Israel approves expansion of 2,000 settler homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 June — Israel’s Jerusalem municipality approved the expansion of 2,000 homes in the settlement district of Ramat Shlomo in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, allowing each Israeli home to add an additional room, a council press statement said. The announcement of new settlement activity came as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told France 24 television that, “there is no real way to announce an end to construction. There’s half a million people living there.” Palestinian Authority officials were quick to condemn the statement.
4 girls arrested for ‘price tag’ violence
Ynet 19 June – Police have arrested four female right-wing activists — three of them minors — on suspicion they torched Palestinian vehicles last month in Hebron. Officers suspect the girls have carried out a number of acts as part of the settlers’ ‘Price tag policy’, and believe that their arrest will restore relative calm to the West Bank. The Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court remanded by three days the arrest of one suspect, 20-year old Yaska Weiss of Kiryat Arba. Police first began suspecting the girls when a Palestinian vehicle was torched early one morning near Hebron. An ensuing investigation led to the arrests of two 15-year old girls and a 17-year old — all of whom reside in Jerusalem and the area. Weiss was arrested on Sunday. The investigation has revealed a number of other crimes related to an unofficial revenge policy upheld by right-wing extremists, termed ‘Price tag’, police say. Two of the minors were released under house arrest while the third remains in custody. Officers are planning additional arrests … The girls are being represented by Attorney Naftali Wertzbiger, who told Ynet this was one way teens relieved stress nowadays.
And more news from Today in Palestine:
Israeli undercover agents boast of killing Palestinians on TV
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — Undercover Israeli intelligence officers appeared on national television Saturday to talk about assassinating Palestinians in a program broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10. Oren Beaton presented a photo album of Palestinians he killed during his time as a commander of an undercover Israeli unit operating in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Beaton explained that he kept photos of his victims. “This is a photo of a Palestinian young man called Basim Subeih who I killed. This is another young man. I shredded his body, and the photo shows the remnants of his body,” he said … The report was filmed in the Palestinian territories, and showed agents wandering around the streets of Ar-Ram in occupied East Jerusalem with handguns under their shirts, illustrating that the agents were still operating in Palestinian cities. The agents, who speak fluent Arabic, are shown surrounded by masked Palestinian collaborators secretly deployed to the area to protect them … The report explained that officers conducted surveillance before an assassination, investigating the target’s friends and classmates … In this way, agents would put together an image of the target’s behavior and routine. Agent “D” said officers would then “seize the target and wait until the commander arrives to confirm his identity. Then we shoot him.” This confirms previous accounts from Palestinians who have said they witnessed Israeli agents shooting Palestinians at point-blank range.
‘Major ordered Palestinian run over’
Ynet 19 June – An IDF major was indicted Sunday on charges of overstepping authority and putting a life at risk by ordering a soldier to run over a 20-year old Palestinian with an army jeep. In another case, a lieutenant and infantry commander was indicted on charges of vandalism with malicious intent for torching Palestinian vehicles with his soldiers.
Israeli forces shoot, injure man near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli forces shot and injured a young man near a military base east of Qalqiliya on Sunday afternoon, accusing the man of running at soldiers with a knife. Eyewitnesses said the man was shot and detained by soldiers.
Israeli forces enter Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli forces entered the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem Sunday and searched students at the Kadoorie Technical University. At least four jeeps were stationed at the entrance to the university and Israeli officers inspected students’ ID cards around the campus, witnesses said. A Ma’an cameraman was among those stopped. He said some students were detained for more than 30 minutes and subjected to body searches.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Cabinet votes to curtail Barak’s power to veto West Bank settlement construction
Haaretz 19 June — The cabinet voted on Sunday to curtail Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s authority to supervise construction in West Bank settlements. The proposal revokes Barak’s right to veto West Bank construction by the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division. The division budgets NIS 25 million a year for this purpose.
IOA serves demolition notices to citizens in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 19 June — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) delivered demolition notices to Palestinian citizens in northern Jordan Valley on Sunday, locals said. They told the PIC reporter that the IOA warned four families in Hadidiya area that they should tear down their tents and tin houses within a period of one month and a half and leave the area at the pretext that their land is in the proximity of an army training field. About 110 Palestinians inhabit the area under severe deprivation of simplest human rights especially after a Jewish settlement was established on their land with only 35 individuals inhabiting it. The settlers blocked all routes leading to Hadidiya and prevented its inhabitants from passing through the gate erected by those settlers to separate them from nearby Palestinian cities such Tobas and Tamon.
