Report from the ‘new’ Lifta

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Land, property theft and destruction / Apartheid / Ethnic cleansing

AIC Video: New Lifta
6 Mar — Approximately 1,000 people — Palestinian refugees and their descendants, originally from the Jerusalem-area village of Lifta — now live in a small community next door to the Hebrew University. Consistently denied building permits and under pressure from the municipality, the residents say they will not leave, and haven’t given up hope to one day return to Lifta itself.

In East Jerusalem, only Palestinian property seized as ‘Absentee’ / Moriel Rothman
972mag 6 Mar — To this day, Palestinians are being legally evacuated from their properties in East Jerusalem due to the application of a racist 1950 Israeli law — My parents moved to Jerusalem from San Francisco in 1986. They bought a house in Baq’a, and my older sister and I were both born there. In the summer of 1989, my father, a professor of anthropology, was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research at the University of Amman. My mother, sister and I stayed in our house in Jerusalem. One day, in the winter of 1990, we got a letter in the mail saying that our house had been declared “Absentee Property,” because its owner, my father, was living in Jordan. Our family would need to leave immediately, and we would not be given any sort of compensation. Once we left, the house would be transferred to a wealthy private organization whose goal is to rid Jerusalem of American Jews …  If the reader finds him or herself thinking that my situation sounds ridiculous, impossible, surely made up, the reader is correct. The situation described above is ridiculous and impossible for the following reason: my family is Jewish.

Shepherd fined 1,000 shekels
JVS 6 Mar — On Sunday 4th March, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fined a shepherd from Ein El Hilwe NIS1000 for crossing the road with his sheep. Mohammed Ahmed Alian Awad, 23, crosses the road to graze his families’ sheep every morning and returns in the evening. He said that every time him or his brother pass Tayasir checkpoint the soldiers warn them not to go within 1 km of nearby Maskiyot settlement. Mohammed commented, ‘Where can we go to live? I need to cross the road to feed the sheep.’ The community of Ein El Hilwe suffers constant harassment and violence from Israeli settlers, and IOF. Ein El Hilwe is a Bedouin community located in the north west of the Jordan Valley.

Israeli bulldozers destroy Palestinian wheat crops in Negev
NEGEV (PIC) 7 Mar – Bulldozers of the “Land of Israel” department destroyed wheat crops of Palestinian farmers in the Negev, occupied since 1948. Radio Israel said that the bulldozing was made without prior notice, adding that the farmers have been cultivating their lands for many years.

Israeli company commercialises Judaisation policies
MEMO 5 Mar — In what is being seen as an extension of the commercialisation of Israel’s formal Judaisation policies, an Israeli company has sparked wide condemnation for marketing a new lighter which has the Israeli flag superimposed on a picture of the Dome of the Rock in occupied Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. “Israel” is written alongside in Hebrew. Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowment and Heritage has called the company’s act “a flagrant violation of Al-Aqsa Mosque and an attempt to Judaise it”.

2 Israelis enter Jenin ‘by accident’
JENIN (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday returned two Israeli citizens to Israeli authorities after the duo entered Jenin “by accident.” PA forces handed the Israelis to the Israeli civil administration, who transferred them to Israeli police custody, an Israeli military spokesman told Ma‘an … Under Israeli law, Israelis are forbidden from entering areas of the West Bank under PA jurisdiction. The city of Jenin is within the 17 percent of the West Bank under PA control.

Israel court rules to protect Jerusalem’s ‘Gazelle Valley’
Haaretz 6 Mar — Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court rejects kibbutzim’s claim to rights to the largest open space left in the heart of Jerusalem, where a small flock of gazelles graze.


Jewish settlers attack Palestinian shepherds, threaten to shoot the sheep next time
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 7 Mar — Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds to the east of Yatta village, south of Al-Khalil, and threatened them, local sources said. They said that a settler attacked the sons of a shepherd while rearing their sheep and threw stones and empty bottles on them. He threatened to fire at their sheep if they grazed again in that same area. Other groups of settlers clashed with shepherds in another nearby spot and the Israeli occupation forces came to the scene and forced the shepherds out of the area but did nothing to the settlers.

