New UN report shows sharp rise in Palestinians uprooted by Israeli demolitions
IMEMC 27 Jan — Almost 1,100 Palestinians, over half of them children, were displaced due to home demolitions in the West Bank by Israeli forces in 2011 – over 80 per cent more than in the previous year – according to a United Nations report released today [Jan 26] … “Demolitions and Forced Displacement in the Occupied West Bank,” prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), adds that an additional 4,200 people were affected by the demolition of structures related to their livelihoods.
UN official urges Israel to end home demolitions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — The United Nations humanitarian envoy in the Palestinian territories called on Friday for Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes. “Israel as the Occupying Power has a fundamental responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control and to ensure their dignity and well-being… The wholesale destruction of their homes and livelihoods is not consistent with that responsibility and humanitarian ideals,” Maxwell Gaylard said in a statement. The UN humanitarian coordinator for Palestine was visiting the north Jerusalem village of Anata, where seven homes were demolished on Tuesday morning, displacing 52 people, including 29 children.
MK on settler outposts: No civilized country demolishes homes / Mairav Zonszein
987mag 27 Jan — This week, national-religious MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) was interviewed on an Israeli news show called London & Kirschenbaum about his proposal for a bill to legalize illegal settler outposts in the West Bank … In his interview, he defended the bill with the argument that (paraphrasing from the Hebrew): families who moved to the West Bank in good will and with government support cannot be evacuated from their homes because no civilized country in the world has a policy of house demolitions. MK Orlev must therefore be unaware of his government’s deep-rooted policy of home demolitions, including the 200 house demolitions that took place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2011 alone, as well as the demolitions that took place on Wednesday in Umm al Kheir, and the day before that, in Anata.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Exile / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
Villagers: Israel to demolish 17 structures in al-Aqaba
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli forces on Thursday handed out 17 demolition orders to residents of al-Aqaba village in the Jordan Valley, residents told Ma’an … The local popular committee says the village has been harassed by the Israeli army since 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank. Around 50 villagers have been killed or injured. Al-Aqaba has faced closures and been cut off to neighboring cities and towns by checkpoints and in 1999 Israel destroyed the village’s water supply, phone and electricity networks. Two main roads leading to the village were destroyed last year as well as homes, barns and greenhouses in the area.
Israeli authorities tell Palestinian his house will be demolished
JENIN (WAFA) 26 Jan – The Israeli military authorities Thursday informed a Palestinian from Ya‘bad, a village southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, that the house he was building will be demolished, according to the house owner. Othman Abu Obaid told WAFA that the planning department of the Israeli military authorities handed him a notice to stop the construction work on his 130 square meter house, which is adjacent to Mabo Dotan, a Jewish settlement built on Ya‘bad land, under the pretext the house was located in area C, which is under full Israeli control. They also handed him a notice to demolish a 60-cubic-meter water tank, which was built with a Norwegian fund,
Activists resisting home demolitions face ‘IDF Price Tag’ attack
25 Jan — On Monday night, the IDF demolished Palestinian homes closely identified with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Resistance and acts of solidarity will continue, but even resistance cannot keep pace with the massive Price Tag assault that is the Israeli Occupation … The bulldozers had moved up the hill and were in the process of demolishing a Jahalin Bedouin enclave there – part of the Jahalin tribe that was being removed and relocated on top of the Jerusalem garbage dump near Abu Dis. Our activists were already there, scuffling with the army and trying to reach the bulldozer to hamper its destruction. The soldiers, claiming that this was a “closed military area” but unable to produce any proper military order, attacked the activists physically and verbally. Itay Epshtain, ICAHD’s Co-Director, was hit with a gun and thrown to the ground. All the while, the soldiers cursed at “the anarchists and leftists.” One yelled at Rabbi Arik Aschermann from Rabbis For Human Rights to take of his skullcap because “he was a disgrace to Judaism.” But it was the women who received the most violent verbal abuse, in addition to physical. “May the Arabs here rape you!” one soldier yelled at an activist.
‘Pending good behavior’, authorities grant a bookseller the right to live in the city of his birth for 2 more years / Philip Weiss
27 Jan — Today we received the email below from Munther Fahmi, the 57-year-old bookseller born in Jerusalem but stripped of his residency and threatened with deportation. We helped out Fahmi’s petition drive last spring. So now Fahmi gets to stay in the city he was born in. We celebrate, but cannot help noting the savagery latent in this note.
