Israel ‘approves 1,200 housing units’ in Gilo
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Israel’s interior ministry has decided to allow the construction of 1,200 settlement units in the Gilo area in the Bethlehem district, Israeli media reported Tuesday. Israel’s Ynet news agency reported that the interior and housing ministries decided Monday that once the final approval was given, construction tenders for the area will be issued. The expansion spans some 66 acres, according to the report.
Israel endorses first university in West Bank
Al Jazeera 25 Dec — Israel has upgraded a college in a West Bank Jewish settlement to a university, reflecting a determination to keep control of the enclave in any peace deal with the Palestinians. The decision on Monday gives the Ariel campus, established in 1982 near the city of Nablus, the same status as universities inside Israel, in a move that could trigger international condemnation and enrage the Palestinians … “For the first time in decades, Israel has a new university,” Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. In September, Israel’s Council for Higher Education, which regulates the seven universities in the Jewish state, opposed the move, branding it political and filed a petition against it to the High Court of Justice. Final approval came from military chiefs, who formalised a cabinet decision in September. Their decision was delayed while experts examined legal challenges from other universities that opposed the upgrade.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
New demolition orders in Bustan suburb
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) served new demolition orders to Palestinian owners of houses in Bustan suburb in Silwan town to the east of occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday. Jerusalemite sources said that Israeli police forces stormed the suburb and clamped a military cordon in its vicinity before starting to distribute the demolition notifications to a number of houses in the suburb. The IOA had earlier threatened to raze the entire Bustan suburb and destroy 88 houses that would displace 1500 civilians to make way for implementing Judaization and settlement projects in the area.
Israel turns again to East Jerusalem neighborhood, ordering Palestinians out
Mondoweiss 25 Dec by Philip Weiss — Bad news from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the section traditionally favored by the Brits, where you will find their consulate and the Quartet’s mega-headquarters, and the Shepherd’s Hotel, now converted into a settlement. Apparently the Judaization is beginning again in Sheikh Jarrah, after a three-year lull. Will the State Department breathe a word? Hillary Clinton spoke up a little, two years ago.
Commercial activities in Old City restricted with yellow lines
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Dec — Jerusalem storekeepers and vendors were surprised on Monday to see Israeli municipal employees drawing yellow lines outside their stores and stalls and warning them not to go beyond them or else they would be fined. Such Israeli measure sparked outrage among the Palestinian traders in Al-Qatanin Souk of the old city of Jerusalem and prompted [them] to engage verbally with the municipal staff.
Israeli minister on provocative tour in Silwan
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Dec — Israeli minister of energy and water Uzi Landau provocatively toured Wadi Hilwe suburb in Silwan in occupied Jerusalem on Monday evening amidst tight security measures. Eyewitnesses said that Landau, a member of the extremist Yisrael Beiteinu party, started his tour at a settlement outpost to the entrance of Wadi Hilwe then toured a number of other outposts in the suburb. They pointed out that a big number of Israeli soldiers took positions in various areas of the suburb during the tour. At the same time Israeli municipality teams entered Silwan town and toured shops under heavy security protection.
JLAC warns against the establishment of a waste dump in Issawiya
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Dec — The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) issued on Monday a statement in which it warned against the Israeli decision to establish a waste dump in Issawiya, where the center has published a Map scheme detailing the Israeli new project that will affect the people of Issawiya, Shu‘afat and Anata. The statement said that the Jerusalem municipality project aimed to establish landfill solid waste on the territory of Shu‘afat, Issawiya, and Anata.
IOA forces Jerusalemite to raze part of his house
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) forced a Jerusalemite citizen to demolish part of his home in Wadi Al-Juz in occupied Jerusalem at the pretext it was built without permit. Wadi Halawa information center quoted Ashraf Al-Halwani, the son of the house owner Rifat, as saying that Israeli-controlled municipality teams sealed the house with red wax in 1997. He said that his father, however, managed to open this part of the house and used it, adding that it was a living room and a dining hall. Ashraf said that it was part of the house in which six people live. He said that his father repeatedly tried to obtain a construction permit but to no avail … “My father paid 70,000 dollars to lawyers, engineers, surveyors, and in fines but in the end our file was rejected,” he said.
IOA orders demolition of two houses near separation wall
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 23 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) told two Palestinian citizens in Al-Khader village, Bethlehem province, that their houses would be demolished because of their proximity to the separation wall … He said that the first two-story 200 square meters house was owned by Taha Salah, adding that one of the two stories was still under construction. He added that the IOA served a similar notice to Ali Mousa, concerning a house and a water well, adding that Mousa’s house, which is still under construction, was previously razed three times.
