started to throw Molotov cocktails and glass bottles towards one of the houses of the Abu Saifan family in Western Hebron. 19 people live in the house which was attacked, including several children. The family has five houses, situated just below a religious school of the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba. The attackers were standing in the school yard.
Video: Daily life in Hebron: Israeli settlement activity in the Old City
uploaded by Alhaqhr on May 17, 2011 — “On Saturdays, I do not wash laundry or use the back yard of my house. Also, out of fear, I do not leave my house.” [doesn't harassing Palestinians constitute 'work', not to be done on the Sabbath??]
IOF troops storm Wadi Qana, block entry of farmers
SALFIT, (PIC) 17 May — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the Wadi Qana region near Salfit and expelled farmers from it after declaring it a closed military zone. Nazmi Salman, the Deir Estiya village council head, said in a press release on Tuesday that the soldiers occupied the valley and forced the farmers out of it. He added that he went to the soldiers to ask them for the military order but they refused to show it. Wadi Qana is located on eight mountains and surrounded by nine Jewish settlements that distorted the valley’s features and confiscated almost all of its fertile land leaving only tens of dunums to the rightful Palestinian owners, which are also the target of constant settlers’ attacks.
UN: Israel has displaced 149 Palestinian children in 2011
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 16 May — Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes has displaced 149 children in the West Bank so far this year, figures from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees show … The figures show a sharp rise from with the same period in 2010, when 142 Palestinians — including 61 children — were forcibly displaced.
Caught: Ahava’s theft of occupied natural resources finally exposed
CODEPINK 18 May — WASHINGTON – May 18 – After years of strenuous denial, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its main manufacturing plant in an illegal West Bank settlement, is proven by documentary evidence to be in violation of international law through its theft of Palestinian resources. This evidence was recently discovered by Who Profits (www.whoprofits.org), a research project of the Israeli Coalition for Peace, which documents corporate activity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory. Prior to this finding representatives of Ahava repeatedly claimed that the company does not make use of natural resources from the West Bank:
Detention / Court actions
IPS refuses to free a Palestinian mother despite court order
GAZA, (PIC) 18 May — The Israeli prison service (IPS) has refused to release a detained Palestinian mother of six despite a court order to the effect, the Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights said … the Ahrar director added in a statement on Tuesday that Samha Hijaz, 37, was detained while on her way to visit her two detained brothers … on 8 February 2011 and charged with planning to smuggle mobile phones to her brothers. Samha categorically denied the charge … Khafsh said that an Israeli military court decided last Sunday that Samha should be released but the IPS refused.
2 more prisons join strike action
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May — Palestinian detainees in six Israeli prisons continued protest action Wednesday, observing another two days of hunger strike as a move to secure the release of their peers from extended periods in solitary confinement. This is the third week in a row that strike actions have been implemented, and saw the Palestinian population in the Hadarim and Gelboa prisons join the more than 600 already striking prisoners from the Ramon, Nafha, Ashkelon and Eshil facilities, ministry of prisoners affairs spokesman in Gaza Riyadh Al-Ashqer said. The detainees on strike have said that dozens of their peers are in solitary confinement, some for years, and they are calling for their release into the general prison population.
IOF nabs 12 West Bankers at dawn Wednesday
WEST BANK, (PIC) 18 May – The IOF nabbed six boys, five of them under 18, at 2:30 a.m. in Azzoun village east of Qalqilya after patrolling the village and then raiding their parents’ homes and tampering with their property. The IOF arrested two more young men after raiding several homes in Houssam west of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank after carrying out search raids on several homes.
The same day, Israeli authorities have transferred Waleed Khalid, director of the West Bank newspaper “Falastin”, to administrative detention for six months, claiming that he poses a threat to the Israeli state.Khalid has spent a total of around 16 years in Israeli prisons and solitary confinement.
Nablus: 1 detained during village raid
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israel’s military raided the village of Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqeiyah south of Nablus on Wednesday, detaining one young man following what residents said was a stone-throwing incident on the nearby highway. The village is next to the main road connecting Nablus to Ramallah, which also connects to illegal Jewish-only settlements in the area, and is often the site of stone-throwing by both settler youth and Palestinians. Soldiers entered the village after a report had been made that stones were being thrown at settler cars, blocking off the entrance to the area and carrying out a search of several homes. Twenty-year-old Ahmad Mousa was detained
Army arrests 4 Palestinians at Tulkarem checkpoint
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 18 May — Four were detained from their car on Wednesday, as they drove through Israel’s Jabra military checkpoint west of Tulkarem, local officials said. Soldiers pulled the unidentified men from their vehicle and transferred them to an unknown location.