Live ammunition in Baten al-Hawa
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 19 June — Live ammunition was fired by Israeli troops in Baten al-Hawa district of Silwan last night, say eyewitnesses. Live fire was reported to be coming from the military occupied-roof of a Palestinian home. Fireworks were said to have been let off by local Palestinian youth. No injuries were reported, but a state of tension pervaded the neighborhood. The home was occupied under an Israeli military order. Troops use it as a strategic point to monitor movements of locals near Beit Yonatan settlement.
Molotov cocktails thrown at settler guard jeep
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 19 June — Molotov cocktails were thrown at a settler guard’s armoured jeep in Bir Ayyub district of Silwan last night, say eyewitnesses. The cocktails were reportedly thrown at the jeep as it drove from Baten al-Hawa to Wadi Hilweh through Bir Ayyub, setting the vehicle alight. The guards stopped the jeep and extinguished the fire, and no injuries were reported.
The guards, whose salaries are paid by taxpayers through the Israeli Ministry of Housing have a reputation for violence in the village. Thirty-four-year-old Silwan resident Samer Sarhan was shot dead by a settler guard last September, and 17-year-old Milad Ayyash of Baten al-Hawa district was reportedly shot by a settler guard several weeks ago during clashes.
Israel letting chaos rule in Palestinian villages / Amira Hass
Haaretz 19 June — Palestinian police are unable to operate in the area around Abu Dis, but Israeli forces don’t appear interested in stopping the villages from becoming a breeding ground for drug dealers and crime … The artificial division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, and to areas of authority and responsibility that are divided between the PA on the one hand and the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration on the other, was supposed to come to an end in December 1999. Years later, Israel is very meticulous about fulfilling this paragraph of the second Oslo Accords, which limits the activity of the Palestinian police to a minimum
Nablus village months without water
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 June — With both the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s Civil Administration abdicating responsibility, local officials say parts of a Nablus-area village have been without water for months. While drought is common in the mid-summer, many of the residents of Salem village have been purchasing high-priced water from local companies, or carrying buckets from municipal wells since the end of April … It is not just Salem village with problems, Ishtayeiyah told Ma’an, explaining that each month, Salem and the three surrounding villages are allocated 50,000 cubic meters of water. Salem’s share, he added “does not exceed 5,000, though we have 6,000 residents and need at least 18,000 cubic meters of water a month … “The village depends on raising livestock, they have to be fed and watered,” the official worried. Ishteiyah said the village council had appealed to both the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s Civil Administration, but had received no solutions to the shortage.
Passports for all in Gaza? / Mohammed Omer
AJ 19 June — Some 30,000 Gazans have been denied passports in rift between Hamas and Fatah — In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority recently decided to remove 141 Palestinians from the passport blacklist of 30,000 names. The move sparked a protest held by scores of Gazans who had been denied a Palestinian passport – and consequently had their mobility in or out of the Gaza Strip prohibited. Prior to June 2007, when Hamas routed Fatah from the Gaza Strip following internecine fighting, the majority of Palestinian passports were printed, and issued by, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza City. However, since then, the Fatah-backed government – based in the West Bank – has demanded that Palestinians who wish to renew their passports send their documents to Ramallah, where the passport administration is located. Some believe this was a bid to undermine Hamas – regardless of the fact that it was ordinary Gazans who would suffer, not Fatah’s political rival. The decision to ban many Gazans - who have documented Palestinian nationality – has included Hamas activists and officials of the de-facto government in Gaza, as well Fatah activists and other citizens who have no known affiliations to any political parties..
‘Silent war’ for attracting Gaza teens between Hamas, UNRWA summer camps starts
Gaza (Xinhua) 18 June — As the summer vacation has begun in the Gaza Strip, the UNRWA and Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave, established hundreds of summer camps, as usual, for Gaza Strip’s schoolchildren and teenagers to entertain them this summer. However, the “silent war” of attracting Gaza teens between the two sides appears to be even more fierce this year with respective strategies of two in dealing with local children, who aspire for spending their summer vacation at seaside of the poor and densely Palestinian enclave … Hamas’ summer camps focus on teaching the Holy Quran (Islam Holy Book) as well as teaching the real Islamic values and principles, while UNRWA focuses on the entertainment in the camps which it promote as “the summer games.”
Israel to allow limited goods into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli authorities will allow limited deliveries of goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian officials said.
Hamas: Rafah opening will not clear Israel of responsibility
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — The opening of the Rafah crossing should “improve relations with our brothers in Egypt,” Hamas politburo Osama Hamdan told Ma‘an on Thursday. Speaking with Ma‘an radio, the official said that regardless of the improvements made to life in the coastal enclave via the Rafah terminal, “we do not want to clear the occupation of its responsibility towards Gaza.”