Settlers attack Palestinian village near Ramallah
IMEMC 7 Mar — A group of armed Israeli settlers invaded, on Tuesday evening, Qarawat Bani Zeid village, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and attacked several residents causing one injury. Local sources reported that the armed settlers were aiming at occupying a spring in the village, and that, after arriving at the scene, the settlers attacked several youths who were sitting near the spring. Resident Amir Jom’a was mildly wounded in the attack, and received treatment by local medics.

Settlers try to install outpost in place of evacuated settlement
IMEMC 7 Mar — A group of armed extremist settlers, attacked on Tuesday afternoon, the location of the former Homesh settlement, in the northern part of the West Bank, and installed an outpost before stopping and searching several Palestinian vehicles. Local sources reported that the settlers blocked the Jenin-Nablus road, and searched dozens of Palestinian vehicles.
The settlers also chanted racist slogans against the Palestinians and the Arabs, and attacked a number of residents. They also “vowed” to rebuild the evacuated illegal settlement. The sources added that Israeli soldiers were present in the area but did not intervene.

Report: Palestinian arrested in clash with settlers
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli police arrested a Palestinian after clashes broke out between settlers and protesters near the illegal settlement outpost Netzer, Israeli media reported. A clash broke out after the protesters “entered territory owned by settlers,” Israel’s Ynet news site reported. Police dispersed the rest of the group, according to the report.

Christians provide free labor on Jewish settlements
By NPR People: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro 7 Mar — It’s wet and windy day in Shilo, a Jewish settlement in the central part of the West Bank that has about 10,000 residents. In addition to the settlers, there are a few extra people staying in Shilo on this day. They are Christian volunteers from the U.S. who have spent the morning pruning the grape vines. Now, with a winter storm beating down on the hills, the volunteers are stomping with their mud-splattered boots and North Face rain gear. “We don’t bring people here that are expecting mud baths and skin treatments and things like that,” says Tommy Waller, a large 50-year-old man with a big smile and a prophet’s long beard, who hails from Franklin, Tenn. Waller founded HaYovel, a nonprofit group that brings Christians to what his website calls “the mountains of Israel where prophesy meets reality.”… It’s a hugely emotional issue for the Christians who come. They believe it is their duty to help Jews expand their control over Judea and Samaria — the biblical names for what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank …  For the settlers, the presence of the Christian workers has more practical applications.

Israeli forces

WATCH: IDF prepares for tunnel warfare in future Lebanon, Gaza conflicts
Haaretz 7 Mar — IDF special forces train at new underground training facility; training based on lessons from Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. [See also IMI presents concrete-penetrating missile]

Netanyahu asked Panetta to approve sale of bunker-busting bombs, US official says
WASHINGTON (Haaretz) 6 Mar — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

Israeli forces seize cars in West Bank village
JENIN (Ma‘an) 7 Mar – Israeli forces confiscated 15 cars from Barta‘a village in Jenin and raided several shops, officials said Wednesday. Tawfiq Qabha, a member of the local village council, told Ma‘an that some 20 military jeeps raided the village at dawn, confiscated cars and broke into shops in the village. Troops are raiding the village on a near-nightly basis, he said.

IOF soldiers detain British delegation in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 7 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a British delegation at a roadblock near Tal Al-Rumaida in Al-Khalil [Hebron] city on Wednesday. Local sources told the PIC that the delegation was visiting Hana’a Abu Haikel in her home. The delegates came in solidarity with Hana’a in face of the Jewish settlers’ repeated attacks on her home in a bid to force her to abandon it, they added. The sources noted that a number of settlers were harassing the delegates, insulting them, and throwing stones at them.
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Supreme Court modifies police search procedure
Ynet 6 Mar –  Supreme Court President (Ret.) Justice Dorit Beinisch along with the Honorable Edna Arbel and Yoram Danziger, issued a verdict which will change current police search procedures in Israel. [but not in the West Bank, note] Tuesday’s verdict states than officers wishing to search a suspect’s person or belongings would first have to obtain their permission.,7340,L-4199372,00.html

Hanaa al-Shalabi

Interview: Why Hana al-Shalabi’s hunger strike is the focus of Women’s Day in Palestine / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
EI 7 Mar — Palestinians will mark International Women’s Day (8 March) this year with solidarity actions for Hana al-Shalabi, who has now spent more than three weeks on hunger strike in protest of being held under Israeli administrative detention without charge or trial … “In Palestine, Women’s Day is a day of struggle,” wrote Janan Abdu, a political activist and wife of Palestinian prisoner Ameer Makhoul, in the call-out announcing Women’s Day as a day in solidarity with al-Shalabi … The Electronic Intifada contributor Jillian Kestler-D’Amours interviewed Khitam Saafin, chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees about the challenges Palestinian women face today and why al-Shalabi’s hunger strike should be supported.