Israel actions ‘surpass barbarism of apartheid South Africa’, group says after Na’eem Jeenah deportation / Ali Abunimah
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign of South Africa (PSC) has confirmed that prominent scholar Na’eem Jeenah is expected back in Johannesburg Thursday morning after he was detained by Israeli authorities, interrogated and held incommunicado on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on 17 May, before being deported to Istanbul without his passport or belongings.
IOF soldiers storm home of MP
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the house of MP Mohammed Abu Juhaisha in Al-Khalil at dawn Tuesday and handed his son Musab a summons to the intelligence office in Etzion. Two of Abu Juhaisha’s other sons are held in Israeli occupation prisons … The seven sons of the Hamas MP have been repeatedly held by Israel and the PA security apparatuses over the past ten years.
Witnesses: Israeli forces detain 6 near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 May – Israeli forces raided the southern west Bank town of Al-Khadir near Bethlehem overnight Monday and detained six young men, local sources said. Al-Khadir resident Khalid Mahmoud Marzouq told Ma‘an on Tuesday morning that Israeli forces ransacked the home of his neighbor Mahmoud Abdullah Subih shortly after midnight. Marzouq said soldiers detained three of Subih’s sons identified as Mahir, 25, Mazin, 17, and Basil 20. He added that three others visiting the family were also detained.
Family says Israeli jailers poured boiling oil on its son
NABLUS, (PIC) 17 May — A Palestinian family said its son, Raf’at Bani Odeh, was exposed by Israeli jailers to excruciating physical and psychological torture at the time of his six-year detention. The family added that its son spent most of his imprisonment term in solitary confinement and boiling oil was once poured on him by Israeli interrogators, so he suffers from serious physical and psychological scars as a result of that … The Palestinian prisoner society also confirmed that Bani Odeh suffers from serious mental problems a result of his exposure to torture and medical neglect in prison and thus he is in dire need of urgent treatment.
West Bank teens who confessed to killing Israeli family are resigned to fate, lawyer says
LATimes 18 May — Nobody seems to know what was going through the heads of Amjad Awad, 19, and a distant cousin, Hakim Awad, 18, when they broke into a Jewish settlement near their village in the northern West Bank in February and killed a family of five people, including three children.A family member of Hakim expressed disbelief, saying the pair were just kids. But none of the Awads’ family members have been allowed to visit them in prison to question the pair, who confessed to the killings shortly after their arrest in mid-April by the Israeli army. “They said they have done it and they are not going to plead innocent or claim they made their confession under duress,” their attorney, Faris Abu Hasan, said. “I do not know what kind of state of mind they were in when they confessed.” … “I do not think I will have a case in court,” Hasan said. “It seems that it is already decided.”
Former IDF spokesperson and Southern Brigade commander to testify in Corrie civil trial. May 22 to be final court hearing
RCF 17 May …The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by Attorney Hussein abu Hussein, charges the Israeli government and Ministry of Defense with responsibility for killing American peace activist Rachel Corrie in Rafah, Gaza in 2003. Since the trial opened in March 2010, nearly 2000 pages of court transcripts have been recorded, from more than 20 testimonies, including that of 14 military personnel. Most government witnesses were identified only by their initials, and nearly half testified while hidden behind a screen.
Golan Heights ‘infiltration’
Israel expels 2 Palestinian returnees from Syria
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 May– Two Palestinian protesters who entered Israel from Syria on Sunday during huge demonstrations on the armistice line were deported on Tuesday, a military spokeswoman said … Israeli army radio said the two were a man and a woman but no further details were available.
‘It was always my dream to reach Jaffa,’ Syrian infiltrator says
Reuters 16 May — Hassan Hijazi, 28, surrenders to police a day after he pushed through Syrian border, and then hitch-hiked and took a public bus to Jaffa in search of his parents’ former house — A man identifying himself as a Syrian civil servant said on Monday he hitch-hiked and rode a bus alongside Israeli soldiers to Tel Aviv after pushing through an Israeli frontier fence with Palestinian demonstrators. -
Golan’s Druze community divided over protests
MAJDAL SHAMS, Syria (IRIN) 15 May — When thousands of Palestinian refugees gathered on the Syrian border with Israel near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights recently, local villagers were stunned. It was the first time in more than 20 years that there had been trouble on this border … But the May 15 incident was only the latest sign of unrest in the usually calm hilltops of Golan. Since protests began in Syria in March, the Druze community in Golan has been divided between those who support the current regime of President Bashar Assad and those who support the protesters. The Druze are a small monotheist religious sect found in several Middle East countries.
