Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
Israel expansion threatens threatens West Bank Bedouin
Khan al-Ahmar, occupied Palestinian territories (Al Jazeera) 15 Dec — Fear of expulsion grows among Bedouin communities in E1 corridor as Israel approves plans for new settlements — On the dusty slopes leading to the Dead Sea, the red roof tiles of Israel’s illegal settlements flicker in patches of sunlight as distant mosque minarets of nearby Palestinian villages peek through the hills. Adjacent to this route linking Jerusalem with the Jordan Valley lie several Bedouin communities leading a simple existence. Eid Khamis, who goes by many names including Abu Khamis and Badawi (Arabic for nomad), is the head of Khan al-Ahmar, a community that was forced to leave the Negev Desert during the 1948 war.
New evacuation of Bedouins in the northern Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 15 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces notified on Saturday the Bedouin communities in Wadi al-Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley to leave their houses and lands. The head of the Committee for the Defense of the Jordan Valley, Ahmad Asaad, revealed in a press statement that the Israeli occupation authorities have ordered the deportation of the families living in a number of areas in the northern Jordan Valley under the pretext of carrying out military exercises in the region.
New demolition notices served in Silwan
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 16 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) delivered new demolition notices to a number of Palestinians in Silwan town, south of the Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem, on Sunday. Press sources told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers escorted municipality employees who distributed the notices in Wadi Hilwa suburb in the town.
Israel issues demolition orders for Hebron home
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli authorities issued demolition orders for a home in the Hebron town of Yatta on Saturday, a local committee said. Rateb al-Jabour, spokesman for the local committee against settlements, told Ma‘an that officials from the civil administration were escorted into Yatta by soldiers to issue demolition orders for the home of Mahmoud Ibrahim Makhamra. The Makhamra family received a demolition order for their home six years ago, al-Jabour added, but the order was suspended. Twelve people live in the house, which is located in Area B of the West Bank.
IOF soldiers close Negohot gate
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) closed the Negohot military gate to the west of Dura town, south of Al-Khalil, on Saturday. Eyewitnesses told the PIC that the IOF soldiers closed the road adjacent to Negohot settlement at the pretext of protecting settlers, who have robbed Palestinian land in the area to establish their settlement. The gate is closed every Saturday separating villages to the west of Dura from the town all because of alleged “settlers’ security”.
Cairo moves to stop the Israeli decision to demolish an Egyptian monument
CAIRO (PIC) 16 Dec — The Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr called on the Egyptian ambassador in the Palestinian territories, Yasser Othman, to start contacts to stop the Israeli decision to demolish the monument of the Egyptian soldiers in the village of Beit Nuba, west of Ramallah, Egyptian Foreign Ministry revealed. The monument of Egyptian soldiers, who were killed during 1948 war, was built on July 17, 2012 in the presence of the Egyptian ambassador in the Palestinian territories Yasser Othman and representatives of the Palestinian Authority and others from the village and neighboring villages … Palestinian citizens organized on Sunday a march and sit-in in the village of Beit Nuba to protest the Israeli decision to demolish the monument … Hamas considered in its statement that the Israeli decision to demolish the monument of the Egyptian martyrs was an Israeli desperate attempt to obliterate the Palestinian and Arab memory
Violence / Incursions / Clashes / Illegal arrests
UN OCHA OPT Protection of Civilians Weekly Report 5-11 Dec 2012
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces: Killed this week: 0 Killed in 2012: 8 Killed in 2011: 11 Injured this week: 33 Injured in 2012: 2,904 Injured in 2011: 1,460 2012 vs. 2011 weekly averages: 60 vs. 30 … Most of the injuries to Palestinians reported this week occurred during clashes that erupted in the context of search and arrest operations. Overall, a total of 73 such operations were recorded, a slight decline compared to the weekly average since the beginning of 2012 (80)….
MADA: Second group of journalists beaten in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — After Reuters cameramen were assaulted by Israeli forces in Hebron this week, a second group of journalists were beaten by troops in the West Bank city, a press freedom group said Saturday. On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers punched two Reuters journalists and forced them to strip in the street, before letting off a tear gas canister in front of them, leaving one of them needing hospital treatment. The journalists were covering the aftermath of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Muhammad Salaymeh by an Israeli border guard in the city…
A day later, four journalists went to cover the ensuing clashes, and were blocked and threatened by an Israeli force near Hebron’s Tareq ben Zaid school, MADA said. Associated Press photographer Hazem Bader was detained for 45 minutes by Israeli soldiers, the journalists told MADA. “They tied my hands behind my back, beat me on my feet and my back, and cursing me all the time,” Bader said. “One of the soldiers tried to fabricate a charge against me that I tried to assault him, but my colleagues of photographers documented the arrest.” He was freed when a press office intervened, he said.