Israel has no right to stop Gaza aid flotillas / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 19 June — Israel cannot be hurt by any imaginary danger the ships pose. Here from Sweden comes a final appeal to those who would block the flotilla: Please, just once, act with prudence, and abide by international law and simple justice.
Israeli navy commander: ‘Hate flotilla’ to Gaza must be stopped
Haaretz 19 June — Israel Navy commander Adm. Eliezer Marom issued a stark warning on Sunday for the organizers of the Gaza flotilla intended to set sail at the end of the month. “The Navy has prevented and will continue to prevent the arrival of the ‘hate flotilla’ whose only goals are to clash with IDF soldiers, create media provocation and to delegitimize the State of Israel,” Marom cautioned during a graduation ceremony of the Israel Navy’s submarine fighters.
Gaza: Cradle of killing — Americans too / Ray McGovern
OEN 18 June — … I also have been cautioned by a source with access to very senior staffers at the National Security Council that not only does the White House plan to do absolutely nothing to protect our boat from Israeli attack or illegal boarding, but that White House officials “would be happy if something happened to us.” They are, I am reliably told, “perfectly willing to have the cold corpses of activists shown on American TV.” I mention this informal warning for the benefit of anyone who may have harbored hope that the U.S. government would do something to protect us American citizens from the kind of violence used by the Israelis against last year’s flotilla. It seems best to be up front and realistic about what to expect.
Israeli investigators assault minor in bid to elicit confession
RAMALLAH (PIC) 19 June– Israeli investigators in Etzion interrogation center severely assaulted a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from Hussam near Bethlehem in order to elicit a confession, the Palestinian Prisoner Society has reported. The boy, Osama Mahmoud Shousha, was beaten for forty minutes and then transferred to an investigation room where he was charged with throwing stones, PPS’s lawyer said. In an attempt to elicit a confession, the investigator threw Shousha on the ground while he was bound and blindfolded and placed his foot on his neck and then turned him upside down. He was also beaten on the head several times causing him to lose consciousness on separate occasions.
Israel wants freed prisoners sent to Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israel is objecting to the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners with life sentences to their homes in the occupied West Bank in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier, Ma‘an has learned. Under a new proposal to arrange a prisoner swap of hundreds of Palestinian detainees in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel wants certain prisoners to be released to Gaza instead of the West Bank. Israel’s Channel 2 television, meanwhile, has unveiled new details of the involvement of international mediators trying to arrange the swap.
Egypt: Shalit will disappear unless Israel compromises with Hamas
Haaretz 18 June — New Israeli negotiator reportedly told Egyptian intelligence officials that if Hamas did not agree to latest deal for prisoner swap, there would be no deal at all … Egyptian security officials involved in the talks told Haaretz over the weekend that the approach by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new envoy to the talks, David Meidan, could scuttle the negotiations and lead to Shalit’s “disappearance.”
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Protest organizer jailed by Israel for one year
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 19 June — The Ofer Israeli military court sentenced popular protest coordinator Naji At-Tamimi to one year of imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 shekels ($2,914), his colleagues said. Naji and Basem At-Tamimi were taken by Israeli forces from their homes in April and held without charge. Naji was charged with inciting and participating in rallies and organizing demonstrations against Israeli land confiscation and settlement building. Israel has declared such demonstrations illegal.
Beit Ummar farmers barred from lands
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 June — Beit Ummar residents said Saturday that a protest demanding access to lands was quashed, and harassment from the Israeli military has continued throughout the week, as construction of a fence around part of the town was completed. The town, adjacent to the illegal Israeli-only settlement of Karmi Zur, stages weekly protests against the land confiscation, and has been a recent flashpoint with teenagers throwing stones at frequent military patrols. There has also been an increase in overnight detention campaigns by Israeli forces. Tear-gas canisters were launched at the residents, who marched from the city center toward the confiscated lands, with a local spokesman saying the hot canisters set fire to agricultural lands belonging to Ahmad Saleh Abu Ayyash and Hashem Fawzi Abu Ayyash. Local coordinator Yousef Abu Maria said a Swedish and an Israeli activist both suffered tear-gas inhalation, while Yatta residents and anti-confiscation rally supporters Rateb Yousef lA-Jbur and his son Luay were both beaten by soldiers during the protest.
Beit Ommar ‘in defiance of instruction’
ISM 19 June — On June 18 2011 the weekly Beit Ommar demonstration proceeded towards a fence which encircles the nearby settlement of Karmei Tzur and separates the village from some of its land. A number of protesters reached the fence and planted a Palestinian flag. Local women walked home across the land “in defiance of instruction” made by the occupational forces. During the ensuing army response an Isreali protester and an international protester were detained and later released, and other protesters were hit.