After Nakba Day violence, normal life resumes in Majdal Shams
Haaretz 17 May — One day after more than 100 infiltrators crossed the Syria-Israel cease-fire line at Majdal Shams, and a total of 14 infiltrators were killed on the Syrian and Lebanese borders, things returned to normal in the Golan Heights Druze town on Monday … Majdal Shams’ restaurants, coffee houses and pubs, where the alcohol flows freely, were full. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking we’re part of Israel,” a young local man, who would not give his name, told Haaretz. “We still feel part of the Syrian people, but at the same time we want to see change in Syria, we’re waiting for democratization and liberalism,” he said … The sight of hundreds of Syrian Palestinians crossing from Syria into Majdal Shams is something people do not seem to have fully digested yet. “It’s had a great emotional impact on us,” Sfadi said.
Video: Israelis secure line of control inside occupied Syria
Land mine exploded when military vehicle rolled over it – so there were landmines, only luck that none of the ‘infiltrators’ stepped on one?
Another Nakba Day video – a bit different
Nakba Day demonstrations started by young schoolgirls in Beit Ommar
Palestine Solidarity Project — Video of Nakba demonstrations on May 15, 2011, in the West Bank village of Beit Ommar and nearby refugee camp of Aroub. The girls make three attempts to reach the checkpoint, but soldiers stop them with tear gas. They fire tear gas directly at protesters (illegal by Israeli law, potentially lethal) instead of shooting the canisters in an arc. After the street is cleared the army advances, using rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition.
Amnesty calls for investigation into Nakba Day deaths
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — A “full, impartial and independent investigation” must be launched into the Israeli military’s use of force against Palestinians and Syrian Druze during Sunday protests which saw 13 killed, international rights group Amnesty International said … In its call for an investigation, Amnesty criticized Israel for its characterization of the events marking the Palestinian Nakba – the “catastrophe” of 1948 – “as ‘riots’ and attempts to ‘infiltrate’ into Israel illegally, and in several of the protests, demonstrators threw rocks towards Israeli troops,” noting that in no accounts have Israeli officials “claimed that any protesters fired on Israeli troops.
Israel broke international law by firing at unarmed protesters
MEMO 17 May — A legal expert in Israel has said that the country’s soldiers “broke international law” by firing at unarmed protesters at the weekend … According to Dr. Daphne Richmond-Barak, an expert in international law from the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Centre, firing on civilians is a breach of international law and that once the details of the event were made clear, it would be required of Israel to explain its actions. Her comments were quoted in the Jerusalem Post. The Israeli lawyer believes that there were “less violent” options that the military could have used in response to the protesters who crossed the border with Syria, such as detaining them.
IDF: No external probe into ‘Nakba Day’ border incident
Ynet 18 May — Criticism from within, as IDF chief decides GOC Northern Command internal inquiry into events on Syrian border, Majdal Shams sufficient. ‘It is inconceivable,’ says one officer … Senior officers in the IDF reserves have criticized the decision and told Ynet that in the past, smaller and less significant incidents were followed by independent inquiries.
Six Jerusalemites arrested following firebomb attack
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 17 May — Israeli policemen arrested six Palestinian young men in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday morning after firebomb attacks on a number of Israeli vehicles. The Israeli radio said that three Molotov cocktails were hurled at Israeli vehicles in the occupied holy city. It added that cars were passing near an Israeli security roadblock south of the city, adding that no injuries or damages were reported.
Gaza – under siege for 1435 days
IOF soldiers fire at Palestinian farmers
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC) 17 May — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened machine gun fire at Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza on Tuesday while reaping their crops, local sources said. They told the PIC reporter that the farmers were harvesting their wheat and barley crops in Abasan Al-Kabira east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip. The sources noted that IOF soldiers opened fire from positions behind the security fence at the farmers but no casualties were reported.
Photographer deliberately shot by Israeli soldier during Nakba Day clashes
Reporters without Borders 17 May — Palestinian news photographer Mohammed Othman was badly injured by a shot fired by an Israeli soldier while covering clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli troops at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel on 15 May … Reporters Without Borders was told that Othman was clearly identifiable as a journalist at the time of the shooting and was deliberately targeted … Two other journalists were injured during the 15 May clashes at the Beit Hanoun border crossing
Official: Malaysia flotilla to dock at Egypt port
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 May — A Malaysian aid flotilla [actually one boat] docked in the El-Arish port after Israeli forces forbade it from reaching Gaza, port director Maj.-Gen. Jamal Abdul Maqsoud said Tuesday. The Egyptian authorities will allow the flotilla remain in post until preparations are made to transfer the goods to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, Abdul Maqsoud said.
