and other news from today in Palestine:
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Attempts to co-opt Palestinian culture
722,000 Israelis live beyond Green Line / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 15 Jan — Yisrael HaYom published today one of the more stark and telling statistics about the ‘success’ of the Occupation: in 2011, 722,000 Israelis lived beyond the Green Line, including in settlements and East Jerusalem. This was a 5% increase over 2010. That means that 1 in every seven Israelis lives outside of 1967 borders and explains why the country is rapidly becoming a unitary state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. Bibiton and the settlers themselves are overjoyed with this development because it means they can continue pursuing their Apartheid Jews-only State.
OCHA: Half of West Bank is off-limits to Palestinians
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 16 Jan – Almost half of the West Bank land is off-limit for Palestinian use due to its allocation to the Israeli settlement’s local and regional councils, said a report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Monday. The report, on the humanitarian impact of Israeli settlement policies in the Palestinian Territory, said that 43% of the West Bank land is inaccessible by Palestinians since it was allocated to Israeli settlements’ benefit. Likewise, 27% of the West Bank land viewed by Israel as public or “state land” has been allocated to settlements rather than for the benefit of the local population, it said. It stated that “seizure of land for settlement building and future expansion has resulted in the shrinking of space available for Palestinians to sustain their livelihoods and develop adequate housing, basic infrastructure and services.” … t said that Israel had set up more than 500 internal checkpoints, roadblocks and other physical obstacles that impede Palestinian movement inside the West Bank, including access of children to schools.
New Israeli plan to build 204 housing units in French Hill
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 15 Jan — Baka’a center for planning and building warned of an Israeli plan prepared by the Hebrew university in occupied Jerusalem to build 204 housing units in the French Hill settlement [in northeast Jerusalem] in place of the existing student units. In a press release on Sunday, director of the center Qais Naser said the plan is aimed to limit the growing Arab presence especially the number of Arab students in the French Hill settlement.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Israel accelerates work to Judaize the Old City of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 15 Jan – Israeli bulldozers Sunday increased its work speed to establish Talmudic gardens between Damascus Gate and Herod’s Gate (Bab el-Amoud and Bab al-Sahira in Arabic, respectively), two of the most famous gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, aiming to judaize the city and change its historical and cultural character, according to WAFA correspondent … Similar works are under way in Tantur Faron, an area south of Al-Aqsa mosque, which is considered an archaeological area that extends back thousands of years.
Israeli forces storm Wadi Al Rababeh
[photos] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 Jan — Early Sunday morning Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood of Wadi Al Rababeh which is located between the neighborhoods of Wadi Hilweh and Abu Tour in Silwan to provide back-up to the employees of the Israeli National Park Authority. One of the Authority’s employees issued a warning to Silwan resident Omar Sumrain, stating that he has to remove a water container. The written warning states that the water barrel is a construction, although the container is used for irrigation. It is also noteworthy that the Israeli Authorities prevent the local Palestinians from using their lands in Wadi al Rababeh under the pretext that the land is a national park.
Massive march organized in Jakarta in support of the Aqsa
JAKARTA, Indonesia (PIC) 16 Jan — Tens of thousands took part in a massive rally in front of the UN office in Jakarta in support of the Aqsa mosque and in rejection of the Israeli Judaization of the holy city of Jerusalem.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
VIDEO: Road to Tantura / Hala Gabriel
[20 minutes -- Tantura was a Palestinian fishing village in a beautiful setting on the sea. It was attacked by the Alexandroni Brigade in May 1948, with some inhabitants massacred and others forcibly expelled. In this exceptional but still unfinished video, a Palestinian-American explores the events with her father and her aunt and uncle, and with a former Israeli soldier who was part of the attack. To finish the film more money is needed -- you can contribute here: http://www.roadtotantura.com.]
Al-Tantura on the Palestine Remembered site
Many photos, including The tomb of Shaykh Abd al-Rahman Bujayrami Tantura, now in an Israeli back yard; An Aerial view of Tantura lagoon
VIDEO: Hummus and falafel are already ‘Israeli’. Now they’re coming for Palestine’s olive oil too / Ali Abunimah
Zionism’s cultural appropriation of indigenous Palestinian folklore and cuisine – such as hummus, falafel and maftoul – as “Israeli” has long irked Palestinians, especially when these same cultural products are used in international propaganda and marketing efforts which deny Palestinians’ rights and history. Now, Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank are attempting to steal perhaps the most important symbol and source of economic sustenance for rural Palestinians: olive oil and olive culture. A professionally made YouTube video released by the “Matteh Binyamin Regional Council” – an entity that represents dozens of illegal Israeli colonies in the southern occupied West Bank – aims to convince Israelis that Jewish settlers, not Palestinians, are the true caretakers of the region’s olive trees and the historic heirs of its olive culture.