Hana Shalabi will continue her hunger strike as another court decision is delayed
Ramallah, 7 March — An Israeli military judge postponed the decision in the appeal of Hana Shalabi’s four-month administrative detention order in her hearing today, 7 March. Hana expressed her undeterred intention to continue her hunger strike,now on its 21st day, until she is released. Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan noted that Hana appeared to be very weak in today’s hearing, and was handled roughly by soldiers. The military judge only allowed four of Hana’s lawyers to be present in the room and asked all others to leave. After hearing the legal arguments of her defense team and the military prosecution, the judge requested that the prosecution consider revising its position before he made a decision. He stated that he would make his decision on Sunday, 11 March, or Monday, 12 March. Hana’s father arrived at Ofer military base at 8:00 am in order to see Hana, but the military judge and Israeli soldiers made every effort to ensure that he would not be able to see her even from a distance.

Prisoner to continue with hunger strike, says group
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Mar — Hana Shalabi, the Palestinian prisoner held in administrative detention in Israel, is continuing with the hunger strike she has started following her arrest on February 16 in spite of a military court ruling reducing her six-month sentence by two months, a statement by the Palestinian advocacy group, Addameer, said on Tuesday … The IPS denied Sunday a request made by PHR-Israel to allow its doctors to visit Shalabi on the grounds that granting visiting access to an external doctor is based on the right to a second medical opinion, and since Shalabi refuses to be examined by doctors from the IPS, she does not qualify as a case where such a visit is granted. PHR-Israel immediately filed a petition to the District Court in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, demanding that the IPS approve without delay a visit by PHR-Israel doctors to Shalabi. The petition, which will be heard on Wednesday, states that according to the Israeli Medical Association, two weeks after the beginning of a hunger strike the decomposition of muscle tissue commences, including the heart muscle.

Political detention / Court actions

Calling for the release of all female political prisoners on International Women’s Day: Free Lina Jarbuni, Wurud Qassem, Salwa Hassan, Alaa Jubeh, Hana Shalabi, Yusra Qaadan, and Manal Suwan!
Ramallah, 7 March 2012 — Join Addameer and call for the immediate release of all female political prisoners and detainees from Israeli prisons on Women’s Day, 8 March 2012. As of March 2012, seven Palestinian women remain in Israel’s prisons and detention centers … Over 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained since 1967 under Israeli military orders, which govern nearly every aspect of life in the occupied Palestinian territory. There were 36 Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli prisons prior to the exchange deal concluded by the Israeli government and Hamas in October 2011. Hamas reported that Israel agreed to include all female political prisoners in the exchange deal. However, two women, Lina Jarbuni and Wurud Qassem, who have been in prison since before the first phase of releases on 18 October 2011, and an additional two women, Salwa Hassan and Alaa Jubeh, who were arrested before the second phase of releases on 18 December 2011, are still in Israeli detention.

Amnesty: Leftist writer Qatamesh a prisoner of conscience
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — A Palestinian academic who received a third six-month administrative detention order on March 1 should be considered a prisoner of conscience and released unconditionally, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Ahmad Qatamesh has been held without charge or trial since April 21, 2011. He was given a third administrative detention order on March 1, the day that his second administrative detention order was due to expire … “It is Amnesty International’s assessment that the reasons for Ahmad Qatamesh’s arrest and continued administrative detention are his peaceful expression, in his writing and teaching, of non-violent political views and the fact that he is considered a mentor for left-wing students and political activists, some of whom may be affiliated to the PFLP,” Amnesty said.

Israel has issued 100,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinians since 1967
MEMO 7 Mar — The Israeli occupation authorities have issued around 100,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinians since 1967, according to an official report issued by the Public Relations section of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. The report accuses the Israelis of imprisoning administrative detainees, without charge or trial, based on individual orders made by intelligence officers. Authorisation by a judge is usually absent, and the orders are issued in line with laws introduced during the British Mandate period which were cancelled by Britain before its departure from Palestine.