IHH: Mavi Marmara ready for next flotilla
Ynet 18 May — The Turkish IHH organization announced Wednesday that the Mavi Marmara ship, which was subjected to a deadly IDF raid while attempting to breach Israel’s maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip last May, is ready to set sail once more. … A few weeks ago, the organizers of the upcoming flotilla postponed the departure of the Gaza-bound maritime convoy to the end of June, and Israeli elements speculated that the measure was taken because the event failed to attract participants. But the IHH said that the event was delayed because of the elections in Turkey, and that 10,000 people have already signed up to take part.
New boats to be delivered to Gaza fishermen
MEMO 16 May — The Minister of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip, Dr Mohammad Ramadan al-Agha, has announced government plans to supply 50 fishermen with fishing boats free of charge. Forty of these boats will be given to fishermen who have lost their own boats over the last year as a consequence of Israeli attacks, while 10 others will be given to the poorest Palestinians in need. The fishing boat project is being launched within the context of a wider programme to help fishermen funded by the Islamic Bank.
Gaza coast guards demand pay rise
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Coast guards [lifeguards] stationed along Gaza’s beaches protested Tuesday, demanding a salary increase … Coast guard spokesman Omar Ayyash told Ma‘an the workers had received many promises of pay raises, but that their wages never increased … He added that some coast guards didn’t join the strike “because they are honest and they are afraid that anyone could come to the shore and drown. So they stood there to save people’s lives.”
UNRWA union strikes in Gaza, says 3 dismissed unfairly
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May — Palestinians working for the UN refugee agency in Gaza announced a comprehensive strike for Wednesday, over the dismissal of three employees union officials say were wrongfully let go. The strike will last all day Wednesday through Thursday, and see all of UNRWA’s unessential services, like schools, clinics, and administration offices close. Nearly 11,500 workers will walk out of their jobs, affecting 238 schools and 25 clinics.
300 truckloads of goods enter Gaza as siege continues
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israel will permit 300 truckloads of goods and humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Israeli officials informed Palestinian liaison officers.
Gaza crossing to receive 300 loads of goods
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israeli authorities decided to partially open Gaza’s sole remaining commercial crossing terminal on Wednesday, to allow aid and goods into the Strip … Construction materials remain limited to international aid agencies, and prohibited for commercial sale and use … The liaison official noted also that imports for Tuesday fell short of estimations.
Arrigoni Memorial Well project opened
MEMO 18 May — A well project in memory of Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni has been opened by the Municipality of Jabaliya El Nazla. Mr Arrigoni was killed by criminals in Gaza more than a month ago. The opening ceremony was attended by an Italian delegation along with officials from the Municipality, who told the audience that the project’s cost of €120,000 will be met by the French Committee for Supporting Palestine. When completed, the well will serve 70,000 Palestinians, giving a partial solution to the problem of fresh water in Jabaliya.
Stay Human blog: Women resisting…
17 May — ‘They came, and we offered them water: they spilt it, but we forgave them. They came, and we offered them food: they threw it away, but we forgave them. We set off to find food, and when we came back, the roads were blocked.’ This is how Israel has occupied Palestine, killing and torturing mothers, fathers and children, destroying houses, obstructing roads and stealing water”. Palestinian women have always resisted and will continue to resist. This is what Mariam, of the Union of Arab Women, tells us. The Union was formed in 1982 and supports and fights for women’s emancipation in all aspects of their daily life.
Stay Human blog: Our meeting with professors of agronomy from Al-Azhar faculty
16 May — In the afternoon, a delegation from the ‘Stay Human’ Convoy met some of the professors of agronomy from the faculty of Al-Azhar, in order to get a better understanding of the issues surrounding agriculture in the Gaza Strip … Palestinian soil is fertile and fecund. The climate is perfect for a wide range of high quality crops, such as peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, flowers, tomatoes. Once upon a time, sesame was also grown here, but not anymore … Intensive crop farming that would not require much land, would therefore cover the population’s needs. The Israeli occupation and economic stranglehold aimed at paralyzing self-sufficiency and maximizing benefits for Israel are obviously the biggest obstacles for the local economy. Israel’s expropriation of most of the area’s water resources have caused the collapse of the area’s irrigation networks: nowadays, rainfall is unfortunately the only remaining way to replenish underground water-tables.
Racism / Discrimination
Israeli police’s Facebook page rife with racist comments
Haaretz 17 May — The Israeli police’s official Facebook page faces criticism after allowing a stream of offensive and racist comments to be published on its page. The police say they regularly delete inappropriate comments, and have deleted over 1,500 responses during the past three weeks. Here are some of the comments Haaretz found on the Facebook page: “We’re leading the Arabushes around by the nose”; “With God’s help let this be the first one killed today and not the last”; “They have to be sprayed like cockroaches”; “Every stinking SOB Muslim who dies is a holiday for me.”
