Settlers / Right-wing extremists
Settlers break into Israeli military base, sabotage property
IMEMC 13 Dec — Israeli sources reported Tuesday that a group of extremist Israeli settlers of the Hilltop Youth settler movement infiltrated, on Monday at night, an Israeli military base near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, sabotaged property and vehicles, and hurled stones at the soldiers, wounding a senior officer … The settlers also blocked a main road in the area and hurled stones at Palestinian cars causing damage to a number of vehicles. Israeli media sources stated that the attacks seem to be motivated by Israeli intentions to dismantle some random settlement outposts in the West Bank by March of next year.
In related news, the Israeli Police apprehended 17 extremist settlers who barricaded themselves, on Monday, at the site of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. They settlers hung banners with photos of the right-wing Jewish leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who called for the “Jewish state to expand beyond the Jordan river into the state of Jordan and all the way to Iraq.” According to Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth, the settlers entered a closed military zone behind the border fence with Jordan, and barracked themselves in the site, very close to where Jordanian soldiers are stationed. The site, 10 kilometers away from the West Bank city of Jericho, is one the most sacred sites for Christians after the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem: Rightists clash with police
Ynet 14 Dec — Right-wing activists clashed with police forces in Jerusalem Wednesday during arrests made against suspected “price tag” act perpetrators. The ensuing riot saw the suspects damage several police cruisers, shattering the windshield of one and slashing the tires of another … Meanwhile, right-wing leaders were irked by Knesset Member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who earlier slammed the IDF’s lenience toward the settlers who raided an IDF base in the West Bank overnight Tuesday. Ben-Eliezer called the group “a bunch of criminals” and said that the troops should have fired at them.
Right wing Israelis torch Jerusalem mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Right wing Israelis set fire to a mosque in Jerusalem overnight, Israeli police said. “During the night, there was an attempt to set fire to a disused mosque in the city center,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “Police also found graffiti on the walls. The police have opened an investigation.” Vandals sprayed the Star of David and racist graffiti including “Muhammad is a pig” and “A good Arab is a dead Arab” in Hebrew on the mosque’s walls. They also sprayed “price tag” on the building
Jewish settlers set Jerusalem mosque, West Bank cars on fire
…Settlers from Tappuah settlement in the northern West Bank attacked a house that belongs to Mohammad Mousleh in the nearby Palestinian village of Yasouf while setting his car on fire, according to local sources. They said settlers attempted to set the entire house on fire by opening a gas cylinder and igniting it, but residents were able to put off the fire before gutting the entire house. The settlers had also written “price tag” slogans on the house. In addition, settlers set fire to a Palestinian-owned car at the entrance of Hares, west of Salfit, and wrote “price tag” slogans on it. Settlers also set fire to a water tank and a vehicle in Doma, a village south of Nablus, and attempted to arson other cars in the town, according to local sources. The settlers wrote graffiti on several houses in the village, reading “a gift from Yitzhar [Israeli settlement] to the Arabs.”
Israel responsible for settlers’ attack on church, says official
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 Dec — Member of the Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah), Dimitri Diliani, Tuesday held Israel fully responsible for the settlers’ attack on a church near the Jordanian border, under the watch of Israeli soldiers. Diliani said in a press release that the Israeli army evacuated the church at one o’clock in the morning, after more than four hours spent by the settlers in damaging the church and its contents. The attack on the Orthodox church of St John the Baptist, located a few kilometers east of Jericho, came after strong opposition from Jordan against demolishing Magharbe gate ramp in East Jerusalem.
West Bank road sees repeated stone attacks
Ynet 14 Dec — Palestinian residents of northern West Bank villages claim settlers regularly pelt their cars with stones as IDF fails to put a stop to attacks … Palestinians residing in northern West Bank villages do not understand the fuss over recent violence by the Hilltop Youth. For them it’s a daily struggle. Palestinian cars driving on the road near Yitzhar and Havat Gilad suffer regular stone attacks. Abu Zitun was forced to pay NIS 2,000 to repair his minibus. “I’m afraid to go on that road now and do a detour to avoid it,” he said. He noted that while Palestinian vehicles driving on the “Gilad artery” get pelted with stones, cars with Israeli license plates are never attacked.
Neyanyahu: Jewish extremists not a terror group but will be given military trial
Haaretz 14 Dec — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved Wednesday a series of steps that would crack down on Jewish extremists responsible for recent violent attacks on IDF soldiers and other targets, but rejected a recommendation to label them a “terror group.” Netanyahu approved issuing administrative detention orders for the Jewish extremists, as is usually done with Palestinians suspected of being a security risk. Moreover, the prime minister approved trying the Jewish activists in military courts, which would effectively expedite their sentencing and make their punishment more severe.