15 injured by Israeli fire in Jerusalem, five kidnapped
IMEMC 15 Dec — Palestinian medical sources reported, on Friday evening, that 15 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli military fire in Al-Esawiyya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, and five residents have been kidnapped after the army invaded the area and conducted provocative acts against the residents. Local sources reported that hundreds of residents were holding a nonviolent procession in solidarity with Palestinian detainees on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
The sources added that the soldiers violently assaulted the nonviolent protesters after the army invaded the area, and issue that led to clashes with the soldiers. The army also demolished and removed that protest tent that was held in solidarity with detainee Samer Al-Esaawy, from Al-Esawiyya, who started his hunger strike more than 86 days ago, and his health condition witnessed a sharp deterioration.
Dozens of injuries reported as army attacks nonviolent protests in West Bank
IMEMC 15 Dec — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protests against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and Israel’s illegal settlements in different parts of the occupied West Bank; dozens of injuries were reported. The army sprayed the protesters with chemicals in addition to firing dozens of gas bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullet, and several rounds of live ammunition. In Bil‘in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, two nonviolent protesters were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets while dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.
This Friday, the protest was titled “The Friday on Anger”; local, Israeli and International peace activists marched towards the Abu Lemon area that was returned to the residents of Bil‘in after a lengthy legal battle, and the soldiers showered them with wastewater mixed with chemicals and fired gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets.
[details also on protests in Kufr Qaddoum, Nabi Saleh, al-Ma‘sara, and ‘Aida Refugee Camp.]
Israeli soldiers occupy a house in Huwwara
ISM posted 15 Dec — Israeli soldiers occupied the home of a family in the village of Huwwara, south of Nablus, for three days, between Sunday 11th and Tuesday 13th December. Prior to occupying the home, the soldiers had entered the house twice. Family members living in the house recounted how soldiers came there on Sunday morning at 4:30am, jumped the gate and entered their home. They gave no reasons for their intrusion and they did not provide any information on the length of their stay there or on the nature of their activities within the house. The family of nine persons, including four children, were forced to stay on the ground flour of the house during the three-day occupation, and were ordered to keep the front gate open. To feed their animals, kept on the upper floor of the house, they had to ask permission from the military and were accompanied at gunpoint by soldiers. The village of Huwwara is surrounded by the illegal Israeli settlements of Itmar, Bracha and Yitshar, and is close to the Huwwara Israeli military base.
IOF kidnap two Palestinians from their homes in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (PIC) 15 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Saturday two Palestinians from Tulkarem and took them to an known destination. Local sources said Israeli troops stormed the northern district of the city and kidnapped two Palestinian citizens, Masaoud Abu Zant and Mahmoud Abu Diya, from their homes.
In another incident, the IOF on the morning of the same day established several checkpoints south of Al-Khalil city and climbed onto the roofs of two houses in Yatta town. Eyewitnesses told a reporter for the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the Israeli troops erected barriers at the northern entrance to Yatta known as Ze’ev junction and at the entrance to Bani Naim town near the bypass road used by Jewish settlers. They added that the troops obstructed the movement of citizens and vehicles, checked their IDs and handed a citizen a summons from the Israeli intelligence.
The IOF also stormed different areas of Jenin city at dawn today and raided several homes without any reported arrests.
Soldiers kidnap four youths in Hebron
IMEMC 16 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday evening, the southern West Bank city of Hebron, broke into and searched dozens of homes and kidnapped four youths before taking them to an unknown destination. The Youth Coalition Against Settlements stated that infantry troops invaded Jabal Al-Rahma area in the city and broke into several homes, forcing the families out and violently searched their homes before kidnapping the four youths. The kidnapped youths were cuffed and blindfolded and were taken to the police station in Keryat Arba’ settlement built on Palestinian lands in the occupied city. The army claimed that a Molotov cocktail was hurled at a military tower in the area; the Youth Coalition said that the military claim is false
Injuries reported in ongoing clashes in ‘Aida refugee camp
IMEMC 16 Dec — Palestinian medical sources reported, Sunday, that clashes continued, for the second day, between local youths in the camp and Israeli soldiers who fired dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets leading to dozens of injuries … The clashes started Saturday when the army invaded the camp [near Bethlehem] and local youths clashed with them and hurled several Molotov cocktails at a nearby military tower.
Jewish settlers attack Palestinians east of Hebron
HEBRON 15 Dec (WAFA) – Jewish settlers attacked early Saturday a number of Palestinian civilians in an area east of Hebron, according to local sources. They said settlers from Kharsina and Kiryat Arba, built illegally on Palestinian-owned land in Hebron, attacked several people in the area, firing tear gas canisters and severely beating them before fleeing the scene. The injured were admitted to hospital for treatment.