Settlers / Right-wing extremists
Police: Extreme Right to escalate West Bank violence
Ynet 15 Jan — Israel Police intelligence report also says tensions surrounding Jewish presence in east Jerusalem may boil over in coming year … The report, presented by the force’s intelligence division to Commissioner Yohanan Danino, states that the far-Left is also expected to expand its activities to additional unrecognized villages, mixed Jewish-Arab cities and Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
Settlers attack Palestinians, property in weekend of violence
AIC 15 Jan — Settler violence over the weekend in West Bank: 100 trees cut down. Car burned. Two additional cars damaged. Two Palestinians attacked. The Israeli army’s answer: to arrest the very Palestinians who were beaten just moments before. This report was compiled, in Hebrew, by Uri Yacobi Keller for the Alternative Information Center and was translated and edited by Mya Guarnieri … Last year saw a marked and worrisome rise in settler violence. According to reports from various human rights organizations, 2011 saw a 50 percent rise in such incident from 2010, and a more than 150 percent rise from 2009. In light of this weekend’s events, it doesn’t seem that the year 2012 will be any different.
Palestinians live in fear for their lives as two-state solution hopes fade
Brisbane Times 16 Jan — The West Bank village of Asira, just south of Nablus, knows too well the challenges of living under Israel’s military occupation in the shadow of a settlement. Villagers said they were consistently attacked by residents of the neighbouring settlement of Yizhar, as often as once a week. But the house that bears the brunt of those attacks is the Maklouf residence. It is the last home in the village and closest to the settlement. The family has an extraordinary collection of home movies, shot by their mother on a hand-held video recorder, that depict life on the front line of settler violence. In video after video, seen by the Herald, armed settlers, their faces covered by scarves, charge down the hill towards the Maklouf home, firing guns, throwing stones and wielding iron bars, and screaming obscenities against the prophet Muhammad, the family and the village. One settler rampage that began at 12.15am on December 12 lasted at least half an hour, the family said. The family – mother Khadra, father Ibrahim and their six children – said they thought they would die. Desperate calls to the Israeli Defence Forces, stationed just kilometres away, went unanswered as the group of at least 100 settlers surrounded them, throwing rocks and bricks at their house and banged on their walls with iron bars. ”You cannot imagine the fear,” Khadra Maklouf said. ”The girls were screaming… I was terrified somebody would get shot and killed.” Ibrahim, her husband, said: ”Now the younger boys are too frightened to use the toilet, and the girls will not even go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. We are worried whenever they are playing outside that the settlers might harm them.”
Jewish extremists assault a youth from Jerusalem on Jaffa street, West Jerusalem
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 Jan — At dawn on Sunday, 15 January, Jewish extremists assaulted Majdi Muhammad Abu Gazaleh, 21, using wooden sticks, sharp tools and iron sticks. Abu Gazaleh was at work on Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem when the incident occurred. Abu Gazaleh stated that the assault took place at 4:00 am while he was doing his work in a restaurant in Jaffa Street. He said, “Some Jewish extremists started pointing at me but I paid them no attention. All of a sudden they surrounded me and they were holding stones, knives, iron hand tools and sticks- there were 7 men wearing kippas, and one woman. Abu Gazaleh added “they circled me and one of them said ‘kill him, kill him.’
Haaretz publishes fraudulent ad supporting settler price tag attacks, signs names of peace activists / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 16 Jan — Earlier this week, a fictitious settler group published an ad in Haaretz supporting price tag attacks. One point they made in their support was the claim that price tag attacks are civil disobedience in the same sense that Ilana Hammerman’s group, We Do Not Obey, is. She is the activist who began a protest movement by driving Palestinian mothers and children from the West Bank into Israel in order to take them to the beach, amusement parks, zoos, etc. For her efforts, she’s been rewarded by three police summonses for questioning including a warning of criminal prosecution … What is even more shocking about the ad than the bogus logic of the argument offered in it, is the fact that the ad purported to be signed by settler women who support the price tag acts of vandalism and defacement of Palestinian mosques, cemeteries, etc. It also listed the purported settlements in which each endorser lived. In reality, every woman’s name included in the ad is a member of Ilana Hammerman’s group of peace activists.
Vandals torch PA intel officer’s car
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — A Palestinian Authority intelligence officer says Israeli settlers burned his car early Monday in the occupied West Bank, in the latest in a string of similar attacks in recent months. Mohammad Ghannam said the car was parked in front of his house in Dir Dibwan village, near Ramallah, when it was set on fire by Israeli extremists who later escaped the scene. Ghannam, an officer in the PA Authority intelligence services, is the brother of Ramallah’s governor.
Settlers torch a car in Hebron, throw stones at house
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Settlers torched a Palestinian owned car overnight Saturday in the southern city of Hebron. The owner, Hana Abu Heikal, told Ma‘an that settlers began to throw stones at her home near the Tel Rumeida settlement at around 2 a.m before setting fire to her car. Heikal lives near to the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Admot Yishai which was first constructed in 1984 as a temporary structure before becoming permanent in 1998. The main road to her home has been closed off because of its proximity to the outpost and residents have to climb a wall then use a dirt road to enter and exit. It is impossible for residents to park their cars near their homes, Abu Heikal said, and her vehicle has been torched several times in the past.