Rioting Jews to be tried in army courts like Palestinians
JPost 14 Dec — Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu provided security forces and police with several new legal tools on Wednesday designed to enable them to stamp out radical nationalist attacks. According to one of the recommendations Netanyahu accepted a day after the vandalism and rock-throwing incident at an IDF base, Jews rioting in the West Bank will now be tried in military courts like Palestinians … The new steps include: • immediately issuing administrative detention orders against rioters. • increasing the number of Jews barred from entering the West Bank. • giving the IDF the authority to detain Jewish rioters, and not having to wait for the police to do so. • adding investigation teams from the Shin Bet, police, IDF and State Attorney’s Office to deal with these incidents.
Gov’t mulls deeming far-Right violence ‘terror’
Ynet 14 Dec — Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman holds special meeting following escalation in far-Right violence, as gov’t explores legal options against offenders … The meeting’s participants stressed that the group in question was a small one, and that their actions – which must be dealt with harshly – do not represent the settlers’ community. Such measures, however, are bound to meet legal scrutiny, since no one knows at this point if the violent acts are instigated by one specific group or are the work of individuals.
IDF worried about settler informants in its ranks
JPost 14 Dec — The IDF is looking into the possibility that soldiers might have tipped off settler activists who stormed the Efraim Regional Brigade base late Monday night. The IDF has launched an internal investigation into the series of incidents that took place on Monday night including the settler crossing of the Israeli-Jordanian border fence, the stoning of Palestinian cars near Kedumim and the raid on the Efraim Regional Brigade base and subsequent attack of IDF soldiers.
Does Baruch Goldstein’s rabbi want violent settlers shot? / Larry Derfner
972mag 14 Dec – Wel-l-l… Amazing headline in The Jerusalem Post today: “West Bank rabbis: Allow live fire at stone-throwers.” Mind you, the whole country is outraged today at the spectacle of that mob of settler youths attacking that army base in the West Bank, throwing stones, hitting a commander in the head, but now West Bank rabbis, of all people, are calling to shoot them? Sure looks that way: “Anyone who faces a danger, including being pelted by stones or other dangers, must be allowed to open fire against attackers without having to worry about being tried or having their weapon confiscated,” read a letter from the rabbis to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak.
B’Tselem: Extremist Jews should be dealt with as criminals
TEL AVIV (WAFA) 14 Dec – B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territory, stated that the phenomenon of violence by Israeli citizens in the Occupied Territory must be dealt with through the criminal justice system, Wednesday said a press release published on the Center’s website.
IDF to apply fire protocol to Jews?
Ynet 14 Dec — Army to revisit procedure following violence directed against Ephraim Brigade. ‘A soldier must have no doubts as to how to act when a Jew comes to throw a concrete block on his head,’ military source says … The army is considering taking a firmer hand against rioters targeting the IDF. Among the options being explored is the use of crowd dispersal means such as shock or gas grenades, water canons and in cases of mass riots more advanced tools such as odor and noise weapons. The IDF is also revisiting fire protocols in cases where soldiers’ lives may be in danger which involve the hurling of stones or glass bottles. IDF forces refrained from using weapons in previous clashes with Jewish rioters and physically blocked the assailants … A soldier guarding an entrance to a base is required to follow the fire protocol when suspicious figures approach the base, but this is based on the assumption that any such suspect is a Palestinian terrorist. “Tuesday’s event undermines this perception,” the officer said.
Chief rabbi: Rightist violence springs from ‘genuine pain’
Ynet 14 Dec — In weak condemnation, Shlomo Amar says settlers who raided IDF base ‘hurting their rabbis, teachers'; police chief vows to bring those who are ‘igniting the country’ to justice … Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said Israel Police has “taken off its gloves in the battle against the criminal phenomenon in which mosques and state symbols are targeted.” While visiting a police station in Lod Wednesday, Danino said the police force would use all the means at its disposal to curb right-wing violence and bring the perpetrators to justice.
MESS Report: Today they are outraged, tomorrow they will forget / Amos Harel
Haaretz 14 Dec — When the wave of condemnation passes, everything will be just as it was before: authorities will continue to act forgivingly toward the extreme right, and IDF officers will continue to tread carefully when it comes to settler violence.
Rabbi Ronsky warns of “brothers’ war”
Ynet 14 Dec — Israeli religious leaders fear that a civil war is only a matter of time, following Monday night’s settler violence in the West Bank. Israel‘s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Tuesday strongly condemned the attack on the Ephraim Brigade commander near the outpost of Ramat Gilad, which left him and his deputy injured.