Israeli court adjourns trial of kidnapped Jerusalemite officials
RAMALLAH (PIC) 7 Mar — The Israeli central court in occupied Jerusalem has adjourned the trial hearing of kidnapped Jerusalemite MP Mohammed Totah and former Jerusalem minister Khaled Abu Arafa till next May. Lawyer Fadi Al-Qawasme said that the court ruling on Wednesday came in response to the Israeli prosecution’s request in a bid to maintain the secret evidence against them. He said that the prosecution would try and secure a decision by the Israeli war minister Ehud Barak blocking the revelation of those secret files at the pretext that revealing them to the defense team would pose a threat to Israel. A special Israeli force had raided the Red Cross offices in occupied Jerusalem and kidnapped both officials who had been staging a sit-in there for a year and a half.

Army kidnapped 200 residents in Hebron since the beginning of 2012
Amjad An-Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) … stated that, in February, soldiers kidnapped, more than a hundred Palestinians, including three men, while 98 Palestinians were kidnapped in January.  He further stated that the army carried out dozens of invasions, and broke into dozens of homes causing extensive damage to their property, and also repeatedly forced the residents out of their homes under the rain and the cold. The soldiers further attacked and beat dozens of residents, and also kidnapped nine patients who needed medical attention.  As for arrests targeting children, An-Najjar said that, in Hebron alone, the army kidnapped more than seven children in February, and violently attacked them.

Israeli soldiers detain 12 across West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians early Wednesday, including three teenagers from the Hebron governorate. Soldiers seized Zein Abu Hashem 15, Sami Abu Joda, 15, and Saed Sleibi, 16, from their homes in Beit Ummar, media spokesman for the popular committee Muhammad Awad said. To Hebron’s south, troops detained Fadi Samir Abu Hmeid, 17, Muhammad al-Damiri, 20 and Hani al-Shaabin, in Yatta overnight. Locals told Ma’an Husan Al-Qawasmi, 30, and Khamis al-Natsheh, 22, were seized in Hebron city.  Near Qalqiliya, troops seized Muhammad Badwan, 17, from Azzun village in the early hours, launching tear gas and sound bombs during the raid.

Youths arrested in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Israeli forces have arrested several youths in Jerusalem in recent days, particularly in Silwan, locals said Tuesday.  Israeli forces raided Silwan on Monday and detained five youths who were identified as Islam Al-Awar, Shadad Al-Awar, Suheib Al-Awar, Elias Al-Awar, and Ahmad Salah. Locals said the arrests focused on the Ein Loza neighborhood and masked forces participated. Meanwhile, an Israeli court released Islam Al-Awar and extended the detention of the other four until Wednesday for throwing stones and empty bottles at Israeli forces.

Israeli forces raid homes of former prisoners
JENIN (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces raided the homes of former detainees at dawn Wednesday in Jenin in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security officials said. Security officers told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers questioned Ahmad Abu Srour and Muhammad Shanaat for several hours and threatened to arrest them if they returned to the political struggle. Abu Srour and Shanaat were released from Israeli jail under the October prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Prisoner sends will to his family
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — A 39-year-old Palestinian detainee who says Israeli prison guards poisoned his food has written his will, relatives said Tuesday. Ala Salah sent his will, his Quran and a comb to his family via released prisoner Rafat Abu Shaluf. In the document, Salah says he has been sick since October and accused Israeli forces of poisoning his food. Israeli prison authorities have neglected his sickness, he says. He is held in solitary confinement.


Israeli military operation ‘shuts Erez crossing’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli military vehicles crossed into the Gaza Strip near the northern Erez crossing on Wednesday morning, witnesses told Ma‘an. Director of the Palestinian civil liaison department at the Erez crossing Mahir Abu Al-Ouf said the passenger crossing was temporarily shut down during the ongoing military operation. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an two Israeli bulldozers and three military tanks entered the Palestinian side of the crossing, and were digging land and searching the area. No clashes were reported. An Israeli military spokeswoman said forces were conducting “routine activity” in the area. A spokesman for COGAT (the Israeli defense department in charge of the crossing) said Erez was open.