Is Arabic truly an official language in Israel? / Issa Edward Boursheh
972mag 27 Jan — The CEO of the state-owned Israel Railways has rejected calls for announcements of upcoming train stations to be made in Arabic, in addition to Hebrew and English
German group cuts support for Palestinian rights NGO
Haaretz 25 Jan — A German foundation that helps victims of the Nazis has decided to discontinue funding the Israeli NGO, Zochrot (Remembering), which strives to raise awareness of the Palestinian Nakba among Jews in Israel. Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, known by its German acronym, EVZ, also asked the Israeli organization to remove any mention of it in its publications. “EVZ supports educational projects but does not support organizations that also have a political agenda,” one of the German foundation’s directors, Gunter Saathoff, told Haaretz. “Since Zochrot supports the right of return, the foundation cannot extend its cooperation with it.”
Who can travel from Gaza to the West Bank? / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 26 Jan — Soccer players yes, poets nein. The people of Gisha NGO translated their table showing who can and who can’t travel from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Here it is: … Note that for a person to be allowed to travel from the Strip in the first place, the IDF and the ISA (Shin Bet) have to consider that person to be of no security risk, and they have to pass severe security checks at the Erez Checkpoint. Thus all the arguments about “but they might be security risks!” is hogwash.
Witnesses: Settlers plant trees on village land
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israelis from Asfar settlement planted trees on land belonging to a Palestinian village near Hebron on Friday morning, locals said. A group accompanied by a bulldozer leveled the land around al-Kanoub, east of Saair village, which is razing a path to link the lands to their settlement, the villagers told Ma‘an. Israeli settlers dominate large swathes of the village’s land, they added. [End]
PA forces ‘arrest 5 settlers in Nablus’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Palestinian Authority security forces detained five Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank in the early hours of Friday morning, officials said. The settlers, who hold US passports, tried to enter Joseph’s Tomb, the site where some believe the biblical figure Joseph was buried, Palestinian officials told Ma‘an. They were questioned and handed over to Israeli liaison officials, local officials said, adding that the visitors were unarmed. An Israeli police spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The tomb, near Balata refugee camp, is in an area under PA control but the settlers had not coordinated the visit with PA security forces.
Deadline looming over Israel settlement evacuation
MIGRON OUTPOST, West Bank (AP) 26 Jan – Religious nationalists living in a rogue settlement on a wind-swept West Bank hilltop are defying the Israeli government’s plans to evict them, setting up a showdown that has threatened to rip the ruling coalition apart. The outcome could hurt Israel internationally should it choose to again flout its 2003 promise to Washington to knock down Migron and other unauthorized settler enclaves built on land Palestinians claim for a future state.
‘Ruling to raze Migron unjust, inhumane’
Ynet 26 Jan – Some 130 rabbis signed a letter addressed to Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, urging her to reverse her ruling that the West Bank outpost of Migron should be razed, Ynet has learned Thursday. The rabbis said in the letter that the decision to destroy homes is “inhumane and unjust,” and warned that it undermines the public’s trust in the justice system.
2/3 of IDF recruits from Samaria serve in combat units
Ynet 26 Jan — West Bank council head says ‘educating teens to settle the Land of Israel leads to excellence in the army’ … “I’m proud of the Shomron youths, who are raised on the values of settlement in the Land of Israel and are partners in the daily realization of Zionism,” Council Chairman Gershon Mesika said after reviewing the data.