Why has University of Haifa banned on-campus political activity?
MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad ) canceled a scheduled lecture at the University of Haifa Sunday after the university announced it was banning on-campus political activity and called in security forces. The lecture, which would have coincided with Nakba Day, was arranged and approved by the university a month ago. Zuabi, who was invited by the Balad student association, had planned to discuss anti-Arab discrimination and other issues. MK Hanin Zuabi’s appearance was canceled after being invited by the Balad student association to speak of anti-Arab discrimination during Nakba Day.
No school for 180 Sephardic girls
Ynet 17 May — The 2011-2012 school year will open in four months, but it seems racial discrimination is already raising its ugly head: Ynet has learned that nearly 200 haredi girls in Jerusalem have yet to be admitted into educational institutions in the city, although registration has already ended. The students, most of them of Sephardic descent, make up 7% of the city’s ultra-Orthodox female students and are slated to begin studying in a seminary (high school for girls) next year. Almost a year after the arrest of parents of Ashkenazi students in the community Emmanuel over local schools’ discriminatory policies, it seems racial discrimination in Israel is still alive and kicking.
Shas rabbi: Woman’s voice allowed on radio
Ynet 18 May – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, has ruled that a woman’s voice can be heard on the radio. The rabbi was asked to address the issue following complaints filed against haredi Sephardic radio station Kol Barama for refusing to have women present programs or call in as listeners
Political / Diplomatic / International news
Third Intifada Youth to declare action plan to commemorate Naksa Day
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 18 May — The third intifada youth coalition said on its Facebook page it would declare soon a series of events to commemorate the 1967 naksa (setback) when the Zionists completed their occupation of Palestine. It added it had an action plan on this anniversary and would be posted on its Facebook page soon.
EU official: No restrictions — no Gaza crisis
Ynet 18 May — EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva believes that more access and freedom of movement will solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza .. “There is no reason for there to be a crisis, not in the West Bank and not in Gaza. If Palestinians had more opportunities, it would translate into more security for Israel.” … Georgieva’s duties as the EU’s humanitarian aid chief include helping Palestinian families whose homes are in danger of being razed by Israeli authorities and providing them with legal assistance. According to Georgieva, 60,000 such households are in danger of being evicted. During her tour of east Jerusalem, she met some of these families.
Report: Jailed leader urges unity progress
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Imprisoned Fatah leader and unity champion Marwan Barghouthi urged his party and Hamas to quickly implement the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo two weeks earlier. Barghouthi, convicted by an Israeli court for masterminding the second Palestinian uprising in 2000, was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council while serving five consecutive life terms, and was the keystone figure in the creation of the Prisoners Document, one of the first attempts to reconcile the rival parties.
Hamas insists: No talks with Israel
Ynet 18 May — Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar insisted his organization would not negotiate with Israel despite a statement to the contrary made by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Masha‘al, the Palestinian paper Al-Quds reported Wednesday. Masha‘al’s statement “does not represent the movement’s official stance, which is based on a plan of resistance and not negotiations”, al-Zahar said.
Report: Hamas, Fatah say progress in Cairo
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 17 May — Fatah and Hamas officials say talks in Cairo to work out the details of reconciliation have so far been positive, Egyptian media reported Tuesday.
Abbas: UN statehood bid no ‘stunt’
NEW YORK (AFP) 17 May — President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that his bid to secure international recognition for a Palestinian state was no “stunt” and would contribute to peace efforts with Israel.
PA delays local elections until October
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 May — The caretaker Palestinian Authority decided Tuesday to delay municipal elections until October 22, a cabinet statement said … Citing the 2005 elections law stipulating that elections must take place simultaneously in the West Bank and Gaza, the statement said officials concluded that it would not be possible to register all Gaza voters in time for a July vote.
‘70% of Palestinians expect third intifada if talks fail’
JPost 17 May — Palestinian poll shows one quarter oppose new intifada, 70% oppose firing rockets from Gaza; majority believes Israel interested in peace deal. A vast majority of Palestinians expects an eruption of a third intifada if Israeli-Palestinian peace talks reach an impasse, according to the results of a public opinion poll published on Tuesday. The poll, which was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion [PCPO], also showed that nearly 80% of Palestinians supported the recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah.
Obama reaffirms commitment to Israel
Ynet 18 May – WASHINGTON – United States President Barak Obama reaffirmed Washington’s “unshakable support and commitment” to the security of State of Israel Tuesday night during a reception in honor of Jewish American History Month held at the White House. “Jewish Americans have always stood up for freedom and democracy around the world,” noted Obama.