Soldiers detain 2 Palestinians after assault by settlers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli forces detained two young Palestinian men in central Hebron on Friday night, after witnesses said they were attacked by Israeli settlers. Settlers from nearby outposts assaulted the men as they crossed al-Shuhada street in the center of the southern West Bank city, eyewitnesses said. Israeli soldiers patrolling the area detained the Palestinians after the assault, they said.
Al Khalil (Hebron): Soldiers beat and arrest two teenagers in Hebron
Christian Peacemaker Teams 16 Jan — On 12 January 2012 at 5:20pm, Israeli soldiers forcibly entered the Zaru family home near the Qitoun checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron), assaulting the mother and two sons. The invasion was a result of an earlier encounter between the soldiers and Anas, the older of the sons, age 18 and developmentally disabled. That morning, Anas was coming home through the Qitoun checkpoint after refilling the cooking gas tank for the household. When he tried to enter the door of the checkpoint corridor, the soldiers closed it. He knocked repeatedly on the door until the soldiers shouted at him, “Why are you knocking?” “Because you will not open the door to let me through,” he responded. When the door opened and he passed through, the soldiers knocked the gas tank away, shoved him to the ground, and began beating him. When Anas tried to get up, he stumbled into one of the soldiers, who then claimed Anas had attacked him. They took him into a side alley to continue the beating out of public sight.
OIC: Gaza needs 100,000 housing units
JEDDAH (PIC) 16 Jan — The Gaza Strip is in need of 100000 new housing units following the Israeli war on the coastal enclave, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said in its monthly report on the humanitarian condition in Gaza on Sunday. The organization called on member countries to expedite assistance to the reconstruction of devastated homes in Gaza and the construction of new units, pointing to the six years of Israeli siege, which, it said, contributed to the worsening of the housing shortage in the Strip. Thousands of families are still homeless, the report said, adding that 350 housing units were rebuilt while 600 others are under construction. The OIC pointed out that even before the Israeli war on Gaza three years ago 3600 housing units were destroyed in previous incursions and raids on the Strip, adding that the owners are either living with their relatives or in rented houses.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
A call from Gaza’s fishermen
Fishermen speak out to the world in hopes that their rights to work safely will be restored — We, the Palestinian fishermen of the Besieged Gaza Strip, the CPSGaza, the Union of Fishermen in Gaza City, the Palestinian Association for Fishing and Marine Sports and Al Tawofeek Society, are calling on the world to force Israel to lift the naval blockade which restricts the Palestinian fishing area to 3 nautical miles and to support the Oliva and similar peaceful civil missions aimed at monitoring Israeli violations and at ensuring Palestinian fishermen the possibility of fishing in safe conditions … Despite pledges by the Government of Israel in June and December 2010 to ease the ongoing blockade, the restrictions at the sea continue to paralyze the Palestinian fishing industry, forcing thousands of fishermen to abandon their work because the area within 3 nautical miles is markedly over-fished.
Money transfer stoppage ‘tightening Gaza siege’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have told Ma‘an that the recent restrictions on Western Union money transfer services are tightening the siege on the coastal strip. The currency wire service enabled residents to avoid lengthy bank transfer procedures, and the monitoring of transactions by Israel and the US, experts said on Saturday. Western Union has stopped its services to many currency exchange stores in the coastal enclave over concerns about money laundering, Palestinian Monetary Authority Governor Jihad al-Wazir said last week. [WU lists agents in Rafah, Gaza City online - have inquired about this, no answer from WU yet]
Gaza immigration bureau: The issue of passports is still there
GAZA (PIC) 16 Jan — Director of the interior ministry’s immigration bureau in Gaza Wisam Al-Ramlawi said the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah city have not sent any passport books to the Gaza Strip so far. According to Safa news agency on Sunday, Ramlawi denied claims on finding a solution to this problem and affirmed that the Ramallah authorities still refuse to issue passports for many citizens for alleged security reasons.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Monetary authority transfers funds to Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — The Palestinian Monetary Authority delivered a shipment of money to bank branches in Gaza on Sunday in order to ease a cash crisis in the coastal enclave. The authority told Ma‘an that they have been working hard to ease the financial crisis in Gaza. Governor of the authority, Jihad al-Wazir, said earlier in January that a shortage of currency had held up payment of public sector employees’ wages in recent months and the deficit of shekels was increasing the price of the dollar in the coastal strip. Under a stringent Israeli blockade since 2007, transferring currency to the coastal strip requires coordination with the Israeli military authorities.
Official: First Gaza furniture export since siege planned
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli authorities have agreed to permit a truckload of furniture manufactured in Gaza to leave the blockaded strip, in the first export of its kind under the siege, officials said on Sunday. Palestinian crossing director Nazmi Mhanna said the truck would leave Gaza to head to Jordan in the next 48 hours, after receiving permission from Israel’s military.