Jewish rock-throwers are more equal
Haaretz 12 Dec – It is easy to imagine what would have happened had Palestinians invaded an Israeli military base and vandalized vehicles, burned tires, thrown rocks at the brigade commander and injured his deputy. It would have ended in death, injury or arrest for many of them. But the perpetrators of this week’s incident were Jews, not Palestinians, and they threw rocks at both soldiers and Palestinians.
Palestinian police fire on illegal Israeli pilgrims
NABLUS (AFP) 13 Dec — Palestinian police shot at a group of Israelis illegally visiting a West Bank religious site, injuring one, Palestinian security officials said Tuesday. The police opened fire after shouting warnings at the small group of Israeli worshipers who had entered Joseph’s Tomb near the northern West Bank city of Nablus overnight, said the officials. The Israeli military said it had no comment on the incident. Israeli public radio said the group was composed of seven ultra-Orthodox Jews, who entered the site without the required coordination with the Israeli military.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israeli forces demolish old buildings near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli bulldozers demolished on Tuesday morning three old buildings on the outskirts of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, known as Wadi al-Makhrour, after claiming they were built on Israeli land. The mayor of Beit Jala, Raji Zeidan, said the buildings were recently refurbished. The buildings, according to Zeidan, belong to Fuad Qasasfa, Khadir Salamah, and Abed Audah. He also highlighted that several landowners in the area recently received warnings from the Israeli authorities warning them that reclamation of land is prohibited. On Monday, the parish priest for Beit Jala, Ibrahim Shomali, said the situation for residents of Beit Jala, which is predominantly Christian, was deteriorating fast due to Israeli measures … Shomali was speaking to reporters about Israel’s plans to confiscate land belonging to the Cremisan vineyard to make way for its wall.
Life next to the separation wall with Israeli soldiers on the roof / Mikaela Levin
AIC 14 Dec — The Hassan family was only allowed to come back to their house in 2010. For five years, after the Israelis built the separation wall right through one of the walls of their home [see photos], they were forbidden to enter. They waged a long legal battle to show that the property was theirs. They won and today eight members of the family live in the three-storey house. But they still can’t access their own roof– Israeli forces constructed a surveillance tower on Hassan’s roof and visit it at least once a week. While the Hassan family offers an extreme example, the wall has affected, to some extent, all of the 4,000 Palestinians that live in the village of Nazlat ‘Isa, which is 15 kilometers northeast of Tulkarem. The space between the barrier and the houses in Nazlat ‘Isa is very narrow. In some parts, only two people fit.
Palestinian village struggles against ‘quiet transfer’ / Emma Mancini
AIC 14 Dec — Like other Palestinian villages, Al Aqaba is endangered–95% of its buildings are under demolition orders, including the kindergarten and the mosque. After 1967, Israel declared the area a closed military zone and began using it for training, entering the village, occasionally, to “practice.” Residents say that it is part of a plan to conduct a “quiet transfer” of the local Palestinian population … “The oldest house in Al Aqaba dates back to 1930 [18 years before the state of Israel was established],” Sadiq continues. “Nevertheless, Israeli authorities accuse every single family of the village of building their homes illegally. So, they carry out demolitions. This year they destroyed Salam Street twice, in April and in September.” 95% of the buildings in the village are under demolition order. Among them the health center, the kindergarten and the mosque.
Israel reopens access ramp to Al-Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 Dec — Israel on Wednesday reopened a controversial wooden access ramp to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, just over 48 hours after it was closed on safety grounds in a move which had sparked Muslim anger. “It was opened this morning,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “It has been opened as normal for visitors, both Christian and Jewish.” He said no work had been carried out to stabilize or alter the ramp, but pointed out that a fire engine had been stationed nearby and other unspecified safety precautions put in place.
Israeli mayor ‘willing to cede land beyond wall’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The Israeli mayor of Jerusalem said Tuesday that lands outside of the area allocated for Israel’s West Bank barrier could eventually be abandoned to the Palestinian Authority, Israeli media reported … Lands “owned” by the municipality, a unilaterally declared Israeli administration, but which fall on the opposite side of the wall could be handed back, while those inside the wall should be annexed, he said.
Restriction of movement
Video: Testing boundaries: We don’t have a problem with you, we have a problem with students
14 Dec — Mohammad’s story isn’t necessarily heartbreaking. He is a 19-year old, outstanding student from Gaza who wants to study mechatronics (an emerging discipline that combines mechanical engineering with computer science and other fields) so he can join his father’s business. Until now there hasn’t been a mechatronics program in the Gaza Strip. Al Azhar University opened a pilot program this year, but Mohammad prefers to study at Birzeit University in the West Bank, in a program that already has an established reputation. The Israeli army’s district coordination office (DCO) for Gaza rejected Mohammed’s application to study in the West Bank. It has nothing to do with Mohammed himself. He is not accused or suspected of committing security offenses. It’s not personal, it’s just that no students from Gaza are allowed to travel to the West Bank to study. Again, this is not a heartbreaking story, just another small dream crushed by movement restrictions.