Union chief: Gaza facing new gas crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — The head of Gaza’s gas station owners organization said Wednesday that the Gaza Strip is experiencing a domestic-use gas crisis after Israel reduced the amounts of fuel entering the enclave. Mahmoud al-Shawwa said that over the past two weeks, Gaza has received 40 to 60 tons of domestic gas, but it needs at least 200 to 250 tons for its day-to-day operations. Most of the strip’s gas stockpile had been consumed, but officials are following up with the Israeli side, he said. Israel has promised to increase the quantities starting next Sunday, he added. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli military’s civilian administration, said the Hamas government in Gaza was refusing to accept the full amount of fuel Israel is willing to send … The official said he was not familiar with any new plan to increase gas imports.

Gazans seethe over taxes and blackouts (Reuters)
GAZA (Reuters) 7 Mar — Palestinian Islamist group Hamas faces growing discontent in its Gaza stronghold because of renewed tax hikes and the mismanagement of a power crisis that has led to lengthy blackouts across the enclave. Traders who import goods from Israel and the West Bank say Hamas authorities have introduced additional fees beyond the usual tax they collect, putting their businesses at risk and threatening the livelihoods of thousands of workers. Hamas says the increase in levies is meant to protect homegrown products. But local analysts believe the group has been forced to tighten the fiscal screws at home because of a drop in funding from foreign allies, notably Iran. Whatever the reason, many Gazans are fuming.

Patients rally outside Egyptian embassy to demand quick solution to power crisis
GAZA (PIC) 7 Mar — A number of Palestinian patients from the besieged Gaza Strip appealed to the Egyptian authorities to swiftly supply Gaza power plant with fuel. This came in a sit-in organized by patients outside the Egyptian embassy in Gaza. The patients carried banners urging Egyptian leaders to end Gaza power crisis.

Gaza energy authority: Rafah area ready to receive fuel from Egypt
GAZA (PIC) 7 Mar — The authority of energy and natural resources in Gaza said it completed the technical procedures for receiving the fuel supplies through Rafah border area according to the agreement signed the Egyptian side. Spokesman for the energy authority Ahmed Abul Amrin said everything is technically ready to receive the Egyptian diesel fuel in a location in Rafah area and the authority is waiting for the Egyptian side to fulfill what was agreed upon.
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Resistance groups apprehend a ‘collaborator’
IMEMC 6 Mar — Armed resistance groups in the Gaza Strip declare they managed to apprehend a resident believed to be ‘a dangerous collaborator with the Israeli occupation’, and that he was tasked with making sure targeted fighters were killed after being extra-judicially assassinated by the army. The collaborator, according to the resistance, confessed he started working with the Israeli army in 1998, and that he was tasked with several missions during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and during Israel’s wars and bombarded targeting Gaza. He said that an Israeli security officer used to ask him to head to areas targeted by the army in order to make sure the targeted fighters were killed, and to confirm that targeted areas, including resistance training centers, were destroyed.

Gaza crossing to close for Jewish holiday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli authorities will close Kerem Shalom crossing on the Gaza border for the Jewish holiday Purim, Palestinian officials said. Liaison official Raed Fattouh told Ma‘an the crossing will close on Thursday and reopen Sunday. Kerem Shalom is the only operating terminal for goods to enter Gaza on the Israeli border.

Israel allows export from Gaza for first time since Hamas coup
Haaretz 6 Mar — The first two truckloads of date bars will leave Gaza on Tuesday, as part of a World Food Programme project that provides school meals to children in the West Bank. Altogether, 13 truckloads of exports will be permitted … The question is whether this is a one-time gesture to the WFP or a change in policy. If marketing goods to the West Bank can be approved once, why can’t it be allowed on a routine basis?” Since the start of the year, Israel has allowed Gaza to export two truckloads a day on average, but only to buyers overseas – where demand for Gaza’s products is low while transportation costs are very high. Consequently, all these exports have been subsidized by the international community, aside from one attempt to export tomatoes to Saudi Arabia that ended in the merchant losing money.