Settlers attack residents, vehicles, near Nablus
IMEMC 15 Dec — Palestinian medical sources reported Saturday that several injuries took place in Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, after extremist Israeli settlers, and soldiers attacked Palestinian homes and vehicles; the army also fired dozens of gas bombs at civilian homes leading to dozens of injuries … Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlements file at the Palestinian Authority in the northern West Bank, reported that settlers of the Yitzhar illegal settlement invaded the home of Hamdan Ahmad Hussein in Einabous, attacked and injured his wife Lialy Odah, 25, and destroyed furniture and property. Lialy was moved to a local hospital suffering cuts and bruises. Daghlas further stated that the army did not attempt to remove the settlers, and instead fired dozens of gas bombs at the residents who suffocated and were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Settlers attack village south of Nablus, clash with residents
NABLUS 15 Dec (WAFA) – Israeli settlers Saturday attacked the village of Urif, south of Nablus, provoking confrontations with its local residents, according to an activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlers’ activities in the north of the West Bank, said settlers attacked the outskirts of the village provoking the clashes while soldiers stationed in the nearby hills watched. He said that the village has been targeted by settlers for the last few days.
Witnesses: Palestinian shot by forces near Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — A Palestinian man was shot in the chest by Israeli forces near the Gaza border on Sunday, witnesses said … Locals told Ma‘an a man in his 20s suffered a bullet wound after Israeli forces opened fire near the al-Sureij gate on the border. Israeli troops have fired several times across the border since a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas went into effect in November.
Palestinian citizen wounded in IOF shooting
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 15 Dec — A Palestinian citizen was wounded in Israeli army shooting at civilians to the east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, afternoon Friday. Local sources told the PIC reporter that Mohammed Qudaih, 22, was hit in his hand and suffered moderate injuries. Israeli occupation forces fired at a group of citizens who were inspecting their lands near to the Israeli security fence, the sources said.
Israeli forces attack Press TV crew in Gaza
Press TV 16 Dec — Israeli forces have opened fire on Palestinian farmers and Press TV crew in the southern Gaza Strip, Press TV reports. Press TV correspondent Ashraf Shannon said Israeli forces fired on the farmers and Press TV crew near the border fence in the Khan Yunis area. Shannon said, “Israel troops were standing 200 to 250 meters away from us, and it was clear that we were journalists, standing right behind the farmers.” But “all of a sudden, they started shooting [at us]. No one was threatening them. No one was firing. No one was throwing stones at them.”
VIDEO: Gaza faces prospect of powerless winter
Al Jazeera 16 Dec — As winter approaches, Gaza’s only power station is struggling to cope with demand. Electricity cuts last for up to 8 hours a day. If the promised fuel shipment arrives from Qatar, most families will depend on generators this winter – only if they can afford them. Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba reports from Gaza on the plight of those that cannot afford generators.
PHOTOS: Expanded limits do little to help Gaza’s fishermen
AIC 16 Dec — For years, Gaza’s fishermen have struggled under severe restrictions on their trade as the Israeli military enforced limits on the distance they could fish from the Mediterranean shoreline. The eight days of bombardment by the Israeli military in late November also took its toll. In the coastal area near Khan Younis, Israeli bombs targeting a Palestinian coast guard station destroyed buildings used by fishermen to store their equipment, as well as the only medical clinic in the area. Frequent shelling of the coastal area damaged boats and homes and traumatized families. With the ceasefire announced November 21, one part of the agreement expanded the area fishermen would be allowed to travel from three nautical miles to six. (Under the Oslo Accords, they were supposed to be allowed a 20 nautical mile fishing zone.) But Fuad Al Amouri, president of the fishermen’s union on the Gaza coast near Khan Younis, says that moving from three to six miles doesn’t change much. According to him, nine to twelve miles is where the fishing is best. But a meager catch is not the only challenge facing Gaza’s fishermen. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports recent incidents in which fishermen have been arrested and humiliated while their boats are confiscated.
Gaza official: Egypt pledged to end Rafah blacklist
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Egyptian authorities have pledged to end a blacklist of Gaza residents who cannot use the Rafah crossing to leave the coastal strip, an official in Gaza said on Sunday. Cabinet secretary-general Abdul Salam Siyam said Egypt also promised to increase the Rafah’s capacity for passengers …
Also on Sunday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told Saudi-newspaper Okaz that Europe was considering returning its border monitors to the Egypt-Gaza border.
Rizqa rejects Ashton’s suggestion regarding the Rafah crossing
GAZA (PIC) 16 Dec — Dr. Youssef Rizqa, the political advisor to the Gaza Prime Minister, confirmed that the Palestinian people had expected Europe to lift the siege imposed on Gaza and not to re-occupy it through the Rafah crossing. The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton had said that the EU is considering resuming the task of the European observers to maintain security at the Rafah crossing, which have been stopped since 2005.