Israel to allow 600 Christians from Gaza to travel to Bethlehem, if they’re between 35 and 40
PNN 15 Dec — Khlil Faraj, the director of the Civil Coordination Office in the Gaza Strip, confirmed that an Israeli government contact said they would allow 600 Christians from Gaza to go to Bethlehem to participate in Christmas ceremonies. Faraj told PNN that the one condition Israel imposed was that the travellers must be between 35 and 40 years, the first time such a specific age limitation has been in place. The Palestinian side rejected the condition.
Run for Silwan marathon highlights checkpoint system from Bethlehem to Wadi Hilweh
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 14 Dec – The Run for Silwan marathon was held on Monday, 19 September, and saw participants follow a route starting from the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to Bethlehem, past the Old City and ending in Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan. The marathon drew local and international media attention in its highlighting of the Israeli militarization of Palestinian land and its impact on local children.
Detention / Prisoner swap
Israel detains Hamas lawmaker in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a Palestinian lawmaker in Ramallah. Hamas MP Ayman Daraghmah was detained after soldiers ransacked his home, a Ma‘an reporter said. Daragmeh was released in 2010 after spending 20 months in jail in Israel. Over 20 lawmakers are imprisoned in Israel. Most of them are held in administrative detention, without charge or trial.
Israeli soldiers hold Palestinian responsible for any attacks against them
HEBRON (WAFA) 14 Dec – Israeli soldiers Wednesday held a Palestinian, Eyad al-Halayqeh, from the neighborhood of Wadi al-Sheikh north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, responsible for any attacks against them in the neighborhood. Al-Halayqeh said Israeli soldiers raided his home at dawn Wednesday. They forced him to stand outside in the cold, searched his home and threatened to kill him and his children, all under the age of three, claiming that a number of youth threw rocks at their vehicles along the road near his house.
Israeli forces detain 7 across West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) — Israeli forces detained seven people across the West Bank overnight Tuesday, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that four men were detained in the Ramallah area, one near Qalqiliya and two in Beit Ummar, Hebron.
Second phase of prisoner swap underway
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said Wednesday that the Israeli prison service has notified the detainees who will be released in the second phase of the prisoner swap deal.The society has released a list naming detainees it says will be freed … The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Wednesday that the remaining prisoners would be freed on Sunday if the Supreme Court rejected any petitions against the release. A high-ranking source told the newspaper that the Israeli government selected which prisoners would be released in coordination with Egypt. None of the prisoners to be freed has been convicted of killing Israelis, the official said. The list will not include any Hamas or Islamic Jihad affiliates. Most detainees set for release are affiliated to Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the official told Haaretz, adding that minors and women would be among those freed.
Israel Prison Service posts list of 550 inmates to be freed in Shalit deal
14 Dec Pursuant to the Government of Israel’s decision from October 11, 2011, to approve the proceedings of the agreement for the liberation of abducted soldier Gilad SHALIT, held by Hamas,550 prisoners will be released on Sunday ,December 18th,2011 according to the second stage of the agreement. The prisoners are as detailed in the following list. The Ministry of Justice will operate an information center as of today and until the date of execution of the agreement, where information regarding prisoners on the list can be obtained and applications to the MOJ Director General can be submitted [Click on green Excel icon to see the list]
Separated as prisoners, reunited in Gaza on release / Pam Bailey
EI 14 Dec — …While imprisoned, Israeli authorities did virtually everything to obliterate the detainees’ moorings to reality and their connections to their culture, families and fellow prisoners — from prohibiting visits for months at a time, to forcing repeated moves to disrupt any new-found friendships, to imposing solitary confinement, sometimes for years at a time. Some prisoners crack. One freed prisoner I met during my recent trip to Gaza had been isolated for 15 years; he seemed unable to sustain a conversation with anyone else, instead muttering softly to himself virtually nonstop. But what also stands out despite these unimaginable hardships is prisoners’ tenacity in finding small, yet powerful ways to resist and hold on to their sense of identity and purpose. This is the story of Samer Abu Seir and Loai Odeh — two men who met in prison and have remained friends ever since — but they speak for so many others.