Hamas bans ‘New Star’ singing contest in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — The Hamas government in Gaza has banned residents of the coastal enclave from participating in the national reality singing show “New Star.” The first episode of “New Star,” which follows the same format as popular US shows “American Idol” and “The X-Factor,” was recorded in Gaza City via video link in December, and around 120 people turned up to audition. But the successful contestants will not be able to continue in the competition as the Gaza government media office has since banned the talent show, which is produced by Ma‘an TV network and broadcast on Ma‘an-Mix satellite channel. Hasan Abu Hashish, who heads the media office in the Hamas-run government, told Ma‘an’s public relations director Ala al-Abed that the program was “indecent.” The singing contest contradicts the customs and traditions of the Gaza community, Abu Hashish said.
Gaza newspaper ban in effect for now, official says
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The director of the governmental press office in Gaza has affirmed his commitment to one day implementing a decision to lift politically motivated bans on newspapers in the coastal enclave. Hassan Abu Hashish says a letter to a joint factional committee seeks information on whether or not Fatah is also ready to drop its ban on Hamas publications in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. “We haven’t received any information to let us know about the readiness of the PA in the West Bank about this matter,” he said in a statement … The response to Ma‘an seemed to indicate that dropping a ban on Fatah-affiliated media was conditioned on measures by the PA, which too has a track record of stifling media perceived as sympathetic to Hamas.
In response to GMO in Gaza, MADA does not only claim neutrality, it exercises it
PNN 14 Jan — MADA The Government Media Office in Gaza issued a statement on Tuesday 10 January 2012 accusing the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” of deception, partisanship, operating in collusion with the policies and orders of the security services of the West Bank and a number of other inflammatory accusations. The accusations came in response to MADA’s monthly report, released this week, documenting the media freedoms violations in the region during December 2011, which found that the number of Palestinian violations in Gaza exceeded those of the West Bank.
Rights group: Gaza court sentences man to hang
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — A Gaza Strip court has sentenced a 48-year-old man to death on charges of collaboration and conspiracy to murder, a rights group said on Sunday. The man, from Gaza City and identified only as A.M.A., was sentenced by the Permanent Military Court to hang on Wednesday, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported.
Blast kills PRC operative in south Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — An explosion in the southern Gaza Strip killed a member of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the group said late Saturday. Khalid al-Qaisi, 38, died and five others were injured in the blast at the al-Qaisi home in Rafah, the Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades said in a statement. The injured were not named. The statement said al-Qaisi was killed in action while performing a “jihad mission” in Rafah, but no other details were disclosed … A Ma‘an correspondent said parts of the city “literally shook” during the explosion, the cause of which was not immediately clear. An Israeli military spokeswoman denied army involvement. The PRC said secretary-general Zuhair al-Qaisi, a relative of Khalid, was unharmed.
Remembering the ‘Cast Lead’ assault on Gaza
15 January 2009: The Nadeem family
PCHR 15 Jan 2012 — “Naser used to help the children with their school work, especially English and mathematics. Now that is my duty. Nothing can compensate me for the loss of my husband. He was always very tender, understanding and calm.” On 15 January 2009, shortly after 7:00, the Israeli army fired a tank shell and live ammunition at Naser al-Nadeem and his two sons, Bashar (17) and Firas (15), who were fleeing their home in the Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City. The two boys sustained moderate injuries while their father was severely injured. After 9 months of intensive medical treatment in Egypt and Gaza, Naser al-Nadeem eventually succumbed to his wounds. He was 44.
16 January 2009: The Shurrab family
PCHR 16 Jan 2012 — “Can I go to a court to restore my sons? No” says Mohammed. “What is the point in bringing the soldiers who killed my sons to justice when there will simply be more and more after them? When others will lose their sons as well? Soldiers commit these crimes because they know they have immunity.” On 16 January 2009, Israeli forces positioned in the al Fukhari area, south east of Khan Younis, opened fire on the vehicle of Mohammed Shurrab and his two sons Kassab, 28, and Ibrahim, 18, as they were travelling back to their home during the Israeli-declared ceasefire period. Mohammed was injured and crashed the car, his two sons were subsequently shot as they left the car. Israeli soldiers refused to allow medical access to the area, and Kassab and Ibrahim bled to death on the scene over a number of hours. There were no military operations in the area at the time.
23 January 2009: Israeli soldiers leave Gazan homes in devastated condition
[photos] Amnesty International — In its fifth post on Amnesty International’s Livewire blog, the team described how on Thursday, it had visited families whose homes had been forcibly taken over and used as military positions by Israeli soldiers during the recent three week long conflict. In the houses, the team saw discarded Israeli army supplies, including sleeping bags, medical kits, empty boxes of munitions and spent cartridges, incontrovertible evidence of the soldiers’ occupation of the houses. In every one of the homes the team visited, rooms had been ransacked, with furniture overturned and/or smashed. Clothing, documents and other personal items belonging to the families who lived there had been strewn over the floor and soiled, and in one case urinated on. In one house in the Sayafa area in north Gaza several cardboard boxes full of excrement were left in the house — although there was a functioning toilet which the soldiers could have used. Walls were defaced with crude threats written in Hebrew, such as ”next time it will hurt more”.