Gaza: Transportation losses during the recent aggression hit $3 million
GAZA (PIC) 16 Dec — The damage control committee at the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirmed that the losses of the transportation sector in the Gaza Strip hit $3 million, as the primary outcome of the serious damage to the transportation sector … The damage to the vehicles and the heavy equipment belonging to the Palestinian government have also been counted, as a large number of the ministries’ vehicles had been destroyed during the bombing of the governmental headquarters. The committee’s report pointed out that the citizens’ losses have reached $1.5 million; affecting the workshops, the dynamometer car test centers, the car showrooms and the spare-part stores.
Gaza to Galilee: The colonial context / Ben White
Al Jazeera 16 Dec — Framing events in Gaza in the colonial context is vital for understanding the nature of the violence, argues author – While it is common knowledge that a majority of the population of the Gaza Strip are refugees, it is less well understood where they came from. The shocking reality is that many of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are a few miles away from the land of their ethnically cleansed former villages, across the border fence in southern Israel. Like so much else with Palestine, you can’t understand Gaza if you don’t understand the Nakba. To give a few examples. In 1948, most of the Palestinians of al-Majdal had fled in fear by the time the Israeli army took the town. In November of that year, around 500 were expelled to Gaza. But during 1949, a good number of Palestinians managed to return. Those remaining Palestinians were “concentrated and sealed off with barbed wire and IDF guards in a small, built-up area commonly known as the ‘ghetto‘”. The ethnic cleansing of al-Majdal was completed between June and October 1950. And if you haven’t heard of al-Majdal before, I’m sure you know the Israeli port city built in its place: Ashkelon.
PHOTOS: Bitter oranges: One Gaza family’s tragedy
AIC 13 Dec — Citrus farmer Yusuf Jilal Arafat stands in front of his home, in which his 5-year-old daughter Runan was killed when Israeli bombs struck this mostly agricultural area in the Al Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Arafat’s wife, four months pregnant (not pictured), and 8-year-old son Jilal (left) were found alive in the rubble … Yusuf’s son Sami (age 4, left) plays with neighbors and siblings near another bomb crater in their neighborhood. Sami and his siblings now suffer from frequent nighttime panic attacks following the bombing of their neighborhood.
Community invited to meet Gaza boy in US for medical treatment
[photo] Dearborn [Michigan] (WXYZ) 15 Dec — When you meet Muath, the first thing you notice is his smile. His smile is big. This smile is a big deal, because Muath has been through more than his fair share of tragedy. His mother died of cancer, and he suffered through bone cancer. He lost his leg to the disease. He also lives in a country where violence is a part of life. He and his family live in Gaza. The refugee camp where they most recently have been finding shelter was hit during the recent violence between Israel and Palestinians. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund paid to bring Muath to the United States for medical treatment … When Muath goes home he will go home with a new prosthetic leg, and hopefully the ability to get around with ease
Gaza youth: Growing up in ‘the world’s largest jail’
SAN FRANCISCO (New American Media) 14 Dec — Nothing ‘post’ about traumatic stress — A series of drawings is spread across the table in front of Ayman Nijim. One of them, in hues of yellow and blue, shows a row of helmeted stick figures — the Star of David carefully traced above each — bearing machine guns with a tank to their rear. On the side is a wall smeared in red and brown. “Do you see those dots?” asks Nijim, 29, a community-based mental health worker in the Gaza Strip, as he points to a flurry of pencil marks decorating the wall. “They’re bullet holes.” Such are the visions of youth in Gaza, says Nijim, whose organization Afaq Jadeeda, or New Horizons, works with young residents of Nuseirat Refugee Camp, one of eight such camps scattered across what many have described as the “world’s largest jail.” Over half of its residents, he says, are youth. Some 53 percent of Palestinians are under 18,
Prisoners / Court actions
Family of prisoner appeals for providing its son with medical treatment
GAZA (PIC) 16 Dec — The family of young prisoner Hudaifa Salama, 18, appealed to human rights groups to necessarily intervene to pressure the Israeli prison authority to provide its son with proper medical treatment. The family told Wa’ed society for detainees and ex-detainees that its son had been kidnapped from a hospital in Nablus city where he was about to undergo surgery and was sent to Megiddo prison.