Palestinians clash with Israeli forces southwest of Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 26 Jan — Clashes erupted on Thursday between Palestinian residents of Ya‘bad, a village southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Israeli soldiers who raided the village, causing several suffocation cases among the residents, according to local and security sources. They said that large forces of the occupation army, accompanied by an infantry unit and a troop carrier, raided the schools (Al-Madares) and Al-Ras areas in the village amid heavy gunfire, sound and teargas bombs, leading to the eruption of clashes
PCHR Weekly Report: 1 dead, 4 wounded by Israeli forces in 60 incursions
Israeli forces conducted 60 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank … Israeli forces abducted 25 Palestinians, including a child and 2 women. Israeli forces continued targeting the Palestinian Legislative Authority, as they abducted the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Dr. Aziz Dweik, and PLC Member, Khaled Tafish, from the Change and Reform Bloc affiliated to Hamas movement … On 24 January 2012, Israeli warplanes fired 3 missiles at a greenhouse inside a land belonging to Mohammed Shehda Hamdouna, 45, northeast of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack resulted in completely destroying the greenhouse. However, no injuries were reported. On the same day, Israeli warplanes fired a missile at an empty land belonging to Sa’eed Mohammed Salem al-Da’our, in al-Sayafa area, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip … Also on the same day, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at greenhouses in ex-settlements, northwest of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip Full Report
Tánaiste renews Gaza blockade call
IrishTimes 27 Jan — Tánaiste [deputy PM] and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has again called on Israel to change its policy in relation to Gaza and end its blockade of the territory. Mr Gilmore was speaking at the start of a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. During his visit, Mr Gilmore will meet Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and foreign minister Riad Malki. He will also hold talks with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, deputy prime minister Dan Meridor and foreign minister Avigdor Liberman … Speaking this afternoon, Mr Gilmore said it was dispiriting to see how little change there had been in Gaza since the end of the Israeli military operation there three years ago.
ICRC Photo Gallery: Gaza health care is in danger
Int’l Cte. of the Red Cross 26 Jan — There are restrictions on importing medical supplies into the Gaza Strip, leading to frequent shortages of essential disposables and drugs. This is having a serious impact on thousands of patients, especially those with kidney failure or cancer. To make matters worse, the power supply is intermittent and the voltage fluctuates. This can disrupt life-saving health care, sometimes forcing patients to restart their treatment.
OPT: Boosting protection and tackling food insecurity
RAMALLAH (IRIN) 27 Jan — The humanitarian community’s 2012-2013 Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has a narrower scope than in previous years, focusing on two strategic objectives: improving the protective environment, including access to essential services like health care and education, and tackling food insecurity especially in areas where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited access. Policies related to Israel’s occupation are still the main driver of serious protection and human rights concerns, according to the CAP. The two-year aid strategy document requests US$416.7 million to implement 149 relief projects in 2012 (17 by local NGOs, 84 by international NGOs and 48 by UN agencies) in fields such as agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, cash for work, and food and cash assistance. CAP tackles the most urgent humanitarian needs of 1.8 million vulnerable Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Area C of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Seam Zone – the area between the “Separation Barrier” and the Green Line.
Israeli forces arrest youths, assault disabled in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 26 Jan — Israeli occupation forces Thursday evening arrested a number of Palestinian youths in Issawiya, an East Jerusalem town, and assaulted a Palestinian with special needs in central East Jerusalem, according to WAFA correspondent. He said that undercover Israeli soldiers disguised as Palestinians arrested a number of youths in the town of Issawiya; only one of them was know, Omar Obeid, 16, adding that fierce confrontation erupted between Palestinians and the occupation forces after that, which began near the eastern entrance of the town and spread to most of its neighborhoods. He added that in Salah El-Din Street, in central East Jerusalem, the Israeli forces attacked disabled Jerusalemite, Zakaria Hejazi, 37, before leading him to an unknown destination.
Israel releases injured detainee
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israel on Thursday released a man from Hebron suffering from paralysis after detaining him for four months, local sources said. Mutaz Abido, 32, was jailed after he was injured by Israeli fire in September, locals told Ma‘an. [End]
Man marks 28th year in Israeli jail
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — A Palestinian man marked his 28th year behind bars in Israel on Thursday, a detainees center said. Muhammad Ahmad Al-Tous, 57, was detained by Israeli forces in 1985, and imprisoned for life for his involvement in resistance groups. The forces opened fire on his car as a group of resistance fighters fled troops, killing all the other passengers, the Palestinian detainees center said. His family thought he was also killed, before later discovering he will spend the rest of his life in prison, it noted.
Israeli police detain Palestinian in north Israel, seize arms
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police said Friday they have detained a Palestinian man in north Israel for possession of nine boxes of ammunition. The man was confessed the ammunition was to be delivered to Fatah cadres in the West Bank, police said. [End]
Politics / Diplomacy
Israel-Palestinian talks: Palestinians unmoved as Israel presents border ideas
RAMALLAH/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 27 Jan — Israel has presented Palestinians with its ideas for the borders and security arrangements of a future Palestinian state, in a bid to keep exploratory talks alive, Palestinian and Israeli sources said on Friday. However, Palestinian officials said the verbal presentation by Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho at a meeting on Wednesday was a non-starter, envisaging a fenced-off territory of cantons that would preserve most Jewish settlements.