Israel denies Bedouins the right to elect representatives / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
BEERSHEVA (IPS) 24 Dec – As campaign posters pop up around Israel ahead of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections, Palestinian Bedouin citizens of the state are still reeling after being denied the chance to elect their own local council representatives. Legal rights activists say the move represents the limits of democracy in Israel, particularly with regard to its non-Jewish citizens. “Every citizen wants to have a say in the affairs of their lives. This is their legal right,” Jazi Abu Kaf, a local leader in Um Batin, a Bedouin village of some 4,000 residents in the southern Naqab (Negev) desert, said. “The authorities don’t want to allow elections or see leaders [emerge] from among the local people.”
State planned to evict Palestinian farmers from Jericho lands – and changed its mind
Haaretz 25 Dec by Amira Hass — The state has recently canceled orders evicting 12 Palestinian farmers from 2,400 dunams of Waqf (Muslim religious trust) land near Jericho. The orders originally stated that the farmers invaded state lands, but the farmers, who grow figs for export, submitted documents revealing that they lease the land from the Waqf, which has owned the plot – part of a larger 5,500-dunam plot – since the 13th century. Since 1967, Israel has gained control of at least 33,000 dunams of Waqf land, especially in the Jericho area, according to maps of areas released to Etkes by the civil administration after a long legal battle. Dror Etkes, who investigates Israel’s expansion in the West Bank, believes that despite the state not admitting that these are Waqf lands, the cancellation of the decrees probably reflects the state’s reluctance to open the Pandora’s box of expropriated Waqf lands. Palestinian Authority and Waqf officials have already declared that they are considering steps to regain their land, now in the hands of Jordan Valley settlers, especially since the Waqf lands were systematically registered and organized during the pre-1967 Jordanian era … Etkes and fellow settlement watcher Nir Shalev say they have never before encountered a case where an eviction decree for such a huge size of land has been canceled.
Israeli regime brings Jewish Indians to live in settlements
NAZARETH (PIC) 25 Dec — 53 Jewish immigrants from India arrived on Monday in the occupied Palestinian territories to live in Israeli settlements. The Hebrew radio said that these Indians descend from Bnei Menashe tribe which was recognized as Jewish by the chief rabbinate in 2005. There are still about 7,000 Jewish Indians from this tribe who expressed their willingness to live in occupied Palestine.
Video: Stranger in my home: Jerusalem
2007 This documentary film is based on oral history. It relates the stories of eight Palestinian Jerusalemite families that have been turned into refugees in their own city. After 40 years, they recall the events that occurred in the Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Each family goes to see their house that was occupied in 1948. The houses are located in the Baqa’a, Talbiyeh, Qatamon, and Mosrarah neighborhoods of what is now West Jerusalem. Some of the families enter their former homes and have a discussion with the Israelis currently occupying their homes.
Bethlehem Christians feel the squeeze as Israeli settlements spread
The Observer 22 Dec by Harriet Sherwood — Near a biblical landscape of donkeys and olive trees, homes are being built and Palestinian Christians fear for their future — Amid plastic bags snagged on gorse bushes, rusting hulks of cars in a breakers yard and a few shabby trailers, traces of a biblical landscape are still to be found on a hillside between the ancient cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. A couple of donkeys are tethered to a gnarled olive tree; nearby, sheep and goats bleat as they huddle against the chill December air. But this terrain will soon be covered in concrete after the authorisation last week of the construction of more than 2,600 homes in Givat Hamatos, the first new Israeli settlement to be built since 1997…
In the birthplace of Jesus, the impact of Israeli settlements and their growth has been devastating. In a Christmas message, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Bethlehem was enduring a “choking reality”. He added: “For the first time in 2,000 years of Christianity in our homeland, the Holy Cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem have been completely separated by Israeli settlements, racist walls and checkpoints.”
The burial of Bethlehem / William A. Cook
[photos] Countercurrents 23 Dec — A few days ago I received this plea from Samuel Dowell, a cry from the heart in the season of joy and peace, as he witnesses the slow motion deathknell of the city of Bethlehem , the city of the Prince of Peace: “Dr. Cook, Bethlehem . I don’t know if any of this will be useful to you, but send it anyway.” Bethlehem is a pretty graphic example of the ghettos the Israeli authorities are currently creating in the occupied Palestinian territories: latter-day bantustans. Now surrounded by an eight-meter-high concrete wall (dwarfing the former Berlin Wall), the victim of regular invasions (usually unreported in the Western media) by the Israeli military, Bethlehem is struggling for its very survival. The illegal Israeli (read Jewish) 8 metre high apartheid barrier is designed not for security but the theft of 80% of Bethlehem ‘s land to build a ring of illegal Jewish settlements. Why is the world so silent?…”
Intolerance of non-Jewish religion and culture
Forbidden to celebrate: Israel’s war on Christmas continues despite Netanyahu’s claim of tolerance / Ali Abunimah
EI 25 Dec — In his Christmas greeting video, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted of Israel’s supposed religious tolerance. “Today Christian communities around the Middle East are shrinking and in danger. This is of course not true in Israel. Here there’s a strong, growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country,” Netanyahu said. Vowing to “continue to protect freedom of religion and thought,” Netanyahu also promised “to safeguard Christian places of worship throughout our country” and not to “tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship.” …
Netanyahu’s professions of tolerance would have come as news to Palestinian Christian students at Safad Academic College in the Galilee. There, students who could not get home for the holidays bought a Christmas tree and set it up outside their dorm. But in the evening when they got back from class, they found the tree was gone, Israel’s Walla! News reported. “This is the saddest Christmas,” said Gabriel Mansour, 24, a third-year political science student, identified by Walla! as a representative of Arab students. “All we wanted to do was provide some good cheer for all the students who remained alone in the dorms, and who were unable to go home to their families.” When Mansour investigated, he was told by college officials that the tree had been hidden lest it spark riots among the Jewish students.