Political detention / Court actions
Anti-wall activist sentenced to over 6 months in jail by Israeli court
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 Jan – The Israeli military court of Ofer Sunday sentenced Anti-Wall and settlements activist, Ashraf Abu Rahmi from Bilin village, west of Ramallah, to six and half months under the pretext of participating in demonstrations against the Wall and settlement activities. Popular Committee Against the Wall and settlement affirmed that Abu Rahmi was sentenced to six and half months and fined, after being assaulted by Israeli interrogators during interrogation.
Detention extended for three youths abducted three days ago
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 Jan — Early in the morning of 15 January, the Israeli Magistrate Court extended the detention of three youth for an additional day. The youth were abducted three days ago from Silwan. The youth, Abd Ateyah Qwaider, 22, Abd Qaqoor, 19, Fua’d al Qadi (Rwaidee), 20, were accused of preparing a Molotov cocktail to be thrown at settlers and Israeli forces. An undercover unit claimed that they found the Molotov cocktail bottles on the pavement of the main road in the neighborhood of Beer Ayoub when they stormed an adjacent grocery shop and abducted all the people inside, including the three youth.
Tadamun: IOF soldiers detain 14 Palestinians at roadblocks since start of 2012
Ramallah (PIC) 15 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have detained 14 Palestinians at roadblocks in the West Bank since the start of 2012 including three women, the international Tadamun foundation for human rights said on Sunday. Ahmed Tobasi, a lawyer and a researcher with Tadamun, said that the military barriers humiliate and delay Palestinians while on their way to work, schools, and universities. He noted that the detainees at those roadblocks are left for hours in the cold while blindfolded and handcuffed other than being subjected to beatings and insults.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
IOF soldiers storm home of Hamas leader, interrogate him
JENIN (PIC) 16 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the home of Hamas leader in Jenin Ibrahim Jabr and searched it before an intelligence officer interrogated him. Sheikh Jabr told the PIC reporter that the soldiers broke into his home at dawn Monday and questioned him. He said that the Israeli intelligence officers have been routinely storming his home in line with their policy of harassing liberated prisoners.
IOF soldiers also at dawn Monday arrested a Palestinian man in Jenin and confiscated his car, local sources said, adding that Jamal Al-Mahdi was taken from his home blindfolded and handcuffed after ransacking it.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
In new wave of arrests, IOF soldiers round up 15 Palestinians
QALQILIA (PIC) 16 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 15 Palestinians, mostly teens, in Qalqilia and Al-Khalil provinces at dawn Monday, local sources reported. Locals said that the IOF troops stormed the village of Azun, to the east of Qalqilia, and detained 12 young men. They pointed out that the soldiers detained a recently released prisoner for few hours and beat him up before releasing him after which he was carried to hospital. In Al-Khalil, the soldiers detained two Palestinians in Yatta village after storming a number of houses in the early morning hours. A third young man was taken from his home after storming it in downtown Al-Khalil, local sources said, adding that the soldiers detained two children for a few hours.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Two teenagers seized in raid on Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces detained two young men from the al-‘Ain refugee camp in Nablus after raiding it early Monday, locals said. The men, identified as Mohammad Maarouf and Waseem Ramadan, both 19, were taken after their homes were ransacked, onlookers said.
Israel raids refugee camp, arrests Jenin man
JENIN (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, locals said. Jamal Mahdi was seized after soldiers ransacked his and a number of other homes in the northern city, onlookers said. Forces also surrounded the Jenin refugee camp from all sides and raided homes. Military jeeps were seen driving through the narrow alleyways, but no detentions were reported from the camp.
Israel detains 2 at Jenin checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces on Monday detained two men on Monday at a Jenin checkpoint found in possession of weapons, the army said. A military spokeswoman told Ma‘an that soldiers searched the suspects’ bags at Salem checkpoint and found 10 pipe bombs, a pistol and 100 bullets.
Human rights group calls for ending ban on visits to Gaza prisoners
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 Jan — The Ansar Al-Asra human rights group has urged the Red Cross and international institutions to pressure the Israeli government into allowing family visits to the Gaza prisoners. It said in a statement on Sunday that there should be an international pressure lobby to end the suffering of the families of those prisoners who have been deprived of visiting their next of kin since 2006 when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured and held in Gaza.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Hamas: PA arrested over 800 members in 2011
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Hamas said Sunday that Palestinian Authority security services in the West Bank had detained 805 members from the Islamic movement in 2011. A report by the party said that 350 people detained by the PA were prisoners freed from Israeli jails and eight were journalists. The highest detention rate was in the Nablus region, the report said, where 310 Hamas members were arrested in 2011. Sixty-seven members from the movement were tried in court, the report stated. It added that the PA had discriminated against Hamas employees, firing 21 in 2011.