AP exclusive: Barrier proposed as Israel border
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 27 Jan – Israel is proposing to essentially turn its West Bank separation barrier into the border with a future state of Palestine, two Palestinian officials said Friday, based on their interpretation of principles Israel presented in talks this week. The officials said Israeli envoy Yitzak Molcho told his Palestinian counterpart that Israel wants to keep east Jerusalem and consolidate Jewish settlements behind the separation barrier, which slices close to 10 percent off the West Bank. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing strict no-leaks rules by Jordanian mediators. The proposal would fall short of what the Palestinians seem likely to accept, especially because it would leave Jerusalem on the “Israeli” side of the border. But it would also mark a significant step for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has spent most of his career as a staunch opponent of Palestinian independence.
Fayyad says Palestinians ‘marginalized’ by Arab Spring
Bloomberg 27 Jan — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said efforts to achieve a state through peace talks with Israel have been “marginalized” by the Arab Spring and the financial crisis in Europe … Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking yesterday in Davos, was more upbeat than Fayyad. Peres said that in Amman gaps between the sides were “seriously narrowed, and neither the Palestinians nor the Israeli have any choice but to make peace.” Fayyad said negotiations were now unlikely to gain traction because of the U.S. election this year, the European debt crisis and political turmoil in the region that has toppled leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Domestic issues will keep leaders preoccupied, he said.
Zahhar: Shura Council will choose next Hamas chief
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Hamas’ Shura Council will select the movement’s next chief when Khalid Mashaal steps down, senior official Mahmoud Zahhar said Thursday. Mashaal confirmed on Saturday that he does not seek renomination as head of the party’s politburo in upcoming elections, prompting speculation over who would take over the role. Zahhar said the Shura Council was the only body with the authority to select the next party leader. “No one can nominate himself to lead the political bureau.”
Mashaal ‘won’t return to Syria’
GAZA (Reuters) 27 Jan — Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal has effectively abandoned his headquarters in the Syrian capital, Damascus, diplomatic and intelligence sources said on Friday. “Mashaal is not staying in Syria as he used to do. He is almost out all the time,” said a diplomat in the region who spoke on condition on anonymity. A regional intelligence source, who also did not wish to be identified, said: “He’s not going back to Syria. That’s the decision he’s made. There’s still a Hamas presence there, but it’s insignificant.”
CEC ‘ready for elections’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Elections can go ahead as planned on May 4 if President Mahmoud Abbas issues a decree in the coming days, a Central Elections Commission official said Thursday. Jamil Khalidi, who heads the commission’s office in Gaza, told Ma‘an the elections register in Gaza could be updated within six weeks.
Islamic Jihad members in Cairo to discuss reconciliation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Islamic Jihad officials arrived in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the national reconciliation deal, Jihad leader Ahmad al-Mudallal said. Muhammad al-Hindi and Nafeth Azzam will hold talks with the Egyptian leadership, al-Mudallal told Ma‘an.
Fayyad, Peres meet during Davos Forum
IMEMC 26 Jan — Israeli President, Shimon Peres, and Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, participated in meetings regarding the possibilities of resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and the prospects of peace in the region. The meetings were held in Davos – Switzerland, as part of the World Economic Forum.
Palestine, Israel drop in press freedom index
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Press freedom in Palestine worsened in the past year, according to the latest report by international watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Ranking at number 153 out of 179 listed countries, Palestine is listed just below Iraq and Afghanistan in the Paris-based group’s annual Press Freedom Index. “The Palestinian Territories fell three places because of attacks on journalists during demonstrations by Palestinians calling for an end to the war between Fatah and Hamas, and because of an illegal takeover by Hamas supporters of the journalists’ union in Gaza City,” the group says.
‘Big step’ for new Palestinian city
Ynet 26 Jan — After a four-year wait, the planners of Rawabi received Israel‘s permit to pave an access road to the new Palestinian town of and will embark on the work Sunday. The announcement was made Wednesday by Palestinian millionaire Bashar al-Masri, who owns the construction company tasked with building the new West Bank city … Israelis are invited to come and visit any time, and even though our target audience is Palestinian, if Israelis also want to buy apartments there, they’re welcome,” he said. Rawabi is slated to become the first Palestinian city to be built in the territories since 1967.