Electronic media campaign in support of hunger-striking prisoners
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 Dec — …Lara Yahya, the campaigners’ spokeswoman, told Quds Press Agency on Sunday that “Monday will be an international day of solidarity with the hunger strikers in the Israeli jails.” Dozens of Palestinian and Arab pages on the social networking sites, as Facebook and Twitter, will participate in the campaign, in addition to the participation of the largest Arab networks, the local radio stations and the Palestinian satellite channels, Lara added. She pointed out that the campaign will be in nine languages (Arabic, English, Turkish, Hebrew, Russian, German and Portuguese as well as French and Spanish), and that more than 350 Facebook pages will take part in this campaign.
Ahrar: 120 Palestinian teachers in Israel’s jails
NABLUS (PIC) 15 Dec — Ahrar center for prisoner studies and human rights said there are 120 Palestinian teachers detained in Israeli jails, calling on the union of Palestinian teachers and the ministry of education to pay more attention to their issue. In a press release issued on the occasion of the teacher’s day, director of the center Fouad Al-Khafsh stated that the Palestinian teachers in general have been exposed more than any segment of the Palestinian spectra to detention because of their leading role in the Palestinian struggle against the occupation.
Israeli court refuses appeal of Palestinian activist
AL-KHALIL(PIC) 16 Dec — The Israeli Ofer military court turned down an appeal submitted by a lawyer for activist Osama Hussein Shahin and decided that he should serve his six months administrative custody. Shahin family said on Saturday that the Ofer military court session was held on December 13 during which the court issued its 6 months administrative detention verdict based on his previous arrest by the PA security services and on secret files that were not disclosed. The Israeli occupation forces arrested Shahin from his home in the town of Dura on October 30, 2012, a month after his release from the jails of PA Intelligence service in al-Khalil.
IOA renews administrative detention of Hamas leader
NABLUS (PIC) 16 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) renewed on Sunday the administrative detention of Hamas leader Nazih Abu Oun for six more months. Osama Makbul, a lawyer with the Tadamun foundation for human rights, said that the Israeli prosecution had extended the detention of Abu Oun at the request of the Israeli intelligence.
Factions / Reconciliation
Hamas official: We are waiting for Egypt, Abbas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Senior Hamas official Ahmad Yousef said Sunday that his party was waiting for Egypt and Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas to move reconciliation with Abbas’ Fatah faction forward. The first obstacle to national reconciliation is the instability in Egypt surrounding their constitutional referendum, which began on Saturday, he said. Palestinian factions are waiting to be called to Cairo for a meeting, according to Yousef. He said they are also waiting for Abbas to call a meeting of the PLO with the general-secretaries of all the Palestinian factions.
Thousands take part in Hamas’s anniversary festival in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (PIC) 16 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians attended on Saturday the 25th anniversary festival of Hamas Movement that was staged in Qalqiliya city. The masses waved green flags of Hamas and chanted slogns in support of Hamas and its armed wing Al-Qassam Brigades. The streets and roads of Qalqiliya city was also adorned with Hamas green flags and banners for the first time in five years … different Israeli political and media circles expressed their shock and dismay over letting Hamas and its supporters hold its 25th anniversary celebrations in the West Bank.
Fatah anniversary rally in Gaza to take place Jan. 1
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Fatah’s 48th anniversary celebrations will take place in Gaza on January 1, a party official said Saturday. Yahya Rabah told Ma‘an that celebrations would take place in al-Katiba square, the same place where Hamas celebrated its 25th anniversary last week. Hamas granted the party permission to hold anniversary celebrations but Fatah officials in Gaza are still waiting for written approval, Rabah added.
Arrests against Hamas supporters continue in the West Bank
WEST BANK (PIC) 15 Dec — The PA security services arrested a liberated captive and summoned 3 Hamas supporters, while the occupation arrested a former political prisoner … The intelligence service continues to detain 4 young men from Nablus, who have been arrested last Thursday on charges of writing slogans about the anniversary of Hamas movement’s inception. It has also continued to detain a liberated prisoner and student at An-Najah University, from the town of Immatin west of Qalqilya since last Wednesday.
The journalist Mohamed Shoukri Awad from Budrus village, arrested since December 6, 2012, is also still being held in the intelligence’s jails. He works for the Ramsat agency, and had previously served more than a year in PA prisons.The Authority apparatuses in Tulkarem are still detaining the two Hamas leaders Adnan al-Housari and Fadi Amouri, despite the repeated calls for their release..
Understanding Hamas after Khaled Meshaal’s Gaza speech / Richard Falk
Al Jazeera 16 Dec — The lens through which Hamas is being viewed must be changed if we are to understand it going forward — In the aftermath of Khaled Meshaal’s emotional visit to Gaza in celebration of Hamas’ 25th anniversary, commentary in Israel and the West has focused on his remarks at a rally as “defiant” and confirming “the true face” of Hamas. Emphasis was particularly placed on his dramatic pledge to recover the whole of historic Palestine, from the Mediterranean to Jordan, “inch by inch”, no matter how long such a process might take. Meshaal also challenged the legitimacy of the Zionist project, and justified Palestinian resistance in whatever form it might assume, although disavowing the intention to attack civilians as such, and denying any complicity by Hamas in the recent November 21, 2012 incident in Israel when a bomb exploded in a Jerusalem bus. These remarks certainly raise concerns for moderate Israelis who continue to advocate a two-state solution in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, but at the same time, it is important to listen to Hamas fully before reaching firm conclusions about their “true intentions”.