Christmas tree gone from Jaffa Gate
Arutz Sheva 24 Dec — The Christmas tree placed at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate with the permission of the Jerusalem Municipality has disappeared from the location, reported Maariv Monday. Residents of the Jewish Quarter and members of the hareidi sector had planned to carry out protests against the tree’s presence, and a Shas representative in the Municipality, Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchaki, demanded its removal. The Municipality denied that religious pressure caused the tree to be removed, Maariv reported.
Extremists find new way to insult Muslims in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Extremists in Jerusalem have invented a bizarre new method to insult Palestinians and the Muslim religion. “For Sale” signs placed on used cars around the city with phone numbers lead potential buyers to a recorded message profanely insulting Palestinians and the Prophet Muhammad. Hamza Mahmoud, a resident of the Old City, told Ma‘an that he and several others tried to call numbers they found on cars for sale and they heard racist insults and curses.
Official: Israeli troops raid Jenin mosque
JENIN (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Israeli soldiers on Monday raided a mosque in a village near Jenin searching for Jewish antiquities, a local official said. Fahma village council head Muhammad Eid Nawasra told Ma‘an that Israeli troops broke into the mosque during dawn prayers. The soldiers searched the mosque and questioned worshipers about an ancient stone engraved with Hebrew writing, Nawasra said. Villagers told the soldiers they had no idea about such a stone, he added. The building dates back to the Roman era and was converted into a mosque decades ago, the village council chief said.
Violence / Incursions / Clashes / Arrests
Palestinian boy hospitalized after Jerusalem attack
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Two Israelis attacked and injured a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in east Jerusalem late Monday, a police spokesman said Tuesday. Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that the attackers, believed to be two ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents, assaulted the boy from behind causing moderate head injuries. Rosenfeld said the boy was being treated at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. Israel’s Ynet news site quoted the boy’s mother as saying the attack was unprovoked. “My son said he and his friends were hanging out near the train station when two religious-looking guys showed up. One of them grabbed him and knocked him down and hit him repeatedly over the head,” the boy’s mother was quoted as saying.
Arab teen: Attack by haredim was unprovoked
Ynet 25 Dec — Boy who says he was attacked by haredi men says he was targeted because he is Arab; ‘I couldn’t believe Jews would do such a thing,’ his mom says … “When I saw the blood on his face I went crazy,” she said. “I couldn’t believe Jews would do such a thing; all my life I grew up with Jews and always had neighborly relations with them. I work with them. I want the police to do their jobs and to find these men so they can stand trial like anyone else. I want equality.” The Jerusalem District Court has yet to arrest any suspects in the attack
Israeli bus runs over Palestinian child
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 25 Dec — An Israeli bus carrying Jewish settlers ran over a Palestinian child near the entrance to Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil, on Monday. Ahmed Abu Hashem, the coordinator of the village’s popular anti-wall committee, told Quds Press that 14-year-old Mohammed Al-Zaqiq was hospitalized in moderate condition after the hit-and-run incident. He said that violent confrontations took place in the village after the accident during which angry young men threw stones at Israeli soldiers and settlers’ vehicles.
Israeli raid leads to clashes in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Fierce clashes erupted early Monday in Beit Ummar in the southern West Bank after Israeli soldiers raided the town and detained two teenagers. Nine Israeli military jeeps stormed the town at daybreak ransacking several homes, said Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesman of the local popular committee. Soldiers detained Muhammad Ibrahim Abu Mariyya and Ayham Khalil Sabarna, both aged 17, he added.
IOF soldiers round up five Jerusalemite kids
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) broke into many homes in Issawiye village, north of occupied Jerusalem, and took away five kids including an 11-year-old child. Locals in the village said that confrontations took place after the IOF stormed the village, adding that the soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at youths protesting the arrests. Meanwhile, an Israeli court extended the remand of 13 Jerusalemite teens and released two, all from the same Issawiye village.
Israel detains 10 in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank overnight Monday, the army said. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘an that 10 people were taken “for security questioning,” including three from Beit Ummar and one from Ramallah.