Gag order lifted years after undercover Hamas arrest
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli censors have finally lifted prohibition on publishing the arrest by undercover forces of a Hamas member allegedly involved in the capture of a soldier. An undercover Israeli force seized Mahawash al-Qadi in 2007 on suspicion of “indirect involvement” in the capture of Gilad Shalit, who was exchanged in October for several hundred Palestinian prisoners … Haaretz says the arrest on Sept. 7, 2007 inspired Hamas to move Shalit to an alternative location, perhaps fearing al-Qadi would reveal the place he was held after a 2006 cross-border raid. He was released on Oct. 18 as part of the prisoner swap mediated by Egypt.
Gaza man shot by soldiers ‘critically wounded’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — A man in his 20s is in critical condition after being shot by Israeli soldiers east of Gaza City on Wednesday morning, medics said. Medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma‘an the man was shot in the thigh while hunting for birds in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood.
Activists: Soldiers open fire toward Gaza demo
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli forces fired toward Palestinian protesters on Tuesday during a demonstration against land confiscation near the Israeli border, activists said. Saber Zaanin, local coordinator, said activists and internationals were fired upon while heading toward the destroyed Dumra village north of Beit Hanoun, inside Israel’s buffer zone. Israeli forces fired at them and tanks headed toward the wall. International solidarity activists got on a farming plow, which was pushed inside the buffer zone by 200 meters, he added. Zaanin pointed out that the activity is a message for the people in Nabi Saleh that they “are not alone facing Israel and its walls”, and that the “seeds of resistance planted in the buffer zone area are for peace.”
New report documents children under fire in Gaza
13 Dec — Twenty-eight cases of children being shot at by the border fence between Israel and the Gaza strip whilst gathering building materials like gravel, or working by the fence, have been documented by Defence for Children International in their latest report ‘Children of Gravel’. The shootings reportedly took place between March 26 2010 and October 3, 2011, according to Defence for Children International (DCI)-Palestine Section . According to DCI, the Israeli soldiers often fire warning shots to scare off workers by the border. Their report also states that ‘these soldiers sometimes shoot and kill the donkeys used by the workers, and also target the workers, usually, but not always, shooting at their legs.’
Hamas’ Gaza anniversary draws tens of thousands
GAZA CITY (AP) 14 Dec – Tens of thousands of Gazans turned out Wednesday for an anniversary rally of the ruling Hamas, a demonstration of strength for the Islamic militant movement ahead of Palestinian general elections tentatively set for the spring … The crowd faced a huge stage in the shape of a ship, meant to symbolize the Palestinian journey of return to all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, including what is now Israel.
Hamas frees 75 prisoners to mark anniversary
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The Hamas-run government in Gaza on Tuesday released 75 prisoners to mark the Islamist movement’s 24th anniversary. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the prisoners had served at least two-thirds of their sentences and displayed good behavior in jail.
Israel govt adviser doubts Hamas control over Gaza
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 13 Dec — The Gaza Strip’s governing Hamas are incapable of curbing smaller Palestinian militant groups in the territory, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday. The remarks by Strategic Affairs Ministry director Yosef Kuperwasser followed exchanges of fire across the Gaza border for which Israel, in line with long-standing policy, held Hamas responsible, though other factions were involved. Referring to Hamas’ seizure of Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, Kuperwasser told an Israeli security conference the group “is not capable of implementing this responsibility”.
Egypt deports 17 Palestinians
RAFAH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday deported 17 Palestinians who were in the country illegally, Egyptian security sources said. Security officials at the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza told Ma’an that 17 Palestinians were detained on the road to Cairo and sent back to Gaza. In some cases, the migrants’ visas had expired while others had entered Egypt through underground tunnels, the officials said.
Bell peppers exported from Gaza for the first time in years
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — The first two truckloads of bell peppers was set to be exported from Gaza to Europe on Wednesday through the Kerem SHalom crossing with Israel, in addition to four truckloads of strawberries. Israel allowed 210-220 trucks loaded with aid and necessities to reach the Strip. It is bound for the trade, agriculture and transportation sectors, Palestinian officials said.
Growing wall of steel fences off Egypt
NETAFIM, Israel (AFP) 12 Dec — Far from the uproar of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Israel has been doubling its efforts to erect a giant, impenetrable security barrier along its 240-kilometer border with the Egyptian Sinai … “In a month’s time, we will have built 100 kilometers of the barrier which by the end of 2012, will extend some 240 km along the border,” a senior military officer in the southern command told AFP. When completed, the fence will stretch the entire length of Israel’s desert frontier with Egypt, starting from the Red Sea resort town of Eilat in the south and ending at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza.