Refugee official challenges UNRWA over layoffs
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — After protests at the offices of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank this week, the refugee camps’ spokesman disputed UNRWA’s insistence that it would not cut core services … UNRWA on Friday insisted that their “top priority continues to be the delivery of core services to Palestine refugees. There has been no change in UNRWA’s mandate.” … On Saturday, spokesman of Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank Imad Abu Sunbul said UNRWA had reduced services to refugees and claims to the contrary were “nonsense”. For example, he said, UNRWA has stopped recruiting waste collection workers, and covering the cost of ear, nose and throat surgeries. He also criticized the agency for what he called a disparity between the layoffs and the top pay grades of international and Arab staff.
Halt firing on Palestinian camps in Syria: Abbas
AFP 16 Dec — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed on Sunday for an immediate halt to firing on Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, after air strikes on the Yarmuk camp in Damascus killed at least eight  civilians. The Islamist Hamas movement also condemned the attacks, calling them a “crime.” “We call on the warring sides in Syria to spare the Palestinian people and their camps in Syria,” he said in a statement carried by official Palestinian news agency WAFA, adding that bombing of the refugee camps “must be stopped immediately.” “We also call on the international community to take immediate action to provide protection to our people in Syria,” Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians were “not involved” in the conflict.
Sunday’s air strikes on Yarmuk were the first against Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, which have long been strongholds of militant groups closely allied with Damascus.
Palestinian faction leader leaves Damascus, rebels say
BEIRUT (Reuters) 15 Dec — Ahmed Jibril, veteran leader of a Damascus-based Palestinian faction that backs President Bashar Assad, has left the Yarmouk district of the Syrian capital after 12 days of clashes, Syrian rebels and Palestinian sources said on Saturday. They said Jibril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, departed Yarmouk with his son bound for the Mediterranean city of Tartous, a stronghold of Assad’s minority Alawite community. The move followed heavy fighting during which Syrian rebels, together with a brigade of Palestinian fighters known as Liwa al-Asifah (Storm Brigade), had gained ground in Yarmouk, home to thousands of Palestinian refugees, they said.
Political, economic developments
Palestinian PM Fayyad hits back at Israel with boycott call
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 16 Dec — Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged his compatriots in the occupied West Bank on Sunday to boycott all Israeli products, upping the ante in a standoff with the Jewish state. Tensions between Palestinian and Israeli leaders have risen since the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestinian statehood last month, a move opposed by Israel and its ally, the United States. Israel retaliated by announcing last week that it would dock for four months the customs revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf – money the Palestinian Authority needs to function. It had already withheld December’s revenues. “Today, I call upon citizens to boycott Israeli products as an answer to the aggression directed against us, to defend our right to survive,” Fayyad told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “We will take the necessary steps to implement that.”
Second stage of local elections to be held Dec. 22
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — The second stage of local elections in the West Bank will take place on Dec. 22, Palestine’s Central Elections Commission announced on Saturday. The vote was meant to take place in late November but was suspended by the Palestinian Authority cabinet due to the security situation amid Israel’s war on Gaza.
PA says considering changes to Paris protocol
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — The Palestinian Authority might go to the sponsors of Paris protocol to pressure Israeli authorities to retreat from their decision to seize tax revenues, the undersecretary of the Ministry of National Economy said Wednesday … According to the Paris protocol that governs economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, any dispute over debts should be settled by a joint committee.
Nablus govt employees to strike over unpaid wages
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Palestinian Authority workers in the West Bank city of Nablus will launch strike action this week in protest against unpaid salaries, the government employees union said Sunday … Protests will be held until employees are paid the full amount of their salaries, it added. Meanwhile, the head of independent political figures in the West Bank Khalil Assaf called on Palestinian banks to intervene to pay workers salaries.
West Bank teachers to strike over salary delays, union says
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Teachers in the West Bank will launch strike action next week in protest against the Palestinian Authority’s failure to pay salaries, the teachers union said Saturday.
‘New brigade’ announces third intifada from Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 15 Dec — A video released on Friday purports to show a group of Palestinians announcing the formation of a new military brigade, which it said would start a new uprising against Israel beginning in the West Bank city of Hebron.