World Bank gives Palestinians mixed marks on corruption
Haaretz 18 May — The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday got mixed grades from the World Bank on official corruption: It’s doing well in managing public finances and reducing nepotism in civil service hiring, but has failed to prosecute most senior officials suspected of dipping into the public coffers.
Russia expels Israeli military attaché
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 May — Russia has expelled Israel’s military attaché at its Moscow embassy on spying allegations, Israeli defense officials said on Wednesday, dismissing the charges as unfounded.
Israel, Lebanon make rival UN protests over clashes
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 17 May — Israel and Lebanon filed rival protests to the United Nations over deadly clashes involving thousands of Palestinian demonstrators who converged on Israel’s borders, diplomats said. Israel blamed Lebanon for the 10 deaths and hundreds wounded when its troops shot at the thousands of Palestinian refugees commemorating the mass displacements of 1948 … In Lebanon, the government accused Israel of using “excessive force” against unarmed civilians.
Arafat adviser: Mitchell resigned over deputy’s ‘bias’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 May — A political adviser to the late president Yasser Arafat issued a statement Tuesday, alleging that US Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell resigned because of the “extreme bias” of his deputy Dennis Ross. Bassam Abu Shareef said Ross obstructed all US initiatives aiming to achieve progress in the peace process … The official paraphrased comments he said were made by Mitchell during a meeting, where he asked: “How can Dennis Ross assist in the peace process when he refuses to meet with the Palestinians, when he despises their leadership and hates their president?”
Knesset to discuss Armenian genocide amid deteriorating Turkey ties
Haaretz 18 May — Planned Knesset panel meet would be the first public discussion of a subject that Israel has longed sought to avoid as a result of its long-time alliance with Turkey.
Israel-Turkey ties threatened by new Gaza flotilla
ISTANBUL (AFP) 17 May — A new aid flotilla aiming to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip threatens to deal a fresh blow to Turkish-Israeli ties, a year after a bloody Israeli seizure of a Turkish activist ship. Bilateral relations remain stuck in crisis after several fence-mending meetings between the one-time allies over the past year failed to yield results, a Turkish diplomat told AFP.
Davutoğlu refuses withdrawal of Turkey from UN’s Gaza flotilla panel
ANKARA – Anatolia News Agency 17 May — Despite its dissatisfaction with how a U.N. inquiry into an Israeli flotilla raid is progressing, it is out of the question for Turkey to withdraw from the panel, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Tuesday. “Talks continue. However, our reaction will not be positive if a stance contradicting the U.N. report of last year is taken,” Davutoğlu told a TV program.
Shaath: Slovenia to recognize Palestine before September
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 May — Slovenia has promised to recognize an independent state of Palestine before September, a Fatah official said Tuesday. Nabil Sha‘ath met with the Slovenian president and others during a visit to Slovenia heading a delegation of Fatah leaders.
PA: Palestine may join Gulf Cooperation Council
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 May — Palestine may join the Gulf Cooperation Council when it establishes its statehood, a Palestinian Authority official said Monday. PA cabinet chief Naim Abul Huomos said joining the council was important on political, economic and geographic levels. Jordan’s decision to join the GCC encouraged officials to seriously consider the move, he added.
Watch: Former IDF soldiers reveal nature of the occupation / Mairav Zonszein
972mag 16 May — Breaking the Silence, the organization of former Israeli soldiers who literally ‘break their silence ‘ by sharing experiences from their military service and exposing the IDF to criticism, launched a video campaign on YouTube this week in which soldiers are seen identifying themselves for the first time in front of the camera … Here is another video of a former border policewoman. Yesterday, BTS’ website was hacked and it was impossible to access it for most of the day. But now it is back up.
Former Israeli soldiers break the silence on military violations / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 16 May — Testimonies posted on YouTube by campaign group describe routine harassment and humiliation of Palestinian civilians
Fleeing unrest, students appeal for spots at home universities
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 May — Students returning from universities in Libya and Yemen are appealing to the ministry of education this week, for exemptions from records transfer requirements, saying they could not obtain proper documents as uprising hit their host nations … As violence continues in both nations, students who have returned home to the West Bank are seeking opportunities to continue their studies at local institutions, but have met with opposition from university administrations saying they lacked the proper papers to transfer into classes.
Israeli Knesset to discuss new law that bans Muslim calls for prayers
Bethlehem – PNN 17 May — Israeli sources reported on Tuesday that Anastasia Michaeli, from the right wing Israel Betanu party submitted a bill of a law that forbids using loudspeakers to call for the prayers in mosques in Israel. The proposed bill will make it illegal to call for the prayers and anyone who violate the new law will be fined or serve jail time. During a tour in Nazareth city Michaeli said that she support freedom of worship but this freedom must not affect the “quality of life of thousands of Jews and Arabs” that, as she called it “suffer every day.”