Egypt investigates Sinai ‘abduction’, army denies
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Egyptian authorities have opened an investigation into a family’s claims that their son was abducted by Israeli forces in the Sinai desert, security officials said Tuesday. Egyptian authorities are investigating the abduction of a member of Hamas’ security services in the Sinai and are making inquiries with Israel to determine how it happened, according to an Egyptian security official. A close friend of the Gaza man, who asked not to be identified, told Ma‘an that Israel’s secret service had telephoned the family to notify them of the incident and instructed them to hire a lawyer. After four days, the family still had not heard from the man, the friend said. An Egyptian military source, meanwhile, said the security forces had received no information about Israel detaining a Palestinian in the Sinai. Egyptian intelligence in Sinai do not transfer prisoners to Israel, he said. Earlier Tuesday, however, the Palestinian Authority liaison department confirmed that a Gaza resident had indeed been detained by Israeli forces, but declined to provide further details. … An arrest of a Palestinian in Egypt by Israeli agents would be the first known case of its kind.
Masked in Gaza: the untold story of Palestinian ‘militancy’ / Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle 13 Dec — Essam Al-Batsh and his nephew, Sobhi Al-Batsh, are the latest in a long line of reported Palestinian ‘militants’ killed by Israel. The civilians were both targeted while driving in a car in downtown Gaza on December 8. According to an Israeli army statement, “(They) were affiliated with a terrorist squad that intended to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers via the western border” (Reuters, December 8). Another ‘militant’ had been killed two days earlier …Israel’s excuses actually tell nothing of the history behind the phenomena of ‘militancy’. To know why some young men in Gaza decide to mask their faces and carry arms, they need to abandon the media’s reductionist characterization of Gaza’s armed struggle. This goes back much earlier than Hamas and Fatah, the 2006 selections, the 2007 siege or the 2008-09 war. The phenomenon began shortly after the Nakba – The Palestinian ‘Catastrophe’ in 1948, which saw the destruction of Palestine and the erection of today’s Israel.
The tale of the targeted killing / Uri Misgav
Ynet 13 Dec — Op-ed: Operational strategy vis-à-vis Gaza doesn’t work and is unfair, immoral; there must be another way … The targeted killing is here again. Reality as we know it is so convenient. The language is familiar: The “target” is always a “senior member of a military wing.” They have many senior members – apparently it’s an army of generals. He is always taken out moments before launching a terror attack (“a ticking bomb”) or moments afterwards (“retaliation”). It always follows an “imminent threat” and an “operational opportunity,” and the consequences be damned. There is no resisting the temptation of the “targeted killing,” even if the target’s focus is a little murky. A “surgical strike” may be executed at the heart of a residential area or on a school’s doorstep, and we’ll leave the innocent casualties to the surgeons at the Shifa Hospital. Just as long as the IDF “settles the score,” as if this was a dusty noontime western and not the defense force of a sovereign state, which is supposed to consider the overall interests of its citizens.
Activism / Solidarity
Another attempt to silence us – night raid in Ni‘lin / Saeed Amireh
12 Dec — I have spent the last 3 months in Europe, travelling to speak at numerous events about Palestine, about our suffering, about our dreams and our hopes. I have learned so much and I have seen wonderful things. But the most important thing that I have experienced was how it is to sleep in safety and without fear and stress for 3 months. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Last Friday, 9.12.2011 after a long and arduous trip, I managed to come back to Palestine – to my lovely village Ni‘lin … Two days later, on Sunday, 11.12.2011 at 1am, while I was sleeping at my family house, the Israeli occupation soldiers invaded my uncle’s house, which is close to my family house. Another group of the Israeli Occupation forces invaded the house of my other uncle and they forced him to come with them to my family house – I have no idea why?!? Then, they started bashing the door of my family house and shouting at us to open the door. I was sleeping when my elder brother woke me up: “The soldiers are trying to break the door!” At first I didn’t understand. It all felt so strange.
West Bank village steps up protests against Israel’s theft of land / Ben Lorber
EI 13 Dec — For approximately five months, the residents of Kufr Qaddoum have united to demonstrate against the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim and the Israeli military’s closure of their village’s main road. Kufr Qaddoum, a West Bank village so old that, according to legend, Abraham was circumcised there with an axe, has since 1976 been plagued by Kedumim, a 3,000-inhabitant Israeli settlement that now surrounds the village on five hilltops. Kufr Qaddoum’s main road, which passes through Kedumim to link the village to Nablus, was closed by the Israeli military in 2003 … Shttaiwa estimated that Kufr Qaddoum has already lost 58 percent of its land to Kedumim, and will lose 80 percent upon completion of the wall. Contrary to the Kedumim security officer’s statement, quoted in The Economist, that “not one centimeter of Qedumim is built on land known for sure to be private,” a 2009 B’Tselem map details that much of Qedumim is built entirely on privately-owned Palestinian land (“Private Palestinian land in the built-up and municipal area of Kedumim,” B’Tselem, 2009).