Dozens injured in violent crackdown on protesters in ‘Iraq Borin
NABLUS (PIC) 19 June — Dozens suffered breathing difficulties after Israeli occupation forces cracked down Saturday on continued marches in ‘Iraq Burin west of Nablus in the northern West Bank. The soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas also injuring a 25-year-old Palestinian man in the hand. He was later treated at the local hospital. The IOF has declared the village a closed military zone and has blocked the entry of supporters
Video: Gaza Island
the global BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement is calling on Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson and Kiri Te Kanawa to cancel their 2011 Israel concerts and get on the boat!
Political / Diplomatic / International news
Abbas, Mash‘al meeting postponed
RAMALLAH (AFP) 19 June — Talks between President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, and Hamas chief Khalid Mash‘al on a new Palestinian cabinet have been postponed, a Fatah official said Sunday. The two senior political figures were due to meet in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the make-up of an interim government of independents called for by a unity deal which rival factions Hamas and Fatah signed in Egypt last month. The talks have reportedly stalled on the issue of the Prime Minister who will head the transitional government, with Abbas championing his current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad despite objections from Hamas.
Resheq: Fatah asked for postponement of Tuesday meeting
DAMASCUS (PIC) 19 June — Political bureau member of Hamas Ezzet Al-Resheq has said that Fatah faction had asked for postponing the meeting in Cairo next Tuesday which was supposed to be attended by Fatah and Hamas leaders. Resheq told Quds Press on Sunday that Fatah chief delegate Azzam Al-Ahmed phoned Hamas and asked for deferring the meeting because Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas was still insisting that Salam Fayyad should be the premier of the next unity government, a thing that Hamas refused.
Barghouthi urges speedy conciliation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghuthi met Sunday with leaders of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, saying the effort came in a bid to promote unity. Announced after Hamas officials in Gaza made clear that a proposed meeting between rival faction leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Khalid Mash’al would be postponed for at least a week, the Independent political leader Barghouthi issued a statement from Gaza, urging a speedy implementation of a unity deal inked on 4 May in Cairo.
Hamas: Mash‘al, Zahhar feud ‘behind us’
Bethlehem (Ma‘an) 19 June — A spat between Hamas officials in Gaza and Damascus “is behind our backs,” Hamas politburo Osama Hamdan told Ma’an on Thursday … The leader in exile had given Hamas approval for peace talks to continue under Fatah and PLO auspices, as the unity agreement was implemented and the PLO restructured. Az-Zahhar made statements shortly after the speech saying Mash‘al did not have the authority to speak for Hamas, a statement refuted by leaders in Damascus.
Peres: Time is running out on a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal
Haaretz 19 June — President Shimon Peres warned Sunday that time is running out on a peace deal with the Palestinians, saying the need for an agreement is “urgent.” Haaretz reported Friday on Peres’ concerns that Israel may become a binational state due to the continued freeze in peace talks. He was quoted as saying that Israel is “galloping at full speed toward a situation where Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state.” In Sunday’s interview with CNN, Peres also said he does not see much significance in the Palestinians’ attempt to seek recognition of statehood in the United Nations in September.
PA condemns Barak statements on settlements
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 19 June — …In an interview conducted with France 24 TV network, Barak said “there is no real way to announce an end to construction. There’s half a million people living there.” The PA immediately issued a condemnation, saying it “considers such a statement unacceptable, as it ignores the fact that settlement construction is illegal under international laws.
Hamas ‘not involved’ in Dahlan dismissal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — Hamas was not involved in Fatah’s decision to oust former Gaza strongman Muhammad Dahlan from its ranks, Hamas politburo member Osama Hamdan told Ma‘an on Thursday. Hamdan told Ma‘an Radio that the Dahlan affair was an “internal Fatah issue.
Fatah officials visit Armenia in UN bid for statehood
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 June — A Fatah delegation arrived in Armenia on Sunday to strengthen support for the recognition a Palestinian state … In addition to Armenia, Shaath will also visit Moldova, the Philippines, Mexico, and Colombia in order to boost a UN bid for statehood in September.
Barcelona gay leaders say humiliated at Israeli airport
Haaretz 19 June — Foreign Ministry slams airport security personnel for ‘abusing’ the pair of leaders, who were officially invited to participate in Tel Aviv’s gay pride parade.
IDF holds drill simulating mass missile attacks across Israel
Haaretz 19 June — Home Front Command launches fifth major drill to prepare civilians in case of attack; sirens to sound across country on Wednesday, when citizens will be requested to retreat to nearby shelters.