“We hereby, from the heart of the West Bank, in the revolutionary city of Hebron, declare the establishment of the National Unity Brigades in the Hebron district,” one of the group says … He outlines the demands of the group as the removal of Israeli checkpoints and a military withdrawal from the West Bank, the release of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, the return of Palestinian revenues seized by the Israeli government, and the opening of crossings into the Gaza Strip as well as facilitating water and electricity services.
Qatar emir to make first trip to Ramallah: Palestinians
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 16 Dec — Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani will visit Ramallah for his first ever trip to the West Bank later this month, Palestinian officials said on Sunday … The emir’s visit will be the second by an Arab leader to Ramallah this month, after Jordanian King Abdullah II met with Abbas for talks on December 6. The trips come after the Palestinians obtained upgraded status at the United Nations last month, winning non-member observer state status, over the objections of Washington and Israel. In October, the emir made a landmark trip to the Gaza Strip
‘Useless, useless, useless': the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair
JERUSALEM (The Independent) 16 Dec — Former Prime Minister’s role as representative of Middle East Quartet comes in for fiercest criticism yet — Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home … “The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said last week. He suggested that its constant need to reach internal consensus among its warring participants had rendered it ineffective. “Always the statement of the Quartet really means nothing because it was always full of what they call constructive ambiguity that really took us to nowhere,” said Mr Shtayyeh, who had just ended a meeting with Mr Blair. “You need a mediator who is ready to engage and who is ready to say to the party who is destroying the peace process ‘You are responsible for it’,” he said.
Solidarity / BDS
Court awards damages to leftists detained in Hebron
Ynet 16 Dec — Three left-wing activists were awarded NIS 15,000 (roughly $4,000) in damages Sunday, in a settlement reached with the police over a 2008 case. The three, who are volunteers with the Yesh Din — Volunteers for Human Rights group, filed a civil damages lawsuit against the Israel Police, arguing that they were illegally detained for six hours by the Hebron Police, when they visited the city four years ago. The suit, which alleged “false imprisonment,” said that the three — who were visiting the West Bank city to depose a Palestinian shepherd who was allegedly assaulted by settlers — were detained for no other reason but their affiliation with Yesh Din.
New Yorkers protest at Israeli settlement developer store
NEW YORK 16 Dec (WAFA) – Eighty New Yorkers Saturday sang parody carols in front of Israeli settlement-developer and diamond magnate Lev Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store, which supports settlement activities in the West Bank, said a press release by Adalah-NY.
Racism / Discrimination
Far-right party’s campaign ad banned for racism: Just the tip of the iceberg
972mag 16 Dec by Mairav Zonszein — If a campaign ad inciting against Arab citizens of Israel is deemed illegitimate, then why not the party responsible for it, or any of the myriad Knesset members who have also engaged in similar forms of incitement as well, whether against Africans, Palestinians, the LGBT community or Israeli leftists? Israel’s Central Election Committee disqualified an ad campaign last week by a new party called Otzma Leyisrael (Strength to Israel), citing that it singles out and incites against the Arab sector in Israel and is therefore racist.
Report: 2012 record year for incitement
Ynet 16 Dec — Human rights report for 2012 paints grim picture of state of public housing, asylum seekers’ rights and discrimination against Palestinians, Arab-Israelis … The report further charged that Israel continued its policy of discrimination against Arab-Israelis in planning and construction as well as the “blind destruction of housing which ignores the state failures that have pushed Arabs into building without permits. “The report also touched upon the “exclusion of the Arabic language”, the deprivation of east Jerusalem residents’ rights, police brutality and interrogation of minors.
Israeli hospital refuses to treat Palestinian child with cancer
NAZARETH (PIC) 15 Dec — The Israeli Kaplan hospital has expelled a Palestinian girl, Lin Hassan, who has been suffering from cancer in both her kidneys despite her treatment was not completed. The child’s mother said in a statement on Saturday that immediately after her daughter started receiving treatment, she was surprised when the hospital administration informed them of the decision to stop all treatments for Lin. She said that her child was scheduled to be operated on for the removal of the tumor, but the hospital administration expelled her because the Palestinian Authority did not pay the dues of Lin’s previous stay in the Israeli hospital. Lin’s mother confirmed that her daughter’s health condition is getting worse after they have returned to their home in the Breij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip where there is no cure for the little child.
Christmas tree lit in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — A giant Christmas tree was lit on Saturday evening in Bethlehem’s Manger Square marking the beginning of Christmas celebrations in the West Bank city. Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad attended the ceremony, along with the mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun, the governor Abdul-Fattah Hamayil, the minister of tourism Rula Maaya and a large number of Christian clerics, Palestinian dignitaries and dozens of spectators.
Video: Bethlehem Christmas tree lit up
BBC 16 Dec — The Christmas lights have been switched on in Manger Square in Bethlehem. The tree has been decorated with 45,000 lights and 6,500 baubles.