Activism / Solidarity

Court bans activist from participating in protests
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Mar — An Israeli military court Tuesday ruled that activist Ibrahim Bernat will not be allowed to participate in the weekly non-violent protests in the West Bank village of Bil‘in for three years, according to a statement by village activists. If Bernat does not obey the rule, said the court, he will be arrested and fined $650. Bernat is an active member in the village’s seven-year-old protest movement against Israeli settlements and the construction of a wall on village land.

Head of Spain press association assaults Palestinian protester with belt, video shows
EI 7 Mar — The head of the press association in Granada, Spain, took off his belt and threatened to beat a Palestine solidarity protester at the opening ceremony of a graphical exhibition celebrating “25 years of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel,” the Spanish newspaper Diario de Cadiz reported today. This is the latest of several incidents of violence being threatened or used against Palestine solidarity protests in recent weeks. The assault was caught on film by Canal Sur and can be seen on Vimeo.

Videos: Jon Stewart’s triple threat
7 Mar by Pamela Olson — This Monday and Tuesday, Jon Stewart dedicated three segments of The Daily Show to Israeli belligerence and American intransigence in the Middle East. The first was an interview of Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour that took jabs at the US government’s determination to veto Palestine’s application to the UN for statehood. The second made fun of the US, Iran, and Israel equally for their warmongering during an election season. And the third took on the Israel lobby, and the fact that no American politician dares criticize Israel while politicians in Israel itself are allowed a much broader spectrum of dissent. I think it’s another blow to the silence and complicity surrounding all these issues in a major vehicle of American liberal culture.

Japan celebrates completion of school project in Salfit
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 Mar — Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Naofumi Hashimoto, Thursday attended the opening ceremony for the Japan-funded project for the construction of a new school building in Sarta, a Village south of Salfeet in the northern West Bank, said a press release by Representative Office of Japan in Ramallah … With the fund of $112,085, Sarta Village Council has implemented the project of constructing a three story building of 6 classrooms for Sarta Girls School, to replace the old demolished building, built in 1962, which was about to collapse based on the Ministry of Education report.

Racism / Discrimination

NGO asks Israel to probe alleged Shin Bet abuse of Palestinian women
Haaretz 7 Mar — The Public Committee Against Torture In Israel submitted affidavits by Palestinian women to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday describing their treatment during interrogation by the Shin Bet security service. The watchdog group asked Weinstein to direct interrogators to maintain the women’s dignity during questioning … Most of the women said they were strip-searched with men present. When one of the women refused to be strip-searched with a male soldier present, she was told she would be forced to submit. A., 27, from Bethlehem, said she was strip-searched during her menstrual period by a woman soldier. Her request to receive sanitary napkins was denied for 12 hours.

Israeli government investing more in Arab sector, study shows
Haaretz 7 Mar — A wide-ranging study analyzing current government investment in Arab communities shows that it is rising. But, at the same time, the survey says, this is hardly sufficient to close the gaps between Israel’s Arab and Jewish populations … The study notes that about 30 Arab communities remain without any program focused on their difficult economic situations; it recommends the immediate budgeting of designated funds in order to plug the gaps already noted in surveys of various government ministries. According to the researchers, their analysis shows that the three government offices that discriminate the most against Arabs are the ministries of Tourism, Agriculture and Development of the Negev and Galilee.

Political news

Ashrawi deplores US sole negative vote at UNESCO
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Mar — PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi Tuesday deplored the United States sole negative vote cast at five resolutions adopted by UNESCO Executive Board. “It is reprehensible that out of 58 countries, the United States alone cast negative votes and managed to isolate itself by demonstrating yet again unquestioning support for the Israeli occupation,” said Ashrawi in a statement issued by her office.

‘One-state solution’ campaign promoted in West Bank
Ynet 7 Mar — Posters reading ‘one state for five million Arabs and six million Jews’ found across Palestinian cities in wake of stalled peace process … A group by the name of Takamul (“Integration”) seems to be the campaign’s chief sponsor.,7340,L-4199458,00.html

Court delays hearing on Abbas’ PM role
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Mar  — A constitutional court in Ramallah on Tuesday postponed a hearing on the legality of President Mahmoud Abbas’ appointment as prime minister of a unity government to March 20. Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal agreed that the president will lead a unity government in Doha in February. PLO central council member Abdul-Jawwad Salih submitted a legal challenge to the appointment on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Hamas leader: New cabinet will be named in two weeks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 7 Mar — Hamas leader Ahmad Yousef said Tuesday evening that ministers in a new interim government will be named within two weeks, raising hopes that an impasse over the unity cabinet had been broken.