IOF kidnap wounded child from courtroom
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Dec — An 11-year old boy, Mohamed Abul-Hims, from Issawiya district in occupied Jerusalem was detained and interrogated on Sunday for four hours in Maskubia detention center, his father said. The child’s father said he told the Israeli interrogators in the room that one of his son’s eyes was bleeding, but they did not care and continued questioning him and pressuring him to make a confession about throwing stones at soldiers, according to Wadi Hilwa information center. The uncle of the boy also told the same center that the Israeli intelligence kidnapped his nephew Mohamed while he was in the magistrates’ court in Jerusalem after the extension hearing against his brother was adjourned.
Israel claims arresting a cell that planned to abduct a soldier
IMEMC 26 Dec — A gag order was lifted Tuesday on the arrest of what Israel claims to be a Palestinian cell that planned the abduction of an Israeli soldier to negotiate his release in exchange for the release of PFLP secretary-general, Ahmad Sa’adat … Israeli sources reported that the claimed cell was arrested following close cooperation between the army and the security services, and added that cell members are all members of the PFLP, and that they “confessed” to planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
What ceasefire? Israeli soldiers shoot five Palestinians in latest of series of violations / Alex Kane
Mondoweiss 24 Dec — The world’s cameras have turned away, but Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip continues unabated. The latest Israeli violation of the ceasefire agreement occurred last week when Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinians near the Gaza/Israel border, injuring five. The agreement that ended the November Israeli assault on Gaza stipulated that Israel “should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip.” But the military has violated that agreement time and time again … The shooting and injuring of 5 Palestinians was only the latest provocation, but Western media has largely allowed the violations to go unnoticed. But the Washington, D.C.-based Palestine Center has been doing the media’s job. They list every single violation here:
Israeli gunfire wounds two in Gaza
Al-Akhbar 24 Dec — Israeli gunfire critically wounded two men in Gaza Sunday night, the health ministry announced, in the latest in a series of attacks on the besieged strip since a truce ended last month’s bloody eight-day conflict. Soldiers attacked the two men east of Deir al-Balah, ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said. Such incidents have been common following a November 21 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brought a halt to Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip … The last attack occurred on Friday when Israeli gunfire injured five Palestinians.
Two minors survive Israeli gunfire east of Gaza valley [and two men infiltrate Kissufim base]
GAZA (PIC) 24 Dec — Two Palestinian kids miraculously survived after their exposure to Israeli military gunfire in the east of Gaza valley, the health ministry in Gaza said. Spokesman for the ministry Ashraf Al-Qudra told the Palestinian information center (PIC) the two kids were in a state of extreme shock and almost fainted because of the severity of the firing they were exposed to. Qudra said that paramedics saved the two 17-year old boys and took them to Shuda’a Al-Aqsa hospital.
In a separate incident, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested on Sunday evening two Palestinian citizens south of Gaza. An eyewitness told Quds Press that the IOF arrested the two Gazans after they crossed Kissufim military site to the east of Khan Younis. He added that Israeli warplanes overflew the area following their arrest, noting that they were unarmed. It is still unknown why these two men infiltrated into an Israeli military site, despite their knowledge that they could have been shot dead or arrested.
The flattening of Gaza / Eva Bartlett
GAZA CITY 25 Dec (IPS) – On Nov. 17, four days into Israel’s eight-day assault on the Gaza Strip, deputy Israeli Prime Minister Eli Yishai publicly called for the Israeli army to “blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water.” The following day, Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, called for Israel to “flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing,” adding, “there is no middle path here — either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”
Now, nearly a month after the Israel-Hamas cease-fire, the government and international bodies in Gaza are still assessing the total damage caused by Israeli bombings on infrastructure throughout the Strip. Preliminary estimates put direct damage at 250 million dollars, with another 700 million dollars in indirect damages, according to Hamas Government Spokesperson Taher al Nanu. In more tangible terms, the vast destruction and varying levels of damage include: bridges, thousands of homes, hundreds of U.N. shelters, tens of mosques, many government buildings, media offices, financial institutions, hospitals and health centres, two stadiums, a training centre for disabled athletes, water and sewage and electricity networks, over 100 schools, Gaza’s “life-line” tunnels, and innumerable roads. After the cease-fire, the extent of damage on the electrical network became clearer….
Official statistics about Gaza losses during Israeli offensive
MEMO 24 Dec — The total losses incurred by the people of Gaza as a result of Israel’s November offensive against the territory exceed $1.2 billion (around £741m). The Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip announced the official statistics of the conflict on Sunday. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Dr Ashraf Al-Kedra, said that the latest figure for the number killed by the Israelis last month has reached 185, with 1,399 wounded. Just under 90 per cent of the casualties were hit more than once; 28 per cent had head wounds. Dr. Al-Kedra said that 483 casualties underwent surgery, with 65 admitted to intensive care and 42 transferred to Egyptian hospitals for further treatment. Economic losses in the industrial and transport sectors are estimated at $213m and $3m respectively.