Group says Israel must remove West Bank landmines
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — The founder of humanitarian organization Roots of Peace said Friday that the group have demanded that Israel works to remove landmines from the Palestinian territories. Heidi Kühn told Voice of Palestine radio that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government would help to remove mines in the West Bank if the organization assisted with mine removal within Israel … Around 1.5 million landmines and unexploded ordinances prevent access to more than 50,000 acres of productive land in Israel, the West Bank and the Jordan River valley, Roots of Peace says. The Israeli-Jordanian border areas and the Jordan Valley are still heavily land-mined, together with areas of the Golan Heights and the northern West Bank. The mines no longer serve any military purpose.
Palestinian fury after player joins Israel team
AFP 27 Jan — World football governing body FIFA could be about to join international efforts to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians after an Arab-Israeli player switched from a Palestinian team to an Israeli one. Ali Khatib has found himself at the centre of a storm after his bosses at Jabal Mukkaber, a top team in the Palestinian premier league, discovered he had tried out for Israel’s Hapoel Haifa — and subsequently signed with them. Jabal Mukkaber say he is in breach of contract, a charge denied by Hapoel Haifa. And what might otherwise be a local spat could now require intervention by FIFA because the Israeli and Palestinian football associations have no formal ties.
Bats occupy Israeli army ghost bunkers
QASR AL-YAHUD, West Bank, (Reuters) 27 Jan — Abandoned Israeli army bunkers along the Jordan River are providing a lifeline for bats on the endangered species list, researchers say. Soldiers left Israel’s underground forts along the frontier with Jordan after a 1994 peace treaty between the two countries.
Analysis / Opinion / Film review
Poll shows Israel slowly but surely turning into a theocracy / Ami Kaufman
972mag 27 Jan — Haaretz leads this morning with a poll from the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center for Surveys and the Avi Chai Foundation, that found that “80 percent of Israeli Jews believe that God exists – the highest figure found by the Guttman-Avi Chai survey since this review of Israeli-Jewish beliefs began two decades ago.” The strongest proof of Israel’s steps towards theocracy came in the following data: “It found that only 46 percent of Israeli Jews now define themselves as secular, down from 52 percent in 1999, while 22 percent define themselves as either Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox, up from 16 percent in 1999. The remaining 32 percent term themselves traditional, virtually unchanged from 1999.” … ““The study also found that 70 percent of respondents believe the Jews are the “Chosen People,” 65 percent believe the Torah and mitzvot (religious commandments ) are God-given, and 56 percent believe in life after death… Among other things, it found that less than half of Israeli Jews think that, in a clash between Jewish law and democracy, democratic values should always prevail.
Natonal suicide in three acts / Adam Keller
Crazy Country 24 Jan – …Foreign country, or what? National Suicide (2) So who are these people who want to come and live here with their spouses and children and are blocked by the Government of Israel and its Supreme Court? There can be no doubt, if one listens to cabinet ministers and Knesset Members and newspaper columnists speaking on the subject: They are foreigners, people from outside Israel, residents of “a hostile country or entity” who want to emigrate from their foreign country and come to live within the borders of Israel. And it is well known that every nation state has the right to define which foreigners will or will not be allowed to enter its bounders. Indeed, comparisons are made with some European countries where xenophobic parties were able to gain influence on governmental immigration policy and impose all sorts of limitations (though in none of them was any such piece of legislation enacted…)
No doubt, then: as far as those ministers and Knesset Members and columnists are concerned, the State of Israel ends at the Green Line, and beyond that line is another country altogether. No doubt? Actually there is very much doubt about that point, because the same people can also be heard resolutely declaring that the entire Land of Israel is ours by divine and ancestral right, that it is a good fine act to settle there and that Ariel and Kiryat Arba are Israeli cities just like Tel Aviv….
Israeli judges are the confessors in savage new doc’y on legitimizing the occupation / Michael Ratner
Mondo 26 Jan – The Law in These Parts – English trailer from The Law in These Parts on Vimeo. The new documentary, The Law in These Parts, is getting a lot of attention. Yesterday the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz that included a chilling excerpt of the film that shows Israeli military officers displaying higher moral standards about the occupation than the Israeli judges who have legalized it. Michael Ratner just saw the film at the Sundance Festival in Utah and shared this report:
As Israeli-Palestinian talks sink, fringe ideas gain traction
CSM 26 Jan — As time passes and a two-state solution looks less feasible, Israelis and Palestinians are more seriously considering ideas like a binational state.