Fatah official denies Abbas preparing cabinet list
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muheisin said Wednesday that the new unity government will not be formed until Hamas permits the elections commission to update its registers in the Gaza Strip. Rebuffing comments by Hamas official Ahmad Yousef that President Mahmoud Abbas is preparing a list of cabinet ministers for approval, Muheisin said: “The president does not have time to deal with service issues, irrelevant to the political issue.” … The Fatah official reiterated that the upcoming unity government will be a technocrat government, without attention to political affiliations.

Journalists syndicate denounces plans to hold separate elections in Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Mar — The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) Tuesday denounced an attempt by a group of Hamas journalists in Gaza to hold separate elections from the one the PJS is planning for this weekend … The syndicate said this act will augment division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip while efforts are underway on the national level to end the division started in 2007. The PJS held Hamas fully responsible for the safety of the journalists who are going to participate in the Friday elections.

Hamas official: No elections without West Bank freedoms
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Monday that his party refuses to hold elections until they can operate freely in the West Bank. Responding to a question from a Ma‘an reporter on why the Gaza government has not permitted the Central Elections Commission to update the electoral register, al-Hayya said elections will not happen without more freedom for Hamas members in the West Bank.

PA reforms get a $40 million boost
WASHINGTON (WAFA) 7 Mar — The World Bank Tuesday approved a $40 million grant to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to support progress in key reforms, according to a press release … “There has been a real commitment to reform which has indeed delivered some improvements in the daily lives of citizens,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza

Arab delegations to visit Jerusalem, says Abu Rudeinah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 Mar – Delegations from Bahrain, Qatar, Tunisia, Jordan and other Arab countries are planning to visit Jerusalem and Palestine in response to a call President Mahmoud Abbas had made at the recent Doha conference on Jerusalem to visit the Holy City, said presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh on Wednesday.

Erekat to Jordan FM: Peace talks won’t resume without settlement freeze
AP 7 Mar — Chief Palestinian negotiator makes remarks following Nasser Judeh’s meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in West Bank. Palestinian leaders told Jordan’s visiting foreign minister on Wednesday that they will not resume Mideast peace talks without an Israeli settlement freeze. Jordan foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, explored the possibility of resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. .

Hamas will not join any war between Iran, Israel, official says
Gaza (dpa) 7 Mar — Hamas will not join in any possible future war between Iran and Israel, a senior official from the Islamist movement said Wednesday. “Hamas defends itself as well as the rights of the Palestinian people, and will not be part of any regional war and will not put the Palestinian people in any future risk,” Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas leader, told dpa. He said he was convinced Israel would not strike at Iran, because “it knows that Iran will teach it an unforgettable lesson.” “Iran is … able to respond and will not need others,” he said, adding that Israeli claims that Hamas would fire dozens of rockets at Israel in any war on Iran “is nonsense.”

Hamas denies it intends to stay out of Israeli war with Iran
Haaretz 7 Mar — A top Hamas official rejected Wednesday reports that the militant group would stay out of an armed conflict between Israel and Iran, saying that if indeed such a war erupts Hamas will retaliate with “utmost power.” On Tuesday, a report by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper quoted two Gaza officials as saying that the group did not belong to any regional alliance and would not involve itself in a possible conflict over Iran’s contentious nuclear program … Speaking to the semi-official Iranian news agency Fars on Wednesday, top Hamas figure Mahmoud Zahar refuted a similar report apparently broadcast by BBC’s Persian website

Other news

Storms destroy crops in northern West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Storms that rocked the West Bank last week destroyed huge swathes of agriculture in the northern West Bank, farmers told Ma‘an on Monday. In Beit Dajan, east of Nablus, the storm tore up crops, particularly tomatoes, destroying one million shekels worth of agriculture, village head Khader Abu Hanish told Ma‘an. Famer Mashed Kanan, 50, said he lost 10 yards of greenhouses, costing him approximately 80,000 shekels in Beit Dajan. Abu Hanish called on the Palestinian Authority to compensate farmers, noting that Beit Dajan is one of the principal producers for the Palestinian produce market (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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