Gaza cease-fire expands fishing area but risks remain
GAZA CITY (NY Times) 24 Dec by Steven Erlanger and Fares Akram — GAZA CITY — Khader Bakr, a 19-year-old fisherman, was thrilled to hear that he could now fish up to six nautical miles from the coast, up from the three-mile limit Israel had had in place since 2009. The change was part of the cease-fire deal that halted last month’s fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. But testing the waters late last month, Mr. Bakr apparently sailed out too far. An Israeli gunboat patrolling against arms smuggling ordered him to stop and strip to his underwear. As the Israelis sank his boat, he jumped into the sea and was hauled aboard the Israeli vessel for questioning. “I spent four hours trembling,” he said, before the Israelis ordered another Palestinian fishing boat to ferry Mr. Bakr back to shore … The fishermen say they estimate their distance, since most of them lack precise navigational systems, but there is usually one indicator. “When we were allowed within 3 miles, the gunboats would attack us at 2.5 miles,” said Monzer Abu Amira, as he repaired his green nylon nets. “Today, they hit us when we are at 5.5 miles.” The Israelis generally use loudspeakers and water cannons, but sometimes they shoot live ammunition at fishing gear, the motor or the boat itself.
Israel allows gravel into Gaza for commercial use
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Dec – Israeli authorities on Tuesday allowed the entry of gravel for commercial use in the Gaza Strip for the first time since imposing a crippling siege on the coastal enclave, a Gaza official says. Nathmi Muhanna, head of the Gaza Strip’s crossings department, told Ma’an that Israel would allow entry of large quantities of gravel for construction on a daily basis.
Qatari surgeons to carry out open-heart surgeries for Gaza children
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 25 Dec – Qatari cardiac surgeons have been granted permission to enter the Gaza Strip where they are scheduled to carry out open-heart surgeries for children, an official at the crossing said Tuesday. The delegation of 10 cardiac surgeons arrived in Cairo Tuesday and was scheduled to cross Wednesday via Rafah crossing. Palestinian officials told Ma‘an that the Qatari surgeons would operate on 40 children.
Human Rights Watch: Israel’s justifications for killing journalists are ‘evidence of war crimes’
[includes 20 Dec VIDEO] EI 24 Dec by Maureen Clare Murphy – Human Rights Watch, which maintained a conspicuous silence during Israel’s eight consecutive days of intensive bombing of Gaza last month, has issued a report unambiguously condemning Israel’s targeting of Gaza journalists during the November attacks. The New York-based group investigated four Israeli attacks on journalists and media facilities in Gaza, finding that Israel “violated the laws of war by targeting civilians and civilian objects that were making no apparent contribution to Palestinian military operations.” Toddler killed Two media workers and a toddler were killed and ten members of the press were wounded in the four attacks, according to Human Rights Watch.
HRW: Gaza rocket attacks on Israel unlawful
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 24 Dec — Palestinian militants violated the laws of war by launching rockets at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip during last month’s fighting, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The New York-based group also said that militant organizations in the territory, which is ruled by Hamas, put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way by firing the rockets from within densely populated areas.
Al-Qassam Brigades confirm targeting Israeli soldiers
GAZA (PIC) 24 Dec — Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, confirmed that its operations represent response to the massacres committed by Israeli occupation against innocent civilians, houses and civilian facilities in Gaza. The media spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, “Abu Obeida”, said in a statement via his Twitter page, in response to the allegations by some human rights organizations accusing the brigades of committing war crimes, “We do not have modern and accurate weapons enabling us to strictly bomb military targets.” He noted in his statement that the Qassam Brigades have been aiming at Israeli soldiers and their sites and military bases, and denied Israeli claims that the resistance is targeting civilians.
Prisoners / Court actions
Sharawne: Suspending my hunger strike ‘temporary truce’
RAMALLAH (PIC) 25 Dec — Detainee Ayman Sharawne has said that suspending his hunger strike that lasted for 170 days was a temporary truce that would resume in the event the Israeli prison authority did not respond to his demands. The Palestinian prisoner’s lawyer said after calling on Sharawne at the Ramle prison hospital that he suspended his hunger strike after a medical team formed to study his case said that if he continued in his hunger strike until the 180th day he would face a sudden brain stroke. The committee said that Sharawne could also suffer paralysis or sudden death even if his body managed to live on vitamins his body in the end would feed on his nerves, which is the main danger. The committee, according to the lawyer, said that Sharawne’s left kidney was no long functioning while the right kidney was working at 55% of its capacity and could also suffer cirrhosis.