Poll: Most Palestinians want elections in May
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The results of an opinion poll released Wednesday show that the vast majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories support holding elections in May, state media said. Some 85 percent of Palestinians support the current election schedule, according to the Arab World for Research and Development poll cited by Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s news agency in Ramallah. Conducted between Nov. 22-24, the poll showed that Palestinians continue to place the highest importance on achieving national reconciliation, with 96 percent saying it was at least somewhat important. The poll also showed that President Mahmoud Abbas, who has promised not to run for any future term, would beat Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in Gaza whose government was dismissed by Abbas….
Zahhar: No elections in May
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar said Tuesday it was unlikely that elections would be held in May as scheduled. In an interview with Egyptian media, Zahhar said a unity government and security committee needed to be formed to ensure a transparent vote, Cairo-based Al-Ahram reported. He questioned on what basis elections could be held as neither of these prerequisites had been met, according to the newspaper report citing the Middle East News Agency.
Video: Reactions to Palestinian flag at UNESCO
BBC 13 Dec — Nice video of flag going up
Mideast Quartet holds separate talks with Israelis, Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 Dec — Representatives of the international peacemaking Quartet were holding separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Wednesday, diplomats said, with no breakthrough in sight. The envoys, representing the United Nations, Russia, the United States and the European Union, met the Palestinian team headed by Mohammed Shtayeh on Wednesday morning at the UN headquarters in East Jerusalem, they said. They were expected to hold talks with the Israelis at the same place in the early afternoon.
Israeli repression / racism / sexism
Israel’s AG seeks to keep press from reporting criminal investigations
Haaretz 12 Dec — Proposal would contradict fundamental principles of democracy, says attorney representing Haaretz and other media outlets protesting the proposal — Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein plans to impose a wide-ranging gag on media reports of criminal investigations, including those of public officials. Weinstein, who will hold a hearing Wednesday to allow the press to respond to the proposal, has informed the media that he is seeking to pass a law that would ban the public disclosure of any information from ongoing police investigations – whether or not a suspect has been indicted.
Israel earns another failing score on freedom of religion index
Haaretz 14 Dec — CIRI ranks Israel on par with Afghanistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia; indicates severe and widespread governmental restrictions on religious freedom … [Rabbi Uri Regev, president of Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality remarked] “What causes this shameful situation is the practice of [political parties] buying power in exchange for capitulation to religious coercion, while ignoring the wishes of the majority of people in both Israel and the Diaspora….”
Israel Adhan ban stirs internet outcry
PressTV 14 Dec — The Facebook page of Anastassia Michaeli, an Israeli MP and a member of Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party, has been inundated with thousands of comments, links and audio/video files of Adhan after the Israeli official submitted a motion to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, urging a ban on the calls to worship at mosques. The Facebook users have cautioned that this is just the beginning of the storm and that in case the broadcast of Adhan is prohibited, the call to prayers will be heard from all over the occupied territories, IRIB reported on Tuesday.
Haredim call Beit Shemesh girls ‘prostitutes’
Ynet 14 Dec — Not giving up: After two months of relative calm in haredi-religious tensions in Beit Shemesh, a number of extreme ultra-Orthodox men have resumed their protest against a national-religious elementary school for girls, which they claim has brought “immorality” to the heart of a haredi neighborhood.
Small group of ultra-Orthodox Jews blocks Israeli women from voting in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) 14 Dec — A small group of ultra-Orthodox Jews has prevented some women from voting in local elections in Jerusalem. It’s the latest step by the extremely pious Jews to try to force their practices on others. Israel’s Channel 2 TV video showed the men screaming at a few dozen women, demanding that they leave a voting station Wednesday. Then the men pushed them away. The incident happened soon after Jerusalem’s secular mayor, Nir Barkat, left the station after speaking out against gender discrimination.
Guests asked to ‘dress modestly’ for IDF ceremony
Ynet 13 Dec — Parents of soldiers completing military medics’ course surprised to receive invitation with bold lettering instructing them to arrive in ‘modest clothing’ … Ada (who asked not to disclose her last name), whose son is among the course graduates, told Ynet: “I’ve had children in the military before, and I don’t recall being instructed to come to a graduation ceremony in modest dress. I am beginning to wonder whether I’m living in the right country. What is this, Iran?” she wondered.
Ministers to adopt women’s rights measures
JPost 13 Dec — New guidelines for public ceremonies, a hotline for women hassled on so-called gender-segregated buses and penalization for religious authorities if women are excluded from burials are just a few of the measures the government committed to adopt Tuesday during a special meeting of the Ministerial Committee on the Status of Women.