Israel sentences Nablus teen for Fogel murders
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — An Israeli military court on Monday sentenced a teenager from Nablus to five life sentences plus seven years for the murder of an Israeli family … Awad’s cousin Hakim Awad was also convicted for the murders and was sentenced to five life sentences in September. The judges considered sentencing Amjad Awad to death but decided not to give him a harsher sentence than the military prosecution requested, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Restriction of movement
Palestinian leader loses VIP status with Israel
RAMALLAH (AP) 15 Jan – Israel has stripped Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of VIP status and given him a watered-down travel permit that is valid for just two months, Palestinian officials charged Sunday. The officials said that Abbas complained about the permit at an internal meeting of his Fatah Party last week. In a speech, Abbas said the new permit, similar to those required for Palestinian laborers entering Israel, was a reflection of Israel’s continued control over the Palestinians, and suggested that Israel was trying to punish him for applying for Palestinian membership in the United Nations.
Abbas stripped of VIP travel ID due to ‘technical glitch’
Ynet 15 Jan — …Maj. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli agency that issues travel documents to Palestinians, said there has been no change in policy. He said the permit was the result of a technical glitch that should be resolved soon. “Freedom of movement … remains exactly the same as it was,” Inbar said … Palestinian officials acknowledged the new permit has not prevented Abbas, a frequent traveler to world capitals, from moving in and out of the West Bank. On Sunday, Abbas flew to London for talks with British leaders … Adnan Dmiri, spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, said dozens of Palestinian officials have lost VIP cards since the middle of last year – shortly before Abbas’ appeal to the United Nations in September.
Political developments / Diplomacy
Official: Committee agrees to separate PLO, PA parliaments
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Islamic Jihad leader Khalid al-Batsh said a PLO reform committee meeting in Amman on Sunday agreed to separate the PLO legislature from the PA parliament, in moves intended to make the organization more representative.
Palestinian Legislative Council members, elected in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, can no longer take positions in the PLO’s Palestinian National Council, which was established to represent all Palestinians, including the Diaspora, according to al-Batsh. Committee members agreed to elect members of the PNC by proportional representation, and separate the process from PLC elections, he said.
Committee meets to discuss future PNC election
AMMAN, Jordan (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — A special committee of the PLO met Sunday in the Jordanian capital to discuss mechanisms for a future election of the Palestinian National Council. The meeting comes amid calls from Palestinian youth who met recently to demand the enfranchisement of all Palestinians through direct elections to the PNC. The chairman of the PNC, Salim al-Zanoun, told Voice of Palestine radio that the committee would raise questions about the number of representatives, mechanisms for the election in Palestine and abroad, whether the vote should be held at once or in stages, and the possibility of forming an election committee.
Hamas source denies Mishaal’s candidacy for PNC chairmanship
AMMAN (PIC) 16 Jan — A responsible source in Hamas has denied press reports claiming that Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of Hamas, was planning to nominate himself for chairmanship of the Palestinian National council … Electronic websites have recently said that Mishaal was planning to nominate himself for the post in the next PNC session and that he would leave his post in Hamas for other members of the movement.
Link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
PA denies Haniyeh allegations of trying to obstruct Arab tour
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 14 Jan – President Mahmoud Abbas’ office Saturday denied allegations Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has made that the Palestinian Authority sent out letters to various countries he was planning to visit urging them not to receive him.
Shaath expresses confidence in reconciliation course
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Jan – PLO Executive Committee Member, Nabil Shaath, Monday expressed confidence in the current course of the Palestinian reconciliation process and the results of the meeting between Fatah and Hamas. He said, during a press conference, that the meeting between Hamas and Fatah chaired by Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, and PLO Executive Committee Member, Zakaria al-Agha, was “fruitful and successful on all levels”. Shaath praised Hamas persistence to achieve the reconciliation, especially re-opening the headquarters of the central elections commission in Gaza to prepare for the upcoming elections.
Report: Arab League to meet on Palestinian reconciliation
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Arab League foreign ministers will meet on Jan. 29 to discuss the Palestinian reconciliation deal and Israeli settlement construction, Kuwait News Agency reported on Saturday. The meeting follows the next summit to review the League’s observer mission to Syria on Jan. 21 and 22, KUNA said.
Haniyeh: Gaza security forces will remain
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — The premier of the Hamas-run government in Gaza said Monday that the security forces formed since its split with the West Bank would be maintained after any unity deal. Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, speaking at a police graduation ceremony, said the security forces were founded to serve the nation, and would not be dismantled. Under a reconciliation deal signed in May with Fatah — which heads the government in the West Bank — the parties pledged to integrate Hamas and Fatah’s rival security forces, but implementation has faltered as the parties continue to spar over key terms. Haniyeh said Gaza’s police have “clean hands” as they do not work with Israel’s occupation, a jibe at the West Bank security forces who are obliged to coordinate with Israeli security under international agreements.
Official: Haniyeh to repeat world tour next month
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will make another regional tour next month after recently returning from his first trip abroad since 2007, his adviser said on Sunday. Yousef Rizqa said the premier would visit Qatar, Iran, and Bahrain among other regional countries at the beginning of February.
Fatah official: Abbas tour shows UN bid on track
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — The visit of President Mahmoud Abbas to UN Security Council member countries this week demonstrates Palestine’s determination to pursue membership of the United Nations, a Fatah official said on Sunday. Abbas will tour Germany, the UK, and Russia from Thursday, who all have votes on the Security Council committee considering the Palestinian bid for full member state status at the UN.