Sharawne family to continue in solidarity activities
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Dec — The family of detainee Ayman Sharawne said solidarity rallies and activities would continue until his final release from Israeli captivity. Family members told the PIC reporter in Al-Khalil on Monday that Ayman’s suspension of his hunger strike would not cripple their solidarity activities. They said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) is notorious for backtracking on promises and thus the activities would persist until Ayman’s release.
Lawmakers join hunger strike in solidarity with prisoners
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Several Hamas-affiliated MPs including parliament speaker Aziz Dweik went on hunger strike on Sunday in solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails. Hebron lawmaker Hatim Qafisha told Ma‘an the goal of the one-day protest was to embody the suffering of detainees on hunger strike … Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic movement in Israel, is also participating in the hunger strike. Jafar Azzidine, Tarek Qaadan and Yousef Yassin have been on hunger strike for 27 days in protest at their administrative detention, without charge or trial. Samer al-Issawi has refused food for 146 days.
IPS denies visits to the strikers Kaadan and Ezzedine
JENIN (PIC) 23 Dec — Israeli Prison Service (IPS) informed Red Cross in Jenin that the hunger strikers Tarek Kaadan and Jafar Ezzedine are banned from the scheduled visit on Monday as a punishment for continuing their hunger strike that was launched since a month ago … Jafar Ezzedine and Tarek Kaadan, from Arraba village in Jenin, have been detained since 22 November 2012
Israel delays MP Nawfal’s trial and extends Kabha’s administrative detention
QALQILYA, JENIN (PIC) 24 Dec — The Israeli Salem military court postponed, on Sunday, the trial of the prisoner MP Imad Mahmoud Nawfal from Qalqilya to 29 January 2013. The Ahrar Prisoners Studies and Human Rights Center stated that the Court hearing lasted ten minutes, and then the trial judge suddenly decided to postpone it …
Meanwhile, the Israeli Ofer Court has extended the detention of the former Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Wasfi Kabha, 50, for six additional months, and informed him that this will be the last extension of his detention. The family of former minister Kabha told PIC’s reporter that “this decision means that the release of Kabha will be on the 10 June next year.” Kabha has been arrested on 10 June 2011. He has been held under the administrative detention which has been renewed for six months, 4 times.
IOA refuses to transfer the prisoner Abdul-Jabbar Jarar to hospital
JENIN (PIC) 24 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) refused to transfer the prisoner leader in Hamas movement, Sheikh Abdul-Jabbar Jarar, 46, to the hospital, despite the doctors’ recommendations that he needs an emergency surgery.
IOA decides to deprive prisoners from their university education
RAMALLAH (PIC) 25 Dec — The Israeli Supreme Court decided to deny Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails completing their university education. The decision came after an appeal presented by al-Adala human rights center to allow a prisoner from the Palestinian city of Tira central occupied Palestine in 48, Rawi Soltani, to complete his academic education … The Supreme Court emphasized in its resolution that although the IPS allows criminal convicts to continue their academic education and den[ies] it for security prisoners, this does not constitute “unlawful discrimination.”
Occupation prevents captive Rizk’s wife from visiting him
GAZA (PIC) 25 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities have refused to allow the wife of a Palestinian prisoner from the Gaza Strip to visit her husband … [Waed association] said in a statement that the captive Rizk Shaaban, detained since six years, “has been prevented from family visits since the date of his arrest and until this moment.” According to Waed, the International Committee of the Red Cross had informed Rizk’s wife that the Israeli authorities gave her permission to visit her husband. However, having reached Beit Hanoun, Israeli soldiers informed her that she will not be allowed to visit him for security reasons. The association denounced the procedure of the occupation intelligence service “which deliberately tries to humiliate the families of prisoners”, and demanded the International Committee of the Red Cross to expose the Israeli violations.
Palestinian students stage solidarity sit-in before Hebrew University
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Dec — Palestinian students staged a sit-in on Sunday in front of the Hebrew University in Masharef mountain in occupied Jerusalem in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners. The students held Palestinian flags and posters of the five hunger striking prisoners
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, feeling heat over UEFA 21 in Isreal, promises to rebuild bombed Gaza stadium
EI 23 Dec by Ali Abunimah — World football boss, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is feeling pressure over the 2013 UEFA Under 21 tournament scheduled to be hosted by Israel, though he thinks the tournament will go ahead. There has been growing opposition to allowing Israel to host the tournament, including from top world players, following Israel’s November attack on Gaza which killed more than 170 people and injured more than 1,200. Blatter also promised that FIFA would help rebuild the Palestine Stadium in Gaza City that was badly damaged in the Israeli attacks. The FIFA boss made the comments in an interview on the 21 December edition of the World Football program on the BBC World Service.