Christmas message from the mayor of Bethlehem
Ma‘an 15 Dec — “In a silent and unique night that held the tidings of a glorious event, Jesus Christ was born in the manger of a humble grotto in the town of Bethlehem. The prophecy was fulfilled “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” In the Christmas season we unite our prayers for peace and justice in Palestine and in the whole world. This year we pray for our brothers in Gaza who suffer from humiliation, hunger, sickness and homelessness as a result of the continuous Israeli aggression on their houses and lands.
Jerusalem Patriarch welcomes Christmas in Gaza mass
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem marked the beginning of Christmas celebrations in a church service in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. “Jesus knows the meaning of homelessness, murder and injustice, but the Christmas holiday is about peace, tolerance and justice,” Fuad Twal told the congregation of a Roman Catholic church in Gaza.
Analysis / Opinion / Features
Poll: Palestinians see UN vote, Gaza war as victories
RAMALLAH 15 Dec (WAFA) – A large percentage of Palestinians viewed the results of Israel’s war on Gaza and the vote at the United Nations as victories, according to the results of a new public opinion poll published Saturday. Arab World for Research & Development (AWRAD) said in its new poll conducted early December … that over 80% of Palestinians see the results of these two events as victories. However, a good percentage of Palestinians still believe that the outcome of the UN vote will bring hardships to them and the aftermath of the Gaza war will not change anything on the ground
Palestinians working under fire in Israel / Sean O’Neill
Al Jazeera 16 Dec — During the recent attacks on Gaza, some Palestinians laboured in Israel, even as rockets flew overhead — More than 1,200 rockets were fired by Hamas and smaller armed groups over the course of the eight-day Israeli attack on Gaza … The southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, less than ten miles from Gaza, was one of the hardest-hit areas outside of the coastal enclave. The city became a veritable ghost town during those eight days, with residents either fleeing or taking refuge in underground shelters. Yet even as rockets crashed into apartment buildings in the city, another group of Palestinians carried on building and renovating Ashkelon’s homes. Ashkelon, like many other places in Israel, is largely dependent on cheap, illegal Palestinian labour to fill its construction jobs. The Palestinian economy in the West Bank is likewise dependent on these jobs. A 2007 report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Crossing the Line: Violation of the Rights of Palestinians in Israel Without a Permit, contends that this economic dependence was the result of deliberate Israeli policy.
Rooftop gardens provide food and hope for cash-strapped Palestinians
The National 13 Dec by Hugh Naylor — DHEISHEH, WEST BANK // High in the sky above a narrow, noisy and congested street in this West Bank refugee camp is a veritable paradise of green, shade and quiet. Throat-burning exhaust, blaring horns and clinging dust seem to choke the life from the Palestinians navigating the street below. But atop this overcrowded, dilapidated apartment block is a garden that bursts with cucumbers, bell peppers and strawberries – and hope. With the help of makeshift greenhouses, more than a dozen Palestinian families have started to farm on the roofs to blunt the harshness of a financial crisis that has crippled the Palestinian Authority (PA) and drained the pocketbooks of the refugee camp’s 13,000 residents. Here they tend to their modest crops with remarkable dedication.
Exhibition at P21 Gallery offers an alternative view of Palestine
MEMO 15 Dec by Amelia Smith – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Four days before the ‘Refraction: Moving images of Palestine’ exhibition is set to open in London, curator Shaheen Merali is describing a video from the show by artist Khaled Jarrar. “He’s walking through where he lives, in the occupied territory, wearing a wet suit, flippers and a snorkel, hailing a taxi,” he explains. “For Jarrar, that is maybe an act of trying to escape a landlocked society. The surrealism of living under occupation.” The exhibition is made up of pieces of work which are the artists’ individual reflections on Palestine, how they view and challenge chaos, war and massacre in the region.
Holocaust survivors protest in Jerusalem
Ynet 16 Dec — Dozens demand reimbursements for medical bills as cabinet convenes for weekly meeting … They carried signs reading “Steinitz, I hope you’re warm at night because I’m cold.” According to data published by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims, the past year has seen 35 Holocaust survivors die while waiting for the compensation. The Finance Ministry said in response that it has increased budgets for Shoah survivors. The ministers did not respond to the claims during the cabinet meeting.
Social Resilience Index: Israelis feel less secure
Ynet 16 Dec — Only one in four Israelis feels the country is providing a bright future for their children; and one in three reports that their household income allows just a minimal standard of living: These are some of the results of the 2012 Social Resilience Index … According to the survey, only 26% of Israelis feel that the country is providing a bright future for the next generation and only 46% said they felt the State protected them and their families; and only 58% said that Israel was the best country for Israelis to live in.