NGO report demands end to segregation of Ethiopian students
JPost 13 Dec — Creating parent-teacher committees, corresponding in their own language and punishing local authorities that do not encourage integration are just some of the suggestions made in a recent report by the Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews to address what it believes is becoming institutionalized segregation of Ethiopian students in the education system.
PA struggles to fund Bethlehem church renovation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — The Palestinian Authority is struggling to raise funds for a planned renovation to Bethlehem’s iconic Church of the Nativity, a Palestinian official said Monday. Ziad Bandak, presidential adviser for Christian affairs and head of the Nativity Church restoration committee, says the PA has raised about $1.6 million of the nearly $15 million needed for a major roof renovation.
EU launches water management project in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The European Union has launched a 1.5 million euro project to improve the livelihoods of poor and rural families through improving agricultural water management, officials said Wednesday. The project is being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and is expected to be finalized at the end of 2012, a statement from the EU sai
Jerusalem to name street after Umm Kulthum
JPost 13 Dec — Egyptian singer’s name chosen as one of 86 new street names to be given in east Jerusalem in first phase of plan to improve quality of life. The new Umm Kulthum street will be among 86 new street names authorized for the east of the city: 26 in Tzur Bachar, 34 in Beit Hanina and Shu‘afat and 17 in ‘Isawiya.
Palestinian director overcomes politics to screen love story / Nour Merza
DUBAI (Reuters) 13 Dec — It took Palestinian director Susan Youssef 10 years to overcome a political obstacle course before she was able to screen her heart-wrenching tale of doomed romance in Gaza at the Dubai International Film Festival this week. “Habibi” (My Beloved) retells in a modern Middle East setting the ancient Arabian story of “Layla and the Madman”, a tragic romance similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. The film tells the tale of two students in the relatively liberal West Bank who are forced to return to their homes in Gaza, stronghold of conservative Hamas. There they try to continue their love affair in defiance of tradition. Youssef, a Palestinian-American who moved to Gaza to write the script, says the project ended up taking so long to complete because of local politics, which sometimes required great sacrifices for people to support the film and at other times made production impossible.
‘If we lived in any other country we’d be honored for this work’ / Ghassan Elashi of Holy Land Foundation
Mondo/Counterpunch 12/13 Dec — Exactly three days following the tenth anniversary of the Bush administration shutting down the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the Fifth Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for the Holy Land Foundation case, affirming the conviction of my father, the co-founder of the HLF who’s serving a 65-year sentence for his humanitarian work.
Israelis and Americans are invented peoples too: response to Newt Gingrich / Mitchell Plitnick/Souciant
AIC 14 Dec — Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been a virtual geyser of hate and bigotry throughout his political career. This weekend, in his latest example of hate speech, Gingrich repeated the hackneyed line that “The Palestinians are an invented people.” The point for Gingrich, of course, is to show his loyalty to Israel by demeaning the Palestinians. The implication for his Christian Zionist and smattering of Republican Jewish supporters is that he will allow Israel to deal with the Palestinians in whatever manner it sees fit because the Palestinians, collectively, are not entitled to anything. Whatever crumbs Israel allows them are, therefore, huge sacrifices for the sake of peace.
PLO official invites Gingrich to Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Monday invited US Republican Newt Gingrich to visit Palestine as her guest, after the presidential candidate said the Palestinian people were “invented.” … On Saturday, he added: “These people are terrorists.” Ashrawi invited the presidential hopeful “to re-learn his history and come to Palestine to see for himself, not only the suffering the Palestinian people face on a daily basis due to the Israeli military occupation, but also to experience the rich culture and history of the Palestinian people” She added: “it is unbelievable that Mr. Gingrich, who studied history at two outstanding American universities and even taught history, could make such a misguided comment, solely for the sake of political pandering.”
but it seems he’s already been there- and learned nothing:
Newt Gingrich’s literal embrace of Yasser Arafat
HuffPost 13 Dec — On Monday, a political operative who has been working on Palestine-Israel policy for the past 20 years sent The Huffington Post a picture of Gingrich, then the House minority whip, grasping the hand of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat immediately following the September 1993 Oslo peace accords.
French woman faces two years in jail for wearing veil
RS 14 Dec — A 32-year-old mother in France could go to jail for two years after she refused to perform 15 days of “citizenship” service for wearing an Islamic veil. Hind Ahmas was arrested outside Elysee Palace in Paris on April 11 after she disobeyed an order to remove her niqab. Magistrates in the suburb of Meaux handed down the 15-day-sentence Monday, but Ahmas was not even allowed to be present in court because she continued to wear the religious veil. “There is no possibility of me removing the veil,” Ahmas said at a press conference following the hearing. “I’m not taking it off. The judge needs citizenship lessons, not me.” Ahmas also could be forced to pay a fine of about $40,000.