Dutch charities spurn G4S cash over abuse of Palestinian children
EI 24 Dec by Adri Nieuwhof — Two Dutch charities have refused to accept future donations from G4S after they were informed by a blogger known as Sonja about the company’s role in Israel’s detention of Palestinian children. Meanwhile, a protest was staged outside G4S’ headquarters in London last Friday (21 December), highlighting the company’s provision of services to Israeli jails (see VIDEO above). The activists called for the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners, including prisoners on hunger strike. The protesters informed the public about G4S’s role in the ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners who are unlawfully transferred from the occupied West Bank to prisons in Israel.
The Food Bank in Utrecht ended its cooperation with G4S in response to the information provided by Sonja. A few days later, another charity Jantje Beton — which promotes free outdoor play for children — announced on its website that it had severed its relationship with G4S, its main sponsor.
Israeli Racism / Discrimination
Suspect in arson of asylum seeker homes reaches plea deal with no jail time
972mag 24 Dec — Haim Mula, a resident of the Shapira neighborhood in south Tel Aviv who was arrested last April in connection with the nighttime arson attack of several African asylum seeker homes and one kindergarten in his neighborhood, has signed a plea bargain that exempts him from jail time. Mula, 20, was originally accused of committing the attacks himself, admitted only to having prepared the firebombs for the actual arsonist, an offense for which he is expected to receive only a few months of community service and no jail time. It will be up to the court whether to approve this fairly light punishment for Mula’s contribution to the creation of what the original indictment called “homes turned furnaces.”
Hamas vs. PA
Gaza government to release Fatah detainees
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — The government in Gaza will release detainees from Fatah who were convicted of security and criminal offenses, the deputy prime minister said Tuesday. Ziyad al-Thatha said the decision was aimed at promoting a good atmosphere for national reconciliation. Speaking at a press briefing in Gaza City, the official said the government was allowing Fatah to operate in Gaza, and took a previous decision to allow 17 Fatah members to return.
PA security arrests al-Husari again, summons two others
OCCUPIED WB (PIC) 25 Dec — PA security apparatus arrested on Monday the liberated prisoners in Tulkarm, and summoned a school student from the city, and a young man from al-Khalil, and continued to detain imam of Bethlehem, while the PA courts postponed the release of a prisoner leader from Tulkarem, and extended the period of detention of four political prisoners from Nablus. In Tulkarem, the preventive security services (PSS) rearrested yesterday the leader in the resistance movement Hamas, liberated prisoner Adnan al-Husari “Abu Bakr” after being summoned to the court, his detention was extended immediately for 15 days pending investigation.
Fatah official expects low-profile anniversary in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Hamas has refused to allow Fatah to celebrate its anniversary both the al-Katiba and al-Saraya squares citing security pretexts, a senior Fatah official said Tuesday. Nabil Shaath told Ma‘an that contacts between Hamas and Fatah over the location for Fatah’s anniversary celebration in Gaza have stopped completely. Thus, he added, Fatah decided to celebrate anniversary in Gaza in its own way without a major festival.
Political, other news
Emir: Qatar will assist Palestinian Authority
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Qatar will pay its share of the Arab financial security net pledged to the Palestinian Authority, Emir Sheikh Hamad Ibn Khalifa al-Thani said Sunday … Abbas told the Qatari emir he would receive a warm welcome when he visits the West Bank later in December.
Arab League chief to brief PA on financial ‘safety net’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — The Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riyad al-Malki on Tuesday said Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi’s visit to Ramallah would be focused on a financial “safety net” to ease the economic crisis facing the government. Al-Malki described the trip as a solidarity visit, and no official meetings will be held. The foreign minister said he was not optimistic that the meetings would result in an increase of funds from abroad, but he deferred comment pending the presentation of the report on Dec. 29.
Ambassadors of UAE, Qatar to Jordan visit Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec – The ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to Jordan on Tuesday visited Jerusalem and were given a tour in the Old City escorted by the Palestinian Authority’s minister of Jerusalem affairs Adnan al-Husseini … The ambassadors visited the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of Holy Sepulcher. The visit, said al-Husseini, was very important as it reflected Arab countries’ efforts to keep in touch with their Palestinian brothers and support them so they can stay firm in their lands.
Abbas joins Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to celebrate Christmas and join the traditional Midnight Mass service in the Church of the Nativity. He was welcomed by the governor and other senior Palestinian figures in Bethlehem. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judah will also attend the mass on behalf of King Abdullah II. Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal arrived earlier and was greeted by thousands of pilgrims awaiting the traditional procession to Bethlehem.
Abbas aide: No plans to outlaw ‘honor killing’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas has no plans to amend laws that reduce sentences for suspects who claim an “honor” defense for murdering women, his legal adviser says. “Why change it? This would cause serious problems,” Hassan al-Ouri told Ma‘an, adding that such a reform would “not benefit women.” In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for “honor killing” in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron … Articles 97 to 100 of the Jordanian Penal Code, in force in the West Bank, still offer reduced sentences for any act of battery or murder committed in a “state of rage.” “The (law) only addresses 1 percent of the problem. What we need is a new culture,” al-Ouri said. Other officials insist the penal code is the problem. The law “privileges the killer,” Interior Ministry official Haitham Arrar told Ma‘an … Khawla al-Azraq, who runs a women’s counseling center in Bethlehem, notes that femicide is a global issue but “now in Palestine, they call this honor killing.”