‘Discovery of spy ring shocked Hezbollah’
Ynet 19 June — Kuweiti newspaper claims members of alleged espionage ring discovered among Shiite group’s ranks infiltrated top position within organization; had ‘unimaginably’ close ties with Israel
Report: Israel offers prisoner exchange for Ilan Grapel
Haaretz 19 June — Jerusalem authorities offer to release three Egyptians in Israeli prisons in return for Ilan Grapel, who is accused of spying on Israel’s behalf, according to an Egyptian news website.
Former Mossad chief asked to return diplomatic passport
Haaretz 19 June — Channel 2 reports that Meir Dagan was asked to forgo passport after he publicly criticized Netanyahu and Barak for their stance on Iran.
Analysis / Opinion / Interviews / Reviews
Haaretz editorial: Netanyahu is dooming Israel to live eternally by the sword
17 June — By declaring the conflict insoluble, Netanyahu is leaving no opening for reconciliation and understanding with the Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim world. — Author Etgar Keret, on assignment from Haaretz, accompanied the prime minister on his trip to Italy this week and reported on Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This is an insoluble conflict because it is not about territory,” Netanyahu said. “It is not that you can give up a kilometer more and solve it. The root of the conflict is in an entirely different place. Until Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, there will be no way to reach an agreement.” On Wednesday, Netanyahu reiterated this position in the Knesset.
Interview: Alice Walker on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the struggle for justice
EI 17 June — Celebrated American author and poet Alice Walker will later this month be among 38 people aboard the Audacity of Hope, the ship sponsored by US Boat to Gaza as part of an international effort to break Israel’s maritime siege of Gaza. In a conversation with Ali Abunimah, Walker speaks about her thoughts on the eve of the trip and the parallels between the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the Freedom Rides during the US Civil Rights movement when black and white Americans boarded interstate buses together to break the laws requiring racial segregation. The Freedom Riders were met with extreme violence — including bus burnings, attempted lynchings, jail and torture.
Video: A Gaza story
Egypt Reports 18 June — The statistics of Israel’s brutal 22-day assault on Gaza have been well-documented. Between December 28th, 2008 and January 18th, 2009 up to 1,400 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them civilians, including over 300 children. One of those children was Ibrahim Baraka, an 11-year-old schoolboy who was fatally wounded on December 29th, 2008 when Israeli warplanes bombed his house. His father, Suleiman Baraka, a Palestinian astrophysicist, was in the United States at the time working at Virginia Tech with NASA. Suleiman immediately left the US to be with his son, who had been evacuated to Cairo for medical treatment. On January 5th, 2009, Ibrahim died of his injuries … On our recent trip to Gaza, we visited Suleiman and his family in Bani Suheila. They were building a new house on the same site the Israeli military had bombed two and half years earlier. They had a new addition to the family, a baby boy, Idris, born in late 2009 – the same year Ibrahim died. Suleiman and his family hosted us for lunch and we were received with legendary Palestinian hospitality. Afterwards, Suleiman talked to us about his life, his work and his hopes.
No savior / Nathan Brown
FP 17 June — The West’s lofty expectations for Salam Fayyad went far beyond what he was ever able to deliver — If Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s political career came to an end today, he could still proudly claim to be Palestine’s most accomplished prime minister ever. The problem is that all of his predecessors — Ahmad Hilmi, Mahmud Abbas, Ahmad Qurei, and Ismail Haniyya — were impotent, transitory, or frustrated occupants of the post, and collectively set a very low bar … Neither the sunny nor the cynical view of Fayyad is fair. His optimistic smile obscured an impossible situation: Fayyad’s main achievement has not been to build the structures of a Palestinian state, but to stave off the collapse of those structures that did exist.
How can we get young Jews to hate Arabs in only 10 days? / Antony Lowenstein
Send them on the Birthright trip. Here’s an interesting feature in the Nation on the countless number of Jews who are sent on a short propaganda trip to Israel in an attempt to convince them that Arabs are terrorists and the occupied Palestinian territories are in fact Zionist land: Birthright’s boosters seem strangely unaware of the tribe’s more visible woes, the forty-four-year illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the racism and legal discrimination that underpins Israel’s ethnocracy. If the former was kept nearly invisible on my Birthright trip, the latter was laid uncommonly bare. Our guide was Shachar Peleg-Efroni, a second-generation secular kibbutznik. Several times a day he said things like, “Arabs are those who originated from Saudi Arabia.” Everything we saw out the tour bus window was “in the Bible,” reinforcing Zionist claims to the land. He used “Palestinian” interchangeably with “terrorist.”