PLO, Israel to meet for fourth round of talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 15 Jan — Palestinian and Israeli officials have agreed to meet for the fourth time on Jan. 25, after the latest round of talks between the two sides. Israeli and PLO envoys met on Saturday for the third round of face-to-face meetings this year in the Jordanian capital. Neither side made official statements following the meeting between PLO member Saeb Erekat and Israel’s chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho.
UK slams Israeli settlement ‘vandalism’
LONDON (Reuters) 16 Jan — Britain condemned Israeli settlements on Monday as “deliberate vandalism” of efforts to establish a Palestinian state, bolstering President Mahmoud Abbas as negotiators attempt to revive moribund peace talks. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s comments were some of Britain’s strongest yet on the Middle East’s most intractable conflict, and come as Abbas tours Europe while negotiators from both sides undertake initial discussions on resuming full talks.
UN chief urges end to Israeli ‘occupation’
AFP 15 Jan — Ban Ki-moon says violence against civilians must end, settlement construction works against two-state solution in keynote address in Beirut
‘Israel and US postpone massive defense drill in fear of escalation with Iran’
Haaretz/DPA 15 Jan — Israeli defense officials tell Channel 2 that Washington wants to avoid causing further tensions in region after various foreign reports of U.S. and Israeli preparations for strike on Iran.
Netanyahu deputy voices ‘disappointment’ with Obama on Iran
Reuters 15 Jan — Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon says ‘election-year considerations’ behind U.S. President’s caution over tough Iran sanctions.
Racism / Discrimination
One man’s march against racism
Ynet 16 Jan — Mulet Hararo, member of Ethiopian community launches march on Jerusalem in protest against recent racism in Kiryat Malachi. His hope – to increase awareness of racism, end discrimination … Having made aliyah in 1991, Hararo believes that “my parents’ generation has already despaired of changing society’s attitudes towards members of the (Ethiopian) community.” Yet he has called on all the young members of society from his generation to join the struggle, for only then can they win.
Commander to soldiers: Never fire at Jews
Ynet 16 Jan — Briefing Golani troops after outpost evacuation company commander says ‘no matter what happens, no one shoots at Jews’ … Following the raid on the Ephraim Brigade base last month during which one officer was lightly injured, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer advocated shooting at anyone who puts the lives of IDF soldiers in danger, regardless of religion or citizenship.
Torah scribe wields her quill against segregation of women / Nir Hasson
Haaretz 13 Jan — On a small desk, squeezed between a closet and a wall, the writing of the first women’s Torah scroll in Israel began a few weeks ago. The scribe, Hanna Klebansky, says she hopes the writing and reading of the scroll will send a message contradicting that of the segregation of women … Jewish law is clear on whether a woman can write a Torah scroll. Tractate Gittin of the Babylonian Talmud states: “A Torah [scroll], phylacteries and mezuzot written by an informer, a heathen, a slave, a woman, a minor, a Samaritan or an irreligious Jew are disqualified.” Despite this clear opinion, Klebansky finally got rabbinic approval for her project in a response by a Conservative rabbi, Simcha Roth.
Israel flunks nuclear safety test but ranks above Iran and North Korea
Haaretz 15 Jan — Israel came close to the bottom of a new survey examining the security conditions of nuclear materials held in 32 different countries. Israel ranked 25th in the study, published by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, scoring 56 out of 100.
Cyber war: El Al, stock exchange sites down
Ynet 16 Jan — The websites of Israel’s stock exchange and national airline, El Al, were down around 10 am Monday … The Saudi hacker who initiated the recent wave of online attacks on Israeli sites informed Ynet earlier of the planned attack, which he said was to be carried out by a group of pro-Palestinian hackers referring to themselves as “Nightmare.” … Meanwhile, the Israeli-Arab cyber war continues to escalate. Pro-Israeli hacker Hannibal, who claims that he is a “Jew who lives somewhere in the world,” published early Monday the Facebook account details of some 20,000 Arab users … Elsewhere, Hamas’ spokesman urged pro-Palestinian hackers worldwide to escalate their cyber attacks on Israeli targets.
MK Ahmad Tibi receives death threats on Facebook
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi has received death threats on his Facebook page, Israeli daily Ynet reported on Sunday. “You will die soon,” “You and all ravagers will meet your end in Gaza,” and “It is much better for you to leave and run away because they will kill you soon,” were among the comments written on the social networking site. “This is not the first time Tibi has received death threats. However, this time there are names on the comments, and we hope police will soon find those who wrote them,” said Tibi’s aide Ahmad Muhanna.
Essays / Opinion / Analysis
Impossible to choose a representative excerpt from this special piece! Read all of it:
Hands not bombs: from the cave of your invented neighbors / Tamara Masri
972blog 16 Jan — …People were killed during the non-violent demonstrations commemorating Al-Nakba, referring to the Palestinian Diaspora. When I heard my cousin was injured, I sent him a message to which he replied, “Everything is fine.” He did not mention that he may be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. An Israeli asked me if he regretted his “mistake.” After those words sank in, I spent the next month making mistakes in the village of Bil‘in. Every week for the past six years the people of Bil‘in and many Israeli supporters protest the separation wall. I went, hoping that clouds of burning tear gas would fill the void of helplessness. Through the haze and chaos, I saw a man in a wheelchair heaving himself up a hill against a crowd of running protesters – toward the gas, bullets, soldiers, wall. I did not know how he could withstand the physical pain, all I could see was his relentless battle to photograph the injustice he was forced to swallow as the law of his life.