Turkey lifts objection to NATO cooperation with Israel
ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters) 24 Dec — Turkey has given approval for Israel to participate in non-military NATO activities in 2013, withdrawing an earlier objection driven by an ongoing dispute between the former regional allies, a Turkish official said on Monday.
Israel-Jordan tensions at all-time high
MEMO 24 Dec — Tensions in Israel-Jordan relations have reached an all-time high, claims a political analyst in Israeli newspaper Maariv. According to senior security sources in Tel Aviv, it is claimed, King Abdullah II has concluded that Israel is seeking to topple his regime and make use of the chaos sweeping the Arab world to turn Jordan into an alternative Palestinian state.
Egypt bans ownership of land on Sinai border with Israel to boost security
MEMO 26 Dec — The Egyptian Minister of Defence has banned private ownership of land along the border between Sinai and Israel in order to boost security in the region … Colonel Ali said that the decision on the usufruct rights in the Sinai Peninsula comes within the remit of the army’s role to protect Egypt’s sovereignty and national security. The eastern border with Israel and the Gaza Strip is one of the most strategically important, he pointed out.
Reviews / Analysis / Opinion
Film review: Politics of Palestine’s everyday captured in stunning debut film
London 24 Dec by Asa Winstanley — …Palestinian-Spanish director Ahmad Natche’s stunning debut feature film is difficult to take your eyes off. Despite very little happening, there is so much that could be said. But it is left between the lines of the script. If there was a script. The actors were apparently non-professionals, and it looks to have been partly improvised. According to the filmmakers, the independent film is possibly the only 2012 feature to have been produced and shot in the West Bank or Gaza. Post-production was possible thanks to a “crowdfunding” campaign launched on the Internet. A real music festival was the film’s set, according to Natche (“Two Meters of this Land: an interview with a Palestinian director,” Mena Muse, 24 December 2011). Nothing much really happens, but still, you are mesmerized. This is largely down to the brilliant cinematography. With insightful composition, many of the most lingering shots are like artworks in themselves. Paradoxically, there is an almost visceral excitement. There is so much meaning in the everyday
Video: O little town of Bethlehem
The story of the birth of Jesus told by the people of Bethlehem. Made by St Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand. Anyone is welcome to show this film publicly, but not change it in any way, nor publish/broadcast it, nor make money out of it.
Listen: Reem Kelani sings ‘Galilean Lullaby’, a poignant Palestinian song featured on BBC
EI 24 Dec by Ali Abunimah — The BBC World Service broadcast a beautiful documentary on 22 December called “Lullabies of the Arab World” which you can listen to here. Among these voices it was also wonderful to hear British-born Palestinian singer Reem Kelani reflect on Palestinian lullabies. Kelani, who was also interviewed by The Electronic Intifada in 2010, speaks in particular about Tahlileh Jaliliyyeh (Galilean Lullaby), a traditional song written down by the poet Tawfiq Zayyad … After hearing the documentary, I found the above video of Kelani (website) singing her rendition of Tahlileh Jaliliyyeh.
The NRA is America’s curse and the settlements are Israel’s NRA / Bradley Burston
A Special Place in Hell blog 25 Dec — The NRA and the settlements movements divide us as few movements can; Both have come to believe that they should in no way be curbed. Both have come to believe that they cannot be stopped … Just as American know that it is the combination of guns and people which kills people, Israelis know that the death of peace is not simply an outgrowth of Palestinian inaction, disunity and extremism. They know better than anyone that pro-settlement activists have done everything in their power to actively foil a solution and quash all possibility of progress. Israelis learned that early on, when one of the first and most telling death blows to the peace process was dealt by an American-born settler, in an American-style mass killing, using the same type of American-made assault rifle used in Newtown.
Disqualifying Zuabi, forgetting Zionism / Dmitri Shumsky
Haaretz 23 Dec — Israel’s leaders, represented on the Central Election Committee that disqualified Balad party MK Hanin Zuabi, are not interested in remembering Zionism as a liberation movement — While the Central Elections Committee has disqualified MK Hanin Zuabi’s candidacy for the 19th Knesset, it has let the Arab slates Balad and United Arab List-Ta’al contend. These two decisions might assuage Israelis for whom the country’s image as a democracy is dear. These Israelis will say to themselves, “See, while one wayward MK’s candidacy was annulled, the validity of the parties that represent the Israeli Arab community was reaffirmed.” But let’s not kid ourselves: Zuabi’s disqualification is an attempt to silence the small national minority of Arab Palestinians in Israel.