Palestinian refugees making high fashion
[photos] CNN 18 May — Women living in refugee camps are embroidering clothes and accessories sold in high-end department stores, through a business started by a 27-year-old Palestinian woman. Zeina Abou Chaaban runs a social business called “Palestyle” selling embroidery made by Palestinian women in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
PA finds loophole to allow paving of road to new Palestinian city
Haaretz 18 May — The Civil Administration is set to approve the paving of a road to the planned Palestinian city of Rawabi, after officials tweaked the relevant planning regulations to stave off opposition by the right. The move is being seen as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States.
Tel Aviv University promotes pro-Israeli delegations to international campuses
AIC 17 May — An invitation to an information meeting about ‘pro-Israel’ student delegations was sent by the secretariat of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Political Communications to all of its graduates on Monday (16 May). The invitation, sent from an official Tel Aviv University email account, invites recipients who may be “interested in taking part in this important work” to attend a meeting about a new Israeli student initiative, “What is Rael,” “which aspires to act for the good of the branding and public diplomacy of Israel on university campuses abroad, which are strongholds of anti-Israeli actions.”
Jaffa gang suspected of plotting to kill sheikh, blame rightists for crime
Haaretz 17 May — Attorney Gur Finkelstein, who represents the Scientology Center in Israel, was detained several weeks for allegedly hiring this gang to help him with his own criminal endeavors — Israel Police forces have uncovered a Jaffa-based gang allegedly behind a series of attacks and attempted assassinations in the Tel Aviv area, including a plot to kill a senior sheikh of a local mosque, it was revealed after a gag order was lifted on Tuesday. Those mobsters are suspected of plotting to plant an explosive device at the Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa after Friday prayers, to kill a senior sheikh.
Analysis / Opinion / Interviews / Reviews
WAFA monitors incitement and racism in Israeli media
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 May – Palestine News and Information Agency (WAFA) monitored incitement and racism against the Palestinians and Arabs published by the Israeli media between May 6 and 13. [Examples:] Makor Richmon religious newspaper published an article by David Merhav titled “Nakba is the Outcome of Arab Nazi Acts”; in which he considered the Arabs’ 1948 disaster a continuation of the catastrophic outcomes of the Germans after they failed to exterminate the Jews. “What they call ‘Nakba’ is an absolute lie and an attempt to distort history; they aim to hold Israel responsible for the Arabs’ disaster to overcome the fact that the ‘Nakba’ is the outcome of the Arabs’ attempts to finish what the Nazi started,” Merhav added. “We Must Launch War for Judea and Samaria” (the West Bank) is the title of an instigating article by Israeli Army Reserve Major, Moshe Hsdai, published on Kikar Hashbat website….
Israel was infiltrated, but no real borders were crossed / Gideon Biger
Haaretz 17 May — The Syrians penetrated an area held by the State of Israel, but they did not cross the Israeli border. Nor did Palestinians from the Gaza Strip attempt to cross the Israeli border in the south — On Sunday, May 15, which the Arabs call Nakba Day, the media reported that Syrian civilians had crossed over the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. The prime minister even issued a dramatic announcement of the fact and promising that Israel will protect its borders. The incident raises the question of whether Israel has a border with Syria on the Golan Heights. The answer seems obvious, but in fact it is not.
The Nakba continues / Amira Hass
Haaretz 18 May — Israel crowns itself as the winner in the global competition of victimhood; yet it manufactures methods of oppression and dispossession — How natural it is for Israeli spokesmen to assert that the Nakba Day marches from Syria and Lebanon were the product of incitement and foreign calculations. The state, which bases its existence on 2,000 years of longing for and belonging to this country, shows contempt toward palpable displays of belonging to and longing for the same country of those who we expelled 63 years ago – and of their descendants.
Understanding the 1947 UN partition plan / Yousef Munayyer
[with map] 18 May — Yesterday, PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas published an Op-Ed in the New York Times where he discussed his personal experience as a refugee. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Abbas’ piece with the token Zionist response to any Palestinian claims on the events of 1948. Netanyahu “emphasized the Palestinians’ rejection of the UN’s partition plan in 1947, while the Jews were willing to accept it.” “Don’t you see,” says the Zionist narrative, “they don’t want a state. They want everything. We were ready to make a deal but they rejected it. All they do is reject, reject, reject, and that is all you need to know about the Arabs, so you can stop thinking now.”But wait a minute. What was this partition plan and why did the Palestinians reject it?