Book Review: Reshaping territory: the story of Israel’s shifting borders / Yossi Melman
Haaretz 16 Jan – Does this country have an underlying strategy of expansion, or are its widening borders a natural consequence of the Arab-Israeli conflict? ‘Borderline Choices’ takes readers on a tour of some of the seminal decisions that have affected Israel’s de facto map … Some of the authors’ opinions can be expected to generate controversy … In the book’s closing words, the authors quote from Ben-Gurion’s exhortation to exclude any mention of borders from Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which was being drafted at the time: “Since ancient times, the borders of the Jewish people’s autonomy have retreated and advanced in accordance with the permutations of history.”
Otherwise Occupied: All roads lead to Ramallah / Amira Hass
Haaretz 16 Jan — A riddle for the Internet-challenged: When is a kosher, Israeli-licensed car not permitted to travel on route 443? — We’ll stay on Route 443, where we were already last week. It’s convenient. This is the highway whose existence upgrades the capital as a city with two major traffic arteries to the coastal plain, and improves the quality of life of Israelis. Fewer traffic jams, less time wasted, and the Palestinian villages on whose land the highway is paved are concealed for our convenience behind the wall (like Bir Nabala ) or serve as exotic scenery, empty of human beings (like Al-Tira ). After all, the area between Modi’in and Jerusalem, indisputably a part of the West Bank, was separated from it and annexed de facto to Israel, and is almost clean of Palestinians.
Israel’s ‘national suicide’ / Mark LeVine
AJ 16 Jan — …Simply put, the threat of a Palestinian “demographic bomb”, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has called it, is little more than a contrivance to justify the further exclusion of Palestinians from full citizenship rights within Israel. But accurate or not, the average Jewish Israeli is likely not spending much time parsing the logic or statistical foundations of the High Court’s decision – because they understand the deeper meaning of the argument underlying the decision’s title: to extend full human rights to Palestinians will lead inevitably to the “national” – that is, political – suicide of Israel as a Jewish state. Why? Because to recognise that Jews and Palestinians can become one in the most intimate way possible – through love, sex and children – is to open Israeli Jews to the possibility that there is nothing essential that separates them from Palestinians, that as human beings with deep roots in this land, Palestinians have the same human rights as Israeli (or diaspora) Jews. Once people accept this reality, Zionism – which, at its core, is based on the exclusive Jewish claim of rights to and sovereignty over the Land of Israel – loses whatever remains of its moral and political legitimacy.
When is a terrorist not a terrorist? / Alan Hart
Dissident Voice 16 Jan — The longer and complete form of the first question in the headline is: When is a terrorist not a terrorist in the eyes of the Obama administration (not to mention all of its predecessors) and the governments of the Western world? Answer: When he or she is an Israeli Mossad agent or asset. In the case of the assassination of Iranian scientists, the Mossad’s assets are almost certainly members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) also known as The Peoples’ Mujahedin of Iran, which is committed to overthrowing the regime of the ruling mullahs. Many of its activists are based in Iraqi Kurdistan where Mossad has a substantial presence. It does the training there, selects the targets in Iran and provides the bombs and other weapons, and MKO members do the actual killing.
In Israel, some are more equal than others / Merav Michaeli
Haaretz 16 Jan — When you read about new laws that will reduce human rights in Israel, you probably have thought to yourselves: Oh well, they only apply to Arabs (and Africans ) and so everything else will be okay … It’s true that the new legislation against infiltrators turns refugees into criminals simply because they are in Israel – but it is essential for preserving a Jewish majority here. These are undemocratic laws, which not only do not protect equality, but create discrimination – but they are still necessary for protecting the Jewish state. And, you may be thinking, since the Jewish majority is the top priority of the government, the Knesset and the Supreme Court, such non-democratic legislation will not actually affect us, we Jews living in Zion. Well, you had better think again.
Israel’s school system fosters inequality / Yuval Albashan
Haaretz 15 Jan …a struggle of this kind must not focus on abscesses that have burst open here or there – in Kiryat Malakhi or in Beit Shemesh – but on the virus that runs rampant throughout the entire body. The responsibility for this virus lies with many of those who are currently raising their voices in protest over some of the symptoms it has created. After all, what makes the existence of these phenomena possible is the education that children receive in many parts of Israel, which is funded by the state. This education teaches them that “not all human beings are equal,” that there is a substantive distinction (not merely a difference ) between Jews and non-Jews, between women and men, between Jews of Mizrahi descent and Ashkenazim, and between blacks and whites – a distinction which means that only one of them will sit by the wheel while the other can merely sit on the passenger seat beside them.