On the anniversary of the Nakba, demands for the right of return grow louder / Ali Badwan
MEMO 18 May — …Even Israel – that part of Palestine occupied in 1948 – witnessed marches to a number of Palestinian towns and villages in the Galilee region which were destroyed and had their population displaced in what has been described as ethnic cleansing. Palestinians commemorate the Nakba not only to mark the anniversary of the start of this tragic and ongoing process, but also to renew the national covenant, upholding their natural right to return to the land of Palestine, no matter how long it may take or how great the odds. There are now around 11 million Palestinians, 5.5 million of whom live in historic Palestine between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.
Haaretz editorial: Not all Palestinian demands are a threat to Israel
17 May — The defense minister was right to say he refuses to get excited over the fact that “a few dozen” Palestinians succeeded in entering Israel from Syria and thereby “violated Israel’s sovereignty.” Ehud Barak was also right to say that the Israel Defense Forces cannot station thousands of soldiers along the border to prevent such a “violation of sovereignty.” But it’s a pity this approach was lacking when Israel decided to attack a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza, that it vanishes when Israel uses dogs to chase off Palestinian laborers seeking to “violate its sovereignty” by entering the country to work, and that it’s the exact opposite of the manner in which the IDF maintains its meticulous closure of the Gaza Strip.
Historian writes of ‘pleasure’ at murder of pro-Palestinian activist / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 18 May — Author of op-ed article in Jewish Chronicle tells me he ‘rejoiced’ at death of Vittorio Arrigoni — I was sent a link this week to a piece published in the Jewish Chronicle by historian Geoffrey Alderman, the opening sentence of which I found pretty shocking. Under the headline This Was No Peace Activist, Alderman wrote: Few events – not even the execution of Osama bin Laden – have caused me greater pleasure in recent weeks than news of the death of the Italian so-called ‘peace activist’ Vittorio Arrigoni.”
For Palestinians, every day is Nakba Day / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 17 May — …This year, a third day of remembrance fell exactly a week later. It was Nakba Day, commemorating the displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their homes in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel, and the ensuing loss of hundreds of their villages effectively erased by the Jewish state. It may be fair to assume that Nakba Day is not for the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Gaza, in West Bank camps, in Lebanon and Syria and Chile and San Francisco. For them, every single day is Nakba Day. No, Nakba Day is for the rest of us, who go through our lives thinking that we can afford not to give it a second thought. And so it is that Israel’s government – in its zeal to blot out the very concept of the Nakba, in its paralysis in the face of an unprecedented Palestinian drive for statehood, in its inability to anticipate a Facebook-organized mass march past minefields and razor wire and assault-rifle bullets on a northern border — has inadvertently but irrevocably established 2011 as the Year of the Nakba … What we stand to learn from the three memorial days, each of them singular but all three intertwined, is that we remain, both Arab and Jew, prisoners of our own narratives.
Interview with Milad Ayyash’s sister
PalMon 17 May — Some have called him the first martyr of the Third Intifada. Milad Ayyash, who was shot to death last Friday, 13 May — two days before the anniversary of the 63rd Palestinian Nakba — was 17 when he died. His sister told Palestine Monitor that on the day he died, Milad woke early to spray-paint on a wall outside his house, “Palestine is Free on May 15th.” … Palestine Monitor spoke with one of Milad’s two sisters, Waed Ayyash, 24, in the Ayyash home in Ras al-Amud. Four days after her brother’s death, Waed says everything still feels like a dream.
The long overdue Palestinian state / Mahmoud Abbas
NYTimes 16 May — Ramallah, West Bank — SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine. This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/opinion/17abbas.html?_r=1&hp
Netanyahu: Abbas is distorting known historical facts
Reuters/Haaretz 17 May — Responding to Palestinian PM’s New York Times op-ed, PM says Palestinian leadership sees establishment of independent state as a way to continue the conflict with Israel, rather than end it.
Here comes your nonviolent resistance
Economist 17 May — For many years now, we’ve heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement. If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we hear, they’d have had their state long ago. Surely no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian movement of national liberation seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination … Palestinian commentators and organisers, including Fadi Elsalameen and Moustafa Barghouthi, have spent the last couple of years pointing out that these complaints resolutely ignore the actual and growing Palestinian non-violent resistance movement … In any case, if you’re among those who have made the argument that Israelis would give Palestinians a state if only the Palestinians would learn to employ Ghandhian tactics of non-violent protest, it appears your moment of truth has arrived.
Palestinian collaborator: ‘I am a traitor. I sold my people. But for what?’ / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 17 May — New film The Collaborator and his Family charts informant’s dark struggle to make fresh start in Israel … His story is not unique, and not even unusual. A report last year by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel estimated that 6,000 Palestinian collaborators and their families have moved to Israel but not been given adequate protection or proper status, and have essentially been abandoned by the security establishment to which they passed information.